Bourgonef





I



AT A TABLE D'HOTE





At the close of February, 1848, I was in Nuremberg. My original

intention had been to pass a couple of days there on my way to

Munich, that being, I thought, as much time as could reasonably be

spared for so small a city, beckoned as my footsteps were to the

Bavarian Athens, of whose glories of ancient art and German

Renaissance I had formed expectations the most exaggerated--

expectations fatal to any perfect enjoyment, and certain to be

disappointed, however great the actual merit of Munich might be.

But after two days at Nuremberg I was so deeply interested in its

antique sequestered life, the charms of which had not been deadened

by previous anticipations, that I resolved to remain there until I

had mastered every detail and knew the place by heart.



I have a story to tell which will move amidst tragic circumstances

of too engrossing a nature to be disturbed by archaeological

interests, and shall not, therefore, minutely describe here what I

observed in Nuremberg, although no adequate description of that

wonderful city has yet fallen in my way. To readers unacquainted

with this antique place, it will be enough to say that in it the

old German life seems still to a great extent rescued from the all-

devouring, all-equalizing tendencies of European civilization. The

houses are either of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, or are

constructed after those ancient models. The citizens have

preserved much of the simple manners and customs of their

ancestors. The hurrying feet of commerce and curiosity pass

rapidly by, leaving it sequestered from the agitations and the

turmoils of metropolitan existence. It is as quiet as a village.

During my stay there rose in its quiet streets the startled echoes

of horror at a crime unparalleled in its annals, which, gathering

increased horror from the very peacefulness and serenity of the

scene, arrested the attention and the sympathy in a degree seldom

experienced. Before narrating that, it will be necessary to go

back a little, that my own connection with it may be intelligible,

especially in the fanciful weaving together of remote conjectures

which strangely involved me in the story.



The table d'hote at the Bayerischer Hof had about thirty visitors--

all, with one exception, of that local commonplace which escapes

remark. Indeed this may almost always be said of tables d'hote;

though there is a current belief, which I cannot share, of a table

d'hote being very delightful--of one being certain to meet pleasant

people there." It may be so. For many years I believed it was so.

The general verdict received my assent. I had never met those

delightful people, but was always expecting to meet them. Hitherto

they had been conspicuous by their absence. According to my

experience in Spain, France, and Germany, such dinners had been

dreary or noisy and vapid. If the guests were English, they were

chillingly silent, or surlily monosyllabic: to their neighbors they

were frigid; amongst each other they spoke in low undertones. And

if the guests were foreigners, they were noisy, clattering, and

chattering, foolish for the most part, and vivaciously commonplace.

I don't know which made me feel most dreary. The predominance of

my countrymen gave the dinner the gayety of a funeral; the

predominance of the Mossoo gave it the fatigue of got-up

enthusiasm, of trivial expansiveness. To hear strangers imparting

the scraps of erudition and connoisseurship which they had that

morning gathered from their valets de place and guide-books, or

describing the sights they had just seen, to you, who either saw

them yesterday, or would see them to-morrow, could not be

permanently attractive. My mind refuses to pasture on such food

with gusto. I cannot be made to care what the Herr Baron's

sentiments about Albert Durer or Lucas Cranach may be. I can

digest my rindfleisch without the aid of the commis voyageur's

criticisms on Gothic architecture. This may be my misfortune. In

spite of the Italian blood which I inherit, I am a shy man--shy as

the purest Briton. But, like other shy men, I make up in obstinacy

what may be deficient in expansiveness. I can be frightened into

silence, but I won't be dictated to. You might as well attempt the

persuasive effect of your eloquence upon a snail who has withdrawn

into his shell at your approach, and will not emerge till his

confidence is restored. To be told that I MUST see this, and ought

to go there, because my casual neighbor was charme, has never

presented itself to me as an adequate motive.



From this you readily gather that I am severely taciturn at a table

d'hote. I refrain from joining in the "delightful conversation"

which flies across the table, and know that my reticence is

attributed to "insular pride." It is really and truly nothing but

impatience of commonplace. I thoroughly enjoy good talk; but, ask

yourself, what are the probabilities of hearing that rare thing in

the casual assemblage of forty or fifty people, not brought

together by any natural affinities or interests, but thrown

together by the accident of being in the same district, and in the

same hotel? They are not "forty feeding like one," but like forty.

They have no community, except the community of commonplace. No,

tables d'hote are not delightful, and do not gather interesting

people together.



Such has been my extensive experience. But this at Nuremberg is a

conspicuous exception. At that table there was one guest who, on

various grounds, personal and incidental, remains the most

memorable man I ever met. From the first he riveted my attention

in an unusual degree. He had not, as yet, induced me to emerge

from my habitual reserve, for in truth, although he riveted my

attention, he inspired me with a strange feeling of repulsion. I

could scarcely keep my eyes from him; yet, except the formal bow on

sitting down and rising from the table, I had interchanged no sign

of fellowship with him. He was a young Russian, named Bourgonef,

as I at once learned; rather handsome, and peculiarly arresting to

the eye, partly from an air of settled melancholy, especially in

his smile, the amiability of which seemed breaking from under

clouds of grief, and still more so from the mute appeal to sympathy

in the empty sleeve of his right arm, which was looped to the

breast-button of his coat. His eyes were large and soft. He had

no beard or whisker, and only delicate moustaches. The sorrow,

quiet but profound, the amiable smile and the lost arm, were

appealing details which at once arrested attention and excited

sympathy. But to me this sympathy was mingled with a vague

repulsion, occasioned by a certain falseness in the amiable smile,

and a furtiveness in the eyes, which I saw--or fancied--and which,

with an inexplicable reserve, forming as it were the impregnable

citadel in the center of his outwardly polite and engaging manner,

gave me something of that vague impression which we express by the

words "instinctive antipathy."



It was, when calmly considered, eminently absurd. To see one so

young, and by his conversation so highly cultured and intelligent,

condemned to early helplessness, his food cut up for him by a

servant, as if he were a child, naturally engaged pity, and, on the

first day, I cudgeled my brains during the greater part of dinner

in the effort to account for his lost arm. He was obviously not a

military man; the unmistakable look and stoop of a student told

that plainly enough. Nor was the loss one dating from early life:

he used his left arm too awkwardly for the event not to have had a

recent date. Had it anything to do with his melancholy? Here was

a topic for my vagabond imagination, and endless were the romances

woven by it during my silent dinner. For the reader must be told

of one peculiarity in me, because to it much of the strange

complications of my story are due; complications into which a mind

less active in weaving imaginary hypotheses to interpret casual and

trifling facts would never have been drawn. From my childhood I

have been the victim of my constructive imagination, which has led

me into many mistakes and some scrapes; because, instead of

contenting myself with plain, obvious evidence, I have allowed

myself to frame hypothetical interpretations, which, to acts simple

in themselves, and explicable on ordinary motives, render the

simple-seeming acts portentous. With bitter pangs of self-reproach

I have at times discovered that a long and plausible history

constructed by me, relating to personal friends, has crumpled into

a ruin of absurdity, by the disclosure of the primary misconception

on which the whole history was based. I have gone, let us say, on

the supposition that two people were secretly lovers; on this

supposition my imagination has constructed a whole scheme to

explain certain acts, and one fine day I have discovered

indubitably that the supposed lovers were not lovers, but

confidants of their passions in other directions, and, of course,

all my conjectures have been utterly false. The secret flush of

shame at failure has not, however, prevented my falling into

similar mistakes immediately after.



When, therefore, I hereafter speak of my "constructive

imagination," the reader will know to what I am alluding. It was

already busy with Bourgonef. To it must be added that vague

repulsion, previously mentioned. This feeling abated on the second

day; but, although lessened, it remained powerful enough to prevent

my speaking to him. Whether it would have continued to abate until

it disappeared, as such antipathies often disappear, under the

familiarities of prolonged intercourse, without any immediate

appeal to my amour propre, I know not; but every reflective mind,

conscious of being accessible to antipathies, will remember that

one certain method of stifling them is for the object to make some

appeal to our interest or our vanity: in the engagement of these

more powerful feelings, the antipathy is quickly strangled. At any

rate it is so in my case, and was so now.



On the third day, the conversation at table happening to turn, as

it often turned, upon St. Sebald's Church, a young Frenchman, who

was criticising its architecture with fluent dogmatism, drew

Bourgonef into the discussion, and thereby elicited such a display

of accurate and extensive knowledge, no less than delicacy of

appreciation, that we were all listening spellbound. In the midst

of this triumphant exposition the irritated vanity of the Frenchman

could do nothing to regain his position but oppose a flat denial to

a historical statement made by Bourgonef, backing his denial by the

confident assertion that "all the competent authorities" held with

him. At this point Bourgonef appealed to me, and in that tone of

deference so exquisitely flattering from one we already know to be

superior he requested my decision; observing that, from the manner

in which he had seen me examine the details of the architecture, he

could not be mistaken in his confidence that I was a connoisseur.

All eyes were turned upon me. As a shy man, this made me blush; as

a vain man, the blush was accompanied with delight. It might

easily have happened that such an appeal, acting at once upon

shyness and ignorance, would have inflamed my wrath; but the appeal

happening to be directed on a point which I had recently

investigated and thoroughly mastered, I was flattered at the

opportunity of a victorious display.



The pleasure of my triumph diffused itself over my feelings towards

him who had been the occasion of it. The Frenchman was silenced;

the general verdict of the company was too obviously on our side.

From this time the conversation continued between Bourgonef and

myself; and he not only succeeded in entirely dissipating my absurd

antipathy--which I now saw to have been founded on purely imaginary

grounds, for neither the falseness nor the furtiveness could now be

detected--but he succeeded in captivating all my sympathy. Long

after dinner was over, and the salle empty, we sat smoking our

cigars, and discussing politics, literature, and art in that

suggestive desultory manner which often gives a charm to casual

acquaintances.



It was a stirring epoch, that of February, 1848. The Revolution,

at first so hopeful, and soon to manifest itself in failure so

disastrous, was hurrying to an outburst. France had been for many

months agitated by cries of electoral reform, and by indignation at

the corruption and scandals in high places. The Praslin murder,

and the dishonor of M. Teste, terminated by suicide, had been

interpreted as signs of the coming destruction. The political

banquets given in various important cities had been occasions for

inflaming the public mind, and to the far-seeing, these banquets

were interpreted as the sounds of the tocsin. Louis Philippe had

become odious to France, and contemptible to Europe. Guizot and

Duchatel, the ministers of that day, although backed by a

parliamentary majority on which they blindly relied, were

unpopular, and were regarded as infatuated even by their admirers

in Europe. The Spanish marriages had all but led to a war with

England. The Opposition, headed by Thiers and Odillon Barrot, was

strengthened by united action with the republican party, headed by

Ledru Rollin, Marrast, Flocon, and Louis Blanc.



Bourgonef was an ardent republican. So was I; but my color was of

a different shade from his. He belonged to the Reds. My own

dominant tendencies being artistic and literary, my dream was of a

republic in which intelligence would be the archon or ruler; and,

of course, in such a republic, art and literature, as the highest

manifestation of mind, would have the supreme direction. Do you

smile, reader? I smile now; but it was serious earnest with me

then. It is unnecessary to say more on this point. I have said so

much to render intelligible the stray link of communion which

riveted the charm of my new acquaintance's conversation; there was

both agreement enough and difference enough in our views to render

our society mutually fascinating.



On retiring to my room that afternoon I could not help laughing at

my absurd antipathy against Bourgonef. All his remarks had

disclosed a generous, ardent, and refined nature. While my

antipathy had specially fastened upon a certain falseness in his

smile--a falseness the more poignantly hideous if it were

falseness, because hidden amidst the wreaths of amiability--my

delight in his conversation had specially justified itself by the

truthfulness of his mode of looking at things. He seemed to be

sincerity itself. There was, indeed, a certain central reserve;

but that might only he an integrity of pride; or it might be

connected with painful circumstances in his history, of which the

melancholy in his face was the outward sign.



That very evening my constructive imagination was furnished with a

detail on which it was soon to be actively set to work. I had been

rambling about the old fortifications, and was returning at

nightfall through the old archway near Albert Durer's house, when a

man passed by me. We looked at each other in that automatic way in

which men look when they meet in narrow places, and I felt, so to

speak, a start of recognition in the eyes of the man who passed.

Nothing else, in features or gestures, betrayed recognition or

surprise. But although there was only that, it flashed from his

eyes to mine like an electric shock. He passed. I looked back.

He continued his way without turning. The face was certainly known

to me; but it floated in a mist of confused memories.



I walked on slowly, pestering my memory with fruitless calls upon

it, hopelessly trying to recover the place where I could have seen

the stranger before. In vain memory traveled over Europe in

concert-rooms, theaters, shops, and railway carriages. I could not

recall the occasion on which those eyes had previously met mine.

That they had met them I had no doubt. I went to bed with the

riddle undiscovered.





II



THE ECHOES OF MURDER





Next morning Nuremberg was agitated with a horror such as can

seldom have disturbed its quiet; a young and lovely girl had been

murdered. Her corpse was discovered at daybreak under the archway

leading to the old fortifications. She had been stabbed to the

heart. No other signs of violence were visible; no robbery had

been attempted.



In great cities, necessarily great centers of crime, we daily hear

of murders; their frequency and remoteness leave us undisturbed.

Our sympathies can only be deeply moved either by some scenic

peculiarities investing the crime with unusual romance or unusual

atrocity, or else by the more immediate appeal of direct neighborly

interest. The murder which is read of in the Times as having

occurred in Westminster, has seldom any special horror to the

inhabitants of Islington or Oxford Street; but to the inhabitants

of Westminster, and especially to the inhabitants of the particular

street in which it was perpetrated, the crime assumes heart-shaking

proportions. Every detail is asked for, and every surmise listened

to, with feverish eagerness is repeated and diffused through the

crowd with growing interest. The family of the victim; the

antecedents of the assassin, if he is known; or the conjectures

pointing to the unknown assassin,--are eagerly discussed. All the

trivial details of household care or domestic fortunes, all the

items of personal gossip, become invested with a solemn and

affecting interest. Pity for the victim and survivors mingle and

alternate with fierce cries for vengeance on the guilty. The whole

street becomes one family, commingled by an energetic sympathy,

united by one common feeling of compassion and wrath.



In villages, and in cities so small as Nuremberg, the same

community of feeling is manifested. The town became as one street.

The horror spread like a conflagration, the sympathy surged and

swelled like a tide. Everyone felt a personal interest in the

event, as if the murder had been committed at his own door. Never

shall I forget that wail of passionate pity, and that cry for the

vengeance of justice, which rose from all sides of the startled

city. Never shall I forget the hurry, the agitation, the feverish

restlessness, the universal communicativeness, the volunteered

services, the eager suggestion, surging round the house of the

unhappy parents. Herr Lehfeldt, the father of the unhappy girl,

was a respected burgher known to almost every one. His mercer's

shop was the leading one of the city. A worthy, pious man,

somewhat strict, but of irreproachable character; his virtues, no

less than those of his wife, and of his only daughter, Lieschen--

now, alas; for ever snatched from their yearning eyes--were

canvassed everywhere, and served to intensify the general grief.

That such a calamity should have fallen on a household so

estimable, seemed to add fuel to the people's wrath. Poor

Lieschen! her pretty, playful ways--her opening prospects, as the

only daughter of parents so well to do and so kind--her youth and

abounding life--these were detailed with impassioned fervor by

friends, and repeated by strangers who caught the tone of friends,

as if they, too, had known and loved her. But amidst the surging

uproar of this sea of many voices no one clear voice of direction

could be heard; no clue given to the clamorous bloodhounds to run

down the assassin.



Cries had been heard in the streets that night at various parts of

the town, which, although then interpreted as the quarrels of

drunken brawlers, and the conflicts of cats, were now confidently

asserted to have proceeded from the unhappy girl in her death-

struggle. But none of these cries had been heard in the immediate

neighborhood of the archway. All the inhabitants of that part of

the town agreed that in their waking hours the streets had been

perfectly still. Nor were there any traces visible of a struggle

having taken place. Lieschen might have been murdered elsewhere,

and her corpse quietly deposited where it was found, as far as any

evidence went.



Wild and vague were the conjectures. All were baffled in the

attempt to give them a definite direction. The crime was

apparently prompted by revenge--certainly not by lust, or desire of

money. But she was not known to stand in any one's way. In this

utter blank as to the assignable motive, I, perhaps alone among the

furious crowd, had a distinct suspicion of the assassin. No sooner

had the news reached me, than with the specification of the theater

of the crime there at once flashed upon me the intellectual vision

of the criminal: the stranger with the dark beard and startled eyes

stood confessed before me! I held my breath for a few moments, and

then there came a tide of objections rushing over my mind,

revealing the inadequacy of the grounds on which rested my

suspicions. What were the grounds? I had seen a man in a

particular spot, not an unfrequented spot, on the evening of the

night when the crime had been committed there; that man had seemed

to recognize me, and wished to avoid being recognized. Obviously

these grounds were too slender to bear any weight of construction

such as I had based on them. Mere presence on the spot could no

more inculpate him than it could inculpate me; if I had met him

there, equally had he met me there. Nor even if my suspicion were

correct that he knew me, and refused to recognize me, could that be

any argument tending to criminate him in an affair wholly

disconnected with me. Besides, he was walking peaceably, openly,

and he looked like a gentleman. All these objections pressed

themselves upon me, and kept me silent. But in spite of their

force I could not prevent the suspicion from continually arising.

Ashamed to mention it, because it may have sounded too absurd, I

could not prevent my constructive imagination indulging in its

vagaries, and with this secret conviction I resolved to await

events, and in case suspicion from other quarters should ever

designate the probable assassin, I might then come forward with my

bit of corroborative evidence, should the suspected assassin be the

stranger of the archway.



By twelve o'clock a new direction was given to rumor. Hitherto the

stories, when carefully sifted of all exaggerations of flying

conjecture, had settled themselves into something like this: The

Lehfeldts had retired to rest at a quarter before ten, as was their

custom. They had seen Lieschen go into her bedroom for the night,

and had themselves gone to sleep with unclouded minds. From this

peaceful security they were startled early in the morning by the

appalling news of the calamity which had fallen on them.

Incredulous at first, as well they might be, and incapable of

believing in a ruin so unexpected and so overwhelming, they

imagined some mistake, asserting that Lieschen was in her own room.

Into that room they rushed, and there the undisturbed bed, and the

open window, but a few feet from the garden, silently and

pathetically disclosed the fatal truth. The bereaved parents

turned a revealing look upon each other's whitened faces, and then

slowly retired from the room, followed in affecting silence by the

others. Back into their own room they went. The father knelt

beside the bed, and, sobbing, prayed. The mother sat staring with

a stupefied stare, her lips faintly moving. In a short while the

flood of grief, awakened to a thorough consciousness, burst from

their laboring hearts. When the first paroxysms were over they

questioned others, and gave incoherent replies to the questions

addressed to them. From all which it resulted that Lieschen's

absence, though obviously voluntary, was wholly inexplicable to

them; and no clew whatever could be given as to the motives of the

crime. When these details became known, conjecture naturally

interpreted Lieschen's absence at night as an assignation. But

with whom? She was not known to have a lover. Her father, on

being questioned, passionately affirmed that she had none; she

loved no one but her parents, poor child! Her mother, on being

questioned, told the same story--adding, however, that about

seventeen months before, she had fancied that Lieschen was a little

disposed to favor Franz Kerkel, their shopman; but on being spoken

to on the subject with some seriousness, and warned of the distance

between them, she had laughed heartily at the idea, and since then

had treated Franz with so much indifference that only a week ago

she had drawn from her mother a reproof on the subject.



"I told her Franz was a good lad, though not good enough for her,

and that she ought to treat him kindly. But she said my lecture

had given her an alarm, lest Franz should have got the same maggot

into his head."



This was the story now passing through the curious crowds in every

street. After hearing it I had turned into a tobacconist's in the

Adlergrasse, to restock my cigar-case, and found there, as

everywhere, a group discussing the one topic of the hour. Herr

Fischer, the tobacconist, with a long porcelain pipe pendent from

his screwed-up lips, was solemnly listening to the particulars

volubly communicated by a stout Bavarian priest; while behind the

counter, in a corner, swiftly knitting, sat his wife, her black

bead-like eyes also fixed on the orator. Of course I was dragged

into the conversation. Instead of attending to commercial

interests, they looked upon me as the possible bearer of fresh

news. Nor was it without a secret satisfaction that I found I

could gratify them in that respect. They had not heard of Franz

Kerkel in the matter. No sooner had I told what I had heard than

the knitting-needles of the vivacious little woman were at once

suspended.



"Ach Je!" she exclaimed, "I see it all. He's the wretch!"



"Who?" we all simultaneously inquired.



"Who? Why, Kerkel, of course. If she changed, and treated him

with indifference, it was because she loved him; and he has

murdered the poor thing."



"How you run on, wife!" remonstrated Fischer; while the priest

shook a dubious head.



"I tell you it is so. I'm positive."



"If she loved him."



"She did, I tell you. Trust a woman for seeing through such

things."



"Well, say she did," continued Fischer, "and I won't deny that it

may be so; but then that makes against the idea of his having done

her any harm."



"Don't tell me," retorted the convinced woman. "She loved him.

She went out to meet him in secret, and he murdered her--the

villain did. I'm as sure of it as if these eyes had seen him do

it."



The husband winked at us, as much as to say, "You hear these

women!" and the priest and I endeavored to reason her out of her

illogical position. But she was immovable. Kerkel had murdered

her; she knew it; she couldn't tell why, but she knew it. Perhaps

he was jealous, who knows? At any rate, he ought to be arrested.



And by twelve o'clock, as I said, a new rumor ran through the

crowd, which seemed to confirm the little woman in her rash logic.

Kerkel had been arrested, and a waistcoat stained with blood had

been found in his room! By half-past twelve the rumor ran that he

had confessed the crime. This, however, proved on inquiry to be

the hasty anticipation of public indignation. He had been

arrested; the waistcoat had been found: so much was authentic; and

the suspicions gathered ominously over him.



When first Frau Fischer had started the suggestion it flew like

wildfire. Then people suddenly noticed, as very surprising, that

Kerkel had not that day made his appearance at the shop. His

absence had not been noticed in the tumult of grief and inquiry;

but it became suddenly invested with a dreadful significance, now

that it was rumored that he had been Lieschen's lover. Of all men

he would be the most affected by the tragic news; of all men he

would have been the first to tender sympathy and aid to the

afflicted parents, and the most clamorous in the search for the

undiscovered culprit. Yet, while all Nuremberg was crowding round

the house of sorrow, which was also his house of business, he alone

remained away. This naturally pointed suspicion at him. When the

messengers had gone to seek him, his mother refused them admission,

declaring in incoherent phrases, betraying great agitation, that

her son was gone distracted with grief and could see no one. On

this it was determined to order his arrest. The police went, the

house was searched, and the waistcoat found.



The testimony of the girl who lived as servant in Kerkel's house

was also criminatory. She deposed that on the night in question

she awoke about half-past eleven with a violent toothache; she was

certain as to the hour, because she heard the clock afterwards

strike twelve. She felt some alarm at hearing voices in the rooms

at an hour when her mistress and young master must long ago have

gone to bed; but as the voices were seemingly in quiet

conversation, her alarm subsided, and she concluded that instead of

having gone to bed her mistress was still up. In her pain she

heard the door gently open, and then she heard footsteps in the

garden. This surprised her very much. She couldn't think what the

young master could want going out at that hour. She became

terrified without knowing exactly at what. Fear quite drove away

the toothache, which had not since returned. After lying there

quaking for some time, again she heard footsteps in the garden; the

door opened and closed gently; voices were heard; and she at last

distinctly heard her mistress say, "Be a man, Franz. Good-night--

sleep well;" upon which Franz replied in a tone of great agony,

"There's no chance of sleep for me." Then all was silent. Next

morning her mistress seemed "very queer." Her young master went

out very early, but soon came back again; and there were dreadful

scenes going on in his room, as she heard, but she didn't know what

it was all about. She heard of the murder from a neighbor, but

never thought of its having any particular interest for Mr. Franz,

though, of course, he would be very sorry for the Lehfeldts.



The facts testified to by the servant, especially the going out at

that late hour, and the "dreadful scenes" of the morning, seemed to

bear but one interpretation. Moreover, she identified the

waistcoat as the one worn by Franz on the day preceding the fatal

night.





III



THE ACCUSED





Now at last the pent-up wrath found a vent. From the distracting

condition of wandering uncertain suspicion, it had been recalled

into the glad security of individual hate. Although up to this

time Kerkel had borne an exemplary reputation, it was now

remembered that he had always been of a morose and violent temper,

a hypocrite in religion, a selfish sensualist. Several sagacious

critics had long "seen through him"; others had "never liked him";

others had wondered how it was he kept his place so long in

Lehfeldt's shop. Poor fellow! his life and actions, like those of

every one else when illuminated by a light thrown back upon them,

seemed so conspicuously despicable, although when illuminated in

their own light they had seemed innocent enough. His mother's

frantic protestations of her son's innocence--her assertions that

Franz loved Lieschen more than his own soul--only served to envelop

her in the silent accusation of being an accomplice, or at least of

being an accessory after the fact.



I cannot say why it was, but I did not share the universal belief.

The logic seemed to me forced; the evidence trivial. On first

hearing of Kerkel's arrest, I eagerly questioned my informant

respecting his personal appearance; and on hearing that he was

fair, with blue eyes and flaxen hair, my conviction of his

innocence was fixed. Looking back on these days, I am often amused

at this characteristic of my constructive imagination. While

rejecting the disjointed logic of the mob, which interpreted his

guilt, I was myself deluded by a logic infinitely less rational.

Had Kerkel been dark, with dark eyes and beard, I should probably

have sworn to his guilt, simply because the idea of that stranger

had firmly fixed itself in my mind.



All that afternoon, and all the next day, the busy hum of voices

was raised by the one topic of commanding interest. Kerkel had

been examined. He at once admitted that a secret betrothal had for

some time existed between him and Lieschen. They had been led to

take this improper step by fear of her parents, who, had the

attachment been discovered, would, it was thought, have separated

them for ever. Herr Lehfeldt's sternness, no less than his

superior position, seemed an invincible obstacle, and the good

mother, although doting upon her only daughter, was led by the very

intensity of her affection to form ambitious hopes of her

daughter's future. It was barely possible that some turn in events

might one day yield an opening for their consent; but meanwhile

prudence dictated secrecy, in order to avert the most pressing

danger, that of separation.



And so the pretty Lieschen, with feminine instinct of ruse, had

affected to treat her lover with indifference; and to compensate

him and herself for this restraint, she had been in the habit of

escaping from home once or twice a week, and spending a delicious

hour or two at night in the company of her lover and his mother.

Kerkel and his mother lived in a cottage a little way outside the

town. Lehfeldt's shop stood not many yards from the archway. Now,

as in Nuremberg no one was abroad after ten o'clock, except a few

loungers at the cafes and beer-houses, and these were only to be

met inside the town, not outside it, Lieschen ran extremely little

risk of being observed in her rapid transit from her father's to

her lover's house. Nor, indeed, had she ever met anyone in the

course of these visits.



On the fatal night Lieschen was expected at the cottage. Mother

and son waited at first hopefully, then anxiously, at last with

some vague uneasiness at her non-appearance. It was now a quarter

past eleven--nearly an hour later than her usual time. They

occasionally went to the door to look for her; then they walked a

few yards down the road, as if to catch an earlier glimpse of her

advancing steps. But in vain. The half-hour struck. They came

back into the cottage, discussing the various probabilities of

delay. Three-quarters struck. Perhaps she had been detected;

perhaps she was ill; perhaps--but this was his mother's suggestion,

and took little hold of him--there had been visitors who had stayed

later than usual, and Lieschen, finding the night so advanced, had

postponed her visit to the morrow. Franz, who interpreted

Lieschen's feelings by his own, was assured that no postponement of

a voluntary kind was credible of her. Twelve o'clock struck.

Again Franz went out into the road, and walked nearly up to the

archway; he returned with heavy sadness and foreboding at his

heart, reluctantly admitting that now all hope of seeing her that

night was over. That night? Poor sorrowing heart, the night was

to be eternal! The anguish of the desolate "never more" was

awaiting him.



There is something intensely pathetic in being thus, as it were,

spectators of a tragic drama which is being acted on two separate

stages at once--the dreadful link of connection, which is unseen to

the separate actors, being only too vividly seen by the spectators.

It was with some interest that I, who believed in Kerkel's

innocence, heard this story; and in imagination followed its

unfolding stage. He went to bed, not, as may be expected, to

sleep; tossing restlessly in feverish agitation, conjuring up many

imaginary terrors--but all of them trifles compared with the dread

reality which he was so soon to face. He pictured her weeping--and

she was lying dead on the cold pavement of the dark archway. He

saw her in agitated eloquence pleading with offended parents--and

she was removed for ever from all agitations, with the peace of

death upon her young face.



At an early hour he started, that he might put an end to his

suspense. He had not yet reached the archway before the shattering

news burst upon him. From that moment he remembered nothing. But

his mother described his ghastly agitation, as, throwing himself

upon her neck, he told her, through dreadful sobs, the calamity

which had fallen. She did her best to comfort him; but he grew

wilder and wilder, and rolled upon the ground in the agony of an

immeasurable despair. She trembled for his reason and his life.

And when the messengers came to seek him, she spoke but the simple

truth in saying that he was like one distracted. Yet no sooner had

a glimpse of light dawned on him that some vague suspicion rested

on him in reference to the murder, than he started up, flung away

his agitation, and, with a calmness which was awful, answered every

question, and seemed nerved for every trial. From that moment not

a sob escaped him until, in the narrative of the night's events, he

came to that part which told of the sudden disclosure of his

bereavement. And the simple, straightforward manner in which he

told this tale, with a face entirely bloodless, and eyes that

seemed to have withdrawn all their light inwards, made a great

impression on the audience, which was heightened into sympathy when

the final sob, breaking through the forced calmness, told of the

agony which was eating its fiery way through the heart.



The story was not only plausible in itself, but accurately tallied

with what before had seemed like the criminating evidence of the

maid; tallied, moreover, precisely as to time, which would hardly

have been the case had the story been an invention. As to the

waistcoat which had figured so conspicuously in all the rumors, it

appeared that suspicion had monstrously exaggerated the facts.

Instead of a waistcoat plashed with blood--as popular imagination

pictured it--it was a gray waistcoat, with one spot and a slight

smear of blood, which admitted of a very simple explanation. Three

days before, Franz had cut his left hand in cutting some bread; and

to this the maid testified, because she was present when the

accident occurred. He had not noticed that his waistcoat was

marked by it until the next day, and had forgotten to wash out the

stains.



People outside shook skeptical heads at this story of the cut hand.

The bloody waistcoat was not to be disposed of in that easy way.

It had fixed itself too strongly in their imagination. Indeed, my

belief is that even could they have seen the waistcoat, its

insignificant marks would have appeared murderous patches to their

eyes. I had seen it, and my report was listened to with ill-

concealed disbelief, when not with open protestation. And when

Kerkel was discharged as free from all suspicion, there was a low

growl of disappointed wrath heard from numerous groups.



This may sympathetically be understood by whomsoever remembers the

painful uneasiness of the mind under a great stress of excitement

with no definite issue. The lust for a vengeance, demanded by the

aroused sensibilities of compassion, makes men credulous in their

impatience; they easily believe anyone is guilty, because they feel

an imperious need for fastening the guilt upon some definite head.

Few verdicts of "Not Guilty" are well received, unless another

victim is at hand upon whom the verdict of guilty is likely to

fall. It was demonstrable to all judicial minds that Kerkel was

wholly, pathetically innocent. In a few days this gradually became

clear to the majority, but at first it was resisted as an attempt

to balk justice; and to the last there were some obstinate

doubters, who shook their heads mysteriously, and said, with a

certain incisiveness, "Somebody must have done it; I should very

much like to know who."



Suspicion once more was drifting aimlessly. None had pointed in

any new direction. No mention of anyone whom I could identify with

the stranger had yet been made; but, although silent on the

subject, I kept firm in my conviction, and I sometimes laughed at

the pertinacity with which I scrutinized the face of every man I

met, if he happened to have a black beard; and as black beards are

excessively common, my curiosity, though never gratified, was never

allowed repose.



Meanwhile Lieschen's funeral had been emphatically a public

mourning. Nay, so great was the emotion, that it almost deadened

the interest which otherwise would have been so powerful, in the

news now daily reaching us from Paris. Blood had flowed upon her

streets--in consequence of that pistol-shot, which, either by

accident or criminal intent, had converted the demonstration before

the hotel of the Minister of Foreign Affairs into an insurrection.

Paris had risen; barricades were erected. The troops were under

arms. This was agitating news.



Such is the solidarity of all European nations, and so quick are

all to vibrate in unison with the vibrations of each, that events

like those transacted in Paris necessarily stirred every city, no

matter how remote, nor politically how secure. And it says much

for the intense interest excited by the Lehfeldt tragedy that

Nuremberg was capable of sustaining that interest even amid the

tremendous pressure of the February Revolution. It is true that

Nuremberg is at all times somewhat sequestered from the great

movements of the day, following slowly in the rear of great waves;

it is true, moreover, that some politicians showed remarkable

eagerness in canvassing the characters and hopes of Louis Philippe

and Guizot; but although such events would at another period have

formed the universal interest, the impenetrable mystery hanging

over Lieschen's death threw the Revolution into the background of

their thoughts. If when a storm is raging over the dreary

moorland, a human cry of suffering is heard at the door, at once

the thunders and the tumult sink into insignificance, and are not

even heard by the ear which is pierced with the feeble human voice:

the grandeurs of storm and tempest, the uproar of surging seas, the

clamorous wail of sea-birds amid the volleying artillery of heaven,

in vain assail the ear that has once caught even the distant cry of

a human agony, or serve only as scenical accompaniments to the

tragedy which is foreshadowed by that cry. And so it was amid the

uproar of 1848. A kingdom was in convulsions; but here, at our

door, a young girl had been murdered, and two hearths made

desolate. Rumors continued to fly about. The assassin was always

about to be discovered; but he remained shrouded in impenetrable

darkness. A remark made by Bourgonef struck me much. Our host,

Zum Bayerischen Hof, one day announced with great satisfaction that

he had himself heard from the syndic that the police were on the

traces of the assassin.



"I am sorry to hear it," said Bourgonef.



The guests paused from eating, and looked at him with astonishment.



"It is a proof," he added, "that even the police now give it up as

hopeless. I always notice that whenever the police are said to be

on the traces the malefactor is never tracked. When they are on

his traces they wisely say nothing about it; they allow it to be

believed that they are baffled, in order to lull their victim into

a dangerous security. When they know themselves to be baffled,

there is no danger in quieting the public mind, and saving their

own credit, by announcing that they are about to be successful."





IV



A DISCOVERY





Bourgonef's remark had been but too sagacious. The police were

hoplessly baffled. In all such cases possible success depends upon

the initial suggestion either of a motive which leads to a

suspicion of the person, or of some person which leads to a

suspicion of the motive. Once set suspicion on the right track,

and evidence is suddenly alight in all quarters. But, unhappily,

in the present case there was no assignable motive, no shadow

darkening any person.



An episode now came to our knowledge in which Bourgonef manifested

an unusual depth of interest. I was led to notice this interest,

because it had seemed to me that in the crime itself, and the

discussions which arose out of it, he shared but little of the

universal excitement. I do not mean that he was indifferent--by no

means; but the horror of the crime did not seem to fascinate his

imagination as it fascinated ours. He could talk quite as readily

of other things, and far more readily of the French affairs. But

on the contrary, in this new episode he showed peculiar interest.

It appeared that Lehfeldt, moved, perhaps, partly by a sense of the

injustice which had been done to Kerkel in even suspecting him of

the crime, and in submitting him to an examination more poignantly

affecting to him under such circumstances than a public trial would

have been under others; and moved partly by the sense that

Lieschen's love had practically drawn Kerkel within the family--for

her choice of him as a husband had made him morally, if not

legally, a son-in-law; and moved partly by the sense of loneliness

which had now settled on their childless home,--Lehfeldt had in the

most pathetic and considerate terms begged Kerkel to take the place

of his adopted son, and become joint partner with him in the

business. This, however, Kerkel had gently yet firmly declined.

He averred that he felt no injury, though great pain had been

inflicted on him by the examination. He himself in such a case

would not have shrunk from demanding that his own brother should be

tried, under suspicions of similar urgency. It was simple justice

that all who were suspected should be examined; justice also to

them that they might for ever clear themselves of doubtful

appearances. But for the rest, while he felt his old affectionate

respect for his master, he could recognize no claim to be removed

from his present position. Had she lived, said the heartbroken

youth, he would gladly have consented to accept any fortune which

her love might bestow, because he felt that his own love and the

devotion of a life might repay it. But there was nothing now that

he could give in exchange. For his services he was amply paid; his

feelings towards Lieschen's parents must continue what they had

ever been. In vain Lehfeldt pleaded, in vain many friends argued.

Franz remained respectfully firm in his refusal.



This, as I said, interested Bourgonef immensely. He seemed to

enter completely into the minds of the sorrowing, pleading parents,

and the sorrowing, denying lover. He appreciated and expounded

their motives with a subtlety and delicacy of perception which

surprised and delighted me. It showed the refinement of his moral

nature. But, at the same time, it rendered his minor degree of

interest in the other episodes of the story, those which had a more

direct and overpowering appeal to the heart, a greater paradox.



Human nature is troubled in the presence of all mystery which has

not by long familiarity lost its power of soliciting attention; and

for my own part, I have always been uneasy in the presence of moral

problems. Puzzled by the contradictions which I noticed in

Bourgonef, I tried to discover whether he had any general

repugnance to stories of crimes, or any special repugnance to

murders, or, finally, any strange repugnance to this particular

case now everywhere discussed. And it is not a little remarkable

that during three separate interviews, in the course of which I

severally, and as I thought artfully, introduced these topics,

making them seem to arise naturally out of the suggestion of our

talk, I totally failed to arrive at any distinct conclusion. I was

afraid to put the direct question: Do you not share the common

feeling of interest in criminal stories? This question would

doubtless have elicited a categorical reply; but somehow, the

consciousness of an arriere-pensee made me shrink from putting such

a question.



Reflecting on this indifference on a special point, and on the

numerous manifestations I had noticed of his sensibility, I came at

last to the conclusion that he must be a man of tender heart, whose

delicate sensibilities easily shrank from the horrible under every

form; and no more permitted him to dwell unnecessarily upon painful

facts, than they permit imaginative minds to dwell on the details

of an operation.



I had not long settled this in my mind before an accident suddenly

threw a lurid light upon many details noticed previously, and

painfully revived that inexplicable repulsion with which I had at

first regarded him. A new suspicion filled my mind, or rather, let

me say, a distinct shape was impressed upon many fluctuating

suspicions. It scarcely admitted of argument, and at times seemed

preposterous, nevertheless it persisted. The mind which in broad

daylight assents to all that can be alleged against the absurdities

of the belief in apparitions, will often acknowledge the dim

terrors of darkness and loneliness--terrors at possibilities of

supernatural visitations. In like manner, in the clear daylight of

reason I could see the absurdity of my suspicion, but the vague

stirrings of feeling remained unsilenced. I was haunted by the dim

horrors of a possibility.



Thus it arose. We were both going to Munich, and Bourgonef had

shortened his contemplated stay at Nuremberg that he might have the

pleasure of accompanying me; adding also that he, too, should be

glad to reach Munich, not only for its art, but for its greater

command of papers and intelligence respecting what was then going

on in France. On the night preceding the morning of our departure,

I was seated in his room, smoking and discussing as usual, while

Ivan, his servant, packed up his things in two large portmanteaus.



Ivan was a serf who spoke no word of any language but his own.

Although of a brutal, almost idiotic type, he was loudly eulogized

by his master as the model of fidelity and usefulness. Bourgonef

treated him with gentleness, though with a certain imperiousness;

much as one might treat a savage mastiff which it was necessary to

dominate without exasperating. He more than once spoke of Ivan as

a living satire on physiognomists and phrenologists; and as I am a

phrenologist, I listened with some incredulity.



"Look at him," he would say. "Observe the low, retreating brow,

the flat face, the surly mouth, the broad base of the head, and the

huge bull-like neck. Would not anyone say Ivan was as destructive

as a panther, as tenacious as a bull-dog, as brutal as a bull? Yet

he is the gentlest of sluggish creatures, and as tender-hearted as

a girl! That thick-set muscular frame shrouds a hare's heart. He

is so faithful and so attached that I believe for me he would risk

his life; but on no account could you get him to place himself in

danger on his own account. Part of his love for me is gratitude

for having rescued him from the conscription: the dangers incident

to a military life had no charm for him!"



Now, although Bourgonef, who was not a phrenologist, might be

convinced of the absence of ferocious instincts in Ivan, to me, as

a phrenologist, the statement was eminently incredible. All the

appearances of his manner were such as to confirm his master's

opinion. He was quiet, even tender in his attentions. But the

tyrannous influence of ideas and physical impressions cannot be set

aside; and no evidence would permanently have kept down my distrust

of this man. When women shriek at the sight of a gun, it is in

vain that you solemnly assure them that the gun is not loaded. "I

don't know," they reply,--"at any rate, I don't like it." I was

much in this attitude with regard to Ivan. He might be harmless.

I didn't know that; what I did know was--that I didn't like his

looks.



On this night he was moving noiselessly about the room, employed in

packing. Bourgonef's talk rambled over the old themes; and I

thought I had never before met with one of my own age whose society

was so perfectly delightful. He was not so conspicuously my

superior on all points that I felt the restraints inevitably

imposed by superiority; yet he was in many respects sufficiently

above me in knowledge and power to make me eager to have his assent

to my views where we differed, and to have him enlighten me where I

knew myself to be weak.



In the very moment of my most cordial admiration came a shock.

Ivan, on passing from one part of the room to the other, caught his

foot in the strap of the portmanteau and fell. The small wooden

box, something of a glove-box, which he held in his hand at the

time, fell on the floor, and falling over, discharged its contents

close to Bourgonef's feet. The objects which caught my eyes were

several pairs of gloves, a rouge-pot and hare's foot, and a black

beard!



By what caprice of imagination was it that the sight of this false

beard lying at Bourgonef's feet thrilled me with horror? In one

lightning-flash I beheld the archway--the stranger with the

startled eyes--this stranger no longer unknown to me, but too

fatally recognized as Bourgonef--and at his feet the murdered girl!



Moved by what subtle springs of suggestion I know not, but there

before me stood that dreadful vision, seen in a lurid light, but

seen as clearly as if the actual presence of the objects were

obtruding itself upon my eyes. In the inexpressible horror of this

vision my heart seemed clutched with an icy hand.



Fortunately Bourgonef's attention was called away from me. He

spoke angrily some short sentence, which of course was in Russian,

and therefore unintelligible to me. He then stooped, and picking

up the rouge-pot, held it towards me with his melancholy smile. He

was very red in the face; but that may have been either anger or

the effect of sudden stooping. "I see you are surprised at these

masquerading follies," he said in a tone which, though low, was

perfectly calm. "You must not suppose that I beautify my sallow

cheeks on ordinary occasions."



He then quietly handed the pot to Ivan, who replaced it with the

gloves and the beard in the box; and after making an inquiry which

sounded like a growl, to which Bourgonef answered negatively, he

continued his packing.



Bourgonef resumed his cigar and his argument as if nothing had

happened.



The vision had disappeared, but a confused mass of moving figures

took its place. My heart throbbed so violently that it seemed to

me as if its tumult must be heard by others. Yet my face must have

been tolerably calm, since Bourgonef made no comment on it.



I answered his remarks in vague fragments, for, in truth, my

thoughts were flying from conjecture to conjecture. I remembered

that the stranger had a florid complexion; was this rouge? It is

true that I fancied the stranger carried a walking-stick in his

right hand; if so, this was enough to crush all suspicions of his

identity with Bourgonef; but then I was rather hazy on this point,

and probably did not observe a walking-stick.



After a while my inattention struck him, and looking at me with

some concern, he inquired if there was anything the matter. I

pleaded a colic, which I attributed to the imprudence of having

indulged in sauerkraut at dinner. He advised me to take a little

brandy; but, affecting a fresh access of pain, I bade him good-

night. He hoped I should be all right on the morrow--if not, he

added, we can postpone our journey till the day after.



Once in my own room I bolted the door, and sat down on the edge of

the bed in a tumult of excitement.





V



FLUCTUATIONS





Alone with my thoughts, and capable of pursuing conjectures and

conclusions without external interruption, I quickly exhausted all

the hypothetical possibilities of the case, and, from having

started with the idea that Bourgonef was the assassin, I came at

last to the more sensible conclusion that I was a constructive

blockhead. My suspicions were simply outrageous in their defect of

evidence, and could never for one moment have seemed otherwise to

any imagination less riotously active than mine.



I bathed my heated head, undressed myself, and got into bed,

considering what I should say to the police when I went next

morning to communicate my suspicions. And it is worthy of remark,

as well as somewhat ludicrously self-betraying, that no sooner did

I mentally see myself in the presence of the police, and was thus

forced to confront my suspicions with some appearance of evidence,

than the whole fabric of my vision rattled to the ground. What had

I to say to the police? Simply that, on the evening of the night

when Lieschen was murdered, I had passed in a public thoroughfare a

man whom I could not identify, but who as I could not help

fancying, seemed to recognize me. This man, I had persuaded

myself, was the murderer; for which persuasion I was unable to

adduce a tittle of evidence. It was uncolored by the remotest

possibility. It was truly and simply the suggestion of my vagrant

fancy, which had mysteriously settled itself into a conviction; and

having thus capriciously identified the stranger with Lieschen's

murderer, I now, upon evidence quite as preposterous, identified

Bourgonef with the stranger.



The folly became apparent even to myself. If Bourgonef had in his

possession a rouge-pot and false beard, I could not but acknowledge

that he made no attempt to conceal them, nor had he manifested any

confusion on their appearance. He had quietly characterized them

as masquerading follies. Moreover, I now began to remember

distinctly that the stranger did carry a walking-stick in his right

hand; and as Bourgonef had lost his right arm, that settled the

point.



Into such complications, would the tricks of imagination lead me!

I blushed mentally, and resolved to let it serve as a lesson in

future. It is needless, however, to say that the lesson was lost,

as such lessons always are lost; a strong tendency in any direction

soon disregards all the teachings of experience. I am still not

the less the victim of my constructive imagination, because I have

frequently had to be ashamed of its vagaries.



The next morning I awoke with a lighter breast, rejoicing in the

caution which had delayed me from any rash manifestation of

suspicions now seen to be absurd. I smiled as the thought arose:

what if this suspected stranger should also be pestered by an

active imagination, and should entertain similar suspicions of me?

He must have seen in my eyes the look of recognition which I saw in

his. On hearing of the murder, our meeting may also have recurred

to him; and his suspicions would have this color, wanting to mine,

that I happen to inherit with my Italian blood a somewhat truculent

appearance, which has gained for me among my friends the playful

sobriquet of "the brigand."



Anxious to atone at once for my folly, and to remove from my mind

any misgiving--if it existed--at my quitting him so soon after the

disclosures of the masquerading details, I went to Bourgonef as

soon as I was dressed and proposed a ramble till the diligence

started for Munich. He was sympathetic in his inquiries about my

colic, which I assured him had quite passed away, and out we went.

The sharp morning air of March made us walk briskly, and gave a

pleasant animation to our thoughts. As he discussed the acts of

the provisional government, so wise, temperate, and energetic, the

fervor and generosity of his sentiments stood out in such striking

contrast with the deed I had last night recklessly imputed to him

that I felt deeply ashamed, and was nearly carried away by mingled

admiration and self-reproach to confess the absurd vagrancy of my

thoughts and humbly ask his pardon. But you can understand the

reluctance at a confession so insulting to him, so degrading to me.

It is at all times difficult to tell a man, face to face, eye to

eye, the evil you have thought of him, unless the recklessness of

anger seizes on it as a weapon with which to strike; and I had now

so completely unsaid to myself all that I once had thought of evil,

that to put it in words seemed a gratuitous injury to me and insult

to him.



A day or two after our arrival in Munich a reaction began steadily

to set in. Ashamed as I was of my suspicions, I could not

altogether banish from my mind the incident which had awakened

them. The image of that false beard would mingle with my thoughts.

I was vaguely uncomfortable at the idea of Bourgonef's carrying

about with him obvious materials of disguise. In itself this would

have had little significance; but coupled with the fact that his

devoted servant was--in spite of all Bourgonef's eulogies--

repulsively ferocious in aspect, capable, as I could not help

believing, of any brutality,--the suggestion was unpleasant. You

will understand that having emphatically acquitted Bourgonef in my

mind, I did not again distinctly charge him with any complicity in

the mysterious murder; on the contrary, I should indignantly have

repelled such a thought; but the uneasy sense of some mystery about

him, coupled with the accessories of disguise, and the aspect of

the servant, gave rise to dim, shadowy forebodings which ever and

anon passed across my mind.



Did it ever occur to you, reader, to reflect on the depths of

deceit which lie still and dark even in the honestest minds?

Society reposes on a thin crust of convention, underneath which lie

fathomless possibilities of crime, and consequently suspicions of

crime. Friendship, however close and dear, is not free from its

reserves, unspoken beliefs, more or less suppressed opinions. The

man whom you would indignantly defend against any accusation

brought by another, so confident are you in his unshakable

integrity, you may yourself momentarily suspect of crimes far

exceeding those which you repudiate. Indeed, I have known

sagacious men hold that perfect frankness in expressing the

thoughts is a sure sign of imperfect friendship; something is

always suppressed; and it is not he who loves you that "tells you

candidly what he thinks" of your person, your pretensions, your

children, or your poems. Perfect candor is dictated by envy, or

some other unfriendly feeling, making friendship a stalking-horse,

under cover of which it shoots the arrow which will rankle.

Friendship is candid only when the candor is urgent--meant to avert

impending danger or to rectify an error. The candor which is an

impertinence never springs from friendship. Love is sympathetic.



I do not, of course, mean to intimate that my feeling for Bourgonef

was of that deep kind which justifies the name of friendship. I

only want to say that in our social relations we are constantly

hiding from each other, under the smiles and courtesies of friendly

interest, thoughts which, if expressed, would destroy all possible

communion--and that, nevertheless, we are not insincere in our

smiles and courtesies; and therefore there is nothing paradoxical

in my having felt great admiration for Bourgonef, and great

pleasure in his society, while all the time there was deep down in

the recesses of my thoughts an uneasy sense of a dark mystery which

possibly connected him with a dreadful crime.



This feeling was roused into greater activity by an incident which

now occurred. One morning I went to Bourgonef's room, which was at

some distance from mine on the same floor, intending to propose a

visit to the sculpture at the Glyptothek. To my surprise I found

Ivan the serf standing before the closed door. He looked at me

like a mastiff about to spring; and intimated by significant

gestures that I was not allowed to enter the room. Concluding that

his master was occupied in some way, and desired not to be

disturbed, I merely signified by a nod that my visit was of no

consequence, and went out. On returning about an hour afterwards I

saw Ivan putting three pink letters into the letter-box of the

hotel. I attached no significance to this very ordinary fact at

the time, but went up to my room and began writing my letters, one

of which was to my lawyer, sending him an important receipt. The

dinner-bell sounded before I had half finished this letter; but I

wrote on, determined to have done with it at once, in case the

afternoon should offer any expedition with Bourgonef.



At dinner he quietly intimated that Ivan had informed him of my

visit, and apologized for not having been able to see me. I, of

course, assured





As Told By Mr Gryce By The Waters Of Paradise facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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