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   Chapter 2 THE SENSE OF CLIMAX

The Second Class Passenger: Fifteen Stories By Perceval Gibbon Characters: 40919

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


It was in the fall of the year that Truda Schottelius on tour came to that shabby city of Southern Russia. Nowadays, the world remembers little of her besides her end, which stirred it as Truda Schottelius could always stir her audience; but in those days hers was a fame that had currency from Paris to Belgrade, and the art of drama was held her debtor.

It was soon after dawn that she looked from her window in the train, weary with twelve hours of traveling, and saw the city set against the pale sky, unreal and remote like a scene in a theatre, while about it the flat land stretched vacant and featureless. The light was behind it, and it stood out in silhouette like a forced effect, and Truda, remarking it, frowned, for of late she found herself impatient of forced effects. She was a pale, slender, brown-haired woman, with a small clear, pliant face, and some manner of languor in all her attitudes that lent them a slow grace of their own and did not at all impair the startling energy she could command for her work. While she looked out at the city there came a tap at the door of her compartment, and her maid entered with tea. Behind her, a little drawn in that early hour, came Truda's manager, Monsieur Vaucher.

"Madame finds herself well?" he asked solicitously, but shivering somewhat. "Madame is in the mood for further triumphs?"

Truda gave him a smile. Monsieur Vaucher was a careful engineer of her successes, a withered little middle-aged Parisian, who had grown up in the mechanical service of great singers and actors. There was not a tone in his voice, not a gesture in his repertory, that was not an affectation; and, with it all, she knew him for a man of sterling loyalty and a certain simplicity of heart.

"We are on the point of arriving," went on Monsieur Vaucher. "I come to tell Madame how the ground lies in this city. It is, you see, a place vexed with various politics, an arena of trivialities. In other words, Madame, the best place in the world for one who is-shall we say?-detached."

Truda laughed, sipping her warm tea.

"Politics have never tempted me, my friend," she replied.

Monsieur Vaucher bowed complaisantly.

"Your discretion is frequently perfect," he said. "And if I suggest that here is an occasion for a particular discretion, it is only because I have Madame's interests at heart. Now, the chief matters of dispute here are--"

Truda interrupted him. "Please!" she said. "It does not matter at all. And think! Politics before breakfast. I am surprised at you, Monsieur Vaucher."

The little man shrugged. "It is as Madame pleases," he said.

"However, here we are at the station; I will go to make all ready."

Truda had a wide experience of strange towns, and preserved yet some interest in making their acquaintance. At that early hour the streets were sparsely peopled; the city was still at its toilet. A swift carriage, manned by a bulky coachman of that spacious degree of fatness which is fashionable in Russia, bore her to her hotel along wide monotonous ways, flanked with dull buildings. It was all very prosaic, very void of character; it did not at all engage her thoughts, and it was in weariness that she gained her rooms and disposed herself for a day of rest before the evening's task.

Another woman might have gathered depression and the weakness of melancholy from this dullness of arrival, following on the dullness of travel; but a great actress is made on other lines. A large audience was gathered in the theatre that night to make acquaintance with her, for her coming was an event of high importance. Only one box was empty-that of the Governor of the city, a Russian Prince whom Truda had met before; it was understood that he was away, and could not return till the following day.

But for the rest the house was full; its expectancy made itself felt like an atmosphere till the curtain went up and the play began to shape itself. Audiences, like other assemblies of people, have their racial characteristics; it was the task of Truda to get the range, as it were-to find the measure of their understanding; and before the first act was over she had their sympathy. The rest was but the everyday routine of the stage, that grotesque craft wherein delicate emotions are handled like crowbars, and only the crude colors of life are visible. It was a success-even a great success, and nobody save Truda had an inkling that there was yet something to discover in the soul of a Russian audience.

At her coming forth, the square was thick with people under the lights, and those nearest the stage-door cheered her as she passed to her carriage. But Truda was learned in the moods of crowds, and in her reception she detected a perfunctory note, as though the people who waved and shouted had turned from graver matters to notice her. She saw, as the carriage dashed away, that the crowd was strongly leavened with uniforms of police; there was not time to see more before a corner was turned and the square cut off from view. She sat back among her cushions with a shrug directed at those corners in her affairs which always shut off the real things of life.

The carriage went briskly towards her hotel, traversing those wide characterless streets which are typical of a Russian town. The pavements were empty, the houses shuttered and dark; save for the broad back of the coachman perched before her, she sat in a solitude. Thus it was that the sound which presently she heard moved her to quick attention, the noise of a child crying bitterly in the darkness. She sat up and leaned aside to look along the bare street, and suddenly she called to the coachman to halt. When he did so, the carriage was close to the place whence the cry came.

"What is it? What is it?" called Truda, in soft Russian, and stepped down to the ground. Only that shrill weeping answered her.

She picked her way to the pavement, where something lay huddled against the wall of the house, and the coachman, torpid on his box behind the fidgety horses, started at her sharp exclamation.

"Come here!" she called to him. "Bring me one of the lamps. Here is a horrible thing. Be quick!"

He was nervous about leaving his horses, but Truda's tone was compelling. With gruntings and ponderously he obeyed, and the carriage-lamp shed its light over the matter in hand. Under the wall, with one clutching hand outspread as though to grip at the stones of the pavement, lay the body of a woman, her face upturned and vacant. And by it, still crying, crouched a child, whose hands were closed on the woman's disordered dress. Truda, startled to stillness, stood for a space of moments staring; the unconscious face on the ground seemed to look up to her with a manner of challenge, and the child, surprised by the light, paused in its weeping and cowered closer to the body.

"Murder?" said Truda hoarsely. It was a question, and the coachman shuffled uneasily.

"I think," he stammered, while the lamp swayed in his gauntleted hand and its light traveled about them in wild curves-"I think, your Excellency, it is a Jew."

"A Jew!" Truda stared at him. "Yes." He bent to look closer at the dead woman, puffing with the exertion. "Yes," he repeated, "a Jew. That is all, your Excellency."

He seemed relieved at the discovery. Truda was still staring at him, in a cold passion of horror.

"My God!" she breathed; then turned from him with a shudder and knelt beside the child. "Go back to the carriage! Wait!" she bade him, with her back turned, and he was fain to obey her with his best speed. There, ere his conventional torpor claimed him again, he could hear her persuading and comforting the child in a voice of gentle murmurs, and at last she returned, carrying the child in her arms, and bade him drive on. As he went, the murmuring voice still sounded, gentle and very caressing.

Truda paused to make no explanations at all when the hotel was reached, but passed through the hall and up to her own rooms with the frightened child in her arms. But what the coachman had to say, when questioned, presently brought her manager knocking at her door. He was hot and nervous, and Truda met him with the splendid hauteur she could assume upon occasion to quell interference with her actions. Behind her, upon a couch, the child was lying wrapped in a shawl, looking on the pair of them and Truda's hovering maid with great almond eyes set in a little smooth swarthy face.

"Madame, Madame!" cried M. Vaucher. "What is this I hear? How are we to get on in Russia-in Russia of all places-if you go in the face of public opinion like this?"

"I do not know," replied Truda very calmly. She took a chair beside the child, leaving him standing, and put a long white hand on the little tumbled head.

"It is incredible!" he said. "Incredible! And at such a time as this, too. What do you propose to do with the child?"

"I do not know," answered Truda again.

"It will be claimed," he said, biting his nails. "These Jews are never short of relatives."

"If it is claimed by a relative, that will be the end of the matter," replied Truda. "If not-we shall see."

"Then let us hope it will be claimed," he said quickly. He gazed absently at the child, and shook his head. "Ah, Madame," he said, "if only one could cut an actress's heart out! The worst of them is, they are all woman, even the greatest."

Truda smiled a little. "That is inconvenient, no doubt," she suggested.

"Inconvenient!" He hoisted his shoulders in a mighty shrug. "It is devastating, Madame. See now! Here is this city-a beastly place, it is true, but with much money, and very busy exterminating Jews. Which will you, Madame-its money or its Jews? You see the choice! But I will weary you no longer; the child will assuredly be claimed."

He bowed and took his departure; it was not well, he knew, for any manager to push Truda Schottelius too far. Therefore he went to make it known that a Jewish baby of two or thereabouts was to be had for the asking, at the hotel; and Truda went to work to make her newly- found responsibility comfortable. For that night she experienced what a great artist must often miss-something with a flavor more subtle than the realization of a strong role, than passion, than success. It was when the baby was sleeping in her own bed, its combed head dinting one of her own white pillows, that she looked across to her deft, tactful maid.

"I believe I have found a new sensation, Marie," she remarked.

The maid smiled. "I had little sisters," she answered inconsequently.

"Yes?" said Truda. "I had nothing-not even a little sister."

The new sensation remained with her that night, for the baby slumbered peacefully in her arms; and several times she awoke to bend above it and wonder, with happiness and longing, over the miracle of that little dependent life cast away on the shores of the world. By morning its companionship had so wrought in her that she could have given the manager a clear answer if he had come again to ask what she proposed to do with the child in the event of no one claiming it. But he did not come. Instead, there came a big red-haired young Jew, asserting that he was the child's uncle.

Truda was at breakfast in her room when he arrived and was shown in; opposite to her at the table, the baby was making the most of various foods. It greeted him with shouts and open welcome; no further proof was needed to establish his claim. Truda, delicate and fragile in a morning wrapper, a slender vivid exotic of a woman, shaped as though by design to the service of art, looked up to scan him. He stood just within the door, his peaked cap in his hand, great of stature, keen- faced, rugged, with steady eyes that took her in unwinkingly. The pair of them made a contrast not the less grotesque because in each there was strength. For some moments neither spoke, while the baby gurgled happily.

Truda sighed. "She knows you," she said. "She is a dear little thing."

The Jew nodded. "She is dear to us," he said. "And we are very grateful to you, Excellency."

He was still watching her with a shrewd scrutiny, as though he made an estimate of her worth.

"That was her mother?" asked Truda. "The dead woman in the street, I mean?"

"Yes," answered the man. "That was her mother. Her father went the same way six months ago, but in another street."

Truda's lips parted, but she said nothing.

"Ah, perhaps your Excellency does not understand?" suggested the man.

The cynical humor in his face had no resemblance to mirth. "They were

Jews, you see-Jews."

"Judenhetze?" asked Truda. She had heard of old of that strange fever that seizes certain peoples and inflames them with a rabid lust for Jewish blood.

"Yes," answered the Jew. "That is what they call it. But a local variety. Here it is not sudden passion, but a thing suggested to the mob, and guided by police and officers. It is an expedient of politics."

He spoke with a restraint that was more than any, emphasis.

"And therefore," he went on, "the kindness of your Excellency is the greater, since you saved the child not from law-breakers, but from authority itself."

"I have done nothing," said Truda. "The child is a dear little thing.

I-I wish she were mine."

"She, too, is a Jew," said the other.

"I know," answered Truda. The steadiness of his gaze was an embarrassment by now. She flushed a little under it.

"I am wondering," she said, "if nothing can be done. I think-I believe-that the world does not know of this persecution. Perhaps I could say a word-in some high quarter--"

"Why should you concern yourself?" asked the Jew evenly. "Why should you take this trouble?"

"Why?" Truda looked up at him, doubtful of his meaning.

He nodded. "Why?" he repeated. "It cannot be good for Truda

Schottelius to stand on the side of Jews?"

"What do you mean?" demanded Truda.

He continued to look at her steadily, but made no answer. She rose from her chair and took one step towards him; then paused. A tense moment of silence passed, and Truda Schottelius sighed.

"How did you know?" she asked, in a matter-of-fact tone.

The big young man smiled. "How did I know that you, too, were a Jew- is that what you mean?" Truda nodded. "Ah, Excellency, there is an instinct in this thing, and, besides, who but a Jew is a great artist nowadays? Believe me, there is not one of us from whom you could hide it."

"Is it as plain as that?" asked Truda.

"As plain as that," he replied. She laughed frankly, meeting his eyes with unabashed mirth, till he perforce smiled in sympathy.

"Then," she cried, "what, does it matter? Here I am, a Jewess. I cannot hide it. The first Jewish baby that cries for me wins me over; and there are worse things-yes, many worse things-than being knocked on the head by a drunken Christian. You didn't know that, did you?"

"I do not doubt what you say," he answered.

"You do not doubt!" repeated Truda, with quick contempt. "I tell you it is so, and I know. Yes!" For a moment her face darkened as though with memories. "But," she went on, "I have a place. I have a name. What I say will be heard."

"Yes," said the Jew simply. "What you say will be heard."

She nodded two or three times slowly. "Wait!" she said. "I know the Governor of this place; he is by way of being a friend of mine. And beyond him there are greater men all easy of access-to me. And beyond them is the sentiment of Europe, the soft hearts of the world, easiest and nearest of all. I tell you, something can be done; presently there will be a reckoning with these gentle Christians."

She had stirred him at last. "And you will acknowledge that you are a

Jewess?" he asked.

She laughed. "I will boast of it," she cried. "And now, this is the time to take the baby away, while I am nerved for sacrifices. Soon I shall have nothing left at all."

The young Jew looked over to the child, who was getting new effects out of a spoon and a dish of jam. "The child is in good hands," he said. "We shall know she is safe with you."

"Ah!" Truda turned to him with a light in her wonderful eyes. "I shall not fail you, if it were only for this."

"I am sure you will not fail your own people," he answered; "you do not come of traitors."

He patted the baby's cheek with a couple of big fingers and turned to the door.

"You do not come of traitors," he repeated, and then Truda was alone again with the child. But she did not go to it at once, to make sure of its company. She stood where the Jew had left her, deep in thought. And the manner of her thinking was not one of care; for the first time she seemed to taste a sense of freedom.

Of the wrath and bewilderment of her manager there is no need to speak; a long experience of famous actresses and singers had not exhausted that expert's capacity for despair. His pessimism gained some color that evening, when Truda had to face a house that was plainly willing to be unsympathetic; applause came doubtfully and in patches, till she gained a hold of them and made herself their master by main force of personality. Monsieur Vaucher, the manager, was still a connoisseur of art. Years of feeling the public pulse through the box-office had not stripped him of a certain shrewd perception of what was fine and what was mean in drama; and he chuckled and wagged his head in the wings as minute by minute the spell of Truda's genius strengthened, till there came that tenseness of silence in the great theatre which few actors live to know, and Truda, vibrant, taut- nerved, and superb, plucked at men's hearts as if they had been harp- strings. It was not till the curtain was down that the spell broke, and then crash upon crash roared the tumultuous applause of the audience.

It was Vaucher who rushed forward, as Truda came from the stage, to kiss her hand extravagantly.

"Ah! Madame!" he cried, looking up to her with his shrewd face working; "it is not for me to guide you. Do as you will by day, but be a genius at night. At this rate you could unman an army."

Truda smiled and withdrew her hand.

"That was Prince Sarasin in the great box," she said. "Presently he will send his card in."

Vaucher nodded. "That was he," he said. "He is Governor of this town.

Madame will receive him? Or not?"

"Oh yes; let him in to me," she answered. "He is an old friend of mine."

Vaucher bowed. "What a happiness for him, then!" he said gravely, and opened the door of her dressing-room for her.

Prince Sarasin lost no time in making Truda's word good. By the time she was ready to receive him, he was waiting for admission. He strode in, burly in his uniform, and bowed to her effusively, full of admiration. He was a great dark Russian, heavy and massive, with a big petulant face not without intelligence, and Truda had known him of old in Paris. She looked at him now with some anxiety, trying to gauge his susceptibility. He had the spacious manners of a man of action, smiled readily and with geniality; but Truda realized that she had never before made him a request, and the real character of the man was still to find.

"Superb! Magnificent!" he was saying. "You have ripened, my friend; your power has grown to maturity. It is people like you who make epochs."

"Sit down!" she bade him. "I am a little tired, as you may think.

Your town is hard on one's nerves, Prince."

"Hard!" He laughed as he drew a chair towards her and seated himself. "It is death to the intelligence. It is suffocation to one's finer nature. It has a dullness that turns men into vegetables. I have been here now for three years, and till to-night I have not felt a thrill."

"No?" Truda spoke lightly of design. "But you are the Governor, are you not? You are aloof, far above thrills. Why, it was only last night, while I was driving home, that I found a dead woman in the street."

"I know," he said. "And a live baby; I heard all about it. If you had been an hour later they would have been cleaned away. I am sorry if you were shocked."

"Shocked?" repeated Truda. "I was not thinking of that." She shivered a little, and gathered her big cloak more closely about her. "But I had not heard-I did not know-what the Judenhetze really was. And I think the world does not know, or it would not tolerate it."

"Eh?" The prince stared at her. "But it has upset yo

u," he said soothingly. "You must forget it. It is not well to dwell on these things."

The big mirror against the wall, bright with lights, reflected the pair of them sitting face to face in the attitude of intimacy. The Prince, bearded and big, felt protective and paternal, for Truda, muffled in her great cloak, looked very small and feminine just then.

His tone, so consoling and smooth, roused her; she sat up.

"Prince," she said, "you could stop it."

"The Judenhetze, you mean?" He made a gesture of resignation. "You are wrong, dear lady. I can do nothing. It does not rest with me."

"You mean, there are higher powers who are responsible?" she demanded.

"We will not talk politics," suggested the Prince. "But roughly that is what I mean."

She scanned him seriously. "Yes," she said; "I thought that was so.

And you can do nothing? I see."

"But why," asked the Prince-"why let yourself be troubled, dear lady? This is a pitiful business, no doubt; it has thrust itself on you by an accident; you are moved and disturbed. But, after all, the Jews are not our friends."

The courage to deal forthrightly was not lacking to her. As she sat up again, the fur cloak slipped, and her bare shoulders gleamed above it. Her face was grave with the gravity of a serious child.

"I am a Jewess," she said.

"Eh? What?" The Prince smiled uncertainly.

"I am a Jewess," repeated Truda. "The Jews are my friends. And if you can do nothing, there is something I can do."

He smiled still, but now there was amusement in his smile. He was not at all disconcerted.

"Do you know," he said, "I had almost guessed it? There is something in you-I noticed it again to-night, in your great scene-that suggests it. A sort of ardor, a glow, as it were; something burning and poignant. Well, if all the Jews were like you there would be no Judenhetze."

She put the futile compliment from her with a movement of impatience.

"You can still do nothing?" she asked

"My powers are where they were, Madame," he answered.

"Then," she said slowly, "it rests with me." She gathered her cloak about her again. "I am tired, as you see," she said wearily-"tired and a little strained. I will beg you to excuse me."

He rose to his feet at once and bowed formally.

"At least," he said, "such a matter is not to interrupt our friendship, Madame."

"It is for you to say," she answered, smiling faintly. He laughed, pressed her hand, and bade her good-night, leaving her with more matter for thought than he could have suspected.

There was real cheering for her that night when she left the theatre. Truda had been cheered before in many cities; but that night she took note of it, looking with attention at the thrusting crowd collected to applaud her. It filled the square, restless as a sea under the tall lamps; rank upon rank of shadow-barred faces showed themselves, vociferous and unanimous-a crowd in a good temper. She bowed in acknowledgment of the shouts, but her face was grave, for she was taking account of what it meant to be alone amid an alien multitude, sharing none of its motives and emotions. The fat coachman edged his horses through the men that blocked the way, till there was space to go ahead, and the cheers, steady and unflagging, followed her out of sight.

The baby was in bed when she arrived at her hotel; Truda paid a brief visit to its side, then ordered that her manager should be summoned, and sat down to write a note. It was to the big young Jew, the baby's uncle; she had a shrewd notion that Monsieur Vaucher would be able to lay hands on him. The note was brief: "I fear there will be more persecutions. The Governor can do nothing. When there is another attack on our people send to me. Send to me without fail, for I have one resource left."

"You can find the man?" she demanded of Vaucher.

The little hardened Frenchman was still under the spell of her acting.

"Madame," he said grandly, "I can do anything you desire. He shall have the note to-night."

Poor Monsieur Vaucher, the charred remains of a man of sentiment, preserving yet a spark or two of the soft fire! Could he have known the contents of that note and their significance, with what fervor of refusal he would have cast it back at her! But he knew nothing, save that Truda's acting restored to him sometimes for an hour or two the emotions of his youth, and he was very much her servant. It was in the spirit of devotion and service that he called a droshky, and fared out to the crooked streets of the Jewish quarter to do his errand. It was a fine soft night, with a clear sky of stars, and Monsieur Vaucher enjoyed the drive. And as he went, jolting over the cobbles of the lesser streets, he suffered himself to recall the great scene of that night's play-a long slow situation of a woman at bay, opposing increasing odds with increasing spirit-and experienced again his thrill.

"Ah," he murmured over his cigar; "the Schottelius, she has the sense of climax!"

And so he duly delivered the note and returned to the hotel and bed, a man content with the conduct of his own world.

Things went well with Truda and Vaucher and all the company for the next two days. Never had she been so amenable to those who charged themselves with her interests, never so generally and mildly amiable to those who had to live at her orders. But none of those who came in contact with her failed to observe a new note in her manner. It was not that she was softer or gentler; rather it seemed that she was more remote, something absent and thoughtful, with a touch of raptness that lent the true air of inspiration to her acting. Her spare time she spent with the baby-she and Marie, her maid, playing with it, making a plaything of it, ministering to it, and obeying it. It had never cried once since Truda had taken it in her arms, but adapted itself with the soundest skill to its surroundings and companions.

"I found it ten years too late," said Truda once.

Her maid looked at her curiously.

"It is surprising that Madame should not have found one before," she said.

Those two days were placid and full of peace, quiet with the lull of emptiness. But in them Truda did not forget. She was realizing herself, and her capacity to deal with a situation that would not be devised to show her talents. She felt that she stood, for the first time, on the threshold of brisk, perilous, actual life, of that life which was burlesqued, exaggerated, in the plays in which she acted. It was expectancy that softened her eyes and lit her face with dreams-expectancy and exhilaration.

She was about to be born into the world.

The summons came suddenly on the evening of the second day. Even as she drove to the theatre, Truda had noted how the streets were uneasy, how men stood about in groups and were in the first stages of drunkenness. The play that night was that harrowing thing La Tosca; she was dressed for her part when the word came, written on a scrap of paper: "It is to-night. I am waiting at the stage door." She pondered for a few moments over it, then reached for her cloak and drew it on over her brilliant stage dress.

"Find Vaucher," she said to her maid. "Tell him I cannot play to- night. He must put on my understudy. Say I am ill."

The maid, startled out of her composure, threw up her hands.

"But, Madame--!" she cried.

Truda waved her aside. "Lose no time," she ordered. "Tell Vaucher I am ill. And then go back to the baby."

She wasted no more words on the woman, but swept forth from the room and down the draughty ill-lit passage to the stage-door. Its guardian, staggered at her appearance, let her out; on the pavement outside, muffled to the eyes like a man that evades observation, was the big young Jew. He was gazing out over the square; her fingers on his arm made him look round with a start.

"I am here," she said. "Now tell me."

With eyes that glanced about warily while he spoke, he told her quickly, in low tones of haste.

"There is a mob gathering again at the market," he said. "Two spirit- shops have been broken open. That is how it begins always. Some Jews who were found in the street were beaten to death; soon they will move down to the Jewish streets, and then"-his breath came harsh through set teeth-"then murder and looting-the old programme. Now I have told you; can you do anything?"

"Let us find a droshky," said Truda, "and go to the Jewish quarter."

"A droshky!" He stared at her. "Do you think any driver will take us there to-night?"

"Then we can walk," said Truda; "show the way. If we stay here any longer, I shall be seen and prevented."

He hesitated an instant; then set off sharply, so that now and again she had to run a few paces to keep up with him. He took her round by the back of the theatre and into a muddle of streets that led thence. The quiet of the night closed about them; Truda was embarked upon her purpose.

"How can you help?" asked the young man again. "Tell me what you will do?"

"Me?" said Truda. "For to-night I can do nothing; I am not an army. But I think that after to-night there will be no more Judenhetze in this city. That is what I think. For, after all, I am the Schottelius; people know me and set a value on me, and if harm comes to me there will be a reckoning."

He was looking down sideways on her as she spoke.

"Is that all?" he asked.

"All!" cried Truda, and braced herself to subdue his doubts. "All! It is enough, and more than enough. Have I come so far without knowing what will rouse my audience?" She slowed her steps, and he slowed to keep by her side. She lifted her clear face proudly. "I tell you," she said, "the part I am to play to-night will move Europe to its core. Paris! Berlin! Vienna! Even cautious prim London! I have them under my hand; even to-morrow they will be asking an account, crying for the heads of the wrongdoers on a charger. And you ask me if that is all!"

"You do not know," he said. "To-night, it is not a play; it is life and death."

"But to-morrow it is life!" she retorted. "Let us go on; we must not be late."

They came by roundabout ways at last to that little groups of streets, beyond the jail and the markets, where the Jews had their homes. Here were tall brick houses overshadowing narrow streets ill- lit by infrequent lamps, little shops closely shuttered, courtyards with barred gates. Over the roofs there rose against the sky the clustered spires and domes of a typical Russian church, flanking the quarter on the south. The streets were empty; they met no one; and the young man led her to a courtyard in which, perhaps, a couple of hundred Jews were gathered, waiting. His knock brought a face to the top of the wall, and after a parley the great gate was opened wide enough to let them slip through. When they were in, Truda touched her companion.

"Would I be here for a fancy?" she whispered. "Believe what I say: after this there shall be no Judenhetze."

The courtyard was a large one, penned between a couple of houses, and separated from the street by the wall which the great gate pierced. From it half a dozen doors led into the houses, each a possible road of escape when the hour should come. Truda looked about her calmly.

The people were standing about in large groups-men, women, and children-and they spoke in whispers among themselves. But all of them were listening; each sound from without stiffened them to scared attention. From somewhere distant there traveled a dull noise of shouts and singing, a confused blatancy of far voices; and as it swelled and sank and swelled again, a tremor ran over that silent waiting throng like a wind-ripple on standing crops. Overhead the sky shone with pin-point stars; a breath of air stirred about them faintly; all seemed keyed to that tense furtive quiet of the doomed Jews. Not a child cried, not a woman sobbed; they had learned, direfully enough, the piteous art of the oppressed-the knack of silence and concealment.

It was by slow degrees that the distant shoutings came nearer; the mob had yet to unite in purpose and ferocity. Truda, listening, and marking its approach, could almost tell by the violence of its noise how it wound through the streets, staggering drunkenly, waving bludgeons, working itself to the necessary point of brutal fury. And always it grew nearer. Its note changed and deepened, till it sank to a long snarling drone; she, wise in the moods of men in the mass, a practicer on the minds of multitudes, knew the moment was at hand; this was the voice of human beings with the passions of beasts. The noise dwindled as the mob poured through an alley, and then broke out again, loud and daunting, as it emerged. It was near at hand; now there was added to its voice the drum of its footsteps on cobble- paved streets, and suddenly, brief and agonizing, a wild outcry of shrieks as some wretched creature was found out of hiding and the bludgeons beat it out of human semblance. All round Truda there was a stir among the Jews; a child wrought beyond endurance whimpered and was gagged under an apron; the howl of the mob startled her ears as it poured along the street outside the great gate.

Then came confusion, a chaos of voices, of ringing blows upon the gate, screams and moans, the shrill sound of the glee that goes with open murder, and a sudden light that shot up against the sky from a house on fire. The crowd of Jews in the courtyard thinned as some slipped swiftly into the dark doorways to be ready for flight, startled by a tattoo of blows on the gate that broke out abruptly. Truda stood fast where she was, listening with a kind of detachment. The blows on the gate increased; she could even hear, among the other sounds, the heavy breathing of those who strove to break a way in. Men came running to aid them, and the stout gate bent under their efforts. It was fastened within by an iron bar lying in sockets across it; with an interest that was almost idle she saw how these sockets, one by one, were yielding and let the bar go loose. One broke off with a sharp crack, and sent the rest of the Jews racing to the dark doorways. Truda loosened her cloak and let it fall about her feet, and stood up alone, vivid in the dancing light of the burning house, in saffron and white. She moved deliberate hands over her hair and patted a loose strand into its place. Another rending crash; she set her hand on her hip and stood still. The door yielded and sprang back. There was a raw yell, and the mob was in.

Prince Sarasin was again in his box when Monsieur Vaucher, broken in spirit and looking bleak and old, came before the curtain to announce that owing to circumstances-unforeseen circumstances-of a-a peculiar nature, Madame Schottelius would be unable to appear that night, and her place would be taken, etc. The announcement was not well received, and nobody was less pleased than the Prince. He knit his heavy brows in a scowl as poor Vaucher sidled back to obscurity, and thought rapidly. His thoughts, and what he knew of the night's programme in the Jewish quarter of his city, carried him round to the stage door, with his surprised aide-de-camp at his heels.

Monsieur Vaucher, tearful and impotent, was at his service.

"Never before has she played me such a trick," he lamented. "Ill! Why, I have known her go on and make a success when she was ill enough to keep another woman in bed. It is a trick; she is not even at the hotel. No one knows where she is."

The Governor, his last interview with Truda fresh in his recollection, asked curt questions. He was a man of direct mind. In less time than one might have supposed from the condition of poor Vaucher, he had elicited some outstanding facts-the note which Truda had sent to the Jewish quarter among them. The keeper of the stage- door added the little he knew. Prince Sarasin turned to his aide.

"Dragoons," he ordered. "Half a squadron. I shall be at the barracks in ten minutes, when they must be ready. Go at once."

The aide-de-camp, who knew the Prince, recognized that this was an occasion for speed. When the Prince, mounted, arrived at the barracks, the dragoons were drawn up-awaiting him. He moved them off towards the Jewish quarter at the trot. The streets echoed their hoof-beats, and little time elapsed before they were on the skirts of the mob. The Prince spurred alongside a watching police-officer.

"A lady!" repeated the officer, in amazement. "I have seen no lady, your Excellency. But the principal-er-disorder is in the street behind the church. The Jews are making no resistance at all."

The Prince pushed on, and came with his dragoons at the rear of the mob. With a fine Russian callousness he thrust into it, his horses clearing a way for themselves and bowling men to right and left. The street was in darkness and resounded with violence. Standing in his stirrups and peering ahead, the Prince realized that he might ride Truda down without ever seeing her.

He leaned back and caught his aide-de-camp by the arm.

"We must have light," he shouted. "Dismount a dozen men and fire a house."

At the order, men swung from their saddles, and in a few minutes the house was ablaze; its windows, red with fire, cast a dancing glow on the tumult of the street. They pressed on, the fire sparkling on their accoutrements, and on the housetops cowering Jews broke into tremblings at a wild hope that here was salvation. The Prince peered anxiously about, unconcerned at all the savagery that was unloosened to each side of him. He did not pause to aid a woman dragged shrieking from a doorway by the hair, nor look back at that other scream when a dragoon, unmanned and overwrought, reined from the ranks and cut her assailant down.

At one point the crowd was thick about the gate of a walled courtyard, thundering on it with crowbars and axes; here, again, the Prince paused to look sharply among them, lest somewhere there might be a brown head and a pale clear-cut face that he sought. Even as he tightened his bridle, the gate gave rendingly; he turned his head as the mob, roaring, poured in. For the space of perhaps a second he sat motionless and stricken, but it was long enough to see what he never forgot-a woman, composed, serene, bright against her dark background in the shifting light of the burning house, gay in saffron and white. Then the mob surged before her and hid her, and his voice returned to him.

"Charge!" he roared, and tore his sword out.

The dragoons, eager enough, followed him; the courtyard overflowed with them as their great horses thundered in at the gate, and the long swords got to their work on that packed and cornered throng. There were swift bitter passages as the troopers cleared the place- episodes such as only Jews knew till then, ghastly killings of men who crawled among the horses' feet and were hunted out to be slaughtered. And in the middle of it, the Prince was on his knees, holding up a brown head in the crook of his arm, seeing nothing of the butchery at his elbow.

It was when the killing was done, and the dragoons were clearing the street, that there arrived on tiptoe Monsieur Vaucher, searching through tears for Madame. When he saw her he ceased to weep, but stood looking down, with his hands clasped behind his back.

"Dead?" he asked abruptly.

The Prince glanced up. "Yes," he answered.

"Ah!" Monsieur Vaucher pondered. "Who killed her?" he asked presently.

"Look!" said the Prince, and motioned with one hand to the dragoons' leavings, the very silent citizens who lay about on the flagstones.

"Ah!" said Vaucher again. "And to-morrow the world will ask for an account. It is not wise to destroy a great genius like this, here in a corner of your dirty town. That is what you have to learn."

"Yes," said the Prince. "We shall learn something now. She gave her life to teach it. There will be no more Judenhetze in this city."

"Her life to teach it," repeated Monsieur Vaucher. "She gave her life." His composure failed him suddenly, and he fell on his knees on the other side of what had been Truda Schottelius, weeping openly.

"She never failed," he said. "She never failed. A great artist,

Monsieur, the Schottelius! She-she had the sense of climax!"

From the windows of the houses above them, scared curious Jews looked down uncomprehendingly.

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