MY AUSTRIAN LOVE
* * * * * *
By the same Author:
_The Story of a Coincidence._
_The Times_: "A highly romantic tale, well knit and well told."
_The Daily Graphic_: "A unique achievement."
_The Athenæum_: "An excellent story."
_The Globe_: "A literary _tour de force_."
_Birmingham Mercury_: "A masterly work."
_Birmingham Gazette_: "Wonderful."
_Glasgow Herald_: "Freshly written, deliciously holding our attention
etc., etc., etc.
No Lover of Fiction can Afford to miss Reading
* * * * * *
MY AUSTRIAN LOVE
The History of the Adventures of an English Composer in Vienna
Written in the Trenches
(Author of "Montorel.")
The Iris Publishing Co.
30-31 Furnival Street, E.C. 4.
_Many of the personages are genuine. Maurus Giulay, for instance,
whose initials I have kept, and Bischoff. As for Hammer, I think that
musicians will easily recognize Anton Bruckner, the famous antagonist
_What more have I to say?_
_Not much.--Only to ask my readers to be as indulgent towards_ "MY
AUSTRIAN LOVE" _as they were towards_ "MONTOREL."
(_Does not mean Member of Parliament._)
Exactly in the middle of the railway bridge by which the Salzach is
spanned Bavarian territory ceases and Austria begins. I knew that; but
I was much less impressed by this probably interesting fact (for, why
on earth would one have taken so much care to inform me, if it were
not interesting?) than by the singular beauty of the spot. I had just
a glimpse of the two isolated hills between which the river flows, of
the lovely valley thus formed, and of the lofty fortress that rises
above the towers and spires of the city. In the next minute the train
stopped and cries of "Salzburg, all change!" or its German equivalent,
At once my neighbour, an irascible Frenchman, who from Munich had
shared the carriage with me, flew up in a rage, gesticulating, full of
"It is not true," he cried, "I don't have to change!"
I muttered something like "Custom Regulations," but he went on
"It is not true! I was told in Paris that the handbags and the other
small things would be examined in the carriage, and the heavy luggage
in Vienna. I refuse to get out."
He was right. I had been told the same thing in Munich, but, as an
Englishman, I was wont to hold my peace. So I alighted.
In the same minute an official approached our carriage and invited
the Frenchman to do as he was bid. The official was not very polite,
it must be said in justice to the Parisian, but the latter clamoured
at once, shaking his fists: "It was disgusting, and he was going to
do as it pleased him!" Whereupon the man with the red cap introduced
himself in a gruff voice as an Imperial and Royal Official and menaced
his antagonist with immediate arrest. I tried to dissuade both from
quarrelling, but the Frenchman was deaf to all reason.
When at last a police officer came, the nervous little man left the
carriage with an explosion of wrath and stormed to the door leading
into the station building. What further happened to him, I do not
know, nor will the reader ever learn it. For this Frenchman had
evidently been created only to set free a certain corner seat in my
For various reasons, a few of which will appear in this story, I will
probably never return to Austria. But, gentle reader, _you_ may visit
this beautiful country. Well, if you chance to travel in a first-class
corridor carriage numbered P.3.33, and in the section marked C, greet
the corner seats next to the window from me. Not because I sat in one
of these corner seats when my story opened, nor because the other was
occupied by the irascible little Frenchman, who has already stepped out
of my story, but for the sake of the traveller who succeeded him and
who was no less a person than the heroine of this book.
And now I will try and tell you all about it, or better, about her,
supposing that the noise of the shells does not disturb me too much.
For you must know that I am writing in the trenches. After all, I am
used to the continuous concert, and I am not fifty yards distant from a
man who is working on a chemistry treatise.
I had opened my boxes and bags, and had closed them again after a
customs officer's pretence at looking at the things which were inside.
I wanted now to go back to my carriage, but was told that I had to
pass through an adjoining room. Heaven does not know why; much less
does anybody else. In that room, out of which a glass door led to the
platform, I had to wait. Not many minutes, I was assured; but their
quality made up for the quantity. They were hateful minutes. There I
was, pasted (if I may say so) to that glass door and looking at that
unreachable goal, my carriage, which was standing just in front of me.
Outside a few travellers, favoured for some unknown reason, either by
the officials or by fate, were walking leisurely up and down, and I
noticed amongst them a very smart officer with a tall lady. He was
revolving around her with courtesies that reminded me singularly
of a cock's compliments to a hen. He had a most wonderful uniform
which fitted him to perfection. He had also a moustache, oh, what a
moustache! It gave me an idea of how his horse must be curried. And he
wore a single eye-glass, which obliged him to make the most charming
grimaces. He was holding his sword by the hilt, except at such moments
when he let it drag along the ground, in order to produce a graceful
clinking which I could hear through my accursed glass door.
At last we were relieved and set free. I hurried to my carriage to find
that the porter whom I had entrusted with my bags and valises had set
them down so as to mark all the seats. I would be alone.
"Are all the seats in this section occupied?" asked a rather rattling
voice behind me.
I turned round and saw my pretty officer with his lady.
"No," I answered, "I think I am alone," whereupon the lady at once
entered the carriage. The officer remained outside and closed the
door while she, lowering the window, leaned outside to continue her
conversation. I guessed that my journey would be _en tête à tête_, and,
of course, wondered whether she was young and pretty. Her companion
was himself such an accomplished beauty, that I had in fact omitted to
look at her. Anyhow, what I saw at present, although it was the wrong
side only, the reverse of the medal, to be polite, was not at all to be
despised. But when the toss was made, would the head be worthy of the
At last a faint whistle was heard.
"Remember to write!" exclaimed the officer outside, while the train
stirred, moved groaning forward, and slowly began rolling out of the
station. For a while the lady remained leaning out of the window and
waving her handkerchief. Then, at length, she sat back in her seat, the
seat which the little Frenchman had occupied, and from which his temper
(or was it my luck?) had removed him.
She was uncommonly pretty, although she at once assumed an elaborate
air of indifference. She even pouted a little, but it only helped to
show her fleshy, red lips to a better advantage. And her features were
much too soft as to be spoiled by that alleged air of indifference.
They were not very regular, these features, but they formed a handsome
whole. And now, as a little smile crept over them, a dimple, a tiny,
sweet dimple, appeared near the left corner of her mouth.
Why had she smiled? To show that dimple and her lovely teeth? Or had
she been thinking of her companion? That smile--was it coquetry, or
some pleasing remembrance? Or had mockery made her smile?
What was she to that officer? A sister? A wife? A mistress?
How old was she? I wished she would take off that bonnet. Bonnets
deceive. This is the reason why they play such an important part in
I did not know much about millinery, but this was rather a showy
bonnet. So was the rest of the toilet. She looked like an officer's
wife. Besides, had she been his sister, he would scarcely have played
the cock and hen game. But then, if she was his wife, he probably would
not have played it either! His had been a suitor's behaviour.
I had reached this point of my meditations when she took off her
gloves, and I saw that she had no rings on her fingers. And then, as
if to satisfy my wishes, she removed the bonnet. She was fair, with a
copper sheen on her hair, and probably not more than twenty.
My penetration, for I thought myself pretty shrewd and sharp-sighted,
constructed now rapidly the following theory: _She_ was a young
gentlewoman, her tall figure being a proof of her high breed. She was
well off, the showy dress and her travelling first-class confirmed it.
She was nicely brought up, as became a young and noble lady, for she
wore no jewellery. (In my idea wearing jewellery is inconsistent with
a young lady's good education.) As for the officer, he was neither a
brother, nor a husband, nor a lover, but some friend or relation, who
had just accompanied her to the railway station in order to help her
with her luggage, and so on.
Now, all this proves only, that I was then an inexperienced youth
of 21, easy of belief, and superficial. If I tell you that I was a
musician (I do not say: I _am_; I say: I _was_) you will understand my
* * * * *
I had to interrupt my history. Our Father which is in the War Office
had sent us our daily jam. I wonder whether my pretty Austrian officer,
whom I first saw eight years ago at the Salzburg railway station, is
still alive, and whether he has jam, too? And whether he thinks of me
as I do of him, and whether he remembers that Sunday afternoon when he
put her, my Austrian love, in my railway carriage?
She was sitting there, looking out of the window. It was now a quarter
of an hour since we had left Salzburg, and the train had got on its
even, rapid pace that it would keep up for the afternoon.
I did not dare to speak to my fair Comtesse. This was the rank which
my imagination had given her. If, when travelling, you do not start a
conversation at once, you generally never will. So I fretted. I had
nothing to read, not even a paper. I did not want to sleep, besides, I
never could sleep on a train. As for her, she hardly moved.
Thus another quarter of an hour had passed, when the conductor, opening
the door of the corridor, asked for our tickets. I could not help
feeling surprised when I saw the man, for he looked somewhat like a
twin brother of the little Frenchman. He was of the same size, had
the same black hair, the same black moustache and pointed tuft of
beard on his chin. It was so striking that my English brain, brought
up chiefly on detective stories, smelt at once a mystery. I could not
refrain from stepping out with him on to the corridor where, in order
to make certain whether the little Frenchman and the conductor were but
one person, I asked him what the next stop was. He answered and began
chatting. It was quite another voice and, while my Frenchman spoke
German only with great difficulty, this conductor gave me an example
of the volubility with which the Viennese people speak their broad,
good-humoured dialect. The mystery was only chance.
"A nice girl," said the man smiling and blinking with his eyes half
closed in the direction of the Comtesse.
"Where is she travelling to?" I asked.
"Vienna," he answered. And then, raising his eyes with a matchmaking
expression under his black eyebrows, "I travel the whole way with you,"
said he. "If you will, I'll try and leave you alone with her."
I understood. My backsheesh was soon handed over, whereupon--I
suppose--that high-priest of the railway church mentally pronounced the
decisive words which were to unite us for the duration of our journey.
I must say, however, that this matrimonial benediction took no
immediate effect. For when I returned to my seat, I still had no
courage to talk to my fair _vis-à-vis_.
She had not moved and was looking with desperate equanimity at the
landscape that was galloping before her eyes.
I felt silly. I often do.
Like a child, I busied myself with the window strap. It was at that
moment that I noticed the small white plate affixed to the door:
| P. 3.33. C. |
P. 3.33 was the number of the car, and C the number of the section.
But P. C. were also the initials of my name. And, as I have not yet
introduced myself to the reader, I take this opportunity of telling
him (or her) that my name is Patrick Cooper, of London, son of Daniel
Cooper and Co., Ltd., insurance brokers, (_and Co._ being quite a
negligible quantity, while _Ltd._ is not).
I suppose that music and superstition must be of a very near
relationship. Even now, although I am no longer a musician, but a
Lance-Corporal (all honour to me!) my superstition survives. For
instance: I am a passionate hunter of rats. Well, whenever I miss one,
you may be sure that the next lot of bacon we get is bad.
Therefore it will be admitted that the discovery of my initials on the
plate of the carriage door could not but fill me with a certain awe.
Yet, not with awe alone! Also with curiosity. What was the meaning of
I spent a few minutes over this highly interesting riddle, until
another thought came, namely: If I were not soon to engage in
conversation with the Comtesse, I should have spent my backsheesh in
I looked at my watch. It was half-past three, which meant that I had
already lost fifty minutes. All right! The figures 3.33 were to have
a meaning. If in three minutes, at 3.33, nothing happened, _I would
talk_. The weather might afford quite a suitable topic, if not new nor
in any way sensational, so at least not at all offensive. I accordingly
prepared myself. Two minutes.--One minute and a half.--One minute.--A
The Westinghouse brake underneath the car made itself heard with a
grating, harsh shriek, there was a shock that ran through the train,
and at 3.33 exactly the Comtesse was pitched from her seat into my
arms, while one of my bags came to the floor and the train to a sudden
halt. In the next second, however, a terrific dash made it move
backwards, and we were both thrown from my seat into her's.
"What is it?" asked the fair one, after we had struggled out of our
Outside many people began to cry all at once and hurried footsteps were
"There is something wrong," answered I.
There was, indeed. On that particular spot the line, for some technical
reason, was only single tracked, and railway smashes were therefore not
The Comtesse wanted to alight at once, but I held her back.
"What for?" I asked. "Are you not all right here? The worst is over. If
there is anything to be seen, it must be most unpleasant."
She settled down again in her seat. Her fright had apparently been
great, to judge from her paleness and from the way she looked, wide
eyed, at me. Out of the bag which had tumbled down from the net, I took
a flask of brandy and a little goblet.
"Drink this," I said, offering her a few drops.
She accepted, and then:
"How phlegmatic you English are!" said she. "Look at these people...."
The excitement outside was incredible. Strange voices were heard.
Passengers and railway servants were running up and down in a most
foolish and useless fashion. Two gentlemen were shouting at each other;
they were in a hot discussion about what was to be done. One woman
was kneeling and praying hysterically at the foot of a telegraph post
which she probably was mistaking for a way-side cross. And everybody
was talking, crying. It was all the more ridiculous, as there had, in
fact, happened nothing of importance. Both engines and the luggage vans
were badly damaged, but nobody was injured. If I want to imagine, what
it means nowadays when I read: "Austrians defeated"--I have only to
remember this scene of panic and disorder, and I know at once.
Nothing, so to say, had happened; but the men, having all lost their
presence of mind, behaved like sheep, looking to each other, appealing
for help, while most of the women were weeping, pallid, with cadaverous
In England everybody would have been quiet, perhaps a little annoyed,
perhaps amused, but in any case not a bit frightened. That was why the
Comtesse had called me phlegmatic. I hoped that it was my calmness
which had made her guess my English nationality: I was too proud of my
German to suspect that my pronounciation had betrayed me.
Anyhow, the ice was broken, and we were now chatting comfortably.
Slowly the excitement of the other passengers subsided and a period
of silence followed. People went back into their carriages. Even
the little conductor had disappeared; he was walking to the next
signal-box, where he would telephone for help. The wait seemed
The Comtesse began to fidget.
"You still look a little pale," said I. "Do you feel well?"
She nodded meekly.
"But not entirely well? You feel tired? You have got a headache?"
"No, no!" she protested smilingly.
"I see. You want a little more brandy."
"No, no," she repeated.
But I was not satisfied. She seemed distressed.
"You are anxious about your luggage. Do you want me to go and see?"
"I have no luggage."
"You have no luggage?"
I was surprised. For she had brought none into the car either. Still,
that was no business of mine.
"Can't I do anything for you?"
"You may tell me the time."
"It is a quarter past four."
"And since when are we here?"
I named the foreshadowed moment:
"Three-quarters of an hour!" she cried. "But we will arrive in Vienna
at an impossible hour."
She looked alarmed.
At last, after what appeared an endless delay, but what was in reality
only another half-hour, an engine arrived, and both trains tied
together were drawn into the next station. There followed a lot of
manoeuvring; the train which had run into our's had first to be removed,
and then the two engines, of which only the wheels were still in a
possible state. The luggage van was replaced and the luggage repacked.
And, finally, at nearly six o'clock, we resumed our journey at a
The young lady seemed rather oppressed, probably by visions of
some more terrific accidents. Each time, when there was a switch,
the jolting caused by transferring the carriage from one line of
rails to another seemed to send a thrill of fear through her frame.
Nevertheless, she proved a very willing and agreeable talker. Perhaps
was she too nervous to keep silent, for I had to inform her of the
time every quarter of an hour. But she did not tell me why; whether
somebody was awaiting her, or whether there was some particular reason
for her to dread her late arrival. Nor did I learn anything about her.
She remained clad in mystery. After several hours' conversation I did
not know any more of her than when I had seen her first. On the other
hand, she knew all about me and, as a matter of fact, I suppose that
it was I who did most of the talking. I tried thus, by showing my
confidence, to win hers. But in vain.
At last we reached Vienna. We were full three hours late. As she had
told me about the difficulty of getting a cab, I asked her whether I
might not go and fetch her one.
"Yes! She would be pleased!"
So, having designated a certain pillar in the great hall, where she was
to wait for me with my bags, I went in search of a Jehu. (I do not know
whether in Vienna _Jehu_ would be an acceptable nickname, but never
mind.) It was not a very easy task, and I had plenty of time to prepare
myself for the three questions which I absolutely must ask her before
we parted: Whether, when, and where I should see her again. I knew that
in Vienna it was the fashion to kiss the hand of a lady at such a
moment. And I saw myself already bending over her hand and kissing it,
asking her the fateful questions.
But, when after ten minutes I came back, the fair Comtesse had gone. My
bags were standing lonely near the pillar and greeted me with a mocking
Sergeant Young gives a few orders and then turns to me.
"I have read that first chapter of your book," he says. "For a man
without any experience as a writer it is not so bad. But, of course...."
Sergeant Young, my particular chum, is the most extraordinary man
of the regiment. Take a pint each of Figaro and d'Artagnan, half a
pint of demigod, a spoonful each of Scotchman, Frenchman, and South
African, mix well and put into khaki: You will have Sergeant Young
ready for use. Since the beginning of the war he has been dreaming of
a commission and, my word, nobody ever deserved one if he does not.
We have been together at the Dardanelles, and what remains of our
Division--although it is not much--was saved by him.
He is a funny man. You do not know whether he is rich or poor, for
one day he has the manner of a _grand seigneur_ and the next day he
is satisfied with a beggar's fare. You cannot guess what he is in
civil life. At one moment you may take him for a broker from the Stock
Exchange, at the next for an art critic, or a farmer, an innkeeper, an
accountant, a horsebreaker, a historian, or a miner. We only know that
he is a splendid soldier and an excellent fellow.
It is in his quality of an art critic that I have given him to read the
first chapter of my book.
"You see," says he, "if I were to write a book, I would begin with the
"I do begin with the beginning," I retort, "only there are some
preliminary facts which may as well be told in the course of the
narrative. I like to enter _in medias res_."
"You need not swank about your Latin," he answers. "You remind me of
the War Office. _They_ (he has an undescribable way of accentuating the
word _they_ when he speaks of the War Office) _they_, too, like young
officers to get acquainted with the 'preliminary facts in the course
of the narrative'; while my opinion is: An officer must begin with the
beginning. Look here, P. C., suppose you had been Holy Moses, you
would have written the Bible thus: 'God created man in his own image,
after having created the great whales, and even at an earlier date two
great lights. I may as well tell you that before that he had said: Let
there be light, and that at the very beginning he had created heaven
And very sternly the Sergeant adds:
"I wish to know why you were in Munich...?"
"I wanted to improve myself in the noble art of composition."
"Don't interrupt me ... and why you left it for Vienna?"
"I will tell you."
_He_: "Not yet. I must hear about another thing first. Did you miss a
_I_ (_with an expression of guilt_): "I did."
_He_: "I thought as much. But that bacon was not bacon at all, and
therefore ought not to have been bad. We will find a prompt remedy to
this sort of things. Write down what I will dictate to you."
I take a sheet of paper and my fountain pen. It's one I found on the
body of a dead Turk, but, my word, he might have bought a decent one
before getting shot.
This is what the Sergeant dictates:
"To the Editor of the _Evening News_,
"The enemy is in our midst, and our brave army is sold to alien
scoundrels. Some Germans have secured Government contracts for
bacon. But, of course, the Government, which never knows what to do
when the _Evening News_ has not told them beforehand, have omitted
the principal thing. Is there a single word in these contracts to
specify that bacon must be flesh of swine? What Tommy gets under the
designation of bacon I don't know, but the German contractors do.
"You sign," he adds.
"Your name?" I ask.
"My name? Never!" he cries.
His name is the one thing of which he is afraid. When he but thinks
of his name his heart sinks. His name is his secret. He has enlisted
under a false name. He calls himself Charles Young, but in reality he
is Friedrich Wilhelm Young.
When my chum was born, his father was under the influence of the deeds
of the then Crown Prince, our dearly beloved Big Willy's dad. It was
at that time the fashion to admire, nay, to love the German. Love is
blind, and old Young called young Young: Friedrich Wilhelm.
Under this name he fought in the Boer War and climbed up the ladder
from Private to Captain, while his brother Charles only advanced from
Private to Corporal. After the Boer War Friedrich Wilhelm went back to
ordinary civil life, and poor Charles--the real Charles, of course--was
gathered to his people (to avoid saying crudely that he died).
Now, when the world skirmish began, Friedrich Wilhelm wanted to enlist
again. But he was afraid lest his name should be against him, and that
_they_, taking him for a German, should not give him any chance of
advancement. So he took his brother's papers and enlisted as Corporal
Charles Young. The commission, he thought, would come in time. He
became Sergeant; the commission, however, failed to come. He did
wonders, yet he did not ... succeed.
One day, when Lord Kitchener came to France and had a look at his men,
he saw my friend.
Kitchener had a marvellous memory. He recognized him.
"Your name?" he asked.
"Sergeant Young, sir."
"Any relation of Captain Friedrich Wilhelm Young, of the ......th
"His brother, sir."
"What is he doing?"
"He is dead, sir."
"That is a great pity. He would be a Colonel by now, I am sure. He was
very like you."
You cannot ask for more of a man, even of Kitchener. Sergeant Young
asked for more, for a commission, but he did not get it. And since that
day he is vexed, displeased, angry with his name. He positively dreads
it. He never signs anything when he can avoid it, and if he does his
signature is illegible. Even I must not sign for him.
So I put my own name at the end of the letter to the _Evening News_, my
name, Patrick Cooper, out of which the Sergeant has made first P. C.,
then Police Constable, and finally Privy Councillor.
It is in the quality of Privy Councillor that I address my chum, when
suddenly a vivid fusillade bursts forth.
"I say, Sergeant, don't you think we are damn short of hand grenades?"
Instantly the soldier in Charles Young awakes.
"How can it be possible?"
"I can't tell you."
For one minute he reflects. Then, suddenly, he bursts out:
"They will never learn any sense! So many hand grenades for each
hundred yards! Whether the hundred yards are more or less exposed, they
do not care! Without you, P. C., and me things would get desperate. But
I'll keep an eye open."
There he stands erect, the nostrils of his big nose vibrating, flushed
and eager, with his air of a natural leader. One more minute he
ponders, and then:
"So long!" he says, and stamps away.
"I'm not going to let you go out in a rain of shrapnel like this,"
I cry, and try to hold him back. But he is not to be dissuaded, and
storms out into the pelting rain of shells and bullets. Instantly the
sound of his steps is lost in the roar of the iron downpour.
I pause for a moment. What can I do? This is such an everyday incident.
Impending death is nothing in the least extraordinary. So, while the
various sounds of war mingle in one single note, clamorous, huge,
colossal, I resume my MS. and will tell a few of the "preliminary
facts" Sergeant Young is so eager to know.
* * * * *
Of course, I was born at Hampstead. Sons of insurance brokers often
are. You cannot read a biography of Mozart without finding some
reference to the influence the beautiful country of Salzburg (see first
chapter) had on his talent. I had to do with Hampstead; Belsize Park
to be exact. The result is obvious. Mozart, when five, performed his
first concerto publicly in the hall of the Salzburg University. I did
not. Still I composed little waltzes. When six, Mozart was so innocent
and natural that, after having played at Vienna before the Empress, he
sprang upon her lap and kissed her heartily. I will not tell you tales
and assert that I sprang upon Queen Victoria's lap, but I beat Mozart
on one point: I published at eight (needless to say that dad paid the
printing expenses) six sets of waltzes for the piano, while Mozart
published only two sets of sonatas for the harpsichord and violin.
From this moment Mozart's life and mine differ more and more. Mozart
came to London and lodged in Cecil Court, St. Martin's Lane, while I
went to a preparatory school, the address of which I have forgotten.
Afterwards Mozart removed to Frith Street, Soho, and gave concerts in
the Great Hall at Spring Gardens and at Ranelagh, while I was sent to
For years football and cricket interested me more than music. Contrary
to the usual state of things, my mother did not believe in my musical
talent, and my father did. Why! Had he not spent more than £30 on the
printing of my waltzes (which, by the way, remained for ten years my
_opus_ one and only)? Of course they had not sold; but that proved
that I was a genius. Only potboilers sold, in dad's mind. Had Wagner's
works sold at the beginning? A composer I was born, and a composer
I should remain. Mother would shake her head, but father was used
to having his own way. So I had plenty of piano lessons on the "You
need not practise to become a good pianist" method, and at eighteen
I started anew, composing some more waltzes, of course much more
They were printed, and although they proved once more the work of a
genius, viz.: unsaleable, I managed to make a handsome profit on them.
Daniel Cooper and Co., Insurance Brokers, returned to his printer, who
asked this time for £44. Poor dad was quite willing to shell out, but I
found the figure preposterous.
"I bet you," I declared, "that I will get it for half the price."
Daniel Cooper and Co. at once handed me a cheque for £22, and after
much useless running about I had the thing printed in Germany for £11,
and very nicely, too.
In the following two years I had several opportunities for similar
transactions. But--I blush in writing it down this was the only money I
Finally mother declared that she was sick of the whole business, that
a musician must have some sort of knowledge of his art, that music
and Hampstead were inconsistent, and that music was not only cheaply
printed in Germany but also well taught.
Months, however, went by before at last I was sent away. This delay was
caused by mother's idea, that I must go and study in Leipzig, because
my music was being printed there, while I wished to go to Vienna, where
most of the great composers had worked and starved.
Now, as I had on the one hand no wish at all to starve and but little
desire to work, and on the other hand plenty of pocket money, no one
will be surprised to hear that I postponed the beginning of my studies
for a few days and had a look at the city of Strauss and Lanner. For as
such Vienna appeared to me at first, and this impression remained to
Of all the towns of Europe Vienna is the Terpsichorean town.
The Viennese are passionately fond of dancing, and the women,
distinguished as they are by beauty, charm, and elegance, indulge in
its pleasure even at the cost of more solid qualities. And they are
dressed! In Paris dressing is a luxury, in London it is a mistake,
in Berlin an impoliteness, but in Vienna it is a fine art. Ah, the
Viennese women! You must admire them, whether you see the fashionable
ladies parading in their carriages on a May day in the principal Avenue
of the Prater, or the jolly, boisterous girls whirling about in October
in the dancing room of one of the village style inns where the new wine
And there is always the same swing of the waltz, ever melodious, never
monotonous, the same in the large brilliant cafés of the Prater as in
the small, modest wine shops.
Oh Vienna! Town of song and dance, where is thy happiness now?
How these gay, pleasure-loving, genial people, so full of _bonhomie_
and so markedly different from the nasty inhabitants of Berlin, could
start this horrible war, is the one thing that must astonish anybody
who knows Vienna even a little. I will say here, that one of the
reasons why I write this book is precisely that I believe I have an
explanation for this riddle, which seems nearly incapable of being
These first days of Vienna appear to my memory as a kind of storm
of jubilation, as a tempest of laughter and cries of amusement, of
shouting and singing, of the frolicking of light feet, of the sweet
weeping of violins.
And only the fact that I was living in a very middling first-class
hotel spoiled my pleasure. It meant much money and little comfort. It
meant, too, service by the worst waiters in the world. I don't know
what London has ever found in the German or more correctly Austrian
waiter. Happily the war has cleared him away. And even then a mistake,
a prejudice was necessary. For we are not rid of him because he was a
rotten waiter, but because the _Evening News_ took this creature, the
most brainless in the world, for a ... spy.
At least, after a week, remorse came. Here I was, in Vienna, supposed
to learn the gentle art of music, and in reality spending the money
of Daniel Cooper and Co., Insurance Brokers, London, E.C., on ...
No! I am not going to blush over all the details. Besides, you have
sufficient imagination to blush for me.
But while I talk of blushing, I may as well tell you that I was not
found worthy of entering the _conservatoire_. This I regretted only
because I had heard of an abundant flora of pretty girls which was to
be found there. For every other reason private lessons seemed to me the
better way to get acquainted with the mysteries of harmony and counter
I enquired and my choice fell soon on a man who, as an organist, was a
local celebrity, although he had failed to achieve much success as a
composer. His name was Robert Hammer, he was a genius and accordingly
When I went to see him, I was really shocked, so great seemed his
distress. His apartment on the top floor of a house in the suburbs was
composed of one small room. There was a small iron bed, covered with
big parcels of manuscripts, and a baby grand piano, also covered with
music paper. There was a plain deal table, a kitchen table in fact,
again heaped with papers, and two wooden chairs which excluded all
idea of taking one's ease. The walls were hung with an old discoloured
paper, and quite unadorned, save by a colour print representing the old
Emperor Francis Joseph.
The master--he was nearly seventy--seemed exceedingly shy. He did
not appear to be greatly struck with the idea of giving lessons to a
Mozart, even to one born in Belsize Park. He absolutely refused to name
a figure as a payment for his trouble, and I had to name mine which,
from an insurance broker's point of view, was cheap enough, but which
evidently was a decisive factor for a starving Viennese musician.
He accepted, and the lessons began.
How can I give you an idea of old Robert Hammer? Imagine a sort of
middle height peasant with a flavour of a protestant parson, the head
of a Roman Emperor, Claudius, for instance; bald, but so bald, as
to make believe that it was an artificial baldness, an exaggerated
baldness that extended to the neck and the temples; no beard, no
moustaches, no eyebrows. He was always dressed in black; his trousers
were shaped like those of a British sailor, the coat ill fitting, too
long and too wide, the sleeves reaching the fingertips. His collar was
so narrow that it was scarcely visible, and his black tie resembled a
shoe lace. As for his boots, I think it must be he who invented the
fashion of the dainty things we wear in the trenches. He was always
rolling a little snuff between his fingers. When he sat down to
improvise on the organ or the piano, that little snuff was dexterously
moved from the right to the left and back to the right and again to
the left, according as the one or the other hand was in the better
position to play with three fingers only. Of course, by degrees all the
snuff would be lost and scattered over the keys. Then only old Hammer
would do the really impossible thing, namely, juggle away the imaginary
remains of the snuff into his nose.
He was at once a genius and a perfect fool, an old man and a baby; he
possessed all possible refinement in his art, and was ignorant of any
in life; no organist ever reached his perfection; no musician was a
He was a very friendly, kind man as long as his unbelievable absence
of mind did not interfere with his kindness. He was one of the many
types of Viennese musicians, and I do not think that you could find in
the whole world one that would resemble him.
One morning, a fortnight or three weeks after my first lesson, he
inquired about the life I was leading. And as I complained regarding
the inconveniences of hotel life, he asked me why I should not hire a
"I have been warned," I said, "that hotel life was still preferable to
He did not understand, and I had to explain.
"There are not insects everywhere," he answered. "You must know, of
course, where to stay. There is my friend Doblana for instance, who has
a very nice flat. His wife died a year ago, and he has now one room
too many. Besides, his house would be the right thing for you, and you
would enjoy his company. He is a musician who plays the horn in a most
charming manner. You see, he is a Czech, and most Czechs have thick,
fleshy lips, a peculiarity which enables them to play exceedingly well.
The lips are most important when playing the horn. The oldest classics
did not know that. This is the reason for their awkward writing. The
first who recognized what could be achieved by the horn were Méhul and
Beethoven, but Weber had to be born to invent the new perfect language
of this wonderful instrument, the most sensual and the most chaste."
Mr. Doblana was forgotten, and his furnished room too. Good old Hammer
was raving over the qualities of the horn, over Meyerbeer's cleverness
to write for it, and over the various ways modern composers used it,
But if Hammer had forgotten Doblana, I had not. The possibility of
living in a musician's decent house was too tempting, and I decided to
call upon him that very afternoon.
* * * * *
A rapid footstep interrupts me. It is Sergeant Young who comes back.
"That's all right, Police Constable," he says (I bet he has forgotten
that my real name is Patrick Cooper), "you need not worry about these
hand grenades, we'll have them in half a mo. I've blackmailed the
colonel in the most shameless way, but I've succeeded."
He takes my MS. and reads the second chapter.
"That will never do," he says after a while. "If you mix up our trench
business with your Austrian affairs, how do you hope that the reader
will find his way?"
"He will muddle through."
"No publisher will accept it in this form."
"Well, he will have it edited. Editors must live."
The Sergeant sees that there is nothing to be done, and goes on reading.
"You did not say why you left Munich," he remarks at last.
"Oh!" I answer lightly, "because I had a ticket for Vienna."
That afternoon, as I had decided, I went to the Karlsgasse, where Mr.
Doblana lived. My hotel being rather a long way from his address I
took a _fiaker_, the most graceful two-horse carriage you can imagine.
_Fiakers_ are well-known for their jolly cabbies. Was it their fame
which made me look at this one, or was it his face that attracted
me? I cannot tell, but when I did look at him, I was startled. For I
knew the man, or thought so for a moment. He was at once alike to the
irascible Frenchman whom Destiny had obliged to make room for the fair
Comtesse (see chapter one), and to the conductor who soon afterwards
had accepted a backsheesh for certain services. But he seemed a little
younger and had that special low class smartness which distinguishes
the Viennese cabman. So I concluded that after all this was only a
coincidence. Nevertheless it was extraordinary that I should see in
so short time three people having the same black hair, the same black
moustache and pointed tuft of beard on their chin, and, above all, the
same somewhat mocking expression on their features.
When I arrived in the Karlsgasse, I was still so impressed with my
cabbie, that I had a feeling, when I first saw Mr. Doblana, that he too
was greatly alike to somebody I knew. The funniest thing is that really
he did resemble someone; but at this first meeting I could not possibly
remember who it was.
I found an elderly refined man with an exceedingly sorrowful expression
in his face. This expression was increased by his speech. He pronounced
his German with a Czech accent, which makes people speak with a kind of
sad sing-song. Many Slavs always seem to talk as if they were making a
visit of condolence.
Now, Mr. Doblana was really mourning. And I had to hear with some
details the story of Mrs. Doblana, whom he had lost a year ago. She had
been first a comic-opera singer, and later had earned good money by
giving singing lessons. This made me understand how it was possible
that a horn-player, even a first horn-player at the Imperial Opera,
could afford such a fine flat. For it was, indeed, a handsome apartment.
The knowledge of its disposition, reader dear, has some importance
for the understanding of events which I will relate to you in due
course. The simplest thing would be to draw a plan of the apartment,
but, somehow, I am too proud to fight against my incapacity as a
draughtsman, and I remember that Conan Doyle always rises up to
circumstances when the question is the description of some locality.
Then, why shouldn't I?
You know that in a decently built English house you can get out from
any room direct to the hall or a landing. In Vienna it is otherwise.
The finer the apartment and the greater the number of rooms, the less
opportunity of getting out of them directly into the ante-room. The
inconvenience is really ideal.
In addition to the entrance door there were but two doors in Mr.
Doblana's hall, one leading to the front rooms, the other to the back
rooms. In front there were four. The one entered when coming from the
hall was the _salon_, to its right was situated what was destined to be
my room, where until her mother's death Miss Doblana had lived. To the
left of the _salon_ there was first the musician's room and then his
daughter's, the last of the four, which had belonged in times gone by
to Mrs. Doblana. The widower evidently had not been able to bear the
emptiness of her apartment. This was the reason why Miss Doblana now
lived there. At present she was rather unwell and confined to her room.
I would certainly be all right and have my own privacy, said Mr.
Doblana; I would have a latch-key, and through the _salon_ could get
in and out of the flat without disturbing anybody. Nor would I be
disturbed if I wanted to work. Miss Doblana had singing lessons, she
was taking them at her master's house. At home, in the drawing room,
she practised only for half an hour a day. I might dispose of the piano
all the rest of the time.
I declared that I was not much of a worker, (little did I suspect that
I was to compose in the Karlsgasse at Vienna the only score of any
importance and value which I ever have written and am likely to write).
If Mr. Doblana, whom I knew to be a distinguished composer, wanted the
piano I would certainly not drive him away.
My host, visibly flattered by the "distinguished composer," led me out
into the ante-room and from there into the back rooms of his flat.
There was a dining room and his studio, and further away the kitchen
and the maid's room.
"It is here," said Mr. Doblana, when we entered his studio, "that I
used to have my happiest hours. Here I compose, without any instrument.
It is very rare that I go to the piano and try an effect, and when I do
it at all, it is really only from laziness, or as a little relaxation."
What a difference between Doblana's snug little studio and Hammer's
poverty-stricken abode! And yet, Hammer was a genius, who played the
organ at St. Stephen's as nobody perhaps ever did, but played it
_gratis pro Deo_ (literally to understand!) He used to say: "Even old
Hammer must have some pleasure from time to time, and he gets it when
he plays at St. Stephen's; and even God, to Whom all people, including
myself, come lamenting and complaining, even God must have a little
pleasure from time to time, and He gets it too when Hammer plays at St.
Stephen's. Now, why should I accept any money? Is it for my pleasure or
As for Doblana, the little I know I owe to him, and not to old Hammer;
but this does not in the least prevent me from recognizing the
insipidity of the pretty tunes he used to write for his ballets which
were performed at the Opera, the slight ballets at the Grand Opera, out
of which he succeeded in making quite a decent amount of money. Nor did
he play the horn for the love of God. He was a resourceful man, Anton
Doblana, he had his salaries at the Opera, at the Imperial Chapel, and
at the Conservatoire, he had his royalties, and for some time he had me.
"You will be quite well here," he assured me when I took leave, "and
mind you, I am not always such a peevish fellow as I am now. I am upset
because of a very ugly occurrence that befell me some time ago. I hope
I will forget soon."
What had happened to him, he did not tell me, and I went away, glad to
have secured quarters which seemed to be almost the ideal thing. And I
still wondered where I could have known an individual so like him that
I always had the impression of having seen Doblana before.
The next day, when I moved in, Fanny, the maid, a fair plump little
object, showed me in. She was a young chatterbox, but a friendly
one. Mr. Doblana was out, and _Fräulein_ was not visible; but she,
Fanny, would make me comfortable, which she did in fact with much
obligingness. In consequence she was tipped accordingly.
You see, I was not what one may call spoiled. Only a year before, when
I had been staying for a month with the Dickses at Bedford (Dicks
senior is an intimate friend of the senior partner of Daniel Cooper &
Co., Ltd., and has an only daughter, besides a fine estate at Bedford),
well, I was also shown in by a housemaid, but who treated me as if she
were a duchess, which perhaps she was, and who carried the hot water
for my use as if she were the Archbishop of Canterbury going to anoint
the King. (By the way: God save him and give him victory!)--Now, if
I had tipped that Midland goddess with gold, why should I not make
friends with plain Fanny on a silver basis?
Fanny kissed my hand and I felt silly. I was not yet used to the
shameless way in which Viennese people of the lower class throw
themselves on any hand they may think kissable, viz.: capable of
kissing back, the kiss of a hand being hard, round, and having a
metallic sound when you let it fall.
Anyhow, that two crown piece conquered Fanny. Parents, when reading
this, should not feel incensed because of the extravagance of their
children. An Austrian crown is worth less than a shilling, and in
stating this I do not think only of the Imperial crown.--When, an hour
later, I left to take my lesson with old Hammer, my things were in
order, and all I could do was heroically to resist my wish to tip Fanny
again when I asked her to oil my door, which was creaking badly.
You know that to go out I had to cross the _salon_. As I was halfway
through it, the door opposite mine, the one which was leading to Mr.
Doblana's room, was suddenly closed. Perhaps my opening the door of
my own room had caused a draught, Vienna being always a windy place,
and thus the opposite door had been slammed. But instinctively I felt
that there was something else. Miss Doblana, who was, may be, not so
unwell as it pleased her father to say, had had, no doubt, a fit of
curiosity and had watched me. I imagined that, her hair being adorned
with hair-curlers (I did not know then that this achievement of Western
civilisation had not yet reached oriental Vienna), she had rapidly
hidden herself from my attention.
I ought to tell you that this was quite unnecessary. There were plenty
of nice girls in Vienna whom I had leisure to look at, but somehow I
had no mind for them. Much less for a spinster who, to judge from her
father's age, was probably ten years my elder and wore hair-curlers. In
fact, I had not been able to forget my fair Comtesse of Salzburg fame;
and I lived in an unceasing hope that I might see her again.
* * * * *
A voice to my right calls my name. But there is no-one to my right. And
then a shout of laughter resounds to my left. It is Private Pringle,
who in civil life is a ventriloquist and enjoys playing such tricks.
So do we. To-day he plays beside this the part of a postman, and he
has a letter for me. It is from Daniel Cooper and consort. The consort
treats me as a naughty boy, because I write so little, and could I not
tell her some pretty story about the war? And whether I was careful and
avoided these wicked shells?
The pater wants to know whether some music paper would be welcome; I
ought to write a good military march, so that English soldiers could at
last stop playing Austrian marches.
And both of them tell me that Bean was simply dying with anxiety for
me. Bean is Violet Dicks. She hates flower names and prefers to be a
vegetable. In war time evidently vegetables have a greater value than
flowers, but she had already had this mad idea in peace time, from the
very day when her tiny brain awoke to wisdom. And yet, she is in love
with me. If she knew that I am writing the story of another girl! No,
little Bean, no! Anyhow, not yet--if ever! And so I return to Vienna.
I had made a rule of going every evening to a theatre. The theatres are
beautiful, and the performances generally excellent. This evening, the
first day of my stay at the Karlsgasse, I went to the _Burg_ theatre to
see _Macbeth_. I had arranged with Mr. Doblana that we should meet at a
certain café after the performance.
I found him there sitting at a large round table amongst his friends,
a dozen or more, who were all actors, or artists, or belonged in some
fashion to the theatrical world. One of them was an officer, but seemed
nevertheless to belong to the company. They called him "_Herr Graf_."
Doblana was sitting to his left and seemed to have kept a place next to
himself for me.
I had, on my journey to Vienna, stopped in various towns in Germany,
here for a few days, there for a few weeks, and had been introduced
to some such companies. But while in Germany women were admitted,
actresses mostly, we were only men in Vienna. This may account for
the fact that the conversation was generally much more of a serious
character. There was but one individual, a Hungarian, who with a
loud and discordant voice told funny yarns and tried to attract the
general attention. He was a theatrical agent, named Maurus Giulay, and
remarkable by the quantity of black hair which grew in his nose instead
of on his head, and by the amount of diamonds which adorned his coarse,
greasy fingers. His stomach was rather protuberant. So was a roll of
fat that protruded beyond the back of his collar. He displeased me
intensely, and I took an immediate dislike to him.
Not knowing anybody present I took no part in the conversation.
Besides, I was not acquainted with the subjects which were being
discussed. So it happened that keeping quiet, from no choice of my own,
I overheard a part of the dialogue which just was taking place between
Doblana and the _Herr Graf_.... My host was entreating his neighbour
not to take a certain matter as lightly as he did.
"After all," he said, "your share is as large as mine, so should your
"If it is a question of money," retorted the other, "although I don't
owe you anything, you know that you may count on any compensation from
me for the ill-luck which has befallen you."
"I know that you are always generous," answered Doblana, "and I thank
you from my heart. But it is not a question of money. Think only: the
result of a full year's work, and it has been announced to the press..."
"You know that I was always against this announcement."
"I know it and deplore it. For this is the explanation of your
indifference now. You had taken a prejudice against the thing. But
should it therefore be lost altogether?"
"Well," said the _Herr Graf_ haughtily, "I do not care, and I have
heard enough of the whole affair."
Whereupon Mr. Doblana looked very distressed and assumed an air of an
even more unspeakable sadness than that which I had noticed when I
first had seen him.
At this moment a new guest arrived, evidently a popular knight of this
Round Table, for they were all eager to shake hands with him. If he
was not King Arthur himself, he was nevertheless something very near to
this exalted personage, namely, Vienna's most celebrated actor, Alfred
The table was rather full, however he managed to squeeze himself
between Doblana and me. As he did so, he uttered some words of apology.
I had not recognized this clean shaven man with his heavy eyelids and
deep drawn features, but I recollected at once his incomparable voice.
If I am not much of a musician, after all, I have at least good ears, a
minor detail for a composer, when you think of Beethoven.
"Mr. Bischoff," I cried, "I have just had one of the greatest
experiences one can imagine: your Macbeth. How happy I am to make your
He looked at me.
"You are an Englishman," he said, which made me think that if all
was said my accent must be more pronounced than my vanity would have
wished; yet, though vexed, I answered in a meek affirmative.
"Then," he continued, "there is no danger of your being an Anti-Semite
and of your withdrawing your admiration once you have heard from
Alfred Bischoff himself, that he is neither a bishop, nor even a
Christian at all, but a simple Jew named Aaron Cohn."
The _Herr Graf_ distorted his features a little.
"You see," went on the great actor, "our friend Alphons Hector ..." and
he nodded at the _Herr Graf_, "smells something like sulphur. After all
he would like to have me burned." And he added laughing: "It's in the
blood, _Herr Graf_, and it cannot be helped. And to think that you are
the best of the lot!"
Mr. Bischoff--for I prefer to call him by this name which he has made
so celebrated--turned to me and said:
"You English are a great nation. Freedom is your motto. Freedom in
everything--freedom even in religion. A Jew, with you, is as complete a
human being as a Christian. You have no Anti-Semitism."
"May I take it," I asked him, "that there is a little gratitude in your
masterly interpretation of our Shakespeare?"
"No," replied he, "not in the least. Our art is art for art's sake.
And if I succeed in rendering Shakespeare's meaning, it is due to our
possessing good translations of his works."
"That may be," I declared, "but then the German tongue is so suitable
At once he flew up in a rage. And the same man who just had called us a
great nation used the most abusive terms against us.
"As if any tongue were unsuitable to translations. But, of course,
with you, with mean shopkeepers, with you and your mercenary point of
view, how could you have good translations? I have been asked by one
of your English firms to translate an English play, a rotten one, of
course. 'We usually pay seven and sixpence a thousand words,' they
wrote, 'but in consideration of your fame, we would pay anything up to
ten shillings a thousand.' As if this could be a decisive factor! As
if it were not before all necessary to be inspired by the original!
And it has always been like that. A workman's pay for a workman's
job, while translating in reality is the most difficult occupation in
literature. Do you know who translated _Macbeth_ into German? Wieland,
a classic, Voss, a classic, Schiller, a classic, and finally Schlegel
and Tieck, two classics, whose translation you have heard this evening.
Goethe translated the tragedies of Voltaire and novels by Diderot and
Cellini's memoirs. And Schiller translated Virgil and a Greek tragedy,
and Racine's _Phaedra_, and French and Italian comedies. Do you think
they did it for seven and sixpence a thousand words or even for ten
shillings? No! They did it out of enthusiasm, out of the one feeling
which creates everything great in art. They thought theirs a holy
mission, and thus, amongst other things, they originated the art of
translating. For translating is an art with us, while it is pot-boiling
He remained silent for a minute or so.
"Yes," he said then a little more composedly, "we have excellent
translations of _Macbeth_, wonderful translations. Yet we do not know
how to play it."
"What do you mean?" I asked rather astonished.
"For instance," he replied, "when in the first act the witches say to
'All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth! thou shalt be king hereafter!'
the stage manager this evening made some noise with a gong and
destroyed that moment of great impression, into which Banquo is to
'Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?'
Indeed, I had seemed to start, not because of the prophecy, but because
of the gong. And Klein who, God knows, is a fine actor, was obliged to
speak his words aloud instead of murmuring them. The scene was spoiled.
And so it went through the whole evening. The entire tragedy is a
tissue of terror, of trembling, of anxious forebodings, of dreadful
silence, and it was torn into rags this evening. But the worst of all
was the Lady Macbeth."
Poor me! How difficult it seemed to satisfy Mr. Bischoff. I had thought
the performance extraordinary. I had been so much impressed by the
mysterious way in which the whole thing had been played. At one moment
I had not been able to distinguish whether Macbeth had sighed or
whether the night wind had howled in the chimney. Everything had seemed
to me to be but one soul. When Macbeth after the murder had come and
looked at his bloody hands and had muttered:
'This is a sorry sight.'
I had felt as though I had done the deed myself with him. And Lady
Macbeth! How dreadful she had been, especially in the dream scene.
"Lady Macbeth!" went on Mr. Bischoff, "of course, it is Goethe who
made the great, fatal mistake when he called her a superwitch. Our
actresses make a monster of her. I did not feel seduced by our Lady
Macbeth this evening. She ought to flatter, to cajole me. She ought to
be a beautiful, flexible cat, she ought to be trembling with love and
to shudder herself before her awful thoughts and words. And at the end,
when she walks in her sleep, I don't want her to come and to declaim.
I want her to be ill and feverish and weak, weak as a child, yes, as a
child. I want her to say in a childish, soft voice:
'Yet here's a spot.'
and I want her to weep when she says:
'Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?'
I want her to be a broken, ruined woman, and I want you, the spectator,
to pity her."
I listened surprised, for what he said seemed true to me.
"Look here, sir," he went on. "You are a composer, or will be one.
There has never been a more splendid task for a musician than to write
a musical drama on _Macbeth_, to express all that the poet left untold,
to show this couple of criminals as poor human beings, to change their
poison into tears."
The next day I was quite full of these ideas: they satiated my brain.
_Macbeth--Macbeth, an opera_--an opera by Patrick Cooper, an opera
with original Scotch tunes, perhaps with bagpipes, an opera with a
Lady Macbeth full of charm instead of full of hideousness, an opera
with strange mysterious sounds.... For the first time I thought that
I was understanding Hammer's extraordinary theory, that there were no
harmonies, but only voices....
I think I was a ridiculous youth then. Anyhow, I like myself better
in khaki. And, strange to say, the music I hear now, the roar of the
guns, has its fearful beauty, too.
I believe the editor will cancel this. Of course it is not easy to
write a book in such surroundings. I should like to see you trying to
do it. Sometimes I admire myself. But then I have only to think of
the man who works at the chemistry treatise, and you ought to see how
bashful I can become.
Well, to return to my subject, the day after _Macbeth_ rather resembled
its predecessor, for in the morning I was again watched through the
partly opened door, and in the evening I went to the opera, where they
played _Tannhäuser_. Mr. Doblana had given me a ticket so that I might
hear him blowing his part.
On the evening before Mr. Bischoff had been far from enthusiastic about
_Macbeth_. I tried to imitate him re _Tannhäuser_. I did not think the
performance very extraordinary. Venus ought to have had more charm, and
her pink chemise (or was it a dress robe?) did not provide the illusion
I was looking for. Tannhäuser was rather elderly and seemed not to
have understood the problem of sacred love _versus_ profane love. And
he treated Venus as though she had been his "Missus," and Elizabeth
as though she had been his "fancy lady"; and yet it was Venus who was
the "fancy lady." But the worst was Elizabeth. She was a beautiful,
fair wig, large and wavering, with a stately lady in front; the whole
had a strong voice, which wavered too. I had always imagined Elizabeth
as a young girl with long rich plaits thrown in front of her over her
shoulders, a girl, nice and pure and not yet womanly at all. While the
one I saw seemed to be an aunt of the Landgrave, and not his niece.
Mr. Doblana and I met again after the performance. But we had only a
hasty supper at a restaurant before we went home. For it was already
late, and the horn-player had a heavy rehearsal before him which was to
begin at ten o'clock next morning.
The house was very quiet when we arrived. Midnight was just striking at
the Karl's Church. There was not a sign of life. In the _salon_ a tiny
flame of gas was burning. We parted wishing each other a good night;
Mr. Doblana extinguished the little gas flame and went into his room, I
There I lit my chandelier. As I did so I noticed well in evidence on my
table an envelope bearing my name. I did not know the writing, which
was thin and pointed, a woman's hand. I tore the envelope open. Inside,
on a half-sheet of paper, were written the words: "Do not bolt your
door this night." There was no signature.
Now, please, darling reader, imagine my feelings.
There I was in a strange house and in a strange town, where I had no
feminine acquaintances. (I beg Fanny's pardon, but as I had tipped her
but the day before, she did not count.) And there was a female bidding
me not to bolt my door.
Imagine further, that I had slept little the night before, the sitting
at the café having lasted long, up to the small hours. Imagine that the
whole day I had mentally worked hard on _Macbeth_, an opera in five
acts by Patrick Cooper. Imagine also that I had heard an expanded,
tiring performance of _Tannhäuser_ and that I felt sleepy and little
disposed for receiving visits. But fancy also that I was twenty-one
and thirsting for adventures; yet that I was clever enough to guess
that the lady who wished to see me was that elderly spinster, Miss
Doblana, with her curler-pins, a detail which made the adventure less
desirable. Think of all that, and then of an idea which occurred to
my shrewd brain, namely, that, after all, it was perhaps not Miss
Doblana who wanted that nocturnal interview, for in that case she would
have to cross her father's room. That, therefore, the mysterious lady
was hidden in one of the backrooms whither she must have penetrated
with the help of Fanny. That there was but one lady who could have
sufficient interest in my whereabouts to have taken the trouble of
finding out where I was staying; one, the Comtesse! For as I had told
her the name of the hotel where I was going to stay, and as I had
left my new address when I departed from the said hotel, nothing was
more natural and easy than to find me. But nothing was more unnatural
than to call upon me in the middle of the night. No! it was not the
Comtesse, It was the daughter of my horn-player.
There was another dilemma. Should I take off my boots? Was it possible
to await a lady at such an hour in slippers? I had not much experience
in affairs of that sort.
In my despair I used bad language, threw myself into an easy chair and
took my Shakespeare. Destiny had made me take it with me when I left
Hampstead. Since this morning it had been lying on the table, in case
of emergencies. I opened it and started reading _Macbeth_.
Then a funny thing happened. Lady Macbeth was no longer present at
the famous banquet, but she presided in the equally famous hall over
a competition of Scotch bards, who tried to play Wagner on their
bagpipes. As they did not succeed the Landgrave said most rudely: "Go
to ... Venus!" whereupon they all disappeared. Lady Macbeth in the same
moment became the fair Landgravine Elizabeth, but not the one I had
seen at the Opera this evening, for she had two beautiful plaits thrown
over her shoulders and falling upon her bosom, exactly as I had wished
it, and she was young and uncommonly pretty. She carried a taper which
allowed me to see the funniest detail, namely, a certain likeness, to
whom do you think, wise reader? To the Comtesse.
Some slight noise made me start, and Shakespeare tumbled down to
the floor. Near the door, with a candle in her hand, exactly as Lady
Macbeth ought to come in the dream scene, a forlorn child--and exactly
dressed as I had wished Elizabeth to be dressed, in a long white
gown, with long, rich, fair plaits falling on her bosom--there stood
my Comtesse. As she saw me awakening from my dream, she put her left
forefinger on her thick, fleshy lips and whispered anxiously:
"Don't talk aloud."
I wanted to take her light, to press, nay! to kiss her hands, but she
"I have come," she said, "to ask you, whatever might happen, not to
tell my father that you met me at Salzburg."
"I promise that, Miss Doblana...."
You see, clever reader, I had grasped the situation quite as quickly
as you, I had realized who the mysterious person was to whom Mr.
Doblana was so greatly alike, that it had struck me on my first visit
at the Karlsgasse; I had devined that SHE was neither a Comtesse, nor
an elderly spinster with hair-curlers, nor Lady Macbeth, nor even the
Landgravine as I had wished her, but Miss Doblana, who was apparently
not as ill as her father had told me, yet very pale.
"I promise, but why?"
This "Why" was not precisely chivalrous, and you might even call it
indiscreet, but Miss Doblana evidently expected the question.
"To-morrow morning," she replied, "my father has a long rehearsal at
the opera. He leaves here at a quarter to ten and will not be home
before two. I will be in the _salon_ the whole time during his absence.
If you wish it I will then tell you all."
It was said in the faintest whisper. Without a sound she opened the
door and disappeared. Not even the door creaked. Fanny had done her
But was it Fanny?
How long have I been writing? I don't know. But there is Sergeant Young
"You had better get ready," he says, "there is going to be an attack.
The Germans are coming over this way."
"Ah!" I answer quietly and begin preparing myself.
"I dare say," goes on the Sergeant, "that the Germans are very
Hun-wise. It will be a Hun-pleasant job for them."
When he starts on those puns it is a sign that he is in a good temper.
"If they think that they will get Hun-perturbed into our trenches, they
make a Hun-believable mistake. These trenches are Hun-approachable."
But time passes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, and no order comes.
You cannot imagine how bored one is during the long hours of waiting
between attacks, but the anxiety which precedes the moments of real
danger makes up for these weary intervals.
"Have you written something more?" finally asks Charlie.
Silently I offer him the sheets, and he begins to read. Meanwhile I
am thinking that I ought to write to dad and tell him that I cannot
compose a march in the trenches because of the booming of the guns
which will never keep time--and to mamma that nothing was easier than
to avoid the shells; she need not know that they cannot always avoid
us--and to Bean, that there was no reason for anxiety at all, war being
only an exaggerated picnic and casualties some sort of indigestion.
"I say," declares Sergeant Young, who has read the chapter in less
time than was necessary, "I say, your Miss Doblana behaves in a rather
Hun-maidenly manner. To call in the middle of the night upon a young,
Hun-married man, with her hair Hun-done! I am afraid the public will
find it Hun-conventional and even Hun-pardonable. Of course, she was in
love with the pretty Salzburg officer."
"You jump to conclusions. I do not think that anything in my story may
have suggested that."
"In this case, what did you think of her visit?"
"I thought ... that she had been obliged to go across her father's
room, and that she would not have done so without some necessity. Her
fear had been great, to judge from her wide eyes and her paleness.
Would she have undergone any risk if there had been some chance of
"Of course--if it was Hun-avoidable! And what did you feel?"
"Perhaps you think that I felt very happy? Certainly, there was joy
in my knowledge of having found her again. There was also, as I have
written, a desire to kiss her beautiful hands. But, above all, above
my surprise, my joy, and my desire, there was apprehension lest her
father should have noticed her absence, lest her step, in spite of its
lightness, should have been audible in the deep silence of the night.
What would I have done if the door had opened and the sad, old man had
appeared and reproached me with having violated his hospitality?"
"I see. You had a little chilliness, like when you heard the bullets
whistling around you for the first time and felt the wind caused by the
shells. It's a bit Hun-canny and one shivers a little, but one goes on.
"I did. But it was not an easy affair. For, to begin with, the next
morning our interview was spoiled. It was the first time since my
arrival in his house that Doblana was to be absent for several hours.
And, while on the two previous days he had left the door of his room
open, this time he had locked his daughter in. I waited in the _salon_
for a good while, in vain."
"It must have been Hun-comfortable."
"At last I heard a little noise at Mr. Doblana' s door, as though some
small dog were scratching at it. And a piece of note paper was pushed
through the split at the bottom of the door into the _salon_. At once I
rushed forth to it. As I came to the door I heard a well-known voice,
_her v_oice, talking through the door."
"'Is that you Mr. Cooper?'--'Yes.'--'Are you alone?'--'Yes.'--'Can you
open this door?'
"I tried. It was locked.
"'I cannot.'--'Nor can I. Take the letter I have pushed under the door.
Read it and then destroy it. Good-bye.'
"I tried to talk more, but there was no answer. So I read the letter.
It ran something like this:
'My father has locked me in. I can tell you nothing through the door.
But you may trust Fanny. She will do anything for a tip. I have no
money, but you have.'
And it was signed Mitzi D."
I look at the Sergeant. He seems no more interested in my story than
if I were preaching a sermon in a Sunday School. Of course, I keep
the sequel to myself, namely, how Fanny and I conspired to call in
a locksmith who promised to make a key within two hours, but forgot
to tell us that these two hours were to begin only three days later.
Punctuality is a virtue of which no workman ever wishes to pride
himself, not even in Austria.
The Sergeant has an air as though he were dreaming, an absent-minded
air which he sometimes assumes. When he is visionary like that,
nothing can make him follow other people's thoughts. But he makes no
secrets of his ideas, and sooner or later we learn what is in his
mind. So I wait in the respectful silence a Lance-Corporal owes to his
Suddenly he jumps up.
"P.C.," he cries, "I firmly believe that I will get my commission
It was about time he did get it! Thrice already he has purchased an
officer's kit. Twice he has lost it. Let us hope that the third will
"And whence does that belief come?" I ask him.
"I told you that I got a supplementary lot of hand grenades by
blackmailing the Colonel. Well, it has occurred to me that I might try
the same trick for obtaining my commission. Where protection, ability,
and courage have failed, blackmailing might succeed."
"Yes," I answer somewhat doubtfully, "but how will you blackmail him?"
"That," he declares solemnly, "is of course a secret between him and
Mr. Reader will understand me, if I state that I grew curious.
"Is there a woman at the bottom of it?"
You ought to have heard the Sergeant's fit of laughter. He does not
laugh very often, our Charlie, but when he does, it is the noisiest
laugh in the world. Develish we call it. It is indeed a terrific
laughter, long and irresistible. Finally, however, he will be able to
utter some words. This time he says:
"No! Dear me, no! There wasn't a woman at the bottom of it--no! There
was something quite different!"
At this moment the order comes, the order which we had been waiting
for during an hour. In single file we march through the communication
Now, if you think, impatient reader, that I will annoy you with a
detailed description of the attack, you are greatly mistaken. Firstly,
you have doubtless read many such descriptions in the papers and do not
want another. Secondly, I could not depict the attack, because I had
another business than that of observing, Lance-Corporals not being,
generally, Special Correspondents. Finally, you have no idea how
easily one forgets the details. They are rapidly dimmed in the fog of
Yet I remember the Germans coming very near us and being beaten back.
And I remember, too, the following incidents:
On our way the Sergeant tells me that it is to-day two years since
he saw _Parsifal_ in London, which he declares being not only a
Hun-palatable, tedious work, but also a Hun-Christian one mocking the
Mass and acceptable only from the Hun's point of view, as Pan-Germanic
propaganda. Whereupon we hear from somewhere the bells of the holy
Grail ringing. It is Pringle, the ventriloquist, who provides them, of
Cotton, the chemist, who enjoys quite naturally the nickname Guncotton,
and who habitually speaks a special language nobody can understand
(for it is crammed with chemical formulas), starts a great sniffing
performance. At last he declares that there is a distinct scent of
H₂SO₄, and wonders, wonders, wonders.
Nor is his astonishment incomprehensible. H₂SO₄ is sulphuric acid,
and what he smells is in reality cabbages being cooked somewhere in a
Later on I remember our throwing hand grenades. The Sergeant is very
clever at that game, which he accompanies with fits of his devilish
laughter. When a shell bursts near us without hurting anybody, he
laughs again, rather imitating the laughter of Mephisto in the third
act of _Faust_.
The Colonel is quite near us, and Charlie by his side. There is a
periscope and the Colonel can see whatever we achieve.
The Sergeant throws another hand grenade.
"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" he laughs, "one more Hun Hun-done!"
"That was a nice one," states the Colonel.
"What of my commission, Sir?" risks Charlie.
But he has no luck. In the same moment the Colonel's periscope is
smashed by some unkind shell. Spontaneously Charles Young laughs.
The Colonel, who is no coward, at once climbs up the parapet.
"What are you doing there, sir?" cries Charlie.
"You'll be killed in a jiffy!"
"But that's madness! Come back!"
The Colonel shouts something which we cannot understand in the noise,
probably "Shut up!" and stands there amidst the bullets which are
immediately directed at him.
"You damn fool!" thunders Charlie, "will you come down?"
This time the Colonel turns round and shouts so strongly that I can
hear the words:
"You will be court-martialled for that!"
But in the next instant Charlie runs up to him:
"I don't care! And if you don't come down at once I'll tell the company
He has caught the Colonel's arm and drags him down to relative safety.
And another fit of laughter follows.
I wonder. Has he won his commission or decidedly lost it? But there
is no time for wondering. A big shell, a Jack Johnson, falls in our
trench. There is a terrific explosion, and I see Charlie thrown up
into the air, three or four yards up, and coming back.
No one else is wounded, although we were all shaking a bit. Even the
There he lies, my chum, my Charlie, quite pale, white as a corpse, save
for the blood that covers his big nose. Somebody bends over him and
"Some water, quick!"
Off runs Guncotton shouting:
But after a minute he comes back with real water. Nobody utters a
word while poor Charlie's nose is washed. At last the Colonel, much
"He has finished swearing and laughing. Poor fellow, he has at last met
And solemnly--for he is a very religious man--he adds:
"May the Lord have mercy upon his soul."
Now, is it the Colonel's speech that rouses him, or is it the effect of
the fresh water? But the answer comes at once:
"Nonsense!" says the Sergeant, "I am quite Hun-hurt!" and laughs once
more. "Where am I? In hell?"
The Colonel takes flight, although, I repeat it, he is no coward.
* * * * *
I am back in my trench, and the time for being bored has come once
more. So I return to Vienna and to Mitzi Doblana, with apologies to
Bean in case of her ever reading this book.
I think you will have noticed the great difficulty I experienced in
meeting Miss Mitzi. First I suffered from a closed door and then from
a locksmith of remarkable punctuality. When at last I had secured the
key, which was to be not only the means of opening that hostile door
but also of solving a mystery, my landlord had no long rehearsal for
another couple of days. Thus nearly a week had passed since I had had
her promise of an interview, and in all these days there arose not the
slightest opportunity of catching a glimpse of her.
Now, if you have the least idea of the peculiar qualities of a young
man's heart, you will know that such waiting is the right thing to
inflame it, namely, the heart. Therefore, when finally we met, fancy
my joy as I saw her advancing towards me and presenting me one of those
beautiful hands of hers with a sweet: "At last!"
Yes, at last! At last she let me kiss her hand--as was due to me
since that Sunday evening when she had abandoned my bags and valises,
and myself into the bargain. I need not tell you that I paid myself
heartily and that, while I was kissing that loveable hand I kissed
it thoroughly. It was an enchanting hand, with graceful nails and
with a soft, fascinating skin. And, my word, what a soap she used, a
bewitchingly scented soap.
Footnote by the gentle reader: P. C., go on with your story!
Well, I will. Yet it is not my, but Miss Mitzi's story!
By the way, Mitzi is a Viennese diminutive of Marie, and I ought to
translate it by Pussy, for it is used equally for cats and girls, which
proves that the Viennese have some trifling knowledge of psychology.
I began by telling her that there had been no danger of her father
asking me questions about the Salzburg trip. How could he have guessed
that we had travelled together from Salzburg to Vienna?
Her answer was that she never had feared such a thing. It was of me
that she was afraid.
"For the present I am locked up, as you have noticed; but sooner or
later I will be released. My father will then present us to each other,
and I did not want you to exclaim at that moment: 'Oh! but we have met
"Be assured that I will not make the slightest blunder."
"Now," she went on, "I suppose that you wish to have an explanation."
"I cannot deny that I feel curious. But I will not be inquisitive...."
"And I will be candid. It is not in order to satisfy your curiosity
that I am prepared to give you an explanation, but because I hope that
you will help me. You are probably the only person who can."
I trust that my dear readers do not place so much confidence in
Patrick Cooper as did Miss Doblana. I don't want to mislead anybody by
insinuating that her belief in my capacities was in any way justified.
But I must state one thing: My heart leaped up. Not only were we to
share a secret, but I was to be allowed to help her! I accordingly
promised what you may expect: discretion and help.
"I must begin at the beginning."
(Holy Sergeant Young, you will be pleased with this young lady who
shares your principles.)
"I am taking singing lessons. People say I have a nice voice. It is not
a strong one, but it is expressive. My aim is to become an operatic
singer, though my father strongly objects. This is strange, as mother
herself was a singer. Yet, strange as it may seem, there is a reason
for it. When mother married she did not tell him that she was a sister
of no lesser person than La Carina. Of course, you know La Carina?"
I did not, and I thought best to plead guilty.
"You do not know La Carina?" exclaimed Mitzi. "But then--then--then I
must begin at the beginning."
(Holy Sergeant Young, etc., etc., as before.)
"La Carina was a celebrated dancer, exceedingly beautiful and clever,
and famous for her charming, tiny feet as well as for...."
"Well?" asked I, trying by my question to help her.
Miss Mitzi blushed and finished her sentence in a whisper:
"... As for her lover. It seems hardly believable that you never should
have heard of her adventures with the Archduke Alphons Hector."
Now, distinguished reader, you--being endowed with a better brain than
I--will, no doubt, remember that name Alphons Hector. And you will say:
Alphons Hector, that is how the _Herr Graf_ on the evening of _Macbeth_
was called by Bischoff, the actor.
Readers are supposed to have good memories. I apparently have a bad
one. When I heard Miss Mitzi pronouncing these two names "Alphons
Hector" they did not bring any recollection to my brain.
"How my aunt Kathi--that was La Carina's real name--eloped with the
Archduke, how he wanted to marry her, how the Emperor frustrated
that plan, is a story which has been told so often that I am really
surprised that you should not know it."
"Perhaps I was not allowed...."
"But was it not in the English papers?"
"English papers never meddle with things matrimonial, except when they
reach the Divorce Court."
Miss Mitzi laughed.
"Well," she said, "this affair did not reach the Divorce Court, but
it was scandalous enough. Still, my father would never have guessed
our connexion with royalty, had not my mother when I was nine decided
to send me to a certain high-class school, which could not be entered
without protection. So mother wrote to aunt Kathi, whose daughter was
being educated at that particular school."
I must have made a surprised face at the mention of the dancer's
daughter, for Miss Mitzi added:
"Yes! the Archduke and aunt Kathi had two children, a boy and a girl,
both older than I, the boy three years and the girl ten months. They
were called _Franz von Heidenbrunn_ and _Augusta von Heidenbrunn_.
Their mother was _Frau von Heidenbrunn_, and their father was supposed
to be a _Graf von Heidenbrunn_.
"I went to that school and made friends with Augusta. We soon became
inseparable; nor did my father then object to our frequenting each
other. By and by both families became acquainted, and father felt
greatly pleased that an Archduke, although only under the incognito
mask of a Count, should climb up into his modest apartment of the
Karlsgasse. They--the Archduke and my father--became even friendly
enough to collaborate in a ballet--it was called _Fata Morgana_--and I
suspect that my aunt Kathi had a finger in the pie. However, what was
bound to happen occurred when that ballet was performed. Up to that
time my father had remained unaware of the relationship that existed
between the two sisters. But on that particular evening somebody
congratulated my father on having so influential a brother-in-law ...
and, of course, the fat was in the fire.
"It is impossible to imagine my father's anger. That he should have
been cheated, he, by his wife, in his own home! He forbade his door to
my poor aunt and to her children, and if he did not act in the same
way with the Archduke it was only because he had not the courage to
do so. Yet the result was the same: the Archduke, too, ceased to visit
us. And all our nice intercourse was over, save for Augusta and me, who
remained friendly and became probably even friendlier than we had been
"Three years ago aunt Kathi died, and her children left Vienna for
"Ah!" said I.
I leave to you to interpret this "Ah!" as it pleases you. Was it
expressing my pleasure of finding my way through her story, or my
sorrow at the discovery of who and what the pretty officer in Salzburg
"A little over a year ago," went on Miss Mitzi, "my mother followed her
sister. On her death-bed she asked father to reconcile himself with
the Archduke and his children. But he did not yield to her prayer,
although I believe that he loved her dearly. The Archduke on his side
made a step towards peace and proposed to father another collaboration.
They are writing another ballet together, which they call _Griseldis_.
Still, my father persists in not allowing me to see Augusta. He says
that as a daughter of an Archduke she is too high-born for me, and as
a daughter of La Carina too low."
"I see," I exclaimed, "I see what you were doing in Salzburg."
She looked at me wistfully, as if to say that a mere man would always
"Not only was I separated from my dearest friend, but I was not allowed
to frequent anybody belonging to the theatrical world. And if I am
taking singing lessons it is on the understanding that I will never
become a professional singer."
"Yes, cruel," repeated the dear girl, and the brims of her eyelids
became very pink as though she were going to have a cry. If I had dared
I would have taken her into my arms and would have told her ... I knew
not what. One has to be rather experienced to know what to tell to a
sweet creature who opens her heart, her sorrowful heart to you.
"Now," she went on, "among the people who think that I have some talent
and could make a successful operatic singer, there is a theatrical
agent, Mr. Maurus Giulay."
"I know him," I cried, "a fat Hungarian with diamonds on his fingers
"Oh, yes!" said Miss Mitzi eagerly, "is he not a charming man? So full
of wit, and so kind, and such a business man!"
The reader will do well to compare this appreciation of Mr. Giulay by
Miss Doblana with my own, as reported in chapter three, and to judge
whether I was right in having taken an immediate dislike to him.
"Mr. Giulay," continued Miss Mitzi, and I am sure that her eyes shone
while she was speaking, "Mr. Giulay says I have a great talent not only
as a singer but also as an actress."
And she added in a low voice, as though she were telling me a secret:
"He has seen me act."
She remained for one moment as in a dream, and then went on:
"Of course I am not supposed to know him at all. Now, on that Sunday
morning when you saw me first, father was playing a concerto at Prague.
The rehearsals were on the evenings of the Friday and Saturday before.
So on the Friday morning he left for Prague. I accompanied him to the
railway station to show him off. He did not know that he was leaving
me alone in charge of the house; for Fanny had begged of me to let her
go and see her dying mother. Each time she wants to see her young man
her mother becomes gravely ill; and although I am well aware that her
mother died a good many years ago I let Fanny depart, because otherwise
she becomes intolerable. I was therefore quite alone, and, you may
believe me, I did not enjoy it. A little singing, a little cooking, a
little reading, and a good lot of being wearied, that was how nearly
the whole day passed. But late in the afternoon something happened. A
wire came. A wire for me. It came from Salzburg and ran thus:
'Splendid opportunity for you, meet me to-morrow evening six at
Salzburg station. Giulay.'
"I had no money. It is one of father's peculiarities to leave me with
as little money as possible. What do you think I did? I went out and
pawned my ring. A nice ring my mother had given me. I am ashamed to
tell you how little they gave me for it. It was not even enough for a
return ticket; but never mind, Augusta would lend me my return fare. I
was not going to Salzburg without seeing her."
"I passed the night in an undescribable state of excitement, and on
the Saturday morning I went to the Western Station, took my ticket and
departed. Now, imagine my feelings when on my arrival at Salzburg there
was no Giulay!"
She made a pause. Probably she expected me to express my surprise; but
I did not. I kept silent. If I had said anything it would have been to
tell her that I was not astonished. I knew that I did not like him. But
how to signify such an opinion to a girl who had just told me that she
found him charming?
"I waited an hour, I waited two hours, and no Giulay came. So I went
to my friends, where I passed the night, and the next day I returned
home half angry and puzzled, and half amused at my childish eagerness.
Surely Giulay would give me an explanation. Yet this explanation I
never received for the same reason that prevented me from seeing you: I
am locked up."
"But why?" I asked.
"That, my friend," (how sweet of her to call me friend!) "I don't
know, and I want you to find out."
"But your father must have given you a reason."
"He has not."
"He is probably angry for your having gone to Salzburg."
"He does not know it."
"How is that?"
"When I came home, just in time, Fanny had arrived and was, of course,
in great anxiety about me. I told her all, and I am sure that she has
not betrayed me. A quarter of an hour later my father arrived. He had
had a splendid success and seemed very happy. He kissed me and was
absolutely as usual. We had some supper and I went to bed. Tired as I
was I fell asleep at once. But after an hour or so father came into my
room, pale and with distorted features.
"Mitzi," he called with a voice which I scarcely recognized. "Who
called upon you during my absence?"
"I told him that nobody did. But he made a fearful scene, insisting
that he knew all, while he evidently knew nothing, and that I would be
confined to my room until I had told him the truth. And since that day
I am here, and every morning he comes and asks me:
"'Will you confess?'
"And I really do not know what has happened, nor what he wants from me."
* * * * *
"P. C.," calls Guncotton. (I wonder whether that has any meaning in
Chemistry.) "Here's a letter from Sergeant Young for you."
This is what Charlie writes:
"My nose is broken, but I don't care. Your humble servant has the
honour of being mentioned in dispatches. I once had a brother called
Friedrich Wilhelm. He was mentioned in dispatches during the Boer War
and soon afterwards obtained his commission.
There was never such faith as brave Sergeant Young's.
I have already had an opportunity of telling you that I had been
brought up chiefly on detective stories. I therefore thought that there
would be but little difficulty in solving the case of Miss Doblana.
In a nutshell this case was as follows: She was sure that nobody had
called, while her father seemed certain to the contrary. How did he
know it? He did not say. The mysterious visitor had left no card,
otherwise either Mitzi or Fanny would have found it when they arrived,
which was some time before Mr. Doblana's return. Besides, a card
generally bears a name, and the horn-player's question to his daughter
had been: "Who called upon you during my absence?" which proved that he
only knew, or thought he knew, that somebody had called, but did not
know who the somebody was.
We rang for Fanny. Had Mr. Doblana asked her anything in connexion
with the affair?
"Yes," she said, "on the Monday morning he asked me who had called
during his absence, and I said: 'Nobody.'"
Thereupon Miss Doblana wanted to know, why Fanny had not said the
truth, namely, that she did not know.
"He was very cross," answered the girl, "and I thought that perhaps
somebody did call, and that _Fräulein_ did not wish Mr. Doblana to
"You have a good opinion of me, Fanny. However, what did he do when you
said that nobody had called?"
"He did not do anything. He swore. He said that I was in the plot, and
that we were both deceiving him."
"In the circumstances you could have told him that you were absent all
"And what would have been the good of it? He would have thought that
_Fräulein_ had removed me intentionally."
I recognized that Fanny had quite a lot of common sense. So did
Mitzi, for an extraordinary thing took place: She asked Fanny for
advice.--Think of a young English lady asking for the advice of a
general, or even of a between-maid.
Fanny declared that above all _Fräulein_ must recover her freedom.
"But how?" cried Mitzi and I _unisono_.
Fanny looked at us and seemed to pity us for the evident helplessness
of our brains.
"The young gentleman" (that was I), "will go in an hour's time to the
opera. The rehearsal will be over, he will by chance meet Mr. Doblana
leaving the theatre, and they will walk home together. In the meantime
_Fräulein_ will have dressed and will go out, and she will, by chance,
too, meet the two gentlemen in the street."
"But," interfered Mitzi, "he will make a fearful row!"
"In the street?" said Fanny. "No fear. An Imperial and Royal Member of
the Court Chapel will make no row in the street. He will present you to
each other, and the young gentleman" (that was, of course, again I),
"will enquire into _Fräulein's_ health, and _Fräulein_ will answer that
she is now quite well, and she will never more be locked up."
What a shame that such brains are wasted on servant girls! And the
Editor of the _Evening News_ when he reads this page will say: What
luck that a certain Government did not know that Fanny! A special
department would have been created for her: she would be appointed
President of the Board of Intelligence.
Up to this day I wonder how she knew all about Mitzi's journey to
Salzburg and about the Giulay wire. Her young mistress when talking to
her had given her no details, yet she knew. She knew and even thought
it desirable that _Fräulein_ should communicate with Mr. Giulay, call
upon him and ask him about that telegram.
"I know," she added, "that it is a month since he last left Vienna,
even for half-a-day."
"How did you learn this?" asked Mitzi.
"But," said Fanny with just a flavour of contempt, "I wanted to know.
So I made friends with his mother's cook."
I was overwhelmed. Fanny was revealing herself as a really superior
being. You may therefore believe me that it was almost with reverence
that I received her instructions.
"The young gentleman," she said, "will do well in getting on familiar
terms with Mr. Doblana, for we must know what prevents him from being
more explicit. If the young gentleman could win his confidence, we
might learn what happened in that hour between his return home and
his declaration to _Fräulein_ that somebody must have visited her.
Something must have led him to that wrong conclusion. And the young
gentleman could find out not only what it was, but also why Mr. Doblana
is so vague."
"And how am I to win his confidence?"
Fanny scratched herself. For the first time she appeared a little
perplexed. But the scratching soon helped.
"I know a way," she declared, "but it will be terrible. The young
gentleman must learn to play the horn."
Statesmen are merciless.
Now, if you are a reader of the _Evening News_ you know that Statesmen
have often ideas of a dazzling appearance, but which, all things
considered, prove rather unsubstantial. They work all right, yet the
results are slight. They seem very clever ideas, but somehow they
do not reach the main point of the question. I am sorry to state
that Fanny in this respect as in other ways was worthy of her fellow
statesmen and that, brilliant as was the appearance of her bits of
advice, and workable as they were, they led to no definite result.
And so the reader need not fear that the solution of the case of Miss
Doblana will be reached before the last chapters.
Yet, the outer reconciliation between the horny father and his
daughter took place that same day in exactly the same form as Fanny
had foreseen it, and Mitzi recovered her liberty. Henceforth she had
again the freedom of her movements, and I the pleasure of seeing
her unconstrainedly. But that did not bring her one step nearer to
the knowledge of what her father was reproaching her with. His was
an obstinate silence. She asked him why he suspected her of having
received any visitor during his absence, and he answered sternly:
"You know, and you had better tell me who it was."
And that was all.
The next day she went to see Giulay; but she came home greatly
disappointed. He swore on his oath that he had not sent the Salzburg
telegram, that he had not left Vienna, and that there had been no
splendid opportunity whatever which could have induced him to send that
"Either Giulay lies," explained I to Mitzi, when she had finished
telling me this story, "or this wire is the keystone of the whole
"I am sure," was her answer, "that Giulay not only speaks the truth,
but also that he is incapable of telling any lies."
Holy Moses! An agent, especially a theatrical one, was here considered
trustworthy. Well, perhaps my doubt was unjust--perhaps we had only
arrived at that chapter which is commonly entitled: "The Mystery
thickens," and without which no detective story would sell.
"If Giulay speaks the truth," I went on, "then it is obvious that
somebody else sent that wire, somebody who was well acquainted with the
fact that this particular wire would make you undertake the journey
to Salzburg. Who can this person be? What can his aim have been? Why
especially to Salzburg?"
"Do you mean to say that it was my cousin Augusta who sent it?"
"The suggestion is yours."
"It is impossible. Firstly, had she had something particular to tell
me, I would have come quite as well if she had called me signing the
wire by her own name instead of by Giulay's. And secondly, even in case
of her fearing that my father would have objected to my journey to her,
and if she had wanted to hide from him the reason of my travelling to
Salzburg, she would have been at the station to meet me on my arrival,
instead of letting me wait there for a couple of hours, and would have
informed me of the truth. But she was genuinely surprised when she saw
me, and, pleased as she was to pass a few hours with me, there was not
the slightest reason why she should have called me to Salzburg."
I did not dare to tell her that to judge from Mr. Doblana's behaviour
something serious must have happened, and that in my opinion Augusta
von Heidenbrunn was not free from suspicion. People sometimes think
very badly of their friends, yet they do not allow others to express
these thoughts. So I kept silent on the point.
Sagacious Fanny was again consulted.
"_Fräulein_ ought to write to the _Herr_ Lieutenant" (that was Franz
von Heidenbrunn's rank). "Men can do more than women in such cases. And
ask him to find out who sent that wire. Then we shall know all."
Once more the advice seemed good, and Mitzi followed it. The
Lieutenant's answer came by return; he would try, and he felt pretty
sure that he would succeed. After a week or so, however, there came
another letter saying that he had failed. He had found the telegraph
office from which the telegram had been dispatched, but the name of the
sender was unknown, and the official to whom it had been handed was
unable even to remember whether the sender had been a man or a woman.
So we were no wiser than before.
In the meantime I had followed Fanny's third suggestion, namely, to
make friends with my host by taking lessons.
What the people who lived underneath and above us must have thought of
my first trials on the horn I do not know, nor have I any wish to know
it. I dare say my trials were a trial to them.
There is a little tune which every Englishman knows, for it serves to
call dogs with, when they are on tour in the streets. That tune is the
theme which young Siegfried carols rejoicing in the forest; at least,
he is supposed to do it; in reality it is the first horn-player placed
in the wings of the theatre. The horn there illustrates rapturous vital
power. You ought to have heard me and my vital power--or no! no! You
are a kind person, you have bought this book, or at least, you have
borrowed it from your Circulating Library, anyhow, you are reading it;
you are a friend, and there is no reason for my wishing you evil, not
even retrospectively. Nobody can in the least imagine what I achieved
on the horn. At first I could not utter a sound at all, but then, when
I succeeded!... How the dogs of Belsize Park would have been jealous
had they heard my barking. And I carolled, not as if I had been young
Siegfried, but a young dragon, nay! an old one!
That second-hand genius of modern German music (second-hand down to his
very name, for the first owner of it was the great Johann Strauss),
well, Richard Strauss once said that if he had been Bizet (which,
Heaven be thanked he was not), one would have heard in the last act
of _Carmen_ the bellowing of the bull counterpointed against the
celebrated duo between Carmen and Don José. I do not know whether he
ever wrote that part for the bull--but with my real talent I was able
after three lessons to play it. I am sorry that Richard did not hear
me, it was delightfully terrible.
* * * * *
There are strange coincidences. As I sit there, sucking my pencil (my
Turkish fountain pen having disappeared) and remembering my first
attempts at playing the horn and, later, at writing for it, something
strikes my ear. A father (at least a decent one) always recognizes his
children, and if I was no great composer, I may at least say that I was
a decent one. What I hear is music, played by a military band. And what
do they play? What, if it is not my own paraphrase on the "Pibroch o'
Donuil Dhu"? Yes, there is a military band somewhere in the rear, and
what the horns attack is the theme of "Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu" set as
Doblana had told me to do it.
You ask me, ignorant reader, what that "Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu" is. The
oldest military march ever composed in these foggy islands of Great
Britain, at a time when--at a time--well, earlier than that. It is a
Scotch tune, fierce and proud, the right thing to be thought of in our
fierce and proud time. I scored an arrangement of it as an entr'acte
when I was writing my opera _Lady Macbeth_. But I must not anticipate.
How I came to write _Lady Macbeth_ (not _Macbeth_, as you will notice,
but _Lady Macbeth_) that I will tell in due time.
For the present I listen and remember. That Scotch march, that weird
melody, calls back to my memory all the days of Vienna, all the story
which I am busy writing.
And while they play, I hum the words Sir Walter Scott wrote of the old
Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu,
Pibroch o' Donuil,
Wake thy wild voice anew,
Summon clan Conuil.
Come away, come away,
Hark to the summons,
Come in your war array.
Gentles and commons!
Come from deep glen and from mountain so rocky,
Warpipe and pennon are at Inverlochy.
Come ev'ry hill-plaid and true heart that wears one,
Come ev'ry steel blade and strong hand that bears one.
Leave untended the herd
And the flock without shelter,
The corpse uninterr'd
And the bride at the altar.
Leave the deer, leave the steer.
Leave nets and barges,
Come in your fighting gear,
Broad swords and targes.
Come as the winds come, when forests are rended,
Come as the waves come, when navies are stranded.
Faster come, faster come, faster and faster,
Chief, vassal, page and groom, tenant and master!
Fast they come, fast they come,
See how they gather,
Wide wave the eagle plumes
Blended with heather.
Cast your plaids, draw your blades,
Forward each man set,
Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu,
Knell for the onset!
I wonder. How does it happen that they are playing my march here? I do
not even remember whether I left the score in Vienna or took it with me.
Now they play other music, the overture of _Poet and Peasant_, of
course, and the waltz from the _Merry Widow_ and other things--all
Viennese, my God!--as if to make it still harder to me, to think that
these days of Vienna, these beautiful days of mirth and sorrow, should
be gone for ever, for ever!--And then, then they play the "Pibroch
o' Donuil Dhu" once more, and then nothing else. Nothing. I dream, I
wonder, and an hour passes.
* * * * *
This cry would awaken a dormouse. There are but three things at the
front. Long stretches of boredom, short ones of fright, and post.
Two of the letters are for me, and the first one is from Dad. Just now
I had been wondering at that strange performance of the "Pibroch o'
Donuil Dhu." Here is the solution of the riddle.
"I quite understand that composing is an impossibility when one is
in the firing line, and I regret having worried you. I therefore do
not send you the music paper. But I have forwarded a few days ago
the parts of your Scottish march to your regimental bandmaster. You
see, I want one of your marches to be played when you are going on
towards victory. And as you can't compose another one, it may as well
be the "Pibroch." Before I sent the parts I had the music played to
me. It was only a band of the Salvation Army, I could not get hold
of anything else. We went there to hear it, your mother and I and
Bean, who was just staying in London. My word, it was beautiful, and
it reminded me of the olden days. If only I could once more hear
the whole opera. Mother looked very proud and dignified, Bean wept,
but wept like a fountain, and I ... well, I had it performed three
times. I gave the bandmaster a cheque for ten guineas. At first he did
not want to accept it; he said it had been a pleasure to play such
beautiful music, and apologized for the two little mistakes that had
(Happy man! He had heard only two!)
"... And then he pocketed the cheque all the same. Mother sends you
hearty kisses. So do I.
Dad! Good Dad! There isn't a Dad like you in all the world.
The other letter is from Bean. It is quite short.
"Dear Pat" (it runs), "I have just heard your beautiful music. I am
quite overcome. With such sounds striking our soldiers' ears, how
can they march to anything else than Victory? I feel that I must do
something, too. My heart drives me forth.
"The girl you left behind you,
And Bean, there isn't a Bean like you in all the world, either.
* * * * *
I have lost a whole day, remembering and musing. This would have been
rather bad if this book were written to an order from a publisher.
For one reason or another publishers are always in a hurry. But then
they belong to the higher orders of animals. A simple _Tommyius
subterraneus_ has plenty of time.
Yet perhaps you have not. Therefore I hasten to return to the nice
sounds I used to extract out of an unhappy horn. It is intentionally
that I used the word "extract," which will remind you of a toothache.
So did my blowing the horn. It was pitiful, yet heroic. For, in truth,
I had no wish to make a living out of these horny studies. It was all
for the sake of the charming Mitzi. Had I but been in possession of her
I notice that this last sentence has a double sense. On the one hand it
means that I have thin lips and therefore enjoyed great difficulties in
producing any sounds on the horn. But on the other hand that sentence
also informs you of my ardent desire to call Mitzi' s red lips my own.
I had fallen in love with her from the first day, from the very moment
when in the railway carriage I had been attracted by the handsome
contours of ... of ... of the reverse of the medal. I had now arrived
at that state when the very name Mitzi would strike my brain with a
glowing emotion, when I liked to forget all other things and to occupy
myself solely with her, remembering the evenness of the outline of
her figure, her feminine daintiness, her slim, narrow feet. Yet, I had
no experience of women, my feelings were intense, but my thoughts were
vague, my love was a formless abstraction, and Mitzi a perceptible
fact. In truth, I did not know that I was in love, and some time had to
pass before I realized it.
In the meantime I used my breath in blowing the horn. Nevertheless
I did not gain Mr. Doblana's confidence. His intercourse with his
daughter seemed to be restricted to the utmost necessary, and I was
unable to find out with what offence he was reproaching her. Still,
if I did not learn his secret--for it was evidently a secret--I had
occasion to study his character.
After about a dozen lessons he allowed that I was hopeless as a
horn-player. He strongly advised me to give it up. But having once
tasted my money (or, to render unto Cæsar the things that were Cæsar's,
the money of Daniel Cooper & Co., Ltd., Insurance Brokers, London,
E.C.), and having found it savoury and palatable, he decided on having
another helping of it.
"Mr. Cooper," he said--he always pronounced my name with a hyphen
between the two o's, associating it probably by some mysterious
etymology with the origin of Cooperative societies--"Mr. Cooper, you
have talent only as a composer; but I am afraid that you will profit
very little by the lessons you take with Hammer. He is a genius and,
poor devil, I do not grudge him the little money you will let him earn;
however, I venture to say that you would benefit more by studying with
a more practical man like me. Of course, it could not be the same
Now, as he did not know what I was paying Hammer, these last words
could only refer to his own lessons, the famous attempts at teaching
me the horn, and this was already twice the cost of Hammer's lessons.
But it was true that I improved little with the organist's loose
and obscure explanations which, indeed, were more fascinating than
serviceable; and I was only too glad to be relieved from the torture
I inflicted upon myself and the neighbourhood. Besides, had I not the
duty, as it were, of cultivating my friendship with Mr. Doblana?
So I accepted, and had Viennese lessons in the noble art of
composition, from a Czech, at London terms. Nor had I to regret my
decision, for Mr. Doblana proved a most invaluable teacher. I have
already stated that I owe to him all I know, little as it may be.
I was not only his pupil, but his apprentice, which is the best, the
surest way of learning, for it necessitates a continuous connexion
between the master and the disciple.
Mr. Doblana was now composing a new ballet called _Aladdin_, and many
pages of this work were scored out by me from his sketches.
Now, if the reader will be good enough to peruse again the fourth
chapter of this book, he will find that Mitzi had informed me that her
father was working on a ballet called _Griseldis_, the book of words of
which--if I may use the euphemism "book of words"--had been provided by
the Archduke Alphons Hector, or the _Herr Graf_, whichever name you may
prefer for this exalted person. The book of _Aladdin_, too, was signed
Joseph Dorff, the Archduke's nom de plume.
As I was training myself not only as a composer but also as a
detective, I thought that this inconsistency might have its importance,
and I submitted it to the joint council of Mitzi and Fanny. Mitzi only
abandoned herself to grief. In former days she would have known all
about it, while now her father treated her with such indifference!
But Fanny declared the incident of no importance: The first ballet
"Fa_ther_ Morgana" had also had another name at the beginning.
"Yes," said Mitzi, "it was at first called _Daphnis and Chloe_."
"How is that possible?" asked I. "The two subjects seem absolutely
different--as different as _Griseldis_ and _Aladdin_."
"Oh!" declared Mitzi lightly, "that does not matter with ballet. The
same music can always serve for the most dissimilar objects. When
father altered _Daphnis and Chloe_ into _Fata Morgana_ he said he
had only to add some fifths to the bass, and some strange drums and
tambourins in order to change his music from occidental to oriental."
This seemed to me very deep and probably true. So the incident was
dismissed. Yet I had never been nearer a clue! I ought at least to
have noticed that Mr. Doblana was not merely adapting a musical dress
from its occidental fashion to an oriental one, but that, musically
speaking, he was making up his _balletis personæ_ in real old carpets
from Baghdad or some other such place.
* * * * *
One evening--he and I used to pass his free evenings together--we
went to a tavern called the "Tobacco Pipe," one of those places which
a London innkeeper would not fail to denominate "Ye olde...." The
whole of the Round Table used to meet there once a month in a nice
smoky back-room. It was a large room, which from its dimensions seemed
lower than it really was. It was panelled in old dark oak, and on
the ceiling heavy black joists were visible. The tables, which no
table-cloth adorned, were made of old oak, as were the chairs and the
rest of the furniture. Old fashioned oil lamps fixed on the joists
succeeded in giving the whole locality a kind of pleasant homeliness,
although these oil lamps were lit by electricity. I was told that this
room was several hundred years old, and that the new modern house
had been built around it. That room was in great demand by all sorts
of societies, and it was not possible for it to be hired by one body
oftener than for one evening a month, because decisions in any trade or
profession had to be taken at "The Tobacco Pipe" if fashion was to be
That day the programme of the Round Table was to find some means of
defence against the growing invasion of amateurs in the theatrical and
especially the musical profession. All the people I knew were there
and, of course, many more.
Poor Hammer, who was the senior of the company, made the first speech.
He began all right, talking of art for art's sake, but soon lost the
subject and, before anybody knew how it had happened, was explaining
the fundamental difference between mediæval and modern counterpoint.
By unanimous consent he was deprived of the power of going on with his
speech, and, greatly astonished, sat down.
The _Herr Graf_ said, that being himself a sort of an amateur he was
defending their cause. He quite understood that hopeless cases should
be prevented from producing their work in public, but such rule could
not be applied to all. Had not Wagner been called an amateur? The only
way out was the creation of a special tribunal for such disputes.
An elderly gentleman who stammered told the assembly that if Wagner
had been suppressed it would not have been a shame. He was hissed into
silence, and Mr. Bischoff declared that such words were Anti-German,
that to attack Wagnerism was to attack Germanism, that Wagner's object
had been the freeing of opera from its traditional and conventional
Franco-Italian forms, and his one law: dramatic fitness.
Thereupon another speaker arose. He was a medical man by profession,
and his name was Doctor Bernheim. He declared that the subject of
Germanism was quite out of place, and that the right way of tackling
the question had been indicated by Mr. Hammer.
Immediately the old man got up, bowed in an awkward way and offered
his snuff box to the Doctor, who went on: Certainly, there were two
different classes of artists. There was art for art's sake, music
which had only that one aim of being beautiful, and in this he included
art for technique's sake. The other class was art for the expression
of an idea, in his opinion the higher form of art, though he admitted
that his opinion mattered very little. Only these two classes of
artists counted at all, and it was the public's, not the artist's,
duty to decide who could be ranged in the one or the other category,
and who was not to be counted in either of them. The struggle against
amateurs had to be fought not by the institution of a tribunal, but by
the production of work either so skilled or so highly inspired that no
amateur could compete.
Doctor Bernheim seemed to have won the day when Mr. Doblana chose
to take part in the discussion. In his opinion the Doctor had made
a mistake by including art for technique's sake into art for art's
sake. Technique could be taught, and learning alone had nothing common
with art. He, Doblana, knew composers for the brain and composers
for the heart; only the latter were artists by the grace of God, the
only ones he admitted. The public could not decide who deserved
this qualification. But the one fact, that a composer was capable of
inventing new melodies, real melodies, would entitle him to being
called an artist.
I did not like Doblana's view of the question, yet I would have given
anything to spare him the answer.
It was Giulay, of all people, Maurus Giulay, who stood up and attacked
"Everybody," he said, "knows that Mr. Doblana is a good business man.
In fact, there is no other musician of such money grubbing habits in
the whole town of Vienna. He knows that tunes, little tunes, pay.
There is but one excuse for Mr. Doblana's petty point of view: his
nationality. He is a Czech, and as such devoid from all sorts of
ideals. It is not his fault if he misunderstands the whole question. It
is his nationality's!"
Doblana had become quite pale.
"What do _you_ know of the question, you Magyar!" he shouted.
Instantly there was a terrific outburst of the whole company. Nobody
would have suspected it a minute before. Nearly all the members of the
Round Table turned against Doblana, who was supported only by two other
Czechs, three or four Italians, and one German: old Hammer. As for the
_Herr Graf_, when I looked for him to see how he was behaving with his
partner, I found that he had disappeared.
One cannot well imagine how fierce the outburst was. My calm English
brain could not understand at all this wild talk, these furious shouts.
I was shocked, I must confess, and I felt a little silly. Evidently
there was no more possibility of reaching a decision this evening. So
with much talk I induced Doblana to leave with me.
As it was not very late, I suggested a stroll which would appease my
The evening was one of those of which we never see an example in our
foggy island, an exquisite spring evening, rapturous and passionately
wonderful. You know the evil smell which fills most big towns just at
that time of the year. Vienna is not so. There is a gust of perfume
which gives spring its true significance.
As we were walking down first the Boulevard, or Ring, as it is called
in Vienna, and then, after having crossed the river, the wide road
which leads to the Prater, I imagined what happiness would be mine if a
certain fair girl was moving by my side instead of her surly father. On
the bridge there stood a lovely flower girl, delayed probably by some
little mishap, with a basket full of red roses and white lilies of the
valley. I would have bought some for Mitzi... Suppose I now offered a
few to the horn-player...!
Was it not perfectly ridiculous to lose my sunny youth walking side by
side with an old man, still smarting from what he considered an insult,
and smarting all the more as there was some truth in what had been said
We were hardly speaking and I could think freely of the happenings of
this evening which were in a more or less close connexion with what
interested me most.
Yes, it was quite true that Doblana was a money grubber. And money was
the most important question in all his art ... in all his life, I ought
to say. He might, in this respect at least, have been an Englishman, a
Londoner, a City man.
And suddenly I was struck by a thought.
Up to now my idea had been that Mr. Doblana suspected his daughter of
some love affair. Had I myself not felt something like mistrust?
Yet, why did he not say so? Why, if really he was so interested in
questions of money, why did he make such a fuss about a love affair?
So I jumped to the conclusion that there was in Mr. Doblana's mind
no suspicion of any secret amours. What had upset him was certainly
something that had to do with his money glutting.
We were now in the Prater. Never before had this immense park appeared
so beautiful to me. A bench seemed to invite us with open arms to a
short visit. And a bench being in that funny German language a female,
we accepted. Artists are incorrigible.
As soon as we had sat down Mr. Doblana began lamenting.
"I am in bad luck," he said, "that quarrel this evening ought never to
have happened. Somehow I feel that I am surrounded by enemies. There
must be a whole gang of them. I have been lured into this discussion,
and now I have the whole clique of the Germans against me. You have
no idea, Mr. Cooper, what intrigues exist in the theatrical world.
They are all jealous because I happen to make a little money out of my
ballets. They undermine my whole existence. And I have not only a great
many members of the theatrical and musical world against me, but also
most of the Court circles. The majority of the Court do not like to see
the Archduke Alphons Hector writing ballet books for me. They think he
abases himself. They do not know that art never degrades. Of course, he
can bear it easily. But I! All my existence depends on it."
"Can I not help you?" said I, thinking that there had at last arisen
an occasion of capturing that confidence which for weeks I had been
striving to win.
He remained silent. I have told you already that I had little
experience of women. But I must confess that at this moment I noticed
that I had still less experience of men. I felt sure that, if I had
been with a nice girl--I wish he had been a nice girl instead of a
morose, old man--I should have known what to say. Indeed, there are not
many words necessary. But I could not profit by the moon, nor by that
mild night of May, I could not possibly put my arm around his waist and
press him to my manly breast....
After a long while I said at last:
"Can you not trust me, Mr. Doblana?"
"Trust you? Trust you?" he replied. "I cannot even trust my own
daughter, who works with that gang against me! And I should trust you,
a stranger? No, no, Mr. Cooper."
And laughing bitterly he suggested:
"Come, let us go home."
We got up and went. I had learned nothing. I was as ignorant as before.
You will see in the course of this story that you never can confide in
females. And a bench is a female in German. This one was as treacherous
as all of them. It had made me catch a cold. Or rather ... the cold had
We have had a few days very hard fighting. It was shocking. War may
be a necessary occupation, but it is scarcely a respectable one. A
gentleman ought to be gentle, above all. When I enlisted I thought
there would be much sport. There is very little. I also thought that
it would be soothing for my sorrow. But I am still mortified, though
you probably do not believe me when I assert it. And I have the feeling
that after the war everything will be changed and that there will be
quite another world, yet that it will not be any better. Still, I am
one sheep in a herd, and I have to do as the other sheep do, namely,
follow the lead of our bellwethers, although I am sure that sheep are
not born murderers.
And least we ought to have waited for Sergeant Young's recovery. He
cheers us up. He believes in it. And he fights for something: for his
commission. We have felt very lonely without him. Fancy, feeling lonely
in a battle.
So, having a few days' rest and having been ordered to the rear, a
couple of miles or so from the firing line, we decide, three of us,
Cotton, Pringle, and I, to call upon Charles Young. Right we were to do
so, for he is as stimulating as a pick-me-up.
"Hallo!" he cries, as soon as he sees us, and his bandage all over the
nose gives him an American accent, "that's nice of you two to call."
"Two?" asks Cotton astonished, and tries to count the three of us. "I
think we are more."
"What's the use of thinking?" replies the Sergeant, "thinking is the
drawback of all learned men. You are two."
"We are three."
"In theory perhaps. But your theory fights in vain against facts. I'm
as sure that you are two, as I am sure of getting my commission."
"How is that?" ask the three of us (for we are three in spite of his
"Well, the surgeon who has arranged my nose, a very clever chap by the
way, promised me to use his influence with the first general who would
be wounded. That can't last _very_ long, can it?"
"I don't want to undeceive you," points out Cotton, "but you had better
tell me why we are two and not three. If it's true I will believe in
the coming of your commission."
"Right!" says Charlie. "Patrick Cooper is one P.C., and Pringle Cotton
gives another P.C., therefore the three of you are two P.C.'s. It's as
clear as a chemical formula."
"There is something in that," answers Guncotton seriously.
"Otherwise your brain is not affected?" inquires Pringle, full of
"I am not sure," answers the Sergeant, and assumes as mysterious an air
as his bandage permits. "I guess," (this in his most American nasal
pronounciation), "that there is something the matter with my brain.
Tell me, when the other day I tried to be lighter than air and flew up,
only to show that I was heavier than air and fell on my nose, how long
was I ... Hun-conscious?"
"Three minutes," says Cotton.
"Four," I correct.
"Five," asserts Pringle.
"Is that all?" asks Charlie pensively. "I should have thought that it
was hours from the vision I had. Vision or dream, as you may call it."
"Oh!" says Cotton, "that need not disturb you in the least. The great
rapidity of dream thought has often been proved, for instance, by an
experience of Lord Holland, who fell asleep when listening to his
secretary reading to him, had a long dream, and yet awoke in time to
hear the end of the very sentence which had lulled him to sleep and of
which he remembered the beginning."
"To judge from the length of that sentence," observes Pringle, "it must
have been a German book the secretary was reading."
"In my opinion," goes on Cotton, "the rapidity of dream thought depends
on the kind of food one had last, on the amount of its several chemical
constituents. Suppose you had some Methyl alcohol, CH₃.HO...."
"Bosh!" interrupts the disrespectful Pringle, and turns to the
Sergeant. "Tell us your vision."
"Well it was thus:
"We were at a certain place, which had a certain name, which for fear
of the Censor I cannot call by its real denomination, but which our
boys called Mince from the amount of Germans which for many days had
been chopped there into mince-meat. And remember, our men had done it
this time without the help of St. George and his Agincourt Bowmen.
There were thousands of dead Germans lying in front of our lines, and
the enemy sent up still more men and still more guns; but the men were
shattered by us and the guns battered into scrap iron.
"At last, when evening came, the thunder calmed down. If we had wanted
we could have broken through, but we had no orders to advance. I
suppose that our General wanted Mince to become more worthy still of
"Now, you remember how the Angels of Mons had knocked over ever so
many Germans. In Germany, a country ruled by scientific principles,
they thought at first that we had employed an unknown gas of poisonous
nature. But the _Evening News_, and in particular Mr. Arthur Machen,
gave the secret away. And then the Germans knew all about it.
"Well, to come back to that dreadful day of Mince; night had fallen and
I was dozing, when I saw suddenly two men in a red uniform, with black
tippets and with a red feather on their red cap. The one had a crooked
moustache and the other a very high collar.
"'Father,' said the latter, 'this business does not seem to go exactly
as we had calculated. What are we going to do?'
"'Little Silly,' answered the one with the crooked moustache, 'I have
lost some of my prestige, but I still know what costume to put on and
on what occasion. If the English have called to their help the Angels
of Mons, we will answer with a new frightfulness. You see our costumes.
Understand that we are going to call the Devils of Mince.'
"'_Some_ frightfulness!!' said little Silly acquiescently.
"'Hither Beelzebub! Hither! Dear devil, quick to our aid!' cried the
one with the crooked moustache.
"At once I heard a great voice:
"'Here I am, Monseigneur, Allhighest Superdevil, here I am, Satan!'
"And a little man with sharp eyes and a big walking stick, but
otherwise dressed like the two others in red and black, appeared.
I need not give you a further description, as you may read it in
Macaulay's essay on Frederick the Great.
"The one with the crooked moustache said at once:
"'Great Grandfather, I have called you to succour us. Come now and aid
"Thereupon Beelzebub-Frederick answered:
"'Sonny, thou art the Superdevil, and although I was a greater general
than thou ever wilt be, I do not dare to give thee advice, especially
as I have none to give.'
"The Allhighest Superdevil shrugged his Imperial shoulders and called
"'Hither, Mephistopheles! Hither! Come and grant us good deliverance.'
"And another devil appeared, an insignificant looking one. But he
"'Monseigneur, as true as my name on earth was Treitschke, I am good
only at writing about frightfulness; but I am not a practical devil.'
"Again the Superdevil called:
"'Hither, Asmodeus! Hither! Sweet devil, high chevalier, defend us!'
"This time there came a very big one, bulky and fat, unable to hide all
his baldness under his red feathered cap.
"'Monseigneur,' he said sweetly, 'I would willingly have concocted a
new Ems telegram for you; but when you ascended your Satanic throne
your first move was to send me to hell, where I am still dwelling.
Bismarck refuses to help you!'
"The Allhighest Superdevil called many more--with no result however.
Nietzsche's excuse was that he had become mad. Moltke declared that,
having been a silent man during all his earthly life, he did not want
to talk now that he was living in hell. And thus each of them had an
"At last little Silly whispered something in the ear of his Satanic
"'This time you are right, my boy,' replied the one with the crooked
moustache, 'receive my Imperial thanks. I will give you a supplementary
Iron Cross of real gold, if there is any left. May our old God bless
"Then, once more, he cried:
"'Well then, sweet devil, Messire, Wicked one, Hostile one, Strong one,
thou real Tempter, quick, quick to our aid!'
"Deep bells began to ring, and yet another devil appeared. He was very
small with a big head and wore a sailor's beard under his chin. He had
no red-feathered cap on his head like the other devils, but a soft
"'You have not treated me as I deserved,' he said solemnly. 'I had made
so much fuss about my works that four-fifths of the world mistook me
for a real composer. You have made of my sublime music dramas a means
of propaganda, of Pan-German propaganda. And you have done worse.
You have accepted that rubbish by Richard Strauss as equal to my own
immortal work. Some call him Richard the Second, and some Strauss the
Second; Second he may be, but never First. And you have abandoned my
poor family when you refused to prolong the Copyright of my works, my
poor wife who had been so heroically unfaithful to her husband for my
sake, my poor son who in spite of my undeniable paternity has not the
slightest musical talent. And further, you have allowed my _Parsifal_
to be played everywhere, against my wish, and so revealed to the
world its real value. Still, I will help you and show you at once the
strength of my _Parsifal_ and the real frightfulness, the one, the only
one which will frighten the English.'
"Four young knights of Hell approached him carrying a glass jar. It was
not filled with blood as you may believe, not with the holy blood of
the Grail, but with the purest strawberry jam.
"'Uncover the jam!' said Wagner, acting the last scene of _Parsifal_
and not noticing that the glass jar was not covered. He began to pray;
little round rubies seemed to shine in the jam. And all the devils
"'Oh marvel! Marvel of the highest frightfulness!'
"Then, as in _Parsifal_ the white dove, a black crow this time
descended and remained soaring above Wagner's head, who exclaimed
"'Hurrah! Hurrah! Monseigneur! All the strawberry jam of England is
changed into plum jam--plum jam with stones to prove what it is!'
"I fainted. Then somebody threw water on my face, and I woke again."
* * * * *
"You must have had too much bacon for breakfast," says Cotton, "to
judge from the rapidity of your dream. The chemical composition..."
"Rubbish!" interrupts Pringle, "but you will remember, Sergeant, that
we were talking of _Parsifal_ just before the action began."
And I add:
"Sergeant, I have every respect for you, but I must say, you have given
your Wagner-Devil one of my favourite ideas to talk on, and I put it to
you that you have stolen it from me."
"Don't use strong language."
"All right, Sergeant, but that cackle about Richard II. and Strauss II.
is my intellectual copyright."
* * * * *
When I was a tiny boy, the mater used to tell me the story of a
shepherd who came, with his thousand sheep, to a bridge so narrow that
only one sheep at a time could cross the brook which it spanned. "And
now, little Pat," she would say, "you must wait until all the thousand
sheep have passed, and in the meantime you may go and play with your
Now, Mr. Reader, you believe yourself mighty clever because you think:
Ha, ha! That's the trick he has employed, and while he told us Charlie
Young's dream yarn, he may himself have got rid of his cold. Well, you
are mistaken. It is not a trick, and the intermezzo of the preceding
pages has its importance. Nor will you be spared to undergo the story
of my cold, and the only thing I can do for you is to wish you that it
may not prove contagious.
It was a bad cold.
Now, a cold where you merely weep and sneeze and sniff and blow your
nose which by degrees becomes somewhat like a burning Zeppelin--by the
way, if you never have seen a burning Zeppelin, I take this opportunity
to inform you that it is, of course, like the splendid, brilliant,
luminous, glaring nose of one who has such a cold--such a cold may
be _called_ a bad cold, but it _is_ not. It is a coryza. It is a cold
in the head, an unimportant part of the human body when the point
in question is a cold. With such a cold you are only more or less
But when you begin coughing and spitting, and when high fever sets in,
when you think that you would not like to die yet, especially from
pneumonia, and when your Mr. Doblana recognizes with real regret that
he must interrupt the lessons and will be unable to charge you for the
time lost; when the doctor must be called, and when after a fortnight
you begin to recover but still feel weaker than a child, then you have
a bad cold, one of these perfidious colds you catch in May.
However, if you possess one of those sunny natures such as I pride
myself of having, if you know how to find roses among thorns, if you
can remember that old Jew who used to say whenever he could: "_Gamsoo
l'towvo_," which means: "This too leads to the best"--you see, being
on the classical side I was taught Hebrew in the Special Class and
never forgot that sentence--then, m'dear, you will only remember that
this bad cold was very nice, inasmuch as it brought you nearer to your
beloved Mitzi. You will ever recollect that sweet contact which will
have made of your nasty illness a time of continuous joy.
I felt as if I had only begun to live since I was ill, and I was
sure that she also experienced for the first time a great, primitive
emotion, and that to her nothing else was worth thinking of. She was
taking care of me and seemed made quite glorious by this obligation
imposed on her. And yet we did not speak, we were awed, all words
The medical man who attended to me was Doctor Bernheim, the same whose
acquaintance I had made at the Tobacco Pipe. He was a very intelligent
fellow, and we sympathized as much as such a thing is possible between
two individuals of thirty years' difference of age. He was a man
interested in politics as well as in art, and, what is more remarkable,
he was nevertheless a good doctor.
One day I told him how thoroughly incomprehensible the quarrel between
Doblana and the other members of the Round Table had seemed to me.
This was the beginning of a series of conversations, during which
Doctor Bernheim first explained me the complicated question of Austrian
nationalities, the struggle between the different races.
There was, above all, the continual strife for superiority between the
Western (Austrian) and the Eastern (Hungarian) half of the Monarchy.
Then there were in both parts internal contests, for neither was the
population of Austria entirely German, nor that of Hungary entirely
Magyar. In both halves of the country a large percentage of Slavs was
to be found, among which the rising Czech people, both intellectual and
industrial, could not be neglected. Of late years German influence had
become observable, and there was now in Austria a distinct Pan-Germanic
tendency. A tacit understanding existed between the German and
Hungarian population, whose purpose was the suppression of all Czech
Then there was a Polish question, the Galician Poles demanding to be
united with the Russian and German Poles into one Kingdom,--an Italian
question, Trieste and Gorizia as well as the Trentino wishing to be
incorporated into Italy,--a Rumanian, a Ruthenian, a Serbian question.
Nor was that all. A violent Anti-Semitic movement had been originated
by the clerical party, which was jealous of the ever brisk business
capacity of the numerous Jews--of which the Doctor himself was one.
In one word, there was everywhere contrariety and quarrelling,
dissension and discord.
Mitzi, who sometimes was present at our discussions, was very
intransigent. She had an inborn hatred for all what was German and
Hungarian, although German was her mother tongue. In her heart she was
a Czech. Of modern music she loved only Italian, French, and Czech, but
she loathed the modern Germans for their utter lack of feeling. On this
point as on so many others there was complete agreement between her
and me. I had myself observed that the unrivalled reputation of Vienna
as _the_ musical city _par excellence_ was upheld above all by Italian
and Slav musicians. The Germans, although they made much ado about
themselves, played an inferior, if a not altogether, secondary part.
I suppose I had a good time. Most people know the course of events,
when by degrees an agreement of affections is changed into ...
tenderness. So I dare say you can do without my description.
But one day something happened. It was quite an insignificant incident,
yet it is one which I cannot forget. Simply it was that Mitzi sang to
me. It was the fourth or fifth day since I had been allowed to leave my
bed. I had never heard her except for a few exercises.
Her voice is not a very strong one, but there was never one as warm nor
as expressive. It went at once into my heart, as Mitzi herself that day
went into my life. What she sang mattered little, short folksongs, I
believe, quite simple, yet her voice has that incomparable faculty of
changing all what she sings into purest gold, as Midas did to all he
Yes, it was rather an insignificant, little incident. Nor was there any
revolution in me. No, but an evolution began. Slowly, vaguely, feelings
came to me. Feelings, not thoughts. They were all inside my breast
and--my word--they did hurt. Mitzi had with her singing struck a chord
of gold, which was vibrating in my heart.
"_Fräulein_ Mitzi," said I, for I had not yet learned to call her by
her name alone; "if you will help me a little, and encourage me, I
will write an opera for you. There is something exceedingly tender and
impressive in your voice, something childlike.... I am sure you will
inspire me, you will be my Muse."
Possibly you imagine that she was flattered, or at least pleased.
Nothing of the sort, my dear. She just looked doubtful. She ought to
have begun at once with the encouragement business I had suggested. A
little phrase as, for instance, "That would be nice!" would not have
cost her much. Any English girl would have said it. True, it would not
have meant much, either, and she wasn't an English girl. Yet--I owe
you some frankness, don't I?--I was somewhat disappointed. If I am not
greatly mistaken, she turned up her nose a little when she said:
"Are you sure you will be able to write an opera?"
"For you, _Fräulein_ Mitzi, I will be able to do anything!"
Indeed, such was my feeling. Yes, her very indifference was encouraging
me. Such is man when he is in love. Her apathy made me suffer, and my
wretchedness only stimulated me. Sure, I would show her of what I was
capable. Her insensibility only augmented my emotion.
"I don't like your calling my voice childish, and if you compose
something for me it will have to be heroic."
"I never said that you had a childish voice."
"I did not. I said 'childlike.'"
"There is no great difference."
Thus our quarrelling began. And I may well say that the same hour which
saw the birth of my love also germinated the origin of its end.
Ladies have many uses for their tongue. Amongst other things, they
sting with it. And therefore we love them.
However, important as this may be, surely it does not interest you, to
whom my philosophy is of no use. So I return to my story.
I went to Mr. Bischoff as soon as my health was a little restored. I
wanted to write a music drama on _Macbeth_ as he had suggested. Should
he not be willing to write a libretto on the basis of those wonderful
ideas he had exposed to me? I was sure that I would succeed in making
with his aid a real masterpiece.
* * * * *
If you consider with what an important personality I had chosen to
deal, you will not be surprised when hearing that it was not "on the
basis of those wonderful ideas he had exposed to me" that Mr. Bischoff
agreed to write the said libretto. He wanted the basis to be more ...
substantial. I need therefore hardly tell you what the next step was.
And, still considering that Mr. Bischoff was the first Viennese actor,
and had refused offers for mere translations from a London firm at ten
shillings a thousand words, you will easily imagine which figure I
asked Daniel Cooper & Co., Ltd., to put on his next cheque. But I tore
my letter immediately into pieces and wrote another, asking for £50
more, I could as well bleed my poor dad of £300 as of £250, couldn't I?
And the supplement would enable me to show my intense gratitude to my
charming nurse, and even to show it more than once.
I deeply regret to announce that Miss Doblana exhibited a much greater
satisfaction when I offered her a beautiful fan of white ostrich
feathers than when I had opened to her the perspective of my opera.
She was really winsome as she thanked me, oh! so winsome. Yet, to-day,
after years, I think that it was very foolish of me to make her such a
gift. Most men will share this opinion, although most girls will judge
it otherwise. As for Mitzi, I fear that she foresaw more gifts and
decided there and then to take my opera into the bargain.
Anyhow, that fan was bought (but not paid for) and offered to the
lady of my heart before the cheque arrived from London. And then
something very awkward occurred. Daniel Cooper & Co., Ltd., sent me a
cheque for £300, not payable to me but to Mr. Bischoff. I am sure this
mischievous move was caused by mother. For while father's letter was
nice and gentle as ever, and while he stated being sure that with such
a librettist I would achieve something remarkable, mother wrote that
in her idea it was nonsense to attempt an opera before having well
learned how to write one; and there was something between the lines
that read as if she was smelling a rat.
Now, what was I going to do with my cheque for £300? I could not well
go to Mr. Bischoff and ask him for change, for if I knew little of
women and even less of men, I knew already a lot of the third sex,
viz.: the artists. There was no probability of his being able to
give me change for £50, and, candidly, I did not trust any artist
sufficiently, especially not Mr. Bischoff whom I scarcely knew, to let
him have the cheque as it was, and wait for the £50 change until he had
cleared it. I felt like a schoolboy, comfortless and wretched, and as
For three days I went about absolutely miserable with my big cheque in
my pocket. My state of mind could not escape Mr. Hammer who, finding a
few bad mistakes in a fugue of mine, declared that this and the rest
of my behaviour proved clearly that I was in love, an accident that
had befallen him in former years every six weeks, so that he had a
sufficient experience to pass judgment on other people. Now, if even
Hammer saw my uneasiness, you will understand that it was soon noticed
by Mr. Doblana who, although a musician too, was far more a human
being. He inquired. He insisted. For one of the results of being so
human was a certain degree of curiosity.
"It must have something to do with your opera," he asserted at last.
"How far have you got with it?"
"Oh!" said I, "I have not begun yet."
"Then," cried he, "why do you make such a face as if you had lost your
I am sure that, when I heard this question, I looked at him in the most
idiotic fashion you may imagine. And I must have looked at him for a
long time, say, twenty seconds, which is much longer than most people
think. Two ideas had flashed up through my brain, (or whatever you may
The second--which was probably the result of the excitement caused by
the first one--the second was to return the £300 cheque to my father,
and to ask him for several smaller cheques which I could hand Mr.
Bischoff in proportion to the work done, a proceeding which certainly
would please the mater, for it proved me to be an earnest chap.
Yes. And the first idea?
I simply discovered the mystery which Mr. Doblana was hiding:
He had lost the score of his ballet _Griseldis_, which he had been
composing before _Aladdin_.
Like most modest, unassuming persons I am proud of a lot of things.
Thus, without any boasting, I think I am fairly discreet. You may
therefore imagine how astonished I felt when I found myself next
morning in Mr. Doblana's studio, carefully rummaging his drawers in
search of the manuscript of his ballet _Griseldis_. I had an excuse:
I was doing detective work, and the discreet detective is a type that
has still to be invented. But you may believe me: I was unceasingly
During the night I remembered a conversation which I had overheard
by chance--please, _do_ not forget that I am a discreet person--a
conversation between Mr. Doblana and the _Herr Graf_. It had taken
place the first time that I was admitted to the Round Table, and I have
duly reported it in Chapter III.
(I am absolutely distressed always to be obliged to refer the reader
to previous chapters. It gives this story, which otherwise would be
quite pleasant, an almost scientific appearance. But my unbounded
inexperience in the art of writing must be taken into account.)
This conversation then had mentioned the loss of one of Mr. Doblana's
works. The name of the work was not stated, nor how it had been lost. A
musical work may be lost otherwise than by the actual disappearance or
destruction of its manuscript. A hostile report may mean its definite
ruin. But once the idea had struck me that Mr. Doblana's strange
calamity was indeed the loss of his manuscript, the recollection of
that colloquy with the _Herr Graf_ strengthened my opinion. So I tried
to make sure whether _Griseldis_ really had disappeared.
After I had made an hour's careful search, and inspected every paper,
leaf by leaf, without finding the slightest trace of the manuscript, I
decided that I was right. I further concluded that the horn-player was
convinced of its having been stolen, and this with the help of his own
As it had a considerable monetary value, he must have been very sore
about the disappearance of his work. The simplest thing would of course
have been to communicate with the police. But tied to a collaborator
of so high a position as the _Herr Graf_ he could not well take such
a step without consulting him. Clearly Doblana had not obtained his
support, a prominent member of the Court having probably no desire for
any business with the police. Thus the matter was at an end for my poor
host. He had to remain quiet, and despair was his only consolation.
But I at least was not compelled to have any consideration, and I
wanted badly to free Mitzi from the suspicion which lay upon her.
From what I knew, it was absolutely unjust. She had been lured into a
journey, and her absence had been misused.
Who was the thief?
An examining magistrate must sometimes have a very uncomfortable
feeling. For, if one has a preconceived idea in such a case, it is
difficult to free oneself from it. I experienced this. In my mind
Giulay was the main hinge on which the whole business turned. From
the beginning I had conceived it so, and hard as I tried to get rid
of this idea, it always came back to me: Giulay had sent the wire, in
spite of his denial, knowing quite well that it would decide Mitzi to
go to Salzburg. And Giulay did not like Mr. Doblana, as he had shown by
attacking him in a tactless and violent way, without apparent reason,
in the course of the evening at the Tobacco Pipe.
The great difficulty for me consisted in the impossibility of talking
about the whole affair to Mitzi. I held the man to be capable of any
villainy. But there was no probability of getting Mitzi to divest
herself of the prejudice she had in favour of the ugly Hungarian. If
I had expressed but a little of my thoughts she would at once have
accused me of wronging him, she would have resented it as an annoyance;
and for no consideration would I wish to annoy her.
So I kept my suppositions to myself. One point above all seemed to me
important. The thief must have known not only that, on receipt of the
telegram, Mitzi would hurry off to Salzburg, but also that Fanny was
absent on a holiday. At one moment I suspected the plump servant girl
of being Giulay's accomplice. What if her going to visit her dying
mother had only been a feint? Suppose that she had returned in order
to admit Giulay? However, I soon set aside this theory; Fanny was
altogether devoted to Mitzi, and no consideration could have decided
her to do such a treacherous thing.
I asked both of them, Mitzi as well as Fanny, whether anybody had known
that the latter would have a three days' holiday. As I did not want to
tell them why I asked the question, they did not think as hard as I
should have liked. They could not remember. And Mitzi who, of course,
guessed that my inquiry was somehow connected with the great mystery,
only wondered why I still worried over that old, half-forgotten affair.
There is, as a matter of fact, a mistake into which readers of
detective stories are generally enticed. It is to believe that the
persons involved are doing nothing else but thinking of their case.
They have no business, no trade nor profession, they have no friends
to call upon, they have no letters to write, no plays to see, no books
to read, they hardly ever rest, and they wash, dress, eat, and sleep
only when it is necessary for the conduct of the case. This is all
untrue; in reality, it happens quite otherwise. I am sure I was as
interested in my case as any detective in his, yet I thought of it only
occasionally, and I went on having my lessons with old Hammer as well
as with Mr. Doblana and thinking of my _Macbeth_.
When the horn-player first heard of my operatic ambitions, he said that
it would be quite a good exercise, and that writing was the best way
to learn how to do it. The opera would certainly not be performed, but
that did not matter, as I was not working for money, being sufficiently
well off without the paltry sums which I might earn in the form of
With Hammer it was quite otherwise. He grew immediately enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm was one of his principal features. My words, repeated rather
parrot-like from what Bischoff had said to me, namely, that it would
be "a tissue of terror, of trembling, of anxious forebodings and of
dreadful silence," pleased the old organist specially. To say the
truth, I had no proper idea of how this tissue was to be produced.
Hammer told me that it always had been his ambition to write an opera,
but that he never had been able to find a libretto which he had judged
suitable for his particular talent.
"Bischoff has proposed _Macbeth_ to me too," he said. "But the
objection that I believed myself unable to express the local colour was
too great. I was afraid of failing in one of the most important points.
This danger does not exist for a Scotchman like you."
"But I am no Scotchman."
"Isn't Hampstead in Scotland?" (He pronounced it Hampshtead with his
undeniable Austrian accent.) "You told me, it was up North."
"North London--and you must not tell that to a Londoner--they believe
it is West."
"I regret it for your sake. Have you any idea of Scotch folk tunes?"
"I know _Auld Lang Syne_."
"That is better. But I advise you, before you begin with the
composition of your great work, to write a few Scotch songs as an
exercise, like Wagner, who wrote a few songs as studies for his
The advice seemed good to me, and I composed fifteen Scotch songs as
an exercise for _Macbeth_ which, according to Mr. Doblana, was itself
but an exercise for future operas. I chose them among the many lyrics,
which exist in good metrical German translations, so that I had them
ready in both languages. I wrote my songs in what seemed to me an
incredibly short time at the rate of a song a day. Modest as I am, I
must nevertheless confess that they are not bad, considering that I
am ... no, that I was a British composer. British composers have been
told so many times about their having no talent that they have come
to believe it. But it is not true. We have quite as much heart and
feeling and imagination as other nations. Only we have also the fog.
Which means that we may be allowed to be born in our isles, but that
we will do well to go and compose somewhere else. This is what by
chance I had done. Thus it happened that my fifteen Scotch songs were
quite possible, and one at least was good. But who would not have been
inspired by Sir Walter's immortal words?
"Breathes there the man, with soul so dead.
Who never to himself hath said
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
From wandering on a foreign strand!"
These songs have never been printed, yet I am glad to have written
them. They sleep in a drawer in a nice cosy house in Belsize Park. They
sleep, but they are not dead. They live in my memory and remind me of
the most beautiful day which was yet given me to live.
* * * * *
And an exceptionally big mail, containing three letters and a few
papers. The "Illustrated London News," sent to me by an old aunt. They
are full of war pictures which she forwards to me so that I may have an
idea how things look in reality, as we in the trenches have certainly
only a very vague idea of the aspect of the whole business.
One of the letters is from a lady who signs Thirza Ellaline de Jones,
and is addressed to my regimental number only.
"Dear Nº...," it runs, "if, as I suppose, you are a lonely soldier, I
wish to inform you that I am willing to offer you my friendship, for I
am myself a lonely maiden. I often think how awful it must be for you
to have nobody to think of, and that in your murderous business you
are never relieved by that wonderful thought: 'It is for her that I do
all these sanguinary deeds.'
"I am of a romantic, passionate nature, and I am sure you ought to
like exchanging ideas with me. My character is rather pessimistic,
having thoroughly read Shopenower (_sic!_), yet I feel sure I could
cheer you up. Besides, I think that our acquaintance, started under
the fire of the guns, could after the war lead to a more pleasant
union. I am scarcely of middle age, but I look much younger than I
am, and I feel younger still. I do not enclose my photo, for I think
that men who have gone through the serious business of war are not
concerned with trifles. But I may add this: The war will not finish
before every man is disabled. You will then be entitled to a pension.
If it pleases you, you may now add to this the amount of my private
income which is of £140 a year.
"Answer by return, and you will be a dear.
"THIRZA ELLALINE DE JONES."
The letter is typewritten, and the traces of wax on the back show that
it is reproduced from a stencil. What a mania!
The second letter is from a firm, Levy and Levy, who offer the highest
prices for souvenirs, especially for German helmets.
And the third one is from home.
"My dear Patrick," writes the mater, "we are glad to hear that you are
all right, and hope that you will endeavour to keep so. I strongly
advise you to wear the same underclothing you are used to, namely,
that of Doctor Lahmann. I would have sent you some, but I find that
their place in Holborn has disappeared. They have probably been wound
up by our Government, who do not see the difference between good and
bad things. But I imagine that among the prisoners you take, you will
find one able to procure from Germany whatever you want.
"I do not know on what mysterious business Bean is engaged. But she
comes three times a week to town, all the way from Bedford. She
says that what she does is a holy duty, which I think is rubbish.
I suspect father of being in the secret and resent his hiding it
from me. Still, I must say that she is as pretty as ever, even
prettier. And also that old Dicks is making pots of money out of a big
Government contract for tinned vegetables.
"I regret your enthusiasm over father's silly idea to upset you by
having your Scottish march played in the middle of the battlefield,
instead of leaving you quiet and cosy in your trench. I hope that you
will soon send us good news. I remain your always loving
And dad joins a half sheet:
"My darling boy,
"Nothing could please me more than the thought that you have been
happy for a moment, while hearing the 'Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu.' I am so
busy that I have scarcely the time to write. I will only add to what
your mother says, that a word to the wise will be sufficient. Bean is
the dearest girl I know and will be quite well off. And between men I
may say this: I know you used to object to her being so thin. She is
growing plump now.
"A thousand kisses from your loving
Bean plump, Bean growing actually plump! I confess that this opens
perspectives I had not suspected. Still....
You see, she is nine years my junior. And as I am twenty-nine (rather
a ladylike age, isn't it?) you will be able to calculate that she is
twenty. And I suppose that it is also twenty years since our respective
respected parents regard us as betrothed. Yet, it has never been spoken
Violet Dicks, commonly called Bean, is indeed pretty. She plays the
piano a little, but with such apathy that I have always avoided
listening to her other musical achievements, which consist in a little
singing and a little concertina playing. However, I must say that
there is something like mutual consent in my ignorance of her musical
performances. She is very shy, not generally, but in matters musical,
and would never dare to sing or to play to a composer, even to an
abdicated one. She plays tennis, but is no good at bridge. She writes
many unimportant letters, all exceedingly short, and never reads a
book, nor anything else. She spends all her pocket-money on dragging
her mother to London every time a new musical play comes on. She says
she loathes them, but she is always hoping that there will one day be
a good one. She is also interested in petty charities, bazaars, garden
parties, and so on. And as far as it is possible with her, she is in
love with me.
But I do not think that hers is one of those great, magnificent loves
we read of in books. She is more a vegetable than a flower; as a flower
she is only a violet, as a vegetable only a bean. A green bean. A
slender, green bean.
Yet I have a certain tender feeling for her. I should not like her to
suffer in the least. I feel myself quite capable of marrying her, and
even of being a good husband to her, if it were absolutely necessary.
On no account could I let her die from a broken heart. But then, I
suppose it would not break.
She is not, like Thirza Ellaline de Jones, of a romantic, passionate
nature, nor does she even know that Schopenhauer ever existed. And if
it were essential for a lonely soldier like me to exchange ideas with a
female, I would rather do it with Bean who has none, than with Thirza
Ellaline who has less. As for the reason why I do all these "sanguinary
deeds," Thirza Ellaline must excuse me and mind her own business.
There exists something which I should call the chastity of patriotic
sentiment, and it would be immodest to divulge it.
No, Thirza Ellaline, oh thou of the unphotographable face! In spite of
thy private income of £140 (and I add, not because of Bean's income
which is probably twenty times bigger, a fact that I could overlook if
thou wert a little more photographable and a little less pessimistic) I
say _nay_ to thee. Nay--never!
Whereas Bean... It is still: "not yet." But I confess that the idea
of her has been growing lately somewhat more familiar. I do not know
when, why, nor how that change began. That she wept when she heard the
"Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu" performed by the band of the Salvation Army has
but little to do with it. Weeping under such stress has happened to
more hardened people. Now there comes the news of her growing plump.
But it comes as a mere abstraction, for I feel unable to imagine a
flat pancake as a round dumpling. No, I don't know why, but there is
now something in the word Bean--a meaning--which was not there before.
It is but slight, yet it is. Still, can it ever grow as long as there
lives the remembrance of another?
* * * * *
Let me tell you how it occurred.
I had finished those Scotch songs and was rather pleased with them.
They were written to suit Mitzi's voice, and so one evening I played
them to her. The one I preferred, namely, Scott's "_Breathes there a
man_," was unfortunately the one which agreed least with her particular
ability. But you ought to have heard her singing "_My heart's in the
Highlands, my heart is not here_." There was such an ardent longing
in her voice, such a desire of seeing again the mountains covered
with snow and the "wild-hanging woods," and to hear once more the
"loud-pouring torrents." It was all so true, so sincere. I made her
sing it again and again. She appreciated Burns' words. She had only to
think of the beautiful Austrian Alps which she knew so well. But she
understood also my setting of the words. She sang it as I would have
done it, had I had a voice and mastered the difficulty of controlling
it. She sang it directly out of my own soul. Never was there such a
comprehension, such a communion of feelings.
She was standing behind me, a little to my right. Her pleasure in
singing my song was equalled by mine at hearing her. When she had
performed it eight or ten times I stopped at last. I was overcome with
And suddenly I felt her hand caressing my hair.
I trembled. I perceived something happening; a breath, so to say, a
mere nothing. Joy and terror at once filled my heart. I gazed at her,
and in the twilight I saw a tender smile around her lips. It made me
feel out of breath, as if I had been walking too fast.
I got up. "Let us go out a little," I said, "the evening is wonderful."
We went. Doblana was at the opera blowing his hard part in the
_Mastersingers_, which would keep him till nearly midnight, and we had
two hours and a half before us. The streets were already empty, for
Vienna is a town that goes to sleep very early, thanks to a twopenny
fine imposed on each inhabitant who comes home after ten o'clock. The
sky was clear and the moon looked like a round silver cake from which
somebody had helped himself to a tiny slice of the crust. No stars were
visible, but as we had gained the boulevard, the electric lamps growing
smaller and smaller in the distance appeared like starry dust.
We entered the municipal park. It was quite empty, and the right frame
for romantic amours. For I knew by now into what our companionship
little by little had grown. My heart was throbbing, hers probably too,
and we felt that the park was an accomplice of the sentiments which
were leading us along our walk.
There are many cosy corners in that park. And each one of these corners
is adorned with a statue. Before that of Schubert we halted. Why, I do
not know, for it is not remarkable in any way. Yet we looked at it as
if it had been the goal of our pilgrimage. We were as if transported.
We were silent and gazed at Schubert as if he were something new and
delightful, as if he were a new invention of the heart, enrapturing,
transporting, fit to throw us into a sweet ecstasy. And yet he was
only a fat gentleman in white marble, sitting in a chair and holding a
conventional sheet of music paper in his hand.
Suddenly Mitzi began to sing softly:
"My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here..." and then the
love that for months had been lying longingly at her door, and had
voicelessly cherished her, the love, my love, broke forth. I caught
her by the neck and bending my face down to her's I touched her lips,
"I love you, Mitzi, I love you."
Her eyes were closed and she kissed me back. Mine was a marvellous
happiness, for I felt that I was her's, vanquished, beaten by her
charm. My love was not a conquest, but a capitulation--and yet I was
And now, pity me, compassionate reader, for ... do you know how long my
happiness was to last? Fate, cruel, inexorable fate, had allowed me one
minute, one single minute. Then a devilish laughter, coming from some
hidden corner in the shrubs, awoke me.
Of the old guilds of Vienna one still exists. It is the Company of
the Bootmakers. Originally established to afford aid to necessitous
members of their trade, the Company by payment of large sums obtained
various monopolies. In London there are bootsellers, dealers in boots,
which are manufactured in big factories. In Vienna there are still
bootmakers. Their Company having from entrance fees, fines, and so
on, acquired some money which was employed in the purchase of land,
became known, because of the rise in the value of property, to have
amassed enormous wealth. The bootmakers are still divided into masters,
companions, and apprentices; and so rich is the guild that to be an
apprentice bootmaker is sometimes more advantageous than to be a master
in another trade. So is the fact explained that you may see walking
about in Vienna "bootmakers' lads" aged thirty or forty, very proud of
their green aprons.
These "lads" provide one of the many typical figures of Vienna. They
are the naughty boys of that city. There is no mischief they will leave
undone, if they see a possibility of its performance. There is no
cheeky remark they will leave unsaid. They are wasps, and every day a
new exploit, or a new _bon mot_ of a bootmakers' lad is told in Vienna.
It was such a lad who came laughing at us out of the shrubbery. I could
have thrown myself upon him and given him the thrashing he deserved.
But I stopped when I saw him in the moonlight.
He was a little man of about twenty-five. He was lame. He had black
hair, a black moustache, and a pointed tuft of black beard on his chin,
and with his mocking expression he reminded me of the Frenchman who at
Salzburg had made room for ... Mitzi, of the conductor who had united
me to ... Mitzi, and of the cabby who had brought me again to ...
My first idea had been to talk immediately to Mr. Doblana and inform
him that I intended marrying his daughter. I told Mitzi this while we
were going home through narrow, dark streets, as becomes thieves and
lovers. But she objected. She was rather cool, the result probably of
yonder bootmakers' lad's intervention.
"I know you love me," she said, "and always will. I too love you, but I
don't know yet how to do it well. I cannot tell you what I feel. If you
were at once to speak to father, either he would say yes, or he would
say no, but in both cases you would have to leave our house at once.
Father is no artist, he is a trader in music, and he is meanspirited
as all tradespeople are. He does not understand love as artists do. He
would only see the impropriety of your staying any longer with us. And
I do not want to be lonely. I want you with me. Think only that I just
found my heart. You do love me?"
I wanted to take her in my arms, and to kiss her again. But although
there was nobody in the street she prevented it.
"And you always will love me?" she asked once more.
"Always, Mitzi!" I said.
And, my word, I am afraid that this _always_ still holds good a little.
When we arrived at home Doblana was not yet in and Fanny had gone to
bed. In the drawing-room, where a couple of hours before Mitzi had sung
herself definitely into my heart, we halted. She looked at me, and I
opened my arms; for a moment she laid her cheek against my shoulder,
then she took my head between her hands and kissed me. It was very
sweet ... but it lacked Schubert.
Then she went into her room, and I into mine.
It was she who the next day came to speak about _Macbeth_.
"You want me to play _Lady Macbeth_?"
"Yes. Did you not ask me for something heroic? Is _Lady Macbeth_ not
the woman who tries to be stronger than man and who breaks up from
over-exertion? Can you imagine anything more prodigious?"
"What am I to do with her?" she asked again after a while. "I re-read
_Macbeth_ last night. She is terrible. Think only, she says that while
her baby was smiling in her face she would have dashed its brains out,
had she sworn to do it. I know that art can receive a new meaning from
all successive generations, but how can a woman in this century of
longing for peace speak words which were horrible even in those times
I was surprised at her question which filled me with great happiness.
She had read _Macbeth_ this very night. Was this not a wonderful proof
of her love? And she had not read it superficially. Oh, what a happy
man I was to be able to call such a girl my own!
But how to answer her question was beyond me. All I could find to say
"You forget, Mitzi, that I will make _Lady Macbeth_ a beautiful,
flexible cat in the first part, and a weak child in the second."
"My dear," she declared, "I fear that that is rather an empty sentence,
and that you are not at all sure what you are going to make her."
I felt that her remark was just, and I resented her superiority a
little. You see, I was a composer; and as a composer I believed that I
need not _think_ so very deeply, if only I _felt_ profoundly. I suppose
that most composers share this opinion, which may be erroneous.
Anyhow, I am sure that if I had been better at thinking (even at the
cost of being less good at feeling) Mitzi would have preferred it.
There were two Mitzis. The one was a very pretty, charming girl, yet
probably somewhat insignificant. The other was an eminent artist,
gifted in many respects. Instinctively it was the latter I loved.
But to love a woman means to conquer her, not to be conquered. A
superior woman wants to be vanquished by a more superior man. And I had
capitulated already to the pretty girl. As for the artist, she simply
(The reader must not believe that these war-like expressions are the
result of my entrenched authorship. If I were to use the language which
I have learned here I would have first to publish a trench dictionary.
No--these expressions are only the result of newspaper reading.)
Two days went by. Then Mr. Bischoff called upon me and, as he wanted
a thousand crowns, he brought with him a detailed sketch of his
Happily Doblana was absent, which enabled Mitzi to assist at our
interview. I told Bischoff that it was my wish to see the rôle of _Lady
Macbeth_ performed by Miss Doblana, but that this must for the present
remain a secret to her father, who objected to an artistic career for
Bischoff inclined his head without saying what he thought of my plan.
Probably his conviction was that I was mad to confide my first work to
a beginner, for this was what people generally believed. How many times
have I been warned during the following months not to commit my opera
to a "beginner"! But as it happened, the great actor found that this
"beginner" knew very well what she wanted.
"I do not think, Mr. Bischoff," she said, "that your libretto is any
good, and should it remain as it is, I will probably not undertake to
create the part of the lady."
"Oh!" answered Bischoff mockingly, "you have not yet been on the
boards, and you already have a prima donna's caprices. You will make
"There is no use in talking like this," she exclaimed. "If nobody
yet has thought of making a music drama of _Macbeth_ there are good
reasons. By himself Macbeth is a dull, heavy character."
Dear me! Bischoff's face!--You ought to have seen it. It was worth
while. He took it personally--he out-shakespeared Shakespeare.
"You are a very young girl," he said at last, "to utter such
criticism." And, turning to me: "I did not expect, when I came here, an
adversary to whom I cannot speak as I should like to on account of her
sex. It is most unfair."
"Neither my sex," cried Mitzi, "nor my youth have anything to do with
what you call my criticisms. At this moment I am no woman. I am but an
artist, and as such I have the right to speak."
I should have gladly given whatever money I had in my pocket to be
somewhere else; yet this very thought reminded me of the fact that
Bischoff would bear a little more of Mitzi's argument, as there was a
cheque at the end of it.
But while I pondered over these possibilities Mitzi was going on:
"Yes, Mr. Bischoff, Macbeth is a dull, heavy person. He does not
do anything by himself. The witches who show him his future do not
"But, _Fräulein_, the witches are but a symbol of his ambitious ideas."
"Never mind ... let us say then, that his ambitious ideas do not lead
him into action. He must be dragged to it by his Lady. As a great
criminal he is entirely overshadowed by her. Now, such a character may
be interesting in a spoken tragedy, but not in music-drama. Further:
Macduff is a typical tenor, and as such never interesting. Again, that
fairy tale of Birnam wood coming to Dunsinane, do you think that it
can impress a modern public?"
"So you are against our scheme altogether?"
"Not in the least. But I want you to make a _Lady Macbeth_ instead of a
_Macbeth_. The Lady is the one interesting person in the whole drama. I
want you to cut out all that does not concern her directly. I suggest
that you make the first scene of the prophesy of the three witches,
which is a grand opening. Then must follow a first act where at the
beginning the Lady induces Macbeth to commit the murder and where at
the end the deed is done. The second act should be the banquet...."
"And Banquo's ghost? What will you do with Banquo's ghost, if, as I
suppose, you suppress Banquo?"
"Let it be King Duncan's ghost. As long as there is a ghost, it matters
little whose ghost it is. Finally, the third act should be the scene
where the Lady walks in her sleep. After this the interest is over. Let
the public go home. It will have had quite enough of the nightmare."
She stopped and there was a long silence. The actor did not say one
word, and I did not dare to interfere. I am modest, I have reported
that to you already. If I were not, I might have told you that Mitzi's
plan, which certainly was good, was my invention. But I am proud of
being modest and truthful.
At last Bischoff said:
"I apologise, _Fräulein_, for having been distrustful. Your scheme is
"That is better, Mr. Bischoff," said my dear girl with a most
bewitching, yet triumphant smile. "But I have not finished. I do not
want to impersonate a mere monster. I consent to be a cat first, and a
sick child afterwards, but I must know why--I will not be content with
nice phrases. The Lady will be my début, and I want my début to be a
triumph. Mr. Cooper does not seem to know exactly how to explain. Will
If Mitzi had shown her superiority up to this moment, it was now
Bischoff's turn. As for me I had my favourite feeling: That of being
... but why should I repeat it? You know.
"It is only because your dull and heavy Macbeth is compatible with
my theory of the Lady," began Bischoff, "that I can give you the
explanation you want. In my idea Macbeth was not heavy, but irresolute.
Never mind, let him be heavy. In either case, the Lady is obliged to
put a steam engine, if I may use this expression, in front of all she
says, to carry him away. However, she shudders before her horrible
words and deeds. She seems to shut her eyes not to see them. She is
not a mere monster, to quote your own words, she is a poor weak woman,
who loves that one man with such strength, that she has been able to
discover all his failings, so that she may, with her trembling body,
cover and protect the imperfections. You have only to search for her
tenderness and you will find it. It is, for instance, with the utmost
softness that you must say the words:
'Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' the milk of human kindness ...
... What thou would'st highly
That would'st thou holily.'
And it is only because she feels kindness, pity and peace in her heart
that she calls the spirits: '_Come you spirits, unsex me here, and fill
me top-full of direst cruelty_.' Again, she suffers when she cries:
_That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, nor Heaven cry 'Hold,
hold!'_ And how happy were she if she had known nothing of it all:
'_What beast was it then that made you break this enterprise to me?_'"
"Yes," said Mitzi, "but immediately afterwards she says those horrible
words about the babe...."
"That," answered Bischoff, "is effort. That is one of the sentences
where she uses the steam engine to pull more vigorously. That you must
say as if you were shuddering before your own words, as if you were
feeling that it is too much. In short, the woman must continually
appear under the mask of the monster, and this is the reason why I see
the Lady cajoling her husband like a beautiful, flexible cat during
the scene where she induces him to the murder. But as soon as the deed
is done she shows all her weakness. Not to lose courage she has felt
obliged to drink. Nevertheless, she starts at the slightest noise.
It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern'st good-night.'
in these words! And does she not confess that she is unable to commit
the crime herself, when she says these words, which must be uttered
with trembling love:
'Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done it.'
Thus the rôle must be played from beginning to end, Lady Macbeth as a
woman, a weak woman, who knows her weakness:
'These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad....'
a woman who at the end breaks down under the stress of the effort she
has made. You must produce, as if by magic, love and pity for Lady
Macbeth in the hearts of the audience, and never be a vulgar, awful
criminal, a Gorgon, as actresses generally understand, or rather
misunderstand the Lady."
"It will mean hard work," said Mitzi, "but I am not afraid. I mean to
And turning to me she added:
"You had better begin working."
Indeed, I started that very evening.
* * * * *
What is the bluest blue?
It is not the sky of Italy; it is not the Sapphire of the Maharajah of
Baipal, it is not the Blue Diamond of the King of Siam, nor is it the
blue gentian that blooms on the high Alps, it is not Rickett's blue, it
is not Prussian blue, which is, parenthetically, out of fashion just
now, nor is it the blue of a tuppence highpenny stamp. All these are
blues. But the blues at the front when it rains, these are the bluest
blues. And it never rains but it pours.
We sit there, the four of us, namely, Charlie, Guncotton, Pringle, and
We smoke and feel miserable.
"It rains," states Guncotton.
"Does it?" asks Charlie.
"It does," answers Pringle, and I finish the series with a:
A stillness follows.
We go on puffing, feeling thoroughly soaked.
"It begins to be wet," says I.
"It's water," explains Guncotton.
"You are sure it isn't champagne?" asks Charlie.
"Champagne!" sighs Pringle dreamily.
And we fall back into taciturnity.
"By the way," asks Pringle, "Sergeant, have you still got that bottle
"Of course, I have."
"Well, as the official communiqué will be that bad weather has hampered
fighting on the British front, why not go and fetch the bottle and
break its neck?"
"My friend," says Charlie solemnly, "I have sworn an oath that I would
not open that bottle so long as I had not got my commission!"
"You will not even open it to celebrate the recovery of your nose?"
"I will not. I have not brought it all the long way from the
Dardanelles, through Egypt and the Mediterranean to France, only to
forget my oath when I am so near my goal!"
That bottle of champagne has a history. When we were at the Dardanelles
the Sergeant had made himself a wonderful dugout, quite a spacious
room, magnificently furnished with all sorts of empty cases. It was
quite a cosy place. Charlie had even caught a fox, that was his dog,
and a kingfisher, that was his canary. On the completion of the abode
we had a house warming. We were six, namely, the four inseparables whom
you have the advantage of knowing, plus an Australian and a French
The menu was:
(obtained from the Butcher Sergeant in return for a pair of braces
which he wanted badly.)
(Whilst we were eating our kidneys the French guest arrived. He was
late. So we had the Hors d'oeuvres, which he brought with him, after
A Tin of Sardines.
(This solid piece, the _chef-d'oeuvre_, was a roast fowl, stolen by
the Australian guest--poor devil, I may make it public now, for he's
dead--from the General. What busines had the General to keep chickens?)
Omelette au Rum.
(The eggs were bought at the price of 1/- each from a Greek trader who
had come over from Lemnos, but who had learned his trade in a London
provision shop. The rum was Charlie's own savings for three weeks. Our
ration was one-eighth of a pint twice a week.)
from Lemnos, too, which was the only cheap thing to be had there.
A bottle of whisky,
And one of champagne.
That bottle of champagne had been provided by Charlie. To get it,
he had had to swim a quarter of a mile, in order to reach a certain
ship--to swim with a sovereign in his mouth. There were still some such
things as sovereigns in the world when this affair took place. The
sovereign was put in a basket which had been lowered with a rope, the
basket pulled on deck and lowered again with half a crown change and
the bottle of champagne. On his way back Charlie did not know whether
to spit his half crown out or to swallow it, whether to let go the
bottle or not. For there was a heavy sea. But somehow he reached the
shore and landed the bottle, the half crown and himself quite safely.
Well, the dinner party in Charlie's dugout went splendidly. But just at
the moment when we were about to open the bottle of champagne, there
was a surprise attack from the Turks, a regular alarm, a call to arms,
(which I need not explain, as "alarm" is only a perverted form of _à
"Never mind," cried Charlie, "We'll drink the champagne another time,
when I get my commission. I swear I'll keep this bottle till then."
Since that day he has fulfilled his promise. The bottle is the only
thing he took with him when we evacuated the Peninsula.
And now, when we have got the blues, he refuses to open it. And, my
word, our blues are of a true blue, a Conservative blue. Not the
light blue of Cambridge, but the dark blue of Oxford. We have even
blue blood in our veins, and call the Germans Blue-beards. If we were
to take any pills, they would be blue pills. Our flag could be the
Blue Peter. And we have such a blue funk, lest this confounded rain
should never cease, that we talk of our blues till we get blue in the
face. Not even Guncotton, who is very skilled in pyrotechnics and
has manufactured a sort of little cartridge with which he cleverly
imitates Will-o'-the-wisps, is able to enliven us. The daily display
of pyrotechnics of a somewhat more awe-inspiring sort has rendered us
positively cloyed with that pleasure.
But Pringle, since Charlie's refusal to open his bottle, has remained
dreaming. Finally he steals away. We wait five minutes, ten minutes, a
quarter of an hour. In the end he comes back holding a shell in his
arms. It is about four inches in diameter and twelve in length. He
settles down and slowly starts unscrewing the fuse.
"Look out," warns Guncotton. "These things explode sometimes...."
"That's just what I want," declares Pringle tragically. "I want to put
an end to all this misery of ours."
Then, when the shell is unscrewed, he passes it to the Sergeant.
"Have a drop?" he asks.
The shell goes round.
"Our blues turn pink," says I.
"Like litmus paper under the influence of an acid," explains Guncotton.
"Acid?" asks Pringle reproachfully. "It's brandy. The best brandy
"French brandy," says I.
"_Vive la France!_" cries Charlie.
* * * * *
We have had another fight ... a day of manifold horrors and of
deafening explosions. We have killed many Germans and many of our own
homes were put into mourning. I shall make no attempt at describing
this battle. It is over, thank God, and I turn from its monstrosities
to my peaceful occupation of remembering what happened in days gone by.
I was perfectly happy in spite of the fact that Mitzi had no
overflowing heart. You will be good enough to remember that on the day
of our first meeting in the railway carriage P.C. 3.33 she remained
clad in mystery all the way from Salzburg to Vienna, and that, while
I told her all about myself, I did not learn anything about her. This
more or less repeated itself now. I let her peep into the inmost
recesses of my heart, and there is certainly nobody who has such a
complete acquaintance with that organ of mine, which circulates my
blood, my feelings, my thoughts.
Mitzi's heart remained ever an unknown quantity to me. I think this
is a bad habit of woman. Dad always pretends that there is a corner
of the mater's heart into which Daniel Cooper & Co., Ltd., have never
penetrated. I am afraid this corner is the most important one of a
woman's heart. Nobody ever explores it, not even the woman to whom the
heart belongs. Perhaps she dares not.
So it was with Mitzi. She was sweet, and I am sure she loved me; yet
she kept her secret corner hermetically closed. There was no need of
writing on that heart: Trespassers will be prosecuted, for there was no
possibility of trespassing.
If I were not so modest I should say that what she most loved in me was
my musical talent. I had an experience of this on the morrow of that
interview which had taken place between her, Bischoff, and myself.
"Are you going to see Bischoff?" she asked as I was to leave for what
we called my lesson with Hammer.
I answered that it had not been my intention, but that I might see my
collaborator if she had any particular wish.
"I have," she said. "Your _Lady Macbeth_ scarcely leaves me a restful
minute. I have thought that it will be very difficult to show the weak,
feminine side of the part in music, without a certain external help."
"What do you mean by this?" I asked.
"I mean some lyrical detail which in my opinion must be added. Could
'I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.'
could these words not be the excuse for a sort of lullaby? And then
in the scene where she walks in her sleep; as we have cancelled all
Macduff, the Lady can no more say: '_The thane of Fife had a wife;
where is she now?_' But I think the lullaby could be repeated in her
dream. It would be, when it comes first, only a remembrance, and when
it comes for the second time only the dream-memory of that remembrance.
It would have to be very mysterious and so in keeping with the general
character of the whole drama."
Mitzi's idea may give you a notion of her artistic instinct. Perhaps
I ought not to call it artistic, but theatrical or operatic. For,
although the idea was excellent and proved so, its staginess, its
artificiality cannot be denied.
Anyhow, I was then enthusiastic about it. I went to Hammer, who advised
as accompaniment for this not yet composed lullaby a succession of
major thirds in the lowest notes of the flutes; a suggestion which I
applied, but not without the greatest difficulty, in the first version
of that little piece, while when it came back in the dream scene I
replaced the flutes by muted violins. I remember this detail, because
when _Lady Macbeth_ was performed, Hammer came greatly excited after
the first act to me protesting that his advice had been bad, and the
highest notes of the bassoons would have been better than the lowest of
the flutes, whereupon I told him in my excusable excitement that I did
not care, or, to employ the Austrian expression, and that it was all
"sausage to me."
Indulgent reader, do not be cross with me because I speak of these
professional details. Having shown you sufficiently that I am no more a
musician, I may be allowed to remember that once upon a time I was one.
I ran to Bischoff. And so pleased was he with Mitzi's suggestion that
he wrote there and then the words of that lullaby. In the afternoon
I worked with Mr. Doblana on the score of his _Aladdin_, which was
advancing rapidly and in my judgment becoming a distinctly charming
Then only did I find time to compose the lullaby. It is a weird yet
tuneful little piece which took me but half an hour to write down.
When Mitzi heard it she was enraptured. She let herself fall in my arms
and looked at me with loving eyes.
"Oh Patrick," she said, "you will write a masterpiece for me, won't
I promised. Never had I felt so much sympathy between us.
"I will do my best, Mitzi," I replied, "for I love you, love you truly,
you are my better self, you are my good angel."
She laughed. Yes, she laughed at my fervent words.
"How solemn you are, Patrick. How English. You declaim as if you wanted
to appeal to my passions."
"Mitzi, I cannot help worshipping you. No woman can wish to be loved
better than I love you."
I found my words quite nice and the right thing to say. But she went on
"I can make any man say that to me. But I doubt whether I can make any
man compose a beautiful opera. Will you?"
"Is my lullaby not to your taste?"
She seemed doubtful.
"One swallow does not make a summer."
I felt it like a bitter pang, as if I were forsaken by her. Artists
are such sensitive plants. Oh, imaginative reader, fancy your Patrick
Cooper as a Mimosa whose leaves have just been touched. My life seemed
pale, my prospects desolate, my hopes dead. And all that because Mitzi
had laughed when my heart had been glowing.
Yet the phenomena of irritability last but one moment in the Mimosa,
and the subtle doom that had struck my love lasted not much longer.
Now, when writing this I see how fearfully weak I was.
A few days later, the holidays at the Opera having begun, Doblana and
Mitzi left for a little place in the Salzkammergut, St. Gilgen, not far
from Salzburg, and I for England, where I was to stay for a few weeks
with my parents.
The mater had suffered from rheumatism, and therefore Harrogate had
been chosen as a summer resort. Besides, at that time, there still
existed a Mrs. Dicks, who was always liverish and who had been ordered
to Harrogate, too. Mrs Dicks was the best soul you could imagine, but a
very plain woman. Yet when she died a couple of years after the events
I am recording, her husband mourned her deeply. To anybody who wanted
to hear it he stated that he had lost the best of wives and Bean the
best of mothers.
Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. Dicks were great friends, which provided (in
the form of endless chats) some consolation for their forced stay at
Harrogate. For I cannot think that anybody would go to Harrogate if he
was not obliged. Perhaps it was because I came straight from Vienna,
which is surrounded by the most lovely villages and woods, I could not
find the slightest charm in the tedious landscape of Harrogate with its
tiny heath and nearly invisible pine forest. After what I used to hear
in Vienna, the so-called music in the Valley Gardens appeared to me a
parody without any sense of fun. And after the fragrance of the air on
the _Kahlenberg_, in the _Brühl_, or on the _Eisernes Thor_, where I
had made excursions, the rotten egg perfume of the sulphur springs at
Harrogate was simply repulsive.
And then, instead of Mitzi, I had Bean. She was at that time a mere kid
of twelve, just beginning to be a flapper. I have generally been shy
with young ladies, and have avoided their company. But I never have
considered Miss Violet Dicks a young lady. She just was Bean--and is
You will have noticed that my modesty has hitherto prevented me from
giving a detailed description of your humble servant's physical charms.
Be it sufficient for you to know that there were at Harrogate many
ladies whose profession, not to call it trade, was to be young. Ladies
who used to let their eyes rest with all signs of satisfaction on my
tall and evidently handsome figure.
Being afraid (I think you can fancy my feelings) I used Bean as a
shield. I would not take a walk without her by my side to protect me
from some suppositious attack by one of the ladies, in whom I saw so
many birds of prey. I daresay it was dreadfully mean of me to misuse
the child like this. For when we rambled along the fields I scarcely
spoke, absorbed as I was in the mental work on _Lady Macbeth_, an
effort that never ceased. Yet, although I took so little notice of her,
the child's eyes were always shining, and whenever she spoke her voice
was thirsting with excitement.
Once I asked her if my taciturnity did not annoy her.
"Oh!" she answered, "it is just splendid to be with you. I know you
think of music. You listen to your thoughts. One day I will listen to
your music. I am waiting. I won't get impatient."
"Should you like to know the plot of my opera?"
"Oh, it would be just delightful!"
Just splendid. Just delightful. That was her way of expressing herself.
I told her the story of _Lady Macbeth_.
"I am sure," she said when I had finished, "if you do it, it will be
very beautiful. This evening, will you play that lullaby to me?"
I objected, for I did not like to play the piano at the hotel where we
would be at once surrounded by these offensive acquaintances you are
compelled to make in watering-places. But Bean begged so much that in
the end I yielded.
While I was playing she seemed pale and strangely spiritual, watching
me with adoring eyes. When I had finished she said nothing. Not one
word. But when shortly afterwards she went to bed we shook hands, and I
noticed that her's was as cold as ice.
"Good night, kiddy," I said.
She only pressed my hand a little harder, but said nothing.
The two maters noticing, of course, the incident and greatly
exaggerating its importance, found in it some fuel for the cherished
hopes that were burning in their breasts.
There was some more of that fuel in store. For when Bean and I went a
few days later to Knaresborough, where I offered her a little row, what
if she did not go and upset the boat, so that our row became a swim!
She uttered an imploring cry, but the next moment I had her in my arms.
She clung to me quite desperately, her slender little body shaken by
fright one moment, by a storm of laughter the next. The situation was
not without danger, and the anxiety in my own heart made me rather
tender with the kid. Yet, we safely reached the shore, where she lay
exhausted, her hands keeping their hold of me, and murmured:
"Oh Pat ... Pat ... how brave you are...."
And after a while she added:
"I knew you were brave, when I heard that you were going to tackle
From that moment I was so much fêted, so often called a hero, so
incessantly praised for having saved Bean's life, that I took to
flight. I did not even wait till the parents returned to London.
At the station Bean pushed a few roses in my hand. She seemed serious,
and I felt her tiny fingers tremble.
"You'll keep them?" she asked.
"I will, kiddy."
Reader, you must by now be well aware of my character, and therefore
know that I kept the roses. However, as the petals have gone, all I
still possess is the stalks. I think this detail would interest you,
for I know you all sympathize with Bean.
I think I also ought to tell you that I had given Dad a hint--although
only a delicate one--of what he had to prepare for, concerning Mitzi.
Dad and I had never had any secrets from each other, and there was a
really chummy relation between us both. I confess that I understood
nothing of his Insurance schemes, yet I never objected to any of them.
I was in consequence rather surprised to find him a little cool when
I spoke about my Austrian love. He pretended that I was speaking only
of my future primadonna, not of my promised bride, and even for the
former he showed a certain mistrust. Once more I heard the old story
that it was dangerous to confide the success of my opera to a beginner.
Of course, I forgave him, for it was his rôle, being the eldest, to be
careful. And then, he did not know Mitzi.
Anyhow, the little I had said about her prevented me from staying at
Doblana's house as I had done before, and though Mitzi objected I had
to tell the horn-player the reason. I was much too much imbued with the
English idea of a long engagement not to have been taken completely by
surprise when his first question was, On what date did I intend to fix
the marriage. However, although I could only answer that I had not yet
thought of it, but that I hoped Mitzi would not oblige me to wait more
than a year or eighteen months, he received my invitation to regard me
as his future son-in-law fairly well.
As I have already intimated, Mitzi did not seem at all pleased. She
pretended that I had robbed her, by speaking so early to her father,
of all the sweetness of our secret love. And I am sure we would have
quarrelled over this point had I not remembered of a saying of my dear
dad, that married life was an uninterrupted series of concessions,
and had I not applied this principle also to the time preceding the
There was another reason for my forbearance: a composer must hold his
temper in check with his primadonna. It was, however, more difficult
than one may think, for I found Mitzi on my return to Austria
altogether ... somewhat changed.
You will remember that the late Mrs. Doblana had on her death-bed
implored her husband to let bygones be bygones, and to reconcile
himself with the Archduke Alphons Hector and his children. Up to now
the horn-player had refused. But as the moment of the performance of
his _Aladdin_ was approaching, his highly developed sense for all that
touched his interests told him that a more conciliatory attitude would
be advisable. His sojourn at St. Gilgen, at a short distance from
Salzburg, was probably not chosen without intention, and whilst he did
not himself see Franz and Augusta von Heidenbrunn, he tacitly consented
to Mitzi frequenting them freely.
You will perhaps remember that I had a certain mistrust of the Countess
Augusta. On what that mistrust was based I am quite incapable of
saying. It was mere instinct. But I have always noticed that girls, as
soon as they were friends, had secrets. And these secretive manners
have, in my idea, an evil influence on their morals.
It is to the influence of Augusta von Heidenbrunn that I attributed the
fact of finding Mitzi, as I have said, altogether ... somewhat changed.
This expression must not be taken as funny. She was changed very little
indeed, but that little change affected her through and through. I
still knew little of women, but I would have been, say, colour-blind
had I not noticed that something had happened.
She had always liked to go out, but now the number of errands which
obliged her to be away from home had increased enormously. I had
thought that our London cook held a record for outings--still, Mitzi
Again, she had always been nicely dressed, but now the care she took of
her toilet had increased tenfold.
Sometimes when I arrived at the Karlsgasse I found her pensive, not to
say gloomy, at other times excitedly merry.
When I asked her that inevitable question: "You love me?" which I am
sure is asked a hundred times a day between any engaged couple, she
still answered that she did and knew her love was not good enough; but
she also added that she was my _friend_, and that her _friendship_
should be a pillar for our future happiness. Sometimes her tenderness
was overflowing, sometimes she she was sulky and inscrutable.
Once, after one more unsuccessful trial at singing my song _Breathes
there a man_, I signified my regret and my doubt whether she would ever
be able to express what I had tried to indicate in that song. Thereupon
she declared that her singing was much too good for my song.
"That is entirely true," was my answer, "but you should not say so."
"Anyhow," she retorted, "I think that in matters artistic I reason
at least as closely and rightly as you; and in these questions one
may always rely in preference on a woman's judgment. Women possess
infinitely more delicacy."
"Say that you dislike that song...."
"I will never say that, because I like everything you compose. But am I
not free to sing what I choose?"
All this frivolous cavilling was unimportant. I remembered Daniel
Cooper and his female partner. There cannot be a couple better mated
than these two. I don't think that they ever quarrelled, but there was
a continuous wrangling over small, insignificant details, a miniature
feud, just enough to prevent monotony. Evidently my married life was to
be a similar one.
Yet, once there arose such a difference between Mitzi and me that I was
afraid lest it should mean the breaking off of our match.
I hope that you have still some slight remembrance of what we will call
"The Mystery of the Griseldis score." Anyhow, if you have forgotten,
neither Mr. Doblana nor his daughter had. He always treated her with
the same coldness. I, of course, could not notice it, as I had never
seen them on more friendly terms, but Mitzi often complained of his
indifference. And it was only too natural that "The Mystery of the
Griseldis score" should return again and again in our talk, as it had
been the origin of our love.
Well, as _Lady Macbeth_ was advancing rapidly, it became necessary
to find a theatre for its first performance, and as I had not the
slightest experience in theatrical business, and as Mr. Doblana assured
me that there were at the Imperial Opera enough new things accepted to
fill at least two years (his _Aladdin_ amongst others) I decided to
accept the services of a theatrical agent. Mitzi advised me to go to
Giulay. Indeed, he had the reputation of being very clever. But every
agent has. Nor was it his quasi-celebrity that induced me to call upon
him. It was the fact that I still held that his part in "The Mystery of
the Griseldis score" had been deeper than Mitzi suspected.
I called upon him and found him to my surprise completely businesslike.
He was still ugly, and his voice loud and discordant, but he did not
in his office tell any funny yarns as he used to do at the Round
Table. That he was clever, there could not be the slightest doubt,
for in scarcely a week's time he had induced the manager of the Brünn
municipal theatre to play my opera. At the same time he also settled
that Mitzi was to make her début as Lady Macbeth. Mitzi, or as she
was called in the contract, Amizia Dobanelli. Four performances were
mutually guaranteed--by the manager to be performed--by me to be paid
for should the receipts not be sufficient.
Please, merciful reader, spare me; and do not enquire about the other
points of that contract. They were so many humiliations. It would make
me blush. Still it was a contract, and I confess, I would not have been
able to get it by myself.
My business with Giulay had been the pretext for much intercourse, and
my desire to know him better had determined me to see him more often
than was strictly necessary.
One day I found an old lady in his office. Like Giulay, she wore a lot
of jewellery, like Giulay she had a discordant voice. And from one
particularity, namely, from the extraordinary amount of refractory
black hair which grew in her nose I could make a guess at some
consanguinity. As a matter of fact she was his mother, and in spite
of her negative beauty seemed to be a decent sort. Giulay made a
fuss about me and my opera, and the result was an invitation to come
and lunch on the following Sunday with the two Hungarian people at
their home in the Maroccanergasse. This street, although situated in
a fashionable quarter, was far from smart, the principal reason for
this being that one side was filled nearly in the whole of its length
by the ugliest barracks in the whole town. So at least the negative
beauty of the two Giulays was in harmony with their surroundings. Nor
was the house where they lived one of the palatial buildings of which
you see so very many in Vienna. It was a modest dwelling, one of those
habitations where fortunes are made rather than spent. There was no
marble hall, no carpet in the stairs, no electric light. Still it was
very decent. In the third story of this house my hosts had their abode.
When I rang the bell, Maurus Giulay himself came to open the door.
The apartment had an air of stinginess which contrasted with its
jewel-bedecked inhabitants. It was all respectable and without any
artistic taste, the right lodging for small people. Only one detail
struck me as remarkable, namely, that the walls of the drawing-room
were entirely covered with photographs. There were artists and
artistes, authors and composers, some famous and most unknown. Whether
there was any wall paper beneath these photos I could not say; probably
there was, but it had certainly not proved sufficiently hideous.
The meal was scanty and pretended to be refined. We had about two
dessert-spoonfuls of soup served in coffee cups, then a little anchovy
paste on tiny pieces of toast as a hors d'oeuvre, and one whiting
between us three. I must say that the old lady hardly ate anything,
busy as she was waiting upon us two gentlemen. Yet it looked rather
funny, that solitary whiting, as did afterwards the two thrushes for
three, accompanied by a little salad adorned with a hard egg, which was
cut into quarters, so that there was even one too many. And then there
was a little cheese, a little butter, with a little bread, and a little
fruit, very little, and some coffee in mocha cups, viz.: smaller cups
than those which had served for the soup.
There was also in the centre of the table a cake, rather a large cake,
if you please, and to be candid, I had enjoyed the prospect of having
some. I daresay I would have endured it. But none was offered, and to
this day I do not know whether it was a dummy or a real one, and in the
latter case whether it was one they had kept from one year to the other
for such festivities, or if it was to serve for another party in the
Yet, I must not get too slanderous, for there was at least one thing I
enjoyed thoroughly: a Coronas cigar that Giulay offered me. It is not
an expensive cigar, costing about sixpence, but I recommend it to the
few Englishmen who will, after the war, visit Austria.
While I was smoking it, Mrs. Giulay apologized for her lunch and
especially for her waiting upon us.
"You see," said she, "it is not at all easy to be at the same time
cook, housemaid, and hostess. But I am used to having no servants. When
Maurus was born, his father was a dying man. I was left very poor. I
have had to struggle badly to give my boy a sound commercial education.
I could not afford a servant girl during these hard times. Ten years
ago he opened his agency and was at once very successful. Still for
several years the utmost economy was necessary. Then the habit was
formed; and I cannot get myself used to the idea of having a servant."
I did not, on the moment, reflect on this story. I only said to myself
that one must not judge people by appearances, and that Mrs. Giulay was
a more worthy woman than I had at first conceived.
But afterwards, when I had left them, I meditated how little progress I
had made by my connexion with Giulay in the "Mystery of the Griseldis
score." And then, suddenly, an idea struck me which would have made
me go immediately to the Karlsgasse if it had not been a Sunday, and
if I had not known that the person who unexpectedly had become very
important in my clue, was then not to be found there.
The next morning, however, saw me at Doblana's house. He was not in,
Monday mornings being regularly devoted to orchestra rehearsals at the
I asked Mitzi to call Fanny and to be present at the interview I wished
to have with the maid. Mitzi, of course, laughed at my seriousness, but
summoned the girl, who came, smiling and plump as always.
"Fanny," I began, "do you remember, when we first investigated the
affair of _Fräulein's_ visit to Salzburg, that you said, you knew that
it was then a month since Mr. Giulay had left Vienna even for half a
Fanny did not answer.
"Surely you remember?" I asked again.
"Perhaps," she said.
"And I wanted to know," said Mitzi, "_how_ you knew this?"
"Exactly," said I, and turning again to Fanny, "And what did you
answer?" I inquired.
Again the girl remained silent.
"You said," I went on, "that you had made friends with the cook of Mrs.
"I did not," declared Fanny instantly.
"How can you say so?" cried Mitzi. "I distinctly remember that you did."
Fanny insisted on her denial. I remained for a moment impressively
"And what if I did?" finally demanded the servant who by now had ceased
"Oh, that is very simple," I declared, "Mrs. Giulay has no cook."
"She had one at that time."
"No. She has had no cook, nor other servant, for thirty-five years."
Fanny seemed smitten with uneasiness, and I went on:
"Well, as you did not learn what you stated from that imaginary cook,
who then did you learn it from?"
"I do not remember the whole affair," she returned doggedly.
I made a beautiful gesture with my hand and turned to Mitzi.
"A short time before I went to England I found out what had so much
upset your father. Your visit to Salzburg had been used for foul play;
during your absence your father's score of _Griseldis_ had been stolen."
"What?" cried both women.
"It is so," I continued. "Mr. Doblana suspects that it was stolen with
_Fräulein_ Mitzi's support. This, and the desire of the Archduke that
no fuss should be made in which his name would necessarily be involved
has prevented police inquiries. But I do not share Mr. Doblana's
opinion. I thought and, of course, still think, that _Fräulein_ Mitzi
is absolutely innocent. I believed then that the Salzburg wire had been
sent by the Comtesse Augusta...."
"Oh!" cried Mitzi.
"I believed so until yesterday. I apologize now; my suspicion was
evidently erroneous. I also thought that for some unknown reason Mr.
Giulay had stolen the score...."
"Oh!" exclaimed Mitzi again.
And Fanny protested vigorously:
"It is not true!"
"In this part," I declared, "I feel unable to give in. My proof is that
Fanny tried to protect Mr. Giulay by telling us that story of the cook,
and again tries to shield him now."
"What else?" asked Fanny ironically.
"Fanny and Giulay," I concluded triumphantly, "acted in agreement.
Fanny was in Giulay's service, was his accomplice. Her leave had begun
on the Friday morning. She went at once to Salzburg from where she sent
the wire. There is a train leaving Vienna at ten o'clock which arrives
at three in Salzburg. _Fräulein_ received the wire at about five. It
fits to a nicety."
"It is not true!" cried the maid again, bursting into tears.
"Then why," prompted I, "why did you tell that story of the cook? Why
did you declare that you knew that it was a month since Mr. Giulay had
left Vienna even for half a day?"
"Fanny," said Mitzi gently, "you have always been a good girl. Why did
you tell these lies?"
Fanny sniffed more. With her nose, with her mouth, with all her throat.
If it had been possible she would have sniffed with her ears. But there
came no reply.
"Fanny," repeated Mitzi, "you see that appearances are all against you."
A paroxysm of sniffing answered, while the girl assented with her head,
and her tears redoubled. Who would have thought she had so much water
"You must tell us the truth," insisted Mitzi. "You will understand that
by your silence you only strengthen the suspicion which lies upon you."
There was a pause. And then, suddenly, Fanny turned upon me with
clenched fists, her wet face purple with rage. She trembled with anger.
"What did I do to you," she said with a cry of exasperation, "that you
should come and wrong me so? I am no thief, nor is Mr. Giulay. He has
not taken the music, nor have I sent the wire ..."
"But, Fanny," interrupted Mitzi.
"No _Fräulein_, it's no use ... you won't prove anything. The young
gentleman wants to know the truth. Well, I will say the truth: I used
to walk out with Mr. Giulay ..."
Mitzi and I were speechless at this revelation.
"... and during these three days we were on the Semmering together
and didn't leave each other for a minute. That's all. And now,
_Fräulein_ will be good enough to take my notice."
With these words Fanny left the room. And then another tempest burst.
This time I was the victim. I will not give you many details. But you
may imagine Mitzi's state of mind. She had in one minute, as the result
of Fanny's confession, lost a good maid who had faithfully served
her for six years, and seen her belief in her esteemed friend Giulay
ruined, Giulay, who was carrying on a love affair with such a low class
girl. And all that through me, without my having even succeeded in
finding a solution for "The Mystery of the Griseldis score."
I will add here that Fanny informed her fancy gentleman of the whole
discussion, and how I had suspected her and him. You will not be
surprised to hear that the theatrical agent's interest in me and my
work disappeared there and then, and that he did not undertake one more
step for me.
But this is only a secondary matter. For the present the avalanche of
reproaches that fell on me was quite sufficient. A regular scene took
place between Mitzi and her detective-composer. (For wasn't I a student
in both these callings, of which I can only say that either is the
You, who have been kind enough to read these confessions, you know that
I gave my inmost heart to the composition of my _Lady Macbeth_, and
you will learn only too soon how I fared. So much for the composer. Now
for the detective. You also know with what care I investigated "The
Mystery of the Griseldis score," how patiently I waited and kept my
suspicions for myself as long as I was not sure. If in the end I was
deceived by appearances, if I made a blunder, was it my fault? What
business had Fanny to walk out with Giulay, and Mitzi to embark upon an
operatic career against the wish of her father?
Well, we were very busy, Mitzi saying nasty things to me, and I trying
to soften her, when we heard Mr. Doblana's key turning in the lock.
He was coming home from his rehearsal. Then we perceived the noise of
a smaller key. He was opening the letter box. And after a minute he
walked in, finding us seated in two opposite corners of the room, as
far as possible from each other--Mitzi looking sullen--I meek.
And he? Gracious me, what a sour face he made. He walked up and down
for a minute or so, and if there had been on our part the slightest
wish to talk, we would not have dared to do it, so cheerful did he
At last he mumbled a few words about treachery, respect due by the
children and so on, and after these short preliminaries the storm, the
third one of the day, broke forth. He had just received a letter from
the manager of the Brünn municipal theatre. Miss Doblana not being of
age, her father was required to endorse the contract.
My word, he was in a rage. No!--he was not going to give his consent to
such utter folly. He was indignant at being deceived in this way.
"Have I not a thousand times expressed my wish that you should not go
on the stage?"
"Oh," answered Mitzi sweetly, "you have certainly done it more than a
thousand times. But I have failed to understand why."
"Is the example of your unhappy aunt, of La Carina, not enough?"
"My mother, too, was an operatic singer."
"I do not speak of your mother, I speak of your aunt."
"Well, what of her?"
"Was her's not a life of shame?"
"I feel unable to see it in that light."
"Was your mother not ashamed of her? Did she not for years hide from me
the mere existence of your aunt Kathi, of La Carina? Was I not cheated
by your mother every day exactly as I have now been cheated once more
by you? And what for? I ask you, what for? Do you think that every
she-cat that walks miaowing over the boards will find an Archduke?"
I thought that it was time for me to step into the battle.
"Mr. Doblana," I declared, "Mitzi is to sing _Lady Macbeth_ in my
"Mr. Cooper," he returned sharply, "Mitzi will do nothing of the sort."
"You forget that all has been arranged with the manager of the theatre."
"I forget? Really? Do I? What a bad memory I have. It is true. I
forget. I even forget that I was consulted on behalf of my daughter.
No, Mr. Cooper, I know Mitzi better than you do, better than anybody
does, and I forbid her to go on the stage. She has not the moral force
of her mother. She is as weak as her aunt was."
Mitzi had turned her back to us and was drumming on the window panes. I
admired her once more--I cannot sufficiently repeat how pretty she was
from ... behind, too.
"And, Mr. Doblana, if I beg of you to let her sing the _Lady Macbeth_,
which I have written especially for her, if I beseech you to permit it?"
"I will say no. You would be the first to repent it. Mitzi has no moral
strength. A girl who supports her father's enemies."
Mitzi turned sharply round.
"Father!" she protested in a husky voice, "I know that I owe you
respect. But such calumny cannot be allowed."
"Be quiet, Mitzi," I said gently, "let me do the talking."
And turning to Doblana I declared so firmly that I hardly recognized my
"Either you will give your consent to Mitzi singing _Lady Macbeth_, or
I will marry her within a month, even against your will if it must be,
and I will then be the one master to decide whether she may or may not
go on the stage."
My unexpected vigour had a double effect. Doblana gave in, and Mitzi
became reconciled with me. I may even say that she never before had
loved me so well as she did after that third thunderstorm. And she
gave me of her own free will a photograph of hers for which I had long
begged in vain.
While she still held it in her hand she asked me:
"So, when we will be married, you will be my absolute master?"
"I will be your property, your thing, all yours?"
"Am I not yours already?"
She kissed me. Then she took the photo, and wrote across it: "_Meinem_
Patrick, _seine_ Mitzi"--"To _my_ Patrick, _his_ Mitzi."
* * * * *
Sergeant Young, who pursues the story of my Austrian love with the
greatest interest asks me:
"Have you still got that photo?"
"Would it not make a good frontispiece for your book if ever it is
Of course, I am greatly surprised at this question. When an author,
even if he is a former composer and at present a Lance-Corporal, writes
a book he does not think of such paltry things as the frontispiece. And
then--it is quite bad enough to show to an inquisitive reader my heart,
or whatever name you like to give to that organ.... But her face!...
You see, something curious has happened. When I started writing this
I was still in the power of Mitzi's charm. Slowly I have been made to
feel that I am setting myself free from it. I write the whole adventure
off my heart, with all its joys and all its sorrows. Yet I cannot make
up my mind to give away her features. But, if really these pages one
day do appear in print, and if you find Mitzi's photo reproduced as the
frontispiece--then, affectionate reader, you will know that writing my
story has cured me altogether, completely.
In the meantime the Sergeant wants to see the photo. So I visit my kit
bag. Therein is a parcel. All it contains is three photos and ... I
may as well tell you, as you know all about it ... the stalks of those
roses Bean gave me so long ago. The three photos are Pa, Ma, and Mitzi.
(I hope you did not expect them to be Messrs. Hammer, Doblana and
The three photos are well wrapped first in some tissue paper, then in
a considerable amount of strong brown paper, and finally in a sheet of
oil cloth. Thus they have been able to stand the fatigues of war.
I show the Sergeant first the face of Daniel Cooper, and then that of
the mater. He remains rather indifferent, but says politely:
"They seem to be nice people."
The stalks of Bean's roses, I show him not.
But I uncover Mitzi' s likeness.
Charlie looks at it and frowns. After a while he gives it back to me.
"Well?" I ask.
He does not reply. But suddenly he gets up.
"You'll excuse me," he says.
And he goes.
What's the matter now?
I cannot conceive anything so fascinating in an operatic composer's
life as the rehearsals of a new work of his. When he first hears in
reality the tunes, the harmonies, the combinations of sounds which
he had up to that moment heard only in his fancy, a profound terror
overcomes him. The positive, actual achievements of the singers and
the orchestra are so far from the ideal abstractions his fancy had
supposed. Can it be possible that this shapeless noise should represent
his score? The melodies are hardly recognizable, erroneous intentions
of the singers deteriorate the musical sense, wrong notes hurt the
poor composer's ears. But by and by the whole thing improves. Mistakes
are corrected, the meanings of musical phrases are explained and the
distress of the unhappy man vanishes.
I will not tell you the alarm, the consternation of Patrick Cooper
when, at the beginning of the rehearsals, his masterpiece--for
secretly, in the inmost recess of his heart, he considered _Lady
Macbeth_ as a masterpiece--appeared to him to be not only disorganized,
but thoroughly rotten.
"Oh!" cried he silently, and his sufferings were all the more
formidable as his vociferations were so very silent, "oh, why did I
disobey my good mother? Why did I not follow the ideal career of an
insurance broker? Why did I not foresee these shocking experiences? It
is all horrible, appalling, awful!"
But later, when the aspect began to change, when the figures I had
created took form, when the howlings, the shrieks, the screams became
music, when I ceased shuddering and quaking as the hours of rehearsal
approached--my confidence came back. I even surprised myself listening
with pleasure to my music, and distinctly remember having thought at
least at three occasions:
"Patrick, my dear, you are a splendid fellow after all. You ought not
to have been so much impressed by the first seemingly helpless trials
of all these good people. How all has improved! There are few living
composers, if any, able to conceive and to write such a score. And to
think that the crowds will come and listen and applaud. But will they
understand? Is the crowd sufficiently educated to appreciate my work?
Do I not stain the beautiful conception of my fancy by submitting it
to the crude judgment of the crowd? Still, a crowd it will be; they
will come and listen and applaud. The theatre contains room for fifteen
hundred people. There are about one hundred and fifty seats so bad that
nobody will take them, but the remaining thirteen hundred and fifty
will be occupied at every performance. Now, how many people will come
and listen and applaud? Be modest, Patrick, old boy. Say twenty-five
performances at an audience each of thirteen hundred and fifty.
I never knew, for I am bad at figures.
Altogether I was in high spirits, smiling like Sergeant Young before a
battle. By the way, I do not know what has happened to Sergeant Young.
He has seemed sulky since the other day, when he left me so abruptly.
It pains me, for he is my particular chum. And save what is needed to
carry on he does not utter a single word to me.
But I must not let myself go into a diversion; I was speaking not of
Sergeant Young but of myself and of my high spirits. Yet you must not
believe that I was happy. I have already stated that I was altogether
happy only during our performance in front of Schubert. That sentiment
of perfect felicity never came back. And now, during the rehearsals of
_Lady Macbeth_ I was bitten by that "green-eyed monster, which doth
mock the meat it feeds on": jealousy.
As I am quoting _Othello_ I may as well say that the Cassio in my case
was the pretty Lieutenant Franz von Heidenbrunn. I suppose that you
have seen it coming a long time ago, and I have only to record how the
green-eyed monster was hatched. No Jago was necessary for me, nor was
there any handkerchief required.
The regiment in which the pretty officer held his high rank had been
shifted from Salzburg to Brünn. This was a coincidence, and you will
see a very unfortunate one for me.
Every morning, when there was a rehearsal, I went from Vienna to Brünn
by the eight o'clock train which makes the journey in a little over
an hour. I used to meet Mitzi at the Viennese Northern Station, and
we travelled together, which rendered that hour as short as it was
delightful. Rehearsals in Austria as in Germany begin at ten, and last
from three to four hours. Afterwards we had lunch and then we returned
by one of the numerous afternoon trains to Vienna.
Perhaps you wonder why I did not prefer to take up my quarters
altogether in Brünn. Well, first there was that double journey which
I would have lost, as well as the always pleasant company of my
_fiancée_. And in the second place there was Brünn.
This town boasts of being the Austrian Birmingham. I will not hurt
the feelings of my Birmingham readers, some of whom find their large
and busy city a fine and charming place. If I don't share their taste
entirely, it matters little. But Brünn! Brünn with its one inhabitant
to Birmingham's ten! Brünn with its wide and empty roads in the new
town, and with its narrow and crooked streets in the old one! Brünn
with its one and only beautiful building: the Jewish synagogue, and its
one and only curiosity: the lunatic asylum! Brünn with its population
of manufacturers--most worthy people no doubt, but with an interest
only in buttons, hooks and eyes, pins, steel pins, cotton spinning and
other kinds of engineering--Brünn was no place for me to enjoy myself
in the least.
Nor was it any better for Franz von Heidenbrunn and his sister Augusta,
who were both all the more bored with the place as the strict military
regulations did not allow the lieutenant to spend even an occasional
evening in Vienna. Their gratification at meeting Mitzi several times
a week may easily be imagined. I will only say that when Mitzi and I
lunched at the Grand Hotel, which is situated quite near the theatre,
covers were generally laid for four. Of course, I was always allotted
the Countess Augusta, who proved a rather insignificant girl, by whose
side I remained unfathomably calm, while Mitzi seemed to enjoy the
nuttish and, let me say it, silly conversation of her partner, which
is, I believe, a privilege of most lieutenants in Austria. I have,
now, an idea that the talk was also carried on under the table--what do
we keep feet for when dining?--but I was too well brought up by Daniel
Cooper & Co. to investigate the nether world.
Slowly the poison entered my blood. "Trifles light as air are to the
jealous confirmation strong." And soon I found myself burning as by
"the mines of sulphur." (How good of Shakespeare to have provided me
with all the terms necessary to describe my feelings.)
Had Mitzi been only my _fiancée_, I dare say that I would have put
a rapid end to the matter. But she was also my _Lady Macbeth_ in
formation, and this could not be forgotten even for one moment. So I
had to endure my secret sufferings. Besides, I must say, Mitzi was
never as sweet to me as during these days. Full of hope and confidence,
she always comforted and cheered me when I was disheartened, which
happened more than once. Poor Doblana, who on his side was busy
rehearsing _Aladdin_, had no such solace from her when he was dejected
as, I am sure, most composers are every other day. Our respective
works were to be performed nearly at the same time, _Aladdin_ only
about ten days after _Lady Macbeth_.
At last the morning of the great day arrived. I must have given you
a very wrong impression of Daniel Cooper if you do not know that he
arrived the day before with mater. They were very pleased with Mitzi,
although not a word was said about our betrothal. And Daniel Cooper was
greatly amused by being called the "great Mr. Cooper" by Doblana. It
was on this occasion only that I found out that the good horn-player,
who knew but few things save what belonged to horns and ballets,
mixing up Insurance and Cooperation, had, when I first told him about
my father's trade, thought that Daniel Cooper was the originator of
What Dad spent on that memorable evening wants a special historian. I
do not speak of his innumerable tips, nor of a basket of flowers which
had to be transported to Brünn by the first Viennese florist in a
specially hired motor lorry. I speak of such unexpected things as, for
instance, a magnificent set of diamonds he presented to my mother in
remembrance of my coming triumph. Needless to say that mater, on his
special order, was attired like a queen, and that Dad himself had a new
dress suit; an old one would never have been judged worthy by him of
listening to Patrick Cooper's music.
The house was not very full. Besides the one hundred and fifty
seats which I had judged to be too bad, there were about another
three hundred unoccupied, a fact which totally upset my unfinished
calculations. However, it is well-known that in German and Austrian
provincial towns first nights are not well attended, the general public
being rather mistrustful. But all my friends of the Round Table and
other acquaintances were present, and they did their _hand_ work well.
There was first--honour to whom honour is due--the _Herr Graf_, then
old Hammer, on whose account I had been obliged to invent a special
scheme so as to make him accept a railway ticket, for he would not have
been able to come otherwise without imposing great privations upon
himself, Doctor Bernheim, and even Giulay with his mother. Of course,
Doblana had made himself free in order to ascertain whether Miss
Amizia Dobanelli was really the she-cat that walked miaowing over the
boards. And he must have been deceived if he expected such a thing, for
hers was an unparallelled triumph.
Quite a lot of theatrical managers, from that of the Vienna Opera
downwards, had been invited, but only one, that of the Graz municipal
theatre had come.
The performance was good, as performances in Germany and even more
in Austria generally are. I am not afraid to state that a third-rate
theatre, as, for instance, that of Brünn, would be ashamed of most
of our conventional society performances at the Royal Theatre Covent
Garden, in spite of all the stars. Confound the stars, who can never be
brought to a complete, harmonious agreement, who sing their parts each
for his or her own sake, and never think for one moment of the work and
From what I have told already, you may have conjectured how very
necessary such harmonious ensemble playing was in my _Lady Macbeth_.
It was not a loud opera, and I could expect that the critics would
not reproach me with being too noisy in my orchestration. Indeed, it
was found too soft by those gentlemen, who never are satisfied. They
did not understand that this softness was required for the general
atmosphere of my opera.
The chief difficulty had been with the baritone Hetmann, who sang
_Macbeth_. I had great trouble in explaining him why he was never to
give full voice during the whole evening.
Macbeth must not appear at the beginning as a criminal. He is first
a courageous and truthful man. But he is a dreamer. "_Look, how our
partner's rapt_," says Banquo. He is a dreamer who struggles against
the image of his phantasy. Nearly all he says is aside. His reserve,
his taciturnity are awful. Whatever he speaks, must be uttered as
though against his own will. Berlioz, once, to obtain a very tragic
effect, had a drum covered with a cloth. Macbeth must be spoken with a
voice resembling the sound of such a drum. Nor must he talk aloud in
the banquet scene with the ghost, where on the contrary he ought to
become entirely benumbed. He is not without feelings, he speaks warmly
of King Duncan, and he loves his wife, knowing how much he needs her.
That performance of _Lady Macbeth_ was for me and, I think, for some of
the spectators, a foreshadowing of new times in the operatic art. It
was a unique, incessant horror for the audience as long as the fearful
score lasted--and it became the most attractive scandal for all the
people who search in art nothing but the baseness they find in every
My opera is but a short one, taking two hours to perform. Therefore
no necessity arose anywhere for pressing the movement. Bischoff, who
had staged it, had obtained most wonderful effects. The singers seemed
to be going through the nightmare in which they had a part. Scene
after scene seemed to shake with dread and terror. Bischoff knew how
to produce the biggest effects with small means. Thus I will never
forget that there was a sort of small lamp burning during the scene of
the murder. The trembling flame, now more reddish, now more bluish,
was flaring all the time. At the precise moment when the murder was
supposed to occur in the wings a sudden squall nearly extinguished the
light, and for a couple of seconds all became dark; but in the next
instant the flame seemed bigger, redder than ever and sooty. It was
The prologue, namely, the scene of the witches and that where Macbeth
wins the title of Thane of Cawdor, went well. After this, while
the scenery was being built for the first act, Macbeth's castle at
Inverness, the orchestra played my paraphrase of the "Pibroch o' Donuil
Dhu," the only vigorous and energetic part of my score. Then the real
thing began, for only then Lady Macbeth appeared.
Whatever I may say of her, will not render justice to her incomparable
performance. Nobody could have resisted this Lady Macbeth. Even when
she had to deliver a reproach, she did it trembling with love. And
as Bischoff and I had taught her, she seemed to shudder at her hard,
She never seemed to sing, but to whisper, to inspire with the means of
the sweetest seduction. She turned round her Macbeth, embraced him,
clung to him so that sometimes they seemed to be but one being with two
souls. How she sang all the hideousness and atrocity of her part--how
she perfumed the blood of her words with sweetest promises! She was
what we had asked her to be--more a spoiled child, who foolishly craves
for evil, than a heartless criminal.
There was some applause after that act, but the public seemed awed, so
intense was the impression. As I was hurrying to the stage, I met dad.
"Oh, my boy!" said he and pressed both my hands so hard that I thought
he would break them. His eyes were shining and I could swear that there
were tears in them. That "Oh, my boy!" is the one beautiful memory I
have of that evening.
The next minute saw me at the door of Mitzi's dressing room. I knocked.
"Who is it?" asked a voice, not Mitzi's, but that of a woman I did not
I gave my name. There was some whispering inside which I could
indistinctly perceive through the door, and then a woman came out,
opening the door so little that I could not even have a peep at the
"_Fräulein_ regrets," said the woman, as if I had been a mere stranger,
"she cannot see you now."
One is above all the son of one's country. I daresay no Englishman
would have acted otherwise than I did. I bowed to that dressing woman
as if she had been a noble lady and went on to the stage.
There I found the manager of the theatre chatting with his Graz
colleague. They both congratulated me, and the manager of the Graz
theatre complained about the coldness of the public.
"You will find no such frosty people in the south, in Graz," he told
me, "for if you are willing to let me have your opera at the same terms
as the ones you have here, I will play it within two months. I should
be pleased if I could secure Miss Dobanelli for the part of the Lady."
Yon may conceive how pleased I was and how warmly I thanked him for
such encouragement. But the entre-acte being nearly over we had to
leave the stage.
My way back to the audience led me past Mitzi's dressing room. Just as
I was going by, the door opened and.... Franz von Heidenbrunn came
out. I thought that my heart was going to stop. So Mitzi had received
him, while her door had remained closed for me. I went on as in a dream.
Before the door of his box I found dad and the mater.
"What has happened?" asked my old Daniel Cooper & Co. "Why are you so
I was not going to spoil his pleasure.
"I am probably a little excited," I answered. "And the manager of the
Graz theatre has just accepted the opera."
"That is splendid!" cried dad.
"Does he pay well?" asked the mater.
"That's the boy's affair," grumbled Daniel Cooper, turning to her. "You
mind your own business."
A bell rang, and dad and my mother went into their box, while I hurried
back to my seat.
During the whole act of the banquet I could not find my senses. What
was I to do with Mitzi? I could not possibly ignore the incident. I
asked myself whether she was not too much an artist to be a wife.
What, if frivolity were unavoidable in the dramatic art, the most
corporal and difficult of all, but the only one in which woman could
grow up to the highest genius?
These doubts spoiled the second act for me. Yet I saw how lovingly
she was stroking Macbeth's forehead, like a nurse who would cool the
burning brow of a sick man. I saw, too, how she smiled at the ghost,
how she mocked him, and I heard how she sang the words: "_What, quite
unmanned in folly?_" and afterwards: "_Fie, for shame!_" exactly as I
had taught her, slowly, softly, and more like a warning than a reproach.
There was even less applause after the second act than the first.
However, Doctor Bernheim, whom you know as a sensible, judicious man,
came and heartily congratulated me.
"In this particular case," he said, "the success cannot be measured
from the applause. The public is much too moved to applaud loudly.
Instinctively they fear to destroy the atmosphere."
I did not go on the stage after this act. I was afraid lest I should
meet Mitzi and say one word too many.
The last act began, and soon the famous sleep-walking scene arrived.
Never before had the ruin of a poor, over-burdened heart been acted
At once I noticed that she was not dressed as she had been the day
before at the dress rehearsal, when she had worn a long night-gown.
She came like a child, with bare feet and bare legs--there was just
then the craze of dancers who appeared like that--tripping full of
anguish ... not in a night-gown, but in a chemise ... looking tortured,
deceived, broken, a child vanquished in a fight which was too much for
And with a voice more gentle, soft, and lovely than anything which
I ever heard, she began. Sweet as the singing of a breeze her voice
vibrated through the soundless, trembling audience.
"_Yet here's a spot._"
How she wept after the words: "_Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him?_"
And later: "_All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!_" How she whined these three oh's! The audience
pitied her. And how helpless she looked, with her poor, naked legs, in
her poor chemise....
Then ... then, when she had said the words: "_To bed--to bed_," there
came a musical afterpiece in which I once more repeated all the motives
of the opera, including the lullaby. Mitzi was slowly to turn round and
to remain there with her taper--showing her back to the audience and
advancing only one step from time to time.
She had been rehearsing it with a long, flowing night-gown; and now she
was standing there in that short chemise. She had dared that! And to my
horror I saw that it was transparent, very transparent even, and tight,
and that it outlined the contours of....
There! I am once more in difficulty. You, chaste reader, who have
accompanied me through these pages, have surely noticed my struggles
at different times to find the right expression for ... you know what
I mean. And this time I feel truly awkward because I have reached an
important point. I must find a name for that lovely _it_, which had
seduced me from the very first moment I had seen her, for _it_ was
pretty, so pretty, quite bewitching.
Ah, Barrie! Thou who has invented that charming name "Little Mary" for
something which was as difficult to baptize, help me ... help me to
find a name for it ... for that darling ... for that double darling!
Barrie! Did this idea come from thee?
I'll name it Double Darling, but being shy, I'll write only D. D.
Well, I have explained that I was horror-stricken. This, I must
confess, is a lie. I felt no horror at all, on the contrary. The truth
is that the attractive sight made me forget my anger, my dejection. She
did look fascinating, and the wicked thing knew it. She knew that she
was bewitching and was sure that she risked nothing by showing her D. D.
Nor did she fail in her bold venture. When a minute or so later she
disappeared in the background, and at the same time the curtain was
slowly closed, a storm of applause broke forth as I never had imagined.
Again and again Mitzi had to bow before the public, although she
disappointed it somewhat by appearing hidden in a light dressing-gown.
But the wanton people had had their sensation, they applauded and
shouted, and it reached a degree of real paroxysm when dad's immense
basket of flowers was carried on the stage.
But the louder the noise was, the more did I understand that nothing of
it was meant for me, for my work. It was not _Lady Macbeth_ over which
the public rejoiced, it was Mitzi's D. D.
I heard the people talk. There was not one word for the misery of Lady
Macbeth, her sighs and her struggles and her wretchedness. The crowd
will never recognize the nobility of suffering. No, they spoke of La
Dobanelli.... La Dobanelli in her little chemise. The D. D. had been an
And the same thing occurred at the next performances. Only that on the
first night the audience had been shaking with terror, and that the
following times it was shaking with sensation ... or with deception,
for many people left the theatre with words of regret:
"Oh--it was not so wicked as all that!"
The snobs of the town fell in love with La Dobanelli by the dozen. One
out of each dozen was struck by the sweetness of her voice, by her
sublime acting, by her power of remaining lovable even in crime--the
other eleven were in love with the D. D.
Anyhow, when we all met half an hour after the end of the performance
at the Grand Hotel there was much joy in the air. Dad was offering to
my friends a superb supper in honour of my first night--and they were
all present, you bet.
I asked mater how she had enjoyed my opera.
"Oh, it's very pretty," she said. "I like the lullaby very much."
And that was all.
Father, on the other hand, was overflowing with enthusiasm. These two
were always the same, never had they the same opinion on anything. Yet,
there was one point on which they seemed to agree ... perhaps because
not one word was pronounced on it. But their eyes seemed to implore me
"You will not marry that woman, Pat!"
I felt very uneasy. But I am a sport. I bore it all in a decent way.
Yet I thanked God when the moment came for the parents to leave.
Business had allowed dad to take only a very few days vacation, and
they were returning the same night via Dresden and Cologne to England.
It was a happy necessity, for thus they escaped the criticisms of the
I will divulge you the mildest:
"The two Shakespearian birds of prey were served us yesterday as a
dish which was neither fish nor flesh, concocted by our great actor
Mr. Bischoff, and accompanied by a _sauce anglaise_ prepared at a
Worcestershire (or is it a Yorkshire?) manufacture by a certain
Patrick Cooper, who has--unfortunately--nothing in common with
Fennimore. But he has a wealthy father, a London shopkeeper in the
City, and a mother who advertised yesterday her descent from a
"There is not much to say about the insignificant Cooperian music,
except perhaps that no other living composer would have conceived
and written such a score. As for the libretto, it is the mistake of
an intelligent man who has treated the subject not from the immortal
poet's dramatic point of view, but shortsightedly from that of the
actor. Mr. Bischoff only forgot that Shakespeare, too, was somebody,
"Mr. Hetmann was a pale, voiceless Macbeth, and had it not been for
the débutante of the evening, Miss Amizia Dobanelli, the performance
would have been a total fiasco. She played and sang the Lady with
charm as well as with energy. But we think that a part as _La Belle
Hélène_ would suit her particular talent better than the ambitious
Is it not a blessing that dad is an Englishman educated on such
thoroughly English lines that he knows no foreign language? Blessed are
the poor in education, for theirs is the kingdom of ignorance.
Surprising as it may seem to you, I had the courage, the next day,
to take the bull by the horns and to ask Mitzi about Franz von
Heidenbrunn. She merely laughed.
"My dear," she said, "firstly I am your fiancée, and as such must
be very careful with you. Secondly, Franz is my cousin, and we have
known each other for so many years that we are like brother and
sister. Lastly, you knocked on my door at an awkward moment, when I
was changing my dress. You did not want me to show myself to you in my
underwear, did you? While Franz came three minutes later when I was
You go and argue with a woman if you can. I could not. I just felt
silly. And I suppose I looked it. For she came near me and stroked my
"Don't make a face, dear," she said. "I quite understand your feeling
miserable after having read the papers; but, never mind, it will wear
"I know, Mitzi," I answered meekly, "I cannot have it both ways, and
write an opera that pleases us both, and the critics too."
And there was no more discussion about Franz von Heidenbrunn. Our talk
shifted, and I was informed, too late, alas! that the Austrian critic,
as well as the German, is always prepared to write favourably for a
consideration, being hardly paid at all by the newspapers themselves,
and regards as his legitimate victims such people who have not made
backsheesh arrangements in advance.
On the third day _Lady Macbeth_ was repeated. This time the house was
packed full, even the hundred and fifty bad seats were sold out. The
question whether La Dobanelli was wearing tights or not under her
chemise had been discussed in the whole town, and had proved such an
irresistible attraction that at her first appearance she was greeted
with warm applause.
Franz von Heidenbrunn was again in the audience. Whether he visited
Mitzi in the entre-acte I cannot say--I did not, having no desire to be
turned away again.
I also went to see the third performance, which was exactly like the
second one. The same kind of audience, thirsting for a sensation, and
for the third time Franz von Heidenbrunn among the spectators.
As we travelled back to Vienna, Mitzi and I, we had a few words about
her chemise in the last scene.
"Was this the same chemise you had the two first times?" I asked her.
"No," she replied laughing, "you do expect a lady to put fresh linen on
from time to time, don't you?"
"That chemise was shorter than the other," I remarked, more sternly
than I had intended to.
"Oh! An inch or two perhaps."
"An inch is much in those latitudes," I jested.
"Look here, Patrick," she answered sullenly. "Let me alone with your
remonstrances. You ought to know by now that I do my best for your
opera, which would have been a complete failure without me."
She said it coldly, heartlessly. It made me suffer. But, swallowing my
torment, I answered nothing, and we continued our journey in silence. I
felt that we were not getting on at all nicely and wondered how I was
to educate her to be less of an artist,--and more my wife.
* * * * *
There is in drama a certain system of construction, as you ought to
know. Probably you don't, still there is. First comes the exposition,
then the opening of the action, then the growth during which it grows
(of course) to the climax; then the fall or, as it must sometimes be
called, the return which precedes the close. In life the return which
follows all climaces is always nasty, and you wake up after every
excitement with a bit of a moral headache. Hoping is an ungrateful
business. Look, for instance, at our friend Cotton, our good Guncotton.
He has finished his chemistry treatise--think what it means to have
written all these formulas in the trenches--and he has this very
morning received the news that his manuscript has arrived safely in
London. Now he walks about, his eyes full of rosy dreams, of fears,
and of hopes. And I can so well understand his feelings, his thoughts.
Patrick Cooper went through all these emotions. And afterwards, dear
me! Only my case was a worse one, for the devil had amused himself
in mixing the poison of love into my adventure of artistic hopes and
And by the way, as I am talking of the devil, it occurs to me that
the little man with the tuft of black beard on his chin, who appeared
to me four times, must have been ... HE. He laughed, the evil fellow,
when he came for the fourth time and saw that his matchmaking work was
Yet lately I had not seen him again. He must have been busy somewhere
else. Perhaps will you see a connexion between his disappearance and
the following events.
The fourth performance of _Lady Macbeth_ coincided with the _première_
of Doblana's _Aladdin_ at the Viennese Opera. I thought it was my duty
to be present at the day of honour of my master, a small sacrifice
indeed, as there was not much joy for me in attending my own opera
before an injudicious public, which really came only to see Amizia
Dobanelli in her chemise. Besides, as the opera was making money, there
was every prospect of more performances taking place.
When I expressed my intention to Doblana and to Mitzi the horn-player
at once objected. I could very well go and see the dress rehearsal of
_Aladdin_ instead of the first night.
I asked why I should be deprived of attending the performance.
"I do not like the idea," said Doblana, "of Mitzi being alone in Brünn.
I cannot accompany her on that particular evening, but I think that
you, her fiancée, ought not to neglect her."
"Good Lord!" exclaimed Mitzi, "Am I not old enough to remain alone for
one evening? If I am such a child, then surely you will not consider
Patrick grown up either. He is but one year older than I."
"How will you manage?" asked her father.
"I think I will stay the night at the hotel."
"I do not think that it befits a young lady to stay a night alone at an
"All right, then I will go and stay with Augusta."
Doblana acquiesced. But this time I made an objection.
"Augusta," I said, "will be in Vienna on that particular evening; she
will want to see _Aladdin_."
Mitzi glanced at me with an angry look.
"Anyhow," she protested, "Franz will have no leave. He will be in
"That is just what I object to," I declared. "The best thing would be
for you to return to Vienna. I will be at the Northern Station to bring
This was finally decided upon, and Mitzi left us in the afternoon for
Brünn. At six o'clock there came a wire from her addressed to Doblana,
just as he and I were about to leave for the theatre.
"_Safely arrived. House full. Best luck to Papa. Mitzi._"
An hour and a half later _Aladdin_ began.
When you write your reminiscences, as I am doing now, you will be
supposed to talk of other people. You will see how difficult it is.
I always want to talk about myself. I remember things only inasmuch
they concern me. Other people's feelings are not half as important
to me as my own. Thus, that evening, at the beginning they were so
intensely bitter, that I think I must record them, although Doblana
was the hero of the day. I was, naturally enough, reminded of my own
first night ten days before. But while _Lady Macbeth_ had been played
before an unsatisfactorily filled house, the one to-day was packed. All
the imaginable beautiful and jewelled ladies were present, while at
Brünn the provincial simplicity of the feminine public (the male part
is about everywhere the same) was so exaggerated, that my poor mater's
diamonds were, as you have seen, thought worthy of a newspaper notice.
Whoever was of importance in Vienna, political and military people,
financiers, diplomatists, and artists, was to be found on that first
night. One hardly noticed that the great Court Box was empty, and that
no Royalty was present; for all the other noted members of Society had
come. I will confess that I felt jealous. And this jealousy increased
as the orchestra started playing Doblana's music.
Oh, what an orchestra! We have a few fine orchestras in London, but
how much superior are the Vienna Philharmonics. Neither Munich, nor
Dresden, can boast of such artists. To hear one's music performed by
them must be heaven.
Such then were my feelings as _Aladdin_ began. Who would have thought
that a couple of hours later my sentiments would be reversed and that
instead of envying Doblana, I would pity the poor fellow?
I had seen the ballet at different rehearsals. _Joseph Dorff's_ book
was clever, Doblana's music pretty, tuneful and well scored, although
in no way remarkable, and the staging simply marvellous. There is no
Parisian nor Russian ballet which can compete with those of the Vienna
Opera. Not only are the dancers and mimics incomparable, but fortunes
are spent on the scenery and the costumes, which are proofs of the most
perfect theatrical taste.
The first act was placed before and inside the famous cavern
where Aladdin finds the lamp. In the original tale this cavern is
uninhabited, but in the ballet there were populations of pretty
spirits and servants of the lamp. These gave a pretext for all sorts
of charming dances. And there was one dance which had a real success,
namely, that of the precious stones. It was performed by small girls
dressed as rubies, emeralds, sapphires and so on, who formed lovely
groups representing the different jewels. The whole had a kaleïdoscopic
effect, changing from one second to the next, and was uncommonly
Yet this was nothing in comparison to what was to come in the second
and third act. In the former there was the magnificent arrival of
Aladdin at the Sultan's court. He came on a splendid white charger and
was accompanied by forty white and forty black slaves, who afterwards
showed all the skill taught by the Viennese dancing masters. In the
last act there came the _pièce de résistance_, namely, the building
before the eyes of the public, not in one night, but in ten minutes, of
Aladdin's unique palace. Things of such kind are very easy to be done
in fairy tales and not much more difficult on a stage when the manager
disposes of unlimited wealth. All the wonders of the Arabian Nights
were to be presented to the audience on that evening.
The first act had gone well, better even than anybody had expected.
There are usually but short entre-acts in the Vienna Opera. But first
nights, especially of Grand Ballets, are such social events that
they do not admit this rule in all its rigour. Therefore nobody was
surprised when the entre-acte instead of the usual ten minutes had
lasted twenty. Groups had been chatting and laughing and showing their
toilettes and jewels. But in the end everybody had left the _foyer_
and returned to the seats. Yet nothing happened. The musicians were at
their places, but no conductor was present. Ten more minutes passed.
The public gave signs of impatience, a thing unheard of in this
_sanctissimum_. But these signs of impatience lasted one instant only.
Then the house became painfully silent.
I should have liked to go and see behind the curtain what had happened.
But this was not a provincial theatre where such visits from the
public to the stage could be permitted. In this Imperial and Royal
Court theatre there were strict rules; and I could only wait with the
The wildest rumours began to spread. The amount of improbabilities
human brains can invent in a few minutes is incredible. And here two
and a half thousand were busy finding the extraordinary reason of this
Yet as inventive as their brains were, they proved no match for
the reality. For after three-quarters of an hour, which seemed an
interminably long time, a bell was heard, and a gentleman in evening
dress appeared before the curtain. He was sickly pale.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I have much regret in announcing that
the further performance of the ballet _Aladdin_ has been forbidden
by all-highest order. The money for purchased seats will be refunded
to-morrow in exchange of the coupons of the tickets."
The announcement had the effect of a thunderstorm, putting an end to
the suspense of the last minutes. I could not say what was greater,
consternation, regret for the composer, disorder among the discontented
spectators, or curiosity to know the secret reason of this catastrophe.
For my part I left the theatre as quickly as possible and went to the
little side door in the Opera Street, at the rear of the premises,
where Doblana was wont to leave. There was already a terrific crowd.
But although I had (I have no more) the soft fingers and delicate hands
of a pianist, I possess also the strong elbows of an English sportsman,
and I succeeded in reaching the door. Just at that moment a man came
out of the house. He looked pale, haggard, with the expression of a
drunkard. It was Doblana.
He scarcely recognised me, but I pushed my arm under his and led him
It was cold and foggy.
I shivered as I asked him what had happened.
"It is the Archduke," he stammered, "who has forbidden the performance."
There was something like a sob in his voice.
"The Archduke? His own work? Why?"
"I don't know myself."
After a few steps made in a painful silence, he added:
"We had a little difference yesterday, at the dress rehearsal, but
nothing of importance."
"What was it?"
"He wanted to cancel the dance of the precious stones, saying that it
was like a _kindergarten_ that had gone mad."
"Well, I objected to such a cut and said: 'Nonsense, _Herr Graf_.'
Thereupon he sat down, pronouncing not another word more."
"And what did he do to-day?"
"He did nothing. He did not even come. During the first act a letter
from the First Master of Ceremonies was delivered, saying that he
forbade the performance to go on."
"But how is it possible to treat the public in this way?"
"Oh, the public!"
He shrugged his shoulders and went on explaining:
"They are not supposed to be regular spectators as in an ordinary
theatre. They are the guests of the Emperor, and they, as it were,
buy an invitation to assist at the performance, which is in reality
supposed to be given not for the general public, but for the private
pleasure of His Majesty."
"And was there nothing to be done?"
"We have tried, that is why we had to keep the audience waiting so
long. The conductor hurried to the First Master of Ceremonies, and
the Manager to His Majesty himself, while I drove to the palace of
the Archduke. I was not received at all, nor did the manager see the
Emperor, and as for the conductor, he was told by the First Master of
Ceremonies that he regretted, but had to obey orders."
Instinctively, we had taken the direction of the Karlsgasse. I had a
very nasty feeling, as if poor, innocent Doblana had suddenly become a
criminal, and I his accomplice. I was dazed as if I had had a smack in
We were passing a large café near the Elisabeth Bridge, where Doblana
and I sometimes used to meet some friends.
"Let us go in," I said, "and show your self publicly. Make the best
out of a bad case. After all you are innocent of the disaster that has
befallen you. Go in, there are surely a few journalists inside. Let
yourself be interviewed and protest against the manner you have been
You ought to have seen the terror in the poor man's face. He opened his
eyes, his nostrils, his mouth and drew backwards his lower jaw as if
he had wanted to swallow it. (As a matter of fact, he must have been
starving, for he had had no food the whole day.)
"Protest!" he cried at last. "I?--Mr. Cooper, you desire my death. As
if my situation was not sufficiently bad! This is not a free country
like yours, where you can talk as you like. No! I have but one thing to
do, to go home and hide myself. I am done for."
And so we went to the Karlsgasse. The house seemed desolate to me.
The servant, Fanny's unworthy successor, believing that we would sup
outside and come home late, had gone to bed. So I proceeded into the
dreary kitchen (a kitchen without a cook is always dreary, and without
fire it can drive you to desperation) and made some tea on the
gas-stove, while Doblana who had lit a cigar was walking up and down in
"It is terrible," said he at last, after he had swallowed a little tea,
"how Austria is changing. What happens to me is but an instance of the
new spirit that reigns here. Or should I not call it otherwise? This
spirit, which comes from Berlin, this Pangermanic spirit is not a new
spirit, but a reactionary spirit, a dark, mediæval spirit, a spirit
that recognizes no right, but only might. What this Archduke has done
to me to-day, in our time of enlightenment, is nothing else than an act
of mediæval brutality.
"All evil comes us from Berlin. It spoils our art, it spoils our music.
What they call the higher form is simply amorphous. What they call
deep ideas is empty commonplace. The motives which are behind it all
are vicious, sensual, degenerate, disgusting depravity. What we see
in their painting, figures now too long, now too short, with swollen
abdomens, with grinning faces, we find in their music, in the grossness
of their motives, in the brutality of their orchestrations. This music
is a breath from a stinking morass.
"And this is not all. Berlin is so mediæval in its views that they want
war, universal war. War which will give the death blow to Austrian
music, for music does not live in times of war. Fifty years ago they
said: Germany for the Germans! Now they are crying: the world for the
Prussians! And as though Austria were a German state, as though there
were no Slavs and no Italians in Austria, Berlin wants to drag us into
her war schemes. And they will succeed. From our cruel paintings you
can see it, from our coarse, frightful music you can hear it: they will
Thus spoke Doblana, not a great prophet, no, only a humble musician. Do
not believe, incredulous reader, that I make him utter a prophesy after
the event. Nay! These words were actually spoken, a long time before
anybody, before even he who spoke them, thought of the war, that war
in which I am fighting, that war which, as in irony, Austria, gentle,
joyous, dancing Austria began.
I looked at my watch, and suddenly I remembered that I was to meet
Mitzi at the Northern Station. It was very late, perhaps too late.
Still by making haste I might arrive in time. So I speedily went away.
But as it is always when you are in a hurry, the taxi took a long,
circuitous route, what they call a short cut, and I arrived too late.
The train had arrived nearly ten minutes ago, and I could find no trace
of Mitzi at the station.
Heaven knows what gave me the idea that something was wrong. When I
came back to the Karlsgasse, I saw the light in the windows of the
_salon_ as they had been when I had left. I ascended the stairs and
rang the bell. Nearly at once I heard Doblana's dragging step, who came
to open the door.
"Alone?" he cried, in a state of utmost anxiety.
Mitzi had not arrived.
The nervousness of the poor man was terrible. Exhausted as he was I
did not dare to leave him, and I passed with him the worst night of my
life. I have only to think of it to find any night in the trenches,
amidst the roaring of the shells, restful by comparison.
At the earliest hour in the morning we went to a telephone office where
we asked for communication with the Grand Hotel in Brünn. After a long
half-hour we got through, only to learn that _Fräulein_ had not been
seen on the previous day at the hotel.
We tried the theatre. The one thing we heard was that she had been very
successful as always and had left immediately after the performance.
We returned to the Karlsgasse. Mitzi had not arrived. Only the
postman had called and brought several letters. None of them being
from her, Doblana threw them carelessly into his pocket and asked me
whether I was coming with him to Brünn. Of course, I acquiesced. But
I will confess that I, so to say, made a condition of our having some
breakfast before. It may be that youth is more hungry, but I could not
go on without food.
At last we sat in the train. We had more than an hour before us.
Mechanically Doblana looked through his letters, passing them silently
to me. The first was an invoice for flowers he had offered the evening
before to several dancers.
The second was one of good Hammer, written immediately after the
interrupted performance in very warm words, taking part in the sorrow
that had befallen his friend.
The third was from the publisher. But I could not read it to the end,
for Doblana, who was perusing the fourth one, suddenly uttered a
The letter was from the Archduke.
"My dear collaborator, my worthy Mr. Doblana," (it ran about--I do
not recollect the exact words--), "I have taken my revenge. You have
treated my dear wife like the basest of women, only because the chief
of my family had prohibited my marrying her. Your behaviour was an
unforgettable insult to the best, the most deserving and amiable
woman, in whom you have seen nothing but a despicable, venal dancer.
You have continued your disdain, your hatred beyond the tomb. What I
have done is my retaliation.
"It is I who have taken away from your house and destroyed your
_Griseldis_. It is I who have prohibited the performance of your
_Aladdin_, knowing that I would hit you in your weakest spot, your
ambition. And I may as well tell you that, while you may keep your
position as a horn-player at the Opera, its doors are henceforth
closed to the composer Doblana.
"You need not worry about the cost of the production at the Opera. I
have made good the damage my vengeance has occasioned.
"As for you, I do not wish that it should cause you any pecuniary
loss. The idea of having harmed my former collaborator in this paltry
way would be unpleasant to me. I put the value of _Griseldis_ and
_Aladdin_ at 25.000 crowns each and enclose therefore a cheque for
50.000 crowns to indemnify you.
I cannot describe the wrath of my poor friend. And I had to struggle
with him to prevent him from tearing the cheque to pieces. And this may
give you the measure of his indignation. For you know how great was his
love of money.
I should like to state that the Archduke had moreover shown himself
wrong in two points. Ambition was not Doblana's weakest spot, it was
precisely money. Nor was Alphons Hector's prediction right, for two
years later an opera of Doblana's composition was successfully produced
at the Viennese Opera.
As for the Archduke, or the _Herr Graf_, or _Joseph Dorff_, however you
may call him, he completely disappeared a few days after the memorable
_Aladdin_ night. Some say that he undertook a journey on his yacht, and
that it was lost with all hands. Other people think that he has settled
down to a private life somewhere in South America. In any case he was
nevermore heard of.
But to resume my story. All researches in Brünn as afterwards in Vienna
did not succeed in finding Mitzi. The only clue we obtained (it was
from Augusta von Heidenbrunn that we got it) was the fact that her
brother Franz had disappeared together with my fiancée. He had, for her
sake, become a deserter.
A few weeks went by, which I passed nearly without interruption on
Doblana's side. He slowly recovered from the awful shock this whole
affair had caused him. Then I proceeded to Graz to assist at the
performance of _Lady Macbeth_ in this town. Without Mitzi, without her
overwhelming talent, without her charm it was bound to be a failure.
And I came back to Vienna more discouraged, more disheartened than
ever. Again I saw much of Doblana, and I can assure you that we were a
pretty pair of dejected composers. On this subject I could write pages,
but out of pity for you I won't.
One day, as we sat there smoking, and pondering silently over our
shattered hopes, the bell rang. We heard the maid opening the door, and
in the next minute Mitzi entered. She was dressed exactly as I had last
seen her, but her features were drawn, she was pale and seemed to have
suffered. In this moment I swore that I would avenge her, if ever I
could, of the scoundrel who had brought her to this.
She had stopped at the door. We had both, Doblana and I, risen in a
violent surprise. During an unterminable minute no word was spoken.
Then, at last, she whispered piteously:
And as no answer came she said:
"Patrick, I have come back."
Again there was that gloomy, cruel silence. And suddenly we saw her
fall down crying, sobbing, shaking. Then her father approached her and
lifted her up. He did it with infinite gentleness, but he said no word.
My dear reader, you are perhaps a sentimental person and you will, may
be, condemn your old friend Patrick for not having made the movement
which her father made. But you see....
A few days before I had read William J. Locke's novel _The Morals
of Marcus Ordeyne_, one of the most brilliant and delightful this
wonderful writer has achieved. There was a certain analogy in Mitzi's
return and in that of Carlotta. Like her she came back empty handed,
having also probably pawned everything. It was heart-breaking, and like
Marcus I felt faint. Perhaps, if I had spoken one single word at that
moment everything would have happened otherwise. However, my morals are
not the morals of Marcus Ordeyne--and that one word, I spoke it not.
Slowly her father led her into her room. I used the moment to slip out
of the house. I went to my lodgings, nearly mad, and packed my things.
The same evening saw me on my way to England, never to go back.
It is a very funny feeling I experience in returning to these pages. I
had left them since the first of May, when I wrote the last words of
Chapter XI., and you will have noticed that several points remained
unsolved. In this state my MS. had rested during six weeks, mostly
because I did not know how to fill the gaps. But since yesterday things
having changed, Fate with a capital F has added another chapter to my
You must know that we are getting ready for a great attack. As far
as we can ascertain we are going in a few days to leave the trenches
where we have been living cosily for so many months. Of course, you
wonder; feeling snug in the trenches is somewhat unexpected. Yet it is
true. And now the unceasing bombardment tells us: "We shall have to be
going." Can you believe that it fills us with a sort of regret?
Yesterday at noon Charlie calls Cotton, Pringle, and me.
"My boys," he says, "the colonel has just had a bit of a chat with
me. He wants four volunteers--three men and me--to go to-night and
reconnoitre a certain place. I have thought of you three, but I had
better tell you: it's not without danger, far from it."
"We're here," says I, "to do our duty."
"We'll have some fun, anyhow," declares Pringle.
And Guncotton adds:
"My manuscript is safely in London. I don't care."
I record this conventicle lest you should think that such resolutions
are taken as in opera, where the four men would advance to each
other and, uniting their four right handy in one single grip, sing a
"All right," says Charlie, "so long!"
He is about to go, but I recall him.
"Can I have a minute with you, Sergeant?"
"Ten. What's the matter?"
"There is a chance of our not coming back to-night?"
"Are you funky?"
"Charlie, I haven't deserved this. You know that I won't shirk."
"Well, what is it then?"
"It is ... it is simply that for some time you are changed towards me,
you've been sulky, and I should not like to go off on the long journey
without having made friends with you again."
He says nothing and stares into my face. Then after a while he asks:
"Have you written any more of that stuff?"
"That story of yours."
"Oh, I see. Yes. I have."
I show him my story. He reads quickly, very quickly, skipping
half-pages; in short, he reads as I should not like you, for instance,
to read it. In less than half-an-hour he has run through all the pages.
When he has finished he takes a long breath as though he felt relieved.
"Look here, P. C.," he says, "when you began that story I thought it
was all stuff and nonsense. It amused me, and sometimes I thought that
you knew how to strike a note of sincerity."
(I earnestly wish to point out that this kind of criticism is not my
own; I guarantee that it is by Sergeant Young.)
He goes on:
"Very slowly it began to dawn upon me that there might be more truth in
your narrative than I had first suspected. And then you let me see that
He stops and looks at me as if at a loss how to go on.
"I had misunderstood what your story was driving at," he continues, "I
thought that, as stories written in a light tone generally do, it was
to finish with a marriage ... and, when I found out that it was a story
which had really happened, I believed that you had married the lady of
My dear reader, I promise you that I will repeat it no more after this
time, but I must ask your leave to inform you once more that I felt
silly. And I continued so when Charlie declared:
"I have known that woman."
"You have known her?"
"Oh!" he cries, "do not suspect anything wrong, do not jump to
conclusions. Do you want to know how it all happened? By a lucky deal
on the Paris _Bourse_ I had realized a sum of about 200.000 francs.
I never told you, that I used to live in Paris, after the Boer war,
years ago. Never mind. Well, with my money I did a very foolish thing:
I bought a little hotel. It was called 'The Grand-duke's hotel,' and
was a smart place. Unfortunately, to keep a smart custom, you must
advertize, and for this I had no money. Perhaps also to make a good
innkeeper a certain talent is necessary, in which I was lacking. By
and by my business declined, not in elegance, but in turnover. Still,
there were always a few refined and well-paying guests who encouraged
me to hope against hope. But one day--you know the date as well as I,
P. C.--there came a couple who gave the concern its death stroke.
"They travelled under the name _Count and Countess Dorff_, but from
the photograph alone I could tell you, that the lady was your Mitzi.
However, there is another thing which coincides with your account. Not
that they called themselves _Dorff_ from the Archduke's _nom de plume_,
I do not mean that, I mean another thing.
"On the ninth or tenth day after their arrival they came home rather
early and at once retired to their apartment. Shortly afterwards
George, my head waiter, came hurriedly into my private room, where
I was working, and informed me that they were quarrelling--but so
violently that I had better come. I am sorry, P. C., to have to show
you an ugly side of an otherwise honourable trade, but eaves-dropping
is sometimes necessary to an innkeeper. So I went and listened. At
first I could hardly understand what they were saying, for although
I speak German as perfectly as six other languages, I could not
immediately make out their peculiar Viennese accent. Soon, however,
I grew accustomed to it. The quarrel was apparently about money
matters. Quarrels between couples in hotels generally are. But after
a while the object of the dispute seemed to shift, they grew louder
and then fainter again. Through the door of the next room, where I
was listening, I could hear one of the two people excitedly opening
a trunk and searching for something. Then I heard the woman say
distinctly in an irritated voice:
'So your father took the papers?'
And the man answered:
'He stole the score of _Griseldis_? How did he do it?'
'He had only to step into your apartment, which a locksmith had opened
for him. He knew the room, he knew the very drawer where the manuscript
was kept, and he took it.'
"There came several questions from the woman which I don't remember,
evidently asking how the Archduke had prepared the whole affair.
'He had obtained an engagement for your father,' explained the man,
'to play a concerto in Prague. He knew that this would cause him to be
absent for three days. You had told Augusta that in such cases your
maid used to ask you for a holiday, and my father had learned this
detail by chance from Augusta. There was but one more difficulty: to
"For a minute or so they both kept silent; then suddenly the woman
'You sent me that wire!'
'I obeyed my father's orders,' answered the man.
'And for a full year you let me be suspected of being a thief ...
protesting all the while that you loved me?'
'I do love you ... and I regret....'
'Ah! you regret, you scoundrel! And to show your regret you spoiled my
life as your father had spoiled my father's work? Scoundrel, scoundrel,
"I heard the man laugh, a cold, cruel laugh.
'No!' she went on, 'you do not regret, but I will teach you to
"The next second I heard a report. George and I broke in the door. She
had shot him through the left arm. I am afraid, P. C., that you have
never seen her look as beautiful as I have.
"What more can I say? The next day the affair was in the papers. I
hoped it would be an advertisement for the 'Grand-duke's hotel.' It
would perhaps have been one for a bigger place or one that had been
better known. As it was, it finished my business. Three months later I
was ruined. You may believe me, P. C., that my wish to be revenged on
that scoundrel is as strong as yours."
"And Mitzi?" I ask.
"Mitzi was arrested. But after three days, as the gentleman had left
the country, she was restored to liberty. He had gone away with all
their luggage, and she possessed nothing except a few jewels, which she
pawned. The proceeds did not suffice to pay her journey home, not to
speak of her bill, for she had remained several weeks in Paris, hoping
to find an engagement, a hope in which she failed. Finally I had to
give her a few francs in order to help her to return to her country."
* * * * *
There, Mr. Reader, is what Charles Young tells me. It leads you exactly
to the point--namely, Mitzi's coming home--where I had left you.
Now, this is not all I have to report of yesterday's memorable evening.
I am sure you wish to know all about the night expedition of your four
friends. You shall have what you want.
There is to the north-east of our trench a little wood. The colonel
wanted to know what was in that wood, whether it was fortified and
how. Our aeroplanes had been unable to give any information, nor had
our listening posts achieved any result. So there was but one way: by
Well, as soon as night had come we crawled out of our trench, armed
to the teeth, and after an hour's crawling we reached the edge of
the forest. To say that it was an easy job would be an unnecessary
exaggeration, for there were German search-lights unceasingly licking
the ground. Yet there was always time when we saw the lights creeping
nearer, to lie still for an instant and to pretend that we were corpses.
"Can't you see," said Pringle once quite aloud, as the ray was just
resting on his body, "that I'm dead? What's the use of your lights
Charlie began to laugh, so that if the beam by any chance had touched
him, he would certainly have been detected.
"Mind you," said I, "the blooming thing is wavering."
"_La donna è mobile_," sang Charlie softly and added: "It's
"Shut up, Sergeant," said Pringle, "it's foolish to joke now."
"Hun-reasonable, you mean. Let's go on."
"The ray is still too near," warned Guncotton. "It is premature to
"Hun-timely?" corrected Charley. "Perhaps; well, we have plenty of
"Oh Sergeant, don't be cruel!"
"Do you really think me Hun-merciful? It seems that my puns are
And so it went on for a time, while we lay motionless under the rays of
the search-light. Yet the Sergeant did not cease thinking of anything
else than words beginning with an optional Hun.
But when we were inside the wood our real business began. It consisted
in reaching a certain spot where in all probability a small detachment
of Germans was posted, for it was a naturally sheltered part. Should no
Germans be there, then we were to come back and if possible our troops
were to occupy it during the same night.
We had been walking silently when the Sergeant suddenly stopped.
"They are here," he whispered.
"What are we to do?" I inquired.
"We have orders in case of no Germans are there," said Guncotton. "But
if there are some?"
"I think it's clear," declared the Sergeant. "Either kill them, or take
From a spot at a distance of about a hundred yards there came the
buzzing murmur of many voices, conversing probably in a peaceful manner.
"They are too many to kill," said Guncotton.
"But not to take prisoners."
And Charlie at once invented a plan of attack.
Accordingly we began talking gently at first, then louder and louder,
until we shouted all four for all we were worth. Finally Charlie in
his strongest voice gave some orders, which Pringle repeated different
times, sometimes at a higher pitch, sometimes at a lower, and always
a little fainter. He is a ventriloquist, you know. While he was doing
this, Charlie and I rushed forwards on to the Germans who were in the
greatest disorder, having been taken entirely by surprise.
"Surrender," cried we both.
There were two German officers who advanced. We explained to them
that as we were eight hundred they had better give in. All this time
Pringle was going on with his orders, given in ever so many voices,
which seemed to come from different directions. And suddenly Guncotton
produced his will-o-the-wisp trick, which completed the illusion. He
was causing lights to appear to the right and the left, so that our
Germans (they were forty) seemed entirely surrounded.
The success was complete, and an hour later we were bringing in our
bag of officers and men. Only ... by some sort of a miracle the men's
figures had grown. They were ninety now.
"This time I have got my commission," said Charlie to me as we entered
But somehow, in our excitement, instead of returning to our own
quarters, we had taken a wrong direction, and we arrived at a part
distant from ours by more than two miles. Still, you may imagine,
whether we were well received.
The colonel on duty congratulated us and asked for our names. To my
utter surprise Charlie gave his as ... Friedrich Wilhelm Young.
As we marched away through the communication trenches, cheery and
mirthful, I asked Charlie why he had given this name.
"I did not," he said.
"You did," asserted Pringle and Cotton.
"You are spinning me a yarn."
"We are not," we declared unanimously, "you gave your name as Friedrich
He remained silent, absolutely cast down. Never have I seen a man so
overcome as poor Charlie was that minute. At last he said:
"Well, that's done it. I must have been too excited. Farewell, my
commission! We'll drink that bottle of champagne to-morrow."
And we shall. At last!
* * * * *
Once more I open these sheets, which I have had to neglect for four
full mouths. And you will be surprised, my dear friends, who have
escorted me to Austria and France, to hear that I am no longer writing
this in the trenches, but in Belsize Park.
I suppose I must tell you all. Following _Major_ Young's advice, I will
begin by the beginning. In fact, I have already begun by informing you
in one single word that Charlie--he will always remain Charlie for
me--has at last met with success. Bad luck evidently ceased to exist
from the moment when we emptied that bottle of champagne. On being
questioned about his real name he made a clear breast of the whole
story of his identity; and thus, what had not brought Sergeant Charles
Young a commission, has finally brought Captain Friedrich Wilhelm Young
That occurred on the last day of June. On the first of July, 1916, the
great attack began. I am not going to describe that big affair. It has
provided so much copy to professional writers that a poor amateur
like me has no more chance. But how we rushed out of the trenches!
Poor Cotton--on that very morning, an hour before the action began, he
had received news from the Royal Society of Chemists that they were to
publish his treatise at their expense, and he had said to me with an
"Now I can die calmly: I know that I will not die altogether."
Poor Cotton was perhaps the first to be killed.
As for me I find it absolutely impossible to tell you what I did.
You know that feeling: When you wake up in the morning you remember
sometimes that you have been dreaming, but cannot recall the slightest
detail. It even happens that while asleep you intend to remember a
certain detail of your dream; yet, in the morning it is clean forgotten.
I cannot say how long I remained in that fight, two, four, six hours,
or more perhaps. The only thing I recollect is a feeling of infinite
comfort when I woke up, and how it gave way instantly to an unbearable
agony in my right foot. I was lying in a bed, and the bed was in a
large tent with many others. Dazed as I was, I realized that I must
have been wounded, but I felt too tired to think, or even to keep my
A soft hand stroked my brow lightly and a gentle voice said a few
words. I opened my eyes again. A nurse was standing there, with two
surgeons. They uncovered me and undid the bandage which was hiding my
foot. Then one of the men said to me:
"You are a courageous man. You will not be afraid of a little
"It can't hurt more than it does now.'
"It won't hurt at all."
"Then go ahead, sir, what is it?"
"Nothing much. We think, my friend and I, that you have one foot too
I reflected one moment. This was rather unpleasant. But what could I do
but put a cheerful face on an ugly matter? So I said:
"Right you are, but don't make a mistake."
"What d'you mean?" asked the surgeon.
"You might cut off the sound foot, by mistake."
"All right," said he smiling. "That's the spirit we want. We will do it
in a couple of hours. Try to sleep in the meantime."
The next time you have an opportunity, Mr. Reader, you make an effort
to sleep with such a prospect before you. A cripple; I would be a
cripple. What would life be in future? It is not such a very easy thing
to stand on two feet, but on one! You must be a virtuoso for that ...
or an acrobat. Anyhow I would be out of the ghastly business. For I may
tell it now, it was hellish, altogether.
But at last, it was over for me. I had done my bit.--Done my bit--Done
my bit.--And I repeated twenty, fifty, a hundred times that "Done my
bit" like an engine that says the same thing unceasingly. Yes, I would
go home, back to Blighty. Done my bit.--Done my bit.--What would dad
say? Poor dad! He would feel it more than I. He would tremble when he
saw my name in the casualty list. And he would cry and be proud that I
had done my bit.--Done my bit.--Done my bit.--And then he would buy an
artificial foot for me, the best he could find. In fact he did, and I
am not so much to be pitied as you may think. Really not. And the mater
... she would scold me, no doubt. In fact, she did it too:
"My poor Patrick," was her first word, "how can one be such an awkward
bungler? What did you do with your foot?"
"I apologize, mother," I answered, "I have mislaid it. I must have left
it in France. Do you want me to go back and fetch it?"
Thus, you see, I could not sleep during these two hours, as I had been
Suddenly, as I was lying there, I heard a voice, a very faint voice to
my right, calling me:
Slowly I turned my head. I could not turn anything else. And there, by
my side, lay pallid, cadaverous, Franz von Heidenbrunn.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"I?--I am dying."
"But how did you come here? Why are you not on the Austrian front?"
Very slowly the answer came:
"I became a deserter, when I eloped with Mitzi. I never returned to
Austria. I served with the Germans."
He was very weak, I could hardly hear his words. And I, too, felt so
feeble that I was scarcely able to speak.
After a while he began again:
"You know that old Hammer died?"
"Poor Hammer," I said. "And Doblana?"
"I don't know."
There was another silence. How exhausted he looked! And I had sworn
that I would avenge myself on him.
"Giulay is married," he whispered.
Evidently he wanted to speak about my Viennese acquaintances. But what
could it matter to me whether Giulay was married? Was it to Fanny? I
wondered. The answer to my mute question came soon.
Giulay and Mitzi! So they had both been satisfied with remnants ... he
with what Franz, and she with what Fanny had left. Such was the end of
my Austrian Love.
Again there was a silence. Longer, deeper than before. His breath was
difficult, already rattling in his throat. But after a while he seemed
once more to find a little strength.
"Can't you forgive me?" he asked at last.
"I do forgive you, with all my heart."
He became calm, and it seemed to me as if a dim smile was passing over
He died the same night.
Three or four weeks went by. I was doing splendidly, as people say
whose feet have not been amputated. I had been removed to another tent
where there were only men who had behaved well, like me for instance,
and who could be allowed to read, to smoke, to chat. Don't you believe
that it was a sorry company. There was not one complete specimen of the
species man. But we bore our lot cheerfully.
To say the truth I had not, for years, felt so pleased, so satisfied.
The nightmare was over. When I recollected the years between my flight
from Vienna until the outbreak of the war, and then the terrible months
in Gallipoli and in France, I regarded my present situation as perfect
bliss. Perhaps also had I freed myself, by writing my story, from the
ever torturing memory of her, whom I have called my Austrian Love. For
the first time Life was smiling again.... Life and Music. I may as
well tell you that since I have returned home I have begun writing a
symphonic poem. I hope you will come one day and applaud it. I found
its themes while I was in that cheerful hospital. I found something
You know, of course, that in the hospitals kind people are always
providing poor devils like me with all sorts of entertainments.
If there was a proof necessary to show that music is not only an
expensive noise, (what of a bombardment, then?) you have only to make
inquiries about the number of concerts given to the wounded. Singers,
pianists, violinists, unknown and famous, come to brighten our time of
Such a party, one day, visited our hospital. The names were not
celebrated ones, but we did not mind. The renowned artists were not
always those we liked best.
There was first a man who played the violin. I remember it was Godard's
_Berceuse de Jocelyn_. Then a baritone, who sang popular ballads. He
had a beautiful voice and I should have liked to see his face. But I
was still in bed and not allowed to move; and from where I was I could
only hear, but not see the performers.
And then the piano attacked sounds familiar to me. And a feminine voice
"My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here...."
Good God! What was that?
Had her voice changed so much? Had she used her Italianized name to
sneak into this country? She alone knew that song.... And yet....
I tried to sit up, in spite of the doctor's orders. But a nurse, who,
as I discovered later on, had special instructions, noticed me and came
"You are not to move, you know," she said smiling.
"Oh let me!" I begged.
"No, no, no!"
The song was over and the men applauded.
All of them, except one, Patrick Cooper.
And the voice began again:
"Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!..."
That could not be Mitzi!... she had always been unable to sing that
"Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
From wandering on a foreign strand!..."
The voice seemed to come nearer.--Yes! the singer had left the
"If such there breathe, go, mark him well...."
Now she appeared.
"Bean!" I cried.
* * * * *
And we are to be married to-morrow.
 About £40.
 Apologies to Shakespeare.
 A popular holiday resort, two hours south of Vienna.