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our indebtedness to everybody else, so nothing but farewell calls need
detain us."

"And the officers?" I stammered. "How will they know?"

"I'll get Jimmie to send them a wire saying we have gone. They won't
know where. Hurry up and turn out the lights. They hurt my eyes."




CHAPTER XI


MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH TOLSTOY

At the critical point of relating the difficulty attending my first
audience with Tolstoy, I am constrained to mention a few of the
obstacles encountered by a person bearing indifferent letters of
introduction, and if by so doing I persuade any man or woman to write
one worthy letter introducing one strange man or woman in a foreign
country to a foreign host, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain.

No one, who has not travelled abroad unknown and depending for all
society upon written introductions, can form any idea of the utter
inadequacy of the ordinary letter of introduction. When I first
announced my intention of several years' travel in Europe, I accepted
the generously offered letters of friends and acquaintances, and, in
some instances, of kind persons who were almost total strangers to me,
careless of the wording of these letters and only grateful for the
goodness of heart they evinced.

In one instance, a man who had lived in Berlin sent me a dozen of his
visiting-cards, on the reverse side of which were written the names of
his German friends and under them the scanty words, "Introducing Miss
So-and-So." He took pains also to call upon me several times, and to ask
as a special favour that I would present these letters. Forgetful of the
fact that his German acquaintances would have no idea who I was, that
there was no explanation upon the card, and without thinking that he
would not take the trouble to write letters of explanation beforehand, I
presented these twelve cards without the least reluctance, simply
because I had given my word. Out of the twelve, ten returned my calls
and we discussed nothing more important than the weather. We knew
nothing of each other except our names, and all of these I dare say were
mispronounced. Two out of the twelve entertained me at dinner, and three
years afterward, when I returned to America, I received a letter of the
sincerest apology from one, saying that she had learned more of me
through the ambassador, and reproaching me for not having volunteered
information about myself, which might have led at least to conversation
of a more intimate nature.

I was armed at that time with many of these visiting-cards of
introduction, and after this instance I filed them with great care in
the waste-basket. I then examined my other letters. It is idle to
describe to those who have never depended upon such documents in foreign
countries the inadequacy of half of them. In spite of the kindest
intentions, they were really worthless.

It was only after I got to Poland and Russia, where the hospitality
springs from the heart, that my introductions began to bear fruit
satisfactory to a sensitive mind. It is, therefore, with feelings of the
liveliest appreciation that I look back on the letter given me by
Ambassador White in Berlin to Count Leo Tolstoy. A lifetime of
diplomacy, added to the sincerest and most generous appreciation of what
an ideal hospitality should be, have served to make this representative
of the American people perfect in details of kindness, which can only
be fully appreciated when one is far from home. Nothing short of the
completeness and yet brevity of this letter would have served to obtain
an audience with that great author, who must needs protect himself from
the idle and curious, and the only drawback to my first interview with
Tolstoy was the fact that I had to part company with this precious
letter. It was so kind, so generous, so appreciative, that up to the
time I relinquished it, I cured the worst attacks of homesickness simply
by reading it over, and from the lowest depths of despair it not only
brought me back my self-respect, but so exquisitely tickled my vanity
that I was proud of my own acquaintance with myself.

My introduction to Princess Sophy Golitzin, in Moscow, was of such a
sort that we at once received an invitation from her to meet her
choicest friends, at her house the next day. When we arrived, we found
some thirty or forty charming Russians in a long, handsomely furnished
salon, all speaking their own language. But upon our approach, every one
began speaking English, and so continued during our stay. Twice,
however, little groups fell into French and German at the advent of one
or two persons who spoke no English.

Russians do not show off at their best in foreign environments. I have
met them in Germany, France, England, Italy, and America, and while
their culture is always complete, their distinguishing trait is their
hospitality, generous and free beyond any I have ever known, which, of
course, is best exploited in their own country and among their own
people.

At the Princess Golitzin's, I was told that the Countess Tolstoy and her
daughter had been there earlier in the afternoon, but, owing to the
distance at which they lived, they had been obliged to leave early.
They, however, left their compliments for all of us, and asked the
princess to say that they had remained as long as they had dared, hoping
for the pleasure of meeting us.

Being only a modest American, I confess that I opened my eyes with
wonder that a personage of such renown as the Countess Tolstoy, the wife
of the greatest living man of letters, should take the trouble to leave
so kind a message for me.

When Bee and Mrs. Jimmie heard it, they treated me with almost the same
respect as when they discovered that I knew the head waiter at
Baden-Baden. But not quite.

As, however, our one ambition in coming to Russia had been to see
Tolstoy himself, we at once began to ask questions of the princess as to
how we might best accomplish our object, but to our disappointment her
answers were far from encouraging. He was, I was told by everybody, ill,
cross as a bear, and in the throes of composition. Could there be a
worse possible combination for my purpose?

So much was said discouraging our project that Jimmie was for giving it
up, but I think one man never received three such simultaneously
contemptuous glances as we three levelled at Jimmie for his craven
suggestion. So it happened that one Sunday morning we took a carriage,
and, having invited the consul, who spoke Russian, we drove to Tolstoy's
town house, some little distance out of Moscow.

We gave the letter and our visiting-cards to the consul, and he
explained our wish to see Tolstoy to the footman who answered our ring.
Having evidently received instructions to admit no one, he not only
refused us admittance, but declined to take our cards. The consul
translated his refusal, and seemed vanquished, but I urged him to make
another attempt, and he did so, which was followed by the announcement
that the countess was asleep, and the count was out. This being
translated to me, I announced, in cheerful English which the footman
could not understand, that both of these statements were lies, and for
my part I had no doubt that the footman was a direct descendant of
Beelzebub.

"Tell him that you know better," I said. "Tell him that we know the
count is too ill to leave the house, and that the countess could not
possibly be asleep at this time of day. Tell him if he expects us to
believe him, to make up a better one than that."

"Say something," urged Bee. "Get us inside the house, if no more."

"Tell him how far we have come, and how anxious we are to see the
count," said Mrs. Jimmie.

"Oh, better give it up," said Jimmie, "and come on home."

The consul obligingly made the desired effort, evidently combining all
of our instructions, politely softened by his own judgment. The
footman's face betrayed no yielding, and in order the better to refuse
to take our cards he put his hands behind him.

"You see, it's no use," said the consul. "Hadn't we better give it up?"

"He won't let you in," said Jimmie, "so don't make a fuss."

"I shall make no fuss," I said, quietly. "But I'll get in, and I'll see
Tolstoy, and I'll get all the rest of you in. Give me those cards."

I took two rubles from my purse, and, taking the cards and letter, I
handed them all to the footman, saying in lucid English:

"We are coming in, and you are to take these cards to Count Tolstoy."

At the same time, I pointed a decisive forefinger in the direction in
which I thought the count was concealed. The obsequious menial took our
cards, bowed low, and invited us to enter with true servant's
hospitality.

In all Russian houses, as, doubtless, everybody knows, the first floor
is given up to an _antechambre_, where guests remove their wraps and
goloshes, and behind this room are the kitchen and servants' quarters.
All the living-rooms of the family are generally on the floor above.
Having once entered this _antechambre_, my Bob Acres courage began to
ooze.

"Now, I am not going to be rude," I said. "We'll just pretend to be
taking off our wraps until we find whether we can be received. I don't
mind forcing myself on a servant, but I do object to inconveniencing the
master of the house.

"You're weakening," said Jimmie, derisively. "You're scared!"

"I am not," I declared, indignantly. "I am only trying to be polite, and
it's a hard pull, I can tell you, when I want anything as much as I want
to see Tolstoy. If he won't see us after he reads that letter, I can at
least go away knowing that I put forth my best efforts to see him, but
if I had taken a servant's refusal, I should feel myself a coward."

I looked anxiously at my friends for approval. Jimmie and the consul
looked dubious, but Bee and Mrs. Jimmie patted me on the back and said I
had done just right.

While we were engaged in this conversation, and while the man was still
up-stairs, the door from the kitchen burst open, and in came a handsome
young fellow of about eighteen, whistling. Now my brother whistles and
slams doors just like this young Russian. So my understanding of boys
made me feel friendly with this one at once. Seeing us, he stopped and
bowed politely.

"Good morning," I said, cheerfully. "We are Americans, and we have
travelled five thousand miles for the purpose of seeing Count Tolstoy,
and when we got here this morning the servant wouldn't even let us in
until I made him, and we are waiting to see if the count will receive
us."

"Why, I am just sure papa will see you," said the boy in perfect
English. "How disgusting of Dmitri. He is a blockhead, that Dmitri. I
shall tell mamma how he treated you. The idea of leaving you standing
down here while he took your cards up."

"It is partly our fault," I said, defending Dmitri. "We sent him up to
ask."

"Nevertheless, he should have had you wait in the salon. Dmitri is a
fool."

"His manner wasn't very cordial," I admitted, as we followed him
up-stairs and into a large well-furnished, but rather plain, room
containing no ornaments.

"But as I had a letter from the ambassador," I went on, "I felt that I
must at least present it."

The boy turned back, as he started to leave the room, and said:

"Oh! From Mr. White? Your ambassador wrote about you, and also some
friends of ours from Petersburg. Papa has been expecting you this long
time. He would have been so annoyed if he had failed to see you. I'll
tell him how badly Dmitri treated you. What must you think of the
Russians?"

He said all this hurrying to the door to find his father. We sat down
and regarded each other in silence. Jimmie and the consul looked into
their hats with a somewhat sheepish countenance. Bee cleared her throat
with pleasure, and Mrs. Jimmie carefully assumed an attitude of
unstudied grace, smoothing her silk dress over her knee with her gloved
hand, and involuntarily looking at her glove the way we do in America.
Then the door opened and Count Tolstoy came in.

To begin with, he speaks perfect English, and his cordial welcome,
beginning as he entered the door, continued while he traversed the
length of the long room, holding out both hands to me, in one of which
was my letter from the ambassador. He examined our party with as much
curiosity and interest as we studied him. He wore the ordinary peasant's
costume. His blue blouse and white under-garment, which showed around
the neck, had brown stains on it which might be from either coffee or
tobacco. His eyes were set widely apart and were benignant and kind in
expression. His brow was benevolent, and counteracted the lower part of
his face, which in itself would be pugnacious. His nose was short,
broad, and thick. His jaw betrayed the determination of the bulldog. The
combination made an exceedingly interesting study. His coarse clothes
formed a curious contrast to the elegance of his speech and the grace of
his manner. He was simple, unaffected, gentle, and possessed, in common
with all his race, the trait upon which I have remarked before, a keen,
intelligent interest in America and Americans.

While he was still welcoming us and apologising for the behaviour of his
servant, the countess came in, followed by the young countess, their
daughter. The Countess Tolstoy has one of the sweetest faces I ever saw,
and, although she has had thirteen children, she looks as if she were
not over forty-three years old. Her smooth brown hair had not one silver
thread, and its gloss might be envied by many a girl of eighteen. Her
eyes were brown, alert, and fun-loving, her manner quick, and her speech
enthusiastic. Her plain silk gown was well made, and its richness was in
strange contrast to the peasant's costume of her illustrious husband.

The little countess had short red brown hair parted on the side like a
boy's and softly waving about her face, red brown eyes, and a skin so
delicate that little freckles showed against its clearness. Her modest,
quiet manner gave her at once an air of breeding. Her manner was older
and more subdued than that of her mother, from whom the cares and
anxieties of her large family and varied interests had evidently rolled
softly and easily, leaving no trace behind.

All three of them began questioning us about our plans, our homes, our
families, wondering at the ease with which we took long journeys,
envying our leisure to enjoy ourselves, and constantly interrupting
themselves with true expressions of welcome.

It is, perhaps, only a fair example of the bountiful hospitality we
received all through Poland and Russia to chronicle here that Count
Tolstoy invited us to his house in the country, whither they expected to
go shortly, to remain several months, and, as he afterward explained it,
"for as long as you can be happy with us."

His book on "What is Art?" was then attracting a great deal of
attention, but he was deeply engaged in the one which has since
appeared, first under the title of "The Awakening," and afterward
called "Resurrection." It is said that he wrote this book twelve years
ago, and only rewrote it at the instance of the publishers, but no one
who has met Tolstoy and become acquainted with him can doubt that he has
been collecting material, thinking, planning, and writing on that book
for a lifetime.

Many consider Tolstoy a _poseur_, but he sincerely believes in himself.
He had only the day before worked all day in the shop of a peasant,
making shoes for which he had been paid fifty copecks, and we were told
that not infrequently he might be seen working in the forest or field,
bending his back to the same burdens as his peasants, sharing their
hardships, and receiving no more pay than they.

It was a wonderful experience to sit opposite him, to look into his
eyes, and to hear him talk.

"It is a great country, yours," he said. "To me the most interesting in
the world just at present. What are you going to do with your problems?
How are you going to deal with anarchy and the Indian and negro
questions? You have a blessed liberty in your country."

"If you will excuse me for saying so, I think we have a very _un_blessed
liberty in our country! Too much liberty is what has brought about the
very conditions of anarchy and the race problem which now threaten us."

"Do you think the negroes ought not to have been given the franchise?"

"That is a difficult question," I said. "Let me answer it by giving you
another. Is it a good thing to turn loose on a young republic a mass of
consolidated ignorance, such as the average negro represented at the
close of the war, and put votes into their hands with not one
restraining influence to counteract it? You continentals can form no
idea of the Southern negro. The case of your serfs is by no means a
parallel. But it is too late now. You cannot take the franchise away
from them. They must work out their own salvation."

"Would you take it away from them, if you could?" asked Tolstoy.

"Most certainly I would," I answered, "although my opinion is of no
value, and I am only wasting your time by expressing it. I would take
away the franchise from the negroes and from all foreigners until they
had lived in our country twenty-one years, as our American men must do,
and I would establish a property and educational qualification for every
voter. I would not permit a man to vote upon property issues unless he
were a property owner."

"Would you enfranchise the women?" asked the countess.

"I would, but under the same conditions."

"But would your best element of women exercise the privilege?" asked the
little countess.

"Not all of them at first, and some of them never, I suppose; but when
once our country awakens to the meaning of patriotism, and our women
understand that they are citizens exactly as the men are citizens, they
will do their duty, and do it more conscientiously than the men."

"It is a very interesting subject," said the count; "and your
suggestions open up many possibilities. Women do vote in several of your
States, I am told."

"How I would love to see a woman who had voted," cried the countess,
clasping her hands with all the vivacity of a French woman.

"Why, I have voted," said Bee, laughing. "I voted for President McKinley
in the State of Colorado, and my sister and Mrs. Jimmie voted for school
trustee in Illinois." All three of the Tolstoys turned eagerly toward
Bee.

"Do tell me about it," said the count.

"There is very little to tell. I simply went and stood in line and cast
my ballot."

"But was there no shooting, no bribery, no excitement?" cried the
countess. "Do they go dressed as you are now?"

"No, I dressed much better. I wore my best Paris gown, and drove down in
my victoria. While I was in the line half a dozen gentlemen, who
attended my receptions, came up and chatted with me, showed me how to
fold my ballot, and attended me as if we were at a concert. When I came
away, I took a street-car home, and sent my carriage for several ladies
who otherwise would not have come."

"And you," said the countess, turning to Mrs. Jimmie.

"It was in a barber shop," she said, laughing. "When I went in, the men
had their feet on the table, their hats on their heads, and they were
all smoking, but at my entrance all these things changed. Hats came off,
cigars were laid down, and feet disappeared. I was politely treated, and
enjoyed it immensely."

"How very interesting," said Tolstoy. "But are there not societies for
and against suffrage? Why do your women combine against it?"

"Because American women have not awakened to the meaning of good
citizenship, and they prefer chivalry to justice, regardless of the love
of country. I never belonged to any suffrage society, never wrote or
spoke or talked about it. I think the responsibility of voting would be
heavy and often disagreeable, but, if the women were enfranchised, I
would vote from a sense of duty, just as I think many others would; and,
as to the good which might accrue, I think you will agree with me that
women's standards are higher than men's. There would be far less
bribery in politics than there is now."

"Is there much bribery?" asked Tolstoy.

"Unfortunately, I suppose there is. Have you heard how the ex-Speaker of
the House of Representatives, Tom Reed, defines an honest man in
politics? 'An honest man is a man that will stay bought!'"

There is no use in denying the truth. Tolstoy is always the teacher and
the author. I could not imagine him the husband and the father. He
seemed in the act of getting copy, and had a way of asking a question,
and then scrutinising both the question and the answer as one who had
set a mechanical toy in motion by winding it up. Tolstoy would make an
excellent reporter for an American newspaper. He could obtain an
interview with the most reticent politician. But I had a feeling that
his methods were as the methods of Goethe.

His wife evidently does not share his own opinion of himself. She
listened with obvious impatience to the conversation, then she drew Bee
and Mrs. Jimmie aside, and they were soon in the midst of an animated
discussion of the Rue de la Paix.

Tolstoy overheard snatches of their talk without a sign of disapproval.
I have seen a big Newfoundland watch the graceful antics of a kitten
with the same air of indifference with which Tolstoy regarded his wife's
humanity and naturalness. Tolstoy takes himself with profound
seriousness, but, in spite of his influence on Russia and the outside
world, the great teacher has been unable to cure his wife's interest in
millinery.

Nordau told me in Paris that Tolstoy was a combination of genius and
insanity. Undoubtedly Tolstoy is actuated by a genuine desire to free
Russia, but the idea was unmistakably imbedded in my mind that his
Christianity was like Napoleon's description of a Russian. Scratch it
and you would find Tartar fanaticism under it, - the fanaticism of the
ascetic who would drive his own flesh and blood into the flames to save
the soul of his domestics. This impression grew as I watched the
attitude of the countess toward her husband. What must a wife think of
such a husband's views of marriage when she is the mother of thirteen of
his children? What must she think of insincerity when he refuses to
copyright his books because he thinks it wrong to take money for
teaching, yet permits _her_ to copyright them and draw the royalties for
the support of the family?

Her opinion of her famous husband lies beneath her manner, covered
lightly by a charming and graceful impatience, - the impatience of a
spoiled child.

When we got into the carriage I said:

"Well?"

"Well," said our friend the consul, who had not spoken during the
interview, "he is the queerest man I ever met. But how he pumped you!"

"We are all 'copy' to him," said Jimmie. "He wanted information at first
hand."

"Sometime he may succeed in convincing his daughter," said Mrs. Jimmie,
"but never his wife. She knows him too well."

"Yet he seemed interested in you and Jimmie," said Bee, ruefully. Then
more cheerfully, "but we're asked to come again!"

"We are living documents; that's why."

"What do you think of him?" said Jimmie to me with a grin of
comradeship.

"I don't know. My impressions have got to settle and be skimmed and
drained off before I know."

"Well, we'll go to their reception anyway," said Bee, comfortably, with
the air of one who had no problems to wrestle with.

"What are you going to wear?"

To be sure! That was the main question after all. What were we going to
wear?




CHAPTER XII


AT ONE OF THE TOLSTOY RECEPTIONS

When we arrived the next evening, it was to find a curious situation.
The Countess Tolstoy and her daughter and young son, in European
costume, - the countess in velvet and lace, and the little countess in a
pretty taffeta silk, - were receiving their guests in the main salon, and
later served them to a magnificent supper with champagne. The count, we
were told, was elsewhere receiving his guests, who would not join us.
Later he came in, still in his peasant's costume, and refused all
refreshment. He was exceedingly civil to all his guests, but signalled
out the Americans in a manner truly flattering.

It was a charming evening, and we met agreeable people, but, although
they stayed late, we remained, at Tolstoy's request, still later, and
when the last guest had departed, we sat down, drawing our chairs quite
close together after the manner of a cheerful family party.

After inquiring how we had spent our day, and giving us some valuable
hints about different points of interest for the morrow, Tolstoy plunged


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