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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWithout Dogma - 2 August to 30 August
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Without Dogma - 2 August to 30 August Post by :prospertogether Category :Long Stories Author :Henryk Sienkiewicz Date :May 2012 Read :2585

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Without Dogma - 2 August to 30 August

2 August.

I have received another letter from Clara Hilst. She must have divined something; there is much pity and sympathy in her words, as if she knew how wretched I am. I do not know and do not want to know, whether she loves me as a sister or otherwise, I only feel that she loves me. I answered her letter in the same hearty spirit, grateful for her friendliness. She is going to Berlin now, and promises her appearance in Warsaw for the winter. She wants me to come to Berlin, if only for a few days. I will not go to Berlin, will not part from my troubles, but shall be glad to see her again at Warsaw. With Aniela I speak only of indifferent subjects, so as not to draw the attention of the elder ladies to the state of things between us. When alone we are both silent. I noticed several times that she was about to say something, but seemed afraid; as regards myself I could only say, "I love you;" and even that seems inadequate to express my feelings.

There is now resentment in my love. The thought is troubling my mind that she has a narrow heart, and that in this lies the secret of her unyieldingness. To-day, when I come to think it over more calmly, I go back to the conviction that she has some feeling for me, composed of gratitude, pity, and memories of the past; but it has no active power, cannot rise above prejudice,--even to the avowal of its existence. It does not respect itself, hides, is ashamed of itself, and in comparison with mine is as the mustard-seed to those Alps which surround us. From Aniela one may expect that she will restrict it rather than let it grow. It is of no use to hope or watch for anything from her; that conviction makes me very wretched.

 

4 August.

Some time ago I had a faint hope that under the influence of indignation against her husband, Aniela might come to me and say: "Since you have paid for me, I am yours." Another of my delusions. Any other woman, with exalted notions fed upon French novels, might have acted thus; or one who wanted only a pretext to throw herself into a lover's arms. No; Aniela will never do that, and if such a thought came into my mind at all it is because I too have been fed upon those pseudo-dramas of the feminine soul, which at bottom illustrate only the desire to cast virtue adrift. There is but one thing which would push Aniela into my arms, and that is her heart; but no artificial scenes, no phrases or false pathos. There is not the slightest possibility of her yielding to these.

If it be a great misfortune to love another man's wife, be she ever so commonplace, it is an infinitely greater misfortune to love a virtuous woman. There is something in my relations to Aniela of which I never heard or read; there is no getting out of it, no end. A solution, whether it be a calamity or the fulfilment of desire, is something, but this is only an enchanted circle. If she remain immovable and I do not cease loving her, it will be an everlasting torment, and nothing else. And I have the despairing conviction that neither of us will give way.

If she has a narrow heart it will not trouble her very much. As to myself I desire nothing more ardently than to get free from bondage; but I cannot get free. I say to myself, over and over again, that it must be done; and I put forth all my strength, as the drowning man does to save himself. At times I fancy that I have achieved some kind of victory, when lo! I see her passing under my window, my eyes rest upon her, and I experience a shock in my heart; the whole depth of my feeling is revealed, as the flash of lightning tears asunder the clouds and shows the depth of the sky. Ah me! what torture to have to deal with virtue, cold and merciless as the letter of the law! Even if Aniela had no heart I should still love her, as a mother would love a child though it were deformed. Pity then grows all the stronger,--and so does pain.

 

5 August.

What an inadequate, mean standard is human intellect when it comes to measure anything great, awesome, or very lofty. Reason, which serves well enough in the everyday conditions of life, becomes a drivelling fool, like Polonius, in exceptional cases. It seems to me that the usual ethical code cannot be considered a standard by which to measure great passions. To see in an immense feeling like mine only the infringement of this or that law, not to see anything else, not to see that it is an element and part of those higher forces that mock at empty rules, a godlike, immeasurable, creative power on which rests the All-Life, is a kind of blindness and littleness. Alas, Aniela thus looks upon my love! I suppose she often thinks I must respect her for her conduct; while I--God knows, I do not say it because it concerns my own fate, but judging her quite impartially--despise her, or at least try not to despise her for it, and say to her inwardly: "I should respect you and worship you a thousandfold if you could look upon the matter differently, not as regards our relations, but as regards love in general."

 

6 August.

There is something in Gastein very health-giving. To-day I noticed that Aniela has gained quite a brown color from the mountain air, and looks very well; which is all the more noteworthy, as she has had many troubles and anxieties. One of her troubles was the difference arising between her and her husband, the humiliation of his accepting a loan from me, and my love, which distracts her mind and troubles her peace. Notwithstanding all this, the delicate face is glowing with health. There is more color in it than before we came here. I recall the time when she seemed almost to fade away in my eyes. I remember how horrified I was at the thought that her life might be in danger. To-day that fear at least has ceased to haunt me. If I knew that in the future there would be even less pity for me, that my feelings for her would count for nothing, but that she would be happy and full of health, I should say: "Let her be pitiless, let her slight my feelings, provided she be well." In the composition of true feeling, there is the desire for personal happiness, but there is also tender thoughtfulness and affection.

Yesterday Aniela had donned one of her old dresses. I noticed it at once, and the whole past stood before me. God only knows what a turmoil there was within me.

 

7 August.

My aunt has forgiven Aniela long ago. She loves her so much that if I died she would still have somebody to cling to, provided Aniela remained. To-day the dear old aunt was lamenting that Aniela had no amusements, was sitting too much in the house and had seen nothing of the beautiful scenery around except the road to Hofgastein. "If I were only stronger on my feet I would go with you everywhere; your husband ought to have shown you something of the country, and he was continually tramping about by himself."

Aniela assured her that she was quite satisfied, and did not want more exercise.

"I have nothing to do," said I, in the most careless manner, "and walk a great deal. I can accompany Aniela wherever she wants to go, and show her all that is worth seeing,--at least in the nearest neighborhood." Then I added, in a still more indifferent voice: "It is considered quite the proper thing. In a place like this mere acquaintances walk out together, not to say anything about near relations."

Aniela did not say anything, but both the elder ladies were unanimous in their opinion that I was right. To-morrow we are to go to the Schreckbruecke.

 

8 August.

We have entered into our compact, and henceforth a new life is to begin for us both. It is not quite the same as I had shaped it, but my future life must adapt itself to it. From now, everything will be clear and definite between us. There will be nothing new, nothing to be expected or looked out for, but at any rate I shall not be any longer like a man who has no roof to shelter him.

 

9 August.

Yesterday towards evening we went to the Schreckbruecke. The elder ladies accompanied us as far as the Cascades; there they sat down on the first bench they found, and we two went on alone. We both seemed to feel that some serious conversation would take place. At first I wanted to point out to her various places and tell her the names, but had scarcely mentioned Schareck when it struck me as so incongruous with the thoughts nearest our hearts that I grew silent. We could talk only about our two selves, or else remain silent. And we walked on in silence for a long time; this silence besides was necessary for me, and gave me time to conquer that restlessness which seizes us when we approach a great crisis. I got myself so far under control that I resolved to speak of my love, with calmness and naturally, as if it were a known and established fact. Experience had taught me that women can be attuned to any disposition. Nothing influences the feminine mind so much as the tone of conversation; and if the man in making a proposal does it with the air of one who expects the earth to swallow him as soon as he has uttered the words, that is, in terror and the consciousness that he is doing something quite unheard of, that terror and that consciousness communicate themselves very quickly to the woman. Acting in the opposite way, the proposal loses much of its impressiveness, but it goes smoother and creates less opposition. Besides, I had already told her of my love; all I wanted now was to prevent Aniela from going off at a tangent at the first tender word; in that case conversation would become impossible. It was necessary to introduce the subject in order to establish our future relations on a proper basis. Considering all this, I said in a very quiet voice:--

"You cannot have the slightest idea how deeply you hurt me by that project of your departure. I know very well that the reasons you gave were only ostensible, and that I was the cause of that sudden resolution. In making your plans you forgot only one thing, and that is what would become of me. That did not enter into your calculation at all. Believe me, it was not your departure which would have hurt me, so much as the thought that I count for nothing in your life. You might say that you meant it for the best and wanted me to forget you. Do not try that, for the remedy would be worse than you suppose."

Aniela's face in an instant was covered with burning blushes. It was evident that my words had touched her to the quick. I do not know what she would have said, on the spur of the moment, had not an accident diverted her attention. Close to the road, there suddenly appeared one of those cretins so common about Gastein. He was not a pleasant sight, with that big head, immense goitre, and bestial expression of face. He had risen so suddenly from amid the tall grasses that Aniela screamed with terror. While she recovered herself and searched for some money--I had forgotten my purse--several minutes elapsed. During that time the impression my words had made upon her had grown less vivid, and as we resumed our walk she said, in a sad voice, full of inexpressible sweetness:--

"You have often been unjust to me, but never more so than now. You think that it costs me nothing, that I have no heart; and yet I am not a whit happier than you."

Her voice seemed to fail, and my pulses began to beat wildly. It seemed to me that one more effort and I should force from her a confession.

"Aniela!" I exclaimed, "for God's sake tell me what you mean!"

"I mean that since I am unhappy, you must allow me to remain honest. Dear Leon, I beg you to have pity upon me. You do not know how unhappy I am! I would sacrifice everything except my honesty. Do not ask me to give up that last plank of salvation,--because it is not right, one is not allowed to sacrifice that! Oh, Leon, Leon!"

She folded her hands and looked at me with eyes veiled by tears, and her body trembling like an aspen leaf. I do not know, if I had taken her into my arms she might have died afterwards from shame and sorrow, but probably she would not have found the strength to resist. But at that moment I forgot about my own self and saw only her. I threw at her feet my senses, my passions, and my egoism. What did it all matter where she was concerned? The beloved woman that defends herself with tears, tears that do not flow for the sake of keeping up appearances but from the depth of her sorrow, is invincible. I took both her hands, kissed them with reverent love, and said:--

"It will be as you wish; I swear it upon the love I bear you."

We both could not speak for some time. To confess the truth, I felt at this moment a better and nobler man than I had ever been before. I was like one who has passed the crisis in a severe illness, is still very weak and exhausted, but glad of the dawning life before him. Presently I began to talk to her, quietly and gently, not only as a lover but as the nearest friend, whose main object is the happiness of the being that belongs to him.

"You do not want to stray from the right path," I said; "and I will not lead you astray. You have changed me, and all the sorrows and sufferings I endure have made a different man of me. Through you I have come to understand the difference between love and passion. I cannot promise that I shall cease to love you, for I cannot; I should lie to you and to myself if I should promise that. I do not say it in temporary exaltation, but as a man who has looked into his inmost self and knows what is delusion and what truth. I will love you as if you were dead,--I will love your soul. Do you agree to that, Aniela dear? It is a sad love, but angelic. You can accept and return it. I make my vow of faithfulness this moment, and it is as binding as if it had been uttered before the altar. I shall never marry another woman; I shall live for you only, and my soul will be yours. You too will love me as if I had died. I do not ask for anything else; and you will not refuse, because there is no sin. You have read Dante? Remember, he too was married, and he loved Beatrice with the same love I ask from you; he openly acknowledged the feeling, and the Church holds his poem as almost a sacred thing. If you have that feeling for me in your heart, give me your hand, and after that nothing will be able to come between us or to mar our peace."

Aniela, after a momentary silence, gave me her hand. "I always had that friendship for you." she said, "and I promise you from my heart and soul."

I winced at the word "friendship," which is too small for me, and does not express our feelings. But I did not say anything. "The word 'love' still frightens her," I said to myself; "she will get accustomed to it by and by;" and since the thing is essentially the same, it was not worth while to disturb the peace at which we had arrived through stormy seas of misunderstandings, troubles, and sorrows. We are both so tired that the rest is welcome and is worth making some little sacrifices for.

Besides, it was a mere shadow, that disappeared in the joyful light of the thought that the dear being belongs to me and is spiritually my faithful wife. I would have given anything if to a question "Are you really mine?" she had answered in the affirmative. I would have asked the question a hundred times a day and never tired of the answer; but at this moment I did not want to frighten her. I, who can make allowance for so many things, understand that there are certain words which, however expressive of the existing state of things they may be, come with difficulty from a woman's lips,--especially from those of such a woman as Aniela. Yet every word she said was a confession that she loves me; and did she not consent that our souls should belong to each other? What more could I wish for?

When we had gone as far as the Schreckbruecke, we turned back. On the way we tried to look at our new position, as people look around a new house and try to make themselves at home in it. This did not come easy to either of us at first. Even this pleased me, for it seemed to me that thus bride and bridegroom would feel a few hours after they were joined in wedlock, while yet they had not had time to grow accustomed to each other. Nevertheless I spoke a great deal about us both. I explained to her the holiness and purity of such a union as ours. I tried to inspire her with trust and confidence. She listened to me with a bright, serene countenance, and now and then turned her beautiful eyes towards me. The serenity of the weather corresponded with the serenity of our souls. The sun had gone down behind the mountains; and they shone now in their evening dress of purple. I offered my arm to Aniela, which she accepted, and so we went together in the soothing stillness of the evening. Suddenly I noticed that her step had grown uncertain, as if she were afraid of something, and her face became very white. It lasted only a minute, but her disturbance was so evident that I got frightened for her, and began to ask what had frightened her.

At first she did not want to tell me, but when I insisted she confessed reluctantly that the unfortunate cretin had come into her mind, and that for an instant she had felt afraid he might suddenly jump up from the roadside.

"I do not know," she said, "why he should have made such a horrible impression on me, and feel ashamed to have such silly nerves, but I would not meet him again for anything in the world."

I soothed and comforted her, saying that nothing could happen to her while I was by. She still kept looking uneasily at the roadside, but presently our conversation dispersed the unpleasant impression.

It was dusk when we arrived at the Cascades, but the evening was exceptionally warm. On the square before Straubinger's a great many people were listening to some strolling harpists. I do not know why this solitary mountain pass should have reminded me so strongly of Italy. It recalled to my memory the evenings on the Pincio, when I thought how happy I could be had I Aniela at my side. I now felt her arm resting upon mine, and still more felt her soul close to my own. And thus, full of sweet peacefulness, we returned home.

 

10 August.

I thought to-day much about what Aniela had said to me on the way to the Schreckbruecke. I was particularly struck by the exclamation which burst from her lips: "You do not know how unhappy I am!" There was such deep sorrow, such a wail in these words, and an involuntary confession that she does not love her husband, cannot love him; and also that her heart, in spite of all her efforts, belongs to me. If so she has been as unhappy as I. I say "has been," because at present she is not. Now she can say to herself: "I can remain true and keep my faith; and for the rest, I trust to God."

 

11 August.

It came into my mind that I had no right to expect Aniela to sacrifice everything for me. It is not true that one sacrifices everything to love. If, for instance, I had an encounter with Kromitzki and she adjured me in the name of our love to ask his pardon on my bended knees, I would not do it. It is a fantastic, senseless supposition, yet at the very thought the blood mounts to my head. No, Aniela dear, you are right; there are things we may not sacrifice even to love.

 

12 August.

We went in the morning on the Windischgraetzhoehe. It is about three quarters of an hour on foot, but I got a horse for Aniela, which I led by the bridle. Walking at her side, I rested my hand on the horse's neck and at the same time touched her dress. Mounting on the horse's back, she held on to me for a moment and the old Adam woke up very strong in me. To kill him, I should have to annihilate my body and become a spirit. I bound myself to keep my senses and impulses under control, and I am doing so; but I did not bind myself not to have them. I might as well have bound myself not to breathe. If the touch of Aniela's hand made no more impression upon me than if it were a piece of wood it would prove that I did not love her any longer, and then all pledges would be unnecessary. Saying to Aniela that my whole nature had changed in contact with her, I did not intend to deceive her, but had not exactly defined the change. The truth is I only keep myself in check. I renounced complete happiness in order to secure a part of it. I preferred to have Aniela in this way to not having her at all, and I think that every one who knows the meaning of true love will understand me easily. If the passions are dogs, as the poets say, I have chained them up, will starve them into submission, but I cannot prevent their straining at the chain or emitting an occasional howl.

I know to what I have pledged myself, and shall keep to it; there is nothing else to do. In the face of Aniela's firmness of purpose there is no room for any agreeing or disagreeing. The fear that she may take back what she has given is enough curb for me. I rather exaggerate my caution and wariness, so as not to frighten away the bird which I call "spiritual love," and she calls "friendship." That word, which in the first moment was merely a prick, enough to make me wince, is gradually growing into a sore. At the time it seemed to me not expressive enough, and now it appears to me too cautious, too full of conditions. How strange that characteristic of feminine nature, not to call things by their name. Yet I explained distinctly to Aniela what I was asking for, and she understood me fully; and nevertheless she called the feeling "friendship," as if she wanted to veil herself with it before me, before herself and God.

Looking at it from another point, it is true that a feeling devoid of all earthly substance may be called by any name. There is sadness and bitterness in the thought. This caution, common to very pure-minded women, is undoubtedly the outcome of their modesty, but it does not permit them to be generous. I might go straight to Aniela and say to her: "I have sacrificed to you one half of my existence, and you grudgingly dole me out your words; is it right?" And I tell her so inwardly with reproachful eyes. It is difficult to imagine love without generosity, without a desire to make some sacrifices.

To-day on Windischgraetzhoehe we conversed together like two beings closely connected by the ties of love and friendship, but there was nothing in our speech that brother and sister might not have said to each other. If we had made such an excursion before we had entered into our compact, I should undoubtedly have taken some advantage of it, kissed her hands or feet or even tried, if only for a moment, to take her in my arms; to-day I walked quietly at her side, like one who is afraid of the slightest frown. Partly I restrained myself on purpose, thinking that in this way I should win her confidence and favor. By this silence I meant to say: "You will not be disappointed in me; I will take rather less than I have a right to,--so as not to break our compact."

But one feels hurt all the same, when the sacrifice is accepted promptly and cheerfully as soon as it is offered. Involuntarily one says inwardly to the beloved woman: "Do not let yourself be outdone in generosity." And I said so,--but in vain.

What is the result? A certain disappointment for myself. I used to think if such a compact existed between us, I should have perfect liberty within its boundaries; should be able to say, "I love you" as often as I liked, and hear the same from her lips; and that this would compensate me for all my torments, for the whole time of my suffering,--in short that I should be king in that restricted kingdom; but now it appears that my horizon gets narrower than ever, and doubts arise within me that might be compressed in the query: "What have you gained?" I try to chase the thoughts away. I have gained something. I have gained the sight of a bright and happy face; I have gained the smile; I have gained the delight of seeing her limpid eyes look fearlessly into mine. If I feel cramped and not quite at home in the new house, the reason is that I have not got used to it. Besides, formerly I was without a roof to shelter me; and if I cannot always see clearly what I have gained, I know perfectly well that I have lost nothing. I shall never forget that.

 

14 August.

My aunt begins to talk about going home. She is pining after her beloved Ploszow. I asked Aniela if she would like to go. She said she would; therefore I too am anxious to return. Formerly I attached some vague, undefined hope to a change of place. Now I expect nothing; but at Ploszow there are so many pleasant memories that I shall be glad to see the place again.

 

16 August.

The days flow now very evenly. I think much and I rest. My thoughts are often sad, at times not without bitterness, but my soul was so weary that I find this restfulness very soothing. It makes me feel conscious how much better off I am than I used to be. I am mostly with Aniela; we read together, and then discuss what we have read. Everything I say to her is only a definition, a development of love; everything tends in that direction; but strange to say I notice that now I never speak of it directly, as if that feminine objection to calling things by their proper names had also infected me. I do not know why this is so, but it is a fact. And it grieves me,--sometimes grieves me very much; and it pleases me, because I see that Aniela is pleased, and what is more, loves me for it. In order to cement the union of our souls, I have begun to speak much about myself so as not to have any secrets from her. I am reticent only about such things as might offend her delicacy of feeling or the purity of her thoughts. I tried to initiate her into the workings of a spirit undermined by scepticism and the want of a basis in life. I told her openly that I had nothing to live for except her; told her also what was going on within me after her marriage, what shocks had passed through my heart and brain since my return to Ploszow; I spoke of this all the more eagerly, as it was like a series of confessions, as it all meant: "I loved you then, as I love you now, beyond expression." She was deceived as to the meaning of these confidences and listened to them as if there had been no question about her, with emotion, sympathy, and possibly unconscious delight. I saw tears gathering in her eyes, her breast heaved as if her whole spiritual being went out to me with open arms saying: "Come to me; you have suffered enough and deserve some happiness." And I reply with my eyes: "I do not ask, do not remind you of anything; I am altogether at your mercy."

I made those confidences also for another reason, namely, to introduce the habit of mutual confidence between us, and make her tell me what was going on in her mind at the same time. But I could not manage it. I tried to ask, but the words seemed to come from her with such difficulty, there was such evident constraint and uneasiness, that I left off asking. To be quite open with me, she would have to reveal all she felt for me and what was her relation to her husband. I wanted her to come to that; but her modesty and her loyalty for the absent husband would not permit her to speak.

I understood all perfectly, but I could not help feeling very sore, and my pessimism says: "It is you who pay the score; you give everything, without getting anything in return; you are deceived in thinking her soul belongs to you; even that soul remains a blank to you; then what do you possess?"

I admit the truthfulness of the utterance, but still I count upon the future.

 

17 August.

I am often reminded of the poet Mickiewicz's words, "Alas! it was only a half-salvation!" But even if I did not see in that half-salvation all that is wanting, I could not arrive at perfect peace. This would be achieved only by not desiring anything more, in other words by ceasing to love. There come upon me, more and more, moments of despondency when I say to myself that this is only another enchanted circle. I found some relief from torments I could bear no longer, that is true; but relief is not the same as the removal of the pain. When the famished Arab sucks pebbles instead of drinking water, he does not satisfy his thirst; he only deceives it. Query: Do I deceive my self? There are again two persons within me: the spectator and the actor; and the one criticises and mocks the other. The sceptic Ploszowski, the Ploszowski who has no settled and unshakable belief in the existence of a soul, in love with a soul, appears simply ridiculous to that critical number two. What is, after all, my relation with Aniela? Sometimes I see in it merely the product of a diseased imagination. I am now indeed like the bird that drags one wing on the earth. I have doomed to paralysis one half of my being, live only half a life, and love with half a love. It is a vain enterprise. To separate desire from love is as impossible as to separate thought from existence. Even religious feelings, the most ideal of all feelings, manifest themselves by words, by songs, by kneeling, and kissing of sacred objects; and I would deprive the love for a woman of all embodiment, sever all connection with the earth, and make it live upon earth in a transmundane shape! Love is a natural tendency and desire. What did I take away from it? The tendency and the desire. I might as well have gone to Aniela, and said to her, "Since I love you above everything, I pledge myself to love you no longer."

There is some terrible mistake in this. I had truly lost my way in the desert; no wonder that I saw a Fata Morgana.

 

18 August.

Yesterday I felt oppressed and troubled by various thoughts. I could not sleep. I left off plunging into the depths of pessimism, and instead of that began to think of Aniela and call her image before my eyes. This always soothes me. My imagination strained to the utmost point brings her before me so lifelike that I fancy I could speak to her. I recalled to memory the time I had met her first as a grown-up girl. I saw the white, gauzy draperies studded with bunches of violets, the bare shoulders, and the face a little too small but fresh like a spring morning, and so original in the bold outline of the eyebrows, the long lashes, and that soft down on either side of the face. It seems to me as if I still heard her voice saying, "Do you not recognize me, Leon?" I wrote at the time that her face appeared to me like music translated into human features. There was in her at the same time the charm of the maiden and the attraction of the woman. No other woman ever fascinated me so strongly, and there must needs cross my way a Circe-like Laura to lure me away from the one woman I could love, almost my bride.

Nobody feels more than I that the words, "The spell thou hast cast upon me lasts forever," are not a mere poetic fancy, but bitter reality. Besides love and desire, I have for her an immense liking, the tenderness of affection, and am drawn to her with the irresistible force of the magnet to iron. And it cannot be otherwise, for she is still the same Aniela, and is not changed in the least. It is the same face of a little girl, with the charm of a woman, the same look, the same eyelashes, brows, shoulders, and supple waist. She has now one more charm,--that of the lost Paradise.

What a tremendous gulf between our relations in the past and those in the present. When I think of the Aniela who was waiting, as for her salvation, to hear from me the words, "Will you be mine?" I can scarcely believe it to have been true. Reflecting upon that, I feel like the ruined magnate who at one time scattered his wealth about, dazzling the world by his splendor, and in later years lived upon charity.

That night, when I thought about Aniela and evoked her image before my eyes, it suddenly occurred to me that we had no portrait of her, and a strong desire seized me to have her likeness. I grasped at the idea with enthusiasm, and it made me feel so happy that it finally drove all sleep from my eyes. "I shall have you," I said; "I shall be able to look at you at any time, kiss your hands, your eyes, your lips; and you will not be able to prevent it." I began at once to think how it might be done. I could not go and say to Aniela, "Have your portrait painted, and I will defray the expenses;" but with my aunt I could always do what I liked, and a hint will be enough to make her wish for Aniela's portrait. At Ploszow she has a whole collection of family portraits, which are her pride, and my desperation, as some of them are truly hideous; but my aunt will not have them removed out of sight. Considering her deep attachment to Aniela, I was sure she would be delighted with the idea of adding her picture to the collection. As far as she is concerned I consider the thing done; but now came the question whom to intrust with the execution of the portrait. I thought it would be impossible to induce the ladies to take Paris on their way; there I should have the choice between the accuracy and objectivism of Bonnat, the bold breadth of Carolus Duran, and the inimitable sweetness of Chaplin. Shutting my eyes, I imagined how each of them would acquit himself of the task, and I was pleased with the fancy. But I saw it was impracticable; I foresaw that my aunt would insist upon a Polish painter. I should have no objection to that, for I remembered seeing at the Warsaw and Cracow exhibition portraits as excellent as from the brush of any foreign painter. I was only afraid of the delay. As regards fancies, and also in many other things, there is something eminently feminine in my composition. When I plan a thing I want to get it done at once. As we were in Germany, not very far from Munich and Vienna, I began to choose among the German painters. I fixed upon two names: Lembach and Angeli. I had seen some fine portraits by Lembach, but only men's; besides, I did not like his self-assurance and sketchiness, which, as I am fond of French painting, I can endure only from a Frenchman. Angeli's faces did not altogether satisfy me, but I had to admit his delicacy of touch; and that is just the thing wanted for Aniela's face. Besides, in order to get Lembach we should have to go out of our way, and Angeli is on the way,--a circumstance one is ashamed to confess, not wanting to be regarded as a Philistine. But in this case I wanted to save time. "The dead ride quick," as the poet says; but lovers ride quicker still. Besides I should have chosen Angeli in any case, and finally decided that he should paint Aniela's portrait. As a rule, I do not approve of portraits in ball dress, but I resolved to have Aniela in a white dress with violets. I want to have the delusion in looking at her that she is the Aniela of the never-to-be-forgotten times. I do not want anything to remind me that she is Pani Kromitzka. And besides, the dress is dear to me as a memory.

I thought the night would never end, so impatient was I to speak about it to my aunt. I changed my plan though, for if my aunt had the portrait painted, she would insist upon a Polish painter. I decided instead to offer Aniela's likeness to my aunt on her name's-day, which is towards the end of October. Put in this way, Aniela cannot refuse. Of course I shall have a copy for myself.

I scarcely slept at all, but look upon it as a satisfactory night, as all the hours were occupied with these plans. I dozed a little towards five, but was up and dressed at the stroke of eight. I went to Straubinger's and sent a telegram to the Vienna Kuenstlerhaus inquiring whether Angeli was at home, then returned to the villa and found the ladies at the breakfast-table. I opened fire at once. "Aniela," I said, "I have come to confess my guilt in regard to you. Last night instead of sleeping I have disposed of your person, and it now remains to be seen whether you will consent."

She looked at me with half-frightened eyes. Perhaps she fancied I was going mad, or that in a fit of despair I had made up my mind to blurt out the truth before the elder ladies; but seeing my calmness she asked:--

"How have you disposed of me?"

"I wanted it to be a surprise for you, dear aunt, but I do not see how it could be done in secret, and so I must tell you what present I intend to give you for your name's-day;" and I told them what I had in my mind. My aunt, who has an excellent portrait of me, painted some years ago, was greatly delighted, and thanked me warmly. I saw that Aniela was not less pleased, and that was enough for me. There and then a lively discussion sprung up as to when and by whom the portrait was to be painted, and the question of dress, so dear to the feminine heart, had to be gone into with all details. I had a ready answer for all questions and saw my chance of getting something else besides the picture.

"It will not take much time," I said. "I have sent a telegram to Angeli, and I do not think it will delay our journey much. Aniela will give Angeli five or six sittings, and as you would have to stop at Vienna in any case to see Notnagel, there is no loss of time. The dress can be painted from a model, and the face will be finished in five sittings. But we must send at once Aniela's photograph and a lock of her hair. The hair I must have at once. Then Angeli will be able to make the rough sketch, and later on put in the finishing touches." I counted upon the fact that none of the ladies knew much about portrait-painting. I wanted the hair for myself, not for Angeli, to whom it would have been of use only if he painted Aniela's portrait from a photograph, to which he would not have consented. But I spoke as if the whole portrait depended on that lock of hair. Two hours after breakfast I received an answer to my telegram. Angeli is in Vienna, where he is just finishing the portrait of the Princess M. I wrote to him at once and sent him Aniela's photograph; then went out to Aniela, who was walking in the garden.

"And your hair?" I said; "I want to send the letter by the two-o'clock post."

She went at once into her room, and shortly afterwards returned with a lock of hair. My hand shook a little as I took it from her, but my eyes looked straight into hers and said in that glance:--

"Do you not guess that I want it for myself, that it will be for me the most precious treasure?"

Aniela did not say anything, but blushed like a girl who listens for the first time to words of love. She had guessed it. I thought that for one touch of those lips it would be worth while giving one's life. My love for her becomes so strong at times that it is akin to pain.

I have now a small part of her physical being. I got it by cunning. I the man of the world, the sceptic, I who enter into myself and analyze every thought, have come to practise little tricks and devices, like Goethe's Siebel. But I say to myself, "At the worst I am only sentimental and ridiculous." Who knows whether the second self that reduces everything to consciousness with cold criticism is not more foolish and more ridiculous? Analysis is like the pulling to pieces of a flower. It spoils the beauty of life, therefore, its happiness--the only sensible thing in life.

 

22 August.

After the completion of Pani Celina's cure we waited for weeks till the heat in the plains should have grown less intense, and at last the weather broke and again delayed our journey. There has been an almost Egyptian darkness for three days. The clouds which have been gathering on the summits, breeding snow and rain, have descended from the heights and enveloped Gastein as in a wet blanket. There is such a mist that in the middle of the day I have to pick my way carefully from Straubinger's to our villa. Everything is wrapped in a thick veil,--the houses, the trees, the mountains, and cascades. The shapes of things dissolve and disappear in the moist clouds that weigh upon everything, and also upon the human mind. We light the lamps at two o'clock in the afternoon. The ladies have finished packing, and we should have gone in spite of the mist, but the road is torn up by the mountain torrents beyond Hofgastein. Pani Celina again suffers from headaches, and my aunt, after receiving a letter from Chwastowski about the harvest, walks with heavy steps about the room, talking to herself and scolding Chwastowski. Aniela looked pale and out of sorts in the morning. She had a bad night and dreamed about the cretin she had seen near the Schreckbruecke. She woke up, and could not go to sleep again; she spent the rest of the night in nervous terror. It is very strange what an impression the wretched cripple has made upon her. I tried by cheerful conversation to make her forget about the incident, in which I succeeded. Since our compact on the Schreckbruecke she is without comparison brighter, more cheerful, and happier.

As regards myself, seeing Aniela thus contented, I cannot find it in my heart to complain, though it often occurs to me that our relation is mainly based upon there being no relation at all. When I entered into the compact I knew what I was doing and what shape our feeling would take; but now that shape seems to be getting more intangible and undefined, and wrapped up in a mist like that which enfolds Gastein. I have a presentiment that Aniela will not grant me what is due to me, and I dare not remind her about anything. I dare not, because a struggle is too exhausting, especially a struggle for the woman we love. I have been engaged in this struggle half a year and not gained anything; and I feel so weary that I prefer the truce, such as it is, to a renewal of my former warfare. There is also another reason. If this state of things does not exactly answer to my expectations, it pleases and conciliates Aniela. She fancies I love her in a nobler way, therefore she appreciates, I dare not say loves, me more and more. In spite of the absence of all outward signs, I see it and it gives me courage; I say to myself, "If her feeling increases, only persevere, and a time may come when it will be stronger than her power of resistance."

People generally, and women especially, fancy that the so-called Platonic love is a peculiar species of love, very rare and very noble. It is simply a confusion of ideas. There may be such a thing as Platonic relations, but Platonic love is as much nonsense as dark light. Even love for the dead consists of a longing after their bodily presence as well as their souls. Among the living this feeling is called resignation.

I did not want to say an untruth when I told Aniela I would love her as if she were dead; but resignation does not exclude all hope. In spite of all my disappointments, in spite of the consciousness that my hopes are vain, I still nourish in a corner of my heart the hope that the present state of affairs is only a halting-place on the way to love. I may repeat to myself over and over again, "Delusion! delusion!" but I cannot get rid of it until I get rid of my desire. They are inseparable. I agreed to the compact because I could not help myself, because I preferred this to nothing at all; but I consider it, almost unconsciously, as a diplomatic move which aims at complete, not half happiness. What makes me nevertheless thoughtful, surprises, and grieves me, and what I simply cannot understand, is that on this line even I am defeated. My victories lie in the dim, far-off future; but in the present, in spite of all my cunning, experience of life, strong feelings, and diplomacy, I am defeated by a being infinitely more simple than I, less skilled in life's tactics, less cautious and calculating in the course she takes. It is a defeat; there is no other word for it. What is our present relation? Nothing more than the relation of brother and sister, which she wished for and which I did not wish. Formerly I fought with the storm and often came to grief, but I steered my own bark. Now Aniela steers for us both; we go more smoothly and more evenly, but I feel I am going where I did not wish to go. I now understand why she put out her hand at once, when I mentioned Dante's love for Beatrice. She wanted to lead me. Has she calculated everything beforehand more carefully and profoundly than I? No; I do not know anybody less capable of any calculation, therefore I cannot admit the idea; yet I cannot get rid of the consciousness, bordering upon the mystical, that some one has calculated it for her.

It is all very strange, and the strangest thing of all is that I forged the fetters which bind me; I myself contrived to bring about a relation so foreign to my nature, my views, and my most ardent desires. If somebody had foretold to me, before I knew Aniela, that I should hit upon such devices, it would have made me laugh at the prophet and at myself. I, and Platonic relations! Even now I feel sometimes inclined to laugh and jeer at myself. But I cannot; it is sheer misery that has brought me to that pass.

 

23 August.

We leave here to-morrow. The sky is clearing up and there is a westerly breeze that promises fine weather. The mist has gathered into long, whitish billows, that hang on the mountain sides, and like huge leviathans are slowly rolling down. I went with Aniela on the Kaiserweg. This morning the question arose in my mind what would happen if the existing state of things ceased to satisfy Aniela. I have no right to overstep the boundary, and I am afraid to do so; suppose she too thought the same? Her innate modesty and shyness in themselves would prove an almost insurmountable barrier; and if, added to that, she thought the mutual agreement as binding for her as for me, we should never come to an understanding; we should suffer in vain.

Reflecting upon this, I understood the futility of such fears. She, to whom even that Platonic relation appears too broad, who consciously or unconsciously restricts, and does not even grant me what is due to me within these limits, should be the first to acknowledge any greater rights. And yet the human soul, even if in hell, will never lose hope altogether. In spite of the self-evident impossibility, I resolved to make myself safe by giving Aniela to understand that if I considered the agreement as binding, it was not the same with her.

I wanted to say many other things, especially that she was doing me a great wrong, and that my soul yearned to hear a word of love from her lips, not once but many times, and that only thus I should be able to remain on those lofty heights whereon she condemned me to dwell. But that morning she was so gay, so cheerful and kind to me, that I had not the heart to disturb her peace. Yesterday I could not understand how a being so full of simplicity had got me under her power and conquered me even on those fields I thought my exclusive domain. To-day it seems clearer to me; and I have a ready and very sad hypothesis,--she loves me less than I love her.

I knew a man who had the trick of repeating in all his sentences, "Never mind me." It would not be strange if I began to do the same. For when I feel, as I do sometimes, a desire to get rid of some words that almost burn my tongue, the sudden thought that I might mar her cheerfulness, drive away the smile, and change her good disposition, renders me mute. Ah me! how often this does happen!

The thought that I love Aniela more than she loves me has crossed my mind a hundred times; one day I think of it in one way, the next in another. I am straying among my thoughts and look at the matter in a different light every day. At one time it seems to me that she does not care for me very much, in fact is incapable of any strong feeling; and again, I not only think but am conscious that she has one of the deepest and most loving hearts I ever met in the world. I have always plenty of proofs either way. Thus I say to myself: "If her love increases, three, four, ten times as much, will there not come a time when it will grow stronger than her resistance?" Yes. Then it is only a question of how great her feeling is? No. For if the feeling were small she would not have suffered so much, and I have seen her suffer almost as much as I did myself. Against all reasoning I have one answer: "I have seen."

To-day a sentence escaped her which I shall remember, for it is an answer to my doubts. She would not have said this had I spoken about us and our love. But I spoke in a general way, as I now always do. I argued that it lay in the nature of feeling to be connected with action; that love produces acts of will. When I had finished she said quietly:--

"Not always. One may suffer."

Of course one may suffer. With these few words she had crushed my arguments and filled my heart with reverence for her. In moments like these I am happy and unhappy, as again it seems to me that she loves me as I love her, but will remain pure before God, and men, and herself. And I shall not be able to shake that temple. When all is said and done this analysis of her heart and feelings does not lead to any certainty. I am always walking in the dark. To my philosophical and social "I do not know" there is now added a personal consideration, far more serious; for this "I do not know" threatens my very life.

I forged myself the chain which binds me to Aniela, and there is no hope whatever that it ever will be broken. I love her despairingly, and it is a question whether my love be not a disease. If I were younger, less shattered in mind and nerves,--in short, of a more normal disposition,--I might, seeing the hopelessness, try to break that chain. As it is, I do not make even an effort. I love as a man with diseased nerves, a man who is close upon mania; love as old men do, clinging to love with all their might, as it is for them a question of life. Thus one may cling to a branch overhanging a precipice.

This one thing has blossomed in my life, consequently its growth is so out of all proportion. A phenomenon like this is easy to understand and will repeat itself the oftener, the more people there are like me; that is, hyper-analytical sceptics inclined to hysteria, with a great nothingness in their souls, and a strong neurosis in their veins. This modern product of our epoch, drawing to its end, may not love at all, or may look upon love as mere licentiousness; but if it happen that all the forces of one's life centre in one feeling, and come under the sway of his neurosis, the predilection will become as ineradicable as any other chronic disease. Physiologists have not fully understood this, still less novelists, who occupy themselves with the analysis of the modern human soul.

 

Vienna, 25 August.

We arrived to-day at Vienna. On the way I listened to a conversation between my aunt and Pani Celina, of which I took note, as it seemed to make an extraordinary impression upon Aniela. We four were alone in the railway carriage; we were discussing the portrait, and especially the question whether the white dress would not have to be abandoned, as the making of it would take up too much time. Suddenly Pani Celina, whose mind is full of reminiscences and dates, which she quotes in and out of season, turned to Aniela and said:--

"It is just two months to-day since your husband arrived at Ploszow, is it not?"

"I believe so," replied Aniela.

At the same instant she grew very red and tried to hide her confusion by taking down one of her bags from the rack. The blush had not gone from her face when she turned round again, and there was in her face an expression of acute pain. The ladies did not notice it, for they were deep in a discussion as to the exact date of Kromitzki's arrival; but I had noticed it and it grated upon my nerves, for it reminded me that that very day she had to submit to his caresses. I was furious, and at the same time ashamed for that blush of hers. In my love there are many great thorns, but there are also a multitude of small, hideous ones. Before that unlucky remark of Pani Celina's I felt almost happy because I had the illusion that I was travelling with Aniela as my affianced wife. Now in one moment the good disposition fled. I felt resentment towards Aniela, and I showed it in my manners. She noticed it at once, and when we arrived at Vienna and were left alone for a moment, she asked:--

"Are you angry with me about something?"

"No, but I love you," I said curtly.

Her face grew sad. She thought, perhaps, that I had grown tired of the peaceful current of our life, and the old Leon had come back again. I felt angry with her, but angrier still with myself, that all my philosophy and consciousness did not serve to give me the mastery over the slightest sensations.

I went at once to Angeli, but when I arrived at his studio it was six o'clock and the studio was closed. Aniela will be rested, and to-morrow I will go with her. I have changed my idea. I do not want her in a ball-dress, showing her arms and shoulders; I will have her as she is every day, and as I love her most.

In the evening Doctor Chwastowski came to see us. He looks very well, and as strong as a giant.

 

26 August.

I had a very nasty dream. I begin with it the description of the day. I am not one to attach any meaning to dreams, and I am convinced that a healthy brain could not produce such stuff. Sleeplessness has troubled me now for some time, but yesterday I had scarcely closed my eyes when I fell into a heavy sleep. I do not know at what time I had that dream; it must have been towards morning, for when I awoke it was broad daylight, and I could not have dreamed long. I saw a great quantity of cockchafers and black beetles crawl from under the mattress and along the sides of the bed. They were as big as matchboxes. Presently I saw them crawling up the wall. Strange how realistic dreams can be; I distinctly heard the rustling of their feet on the paper. Raising my eyes I noticed big clusters of beetles hanging from the ceiling; but they were of a different kind, much larger, with black and white spots. On some of them I could distinguish the white belly, with two rows of feet on either side which looked like ribs. In my dream they seemed quite in their place, and yet horrible. They filled me with loathing, but I was neither astonished nor afraid. Only after I had awoke the loathing became unbearable and changed into a kind of fear,--fear of death. It was the first time I had that sensation, and that fear of death took such a form. "Who knows," I thought, "what hideous shapes are awaiting me in the darkness, on the other side of life?" Later on I remembered that I had seen some similar beetles in an entomological collection, but at the time they seemed to me something unnatural, belonging to an intangible after-life. I jumped up and raised the blind, and the sight of daylight calmed me at once. The streets were already alive with the traffic of the early morning,--vegetable carts drawn by dogs, servants going to market, and laborers to their work. The sight of the normal human life is the best remedy against phantasms like these. I feel now an immense necessity for light and life. The final conclusion of all this is that I am not well. My tragedy undermines me like a cancer. I see white threads in my hair; this might have come in the course of nature; but my face, especially in the morning, has a waxen hue, and my hands are getting transparent. I am not getting thin, it is rather the opposite, but I am conscious of anaemia as I am conscious of my psychical state, and I feel that my vital powers are passing through a crisis, and that some calamity is threatening me.

I shall never go mad. I cannot even imagine how I could ever lose control over myself. Besides, a celebrated physician, and what is more an intelligent man, told me that at a certain point of developed consciousness this was quite impossible. I think he has written a book about it. But without going mad I may be on the eve of some portentous nervous disease; and as I know a little what that means, I say sincerely that any other would be preferable.

I have not much faith in doctors, especially in those that trust to physic, but I may take some advice if only to please my aunt. I know one remedy, which would be infallible; if Kromitzki died and I could marry Aniela I should speedily get well. A disease springing from nerves must be cured through nerves. But she will not be my physician, even if my life is in danger.

I went with Aniela and my aunt to Angeli's studio. The first sitting took place to-day. How right I was in saying that she is one of the most beautiful women I ever met in life, because there is nothing commonplace in her beauty. Angeli looked at her with manifest pleasure, as if he had before him a noble piece of art. He was in excellent spirits, drew the outline with enthusiasm, and did not conceal at all the reason of his satisfaction. "In my profession," he said, "a model like this is very rare indeed. With such a sitter it is delightful to work. What a face! what expression!"

The expression was by no means so charming as usual, because Aniela is a shy little creature; she felt confused, bewildered, and it evidently cost her an effort to keep a natural pose. Angeli understood that.

"It will be easier the next time," he said; "like everything else, one must get accustomed to it." And he repeated several times: "This will be something like a portrait."

He looked also with a pleased countenance at my aunt, who has noble features and a singularly commanding presence. The way she met Angeli was in itself a treat. It was the off-hand manner of the _grande dame_, always in good taste, but evidently not making much of him. Angeli, who is used to flattery and homage, and at the same time a clever man, judged her aright, and I saw he was amused by her demeanor.

We had decided upon a black silk dress, very elegantly made. It shows off Aniela's figure to perfection, its suppleness and rounded curves. I can neither think nor write about it calmly. Angeli, addressing Aniela, repeatedly called her "Mademoiselle." Feminine nature, even an angelic one, has still its little weaknesses. I noticed that my dear love was pleased, and still more so when I told Angeli of his mistake, and he said:--

"But I shall always fall into the same mistake; looking at madame it is impossible not to make the mistake."

And indeed with those vivid blushes mantling in her face she was surpassingly lovely.

On our way out, when a little distance from my aunt, I whispered to Aniela:--

"Aniela, do you know yourself how beautiful you are?"

She did not say anything, but lowered her eyelashes, as she always does in such a case. Nevertheless, I noticed that during the rest of the day there was a shade of unconscious coquetry in her manner towards me. Angeli's words and mine had attuned her to that disposition. She knows I admire her, that never woman was admired more, and it pleases her. I not only admired her, but I said inwardly, rather shouted to myself: "To the deuce with all compacts. I love you without limits and restrictions."

In the evening we went to the opera to hear Wagner's "Fliegende Hollander." I scarcely heard anything at all, or rather, heard and saw only through her. I asked of Wagner: "What impression do you make upon her? Does your music enter her soul and make her inclined to love me? Do you transport her into higher spheres, where love is the highest law?" That is the only thing that interests me. Women perhaps cannot love so exclusively. They always reserve part of their soul for themselves, for the world and its sensations.

 

27 August.

My aunt expressed a wish to depart. She is anxious to be back at Ploszow, and says that her presence here is not necessary, and that in fact we should get on better without her; that we should not be obliged to consider her and could devote all our time to the portrait. We all protested a little, and maintained that a lady of her years ought not to travel alone. Though reluctantly, I considered it my duty to offer my companionship. I confess that I awaited her reply with a certain trepidation; but the dear old lady said, with great liveliness:--

"Don't think of it even. Suppose Celina should fall ill again, who would look after them, or accompany Aniela to the studio? She must not go alone." She shook her finger playfully at Aniela, and with a frown on her brow, and smiling mouth she added: "I don't quite trust that painter, he looks at her more than his work requires; and she sees it too and is pleased with it,--I know her little ways."

"But aunty, he is not a young man," said Aniela, laughingly kissing her hands.

My aunt muttered: "Little coaxing rogue, he is not a young man, you say? but he pays you compliments all the same. Leon, you must keep your eye on them."

I relinquished the journey to Ploszow with delight, yielding to my aunt's convincing reasons. Pani Celina insisted upon her taking the maid, at least, who had gone with them to Gastein. My aunt refused at first, but consented when Aniela pointed out that they would do very well without a maid in the hotel. She gave orders at once to have her things packed. She is very quick in her decisions and wants to go to-morrow by an early train. I teased her during dinner, saying that she liked her horses better than all of us together. "Foolish boy," she said, "don't talk nonsense;" then forgot herself, and began soliloquizing about the horses. The sitting was a very long one to-day. Aniela posed much better. The face is already laid in.

 

28 August.

My aunt left us this morning. Pani Celina, who went with us to the studio, could scarcely restrain an exclamation of horror when she saw Aniela's face on the picture. She has no idea about painting and the different phases a picture has to go through, and fancied the face would remain thus. I had to set her mind at rest. Then Angeli, who guessed what was the matter, laughed and said that what she saw before her was only the chrysalis, from which the butterfly would come forth in time.

"I believe it will be one of the best portraits I ever painted," he said; "for a long time I have not worked so _con amore_."

I hope his words will prove true. After the sitting I went to get tickets for the opera. When I returned I found Aniela alone, and suddenly temptation seized me with the force of a hurricane. I thought if she would come into my arms, now was the moment; and at the very thought I felt myself growing pale, my pulses beat wildly, I trembled and caught my breath. The room was in semi-darkness, veiled by heavy curtains. I made superhuman efforts to conquer the irresistible power that pushed me towards her. It seemed as if a hot wave emanating from her enfolded me, and that she too must feel the same storm in her breast. "I must take her in my arms, kiss her eyes and lips," a voice within me seemed to say, "though I were to perish for it afterwards." She noticed at once my unusual state; there was a momentary terror in her eyes, but she collected herself at once and said quickly:--

"You must be my guardian now in mamma's absence. There was a time when I used to be afraid of you; but now I trust you and feel quite at ease with you."

I kissed her hands and said in a choking voice: "Oh, Aniela, if you knew what is passing within me!"

She replied, with sadness and compassion: "I know; you are so good, and all the nobler."

For a moment I still fought with myself; but she disarmed me,--I did not dare. During the remainder of the day she tried to compensate me for my restraint. Never had I seen in her eyes so much affection and such tenderness. Is this not perhaps the best way, after all? Perhaps in this guise the feeling will grow stronger and conquer her at last. I do not know, I begin to lose my head. But following this road I sacrifice every day my love for love's sake.

 

29 August.

Something very strange and terrifying has happened. During the sitting, while posing quietly, Aniela suddenly shuddered, her face grew very red and then turned as white as snow. Both Angeli and I were terribly frightened. He interrupted his work at once and asked Aniela to rest; I brought her a glass of water. After a few moments she grew better and wanted to resume the pose; but I saw that it cost her some effort and that she still seemed dazed. Perhaps she was tired. The weather is very hot to-day and the streets are like a baker's oven. We went back much sooner than the day before, and I noticed that she had not recovered her usual spirits. During dinner she grew suddenly very red. Pani Celina asked whether she felt indisposed. She assured us that nothing was the matter with her. To my offer to go and bring a doctor, she replied with unusual vivacity, and with a touch of irritation, that there was no need for it, that she was not ill. During the remainder of the day she was pale, the black eyebrows contracted every now and then, and there was an expression of sternness in her face. She was more indifferent to me than yesterday, and I fancied she avoided my eyes. I cannot make out what it means. I am very restless, and shall not be able to sleep; or if I go to sleep I shall have dreams such as I had before.

 

30 August.

There is something mysterious going on around me. Towards noon I knocked at the room of the ladies, to let Aniela know it was time to go to the studio; but they were not there. The hotel servant told me they had ordered a carriage two hours before and driven into town. A little surprised at that, I resolved to wait for their return. Half an hour later they came in, but Aniela gave me her hand silently and passed at once into her room. A quick glance at her face told me it was troubled. I thought she had only gone to change her dress, when Pani Celina said:--

"My dear Leon, please go to Angeli and apologize for Aniela; her nerves are so shaken that she cannot possibly sit for him."

"What is the matter with her?" I asked, anxiously.

Pani Celina seemed at a loss what to say, and at last replied: "I do not know; I took her to the doctor, but we did not find him at home. I left my card and asked him to call on us at the hotel; that is all I can tell you."

I could not get anything more out of her. I took a cab and drove at once to Angeli's studio. When I told him that Aniela could not come it seemed to me as if he looked suspicious. Perhaps the troubled expression of my face had something to do with it. It crossed my mind, "Suppose he suspects us to have changed our minds, and that we do not want the portrait any longer?" He does not know us; he might even think that some money difficulties are the cause of my anxiety. To guard against such suspicions, I made up my mind to pay him in advance. When he heard of this, he protested vehemently and said he never accepted payment until the picture was finished; but I replied that I was only the depositary of the sum, and as I might be called away at any moment, I would rather get rid of the trouble. After some more discussion, which bored me, it was settled according to my wish. We agreed that the sitting should take place at the same hour the day following, and in case Pani Kromitzka was still unable to attend I would let him know before ten. When back at the hotel, I went at once to the ladies. Aniela was in her room. Pani Celina said the doctor had just gone away, but did not say anything conclusive; only advised her to keep quiet and avoid emotion. I do not know why, but I fancied I saw again in her face the same hesitation. Possibly it comes only from her anxiety about Aniela, which I can well understand, as I feel the same.

When in my own room I reproached myself bitterly for having been, at least partly, the cause of this; as all this struggle between her love and her duty could not but act perniciously upon her health. Thinking of all this, I had a sensation which might be summed up in a few words: "Better I should perish than that she should suffer." I thought with terror that she would not come down to dinner, as if something serious, God knows what, had depended upon it. Fortunately she did come down; but she still avoided my eyes, and there was the same mysterious something in the air. First she grew confused at seeing me, and then made an effort to be her usual self, but failed. She made upon me the impression of a person that tries to conceal a trouble. She must have been paler too than usual, for though she cannot be called dark she almost looked like a brunette.

I racked my brain to guess what could have happened. Was it anything connected with Kromitzki; and if so, what could it be? Perhaps my money is in danger. The deuce take the money! All I possess may perish, rather than that Aniela should have a moment of anxiety. I must get at the bottom of the mystery to-morrow. I am quite sure it has to do with Kromitzki; but what can he have done? He has not sold another Gluchow, for the simple reason that there is not another to sell.

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