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the floor and whirled him, hanging from his wrists, towards the ground. This was the opportunity. The men rushed in from behind him, and caught their Lord's arms above the elbows, dragging them backwards till they almost cracked. The seneschal wrested the heavy whip from his hand, and Arnoul stood back, gasping and panting, his heart beating and thumping on his ribs, a queer, choking sensation in his throat. It was all over in an instant. There would be a heavy reckoning with their Lord, no doubt; but murder would surely have been done without some such interference.
Vipont stood there, held fast by his own retainers, impotent and furious. His hands worked convulsively at his sides, the veins standing out like whipcord upon his brow, torrents of oaths still falling from his working lips. Sibilla had risen from the ground and was weeping silently. Her bosom swelled with sobs. Her pride, her love, her honor, had been so cruelly wronged.
Then Sir Guy came forward and led her away from the great hall, back to her women. Not a word did he speak. Only he took her hand and led her forth weeping. And Vipont struggled and cursed and clawed at his side for the weapon as she went. The pages and the remaining bowman stood open-mouthed at the door, until the seneschal motioned them away.
And then Arnoul was witness of a strange thing. The veins subsided on Sir Sigar's forehead and his hands ceased to claw and fumble at his side. He seemed on a sudden to collapse and shrink into himself. Instead of oaths, sobbing groans came from his lips. His rage had left him spent and broken; and he trembled and shook like a man-a very old man-shaken by the palsy. The seneschal bade the archers loose their master and lead him to a seat. Still cowed and broken he fell, all huddled together, into the chair they brought him. Only the tears ran down his two cheeks and choking sobs shook his entire body.
“Let him be,” whispered the steward. “ He will come to himself now. The fit never lasts, but wears itself away like this. Only the poor maiden! Poor child, she has never seen her father in this his worst of moods. Never before has he raised his whip to her. Indeed, he has never lost himself like this before."
Vipont had folded his arms upon the table before him and bowed his head upon them hiding his face. The sobs still shook his frame and echoed through the vast spaces of the room. He looked so pitiful and old—that heaped-up figure sobbing in the lonely oaken chair-so crushed and old and broken, that the boy had it in his heart almost to pity him. But he remembered what he had seen, and became stern and hard again.
The seneschal signed to him to follow him; and together they withdrew, leaving the knight alone, sobbing in the great empty hall.
"Surely," said Arnoul, as soon as the heavy curtains had closed behind them, hiding the pitiful figure. “Surely the maiden is not safe with him. He is mad—stark mad! Has she no place where she could go, no people of her own to save her from a repetition of such danger ?"
“There is her aunt at Exeter, the Abbess of the Benedic. tines there," replied the seneschal. “But she would never go. No; she certainly would never consent to go. Nothing would tear her from her father."
"But she must go," insisted the boy imperatively. “She must be got away from such a madman. Guy shall speak with her and persuade her. Abbot Benet will reason with Sir Sigar himself. Surely he will listen to reason when once he is calm again! And, if need be, the Bishop,”
“ She will not listen; and Sir Sigar will hear no reason. Let be! young sir, let be!” repeated the seneschal. “I know what I am saying. The Lady Sibilla will never be persuaded to leave her father. But, see! there is your brother, Sir Guy," he went on. “ You will want a bite, both of you, and a sup before you return to Woodleigh. And all your journey here in vain! Alas! it is not to be helped! A pity! Yes; a pity ! Come, Sir Guy! Come, young sir !"—the good seneschal's thoughts turned from his present anxiety to the comforting of the inner man-"we shall find a cold pasty, doubtless, and a Alagon or so of wine, if we do but look for it. And, after so arduous a morning's work, so disquieting a scene, so terrible an adventure, faith of God! we all need it!"
So saying he disappeared through a low archway, Sir Guy and Arnoul following close at his heels.
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
JORIS KARL HUYSMANS.
BY VIRGINIA M. CRAWFORD.
HE death of Joris Karl Huysmans has followed, at
a few months' interval, the death of Ferdinand Brunetière, and the Church in France to-day is the poorer through the loss of these two dis
tinguished converts to Catholicism. No two men could have been more dissimilar, no two could have been brought to an understanding of divine truth by more diverse paths; yet it was given to each, in his own sphere, to combat the materialism of the century and to labor in the interests of the Church to which each had submitted in middle life-Brunetière by the eloquence of his speech and the austere probity of his character even more than by his pen; Huysmans by the sheer power of incomparable literary expression. In what form and with how great an intensity will their memories survive among their countrymen ?
Contemporary events seem to make it easier than is usually the case to arrive, so soon after his death, at some perception of the ultimate place to be filled by Huysmans in the literary history of his adopted country. He died (May 13, 1907) at a moment when France was in the throes of an anti-religious campaign, of which the permanent consequences are still beyond our vision, but of which the first and most obvious result has been the uprooting of that monastic ideal which has flourished with such amazing luxuriance on Gallic soil ever since the day when Lacordaire-most characteristic of French friars-preached in Notre Dame in the proscribed habit of St. Dominic.
One of the most distinctive features of the Renaissance of Christianity in France during the nineteenth century, after its temporary destruction during the Revolution, has surely been the very large part played in it by the religious orders, their influence, their wealth, their rapid growth. Whether it be a feature to rejoice over or to be deplored, it is a fact no one cares to dispute. It is surely not without significance that on
the eve of the outburst of hatred and bigotry which has culminated in their forcible disruption, a man of letters of the first rank should have come forward as the champion of this modern efflorescence of monasticism, as the interpreter of its mystical significance and the commentator of its most minute observances.
It is this, I venture to think, that constitutes Huysmans' permanent right to a niche in his country's temple of fame. He has chronicled, in letters of gold, a state of life which, maybe, as far as France is concerned, has passed away beyond recall. To this task he devoted his strange genius, his varied erudition, and the mature powers of his later life. And into it, with the unerring judgment of the true artist, he has woven the history of his own spiritual growth, transforming what might have been a mere historical retrospect into an absorbing psychological study. In other words, he has given us a revelation of the human soul almost without parallel in literature, tracing its painful upward course from the horrors of Satan-worship to the very doors of the cloister.
Huysmans so identifies Christianity with the monastic life at its purest, that it becomes scarcely an exaggeration to assert that without Solesmes and without La Trappe his conversion would never have been effected. Hence the identification
. of himself and his own spiritual welfare with that of the many religious houses—Carmelite, Benedictine, or Cistercian—that he visits and dissects. No one save he could have produced the wonderful trilogy of En Route, La Cathédrale, and L'Oblat, and, I venture to think, it is for these three books that he will be remembered by posterity.
Few men have been endowed with so complex a nature as Huysmans; few have brought their work to so unexpected a climax. Descended from a family of Flemish painters he possessed by birthright that gift of minute observation so characteristic of the Flemish school. His memory was prodigious, scarcely less remarkable, indeed, than the industry with which he accumulated vast stores of out-of-the-way items of information with which his pages are strewn. His senses were abnormally developed; he was peculiarly sensitive to odors; and in the joys of the palate he was an unblushing adept. He was indeed avid of sensations in every form; yet, like all epicureans, he was a prey to boredom and mental lassitude. In general his was a singularly lonely existence, and in later years, even when he was living in his apartment in the Rue de Sèvres, it was that of a student and recluse, wholly destitute of domestic joys and lightened only by a few chosen friendships. He had a morbid horror of the ugly and commonplace, and an almost physical repulsion to every form of suffering, which in itself would account for much of his periodical depression of spirits, although in his case it was balanced by an exquisite sensitiveness to beauty. Yet it is to be noted that the beauty he loved was rather that of art than of nature, the beauty of pure color and sculptured line and soaring column. Very rarely does he dilate on landscape or scenery, and when he writes of plants or flowers it is often merely as a peg on which to hang some quaint botanical lore. Yet one has scarcely the right to criticise his æsthetic limitations, when it is remembered how wide were his powers of appreciation, and to what admirable use he put them. To no single branch of art was he indifferent: music, sculpture, painting, architecture, he studied them all, loved them all, and assigned to each its appointed place in the harmony of created things.
Given his time and his temperament, it was inevitable that Huysmans should make his debut in literature as a disciple of Emile Zola. His “Sac Au Dos ” (1880), describing the brutalities of barrack life, appeared in the celebrated composite volume, the Soirées de Médan. A number of pessimistic stories, sordid and unpleasant both in subject and treatment, belong to the ensuing years : Les Sæurs Vatard; A Vau L'Eau, (1882); Un Dilemme (1884); Croquis Parisiens; and the notorious A Rebours. Soon, however, the revolt against materialism was to come, and, like Rosny, Paul and Victor Margueritte, George Moore, and other writers less known to fame, Huysmans threw off his allegiance to the founder of the naturalist school and, unconsciously to himself, his mind began to turn towards the things of the spirit.
For, realist as he was in one aspect of his character, he was mystic and dreamer in another. Repulsive as A Rebours is in many of its features, it nevertheless does forecast in a curious way the change that was to come over its author's life. This may be seen on the one hand in the characteristics with which he endows his hero, the Duc des Esseintes-a love of theological niceties, a vague sense of the Church's greatness,