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While we are in Provence, our thoughts may lightly turn to M. Zola. If you wish to retain the fashionable (and, I admit, not unaccountable) prejudice against this writer, do not read "Nouvelle Campagne" (Charpentier), for it will force you to reconsider your position. It is impossible to run through these eighteen leaders reprinted from the Figaro-for that is all they pretend to be-without a conviction that the author is a very honest man. Left alone, in this ebb-tide of realism, a sort of roughly hewn rockgiant on the sand, M. Zola finds himself misunderstood, insulted, abandoned. And in his isolation he is grander, he is an object of more genuine sympathy, than ever he was in the days of his overwhelming prosperity. Adversitya very relative adversity, which does not effect the enormous bulk of his "sales" and his "royalties"-has been salutary to M. Zola; it has acted on him as an astringent. It has made him pull himself together and practise his pectoral muscles. It has even had a favorable effect upon his style, which seems to me to be more direct, less burdened with repetitions, less choked with words, than it usually is. M. Zola is very angry, and wrath is becoming to him. He seizes his club and glares round upon us. The effect is distinctly tremendous; he looks like Hercules, and sometimes a little like Polyphemus.
To be serious, the reaction against M. Zola has certainly proceeded too far. It has become a shield behind which all manner of effeminacies and hypocrisies have concealed themselves, and, if he were the Devil, it is time he should have his due. And nothing could be less like the Devil than M. Zola. He is a strenuous, conscientious bourgeois, rather sentimental and very romantic, with a Theory of Life which has ridden away with him, and makes him believe that he ought to be squalid and obscene wherever existence is obscene and squalid. But the heart of him is a heart of gold, and any candid person who reads "Nouvelle Campagne" will see how uneffectedly the author is everywhere on the side of the angels. His
very faults are virtues turned inside out; the anti-Malthusian essay, called "Dépopulation," throws a most curious light on this. But read his tender pleadings for kindness to animals ("L'Amour des Bêtes" and "Enfin Couronné"), his courageous defence of the Jews, his articles on literary property (where he gives points in ardor to our own unselfish Sir Walter Besant), his amusing, frank, and spirited replies to his juvenile detractors ("Le Crapaud," "A la Jeunesse," "Les Droits du Critique"), his extraordinarily generous single-handed defence of M. Paul Bourget ("Auteurs et Editeurs"), and then deny that M. Zola, besides being the most effective of living journalists, is, with all his surface faults, a very excellent and honest man.
Now that "John Gabriel Borkman" is being so much discussed in London, it may be interesting to many readers to know that an excellent translation of the drama has just been published in Paris (Perrin et Cie), from the pen of Isben's friend and enthusiastic commentator, Comte Prozor. It contains, in an interesting preface, some curious notes of the conversation of the poet.
IN KEDAR'S TENTS.1
BY HENRY SETON MERRIMAN, AUTHOR OF "THE SOWERS."
MIDNIGHT AND DAWN.
"I have set my life upon a cast.
And I will stand the hazard of the die."
"Excellency," reported a man, who entered the room at this moment, "they are bringing carts of fuel through the Calle de la Ciudad to set against the door and burn it."
"To set against which door, my hon est friend?"
"The great door on the plaza, excellency. The other is an old door
1 Copyright, 1897, by Henry Seton Merriman.
"And they cannot burn it or break it open?"
"No, excellency; and, besides, there are loopholes in the thickness of the wall at the side."
would find life a dull affair were there no strife in it.
"Yes," said the general after a moment's reflection, "that is a good idea, and will gain time. But let them first
moment is a gain."
The general smiled on this man as bring their fuel and set it up. Every being after his own heart. "One may not shoot to-night, my friend. I have already given the order."
At this instant some humorist in the crowd threw a stone in at the open window. The old priest picked up the missile and examined it curiously.
"It is fortunate," he said, "that the stones are fixed in Toledo. In Xeres The general shrugged his shoulders, they are loose and always in the air. wisely tolerant. I wonder if I can hit a citizen." And he threw the stone back. "Close the shutters," said the general. "Let us avoid arousing ill-feeling."
"Oh, yes;" he answered; "I suppose one may prick them with the sword."
Conyngham, who had been standing half in and half out of the open window listening to this conversation, now came forward.
"I think," he said, "that I can clear the plaza from time to time if you give me twenty men. We can thus gain time." "Street-fighting," answered the general gravely, "do you know anything of it? It is nasty work."
"I know something of it. One has to shout very loud. I studied it at Dublin University."
"But one may prick them with the sword, excellency," suggested the trooper, with a sort of suppressed enthusiasm.
"To be sure; I forgot."
Julia and Estella watched and listened. Their lot had been cast in the paths of war, and since childhood they had remembered naught else. But neither had yet been so near to the work, nor had they seen and heard men talk and plan with a certain grim humor, a curt and deliberate scorn of haste or excitement, as these men spoke and planned now. Conyngham and Concepcion Vara were al tered by these circumstances--there was a light in their eyes which women the rarely see-but the general same little man of peace and of high domestic virtue, who seemed embarwas obvirassed by a sword which ously too big for him. Yet in all their voices there rang a queer note of exultation, for man is a fighting animal, and (from St. Paul down to the humblest little five-foot-one "recruit")
The priest drew the jalousies together, but did not quite shut them. Vincente stood and looked out through the aperture at the moonlit square and the dark shadows moving there.
"I wish they would shout," he said; "it is unnatural. They are like children. When there is noise there is little mischief."
Then he remained silent for some minutes, watching intently. All in the room noted his every movement. length he turned on his heel.
"Go, my friend," he said to Conyngham; "form your men in the Calle de la Ciudad, and charge round in line. Do not place yourself too much in advance of your men, or you will be killed, and remember the point. Resist the temptation to cut-the point is best."
He patted Conyngham on the arm affectionately, as if he were sending him to bed with a good wish, and accompanied him to the door.
"I knew," he said, returning to the hands window and rubbing his together, "that that was a good man the first moment I saw him." and He glanced at Estella, then, turning, opened another window, setting the shutters ajar, so as to make a second point of observation.
"My poor child," he whispered, she went to the window and looked
out, "it is an ill fortune to have to do with men whose trade this is." Estella smiled a little whitely and said nothing. The moon was now shining from an almost cloudless sky. The few fleecy remains of the storm sailing toward the east only added brightness to the night. It was almost possible to see the faces of the men moving in the square below, and to read their expressions. The majority stood in a group in the centre of the plaza, while a daring few, reckoning on the Spanish aversion to firearms, ran forward from time to time and set a bundle of wood or straw against the door beneath the balcony.
Some, who appeared to be the lead ers, looked up constantly and curiously at the windows, wondering if any resistance would be made. Had they known that General Vincente was in that silent house, they would probably have gone home to bed, and the crowd would have dispersed like smoke.
Suddenly there arose a roar to the right hand of the square, where the Calle de la Ciudad was situated, and Conyngham appeared for a moment alone, running toward the group with the moonlight flashing on his sword. At his heels an instant later a single line of men swung round the corner and charged across the square.
"Dear, dear," muttered the general; "too quick, my friend, too quick!"
For Conyngham was already among the crowd, which broke and swayed back toward the cathedral. He paused for a moment to draw his sword out of a dark form that lay upon the ground, as a cricketer draws a stump. He had at all events remembered the point. The troopers swept across the square like a broom, sending the people as dust before them, and leaving the clear, moonlit square behind. They also left behind one or two shadows, lying stark upon the ground. One of these got upon his hands and knees, and crawled painfully away, all onesided, like a beetle that has been trodden underfoot. Those watching from the windows saw, with a gasp of hor
ror, that part of him-part of an armhad been left behind, and a sigh of relief went up when he stopped crawling and lay quite still.
The troopers were now retreating slowly toward the Calle de la Ciudad.
"Be careful, Conyngham!" shouted the general from the balcony: "they will return."
And as he spoke a rattling fire was opened upon them from the far corner of the square, where the crowd had taken refuge in the opening of the Calle del Aico. Immediately the people, having noted that the troopers were few in number, charged down upon them. The men fought in line, retreating step by step, their swords gleaming in the moonlight. Estella, hearing footsteps in the room behind her, turned in time to see her father disappearing through the doorway. Concepcion Vara, coatless, as he loved to work, his white shirt sleeves fluttering as his arm swung, had now joined the troopers, and was fighting by Conyngham's side.
Estella and Julia were out on the balcony now, leaning over and forgetting all but the breathless interest of battle. Concha stood beside them, muttering and cursing like any soldier.
They saw Vincente appear at the corner of the Calle de la Ciudad and throw away his scabbard as he ran.
"Now, my children!" he cried, in a voice that Estella had never heard before, which rang out across the square, and was answered by a yell that was nothing but a cry of sheer delight. The crowd swayed back as if before a gust of wind, and the general, following it, seemed to clear a space for himself, as a reaper clears away the standing corn before him. It was, however, only for a moment. The crowd surged back, those in front against their will, and on to the glittering steel, those behind shouting encouragement.
shouted Concha, and
"Caramba!" was gone. They saw him a minute later appear in the square, having thrown aside
his cassock. He made a strange, lean figure of a man, with his knee-breeches and dingy purple stockings, his grey flannel shirt, and the moonlight shining on his tonsured head. He fought without skill and heedless of danger, swinging a great sword that he had picked up from the hand of a fallen trooper, and each blow that he got home killed its man. The mettle of the man had suddenly shown itself after years of suppression. This, as Vincente had laughingly said, was no priest, but a soldier.
Concepcion, in the thick of it, using the knife now with a deadly skill, looked over his shoulder and laughed. Suddenly the crowd swayed. The faint sound of a distant bugle came to the ears of all.
"It is nothing," shouted Concha in English-"it is nothing! It is I who sent the bugler round."
And his great sword whistled into a man's brain. In a moment the square was empty, for the politicians who came to murder a woman had had enough steel. The sound of the bugle, intimating, as they supposed, the ar rival of troops, completed the work of demoralization which the recognition of General Vincente had begun.
The little party, the few defenders of the Casa del Ayuntamiento, were left in some confusion in the plaza, and Estella saw, with a sudden cold fear, that Conyngham and Concha were on their knees in the midst of a little group of hesitating men. It was Concha who first rose and held up his hand to the watchers on the balcony, bidding them stay where they Then Conyngham rose to his feet, slowly, as one bearing a burden. Estella looked down in a sort of dream and saw her lover carrying her father toward the house, her mind only half comprehending, in the semi-dreamlike reception of sudden calamity, which is one of Heaven's deepest mercies.
It was Concepcion who came into the room first, his white shirt dyed with blood in great patches, like the color on a piebald horse. A cut in his
cheek was slowly dripping. He went straight to a sofa covered in gorgeous yellow satin and set the cushions in order.
"Señorita," he said, and spread out his hands. The tears were in his eyes. "Half of Spain," he added, "would rather that it had been the queen, and the world is poorer."
A minute later Concha came into the room dragging on his cassock.
"My child, we are in God's hands," he said, with a break in his gruff voice.
And then came the heavy step of one carrying sorrow.
Conyngham laid his burden on the sofa. General Vincente was holding his handkerchief to his side, and his eyes, which had a thoughtful look, saw only Estella's face.
"I have sent for a doctor," said Conyngham; "your father is wounded."
"Yes," added Vincente immediately, "but I am in no pain, my dear child. There is no reason, surely, for us to distress ourselves."
He looked round and smiled. "And this good Conyngham," added, "carried me like a child."
Julia was on her knees at the foot of the sofa, her face hidden in her hands.
"My dear Julia," he said, "why this distress?"
"Because all of this is my doing," she answered, lifting her drawn and terror-stricken face.
"No, no," said Vincente, with a characteristic pleasantry; “you take too much upon yourself. All these things are written down for us beforehand. We only add the punctuation, delaying a little or hurrying a little."
They looked at him silently, and assuredly none could mistake the shadows that were gathering on his face. Estella, who was holding his hand, knelt on the floor by his side, quiet and strong, offering silently that sympathy which is woman's greatest gift.
Concepcion, who perhaps knew more
of this matter than any present, looked at Concha and shook his head. The priest was buttoning his cassock,
and began to seek something in his pocket.
"Your breviary?" whispered Concepcion; "I saw it lying out there among the dead."
"It is a comfort to have one's duty clearly defined," said the general suddenly in a clear voice-he was evidently addressing Conyngham-"one of the advantages of a military life. We have done our best, and this time we have succeeded. But-it is only deferred. It will come at length, and Spain will be a republic. It is a failing cause, because at the head of it-is a bad woman." Conyngham nodded, but no one spoke. No one seemed capable of following his thoughts. Already he seemed to look at them as from a distance, as if he had started on a journey and was looking back. During this silence there came a great clatter in the streets, and a sharp voice cried, "Halt!" The general turned his eyes toward the window.
"The cavalry," said "from Madrid."
"I did not 99 expect-themsaid Vincente slowly, "before the dawn." The sound of the horses' feet and the clatter of arms died away as the troop passed on toward the Calle de la Ciudad, and the quiet of night was again unbroken.
Then Concha, getting down on to his knees, began reciting from memory the office, which, alas! he knew too well.
THE DAWN OF PEACE.
The fall of Morella had proved to be, as many anticipated, the knell of the Carlist cause. Cabrera, that great general and consummate leader, followed Don Carlos, who had, months earlier, fled to France. General Espartero, a man made and strengthened by circumstances, was now at the height of his fame, and for the moment peace seemed to be assured to Spain. It was now a struggle between Espartero and Queen Christina, but with these matters the people of Spain had little to do. Such warfare of the council chamber and the boudoir is carried on quietly, and the sound of it rarely reaches the ear and never the heart of the masses. Politics, indeed, had been the daily fare of the Spaniards for so long that their palates were now prepared to accept any sop, so long as it was flavored Conyngham, with peace. Aragon was devastated, and the northern provinces had neither seed nor laborers for the coming autumn. The peasants, who, having lost faith in Don Carlos, rallied round Cabrera, now saw themselves abandoned by their worshipped leader, and turned hopelessly enough homeward. Thus gradually the country relapsed into quiet, and empty farms made many lay aside the bayonet and take up the spade, who, having tasted the thrill of battle, had no longer any taste for the ways of peace.
Frederick Conyngham was brought into sudden prominence by the part he
"Every man to his trade," he said, played in the disturbance at Toledo, with a little laugh. which disturbance proved, as history tells, to be a forerunner of the great revolution a year later in Madrid. Promotion was at this time rapid, and the Englishman made many strides in a few months. Jealousy was so rife among the Spanish leaders, Christinos distrusted so thoroughly the reformed Carlists, that one who was outside these petty considerations received from both sides many honors upon
When it was finished and the gruff voice died away Vincente opened his eyes.
Then he suddenly made a grimace. "A twinge of pain," he said deprecatingly, as if apologizing for giving them the sorrow of seeing it; "it will pass-before the dawn."
Presently he opened his eyes again and smiled at Estella before he moved, with a tired sigh, and turned his face toward that dawn which knows eventide.