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ROMAN had a dream that night, Sleep! sleep is only for the innoone of those intensely vivid dreams cent, the guiltless. Could Cain which only come to us in fever. go to sleep after having killed his He was in a boat, the blue water brother? And is he not his brodancing all round him in the re- ther's murderer just as much as if flected glory of the summer sky. he had stabbed him with a dagger ? Bright dragon-flies are hovering on Felicyan is not asleep now, for in the surface, and swift-winged swal- Siberia it is day, not night. He lows passing to and fro, then a is working in the mines perhaps, branch of hawthorn, and now he
and his chains rattle as he moves is falling — falling-falling-into —those chains that have now bethe, water. Who will save him ? come an actual part of his personFelicyan ! Felicyan!
ality, as inseparable from him as Then the scene changes : he is his bones or flesh, never to be lying on the bank, safe, quite safe, taken off, no more to be laid aside and his brother is kneeling beside henceforth till the releaser Death him, weeping tears of joy at his
Felicyan is yet in the rescue, and calling him his little prime of manhood, and in tenRoman. But how is this? It is twenty-thirty years, perhaps, he Felicyan himself who is lying on will still be toiling in Siberia, still the grass now, stiff and rigid, and wearing those chains ! beside him there kneels a black- Is it not all a hideous nightsmith with a file. He has come to mare? Can it indeed be possible remove the irons ; dead men do not that
born of require fetters. But no, he is not should be doomed to a fate so dead ; he moves, the iron links cruel, so inhuman?
“And yet he rattle against each other. He too had a mother!” A mother rises to his feet, and now it is he who had brought him into the who calls out, “Roman, save me ! world with pain and suffering, Roman, save me!” and the chains who had been proud of her firstgo on rattling-rattling.
born, had smiled at his first smile Roman sat up in bed, bathed in and wept at his first tear. cold perspiration. He is awake The mother is dead long since, now, but how is it that he still she has been spared the anguish seems to hear the rattling sound of knowing the fate of her child ; of iron chains in the room? Ah! but the wife-that other woman it is only the wind shaking the who is bone of his bone and flesh casement. He had forgotten to of his flesh—she is alive. She is close the shutter which swings young and strong, -strong enough backwards and_forwards on its
to feel with keen intensity every rusty hinge. It is still night, agonising detail in the tragedy of and he must go to sleep again. her life; young enough to drag on
for years the weight of this un- took out the weapon and ran his natural widowhood.
fingers along its cold bright muzzle The wind was rising higher; the of polished steel. How simple, shutter creaking to and fro on its how easy, what a natural solution hinge made a grating sound intoler- of all doubts and difficulties! It able to bear. In his overwrought required but a slight movement, a nervous state it gave Roman a mere mechanical action of the finfeeling almost of physical pain, gers, and then all would be over,akin to the touch of a rough hand forgetfulness-oblivion—peace. on a raw flesh wound.
Ay, but what then? What obHe got up and fastened the bolt ject would be gained by the sacrisecurely. No more rattling now, fice of his life ? Biruta had been but would he be able to sleep? right in saying that the situation Could he ever sleep again? Oh would be unaltered even were he for a sleeping-draught that would to blow out his brains. Felicyan give him oblivion, forgetfulness for would still be in Siberia, Hala still a few hours at least ! Yet what broken-hearted. To kill himself would that avail him? The wak- would be the act of a selfish coward, ing must come again, and with the affording relief to himself only. first dawn of consciousness he must With a sigh he laid down the resume the burden of remorse of weapon. which he would never more be free. Was there, indeed, no way out Had he not his chains to wear as of this labyrinth of misery? Must well as Felicyan? And were they he suffer remorse to the end of his not infinitely more unbearable than days? And yet what other course those, because they were of his own was left to him ? Could he have forging? Every one envied the acted otherwise than he had done ? handsome successful Captain Staro. No, certainly. His conscience, his wolski, yet he wondered whether, common-sense told him that, as a in the whole length and breadth of German officer, he could not betray the German empire, there existed his Government. So long as he a more wretched man than him- wore that uniform he was bound
to make subservient to duty all He poured out a glass of water private considerations. from a carafe, and drank it eagerly. Would this pain in the head ever
So long as he wore that uniform.
IIe repeated the words several His eye now fell upon a brown times over, mechanically at first, leather case that lay on the table then with dawning comprehension, near the water-carafe. His revol- as though discovering therein à
Yes, here was the sleeping- new meaning—a hidden sense not draught close to his hand ! Ile previously apparent.
“A beast that wants discourse of reason. "-11amlet.
One morning, about a fortnight official-looking document. He was after that visit to the picture- reading it over as he walked down gallery, Roman came out of the the pavement, then having folded German war oflice, in hand a large and securely placed it in the breast
pocket of his uniform coat, he the landing, that a door at the hailed a passing droske.
farther end of the passage was The lines about his mouth were flung open, and the Countess herdrawn and hard-set, and he looked self, in a loose morning robe of like a man who has just passed dark-blue velvet, came out to inthrough a mortal illness, but his vestigate the cause of the tumult. voice was quite steady as he gave It needed but a glance to take in the order to drive to the hotel the situation. where Countess Massalowska “Why do you not catch him ?” lodged.
she asked imperiously of the asThe hotel porter was not in his sembled waiters. loge as Roman entered, and he No one answered, but the passed in unnoticed and up the wounded man held out his bleedprincipal staircase.
Here a con- ing arm. fused hubbub of voices reached Countess Massalowska looked his ear, and he paused on the first at it with indifference. landing on seeing a group of rather “Gogo only bites people who scared-looking individuals all talk- are afraid of him,” she said coldly. ing in evident excitement, and “Will no one fetch him down from pointing to something on the top there? Ten marks to the of a high oak press that stood in who goes up the ladder.” the corridor. A waiter, napkin Thus encouraged, the boots in hand, was engaged in stanch- began to ascend, but the savage ing the blood that flowed from a growl with which Gogo prepared wound in the right arm. A timor- to greet him ere he had mounted ous traveller peeped cautiously out half the rungs caused him to beat from his rooms in order to see a hasty retreat. what it was all about, then hastily " Cowards !” exclaimed Biruta, closed and bolted the door. There in her clear ringing voice, that was a general sound of hurrying always reminded Roman of a silver footsteps and a distant shrieking clarion; “shame on you all to be chorus of hysterical female voices. afraid of a mere cub! He is as All ladies lodging in the same harmless and as playful as a kitten hotel, and not the ladies only, to any one who understands him.” were terrified on learning that the Some audible grumbling from savage-looking bear-cub belonging the German menials. They were to the handsome Polish Countess not accustomed to be called cowhad broken its chain, and was loose ards, nor were they used to play about the premises. It had severe- with such formidable kittens as ly bitten two men who had tried this one. to capture it, and had now taken Countess Massalowska, seeing refuge on the top of a high ward- that there was nothing to be done robe whence it defied its besiegers. here, now addressed herself directly A ladder had been fetched and to the rebellious bear. placed against the wall alongside, “Gogo,” she said imperiously, but no one felt much inclined to come down this instant." ascend it. The formidable row of The cub only growled and showed teeth which Gogo was freely dis- its teeth anew. closing did not make the prospect “Gogo !” she repeated in an inviting one.
louder key this time, keeping her It was at this juncture of affairs, large grey eyes immovably fixed and just as Roman had reached on the animal.
Gogo stopped growling, and heavy blue velvet folds swept the began to look sheepishly uncom- ground behind her. fortable. He tried to avoid her Biruta had not once glanced eye, but could not manage to look towards the staircase, whence Roaway, compelled apparently by man, screened by the group in some magnetic force that he was front, had been spectator of the powerless to resist.
When she had called him for Had she chanced to look around, the third time, the bear drooped the conclusion of this tale might his head utterly vanquished, and even then have been a different began slowly to descend, holding one. on with teeth and claws to the The waiters gaped and stared a uneven surface of the wood, letting little, then crestfallenly they wanhimself glide down one of the dered off to their respective emtwisted columns that flanked the ployments. The wounded man bepress on either side.
In the next took himself to the nearest waterminute he had touched the floor, tap to bathe his lacerated arm. and crawled to her feet with an Roman remained standing alone abject expression of fawning sub- at the head of the stairs in deep mission.
thought. He had made a moveCountess Massalowska admin- ment as though to follow Biruta, istered a careless box on the furry then checked himself. ears of her favourite by way of “Better not,” he muttered bitcastigation; then laying hold of terly; “if I see her again my the dangling end of broken chain, resolve will melt away like moonshe disappeared down the corridor shine. I should be forced to obey dragging the sulky cub, while the her as that cub did just now.”
« Thus with the year
The year was drawing to a close, ditional national dish of blest and nature had sunk into winter cutial on Christmas Eve; not a torpor. But the brightness gone housewife but is gravely absorbed from the earth has taken refuge in devising the menu of the Viglia elsewhere, and the genial warmth supper. of the domestic hearth replaces the At Stara-Wola only there are vanished sunshine. A pleasurable no such signs of joyful activity bustle animates each household at this year. Christmas here will come this season, for it wants but few and go unnoticed and unfelt; or if days of Christmas. High and low
High and low remembered at all, its celebration prepare to celebrate the anniver- will be but additional pain, from sary of the Saviour's birth. Not a the contrast evoked with former Polish hovel but will have its tra- happy years.
1 Polish Christmas dish composed of corn, honey, and poppy-seeds.
A death-like stillness has settled in some months, years perhaps, or over the place; even the outward perhaps never, the young girl appearance
of the house seems sometimes feared with a sinking changed, weighed down as it were heart, as she watched her sister's by a sense of brooding misfortune. fixed and stony face, and the unNo laughing children's faces appear quiet way in which she wandered at the window; the house door from room to room, as though seeknever opens to admit a visitor now; ing for rest everywhere, and finddeep snow lies undisturbed up to ing it nowhere. Often, too, at the very threshold, for of the many night Hala would rise abruptly, gay sledges with tinkling bells that and, exchanging her bed for the big scour the country at this season, saloon, pace up and down the floor not one will venture into the gates till daybreak, with the feverish of Stara-Wola. Rabowski himself mechanical motion of a caged wild knows that he has nothing here to animal. expect, and heaves a regretful sigh She is walking there just now, for the good things of the past, as in the gathering twilight of the he drives past the low white house December afternoon. The sun has that, standing by the frozen river, but lately gone down behind the resembles a gigantic coffin, watched pine-wood belt across the river, over by the gaunt frowning spec- but within the room there is stilí tres of bare oak-trees.
sufficient light to distinguish the And inside the house there is pictures on the wall, and the rescarcely more life than without. flection of Hala’s figure as she The servants go about their work paces to and fro, casting her in apathetic silence. The last fly image into each of the two dingy has long since been gathered to its mirrors alternately. forefathers; the very dogs seem to She is in deep mourning, as behave forgotten how to bark; the fits a widow; her dress is black, children shrink away from their black as was her hair a little while mother, who never speaks to them ago. The hair is no longer black, now or smiles,—whose eyes have but grey, almost white,-in startgrown so large, so sad, so strange- ling contrast to the dark eyes and looking
straight jetty brows. Soon it will The whole care of the household have lost all trace of its original had now devolved upon Luba, and colour, and never, never again will perbaps it was as well that a mer- any one remark on the likeness ciful Providence enabled her to between the sisters. drown her own sorrow in active In the feeling of secure possesemployment. Seeing her sister a sion of calm conjugal happiness, prey to grief that was threatening Hala had never even contemplated to unhinge her mind, Luba was the possibility of losing her husforced to take upon herself the band. She had thought, as many duties the other was incapable of another happy woman has done fulfilling. She had long since re- before her, that death was not for linquished all attempt at active such perfectly healthy, perfectly consolation, recognising its futility. happy people as herself and FelicResignation, softness, submission yan. It was to her mind hardly to the inevitable, and a healthy re- even a remote contingency; at any awakened interest in her children, rate, something which she need not all that now remained to her—these begin to think of for many, many might perhaps come in the future, years to come.