Rubinstein's Death Compact
A pupil of Anton Rubinstein, the great pianist and composer (1829-1894),
tells this story. It may be found in Harper's Magazine for December,
1912, under the title A Girl's Recollections of Rubinstein, by Lillian
"One wild, blustery night I found myself at dinner with Rubinstein, the
weather being terrific even for St. Petersburg. The winds were howling
round the house and Rubinstein, who liked to
ask questions, inquired of
me what they represented to my mind. I replied, 'The moaning of lost
souls.' From this a theological discussion followed.
"'There may be a future,' he said.
"'There is a future,' I cried, 'a great and beautiful future. If I die
first I shall come to you and prove this.'
"He turned to me with great solemnity.
"'Good, Liloscha, that is a bargain; and I will come to you.'
"Six years later in Paris I woke one night with a cry of agony and
despair ringing in my ears, such as I hope may never be duplicated in
my lifetime. Rubinstein's face was close to mine, a countenance
distorted by every phase of fear, despair, agony, remorse and anger. I
started up, turned on all the lights, and stood for a moment shaking in
every limb, till I put fear from me and decided it was merely a dream. I
had for the moment completely forgotten our compact. News is always late
in Paris, and it was in Le Petit Journal, published in the afternoon,
that had the first account of his sudden death.
"Four years later, Teresa Carreno, who had just come from Russia and was
touring America--I had met her in St. Petersburg frequently at
Rubinstein's dinner-table--told me that Rubinstein died with a cry of
agony impossible of description. I knew then that even in death
Rubinstein had kept, as he always did, his word."
Here again, we are at liberty to accept the testimony regarding the
remarkable and complex coincidence, and to disregard what is really an
expression of opinion in the last sentence. Whether Rubinstein
remembered his compact in his dying hour, or the impression produced
upon his far-away pupil was automatically produced by some obscure
telepathic process, the dying man having in his mind no conscious
thought of his promise, or some intervening tertium quid produced the
impression, could never be determined by this incident alone.