“No, these officers need just a few kinks taken out of their brains concerning women, and I propose to do it. I told Jimmie to-day that if he would be handsome about to-night, I would start to-morrow for Moscow. Mrs. Jimmie is perfectly willing, and I know you are dying to get on to Tolstoy. I’ve only stayed over for to-night. I knew this was coming when we were in Ischl, and I wanted them to see how lightly we viewed their risking dismissal from his Majesty’s service for us. We have paid up all our indebtedness to everybody else, so nothing but farewell calls need detain us.”
“And the officers?” I stammered. “How will they know?”
“I’ll get Jimmie to send them a wire saying we have gone. They won’t know where. Hurry up and turn out the lights. They hurt my eyes.”
MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH TOLSTOY
At the critical point of relating the difficulty attending my first audience with Tolstoy, I am constrained to mention a few of the obstacles encountered by a person bearing indifferent letters of introduction, and if by so doing I persuade any man or woman to write one worthy letter introducing one strange man or woman in a foreign country to a foreign host, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain.
No one, who has not travelled abroad unknown and depending for all society upon written introductions, can form any idea of the utter inadequacy of the ordinary letter of introduction. When I first announced my intention of several years’ travel in Europe, I accepted the generously offered letters of friends and acquaintances, and, in some instances, of kind persons who were almost total strangers to me, careless of the wording of these letters and only grateful for the goodness of heart they evinced.
In one instance, a man who had lived in Berlin sent me a dozen of his visiting-cards, on the reverse side of which were written the names of his German friends and under them the scanty words, “Introducing Miss So-and-So.” He took pains also to call upon me several times, and to ask as a special favour that I would present these letters. Forgetful of the fact that his German acquaintances would have no idea who I was, that there was no explanation upon the card, and without thinking that he would not take the trouble to write letters of explanation beforehand, I presented these twelve cards without the least reluctance, simply because I had given my word. Out of the twelve, ten returned my calls and we discussed nothing more important than the weather. We knew nothing of each other except our names, and all of these I dare say were mispronounced. Two out of the twelve entertained me at dinner, and three years afterward, when I returned to America, I received a letter of the sincerest apology from one, saying that she had learned more of me through the ambassador, and reproaching me for not having volunteered information about myself, which might have led at least to conversation of a more intimate nature.