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may Increase the distance between myself and the sheriff, neglecting the beauty which unfolds itself at my very door. I determined in future to open my eyes occasionally; but hunger put an end to my meditations. Food is required even on the most perfect day; by this time the literati must have met — and parted. Back to the city we sped, lunched at my club, thence to Lynnewood Hall, the palatial residence of Mr. Widener, some miles from the centre of the city.
On our arrival we were ushered, through the main entrance-hall, beautifully banked with rare flowers, into the gallery in which is housed one of the finest collections of pictures in America. Bennett and George Hellman were already there, and Mr. Widener, the old gentleman who had formed the collection, was doing the honors.
Harry, his grandson, was there, too, and to the amazement of Bennett welcomed me with outstretched arms. 'I got your telephone message, but too late to connect with you; I've been in New York. Why did you not come to lunch? You were not at your office. I left messages for you everywhere.'
Bennett looked greatly relieved; so I was not an intruder after all and, wonderful to relate, nothing had happened to Craig.
Mr. Widener seemed relieved to see me, and I soon grasped the reason. He did not know who his guest was.
'Who is this man?' he whispered to me.
'Arnold Bennett, the distinguished English author,' I replied.
'Does he know anything about pictures?' he asked.
'I have no doubt he does,' I replied. 'Here is a man who certainly does.' And I presented Craig, who, to the great relief of his host, was vocal.
And then I saw how things had been going. Bennett, with his almost un
canny power of observation, had seen and doubtless understood and appreciated everything in the gallery, but had remained mute; an 'Oh' or an 'Ah' had been all that Mr. Widener was able to extract from him. The old gentleman had seemingly been playing to an empty house, and it irked him. Craig had the gift of expression; knew that he was looking at some of the masterpieces of the world, and did not hesitate to say so.
We strolled from one gallery to another, and then it was suggested that perhaps we would care to see — But the afternoon was going; Bennett had to be in New York at a certain hour; it was time to move on.
'Spend another night in Philadelphia,' I said to Craig; 'you must not go without seeing Harry's books. After a while there will be tea and toast and marmalade and Scotch and soda; life will never be any better than it is at this minute.'
Craig did not require much urging. Why should he? We were honored guests in one of the finest houses in the country, in a museum, in fact, filled to overflowing with everything that taste could suggest and money buy; and for host we had the eldest son of the eldest son of the house, a young man distinguished for his knowledge, modesty, and courtesy. We went to Harry's apartment, where his books were kept, where I was most of all at home, and where finally his mother joined us. In the easy give-and-take of conversation time passed rapidly, until finally it was time to go, and we said good-bye. It was my last visit to Lynnewood Hall, as Harry's guest. Five months later, almost to a day, he found his watery grave in the Atlantic, a victim of the sinking of the Titanic.
On our way back to our hotel we agreed that we would go to the theatre
and have supper afterward; there was just time to change, once again gnawing a sandwich. By great good fortune there was a real comedy playing at one of the theatres; seats were secured without unusual difficulty, and we were soon quietly awaiting the rise of the curtain. After the performance we had supper, which had been ordered in advance. We were at the end of a perfect day, a red-letter day, a day never to be forgotten, Craig said. We had known each other something like twenty-four hours, yet we seemed like old friends.
'I can't hope to give you such a day as we have had, when you come to London; but you 'll look me up, won't you?'
'Yes, of course, and meantime I want you to do something for me.'
'Anything, my dear boy; what is it?'
'I want a presentation copy of Buried Alive, with an inscription in it from Arnold Bennett, and on a fly-leaf I want a little pencil sketch by you.'
'Right-o. I'll send it directly I get to New York.'
But I had to wait several days before I received a small package by express, which, on opening, I found to be a beautiful little water-color painting by Craig of the picturesque old stone bridge over the Thames at Sonning; and in another package, the book, Buried Alice, with a characteristic inscription. The author was doubtful of my identity to the very last, for he wrote, 'To Mr. Newton of Philadelphia, I believe, with best wishes from Arnold Bennett.'
BY JOSEPH AUSLANDER
The woods are still; the scent of old rain stirs
The architects of night are scaffolding
Our minster to a pandemonium
Of flute and timbrel, warmth of brass and string,
And thrill of triangle and tympanum;
The Reverend Beetle hems his/a's and do's,
And frogs intone their oratorios.
THE INTERPRETER. II
A ROMANCE OF THE EAST
BY L. ADAMS BECK
Early in the pure dawn the men came, and our boat was towed up into the Dal Lake through crystal waterways and flowery banks, the men on the path keeping step and straining at the rope until the bronze muscles stood out on their legs and backs, and shouting strong rhythmic phrases to mark the pull.
'They shout the Wondrous Names of God — as they are called,' said Vanna, when I asked. 'They always do that for a timed effort. Badshah! The Lord, the Compassionate, and so on. I don't think there is any religion about it, but it is as natural to them as one, two, three to us. It gives a tremendous lift. Watch and see.'
It was part of the delightful strangeness that we should move to that strong music.
We moored by a low bank, under a great wood of chenar trees, and saw the little table in the wilderness set in the greenest shade, with our chairs beside it, and my pipe laid reverently upon it by Kahdra.
Across the glittering water lay, on one side, the Shalimar Garden, known to all readers of Lalla Rookh — a paradise of roses; and beyond it again the lovelier gardens of Nur-Mahal, the Light of the Palace, that imperial woman who ruled India under the weak Emperor's name — she whose name he set
thus upon his coins: 'By order of King Jehangir, gold has a hundred splendors added to it by receiving the name of Nur-Jahan the Queen.'
Has any woman ever had a more royal homage than this most royal woman — known first as Mihr-u-Nissa, Sun of Women; later, as Nur-Mahal, Light of the Palace; and, latest, NurJahan-Begam, Queen, Light of the World?
Here, in these gardens, she had lived — had seen the snow mountains change from the silver of dawn to the illimitable rose of sunset. The life, the color beat insistently upon my brain. They built a world of magic where every moment was pure gold. Surely — surely to Vanna it must be the same! I believed in my very soul that she who gave and shared such joy could not be utterly apart from me.
Just then, in the sunset, she was sitting on deck, singing under her breath and looking absently away to the Gardens across the Lake. I could hear the words here and there, and knew them.
'Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar, Where are you now — who lies beneath
'Don't!' I said abruptly. 'You did that on purpose!'
'What?' she asked in surprise. 'That is the song everyone remembers here. Poor Laurence Hope! How she knew and loved my India! What are you grumbling at?'
Her smile stung me.
'Nevermind,'I said morosely. 'You don't understand. You never will.'
And yet I believed sometimes that she would — that time was on my side. When Kahdra and I pulled her across to Nur-Mahal's garden next day, how could I not believe it, her face was so full of joy as she looked at me for sympathy?
We were pulling in among the reeds and the huge carved leaves of the waterplants, and the snake-headed buds lolling upon them with the slippery halfsinister look that water-flowers have, as if their cold secret life belonged to the hidden water-world and not to ours. But now the boat was touching the little wooden steps.
Oh, beautiful, most beautiful — the green lawns, shaded with huge pyramids of the chenar trees; the terraced gardens where the marble steps climbed from one to the other, and the mountain streams flashed singing and shining down the carved marble slopes. Even in the glory of sunshine, the passing of all fair things was present with me as I saw the empty shell that had held the Pearl of Empire, and her roses that still bloom, her waters that still sing for others.
The spray of a hundred fountains was misty diamond-dust in the warm air laden with the scent of myriad flowers.
Kahdra followed us everywhere, singing his little tuneless, happy song. The world brimmed with beauty and joy. And we were together.
Words broke from me:—
'Vanna, let it be forever! Let us live here. I 'll give up all the world for this and you.'
'But you see,' she said delicately, 'it would be "giving up." You use the right word. It is not your life. It is a lovely holiday, no more. You would weary of it. You would want the city life and your own kind.'
I protested with all my soul. But she went on: —
'No. Indeed, I will say frankly that it would be lowering yourself to live a lotos-eating life among my people. It is a life with which you have no tie. A Westerner who lives like that steps down; he loses his birthright, just as an Easterner does who Europeanizes himself. He cannot live your life, nor you his. If you had work here, it would be different. No — six or eight weeks more; then go away and forget it.'
I turned from her. The serpent was in Paradise. When is he absent?
On one of the terraces a man was beating a tom-tom, and veiled women listened, grouped about him in brilliant colors.
'Is n't that all India?' she said; 'that dull reiterated sound? It half stupefies, half maddens. Once, at Darjiling, I saw the Llamas' Devil Dance: the soul, a white-faced child with eyes unnaturally enlarged, fleeing among a rabble of devils — the evil passions. It fled wildly here and there, and every way was blocked. The child fell on its knees, screaming dumbly — you could see the despair in the starting eyes; but all was drowned in the thunder of Thibetan drums. No mercy — no escape. Horrible!'
'Even in Europe the drum is awful,' I said. 'Do you remember in the French Revolution, how they drowned the victims' voices in a thunder-roll of drums?'
'I shall always see the face of the child, hunted down to hell, falling on its knees, and screaming without a sound, when I hear the drum. But listen — a flute! Now, if that were the Flute of Krishna, you would have to follow. Let us come!'
I could hear nothing of it; but she insisted, and we followed the music, inaudible to me, up the slopes of the garden that is the foot-hill of the mighty mountain of Mahadeo; and still I could hear nothing.
Vanna told me strange stories of the Apollo of India, whom all hearts most adore, even as the herd-girls adored him in his golden youth by Jumna River and in the pastures of Brindaban.
Next day we were climbing the hill to the ruins where the evil magician brought the King's daughter nightly to his will, flying low under a golden moon. Vanna took my arm, and I pulled her, laughing, up the steepest flowery slopes until we reached the height; and, lo! the arched windows were eyeless, a lonely breeze was blowing through the cloisters, and the beautiful yellowish stone arches supported nothing and were but frames for the blue of far lake and mountain and the divine sky. We climbed the broken stairs, where the lizards went by like flashes; and had I the tongues of men and angels, I could not tell the wonder that lay before us — the whole wide valley of Kashmir in summer glory, with its scented breeze singing, singing above it.
We sat on the crushed aromatic herbs and among the wild roses, and looked down.
'To think,' she said, 'that we might have died and never seen it!'
There followed a long silence. I thought she was tired and would not break it. Suddenly she spoke in a strange voice, low and toneless: —
'The story of this place. She was the Princess Padmavati, and her home was in Ayodhya. When she woke and found
herself here by the lake, she was so terrified that she flung herself in and was drowned. They held her back, but she died.'
'How do you know?'
'Because a wandering monk came to the abbey of Tahk-i-Bahi near Peshawar, and told Vasettha the Abbot.'
I had nearly spoiled it all by an exclamation, but I held myself back. I saw she was dreaming awake and was unconscious of what she said.
'The Abbot said, "Do not describe her. What talk is this for holy men? The young monks must not hear. Some of them have never seen a woman. Should a monk speak of such toys?" But the wanderer disobeyed and spoke, and there was a great tumult, and the monks threw him out at the command of the young Abbot, and he wandered down to Peshawar; and it was he later — the evil one! — that brought his sister, Lilavanti the Dancer, to Peshawar, and the Abbot fell into her snare. That was his revenge!'
Her face was fixed and strange; for a moment her cheeks looked hollow, her eyes dim and grief-worn. What was she seeing? what remembering? Was it a story — a memory? What was it?
'Men have said so; but for it he surrendered the Peace. Do not speak of her accursed beauty.'
Her voice died away to a drowsy murmur; her head dropped on my shoulder; and for the mere delight of contact I sat still and scarcely breathed, praying that she might speak again. But the good minute was gone. She drew one or two deep breaths, and sat up with a bewildered look, which quickly passed, and left only a painful knitting of the brows.
'I was quite sleepy for a minute. The climb was so strenuous. Hark — I hear the Flute of Krishna again.'
Again I could hear nothing, but she said it was sounding from the trees at the base of the hill. Later, when we