Adolphe Danziger.

Children of fate : a story of passion online

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Radzin's manner, took his arm and was led
away. A moment later the Countess, leading
Beatrice, came up, and as they came into full
view of the three men standing under the chan-
delier, the latter started as if moved by the same
impulse and looked at the two women with an as-
tonishment that bordered on amazement.

The Countess and Beatrice appeared like
mother and daughter, the latter a younger coun-
terpart of the former, but with a likeness so
strong that no one could possibly mistake it.

Howard Rosen was bewildered, but his mind
failed to solve the puzzle. The old Count seemed
seized with a sort of vertigo, and involuntarily
his hand caught Waldeck's. The latter, intoxi-
cated by the beautiful vision, asked :

"Who is she?"

The question broke the spell, but before any
of them could speak, the Countess de Lack intro-
duced Beatrice to her son, or rather him to her,
for she addressed herself to the girl, saying:

"Beatrice dear, permit me to introduce to you
my son, Waldeck."

Beatrice gave him her hand.



"I am glad to meet you. I have heard so
much about you that I feel as if I had known you
for a long time," she said.

"Let me hope, Miss Rosen, that you have
heard only what was good and that I may not
prove a disappointment," he said, thrilled by the
melody of her voice.

"That is not likely, for to-night's impression
is not the first," she said smilingly.

"How ?" asked Waldeck.

"I saw you once before."

"Where?" he cried.

"In Warsaw," she said, amused at his mysti-

"In Warsaw," he said, looking at her with in-
tense admiration, "it would have been impossible
for me not to have seen you unless you were hid-
den behind the curtains of your window or in a
closed carriage."

"Neither ; I was driving in the Lazienki Park ;
you were in a carriage with two other gentle-
men, and passed us on the way to the Botanical
Gardens," she said.

"Upon my word, that is so ; I remember ;
but "

He felt: almost pain in his regret at not having
seen her then. He would have given much to
have had this beautiful image in his mind.

"You were going to say," she said, looking up
to him.

"That I was held in thrall by the rhythm of
poetry. My friend, Joseph Horovitz, was com-


paring Mitchkievitch with Heine and he recited
the verses of both with such pathos that I saw
nothing and heard nothing but his voice and his
face. Joseph has a marvelous face and he is a

Beatrice had started at the mention of the
name. Her face flushed ; she felt as if the mys-
tery were to be solved at last.

"Did you say Joseph?" she asked.

"Yes, Professor Horovitz and his nephew,
Joseph Horovitz," he answered. "Do you know

"Oh, no ; but the name Joseph made me think
of my poor cousin for whom we have searched
far and wide. He and his mother disappeared
from Dobrzyn and all efforts to find them have
proved unsuccessful," she said.

"Is it not strange that you and I should be in-
terested in the name Joseph? for the Joseph I
know is my most intimate friend ; but he is quite
wealthy, so it can scarcely be your Joseph. I
could tell many an interesting story of my Jo-
seph. But they would hardly interest you," he

"If they are bad stories," she said smilingly,
"they would not interest me."

"Bad stories!" cried Waldeck, "the stories
about my friend are all good stories. I have al-
ready mentioned that he is a poet. To this I
must add that he is a scientist, a linguist, a phil-
osopher and a philanthropist."



"Is he all that?" she said, thinking that the
Count was exaggerating to olease her.

"He is all that and more," Waldeck rejoined.
"He haunts the sick wards of the hospitals. His
time, his money, and his skill are put at the ser-
vice of all Warsaw. It is a privilege to be his

And as he looked into her upturned face that
expressed the intensity with which she was lis-
tening, he felt a sudden pain in noting that the
interest he desired to concentrate upon himself
had by his eloquence been transferred to an-

"And his name is Joseph?" she asked with a
tenderness in her voice that augmented his pain.

"I wish I had not mentioned his name," said

"Why, pray?" she asked.

"Because you will grow interested in this Jo-
seph to the disadvantage of his friend," he re-

"You are selfish, Count," said Beatrice; "if I
had a friend who was as noble as your friend
Joseph I should never tire of praising him," she

"If he knew that I was saying as much as I
have he would feel hurt, for he is the most mod-
est of men. Many of those who live on his
bounty do not know the giver. He holds that
to put people under an obligation is to sow
the seed of hatred in their breasts, for of all
burdens the heaviest is that of enforced grati-


tude. Let us ennoble our work, he says, by not
exacting any toll for it. Let us lift up mankind
by cultivating their love and let us make them
grateful to God who feeds the birds and the
beasts of the field, and takes care of the creatures
His hand has made. Man does not feel gratitude
to be a burden when he takes a gift from his
Father in heaven. So you will understand, Miss
Rosen, that a man like that, thinking as he does,
cannot possibly desire open, or indeed any,

"From what I have heard of my cousin's
character," said Beatrice, "I am quite sure that
if he had large means, he would live and act as
your friend does. And here there is a large for-
tune waiting for him if he would only come and
take it. Oh, if we could find him !" she said, and
her eyes brimmed with tears.

"I wish I could be of assistance to you, Miss
Rosen," cried Waldeck.

"We have done all that earnest effort and
money can possibly do to find them, but they
seem lost," she said.

Waldeck's heart beat furiously ; he felt he was
in love with the girl. He gave no heed to the
complications that might arise if he declared
himself. He was intoxicated by her voice, her
beauty, her perfect grace, and he might have
spoken then if his mother had not interrupted by
asking him to take Beatrice to the table.

"They are not lost," he whispered as he led
her away, "I will find them for you."



She gave him a grateful look.

Baroness Levanovska, who sat at Waldeck's
right, tried to engage him in conversation, but all
his thoughts were with the American girl. His
preoccupation was not lost upon the Baroness.
An affront to Beatrice trembled on her lips.
Only respect for the girl's father, who reminded
her of Joseph, prevented her.

At length all was over, the dinner with its
speeches, the music, the theatricals conducted by
the village schoolmaster; all the little details
connected with an entertainment given by one
of the richest Polish magnates in honor of his
son an entertainment which this son in his
present condition was in no mind to appreciate;
all was at length done with, and the guests re-
turned to the great halls that were now arranged
for dancing.

The band played a Mazurka. In a moment
dozens of couples, flinging themselves into the
spirit of the rhythm, whirled round with a click-
ing of heels as they wove the circles of this fas-
cinating dance through the brilliantly lighted

Beatrice and Waldeck, too, danced, but only
for a few moments, and then sat down.

"I would rather not dance. It seems a sin to
be gay when my poor aunt and her son may be
in trouble," she said.

"You can do them no good by saddening your-
self," he said.

"I suppose not, and I think you are right, only


I happened to think of them. Well, tell me
something about yourself."

"Myself!" he said. "I have nothing to say
about myself. Just now I should best like to
talk to you about yourself. Do you believe in
spontaneity?" he asked abruptly.

"It depends upon what you mean by the
term," she replied.

"I mean spontaneous affection love at first

"I have read of such a thing and have heard it
spoken of; but as for having any belief in it, I
don't know what to say. It seems to me that
people could not love each other unless they had
known each other for a long time," she said.

"I can say nothing from experience either, for
I have never been in love. But it seems to me
that an intelligent person with quick wits and a
great capacity for emotion would know at once
if he really loved a woman or "

"That would be only momentary desire," she
broke in.

"Not necessarily. In love, as in all else, a be-
ginning must be made; and passionate natures,
seeing a diamond and desiring to possess it, use
all their energies to get it."

"But suppose they find the diamond to be only
paste?" she asked.

"The judgment of the heart is infallible and,"
he said, taking her hand they were in a niche
shaded by big plants "I know that I love you."

"No, no, Count, you must not say such things.



You frighten me. I did not think your words
pointed to me. Come, let us go."

Whatever more he might have said to further
his suit was hindered by the appearance of the
Countess, in whose train was a swarm of young
men eager to dance with the beautiful American.
Count Radzin boldly extended his arm to
Beatrice, and she, glad to get away from a situ-
ation that began to be uncomfortable, took the
Count's arm and was led away.

"How do you like her, my son?" asked the

Waldeck made no reply.


"Yes, dear," he answered, gazing at Beatrice
as she glided past them, the very incarnation of
grace and rhythm.

"My dear son, remember!"

"I cannot help it, mamma, I love her and I
shall love none other," he said.

"Ah, my poor child, I made you unhappy;
alas, you can never marry her, she is a Jewess."

"If' that be all, I shall not trouble; for either
she will turn Catholic or I shall take her faith.
But is it not strange I never thought of her re-
ligion while I spoke to her, and, mother dear,
she does not look like a Jewess. She looks, in
fact, the image of you."

"Of me?" cried the Countess.

At that moment Howard Rosen, Count de Lack
and Beatrice approached them.



"You are not going already?" cried the

"I am very sorry, but we must go," said Rosen

"I wish you would stay here for the night, you
and your the young lady," said Count de Lack.

Howard Rosen felt as if some one had stuck a
knife into him, so keen was the pain he felt from
an unaccountable sensation which he could not
explain to himself. He wanted to get away.

Countess de Lack and Waldeck heard the hesi-
tation in the Count's words, and while Waldeck
was mystified and disturbed, the Countess felt
as if an icy fringe of death had touched her
heart, and no sooner had the Rosens left than
she went to her room. When, an hour after, the
Count came in, he found her at the foot of the
great silver crucifix, her head bowed low in
silent prayer.



Baroness Levanovska, who had seen at a
glance that Waldeck was in love with the fair
American, felt an almost irresistible desire to do
her an injury. She herself was not in love with
Waldeck, but she hated to think that this for-
eigner should come here and conquer all hearts
and stand in the way of her ultimate alliance
with Joseph. "She is a Jewess, and he will pre-
fer her," she said to herself, and thus nursed her
hatred till it nearly made her mad.

"In olden times one could find a knight who
would do a woman's bidding," she said to Count

"I will do anything you like," he rejoined.

"Do not make rash promises, Count. I am
very exacting."

"I accept the challenge," he said.

"Well, then, come and see me at the Castle,"
she said.

"When may I call, chere Baronne?" he asked.

"Are you going to Plotzk to-night?"

"No, I shall stay here and leave late in the
afternoon to-morrow," he replied.

"Then you may call on Friday," she said and
smiled on him.

They spent the evening together, and when
he saw her to her sleigh he had already declared


his undying love, and as the Baroness had only
smiled, he took it for granted that she had ac-
cepted his suit.

On Friday the Count called and he was de-
lighted at the friendliness of her reception.

"I am in great trouble, Count," she said.

"Pray tell me, and if I can be of any service,
command me."

"If you loved a woman with all the strength
of your heart and soul and some one came and
desired to take her away from you, what would
you do?" she asked.

"That would be impossible, because no one
would dare to> attempt such a thing," he an-
swered, smiling grimly and showing his teeth ob-
stinately set.

"But if some one should," she persisted.

"I would have him flogged to death," he said.

"Let us assume that it were not a woman in
question but an estate which you had held in un-
disputed possession for many years, when a
stranger came and tried to rob you of it. Would
you fight for it?"

"Baroness, I beg you to speak more plainly.
I am not an adept in mysteries and if I have to
fight a foe I want to see him. I am willing to
give my life for you, but I must know for what,"
he said.

"Very well, then, listen. Yesterday Zaman-
ski, the lawyer from Plotzk, called upon me. He
showed me papers which declared that this Jew-
ess, Beatrice Rosen, is in fact the Countess Bea-



trice da Paula, my uncle's granddaughter and
the rightful heiress to Wysiniaski. He main-
tains that she is the only person living that can
lay claim to these estates. The thing is a secret.
But if it turn out to be the truth, the disgrace
will kill me. Give up my estates to a Jewess !"
she cried.

"You shall not," said the Count.

"How can it be hindered?" she asked.

"It shall be prevented, if you give me the right
to do it," he said.

"I give it you," she rejoined, giving him her

"She shall disappear as if she had never ex-
isted," he said, kissing her hand.

"Ah, but her father watches her, and he would
sacrifice anything to find her," she put in.

"It would do him no good ; besides, I will have
him sent to Siberia as soon as the girl is done
away with. All I desire to know is her manner
of living. Does she go out much?"

"Rarely, but she drives to Castle Lack every

"And when you are free of this Jewess?" he

"Then you shall receive your richest reward,"
she replied.

"You," he cried, and caught her in his arms.

She turned deadly pale and bit her lip, but said




Although Howard Rosen was but little iden-
tified with the Jews in Dobrzyn, they took no
less keen an interest in his affairs, and talked of
him with pride. There were those who criticised
his "promiscuous charity" and were of the opin-
ion that a Jew must accord all the benefits he
had to bestow on none but Jews. There was a
serious discussion among the elders of the Syna-
gogue whether they should accept his offer to
build a new Talmud Academy building. The
main objection of some of the severely orthodox
was that he had built, furnished and fully en-
dowed a home for aged Catholics. The fanatics
seemed likely to carry their point when the
Rabbi interposed and declared that charity
should recognize no difference of race, creed or
sex, and that this rich man whom God had sent
as a redeemer to the people of Dobrzyn, and who
was in the counsel of the mighty in the land,
must be considered as an exception to the rule
by which other men are judged.

"I have been Rabbi in this community for
more than twenty years and in all these years I
have never received more than TEN roubles a
week," he cried, emphasizing the word ten.
"Now this man has come here and the first thing
he did was to raise the status of the officers of


the congregation. I am receiving a princely sal-
ary, and even the under-sexton is on a salary.
The house to house collection has been abolished,
and peace and plenty is with us, therefore let us
not offend this man lest we sin against God."

The Rabbi's speech made a deep impression,
Rosen's offer was accepted with thanks and the
new Academy was built.

There was, however, one person in Dobrzyn
who had not benefited by Rosen's munificence,
although he was poor and his wife frequently
told him that he would never amount to any-

"Everybody in town is getting rich, and all
through the American; only you have nothing,
and while other women have new hats and new
wigs to wear on the Sabbath, I must wear my old
things. I wish I had died before I ever married
you," she cried and fell to sobbing.

"But don't you see, Ella dear, that other people
are in a business where they can deal with the
American, while I am a marriage broker.
What shall I do if I cannot find a suitable match
for his daughter?" he replied.

"Have you tried? Everybody says to me,
'Well, Mrs. Guilof, your husband is sure to make
a fortune one of these days/ and what can I say,
can I tell the world that my husband sits over
his musty old books all day long and never
makes an effort to go near the American ?"

Mr. Guilof winced under his wife's words and
made up his mind to do something toward se-


curing her a new hat and a new wig. He oiled
the corkscrew curls that hung on his temples,
touched up his long red beard, and put on his
satin-lined fur coat and high fur cap. His wife
Ella watched all these preparations with silent
satisfaction, but let it appear as if she saw noth-
ing of what was going on.

"I am going, Ella," he said.

"Going where?" she asked.

"To see Mr. Rosen."

"But you have no match for his daughter,"
cried Mrs. Guilof.

"My dear, you do not understand. I shall
offer him the son of Jacob Praski, who has just
come back from the Wilna Talmud University
and is qualified to be Rabbi. If he says *y es '>
then the business is done."

"But supposing the young man does not want
to marry her?" she asked.

"Not marry her with so much money? Im-
possible ! No one ever heard of such a thing."

"But you have had one experience already;
don't you remember Lerko's daughter?" she said.

"Well, she was a woman; but a man, and a
good Jew, is not such a fool. With the help of
God I shall succeed."

"May God hear your words and let them come
true," she called after him as he went out.

Mr. Guilof, however, would not take any
chances on the strength of his own eloquence, so
he recited several Psalms on the way and prayed
God to soften the heart of the American so that



well, he had not finished his prayer when Jan,
the erstwhile stage driver, who was now in the
service of Rosen, stopped his progress and asked
him what he wanted.

Mr. Guilof looked supremely astonished.

"Why, I want to see Mr. Rosen, of course,"
he cried.

"Then wait, I will see if my master wishes to
see you," said the other to his confusion.

A moment later Jan came back and told the
man to follow him.

As soon as Guilof saw the American he forgot
his chagrin.

"Good morningi Mr. Rosen," he said.

"Good morning Mr. Guilof, what can I do for

"I have come to do something for you, Mr.
Rosen," said Guilof, seating himself and taking
a pinch of snuff from a polished horn snuff box.
He extended the box to Rosen, assuring him at
the same time that it was the best French rapee.

But Rosen was not dwelling on snuff but upon
the events that had happened the night before at
the Castle. The match-maker noticed that he was
preoccupied and decided to come to the point at

"Mr. Rosen, I am here to propose a brilliant
party for your daughter, and it is no less a person
than the son of Mr. Jacob Praski, of whose piety
and wonderful learning you have heard."

Howard Rosen appeared to be lost in thought.
Then a smile flitted across his face.



"If you bring about this affair how large a
commission do you expect?"

"If you give your daughter a dower of one
hundred thousand roubles, my commission would
be, with your kind leave, five roubles per thous-
and," he said exultingly.

"Supposing I did not care to entertain any mar-
riage proposition for my daughter?" asked

"Then I should go away and say to myself that
I was unfortunate in this business," was the sad

"Of course there are other match-makers in
other cities who are likely to take it up. If they
come here would they call on you before they
came to see me?" asked the American.

"Always; because I have a reputation, sir, far
and wide, and they would not think of coming
into my territory without first seeing me," he
said proudly.

Rosen seemed lost in thought over the match-
maker's rejoinder, then he turned to his safe 1 and
took out two hundred and fifty roubles.

"Take this money, sir, as a gift from me for
the present. I shall not entertain the thought of
having Mr. Praski's son as a son-in-law, nor any-
one else. I also beg of you to make it your busi-
ness to tell all marriage brokers that my daughter
is not in the market. I shall consider this a ser-
vice worth much more than the sum I pay you
now. I trust you will excuse me as I have some
other business to attend to."



Mr. Guilof, having taken the money, was in a
position to take the hint, and, expressing his great
appreciation of Rosen's wisdom and liberality,
went away.

A few moments later the Countess de Lack was
announced, and as she entered, Rosen was shock-
ed at the haggard expression in her face.




"What has happened, my lady ?" cried Rosen.

"Everything except death," was the answer.

"I do not understand ; what has caused you

"Beatrice," said the Countess.

"My daughter?" cried Rosen.

"There are people who do not believe that
Beatrice is your daughter," said the Countess
with a laugh that chilled his blood.

"Who dares?" he cried.

"The Count, my husband," was the reply.

Rosen fell back as if struck in the chest.

"By what right does the Count say this? He
must have some strong reason for making this
outrageous statement and he must know that he
will be held personally responsible," he cried.

The Countess was silent.

"I beg you, madam, to tell me all. You could
not possibly have come here to torture me. What
does the Count say?"

"He believes Beatrice is my daughter," said
the Countess, and sank down in the chair, sob-
bing bitterly.

Howard Rosen gave a hoarse cry. He stag-
gered back and caught at his throat as if he were
choking. At last he regained sufficient strength
to speak.



"This is terrible, monstrous. This accusation
does not only affect you, it affects the fair name
of my innocent child. I am going to thrust the
lie down your husband's throat," he cried,
springing to his feet.

"Howard Rosen, you w5ll not," cried jthe
Countess, and ran up to him. "You are my
friend, are you not? In this supreme moment of
my life I will not delude myself with false pride,
I look upon you as my best and only friend, and
it is for you to stand by me and help me unravel
this mystery."

"How can I? I am an American. I know
very little of affairs here. What I do know is
that my wife was a Pole and of noble birth, and
that my daughter is heiress to one of the richest
estates in Poland."

"What was your wife's maiden name?" asked
the Countess, her excitement increasing.

"Wanda da Paula."

"What ?"

The Countess uttered this one word and then
fainted. When she came to herself and realised
what had taken place, she burst into tears.

Rosen was moved at the sight of her grief
and rose to hide his sympathy. But the voice of
the Countess, with rare sweetness, called him.

"Howard, do not leave me. Come here, come
closer to me. Oh, Howard, you have made me
so happy. Howard, Wanda was my sister, I
am a da Paula."


It was now Rosen's turn to be stupefied with

"I did not know that the connection was on
this side," he said and his face lit up with a
rare gladness. Suddenly his face clouded.

"You said, Countess, that the Count suspected
you of being the mother of Beatrice. I have
never seen you in my life, although I think that
you must be the Martha whose picture I saw at
my mother-in-law's house and of whom she
spoke affectionately and tearfully. It was only
at her death that we found she had a large es-
tate and that she was a peeress of the Polish
kingdom. With her papers and the titles, I

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Online LibraryAdolphe DanzigerChildren of fate : a story of passion → online text (page 9 of 18)