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THE STORY OF TRIfeBY.
By ROBERT B. PEATTIE.
SHE washed fine linen for the students of the Latin Quarter,
did Trilby, and she posed for the foot, and the arm and tho
"altogether." Her father was an Irish officer, and her mother
but why speak of her mother? After she was an orphan, Trilby
went cheerfully to f rk. One has to lire. Incidentally, one has to
love. Trilby took such love as was offered. It was only a poor sub
stitute if tho truth were known.- And it didn't satisfy very well.
Trilby would have starved for want of sympathy if she had had
nothing else but this chaff. But she was elate with tho joy of livi g.
She helped tho artists with their little suppers. She devised inno
cent gaioties. She shouted and sang in mere excess of animalism.
Svengali used to hear her calling "Milk Below" in a voice whose
resonance filled tho building Svengali, who bad come out of the
mysterious east, and who played as never man played before, and
who cured the neuralgia in Trilby's head, and whom Trilby hated.
Sho used to meet him up where tbo three Englishmen were the
three kindly Englishmen who painted together. One painted all the
ugly things he saw, another tho beautiful things of which he
dreamed, and the third, Little Billee, touched truth with the hand
of genius, selected it with the eye of genius, and painted it with the
brush of genius. And Little Billee, who was a very well brought-up
young Englishman of the upper middle class, and Trilby, who was
only a model for tho figure, a washer-woman, and heaven knows
what else beside, loved each other with a love that was born to last
them all their lives, and to be the best thing that came into those
lives. But Trilby knew, because of those foolish old loves she had
experimented with in tho lonesome days of her deserted youth, that
she was not a fit wife for Little Billee. And even if she had not
known it herself she would have learned it from Mrs. Bagot, Little
Billee's mother, who camo over from England to tell her so and save
her dear 6on from the clutches of an adventuress.
So Tiilby, who had tho most beautiful feet and the truest heart
in all the world at least in the world of the Latin Quarter, vanished,
taking her little brother with her, and Little Billee saw her no more.
But out of his suffering he won for himself a mighty power and
earnestness, so that he painted better than any young man of his
nation. And fame and money came to him, and the love of many
women. But it was as witches' gold in his hand, and turned to
ashes, and not even the friendship of his chosen companions could
compensate him. He yawned in the face of life. And he was not
above wishing that an earthquake would swallow up those who
approached him, and that he might bo left alone to dream of Trilby,
and to put on his canvas the pictures which where the reflex of his
passion for her.
And in the midst of all his success, when Paris and London offer
ed him the best they had, and had not succeeded in satisfying him,
Svengalia appeared once more. But he was only as the shadow,
apparently of his companion La Svengalia, his wife Trilby of old
Trilby with vacant eyes, and a painted face, and jewels,
and a voice! The casement of the soul seemed
seared and damaged. The soul itself seemed resolved
into a voice. She did not recognize her old friends. She moved
like a woman galvanized from premature death. But she sang like
an angel an angel of the Latin Quarter, who knew old French
street songs, and who could sing them so as to make heroes of the
men who heard her, and tender lovely women even of the coarsest
jades. Moreover, she could open her painted lips, and let the notes
of Chopin's perfect "Impromptu" break from her throat as the notes
of a nightingale split the air of an English June. She could do it as
not even the violin could do it. She became a musical instrument
with a range, a magnetism, a melody and a volume that no musical
instrument ever had. That was Trilby. That was the poor little
girl who wept when she found that Little Billee was shocked that
she should sit for the altogether. That was the Tribly who suffered
endless remorse because she once went to a picnic and left her little
brother behind. That was the Trilby who used to lay her head on
the shoulder of the Laird of Cockpen and confide her little troubles
to him. La Svengali ! The' singer at whose feet the whole world
knelt ! Svengali, for whoso, favors royalty sued ! Svengali, who
could not wear the jewels the kings of Europe had given her.
But one night, it came to pass, that Svengali, himself, the manager
of this nightingale, fell ill, and from illness he went to a fatal anger f
and died of apoplexy in his box at the concert, while Trilby stood on
the stage. And Trilby ceased suddenly to be La Svengali, and was
only Trilby O'Farrell, wno could sing nothing but "Ben Bolt" and
that very much out of tune. And she had to leave the stage amid
the hissings of an English audience an audience that filled the
great Albert Hall. Of course she went to Little Billee's house
where she ought to have been long years ago.Andthere,amid the love
of her three Englishmen, and Little Billee's mother and sister, and
many of those she had known in the old days, she faded away, cursed
with some myterious curse, and pinning as if a vampire sucked her
breath. And though she remembered everything about the old days
in Paris, and remembered above all things that she loved Little Bil
lee with a love that was her whole life, yet not a bit did she remem
ber of listening audiences, or the "impromptu" of Chopin or how to
sing anything not even the song of Marlbrough who went to his
(Ah, Miraton, miraton, mirataino !)
And so she died. And Little Billee died too. Why not? Per
haps he and Trilby could talk together quietly after the embarrass
ment and hindrance of life was out of the way. And Taffy, who
was Billee's dear friend, married Billee's sister. And they all came
to have a better hope of heaven and a lighter judgment of men from
having known Trilby O'Farrel, who was a model for the figure, and
a washerwoman, and heaven knows what else beside. And then it
came out years after, how Trilby had been the creature of Svengali,
and how he had broken her will to his. and made her his own in
body and in mind, so that she lent to hisgenius her great vocal pow
er, and he sang through her; complementing his lack with her voice
supplementing her ignorance with his knowledge.
That is the tale the tale of woman brought to her death through
men who were selfish and vain, and through women who are too
good to see any goodness not of their own sort. There was only one
who might have saved Trilby with her great heart. And that was
Little Billee. Yet he saw her die murmuring "Svengali ! Svengali f
Svengali ! And it broke his heart.
And of fragments like that is the mosaic of life made.
NOVEMBER 3d, 1894.
I vote for
Name of voter.
This coupon entitles the voter to one
vote in the $500 cash contest which
closes December 24th. 1894. Thn
person receiving the highest number of votes will receive $250, the
person receiving the next highest, 9 150; and the person receiving the
next highest, 9100.
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