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The Created Legend by Feodor Sologub

Part 6 out of 6

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"His words are a lie! His preachings the ravings of despair. There was
no miracle, there is none, and there will not be!"

Kirsha, very agitated, ran out of the room. The sensitive and painful
feeling of aloneness seized Trirodov as in a sticky net, entangled his
legs, and obstructed his glances with grey.

A quiet boy entered, smiling, and handed him a card, on which, under a
princely crown, was the lithographed inscription:

_Immanuel Osipovitch Davidov_.[36]

[Footnote 36: There is an evident effort here to identify "Immanuel
Osipovitch Davidov" as a modern symbol of Christ, or more properly of
Christ's teachings, "Osipovitch" means the "son of Joseph"; "Davidov,"
"of David,"--Translator.]

In a voice dark and deep with suppressed excitement Trirodov said to
the boy:

"Ask him to come in."

The provoking and unanswerable question persisted in his mind:

"Why, why has he come? What does he want of me?"

With an avidly curious glance he looked at the door, and did not take
his eyes away. He heard the measured, unhastening footsteps, nearer
and nearer--as if his fate were approaching.

The door opened, admitting the visitor--Prince Immanuel Osipovitch
Davidov, celebrated as author and preacher, a man of a distinguished
family and democratic views, a man beloved of many and possessed of
the mystery of extraordinary fascination, attracting to him many
hearts.

His face was very smooth, quite un-Russian in type. His lips, slightly
descending at the corners, were marked with sorrow. His beard was
reddish, short, and cut to a point. His red-gold, slightly wavy hair
was cut quite short. This astonished Trirodov, who had always seen the
Prince in portraits wearing his hair rather long, like the poet
Nadson. His eyes were black, flaming and deep. Deeply hidden in his
eyes was an expression of great weariness and suffering, which the
inattentive observer might have interpreted as an expression of
fatigued tranquillity and indifference. Everything about the
visitor--his face and his ways--betrayed his habit of speaking in a
large company, even in a crowd.

He walked up tranquilly to Trirodov and said, as he stretched out his
hand:

"I wanted to see you. I have observed you for some time, and at last
have come to you."

Trirodov, making an effort to control his agitation and his deep
irritation, said with an affectedly amiable voice:

"I'm very pleased to greet you in my house. I've heard much about you
from the Pirozhkovskys. Of course you know that they have a great
admiration and affection for you."

Prince Davidov looked at him piercingly but calmly, perhaps too
calmly. It seemed strange that he answered nothing to the remark about
the Pirozhkovskys--as if Trirodov's words passed by him like momentary
shadows, without so much as touching anything in his soul. On the
other hand, the Pirozhkovskys have always talked about Prince Davidov
as of an intimate acquaintance. "Yesterday we dined at the Prince's";
"The Prince is finishing a new poem"--by simply "the Prince" they gave
one to understand that their remark concerned their friend, Prince
Davidov. Trirodov recalled that the Prince had many acquaintances, and
that there were always large gatherings in his house.

"Permit me to offer you some refreshment," said Trirodov. "Will you
have wine?"

"I'd rather have tea, if you don't mind," said Prince Davidov.

Trirodov pressed the button of the electric bell. Prince Davidov
continued in his tranquil, too tranquil, voice:

"My fiancee lives in this town. I've come to see her, and have taken
advantage of this opportunity to have a chat with you. There are many
things I should like to discuss with you but I shall not have the
time. We must limit ourselves to the more important matters."

And he began to talk, and did not wait for answers or refutations. His
flaming speech poured itself out--about faith, miracles, about the
likely and inevitable transfiguration of the world by means of a
miracle, about our triumph over the fetters of time and over death
itself.

The quiet boy Grisha brought tea and cakes, and with measured
movements put them on the table, pausing now and then to look at the
visitor with his blue, quiet eyes.

Prince Davidov looked reproachfully at Trirodov. A repressed smile
trembled on Trirodov's lips and an obstinate challenge gleamed in his
eyes. The visitor affectionately drew Grisha to him and stroked him
gently. The quiet boy stood calmly there--and Trirodov was gloomy. He
said to his visitor: "You love children. I can understand that. They
are angelic beings, though unbearable sometimes. It is only a pity
that they die too often upon this accursed earth. They are born in
order to die."

Prince Davidov, with a tranquil movement, pushed Grisha away from him.
He put his hand on the boy's head as if in blessing, then suddenly
became grave and stern, and asked quietly:

"Why do you do this?"

He asked the question with a great exertion of the will, like one who
wished to exercise power. Trirodov smiled:

"You do not like it?" he asked. "Well, what of it--you with your
extensive connexions could easily hinder me."

The tone in which he uttered his words expressed proud irony. Thus
Satan would have spoken, tempting a famished one in the desert.

Prince Davidov frowned. His black eyes flared up. He asked again:

"Why have you done all this? The body of the malefactor and the soul
of an innocent--why should you have it all?"

Trirodov, looking angrily at his visitor, said resolutely:

"My design has been daring and difficult--but have I alone suffered
from despondency, suffered until I perspired with blood? Do I alone
bear within me a dual soul, and unite in me two worlds? Am I alone
worn out by nightmares as heavy as the burdens of the world? Have I
alone in a tragic moment felt myself lonely and forsaken?"

The visitor smiled a strange, sad, tranquil smile. Trirodov continued:

"You had better know that I will never be with you, that I will not
accept your comforting theories. All your literary and preaching
activity is a complete mistake. I don't believe anything of what you
say so eloquently, enticing the weak. I simply don't believe it."

The visitor was silent.

"Leave me alone!" said Trirodov decisively. "There is no miracle.
There was no resurrection. No one has conquered death. The
establishment of a single will over the inert, amorphous world is a
deed not yet accomplished."

Prince Davidov rose and said sorrowfully:

"I will leave you alone, if you wish it. But you will regret that you
have rejected the path I have shown you--the only path."

Trirodov said proudly:

"I know the true path--my path."

"Good-bye," said Prince Davidov simply and calmly.

He left--and in a little while it seemed that he had not been there.
Lost in painful reflections, Trirodov did not hear the noise of the
departing carriage; the unexpected call of the dark-faced, fascinating
visitor, with his flaming speech and his fiery eyes, stirred his
memory like a midday dream, like an abrupt hallucination.

"Who is his fiancee, and why is she here?" Trirodov asked himself.

A strange, impossible idea came into his head. Did not Elisaveta once
speak about him with rapture? Perhaps the unexpected visitor would
take Elisaveta away from him, as he had taken her from Piotr.

This misgiving tormented him. But Trirodov looked into the clearness
of her eyes on the portrait taken recently and at the grace and
loveliness of her body and suddenly consoled himself. He thought:

"She is mine."

* * * * *

But Elisaveta, musing and burning, was experiencing passionate dreams;
and she felt the tediousness of the grey monotony of her dull life.
The strange vision suddenly appearing to her in those terrible moments
in the wood repeated itself persistently--and it seemed to her that it
was not another but she herself who was experiencing a parallel life,
that she was passing the exultantly bright, joyous, and sad way of
Queen Ortruda.

THE END

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