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Savva and The Life of Man by Leonid Andreyev

Part 6 out of 6

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--Let's get up a ball. It's so long since I've danced.

--Imagine that this is a palace, a magnificent, an exquisitely
beautiful palace.

--Call the musicians. Why, you can't have a ball without music.


--You remember?

_[They sing. At that instant the three musicians who played at
the ball come down the stairs. The one with the violin adjusts his
handkerchief on his shoulder with great precision, and all three begin
to play, making an exaggerated effort. But the notes are soft and
gentle as in a dream._

--There you have the ball.

--How rich! How magnificent!

--How brilliant!

--You remember, don't you?

_[Singing softly to the music, they begin to circle about Man,
imitating in a wild, monstrous fashion the movements of the girls in
the white dresses who danced at the ball. At the first musical phrase
they circle, at the second they join and part gracefully and quietly,

--Do you remember?

--You're going to die soon--do you remember?

--Do you remember?

--Do you remember?

--You're going to die soon--do you remember?

--Do you remember?

_[The dance grows brisker, the movements sharper. Strange, whining
notes mingle into the singing of the Old Women. An equally strange
laugh passes around the circle of dancers, suppressed and quiet at
first. As each one glides past Man, she flings an abrupt whisper into
his ear_:

--Do you remember?

--Do you remember?

--How gentle! How exquisite!

--What balm to the soul! Do you remember?

--You're going to die soon, you're going to die soon.

--You're going to die soon--

--Do you remember?

_[They circle more quickly, their movements growing still more abrupt.
Suddenly there is silence and they halt. The musicians grow rigid with
the instruments in their hands. The dancers remain fixed in the
game position in which they were when the silence fell. Man rises,
straightens himself, throws back his gray, beautiful, terribly
majestic head, and calls out in a surprisingly loud voice, full of
sorrow and wrath. After each short phrase a brief but profound pause


Where is my squire? Where is my sword? Where is my shield? I am
disarmed! Come to me quick! Quick! Be accurs--

_[He sinks down on the chair and dies, his head falling backward.
At the same moment the candle flares up brightly and goes out. All
objects are buried in a dense twilight which seems to be descending
the stairs until it gradually covers everything. The face of dead
Man alone remains bright. Low, vague conversation, whisperings and
derisive mockery are heard from the Old Women._


Silence! Man has died!

_[Profound silence. Then the same cold, indifferent voice repeats from
a remote depth, like an echo_:

Silence! Man has died!

_[Profound silence. The twilight thickens, but the mice-like figures
of the Old Women are still seen standing rigid. Presently they begin
to circle about the dead body mutely, quietly; then they begin to sing
softly, and the musicians begin to play. The gloom thickens, the music
and the song grow louder and louder, and the wild dance grows more
unrestrained, until finally it ceases to be a dance, the Old Women
merely whirling about the dead man arm in arm, stamping their feet,
screeching, and laughing a wild, prolonged laugh. Complete darkness
descends. Only the face of Man is still lighted up. Then this light
too is extinguished. Black impenetrable darkness prevails.

In the darkness are heard the movements of the mad dancers, their
screeching and laughter, and the discordant, desperately loud sounds
of the music. Just when they have reached their highest pitch, all the
sounds and noises withdraw rapidly somewhere and die away. Stillness._


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