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