Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/184

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"'What an absurd existence ours is!' he thought. 'Unhappiness, money, hatred, honour—they are all nothing. . . . Here is the truth, the reality! . . . Natasha, my little dove! . . . Let us see if she is going to reach that B? . . . She has reached it, thank God!'

"And to emphasise the B he sung the third octave below it in accompaniment.

"'How splendid! I have sung it too,' he cried, and the vibration of that octave awoke in his soul all that was best and purest. Beside this superhuman sensation, what were his losses at play and his word of honour? . . . Follies! One could kill, steal, and yet be happy!"

Nikolas neither kills nor steals, and for him music is only a passing influence; but Natasha is on the point of losing her self-control. After an evening at the Opera, "in that strange world which is intoxicated and perverted by art, and a thousand leagues from the real world; a world in which good and evil, the extravagant and the reasonable, are mingled and confounded," she listened to a declaration from Anatol Kouraguin, who was madly in love with her, and she consented to elope with him.

The older Tolstoy grew, the more he feared music.[1] A man whose influence over him was

  1. But he never ceased to love it. One of the friends of his later years was a musician, Goldenreiser, who spent the summer of 1910 near Yasnaya. Almost every day he came to play to Tolstoy during the latter's last illness. (Journal des Débats, November 18, 1910.)