"Come Unto These Yellow Sands"
THERE IS an old Chinese adage which runs, roughly, thus: ‘Luck admires courage, and is apt to send good things to those who take the bad ones well’.” The ship’s doctor spoke—a thin, neat, dapper, elderly man, with a face all over lines. He added: “How do you do?” and put his hand on the rail. There leaned a girl who might have stood for Despair.
She turned with a look of astonishment and wistful eagerness.
“How do you do, Dr. Morrow? What makes you tell me that?”
“Two good reasons, my dear. The first because you’re coming back at least six months too soon, and the second because our wireless announced Miss Clara Crawford’s death.”
She was unable to speak.
“It was a great blow to the ship. She made herself so charming to everyone on board. Then, too, her lovely voice still echoes in the saloon. It was a great blow to England. The loss of ‘the Devon Nightingale’ is one we can ill afford. We have few such singers today. In fact there isn’t another and may never be again. I’m very, very sorry. Can I be of use?”
“I’m afraid not, thank you,” she said. “All the same, I shall try to remember how that Chinese proverb runs.’ “They’re wise old birds,” he said. He smiled, saluted and turned away as the ropes were drawn on board.
Y\ TISE AS they might be, however, and inspiring as was VV the philosophy for which they had a name, she was taking a bad thing badly and with utter hopelessness, so that when the three long raucous hoots w'ent echoing among the buildings which make New York unique, they sounded her defeat. They seemed to her to celebrate the wreckage of her life.
She had thrilled at the fantastic skyline on arriving at those docks, but as the R. M. S. Laconia came suddenly to life and slid away imperceptibly among those fussy tugs, it receded from her sight behind a veil of tears. The good thing which luck had sent—the best in her profession—had been snatched from under her hand. She was going home with failure and a heart filled with grief.
After five years at the piano for the greater part of each day and another year as accompanist at Broadcasting House she had been picked out by the great soprano for her first American tour. How everyone had envied her this incredible stroke of luck! To play for Clara Crawford, “the Devon Nightingale,” was to win the blue ribbon for which she had been trained. To go with her to the United States on her first triumphant tour was to have the highest accolade which labor and talent could win.
To this exhilaration there had been added the adventure of a first sea voyage and the excitement of being daily with a
great celebrity. There was the rush to the Surrey vicarage in the shade of a Norman church, the bewildered advice of a father who knew so little of life, the search from shop to shop for smart but reasonable frocks between the hours of rehearsal in the singer’s studio, the final binge at the boarding house in which for years in her cubicle she had dreamed of such a chance, then Liverpool and the floating city and the new and bewildering sensation of a moving element.
To a girl like Janet Rowley who had known no other transports than the London buses and tubes, the ship and all her wonders was no inanimate thing. From the moment that she had slipped her ropes and headed out to sea—that vastness of uncertainty and ever changing m(x>ds—she had become an individual with the physical and mental character of a responsible human being. Through gales and mountains of water as through beneficent peace, it was her job to carry her family and what passengers there were.
The crossing had been a good one, with smoothness and hours of sun. The passengers had been pleasant and the games on the boat deck had passed the time away. In the diary that Janet had written to the rural vicarage she had described Miss Crawford as being:
“. . . most awfully sweet to me. She keeps me with her always and laughs and talks all day, and we stick to each other at tennis and put up an excellent game. I like her better than any woman I’ve ever known in my life. She’s the very soul of kindness, and such thoughtfulness and consideration I’ve never met before. Then, too, she assures me that my playing helps her to sing, and you can’t imagine how happy I am to be told that by her ! Tonight she sang at the concert which is always given on ships, and the last of her songs, which people loved and which made some of them cry, was to the exquisite new music by Karolik, the great violinist, which has never been sung before. ltls called ‘Come Unto These Yellow Sands,’ and we shall use it to wind up the programme of the first concert in New York. ‘Come Unto These Yellow Sands, and then take hands; curtsied when you have and kiss’d, the wild waves whist.’ They’re Shakespeare’s words . . . It’s all too wonderful, darlings—like coming to the end of a rainbow in a sort of fairyland ! I’ll work myself to the bone for her in sheer gratitude.”
And that she had done on the opening programme which had been chosen for Carnegie Hall. Even that enormous place had been completely sold out. The agent had taken a studio in Fifty-seventh Street, with the latest modem furniture and a lovely instrument. The press had swarmed upon it with tyrannical cameras and the papers were full of interviews and breathless interest. It was to be the great event in New York’s musical world.
Four days before the concert there had come that sudden chill, the cough, the flaming temperature, the first of several doctors, day and night nurses, those ugly tubes of oxygen, the invincible hand of death . . .
She had sent for “my little Janet” an hour before she had passechend, looking frail but beautiful with a fluttering thing in her throat, had said : M
“Dear, I’m awfully sorry. I’m going to let you down. God rest her soul.
AND SO here, on board the Laconia, with a great hole in l\ her heart, was the devoted and once eager Janet who had never helped her to sing.
She kept to her room for two days and was attended by the doctor, who gave her a sedative. I must calm, moderate and tranquillize this distressed and lonely girl. Difficult with mere medicine, but what else is mine to use? Grief can only be cured by time, and despair by success. But once again on the second day, as the ship did her duty with an unbroken pulse, and there was laughter in the smoking room, music in the drawing-room and the intermittent voices of those who walked the deck, he reminded her of the adage of the Chinese Rochefoucauld.
At which she smiled and said: “All right, doctor; tomorrow I’ll be on my feet.”
“We’re not carrying many passengers, worse luck,” he went on to say. “Half-a-dozen apple men who punish the whisky a bit, a honeymoon couple who look self-conscious and are trying to assume the indifference of an old married pair, about twenty of the sort of people we always carry across, who spend their time in the library with detective stories and such, and the usual middle-aged lady who throws her eyes about. The second class is more lively. Numerous nice Irish girls who are going back to the old country because America’s in the dumps. And, of course, there are several priests. The most interesting, picturesque but bad-tempered creature who snaps at everyone and whose name I see by the passenger list is Jan Machakoff is, oddly enough, first class, lie’s a tall slim person with a communistic beard, a soft hat with a large flop and his right arm in a sling. He appears to have a grievance which makes him hate the world. Give him a wide berth.”
She came up to one of those mornings which are only to be found at sea. It was clear, keen and sparkling, with an unclouded sun, a sky which appeared to be higher and bluer than she had ever seen before, a southwest breeze which sang through the ropes and sent away the oily smoke in a long thick line, a sea in a coy and charming mood with white spume caused by the ship, whose newly painted whiteness was almost dazzling against the blood-red of her funnel and the ventilators’ mouths. It was good to be alive.
An apple man whose cargo of cases was wedged into the hold made quickly for the smoking room with a joyful piece of news. He had caught a glimpse of Janet as she swung round the deck.
“Boys,” he said, “I may be mad, but I think I’ve seen a peach. Wha’ d’yer think of that! She’s burst forth like a primrose on a rustic Surrey bank. Little, neat, with a profile like Baumer’s drawings in Punch, but looks as though she had suffered and needs an uncle or two. Let’s be good to her.”
It was received with a burst of assent. The notorious effect of apples is to make men altruists.
AS JANET felt the sun on her face and took deep breaths - of that air she repeated the Chinese encouragement and tilted up her chin. “I’ll take the bad things well.” she thought, “and make a wreath of courage for that dear woman’s grave. I’ll do what this good ship does and go on and on with pluck.”
Refusing to look into the future with its inevitable lack of work—her job had gone with the B.B.C. and there was nothing else in view—she made the best of that day and the returning sap of youth. It was not until the evening, an hour before the bugler sounded the call to change, that she looked for her chair and sat. For some peculiar reason, probably mischievous, the deck steward had allotted it next to the bearded man’s. And as he tucked her into it with his usual bedside smile, Jan Machakoff uttered a growl.
Again and again she had seen him as she took her exercise, and once had only just missed the book which, with an outraged jerk, he had tossed overboard. He had offered no apology for its nearness to her head. He had merely, in fact, glowered, so that the doctor’s summing up of him was fully justified. But the doctor’s advice was difficult. How could she give Machakoff a wide berth in a chair that
touched his own? Not that evening, at any rate. Tomorrow she would see that it was placed at the other end of the deck.
But when he gave an impatient heave and said with deliberate rudeness, “It is not that you are ’ere to stay? I cannot tink it is in all this emptiness,” pride made Janet answer:
“I’m sorry, but this is my chair.”
“Britannia rules de waves, isn’t it?” His voice was steeped in sarcasm.
“Yes, exactly,” she said.
At which he gave a gesture of the most profound dismay.
“At once it is good that I say to you, ’do not run the risk.’ I am down and—’ow you say?—out. The world has turn against me. I am a too kicked dog. All day I shall groan and toss from side to side. I am in the pain of the body as well as of the soul. I shall curse and use the w^ords that it is not for the young. At this moment I make a wam. I say to you ‘move away from me. It is better that you do.’ ”
He spoke with extraordinary rapidity and a sort of explosive force. He used every one of the fingers of his unbandaged hand. His accent was broken and curious,
his tone had in it the impatience of one not usually crossed. His manner was that of a man who had ordered people about and was accustomed to be petted and spoilt and refused all argument. He took it for granted that Janet would go immediately.
But to his amazement, she drew her rug about her and held her place. It was not that she felt obstinate, antagonistic or hurt. It was with the sudden recognition of a fellow wounded dog. It was in answer to the herd instinct, the wish to help at a stile. It pervaded her sympathetically so that she understood. He was almost as young as she, like her had a pain in the soul, and they were both of them down and out. She would pass on the Chinese adage which had done her so much good.
Before she could fumble to that, however, he stared at her wide-eyed, said something in a language which might just as well have been Greek, stumbled to his feet with difficulty, having only the use of one arm, made a grab at a magazine and headed along the deck.
“Well, that’s that,” she thought. “Good intentions misapplied. I shall see his chair tomorrow at least a mile away. The beginning and the end.”
SHE DINED at the doctor’s table, at which there were four of the people who haunted the library. He had placed her on his right so that he might look after her and continue to give her the tonic of cheerfulness. He looked smart and even more dapper in his neat mess kit, and he had polished the dome of his bald head which shone in the light. His eyes looked all the bluer because his face was deeply tanned and his stiff shirt even whiter against the brown of his sensitive hands. No one knew what his past had been or why he had come to sea, though it was known that he had been in Harley Street as a famous specialist. It was believed by some of the officers that he had lost a beautiful wife and had joined the ship as a means of escape from painful memories. Whether that was so or not was a matter of surmise. The personal pronoun was absent from his volubility, although the lines on his face were eloquent of mental suffering. It was obvious that he had cut ambition from the work he did so well, and was content with his beneficent duties among the ship’s company. He had been heard to say that “winds and waters keep a hush more dead than any sleep.” > t
It was with the almonds and raisins which are inevitable in ships that he said to Janet:
“Well, I hear that you bearded Machakoff—-everything gets about—and he threw a fit.”
“Not a very big one and I quite understood. It must have been appalling to find what he called Britannia in the chair
next to his.”
Dr. Morrow laughed at her way of putting it. He would have been far from appalled if. as Machakoff or any other passenger of the same number of years, he had turned to see so charming a girl in a chair so close to his.
"There’s something wrong with that man,” he said. “I wonder what it is.”
“The whole of life,” said Janet. “The world has turned against him. He’s a too-kicked dog.”
“Oh, well, there are plenty of others who can thus describe themselves. But that’s not a good enough reason for being disgustingly rude. Why advertise? At any rate, I don’t think it’s likely that he’ll get another chance.”
“I’m quite sure of that. He’ll avoid me like the plague.
“By the way, the owner of most of our cargo—you can smell it everywhere—has been to me about you.”
“You wouldn’t perhaps think so but he’s timid, it appears. He wants to be introduced. He’s heard that you’re alone and wonders whether you’d like to join them at bridge. He s a decent little fellow and means awfully well. He and his companions put up an excellent game. I played with them last night.”
“How very kind, but no. My bridge is even w'orse than the average vicarage. I simply wouldn’t dare. I revoke at any minute and always hug my trumps.”
An infinite number of wrinkles were added to all those already round Dr. Morrow’s eyes.
“Then I think,” he said, “you’re right. One can be an amateur at any other game. Pons asinorum merits instant death. Come up to the drawing-room and play the piano to me. Chopin is good for the soul.”
AND THIS is what she did. having waited until the A orchestra had finished the work of the day. Gladly, as it happened, because the listeners were few and those who sat through the numbers were inconsiderate. If they were appreciative they gave no signs of it. Janet walked the deck and, but for the example which the good ship set— duty, courage and persistence on her way through the night, her attempt to win Luck’s admiration by a steady cheerfulness would have failed. Nothing was the same on board, unaltered as it was, without the delightful woman with whom she had been before. Every place had memories, and the echoes of laughter were everywhere to be heard. Thrills, discussions, anticipations, moments of chilling nervousness, the dread of tremendous railway journeys, the excitement at the thought of receptions with probably a speech—everyone spoke in America whether able to do so or not—all came back again. But there w-as no warm hand on her arm . .
She had played three of Chopin’s preludes and was in the middle of the first part of his Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp minor, when the doctor saw the eyes and beard of the man he so greatly disliked in the window facing him. After a moment they disappeared and the whole of the tragic figure came quietly into the room. As though drawn like a snake to the music, though reluctantly it seemed, he subsided into an armchair with his long legs stuck out. He sat with his back to Janet and his left hand over his eyes, and there he remained for an hour as though he were carved in stone. He might have been made by Rodin as Youth in Misery.
It was not until she was tired that Janet noticed him. She caught the surprise in the doctor’s eyes and nodded back. She herself was amazed. And then with the desire to convey the message of the Chinese philosopher she played Grieg’s Aviette to the Spring.
Waiting until the last notes had faded into the air, Machakoff rose, bowed and immediately lert che room.
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“Well, anyhow,” said Dr. Morrow, “that lout has one good point. ‘The man that hath no music in hirpself, nor is not moved with the concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.’ Thank you very much. You played my favorites. Your touch is exquisite. It was a great treat. I advise a good long night.”
And but for the little apple man she would have taken his advice. He caught her as she was leaving to go below to her room. His face was as round and red as one of the apples with which he had crammed the hold. He said, in a sort of blurt:
“If you’ll allow me, that was perfectly wonderful. We heard it all in the smoking room and it put a stop to the game. By golly, you can play ! We thought of trooping in, but when I spotted the poet, or whatever the dickens he is, we decided to stay where we were. We can’t stomach that feller with the fungus on his face.” He gave out a high shrill laugh and a Variety imitation of the Machakoff scowl. His timidity had been swept away by whisky and enthusiasm; the latter, however, and luckily, being the stronger of the two. But before Janet could
thank him and slip tactfully away—she had picked out a book from the library which she wanted to read in bed—he burst forth again:
“There’s a joker in my little gang who sings like a bird. What do you say to running through a few songs with him? Not, of course, if you're tired, but he’s down to perform at the concert—the purser saw to that and he’s bound to whip you in, being what you are—I mean so thundering good— and a little spot of practice ...”
“Yes, of course,” said Janet. “I’ll open the piano again.”
A concert! And in the room in which Clara Crawford had sung to an enchanted audience for the last time on earth ! Could she bear such a thing? But even as she stood there with a cold hand on her heart, the apple man had nipped away and brought in his partners in the cargo and at bridge. They came in wearing grins—a tall, angular,
middle-aged man with a Hitlerish mustache, several patches of white hair on an otherwise mousy head, and a line of miniature medals which he kept among his socks; a youngish man with a baby face, a ministerial collar and a large black bow, and one who was stamped with the earmarks of a Savage Saturday night; a clean-shaven, goodnatured fellow with a striking width of chest and an opera singer’s neck. He was a bom baritone.
“Permit me to introduce my three very good friends—Mr. Harry Hampstead, Mr. George Whistlefield, and Mr. Tom Totton, who might have been a thrush. Gentlemen, Miss Janet Rowley, who makes the best music even better than it is.” He forgot to say that he himself was John Augustus Bricket, generally known as Johnny wherever apples grew. He got through this performance with high social aplomb, though he killed it with a wriggle and his
odd shrill laugh. It was like something one hears in the jungle and in the pit at a musical play.
Janet returned their bows, and took her place at the piano with a great effort of will. And there she had to wait while, after words of thanks, Totton went off for his music as hard as he could lick. He was always willing to sing. Bricket’s breathless description of the girl who needed an uncle was instantly accepted by the two new men. They added inwardly four and were avuncular at once. Making a mental bet that among the things that she would be asked to play there would be “I’ll Sing Thee Songs of Araby,” and “Son o’ Mine,” Janet might have added “Deep River” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” They were all brought in. And as Totton sang them extremely well in a full, rich voice, she enjoyed the following hour with no regrets for her book. So did the smoking-room stewards, the lady who threw her eyes about, and several of the people who were drawn from mysteries. Machakoff paused for a moment at the entrance to the room and then went off with the expression of one who had just hammered his fingernail.
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JANET SLEPT without dreams. The sparkle of the morning and a sense of returning fitness called her into the sun. Though only faintly interested in Machakoff as a man, she found him in her thoughts as a fellow down and out. The attitude of depression in which she had seen him last restirred her sympathy, rekindled her desire to pass on the Chinese adage which had been of so much help. Among her other gifts there was a rare one—gratitude, whose still small voice came often through the human urgings of fear. But how could this be done? It was certain that his deck chair would have been transferred to a distant place and, therefore, equally certain that she could not speak again. But when, after a bout of deck tennis with three of the expert uncles on the port side of the ship—an invitation had been sent to her cabin in Johnny’s schoolboy fist —she went to her chair to rest, there, at her elbow, sprawled the wounded Machakoff. Surprise? That wasn’t the word ! Both she and the grinning deck steward were completely at a loss.
To her bright and cheerful “Good morning,” no answer was returned. There was only a surging movement, a fretful clutch at a rug, and a long and trying silence which neither of them broke. Not exactly a silence, because somewhere nearby a deck hand with the inevitable pot of paint was whistling as he worked. And there were the pulse of the engines and the plowing of the sea.
Suddenly Machakoff spoke. He said: “I admire ’ow you play.” His manner was abrupt and ungracious and he kept his eyes away.
Instead of handing a bouquet, it appeared rather to Janet that he was throwing a brick. She simply said, “Oh, thanks,” and expected nothing more.
But after a murmur of curses at a recalcitrant cigarette lighter which finally did its job, he went on again. It was a paradoxical attack.
“You ’ave the touch, the spirit. You interpret ’ow it was felt. It give me the refresh. It was that I ’ave sleep for the first time for a week.”
Janet was strangely moved. Then, after all, she had been able to give a hand to this lame dog. It was a slight return for the great help which the doctor had given to her.
He was not remotely interested in whatever she might have said.
“You are of the profession, isn’t it? You ’ave just finish a tour? Tell me of it, please. I ’ave a wish to know.” He swivelled around and looked at her and gave a wave of his hand. There was impatience in the gesture and a sort of royal command.
Janet was once more amazed. A peculiar person, this. She didn’t suppose for a moment that he would subject himself to her and be able to bear with attention the story she had to tell. She was surprised to see, on the contrary, that his interest was held and that he shut his eyes with a stab of pain when she came to the tragic passing of the “Devon Nightingale.” He hurried to give her his handkerchief when she couldn’t find her own.
“So,” he said. “So! Life—life? What it is but a curse? And now please, of yourself. Why, where and ’ow you study to this perfection of technique? For an English, it is strange.” He waved his hand again.
Not so much now with the conciseness of a press dispatch, she roughed out the scenario of her five hard years. The boarding house, the tube, the music school, the tube, the boarding house—the daily monotonous round. Her engagement first with a Pierrot Troupe at Eastbourne on the pier; her promotion to accompany a tenor at provincial concert halls and then at Broadcasting House; her contract as general utility with the B.B.C., the fortunate result; her selection by Clara Crawford and the crossing on that ship; nothing to which to look forward on her dreadfully tragic return.
TO ALL of which he listened with his eyes upon her face. His only interruptions were an occasional “Oh” or “So,” a nod, the raising of eyebrows, the sudden hitch of a shoulder, and one short satirical laugh. At
the end of the monologue he suddenly took her hand and, offering no apology, examined the length of her fingers and felt the strength of her wrist. He then went back to his book.
Although it was perfectly plain to her that she must regard herself as dismissed, she braved the opportunity to throw the doctor’s seeds. She felt that she was somehow called upon to do this.
“You wouldn’t have heard me play,” she said, “or seen me in this chair if it hadn’t been for something that was told me as we sailed. ‘Luck admires courage and is apt to send good things to those who take the bad ones well.’ It’s an old Chinese proverb ...”
“I do not like Chinese. I do not believe in luck. Our despot is the fate.”
He returned to his dejection and dropped his book with a thud.
In her keen imagination Janet heard the slam of a door. After lunch and further tennis with the rumbustious apple men, she was companionless in her chair. Well, he had spurned the inspiration which had set her on her feet, a fact that she deeply regretted in her eagerness to help. But she made up her mind to play again that evening after dinner, and went carefully through her repertoire for sleep-giving things. In that way, at any rate, she might share the moral tonic which the doctor had prescribed . . . Who was this eccentric young man, this ego-maniac, this self-appointed martyr who, as is the way of martyrs, wallowed and gloried in gloom? A Russian, she supposed, who had been driven from his country for a political offense. An aristocrat it might be, despoiled of his estates. He had an autocratic way. What else had fate dealt out to him to put him in this mood? He was so young to go with pessimism into utter hopelessness. Or had he been “crossed in love?” And had his arm been broken in a motor accident or in a communistic fracas with the American police? She thought that the removal of that very horrid beard would leave him quite good-looking. He had extraordinarily fine eyes—large, dark, thoughtful; wells of poetry. In spite of what the doctor had said and the contempt of the apple men, she liked him very much.
And so that night, to the doctor and to Bricket and his friends and presently to Machakoff who again presented himself, she played her sleep-giving tunes. She chose Debussey’s Clair de Lune, Schumann’s Cradle Song, Beethoven’s Minuet, several of Chopin’s Preludes, Mendelssohn’s Bees' Wedding, Brahm’s Rhapsody in EFlat, and wound up as an afterthought and under a sort of urge and with the emotional sense of the presence of her dear dead friend, with Karolik’s new setting of “Come Unto These Yellow Sands” which left the doctor wordless and with something in his throat. Machakoff, in the same way, rose, bowed and left.
And then it was Tom Totton’s turn with another bundle of songs.
EVERY NIGHT this happened, to everyone’s delight, and whether it had the effect of giving Machakoff too much sleep so that he remained all day in bed, the fact remained that his chair was empty and he was seen on deck no more. Then came the formal concert at which the captain was in the chair and was down on the programme for “a short and stammering speech.” In this he was to say that the object of these impromptu affairs, as everybody knew, was to add to the fund for the orphans of the men who ran those ships. In addition to Janet and Totton—the latter very professional with a flower in his coat—the purser had dug up talent from the crowded second class. He had discovered an English comedian who was returning after a frost. “Gay Nights” had been the extreme reverse from the New York point of view. He would imitate George Huntley as all comedians do —the master of the craft. He had required much persuasion, but was itching to perform. And there were the Sisters O’Reilly— sisters under the skin—who had volunteered to clog-dance in their music-hall attire. Both had pretty legs. There was also a Cuban artist, famous for caricatures, who
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had brought out his accordion for a rumbustious rumba or two. So that one way and another the purser was proud of himself.
All went well and admirably and without the suggestion of hitch, every living passenger except Machakoff in the room, until the Englishman’s second encore, received with roars of laughter, brought the second part of the programme to Janet’s final turn. This was to be the end except for the National Anthem to be played by the band. And then something happened which sent a thrill through the room and made Janet see for the first time the accuracy of an expression which, in its implication of an absolute impossibility even to athletes, she had never understood. To jump out of one’s skin.
A steward entered suddenly and gave the captain a note. There was nothing dramatic in that. All eyes were, however, on the captain’s face. The collection had been unexpectedly good and there was a smile round his lips. But having opened the note in a casual way, his whole expression changed. His eyes grew big and his mouth fell open and he uttered an exclamation of excitement and delight. He shot a look at the purser in which he obviously signalled, “What you’ve missed, my boy !” and sprang at once to his feet. He said, speaking quickly and stumbling over his words:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have an astounding surprise! Karolik is on board. Karolik, the magnificent violinist who rivals Kreisler himself! He has travelled under another name—that of Machakoff. The neuritis in his bow arm, which cancelled his engagements, has gradually disappeared. With indescribable kindness he offers to play to us if, as he has scribbled, ‘it might please you if he does.’ ”
There was an outburst of cheers and prolonged cries of “Karolik, Karolik,” from all parts of the room. Bricket and his three friends were too amazed to cry, and the doctor’s eyebrows raised themselves to where the roots of his hair used to be.
JANET BEGAN to tremble. She would have to play for him, for Karolik, who was said to change his accompanist at least once a week !
The purser rushed to the door and was edged aside by a young, dark, clean-shaven man in faultless evening clothes. The room was filled with applause as with a fishlike dart he went swiftly to the piano, carrying the famous instrument with which he did
magic things. He carried also music which he placed in front of Janet with his usual imperiousness.
He said: “Pick out what you know. It is no matter to me. Three in all will do.”
And while on the verge of a heart attack and with a little prayer for help she did as she was told, he tuned his violin.
A hush fell at once.
They began with Tschaikowsky’s “Chanson sans Paroles,” then played Chopin’s “Mazurka op. 33”, and would have finished with Massinet’s “Méditation from Thais” if the audience had allowed. But they were carried off their feet by the life, spirit and exhilaration which they had heard with bated breath. Their cheers w'ent on and on. And when, putting his chin on his violin and picking up his bow, Karolik whispered to Janet, they broke out afresh. But when he turned and faced them in an attitude of play there was a silence like that of the desert over every part of the room.
“Come unto these yellow' sands.”
Most of the passengers had never heard it before, but the captain and the purser, the members of the orchestra and the stewards round the door, Dr. Morrow and Janet w'ho could hardly see for tears, had heard it sung by Clara Crawford during the first and last of her crossings on the waters of this earth.
Saying to Janet abruptly, “Follow me to the library. I wish a word with you,” Karolik bowed profoundly and immediately left the room.
And Janet went to the doctor as the passengers moved away. There were bursts of conversation and short, excited laughs.
She said: “Oh, doctor,oh, Doctor Morrow, if only—oh, if only that Chinese might be right !” Her hand trembled on his arm.
The doctor in his sympathy completely understood. “You deserve that he shall be. You’ve taken bad things well.”
And there was the beardless “Machakoff” impatient of delay. His back was against an etching in a comer of the library to which no one had yet returned. He carried his violin.
He said with strong emotion:
“I tank you very much. You ’ave dispel my troubles. My arm is back again and at last I ’ave found one who suit me to a T. I engage you for my work. Good night.”
Janet said echoed words as, with clasped hands, she stood there alone. And she added to them, “Good morrow,” with the warmest gratitude.