Page:Poet Lore, At the Chasm, volume 24, 1913.pdf/17

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artist—such theories do not apply to you. This would probably be true in the married life of, say, Mr. Bystrina—but, he is an old bachelor and does not need our philosophies. So, good-bye, Cilka. (About to go.)

Cilka.—One more word, brother. Do you think that Bystrina's marriage could never be a happy one?

Bohdan.—Bystrina? Never. Married life requires a peaceful disposition. Bystrina is a wild phantast, his fits and whims would kill his wife a year after their wedding.

Cilka.—And suppose his wife were of an artistic temperament, one who understood him and could sympathize with him.

Bohdan.—So much worse. They would kill each other. In every artist there is a certain amount of illness, but if his wife is a wise woman she will know how to manage and tune it to their every-day life. But it could not be possible with Bystrina. His illness is the source of his own inspiration and some day it will be his death. It is better for him that he remained single and you can thank God that eight years ago you chose Karel even if he is bitter and sarcastic. But now, really, I must go.

Cilka.—And where are you going?

Bohdan.—To the club and the café, my dear. I am collecting color and human documents—I want to write a novel and without some fundamental material such a thing is in our day almost impossible.

Cilka.—And when are you coming back?

Bohdan.—To supper, if you please. Cheer up and take things as they come. The eight years of your married life were, excepting the death of your child, altogether happy. Leave Karel alone; as I said before, measure his worth by his deeds. Au revoir. (Exit.)

Cilka (after the departure of Bohdan, glances quickly at the clock).—There is time yet if I want to, that is if I can. (Takes a letter from her waist and reads.) 'If your sympathy is sincere, your will firm, your soul pure, come to-night at seven o'clock to the Western Depot. You needn't take anything along. I'll provide for all. We will remain in Paris forever. I swear to you that you will be to me a sister, and only if you yourself wish, my wife. If you do not come I will consider that as an answer. My fate and yours is in your hands.—Ladislav Bystrina.' Last night I was crying before his picture, not knowing that he was behind me. 'Do you want to come with me on a like pilgrimage?' he whispered into my ear. I was so weak and exhausted that, sobbing, I glanced at him and hurriedly left the hall. If Karel would not be so perfect and so good—and not even then, even if he were cruel and brutal, if he were to tread upon me, I would not be able to do that which he tempts me to. (Pause.) But I should not have written to him after that meeting.