Beatrice Harraden.

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hat you risk holding out the hand of help. Do you
uppose there is any reason why we should be grateful for
hat ? No, I say a hundred times., no. There's not one


of you that would stoop down and haul us up into our
proper positions, side by side with the very best of you
aristocrats of the platform. That alone could and should
call forth real gratitude. Everything else is a sham, a
pose of kindness to flatter and satisfy yourselves, a base
attempt at propitiation which deceives no one let me
tell you."

He paused a moment in the midst of his scorn and bit-
terness. Riemer made no sign. He was stunned almost
to the point of unconsciousness. But he was beginning
vaguely to understand.

" Recognition that's what we want," Fritz cried,
dashing up from his chair. " No more of this eternal
playing second riddles to someone else's lead. No more
pretence that we like it, and are content. Content,
indeed. No furious, impatient, outraged, hostile and
honest about it at last. The years passing and nothing
happening to us. The thrill of life for others and never
for us. Spectators always of others' triumphs, and no
faint signs of any feeblest triumph for us. Nothing for
us, except the dull, deadening routine of usefulness. Clap
any one of you again ? Never. I'd rather that my hands
withered away. And now you've heard the truth, Riemer.
Do you like it ? "

He threw himself back in the armchair, exhausted by the
force of his emotions. Riemer still gave no outer sign of
being either interested or impressed. But his brain had
become almost painfully active, and he was seeing with
his mind's eye things hidden to him before : reviewing
life from Fritz's point of view for the first time : trying to
imagine to himself how he himself would have felt, if
no laurels had fallen to his share, and if he had been
in Fritz's position and Fritz in his place of honour and
consideration. Would the years have brought to him also
this terrible accumulation of anger and bitterness of
spirit ? Would he also have only been able to give hatred
and suspicion in exchange for help and kindness ? Would
he also have believed that a hand was only held out to
him because there was no risk involved in the act ? Was
there perhaps not some truth in the scathing assertion


that the derelicts of fame and fortune might only dare
to claim concessions and not rights from the favoured
ones who reigned supreme ? Who could say for cer-
tain ? He could not say for certain that he had not been
influenced by this feeling of safety.

The more he thought, the more he realised that if Fritz's
circumstances had been his, he might not have come
through the ordeal any better than his old comrade. He
might have grown to hate rather than have continued to
love his old friend of former days. It flashed through his
mind for the first time that he had for years claimed too
much from Fritz : that he had, in very truth, taken his
friendship, his homage, his loyalty as a matter of course,
and had never recognised the greatness of spirit in Fritz
which had made their relations with each other possible
and joyful. It was nothing to the point that the greatness
had suffered a human collapse. If he himself had known
it from the beginning and paid his spiritual tribute to it,
it might not have perished.

But it had perished. Riemer, with a curious cold chill
at his heart, was face to face with the desolate fact that
he had lost for ever his palace of delight, lost his friend
whom he had never really possessed. Death itself could not
have cut him off more completely from his ownership.
He was a lonely man, left lonely by tragedies and disasters
in family life. The thought of Fritz's home had always
been a consolation to him. And now ? Well, in a few
minutes, when he had gathered himself together, he would
pick up his fiddle, pass over the threshold into the dark-
ness of the night, and never return..

But before he went, he must let Fritz know that he
saw with clear vision Fritz's picture of life.

He bent forward a little and stared into the fire. He
did not take his eyes off the fire.

" Fritz," he said gently, " I understand. I wish for
both our sakes I could have understood years ago."

Fritz made no answer, and Riemer, with painful effort,
was on the point of rising from his chair, when the tension
in the room was broken by a racketing noise outside in
the hall, the door was thrown open with boisterous violence,



and in dashed Friedrich, followed by three young fellows
all in good humour and lively form.

" Ah, Onkel Rudolph, there you are ! " cried Friedrich.
" I told these fellows that you'd be here after the concert.
We had a wager on it. And I've won. And there is
another wager. I told them, if I asked you, that you and
father would play us the Bach Double Concerto in D
Minor. They said, ' Go on, you're gassing ! ' ' Gassing ! '
I said with scorn. ' Why, father and Riemer are life-
long friends. We don't think of Riemer as a platform
person.' Of course you'll play it, Onkel Rudolph and
father, won't you, and make these chaps sit up, to say
nothing of the second wager won ? It's quite early.
Only half-past one. You will won't you ? "

There was a moment's pause. Then the two men stirred
with almost imperceptible movement. Fritz, with no ex-
pression on his face, glanced at Riemer. Riemer, as though
in a dream seeing some far-off phantom, glanced at Fritz.

They nodded a silent assent.

They took their fiddles out of their cases : Fritz his
Bergonzi, Riemer his Strad. They screwed up their bows
and resined them. They bent toward each other and
tuned their instruments. Their little, eager, excited
audience had been increased by Mrs. Fritz and Triidchen,
who shared the secret belief that all would be well with
father if he and Onkel Rudolph were going to play together.

Fritz raised his bow arm, tapped his left foot once, and
led off gallantly with the opening theme of the concerto.

Violino Secondo. Vivace.

Those who know the famous concerto will recall that
it is written for two violins on absolutely equal terms
with each other, and that the instruments follow, answer,
supplement each other, sometimes joining forces in direct


unison, sometimes making independent excursions, but
always renewing eventually the bond of good-fellowship.
Even thus, in the spirited Vivace, in the beautiful and
tender Largo full of lingering sadness and regret, and in the
finale with its headlong dash and reckless abandonment.

Did Riemer and Fritz believe that this was their last
song together the dying swan song of their friendship ?
Was it because of this that they played as they had never
played before, and made the voices of their fiddles
throb with radiant joyousness, deep feeling, acute emotion ?

The end came. The audience clapped and shouted and
cried " Bravo hurrah hurrah ! "

But the two friends stood still and silent as statues, with
no trace of a smile on their faces. Their passiveness
suddenly chilled the very atmosphere. No one spoke.
No one moved.

It was Riemer himself who first found words.

" So you've won your second wager, Friedrich, my boy,"
he said, " and made these fellows sit up, haven't you ? "

He glanced round the room with a wistful sadness.
He was taking in all the familiar details in one swift, last
comprehensive survey.

" Well, now, I'll go home," he said. " It's late, and I
have to start off for Edinburgh early. Good % night,
Fritz good night all of you. And Mrs. Fritz, thank
you, as ever, for letting me come to gather crumbs from
the rich man's table. That's right, Triidchen, better turn
the key in the fiddle-case. You were always rather sen-
sible. No, young Friedrich, don't go and put on your
coat for me. I'll go home alone to-night, I think."

" No, you won't," Fritz said brusquely and almost
fiercely. " I shall go with you."

: ' You ? " Riemer said ; and as he spoke, the light of
hope came into his eyes.

" Yes," Fritz answered, half defiantly, half appealingly.
" And why not ? "

" Why not, indeed ? " Riemer answered. " Come then,

They passed out together, arm in arm.


TAMAR SCOTT, of Dean Street, Soho, dealer in precious
stones and antique jewellery, known to her friends
and clients generally as T. Scott, received a letter
one day asking her to go down to a country house in
Dorsetshire, not far from Puddletown, and give her expert
opinion on a collection of jewels. She was famous amongst
her friends and clients for her rudeness ; and her answer
was characteristic. She wrote :

" Madam, Fee offered not worth my consideration.
Cannot come. Have never enjoyed doing anything for
nothing. T. Scott."

She dismissed the matter from her mind, and was amused
and astonished when, after a week or so, she received another
letter from the same address, written in a faint and trembling
handwriting, evidently that of an aged woman. This was
the letter:

" Madam, Your rude letter interested me vastly.
Felt buoyed up to think there was someone on this planet
ruder than myself. Name your fee, which I will gladly
pay for your expert opinion and personal acquaintance.
Sarah Bracebridge."

A faint smile stole over Tamar's face as she read these
words, and she fingered the piece of paper in a curiously
sensitive way which seemed to suggest that she was seeking
information about her correspondent from the feel of the
written pages.

" I shall go," she said aloud at last. " Perhaps it is
a case of Greek meeting Greek."

She had heard of this collection of jewels from her
old friend Christopher Bramfield, a diamond merchant,



who never failed to put her in the way of a good piece
of business. She understood that she was being called
in only to give an opinion on the stones, and that there
was no question of securing any for herself. But she
hoped, all the same, that she might get the chance of making
an offer for one or two of them. For Mrs. Bracebridge's
collection was known amongst dealers to contain many
beautiful specimens.

As soon as she could, she started off for Dorsetshire,
and was driven to Stranham Hall, an old Tudor manor
house about five miles from Puddletown. It stood in
its own park, a dreary, neglected-looking domain. Tamar
Scott, who did not take much notice of the sweet things
of Nature, thought that she had never seen such a depressing

She rang at the bell, and after a considerable delay,
an old man servant, a frail and almost tottering retainer,
opened the door. On learning her name, he nodded, as
if to indicate that she was expected, and in silence showed
her into a dim room with a wonderful stone fireplace,
and with diamond window panes studded here and there
with armorial bearings. She glanced around, and was
at once arrested by the many objects of interest. Choice
bits of china which she would frankly have loved to
" annex " then and there, reposed enticingly on various
tables and shelves. That exquisite little piece of Spode,
for instance, ought certainly to be hers, and no one else's ;
and it was not any sense of moral obligation which pre-
vented her from stealing it. She was merely deterred
from dishonesty, even as so many of us are, by consider-
ations of expediency. She sinned in the abstract, though
not in the concrete.

She was still gazing at it when the door opened, and a
very old lady, bending heavily on a black cane, advanced
slowly towards her. She chuckled when she saw Tamar.

" Ah," she said, " I suppose you're thinking that you
want to walk off with that piece of Spode of mine ? "

" Yes," Tamar answered. " That's just what I am
thinking. But how do you know ? "

" For the simple reason that I have always wanted


to steal everything I liked," the old lady said. "On
one occasion I did, too. Many years ago. But I've
never lost the memory of the enjoyment of my theft."

Tamar looked at her for a moment, and then a curious
smile spread over her face.

" One doesn't lose it, does one ? " she said with a soft
little laugh.

Mrs. Bracebridge laughed softly also. She sat down
on a high chair, and pointed to an easy one for Tamar to

" Well," she said, " and so you don't enjoy doing some-
thing for nothing. A proper sentiment. But why pray
did you write your book on Precious Stones ? You couldn't
have got much out of that. A book produced regardless
of cost. And comparatively cheap to buy. Where
did your returns come in there, I wonder ? "

'' That's my affair," Tamar answered roughly.

" Yes, distinctly," replied the old lady. " I'm glad
it is. I shouldn't have liked to pay for that Burma Ruby
plate. Beautiful, though. And a wonderful book. But
inaccurate here and there."

" I deny that," Tamar said with fierceness. " I verified
every statement. No one shall dare to accuse me of

" I dare," the old lady said with obvious enjoyment
of the situation. " Ring the bell. Jenkins shall go
and fetch the book."

To her own immense surprise Tamar obeyed. When
the old man appeared on the scene, his mistress said :

" On the table by my bedside, Jenkins, you will find
two books, the two books I always keep there. One is
a Bible. I don't want that. I want the one called
' Precious Stones.' '

The angry look on Tamar's face gave way to a gentler
expression. Her pride, like that of many an author, was
naturally gratified at knowing that the book into which
she had put so much of her knowledge and enthusiasm,
was the daily intimate companion of someone who cared
and understood. And when Jenkins reappeared bearing
the volume on a silver salver, she herself took it and


handed it to Mrs. Bracebridge with a respectable amount
of courtesy, considering that she was Tamar.

Mrs. Bracebridge, who wore no glasses, and whose eyes
were bright and sparkling with mischief, opened the book
and read aloud :

" Page 88. ' Corundum has perhaps a wider range
of colour than almost any other mineral, but it will be
considered here chiefly with regard to the red varieties
approximating to the colour of the ruby.' '

" Corundum ought to be spinel," Tamar said angrily.

" Page 161," went on Mrs. Bracebridge imperturbably.
" ' Tourmaline is one of the most dichronic stones.' It
should be dichroic, of course. Page 180. ' The sapphire
was engraved sometimes in the later Roman days, but
more frequently in the quattrocento time.' It should
be quinquecento time. Page 195. 'So large and finely
coloured an emerald as No. 1284 in the Townshend collection
is an exceptional stone ; it is nearly one-quarter of an
inch across.' That's wrong. It is twice that size across.
I've measured it myself. Page 203 '

" You seem to have prepared a full list," Tamar inter-
rupted sullenly.

Mrs. Bracebridge put down the book and looked at

" My list has been waiting for you a long time," she
said. " I have always intended sending for you to see
my collection. Ever since I read this wonderful book.
It is wonderful. It is written by one whose passion for
precious stones is as great as my own. Greater perhaps.
I'm not a fool. I can see that. But you have had an
advantage over me. Your circumstances have admitted
you into the inner shrine. Mine have kept me outside

" But you have a collection coveted by many," Tamar
said. " One can't have everything. You are probably
enormously proud of it. Anyone would be/'

" I am proud of it," the old lady replied. "It is part
of my family honour. But there are times when I would
infinitely prefer to have acquired it for myself, stone
by stone, by a long-drawn-out continuity of effort, rather


than to have inherited it as my right. You'd understand

" Yes, I can understand that," Tamar answered dreamily.
" To see a stone, to be spellbound by its beauty, to be
thwarted about it, to dream about it, to have no rest
about it, to be haunted by it day and night "

" Ah, to be haunted by it," Mrs. Bracebridge broke in
with a cry, almost of despair. " That I know only too
well. And to be thwarted about it."

She became lost in thought. She leaned forward
on her stick and kept on nodding her head.

Tamar watched her for some time in silence. She
seemed suddenly to have put on centuries of age and
infirmity. Gone was the sparkle from her eye and the
captious animation from her face. Something tugged
at Tamar's heart. She did not, as a rule, like old people ;
but here was distinctly a comrade, of inferior rank per-
haps, so far as jewel lore and learning went, but a comrade
for all that, and certainly not inferior in rudeness : if
anything, superior, and therefore, rather to be respected.
A comrade in some kind of distress, too, definite, though
hidden, from which she must be rescued before she be-
came annihilated by a further instalment of extreme old

But how to rescue her ? That was the difficulty.
No, there was no difficulty after all, since they spoke
the same language. Tamar rose.

" My time is valuable," she said gruffly. " I did not
come here to sit and do nothing. If I am to see that
collection I'd better see it and have done with it. If
not, I'd better go. My fee in any case will be ten guineas."

A quiver passed over Mrs. Bracebridge's countenance.
And she returned from that far-off distance to which
her secret thoughts had sped her.

" Far too much, far too much," she said sharply. " But
I suppose I have no choice since I told you to come."

" No," Tamar said, quietly triumphant at the success
of her methods.

" Well, ring the bell," the old lady commanded.

Tamar made no movement. She might not have


heard. She had fixed her eyes on a picture, and she
continued to stare at it.

" Ring the bell," the old lady repeated peremptorily,
tapping on the ground with her cane.

Tamar did not stir an inch.

" Well, I never saw such ungraciousness," Mrs. Brace-
bridge said, an amused smile beginning to steal over her
face. " However, I suppose it matches my own. I
will give that much in."

Tamar's stubbornness relaxed at the old lady's admission,
and she turned to her with a touch of conciliation and
indulgence in her manner, which was both quaint and

" We do appear to share the same code of manners,"
she said, " as well as the same love for jewels."

" I was going to show you the jewels," Mrs. Brace-
bridge went on. " They are upstairs. And I wanted
Jenkins' arm to lean on. That is what I wanted. Not
much of an arm, I admit, but better than nothing."

Tamar hesitated, and then, half gruffly, half shyly,
said :

" Wouldn't my arm do as well ? "

The old lady glanced at her, laughed softly as if some-
thing had tickled her fancy, and said :

" Perhaps it would. Come, we will go then."

So they passed out of the room together, and progressed
slowly and silently up the oaken staircase to the enclosed
gallery which ran round the inner part of the three sides
of the old manor house. They paused before a window
which contained two very old shields of arms, and Mrs.
Bracebridge pointed out the inscriptions with her stick.
A green segment of the stained glass, of rich lustre and
deep emerald colour, attracted Tamar's attention, and she
exclaimed :

" What a colour ! Like the richest and rarest emerald ! "

At the sound of that word the old lady started as if
she had received some kind of shock, shuddered slightly,
turned away from the window, and leaning a little more
heavily on Tamar's arm, passed down the gallery until
she reached her boudoir. Jenkins was there to help


her into her chair, and Tamar, mystified, but intensely
interested, stood surveying her surroundings, wondering
with half her brain why the name of any jewel could
mean anything save music to a true lover of jewels, and
with the other half conjuring up for herself a vision of the
precious stones hidden in the iron safe opposite the great
oaken chest.

WHEN Jenkins had gone and had closed the door after
him, old Mrs. Bracebridge rose from her chair, and with
tottering steps approached the iron safe. She fumbled
in her bodice and produced a key, with which she tried
to open it. As she seemed incapable of this effort, and
looked a little distressed, Tamar went forward to lend
her aid, but was rather fiercely repulsed.

" Leave me to manage my own concerns," the old
lady said, glaring at her. " This is not the first time
I've opened a safe."

At last she turned the key. The door swung open. And
one by one, slowly and with obvious difficulty, Mrs. Brace-
bridge took out the caskets and placed them on the great
round table, where four large silver candlesticks were
striving in vain to light up the dim old panelled room.
But a log fire at the other end cast some cheer around ;
and as Tamar bent down and warmed her hands, which
were icy cold from suppressed excitement and curiosity,
she thought she had never before been so thankful for
the heat and glow of a hearth. From her retreat she
watched, without stirring a hair's-breadth, that bent
old figure arranging her collection of precious stones, and
bearing on her face the signs of pride and triumph
inseparable from passionate ownership.

The old Lady seated herself at the table and beckoned
to Tamar.

" You can come now," she said. " They are all here."

And she added defiantly :

" You can criticise and find fault as much as you please.
It won't have the least effect on me."


" I shall say what I think," Tamar said sullenly.
" That's what I've come for, isn't it ? "

She took no notice of Tamar's words, but began to
display her treasures, which Tamar proceeded to examine
with a calmness of manner effectually concealing the eager
interest and fierce enthusiasm which always took possession
of her at the moment when she saw any precious stones.
And her practised eye recognised at first sight that some
of these jewels were exceedingly beautiful and valuable.
There were sapphires, rubies, spinels, opals, diamonds,
tourmalines, pearls, lumachellas, topazes, turquoises, and
many others, some mounted in rings, others unmounted,
some in pendants and brooches and necklaces and bracelets.

They held her spellbound with delight. It always took
her some little time to recover from the shock of secret
rapture which she invariably felt on seeing a number
of precious stones together in a company. The degrees
of their lustre, their colour, their value, and the manner
of their cutting affected her not at all in the beginning.
She feasted luxuriously on their general splendour ; and
the glamour of them permeated her whole being. She
always looked strangely beautiful on these occasions,
with a dreamy, languorous Eastern passiveness. Mrs.
Bracebridge, who, whilst pretending indifference to her
opinion, was observing her like a lynx, noticed this peculiar
access of beauty, and was arrested by it. She waited
contentedly, even proudly, for some time, realising that
it was the jewels which had worked this miracle on Tamar.
But finally she lost patience and said peevishly :

" Well, have you nothing to say, or do you expect
me to pay you for your silence ? "

Tamar returned from her fairyland to real life.

" That is a very poor ruby," she said, singling out
one, " and I don't think anything at all of this pearl.
That sapphire is not bad. But this one has white, glassy
stripes in it. Very poor indeed."

" It isn't," Mrs. Bracebridge said angrily. "It is
one of my best sapphires."

Tamar looked at her as though she were non-existent,
and went on ;


" Now this is something like a ruby, without a single
milky speck. Not too light in colour, not too deep. A
real gem, that. I shouldn't mind having it myself."

" I don't suppose you would," chuckled the old lady,
and her face shone with pleasure at Tamar's praise.

" But this diamond," continued Tamar, " is a disgrace
to any collection. It hasn't any brilliancy at all. And
it has faint hues of brown in it."

" I deny that utterly," Mrs. Bracebridge exclaimed
indignantly. " Utterly."

" Oh, you can deny it as much as you like," Tamar
said. " That doesn't hurt anyone. But it doesn't take
away the brown hues. I wouldn't give ten shillings
for that stone. Not even nine."

" You wouldn't get it for nine," the old lady said.

"No, I can quite believe that," Tamar remarked.
" Amateurs nearly always prize the wrong things."

Mrs. Bracebridge winced at the taunt.

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Online LibraryBeatrice HarradenThirteen all told → online text (page 12 of 23)