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Jean-Christophe Journey's End   By: (1866-1944)

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Translated by GILBERT CANNAN








In spite of the success which was beginning to materialize outside France, the two friends found their financial position very slow in mending. Every now and then there recurred moments of penury when they were obliged to go without food. They made up for it by eating twice as much as they needed when they had money. But, on the whole, it was a trying existence.

For the time being they were in the period of the lean kine. Christophe had stayed up half the night to finish a dull piece of musical transcription for Hecht: he did not get to bed until dawn, and slept like a log to make up for lost time. Olivier had gone out early: he had a lecture to give at the other end of Paris. About eight o'clock the porter came with the letters, and rang the bell. As a rule he did not wait for them to come, but just slipped the letters under the door. This morning he went on knocking. Only half awake, Christophe went to the door growling: he paid no attention to what the smiling, loquacious porter was saying about an article in the paper, but just took the letters without looking at them, pushed the door to without closing it, went to bed, and was soon fast asleep once more.

An hour later he woke up with a start on hearing some one in his room: and he was amazed to see a strange face at the foot of his bed, a complete stranger bowing gravely to him. It was a journalist, who, finding the door open, had entered without ceremony. Christophe was furious, and jumped out of bed:

"What the devil are you doing here?" he shouted.

He grabbed his pillow to hurl it at the intruder, who skipped back. He explained himself. A reporter of the Nation wished to interview M. Krafft about the article which had appeared in the Grand Journal .

"What article?"

"Haven't you read it?"

The reporter began to tell him what it was about.

Christophe went to bed again. If he had not been so sleepy he would have kicked the fellow out: but it was less trouble to let him talk. He curled himself up in the bed, closed his eyes, and pretended to be asleep. And very soon he would really have been off, but the reporter stuck to his guns, and in a loud voice read the beginning of the article. At the very first words Christophe pricked up his ears. M. Krafft was referred to as the greatest musical genius of the age. Christophe forgot that he was pretending to be asleep, swore in astonishment, sat up in bed, and said:

"They are mad! Who has been pulling their legs?"

The reporter seized the opportunity, and stopped reading to ply Christophe with a series of questions, which he answered unthinkingly. He had picked up the paper, and was gazing in utter amazement at his own portrait, which was printed as large as life on the front page: but he had no time to read the article, for another journalist entered the room. This time Christophe was really angry. He told them to get out: but they did not comply until they had made hurried notes of the furniture in the room, and the photographs on the wall, and the features of the strange being who, between laughter and anger, thrust them out of the room, and, in his nightgown, took them to the door and bolted it after them.

But it was ordained that he should not be left in peace that day. He had not finished dressing when there came another knock at the door, a prearranged knock which was only known to a few of their friends. Christophe opened the door, and found himself face to face with yet another stranger, whom he was just about to dismiss in a summary fashion, when the man protested that he was the author of the article.... How are you to get rid of a man who regards you as a genius! Christophe had grumpily to submit to his admirer's effusions. He was amazed at the sudden notoriety which had come like a bolt from the blue, and he wondered if, without knowing it, he had had a masterpiece produced the evening before... Continue reading book >>

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