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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Daughter Of Natas

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Supper was over about eleven, and then the party adjourned to the drawing-room, where for an hour or so Arnold sat and listened to such music and singing as he had never heard in his life before. The songs seemed to be in every language in Europe, and he did not understand anything like half of them, so far, at least, as the words were concerned.

They were, however, so far removed from the average drawing-room medley of twaddle and rattle that the music interpreted the words into its own universal language, and made them almost superfluous.

For the most part they were sad and passionate, and once or twice, especially when Radna Michaelis was singing, Arnold saw tears well up into the eyes of the women, and the brows of the men contract and their hands clench with sudden passion at the recollection of some terrible scene or story that was recalled by the song.

At last, close on midnight, the President rose from his seat and asked Natasha to sing the "Hymn of Freedom." She acknowledged the request with an inclination of her head, and then as Radna sat down to the piano, and she took her place beside it, all the rest rose to their feet like worshippers in a church.

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The prelude was rather longer than usual, and as Radna played it Arnold heard running through it, as it were, echoes of all the patriotic songs of Europe from "Scots Wha Hae" and "The Shan van Voght" to the forbidden Polish National Hymn and the Swiss Republican song, which is known in England as "God Save the Queen." The prelude ended with a few bars of the "Marseillaise," and then Natasha began.

It was a marvellous performance. As the air changed from nation to nation the singer changed the language, and at the end of each verse the others took up the strain in perfect harmony, till it sounded like a chorus of the nations in miniature, each language coming in its turn until the last verse was reached.

Then there was silence for a moment, and then the opening chords of the "Marseillaise" rang out from the piano, slow and stately at first, and then quickening like the tread of an army going into battle.

Suddenly Natasha's voice soared up, as it were, out of the music, and a moment later the Song of the Revolution rolled forth in a flood of triumphant melody, above which Natasha's pure contralto thrilled sweet and strong, till to Arnold's intoxicated senses it seemed like the voice of some angel singing from the sky in the ears of men, and it was not until the hymn had been ended for some moments that he was recalled to earth by the President saying to him--

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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