|Newspaper Title||The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||The Mystery of Karina Donimirska|
THE MYSTERY OF KARINA
"The man who signed this death warrant, in face of all these facts, was Count Leonine d'Omar !" These words
were spoken with a ringing bitterness, bat she made no pause, and went on with har story, as though afraid of interruption. nI never saw my dear, gentle, gifted father again, but we heard of him. The pain of knowing his awful fate was not spared us. We knew to which band of prisoners he belonged, and although in Siberia the fate of an individual counts as nothing, that of the whole band is some- times reported." From this point the narrator seemed to lose her composure and her voice rose with intensity as she continued.
" We learned that owing to a lack of prison room during the winter some of the exiles were obliged to continue their march in spite of the season. They left the Tobolsk prison on the 3rd of Jauuary,
bat not one of that band ever reached the next station. They were overtaken by ???'?'»" she abruptly changed this form of speech to the impetuous declaration
"My father-was devoured alive-by wolves !"
The last word was a very shriek, and the poor girl held up her hands as though to dispel the terrible picture. She stag- gered a step forward, but then with a sadden energy she stood up before them, erect and fearless, and with ringing
voice announced :
" Since that time I have been a Nihilist. It was I who killed Count d'Omar ! I am Karins Donimirska !"
As with one thought the listeners arose to their feet, amazed, dumbfounded ! Was the girl mad P But as she continued speaking every sentence became more convincing.
" I have no sister and never did have.
Karina was an imaginary double whom I planned and impersonated for this revenge. Yes, I have avenged my fathers death, and I feel no regrets for the deed, although I am tortured aad haunted by the memory. I see the dead Count before me at all times, waking or sleeping, but even in my dreams I defy him!" She passed her hand over her brow, as though to calm her intensity, and
then continued :
" Yon wonder about my plot and how it was planned. You see. I had often been likened to two individuals musically, for it was my father's great and fond ambition to make of me a singer and pianist, both equally perfect, an artist , unique and wonderful, to astonish the musical world." A sad smile passed over her face at this memory.
"As I said, I became a Nihilist, I attended their meetings, and when once the name of Count d'Omar was read from the doomed list I arose and declared my desire to undertake the deed/in my own way and with but slight assistance. I worked at my art more furiously than ever, so as to make tho separate talents of the ' sisters ' more marked. I traced the whereabouts of Count d'Omar, for my , plot was of slow development. I learned
of his judicious move to this city, and that he was a frequent guest of Mme. de Montrieu. But-you know the rest. It was never in my plot to tell you all this.
I meant to live on as Katherine und always think of Karina and the past as dead. Bat things never turn out as you anticipate. I had overlooked one point, sud that was-myself." A strange look of terror came to her face, and the next words were uttered like a passionate out-
" Remorse I have known ; but the thoughts-the terrible thoughts ! They consume me ! My secret has beeu like a prisoner in my brain, racing around and around in its frantic endeavours to escape. I have no peace, no rest and never shall
Her expression now changed as sud- denly as if a sunbeam had fallen upon her
"And now I must sing to yon, Messieurs -something grand and difficult, for Karina was an artist."
Without any further prelude or warn- ing she commenced the wonderful mad song from Hamlet.
With child-like simplicity she rendered the first recitative words : j
" A vos joue mes amis, permettez moi de grace, de prendre part/'
The sweetness of tone imparted to these few words must have touched the heart of any audience, but it would be difficult to portray the emotions inspired on this occasion. They forgot the reality, and were only lost in the woes and plaint of the heart-broken Ophelia.
She was indeed Ophelia! The fact that this young singer was mad-grew more and more evident. Her very song had been prompted by that sagacity of madness which so often leads to startling
It was at first supposed that her derangement was temporary, but this was a mistake. Karina grew steadily weaker -both physically and mentally-in spito of the benevolent care bestowed npon her by one of the best Florence physicians. In compliance with her frequently uttered wish a piano was placed in her room and its presence affected her like a friend the one friend whom her poor exhausted mind could recognise. Sometimes her fingers seemed wholly unfamiliar with the keys, and she would strike discords like a child, but again she found harmonies, so touching and tender that all who listened were melted to tears. At other times she imagined her father had just gone, and then applied herself with untiring con- tinuity to recall some composition which persistently eluded her touch. Then she would lean upon the piano and sob violently.
* Oh, why doesn't he come P I have practised au afternoon. I am so tired. Father, father, why are you gone so long ?"
One evening she suddenly turned to Mme. de Fayette, who happened to be present
"I didn't finish it!"
" What do you mean ?"
" Why, don't you know ! Please start it on the piano. I can't somehow recall it
Mme. de Fayette tried to humour the I e
girl. She played a few notes of varions j I pieces. I y
"No, not that; the other one," was always the answer, until madame thought of the mad song.
f* Yes, that's the one." And then the sick singer tried to render it as she lay there in bed. Her tones were clear and lovely, but very weak, and she suddenly stopped.
" I can't finish it," she murmured faintly. " I am sorry-the last part is so beautiful-there is one little theme-if you ever hear it-yon must think of me.'
With these words and a gentle smile on her lips she closed hor eyes peacefully.
The peformance was over, the instru- ment closed and the musician gone.-New