Part 3 out of 4
Fabio flew to her, raised her up, carried her to the bed, began to speak to
She lay a long time motionless, but at last she opened her eyes, heaved a
deep, broken, blissful sigh, like one just rescued from imminent death, saw
her husband, and twining her arms about his neck, crept close to him. 'You,
you, it is you,' she faltered. Gradually her hands loosened their hold, her
head sank back, and murmuring with a blissful smile, 'Thank God, it is all
over.... But how weary I am!' she fell into a sound but not heavy sleep.
Fabio sank down beside her bed, and never taking his eyes off her pale and
sunken, but already calmer, face, began reflecting on what had happened ...
and also on how he ought to act now. What steps was he to take? If he had
killed Muzzio--and remembering how deeply the dagger had gone in, he could
have no doubt of it--it could not be hidden. He would have to bring it
to the knowledge of the archduke, of the judges ... but how explain, how
describe such an incomprehensible affair? He, Fabio, had killed in his own
house his own kinsman, his dearest friend? They will inquire, What for?
on what ground?... But if Muzzio were not dead? Fabio could not endure
to remain longer in uncertainty, and satisfying himself that Valeria was
asleep, he cautiously got up from his chair, went out of the house, and
made his way to the pavilion. Everything was still in it; only in one
window a light was visible. With a sinking heart he opened the outer door
(there was still the print of blood-stained fingers on it, and there were
black drops of gore on the sand of the path), passed through the first dark
room ... and stood still on the threshold, overwhelmed with amazement.
In the middle of the room, on a Persian rug, with a brocaded cushion under
his head, and all his limbs stretched out straight, lay Muzzio, covered
with a wide, red shawl with a black pattern on it. His face, yellow as wax,
with closed eyes and bluish eyelids, was turned towards the ceiling, no
breathing could be discerned: he seemed a corpse. At his feet knelt the
Malay, also wrapt in a red shawl. He was holding in his left hand a branch
of some unknown plant, like a fern, and bending slightly forward, was
gazing fixedly at his master. A small torch fixed on the floor burnt with
a greenish flame, and was the only light in the room. The flame did not
flicker nor smoke. The Malay did not stir at Fabio's entry, he merely
turned his eyes upon him, and again bent them upon Muzzio. From time to
time he raised and lowered the branch, and waved it in the air, and his
dumb lips slowly parted and moved as though uttering soundless words. On
the floor between the Malay and Muzzio lay the dagger, with which Fabio
had stabbed his friend; the Malay struck one blow with the branch on the
blood-stained blade. A minute passed ... another. Fabio approached the
Malay, and stooping down to him, asked in an undertone, 'Is he dead?' The
Malay bent his head from above downwards, and disentangling his right
hand from his shawl, he pointed imperiously to the door. Fabio would have
repeated his question, but the gesture of the commanding hand was repeated,
and Fabio went out, indignant and wondering, but obedient.
He found Valeria sleeping as before, with an even more tranquil expression
on her face. He did not undress, but seated himself by the window, his head
in his hand, and once more sank into thought. The rising sun found him
still in the same place. Valeria had not waked up.
Fabio intended to wait till she awakened, and then to set off to Ferrara,
when suddenly some one tapped lightly at the bedroom door. Fabio went out,
and saw his old steward, Antonio. 'Signor,' began the old man, 'the Malay
has just informed me that Signor Muzzio has been taken ill, and wishes to
be moved with all his belongings to the town; and that he begs you to let
him have servants to assist in packing his things; and that at dinner-time
you would send pack-horses, and saddle-horses, and a few attendants for the
journey. Do you allow it?'
'The Malay informed you of this?' asked Fabio. 'In what manner? Why, he is
'Here, signor, is the paper on which he wrote all this in our language, and
'And Muzzio, you say, is ill?' 'Yes, he is very ill, and can see no one.'
'Have they sent for a doctor?' 'No. The Malay forbade it.' 'And was it the
Malay wrote you this?' 'Yes, it was he.' Fabio did not speak for a moment.
'Well, then, arrange it all,' he said at last. Antonio withdrew.
Fabio looked after his servant in bewilderment. 'Then, he is not dead?' he
thought ... and he did not know whether to rejoice or to be sorry. 'Ill?'
But a few hours ago it was a corpse he had looked upon!
Fabio returned to Valeria. She waked up and raised her head. The husband
and wife exchanged a long look full of significance. 'He is gone?' Valeria
said suddenly. Fabio shuddered. 'How gone? Do you mean ...' 'Is he gone
away?' she continued. A load fell from Fabio's heart. 'Not yet; but he is
going to-day.' 'And I shall never, never see him again?' 'Never.' 'And
these dreams will not come again?' 'No.' Valeria again heaved a sigh of
relief; a blissful smile once more appeared on her lips. She held out both
hands to her husband. 'And we will never speak of him, never, do you hear,
my dear one? And I will not leave my room till he is gone. And do you now
send me my maids ... but stay: take away that thing!' she pointed to the
pearl necklace, lying on a little bedside table, the necklace given her by
Muzzio, 'and throw it at once into our deepest well. Embrace me. I am your
Valeria; and do not come in to me till ... he has gone.' Fabio took the
necklace--the pearls he fancied looked tarnished--and did as his wife
had directed. Then he fell to wandering about the garden, looking from
a distance at the pavilion, about which the bustle of preparations for
departure was beginning. Servants were bringing out boxes, loading the
horses ... but the Malay was not among them. An irresistible impulse drew
Fabio to look once more upon what was taking place in the pavilion. He
recollected that there was at the back a secret door, by which he could
reach the inner room where Muzzio had been lying in the morning. He stole
round to this door, found it unlocked, and, parting the folds of a heavy
curtain, turned a faltering glance upon the room within.
Muzzio was not now lying on the rug. Dressed as though for a journey, he
sat in an arm-chair, but seemed a corpse, just as on Fabio's first visit.
His torpid head fell back on the chair, and his outstretched hands hung
lifeless, yellow, and rigid on his knees. His breast did not heave. Near
the chair on the floor, which was strewn with dried herbs, stood some flat
bowls of dark liquid, which exhaled a powerful, almost suffocating, odour,
the odour of musk. Around each bowl was coiled a small snake of brazen hue,
with golden eyes that flashed from time to time; while directly facing
Muzzio, two paces from him, rose the long figure of the Malay, wrapt in a
mantle of many-coloured brocade, girt round the waist with a tiger's tail,
with a high hat of the shape of a pointed tiara on his head. But he was
not motionless: at one moment he bowed down reverently, and seemed to be
praying, at the next he drew himself up to his full height, even rose on
tiptoe; then, with a rhythmic action, threw wide his arms, and moved them
persistently in the direction of Muzzio, and seemed to threaten or command
him, frowning and stamping with his foot. All these actions seemed to cost
him great effort, even to cause him pain: he breathed heavily, the sweat
streamed down his face. All at once he sank down to the ground, and drawing
in a full breath, with knitted brow and immense effort, drew his clenched
hands towards him, as though he were holding reins in them ... and to the
indescribable horror of Fabio, Muzzio's head slowly left the back of the
chair, and moved forward, following the Malay's hands.... The Malay let
them fall, and Muzzio's head fell heavily back again; the Malay repeated
his movements, and obediently the head repeated them after him. The dark
liquid in the bowls began boiling; the bowls themselves began to resound
with a faint bell-like note, and the brazen snakes coiled freely about each
of them. Then the Malay took a step forward, and raising his eyebrows and
opening his eyes immensely wide, he bowed his head to Muzzio ... and the
eyelids of the dead man quivered, parted uncertainly, and under them could
be seen the eyeballs, dull as lead. The Malay's face was radiant with
triumphant pride and delight, a delight almost malignant; he opened his
mouth wide, and from the depths of his chest there broke out with effort
a prolonged howl.... Muzzio's lips parted too, and a faint moan quivered
on them in response to that inhuman sound.... But at this point Fabio
could endure it no longer; he imagined he was present at some devilish
incantation! He too uttered a shriek and rushed out, running home, home as
quick as possible, without looking round, repeating prayers and crossing
himself as he ran.
Three hours later, Antonio came to him with the announcement that
everything was ready, the things were packed, and Signor Muzzio was
preparing to start. Without a word in answer to his servant, Fabio went out
on to the terrace, whence the pavilion could be seen. A few pack-horses
were grouped before it; a powerful raven horse, saddled for two riders, was
led up to the steps, where servants were standing bare-headed, together
with armed attendants. The door of the pavilion opened, and supported by
the Malay, who wore once more his ordinary attire, appeared Muzzio. His
face was death-like, and his hands hung like a dead man's--but he walked
... yes, positively walked, and, seated on the charger, he sat upright
and felt for and found the reins. The Malay put his feet in the stirrups,
leaped up behind him on the saddle, put his arm round him, and the whole
party started. The horses moved at a walking pace, and when they turned
round before the house, Fabio fancied that in Muzzio's dark face there
gleamed two spots of white.... Could it be he had turned his eyes upon him?
Only the Malay bowed to him ... ironically, as ever.
Did Valeria see all this? The blinds of her windows were drawn ... but it
may be she was standing behind them.
At dinner-time she came into the dining-room, and was very quiet and
affectionate; she still complained, however, of weariness. But there was
no agitation about her now, none of her former constant bewilderment and
secret dread; and when, the day after Muzzio's departure, Fabio set to work
again on her portrait, he found in her features the pure expression, the
momentary eclipse of which had so troubled him ... and his brush moved
lightly and faithfully over the canvas.
The husband and wife took up their old life again. Muzzio vanished for
them as though he had never existed. Fabio and Valeria were agreed, as it
seemed, not to utter a syllable referring to him, not to learn anything of
his later days; his fate remained, however, a mystery for all. Muzzio did
actually disappear, as though he had sunk into the earth. Fabio one day
thought it his duty to tell Valeria exactly what had taken place on that
fatal night ... but she probably divined his intention, and she held her
breath, half-shutting her eyes, as though she were expecting a blow.... And
Fabio understood her; he did not inflict that blow upon her.
One fine autumn day, Fabio was putting the last touches to his picture of
his Cecilia; Valeria sat at the organ, her fingers straying at random over
the keys.... Suddenly, without her knowing it, from under her hands came
the first notes of that song of triumphant love which Muzzio had once
played; and at the same instant, for the first time since her marriage, she
felt within her the throb of a new palpitating life.... Valeria started,
What did it mean? Could it be....
* * * * *
At this word the manuscript ended.
I was living at that time with my mother in a little seaside town. I was in
my seventeenth year, while my mother was not quite five-and-thirty; she had
married very young. When my father died, I was only seven years old, but I
remember him well. My mother was a fair-haired woman, not very tall, with
a charming, but always sad-looking face, a soft, tired voice and timid
gestures. In her youth she had been reputed a beauty, and to the end she
remained attractive and pretty. I have never seen deeper, tenderer, and
sadder eyes, finer and softer hair; I never saw hands so exquisite. I
adored her, and she loved me.... But our life was not a bright one; a
secret, hopeless, undeserved sorrow seemed for ever gnawing at the very
root of her being. This sorrow could not be accounted for by the loss of my
father simply, great as that loss was to her, passionately as my mother had
loved him, and devoutly as she had cherished his memory.... No! something
more lay hidden in it, which I did not understand, but of which I was
aware, dimly and yet intensely aware, whenever I looked into those soft
and unchanging eyes, at those lips, unchanging too, not compressed in
bitterness, but, as it were, for ever set in one expression.
I have said that my mother loved me; but there were moments when she
repulsed me, when my presence was oppressive to her, unendurable. At such
times she felt a sort of involuntary aversion for me, and was horrified
afterwards, blamed herself with tears, pressed me to her heart. I used to
ascribe these momentary outbreaks of dislike to the derangement of her
health, to her unhappiness.... These antagonistic feelings might indeed, to
some extent, have been evoked by certain strange outbursts of wicked and
criminal passions, which arose from time to time in me, though I could not
myself account for them....
But these evil outbursts were never coincident with the moments of
aversion. My mother always wore black, as though in mourning. We were in
fairly good circumstances, but we hardly knew any one.
My mother concentrated her every thought, her every care, upon me. Her
life was wrapped up in my life. That sort of relation between parents and
children is not always good for the children ... it is rather apt to be
harmful to them. Besides, I was my mother's only son ... and only children
generally grow up in a one-sided way. In bringing them up, the parents
think as much of themselves as of them.... That's not the right way. I was
neither spoiled nor made hard by it (one or the other is apt to be the fate
of only children), but my nerves were unhinged for a time; moreover, I was
rather delicate in health, taking after my mother, whom I was very like
in face. I avoided the companionship of boys of my own age; I held aloof
from people altogether; even with my mother I talked very little. I liked
best reading, solitary walks, and dreaming, dreaming! What my dreams were
about, it would be hard to say; sometimes, indeed, I seemed to stand at a
half-open door, beyond which lay unknown mysteries, to stand and wait, half
dead with emotion, and not to step over the threshold, but still pondering
what lay beyond, still to wait till I turned faint ... or fell asleep. If
there had been a vein of poetry in me, I should probably have taken to
writing verses; if I had felt an inclination for religion, I should perhaps
have gone into a monastery; but I had no tendency of the sort, and I went
on dreaming and waiting.
I have just mentioned that I used sometimes to fall asleep under the
influence of vague dreams and reveries. I used to sleep a great deal at
all times, and dreams played an important part in my life; I used to
have dreams almost every night. I did not forget them, I attributed a
significance to them, regarded them as fore-warnings, tried to divine their
secret meaning; some of them were repeated from time to time, which always
struck me as strange and marvellous. I was particularly perplexed by
one dream. I dreamed I was going along a narrow, ill-paved street of an
old-fashioned town, between stone houses of many stories, with pointed
roofs. I was looking for my father, who was not dead, but, for some reason
or other, hiding away from us, and living in one of these very houses.
And so I entered a low, dark gateway, crossed a long courtyard, lumbered
up with planks and beams, and made my way at last into a little room
with two round windows. In the middle of the room stood my father in
a dressing-gown, smoking a pipe. He was not in the least like my real
father; he was tall and thin, with black hair, a hook nose, with sullen and
piercing eyes; he looked about forty. He was displeased at my having found
him; and I too was far from being delighted at our meeting, and stood still
in perplexity. He turned a little away, began muttering something, and
walking up and down with short steps.... Then he gradually got farther
away, never ceasing his muttering, and continually looking back over his
shoulder; the room grew larger and was lost in fog.... I felt all at once
horrified at the idea that I was losing my father again, and rushed after
him, but I could no longer see him, I could only hear his angry muttering,
like a bear growling.... My heart sank with dread; I woke up and could not
for a long while get to sleep again.... All the following day I pondered on
this dream, and naturally could make nothing of it.
The month of June had come. The town in which I was living with my mother
became exceptionally lively about that time. A number of ships were in the
harbour, a number of new faces were to be seen in the streets. I liked at
such times to wander along the sea front, by cafes and hotels, to stare at
the widely differing figures of the sailors and other people, sitting under
linen awnings, at small white tables, with pewter pots of beer before them.
As I passed one day before a cafe, I caught sight of a man who at once
riveted my whole attention. Dressed in a long black full coat, with a straw
hat pulled right down over his eyes, he was sitting perfectly still, his
arms folded across his chest. The straggling curls of his black hair fell
almost down to his nose; his thin lips held tight the mouthpiece of a short
pipe. This man struck me as so familiar, every feature of his swarthy
yellow face were so unmistakably imprinted in my memory, that I could not
help stopping short before him, I could not help asking myself, 'Who is
that man? where have I seen him?' Becoming aware, probably, of my intent
stare, he raised his black, piercing eyes upon me.... I uttered an
The man was the father I had been looking for, the father I had beheld in
There was no possibility of mistake--the resemblance was too striking. The
very coat even, that wrapped his spare limbs in its long skirts, in hue
and cut, recalled the dressing-gown in which my father had appeared in the
'Am I not asleep now?' I wondered.... No.... It was daytime, about me
crowds of people were bustling, the sun was shining brightly in the blue
sky, and before me was no phantom, but a living man.
I went up to an empty table, asked for a pot of beer and a newspaper, and
sat down not far off from this enigmatical being.
Putting the sheet of newspaper on a level with my face, I continued my
scrutiny of the stranger. He scarcely stirred at all, only from time to
time raising his bowed head. He was obviously expecting some one. I gazed
and gazed.... Sometimes I fancied I must have imagined it all, that there
could be really no resemblance, that I had given way to a half-unconscious
trick of the imagination ... but the stranger would suddenly turn round
a little in his seat, or slightly raise his hand, and again I all but
cried out, again I saw my 'dream-father' before me! He at last noticed my
uncalled-for attention, and glancing at first with surprise and then with
annoyance in my direction, was on the point of getting up, and knocked down
a small walking-stick he had stood against the table. I instantly jumped
up, picked it up, and handed it to him. My heart was beating violently.
He gave a constrained smile, thanked me, and as his face drew closer to my
face, he lifted his eyebrows and opened his mouth a little as though struck
'You are very polite, young man,' he began all at once in a dry, incisive,
nasal voice, 'That's something out of the common nowadays. Let me
congratulate you; you must have been well brought up?'
I don't remember precisely what answer I made; but a conversation soon
sprang up between us. I learnt that he was a fellow-countryman, that he
had not long returned from America, where he had spent many years, and was
shortly going back there. He called himself Baron ... the name I could not
make out distinctly. He, just like my 'dream-father,' ended every remark
with a sort of indistinct inward mutter. He desired to learn my surname....
On hearing it, he seemed again astonished; then he asked me if I had lived
long in the town, and with whom I was living. I told him I was living with
'And your father?' 'My father died long ago.' He inquired my mother's
Christian name, and immediately gave an awkward laugh, but apologised,
saying that he picked up some American ways, and was rather a queer fellow
altogether. Then he was curious to know what was our address. I told him.
The excitement which had possessed me at the beginning of our conversation
gradually calmed down; I felt our meeting rather strange and nothing more.
I did not like the little smile with which the baron cross-examined me; I
did not like the expression of his eyes when he, as it were, stuck them
like pins into me.... There was something in them rapacious, patronising
... something unnerving. Those eyes I had not seen in the dream. A
strange face was the baron's! Faded, fatigued, and, at the same time,
young-looking--unpleasantly young-looking! My 'dream-father' had not the
deep scar either which ran slanting right across my new acquaintance's
forehead, and which I had not noticed till I came closer to him.
I had hardly told the baron the name of the street, and the number of
the house in which we were living, when a tall negro, swathed up to the
eyebrows in a cloak, came up to him from behind, and softly tapped him on
the shoulder. The baron turned round, ejaculated, 'Aha! at last!' and with
a slight nod to me, went with the negro into the cafe. I was left under the
awning; I meant to await the baron's return, not so much with the object
of entering into conversation with him again (I really did not know what
to talk about to him), as to verify once more my first impression. But
half-an-hour passed, an hour passed.... The baron did not appear. I went
into the cafe, passed through all the rooms, but could see nowhere the
baron or the negro.... They must both have gone out by a back-door.
My head ached a little, and to get a little fresh air, I walked along the
seafront to a large park outside the town, which had been laid out two
hundred years ago.
After strolling for a couple of hours in the shade of the immense oaks and
plane-trees, I returned home.
Our maid-servant rushed all excitement, to meet me, directly I appeared in
the hall; I guessed at once from the expression of her face, that during my
absence something had gone wrong in our house. And, in fact, I learnt that
an hour before, a fearful shriek had suddenly been heard in my mother's
bedroom, the maid running in had found her on the floor in a fainting
fit, which had lasted several moments. My mother had at last regained
consciousness, but had been obliged to lie down, and looked strange and
scared; she had not uttered a word, had not answered inquiries, she had
done nothing but look about her and shudder. The maid had sent the gardener
for a doctor. The doctor came and prescribed soothing treatment; but my
mother would say nothing even to him. The gardener maintained that, a few
instants after the shriek was heard in my mother's room, he had seen a man,
unknown to him, running through the bushes in the garden to the gate into
the street. (We lived in a house of one story, with windows opening on to
a rather large garden.) The gardener had not time to get a look at the
man's face; but he was tall, and was wearing a low straw hat and long coat
with full skirts ... 'The baron's costume!' at once crossed my mind. The
gardener could not overtake him; besides, he had been immediately called
into the house and sent for the doctor. I went in to my mother; she was
lying on the bed, whiter than the pillow on which her head was resting.
Recognising me, she smiled faintly, and held out her hand to me. I sat down
beside her, and began to question her; at first she said no to everything;
at last she admitted, however, that she had seen something which had
greatly terrified her. 'Did some one come in here?' I asked. 'No,' she
hurriedly replied--'no one came in, it was my fancy ... an apparition....'
She ceased and hid her face in her hands. I was on the point of telling
her, what I had learnt from the gardener, and incidentally describing
my meeting with the baron ... but for some reason or other, the words
died away on my lips. I ventured, however, to observe to my mother, that
apparitions do not usually appear in the daytime.... 'Stop,' she whispered,
'please; do not torture me now. You will know some time....' She was silent
again. Her hands were cold and her pulse beat fast and unevenly. I gave her
some medicine and moved a little away so as not to disturb her. She did not
get up the whole day. She lay perfectly still and quiet, and now and then
heaving a deep sigh, and timorously opening her eyes. Every one in the
house was at a loss what to think.
Towards night my mother became a little feverish, and she sent me away. I
did not, however, go to my own room, but lay down in the next room on
the sofa. Every quarter of an hour I got up, went on tiptoe to the door,
listened.... Everything was still--but my mother hardly slept that night.
When I went in to her early in the morning, her face looked hollow, her
eyes shone with an unnatural brightness. In the course of the day she got
a little better, but towards evening the feverishness increased again. Up
till then she had been obstinately silent, but all of a sudden she began
talking in a hurried broken voice. She was not wandering, there was a
meaning in her words--but no sort of connection. Just upon midnight, she
suddenly, with a convulsive movement raised herself in bed--I was sitting
beside her--and in the same hurried voice, continually taking sips of
water, from a glass beside her, feebly gesticulating with her hands,
and never once looking at me, she began to tell her story.... She would
stop, make an effort to control herself and go on again.... It was all so
strange, just as though she were doing it all in a dream, as though she
herself were absent, and some one else were speaking by her lips, or
forcing her to speak.
'Listen to what I am going to tell you,' she began. 'You are not a little
boy now; you ought to know all. I had a friend, a girl.... She married a
man she loved with all her heart, and she was very happy with her husband.
During the first year of their married life they went together to the
capital to spend a few weeks there and enjoy themselves. They stayed at a
good hotel, and went out a great deal to theatres and parties. My friend
was very pretty--every one noticed her, young men paid her attentions,--but
there was among them one ... an officer. He followed her about incessantly,
and wherever she was, she always saw his cruel black eyes. He was not
introduced to her, and never once spoke to her--only perpetually stared at
her--so insolently and strangely. All the pleasures of the capital were
poisoned by his presence. She began persuading her husband to hasten their
departure--and they had already made all the preparations for the journey.
One evening her husband went out to a club--he had been invited by the
officers of the same regiment as that officer--to play cards.... She was
for the very first time left alone. Her husband did not return for a long
while. She dismissed her maid, and went to bed.... And suddenly she felt
overcome by terror, so that she was quite cold and shivering. She fancied
she heard a slight sound on the other side of the wall, like a dog
scratching, and she began watching the wall. In the corner a lamp was
burning; the room was all hung with tapestry.... Suddenly something stirred
there, rose, opened.... And straight out of the wall a black, long figure
came, that awful man with the cruel eyes! She tried to scream, but could
not. She was utterly numb with terror. He went up to her rapidly, like some
beast of prey, flung something on her head, something strong-smelling,
heavy, white.... What happened then I don't remember I ... don't remember!
It was like death, like a murder.... When at last that fearful darkness
began to pass away--when I ... when my friend came to herself, there was no
one in the room. Again, and for a long time, she had not the strength to
scream, she screamed at last ... then again everything was confusion....
Then she saw her husband by her side: he had been kept at the club till two
o'clock at night.... He looked scared and white. He began questioning her,
but she told him nothing.... Then she swooned away again. I remember though
when she was left alone in the room, she examined the place in the wall....
Under the tapestry hangings it turned out there was a secret door. And her
betrothal ring had gone from off her hand. This ring was of an unusual
pattern; seven little gold stars alternated on it with seven silver stars;
it was an old family heirloom. Her husband asked her what had become of the
ring; she could give him no answer. Her husband supposed she had dropped
it somewhere, searched everywhere, but could not find it. He felt uneasy
and distressed; he decided to go home as soon as possible and directly the
doctor allowed it--they left the capital.... But imagine! On the very day
of their departure they happened suddenly to meet a stretcher being carried
along the street.... On the stretcher lay a man who had just been killed,
with his head cut open; and imagine! the man was that fearful apparition
of the night with the evil eyes.... He had been killed over some gambling
Then my friend went away into the country ... became a mother for the first
time ... and lived several years with her husband. He never knew anything;
indeed, what could she have told him?--she knew nothing herself.
But her former happiness had vanished. A gloom had come over their lives,
and never again did that gloom pass out of it.... They had no other
children, either before or after ... and that son....'
My mother trembled all over and hid her face in her hands.
'But say now,' she went on with redoubled energy, 'was my friend to blame
in any way? What had she to reproach herself with? She was punished, but
had she not the right to declare before God Himself that the punishment
that overtook her was unjust? Then why is it, that like a criminal,
tortured by stings of conscience, why is it she is confronted with the past
in such a fearful shape after so many years? Macbeth slew Bancho--so no
wonder that he could be haunted ... but I....'
But here my mother's words became so mixed and confused, that I ceased to
follow her.... I no longer doubted that she was in delirium.
The agitating effect of my mother's recital on me--any one may easily
conceive! I guessed from her first word that she was talking of herself,
and not any friend of hers. Her slip of the tongue confirmed my conjecture.
Then this really was my father, whom I was seeking in my dream, whom I had
seen awake by daylight! He had not been killed, as my mother supposed, but
only wounded. And he had come to see her, and had run away, alarmed by
her alarm. I suddenly understood everything: the feeling of involuntary
aversion for me, which arose at times in my mother, and her perpetual
melancholy, and our secluded life.... I remember my head seemed going
round, and I clutched it in both hands as though to hold it still. But one
idea, as it were, nailed me down; I resolved I must, come what may, find
that man again? What for? with what aim? I could not give myself a clear
answer, but to find him ... find him--that had become a question of life
and death for me! The next morning my mother, at last, grew calmer ...
the fever left her ... she fell asleep. Confiding her to the care of the
servants and people of the house, I set out on my quest.
First of all I made my way, of course, to the cafe where I had met the
baron; but no one in the cafe knew him or had even noticed him; he had
been a chance customer there. The negro the people there had observed, his
figure was so striking; but who he was, and where he was staying, no one
knew. Leaving my address in any case at the cafe, I fell to wandering about
the streets and sea front by the harbour, along the boulevards, peeped
into all places of public resort, but could find no one like the baron or
his companion!... Not having caught the baron's surname, I was deprived
of the resource of applying to the police; I did, however, privately let
two or three guardians of the public safety know--they stared at me in
bewilderment, and did not altogether believe in me--that I would reward
them liberally if they could trace out two persons, whose exterior I tried
to describe as exactly as possible. After wandering about in this way till
dinner-time, I returned home exhausted. My mother had got up; but to her
usual melancholy there was added something new, a sort of dreamy blankness,
which cut me to the heart like a knife. I spent the evening with her.
We scarcely spoke at all; she played patience, I looked at her cards
in silence. She never made a single reference to what she had told me,
nor to what had happened the preceding evening. It was as though we had
made a secret compact not to touch on any of these harrowing and strange
incidents.... She seemed angry with herself, and ashamed of what had broken
from her unawares; though possibly she did not remember quite what she had
said in her half delirious feverishness, and hoped I should spare her....
And indeed this was it, I spared her, and she felt it; as on the previous
day she avoided my eyes. I could not get to sleep all night. Outside, a
fearful storm suddenly came on. The wind howled and darted furiously hither
and thither, the window-panes rattled and rang, despairing shrieks and
groans sounded in the air, as though something had been torn to shreds up
aloft, and were flying with frenzied wailing over the shaken houses. Before
dawn I dropped off into a doze ... suddenly I fancied some one came into my
room, and called me, uttered my name, in a voice not loud, but resolute.
I raised my head and saw no one; but, strange to say! I was not only
not afraid--I was glad; I suddenly felt a conviction that now I should
certainly attain my object. I dressed hurriedly and went out of the house.
The storm had abated ... but its last struggles could still be felt. It was
very early, there were no people in the streets, many places were strewn
with broken chimney-pots and tiles, pieces of wrecked fencing, and branches
of trees.... 'What was it like last night at sea?' I could not help
wondering at the sight of the traces left by the storm. I intended to go
to the harbour, but my legs, as though in obedience to some irresistible
attraction, carried me in another direction. Ten minutes had not gone by
before I found myself in a part of the town I had never visited till then.
I walked not rapidly, but without halting, step by step, with a strange
sensation at my heart; I expected something extraordinary, impossible, and
at the same time I was convinced that this extraordinary thing would come
And, behold, it came to pass, this extraordinary, this unexpected thing!
Suddenly, twenty paces before me, I saw the very negro who had addressed
the baron in the cafe! Muffled in the same cloak as I had noticed on him
there, he seemed to spring out of the earth, and with his back turned to
me, walked with rapid strides along the narrow pavement of the winding
street. I promptly flew to overtake him, but he, too, redoubled his pace,
though he did not look round, and all of a sudden turned sharply round the
corner of a projecting house. I ran up to this corner, turned round it
as quickly as the negro.... Wonderful to relate! I faced a long, narrow,
perfectly empty street; the fog of early morning rilled it with its leaden
dulness, but my eye reached to its very end, I could scan all the buildings
in it ... and not a living creature stirring anywhere! The tall negro in
the cloak had vanished as suddenly as he had appeared! I was bewildered ...
but only for one instant. Another feeling at once took possession of me;
the street, which stretched its length, dumb, and, as it were, dead, before
my eyes, I knew it! It was the street of my dream. I started, shivered, the
morning was so fresh, and promptly, without the least hesitation, with a
sort of shudder of conviction, went on!
I began looking about.... Yes, here it was; here to the right, standing
cornerwise to the street, was the house of my dream, here too the
old-fashioned gateway with scrollwork in stone on both sides.... It is true
the windows of the house were not round, but rectangular ... but that was
not important.... I knocked at the gate, knocked twice or three times,
louder and louder.... The gate was opened slowly with a heavy groan as
though yawning. I was confronted by a young servant girl with dishevelled
hair, and sleepy eyes. She was apparently only just awake. 'Does the baron
live here?' I asked, and took in with a rapid glance the deep narrow
courtyard.... Yes; it was all there ... there were the planks and beams I
had seen in my dream.
'No,' the servant girl answered, 'the baron's not living here.'
'He's not here now. He left yesterday.'
'Where's he gone?'
'To America!' I repealed involuntarily. 'But he will come back?'
The servant looked at me suspiciously.
'We don't know about that. May be he won't come back at all.'
'And has he been living here long?'
'Not long, a week. He's not here now.'
'And what was his surname, the baron's?' The girl stared at me.
'You don't know his name? We simply called him the baron.--Hi! Piotr!'
she shouted, seeing I was pushing in. 'Come here; here's a stranger keeps
From the house came the clumsy figure of a sturdy workman.
'What is it? What do you want?' he asked in a sleepy voice; and having
heard me sullenly, he repeated what the girl had told me.
'But who does live here?' I asked.
'Who is he?'
'A carpenter. They're all carpenters in this street.'
'Can I see him?'
'You can't now, he's asleep.'
'But can't I go into the house?'
'No. Go away.'
'Well, but can I see your master later on?'
'What for? Of course. You can always see him.... To be sure, he's always at
his business here. Only go away now. Such a time in the morning, upon my
'Well, but that negro?' I asked suddenly.
The workman looked in perplexity first at me, then at the servant girl.
'What negro?' he said at last. 'Go away, sir. You can come later. You can
talk to the master.'
I went out into the street. The gate slammed at once behind me, sharply and
heavily, with no groan this time.
I carefully noted the street and the house, and went away, but not home--I
was conscious of a sort of disillusionment. Everything that had happened to
me was so strange, so unexpected, and meanwhile what a stupid conclusion to
it! I had been persuaded, I had been convinced, that I should see in that
house the room I knew, and in the middle of it my father, the baron, in the
dressing-gown, and with a pipe.... And instead of that, the master of the
house was a carpenter, and I could go and see him as much as I liked--and
order furniture of him, I dare say.
My father had gone to America. And what was left for me to do?... To tell
my mother everything, or to bury for ever the very memory of that meeting?
I positively could not resign myself to the idea that such a supernatural,
mysterious beginning should end in such a senseless, ordinary conclusion!
I did not want to return home, and walked at random away from the town.
I walked with downcast head, without thought, almost without sensation, but
utterly buried in myself. A rhythmic hollow and angry noise raised me from
my numbness. I lifted my head; it was the sea roaring and moaning fifty
paces from me. I saw I was walking along the sand of the dunes. The sea,
set in violent commotion by the storm in the night, was white with foam to
the very horizon, and the sharp crests of the long billows rolled one after
another and broke on the flat shore. I went nearer to it, and walked along
the line left by the ebb and flow of the tides on the yellow furrowed sand,
strewn with fragments of trailing seaweed, broken shells, and snakelike
ribbons of sea-grass. Gulls, with pointed wings, flying with a plaintive
cry on the wind out of the remote depths of the air, soared up, white as
snow against the grey cloudy sky, fell abruptly, and seeming to leap from
wave to wave, vanished again, and were lost like gleams of silver in the
streaks of frothing foam. Several of them, I noticed, hovered persistently
over a big rock, which stood up alone in the midst of the level uniformity
of the sandy shore. Coarse seaweed was growing in irregular masses on one
side of the rock; and where its matted tangles rose above the yellow line,
was something black, something longish, curved, not very large.... I looked
attentively.... Some dark object was lying there, lying motionless beside
the rock.... This object grew clearer, more defined the nearer I got to
There was only a distance of thirty paces left between me and the rock....
Why, it was the outline of a human form! It was a corpse; it was a drowned
man thrown up by the sea! I went right up to the rock.
The corpse was the baron, my father! I stood as though turned to stone.
Only then I realised that I had been led since early morning by some
unknown forces, that I was in their power, and for some instants there was
nothing in my soul but the never-ceasing crash of the sea, and dumb horror
at the fate that had possession of me....
He lay on his back, turned a little to one side, with his left arm behind
his head ... the right was thrust under his bent body. The toes of his
feet, in high sailor's boots, had been sucked into the slimy sea-mud; the
short blue jacket, drenched through with brine, was still closely buttoned;
a red scarf was fastened in a tight knot about his neck. The dark face,
turned to the sky, looked as if it were laughing; the small close-set teeth
could be seen under the lifted upper lip; the dim pupils of the half-closed
eyes were scarcely discernible in the darkened eyeballs; the clotted hair,
covered with bubbles of foam, lay dishevelled on the ground, and bared the
smooth brow with the purple line of the scar; the narrow nose rose, a sharp
white line, between the sunken cheeks. The storm of the previous night
had done its work.... He would never see America again! The man who had
outraged my mother, who had spoiled and soiled her life; my father--yes!
my father--of that I could feel no doubt--lay helplessly outstretched in
the mud at my feet. I experienced a sensation of satisfied revenge, and of
pity, and repulsion, and horror, more than all ... a double horror, at what
I saw, and at what had happened. The wicked criminal feelings of which I
have spoken, those uncomprehended impulses of rage rose up in me ... choked
me. 'Aha!' I thought, 'so that is why I am like this ... that is how my
blood shows itself!' I stood beside the corpse, and stared in suspense.
Would not those dead eyes move, would not those stiff lips quiver? No! all
was still; the very seaweed seemed lifeless where the breakers had flung
it; even the gulls had flown; not a broken spar anywhere, not a fragment
of wood, nor a bit of rigging. On all sides emptiness ... only he and I,
and in the distance the sounding sea. I looked back; the same emptiness
there: a ridge of lifeless downs on the horizon ... that was all! My heart
revolted against leaving this luckless wretch in this solitude, on the
briny sand of the seashore, to be devoured by fishes and birds; an inner
voice told me I ought to find people, call them, if not to help--what help
could there be now!--at least to lift him up, to carry him into some living
habitation ... but an indescribable panic suddenly seized on me. It seemed
to me that this dead man knew I had come here, that he had himself planned
this last meeting. I even fancied I heard the indistinct mutter I knew so
well.... I ran away ... looked back once.... Something glittering caught
my eye; it brought me to a halt. It was a hoop of gold on the hand of
the corpse.... I knew it for my mother's betrothal ring. I remember how
I forced myself to turn back, to go up, to bend down ... I remember the
clammy touch of the chill fingers; I remember how I held my breath, and
half-closed my eyes, and set my teeth, tearing off the obstinate ring....
At last, it was off ... and I was running, running away at full speed, with
something flying behind me, upon my heels, overtaking me.
All I had felt and gone through was probably written on my face when I got
home. My mother abruptly drew herself up directly I went into her room, and
looked with such urgent inquiry at me, that, after an unsuccessful attempt
to explain, I ended by holding out the ring to her in silence. She turned
fearfully white, her eyes opened extraordinarily and looked dead, like
_those_ eyes; she uttered a faint cry, snatched the ring, reeled, fell
on my breast, and fairly swooned away, her head falling back, and her
blank wide-open eyes staring at me. I threw both my arms about her, and
standing where I was, without moving, told her slowly, in a subdued voice,
everything, without the slightest concealment: my dream, and the meeting,
and everything, everything.... She heard me to the end without uttering a
single word, only her bosom heaved more and more violently, and her eyes
suddenly flashed and sank. Then she put the ring on her third finger, and,
moving away a little, began getting her cape and hat. I asked her where she
was going. She lifted eyes full of surprise upon me, and tried to answer,
but her voice failed her. She shuddered several times, rubbed her hands, as
though she were trying to warm them, and at last said, 'Let us go there at
'Where he is lying ... I want to see ... I want to know ... I will
I endeavoured to persuade her not to go; but she almost fell into a nervous
attack. I saw it was impossible to oppose her wish, and we set off.
And now I was again walking along the sand; but this time not alone. I had
my mother on my arm. The sea had ebbed away, had retreated farther still;
it was calmer, but its roar, though fainter, was still menacing and
malignant. There, at last, rose the solitary rock before us; there was the
seaweed too. I looked intently, I tried to distinguish that curved object
lying on the ground--but I saw nothing. We went closer; instinctively I
slackened my pace. But where was the black still object? Only the tangles
of seaweed rose black against the sand, which had dried up by now. We went
right up to the rock.... There was no corpse to be seen; and only where it
had been lying there was still a hollow place, and one could see where the
arms and where the legs had lain.... The seaweed around looked as it were
crushed, and prints were visible of one man's feet; they crossed the dune,
then were lost, as they reached the heaped-up shingle.
My mother and I looked at each other, and were frightened at what we saw in
each other's faces....
Surely he had not got up of himself and gone away?
'You are sure you saw him dead?' she asked in a whisper.
I could only nod in assent. Three hours had not passed since I had come
upon the baron's corpse.... Some one had discovered and removed it. I must
find out who had done it, and what had become of it.
But first I had to look after my mother.
While she had been walking to the fatal spot she had been in a fever, but
she controlled herself. The disappearance of the dead body came upon her
as a final blow. She was struck dumb. I feared for her reason. With great
difficulty I got her home. I made her lie down again on her bed, again
I sent for the doctor, but as soon as my mother had recovered herself a
little, she at one desired me to set off without delay to find out 'that
man.' I obeyed. But, in spite of every possible effort, I discovered
nothing. I went several times to the police, visited several villages in
the neighbourhood, put several advertisements in the papers, collected
information in all directions, and all in vain! I received information,
indeed, that the corpse of a drowned man had been picked up in one of the
seaside villages near.... I at once hastened off there, but from all I
could hear the body had no resemblance to the baron. I found out in what
ship he had set sail for America; at first every one was positive that ship
had gone down in the storm; but a few months later there were rumours that
it had been seen riding at anchor in New York harbour. Not knowing what
steps to take, I began seeking out the negro I had seen, offering him in
the papers a considerable sum of money if he would call at our house. Some
tall negro in a cloak did actually call on us in my absence.... But after
questioning the maid, he abruptly departed, and never came back again.
So all traces were lost of my ... my father; so he vanished into silence
and darkness never to return. My mother and I never spoke of him; only one
day, I remember, she expressed surprise that I had never told her before
of my strange dream; and added, 'It must mean he really....', but did not
utter all her thought. My mother was ill a long while, and even after her
recovery our former close relations never returned. She was ill at ease
with me to the day of her death.... Ill at ease was just what she was. And
that is a trouble there is no cure for. Anything may be smoothed over,
memories of even the most tragic domestic incidents gradually lose their
strength and bitterness; but if once a sense of being ill at ease installs
itself between two closely united persons, it can never be dislodged! I
never again had the dream that had once so agitated me; I no longer 'look
for' my father; but sometimes I fancied--and even now I fancy--that I hear,
as it were, distant wails, as it were, never silent, mournful plaints; they
seem to sound somewhere behind a high wall, which cannot be crossed; they
wring my heart, and I weep with closed eyes, and am never able to tell what
it is, whether it is a living man moaning, or whether I am listening to the
wild, long-drawn-out howl of the troubled sea. And then it passes again
into the muttering of some beast, and I fall asleep with anguish and horror
in my heart.
POEMS IN PROSE
The last day of July; for a thousand versts around, Russia, our native
An unbroken blue flooding the whole sky; a single cloudlet upon it, half
floating, half fading away. Windlessness, warmth ... air like new milk!
Larks are trilling; pouter-pigeons cooing; noiselessly the swallows dart to
and fro; horses are neighing and munching; the dogs do not bark and stand
peaceably wagging their tails.
A smell of smoke and of hay, and a little of tar, too, and a little of
hides. The hemp, now in full bloom, sheds its heavy, pleasant fragrance.
A deep but sloping ravine. Along its sides willows in rows, with big heads
above, trunks cleft below. Through the ravine runs a brook; the tiny
pebbles at its bottom are all aquiver through its clear eddies. In the
distance, on the border-line between earth and heaven, the bluish streak of
a great river.
Along the ravine, on one side, tidy barns, little storehouses with
close-shut doors; on the other side, five or six pinewood huts with boarded
roofs. Above each roof, the high pole of a pigeon-house; over each entry a
little short-maned horse of wrought iron. The window-panes of faulty glass
shine with all the colours of the rainbow. Jugs of flowers are painted on
the shutters. Before each door, a little bench stands prim and neat; on the
mounds of earth, cats are basking, their transparent ears pricked up alert;
beyond the high door-sills, is the cool dark of the outer rooms.
I lie on the very edge of the ravine, on an outspread horse-cloth; all
about are whole stacks of fresh-cut hay, oppressively fragrant. The
sagacious husbandmen have flung the hay about before the huts; let it get a
bit drier in the baking sunshine; and then into the barn with it. It will
be first-rate sleeping on it.
Curly, childish heads are sticking out of every haycock; crested hens are
looking in the hay for flies and little beetles, and a white-lipped pup is
rolling among the tangled stalks.
Flaxen-headed lads in clean smocks, belted low, in heavy boots, leaning
over an unharnessed waggon, fling each other smart volleys of banter, with
broad grins showing their white teeth.
A round-faced young woman peeps out of window; laughs at their words or at
the romps of the children in the mounds of hay.
Another young woman with powerful arms draws a great wet bucket out of the
well.... The bucket quivers and shakes, spilling long, glistening drops.
Before me stands an old woman in a new striped petticoat and new shoes.
Fat hollow beads are wound in three rows about her dark thin neck, her grey
head is tied up in a yellow kerchief with red spots; it hangs low over her
But there is a smile of welcome in the aged eyes; a smile all over the
wrinkled face. The old woman has reached, I dare say, her seventieth year
... and even now one can see she has been a beauty in her day.
With a twirl of her sunburnt finger, she holds in her right hand a bowl of
cold milk, with the cream on it, fresh from the cellar; the sides of the
bowl are covered with drops, like strings of pearls. In the palm of her
left hand the old woman brings me a huge hunch of warm bread, as though to
say, 'Eat, and welcome, passing guest!'
A cock suddenly crows and fussily flaps his wings; he is slowly answered by
the low of a calf, shut up in the stall.
'My word, what oats!' I hear my coachman saying.... Oh, the content, the
quiet, the plenty of the Russian open country! Oh, the deep peace and
And the thought comes to me: what is it all to us here, the cross on
the cupola of St. Sophia in Constantinople and all the rest that we are
struggling for, we men of the town?
'Neither the Jungfrau nor the Finsteraarhorn has yet been trodden by the
foot of man!'
The topmost peaks of the Alps ... A whole chain of rugged precipices ...
The very heart of the mountains.
Over the mountain, a pale green, clear, dumb sky. Bitter, cruel frost;
hard, sparkling snow; sticking out of the snow, the sullen peaks of the
ice-covered, wind-swept mountains.
Two massive forms, two giants on the sides of the horizon, the Jungfrau and
And the Jungfrau speaks to its neighbour: 'What canst thou tell that is
new? thou canst see more. What is there down below?'
A few thousand years go by: one minute. And the Finsteraarhorn roars back
in answer: 'Thick clouds cover the earth.... Wait a little!'
Thousands more years go by: one minute.
'Well, and now?' asks the Jungfrau.
'Now I see, there below all is the same. There are blue waters, black
forests, grey heaps of piled-up stones. Among them are still fussing to and
fro the insects, thou knowest, the bipeds that have never yet once defiled
thee nor me.'
Thousands of years go by: one minute.
'Well, and now?' asks the Jungfrau.
'There seem fewer insects to be seen,' thunders the Finsteraarhorn, 'it is
clearer down below; the waters have shrunk, the forests are thinner.' Again
thousands of years go by: one minute.
'What seeest thou?' says the Jungfrau.
'Close about us it seems purer,' answers the Finsteraarhorn, 'but there in
the distance in the valleys are still spots, and something is moving.' 'And
now?' asks the Jungfrau, after more thousands of years: one minute.
'Now it is well,' answers the Finsteraarhorn, 'it is clean everywhere,
quite white, wherever you look ... Everywhere is our snow, unbroken snow
and ice. Everything is frozen. It is well now, it is quiet.'
'Good,' said the Jungfrau. 'But we have gossipped enough, old fellow. It's
time to slumber.'
'It is time, indeed.'
The huge mountains sleep; the green, clear sky sleeps over the region of
THE OLD WOMAN
I was walking over a wide plain alone.
And suddenly I fancied light, cautious footsteps behind my back.... Some
one was walking after me.
I looked round, and saw a little, bent old woman, all muffled up in grey
rags. The face of the old woman alone peeped out from them; a yellow,
wrinkled, sharp-nosed, toothless face.
I went up to her.... She stopped.
'Who are you? What do you want? Are you a beggar? Do you seek alms?'
The old woman did not answer. I bent down to her, and noticed that both her
eyes were covered with a half-transparent membrane or skin, such as is seen
in some birds; they protect their eyes with it from dazzling light.
But in the old woman, the membrane did not move nor uncover the eyes ...
from which I concluded she was blind.
'Do you want alms?' I repeated my question. 'Why are you following me?'
But the old woman as before made no answer, but only shrank into herself a
I turned from her and went on my way.
And again I hear behind me the same light, measured, as it were, stealthy
'Again that woman!' I thought, 'why does she stick to me?' But then, I
added inwardly, 'Most likely she has lost her way, being blind, and now
is following the sound of my steps so as to get with me to some inhabited
place. Yes, yes, that's it.'
But a strange uneasiness gradually gained possession of my mind. I began
to fancy that the old woman was not only following me, but that she was
directing me, that she was driving me to right and to left, and that I was
unwittingly obeying her.
I still go on, however ... but, behold, before me, on my very road,
something black and wide ... a kind of hole.... 'A grave!' flashed through
my head. 'That is where she is driving me!'
I turned sharply back. The old woman faced me again ... but she sees! She
is looking at me with big, cruel, malignant eyes ... the eyes of a bird of
prey.... I stoop down to her face, to her eyes.... Again the same opaque
membrane, the same blind, dull countenance....
'Ah!' I think, 'this old woman is my fate. The fate from which there is no
escape for man!'
'No escape! no escape! What madness.... One must try.' And I rush away in
I go swiftly.... But light footsteps as before patter behind me, close,
close.... And before me again the dark hole.
Again I turn another way.... And again the same patter behind, and the same
menacing blur of darkness before.
And whichever way I run, doubling like a hunted hare ... it's always the
same, the same!
'Wait!' I think, 'I will cheat her! I will go nowhere!' and I instantly sat
down on the ground.
The old woman stands behind, two paces from me. I do not hear her, but I
feel she is there.
And suddenly I see the blur of darkness in the distance is floating,
creeping of itself towards me!
God! I look round again ... the old woman looks straight at me, and her
toothless mouth is twisted in a grin.
Us two in the room; my dog and me.... Outside a fearful storm is howling.
The dog sits in front of me, and looks me straight in the face.
And I, too, look into his face.
He wants, it seems, to tell me something. He is dumb, he is without words,
he does not understand himself--but I understand him.
I understand that at this instant there is living in him and in me the same
feeling, that there is no difference between us. We are the same; in each
of us there burns and shines the same trembling spark.
Death sweeps down, with a wave of its chill broad wing....
And the end!
Who then can discern what was the spark that glowed in each of us?
No! We are not beast and man that glance at one another....
They are the eyes of equals, those eyes riveted on one another.
And in each of these, in the beast and in the man, the same life huddles up
in fear close to the other.
I had a comrade who was my adversary; not in pursuits, nor in service, nor
in love, but our views were never alike on any subject, and whenever we
met, endless argument arose between us.
We argued about everything: about art, and religion, and science, about
life on earth and beyond the grave, especially about life beyond the grave.
He was a person of faith and enthusiasm. One day he said to me, 'You laugh
at everything; but if I die before you, I will come to you from the other
world.... We shall see whether you will laugh then.'
And he did, in fact, die before me, while he was still young; but the years
went by, and I had forgotten his promise, his threat.
One night I was lying in bed, and could not, and, indeed, would not sleep.
In the room it was neither dark nor light. I fell to staring into the grey
And all at once, I fancied that between the two windows my adversary was
standing, and was slowly and mournfully nodding his head up and down.
I was not frightened; I was not even surprised ... but raising myself a
little, and propping myself on my elbow, I stared still more intently at
the unexpected apparition.
The latter continued to nod his head.
'Well?' I said at last; 'are you triumphant or regretful? What is
this--warning or reproach?... Or do you mean to give me to understand that
you were wrong, that we were both wrong? What are you experiencing? The
torments of hell? Or the bliss of paradise? Utter one word at least!'
But my opponent did not utter a single sound, and only, as before,
mournfully and submissively nodded his head up and down.
I laughed ... he vanished.
I was walking along the street ... I was stopped by a decrepit old beggar.
Bloodshot, tearful eyes, blue lips, coarse rags, festering wounds.... Oh,
how hideously poverty had eaten into this miserable creature!
He held out to me a red, swollen, filthy hand. He groaned, he mumbled of
I began feeling in all my pockets.... No purse, no watch, not even a
handkerchief.... I had taken nothing with me. And the beggar was still
waiting ... and his outstretched hand feebly shook and trembled.
Confused, abashed, I warmly clasped the filthy, shaking hand ... 'Don't be
angry, brother; I have nothing, brother.'
The beggar stared at me with his bloodshot eyes; his blue lips smiled; and
he in his turn gripped my chilly fingers.
'What of it, brother?' he mumbled; 'thanks for this, too. That is a gift
I knew that I too had received a gift from my brother.
'THOU SHALT HEAR THE FOOL'S JUDGMENT....'--_PUSHKIN_
'Thou shalt hear the fool's judgment....' You always told the truth, O
great singer of ours. You spoke it this time, too.
'The fool's judgment and the laughter of the crowd' ... who has not known
the one and the other?
All that one can, and one ought to bear; and who has the strength, let him
But there are blows which pierce more cruelly to the very heart.... A man
has done all that he could; has worked strenuously, lovingly, honestly....
And honest hearts turn from him in disgust; honest faces burn with
indignation at his name. 'Be gone! Away with you!' honest young voices
scream at him. 'We have no need of you, nor of your work. You pollute our
dwelling-places. You know us not and understand us not.... You are our
What is that man to do? Go on working; not try to justify himself, and not
even look forward to a fairer judgment.
At one time the tillers of the soil cursed the traveller who brought the
potato, the substitute for bread, the poor man's daily food.... They shook
the precious gift out of his outstretched hands, flung it in the mud,
trampled it underfoot.
Now they are fed with it, and do not even know their benefactor's name.
So be it! What is his name to them? He, nameless though he be, saves them
Let us try only that what we bring should be really good food.
Bitter, unjust reproach on the lips of those you love.... But that, too,
can be borne....
'Beat me! but listen!' said the Athenian leader to the Spartan.
'Beat me! but be healthy and fed!' we ought to say.
A CONTENTED MAN
A young man goes skipping and bounding along a street in the capital. His
movements are gay and alert; there is a sparkle in his eyes, a smirk on his
lips, a pleasing flush on his beaming face.... He is all contentment and
What has happened to him? Has he come in for a legacy? Has he been
promoted? Is he hastening to meet his beloved? Or is it simply he has had a
good breakfast, and the sense of health, the sense of well-fed prosperity,
is at work in all his limbs? Surely they have not put on his neck thy
lovely, eight-pointed cross, O Polish king, Stanislas?
No. He has hatched a scandal against a friend, has sedulously sown it
abroad, has heard it, this same slander, from the lips of another friend,
and--_has himself believed it_!
Oh, how contented! how kind indeed at this minute is this amiable,
promising young man!
A RULE OF LIFE
'If you want to annoy an opponent thoroughly, and even to harm him,' said a
crafty old knave to me, 'you reproach him with the very defect or vice you
are conscious of in yourself. Be indignant ... and reproach him!
'To begin with, it will set others thinking you have not that vice.
'In the second place, your indignation may well be sincere.... You can turn
to account the pricks of your own conscience.
If you, for instance, are a turncoat, reproach your opponent with having no
'If you are yourself slavish at heart, tell him reproachfully that he is
slavish ... the slave of civilisation, of Europe, of Socialism!'
'One might even say, the slave of anti-slavishness,' I suggested.
'You might even do that,' assented the cunning knave.
THE END OF THE WORLD
I fancied I was somewhere in Russia, in the wilds, in a simple country
The room big and low pitched with three windows; the walls whitewashed; no
furniture. Before the house a barren plain; gradually sloping downwards, it
stretches into the distance; a grey monotonous sky hangs over it, like the
canopy of a bed.
I am not alone; there are some ten persons in the room with me. All quite
plain people, simply dressed. They walk up and down in silence, as it
were stealthily. They avoid one another, and yet are continually looking
anxiously at one another.
Not one knows why he has come into this house and what people there are
with him. On all the faces uneasiness and despondency ... all in turn
approach the windows and look about intently as though expecting something
Then again they fall to wandering up and down. Among us is a small-sized
boy; from time to time he whimpers in the same thin voice, 'Father, I'm
frightened!' My heart turns sick at his whimper, and I too begin to be
afraid ... of what? I don't know myself. Only I feel, there is coming
nearer and nearer a great, great calamity.
The boy keeps on and on with his wail. Oh, to escape from here! How
stifling! How weary! how heavy.... But escape is impossible.
That sky is like a shroud. And no wind.... Is the air dead or what?
All at once the boy runs up to the window and shrieks in the same piteous
voice, 'Look! look! the earth has fallen away!'
'How? fallen away?' Yes; just now there was a plain before the house, and
now it stands on a fearful height! The horizon has sunk, has gone down, and
from the very house drops an almost overhanging, as it were scooped-out,
We all crowded to the window.... Horror froze our hearts. 'Here it is ...
here it is!' whispers one next me.
And behold, along the whole far boundary of the earth, something began to
stir, some sort of small, roundish hillocks began heaving and falling.
'It is the sea!' the thought flashed on us all at the same instant. 'It
will swallow us all up directly.... Only how can it grow and rise upwards?
To this precipice?'
And yet, it grows, grows enormously.... Already there are not separate
hillocks heaving in the distance.... One continuous, monstrous wave
embraces the whole circle of the horizon.
It is swooping, swooping, down upon us! In an icy hurricane it flies,
swirling in the darkness of hell. Everything shuddered--and there, in
this flying mass--was the crash of thunder, the iron wail of thousands of
Ah! what a roaring and moaning! It was the earth howling for terror....
The end of it! the end of all!
The child whimpered once more.... I tried to clutch at my companions,
but already we were all crushed, buried, drowned, swept away by that
pitch-black, icy, thundering wave! Darkness ... darkness everlasting!
Scarcely breathing, I awoke.
When I lived, many years ago, in Petersburg, every time I chanced to hire a
sledge, I used to get into conversation with the driver.
I was particularly fond of talking to the night drivers, poor peasants from
the country round, who come to the capital with their little ochre-painted
sledges and wretched nags, in the hope of earning food for themselves and
rent for their masters.
So one day I engaged such a sledge-driver.... He was a lad of twenty, tall
and well-made, a splendid fellow with blue eyes and ruddy cheeks; his fair
hair curled in little ringlets under the shabby little patched cap that was
pulled over his eyes. And how had that little torn smock ever been drawn
over those gigantic shoulders!
But the handsome, beardless face of the sledge-driver looked mournful and
I began to talk to him. There was a sorrowful note in his voice too.
'What is it, brother?' I asked him; 'why aren't you cheerful? Have you some
The lad did not answer me for a minute. 'Yes, sir, I have,' he said at
last. 'And such a trouble, there could not be a worse. My wife is dead.'
'You loved her ... your wife?'
The lad did not turn to me; he only bent his head a little.
'I loved her, sir. It's eight months since then ... but I can't forget it.
My heart is gnawing at me ... so it is! And why had she to die? A young
thing! strong!... In one day cholera snatched her away.'
'And was she good to you?'
'Ah, sir!' the poor fellow sighed heavily, 'and how happy we were together!
She died without me! The first I heard here, they'd buried her already, you
know; I hurried off at once to the village, home--I got there--it was past
midnight. I went into my hut, stood still in the middle of the room, and
softly I whispered, "Masha! eh, Masha!" Nothing but the cricket chirping.
I fell a-crying then, sat on the hut floor, and beat on the earth with my
fists! "Greedy earth!" says I ... "You have swallowed her up ... swallow me
'Masha!' he added suddenly in a sinking voice. And without letting go of
the cord reins, he wiped the tears out of his eyes with his sleeve, shook
it, shrugged his shoulders, and uttered not another word.
As I got out of the sledge, I gave him a few coppers over his fare. He
bowed low to me, grasping his cap in both hands, and drove off at a walking
pace over the level snow of the deserted street, full of the grey fog of a
There lived a fool.
For a long time he lived in peace and contentment; but by degrees rumours
began to reach him that he was regarded on all sides as a vulgar idiot.
The fool was abashed and began to ponder gloomily how he might put an end
to these unpleasant rumours.
A sudden idea, at last, illuminated his dull little brain.... And, without
the slightest delay, he put it into practice.
A friend met him in the street, and fell to praising a well-known
'Upon my word!' cried the fool,' that painter was out of date long ago ...
you didn't know it? I should never have expected it of you ... you are
quite behind the times.'
The friend was alarmed, and promptly agreed with the fool.
'Such a splendid book I read yesterday!' said another friend to him.
'Upon my word!' cried the fool, 'I wonder you're not ashamed. That book's
good for nothing; every one's seen through it long ago. Didn't you know it?
You're quite behind the times.'
This friend too was alarmed, and he agreed with the fool.
'What a wonderful fellow my friend N. N. is!' said a third friend to the
fool. 'Now there's a really generous creature!'
'Upon my word!' cried the fool. 'N. N., the notorious scoundrel! He
swindled all his relations. Every one knows that. You're quite behind the
The third friend too was alarmed, and he agreed with the fool and deserted
his friend. And whoever and whatever was praised in the fool's presence, he
had the same retort for everything.
Sometimes he would add reproachfully: 'And do you still believe in
'Spiteful! malignant!' his friends began to say of the fool. 'But what a
'And what a tongue!' others would add, 'Oh, yes, he has talent!'
It ended in the editor of a journal proposing to the fool that he should
undertake their reviewing column.
And the fool fell to criticising everything and every one, without in the
least changing his manner, or his exclamations.
Now he, who once declaimed against authorities, is himself an authority,
and the young men venerate him, and fear him.
And what else can they do, poor young men? Though one ought not, as a
general rule, to venerate any one ... but in this case, if one didn't
venerate him, one would find oneself quite behind the times!
Fools have a good time among cowards.
AN EASTERN LEGEND
Who in Bagdad knows not Jaffar, the Sun of the Universe?
One day, many years ago (he was yet a youth), Jaffar was walking in the
environs of Bagdad.
Suddenly a hoarse cry reached his ear; some one was calling desperately for
Jaffar was distinguished among the young men of his age by prudence and
sagacity; but his heart was compassionate, and he relied on his strength.
He ran at the cry, and saw an infirm old man, pinned to the city wall by
two brigands, who were robbing him.
Jaffar drew his sabre and fell upon the miscreants: one he killed, the
other he drove away.
The old man thus liberated fell at his deliverer's feet, and, kissing the
hem of his garment, cried: 'Valiant youth, your magnanimity shall
not remain unrewarded. In appearance I am a poor beggar; but only in
appearance. I am not a common man. Come to-morrow in the early morning
to the chief bazaar; I will await you at the fountain, and you shall be
convinced of the truth of my words.'
Jaffar thought: 'In appearance this man is a beggar, certainly; but all
sorts of things happen. Why not put it to the test?' and he answered: 'Very
well, good father; I will come.'
The old man looked into his face, and went away.
The next morning, the sun had hardly risen, Jaffar went to the bazaar. The
old man was already awaiting him, leaning with his elbow on the marble
basin of the fountain.
In silence he took Jaffar by the hand and led him into a small garden,
enclosed on all sides by high walls.
In the very middle of this garden, on a green lawn, grew an
It was like a cypress; only its leaves were of an azure hue.
Three fruits--three apples--hung on the slender upward-bent twigs; one was
of middle size, long-shaped, and milk-white; the second, large, round,
bright-red; the third, small, wrinkled, yellowish.
The whole tree faintly rustled, though there was no wind. It emitted a
shrill plaintive ringing sound, as of a glass bell; it seemed it was
conscious of Jaffar's approach.
'Youth!' said the old man, 'pick any one of these apples and know, if you
pick and eat the white one, you will be the wisest of all men; if you pick
and eat the red, you will be rich as the Jew Rothschild; if you pick and
eat the yellow one, you will be liked by old women. Make up your mind! and
do not delay. Within an hour the apples will wither, and the tree itself
will sink into the dumb depths of the earth!'
Jaffar looked down, and pondered. 'How am I to act?' he said in an
undertone, as though arguing with himself. 'If you become too wise, maybe
you will not care to live; if you become richer than any one, every one
will envy you; I had better pick and eat the third, the withered apple!'
And so he did; and the old man laughed a toothless laugh, and said: 'O wise
young man! You have chosen the better part! What need have you of the white
apple? You are wiser than Solomon as it is. And you've no need of the red
apple either.... You will be rich without it. Only your wealth no one will
'Tell me, old man,' said Jaffar, rousing himself, 'where lives the honoured
mother of our Caliph, protected of heaven?'
The old man bowed down to the earth, and pointed out to the young man the
Who in Bagdad knows not the Sun of the Universe, the great, the renowned
There was once a town, the inhabitants of which were so passionately fond
of poetry, that if some weeks passed by without the appearance of any good
new poems, they regarded such a poetic dearth as a public misfortune.
They used at such times to put on their worst clothes, to sprinkle ashes on
their heads; and, assembling in crowds in the public squares, to shed tears
and bitterly to upbraid the muse who had deserted them.
On one such inauspicious day, the young poet Junius came into a square,
thronged with the grieving populace.
With rapid steps he ascended a forum constructed for this purpose, and made
signs that he wished to recite a poem.
The lictors at once brandished their fasces. 'Silence! attention!' they
shouted loudly, and the crowd was hushed in expectation.
'Friends! Comrades!' began Junius, in a loud but not quite steady voice:--
'Friends! Comrades! Lovers of the Muse!
Ye worshippers of beauty and of grace!
Let not a moment's gloom dismay your souls,
Your heart's desire is nigh, and light shall banish darkness.'
Junius ceased ... and in answer to him, from every part of the square, rose
a hubbub of hissing and laughter.
Every face, turned to him, glowed with indignation, every eye sparkled with
anger, every arm was raised and shook a menacing fist!
'He thought to dazzle us with that!' growled angry voices. 'Down with the
imbecile rhymester from the forum! Away with the idiot! Rotten apples,
stinking eggs for the motley fool! Give us stones--stones here!'
Junius rushed head over heels from the forum ... but, before he had got
home, he was overtaken by the sound of peals of enthusiastic applause,
cries and shouts of admiration.
Filled with amazement, Junius returned to the square, trying however to
avoid being noticed (for it is dangerous to irritate an infuriated beast).
And what did he behold?
High above the people, upon their shoulders, on a flat golden shield,
wrapped in a purple chlamys, with a laurel wreath on his flowing locks,
stood his rival, the young poet Julius.... And the populace all round him
shouted: 'Glory! Glory! Glory to the immortal Julius! He has comforted us
in our sorrow, in our great woe! He has bestowed on us verses sweeter than
honey, more musical than the cymbal's note, more fragrant than the rose,
purer than the azure of heaven! Carry him in triumph, encircle his inspired
head with the soft breath of incense, cool his brow with the rhythmic
movement of palm-leaves, scatter at his feet all the fragrance of the myrrh
of Arabia! Glory!'
Junius went up to one of the applauding enthusiasts. 'Enlighten me, O my
fellow-citizen! what were the verses with which Julius has made you happy?
I, alas! was not in the square when he uttered them! Repeat them, if you
remember them, pray!'
'Verses like those I could hardly forget!' the man addressed responded with
spirit. 'What do you take me for? Listen--and rejoice, rejoice with us!'
'Lovers of the Muse!' so the deified Julius had begun....
'Lovers of the Muse! Comrades! Friends
Of beauty, grace, and music, worshippers!
Let not your hearts by gloom affrighted be!
The wished-for moment comes! and day shall scatter night!'
'What do you think of them?'
'Heavens!' cried Junius; 'but that's my poem! Julius must have been in the
crowd when I was reciting them; he heard them and repeated them, slightly
varying, and certainly not improving, a few expressions.'
'Aha! Now I recognise you.... You are Junius,' the citizen he had stopped
retorted with a scowl on his face. 'Envious man or fool!... note only,
luckless wretch, how sublimely Julius has phrased it: "And day shall
scatter night!" While you had some such rubbish: "And light shall banish
darkness!" What light? What darkness?'
'But isn't that just the same?' Junius was beginning....
'Say another word,' the citizen cut him short, 'I will call upon the people
... they will tear you to pieces!'
Junius judiciously held his peace, but a grey-headed old man who had heard
the conversation went up to the unlucky poet, and laying a hand upon his
'Junius! You uttered your own thought, but not at the right moment; and he
uttered not his own thought, but at the right moment. Consequently, he is
all right; while for you is left the consolations of a good conscience.'
But while his conscience, to the best of its powers--not over successfully,
to tell the truth--was consoling Junius as he was shoved on one side--in
the distance, amid shouts of applause and rejoicing, in the golden radiance
of the all-conquering sun, resplendent in purple, with his brow shaded
with laurel, among undulating clouds of lavish incense, with majestic
deliberation, like a tsar making a triumphal entry into his kingdom, moved
the proudly erect figure of Julius ... and the long branches of palm rose
and fell before him, as though expressing in their soft vibration, in their
submissive obeisance, the ever-renewed adoration which filled the hearts of
his enchanted fellow-citizens!
I was returning from hunting, and walking along an avenue of the garden, my
dog running in front of me.
Suddenly he took shorter steps, and began to steal along as though tracking
I looked along the avenue, and saw a young sparrow, with yellow about its
beak and down on its head. It had fallen out of the nest (the wind was
violently shaking the birch-trees in the avenue) and sat unable to move,
helplessly flapping its half-grown wings.
My dog was slowly approaching it, when, suddenly darting down from a tree
close by, an old dark-throated sparrow fell like a stone right before his
nose, and all ruffled up, terrified, with despairing and pitiful cheeps, it
flung itself twice towards the open jaws of shining teeth.
It sprang to save; it cast itself before its nestling ... but all its tiny
body was shaking with terror; its note was harsh and strange. Swooning with
fear, it offered itself up!
What a huge monster must the dog have seemed to it! And yet it could not
stay on its high branch out of danger.... A force stronger than its will
flung it down.
My Tresor stood still, drew back.... Clearly he too recognised this force.
I hastened to call off the disconcerted dog, and went away, full of
Yes; do not laugh. I felt reverence for that tiny heroic bird, for its
impulse of love.
Love, I thought, is stronger than death or the fear of death. Only by it,
by love, life holds together and advances.
A sumptuous, brilliantly lighted hall; a number of ladies and gentlemen.
All the faces are animated, the talk is lively.... A noisy conversation is
being carried on about a famous singer. They call her divine, immortal....
O, how finely yesterday she rendered her last trill!
And suddenly--as by the wave of an enchanter's wand--from every head
and from every face, slipped off the delicate covering of skin, and
instantaneously exposed the deadly whiteness of skulls, with here and there
the leaden shimmer of bare jaws and gums.
With horror I beheld the movements of those jaws and gums; the turning,
the glistening in the light of the lamps and candles, of those lumpy bony
balls, and the rolling in them of other smaller balls, the balls of the
I dared not touch my own face, dared not glance at myself in the glass.
And the skulls turned from side to side as before.... And with their former
noise, peeping like little red rags out of the grinning teeth, rapid
tongues lisped how marvellously, how inimitably the immortal ... yes,
immortal ... singer had rendered that last trill!
THE WORKMAN AND THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS
WORKMAN. Why do you come crawling up to us? What do ye want? You're none of
us.... Get along!
MAN WITH WHITE HANDS. I am one of you, comrades!
THE WORKMAN. One of us, indeed! That's a notion! Look at my hands. D'ye see
how dirty they are? And they smell of muck, and of pitch--but yours, see,
are white. And what do they smell of?
THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS (_offering his hands_). Smell them.
THE WORKMAN (_sniffing his hands_). That's a queer start. Seems like a
smell of iron.
THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS. Yes; iron it is. For six long years I wore chains
THE WORKMAN. And what was that for, pray?
THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS. Why, because I worked for your good; tried to
set free the oppressed and the ignorant; stirred folks up against your
oppressors; resisted the authorities.... So they locked me up.
THE WORKMAN. Locked you up, did they? Serve you right for resisting!
_Two Years Later_.
THE SAME WORKMAN TO ANOTHER. I say, Pete.... Do you remember, the year
before last, a chap with white hands talking to you?
THE OTHER WORKMAN. Yes;... what of it?
THE FIRST WORKMAN. They're going to hang him to-day, I heard say; that's
THE SECOND WORKMAN. Did he keep on resisting the authorities?
THE FIRST WORKMAN. He kept on.
THE SECOND WORKMAN. Ah!... Now, I say, mate, couldn't we get hold of a bit
of the rope they're going to hang him with? They do say, it brings good
luck to a house!
THE FIRST WORKMAN. You're right there. We'll have a try for it, mate.
The last days of August.... Autumn was already at hand.
The sun was setting. A sudden downpour of rain, without thunder or
lightning, had just passed rapidly over our wide plain.
The garden in front of the house glowed and steamed, all filled with the
fire of the sunset and the deluge of rain.
She was sitting at a table in the drawing-room, and, with persistent
dreaminess, gazing through the half-open door into the garden.
I knew what was passing at that moment in her soul; I knew that, after a
brief but agonising struggle, she was at that instant giving herself up to
a feeling she could no longer master.
All at once she got up, went quickly out into the garden, and disappeared.
An hour passed ... a second; she had not returned.
Then I got up, and, getting out of the house, I turned along the walk by
which--of that I had no doubt--she had gone.
All was darkness about me; the night had already fallen. But on the damp
sand of the path a roundish object could be discerned--bright red even
through the mist.
I stooped down. It was a fresh, new-blown rose. Two hours before I had seen
this very rose on her bosom.
I carefully picked up the flower that had fallen in the mud, and, going
back to the drawing-room, laid it on the table before her chair.
And now at last she came back, and with light footsteps, crossing the whole
room, sat down at the table.
Her face was both paler and more vivid; her downcast eyes, that looked
somehow smaller, strayed rapidly in happy confusion from side to side.
She saw the rose, snatched it up, glanced at its crushed, muddy petals,
glanced at me, and her eyes, brought suddenly to a standstill, were bright
'What are you crying for?' I asked.
'Why, see this rose. Look what has happened to it.'
Then I thought fit to utter a profound remark.
'Your tears will wash away the mud,' I pronounced with a significant
'Tears do not wash, they burn,' she answered. And turning to the hearth she
flung the rose into the dying flame.
'Fire burns even better than tears,' she cried with spirit; and her lovely
eyes, still bright with tears, laughed boldly and happily.
I saw that she too had been in the fire.
TO THE MEMORY OF U. P. VREVSKY
On dirt, on stinking wet straw under the shelter of a tumble-down barn,
turned in haste into a camp hospital, in a ruined Bulgarian village, for
over a fortnight she lay dying of typhus.
She was unconscious, and not one doctor even looked at her; the sick
soldiers, whom she had tended as long as she could keep on her legs, in
their turn got up from their pestilent litters to lift a few drops of water
in the hollow of a broken pot to her parched lips.
She was young and beautiful; the great world knew her; even the highest
dignitaries had been interested in her. Ladies had envied her, men had
paid her court ... two or three had loved her secretly and truly. Life had
smiled on her; but there are smiles that are worse than tears.
A soft, tender heart ... and such force, such eagerness for sacrifice! To
help those who needed help ... she knew of no other happiness ... knew not
of it, and had never once known it. Every other happiness passed her by.
But she had long made up her mind to that; and all aglow with the fire of
unquenchable faith, she gave herself to the service of her neighbours.
What hidden treasure she buried there in the depth of her heart, in her
most secret soul, no one ever knew; and now, of course, no one will ever
Ay, and what need? Her sacrifice is made ... her work is done.