we know that such work is the last link in the chain of human evolution, that after it a work which is greater and more beautiful would not come? Therefore, I am always reserved and conservative in my judgments. Who can tell me whether after a great artist one who is greater will not come?—Nobody. What measurement or rule should one use if he really does come? If you will heap on your contemporaries the greatest praise and bury them in panegyrics and eulogies what shall our posterity do? That's the misfortune of our modern romancers, who now go a begging for a morsel of recognition. You have given to your so-called classics extravagant praise and now our young world is unappreciated.
Bohdan.—Just like Ladislav Bystrina. Now you have contradicted yourself.
Karel.—What! Is Bystrina a beginner? He is of my age and he has already done a lot of work in his day. And in such cases it is necessary to be strict. When he was a beginner I was a little more lenient toward him. Perhaps you remember that first attempt of his,—that peculiar baby in too-many-colored clothes, which he in his picture had thrown into a heap of snow in front of a steaming locomotive. It was original and true. At that time the artist wanted to express something. He did it in a crude way, but I praised and encouraged him. But now, permit me to explain the second thing. Mr. Bystrina visited the house of your father, who always was very fond of all young dilettantes, and of course in his own way he spoiled them.
Bohdan.—As, for instance, you.
Karel.—Well, perhaps he spoiled me too. Mr. Bystrina was a pale, tall young fellow, with a little black moustache. He always wore a bloody Socialist cravat tied à-la-Byron. He was an artist—talked little. And gentlemen with such qualities are very dangerous for young ladies. You can ask your sister about that. There was a time when things looked very much against me, but the common-sense journalist, a man of balanced, positive views, was victorious over the soft, mild romanticist.
Cilka (flares up).—Karel, stop talking about the past. Do not rake up these bygone things, please!
Karel (surprised).—Oh, no, let us talk about it; let us clear up these things some day. Well, when Bystrina saw that all was lost, he discontinued his visits.
Cilka.—And you began to hate him, which was unjust. The victor should be magnanimous. He could just as well have become your friend. Out of sympathy—just because he had to yield to you.
Karel.—Oh, no, no, not for the sake of sympathy—on the contrary,