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G-major Nocturne of Chopin.

The Tsar kept time with his fingers on the
writing table before which he was seated ; the
Tsaritza, her head leaning on her hand, sat
spellbound, and Rubinstein played with all



THE LEVELLER 165

the magical sway at his command. Under his
fingers the Nocturne was a beautiful love
lyric, and as he played it brought to the
hearts and minds of his audience a sense of
awe, of pathos, of that mysterious law which
guides and governs the human heart, of that
power which has made and wrecked empires.
That power before which all laws and human
reckoning are powerless.

As he finished with the two last chords, ex-
quisitely pianissimo, yet heard in the farthest
corner of the outer salon, the Tsar sighed,
then he smiled.

"Ah, how beautiful. What a gift is yours,
Anton Gregoriewitch ! ' '

"More, more. Do not stop!" cried the
Tsaritza, her great black eyes flashing, and
Eubinstein, nothing loath, commenced the
C-minor Nocturne.

He was still playing when he caught sight
of Count d'Annenkoff's perturbed counte-
nance in the doorway, and a few seconds
later, when he had finished, the latter entered
and was announced in the silence which en-
sued.

"Ah, Count d'Annenkoff."

The Tsar's face was touched with deep
emotion: He seemed to have difficulty in



166 THE LEVELLER

shaking off the thrall of the master's music.
He passed his hand across his face, and be-
fore ' Rubinstein had time to reach his seat,
he said to the Count :

"Annenkoff, Anton Gregoriewitch has come
to plead for the liberty of an artist, Louboff
Malkiel, his pupil. I "

He paused, looked at the hands of the crys-
tal timepiece on the table before him, which
had passed the hour of midnight, then re-
garding the Count fixedly, he said, decisively :

"I have granted his request. Your Ex-
cellency will see that this is attended to at
once."

The Count gave one quick and venomous
glance toward Rubinstein; the latter glared
back, then the Count said suavely with the in-
tuition of your true courtiers :

"Sire, your command will receive my in-
stant attention. The young woman is now
undergoing a cross-examination at my house.
I would humbly ask that this proceed, and,"
he added sarcastically, "that Anton Greg-
oriewitch attend."

The Tsar put up his two hands. "A very
reasonable request," he said after regarding
the two men a moment. "When you have
finished with the young woman, deliver her



THE LEVELLER 167

into the care of his Excellency, who has
pledged himself for her future good be-
havior. ' '

Rubinstein dropped on his knees as he took
the hand the Tsar offered, and kissing it, said
gratefully :

4 'Sire, my humble thanks and most heart-
felt gratitude are yours.'*

"Rise, your Excellency," said the Tsar,
with his slow kindly smile. "You are Tsar
of a greater Empire than mine. It has given
me great pleasure to grant your request. The
Tsaritza and I thank you for the treat you
have given us in your beautiful music."

Ten minutes later Boris and Rubinstein
were once more in the outside freezing
atmosphere, joy and delight in the hearts of
each.

"To the Annenkoff palace," said the latter
gruffly, and side by side the two sleighs that
of the Minister of the Interior, with its pranc-
ing trio of thoroughbreds, silver harness, and
priceless robes of fur, and the humbler one
of Anton Rubinstein pulled out of the court-
yard and hurried down the Nevsky.



CHAPTER XIV.

"We have outwitted the greatest diplomat
of the day," said Rubinstein with a chuckle,
as he nudged his companion roughly.

"But do you think you dare ever enter his
presence again?" asked Boris, with an
ominous shake of his head.

"I do not care. I snap my fingers at all
their scheming and intrigues. Of course,
d'Annenkoff is not the man to forget this. I
know he will cross my path in many things,
make it his business to do so especially re-
lating to the conservatory all of them know
my tendon Achilles. But you, how can you
crow? You are his nephew. I would not like
to be in your shoes, Boris Alexanderowitch ;
no, not for a hundred thousand roubles !" and
out on the stillness of the frosty night air
Eubinstein's laugh rang heartily and loudly.

"As long as she is safe," said Boris, in-
tense satisfaction in his tones, "I do not care;
I am satisfied. What happens to me is no
matter."

"So!" The expression of Rubinstein's
face changed instantly from gleeful banter to

168



THE LEVELLER 169

surprised alarm. He gave his companion a
curious glance and said quickly :

"This, then, is a real love affair?"

"Nothing more real," Boris said, smiling.

"Your intentions are honorable?"

"Honorable! Great heavens, Anton Greg-
oriewitch, I would give my life's blood for
Louboff Antonivna."

"By that," Eubinstein went on in a dry
tone, "you mean you would love and cherish
her, protect her, marry her, in short?"

"The first moment possible."

"Indeed!" The snarl that accompanied the
exclamation was malignant in the extreme,
then a sudden passion began to convulse the
features of the great composer.

"And it is for this you think that I, Anton
Rubinstein, have deigned to beg favors from
these people for this you think I have made
an enemy of Annenkoff for this I have
played the lackey to Tsar and Grand Dukes,
to courtiers and Court fools to see Louboff
Malkiel your wife!"

The withering scorn of Anton Gregorie-
witch's tones struck Boris dumb.

"Anton Gregoriewitch ! " he gasped.

"And you think," went on the infuriated
composer, "I have spent days and weeks and



170 TEE LEVELLER

years forming this talent and it is a talent,
the greatest I have found in Russia to see it
wasted in the salons of Petersburg, frittered
as a pastime to tickle the ears of a stupid
aristocracy. You think Louboff Malkiel will
gain by becoming Countess Gourowsky? "

" Anton Gregoriewitch, we love each
other," began Boris pleadingly.

"Love! Bah, Boris Alexanderowitch, love,
love? I do not speak against it. Love her,
take her for your sweetheart, rouse all the
passion in her nature if you will, but you
you talk of marriage! That is out of the
question, absolutely out of the question.
Young man, I tell you marriage for an artist
is death. "

Like a cameo, grim in its stern outline, the
clear-cut features of the young Russian shone
out against the blackness of his furs.

"You tell me this? You dare " he be-
gan.

"Dare? I. Boy, you jest. Yes, I dare. I
do more I command you to pour all your
love in her ear, make her life a paradise for a
time and then forget her. Bring the best
that is in her to life, make her love you, teach
her to love you all women have to be taught ;
and when you tire, as you will, women who



THE LEVELLER 171

are artists never keep love they give too
much then leave her. That will be the mak-
ing of her as an artist. ' '

Boris Alexanderowitch sat motionless,
doubting the hearing of his own ears. Rubin-
stein had worked himself into one of his un-
governable rages, and all that was satanic
and demoniacal in his nature was reflected in
his strong and powerful features.

''He is mad; all real artists are mad,"
Boris said to himself.

Eubinstein clenched his fist. "You hear,
you hear," he cried loudly, having waited in
vain for some reply. "Petersburg is full of
women women to marry; women to become
the mother of your children ; women to set at
the head of your household. But Louboff
Malkiel is not of this type ; she is not for you ;
she belongs to the world, to art ; meddle with
her career, and you will have me to answer
to."

They had reached the Annenkoff palace.
Boris stepped out, his heart beating loudly,
his limbs numb, partly with apprehension and
nervousness, partly with cold. A sudden fear
had firm hold of him.

Would they succeed, in spite of all his reso-
lutions, in taking Louboff from him? Was



172 THE LEVELLER

there truth in what Anton Eubinstein had

pointed out so brutally?

"Well, Boris," broke in the suave tones of
his uncle's voice, "playing the part of. a
knight-errant? Come, you, too, must see this
seance out. Anton Gregoriewitch, you will
see your pupil in my cabinet, and perhaps
hear something that will make you regret
your thoughtless zeal of this evening."

In the wake of Count d'Annenkoff, Boris
and Eubinstein went through the corridors,
swiftly, no one speaking.

When they entered Count d'Annenkoff's
study they found it alive with officials. Lou-
boff, seeing them, gave a little cry, and
crouched back in her chair.

Boris was by her side on the instant.

"Courage, Louboff, sweetheart," he whis-
pered. "We have come from the Tsar; we
have your pardon. ' '

All in the room rose at their entrance, but
at a curt, impatient motion from the Count,
they reseated themselves. Louboff was
ghastly pale; her lovely eyes, half -veiled in
confusion, sought those of Rubinstein ques-
tioningly, but he was looking straight ahead,
indifferent as a sphinx to his surroundings.

Boris seated himself where he could see



THE LEVELLER 173

Louboff and encourage her, taking a chair be-
hind his uncle, who was directly facing her,
only the writing table being between the two.

"Well, your Excellency, we have put all
the questions you directed, but our success
has been er poor," said an individual in
uniform, who sat next the Minister of the In-
terior.

The Count ran his eye along the sheet of
paper lying on the table. He read the date
of Louboff's birth, her birthplace, the name
of her father and mother, her profession, and
then followed a long list of questions, to which
was affixed the reply: "I do not know." Sev-
eral of these questions were vital; the an-
swers to which, had they been given, would
have afforded the Government all the links
needed in various plots formed or being
formed. The Minister frowned as he read.

"Mademoiselle," he said, addressing the
company in general, "has evidently told us
as much as she intends to tell, and it is there-
fore a waste of valuable time to prolong this
examination further; nevertheless, put these
questions over again; General Eubinstein
may find them instructive; he will certainly
find sedition comes as easy to some of his con-
servatory pupils as crotchets and quavers."



174 THE LEVELLER

Rubinstein said nothing ; he had lit his cig-
arette and was smoking placidly. Then quietly
the harsh official voice read out the questions
to Louboff, and Louboff gave again answers
identical with those recorded.

Count d'Annenkoff 's fine features were sar-
castic, then at the close he said, with a smile
so cruel and pitiless it made Louboff shiver :

"Well, General, that will do. I will now
put a few questions myself.

"Louboff Antonivna, do you know Boris
Gourowsky 1 ' '

She raised her eyes in startled surprise.

"I do."

"Was the acquaintance on your part pre-
meditated or made by chance I ' '

On Boris' ears her answer fell like a thun-
derclap.

"Premeditated," she replied slowly, but
the blood seemed to recede even from her lips
and her eyes to dilate in the sudden anguish
that had her in its grip.

"Bravo, Mademoiselle," said the Count
quickly, and in sarcastic encouragement, "you
are evidently recollecting the oath you had
forgotten, and it is well, for we have letters to
your brother which prove this premeditation
and prearrangernent."



THE LEVELLER 175

Then he turned and gave Boris a mocking
glance.

"And your object in this acquaintance-
ship ! ' ' went on the steady voice of the Count,
after a pause.

"To gather information for my brother."
' ' You are a Nihilist, Louboff Antonivna 1 ' '
"I am not. I do not think I am."
"Well, Louboff Antonivna, your master,
Anton Gregoriewitch, used his personal influ-
ence with the Tsar to-night and gained your
liberty. Some of the questions put to you just
now, and to which you refuse to reply, are
aimed at Nihilists and Nihilism. If you are
not a Nihilist, why do you refuse us an an-
swer?"

"Your Excellency, my brother is a prisoner,
and a Nihilist. I cannot implicate him. My
mouth is sealed for that reason."

"Ah." They were all looking at Louboff,
admiring her fearless loyalty.

"Well, suppose now," went on the Count
slowly and deliberately, "we gave you back
your brother, would your replies be other-
wise?"

She gave one piteous glance around, the
glance of a hunted animal.
"They might," she whispered, after long



176 THE LEVELLER

hesitation, during which all eyes were di-
rected toward her.

"If so, then I can promise you your brother
will be with you to-morrow. ' '

The Count made the promise resolutely,
and Louboff 's eyes filled with tears of joy and
emotion.

' ' Oh, your Excellency ! ' ' she cried, half ris-
ing in her seat, as she stretched out her hand
in thanks.

The Count deliberately ignored her over-
ture. He signed to the General by his side to
begin once more the list of questions.

Boris listened with a bitter sense of pain
and disgust. The room, with its uniformed
occupants, the beautiful face of Louboff full
of an anguish unspeakable as each answer
was literally wrung from her, seemed to re-
cede and recede, till it became a mere blur to
his vision.

Finally, when it came to her giving the
name of Michel's associates, Louboff balked
and found her memory at fault.

Count d'Annenkoff, rising, said sharply:

"Gentlemen, I will not detain you longer;
these proceedings are becoming a farce. This
girl has told us all she intends to tell ; we may
be satisfied.'*



THE LEVELLER 177

"I have told you all I know," said Louboff
fearlessly. "Much more than I would were
my brother's liberty not at stake."

"You have still to tell us," said Count
d'Annenkoff, looking triumphantly toward
Rubinstein, "for whom the bomb was meant
that we found in your brother's possession.
Will you swear to us you do not know!"

"Tell, Louboff, tell!" cried Rubinstein
authoritatively, as her eyes sought his plead-
ingly.

"Will you give my brother back to me!"
she demanded passionately of the Count.

"We will, most assuredly we will," he re-
plied, his smile more sarcastic and disagree-
able than ever.

"For the Tsar."

A shiver of real horror passed over the
officials assembled. Rubinstein lifted his
hands, then covered his face. Louboff alone
was standing. Then she threw back her head
and turned as an animal at bay.

"It is useless; useless," she cried, her
voice ringing out clear, musical and passion-
ate. "But, oh, your Excellencies, what other
remedies have we? You have tortured us,
goaded us, whipped us into revolt; we are
behind the age as a nation, and the blood of



178 THE LEVELLER

thousands, the miseries of generations, will
not make you see. To-day, to-morrow, my
brother and millions of others are ready to
cry 'God bless our Tsar,' but we can cry it
only in freedom, mean it only, when despot*
ism ceases."

"Louboff!"

It was Boris who startled her into silence.

She gave one glance at the many pairs of
eyes, stern, horrified, wrathful and menacing,
all bent in her direction, then she fell back*
ward in a dead faint, falling into the arms
of Boris, who had rushed to her assistance.

For a few minutes there was some little
confusion.

Boris poured some brandy between her
closed teeth, then, dazed and despairing,
Louboff revived.

"Boris, take me away from here," she
sobbed in a whisper.

"One moment, sweetheart, courage, there
are formalities," he pleaded soothingly.

Count d'Annenkoff took up a paper, signed
it and gave it to the officer who had arrested
Louboff. The latter read the paper and then
said loudly:

"Louboff Antonivna Malkiel, you are dis-
charged on the undertaking of his Excel-



THE LEVELLER 179

lency, Anton Gregoriewitch Rubinstein."

"General, your undertaking has its dan-
gers," said Count d'Annenkoff sarcastically.

"Your Excellency, I take the responsibil-
ity, and all its dangers, most gladly," Rubin-
stein replied coldly.

Louboff was clinging to Boris' arm, glanc-
ing from face to face, apprehensively. As
soon as the perfunctory adieux were made,
Rubinstein, Louboff and Boris went at once
to the ante-chamber for their cloaks. None
of them spoke till they reached the street,
where the iswostschiks gathered round them,
underbidding each other, and clamoring
loudly for their patronage.

The trio paid no heed. Rubinstein looked
at the two young people and said slowly and
sternly :

"Louboff, I am horribly disappointed in
you. What business has an artist with all
this intriguing? You were led into it by your
brother, I suppose, but "

He got into the sleigh nearest to him and
the expression of his face was not pleasant.
"A pretty pother you have raised," he went
on petulantly. "Here it is almost dawn. I
have lost four hours' sleep. It is most exas-
perating. ' '



180 THE LEVELLER

Then in a tone of command, he said curtly :
" To-morrow is Sunday; I must break in on
that day also because of this. Be at my
house at ten o'clock, and notify Souroffsky
to bring his violin. I will hear you both in
the Kreutzer Sonata."

Without waiting for any reply, he said
to the iswostschik: "Troitsky Pereulok."

" Anton Gregoriewitch," pleaded Boris,
laying a detaining hand on the sleeve of the
composer's cloak. " Think a minute. Lou-
boff is ill; Louboff cannot "

Eubinstein's blue eyes flashed fire.

"You go to the devil and cease your med-
dling!" he shouted roughly as he shook off
the young man's hand, then in a kinder but
still stern tone to Louboff: "Remember, ten
to-morrow. ' '

Together Boris and Louboff watched the
retreating sleigh with its huddled figure of
the great composer, then she said gently :

"Oh, Boris, never thwart him; he is not
used to it, he hates it."

"Talk of autocrats," muttered Boris sar-
castically. "But mind you," he flashed, "if
you feel ill or too tired you won't go. I
insist."

"Why, Boris, I would go if I were dying,"



THE LEVELLER 181

she replied solemnly. ''You do not know
Anton Gr ego rie witch. He never forgives.
Things must go his way, or or "

Boris shrugged his shoulders and turned
to the still clamoring sleigh drivers.

Once inside the sleigh, Louboff closed her
eyes and did not speak for a few minutes;
finally she turned to him, her face white and
drawn.

"You still love me," she whispered pite-
ously ; ' * still even now when you know all, the
whole truth?"

"Louboff, when I told you that I loved you
something within me stronger than reason,
stronger than life, stronger than my up-
bringing, spoke for me. Dearest, you have
been misled, misguided, misinformed ; that is
all. I love you better now than before; I
love you better with every beat of my heart.
Sweetheart, I love you, love you, love you;
that is all!" and he turned and kissed her
with a fervor that carved forever in her re-
membrance the certainty and consciousness
of his great love.

On reaching the house it took some time
before a sleepy servant answered their ring.

"What about to-morrow, Louboff!" asked
Boris.



182 THE LEVELLER

"I will certainly be back from Rubin-
stein's about three; can you call about that
time?"

"Yes, and I shall have something for you,
sweetheart," he added smiling. Just then the
door was opened, and he bent over her and
made the sign of the cross on her forehead.

"Good night, little soul," he whispered,
"and God bless you."

Boris dismissed his isivostschik, not know-
ing exactly what to do. The thought of re-
turning to his uncle's house was most dis-
tasteful. Mechanically he turned into the
Nevsky, wondering what hotel he had best
select, and if it were wise to select any. At
the Nobles' Club, on the corner of the Moes-
kaya, a group of people were descending, and,
much to his confusion, Boris found himself
face to face with his uncle.

The latter greeted him courteously.

"On foot?" he said interrogatively. "Well,
it is lucky then I meet you. I presume you
are on your way home. Jump in, Boris."

As soon as the horses had started, the
Count laughed.

"Well," he said sneeringly, "this has been
a lively evening for some of us. What do you
think of your little Nihilist now?"



THE LEVELLER 183

Boris did not answer; he bit his lips
angrily.

"A beauty a beauty, on my soul," went
on the Count quickly. "Your taste, my boy,
is perfect; she brings back to one's mind's
eyes all the heroine beauties of the Bible.
When the race does give us a siren it cer-
tainly outdoes all others. But, mon Dieu,
picture to yourself what she will be in ten,
fifteen, twenty years' time. However, do not
worry, by that time," he added comfort-
ingly, ' * ah, how your ideas will have changed.
She is courageous, too, the minx decidedly
so. Imagine her facing us and giving voice
to such sentiments! You stopped her too
soon."

"She is only eighteen. What does she
know of such things?" asked Boris in a low
voice.

"Enough," said the Count quickly, "to do
irreparable harm."

Boris shrugged his shoulders, then he said
sullenly :

"You will keep your promise about her
brother?"

"Oh, yes," replied the Count. Then in a
tone of peculiar satisfaction he added: "Yes,
yes ; she will have her brother to-morrow, and



184 THE LEVELLER

two weeks from to-day she will start for the

frontier. ' '

Boris could feel the blood recede from his
heart as the Count spoke.

"She was going in any case," he said
quietly for want of a reply. "She gives a
concert in Berlin. ' '

"So much the better; people will not re-
mark her going, and you, my nephew, are
therefore prepared."

"Is there anything you could do, my
uncle, to rescind the order even if after a
year or two. You will not exile "

"She will never put her foot in Russia
again," said the Count hotly. "So long, at
least, as I am Minister of the Interior. No,
no, a self-confessed murderess of the Tsar!
Good heavens, Boris, how love blinds one!
You do not realize what you are asking. "Well,
here is the house, my boy. Au revoir."

"One moment," said Boris detainingly.
"As long as she is here, I I mean to see
her."

"I shall not prevent it; you do love her,
I see that; therefore, have your little enjoy-
ment. I am not beyond the memory of such
things myself, and they are sweet, they are
sweet you will never realize how sweet till



THE LEVELLER 185

you reach my age. No, go ahead, two weeks
can do no harm; it will give you time to get
over it. But remember your mother arrives
in a day or two, and you will surely hide this
infatuation from her, if you love her."

With these parting words the Count di-
vested himself of his fur coverings and got
out, the sleigh having stopped at the Palace
Annenkoff.



CHAPTER XV.

It was with no little trepidation that Lou-
boff entered Rubinstein's study the following
morning. He greeted her as kindly as ever,
but there was a look in his eyes she dreaded.

He was just about to commence what
seemed a serious talk when, much to her re-
lief, the violinist who was to accompany her
in the Beethoven duet arrived. Rubinstein
set them to work at once. For almost two
hours they rehearsed steadily when Matve
announced luncheon. Rubinstein was in great
good humor, and as they sat down he said,
blowing her a kiss:

"Louboff, my little soul, do you know that
to-day you have played played like an art-
ist! I could almost forget you are a woman."

Louboff's pale cheeks flushed. The strain
of the night before had left its traces in her
face and manner, but the languor in her
countenance only added to its beauty.

"I have often wondered," he went on, "if
I am not a fool to devote so much time to you
women, as artists, are such unsatisfactory
creatures; one can neither rely on them nor

186



THE LEVELLER 187

count on them ; somehow they never do as you
expect. I mean it," he added seriously.
"Women as artists are failures; but I really
believe, my camarade," he murmured affec-
tionately, as he raised her hand to his lips,
' ' that in thee I have found the one great ex-
ception."

"Anton Gregoriewitch, " said Louboff
softly, her manner animated, yet humble, "I
sincerely hope so. No one has ever had such
a master."

"Louboff, you will not fail me; you will be
guided by an old world-weary artist who has
fought the fight with himself, and knows?
Will you accept my experience as final ? ' '

He still held her hand in his, and his glance
rested on her with a pleading sadness that
brought the tears to her eyes.

She believed he referred to the scene of
the previous night.

"Anton Gregoriewitch," she began, and
jumping up she went behind his chair and
laid her cool, fresh cheek against his lov-
ingly, her arms about his neck, "your com-


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