Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/73

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

LITERARY AND SOCIAL ACTIVITY

45

striking contrast between the freedom of the wilds and the artificial affectedness of the English, for whose pleasure the beautiful shore of the Lucerne lake had been transformed into a stone quay in full accord with the cold nature of that race. At the moment of Tolstoy's arrival, these people were looking with contempt on a little, begging street minstrel, who did not receive anything from them for his sweet singing.

At the table d'hôte Tolstoy created a sensation by inviting this street singer to dine with him, to the great horror of the Englishmen and the solemn waiters. This incident is described in Tolstoy's novelette, "Lucerne," which ends in a beautiful hymn to the Eternal One:

"Who has weighed the internal happiness which lies in the soul of each of these men? There he sits now, somewhere on a dirty threshold, gazing on the bright, moonlit sky and joyfully singing to the quiet, fragrant night; there is no reproach, no anger or regret in his soul. And who knows what is passing in the hearts of those people behind these rich and lofty walls? Who knows whether they possess as careless and serene a joy of life and harmony with the world as lie in the heart of this little man? Unlimited are the mercy and wisdom of Him who permitted and ordered the existence