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WANDA

HI.



NEW NOVELS AT EVERY LIBRARY,

Each in Three Vohnnes.

HEART AND SCIENCE, By Wilkie Collins.
THE CAPTAINS' ROOM. By Walter Besant.
WOMEN ARE STRANGE. By F. W. Robinson.
OF HIGH DEGREE. By Charles Gibbon.
THE GOLDEN SHAFT. By Charles Gibbon.
KIT : a Memory. By James Payn.
VAL STRANGE. By David Christie Murray.
REGIMENTAL LEGENDS. By J. S. Winter.
GIDEON FLEYCE. By Henry W. Lucy.
DUST : a Story. By Julian Hawthorne.
SELF-CONDEMNED, By Mrs. Alfred Hunt.

CHATTO &= WIND US, PICCADILLY, W.



WANDA



BY

OUIDA



' Dock ! — alies -was efazu jiiick trieb ;
Gottl—ivar so gut, tic/r, war so lieb!' Goethe




IN THREE VOLUMES
VOL. III.

CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY

1883



\.All rights reserved'^



LONDON : PRINTED BY

SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE

AND PARLIAMENT STREET







WANDA.



CHAPTER XXIX.




HEX they came home from their
tour amidst the mines of Gahcia
and the plains of Hungary, and
from their reception amongst
the adoring townsfolk of restored Idrac, the
autumn was far advanced, and the lonfj rains
and tlie wild winds of October had risen,
making of every brook a torrent.

On their return she found intelli^"ence from
Paris that a friend of her father's, and her
own godfather, the Due de Noira, had died,
bequeathing her his gallery of pictures, and
his art collection of the eighteenth century, ^

VOL. III. B






■1 WAKDA.

Avliich were botli famous. Tlie Due liad been a
Legitimist and a hermit. lie had been unmarried ,
and had spent all tlie latter years of his life in
amassintr treasures of art, for which he had no
heir of his own blood to care a jot. The bequest
was a very precious one, and lier presence in
Paris was requestecL Regretful ibr herself to
leave Hohenszalras, she perceived that to Sabran
the tidings were welcome. Moved by an un. •
sellish impulse slie said at once :

' Go alone ; go instead of me ; 5'Our presence
will be the same as mine. Paris will amuse you
more if you are by yourself, and you will be so
liappy amongst all those Lancrets and Frago-
nards, those Eeiseiners and Gauthieres. The
collection is a marvel, but entirely of the Beau
Siecle. You never saw it ? No ! I think the
Due never opened his doors to anyone save to
lialf a dozen old tried fiiends, and he had a
horror of turning his salons into show-rooms.
If you think well, we will leave it all as it is,
buvinsf the house if we can. All that eighteenth
century hiheloterie would not suit this place,
and I should like to keep it all as he kept it ;
that is the only true respect to show to a
legacy.'

Sabran hesitated ; he was tempted, yet he
was half reluctant to yield to the temptation.
He felt that he would willingly be by himself



jrj\j>A. 3

awhile, yet he loved his wife too passionately
to quit her without pain. His own conscience
made her presence at times oppress and trouble
him, yet he had never lost the Jialf-religious
adoration with which she had first inspired
him. He suggested a compromise — Avhy should
the}^ not winter in Paris ?

She was about to dissent, for of all seasons
in the Tauern she loved the winter best ; but
^•:hen she looked at him she saw such eaji'er
anticipation on his face that she suppressed
her own wishes unuttered.

' We will go, if you like,' she said, without
any hesitation or reluctance visible. ' I dare
say we can find some pretty house. Aunt Ottilie
will be pleased; there is nothing here which
cannot do Avithout us for a time, Ave have such
trusty stewards ; only 1 think it would be more
change for you if you went alone.'

' No ! ' he said ; ' separation is a sort of
death ; do not let ns tempt fate by it. Life is
so short at its longest ; it is ingratitude to lose
an hour that we can spend together.'

' There was never such a lover since
Petrarca,' she said, with a smile. ' Nay, you
eclipse him : he was never tried by marriage.'

But thoughs he jested at it, his great love
for her seemed like a beautiful light about her
life. "Wliat did his state-secret matter ? What

B 2



4 n'A^'DA.

did it matter what cause had led hiin to
avoid pohtical life? — he loved her so well.

The following month they were in Paris,
having found an hotel in the Boulevard St,
Germain, standing in a great sunny garden ;
and when they were fairly installed there, the
Princess and the children and the horses fol-
lowed them, and their arrival made an event
of great interest and importance in the city
which of all others in the world it is hardest
thus to impress.

The Countess von Szalras, a notability always,
was celebrated just then as the inheritress of
the coveted Noira collection, which it had
been fondly hoped would have gone to the
hammer : and Sabrau, popular always, and not
forgotten here, where most things and people
are forgotten in a week, was courted, flattered,
and welcomed by men and by women ; and
as he rode down the Allee des Acacias, or
entered the Mirlitons, he felt himself at home.
His beautiful wife, his beautiful children, his
incomparable horses, his marvellous good fortune
were the talk of all those who had already
left their country-houses for the winter rentree^
and attained a publicity, beginning w^ith the
great Szalras pearls and ending with the
babies' w^hite donkeys, which was the greatest
of all possible offences to her; she abhorred and



WANDA. 6

contemned publicity with the sensitiveness of
a flehcate temper and the contempt of a scorii-
fiil patrician.

To Sabran it was not so offensive ; tliere
was the Slav in him, which loved display,
and was not ill-pleased by notoriety. All this
admiration around them made him feel that
his life after all had been a great success, that
he had drawn prizes in the lottery of fate which
all men envied him ; it helped him to forget
Egon Vasarhely. He had never so nearly felt
affection for Bela as when lines of men and
women stood still to watch the handsome child
gallop on his j)ony down the avenues of the Bois.

' Life is after all like baccara or billiards,'
he said to himself. ' It is of no use winning un-
less there be a galerie to look on and applaud.'

And then he felt ashamed of the poorness
and triviality of the thought, which was not
one he would have expressed to his wife.
That very morning, when she had read a long
flattery of herself in a journal of fashion, she
had cast the sheet from her with disgust on
every line of her face.

'We are safe from that, at least, in the
Iselthal,' she had said. ' Cannot you make
them understand that we are not public artists
to need reclames, nor yet sovereigns to be
compelled to submit to the microscope.^ Is



6 IFANDA.

this the nieanhig of civihsatioii — to make
privacy impossible, to obhge every one to Hve
imder a lens ? '

He had aflected to agree witJi lier, but in
his heart he had not done so. He liked the
fumes of the incense. So dkl his child.

' They will put this in the papers ! ' said
Bela, when the snow came and he had his
sledge out for the first time with four little
Hungarian ponies.

' That is the poison of cities ! ' said Wanda,
as she heard him. ' Who can have been so
foolish as to tell him of the papers ? '

' Your heir, my dear, will never want for
reporters of any flattery,' said his father. ' It
is as well he should run the gauntlet of them
early.'

Bela listened, and said to his brother a little
later : ' I like Paris. Paris prints everything
we do, and the people read the print, and then
they want to see us.'

' What good is that ? ' said Gela. ' I like
home. They all of them know us ; they don't
want to see us. That is much better.'

' No, it isn't,' said Bela. ' One drives all
day long at home, and there is nothing but
the trees ; here the trees are all people, and
the people talk of us, and the people want to
he us.'



WANDA. 7

' But they love us at home,' said Gela.

' That does not matter,' said Bela with
hauteur.

Wanda called the children to her.

' Bela,' she said gently, ' do you know that
once, not so very long ago, there was a little
boy here in Paris very mucli like you, with
golden liair and velvet coat like yours, and lie
w^as called tlie Dauphin, and when he went out
with his servants, as you do, tlie people envied
him, and talked of him, and put in print what
he did each day ? The people wanted to be
him, as you say, but they did not love him —
poor little child ! — because they envied him so.
And in a very little while — a very, very httle
while — because it was envy and not love, tiiey
put the Dauphin in prison, and they cut off his
golden hair, and gave him nothing but bread
and water and filthy straw, and locked him up
all alone till he died. That is the use of beino-

CI?

envied in Paris — or anywhere else. Gela is
right. It is better Avhen people love us.'

The next day, as Bela drove in his sledge
down the white avenues through the staring
crowds, his little fair face was very grave under
its curls ; he thought of the Daupliin.

When the weather opened, Wanda took
Iiim and his brotlier to Versailles and Trianon,
and told them more of that saddest of all



8 WAMJA.

earthly histories of fallen greatness. Gela
sobbed aloud ; Bela was silent and grew pale.

' I hate Paris,' he said very slowly, as they
went back to it in the red close of the wintry
afternoon.

' Do not hate Paris. Do not hate anything
or anyone,' said his mother softly ; ' but love
your own home and your own people, and be
grateful for them.'

Bela lifted his little cap and made the sign
of the Cross, as he did when he saw anything
holy. ' I am the Dauphin at home,' he thought ;
and he felt the tears in his eyes, though he
never would cry as Gela did.

So she gave them her simples as antidotes
to the city's poison, and occupied herself with
her children, with the poor around her, with the
various details of her distant estates, and paid
but little heed to that artificial world which,
when she heeded it, offended and irritated her.
To please Sabran she went to a few great
houses and to the opera, and gave many enter-
tainments herself, happy that he was happy
in it, but not otherwise interested in the life
around her, or moved by the homage of it.

'It is much more my jcAvels than it is
myself that they stare at,' she assured him,
when he told her of the admiration which she
elicited wherever she appeared. ' Believe me,



JVAyDA. 9

if you put my pearls or my diamonds on
Mdme. Chose or Baroness Niemand, they would
gather and gaze quite as much.'

He laughed.

' Last night I think you wore no ornaments
except a few tea-roses, and I saw them follow
you just the same. It is very odd that you
never seem to understand that you are a
beautiful woman.'

' I am glad to be so in your eyes, if I never
shall be in my own. As for tliat popularity of
society, it never commended itself to me. It
has too strong a savour of the mob.'

' Wlien you are so proud to the world why
are you so humble to me ? '

She was silent a moment, then said :

' I think when one loves any other very
much, one becomes for him altogether unlike
what one is to the world. As for being proud,
I have never fairly made out whether my pride
is humility or my humihty pride, and none of
my confessors have ever been able to tell me.
I assure you I have searched my heart in vain.'

A shadow passed over his face ; he tliought
that there even would be pride enough to
send him out for ever from her side if she
knew

One day she suggested to him that he
should visit Romaris.



10 WAyDA.

' Now YOU are near for so lono- a time,
surely you sliould go,' she urged. ' It is not
well never to see your poor people. The
priest is a good man, indeed; but he cannot
altogether make up for your absence.'

He answered with some irritation that they
were not liis people. All the land had been
parcelled out, and nothing remained to the
nam6 of Sabran except a strip of the sea-shore
and one old half ruined tower : he could not
see that he had any duties or obligations there.
She did not insist, because she never pursued
a theme which appeared unwelcome ; but in
herself she wondered at the dislike which was
in him towards his Breton hamlet, wondered
that he did not wdsh one of his sons to bear its
title, wondered that he did not desire the chil-
dren to see once, at least, the sea-nest of his
forefathers. It was more effort to her than
usual to restrain herself from pressing questions
upon him. But she did forbear ; and as a
consolation to her conscience sent to the Cure
of Eomaris a sum of money for the poor,
which was so large that it astounded and be-
wildered the holy man by the weight of
responsibility it laid on him.

The indifference shocked her the more be-
cause of the profound conviction, in wliich she
had been reared, of the duties of the noble to



WAXDA. 11

his poorer brethren, and the ties of mutual
affection which bound together her and lier
people's interests.

' The weapon of our order against the
Socialist is duty,' she had once said to him.

lie, more sceptical, had told her that no
weapon, not even that anointed one, can turn
aside the devilish hate of envy. But she held
to her creed, and strove to rear her children in
its tenets. It always seemed to her that the
Cross before which the fiend shrinks cowering
in 'Faust' is but a symbol of the power of a
noble life to force even hatred to its knees.

She did not care for this season in Paris,
but she did not let him perceive any dissatis-
faction in her. She made her own interests
out of the arts and charity ; she bought the
Hotel Noira, and left everything as the Due
had left it ; she found pleasure in intercourse
with her royal exiled friends, and left hei- hus-
band his own entire liberty of action.

'Are you never jealous?' said her royal
friend to her once, ' He is so nnich liked — so
much made love to — I Avonder you are not
jealous !'

' I ? ' she eclioed : and it seemed to her
friend as if in that one pronoun she had said
volumes, ' Jealous ! '

She repeated the word as she drove liome



12



WANDA.



alone that day, and almost wondered what it
meant. Who could be to him what she was ?
Who could dethrone her from that 'great white
throne ' to which his adoration had raised her?
If his senses ever strayed, his soul would never
swerve from its loyalty.

When she reached home that afternoon she
found a card, on which was written with a
pencil, in German :

' So sorry not to find you. I am in Paris
to see my doctor. Zdenka has taken my
service at Court. I will come to you to-
morrow.'

The card was Mdme. Braucka's.






CHAPTEE XXX.

?ABRAN, that same afternoon, as he
had walked down the Eue de la
Paix, had been signalled and
stopped by a pretty woman wrap-
ped to the eyes in blue fox furs, who was
being driven in a low carriage by Hungarian
horses, glorious in silver chains and trappings.

'My dear Rene,' had cried Mdnie. Olga,
' do you not know me, that you compel me
to flourish my parasol? Yes: I am come to
Paris. My sister-in-law, Zdenka, will do my
waiting. I wanted to consult my pliysician ; I
am very unwell, though you look so incredu-
lous. So Wanda has all the Noira collection ?
What a fortunate woman she is. The eighteenth
century is the least suited to her taste. She
will heartily despise all tliose shepherdesses en



panier and those smiling deities on lacquer.
How could the Due leave such frivolities to so
serious a person ? What is her doubled rose-
leaf amidst all her good luck ? She must have
one. I suppose it is you ? Well, you will fmd
me at home in an hour. I am only a stone's
throw from your liotel. Have you brought all
the homespun virtues with you from Hohen-
szalras ? I am afraid they will wither in the
air of the boulevards. Au reuoir!'

And then she had laughed a<zain and kissed
her fmger-tips to him. and driven away wrapped
up in her shining furs, and he was coiiscious
of a stinging sense of excitement, annoyance,
pleasure, and confusion, as if he had drunk some
irritant and heady wine.

He had gone on to his clubs with au
uneasy sense of something perilous and dis-
tasteful having come into his life, yet also with
a consciousness of a certain zest added to the
seductions of this his favourite city. He did
not go to the Hotel Brancka in the next hour,
and was sensible of having to exercise a cer-
tain control over himself to refrain from
doing so.

' Did you know that Olga was in. Paris ? '
she said, in some surprise, to him when they
met in the evening.

' I believe she arrived this morning,' he



WAXJJA. 15

answered, with a certain effort. ' I met her an
hour or two ago. She came imexpectedly ;
she had not e\'en told her servants to open her
hoteL'

' Is Stefan with her ? '

' 1 beheve not.'

' But surely it is her term of waiting in
Vienna ? '

He g;ave a gesture of indifference.

' I believed it was. I think it was. She
will be sure to write to you this evening, so
she said. We cannot escape her, you see ;
she is our fate.'

' We can go back to Hohenszalras.'

' That would be too absurd. We cannot
spend our lives rimning away from Mdme.
Brancka. We have a hundred engagements
here. Besides, vour Noira affair is not one
half settled as yet, and it is only now that
Paris is really agreeable. We will go back in
May, after Clnntilly.'

'As you like,' she said, with a smile of
ready acquiescence.

Slie was only there for his sake. She
would not spoil his contentment by showing
that she made a sacrifice. She was never
really happy away from her mountains, but she
did not Avish him to suspect that.

The Hotel Brancka was a cliarmino; little



ii; WAyjjA.

temple of luxury, ordered after the last mode,
and as phnpant as its mistress. It had rO'«t
enormous sums of money, and its walls had
been painted by famous artists with fantastic
:uid voluptuous subjects, wliich had not been
})aid for at the ])resent.

In finance, indeed, she was much like a
king of recent time, who never had any money
to give, but always said to his mistresses, ' Order
whatever you like ; the Civil List will always
pay my bills; She had never any money, but
she knew that her brother-in-law, like the
king's ministers, would always pay her bills.

' One expects to hear the " Decamerone "
read here,' said Wanda, with some disdain, as
she glanced around her on her first visit.

' At Hohenszalras one would never dare to
read anything but the " Imitationis Christi," '
said Mdme. Olga, with contempt of another
sort.

The little hotel was but a few streets
distance off their own grand and spacious
residence, which had undergone scarcely any
chano'e since the davs of Louis XV. They
saw the Coimtess Lrancka veiy often, could
not choose but see her when she chose, and
that was almost perpetually.

He had honestly, and even intensely, de-
sired not to be subjected to her vicinity.



WAXDA. 17

But it was difficult to resist its seduction when
she lived within a few yards of him, when
she met him at every turn, wlien the changing
scenes of society were like those of a kaleido-
scope, always composed of the same pieces.
The closeness of her relationship to his wife
made an avoidance of her, which would
have been easy with a mere acquaintance,
wholly out of possibility. She pleaded her
' poverty ' very prettily, as a plea to borrow
their riding-horses, use their boxes at the Opera
and the Theatre Frangais, and be constantly,
under one pretext or another, seeking their
advice. Wanda, who knew the enormous
extravagance of both the Branckas, and the
inroads which their debts made on even the
magnificent fortunes of Egon Vasarhely, had
not as much patience as usual in her before
these plaintive pretences.

' Wanda me boude,' said Mdme. Brancka,
v/ith touching reproachfulness, and sought a
refuge and a confidant in the sympathy of
Sabran, which was not given very cordially,
yet could not be altogether refused. Not only
were they in the same world, but slie made a
thousand claims on their friendship, on their
relationship. Stefan Brancka was in Hungar3\
She wanted Sabran's advice about her horses,
about her tradespeople, about her disputes

VOL. III. C



IS U'JXDA.

M'itli the ailiyts wlio luul decorated lier house ;
she sent; for him \vithoiit ceremony, and, Avith
insistence, made liim ride Avith her, drive with
her. dance with her, made him take her to see
certain diversions which were not wholly fitted
for a woman of her rank, and so rapidly and
imperceptibly gained ascendency over him that
before making any engagement he involuntarily
paused to learn wliether she had any claim on
his time. It caused his wife the same vague
impatience wdiich she had felt when Olga
Brancka had persisted in going out with him
on hunting excursions at home. But she
thrust away her observation of it as unworthy
of lier.

' If she tii-e him,' she thought, ' he will
very soon put her aside.'

But he did not do so.

Once she said to him, with a little irony,
'You do not dislike Olga so very much now ? '
and to her surprise he coloured and answered
quickly, ' 1 am not sure that I do not hate
her.'

' She certainly does not hate you,' said
Wanda, a little contemptuously.

'Who knows?' he said gloomily; 'who
could ever be sure of anything Avith a woman
like that ? '



WANDA. 11)

' Mutability has a charm for some persons,'
said his wife, with an irritation for wliich she
desi)ised herseh'.

' Xot for me,' said Sabran, quickl3\ ' My
opinion of Mdme. Olga is precisely what it
has always been.'

' Are you very sincere to her, then ? ' said
Wanda, and as she spoke, regretted it. Wluit
was Olo-a Brancka that she should for a mo-
ment bring any shadow of dissension between
them ?

' Sincere ! ' he echoed, witli a certain embar-
rassment. ' Who would she expect to be so ?
I told yon once before tliat you pay her in a
coin of which she could not decipher the
superscription ! '

Wanda smiled, but she was pained by his
tone. ' You are not the hrst man, I suppose,
who amuses himself with wliat he despises,'
she answered. ' But I do not tliink it is a very
noble sport, or a very healthy one. Forgive
me, dear, if I seem to preach to you.'

' Preach on for ever, my beloved divine.
You can never weary me,' said Sabran, and he
stooped and kissed her.

She did not retm-n his caress.

That day as she drove with the Princess in
the Bois, Bela and Gela facing her, she saw

c 2



20 WANDA.

him in the side alley riding with the Countess
Brancka, A physical pain seemed to contract
her heart for a moment.

' Olga is very accaparante,' said the Princess,
perceiving them also. ' Not content with bor-
rowing your Arabs, slie must have your hus-
band also as her cavalier.'

' If she amuse him I am her debtor.' said
Wanda, very calmly.

' Amuse ! Can a man who has lived with
you be amused by her ? '

' I am not amusing,' said his wife, with a
smile which was not mirthful. ' Men are like
Bela and Gela ; they cannot always be serious.'

Then she told her coachman to leave the
Bois and drive out into the country. She did
not care to meet those riders at every turn in
the avenues.

' My dear Eene,' said the Princess, when
she happened to see him alone. ' Can you
find no one in all Paris to divert yourself with
except Stefan Brancka's wife ? I thought you
disliked her.'

Sabran hesitated.

' She is related to us,' he said a little feebly,
' One sees her of necessity a hundred times a
week.'

' For our misfortune,' said the Princess,
sententiously. ' But she is not altogether friend-



WANDA. 21

less in Paris. Can she find no one but you to
ride with her ? '

' Has Wanda been complaining to youP '
' My dear Marquis,' replied Mdme. Ottilie,
Avith dignity. ' Your wife is not a person to
complain ; you must understand her singularly
little after all, if you suppose that. But I think,
if you would calculate the hours you have of
late passed in Mdme. Brancka's society, you
would be surprised to see how large a sum
they make up of your time. It is not for me
to presume to dictate to you ; you are your
own master, of course : only I do not think that
Olga Brancka, whom I have known from her
childhood, is worth a single half-hour's annoy-
ance to Wanda.'

Sabran rose, and his Ups parted to speak,
but he hesitated what to say, and the Princess,


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