Page:Poet Lore, At the Chasm, volume 24, 1913.pdf/10

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294

JAROSLAV VRCHLICKY

who can forbid an artist to choose his models from wherever he pleases? And besides, Mr. Bystrina knows your wife; you two were once rivals, I believe.

Karel.—You are opening up a chasm before me, my man—what should I do?

Bohdan.—I do not state anything positive, brother, but you'll admit yourself that Cilka is not happy—that there is a struggle going on within her soul, and you know that you will have to be very careful.

Karel.—And you would advise me?

Bohdan.—To drop at least temporarily that sarcasm of yours, which, I know, offends her. But stop! she's coming.

Karel.—Thank you,—we will see. But I don't know if I'll be able to overcome my habits.

(Enter a servant bringing tea service, followed by Cilka, who collects her needlework into a basket and quickly spreads the cloth and arranges the table.)

Servant.—Evening paper.

Bohdan (reaching out for it).—Let me have it. (Reads. Cilka pours out tea. Karel stands by hearth, rolling a cigarette.)

Cilka (handing cup to Karel).—Here, my dear.

(Exit servant.)

Karel (cigarette in mouth).—Thanks.

Bohdan (jumps up angrily and throws paper on floor).— But this is impertinence.

Karel (quietly sipping his tea).—What is it all about, Bohdan?

Cilka.—Bohdan ought not to read the newspaper at all. It always excites him so.

Bohdan.—It would excite you too.—Such a criticism!

Cilka.—Is there a criticism?

Karel (with irony).—Of your poems?

Bohdan.—Yes, there is a criticism—no, not a criticism, but an insolent, filthy depreciation.

Karel (slowly putting down his empty cup on table and picking up the paper).—Well, well, you don't say so. (Reads.) 'Daily News—Arts and Literature—"Triumph of Death"—picture by Ladislav Bystrina' (murmurs as if he were reading to himself). No—I regret, boy, that which is written here is true, the pure truth.

Bohdan.—That, that is true?

Karel (calmly).—Yes sir, Mr. Ladislav Bystrina has talent, and great talent at that, but he is on a wrong path and he must be told by someone some day.