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was an Italian, and that was the Meneghina, our Venetian maid: she was absolutely transparent."
"Yes," said I, "nothing can be more charming than that sort of impulsive candour that you speak of; but at the same time I must say that I like the English notion of the shame of a lie. There is something very noble about it, and it belongs altogether to a higher tone of feeling than the involuntary truth-telling which you praise in Italians."
"I have remarked," said Monsieur Berthier, mildly," that the conception of truth among Englishwomen is quite peculiar to themselves; and I must own that it appears to me very often to answer the exact purpose that falsehood does with other people. For example, suppose that an Englishwoman has happened to go to some place or other, and that she has her own reasons for not wishing it known that she has been there(such a thing might occur, might it not ?)—she comes back, and some one asks her where she has been? She immediately answers, To this place -to that place to the other place, and thinks that so long as she does not positively deny the having been to the one important spot she is scrupulously truthful. For has she, after all, not indeed been to all these places? More than this, she is even capable of deliberately planning to go to all these places, expressly in order that she may be able with what she regards as perfect truth to enumerate them, and behind them to conceal what she wishes concealed. When I have said what I thought upon the subject-which was that this mode of action appeared to me to be very much like pressing truth into the service of falsehood-I have been received with indignant surprise. The Englishwoman thought she had, on the contrary, evinced a conscientious adherence to truth. Now a Frenchwoman is, for the most part, quite incapable of that sort of thing; if she is in a difficulty she will lie like a trooper, but it will be a direct lie born out of an immediate danger-not that elaborate perversion of the truth in which the Englishwoman permits herself to indulge with so much astuteness and self-complacency."
"The entirely motiveless lies which Roman people often tell, are the most curious of all," said Monsieur Kiowski. "When I was in Rome, I had a most valuable man-servant: he was a man of an education considerably above his station, had been highly recommended to me, and was trustworthy in every way. One day when I came home he announced to me that a gentleman whom he had never seen before had been to call upon me; he had left no name, and he had forgotten in the hall a very curious cane. There was no end to the trouble my poor Giovannino gave himself about this stick. He made inquiries in every direction, and finally had handbills printed and stuck about in the principal shops describing it, and informing the owner where he might recover it. No one claimed it, however, and at last, after many months, considering the matter now quite hopeless, he grew to regard the stick as in a manner his own, and to take it with him when he went out walking. One day more than a year after this circumstance had occurred, he was suddenly stopped in the street
by the owner of the cane, who recognized and claimed his property. Giovannino surrendered it joyfully and unhesitatingly, at the same time affirming positively that he had bought it not half an hour ago, and given ten scudi for it. He told me all this himself when he came home-and I, who knew to what trouble and expense the poor fellow's honesty had put him, in vain endeavoured to elicit from him some reason or other for his extraordinary gratuitous falsehood. But why, why did you say that you had bought it?' I in vain inquired. Eh, non saprei!' he only answered with a smile; 'mi è saltato cosi fuori dalla bocca !—it jumped out of my mouth!'"' "After all," said Monsieur de Saldes, "the difference is not merely national, it is also individual in the highest degree. No two English or French people look at truth in the same way: it is a relative thing, and every one sees it from his own point of view. I have a friend whose respect for truth induces him to go about the world hurting everybody's feelings, and making himself perfectly odious; he thinks he is performing a great duty, and is delighted with himself. As for me, I hope I am not more undependable than any one else in serious matters; but I would tell any amount of little insignificant social lies to give a pleasant emotion, and, above all, to spare a moment's pain to any one. I think that is a duty; he despises me, and I hate him-who is to decide between us? Truth, like everything else, is an entirely relative thing. Did you ever read Renan's Vie de Jésus, Miss Hamilton?" he continued. "If you recollect, without wishing in any way to impugn the divine veracity of our Lord, he bids us remember that he was an Oriental, and all but insinuates that his assertions may therefore be taken with a grain of salt. I quite agree with him as far as the question of nationality is concerned; don't you?"
"I hate the blasphemous twaddle of that book," said Miss Hamilton, "and agree with nothing it contains. I think it has been made, in every way, of a great deal more importance than it deserves."
"But it is very prettily written !—have you read it, Miss Hope?" he said, turning to me. "Every one must own that it is prettily written."
"I think," said I, "that the very expression you make use of, condemns the book. In treating of such subjects, prettinesses are so out of place as to become absolutely shocking to people like myself, of strong prejudices and weak minds."
"Ah, but there are charming pages!" he continued. "And then there is such a perfume of naïveté and of the primitive life in his descriptions of the places! that, too, is original; no one ever did it before."
'Yes," said Ursula, "he has sprinkled the Holy Land with rosewater. It is perfectly of a piece with the idea of presenting the Saviour of the world under the aspect of a garçon d'esprit-'qui a inventé ce genre délicieux des paraboles.' This also, no doubt, has the merit of originality. As you say, nobody ever did it before, and I sincerely hope nobody ever will do it again. Saint Peter denied our Lord, but it was reserved to Monsieur Rénan to patronize him."
"Ursula!" called Madame Olympe from the other end of the room,
where she was looking out some music, "do tell me what programme I can arrange for the village church on Sunday next? There is going to be a grand confirmation-function, and we want, if possible, to get up something a little more important than usual in the way of music. There is a little woman in the village the wife of one of our huntsmen-who has a very pretty voice she and Jeanne can sing a duet together, and we can manage a simple chorus or two; but that will hardly be enough, I am afraid."
"May I sing?" said Ursula. "I should like to sing in a church of all things, that is, if you don't mind my being a heretic ?"
"No, really?" exclaimed Madame Olympe. "Heretic or no heretic, you deserve to go to heaven for such an offer! May you sing? Indeed you shall, since you give me the chance."
"But what shall it be?" said Ursula. "I have only one sacred song in the world-a psalm of Marcello's. It will be the very thing, but it is
the only one I possess."
"Well," said Madame Olympe, "that will do for the first song; but you must have two solos-what shall we do for the second? What was that grand air of Stradella's you sang just now ?—that was very solemn.”
My dear Madame Olympe," said Ursula, "it is a passionate lovesong, and begins with the words, 'Oh del mio dolce ardor, bramato oggetto." "Never mind!" said Madame Olympe. "It is quite magnificent, and you sing it superbly. We must have it. I will look out some Latin words which we will clap upon it, somehow or other. We must have it at any price."
Just then the carriage which was to carry Monsieur Kiowski to the station was announced, and Monsieur Kiowski-who had gone upstairs to get his things together-hurried into the room to bid us good-by.
"Ah," said Madame Olympe, "how splendid this Tantum ergo of Bach's is! We could sing it if we only had a tenor! Jeanne would take the first, Miss Hamilton the second, Charles could sing the bass. It's not at all difficult. Ah, Monsieur Kiowski, why are you going away?"
"I wish I were not," he answered, " and I would sing it for you with pleasure."
"Come back and sing it!" said Jeanne, laughing.
"Very well, so I will!" he said.
"No! will you?" she cried, jumping up, vehemently.
My dear child," said her mother, "don't you see that he is joking?" "Not at all," said Monsieur Kiowski; "we will have the Tantum ergo. Your function is for Sunday; I shall be back here on Saturday morning for breakfast and rehearsal.”
"It is unheard of," exclaimed Madame Olympe; "but it is too much! Oh, why do you go? why must you go?'
"It is a pity," answered he, "but I have an engagement that it is important I should keep."
"Well, then, at all events," said Madame Olympe, "you will give us some more days when you come back?"
"Alas, I fear that, too, will be impossible!
On Monday afternoon I
have a model coming at two o'clock, and I shall be obliged to leave you on Sunday as soon as I have sung my Tantum ergo. I have been at play so long that I must set to work without delay, or I shall not have my pictures ready for the Academy, and so à revoir, and not adieu! At least that is something," he added, as he kissed her hand. "A revoir, Jeanne! Monsieur Berthier, adieu; you will not be here, I believe, when I return. Miss Hope, we shall meet again on Saturday,-I shall have the pleasure of singing with you on Sunday, Miss Hamilton." He then turned to Monsieur de Saldes, and with a hasty bow and a "Monsieur, j'ai l'honneur de vous saluer!" rushed off. We looked out and saw him drive past the window. We were a little afraid he might be late-suddenly the carriage stops-what can have happened? Monsieur Kiowski leaps out-he tears up the hill by a short path across to the house. Good gracious, he has forgotten something!-he will certainly be too late! An instant morevoluble talking in a high key on the steps-in the passage-and he is in the room. "The poor dear Marquis I never bade him goodby.... Pray say a thousand things for me, I entreat . . . . I wouldn't for all the world that he should think himself forgotten!" panting he articulates, and breathless departs. There he goes spinning down the hill again-long grey coat-tails flying in the wind-he's in-off they gallop. Will he catch the train?
"Good gracious, what a whirlwind!" said Monsieur René.
"But what an angel!" said Madame Olympe. "Think of his coming back all that way, and across the sea too, for a single day, to help us with our music!"
"It isn't you, René, who would do that," said Jeanne.
"No," said René, "I should be sorry to do anything so ridiculous. It can be nothing but an intense gratification of the demon of restlessness within him to make a man do such a thing. Of course he could have remained if he had chosen,-but some people like living in a fuss."
"He said he had an engagement," I observed.
"And not with Madame de Malan, or he might have broken it," suggested Ursula.
"Oh, if there is a lady in the case, I say no more," said Monsieur de Saldes. "Only then, of course, the great magnanimity of keeping the engagement rather goes to the ground."
"I know with whom his engagement is," began Monsieur Berthier. "Oh, who is it ?—do tell us!" we all exclaimed in a breath.
"See," said he, looking round at us complacently, "the curiosity of Monsieur René is the only person who expresses no desire to become acquainted with Monsieur Kiowski's little secret. You must know, then," he continued, "that Monsieur Kiowski is much interested about a poor sculptor of great merit in Genoa, who has, in spite of his talent, been quite unable to make any sort of way with the public. Last spring, Monsieur Kiowski made him send over one of his best works-a charming little figure of Egeria-with the hope of being able to sell it for him in
England. An American gentleman,-a Mr. Crittenden Pike-saw the statue at Monsieur Kiowski's studio, and was much struck by it, but came to no decision. Since Monsieur Kiowski has been here, however, he has received a letter from Mr. Pike, stating that he sails for America on Friday, and would like to see the statue again before he goes; and it is for this-for the chance of effecting this sale, that he curtails his holiday, and goes back. I am sure you are all a little disappointed that there is no lady in the matter are you not? It would have been more romantic? Well, I think it is even prettier so."
"It isn't you, René, who would have done that either," said Madame Olympe, laughing.
"I flatter myself I should not," he answered, warming his feet, and stroking his red beard with a lovely white rose.
Madame Olympe and I then sat down to the piano, and I tried the bass of some duets with her. Suddenly, Monsieur Charles rushed in nearly as impetuously as Monsieur Kiowski. "Olympe!"
No answer but a series of brilliant scales complacently executed with the right hand.
Olympe! Have you seen Monsieur Kiowski ? Did he come back again, Olympe? He will certainly miss his train!”
She went on steadily playing with a darkening visage.
Olympe! they tell me he came back again? Did you see him? Do you hear me, Olympe? He had then forgotten something? Olympe! had he then forgotten something? He will lose the train!"
When I heard him labouring in vain to be heard, and addressing himself to her with about as much success as if she had been the wall, I unconsciously made a little indication of stopping; but without looking at me she went on pressing my right arm heavily down with her left, with which she at the same time kept on vigorously executing a rummaging bass, and, dashing the forefinger of her right hand into the centre of my page, to show me my place, gave vent to an ominous "Un, deux, trois!" that sent me floundering back to my duty in a state of abject submission. Jeanne saw the impending storm, and came to the rescue. "What!" she cried, with the greatest apparent surprise and interest. "Come back, Marquis? No!-did he really? He will certainly be too late! What could it be? Hyacinthe will know-let us go and inquire." And she carried him cleverly out of the room.
"You are surprised that I did not answer him?" said Madame Olympe. "Of what use would it have been? Sometimes he goes on calling my name for ten minutes together from the next room, for no other reason than to establish the fact that I am there!"
How shall I describe the brusque oddity of my dear strange hostess's manner without giving a wrong impression of that warm generous heart? One of the days that I was there, Monsieur Charles had a slight attack of feverish cold. With what anxious tenderness, with what affectionate devotion, she waited on and served him! I never saw in any one such