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would talk of past times, never soul; he would only fly into a of the present or the future. passion, and get worse. Do During the great war between you know ? he says in his will France and Germany he never that he is to be buried in unso much as asked who was vic- consecrated ground, 'away torious: when told by chance, from the emblems of the God he said nothing, but shrugged who has abandoned Poland'; his shoulders. Then, when and his epitaph is to be someRussia fought with Turkey, he thing in Latin about not being was just as indifferent: hearing moved in his firm purpose, not that the Turks were beaten, he even by the great hand of a merely said, 'Of course. All thundering God. Such horhis time was spent in reading, rible blasphemy! But what or in writing his memoirs : now can I do?” and then he would go for long She talked on thus for a long solitary walks, or would sit while, till I rose at last to go quite still for hours together, home. I was sorry that I could thinking.
find no word of comfort or of “The worst of all was—what hope for her; all I could do you know. I suppose he has was to listen patiently and with already told you that he can- sympathy. I walked home not bear to hear God's name musing on the curious revelauttered, and why? Since the tion of character which had end of the insurrection he has been made to me that evening, never once set foot inside a and with various commonchurch — he who was the places, such as “Extremes devoutest man I ever knew! meet,” “Quantum mutatus ab Yet he is very good to the illo," and "Tout comprendre poor, and kind to me in his sad, c'est tout pardonner,” tossing quiet way. And I pray for about in my mind. him continually-novenas after A few days later, returning novenas, and masses upon to see my father's friend,-our masses—that God may change acquaintance had been so short him before the end comes. He that as yet I could hardly call is going very fast, though, and him mine,-I had striking conI am terribly afraid. The firmation of his having long ago doctor was called in the other ceased to be interested in news day, and tried to put him off of any sort. Indeed, for the with vague talk about his feel- last ten or fifteen years he had ing better presently; but he (as I afterwards found) lived in cut him short, saying, “Doctor, absolute seclusion, all his old have the goodness to tell the friends and comrades having plain truth to a man who has gone "to join Kosciuszko." been wishing for death ever since After our first greetings, I, who 63. And then he heard that was bursting with the tidings in a few weeks, perhaps in a few that had just startled all days, he should have his wish. Europe, said to him Oh, what will become of him if “Well, my dear sir, it seems he dies in this mood? I cannot that the Japanese are making say one word to him about his things hot for Russia !”
"The Japanese?” he rejoined, laugh); of the Siberian railway staring at me. “Why, what built and Manchuria seized on can they have to do with one side, and patient secret Russia ?"
preparations for war made dur“Do!” I cried. “Say, what ing ten years on the other; of have they done? They have Japan's alliance with England, torpedoed two of the biggest and the long months of courMuscovite battleships — the teous diplomatic fencing; and Tsarevitch and the Retvisan. finally, of the outbreak of hosAt Port Arthur, you know.” tilities, as the telegrams had
But he didn't know. Port just flashed it over the world. Arthur was no more than an Towards the end of my narraunmeaning word to him; a tive he listened rapt in wontorpedo was only a fish that der; but he was apparently could give electric shocks. His scarce able to understand that idea of the Japanese was such all these facts were real, and exactly as I had when a school. not such dreams as he had boy: he thought of them as spent his life in dreaming. little yellow men clad in long When I had done, he exsilken robes, with a couple of claimed swords stuck in their girdles, “This—this is amazing, more and their heads shorn in than amazing; it is miraculous! strange fashion; and I had But stay; let me think the to tell him the whole history matter over. After all, these of these latter years, so far Japanese, what are they? as they were concerned. Not- Mere Asiatics. Tell me frankly, withstanding the progress of do you imagine they have the his illness,—the doctor called slightest chance of withstandit senile decay, or by some such ing the Muscovites ?” medical name,—which I could I answered him, and my tone easily see was making very left him in no doubt of my rapid inroads, he appeared to sincerity, that I hoped and be somewhat roused from his trusted to see the Japanese habitual state of gloomy apathy, not only withstand them, but and listened, almost as a child drive them out of Manchuria. listens to a fairy tale, with He was silent for a short half incredulous interest. This time; his yellow cheeks flushed increased by degrees as I went orange, the corners of his on, telling of the awakening of mouth twitched under his Japan; of her adoption of white moustache, and his eyes European methods in all things, glittered. Then he saidmilitary and naval included; “Of late I have often been of the war with China, and dropping asleep even by day; of China's collapse; of Port but I shall not sleep much toArthur won, to be snatched night, I think. Hal these are from her by Russia for the tidings indeed to make a dying Chinese empire's sake, and a man's blood run warm again! few years later occupied by No, pray do not excuse yourRussia for her own (at this self; your news has done me Brontoski uttered a short fierce good and roused me. Oh, if
of tell him the; and I hain
they could ! ... if they only little army is only a mouthful could!... But no,” he added, for the Muscovite giant. You with a relapse into the sadness will see." now normal with him, “I have As often as I visited him, he always been a foolish visionary. would reiterate some such preNothing upon earth can stand diction as this, with a peragainst Russia. She will have sistent self-torturing pessimism to put forth all her gigantic that ought to have irritated power, but she will do so, and me, since, contradict the man bring men into the field by as I might, my own fears whismillions, and crush poor Japan, pered pretty nearly the same
- just as other nations have story. However, I each time been crushed before. It's the saw with greater pleasure that old story; there is no such thing the excitement which made as justice in the world.”
Brontoski follow every incident I protested against so dark of the war, weighing the proba view of the case; but seeing ability of contradictory telehim exhausted by the long tale grams, choosing between vari. I had told, and by his own ous forecasts of the coming emotions, I withdrew, intend- campaign, inveighing against ing to visit him in a day or the slowness with which the two. Several days, however, ice broke up, and studying all elapsed before I could return. Kuropatkin's achievements in When I did, I was astounded his past military career, seemed at the transformation that had really to have instilled new life taken place. Brontoski's ap- into him. Some of his former pearance was so changed, I strength had returned ; his might have fancied him to be appetite was better; he now ten years younger at least. was able to rise from his bed His bed was littered with for part of the day, and already recent newspapers in several talked of hiring a chair on languages, all of which he had wheels to enjoy the fresh air been perusing with eager in- and sunshine in the public terest, I made no doubt. A gardens when the spring came. large map of the seat of war I was sure that, in spite of all lay on the table by his bedside, he said, there was hope lurktogether with several books in ing at the bottom of his heart; French and German, about but despair had become a habit modern Japan.
with him, not to be got rid of “The Russian fleet is de- at once nor shaken off easily : stroyed, so they say,” were his it had to be torn from him first words to me as I entered. piecemeal by the Japanese vic“Let us hope it may be true. tories—if they should come. If not now, it will be true a little The Yalu was crossed at later, I feel sure: those islanders last-a fight on land- with are first-rate sailors, and have Brontoski's eager spirit hoverproved already what they are. ing over the invading troops. But the fate of the war must How his eyes gleamed as he be decided on land; and there read the despatches, and counted the tables will be turned. Their the captured guns and men! Thenceforth he began to show guine expectation. And I a little hope now and then; must not omit one incident the Mikado's army had proved that took place about this time. itself not less trustworthy than As he was reading aloud the his fleet. Yet often and often telegrams of the Sha-ho battle, he would say, “These successes and had come to one which set can only continue for a time; the Russian losses at 50,000 the tide will turn at last, and men: “Jesu Maria!” his niece the Muscovites will be victori- exclaimed, and then suddenly ous.” But the tidings came of remembering herself, bit her one battle after another, ever lips and cast a terrified glance with the same result, and ever in his direction. I saw him showing to greater advantage start violently and change the strategy and tactics and colour, and I expected an outheroism of Russia's foes. And break like what I had already with him there was an invari- witnessed in February. It did able succession of contrary not come, but his lively flow passions: the telegrams always of talk was checked for that telling of Russian success in evening. He said no more the first part, and of a retreat about the war, but sat taciturn to avoid disaster in the second, and abstracted, only replying first filled him with sorrow and in few words to such remarks anger, and then with grim, as I or his niece addressed to scornful mirth.
him. He had the look of a As the prestige of Russia on man who was painfully turnsea and land crumbled away, ing over some question within 80 did the body of this non- his mind. agenarian take fresh forces, Then came the fall of Port until the physician who at Arthur, rumoured, confirmed, tended him and had foretold officially announced. After the his death unwillingly confessed first transports, however, I that in all his experience he noticed that he became very had not met with so striking grave; and during the whole a case. Liaoyang and the day—for on that day I hapSha-ho, I may say, set him pened not to have any lessons on his legs, for he was now - I perceived that he was much able to hobble about the room. preoccupied, and, as I fancied, The look of desolation which engaged in an internal struggle had so deeply impressed me at of some sort. When he spoke my first visit was changed, again his tone was extremely his wrinkles notwithstanding, pessimistic, at least as much into an air of boyish animation so as in the first months of the and enthusiasm, very strange war; and I somehow had an in one so old. By night he idea that he was unconsciously dreamed of the Japanese, by exaggerating, forcing himself day he talked of them,-at as it were not to believe in times with despondency, when Japan's triumph, which he detheir advance did not keep sired so ardently. To what pace with his fiery ardour, purpose ? that I could not but mostly with bright san- guess; but all he said was a
mere echo of those among the over his face a puzzled and beFrench and German papers wildered expression, such as I that most obstinately main- have more than once noticed tained the inferiority of Jap- when a mathematician, after anese strategy. One might solving a problem to his entire almost have taken him—him, satisfaction, finds that his sol. of all men !—for a Russophil. ution is apparently wrong; or
It was by this time mid- when a philosopher is suddenwinter, and that long stoppage ly confronted with a difficulty of active military operations that he cannot see his way to had begun, which ended as all answer, save by denying the know now, but as no one could views he has always held : and guess then. Brontoski was I accordingly supposed he too once more confined to his bed, was revolving in his brain some perhaps because of a nervous problem especially hard to reaction from continual excite- solve. It was, of course, somement, perhaps because the long thing in connection with the waiting for news that never war; but my conjectures went came had made him weary. no further. The main cause of At any rate he was evidently his mental sufferings, besides, again much feebler. Together was quite plain: suspense, and with this bodily weakness, he the apprehension that death was also a prey to great might come before the approachanxiety of mind. He was tor- ing battle was fought out. Now mented by the thought that was he indeed changed from Kuropatkin might (as was what he was a year since, when persistently rumoured) have he had so earnestly longed to profited by the long respite to die. He knew by the movemass troops in numbers suffi- ments of the troops that a ciently great to drive and great, probably a decisive, consweep all before them: this flict was close at hand; he fear he was constantly express knew that one side or the ing, and he seemed to regard other might, and very likely it almost as a foregone con- would, be totally defeated ; clusion. Again, he laboured and he felt like a gambler under the apprehension that about to win or to lose a he might perhaps not be above fortune. ground when the decisive battle In a few days it was clear was fought; and he would pre- that he was sinking. The fer, he said, to know that the doctor, though he this time Japanese were beaten than to took good care not to commit die in such a state of suspense. himself again by any predicBesides these, I conceived that tion, was evidently of opinion there was yet another source that his patient could not hold of trouble and conflict in his out long. The battle of Mukmind which he would confide den had begun. During the to no one. I could only guess whole of that awful week at its existence, and give a Brontoski had to go through doubtful surmise as to its nat worse than bodily agonies, ure. There would often pass agonies of distress when he