STORIES BY AMERICAN AUTHORS,
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THE SPIDER'S EYE
BY LUCRETIA P. HALE
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER
BY FRANCES HODiSOS BURNETT
Br QEORQE PARSONS LATHROP
P90R OGLA MOGA
8* DAVID D. LLOYD
A MEMORABLE MURDER
BY CEUA THAXTER
ft BRANDER MATTHEWS
CHARLES SCRIBNHR'S SONS
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
THE SPIDER'S EYE
BY LUCRETIA P. HALE
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER
BY FRANCES HODiSON BURNETT
BY GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP
P90R OGLA MOGA
BV DAVID D. LLOYD
A MEMORABLE MURDER
BY CELIA THAXTER
BY BRANDER MATTHEWS
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1884-1885, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
THE SPIDER'S EYE.
By LUCRETIA P. HALE.
THERE are whispering galleries, where, if the
ear is placed in a certain position, it takes in
the sound of the lowest whisper from the opposite
side of the room. But, to produce this effect, the
architecture of the apartment must be of a peculiar
nature, and, especially, the rules and laws of sound
must be observed.
I have often thought that, were one wise enough,
there might be found, in every room, a centre to
which all sound must converge. Nay, that per-
haps such a focus had already been discovered by
some one who has wished to appear wiser than his
neighbors, who has made use of some hitherto un-
known scientific fact, and has on any one occasion,
or on many occasions, thus made himself the centre
These ideas occurred to my mind when I arrived
the other night early at the theatre, and was for a
* Putnam t Magazine, July, $856.
6 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
time, literally, the only occupant of the house. I
fell to marvelling at the skill of the architect who
has been so successful in the acoustic arrangements
of this theatre. Not a sound, so it is said, is lost
from the stage upon any part of the house. The
lowest sob of a dying heroine, in her very last
agony, is heard as plainly by the occupant of the
back seat of the amphitheatre, as are the thunder-
ing denunciations of the tragic actor in the wildest
of gladiatorial scenes.
I wondered if this were one of those rules that
worked both ways ; if the stage performer, in a
moment of silent by-play, could hear the senti-
mental whisper of the belle in the box opposite, as
well as the noisy applause of the claqueur in the
front seat. If so, the audience might become, to
him, the peopled stage, filled with the varied and
Then if art can produce such effects upon what
we call an ethereal substance if the waves of air
can be compelled to carry their message only in
the directions in which it is taught to go what in-
fluence would such power have on more spiritual
media ? In other worlds, where it is not necessary
for thoughts to express themselves in words, but
where some more subtle power than that of air
conveys ideas from one being to another, it is pos-
sible that an inquiring being might place himself
at some central point where he might gather in all
the information that is afloat in such a spiritual
THE SPIDER'S EYE. ^
Full of these thoughts, and my head, perhaps, a
little bewildered by them, I passed unobserved
into the orchestra, and ensconced myself in a little
niche under the music-desk of the leader. I was
surprised to find myself in a little cavity, from
which there were loop-holes of observation into
every part of the house, while there was a front
view of the stage when the curtain should be
raised. Seduced by the comfort of this little nook,
and my speculations not being of the liveliest nat-
ure, it is not to be wondered at that I fell into a
I was aroused presently by the baton of the
leader, struck with some force upon the desk over
my head. I was aware, at the same time, of a
whispering all around my ears, and an incessant
noise, like that of aspen leaves in a summer breeze,
which, in spite of its softness and delicacy, over-
powered the sound of the loud orchestra. - When I
was able to recover myself, I began to find that I had
indeed placed myself in the centre of the house ;
not in the centre of sound, but, if I may so express
myself, of sensation. I was not listening to the
conversations, but suddenly found myself the con-
fidant of the thoughts of all the occupants of this
well-filled house. I was lost in the multiplicity of
ideas that were poured in upon me, and endeav-
ored to concentrate myself upon one series of
thoughts. I looked through my loop holes, and
presently selected one group towards which I might
direct the opera-glass of my mental observation.
8 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
There sat the five Misses Seymour. We had
always distinguished them as the tall one, the
light haired one, the one who painted in oils, the
one who had been south, and the little one whom
nobody knew anything about. This individuality
had been our only guide after having engaged Miss
Seymour for a dance, and this was sufficient. The
one who painted in oils always refused to dance ;
the one who had been south spoke with an accent,
and said " chicken" and " fits/i," if the conversation
turned upon the bill of fare ; and the others were
distinguished by their personal appearance.
Now I felt anxious to discover more certainly
which was which. I found, presently, that instead
of contenting myself with the superficial layer of
thought over my mind, created by the circum-
stances in which they were placed, I was penetrat-
ing into what they really were. A few minutes
showed me what had been their occupations for the
day, and what were their plans for the next. I
saw, at once, all their regrets and ambitions.
It had been the day of Mrs. Jay's famous mat-
inee. I had not been at the reception, but Frank
Leslie had told me all about it, and that all the
Seymours were there ; and about Miss Seymour's
fainting. I knew Frank was in love with one of
the Miss Seymours, but I never had found out
which, and I was not sure that Frank himself knew.
How suddenly did these five characters, whom
before I had found it difficult to distinguish, stand
out now with differing features. I saw Aurelia*
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 9
that was the tall one enter the drawing-room
very stately in her beauty. No wonder that every
one had turned round to look at her ; to admire
her first, And then criticise her, because she seemed
so cold ana statue-like. But to-night she was
going over the whole scene in her thoughts. I
heard the throbbing of her heart as in memory she
was bringing back the morning's events. She had
refused to dance, because she was sure she should
not have the strength to go through a polka. She
had preferred to sink into a seat by the conserva-
tory, and upheld by the excitement of the music to
await the meeting.
Oh ! in this everyday world, where its repeated
succession of events is gone through with in com-
posure, how easy it is to control the wildest pas-
sions. A conventional smile and a stiff bow are
the draperies that veil the intensest unspoken emo-
tions. It was under this disguise that Miss Sey-
mour was to greet Gerald Lawson. He went to
Canton three years ago, and before he went she
had promised to marry him. She promised one
gay evening after " the German." She had been
carried away by the moment. Ever since, all
through the three years, she had been regretting it.
It was a secret engagement. The untold feeling
that had prompted it had never been aired, and
died very soon for want of earth and light. To
cold indifference for the man to whom she had
promised herself, had succeeded an absolute aver-
sion. What was worse, she loved another person.
10 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
Aurelia Seymour loved Frank ! This very morn-
ing the news had reached her that the Kumshan
was in from Canton. The passengers had arrived
last night ; she was to meet Gerald at Mrs. Jay's
Frank Leslie seated himself by her. She was in
the midst of a calm, cool conversation with him,
when she saw a little commotion in the other cor-
ner of the room. Every one was greeting Mr.
Lawson on his arriving home. He is making his
way through the crowd ; he comes to her, he
bows ; Aurelia smiles.
But this was not all. He asked her if she would
come into the conservatory. She had accompanied
him there. Half hid by the branches of a camellia-
tree all covered with white blossoms, she had said
coldly, " Gerald, I cannot marry you." But Ger-
ald had not received the word so coolly. He had
burst out into passion. First he had exclaimed in
wonder, next he could not believe her.
" Would she treat him so ungenerously ? Was
she a heartless flirt, a mere coquette ?"
He told over his love that had been growing
warmer all these three years ; of his ambition that
was to be crowned by her approval ; of his lately
gained wealth, valued only for her sake. Passion-
ate words they were, and full of intense feeling ;
but hidden by the camellia, restrained and kept
under from fear of observers. They were fre-
quently interrupted, too.
" Thank you ninety-nine days ; very quick pas-
THE SPIDER'S EYE. II
sage. Yes, I go back next week ; no, I stay at
home," were, with other sentences, thrown in, as
answers to the different questions of those who did
not know what they were interrupting.
But, at last, Aurelia broke away. Broke away !
No ; she accepted Middleton's proposal to go into
the coffee-room, and left Gerald beneath the
As I watched her from my loop-holes I could tell
that Aurelia was going over all this scene in her
mind. While her eyes were fixed upon the stage,
she recalled every word and gesture of Gerald's.
Yet, his reproaches, his just complaints, hardly
weighed upon her now. She was looking on the
vacant seat beside her, and wondering when Frank
would come to take it.
But " Lilly," the light-haired one, her thoughts
were rushing back to the wild, gay polkas of the
morning. Now by Aurelia's side, now away
again ; she had danced continually till the last mo-
ment, and when they came to tell her the carriage
was ready, and she must come away, she had
It was as she was going up stairs into the draw-
ing-room, just before she and her sisters made
their grand entree, that Lilly had heard that
" Cousin Joe" had not come home in the vessel
with Gerald Lawson. He had gone to Europe by
the overland route, and wild, mad fellow that he
was, had determined to join the Russian troops in
12 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
" And be shot there for his pains," Frank Leslie
Cousin Joe hadn't come home ! He didn't care
to come home ! He was going to be shot !
She could think of nothing else. She could not
keep still ; she could not talk placidly like the
rest ; she must dance, and dance wildly and pas-
But a moment of reaction came. When the last
strain of music had died away, all power of self-
control had died away, too. No wonder that she
had fainted ! More wonder that she could recover
herself ; could resist her mother's entreaties, after
all that dancing, to spare herself and stay from the
Here she was, outwardly lively and radiant, chat-
ting with Lieutenant Preston, inwardly chafed at
all this constraint, and wondering how it was
Cousin Joe could stay so long away.
By her side sat Annette. It was the report that
she had been sent south last winter to break up a
desperate flirtation she was carrying on. However
it was, I had always fancied Annette more than
either of the other sisters. She had apparently less
of our northern reserve, whether for good or evil,
than the rest. She said just what she was think-
ing ; danced when she liked ; was insolent when
To-night she seemed to me fretful. She was
angry with Lilly for talking with Lieutenant Pres-
ton ; and, indeed, I must not, in honor, reveal all I
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 13
read in Annette's mind. If I found there her opin-
ion of me ; if, on the whole, it lowered my opinion
of myself, I must take refuge in the old proverb,
" Eavesdroppers never hear any good of them-
But there was Angelina ; she was the one who
" painted in oils," and she attracted me more than
any of the others. There was about her an at-
mosphere of pleasure, within her an expression of
delight, that accounted for the really sunny gleam
upon her face. Something had made all the
day happy for her. In the morning she had
passed nearly all the time in Mrs. Jay's front
drawing-room. The fine masterpieces of art,
brought from Europe, make this apartment a true
picture-gallery. But Angelina's pleasure, artist
though she was, was not taken from the figures
upon the walls. She walked up and down the
room ; she lingered awhile in one of the deep
fauteuils ; she paused before the paintings with
Frank Leslie by her side. As she turned, at the
theatre, now and then to the vacant seat behind
her, next Aurelia's, her anticipation was not em-
bittered by anxiety ; she knew he would come in
time. Oh, Frank ! you did not tell me all that
took place at Mrs. Jay's !
But, from all these observations, my -thoughts
were turned back to the stage by the influence of
the little Sophie Seymour. She about whom we
knew nothing she was the only one of the party
entirely absorbed in the opera. Her eyes fixed
14 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
upon the stage ; her heart wrapt up in the intense
story that was being enacted ; her musical soul
throbbing with the glorious chords that swelled
out ; her whole being reflected the opera.
So I turned me to the stage. My eyes fell first
upon the substitute that the illness of Mademoiselle
required for the night. Just now she was
standing on one side, and as she drew her white
glove closer, her thoughts were going back to the
scenes of the day.
Oh ! what a little room she lived in ! She was
sitting in it when the message came from the
manager to summon her to sing to night ! Her
brother Frank was copying some music by her
side ; and now she is smiling at the recollection of
the conversation that had followed upon her ac-
cepting the manager's unexpected proposal.
She had hastened to get out her last concert
dress. It was new once but oh ! would it answer
now for the opera ?
Those very white kid gloves ! They had cost
her her dinner.
" Must I have new ones, Franz ?" she had asked.
" If there were only time to have an old pair
cleaned if, indeed, I have any left worth clean-
" Never mind," answered Franz, "it is worth
twenty dinners to have you hear the opera. I have
longed so every night to have you there, and to
have you on the stage ! my highest wishes are
granted. Oh ! Marie, when you make a great
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 15
point, I shall have to take my flute from my mouth
and cry bravo !"
" Oh, don't speak of the singing. It takes away
my breath to think of myself upon the stage !
How I waste my time over dress and gloves ! I
must practice ; I must be ready for the rehear-
" My poor Marie ! To-day, of all days, to go
" Don't think of it ! When the manager ' pays
up,' oh, then, Franz ! we'll have dinners. Only
part of the money must go to a new concert dress.
When my last was new, I overheard, as I left the
stage, a young girl saying, to her sister, I suppose,
' What an elegant dress ! ' I wanted to stop and
ask her if she thought it were worth going without
meat for a month."
And as Marie recalled these words to-night to
her mind, I saw her look up and smile as she glanced
over the house, and contrasted the showy dress she
wore with the poor home she had left behind.
What a poor home it was, indeed ! What a con-
trast did the gay dress she arranged for the even-
ing make with her room's poor adorning. The
dress she thrust quickly away, and had devoted
herself to the study of the music for evening.
With her brother's assistance, she had prepared
herself for the rehearsal, and had gone there with
The rehearsal was more alarming to her than the
thought of the evening performance. There were
1 6 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
the conductor's criticising eyes glaring at her ; the
unsympathizing glances of some of her stage com-
panions though many of them had come to her
with words of kindly encouragement ; there was
the silent, untenanted expanse of the theatre before
her none of the excitement of stage scenery, or
the brilliancy of light and tinsel ; and she must
force herself to think of her part, as a technical
study of music, all the time she felt she was un-
dergoing a severe criticism from Mademoiselle
's friends, who were comparing the new-
comer's voice with that of their own ally.
But her thoughts were not sad. There was in
her a gayety and strength of spirit that bore her up.
The brilliant scene gave her an excitement that
helped her to bear the thought of her everyday
trials. It had been hard to work all day, preparing
for the evening hard for the mind and body and
she had lately lived on poor fare, and wanted the
exercise upon which her physical constitution
should support itself. At once these troubles
were forgotten. Now was to come the duet with
the prima donna.
No timidity restrained her now. She felt, at the
moment, that her own voice was of worth only as
it harmonized with the leading one. She forgot
herself when she thought of that wonderful voice,
when once she found her own mingled in its won-
derful tones. Now she was supported by it
through the whole piece ; her own was subdued by
it, and at last she felt herself inspired by it ; it was
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 17
no longer herself singing ; she was carried away
by the power of another, and lifted above herself.
All applauded the magnificent music and har-
mony ; the bravo of Franz was for Marie alone.
At this time my interest was absorbed in my ob-
servation of the prima donna. I had perceived at
first how indifferently she had entered upon the
spirit of the music. Her companion had filled her
mind with the meaning of its composer, and was
striving to infuse into herself the interpretation that
the prima donna would give to its glorious strains.
But the soul of the prima donna was away. It
was in a heavily-curtained room, where there were
luxury and elegance. Here she had all day been
watching by the bedside of her sick child. She
had collected round it everything that money
could bring to soothe its sufferings. There were
flowers in the greatest profusion ; these were
trophies of her last night's success ; and on the
table by the bedside she had heaped up her brill-
iant, gorgeous jewels, for their varied and glow-
ing colors had served to amuse the child for a few
minutes. She had sung to him music, that crowds
would have collected to hear, had they been allow-
ed. Only to soothe him, all the golden tones of
her voice had poured out now dropping in thrill-
ing, sad melody, now in glad, happy, childish
Nothing through the day could put to rest that
one appeal, which now was echoing in her ears :
" Will nothing cool my throat br-my head burns !
l8 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
only a few drops of water !" Over all the tones
of the orchestra these words sounded and thrilled
so in her ears, that only mechanically could the
prima donna repeat the tones that were thrilling
all the hearts to which they came.
At last the power of her own voice conquered her-
self, too. In the closing cadences in those chords,
triumphant and faith-bringing for the moment
her own sorrows melted away, and the thought
of herself was lost in the inspiration of the grand,
majestic intonations to which she was giving ut-
terance. She was no longer a suffering woman ;
but her soul and her voice were sounding beneath
the touch of a great master-spirit, and giving out a
glowing music, compelled by its master-power.
What an enthusiasm ! what an excitement ! As
with the opera-singer on the stage, so with all the
audience ; all separate joy and grief, all individual
passions were swallowed up, and carried away by
this all-absorbing inspiration, and lost in its
For me, now, there was but one character to fol-
low. How grandly the stage-heroine went through
her part ! As if to crush all other emotion, she
flung herself into the character she was portraying,
and went through it wildly and passionately.
She overshadowed her little rival for Marie was
her rival, according to the plot of the opera now
threatening, now protecting her, as she was led on
by the spirit of the play. Marie shrunk before
her, or was inspired by her ; and her delicate, en-
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 19
treating figure helped the pathos of her voice.
Marie, by this time, had utterly lost herself in her
admiration of the great genius who was so impress-
ing her. She gave out her own voice as an offer-
ing to this great power. For its sake she would
have found it impossible to make any mistake in
her own singing, or do anything with her own
voice, but just place it at the service of her com-
panion, as a foil to her grand and glorious one.
When in the play the heroine gave up as she does
in the play her own life for the sake of her rival,
the act became more magnanimous and wondrous
as being performed for this little delicate Marie,
who shrank from so great a sacrifice.
The prima donna gained all the applause. In-
deed, it was right for it was her power that had
called out all that was great in her delicate rival.
It was she who had inspired her, and made her
forget herself and everything but the notes she
must give out, true and pure.
They were both called before the stage after the
grand closing scene ; or rather the prima donna
drew forward the retiring Marie. Shouts and peals
of enthusiasm greeted the queen of song. But her
moment of exaltation had passed away. Over and
over again she was repeating to herself, " Will
they never let me go home ? Perhaps he is dying
now he wants me I am too late !"
She was at the summit of her greatness ; but
oh ! it was painful to see her there to see how
she would have hushed all those wild, enthusiastic
20 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
shouts for the sake of one fresh childish tone ; how
she would have exchanged all those bursts of pas-
sion to make sure of a healthy throb in that child's
pulse. All this enthusiasm was not new to her.
It was part of her existence. It was a restraint
upon her now, but she could not have done with-
out it. It was the excitement which would serve
to sustain her through another night of watching.
Marie, too, was giving her meed of praise, as
she followed her across the stage. She did not
think of taking to herself one shout of the enthu-
siasm, any more than she would have thought of
appropriating one flower from the bouquets which
were showered before her. There was, indeed,
one share of the plaudits which belonged to her
entirely. This came from Franz for I recognized
him by his unruly stamping, and unrestrained ap-
plause. His thoughts were only for Marie ; he
was filled with pride at the manner in which she
bore herself at her simple carriage, and modest
demeanor. His praise was all for Marie. The
famous opera-singer, whom he had heard night
after night, was forgotten, in his pride for his little
I sank back into my niche. Varied figures float-
ed before me, and bewildered me.
I have often looked at spiders with deep interest.
It is said that their eyes are made up of many faces.
What a bewildering world, then, is presented to
their view ! It is no wonder that, as I have seen
them, they have appeared so irresolute in their
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 21
motions, darting here and there. A world of so
many faces stand around the spider, towards which
shall he turn his attention ? He lives, as it were,
in the middle of a kaleidoscope, where many fig-
ures are repeated, and form one great figure, and
each separate section is like its neighbor. Which
of these varied yet too similar pictures shall he
At least this is my idea of the sensations of a
spider ; but I am not enough of a naturalist to
say that it is correct. How is it ? When a fly
enters that web, which is divided into a symmetry
similar to that of the faces of a spider's eye, does
mine host, the spider, see twenty-five thousand
similar flies approaching, his organ of vision stand-
ing as the centre ? What a cosmorama there is