Symphony by James Huneker
The Earth hath bubbles
Pobloff began to whistle the second theme of his symphony. He was a
short, round-bellied man with a high head upon which stood quill-like
hair; when he smiled, his little lunar eyes closed completely, and his
vast mouth openeda trap filled with white blocks of polished bone;
when he laughed, it sounded like a snorting tuba.... Nature had
hesitated whether to endow him with the profile of Punch or Napoleon.
He was dark, not in the least dangerous, and a native of Russia, though
long a resident of Balak. Pobloff's wife dusted the music on the top of
his old piano. In God's name, Luga, let my manuscript in peace, he
adjured her. She snapped at him, but he continued whistling. More
original music? She was ironically inquisitive as she danced about the
white porcelain stove, tumbled over scores that littered the apartment
as grass grown wild in a deserted alley; pushed violin cases that
rattled; upset an empty bird-cage and finally threw wide back the
metal-slatted shutters, admitting an inundation of sunshine.... It was
early May, but in Balak, with its southeastern Europe climate, the
weather was warm as a July day in Paris. Hurrah! Pobloff suddenly
bellowed, I have it, I have it! Luga glanced at him sourly. I
suppose you'll set the world on fire this time for sure, my man; and
then little Richard Strauss will be asking for advice! What are you
going to call the new symphonic poem, Pobloff? Oh, name it after me!
She shrieked down the passage way at a slouching maid, and ran out,
leaving Pobloff jolly and unruffled.
Ouf! he ejaculated, as her sarcasm finally penetrated his
consciousness, I'll call it 'The Fourth Dimension'that's what I
will. Luga! Where's that idle cat? Luga, some tea, tea, I'm thirsty.
And he again whistled the second theme of his new symphony.
Pobloff loved mathematics more than musicand he adored music. He
was fond of comparing the two, and often quoted Leibnitz: Music is an
occult exercise of the mind unconsciously performing arithmetical
calculations. For him, so he assured his friends, music was a species
of sensual mathematics. Before he left St. Petersburg to settle in
Balak as its Kapellmeister he had studied at the University under the
famous Lobatchewsky, and absorbed from him not a few of the radical
theories containing the problematic fourth dimension. He read with avid
interest of J. K. F. Zöllner's experiments which drove that unfortunate
Leipzig physicist into incurable melancholia. Ah, what madmen these!
Perpetual motion, squaring the circle, the fourth spatial
dimensionall new variants of the old alchemical mystery, the vain
pursuit of the philosophers' stone, the transmutation of the baser
metals, the cabalistic Abracadabra, the quest of the absolute! Yet
sincere and certainly quite sane men of scientific training had
considered seriously this mathematic hypothesis. Cayley, Pobloff had
read, and Abbot's Flatland; while the ingenious speculations of W. K.
Clifford and the American, Simon Newcomb, fascinated him immeasurably.
He cared littlebeing idealist and musicianfor the grosser
demonstrations of hyper-normal phenomena, though for a time he had
wavered before the mysterious cross-roads of demoniac possession,
subliminal divinations, and the strange rappings that emanate from
souls smothered in hypnotic slumber. The testimony of such a man as
Professor Crookes who had witnessed feats of human levitation greatly
stirred him; but in the end he drifted back to his early
passionsmusic and mathematics.
Zöllner had proved to his own satisfaction the existence of a fourth
dimension, when he turned an India-rubber ball inside out without
tearing it; but Pobloff, a man of tone, was more absorbed in the
demonstration that Time could be shown in two dimensions. He often
quoted Hugh Craig, who compared Time to a river always flowing, yet a
permanent river: If one emerged from this stream at a certain moment
and entered it an hour later, would it not signify that Time had two
dimensions? And musicwhere did music stand in the eternal scheme of
things? Was not harmony with its vertical structure and melody's
horizontal flow, proof that music itself was but another dimension in
Time? In the vast and complicated scores of Richard Strauss, the
listener has set in motion two orders of auditions: he hears the music
both horizontally and vertically. This combination of the upright and
the transverse amused Pobloff immensely. He declared, with his
inscrutable giggle, that all other arts were childish in their demands
upon the intellect when compared to music. You can see pictures,
poems, sculpture, and architecturebut music you must hear, see, feel,
smell, taste, to apprehend it rightfully: and all at the same time!
Pobloff shook his heavy head and tried to look solemn. Think of it!
With every sense and several more besides, going in different
directions, brilliantly sputtering like wet fireworks, roaring like
mighty cataracts! Ah, it was a noble, crazy art, and the only art,
except poetry, that moved. All the rest are beautiful gestures
Pobloff ate five meals a day, and sometimes expanding his chest to
its utmost and extending his arms to the zenith, yawned prodigiously.
Born a true pessimist, often was bored to the extreme by existence. In
addition to the fortnightly symphony concerts and their necessary
rehearsals, he did nothing but compose and dream of new spaces to
conquer. He was a Czar over his orchestra, and though a fat,
good-humored man, had a singularly nasty temper.
Convinced that in music lay the solution of this particular
mathematical problem, he had been working for over a year on a
symphonic poem which he jocularly christened The Abysm. Untouched by
his wife's daily tauntingsshe was an excellent musician and harpist
in his bandhe could not help admitting to his interior self, that she
was right in her aspersions on his originality: Richard Strauss had
shown him the way. Pobloff decided to leave map and compass behind, and
march out with his music into some new country or otherhe did not
much care where. Could but the fourth dimension be traced to tone, to
his tones, then would his name resound throughout the ages; for what
was the feat of Columbus compared with this exploration of a vaster
spiritual America! Pobloff trembled. He was so transported by the idea,
that his capacious frame and large head became enveloped in a sort of
magnetic halo. He diffused enthusiasm as a swan sheds water; and his
men did not grumble at the numerous extra rehearsals, for they realized
that their chief might make an important discovery.
The composer was a stern believer in absolute music. For him the
charms of scenery, lights, odor, costume, singers, and the subtle voice
of the prompter seemed factitious, mere excrescences on the fair
surface of art. But he was a born colorist, and sought to arouse the
imagination by stupendous orchestral effects, frescoes of tone wherein
might be discerned terrifying perspectives, sinister avenues of
drooping trees melting into iron dusks. If Pobloff was a mathematician,
he was also a painter-poet. He did not credit the theory of the
alienists, that the confusion of tone and coloraudition colorée
betrayed the existence of a slight mental lesion; and he laughed
consumedly at the notion of confounding musicians with madmen.
Then my butcher and baker are just as mad, he asserted; and swore
that a man could both pray and think of eating at the same time. Why
should the highly organized brain of a musician be considered abnormal
because it could see tone, hear color, and out of a mixture of sound
and silence, fashion images of awe and sweetness for a wondering,
unbelieving world? If Man is a being afloat in an ocean of vibrations,
as Maurice de Fleury wrote, then any or all vibrations are possible.
Why not a synthesis? Why not a transposition of the neurons
according to Ramon y Cajal being little erectile bodies in the cells
of the cortex, stirred to reflex motor impulse when a message is sent
them from the sensory nerves? The crossing of filaments occurs oftener
than imagined, and Pobloff, knowing these things, had boundless faith
in his enterprise. So when he cried aloud, I have it! he really
believed that at last he saw the way clear; and his symphonic poem was
to be the key which would unlock the great mystery of existence.
Rehearsal had been called at eight o'clock, a late hour for Balak,
which rises early only to get ready the sooner for the luxury of a long
afternoon siesta. The conductor of the Royal Filharmonie Orchestra had
sent out brief enough notice to his men; but they were in the opera
house before he arrived. Pobloff believed in discipline; when he
reached the stage, he cast a few quick glances about him: fifty-two men
in all sat in their accustomed places; his concertmaster, Sven, was
nodding at the leader. Then Pobloff surveyed the auditorium, its depths
dimly lighted by the few clusters of lights on the platform; white
linen coverings made more ghastly the background. He thought he saw
some one moving near the main door. Who's that? He rapped sharply for
an answer but none came. Sven said that the women who cleaned the opera
house had not yet arrived. Lock the doors and keep them out, was the
response, and one of the double-bass players ran down the steps to
attend to the order. The men smiled; and some whispered that they were
evidently in for a hard morningall signs were ominous. Again the
conductor's stick commanded silence.
In a few words he told them he would rehearse his new symphonic
poem, The Abysm: I call it by that title as an experiment. In fact
the music is experimentalin the development-section I endeavor to
represent the depths of starry space; one of those black abysms that
are the despair of astronomer and telescope. Ahem! Pobloff looked so
conscious as he wiped his perspiring mop of a forehead that the tenor
trombone coughed in his instrument. The strange cackle caused the
composer to start: How's that, what's that? The man apologized. Yes,
yes, of course you didn't do it on purpose. But how did you do it? Try
it again. The trombone blatted and the orchestra roared with laughter.
Gentlemen, gentlemen, this will never do. I needed just such a crazy
tone effect and always imagined the trombone too low for it. Try the
oboe, Herr Kapellmeister, suggested Sven, and this was received with
noisy signs of joy. Yes, the crazy oboe, that's the fellow for the
crazy effects!they all shouted. Luga, at her harp, arpeggiated in
What's the matter with you men this morning? sternly inquired
Pobloff. Did you miss your breakfasts? Stillness ensued and the
rehearsal proceeded. It was very trying. Seven times the first violins,
divided, essayed one passage, and after its chromaticism had been
conquered it would not go at all when played with the wood-wind. It was
nearly eleven o'clock. The heat increased and also the thirst of the
men. As the doors were locked there was no relief. Grumbling started.
Pobloff, very pale, his eyes staring out of his head, yelled, swore,
stamped his feet, waved his arms and twice barely escaped tumbling
over. The work continued and a glaze seemed to obscure his eyes; he was
well-nigh speechless but beat time with an intensity that carried his
men along like chips in a high surf. The free-fantasia of the poem was
reached, and, roaring, the music neared its climacteric point. Now,
whispered Pobloff, stooping, when the pianissimo begins I shall watch
for the Abysm. As the wind sweepingly rushes to a howling apex so came
the propulsive crash of the climax. The tone rapidly subsided and
receded; for the composer had so cunningly scored it that groups of
instruments were withdrawn without losing the thread of the musical
tale. The tone, spun to a needle fineness, rushed up the fingerboard of
the fiddles accompanied by the harp in a billowing glissando andthen
on ragged rims of wide thunder a gust of air seemed to melt lights,
men, instruments into a darkness that froze the eyeballs. With a
scorching whiff of sulphur and violets, a thin, spiral scream, the
music tapered into the sepulchral clang of a tam-tam. And Pobloff, his
broad face awash with fear saw by a solitary wavering gas-jet that he
was alone and upon his knees. Not a musician was to be seen. Not a
sound save dull noises from the street without. He stared about him
like a man suffering from some hideous ataxia, and the horror of the
affair plucking at his soul, he beat his breast, groaning in an agony
Oh, it is the Fourth Dimension they have foundmy black abysm! Oh,
why did I not fall into it with the ignorant dogs! He was crying this
over and over when the doors were smashed and Pobloff taken, half
delirious, to his home....
The houses of Balak are seldom over two storeys high; an occasional
earthquake is the reason for this architectural economy. Pobloff's
sleeping apartment opened out upon a broad balcony just above the
principal entrance. As he lay upon his couch his thoughts revolved like
a coruscating wheel of fire. What! How! Where! And Luga, was she lost
to him in that no-man's land of a fourth dimension? He closed his weary
wet eyes. Then pricked by a sudden thought he sat up in jealous rage.
No-man's land? Yes, but the entire orchestra of fifty-two men were with
herand he hated the horn-player, for had he not intercepted poisonous
glances between Luga and that impertinent jackanapes? In his torture
Pobloff groaned aloud and wondered how he had reached his home: he
could remember nothing after the ebon music had devoured his band. How
did it come about? Why was he not drawn within the fatal whirlpool of
sound? Or was he outside the fringe of the vortex? As these questions
thronged the chambers of his brain the consciousness of what he had
discovered, accomplished, flashed over him in a superior hot wave of
exultation. I am greater than Pythagoras, Kepler, Newton! he raved,
only stopping for breath. Too well had he calculated his trap for the
detection of a third dimension in Time, a fourth one in Space, only to
catch the wrong game; for he had counted upon studying, if but for a
few rapt moments, the vision of a land west of the sun, east of the
moona novel territory, perhaps a vast playground for souls
emancipated from the gyves of existence. But this!he shuddered at the
catastrophe: a very Pompeian calamity depriving him at a stroke of his
wife, his orchestraall, all had been engulfed. Forgetting his newly
won crown, forgetting the tremendous import of his discovery to
mankind, Pobloff began howling, Luga, Luga, Akh! Wife of my
bosom, my tender little violet of a harpist!
His voice floated into the street, and it seemed to him to be echoed
by a shrill chorus. Soprano voices reached him and he heard his name
mentioned in a foreboding way.
Where is the pig? Pobloff! Pobloff! Why don't you show your ugly
face? Be a man! Where are our husbands? He recognized a voiceit was
the wife of the horn-player who thus insulted him. She was a tall, ugly
woman and, as gossip averred, she beat her man if he did not return
home sober with all his wages. Pobloff rushed out upon the balcony; it
was not many feet above the level of the street. In the rays of a
sinking sun he was received with jeers, groans, and imprecations.
Balakian women have warm blood in their veins and are not given to
measuring their words over-nicely. He stared about him in sheer
wonderment. A mob of women gazed up at him and its one expression was
unconcealed wrath. Children and men hung about the circle of vengeful
amazons laughing, shouting and urging violence. Pobloff, in his
dressing-gown, was a fair target. Where are our husbands? Brute,
beast, in what prison have you locked them up? Where is your good
woman, Luga? Have you hidden her, you old tyrant? No! shrieked the
horn-player's wife, he's jealous of her. And she's run away with
your man, snapped the wife of the crazy oboist. The two women
struggled to get at each other, their fingers curved for hairplucking,
but others interferedit would not be right to promote a street fight,
when the cause of the trouble was almost in their clutches. A
disappointed yell arose. Pobloff had sneaked away, overjoyed at the
chance, and, as his front door succumbed to angry feminine pressure, he
was safely hidden in the opera house which he reached by running along
back alleys in the twilight. There he learned from one of the stage
hands that the real secret was his and his alone.
Alarmed by the absence of their husbands, the musicians' wives hung
around the building pestering the officials. Pobloff has been found,
they were informed, in a solitary fit, on the floor of the auditorium.
The stage was in the greatest confusionchairs and music stands being
piled about as if a tornado had visited the place. Not a musician was
there, and with the missing was Luga, the harp-player. A thousand wild
rumors prevailed. The men, tired of tyrannical treatment, brutal
rehearsals and continual abuse, had risen in a body and thrashed their
leader; then fearing arrest, fled to the suburbs carrying off Luga with
them as dangerous witness. But the summer-garden, where they usually
foregathered, had not seen them since the Sunday previousLuga not for
weeks. This had been ascertained by interested scouts. The fact that
Luga was with the rebels gave rise to disconcerting gossip. Possibly
her husband had discovered a certain flirtationheads shook knowingly.
At five o'clock the news spread that Pobloff had by means of a trap in
the stage, dropped the entire orchestra into the cellar, where they lay
entombed in a half-dying condition. No one could trace this tale to its
source, thought it was believed to have emanated from the oboe-player's
wife. Half a hundred women rushed to the opera house and fell upon
their hands and knees, scratching at the iron cellar gratings, and
calling loudly through the little windows whose thick panes of glass
were grimed with age. Finding nothing, hearing nothing, the
dissatisfied crew only needed an angry explosion of bitterness from the
lips of the horn-player's spouse to hatch hatred in their bosoms and to
set them upon Pobloff at his home.
Now knowing that he was safe for the moment behind the thick walls
of the opera house, he consoled himself with some bread and wine which
his servant fetched him. And then he fell to thinking hard.
No, not a soul suspected the real reason for the disappearance of
the bandthat secret was his forever. By the light of a lamp in the
property room he danced with joy at his escape from danger; and the
tension being relaxed, he burst out sobbing: Luga! Luga! Oh, where are
you, my little harpist! I have not forgotten you, my violet. Let me go
to you! Pobloff rolled over the carpetless floor in an ecstasy of
grief, the lamp barely casting enough light to cover his burly figure,
his cheeks trilling with tears.
A thin rift of sunshine fell across Pobloff's nose and awoke him. He
sat up. It took fully five minutes for self-orientation, and the fixed
idea bored vainly at his forehead. He groaned as he realized the
hopelessness of the situation. Sometime the truth would have to be
told. The kingwhat would His Majesty not say! Pobloff's life was in
danger; he had no doubt on that head. At the best, if he escaped the
infuriated women he would be cast into prison, or else wander an exile,
all his hopes of glory gone. The prospect was chilling. If he had only
kept the scorethe score, where was it? In a moment he was on his
feet, rummaging the stage for the missing music. It had vanished.
Pobloff jumped from the platform to the spot where he had fallen; his
sharp eye saw something white beneath the overturned music-stand. It
did not take long to reveal the missing partitur. All was there,
not a leaf missing, though some rumpled and soiled. When Pobloff had
tumbled into the aisle, miraculously escaping a dislocated neck, the
music and the rack had kept him company. Curiously he fingered the
manuscript. Yes, there was the fatal spot! He gazed at the strange
combination of instruments on the page in his own nervous handwriting.
How came the cataclysm? Vainly the composer scanned the various clefs,
vainly he strove to endow with significance the sparse bunches of notes
scattered over the white ruled paper. He saw the violins in the
highest, most screeching position; saw them disappear like a battalion
of tiny balloons in a cloud. No, it was not by the violins the dread
enigma was solved. But there were few other instruments on the leaf
except the harp. Pooh! The harp was innocent enough with its fantastic
spray of arpeggios; it was used only as gilding to warm the bitter,
wiry tone of the fiddles. No, it was not the harp, Pobloff decided. The
tam-tam, a pulsatile instrument! Perhaps its mordant sound coupled to
the hissing of the fiddles, the cheeping of the wood-wind, and the roll
of the harp; perhapsand then he was gripped by a thrilling thought.
He paced the length of the empty hall talking aloud. What an idea!
Why not put it into execution at once? But how? Pobloff moaned as he
realized its futility. He could secure no other musicians because every
one that once resided in Balak had disappeared; there was no hope for
their recrudescence. He tramped the parquet like a savage hyena. To
play the symphonic poem again, to rescue from eternity his lost Luga,
his lost comrades, to hear their extraordinary stories!... Trembling
seized him. If the work could by any possibility be played again would
not the same awful fate overtake the new men and perhaps himself?
Decidedly that way would be courting disaster.
As he strode desperately toward the stage, staring at its polished
boards as if to extort their secret, he discerned the shining pipes of
the monster mechanical organ that Balakian municipal pride had imported
and installed there. Pobloff was a man of fertile invention: the organ
might serve his purpose. But then came the discouraging knowledge that
he could not play it well enough. No matter; he would make the attempt.
He clambered over the stage, reached the instrument, threw open the
case and inspected the manuals. By pulling out various stops he soon
had a fair reproduction of the instrumental effects of his score.
Trembling, he placed the music upon the rack, tremblingly he touched
the button that set in movement the automatic motor. Forgetting the
danger of detection, he set pealing in all its diapasonic majesty this
Synthesis of Instruments. He reached the enchanted passage, he played
it, his knees knocking like an undertaker's hammer, his fingers glued
to the keys by moisty fear. The abysm was easily traversed; nothing
occurred. Despair crowned the head of Pobloff, pressing spikes of
remorse into his sweating brow. What could be the reason? Ah, there was
no tam-tam! He rushed into the music-room and soon returned with an
old, rusty Chinese gong. Again the page was played, the tam-tam's thin
edge set shivering with mournful resonance. And again there was no
result. Pobloff cursed the organ, cursed the gong, cursed his life,
cursed the universe.
The door opened and the stage carpenter peeped in. Say, Mr.
Pobloff, do come and have your coffee! The coast's clear. All the women
have gone away to the country on a wild goose chase. His voice was
kind though his expression was one of suspicion. Pobloff did seem a
trifle mad. He went into the property room. As he drank his coffee the
other watched him. Suddenly Pobloff let out a huge cry of satisfaction.
Fool! Dolt! Idiot that I am! Of course the passage will have to be
played backward to get them to return, to disenchant the symphony! He
leaped with joy. Yes, governor, but you've upset your coffee, said
the carpenter warningly. Pobloff heard nothing. The problem now was to
play that vile passage backward. The organthere stood the organ but,
musician as he was, he could not play his score in reverse fashion. The
thing was a manifest impossibility. Then a light beat in upon his
tortured brain. The carpenter trembled for the conductor's reason.
Look here, my boy, Pobloff blurted, will you do me a favor? Just
take this musicthese two pages to the organ factory. You know the
address. Tell the superintendent it is a matter of life or death to me.
Promise him money, opera tickets for the season, for two seasons, if he
will have this music reproduced, cut out, perforated, whatever it
ison a roll that I can use in this organ. I must have it within an
houror soon as he can. Hurry him, stand over him, threaten him, curse
him, beat him, give him anything he asksanything, do you hear?
Thrusting the astonished fellow out of the room into the entry, into
the street, Pobloff barred the door and standing on one leg he hopped
along the hall like a gay frog, lustily trolling all the while a
melancholy Russian folk-song. Then throwing himself prostrate on the
floor he spread out his arms cruciform fashion and with a Slavic apathy
that was fatalistic awaited the return of the messenger.
* * * * *
The deadly solemnity of the affair had robbed it for him of its
strangeness, its abnormality; even his sense of its ludicrousness had
fled. He was consumed by a desire to see Luga once more. She had been a
burden: she was waspish of tongue and given to seeking the admiration
of others, notably that of the damnable horn-playerPobloff clenched
his fistsbut she was his wife, Luga, and could tell him what he
wished most to know....
He seemed to have spent a week, his face pressed to the boards, his
eyes concentrated on the uneven progress of a file of ants in a crack.
The cautious tap at the stage door had not ceased before he was there
seizing in a clutch of iron the carpenter. The rolls! Have you got
them with you? he gasped. A cylinder was shoved into his eager hand
and with it he fled to the auditorium, not even shutting the doors
behind him. What did he care now? He was sure of victory. Placing the
roll in reverse order in the cylinder he started the mechanism of the
organ. Slowly, as if the grave were unwilling to give up its prey the
music began to whimper, wheeze and squeak. It was sounding backward and
it sounded three times before the unhappy man saw failure once more
blinking at him mockingly. But he was not to be denied. He re-read the
score, set it going on the organ, then picked up the tam-tam. These
old Chinese ghosts caused the trouble once and they can cause it
again, he muttered; and striking the instrument softly, the music for
the fourth time went on its way quivering, its rear entering the world
* * * * *
The terrified carpenter, in relating the affair later swore that the
darkness was black as the wings of Satan. A lightning flash had ended
the music; then he heard feet pausing in the gloom, and from his
position in the doorway he saw the stage crowded with men, the
musicians of the Balakian orchestra, all scraping, blaring and pounding
away at the symphony, Pobloff, stick in hand, beating time, his eyes
closed in bliss, his back arched like a cat's.
When they had finished playing, Pobloff wiped his forehead and said,
Thank you, gentlemen. That will do for to-day. They immediately began
to gabble, hastily putting away their instruments; while from without
entered a crazy stream of women weeping, laughing, and scolding. In
five minutes the hall was emptied of them all. Pobloff turned to Luga.
She eyed him demurely, as she covered with historic green baize her
Well, she said, joining him, well! Give an account of yourself,
sir! Pobloff watched her, completely stupefied. Only his discipline,
his routine had carried him through this tremendous resurrection: he
had beaten time from a sense of dutywhy he found himself at the head
of his band he understood not. He only knew that the experiment of
playing the enchanted symphony backward was a success: that it had
become disenchanted; that Luga, his violet, his harpist, his wife was
restored to him to bring him the wonderful tidings. He put his arms
around her. She drew back in her primmest attitude.
No, not yet, Pobloff. Not until you tell me where you have been all
day. He sat down and wept, wept as if his heart would strain and
crack; and then the situation poking him in the risible rib he laughed
until Luga herself relaxed.
It may be very funny to you, husband, and no doubt you've had a
jolly time, but you've not told where or with whom. Pobloff seized her
by the wrists.
Where were you? What have you been doing, woman? What was it
like, that strange country which you visited, and from which you are so
marvellously returned to me like a stone upcast by a crater? She
lifted her eyebrows in astonishment.
You know, Pobloff, I have warned you about your tendency to
apoplexy. You bother your brain, such as it is, too much with figures.
Stick to your last, Mr. Shoemaker, and don't eat so much. When you fell
off the stage this morning I was sure you were killed, and we were all
very much alarmed. But after the hornist told us you would be all right
in a few hours, we Whom do you mean by we, Luga? The men,
of course. And you saw me faint? Certainly, Pobloff.
Where did you go, wife? Go? Nowhere. We remained here. Besides,
the doors were locked, and the men couldn't get away. And you saw
nothing strange, did not notice that you were out of my sight, out of
the town's sight, for over thirty hours? Pobloff, she vixenishly
declared, you've been at the vodka.
And so there is no true perception of time in the fourth dimension
of space, he sadly reflected. His brows became dark with jealousy:
What did you do all the time? That accursed horn-player in her
company for over a day!
Do? Yes, he repeated, do? Were there no wonderful sights?
Didn't you catch a glimpse, as through an open door, of rare planetary
vistas, of a remoter plane of existence? Were there no grandiose and
untrodden stars? O Luga, tell me!you are a woman of imaginationwhat
did you see, hear, feel in that many-colored land, out of time, out of
See? she echoed irritably, for she was annoyed by her husband's
poetic foolery, what could I see in this hall? When the men weren't
grumbling at having nothing to drink, they were playing pinochle.
They played cards in the fourth dimension of space! Pobloff boomed
out reproachfully, sorrowfully. Then he went meekly to his home with
Luga, the harpist.