among the passengers who were leaving the caucasus, michael recognized the troop of tsiganes who, the day before, had appeared in the nijni-novgorod fair. there, on the deck of the steamboat were the old bohemian and the woman. with them, and no doubt under their direction, landed about twenty dancers and singers, from fifteen to twenty years of age, wrapped in old cloaks, which covered their spangled dresses. these dresses, just then glancing in the first rays of the sun, reminded michael of the curious appearance which he had observed during the night. it must have been the glitter of those spangles in the bright flames issuing from the steamboat’s funnel which had attracted his attention.
except for those people there seemed little reason for alarm. mrs. garstein fellows did not know that professor hoppart, who so amusingly combined a professorship of political economy with the writing of music-hall lyrics, was a keen amateur theologian, nor that bent, the sentimental novelist, had a similar passion. she did not know that her own eldest son, a dark, romantic-looking youngster from eton, had also come to the theological stage of development. she did however weigh the possibilities of too liberal opinions on what are called social questions on the part of miss sharsper, the novelist, and decided that if that lady was watched nothing so terrible could be said even in an undertone; and as for the mariposa, the dancer, she had nothing but spanish and bad french, she looked all right, and it wasn't very likely she would go out of her way to startle an anglican bishop. simply she needn't dance. besides which even if a man does get a glimpse of a little something--it isn't as if it was a woman.
but of course if the party mustn't annoy the bishop, the bishop must do his duty by the party. there must be the usual purple and the silver buckles.
she wired back:
"a little party but it won't put you out send your man with your change."
“but where are the folk?” said henchard, after the lapse of half-an-hour, during which time only two men and a woman had stood up to dance. “the shops are all shut. why don’t they come?”
“they are at farfrae’s affair in the west walk,” answered a councilman who stood in the field with the mayor.
“a few, i suppose. but where are the body o ’em?”
“all out of doors are there.”
“then the more fools they!”
henchard walked away moodily. one or two young fellows gallantly came to climb the poles, to save the hams from being wasted; but as there were no spectators, and the whole scene presented the most melancholy appearance henchard gave orders that the proceedings were to be suspended, and the entertainment closed, the food to be distributed among the poor people of the town. in a short time nothing was left in the field but a few hurdles, the tents, and the poles.
henchard returned to his house, had tea with his wife and daughter, and then walked out. it was now dusk. he soon saw that the tendency of all promenaders was towards a particular spot in the walks, and eventually proceeded thither himself. the notes of a stringed band came from the enclosure that farfrae had erected — the pavilion as he called it — and when the mayor reached it he perceived that a gigantic tent had been ingeniously constructed without poles or ropes. the densest point of the avenue of sycamores had been selected, where the boughs made a closely interlaced vault overhead; to these boughs the canvas had been hung, and a barrel roof was the result. the end towards the wind was enclosed, the other end was open. henchard went round and saw the interior.
in form it was like the nave of a cathedral with one gable removed, but the scene within was anything but devotional. a reel or fling of some sort was in progress; and the usually sedate farfrae was in the midst of the other dancers in the costume of a wild highlander, flinging himself about and spinning to the tune. for a moment henchard could not help laughing. then he perceived the immense admiration for the scotchman that revealed itself in the women’s faces; and when this exhibition was over, and a new dance proposed, and donald had disappeared for a time to return in his natural garments, he had an unlimited choice of partners, every girl being in a coming-on disposition towards one who so thoroughly understood the poetry of motion as he.
o.m. you would require much of this one?
y.m. oh, indeed yes.
o.m. it could drive lathes, drills, planers, punches, polishers, in a word all the cunning machines of a great factory?
y.m. it could.
o.m. what could the stone engine do?
y.m. drive a sewing-machine, possibly--nothing more, perhaps.
the women could not help laughing at the airs by which blondet illustrated his satire.
"this explanation, dear count adam," said blondet, turning to the pole, "will have proved to you that the 'perfect lady' represents the intellectual no less than the political muddle, just as she is surrounded by the showy and not very lasting products of an industry which is always aiming at destroying its work in order to replace it by something else. when you leave her you say to yourself: she certainly has superior ideas! and you believe it all the more because she will have sounded your heart with a delicate touch, and have asked you your secrets; she affects ignorance, to learn everything; there are some things she never knows, not even when she knows them. you alone will be uneasy, you will know nothing of the state of her heart. the great ladies of old flaunted their love-affairs, with newspapers and advertisements; in these days the lady has her little passion neatly ruled like a sheet of music with its crotchets and quavers and minims, its rests, its pauses, its sharps to sign the key. a mere weak women, she is anxious not to compromise her love, or her husband, or the future of her children. name, position, and fortune are no longer flags so respected as to protect all kinds of merchandise on board. the whole aristocracy no longer advances in a body to screen the lady. she has not, like the great lady of the past, the demeanor of lofty antagonism; she can crush nothing under foot, it is she who would be crushed. thus she is apt at jesuitical mezzo termine, she is a creature of equivocal compromises, of guarded proprieties, of anonymous passions steered between two reef-bound shores. she is as much afraid of her servants as an englishwoman who lives in dread of a trial in the divorce-court. this woman—so free at a ball, so attractive out walking—is a slave at home; she is never independent but in perfect privacy, or theoretically. she must preserve herself in her position as a lady. this is her task.
"for in our day a woman repudiated by her husband, reduced to a meagre allowance, with no carriage, no luxury, no opera-box, none of the divine accessories of the toilet, is no longer a wife, a maid, or a townswoman; she is adrift, and becomes a chattel. the carmelites will not receive a married woman; it would be bigamy. would her lover still have anything to say to her? that is the question. thus your perfect lady may perhaps give occasion to calumny, never to slander."
"it is all so horribly true," said the princesse de cadignan.
"and so," said blondet, "our 'perfect lady' lives between english hypocrisy and the delightful frankness of the eighteenth century—a bastard system, symptomatic of an age in which nothing that grows up is at all like the thing that has vanished, in which transition leads nowhere, everything is a matter of degree; all the great figures shrink into the background, and distinction is purely personal. i am fully convinced that it is impossible for a woman, even if she were born close to a throne, to acquire before the age of five-and-twenty the encyclopaedic knowledge of trifles, the practice of manoeuvring, the important small things, the musical tones and harmony of coloring, the angelic bedevilments and innocent cunning, the speech and the silence, the seriousness and the banter, the wit and the obtuseness, the diplomacy and the ignorance which make up the perfect lady."
"and where, in accordance with the sketch you have drawn," said mademoiselle des touches to emile blondet, "would you class the female author? is she a perfect lady, a woman comme il faut?"
"when she has no genius, she is a woman comme il n'en faut pas," blondet replied, emphasizing the words with a stolen glance, which might make them seem praise frankly addressed to camille maupin. "this epigram is not mine, but napoleon's," he added.
you must create something in art: my verse 'is thine, and born of thee;' only listen to me, and i will bring forth eternal numbers to outlive long date,' and you shall people with forms of your own image the imaginary world of the stage. these children that you beget he continues, will not wither away, as mortal children do, but you shall live in them and in my plays: do but
'make thee another self, for love of me.
that beauty still may live in thine or thee!'
i collected all the passages that seemed to me to corroborate this view, and they produced a strong impression on me, and showed me how complete cyril graham's theory really was. i also saw that it was quite easy to separate those lines in which he speaks of the sonnets themselves from those in which he speaks of his great dramatic work. this was a point that had been entirely overlooked by all critics up to cyril graham's day. and yet it was one of the most important points in the whole series of poems. to the sonnets shakespeare was more or less indifferent. he did not wish to rest his fame on them. they were to him his slight muse,' as he calls them, and intended, as meres tells us, for private circulation only among a few, a very few, friends.
ah! my friends!" sadly exclaimed the minister, grown young again, "a man must hit his head very hard on the marble to dispel that poem!"
this cry of nature, finding an echo in the listeners, spurred the curiosity he had excited in them with so much skill.
across the valleys and through the open spaces the sun, as it struck down the trail, was always flashing back from distant spears.
it was a random shot, and yet the reporter's instinct was right.