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>K * 5^ 5i«

Loveliest, — You have won the right to
know my past. I will not withhold from
you that an intermittent fever, something-
like nettle-rash, used to possess me when I
dreamed of one day being a maker of books.
Now that I have you, I have no care for a
larger public. And. indeed, it is a man's
career. For woman there is love and there
is beauty. My heart is my warrant for the
one; for the other, it ripens daily in my
mirror. Happy Mercury ! though perhaps

Love-Letters 47

it is for you, rather than me, to say it.
Please say it.

'^ 'r 'Tr "ir

My Star, My Great Bear, — I have
your very own letter acknowledging my six
last, which seem to have arrived by consecu-
tive posts. You ask me if I do not weary
myself, and whether I could not contrive to
say a little less. Dear Altruist! I do not,
and I could not, if I tried.

Your importunate

* * * *

Absent yet Present, — What, what is
this of your sickness, and me not by to touch
the spot ? To think that you should be laid
up with " servant's knee" ! Why, it is I, who
am one large genuflexion at your feet, that
should suffer in that sort. Do not fear that
I should love you less, though both your
knees should perish utterly. You are you,
and cannot essentially change. I send you
Browning's Jocoseria for a love-potion.
Your Nana (not Zola's, but meaning your

Nurse that would be).

* * * *

Poor, poor, — So the medicine was worse

48 Borrowed Plumes

than the disease, and the " servant's knee '"

has given place to a strain in your dear

mind? It was thoughtless to send you

Browning, when you were too weak to bear

him. Be appeased, beloved! Where your

mother has failed, it will take something

more than Browning to se\er us. Here is

Baedeker in his stead, that you may picture

me in Italy, for which I start next week.

My body, that is, for my spirit will bestride

your pillow. In Paradise, I think, there will

be no side-saddles. Ever your astral.
* * * *

Never doubt me, dearest. I would not
dream of setting up my opinion against
yours. I have seen your mother but once;
you must have met her far, far, oftener.
But then, I think, she could never have
accused you, even tacitly, of suffering from
hereditary madness. Here, quite humbly,
I have the advantage of you in my experi-
ence of her. Forgive my presumption; you
know how easily I would lay down my life
for you at the first soupcon of your wish
that way. When will you put me to the
test? To-morrow? Then it must be by the

Love-Letters 49

morning post, as we leave in the afternoon
for the Continent, where my address is
uncertain. Moribunda te saluto.

^ :): :1c >j<

Dearest Innominato, — You have my
letters, one from Dover, two from the Calais
bufifet, and a post-card from each end of the
St. Gothard Tunnel? Arno is under me as
I write. The architecture of Florence is
aldermanic : it glorifies the municipal idea.
One misses the reach-me-up of the soaring
Gothic. I am just back from the Academia
delle Belle Arti. (You don't mind my spell-
ing it with only one c ? It is a weakness I
cannot conquer.) I thought I knew my
Lippo of the prim Madonnas, that so belie
the known levitv of their model. But one
has first to see his " Coronation," where his
own portrait shows most profane among
" the flowery, bowery angel-brood," beside
the brazen " little lily-thing " who makes
apology for his intrusion (and hers, too, for
that matter) with her unanswerable " Iste
perfecit opus." Lucky " St. Lucy " ! If I
were Florentine, and not, as you know, an
Englishwoman abroad, engaged to be mar-

50 Borrowed Plumes

ried, and could choose from all this city's
centuries a man to love, certainly this same
Lippo should have my heart.

" Flower o" the broom,
Take away love and our earth is a tomb. ' '

Whoever — it should not be Lucrezia's half-
souled del Sarto, though he does get more
atmosphere into his work than most of them.
How Browning has made these dead bones
live for us with his touch of Fancy, re-creat-
ing Fact ! But I forgot ; you begged me, as
I loved you, not to mention him. Yet he,
too, wrote love-letters ; as I have heard, for I
would never suffer myself to read them;
such a desecration it seems to have given
them to the gaping public. Dearest, you
would never allow this sacrilege, I well
know. Still, now that I glance through my
remarks on Lippo it seems too pretty a piece
of writing to fade unseen of the general eye
of man. Might we not, after all, some day
print extracts from such of my letters as
seem to have a permanent value for the
world? For instance, I shall have some
fresh thoughts on the Renaissance to send
you in my next.

Love-Letters 5 1

But I have omitted all this while to say
that your face, and yours only, fills every
canvas here. Kiss your mother for me.
This is not a joke. Addio! Buoni sogni!

;|c ^ ^ ^

Out of a gondola " I send my heart up to
thee, all my heart." I want you here in
Venice, to hold you by the hand and teach
you things about Art not to be found even in
Baedeker. I should be the man, and you
would be the woman — in this Kingdom by
the Sea, as Mr. Swinburne said of Georges
Sand and De Musset. You have heard of
these people, beloved?

My Italian betters itself. I had a fancy,
when I saw Dogana written up in the rail-
way station on my arrival here, that it was
the feminine of Doge and so should mean
the Sea, because the Doges used to wed it
with a ring. Of course, it was really the
Custom House (Douane). We call our pet
gondolier Ippopotamo, because, for lack of
cabs, he is our river-horse. Who was the
old lady who complained that she did not see
Venice under favourable conditions, os it
was flooded f* No thought but of you.

52 Borrowed Plumes

* -Jf- :K *

By all means, dearest, make an armistice
with your mother, and let us all go into
winter-quarters. I remember, the first (and
only) time I saw her, she had such an air of
maternity that I almost asked her if she
knew you were out. Frankly, beloved, she
is really rather an old hen; or shall we say
she is most (or should it be more) like
Calverley's parroquet that declined to die?
It was imbecile, too, you know; the very
epithet your mother applied, by implication,
to my mother. Still, I must love her a little,
since, but for her, how could I have known
you ? In any case, my whole love to her son.

;): ^ >!< sic

Most Near, — This must be a very, very
short letter, as I can hear your horse's gallop
in the lane. You are coming, beloved, you
are coming !

I am just returned from the gate. It was
the butcher's boy. I kissed his feet from
mere association of ideas. You are not
jealous? He is nothing, nothing to me,
except that just now he seemed to take your
rightful place. See, I lay my cheek on the

Love-Letters 53

words that will soon glow under your eyes.
There, I have a black smudge on my nose,
and am in mourning for myself. Lay your
nose, dearest, where mine has left the paper
still warm. Your impressionable.

't* ^ 'T^ -I-

Gracious, — This is very sudden. Your
dear letter says that I must understand we
parted for ever last Tuesday at 3.30 p. m.
Ah ! these things should not be written.
Come to me, come, and with your own lips
repeat this remark; and then by that very
act you will belie yourself with lovely
perjury. I would say much more, but my
pen, for the first time within my knowledge,
refuses. This must show you how strangely
I am your distraught.

^ 3JC 3fC ^

Of course, my Prince, if you mean it, I
must release you. But nothing shall ever
make me stop writing. Do not imagine me
capable of such self-effacement. There is a
big empty play-box upstairs, which I am
having made into a dead-letter office. There
will be pigeon-holes to take the little essays
which, out of my great love for you, I

54 Borrowed Plumes

promise not to post. You are right in say-
ing that I am the most generous woman you
have ever met.

*** T* 5|C 3fC

Great Heart, — I would have you know

that there are consolations. If you had let

me marry you, as I have so consistently

urged, that might have been the end of my

love-letters. A^ozv there is no limit set them

but the grave. My pen was always jealous

of your presence. Now it knows it is the

dearest thing I ever grasp.

^ ^ ^ ^

I do not propose to outlive my happiness
very long. And, indeed, my own mother
died when I was seven. In one of my letters
I told you my family was long-lived on both
sides. This, of course, was not true; but I
wrote it just after your mother had hinted
that my " stock " was not very good stuff.
Your sorry.

I seek in vain for help from the grief of
poets. Words ! words ! a tagging of epi-
taphs that makes me sick. " C'est aimer pen
que de pouvoir dire comhien I'on ainie."
And the same with sorrow, only more so. If

Love-Letters 55

I thought that any eye but yours would
penetrate the secret of my woe, I would
destroy these letters unwritten; or else be
more careful about the spelling of my

I cannot stain this paper with tears as I
could have wished. Why will they not
come at call, like ink ? At each eyelid hangs
one, but only semi-detached, like a Brixton
villa. You see, I am not so sad but I can
still compass some happy turn of thought

like this. Your ever ingenious.

* * * *

Beloved Orphan, — Light lie the earth
on your mother's head. So short a while
ago, and I would not have believed that I
could one day hear of her death unmoved.
Yet this morning, when the news came, I
could not raise so much as a feeble smile.
Well, she has had her will; and now she
has " gone to her place " — not mine, let me
trust. Dearest, you will never have another
mother like her; nor I, it seems, a mother-
in-law of any sort.

* * * *

Dear Only Reader (if any), — I was

56 Borrowed Plumes

born with a penchant for descriptive letters,
and had I meant these for the pubHc eye I
should have made your personality shine
more speakingly through them. How should
the world know just what you are to me
from a passing reference to your check
riding-breeches and side-whiskers? And that
is so long past. By now you must have
replaced the one; and the other you may
have shaved away in a paroxysm of regret.

I think I could have lost you almost cheer-
fully if I had only been told why. One of
the saddest memories of my childhood (I
was two at the time) is concerned with a
tale my Nana told me, of a poor wronged
woman — was she a Queen of Spain, or
somebody in Tom Hood? — whose true love
left her on a rumour that she had a wooden
leg. She was condemned unheard, and the
sentence was practically capital. Like me,
she never even knew the charge against her ;
partly for the stringency of etiquette, and
in part through the proper sensitiveness of
her lover, who must, I think, a little have
resembled you, beloved.

As a child — perhaps already nursing my

Love-Letters 57

woman's seed of uncomplaining sorrow —
the story touched me poignantly. Arthur,
on the other hand, who also was present at
its telling, has no memory of it. But then
he was my junior, being barely out of long-

* * * *

Most Stolid, — This is my last letter,
positively. The doctors give me till to-
morrow to break up. Are you interested to
learn the cause? No? Then I must still
tell you. / am dying of Curiosity. It is the
woman's ruling passion — that, and love-
letter-writing in my case — strong even to
the death.

Many unsolicited answers to our conun-
drum — yours and mine, beloved, for all that
is yours is mine — have been sent in to me by
good-natured people, perfect strangers to
me, most of them. One writes, quite
gently, hazarding the theory that you were
bored by me. Well-meant, but manifestly
absurd. Another guesses that, suddenly,
you have recognised your own mother's
madness, and shrank from reproducing it.
Some of these solutions are too paltry to

58 Borrowed Plumes

repeat; and one of them unmentionable on
other grounds.

In my secret heart — it may have been
through unconscious association with the
story of the wooden leg — I half believe that
when I called your attention, perhaps with
too careless a pride, to the Xorman tint in
my veins, you gathered, from the eloquence
of my love, that their blueness w^as really
due to the presence of ink in my blood.
Well, whatever — I would shed its last drop
for you. Your always most effusive.



[The Eternal City.]

Note. — The author, in attempting to follow
Air. Hall Caine in his latest lights of
actuality, wishes to cast no sort of
reflection upon any extant Monarch or
Official of State whom he has found it
convenient to introduce for the pur-
poses of Art.

It was the dawn of a new century, practi-
cally contemporary with the present. By
an edict of the young, pale King Epami-
nondas I., this unusual event was to be
marked by the inauguration of a colossal
scheme for restoring the Parthenon. A
Jubilee Procession to the Acropolis had
been arranged with a view of reviving the
splendours of the ancient Panathenaic

6o Borrowed Plumes

festival. All Athens had been notified to

In the great Square (plafcia) of the Con-
stitution a vast and motley crowd was
assembled. Here was the Athenian Demos,
ever ready, as in the days of the Christian
Era, to see something new. Politicians of
the cafe {est iat aria) might be seen sipping
their sweet niasticha, or munching Greekish
delight (glitkuini) inlaid with pistacchio
nuts. In the midst of animated conversation
they were telling the beads of their secular
rosaries, as occupation for their restless
hands. Here were shepherds from distant
Nomarchies, Slavs from Boeotia, Rouman-
ians from Acarnania, clad in capotes of
goat's-hair, or red vests and baggy trousers,
green and blue. Here were Albanian peas-
ant-women in long shirts with broidered
sleeves and leather girdle, and the glint of
sequins in their hair. Here were local
Demarchs swelling with importance; there a
street Arab crying his sigarocharto (cigar-
ette papers) at 25 lepta, or about 2^^/. the
packet; or a newspaper-boy shouting
Ephemcris! or Astii! (the names of party-

Mr. Hall Caine 6i

organs). There again was an archimandrite
rubbing elbows with a parish Papa in his
conical hat, long hair and dark gown; and,
mixed with these, the foreign tourist, recog-
nisable by his alien speech and appearance.

On the balcony of the Prime Minister's
Palace, overlooking the Square of the Con-
stitution, the flower of Athenian beauty and
chivalry had gathered, along with the Min-
isters accredited from the various European
Courts, the Vatican amongst them. They
were greeting one another in terms of aris-
tocratic familiarity, such as Kale mera
(good day), or ydssou (your health!).
From group to group flitted the charming
Princess Vevifwiski, a Russian blonde with
cockatoo plumes rising from a Parisian
toque, now tapping a General of Cavalry
with her lorgnette, now ogling an attache
behind her fan. Scandal was the topic of
the hour.

In an adjoining salon the Prime Minister,
M. Rallipapia, having dismissed his Cabinet
and the corps diplomatique, was now closeted
with the heads of the Army, the Navy and
the Auxiliary Forces, the Chief of Police,

62 Borrowed Plumes

the Mayors of Athens and the Piraeus, the
Directors of the Foreign Schools of Archaeo-
logy, and the Commandante of the Fire
Brigade. The face of the Premier, who was
faultlessly dressed with a crimson peony in
his button-hole, was that of a man habitu-
ated to command, and unscrupulous in the
methods by which he attained his ends.

" You, gentlemen," he said, turning to
the Archaeologists, " have guaranteed the
stability of the ruins of the Acropolis during
co-day's ordeal, earthquakes excepted; I do
not anticipate a fracas in any other quarter.
But," — and here he fixed a sombre eye upon
the various officials grouped about him — "at
the first sign of disturbance, I have only to
fire the cannon on my Palace-roof, connected
wath my watch-fob by the Marconi system,
and you will at once block the passes to
Eleusis and Marathon, hock the horses in
the hipposiderodro}ni (tramways), blow up
the suburban lines, turn the municipal hose
on to the main squares and streets, and
arrest every one who cannot establish his
identity by the name on his shirt-collar."

" Malista, Kyrie (certainly, honoured

Mr. Hall Caine 63

Sir)," replied the officials, as they bowed
themselves out backwards.

Meanwhile, a thrill of tense expectation
animated the brilliant company that
thronged the reception rooms. Suddenly, up
the stairs of Pentelican marble, ornamented
with low prehistoric reliefs, came a pene-
trating whiff of ottar of patchouli, followed
almost immediately by a full round figure,
with a face radiant as a lark, and dewy as
Aphrodite fresh-risen from the foam. Her
smile, which embraced everybody, including
perfect strangers, seemed to permeate her
whole being, from the Gainsborough hat
(with its wreath of natural edelweiss) to
the astrachan gaiters, slashed with priceless

" Dearest Athena ! " cried the Princess
Vevifwiski, as her rouged lips imprinted a
peck, soft as a dove's, and hypocritical as
a hawk's, on the daffodil complexion of the
full round beauty ; '" niais, mon Dieu, how
ravishing a toilette, and what blooming
cheeks ! " She spoke in fluent French, the
invariable medium of expression in the best
court circles.

64 Borrowed Plumes

' "Who is she?" asked the new English
Minister, Lord Tiro, addressing himself to
the Plenipotentiary Representative of the
United States.

" My ! Not to know her. Viscount, argues
yourself unknown," replied General Goatee.
" Why, I guess she just walks around with
the Prime ^Minister and runs this yere Gov-
ernment on her own. Pro-digious ! "

" Ah ! " said the English IMinister, " she
has a past. I saw that at a glance. But tell
me, General, for I am fresh to the work,
what is the nature of the ambitions that
govern this ancient Hellenic race in regard
to their political status? "

" Sir," said the American, " I will figure
it up for you right here. Ever since that
Cretan business this one-horse Government
has been afflicted with notions. They reckon
to rejuvenate the Pan'lenic instinct, and
start fair again with a slap-up new Parthe-
non. In view of the im'nent dissolution of
the Turkish Empire, of which you, as a
Britisher, may not have had any pre-moni-
tion, they are pegging out moral claims on a
thickish slab of Thessaly. That's so."

Mr. Hall Caine 65

" You astonish me," said the Viscount.
" My Government has given me no infor-
mation of this contingency. But I shall have
my eyes open."

" A bright man, Sir, this Rallipapia, and
no flies on him. Reads his Byron (not for-
getting Don Juan, you bet ! ) and has mili-
tary aspirations, and means to knock sparks
out of the European concert; if only this
all-fired Demos don't call his hand over the

"Ah! the People!" said the British
Minister, pensively, " one has always to
reckon with the People where there is a
tradition of democracy."

The Jubilee Procession had begun. The
van of the resplendent cortege had already
traversed the Street of Hermes, wheeled by
the Church of Kapnikarea, and debouched
on the Square of the Temple of the Winds,
heading for the sacred ascent of the Propy-

"Holy Martyrs!" cried Athena, as she
leaned her full round shape over the balus-
trade, " what a picture! See the procession,
how it unwinds its apparently interminable

66 Borrowed Plumes

coils amid the nuillitudinous populace, and
bristles like a gigantic boa-constrictor
threading the countless ripple of the jungle."

In another moment she had forgotten the
sequence of her remarks in a delicious
ecstasy of personal detail.

" There's a battalion of Euzoni ! " she
cried in childish glee, with a flash of her
mulberry eyes. " Look at their Albanian
uniform, with the fez, and the embroidered
jacket with open sleeves, and the full white
petticoat, or fustanella, and the red shoes
turned up at the toes. That man with the
grimy face is from the mines at Laurion,
where they get from two to twenty pounds
of silver for every ton of lead. And there's
the dear Metropolitan himself in the funny
high hat! Fancy their calling the Paris
underground railway after him ! And, oh,
look! There's M. Zola, who writes novels.
He's taking notes for a volume on Athens.
And Mrs. Humphry Ward, too, on the same
tack. And there's the famous Signorina
Marie CorelH. That makes three. She
comes from Stratford-on-the-Avon. Oh,
yes, I was brought up in England. And,

Mr. Hall Caine 67

talking of Stratford, if there isn't the blessed
spook of Shakspeare! No, it isn't. It's the
great Master, Hall Caine, with his nice little
red Baedeker, and a green grammar of
Modern Greek. He's going to otit-Corelli
the Signorina. On dit, there is no love lost
there. And that makes four. All on the
same tack. Why, no more English people
need ever come to Athens. They can get it
at the lending hihliotJiekes! "

Her brilliant flow of comment flooded the
noontide air, heavy with the scent of honey
wafted from the purple slopes of Hymettus.
At her back there was that constant tittering
and whispering behind fans which is de
rigueur in the highest quarters. Aspasia
and Pompadour were among the allusive
names which passed from lip to lip.

" And where, I wonder, is my dear
Anarchist, the Honorable Dotti? I know I
shall lose my heart to him. And I want him
so to sit as a model for Harmodius, or else
Aristogeiton, who slew the tyrant. You
know, of course," she cried, throwing a
dazzling glance from her mulberry eyes
upon the company, " that I have been asked

68 Borrowed Plumes

by the Board of Works to do a fresco for
the wall-paper of the new Parthenon. You
must all of you come to the private view."
The invitation was received with well-simu-
lated rapture. The Prime Minister had just
entered, twirling his moustaches with a
confident air of proprietorship.

A quivering vibration passed through the
crowd below, as in a play just before the
ghost comes on. This was followed by a
muttering, vague as distant thunder, faintly
audible as a tideless sea. All eyes were
directed to a figure that was climbing up an
electric lamp-post immediately under the
balcony of the Premier's Palace. It was
Deemster Dotti. His face was as green as
an olive, yet as bold as a beacon.

" Euphemeite, O politai! Citizens, hush
your tongues to holy silence! " he began in
the formula familiar to all in whom flowed
the blood of the old Athenian people. " I
am not Demosthenes that I should declaim
from the Pnyx; nor the Apostle that I
should address you from the Areopagus : but
the spirit of both still animates me even on
this precarious point of vantage. Brothers,

Mr. Hall Caine 69

we are to-day the victims of a cruel farce.
Under the guise of restoring the fraternal
beauty of an ancient Republic, the Govern-
ment, ambitious of a higher place in the
Councils of Europe, is but riveting more
firmly the fetters about your patient necks."

Murmurs of dissent and approval floated
up from the multitude. " Kalo (bravo! ) "
" Siga (shut up !) " " Go it, cockey ! "

" People of the Eternal City of the Violet
Crown ! It is a true Republic that we want
to restore, the Republic of Manhood. We
want no Kings, no Governments, no Army,
no Navy, no Auxiliary Forces, no Fire
Brigade! We want no Prime Minister
sucking the people's veins while he toys with
the tangles of a Phryne's locks! "

" Eu ! eu!" "To the crows with him!"
" Good old Dotti ! "

" Yet let us not move through rapine and
violence to noble ends. Let us simply
express opinions. Let us convince by moral
suasion. Let our motto be — For Others!
Everything for Everybody else! "

The peroration, designedly conciliatory,
was lost in the sudden roar of a cannon from

7© Borrowed Plumes

the Prime Minister's roof. This was fol-
lowed by a terrific explosion on the down
line of the Piraeus railway. Fountains of
red blood spurted from the flanks of their
chargers as the mounted police bore down
upon the crowd with fixed carbines. Hon-
orable Dotti had raised his arm to implore
the people not to resist, when a live jet of
water from the municipal hose caught him
full between the eyes, felling him to the foot
of the lamp-post.

The brilliant gathering on the balcony
had melted away like snow towards the
back-door. As they streamed through the

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