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A romance of two worlds


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Title:ARomanceOfTwoWorlds

Author:MarieCorelli
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ARomanceofTwoWorlds
ANOVEL.
BYMARIECORELLI,
Authorof“Thelma,”“Ardath,”“Vendetta,”Etc.

AROMANCEOFTWOWORLDS.
PROLOGUE.

Weliveinanageofuniversalinquiry,ergoofuniversalscepticism.The
propheciesofthepoet,thedreamsofthephilosopherandscientist,arebeing
dailyrealized—thingsformerlyconsideredmerefairy-taleshavebecomefacts—
yet,inspiteofthemarvelsoflearningandsciencethatarehourlyaccomplished
amongus,theattitudeofmankindisoneofdisbelief.“ThereisnoGod!”cries
onetheorist;“oriftherebeone,IcanobtainnoproofofHisexistence!”“There
isnoCreator!”exclaimsanother.“TheUniverseissimplyarushingtogetherof
atoms.”“Therecanbenoimmortality,”assertsathird.“Wearebutdust,andto
dustweshallreturn.”“WhatiscalledbyidealiststheSOUL,”arguesanother,“is
simplythevitalprinciplecomposedofheatandair,whichescapesfromthebody
atdeath,andminglesagainwithitsnativeelement.Acandlewhenlitemits
flame;blowoutthelight,theflamevanishes—where?Woulditnotbemadness
toasserttheflameimmortal?Yetthesoul,orvitalprincipleofhumanexistence,
isnomorethantheflameofacandle.”
IfyoupropoundtothesetheoriststheeternalquestionWHY?—whyistheworld
inexistence?whyisthereauniverse?whydowelive?whydowethinkand
plan?whydoweperishatthelast?—theirgrandiosereplyis,“Becauseofthe
LawofUniversalNecessity.”TheycannotexplainthismysteriousLawto
themselves,norcantheyprobedeepenoughtofindtheanswertoastillmore
tremendousWHY—namely,WHY,isthereaLawofUniversalNecessity?—but
theyaresatisfiedwiththeresultoftheirreasonings,ifnotwholly,yetinpart,
andseldomtrytosearchbeyondthatgreatvaguevastNecessity,lesttheirfinite


brainsshouldreelintomadnessworsethandeath.Recognizing,therefore,thatin
thiscultivatedageawallofscepticismandcynicismisgraduallybeingbuiltup
byintellectualthinkersofeverynationagainstallthattreatsoftheSupernatural
andUnseen,IamawarethatmynarrationoftheeventsIhaverecently
experiencedwillbereadwithincredulity.Atatimewhenthegreatempireofthe
ChristianReligionisbeingassailed,orpolitelyignoredbygovernmentsand
publicspeakersandteachers,Irealizetothefullestextenthowdaringisany
attempttoprove,evenbyaplainhistoryofstrangeoccurrenceshappeningto
one’sself,theactualexistenceoftheSupernaturalaroundus;andtheabsolute
certaintyofafuturestateofbeing,afterthepassagethroughthatbriefsoultorporinwhichthebodyperishes,knowntousasDeath.
Inthepresentnarration,whichIhavepurposelycalleda“romance,”Idonot
expecttobebelieved,asIcanonlyrelatewhatImyselfhaveexperienced.I
knowthatmenandwomenofto-daymusthaveproofs,orwhattheyarewilling
toacceptasproofs,beforetheywillcreditanythingthatpurportstobeofa
spiritualtendency;—somethingstartling—somemiracleofastupendousnature,
suchasaccordingtoprophecytheyareallunfittoreceive.Fewwilladmitthe
subtleinfluenceandincontestable,thoughmysterious,authorityexercisedupon
theirlivesbyhigherintelligencesthantheirown—intelligencesunseen,
unknown,butfelt.Yes!feltbythemostcareless,themostcynical;inthe
uncomfortableprescienceofdanger,theinnerforebodingsofguilt—themoral
andmentaltortureenduredbythosewhofightaprotractedbattletogainthe
hardly-wonvictoryinthemselvesofrightoverwrong—inthethousandandone
suddenappealsmadewithoutwarningtothatcompassofaman’slife,
Conscience—andinthosebrilliantandstartlingimpulsesofgenerosity,bravery,
andself-sacrificewhichcarryuson,heedlessofconsequences,tothe
performanceofgreatandnobledeeds,whosefamemakesthewholeworldone
resoundingechoofglory—deedsthatwewonderatourselveseveninthe
performanceofthem—actsofheroisminwhichmerelifegoesfornothing,and
theSoulforabriefspaceispre-eminent,obeyingblindlytheguidinginfluence
ofasomethingakintoitself,yethigherintherealmsofThought.
Therearenoproofsastowhysuchthingsshouldbe;butthattheyare,is
indubitable.Themiraclesenactednowaresilentones,andareworkedinthe
heartandmindofmanalone.Unbeliefisnearlysupremeintheworldto-day.
Wereanangeltodescendfromheaveninthemiddleofagreatsquare,thecrowd
wouldthinkhehadgothimselfuponpulleysandwires,andwouldtryto
discoverhisapparatus.Werehe,inwrath,tocastdestructionuponthem,and


withfireblazingfromhiswings,slayathousandofthemwiththemereshaking
ofapinion,thosewhowereleftalivewouldeithersaythatatremendous
dynamiteexplosionhadoccurred,orthatthesquarewasbuiltonanextinct
volcanowhichhadsuddenlybrokenoutintofrightfulactivity.Anythingrather
thanbelieveinangels—thenineteenthcenturyprotestsagainstthepossibilityof
theirexistence.Itseesnomiracle—itpooh-poohstheveryenthusiasmthatmight
workthem.
“Giveapositivesign,”itsays;“proveclearlythatwhatyousayistrue,andI,in
spiteofmyProgressandAtomTheory,willbelieve.”Theanswertosucha
requestwasspokeneighteenhundredyearsandmoreago.“Afaithlessand
perversegenerationaskethforasign,andnosignshallbegivenuntothem.”
WereInowtoassertthatasignhadbeengiventoME—tome,asoneoutofthe
thousandswhodemandit—suchdaringassuranceonmypartwouldmeetwith
themoststrenuousoppositionfromallwhoperusethefollowingpages;each
personwhoreadshavinghisownideasonallsubjects,andnaturallyconsidering
themtobethebestifnottheonlyideasworthanything.ThereforeIwishittobe
plainlyunderstoodthatinthisbookIpersonallyadvocatenonewtheoryof
eitherreligionorphilosophy;nordoIholdmyselfanswerablefortheopinions
expressedbyanyofmycharacters.Myaimthroughoutistoletfactsspeakfor
themselves.Iftheyseemstrange,unreal,evenimpossible,Icanonlysaythatthe
thingsoftheinvisibleworldmustalwaysappearsotothosewhosethoughtsand
desiresarecentredonthislifeonly.

CHAPTERI.
ANARTIST’SSTUDIO.

Inthewinterof188—,Iwasafflictedbyaseriesofnervousailments,brought
onbyoverworkandoverworry.Chiefamongthesewasaprotractedandterrible
insomnia,accompaniedbytheutmostdepressionofspiritsandanxietyofmind.
Ibecamefilledwiththegloomiestanticipationsofevil;andmysystemwas
strungupbyslowdegreestosuchahightensionofphysicalandmental
excitement,thatthequietestandmostsoothingoffriendlyvoiceshadnoother
effectuponmethantojarandirritate.Workwasimpossible;music,myone


passion,intolerable;booksbecamewearisometomysight;andevenashort
walkintheopenairbroughtwithitsuchlassitudeandexhaustion,thatIsoon
grewtodisliketheverythoughtofmovingoutofdoors.Insuchaconditionof
health,medicalaidbecamenecessary;andaskilfulandamiablephysician,Dr.
R–-,ofgreatreputeinnervousailments,attendedmeformanyweeks,withbut
slightsuccess.Hewasnottoblame,poorman,forhisfailuretoeffectacure.He
hadonlyonewayoftreatment,andheappliedittoallhispatientswithmoreor
lesshappyresults.Somedied,somerecovered;itwasalotteryonwhichmy
medicalfriendstakedhisreputation,andwon.Thepatientswhodiedwerenever
heardofmore--thosewhorecoveredsangthepraisesoftheirphysician
everywhere,andsenthimgiftsofsilverplateandhampersofwine,totestify
theirgratitude.Hispopularitywasverygreat;hisskillconsideredmarvellous;
andhisinabilitytodoMEanygoodarose,Imustperforceimagine,outofsome
defectorhiddenobstinacyinmyconstitution,whichwastohimanew
experience,andforwhichhewasunprepared.PoorDr.R–-!Howmanybottles
ofyourtastilypreparedandexpensivemedicineshaveInotswallowed,inblind
confidenceandblinderignoranceoftheoffencesIthuscommittedagainstallthe
principlesofthatNaturewithinme,which,iflefttoitself,alwaysheroically
strugglestorecoveritsownproperbalanceandeffectitsowncure;butwhich,if
subjectedtotheexperimentaltestsofvariouspoisonsordrugs,oftenloses
strengthintheunnaturalcontestandsinksexhausted,perhapsnevertorisewith
actualvigouragain.Baffledinhisattemptstoremedymyailments,Dr,R–-at
lastresortedtotheusualplanadoptedbyallphysicianswhentheirmedicines
havenopower.Herecommendedchangeofairandscene,andurgedmyleaving
London,thendarkwiththefogsofadrearywinter,forthegaietyandsunshine
androsesoftheRiviera.Theideawasnotunpleasanttome,andIdeterminedto
taketheadviceproffered.Hearingofmyintention,someAmericanfriendsof
mine,ColonelEverardandhischarmingyoungwife,decidedtoaccompanyme,
sharingwithmetheexpensesofthejourneyandhotelaccommodation.Weleft
Londonalltogetheronadampfoggyevening,whenthecoldwassointensethat
itseemedtobitethefleshlikethesharpteethofananimal,andaftertwodays’
rapidjourney,duringwhichIfeltmyspiritsgraduallyrising,andmygloomy
forebodingsvanishingslowlyonebyone,wearrivedatCannes,andputupat
theHoteldeL–-.Itwasalovelyplace,andmostbeautifullysituated;thegarden
wasaperfectwildernessofrosesinfullbloom,andanavenueoforange-trees
beginningtoflowercastadelicatefragranceonthewarmdeliciousair.
Mrs.Everardwasdelighted.


“Ifyoudonotrecoveryourhealthhere,”shesaidhalflaughinglytomeonthe
secondmorningafterourarrival,“Iamafraidyourcaseishopeless.What
sunshine!Whatabalmywind!Itisenoughtomakeacripplecastawayhis
crutchesandforgethewaseverlame.Don’tyouthinkso?”
Ismiledinanswer,butinwardlyIsighed.Beautifulasthescenery,theair,and
thegeneralsurroundingswere,Icouldnotdisguisefrommyselfthatthe
temporaryexhilarationofmyfeelings,causedbythenoveltyandexcitementof
myjourneytoCannes,wasslowlybutsurelypassingaway.Theterribleapathy,
againstwhichIhadfoughtforsomanymonths,wasagaincreepingoverme
withitscruelandresistlessforce.Ididmybesttostruggleagainstit;Iwalked,I
rode,IlaughedandchattedwithMrs.Everardandherhusband,andforced
myselfintosociabilitywithsomeofthevisitorsatthehotel,whoweredisposed
toshowusfriendlyattention.Isummonedallmystockofwill-powertobeat
backtheinsidiousphysicalandmentalmiserythatthreatenedtosapthevery
springofmylife;andinsomeoftheseeffortsIpartiallysucceeded.Butitwasat
nightthattheterrorsofmyconditionmanifestedthemselves.Thensleepforsook
myeyes;adullthrobbingweightofpainencircledmyheadlikeacrownof
thorns;nervousterrorsshookmefromheadtofoot;fragmentsofmyown
musicalcompositionshummedinmyearswithwearyingpersistence—
fragmentsthatalwaysleftmeinastateofdistressedconjecture;forInever
couldrememberhowtheyended,andIpuzzledmyselfvainlyovercrotchetsand
quaversthatneverwouldconsenttoarrangethemselvesinanysortoffinale.So
thedayswenton;forColonelEverardandhiswife,thosedayswerefullof
merriment,sight-seeing,andenjoyment.Forme,thoughoutwardlyIappearedto
shareintheuniversalgaiety,theywereladenwithincreasingdespairand
wretchedness;forIbegantolosehopeofeverrecoveringmyoncebuoyant
healthandstrength,and,whatwasevenworse,Iseemedtohaveutterlyparted
withallworkingability.Iwasyoung,anduptowithinafewmonthslifehad
stretchedbrightlybeforeme,withtheprospectofabrilliantcareer.Andnow
whatwasI?Awretchedinvalid—aburdentomyselfandtoothers—abroken
sparflungwithotherfragmentsofshipwreckedlivesonthegreatoceanof
Time,theretobewhirledawayandforgotten.Butarescuewasapproaching;a
rescuesuddenandmarvellous,ofwhich,inmywildestfancies,Ihadnever
dreamed.
StayinginthesamehotelwithuswasayoungItalianartist,RaffaelloCelliniby
name.Hispictureswerebeginningtoattractagreatdealofnotice,bothinParis
andRome:notonlyfortheirfaultlessdrawing,butfortheirwonderfully


exquisitecolouring.Sodeepandwarmandrichwerethehueshetransferredto
hiscanvases,thatothersofhisart,lessfortunateinthemanagementofthe
palette,declaredhemusthaveinventedsomeforeigncompoundwherebyhewas
enabledtodeepenandbrightenhiscoloursforthetimebeing;butthattheeffect
wasonlytemporary,andthathispictures,exposedtotheairforsomeeightor
tenyears,wouldfadeawayrapidly,leavingonlythetracesofanindistinctblur.
Others,moregenerous,congratulatedhimonhavingdiscoveredthesecretsof
theoldmasters.Inshort,hewasadmired,condemned,envied,andflattered,all
inabreath;whilehehimself,beingofasingularlysereneandunruffled
disposition,workedawayincessantly,caringlittleornothingfortheworld’s
praiseorblame.
CellinihadaprettysuiteofroomsintheHoteldeL–-,andmyfriendsColonel
andMrs.Everardfraternizedwithhimverywarmly.Hewasbynomeansslow
torespondtotheiroverturesoffriendship,andsoithappenedthathisstudio
becameasortofloungeforus,wherewewouldmeettohavetea,tochat,tolook
atthepictures,ortodiscussourplansforfutureenjoyment.Thesevisitsto
Cellini’sstudio,strangetosay,hadaremarkablysoothingandcalmingeffect
uponmysufferingnerves.Theloftyandelegantroom,furnishedwiththat
“admireddisorder”andmixedluxuriousnesspeculiartoartists,withitsheavily
droopingvelvetcurtains,itsglimpsesofwhitemarblebustsandbrokencolumns,
itsflashandfragranceofflowersthatbloomedinatinyconservatoryopening
outfromthestudioandleadingtothegarden,whereafountainbubbled
melodiously—allthispleasedmeandgavemeacurious,yetmostwelcome,
senseofabsoluterest.Cellinihimselfhadafascinationforme,forexactlythe
samereason.Asanexampleofthis,IrememberescapingfromMrs.Everardon
oneoccasion,andhurryingtothemostsecludedpartofthegarden,inorderto
walkupanddownaloneinanendeavourtocalmanattackofnervousagitation
whichhadsuddenlyseizedme.Whilethuspacingaboutinfeverishrestlessness,
IsawCelliniapproaching,hisheadbentasifinthought,andhishandsclasped
behindhisback.Ashedrewnearme,heraisedhiseyes—theywereclearand
darklybrilliant—heregardedmesteadfastlywithakindlysmile.Thenliftinghis
hatwiththegracefulreverencepeculiartoanItalian,hepassedon,sayingno
word.Buttheeffectofhismomentarypresenceuponmewasremarkable—it
wasELECTRIC.Iwasnolongeragitated.Calmed,soothedandalmosthappy,I
returnedtoMrs.Everard,andenteredintoherplansforthedaywithsomuch
alacritythatshewassurprisedanddelighted.
“Ifyougoonlikethis,”shesaid,“youwillbeperfectlywellinamonth.”


IwasutterlyunabletoaccountfortheremedialinfluenceRaffaelloCellini’s
presencehaduponme;butsuchasitwasIcouldnotbutbegratefulforthe
respiteitgavemefromnervoussuffering,andmynowdailyvisitstotheartist’s
studiowereapleasureandaprivilegenottobeforegone.Moreover,Iwasnever
tiredoflookingathispictures.Hissubjectswerealloriginal,andsomeofthem
wereveryweirdandfantastic.Onelargepictureparticularlyattractedme.Itwas
entitled“LordsofourLifeandDeath.”Surroundedbyrollingmassesofcloud,
somesilver-crested,someshotthroughwithredflame,wasdepictedtheWorld,
asaglobehalfinlight,halfinshade.PoisedaboveitwasagreatAngel,upon
whosecalmandnoblefacerestedamingledexpressionofdeepsorrow,yearning
pity,andinfiniteregret.Tearsseemedtoglitteronthedroopinglashesofthis
sweetyetsternSpirit;andinhisstrongrighthandheheldadrawnsword—the
swordofdestruction—pointedforeverdownwardstothefatedglobeathisfeet.
BeneaththisAngelandtheworldhedominatedwasdarkness—utterillimitable
darkness.Butabovehimthecloudsweretornasunder,andthroughatransparent
veiloflightgoldenmist,afaceofsurpassingbeautywasseen—afaceonwhich
youth,health,hope,love,andecstaticjoyallshonewithineffableradiance.It
wasthepersonificationofLife—notlifeasweknowit,briefandfullofcare—
butLifeImmortalandLoveTriumphant.OftenandoftenIfoundmyself
standingbeforethismasterpieceofCellini’sgenius,gazingatit,notonlywith
admiration,butwithasenseofactualcomfort.Oneafternoon,whilerestingin
myfavouritelowchairoppositethepicture,Irousedmyselffromareverie,and
turningtotheartist,whowasshowingsomewater-coloursketchestoMrs.
Everard,Isaidabruptly:
“DidyouimaginethatfaceoftheAngelofLife,SignorCellini,orhadyoua
modeltocopyfrom?”
Helookedatmeandsmiled.
“Itisamoderatelygoodportraitofanexistingoriginal,”hesaid.
“Awoman’sfacethen,Isuppose?Howverybeautifulshemustbe!”
“Actualbeautyissexless,”hereplied,andwassilent.Theexpressionofhisface
hadbecomeabstractedanddreamy,andheturnedoverthesketchesforMrs.
Everardwithanairwhichshowedhisthoughtstobefarawayfromhis
occupation.


“AndtheDeathAngel?”Iwenton.“Hadyouamodelforthatalso?”
Thistimealookofrelief,almostofgladness,passedoverhisfeatures.
“Noindeed,”heansweredwithreadyfrankness;“thatisentirelymyown
creation.”
Iwasabouttocomplimenthimonthegrandeurandforceofhispoeticalfancy,
whenhestoppedmebyaslightgestureofhishand.
“Ifyoureallyadmirethepicture,”hesaid,“praydonotsayso.Ifitisintrutha
workofart,letitspeaktoyouasartonly,andsparethepoorworkmanwhohas
calleditintoexistencetheshameofhavingtoconfessthatitisnotabovehuman
praise.Theonlytruecriticismofhighartissilence—silenceasgrandasheaven
itself.”
Hespokewithenergy,andhisdarkeyesflashed.Amy(Mrs.Everard)lookedat
himcuriously.
“Saynow!”sheexclaimed,witharinginglaugh,“aren’tyoualittlebiteccentric,
signor?Youtalklikealong-hairedprophet!Inevermetanartistbeforewho
couldn’tstandpraise;itisgenerallyamatterofwondertometonoticehow
muchofthatintoxicatingsweettheycanswallowwithoutreeling.Butyou’rean
exception,Imustadmit.Icongratulateyou!”
Cellinibowedgailyinresponsetothehalf-friendly,half-mockingcurtseyshe
gavehim,and,turningtomeagain,said:
“Ihaveafavourtoaskofyou,mademoiselle.Willyousittomeforyour
portrait?”
“I!”Iexclaimed,withastonishment.“SignorCellini,Icannotimaginewhyyou
shouldwishsotowasteyourvaluabletime.Thereisnothinginmypoor
physiognomyworthyofyourbriefestattention.”
“Youmustpardonme,mademoiselle,”herepliedgravely,“ifIpresumetodiffer
fromyou.Iamexceedinglyanxioustotransferyourfeaturestomycanvas.Iam
awarethatyouarenotinstronghealth,andthatyourfacehasnotthatroundness
andcolourformerlyhabitualtoit.ButIamnotanadmirerofthemilkmaidtype
ofbeauty.EverywhereIseekforintelligence,forthought,forinwardrefinement


—inshort,mademoiselle,youhavethefaceofonewhomtheinnersoul
consumes,and,assuch,mayIpleadagainwithyoutogivemealittleofyour
sparetime?YOUWILLNOTREGRETIT,IASSUREYOU.”
Theselastwordswereutteredinalowertoneandwithsingularimpressiveness.I
rosefrommyseatandlookedathimsteadily;hereturnedmeglanceforglance,
Astrangethrillranthroughme,followedbythatinexplicablesensationof
absolutecalmthatIhadbeforeexperienced.Ismiled—Icould,nothelpsmiling.
“Iwillcometomorrow,”Isaid.
“Athousandthanks,mademoiselle!Canyoubehereatnoon?”
IlookedinquiringlyatAmy,whoclappedherhandswithdelightedenthusiasm.
“Ofcourse!Anytimeyoulike,signor.“Wewillarrangeourexcursionssothat
theyshallnotinterferewiththesittings.Itwillbemostinterestingtowatchthe
picturegrowingdaybyday.Whatwillyoucallit,signor?Bysomefancytitle?”
“Itwilldependonitsappearancewhencompleted,”hereplied,ashethrewopen
thedoorsofthestudioandbowedusoutwithhisusualceremoniouspoliteness.
“Aurevoir,madame!Ademain,mademoiselle!”andthevioletvelvetcurtainsof
theportierefellsoftlybehindusaswemadeourexit.
“Istherenotsomethingstrangeaboutthatyoungman?”saidMrs.Everard,aswe
walkedthroughthelonggalleryoftheHoteldeL–-backtoourownrooms.
“Somethingfiendishorangelic,oralittleofbothqualitiesmixedup?”
“IthinkheiswhatpeopletermPECULIAR,whentheyfailtounderstandthe
poeticalvagariesofgenius,”Ireplied.“Heiscertainlyveryuncommon.”
“Well!”continuedmyfriendmeditatively,asshecontemplatedherpretty
mignonnefaceandgracefulfigureinalongmirrorplacedattractivelyinacorner
ofthehallthroughwhichwewerepassing;“allIcansayisthatIwouldn’tlet
himpaintMYportraitifheweretoaskeverso!Ishouldbescaredtodeath.I
wonderyou,beingsonervous,werenotafraidofhim.”
“Ithoughtyoulikedhim,”Isaid.


“SoIdo.Sodoesmyhusband.He’sawfullyhandsomeandclever,andallthat—
buthisconversation!Therenow,mydear,youmustownheisslightlyQUEER.
Why,whobutalunaticwouldsaythattheonlycriticismofartissilence?Isn’t
thatutterrubbish?”
“TheonlyTRUEcriticism,”Icorrectedhergently.
“Well,it’sallthesame.Howcantherebeanycriticismatallinsilence?
Accordingtohisideawhenweadmireanythingverymuchweoughttogoround
withlongfacesandgagsonourmouths.Thatwouldbeentirelyridiculous!And
whatwasthatdreadfulthinghesaidtoyou?”
“Idon’tquiteunderstandyou,”Ianswered;“Icannotrememberhissaying
anythingdreadful.”
“Oh,Ihaveitnow,”continuedAmywithrapidity;“itwasawful!Hesaidyou
hadtheFACEOFONEWHOMTHESOULCONSUMES.Youknowthatwas
mosthorriblymystical!Andwhenhesaidithelooked—ghastly!Whatdidhe
meanbyit,Iwonder?”
Imadenoanswer;butIthoughtIknew.Ichangedtheconversationassoonas
possible,andmyvolatileAmericanfriendwassoonabsorbedinadiscussionon
dressandjewellery.Thatnightwasablessedoneforme;Iwasfreefromall
suffering,andsleptascalmlyasachild,whileinmydreamsthefaceofCellini’s
“Angeloflife”smiledatme,andseemedtosuggestpeace.

CHAPTERII.
THEMYSTERIOUSPOTION.

Thenextday,punctuallyatnoon,accordingtomypromise,Ienteredthestudio.
Iwasalone,forAmy,aftersomequalmsofconsciencerespectingchaperonage,
propriety,andMrs.Grundy,hadyieldedtomyentreatiesandgoneforadrive
withsomefriends.Inspiteofthefearsshebegantoentertainconcerningthe
MephistopheliancharacterofRaffaelloCellini,therewasonethingofwhich
bothsheandIfeltmorallycertain:namely,thatnotruerormorehonourable


gentlemanthanheeverwalkedontheearth.Underhisprotectiontheloveliest
andloneliestwomanthateverlivedwouldhavebeenperfectlysafe—assafeas
thoughshewereshutup,liketheprincessinthefairy-tale,inabrazentower,of
whichonlyanundiscoverableserpentpossessedthekey.WhenIarrived,the
roomsweredeserted,saveforthepresenceofamagnificentNewfoundlanddog,
who,asIentered,rose,andshakinghisshaggybody,satdownbeforemeand
offeredmehishugepaw,wagginghistailinthemostfriendlymannerallthe
while,Iatoncerespondedtohiscordialgreeting,andasIstrokedhisnoble
head,Iwonderedwheretheanimalhadcomefrom;forthough—wehadvisited
SignorCellini’sstudioeveryday,therehadbeennosignormentionofthis
stately,brown-eyed,four-footedcompanion.Iseatedmyself,andthedog
immediatelylaydownatmyfeet,everynowandthenlookingupatmewithan
affectionateglanceandarenewedwaggingofhistail.Glancingroundthewellknownroom,InoticedthatthepictureIadmiredsomuchwasveiledbya
curtainofOrientalstuff,inwhichwereembroideredthreadsofgoldmingled
withsilksofvariousbrillianthues.Ontheworkingeaselwasalargesquare
canvas,alreadyprepared,asIsupposed,formyfeaturestobetracedthereon.It
wasanexceedinglywarmmorning,andthoughthewindowsaswellastheglass
doorsoftheconservatorywerewideopen,Ifoundtheairofthestudiovery
oppressive.Iperceivedonthetableafinely-wroughtdecanterofVenetianglass,
inwhichclearwatersparkledtemptingly.Risingfrommychair,Itookan
antiquesilvergobletfromthemantelpiece,filleditwiththecoolfluid,andwas
abouttodrink,whenthecupwassuddenlysnatchedfrommyhands,andthe
voiceofCellini,changedfromitsusualsoftnesstoatonebothimperiousand
commanding,startledme.
“Donotdrinkthat,”hesaid;“youmustnot!Youdarenot!Iforbidyou!”
Ilookedupathiminmuteastonishment.Hisfacewasverypale,andhislarge
darkeyesshonewithsuppressedexcitement.Slowlymyself-possessionreturned
tome,andIsaidcalmly:
“YOUforbidme,signor?Surelyyouforgetyourself.WhatharmhaveIdonein
helpingmyselftoasimpleglassofwaterinyourstudio?Youarenotusuallyso
inhospitable.”
WhileIspokehismannerchanged,thecolourreturnedtohisface,andhiseyes
softened—hesmiled.


“Forgiveme,mademoiselle,formybrusquerie.ItistrueIforgotmyselffora
moment.Butyouwereindanger,and–-”
“Indanger!”Iexclaimedincredulously.
“Yes,mademoiselle.This,”andhehelduptheVenetiandecantertothelight,“is
notwatersimply.Ifyouwillobserveitnowwiththesunshinebeatingfull
againstit,Ithinkyouwillperceivepeculiaritiesinitthatwillassureyouofmy
veracity.”
Ilookedashebademe,andsaw,tomysurprise,thatthefluidwasneveractually
stillforasecond.Asortofinternalbubblingseemedtoworkinitscentre,and
curiousspecksandlinesofcrimsonandgoldflashedthroughitfromtimeto
time.
“Whatisit?”Iasked;addingwithahalf-smile,“Areyouthepossessorofa
specimenofthefar-famedAquaTofana?”
Celliniplacedthedecantercarefullyonashelf,andInoticedthathechosea
particularspotforit,wheretheraysofthesuncouldfallperpendicularlyupon
thevesselcontainingit.Thenturningtome,hereplied:
“AquaTofana,mademoiselle,isadeadlypoison,knowntotheancientsandalso
tomanylearnedchemistsofourday.Itisaclearandcolourlessliquid,butitis
absolutelystill—asstillasastagnantpool.WhatIhavejustshownyouisnot
poison,butquitethereverse.Iwillprovethistoyouatonce.”Andtakingatiny
liqueurglassfromasidetable,hefilleditwiththestrangefluidanddrankitoff,
carefullyreplacingthestopperinthedecanter.
“But,SignorCellini,”Iurged,“ifitissoharmless,whydidyouforbidmy
tastingit?WhydidyousaytherewasdangerformewhenIwasabouttodrink
it?”
“Because,mademoiselle,forYOUitwouldbedangerous.Yourhealthisweak,
yournervesunstrung.Thatelixirisapowerfulvivifyingtonic,actingwithgreat
rapidityontheentiresystem,andrushingthroughtheveinswiththeswiftnessof
ELECTRICITY.Iamaccustomedtoit;itismydailymedicine.ButIwas
broughttoitbyslow,andalmostimperceptibledegrees.Asingleteaspoonfulof
thatfluid,mademoiselle,administeredtoanyonenotpreparedtoreceiveit,
wouldbeinstantdeath,thoughitsactualuseistovivifyandstrengthenhuman


life.YouunderstandnowwhyIsaidyouwereindanger?”
“Iunderstand,”Ireplied,thoughinsobertruthIwasmystifiedandpuzzled.
“Andyouforgivemyseemingrudeness?”
“Oh,certainly!Butyouhavearousedmycuriosity.Ishouldliketoknowmore
aboutthisstrangemedicineofyours.”
“Youshallknowmoreifyouwish,”saidCellini,hisusualequablehumourand
goodspiritsnowquiterestored.“Youshallknoweverything;butnotto-day.We
havetoolittletime.Ihavenotyetcommencedyourpicture.AndIforgot—you
werethirsty,andIwas,asyousaid,inhospitable.Youmustpermitmetorepair
myfault.”
Andwithacourteoussalutehelefttheroom,toreturnalmostimmediatelywith
atumblerfullofsomefragrant,golden-colouredliquid,inwhichlumpsofice
glitteredrefreshingly.Afewlooserose-leaveswerescatteredonthetopofthis
dainty-lookingbeverage.
“Youmayenjoythiswithoutfear,”saidhe,smiling;“itwilldoyougood.Itisan
Easternwine,unknowntotrade,andthereforeuntamperedwith.Iseeyouare
lookingattherose-leavesonthesurface.ThatisaPersiancustom,andIthinka
prettyone.Theyfloatawayfromyourlipsintheactionofdrinking,and
thereforetheyarenoobstacle.”
Itastedthewineandfounditdelicious,softandmellowassummermoonlight.
WhileIsippeditthebigNewfoundland,whohadstretchedhimselfinacouchant
postureonthehearth-rugeversinceCellinihadfirstenteredtheroom,roseand
walkedmajesticallytomysideandrubbedhisheadcaressinglyagainstthefolds
ofmydress.
“Leohasmadefriendswithyou,Isee,”saidCellini.“Youshouldtakethatasa
greatcompliment,forheismostparticularinhischoiceofacquaintance,and
moststeadfastwhenhehasoncemadeuphismind.Hehasmoredecisionof
characterthanmanyastatesman.”
“Howisitwehaveneverseenhimbefore?”Iinquired.“Younevertoldusyou
hadsuchasplendidcompanion.”


“Iamnothismaster,”repliedtheartist.“Heonlyfavoursmewithavisit
occasionally.HearrivedfromParislastnight,andcamestraighthere,sureofhis
welcome.Hedoesnotconfidehisplanstome,butIsupposehewillreturntohis
homewhenhethinksitadvisable.Heknowshisownbusinessbest.”
Ilaughed.
“Whatacleverdog!Doeshejourneyonfoot,ordoeshetakethetrain?”
“Ibelievehegenerallypatronizestherailway.Alltheofficialsknowhim,andhe
getsintotheguard’svanasamatterofcourse.Sometimeshewillalightata
stationenroute,andwalktherestoftheway.Butifheislazilyinclined,hedoes
notstirtillthetrainreachesitsdestination.Attheendofeverysixmonthsorso,
therailwayauthoritiessendthebillofLeo’sjourneyingsintohismaster,whenit
isalwayssettledwithoutdifficulty.”
“AndwhoIShismaster?”Iventuredtoask.
Cellini’sfacegrewseriousandabsorbed,andhiseyeswerefullofgrave
contemplationasheanswered:
“Hismaster,mademoiselle,isMYmaster—onewhoamongmen,issupremely
intelligent;amongteachers,absolutelyunselfish;amongthinkers,purely
impersonal;amongfriends,inflexiblyfaithful.TohimIoweeverything—even
lifeitself.Forhimnosacrifice,noextremedevotionwouldbetoogreat,couldI
hopetherebytoshowmygratitude.Butheisasfarabovehumanthanksor
humanrewardsasthesunisabovethesea.Nothere,notnow,dareIsaytohim,
MYFRIEND,BEHOLDHOWMUCHILOVETHEE!suchlanguagewouldbe
alltoopoorandunmeaning;buthereafter—whoknows?–-”andhebrokeoff
abruptlywithahalf-sigh.Then,asifforcinghimselftochangethetenorofhis
thoughts,hecontinuedinakindtone:“But,mademoiselle,Iamwastingyour
time,andamtakingnoadvantageofthefavouryouhaveshownmebyyour
presenceto-day.Willyouseatyourselfhere?”andheplacedanelaborately
carvedoakensetteeinonecornerofthestudio,oppositehisowneasel.“Ishould
besorrytofatigueyouatall,”hewenton;“doyoucareforreading?”
Iansweredeagerlyintheaffirmative,andhehandedmeavolumeboundin
curiouslyembossedleather,andornamentedwithsilverclasps.Itwasentitled
“LettersofaDeadMusician.”


“Youwillfindcleargemsofthought,passion,andfeelinginthisbook,”said
Cellini;“andbeingamusicianyourself,youwillknowhowtoappreciatethem.
Thewriterwasoneofthosegeniuseswhoseworktheworldrepayswithridicule
andcontempt.Thereisnofatemoreenviable!”
IlookedattheartistwithsomesurpriseasItookthevolumeherecommended,
andseatedmyselfinthepositionheindicated;andwhilehebusiedhimselfin
arrangingthevelvetcurtainsbehindmeasabackground,Isaid:
“Doyoureallyconsideritenviable,SignorCellini,toreceivetheworld’s
ridiculeandcontempt?”
“Idoindeed,”hereplied,“sinceitisacertainproofthattheworlddoesnot
understandyou.Toachievesomethingthatisabovehumancomprehension,
THATisgreatness.TohavetheserenesublimityoftheGod-manChrist,and
consenttobecrucifiedbyagibingworldthatwasfatedtobeafterwards
civilizedanddominatedbyHisteachings,whatcanbemoreglorious?Tohave
themagnificentversatilityofaShakespeare,whowasscarcelyrecognizedinhis
ownday,butwhosegiftsweresovastandvariousthatthesillymultitudes
wrangleoverhisveryidentityandtheauthenticityofhisplaystothishour—
whatcanbemoretriumphant?Toknowthatone’sownsoulcan,ifstrengthened
andencouragedbytheforceofwill,risetoasupremealtitudeofpower—isnot
thatsufficienttocompensateforthelittlewhiningcriesofthecommonherdof
menandwomenwhohaveforgottenwhethertheyeverhadaspiritualsparkin
them,andwho,straininguptoseethelightofgeniusthatburnstoofiercelyfor
theirearth-dimmedeyes,exclaim:‘WEseenothing,thereforethereCANbe
nothing.’Ah,mademoiselle,theknowledgeofone’sowninnerSelf-Existenceis
aknowledgesurpassingallthemarvelsofartandscience!”
Cellinispokewithenthusiasm,andhiscountenanceseemedilluminedbythe
eloquencethatwarmedhisspeech.Ilistenedwithasortofdreamysatisfaction;
thevisualsensationofutterrestthatIalwaysexperiencedinthisman’spresence
wasuponme,andIwatchedhimwithinterestashedrewwithquickandfacile
touchtheoutlineofmyfeaturesonhiscanvas.
Graduallyhebecamemoreandmoreabsorbedinhiswork;heglancedatme
fromtimetotime,butdidnotspeak,andhispencilworkedrapidly.Iturnedover
the“LettersofaDeadMusician”withsomecuriosity.Severalpassagesstruck
measbeingremarkablefortheiroriginalityanddepthofthought;butwhat


particularlyimpressedmeasIreadon,wasthetoneofabsolutejoyand
contentmentthatseemedtolightupeverypage.Therewerenowailingsover
disappointedambition,noregretsforthepast,nocomplaints,nocriticism,no
wordfororagainstthebrothersofhisart;everythingwastreatedfromalofty
standpointofsplendidequality,savewhenthewriterspokeofhimself,andthen
hebecamethehumblestofthehumble,yetneverabject,andalwayshappy.
“OMusic!”hewrote,“Music,thouSweetestSpiritofallthatserveGod,what
haveIdonethatthoushouldstsooftenvisitme?Itisnotwell,OthouLoftyand
DivineOne,thatthoushouldststoopsolowastoconsolehimwhoisthe
unworthiestofallthyservants.ForIamtoofeebletotelltheworldhowsoftis
thesoundofthyrustlingpinions,howtenderisthesighingbreathofthylips,
howbeyondallthingsgloriousisthevibrationofthylightestwhisper!Remain
aloft,thouChoicestEssenceoftheCreator’sVoice,remaininthatpureand
cloudlessether,wherealonethouartfittedtodwell.Mytouchmustdesecrate
thee,myvoiceaffrightthee.Sufficeittothyservant,OBeloved,todreamof
theeanddie!”
MeetingCellini’sglanceasIfinishedreadingtheselines,Iasked:
“Didyouknowtheauthorofthisbook,signor?”
“Iknewhimwell,”hereplied;“hewasoneofthegentlestsoulsthateverdwelt
inhumanclay.AsetherealinhismusicasJohnKeatsinhispoetry,hewasone
ofthosecreaturesbornofdreamsandrapturethatrarelyvisitthisplanet.Happy
fellow!Whatadeathwashis!”
“Howdidhedie?”Iinquired.
“HewasplayingtheorganinoneofthegreatchurchesofRomeonthedayof
theFeastoftheVirgin.Achoiroffinelytrainedvoicessangtohis
accompanimenthisownglorioussettingofthe“ReginaCoeli.”Themusicwas
wonderful,startling,triumphant—everrisinginpowerandmajestytoa
magnificentfinale,whensuddenlyaslightcrashwasheard;theorganceased
abruptly,thesingersbrokeoff.Themusicianwasdead.Hehadfallenforwardon
thekeysoftheinstrument,andwhentheyraisedhim,hisfacewasfairerthanthe
faceofanysculpturedangel,soserenewasitsexpression,soraptwasitssmile.
Noonecouldtellexactlythecauseofhisdeath—hehadalwaysbeen
remarkablystrongandhealthy.Everyonesaiditwasheart-disease—itisthe


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