Lauman came up and peered into the dusk; Thurston observed that he carried his Winchester unobtrusively in one hand. "Why, hello, boys," he greeted cheerfully. But for the rifle you never would have guessed he knew their errand. "Hello, Lauman," answered Park, matching him for cheerfulness. Then: "We rode over to hang them Wagners." Lauman grinned.
The other composers, the Beethovens and Brahms and Wagners, had been sad, suffering, wounded men, men who had lost their divine innocence and joy in the shambles, and whose spiritual bodies were scarred, for all the muscular strength gained during their fights, by hunger and frustration and agony. Pain had even marred their song.
Genius has a right to be what it will to trample underfoot, if it wishes, taste and morals and the whole of society. But when those who are not geniuses wish to do the same thing they only make themselves ridiculous and odious. There have been too many monkey Wagners in France. During the last ten or twenty years scarcely one French musician has escaped Wagner's influence.
However, pension or no pension, with the aid of relatives and friends the Wagners pulled through. Chief and best amongst the friends was Ludwig Geyer. A few words must be said about him. Born in 1780, he was ten years Carl Friedrich's junior. An actor who had taken up painting, or a painter who had taken up acting, in both arts he had won at any rate a local reputation.
And if he had known that the Circle Bar boys were camped just three miles away within hailing distance of the Lazy Eight trail, he would doubtless have postponed his after-supper smoke. He was sitting, revolver in hand, watching the Wagners give a practical demonstration of the extent of their appetites, when Thurston limped in from the porch, his eyes darker than usual.
I've got a game leg, so that I can neither run nor fight, but I hope you'll listen to me. The Wagners can't get away they're locked up, with a deputy standing over them with a gun; and on top of that they're handcuffed. They're as helpless, boys, as two trapped coyotes." He looked down over the crowd, which shifted uneasily; no one spoke. "That's what struck me most," he continued.
There had already been trouble between him and his patient first wife, Minna, because of his attentions to this woman, and in 1856 the Wagners were on the point of a separation. Richard wrote to his friend Praeger in London: 'The devil is loose. I shall leave Zürich at once and come to you in Paris, But this time the trouble was smoothed over.
Letters and counter-letters ensued; but the instinct of the youngsters turned out to be sufficiently strong, and perhaps the opposition of Geyer too feeble to carry the day; and one after another the Wagners took to the boards as ducklings to water.
It was while he was still hobbling with a cane and taxing his imagination daily to invent excuses for remaining, that Lauman, the sheriff, rode up to the door with a deputy and asked shelter for themselves and the two Wagners, who glowered sullenly down from their weary horses.
"Now boys." A hand the hand of him who had stood guard over the Wagners in the bedroom during supper reached out through the doorway and caught his rifle arm. Taken unawares from behind, he whirled and then went down under the weight of men used to "wrassling" calves.