Part 2 out of 6
"I am the daughter of the abbot of this place."
"Have priests children? Or are there special priests in your land?"
"Yes, the priests are different here."
"Now, I recall, Khorre told me something about the priest of this
"Who is Khorre?"
"My sailor. The one who buys gin in your settlement."
He suddenly laughs again and continues:
"Yes, he told me something. Was it your father who cursed the Pope
and declared his own church independent?"
"And he makes his own prayers? And goes to sea with the fishermen?
And punishes with his own hands those who disobey him?"
"Yes. I am his daughter. My name is Mariet. And what is your name?"
"I have many names. Which one shall I tell you?"
"The one by which you were christened."
"What makes you think that I was christened?"
"Then tell me the name by which your mother called you."
"What makes you think that I had a mother? I do not know my mother."
Mariet says softly:
"Neither do I know my mother."
Both are silent. They look at each other kindly.
"Is that so?" he says. "You, too, don't know your mother? Well,
then, call me Haggart."
"Yes. Do you like the name? I have invented it myself--Haggart.
It's a pity that you have been named already. I would have invented
a fine name for you."
Suddenly he frowned.
"Tell me, Mariet, why is your land so mournful? I walk along your
paths and only the cobblestones creak under my feet. And on both
sides are huge rocks."
"That is on the road to the castle--none of us ever go there. Is it
true that these stones stop the passersby with the question: 'Where
are you going?'"
"No, they are mute. Why is your land so mournful? It is almost a
week since I've seen my shadow. It is impossible! I don't see my
"Our land is very cheerful and full of joy. It is still winter now,
but soon spring will come, and sunshine will come back with it. You
shall see it, Haggart."
He speaks with contempt:
"And you are sitting and waiting calmly for its return? You must be
a fine set of people! Ah, if I only had a ship!"
"What would you have done?"
He looks at her morosely and shakes his head suspiciously.
"You are too inquisitive, little girl. Has any one sent you over
"No. What do you need a ship for?"
Haggart laughs good-naturedly and ironically:
"She asks what a man needs a ship for. You must be a fine set of
people. You don't know what a man needs a ship for! And you speak
seriously? If I had a ship I would have rushed toward the sun. And
it would not matter how it sets its golden sails, I would overtake it
with my black sails. And I would force it to outline my shadow on
the deck of my ship. And I would put my foot upon it this way!"
He stamps his foot firmly. Then Mariet asks, cautiously:
"Did you say with black sails?"
"That's what I said. Why do you always ask questions? I have no
ship, you know. Good-bye."
He puts on his hat, but does not move. Mariet maintains silence.
Then he says, very angrily:
"Perhaps you, too, like the music of your old Dan, that old fool?"
"You know his name?"
"Khorre told me it. I don't like his music, no, no. Bring me a
good, honest dog, or beast, and he will howl. You will say that he
knows no music--he does, but he can't bear falsehood. Here is music.
He takes Mariet by the hand and turns her roughly, her face toward
"Do you hear? This is music. Your Dan has robbed the sea and the
wind. No, he is worse than a thief, he is a deceiver! He should be
hanged on a sailyard--your Dan! Good-bye!"
He goes, but after taking two steps he turns around.
"I said good-bye to you. Go home. Let this fool play alone. Well, go."
Mariet is silent, motionless. Haggart laughs:
"Are you afraid perhaps that I have forgotten your name? I remember
it. Your name is Mariet. Go, Mariet."
She says softly:
"I have seen your ship."
Haggart advances to her quickly and bends down. His face is terrible.
"It is not true. When?"
"It is not true! Which way was it going?"
"Toward the sun."
"Last evening I was drunk and I slept. But this is not true. I
have never seen it. You are testing me. Beware!"
"Shall I tell you if I see it again?"
"How can you tell me?"
"I shall come up your hill."
Haggart looks at her attentively.
"If you are only telling me the truth. What sort of people are there
in your land--false or not? In the lands I know, all the people are
false. Has any one else seen that ship?"
"I don't know. I was alone on the shore. Now I see that it was not
your ship. You are not glad to hear of it."
Haggart is silent, as though he has forgotten her presence.
"You have a pretty uniform. You are silent? I shall come up to you."
Haggart is silent. His dark profile is stern and wildly gloomy;
every motion of his powerful body, every fold of his clothes, is full
of the dull silence of the taciturnity of long hours, or days, or
perhaps of a lifetime.
"Your sailor will not kill me? You are silent. I have a betrothed.
His name is Philipp, but I don't love him. You are now like that
rock which lies on the road leading to the castle."
Haggart turns around silently and starts.
"I also remember your name. Your name is Haggart."
He goes away.
"Haggart!" calls Mariet, but he has already disappeared behind the
house. Only the creaking of the scattered cobblestones is heard,
dying away in the misty air. Dan, who has taken a rest, is playing
again; he is telling God about those who have perished at sea.
The night is growing darker. Neither the rock nor the castle is
visible now; only the light in the window is redder and brighter.
The dull thuds of the tireless breakers are telling the story of
A strong wind is tossing the fragment of a sail which is hanging
over the large, open window. The sail is too small to cover the
entire window, and, through the gaping hole, the dark night is
breathing inclement weather. There is no rain, but the warm wind,
saturated with the sea, is heavy and damp.
Here in the tower live Haggart and his sailor, Khorre. Both are
sleeping now a heavy, drunken sleep. On the table and in the corners
of the room there are empty bottles, and the remains of food; the
only taburet is overturned, lying on one side. Toward evening the
sailor got up, lit a large illumination lamp, and was about to do
more, but he was overcome by intoxication again and fell asleep upon
his thin mattress of straw and seagrass. Tossed by the wind, the
flame of the illumination-lamp is quivering in yellow, restless spots
over the uneven, mutilated walls, losing itself in the dark opening
of the door, which leads to the other rooms of the castle.
Haggart lies on his back, and the same quivering yellow shades run
noiselessly over his strong forehead, approach his closed eyes, his
straight, sharply outlined nose, and, tossing about in confusion,
rush back to the wall. The breathing of the sleeping man is deep and
uneven; from time to time his heavy, strange hand lifts itself, makes
several weak, unfinished movements, and falls down on his breast
Outside the window the breakers are roaring and raging, beating
against the rocks--this is the second day a storm is raging in the
ocean. The ancient tower is quivering from the violent blows of the
waves. It responds to the storm with the rustling of the falling
plaster, with the rattling of the little cobblestones as they are
torn down, with the whisper and moans of the wind which has lost its
way in the passages. It whispers and mutters like an old woman.
The sailor begins to feel cold on the stone floor, on which the wind
spreads itself like water; he tosses about, folds his legs under
himself, draws his head into his shoulders, gropes for his imaginary
clothes, but is unable to wake up--his intoxication produced by a two
days' spree is heavy and severe. But now the wind whines more
powerfully than before; something heaves a deep groan. Perhaps a
part of a destroyed wall has sunk into the sea. The quivering yellow
spots commence to toss about upon the crooked wall more desperately,
and Khorre awakes.
He sits up on his mattress, looks around, but is unable to
The wind is hissing like a robber summoning other robbers, and filling
the night with disquieting phantoms. It seems as if the sea were full
of sinking vessels, of people who are drowning and desperately struggling
with death. Voices are heard. Somewhere near by people are shouting,
scolding each other, laughing and singing, like madmen, or talking
sensibly and rapidly--it seems that soon one will see a strange human
face distorted by horror or laughter, or fingers bent convulsively. But
there is a strong smell of the sea, and that, together with the cold,
brings Khorre to his senses.
"Noni!" he calls hoarsely, but Haggart does not hear him. After a
moment's thought, he calls once more:
"Captain. Noni! Get up."
But Haggart does not answer and the sailor mutters:
"Noni is drunk and he sleeps. Let him sleep. Oh, what a cold night
it is. There isn't enough warmth in it even to warm your nose. I am
cold. I feel cold and lonesome, Noni. I can't drink like that,
although everybody knows I am a drunkard. But it is one thing to
drink, and another to drown in gin--that's an entirely different
matter. Noni--you are like a drowned man, simply like a corpse. I
feel ashamed for your sake, Noni. I shall drink now and--"
He rises, and staggering, finds an unopened bottle and drinks.
"A fine wind. They call this a storm--do you hear, Noni? They call
this a storm. What will they call a real storm?"
He drinks again.
"A fine wind!"
He goes over to the window and, pushing aside the corner of the
sail, looks out.
"Not a single light on the sea, or in the village. They have hidden
themselves and are sleeping--they are waiting for the storm to pass.
B-r-r, how cold! I would have driven them all out to sea; it is mean
to go to sea only when the weather is calm. That is cheating the
sea. I am a pirate, that's true; my name is Khorre, and I should
have been hanged long ago on a yard, that's true, too--but I shall
never allow myself such meanness as to cheat the sea. Why did you
bring me to this hole, Noni?"
He picks up some brushwood, and throws it into the fireplace.
"I love you, Noni. I am now going to start a fire to warm your
feet. I used to be your nurse, Noni; but you have lost your reason--
that's true. I am a wise man, but I don't understand your conduct at
all. Why did you drop your ship? You will be hanged, Noni, you will
be hanged, and I will dangle by your side. You have lost your
reason, that's true!"
He starts a fire, then prepares food and drink.
"What will you say when you wake up? 'Fire.' And I will answer,
'Here it is.' Then you will say, 'Something to drink.' And I will
answer, 'Here it is.' And then you will drink your fill again, and I
will drink with you, and you will prate nonsense. How long is this
going to last? We have lived this way two months now, or perhaps two
years, or twenty years--I am drowning in gin--I don't understand your
conduct at all, Noni."
"Either I have lost my mind from this gin, or a ship is being
wrecked near by. How they are crying!"
He looks out of the window.
"No, no one is here. It is the wind. The wind feels weary, and it
plays all by itself. It has seen many shipwrecks, and now it is
inventing. The wind itself is crying; the wind itself is scolding
and sobbing; and the wind itself is laughing--the rogue! But if you
think that this rag with which I have covered the window is a sail,
and that this ruin of a castle is a three-masted brig, you are a
fool! We are not going anywhere! We are standing securely at our
moorings, do you hear?"
He pushes the sleeping man cautiously.
"Get up, Noni. I feel lonesome. If we must drink, let's drink
together--I feel lonesome. Noni!"
Haggart awakens, stretches himself and says, without opening his eyes:
"Here it is."
"Something to drink."
"Here it is! A fine wind, Noni. I looked out of the window, and the
sea splashed into my eyes. It is high tide now and the water-dust flies
up to the tower. I feel lonesome, Noni. I want to speak to you. Don't
"Soon the fire will burn better. I don't understand your actions.
Don't be angry, Noni, but I don't understand your actions! I am
afraid that you have lost your mind."
"Did you drink again?"
"Give me some."
He drinks from the mouth of the bottle lying on the floor, his eyes
wandering over the crooked mutilated walls, whose every projection
and crack is now lighted by the bright flame in the fireplace. He is
not quite sure yet whether he is awake, or whether it is all a dream.
With each strong gust of wind the flame is hurled from the fireplace,
and then the entire tower seems to dance--the last shadows melt and
rush off into the open door.
"Don't drink it all at once, Noni! Not all at once!" says the
sailor and gently takes the bottle away from him. Haggart seats
himself and clasps his head with both hands.
"I have a headache. What is that cry? Was there a shipwreck?"
"No, Noni. It is the wind playing roguishly."
"Give me the bottle."
He drinks a little more and sets the bottle on the table. Then he
paces the room, straightening his shoulders and his chest, and looks
out of the window. Khorre looks over his shoulder and whispers:
"Not a single light. It is dark and deserted. Those who had to die
have died already, and the cautious cowards are sitting on the solid
Haggart turns around and says, wiping his face:
"When I am intoxicated, I hear voices and singing. Does that happen
to you, too, Khorre? Who is that singing now?"
"The wind is singing, Noni--only the wind."
"No, but who else? It seems to me a human being is singing, a woman
is singing, and others are laughing and shouting something. Is that
all nothing but the wind?"
"Only the wind."
"Why does the wind deceive me?" says Haggart haughtily.
"It feels lonesome, Noni, just as I do, and it laughs at the human
beings. Have you heard the wind lying like this and mocking in the
open sea? There it tells the truth, but here--it frightens the
people on shore and mocks them. The wind does not like cowards. You
Haggart says morosely:
"I heard their organist playing not long ago in church. He lies."
"They are all liars."
"No!" exclaims Haggart angrily. "Not all. There are some who tell
the truth there, too. I shall cut your ears off if you will slander
honest people. Do you hear?"
They are silent; they listen to the wild music of the sea. The wind
has evidently grown mad. Having taken into its embrace a multitude
of instruments with which human beings produce their music--harps,
reed-pipes, priceless violins, heavy drums and brass trumpets--it
breaks them all, together with a wave, against the sharp rocks. It
dashes them and bursts into laughter--only thus does the wind
understand music--each time in the death of an instrument, each time
in the breaking of strings, in the snapping of the clanging brass.
Thus does the mad musician understand music. Haggart heaves a deep
sigh and with some amazement, like a man just awakened from sleep,
looks around on all sides. Then he commands shortly:
"Give me my pipe."
"Here it is."
Both commence to smoke.
"Don't be angry, Noni," says the sailor. "You have become so angry
that one can't come near you at all. May I chat with you?"
"There are some who do tell the truth there, too," says Haggart
sternly, emitting rings of smoke.
"How shall I say it you, Noni?" answers the sailor cautiously but
stubbornly. "There are no truthful people there. It has been so
ever since the deluge. At that time all the honest people went out
to sea, and only the cowards and liars remained upon the solid earth."
Haggart is silent for a minute; then he takes the pipe from his
mouth and laughs gaily.
"Have you invented it yourself?"
"I think so," says Khorre modestly.
"Clever! And it was worth teaching you sacred history for that!
Were you taught by a priest?"
"Yes. In prison. At that time I was as innocent as a dove. That's
also from sacred scriptures, Noni. That's what they always say there."
"He was a fool! It was not necessary to teach you, but to hang
you," says Haggart, adding morosely: "Don't talk nonsense, sailor.
Hand me a bottle."
They drink. Khorre stamps his foot against the stone floor and asks:
"Do you like this motionless floor?"
"I should have liked to have the deck of a ship dancing under my
"Noni!" exclaims the sailor enthusiastically. "Noni! Now I hear
real words! Let us go away from here. I cannot live like this. I
am drowning in gin. I don't understand your actions at all, Noni!
You have lost your mind. Reveal yourself to me, my boy. I was your
nurse. I nursed you, Noni, when your father brought you on board
ship. I remember how the city was burning then and we were putting
out to sea, and I didn't know what to do with you; you whined like a
little pig in the cook's room. I even wanted to throw you overboard--
you annoyed me so much. Ah, Noni, it is all so touching that I can't
bear to recall it. I must have a drink. Take a drink, too, my boy,
but not all at once, not all at once!"
They drink. Haggart paces the room heavily and slowly, like a man
who is imprisoned in a dungeon but does not want to escape.
"I feel sad," he says, without looking at Khorre. Khorre, as though
understanding, shakes his head in assent.
"Sad? I understand. Since then?"
"Ever since then."
"Ever since we drowned those people? They cried so loudly."
"I did not hear their cry. But this I heard--something snapped in
my heart, Khorre. Always sadness, everywhere sadness! Let me drink!"
"He who cried--am I perhaps afraid of him, Khorre? That would be
fine! Tears were trickling from his eyes; he wept like one who is
unfortunate. Why did he do that? Perhaps he came from a land where
the people had never heard of death--what do you think, sailor?"
"I don't remember him, Noni. You speak so much about him, while I
don't remember him."
"He was a fool," says Haggart. "He spoilt his death for himself,
and spoilt me my life. I curse him, Khorre. May he be cursed. But
that doesn't matter, Khorre--no!"
"They have good gin on this coast," says Khorre. "He'll pass
easily, Noni. If you have cursed him there will be no delay; he'll
slip into hell like an oyster."
Haggart shakes his head:
"No, Khorre, no! I am sad. Ah, sailor, why have I stopped here,
where I hear the sea? I should go away, far away on land, where the
people don't know the sea at all, where the people have never heard
about the sea--a thousand miles away, five thousand miles away!"
"There is no such land."
"There is, Khorre. Let us drink and laugh, Khorre. That organist
lies. Sing something for me, Khorre--you sing well. In your hoarse
voice I hear the creaking of ropes. Your refrain is like a sail that
is torn by the storm. Sing, sailor!"
Khorre nods his head gloomily.
"No, I will not sing."
"Then I shall force you to pray as they prayed!"
"You will not force me to pray, either. You are the Captain, and
you may kill me, and here is your revolver. It is loaded, Noni. And
now I am going to speak the truth, Captain! Khorre, the boatswain,
speaks to you in the name of the entire crew."
"Drop this performance, Khorre. There is no crew here. You'd
better drink something."
"But the crew is waiting for you, you know it. Captain, is it your
intention to return to the ship and assume command again?"
"Captain, is it perhaps your intention to go to the people on the
coast and live with them?"
"I can't understand your actions, Noni. What do you intend to do,
Haggart drinks silently.
"Not all at once, Noni, not at once. Captain, do you intend to stay
in this hole and wait until the police dogs come from the city? Then
they will hang us, and not upon a mast, but simply on one of their
"Yes. The wind is getting stronger. Do you hear, Khorre? The wind
is getting stronger!"
"And the gold which we have buried here?" He points below, with his
"The gold? Take it and go with it wherever you like."
The sailor says angrily:
"You are a bad man, Noni. You have only set foot on earth a little
while ago, and you already have the thoughts of a traitor. That's
what the earth is doing!"
"Be silent, Khorre. I am listening. Our sailors are singing. Do
you hear? No, that's the wine rushing to my head. I'll be drunk
soon. Give me another bottle."
"Perhaps you will go to the priest? He would absolve your sins."
"Silence!" roars Haggart, clutching at his revolver.
Silence. The storm is increasing. Haggart paces the room in
agitation, striking against the walls. He mutters something
abruptly. Suddenly he seizes the sail and tears it down furiously,
admitting the salty wind. The illumination lamp is extinguished and
the flame in the fireplace tosses about wildly--like Haggart.
"Why did you lock out the wind? It's better now. Come here."
"You were the terror of the seas!" says the sailor.
"Yes, I was the terror of the seas."
"You were the terror of the coasts! Your famous name resounded like
the surf over all the coasts, wherever people live. They saw you in
their dreams. When they thought of the ocean, they thought of you.
When they heard the storm, they heard you, Noni!"
"I burnt their cities. The deck of my ship is shaking under my
feet, Khorre. The deck is shaking under me!"
He laughs wildly, as if losing his senses.
"You sank their ships. You sent to the bottom the Englishman who
was chasing you."
"He had ten guns more than I."
"And you burnt and drowned him. Do you remember, Noni, how the wind
laughed then? The night was as black as this night, but you made day
of it, Noni. We were rocked by a sea of fire."
Haggart stands pale-faced, his eyes closed. Suddenly he shouts
"Yes," Khorre jumps up.
"Whistle for everybody to go up on deck."
The boatswain's shrill whistle pierces sharply into the open body of
the storm. Everything comes to life, and it looks as though they
were upon the deck of a ship. The waves are crying with human
voices. In semi-oblivion, Haggart is commanding passionately and
"To the shrouds!--The studding sails! Be ready, forepart! Aim at
the ropes; I don't want to sink them all at once. Starboard the
helm, sail by the wind. Be ready now. Ah, fire! Ah, you are
already burning! Board it now! Get the hooks ready."
And Khorre tosses about violently, performing the mad instructions.
"Be braver, boys. Don't be afraid of tears! Eh, who is crying
there? Don't dare cry when you are dying. I'll dry your mean eyes
upon the fire. Fire! Fire everywhere! Khorre--sailor! I am dying.
They have poured molten tar into my chest. Oh, how it burns!"
"Don't give way, Noni. Don't give way. Recall your father. Strike
them on the head, Noni!"
"I can't, Khorre. My strength is failing. Where is my power?"
"Strike them on the head, Noni. Strike them on the head!"
"Take a knife, Khorre, and cut out my heart. There is no ship,
Khorre--there is nothing. Cut out my heart, comrade--throw out the
traitor from my breast."
"I want to play some more, Noni. Strike them on the head!"
"There is no ship, Khorre, there is nothing--it is all a lie. I
want to drink."
He takes a bottle and laughs:
"Look, sailor--here the wind and the storm and you and I are locked.
It is all a deception, Khorre!"
"I want to play."
"Here my sorrow is locked. Look! In the green glass it seems like
water, but it isn't water. Let us drink, Khorre--there on the bottom
I see my laughter and your song. There is no ship--there is nothing!
Who is coming?"
He seizes his revolver. The fire in the fire-place is burning
faintly; the shadows are tossing about--but two of these shadows are
darker than the others and they are walking. Khorre shouts:
A man's voice, heavy and deep, answers:
"Hush! Put down your weapons. I am the abbot of this place."
"Fire, Noni, fire! They have come for you."
"I have come to help you. Put down your knife, fool, or I will
break every bone in your body without a knife. Coward, are you
frightened by a woman and a priest?"
Haggart puts down his revolver and says ironically:
"A woman and a priest! Is there anything still more terrible?
Pardon my sailor, Mr. abbot, he is drunk, and when he is drunk he is
very reckless and he may kill you. Khorre, don't turn your knife."
"He has come after you, Noni."
"I have come to warn you; the tower may fall. Go away from here!"
says the abbot.
"Why are you hiding yourself, girl? I remember your name; your name
is Mariet," says Haggart.
"I am not hiding. I also remember your name--it is Haggart,"
"Was it you who brought him here?"
"I have told you that they are all traitors, Noni," says Khorre.
"It is very cold here. I will throw some wood into the fireplace.
May I do it?" asks Mariet.
"Do it," answers Haggart.
"The tower will fall down before long," says the abbot. "Part of the
wall has caved in already; it is all hollow underneath. Do you hear?"
He stamps his foot on the stone floor.
"Where will the tower fall?"
"Into the sea, I suppose! The castle is splitting the rocks."
"Do you hear, Khorre? This place is not as motionless as it seemed
to you--while it cannot move, it can fall. How many people have you
brought along with you, priest, and where have you hidden them?"
"Only two of us came, my father and I," says Mariet.
"You are rude to a priest. I don't like that," says the abbot.
"You have come here uninvited. I don't like that either," says Haggart.
"Why did you lead me here, Mariet? Come," says the abbot.
Haggart speaks ironically:
"And you leave us here to die? That is unChristian, Christian."
"Although I am a priest, I am a poor Christian, and the Lord knows
it," says the abbot angrily. "I have no desire to save such a rude
scamp. Let us go, Mariet."
"Captain?" asks Khorre.
"Be silent, Khorre," says Haggart. "So that's the way you speak,
abbot; so you are not a liar?"
"Come with me and you shall see."
"Where shall I go with you?"
"To my house."
"To your house? Do you hear, Khorre? To the priest! But do you
know whom you are calling to your house?"
"No, I don't know. But I see that you are young and strong. I see
that although your face is gloomy, it is handsome, and I think that
you could be as good a workman as others."
"A workman? Khorre, do you hear what the priest says?"
Both laugh. The abbot says angrily:
"You are both drunk."
"Yes, a little! But if I were sober I would have laughed still
more," answers Haggart.
"Don't laugh, Haggart," says Mariet.
Haggart replies angrily:
"I don't like the tongues of false priests, Mariet--they are coated
with truth on top, like a lure for flies. Take him away, and you,
girl, go away, too! I have forgotten your name!"
He sits down and stares ahead sternly. His eyebrows move close
together, and his hand is pressed down heavily by his lowered head,
by his strong chin.
"He does not know you, father! Tell him about yourself. You speak
so well. If you wish it, he will believe you, father. Haggart!"
Haggart maintains silence.
Silence. Khorre whispers mysteriously:
"He feels sad. Girl, tell the priest that he feels sad."
"Khorre," begins Mariet. Haggart looks around quickly.
"What about Khorre? Why don't you like him, Mariet? We are so much
like each other."
"He is like you?" says the woman with contempt. "No, Haggart! But
here is what he did: He gave gin to little Noni again to-day. He
moistened his finger and gave it to him. He will kill him, father."
"Is that so bad? He did the same to me."
"And he dipped him in cold water. The boy is very weak," says
"I don't like to hear you speak of weakness. Our boy must be
strong. Khorre! Three days without gin."
He shows him three fingers.
"Who should be without gin? The boy or I?" asks Khorre gloomily.
"You!" replies Haggart furiously. "Begone!"
The sailor sullenly gathers his belongings--the pouch, the pipe, and
the flask--and wabbling, goes off. But he does not go far--he sits
down upon a neighbouring rock. Haggart and his wife look at him.
The work is ended. Having lost its gloss, the last neglected fish
lies on the ground; even the children are too lazy to pick it up; and
an indifferent, satiated foot treads it into the mud. A quiet,
fatigued conversation goes on, mingled with gay and peaceful laughter.
"What kind of a prayer is our abbot going to say to-day? It is
already time for him to come."
"And do you think it is so easy to compose a good prayer? He is
"Selly's basket broke and the fish were falling out. We laughed so
much! It seems so funny to me even now!"
Laughter. Two fishermen look at the sail in the distance.
"All my life I have seen large ships sailing past us. Where are
they going? They disappear beyond the horizon, and I go off to
sleep; and I sleep, while they are forever going, going. Where are
they going? Do you know?"
"I should like to go with them. When they speak of America my heart
begins to ring. Did you say America on purpose, or is that the truth?"
Several old women are whispering:
"Wild Gart is angry again at his sailor. Have you noticed it?"
"The sailor is displeased. Look, how wan his face is."
"Yes, he looks like the evil one when he is compelled to listen to a
psalm. But I don't like Wild Gart, either. No. Where did he come
They resume their whispers. Haggart complains softly:
"Why have you the same name, Mariet, for everybody? It should not
be so in a truthful land."
Mariet speaks with restrained force, pressing both hands to her
"I love you so dearly, Gart; when you go out to sea, I set my teeth
together and do not open them until you come back. When you are
away, I eat nothing and drink nothing; when you are away, I am
silent, and the women laugh: 'Mute Mariet!' But I would be insane
if I spoke when I am alone."
HAGGART--Here you are again compelling me to smile. You must not,
Mariet--I am forever smiling.
MARIET--I love you so dearly, Gart. Every hour of the day and the
night I am thinking only of what I could still give to you, Gart.
Have I not given you everything? But that is so little--everything!
There is but one thing I want to do--to keep on giving to you,
giving! When the sun sets, I present you the sunset; when the sun
rises, I present you the sunrise--take it, Gart! And are not all the
storms yours? Ah, Haggart, how I love you!
HAGGART--I am going to toss little Noni so high to-day that I will
toss him up to the clouds. Do you want me to do it? Let us laugh,
dear little sister Mariet. You are exactly like myself. When you
stand that way, it seems to me that I am standing there--I have to
rub my eyes. Let us laugh! Some day I may suddenly mix things up
--I may wake up and say to you: "Good morning, Haggart!"
MARIET--Good morning, Mariet.
HAGGART--I will call you Haggart. Isn't that a good idea?
MARIET--And I will call you Mariet.
HAGGART--Yes--no. You had better call me Haggart, too.
"You don't want me to call you Mariet?" asks Mariet sadly.
The abbot and old Dan appear. The abbot says in a loud, deep voice:
"Here I am. Here I am bringing you a prayer, children. I have just
composed it; it has even made me feel hot. Dan, why doesn't the boy
ring the bell? Oh, yes, he is ringing. The fool--he isn't swinging
the right rope, but that doesn't matter; that's good enough, too.
Isn't it, Mariet?"
Two thin but merry bells are ringing.
Mariet is silent and Haggart answers for her:
"That's good enough. But what are the bells saying, abbot?"
The fishermen who have gathered about them are already prepared to
laugh--the same undying jest is always repeated.
"Will you tell no one about it?" says the abbot, in a deep voice,
slily winking his eye. "Pope's a rogue! Pope's a rogue!"
The fishermen laugh merrily.
"This man," roars the abbot, pointing at Haggart, "is my favourite
man! He has given me a grandson, and I wrote the Pope about it in
Latin. But that wasn't so hard; isn't that true, Mariet? But he
knows how to look at the water. He foretells a storm as if he
himself caused it. Gart, do you produce the storm yourself? Where
does the wind come from? You are the wind yourself."
All laugh approval. An old fisherman says:
"That's true, father. Ever since he has been here, we have never
been caught in a storm."
"Of course it is true, if I say it. 'Pope's a rogue! Pope's a
Old Dan walks over to Khorre and says something to him. Khorre nods
his head negatively. The abbot, singing "Pope's a rogue," goes
around the crowd, throws out brief remarks, and claps some people on
the shoulder in a friendly manner.
"Hello, Katerina, you are getting stout. Oho! Are you all ready?
And Thomas is missing again--this is the second time he has stayed
away from prayer. Anna, you are rather sad--that isn't good. One
must live merrily, one must live merrily! I think that it is jolly
even in hell, but in a different way. It is two years since you have
stopped growing, Philipp. That isn't good."
Philipp answers gruffly:
"Grass also stops growing if a stone falls upon it."
"What is still worse than that--worms begin to breed under the rock."
Mariet says softly, sadly and entreatingly:
"Don't you want me to call you Mariet?"
Haggart answers obstinately and sternly:
"I don't. If my name will be Mariet, I shall never kill that man.
He disturbs my life. Make me a present of his life, Mariet. He
"How can I present you that which is not mine? His life belongs to
God and to himself."
"That is not true. He kissed you; do I not see the burns upon your
lips? Let me kill him, and you will feel as joyful and care-free as
a seagull. Say 'yes,' Mariet."
"No; you shouldn't do it, Gart. It will be painful to you."
Haggart looks at her and speaks with deep irony.
"Is that it? Well, then, it is not true that you give me anything.
You don't know how to give, woman."
"I am your wife."
"No! A man has no wife when another man, and not his wife, grinds
his knife. My knife is dull, Mariet!"
Mariet looks at him with horror and sorrow.
"What did you say, Haggart? Wake up; it is a terrible dream,
Haggart! It is I--look at me. Open your eyes wider, wider, until
you see me well. Do you see me, Gart?"
Haggart slowly rubs his brow.
"I don't know. It is true I love you, Mariet. But how incomprehensible
your land is--in your land a man sees dreams even when he is not asleep.
Perhaps I am smiling already. Look, Mariet."
The abbot stops in front of Khorre.
"Ah, old friend, how do you do? You are smiling already. Look, Mariet."
"I don't want to work," ejaculates the sailor sternly.
"You want your own way? This man," roars the abbot, pointing at
Khorre, "thinks that he is an atheist. But he is simply a fool; he
does not understand that he is also praying to God--but he is doing
it the wrong way, like a crab. Even a fish prays to God, my children;
I have seen it myself. When you will be in hell, old man,give my
regards to the Pope. Well, children, come closer, and don't gnash
your teeth. I am going to start at once. Eh, you, Mathias--you
needn't put out the fire in your pipe; isn't it the same to God what
smoke it is, incense or tobacco, if it is only well meant. Why do
you shake your head, woman?"
WOMAN--His tobacco is contraband.
YOUNG FISHERMAN--God wouldn't bother with such trifles. The abbot
thinks a while:
"No; hold on. I think contraband tobacco is not quite so good.
That's an inferior grade. Look here; you better drop your pipe
meanwhile, Mathias; I'll think the matter over later. Now, silence,
perfect silence. Let God take a look at us first."
All stand silent and serious. Only a few have lowered their heads.
Most of the people are looking ahead with wide-open, motionless eyes,
as though they really saw God in the blue of the sky, in the
boundless, radiant, distant surface of the sea. The sea is
approaching with a caressing murmur; high tide has set in.
"My God and the God of all these people! Don't judge us for
praying, not in Latin but in our own language, which our mothers have
taught us. Our God! Save us from all kinds of terrors, from unknown
sea monsters; protect us against storms and hurricanes, against
tempests and gales. Give us calm weather and a kind wind, a clear
sun and peaceful waves. And another thing, O Lord! we ask You; don't
allow the devil, to come close to our bedside when we are asleep. In
our sleep we are defenceless, O Lord! and the devil terrifies us,
tortures us to convulsions, torments us to the very blood of our
heart. And there is another thing, O Lord! Old Rikke, whom You know,
is beginning to extinguish Your light in his eyes and he can make
nets no longer--"
Rikke frequently shakes his head in assent.
"I can't, I can't!"
"Prolong, then, O Lord! Your bright day and bid the night wait. Am
I right, Rikke?"
"And here is still another, the last request, O Lord. I shall not
ask any more: The tears do not dry up in the eyes of our old women
crying for those who have perished. Take their memory away, O Lord,
and give them strong forgetfulness. There are still other trifles, O
Lord, but let the others pray whose turn has come before You. Amen."
Silence. Old Dan tugs the abbot by the sleeve, and whispers
something in his ear.
ABBOT--Dan is asking me to pray for those who perished at sea.
The women exclaim in plaintive chorus:
"For those who perished at sea! For those who died at sea!"
Some of them kneel. The abbot looks tenderly at their bowed heads,
exhausted with waiting and fear, and says:
"No priest should pray for those who died at sea--these women should
pray. Make it so, O Lord, that they should not weep so much!"
Silence. The incoming tide roars more loudly--the ocean is carrying
to the earth its noise, its secrets, its bitter, briny taste of
Soft voices say:
"The sea is coming."
"High tide has started."
"The sea is coming."
Mariet kisses her father's hand.
"Woman!" says the priest tenderly. "Listen, Gart, isn't it strange
that this--a woman"--he strokes his daughter tenderly with his finger
on her pure forehead--"should be born of me, a man?"
"And is it not strange that this should have become a wife to me, a
man?" He embraces Mariet, bending her frail shoulders.
"Let us go to eat, Gart, my son. Whoever she may be, I know one
thing well. She has prepared for you and me an excellent dinner."
The people disperse quickly. Mariet says confusedly and cheerfully:
"I'll run first."
"Run, run," answers the abbot. "Gart, my son, call the atheist to
dinner. I'll hit him with a spoon on the forehead; an atheist
understands a sermon best of all if you hit him with a spoon."
He waits and mutters:
"The boy has commenced to ring the bells again. He does it for
himself, the rogue. If we did not lock the steeple, they would pray
there from morning until night."
Haggart goes over to Khorre, near whom Dan is sitting.
"Khorre! Let us go to eat--the priest called you."
"I don't want to go, Noni."
"So? What are you going to do here on shore?"
"I will think, Noni, think. I have so much to think to be able to
understand at least something."
Haggart turns around silently. The abbot calls from the distance:
"He is not coming? Well, then, let him stay there. And Dan--never
call Dan, my son"--says the priest in his deep whisper, "he eats at
night like a rat. Mariet purposely puts something away for him in
the closet for the night; when she looks for it in the morning, it
is gone. Just think of it, no one ever hears when he takes it.
Does he fly?"
Both go off. Only the two old men, seated in a friendly manner on
two neighbouring rocks, remain on the deserted shore. And the old
men resemble each other so closely, and whatever they may say to each
other, the whiteness of their hair, the deep lines of their wrinkles,
make them kin.
The tide is coming.
"They have all gone away," mutters Khorre. "Thus will they cook hot
soup on the wrecks of our ship, too. Eh, Dan! Do you know he
ordered me to drink no gin for three days. Let the old dog croak!
Isn't that so, Noni?"
"Of those who died at sea... Those who died at sea," mutters Dan.
"A son taken from his father, a son from his father. The father
said go, and the son perished in the sea. Oi, oi, oi!"
"What are you prating there, old man? I say, he ordered me to drink
no gin. Soon he will order, like that King of yours, that the sea be
lashed with chains."
"Oho! With chains."
"Your king was a fool. Was he married, your king?"
"The sea is coming, coming!" mutters Dan. "It brings along its
noise, its secret, its deception. Oh, how the sea deceives man.
Those who died at sea--yes, yes, yes. Those who died at sea."
"Yes, the sea is coming. And you don't like it?" asks Khorre,
rejoicing maliciously. "Well, don't you like it? I don't like
your music. Do you hear, Dan? I hate your music!"
"Oho! And why do you come to hear it? I know that you and Gart
stood by the wall and listened."
Khorre says sternly:
"It was he who got me out of bed."
"He will get you out of bed again."
"No!" roars Khorre furiously. "I will get up myself at night. Do
you hear, Dan? I will get up at night and break your music."
"And I will spit into your sea."
"Try," says the sailor distrustfully. "How will you spit?"
"This way," and Dan, exasperated, spits in the direction of the sea.
The frightened Khorre, in confusion, says hoarsely:
"Oh, what sort of man are you? You spat! Eh, Dan, look out; it
will be bad for you--you yourself are talking about those who died
Dan shouts, frightened:
"Who speaks of those that perished at sea? You, you dog!"
He goes away, grumbling and coughing, swinging his hand and stooping.
Khorre is left alone before the entire vastness of the sea and the sky.
"He is gone. Then I am going to look at you, O sea, until my eyes
will burst of thirst!"
The ocean, approaching, is roaring.
At the very edge of the water, upon a narrow landing on the rocky
shore, stands a man--a small, dark, motionless dot. Behind him is
the cold, almost vertical slope of granite, and before his eyes the
ocean is rocking heavily and dully in the impenetrable darkness. Its
mighty approach is felt in the open voice of the waves which are
rising from the depths. Even sniffing sounds are heard--it is as
though a drove of monsters, playing, were splashing, snorting, lying
down on their backs, and panting contentedly, deriving their
The ocean smells of the strong odour of the depths, of decaying
seaweeds, of its grass. The sea is calm to-day and, as always, alone.
And there is but one little light in the black space of water and
night--the distant lighthouse of the Holy Cross.
The rattle of cobblestones is heard from under a cautious step:
Haggart is coming down to the sea along a steep path. He pauses,
silent with restraint, breathing deeply after the strain of passing
the dangerous slope, and goes forward. He is now at the edge--he
straightens himself and looks for a long time at him who had long
before taken his strange but customary place at the very edge of the
deep. He makes a few steps forward and greets him irresolutely and
gently--Haggart greets him even timidly:
"Good evening, stranger. Have you been here long?"
A sad, soft, and grave voice answers:
"Good evening, Haggart. Yes, I have been here long."
"You are watching?"
"I am watching and listening."
"Will you allow me to stand near you and look in the same direction
you are looking? I am afraid that I am disturbing you by my uninvited
presence--for when I came you were already here--but I am so fond
of this spot. This place is isolated, and the sea is near, and the
earth behind is silent; and here my eyes open. Like a night-owl, I
see better in the dark; the light of day dazzles me. You know, I
have grown up on the sea, sir."
"No, you are not disturbing me, Haggart. But am I not disturbing
you? Then I shall go away."
"You are so polite, sir," mutters Haggart.
"But I also love this spot," continues the sad, grave voice. "I,
too, like to feel that the cold and peaceful granite is behind me.
You have grown up on the sea, Haggart--tell me, what is that faint
light on the right?"
"That is the lighthouse of the Holy Cross."
"Aha! The lighthouse of the Holy Cross. I didn't know that. But
can such a faint light help in time of a storm? I look and it always
seems to me that the light is going out. I suppose it isn't so."
Haggart, agitated but restrained, says:
"You frighten me, sir. Why do you ask me what you know better than
I do? You want to tempt me--you know everything."
There is not a trace of a smile in the mournful voice--nothing but
"No, I know little. I know even less than you do, for I know more.
Pardon my rather complicated phrase, Haggart, but the tongue responds
with so much difficulty not only to our feeling, but also to our
"You are polite," mutters Haggart agitated. "You are polite and
always calm. You are always sad and you have a thin hand with rings
upon it, and you speak like a very important personage. Who are you,
"I am he whom you called--the one who is always sad."
"When I come, you are already here; when I go away, you remain. Why
do you never want to go with me, sir?"
"There is one way for you, Haggart, and another for me."
"I see you only at night. I know all the people around this
settlement, and there is no one who looks like you. Sometimes I
think that you are the owner of that old castle where I lived. If
that is so I must tell you the castle was destroyed by the storm."
"I don't know of whom you speak."
"I don't understand how you know my name, Haggart. But I don't want
to deceive you. Although my wife Mariet calls me so, I invented that
name myself. I have another name--my real name--of which no one has
ever heard here."
"I know your other name also, Haggart. I know your third name, too,
which even you do not know. But it is hardly worth speaking of this.
You had better look into this dark sea and tell me about your life.
Is it true that it is so joyous? They say that you are forever
smiling. They say that you are the bravest and most handsome
fisherman on the coast. And they also say that you love your wife
Mariet very dearly."
"O sir!" exclaims Haggart with restraint, "my life is so sad that
you could not find an image like it in this dark deep. O sir! my
sufferings are so deep that you could not find a more terrible place
in this dark abyss."
"What is the cause of your sorrow and your sufferings, Haggart?"
"Life, sir. Here your noble and sad eyes look in the same direction
my eyes look--into this terrible, dark distance. Tell me, then, what
is stirring there? What is resting and waiting there, what is silent
there, what is screaming and singing and complaining there in its own
voices? What are the voices that agitate me and fill my soul with
phantoms of sorrow, and yet say nothing? And whence comes this
night? And whence comes my sorrow? Are you sighing, sir, or is it
the sigh of the ocean blending with your voice? My hearing is
beginning to fail me, my master, my dear master."
The sad voice replies:
"It is my sigh, Haggart. My great sorrow is responding to your
sorrow. You see at night like an owl, Haggart; then look at my thin
hands and at my rings. Are they not pale? And look at my face--is
it not pale? Is it not pale--is it not pale? Oh, Haggart, my dear
They grieve silently. The heavy ocean is splashing, tossing about,
spitting and snorting and sniffing peacefully. The sea is calm
to-night and alone, as always.
"Tell Haggart--" says the sad voice.
"Very well. I will tell Haggart."
"Tell Haggart that I love him."
Silence--and then a faint, plaintive reproach resounds softly:
"If your voice were not so grave, sir, I would have thought that you
were laughing at me. Am I not Haggart that I should tell something
to Haggart? But no--I sense a different meaning in your words, and
you frighten me again. And when Haggart is afraid, it is real
terror. Very well, I will tell Haggart everything you have said."
"Adjust my cloak; my shoulder is cold. But it always seems to me
that the light over there is going out. You called it the lighthouse
of the Holy Cross, if I am not mistaken?"
"Yes, it is called so here."
"Aha! It is called so here."
"Must I go now?" asks Haggart.
"And you will remain here?"
"I will remain here."
Haggart retreats several steps.
Again the cobblestones rattle under his cautious steps; without
looking back, Haggart climbs the steep rocks.
Of what great sorrow speaks this night?
"Your hands are in blood, Haggart. Whom have you killed, Haggart?"
"Silence, Khorre, I killed that man. Be silent and listen--he will
commence to play soon. I stood here and listened, but suddenly my
heart sank, and I cannot stay here alone."
"Don't confuse my mind, Noni; don't tempt me. I will run away from
here. At night, when I am already fast asleep, you swoop down on me
like a demon, grab me by the neck, and drag me over here--I can't
understand anything. Tell me, my boy, is it necessary to hide the
"Why didn't you throw it into the sea?"
"Silence! What are you prating about? I have nothing to throw into
"But your hands are in blood."
"Silence, Khorre! He will commence soon. Be silent and listen--I
say to you--Are you a friend to me or not, Khorre?"
He drags him closer to the dark window of the church. Khorre mutters:
"How dark it is. If you raised me out of bed for this accursed music--"
"Yes, yes; for this accursed music."
"Then you have disturbed my honest sleep in vain; I want no music, Noni."
"So! Was I perhaps to run through the street, knock at the windows
and shout: 'Eh, who is there; where's a living soul? Come and help
Haggart, stand up with him against the cannons.'"
"You are confusing things, Noni. Drink some gin, my boy. What cannons?"
He drags him away from the window.
"Oh, you shake me like a squall!"
"Silence! I think he looked at us from the window; something white
flashed behind the window pane. You may laugh. Khorre--if he came
out now I would scream like a woman."
He laughs softly.
"Are you speaking of Dan? I don't understand anything, Noni."
"But is that Dan? Of course it is not Dan--it is some one else.
Give me your hand, sailor."
"I think that you simply drank too much, like that time--remember,
in the castle? And your hand is quivering. But then the game was
Khorre lowers his voice:
"But your hand is really in blood. Oh, you are breaking my fingers!"
"If you don't keep still, dog, I'll break every bone of your body!
I'll pull every vein out of your body, if you don't keep still, you
Silence. The distant breakers are softly groaning, as if complaining--
the sea has gone far away from the black earth. And the night is silent.
It came no one knows whence and spread over the earth; it spread over the
earth and is silent; it is silent, waiting for something. And ferocious
mists have swung themselves to meet it--the sea breathed phantoms, driving
to the earth a herd of headless submissive giants. A heavy fog is coming.
"Why doesn't he light a lamp?" asks Khorre sternly but submissively.
"He needs no light."
"Perhaps there is no one there any longer."
"Yes, he's there."
"A fog is coming. How quiet it is! There's something wrong in the
air--what do you think, Noni?"
The first soft sounds of the organ resound. Some one is sitting
alone in the dark and is speaking to God in an incomprehensible
language about the most important things. And however faint the
sounds--suddenly the silence vanishes, the night trembles and stares
into the dark church with all its myriads of phantom eyes. An
agitated voice whispers:
"Listen! He always begins that way. He gets a hold of your soul at
once! Where does he get the power? He gets a hold of your heart!"
"I don't like it."
"Listen! Now he makes believe he is Haggart, Khorre! Little
Haggart in his mother's lap. Look, all hands are filled with golden
rays; little Haggart is playing with golden rays. Look!"
"I don't see it, Noni. Leave my hand alone, it hurts."
"Now he makes believe he is Haggart! Listen!"
The oppressive chords resound faintly. Haggart moans softly.
"What is it, Noni? Do you feel any pain?"
"Yes. Do you understand of what he speaks?"
"He speaks of the most important--of the most vital, Khorre--if we
could only understand it--I want to understand it. Listen, Khorre,
listen! Why does he make believe that he is Haggart? It is not my
soul. My soul does not know this."
"I don't know. What terrible dreams there are in this land!
Listen. There! Now he will cry and he will say: 'It is Haggart
crying.' He will call God and will say: 'Haggart is calling.' He
lies--Haggart did not call, Haggart does not know God."
He moans again, trying to restrain himself.
"Do you feel any pain?"
Haggart exclaims in a muffled voice:
"What is it, Noni?"
"Why don't you tell him that it isn't Haggart? It is a lie!"
whispers Haggart rapidly. "He thinks that he knows, but he does not
know anything. He is a small, wretched old man with red eyes, like
those of a rabbit, and to-morrow death will mow him down. Ha! He is
dealing in diamonds, he throws them from one hand to the other like
an old miser, and he himself is dying of hunger. It is a fraud,
Khorre, a fraud. Let us shout loudly, Khorre, we are alone here."
He shouts, turning to the thundering organ:
"Eh, musician! Even a fly cannot rise on your wings, even the
smallest fly cannot rise on your wings. Eh, musician! Let me have
your torn hat and I will throw a penny into it; your lie is worth no
more. What are you prating there about God, you rabbit's eyes? Be
silent, I am shamed to listen to you. I swear, I am ashamed to
listen to you! Don't you believe me? You are still calling?
"Strike them on the head, Noni."
"Be silent, you dog! But what a terrible land! What are they doing
here with the human heart? What terrible dreams there are in this
He stops speaking. The organ sings solemnly.
"Why did you stop speaking, Noni?" asks the sailor with alarm.
"I am listening. It is good music, Khorre. Have I said anything?"
"You even shouted, Noni, and you forced me to shout with you."
"That is not true. I have been silent all the time. Do you know, I
haven't even opened my mouth once! You must have been dreaming,
Khorre. Perhaps you are thinking that you are near the church? You
are simply sleeping in your bed, sailor. It is a dream."
Khorre is terrified.
"Drink some gin, Noni."
"I don't need it. I drank something else already."
"Be silent, Khorre. Don't you see that everything is silent and is
listening, and you alone are talking? The musician may feel offended!"
He laughs quietly. Brass trumpets are roaring harmoniously about
the triumphant conciliation between man and God. The fog is growing
A loud stamping of feet--some one runs through the deserted street
"Noni!" whispers the sailor. "Who ran by?"
"Noni! Another one is running. Something is wrong."
Frightened people are running about in the middle of the night--the
echo of the night doubles the sound of their footsteps, increasing their
terror tenfold, and it seems as if the entire village, terror-stricken,
is running away somewhere. Rocking, dancing silently, as upon waves,
a lantern floats by.
"They have found him, Khorre. They have found the man I killed,
sailor! I did not throw him into the sea; I brought him and set his
head up against the door of his house. They have found him."
Another lantern floats by, swinging from side to side. As if
hearing the alarm, the organ breaks off at a high chord. An instant
of silence, emptiness of dread waiting, and then a woman's sob of
despair fills it up to the brim.
The mist is growing thicker.
The flame in the oil-lamp is dying out, having a smell of burning.
It is near sunrise. A large, clean, fisherman's hut. A skilfully
made little ship is fastened to the ceiling, and even the sails are
set. Involuntarily this little ship has somehow become the centre of
attraction and all those who speak, who are silent and who listen,
look at it, study each familiar sail. Behind the dark curtain lies
the body of Philipp--this hut belonged to him.
The people are waiting for Haggart--some have gone out to search for
him. On the benches along the walls, the old fishermen have seated
themselves, their hands folded on their knees; some of them seem to
be slumbering; others are smoking their pipes. They speak
meditatively and cautiously, as though eager to utter no unnecessary
words. Whenever a belated fisherman comes in, he looks first at the
curtain, then he silently squeezes himself into the crowd, and those
who have no place on the bench apparently feel embarrassed.
The abbot paces the room heavily, his hands folded on his back, his
head lowered; when any one is in his way, he quietly pushes him aside
with his hand. He is silent and knits his brows convulsively.
Occasionally he glances at the door or at the window and listens.
The only woman present there is Mariet. She is sitting by the table
and constantly watching her father with her burning eyes. She
shudders slightly at each loud word, at the sound of the door as it
opens, at the noise of distant footsteps.
At night a fog came from the sea and covered the earth. And such
perfect quiet reigns now that long-drawn tolling is heard in the
distant lighthouse of the Holy Cross. Warning is thus given to the
ships that have lost their way in the fog.
Some one in the corner says:
"Judging from the blow, it was not one of our people that killed
him. Our people can't strike like that. He stuck the knife here,
then slashed over there, and almost cut his head off."
"You can't do that with a dull knife!"
"No. You can't do it with a weak hand. I saw a murdered sailor on
the wharf one day--he was cut up just like this."
"And where is his mother?" asks some one, nodding at the curtain.
"Selly is taking care of her. Selly took her to her house."
An old fisherman quietly asks his neighbour:
"Who told you?"
"Francina woke me. Who told you, Marle?"
"Some one knocked on my window."
"Who knocked on your window?"
"I don't know."
"How is it you don't know? Who was the first to see?"
"Some one passed by and noticed him."
"None of us passed by. There was nobody among us who passed by."
A fisherman seated at the other end, says:
"There was nobody among us who passed by. Tell us, Thomas."
Thomas takes out his pipe:
"I am a neighbour of Philipp's, of that man there--" he points at
the curtain. "Yes, yes, you all know that I am his neighbour. And
if anybody does not know it--I'll say it again, as in a court of
justice: I am his neighbour--I live right next to him--" he turns
to the window.
An elderly fisherman enters and forces himself silently into the line.
"Well, Tibo?" asks the abbot, stopping.
"Haven't you found Haggart?"
"No. It is so foggy that they are afraid of losing themselves.
They walk and call each other; some of them hold each other by the
hand. Even a lantern can't be seen ten feet away."
The abbot lowers his head and resumes his pacing. The old fisherman
speaks, without addressing any one in particular.
"There are many ships now staring helplessly in the sea."
"I walked like a blind man," says Tibo. "I heard the Holy Cross
ringing. But it seems as if it changed its place. The sound comes
from the left side."
"The fog is deceitful."
Old Desfoso says:
"This never happened here. Since Dugamel broke Jack's head with a
shaft. That was thirty--forty years ago."
"What did you say, Desfoso?" the abbot stops.
"I say, since Dugamel broke Jack's head--"
"Yes, yes!" says the abbot, and resumes pacing the room.
"Then Dugamel threw himself into the sea from a rock and was dashed
to death--that's how it happened. He threw himself down."
Mariet shudders and looks at the speaker with hatred. Silence.
"What did you say, Thomas?"
Thomas takes his pipe out of his mouth.
"Nothing. I only said that some one knocked at my window."
"You don't know who?"
"No. And you will never know. I came out, I looked--and there
Philipp was sitting at his door. I wasn't surprised--Philipp often
roamed about at night ever since--"
He stops irresolutely. Mariet asks harshly:
"Since when? You said 'since.'"
Silence. Desfoso replies frankly and heavily:
"Since your Haggart came. Go ahead, Thomas, tell us about it."
"So I said to him: 'Why did you knock, Philipp? Do you want
anything?' But he was silent."
"And he was silent?"
"He was silent. 'If you don't want anything, you had better go to
sleep, my friend,' said I. But he was silent. Then I looked at him
--his throat was cut open."
Mariet shudders and looks at the speaker with aversion. Silence.
Another fisherman enters, looks at the curtain and silently forces
his way into the crowd. Women's voices are heard behind the door;
the abbot stops.
"Eh, Lebon! Chase the women away," he says. "Tell them, there is
nothing for them to do here."
Lebon goes out.
"Wait," the abbot stops. "Ask how the mother is feeling; Selly is
taking care of her."
"You say, chase away the women, abbot? And your daughter? She is
The abbot looks at Mariet. She says:
"I am not going away from here."
Silence. The abbot paces the room again; he looks at the little
ship fastened to the ceiling and asks:
"Who made it?"
All look at the little ship.
"He," answers Desfoso. "He made it when he wanted to go to America
as a sailor. He was always asking me how a three-masted brig is
They look at the ship again, at its perfect little sails--at the
little rags. Lebon returns.
"I don't know how to tell you about it, abbot. The women say that
Haggart and his sailor are being led over here. The women are afraid."
Mariet shudders and looks at the door; the abbot pauses.
"Oho, it is daybreak already, the fog is turning blue!" says one
fisherman to another, but his voice breaks off.
"Yes. Low tide has started," replies the other dully.
Silence. Then uneven footsteps resound. Several young fishermen
with excited faces bring in Haggart, who is bound, and push Khorre in
after him, also bound. Haggart is calm; as soon as the sailor was
bound, something wildly free appeared in his movements, in his
manners, in the sharpness of his swift glances.
One of the men who brought Haggart says to the abbot in a low voice:
"He was near the church. Ten times we passed by and saw no one,
until he called: 'Aren't you looking for me?' It is so foggy,
The abbot shakes his head silently and sits down. Mariet smiles to
her husband with her pale lips, but he does not look at her. Like
all the others, he has fixed his eyes in amazement on the toy ship.
"Hello, Haggart," says the abbot.
"You call me father?"
"You are mistaken, Haggart. I am not your father."
The fishermen exchanged glances contentedly.
"Well, then. Hello, abbot," says Haggart with indifference, and
resumes examining the little ship. Khorre mutters:
"That's the way, be firm, Noni."
"Who made this toy?" asks Haggart, but no one replies.
"Hello, Gart!" says Mariet, smiling. "It is I, your wife, Mariet.
Let me untie your hands."
With a smile, pretending that she does not notice the stains of
blood, she unfastens the ropes. All look at her in silence. Haggart
also looks at her bent, alarmed head.
"Thank you," he says, straightening his hands.
"It would be a good thing to untie my hands, too," said Khorre, but
there is no answer.
ABBOT--Haggart, did you kill Philipp?
ABBOT--Do you mean to say--eh, you, Haggart--that you yourself
killed him with your own hands? Perhaps you said to the sailor:
"Sailor, go and kill Philipp," and he did it, for he loves you and
respects you as his superior? Perhaps it happened that way! Tell
me, Haggart. I called you my son, Haggart.
HAGGART--No, I did not order the sailor to do it. I killed Philipp
with my own hand.
KHORRE--Noni! Tell them to unfasten my hands and give me back my
"Don't be in a hurry," roars the priest. "Be bound awhile,
drunkard! You had better be afraid of an untied rope--it may be
formed into a noose."
But obeying a certain swift movement or glance of Haggart, Mariet
walks over to the sailor and opens the knots of the rope. And again
all look in silence upon her bent, alarmed head. Then they turn
their eyes upon Haggart. Just as they looked at the little ship
before, so they now look at him. And he, too, has forgotten about
the toy. As if aroused from sleep, he surveys the fishermen, and
stares long at the dark curtain.
ABBOT--Haggart, I am asking you. Who carried Philipp's body?
HAGGART--I. I brought it and put it near the door, his head against
the door, his face against the sea. It was hard to set him that way,
he was always falling down. But I did it.
ABBOT--Why did you do it?
HAGGART--I don't know exactly. I heard that Philipp has a mother,
an old woman, and I thought this might please them better--both him
and his mother.
ABBOT--(With restraint.) You are laughing at us?
HAGGART--No. What makes you think I am laughing? I am just as
serious as you are. Did he--did Philipp make this little ship?
No one answers. Mariet, rising and bending over to Haggart across
the table, says:
"Didn't you say this, Haggart: 'My poor boy, I killed you because I
had to kill you, and now I am going to take you to your mother, my
"These are very sad words. Who told them to you, Mariet?" asks
"I heard them. And didn't you say further: 'Mother, I have brought
you your son, and put him down at your door--take your boy, mother'?"
Haggart maintains silence.
"I don't know," roars the abbot bitterly. "I don't know; people
don't kill here, and we don't know how it is done. Perhaps that is
as it should be--to kill and then bring the murdered man to his
mother's threshold. What are you gaping at, you scarecrow?"
Khorre replies rudely:
"According to my opinion, he should have thrown him into the sea.
Your Haggart is out of his mind; I have said it long ago."
Suddenly old Desfoso shouts amid the loud approval of the others:
"Hold your tongue! We will send him to the city, but we will hang
you like a cat ourselves, even if you did not kill him."
"Silence, old man, silence!" the abbot stops him, while Khorre looks
over their heads with silent contempt. "Haggart, I am asking you,
why did you take Philipp's life? He needed his life just as you need
"He was Mariet's betrothed--and--"
"And--I don't want to speak. Why didn't you ask me before, when he
was alive? Now I have killed him."
"But"--says the abbot, and there is a note of entreaty in his heavy
voice. "But it may be that you are already repenting, Haggart? You
are a splendid man, Gart. I know you; when you are sober you cannot
hurt even a fly. Perhaps you were intoxicated--that happens with
young people--and Philipp may have said something to you, and you--"
"No? Well, then, let it be no. Am I not right, children? But
perhaps something strange came over you--it happens with people--
suddenly a red mist will get into a man's head, the beast will begin
to howl in his breast, and-- In such cases one word is enough--"
"No, Philipp did not say anything to me. He passed along the road,
when I jumped out from behind a large rock and stuck a knife into his
throat. He had no time even to be scared. But if you like--"
Haggart surveys the fishermen with his eyes irresolutely--"I feel a
little sorry for him. That is, just a little. Did he make this toy?"
The abbot lowers his head sternly. And Desfoso shouts again, amidst
sobs of approval from the others:
"No! Abbot, you better ask him what he was doing at the church.
Dan saw them from the window. Wouldn't you tell us what you and your
accursed sailor were doing at the church? What were you doing there?
Haggart looks at the speaker steadfastly and says slowly:
"I talked with the devil."
A muffled rumbling follows. The abbot jumps from his place and
"Then let him sit on your neck! Eh, Pierre, Jules, tie him down as
fast as you can until morning. And the other one, too. And in the
morning--in the morning, take him away to the city, to the Judges. I
don't know their accursed city laws"--cries the abbot in despair--