The following morning at the appointed hour, I went to Cellini’s studio, and was received by him with a sort of gentle courtesy and kindliness that became him very well. I was already beginning to experience an increasing languor and weariness, the sure forerunner of what the artist had prophesied — namely, a return of all my old sufferings. Amy, tired out by the dancing of the previous night, was still in bed, as were many of those who had enjoyed Madame Didier’s fete; and the hotel was unusually quiet, almost seeming as though half the visitors had departed during the night. It was a lovely morning, sunny and calm; and Cellini, observing that I looked listless and fatigued, placed a comfortable easy-chair for me near the window, from whence I could see one of the prettiest parterres of the garden, gay with flowers of every colour and perfume. He himself remained standing, one hand resting lightly on his writing-table, which was strewn with a confusion of letters and newspapers.
“Where is Leo?” I asked, as I glanced round the room in search of that noble animal.
“Leo left for Paris last night,” replied Cellini; “he carried an important despatch for me, which I feared to trust to the post-office.”
“Is it safer in Leo’s charge?” I inquired, smiling, for the sagacity of the dog amused as well as interested me.
“Much safer! Leo carries on his collar a small tin case, just large enough to contain several folded sheets of paper. When he knows he has that box to guard during his journeys, he is simply unapproachable. He would fight any one who attempted to touch it with the ferocity of a hungry tiger, and there is no edible dainty yet invented that could tempt his appetite or coax him into any momentary oblivion of his duty. There is no more trustworthy or faithful messenger.”
“I suppose you have sent him to your friend — his master,” I said.
“Yes. He has gone straight home to — Heliobas.”
This name now awakened in me no surprise or even curiosity. It simply sounded homelike and familiar. I gazed abstractedly out of the window at the brilliant blossoms in the garden, that nodded their heads at me like so many little elves with coloured caps on, but I said nothing. I felt that Cellini watched me keenly and closely. Presently he continued:
“Shall I tell you everything now, mademoiselle?”
I turned towards him eagerly.
“If you please,” I answered.
“May I ask you one question?”
“How and where did you hear the name of Heliobas?”
I looked up hesitatingly.
“In a dream, signor, strange to say; or rather in three dreams. I will relate them to you.”
And I described the visions I had seen, being careful to omit no detail, for, indeed, I remembered everything with curious distinctness.
The artist listened with grave and fixed attention. When I had concluded he said:
“The elixir I gave you acted more potently than even I imagined it would. You are more sensitive than I thought. Do not fatigue yourself any more, mademoiselle, by talking. With your permission I will sit down here opposite to you and tell you my story. Afterwards you must decide for yourself whether you will adopt the method of treatment to which I owe my life, and something more than my life — my reason.”
He turned his own library-chair towards me, and seated himself. A few moments passed in silence; his expression was very earnest and absorbed, and he regarded my face with a sympathetic interest which touched me profoundly. Though I felt myself becoming more and more enervated and apathetic as the time went on, and though I knew I was gradually sinking down again into my old Slough of Despond, yet I felt instinctively that I was somehow actively concerned in what was about to be said, therefore I forced myself to attend closely to every word uttered. Cellini began to speak in low and quiet tones as follows:
“You must be aware, mademoiselle, that those who adopt any art as a means of livelihood begin the world heavily handicapped — weighted down, as it were, in the race for fortune. The following of art is a very different thing to the following of trade or mercantile business. In buying or selling, in undertaking the work of import or export, a good head for figures, and an average quantity of shrewd common sense, are all that is necessary in order to win a fair share of success. But in the finer occupations, whose results are found in sculpture, painting, music and poetry, demands are made upon the imagination, the emotions, the entire spiritual susceptibility of man. The most delicate fibres of the brain are taxed; the subtle inner workings of thought are brought into active play; and the temperament becomes daily and hourly more finely strung, more sensitive, more keenly alive to every passing sensation. Of course there are many so-called ‘ARTISTS’ who are mere shams of the real thing; persons who, having a little surface-education in one or the other branch of the arts, play idly with the paint-brush, or dabble carelessly in the deep waters of literature — or borrow a few crotchets and quavers from other composers, and putting them together in haste, call it ORIGINAL COMPOSITION. Among these are to be found the self-called ‘professors’ of painting; the sculptors who allow the work of their ‘ghosts’ to be admired as their own; the magazine-scribblers; the ‘smart’ young leader-writers and critics; the half-hearted performers on piano or violin who object to any innovation, and prefer to grind on in the unemotional, coldly correct manner which they are pleased to term the ‘classical’— such persons exist, and will exist, so long as good and evil are leading forces of life. They are the aphides on the rose of art. But the men and women I speak of as ARTISTS are those who work day and night to attain even a small degree of perfection, and who are never satisfied with their own best efforts. I was one of these some years ago, and I humbly assert myself still to be of the same disposition; only the difference between myself then and myself now is, that THEN I struggled blindly and despairingly, and NOW I labour patiently and with calmness, knowing positively that I shall obtain what I seek at the duly appointed hour. I was educated as a painter, mademoiselle, by my father, a good, simple-hearted man, whose little landscapes looked like bits cut out of the actual field and woodland, so fresh and pure were they. But I was not content to follow in the plain path he first taught me to tread. Merely correct drawing, merely correct colouring, were not sufficient for my ambition. I had dazzled my eyes with the loveliness of Correggio’s ‘Madonna,’ and had marvelled at the wondrous blue of her robe — a blue so deep and intense that I used to think one might scrape away the paint till a hole was bored in the canvas and yet not reach the end of that fathomless azure tint; I had studied the warm hues of Titian; I had felt ready to float away in the air with the marvellous ‘Angel of the Annunciation’— and with all these thoughts in me, how could I content myself with the ordinary aspiration of modern artists? I grew absorbed in one subject — Colour. I noted how lifeless and pale the colouring of to-day appeared beside that of the old masters, and I meditated deeply on the problem thus presented to me. What was the secret of Correggio — of Fra Angelico — of Raphael? I tried various experiments; I bought the most expensive and highly guaranteed pigments. In vain, for they were all adulterated by the dealers! Then I obtained colours in the rough, and ground and mixed them myself; still, though a little better result was obtained, I found trade adulteration still at work with the oils, the varnishes, the mediums — in fact, with everything that painters use to gain effect in their works. I could nowhere escape from vicious dealers, who, to gain a miserable percentage on every article sold, are content to be among the most dishonest men in this dishonest age.
“I assure you, mademoiselle, that not one of the pictures which are now being painted for the salons of Paris and London can possibly last a hundred years. I recently visited that Palace of Art, the South Kensington Museum, in London, and saw there a large fresco by Sir Frederick Leighton. It had just been completed, I was informed. It was already fading! Within a few years it will be a blur of indistinct outlines. I compared its condition with the cartoons of Raphael, and a superb Giorgione in the same building; these were as warm and bright as though recently painted. It is not Leighton’s fault that his works are doomed to perish as completely off the canvas as though he had never traced them; it is his dire misfortune, and that of every other nineteenth-century painter, thanks to the magnificent institution of free trade, which has resulted in a vulgar competition of all countries and all classes to see which can most quickly jostle the other out of existence. But I am wearying you, mademoiselle — pardon me! To resume my own story. As I told you, I could think of nothing but the one subject of Colour; it haunted me incessantly. I saw in my dreams visions, of exquisite forms and faces that I longed to transfer to my canvas, but I could never succeed in the attempt. My hand seemed to have lost all skill. About this time my father died, and I, having no other relation in the world, and no ties of home to cling to, lived in utter solitude, and tortured my brain more and more with the one question that baffled and perplexed me. I became moody and irritable; I avoided intercourse with everyone, and at last sleep forsook my eyes. Then came a terrible season of feverish trouble, nervous dejection and despair. At times I would sit silently brooding; at others I started up and walked rapidly for hours, in the hope to calm the wild unrest that took possession of my brain. I was then living in Rome, in the studio that had been my father’s . One evening — how well I remember it! — I was attacked by one of those fierce impulses that forbade me to rest or think or sleep, and, as usual, I hurried out for one of those long aimless excursions I had latterly grown accustomed to. At the open street-door stood the proprietress of the house, a stout, good-natured contadina, with her youngest child Pippa holding to her skirt. As she saw me approaching, she started back with an exclamation of alarm, and catching the little girl up in her arms, she made the sign of the cross rapidly. Astonished at this, I paused in my hasty walk, and said with as much calmness as I could muster:
“‘What do you mean by that? Have I the evil-eye, think you?’
“Curly-haired Pippa stretched out her arms to me — I had often caressed the little one, and given her sweetmeats and toys — but her mother held her back with a sort of smothered scream, and muttered:
“‘Holy Virgin! Pippa must not touch him; he is mad.’
“Mad? I looked at the woman and child in scornful amazement. Then without further words I turned, and went swiftly away down the street out of their sight. Mad! Was I indeed losing my reason? Was this the terrific meaning of my sleepless nights, my troubled thoughts, my strange inquietude? Fiercely I strode along, heedless whither I was going, till I found myself suddenly on the borders of the desolate Campagna. A young moon gleamed aloft, looking like a slender sickle thrust into the heavens to reap an over-abundant harvest of stars. I paused irresolutely. There was a deep silence everywhere. I felt faint and giddy: curious flashes of light danced past my eyes, and my limbs shook like those of a palsied old man. I sank upon a stone to rest, to try and arrange my scattered ideas into some sort of connection and order. Mad! I clasped my aching head between my hands, and brooded on the fearful prospect looming before me, and in the words of poor King Lear, I prayed in my heart:
“‘O let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heavens!’
“PRAYER! There was another thought. How could I pray? For I was a sceptic. My father had educated me with broadly materialistic views; he himself was a follower of Voltaire, and with his finite rod he took the measure of Divinity, greatly to his own satisfaction. He was a good man, too, and he died with exemplary calmness in the absolute certainty of there being nothing in his composition but dust, to which he was as bound to return. He had not a shred of belief in anything but what he called the Universal Law of Necessity; perhaps this was why all his pictures lacked inspiration. I accepted his theories without thinking much about them, and I had managed to live respectably without any religious belief. But NOW— now with the horrible phantom of madness rising before me — my firm nerves quailed. I tried, I longed to PRAY. Yet to whom? To what? To the Universal Law of Necessity? In that there could be no hearing or answering of human petitions. I meditated on this with a kind of sombre ferocity. Who portioned out this Law of Necessity? What brutal Code compels us to be born, to live, to suffer, and to die without recompense or reason? Why should this Universe be an ever-circling Wheel of Torture? Then a fresh impetus came to me. I rose from my recumbent posture and stood erect; I trembled no more. A curious sensation of defiant amusement possessed me so violently that I laughed aloud. Such a laugh, too! I recoiled from the sound, as from a blow, with a shudder. It was the laugh of — a madman! I thought no more; I was resolved. I would fulfil the grim Law of Necessity to its letter. If Necessity caused my birth, it also demanded my death. Necessity could not force me to live against my will. Better eternal nothingness than madness. Slowly and deliberately I took from my vest a Milanese dagger of thin sharp steel — one that I always carried with me as a means of self-defence — I drew it from its sheath, and looked at the fine edge glittering coldly in the pallid moon-rays. I kissed it joyously; it was my final remedy! I poised it aloft with firm fingers — another instant and it would have been buried deep in my heart, when I felt a powerful grasp on my wrist, and a strong arm struggling with mine forced the dagger from my hand. Savagely angry at being thus foiled in my desperate intent, I staggered back a few paces and sullenly stared at my rescuer. He was a tall man, clad in a dark overcoat bordered with fur; he looked like a wealthy Englishman or American travelling for pleasure. His features were fine and commanding; his eyes gleamed with a gentle disdain as he coolly met my resentful gaze. When he spoke his voice was rich and mellifluous, though his accents had a touch in them of grave scorn.
“‘So you are tired of your life, young man! All the more reason have you to live. Anyone can die. A murderer has moral force enough to jeer at his hangman. It is very easy to draw the last breath. It can be accomplished successfully by a child or a warrior. One pang of far less anguish than the toothache, and all is over. There is nothing heroic about it, I assure you! It is as common as going to bed; it is almost prosy. LIFE is heroism, if you like; but death is a mere cessation of business. And to make a rapid and rude exit off the stage before the prompter gives the sign is always, to say the least of it, ungraceful. Act the part out, no matter how bad the play. What say you?’
“And, balancing the dagger lightly on one finger, as though it were a paper-knife, he smiled at me with so much frank kindliness that it was impossible to resist him. I advanced and held out my hand.
“‘Whoever you are,’ I said, ‘you speak like a true man. But you are ignorant of the causes which compelled me to —-’ and a hard sob choked my utterance. My new acquaintance pressed my proffered hand cordially, but the gravity of his tone did not vary as he replied:
“‘There is no cause, my friend, which compels us to take violent leave of existence, unless it be madness or cowardice.’
“‘Aye, and what if it were madness?’ I asked him eagerly. He scanned me attentively, and laying his fingers lightly on my wrist, felt my pulse.
“‘Pooh, my dear sir!’ he said; ‘you are no more mad than I am. You are a little overwrought and excited — that I admit. You have some mental worry that consumes you. You shall tell me all about it. I have no doubt I can cure you in a few days.’
“Cure me? I looked at him in wonderment and doubt.
“‘Are you a physician?’ I asked.
“He laughed. ‘Not I! I should be sorry to belong to the profession. Yet I administer medicines and give advice in certain cases. I am simply a remedial agent — not a doctor. But why do we stand here in this bleak place, which must be peopled by the ghosts of olden heroes? Come with me, will you? I am going to the Hotel Costanza, and we can talk there. As for this pretty toy, permit me to return it to you. You will not force it again to the unpleasant task of despatching its owner.’
“And he handed the dagger back to me with a slight bow. I sheathed it at once, feeling somewhat like a chidden child, as I met the slightly satirical gleam of the clear blue eyes that watched me.
“‘Will you give me your name, signor?’ I asked, as we turned from the Campagna towards the city.
“‘With pleasure. I am called Heliobas. A strange name? Oh, not at all! It is pure Chaldee. My mother — as lovely an Eastern houri as Murillo’s Madonna, and as devout as Santa Teresa — gave me the Christian saint’s name of Casimir also, but Heliobas pur et simple suits me best, and by it I am generally known.’
“‘You are a Chaldean?’ I inquired.
“‘Exactly so. I am descended directly from one of those “wise men of the East” (and, by the way, there were more than three, and they were not all kings), who, being wide awake, happened to notice the birth-star of Christ on the horizon before the rest of the world’s inhabitants had so much as rubbed their sleepy eyes. The Chaldeans have been always quick of observation from time immemorial. But in return for my name, you will favour me with yours?’
“I gave it readily, and we walked on together. I felt wonderfully calmed and cheered — as soothed, mademoiselle, as I have noticed you yourself have felt when in MY company.”
Here Cellini paused, and looked at me as though expecting a question; but I preferred to remain silent till I had heard all he had to say. He therefore resumed:
“We reached the Hotel Costanza, where Heliobas was evidently well known. The waiters addressed him as Monsieur le Comte; but he gave me no information as to this title. He had a superb suite of rooms in the hotel, furnished with every modern luxury; and as soon as we entered a light supper was served. He invited me to partake, and within the space of half an hour I had told him all my history — my ambition — my strivings after the perfection of colour — my disappointment, dejection, and despair — and, finally, the fearful dread of coming madness that had driven me to attempt my own life. He listened patiently and with unbroken attention. When I had finished, he laid one hand on my shoulder, and said gently:
“‘Young man, pardon me if I say that up to the present your career has been an inactive, useless, selfish “kicking against the pricks,” as St. Paul says. You set before yourself a task of noble effort, namely, to discover the secret of colouring as known to the old masters; and because you meet with the petty difficulty of modern trade adulteration in your materials, you think that there is no chance — that all is lost. Fie! Do you think Nature is overcome by a few dishonest traders? She can still give you in abundance the unspoilt colours she gave to Raphael and Titian; but not in haste — not if you vulgarly scramble for her gifts in a mood that is impatient of obstacle and delay. “Ohne hast, ohne rast,” is the motto of the stars. Learn it well. You have injured your bodily health by useless fretfulness and peevish discontent, and with that we have first to deal. In a week’s time, I will make a sound, sane man of you; and then I will teach you how to get the colours you seek — yes!’ he added, smiling, ‘even to the compassing of Correggio’s blue.’
“I could not speak for joy and gratitude; I grasped my friend and preserver by the hand. We stood thus together for a brief interval, when suddenly Heliobas drew himself up to the full stateliness of his height and bent his calm eyes deliberately upon me. A strange thrill ran through me; I still held his hand.
“‘Rest!’ he said in slow and emphatic tones, ‘Weary and overwrought frame, take thy full and needful measure of repose! Struggling and deeply injured spirit, be free of thy narrow prison! By that Force which I acknowledge within me and thee and in all created things, I command thee, REST!’
“Fascinated, awed, overcome by his manner, I gazed at him and would have spoken, but my tongue refused its office — my senses swam — my eyes closed — my limbs gave way — I fell senseless.”
Cellini again paused and looked at me. Intent on his words, I would not interrupt him. He went on:
“When I say senseless, mademoiselle, I allude of course to my body. But I, myself — that is, my soul — was conscious; I lived, I moved, I heard, I saw. Of that experience I am forbidden to speak. When I returned to mortal existence I found myself lying on a couch in the same room where I had supped with Heliobas, and Heliobas himself sat near me reading. It was broad noonday. A delicious sense of tranquillity and youthful buoyancy was upon me, and without speaking I sprang up from my recumbent position and touched him on the arm. He looked up.
“‘Well?’ he asked, and his eyes smiled.
“I seized his hand, and pressed it reverently to my lips.
“‘My best friend!’ I exclaimed. ‘What wonders have I not seen — what truths have I not learned — what mysteries!’
“‘On all these things be silent,’ replied Heliobas. ‘They must not be lightly spoken of. And of the questions you naturally desire to ask me, you shall have the answers in due time. What has happened to you is not wonderful; you have simply been acted upon by scientific means. But your cure is not yet complete. A few days more passed with me will restore you thoroughly. Will you consent to remain so long in my company?’
“Gladly and gratefully I consented, and we spent the next ten days together, during which Heliobas administered to me certain remedies, external and internal, which had a marvellous effect in renovating and invigorating my system. By the expiration of that time I was strong and well — a sound and sane man, as my rescuer had promised I should be — my brain was fresh and eager for work, and my mind was filled with new and grand ideas of art. And I had gained through Heliobas two inestimable things — a full comprehension of the truth of religion, and the secret of human destiny; and I had won a LOVE so exquisite!”
Here Cellini paused, and his eyes were uplifted in a sort of wondering rapture. He continued after a pause:
“Yes, mademoiselle, I discovered that I was loved, and watched over and guided by ONE so divinely beautiful, so gloriously faithful, that mortal language fails before the description of such perfection!”
He paused again, and again continued:
“When he found me perfectly healthy again in mind and body, Heliobas showed me his art of mixing colours. From that hour all my works were successful. You know that my pictures are eagerly purchased as soon as completed, and that the colour I obtain in them is to the world a mystery almost magical. Yet there is not one among the humblest of artists who could not, if he chose, make use of the same means as I have done to gain the nearly imperishable hues that still glow on the canvases of Raphael. But of this there is no need to speak just now. I have told you my story, mademoiselle, and it now rests with me to apply its meaning to yourself. You are attending?”
“Perfectly,” I replied; and, indeed, my interest at this point was so strong that I could almost hear the expectant beating of my heart. Cellini resumed:
“Electricity, mademoiselle, is, as you are aware, the wonder of our age. No end can be foreseen to the marvels it is capable of accomplishing. But one of the most important branches of this great science is ignorantly derided just now by the larger portion of society — I mean the use of human electricity; that force which is in each one of us — in you and in me — and, to a very large extent, in Heliobas. He has cultivated the electricity in his own system to such an extent that his mere touch, his lightest glance, have healing in them, or the reverse, as he chooses to exert his power — I may say it is never the reverse, for he is full of kindness, sympathy, and pity for all humanity. His influence is so great that he can, without speaking, by his mere presence suggest his own thoughts to other people who are perfect strangers, and cause them to design and carry out certain actions in accordance with his plans. You are incredulous? Mademoiselle, this power is in every one of us; only we do not cultivate it, because our education is yet so imperfect. To prove the truth of what I say, I, though I have only advanced a little way in the cultivation of my own electric force, even I have influenced YOU. You cannot deny it. By my thought, impelled to you, you saw clearly my picture that was actually veiled. By MY force, you replied correctly to a question I asked you concerning that same picture. By MY desire, you gave me, without being aware of it, a message from one I love when you said, ‘Dieu vous garde!’ You remember? And the elixir I gave you, which is one of the simplest remedies discovered by Heliobas, had the effect of making you learn what he intended you to learn — his name.”
“He!” I exclaimed. “Why, he does not know me — he can have no intentions towards me!”
“Mademoiselle,” replied Cellini gravely, “if you will think again of the last of your three dreams, you will not doubt that he HAS intentions towards you. As I told you, he is a PHYSICAL ELECTRICIAN. By that is meant a great deal. He knows by instinct whether he is or will be needed sooner or later. Let me finish what I have to say. You are ill, mademoiselle — ill from over-work. You are an improvisatrice — that is, you have the emotional genius of music, a spiritual thing unfettered by rules, and utterly misunderstood by the world. You cultivate this faculty, regardless of cost; you suffer, and you will suffer more. In proportion as your powers in music grow, so will your health decline. Go to Heliobas; he will do for you what he did for me. Surely you will not hesitate? Between years of weak invalidism and perfect health, in less than a fortnight, there can be no question of choice.”
I rose from my seat slowly.
“Where is this Heliobas?” I asked. “In Paris?”
“Yes, in Paris. If you decide to go there, take my advice, and go alone. You can easily make some excuse to your friends. I will give you the address of a ladies’ Pension, where you will be made at home and comfortable. May I do this?”
“If you please,” I answered.
He wrote rapidly in pencil on a card of his own:
“36, Avenue du Midi,
and handed it to me. I stood still where I had risen, thinking deeply. I had been impressed and somewhat startled by Cellini’s story; but I was in no way alarmed at the idea of trusting myself to the hands of a physical electrician such as Heliobas professed to be. I knew that there were many cases of serious illnesses being cured by means of electricity — that electric baths and electric appliances of all descriptions were in ordinary use; and I saw no reason to be surprised at the fact of a man being in existence who had cultivated electric force within himself to such an extent that he was able to use it as a healing power. There seemed to me to be really nothing extraordinary in it. The only part of Cellini’s narration I did not credit was the soul-transmigration he professed to have experienced; and I put that down to the over-excitement of his imagination at the time of his first interview with Heliobas. But I kept this thought to myself. In any case, I resolved to go to Paris. The great desire of my life was to be in perfect health, and I determined to omit no means of obtaining this inestimable blessing. Cellini watched me as I remained standing before him in silent abstraction.
“Will you go?” he inquired at last.
“Yes; I will go,” I replied. “But will you give me a letter to your friend?”
“Leo has taken it and all necessary explanations already,” said Cellini, smiling; “I knew you would go. Heliobas expects you the day after to-morrow. His residence is Hotel Mars, Champs Elysees. You are not angry with me, mademoiselle? I could not help knowing that you would go.”
I smiled faintly.
“Electricity again, I suppose! No, I am not angry. Why should I be? I thank you very much, signor, and I shall thank you more if Heliobas indeed effects my cure.”
“Oh, that is certain, positively certain,” answered Cellini; “you can indulge that hope as much as you like, mademoiselle, for it is one that cannot be disappointed. Before you leave me, you will look at your own picture, will you not?” and, advancing to his easel, he uncovered it.
I was greatly surprised. I thought he had but traced the outline of my features, whereas the head was almost completed. I looked at it as I would look at the portrait of a stranger. It was a wistful, sad-eyed, plaintive face, and on the pale gold of the hair rested a coronal of lilies.
“It will soon be finished,” said Cellini, covering the easel again; “I shall not need another sitting, which is fortunate, as it is so necessary for you to go away. And now will you look at the ‘Life and Death’ once more?”
I raised my eyes to the grand picture, unveiled that day in all its beauty.
“The face of the Life-Angel there,” went on Cellini quietly, “is a poor and feeble resemblance of the One I love. You knew I was betrothed, mademoiselle?”
I felt confused, and was endeavouring to find an answer to this when he continued:
“Do not trouble to explain, for I know how YOU knew. But no more of this. Will you leave Cannes to-morrow?”
“Yes. In the morning.”
“Then good-bye, mademoiselle. Should I never see you again —-”
“Never see me again!” I interrupted. “Why, what do you mean?”
“I do not allude to your destinies, but to mine,” he said, with a kindly look. “My business may call me away from here before you come back — our paths may lie apart — many circumstances may occur to prevent our meeting — so that, I repeat, should I never see you again, you will, I hope, bear me in your friendly remembrance as one who was sorry to see you suffer, and who was the humble means of guiding you to renewed health and happiness.”
I held out my hand, and my eyes filled with tears. There was something so gentle and chivalrous about him, and withal so warm and sympathetic, that I felt indeed as if I were bidding adieu to one of the truest friends I should ever have in my life.
“I hope nothing will cause you to leave Cannes till I return to it,” I said with real earnestness. “I should like you to judge of my restoration to health.”
“There will be no need for that,” he replied; “I shall know when you are quite recovered through Heliobas.”
He pressed my hand warmly.
“I brought back the book you lent me,” I went on; “but I should like a copy of it for myself. Can I get it anywhere?”
“Heliobas will give you one with pleasure,” replied Cellini; “you have only to make the request. The book is not on sale. It was printed for private circulation only. And now, mademoiselle, we part. I congratulate you on the comfort and joy awaiting you in Paris. Do not forget the address — Hotel Mars, Champs Elysees. Farewell!”
And again shaking my hand cordially, he stood at his door watching me as I passed out and began to ascend the stairs leading to my room. On the landing I paused, and, looking round, saw him still there. I smiled and waved my hand. He did the same in response, once — twice; then turning abruptly, disappeared.
That afternoon I explained to Colonel and Mrs. Everard that I had resolved to consult a celebrated physician in Paris (whose name, however, I did not mention), and should go there alone for a few days. On hearing that I knew of a well-recommended ladies’ Pension, they made no objection to my arrangements, and they agreed to remain at the Hotel de L—-till I returned. I gave them no details of my plans, and of course never mentioned Raffaello Cellini in connection with the matter. A nervous and wretchedly agitated night made me more than ever determined to try the means of cure proposed to me. At ten o’clock the following morning I left Cannes by express train for Paris. Just before starting I noticed that the lilies of the valley Cellini had given me for the dance had, in spite of my care, entirely withered, and were already black with decay — so black that they looked as though they had been scorched by a flash of lightning.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07