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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about Visionaries.

“I know, I know.  But a nice boy—­so well fixed.”

“I don’t care,” she insisted.  “I’m married to the revolution.”

“Yah, yah! the revolution, Yetta—­” he pushed his lean, brown forefinger into the cage of an enraged canary—­“the revolution!  Yes, Yetta Silverman, the revolution!” She sighed.

XIV

HALL OF THE MISSING FOOTSTEPS

    So I saw in my dream that the man began to run.

    —­Pilgrim’s Progress.

I

As the first-class carriage rolled languidly out of Balak’s only railway station on a sultry February evening, Pobloff, the composer, was not sorry.

“I wish it were Persia instead of Ramboul,” he reflected.  Luga, his wife, he had left weeping at the station; but since the day she disappeared with his orchestra for twenty-four hours, Pobloff’s affection had gradually cooled; he was leaving the capital without a pang on a month’s leave of absence—­a delicate courtesy of the king’s extended to a brother ruler, though a semi-barbarous one, the khedive of Ramboul.

Pobloff was not sad nor was he jubilantly glad.  The journey was an easy one; a night and day and the next night would see him, God willing,—­he crossed himself,—­in the semi-tropical city of Nirgiz.  From Balak to Nirgiz, from southeastern Europe to Asia Minor!

The heir-apparent was said to be a music-loving lad, very much under the cunning thumb of his grim old aunt, who, rumour averred, wore a black beard, and was the scourge of her little kingdom.  All that might be changed when the prince would reach his majority; his failing health and morbid melancholy had frightened the grand vizier, and the king of Balakia had been petitioned to send Pobloff, the composer, designer of inimitable musical masques, Pobloff, the irresistible interpreter of Chopin, to the aid of the ailing youth.

So this middle-aged David left his nest to go harp for a Saul yet in his adolescence.  What his duties were to be Pobloff had not the slightest idea.  He had received no special instructions; a member of the royal household bore him the official mandate and a purse fat enough to soothe his wife’s feelings.  After appointing his first violin conductor of the Balakian Orchestra during his absence, the fussy, stout, good-natured Russian (he was born at Kiew, 1865, the biographical dictionaries say) secured a sleeping compartment on the Ramboul express, from the windows of which he contemplated with some satisfaction the flat land that gradually faded in the mists of night as the train tore its way noisily over a rude road-bed.

II

Pobloff slept.  He usually snored; but this evening he was too fatigued.  He heard not the sudden stoppages at lonely way stations where hoarse voices and a lantern represented the life of the place; he did not heed the engine as it thirstily sucked water from a tank in the heart of the Karpakians; and he was surprised, pleased, proud, when a hot February sun, shining through his window, awoke him.

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