But suddenly he had opened them, and the next moment had sat up on his pillow. He had striven to draw his hand from mine.
“Who are you?” he had suddenly demanded, not knowing me.
I had come close to him. “You know me, Andriaovsky—Harrison?” I had asked sorrowfully.
I had been on the point of repeating my name but suddenly, after holding my eyes for a moment with a look the profundity and familiarity of which I cannot express, he had broken into the most ghastly haunting laugh I have ever heard.
“Harrison?” the words had broken throatily from him.... “Oh yes; I know you!... You shall very soon know that I know you if... if...”
The cough and rattle had come as Maschka had rushed into the room. In ten seconds Andriaovsky had fallen back, dead.
That same evening I began to make notes for Andriaovsky’s “Life.” On the following day, the last of the fourth series of the Martin Renards occupied me until I was thankful to get to bed. But thereafter I could call rather more of my time my own, and I began in good earnest to devote myself to the “Life.”
Maschka had spoken no more than the truth when she had said that of all men living none but I could write that “Life.” His remaining behind in my Chelsea garret that evening after the others had left had been the beginning of a friendship that, barring that lapse of five years at the end, had been for twenty years one of completest intimacy. Whatever money there might or might not be in the book, I had seen my opportunity in it—the opportunity to make it the vehicle for all the aspirations, faiths, enthusiasms, and exaltations we had shared; and I myself did not realise until I began to note them down one tithe of the subtle links and associations that had welded our souls together.
Even the outward and visible signs of these had been wonderful. Setting out from one or other of the score of garrets and cheap lodgings we had in our time inhabited, we had wandered together, day after day, night after night, far down East, where, as we had threaded our way among the barrels of soused herrings and the stalls and barrows of unleavened bread, he had taught me scraps of Hebrew and Polish and Yiddish; up into the bright West, where he could never walk a quarter of a mile without meeting one of his extraordinary acquaintances—furred music-hall managers, hawkers of bootlaces, commercial magnates of his own Faith, touts, crossing-sweepers, painted women; into Soho, where he had names for the very horses on the cab-ranks and the dogs who slumbered under the counters of the sellers of French literature; out to the naphtha-lights and cries of the Saturday night street markets of Islington and the North End Road; into City churches on wintry afternoons, into the studios of famous artists full of handsomely dressed women, into the studios of artists