Part 3 out of 6
"but they will hang you, Haggart! You will dangle on a rope, Haggart!"
Khorre rudely pushes aside the young fisherman who comes over to him
with a rope, and says to Desfoso in a low voice:
"It's an important matter, old man. Go away for a minute--he
oughtn't to hear it," he nods at Haggart.
"I don't trust you."
"You needn't. That's nothing. Noni, there is a little matter here.
Come, come, and don't be afraid. I have no knife."
The people step aside and whisper. Haggart is silently waiting to
be bound, but no one comes over to him. All shudder when Mariet
suddenly commences to speak:
"Perhaps you think that all this is just, father? Why, then, don't
you ask me about it? I am his wife. Don't you believe that I am his
wife? Then I will bring little Noni here. Do you want me to bring
little Noni? He is sleeping, but I will wake him up. Once in his
life he may wake up at night in order to say that this man whom you
want to hang in the city is his father."
"Don't!" says Haggart.
"Very well," replies Mariet obediently. "He commands and I must
obey--he is my husband. Let little Noni sleep. But I am not
sleeping, I am here. Why, then, didn't you ask me: 'Mariet, how was
it possible that your husband, Haggart, should kill Philipp'?"
Silence. Desfoso, who has returned and who is agitated, decides:
"Let her speak. She is his wife."
"You will not believe, Desfoso," says Mariet, turning to the old
fisherman with a tender and mournful smile. "Desfoso, you will not
believe what strange and peculiar creatures we women are!"
Turning to all the people with the same smile, she continues:
"You will not believe what queer desires, what cunning, malicious
little thoughts we women have. It was I who persuaded my husband to
kill Philipp. Yes, yes--he did not want to do it, but I urged him; I
cried so much and threatened him, so he consented. Men always give
in--isn't that true, Desfoso?"
Haggart looks at his wife in a state of great perplexity, his
eyebrows brought close to each other. Mariet continues, without
looking at him, still smiling as before:
"You will ask me, why I wanted Philipp's death? Yes, yes, you will
ask this question, I know it. He never did me any harm, that poor
Philipp, isn't that true? Then I will tell you: He was my
betrothed. I don't know whether you will be able to understand me.
You, old Desfoso--you would not kill the girl you kissed one day? Of
course not. But we women are such strange creatures--you can't even
imagine what strange, suspicious, peculiar creatures we are. Philipp
was my betrothed, and he kissed me--"
She wipes her mouth and continues, laughing:
"Here I am wiping my mouth even now. You have all seen how I wiped
my mouth. I am wiping away Philipp's kisses. You are laughing. But
ask your wife, Desfoso--does she want the life of the man who kissed
her before you? Ask all women who love--even the old women! We
never grow old in love. We are born so, we women."
Haggart almost believes her. Advancing a step forward, he asks:
"You urged me? Perhaps it is true, Mariet--I don't remember."
"Do you hear? He has forgotten. Go on, Gart. You may say that it
was your own idea? That's the way you men are--you forget
everything. Will you say perhaps that I--"
"Mariet!" Haggart interrupts her threateningly.
Mariet, turning pale, looking sorrowfully at his terrible eyes which
are now steadfastly fixed upon her, continues, still smiling:
"Go on, Gart! Will you say perhaps that I--Will you say perhaps
that I dissuaded you? That would be funny--"
HAGGART--No, I will not say that. You lie, Mariet! Even I, Haggart--
just think of it, people--even I believed her, so cleverly does this
HAGGART--You are laughing? Abbot, I don't want to be the husband of
your daughter--she lies.
ABBOT--You are worse than the devil, Gart! That's what I say-- You
are worse than the devil, Gart!
HAGGART--You are all foolish people! I don't understand you; I
don't know now what to do with you. Shall I laugh? Shall I be
angry? Shall I cry? You want to let me go--why, then, don't you let
me go? You are sorry for Philipp. Well, then, kill me--I have told
you that it was I who killed the boy. Am I disputing? But you are
making grimaces like monkeys that have found bananas--or have you
such a game in your land? Then I don't want to play it. And you,
abbot, you are like a juggler in the marketplace. In one hand you
have truth and in the other hand you have truth, and you are forever
performing tricks. And now she is lying--she lies so well that my
heart contracts with belief. Oh, she is doing it well!
And he laughs bitterly.
MARIET--Forgive me, Gart.
HAGGART--When I wanted to kill him, she hung on my hand like a rock,
and now she says that she killed him. She steals from me this
murder; she does not know that one has to earn that, too! Oh, there
are queer people in your land!
"I wanted to deceive them, not you, Gart. I wanted to save you,"
"My father taught me: 'Eh, Noni, beware! There is one truth and
one law for all--for the sun, for the wind, for the waves, for the
beasts--and only for man there is another truth. Beware of this
truth of man, Noni!' so said my father. Perhaps this is your truth?
Then I am not afraid of it, but I feel very sad and very embittered.
Mariet, if you sharpened my knife and said: 'Go and kill that man'--
it may be that I would not have cared to kill him. 'What is the use
of cutting down a withered tree?'--I would have said. But now--
farewell, Mariet! Well, bind me and take me to the city."
He waits haughtily, but no one approaches him. Mariet has lowered
her head upon her hands, her shoulders are twitching. The abbot is
also absorbed in thought, his large head lowered. Desfoso is
carrying on a heated conversation in whispers with the fishermen.
Khorre steps forward and speaks, glancing at Haggart askance:
"I had a little talk with them, Noni--they are all right, they are
good fellows, Noni. Only the priest--but he is a good man, too--am I
right, Noni? Don't look so crossly at me, or I'll mix up the whole
thing! You see, kind people, it's this way: this man, Haggart, and I
have saved up a little sum of money, a little barrel of gold. We
don't need it, Noni, do we? Perhaps you will take it for yourselves?
What do you think? Shall we give them the gold, Noni? You see, here
I've entangled myself already."
He winks slyly at Mariet, who has now lifted her head.
"What are you prating there, you scarecrow?" asks the abbot.
"Here it goes, Noni; I am straightening it out little by little!
But where have we buried it, the barrel? Do you remember, Noni? I
have forgotten. They say it's from the gin, kind people; they say
that one's memory fails from too much gin. I am a drunkard, that's
"If you are not inventing--then you had better choke yourself with
your gold, you dog!" says the abbot.
HAGGART--To-morrow you will get a hundred lashes. Abbot, order a
hundred lashes for him!
ABBOT--With pleasure, my son. With pleasure.
The movements of the fishermen are just as slow and languid, but
there is something new in their increased puffing and pulling at
their pipes, in the light quiver of their tanned hands. Some of
them arise and look out of the window with feigned indifference.
"The fog is rising!" says one, looking out of the window. "Do you
hear what I said about the fog?"
"It's time to go to sleep. I say, it's time to go to sleep!"
Desfoso comes forward and speaks cautiously:
"That isn't quite so, abbot. It seems you didn't say exactly what
you ought to say, abbot. They seem to think differently. I don't
say anything for myself--I am simply talking about them. What do
you say, Thomas?"
THOMAS--We ought to go to sleep, I say. Isn't it true that it is
time to go to sleep?
MARIET (softly)--Sit down, Gart. You are tired to-night. You don't
An old fisherman says:
"There used to be a custom in our land, I heard, that a murderer was
to pay a fine for the man he killed. Have you heard about it,
Another voice is heard:
"Philipp is dead. Philipp is dead already, do you hear, neighbour?
Who is going to support his mother?"
"I haven't enough even for my own! And the fog is rising, neighbour."
"Abbot, did you hear us say: 'Gart is a bad man; Gart is a
good-for-nothing, a city trickster?' No, we said: 'This thing
has never happened here before,'" says Desfoso.
Then a determined voice remarks:
"Gart is a good man! Wild Gart is a good man!"
DESFOSO--If you looked around, abbot, you couldn't find a single,
strong boat here. I haven't enough tar for mine. And the church--is
that the way a good church ought to look? I am not saying it myself,
but it comes out that way--it can't be helped, abbot.
Haggart turns to Mariet and says:
"Do you hear, woman?"
"Why don't you spit into their faces?"
"I can't. I love you, Haggart. Are there only ten Commandments of
God? No, there is still another: 'I love you, Haggart.'"
"What sad dreams there are in your land."
The abbot rises and walks over to the fishermen.
"Well, what did you say about the church, old man? You said
something interesting about the church, or was I mistaken?"
He casts a swift glance at Mariet and Haggart.
"It isn't the church alone, abbot. There are four of us old men:
Legran, Stoffle, Puasar, Kornu, and seven old women. Do I say that
we are not going to feed them? Of course, we will, but don't be
angry, father--it is hard! You know it yourself, abbot--old age
is no fun."
"I am an old man, too!" begins old Rikke, lisping, but suddenly he
flings his hat angrily to the ground. "Yes, I am an old man. I
don't want any more, that's all! I worked, and now I don't want
to work. That's all! I don't want to work."
He goes out, swinging his hand. All look sympathetically at his
stooping back, at his white tufts of hair. And then they look again
at Desfoso, at his mouth, from which their words come out. A voice
"There, Rikke doesn't want to work any more."
All laugh softly and forcedly.
"Suppose we send Gart to the city--what then?" Desfoso goes on,
without looking at Haggart. "Well, the city people will hang him--
and then what? The result will be that a man will be gone, a
fisherman will be gone--you will lose a son, and Mariet will lose her
husband, and the little boy his father. Is there any joy in that?"
"That's right, that's right!" nods the abbot, approvingly. "But
what a mind you have, Desfoso!"
"Do you pay attention to them, Abbot?" asked Haggart.
"Yes, I do, Haggart. And it wouldn't do you any harm to pay attention
to them. The devil is prouder than you, and yet he is only the devil,
and nothing more."
"What's the use of pride? Pride isn't necessary."
He turns to Haggart, his eyes still lowered; then he lifts his eyes
"Gart! But you don't need to kill anybody else. Excepting Philipp,
you don't feel like killing anybody else, do you?"
"Only Philipp, and no more? Do you hear? Only Philipp, and no
more. And another question--Gart, don't you want to send away this
man, Khorre? We would like you to do it. Who knows him? People say
that all this trouble comes through him."
Several voices are heard:
"Through him. Send him away, Gart! It will be better for him!"
The abbot upholds them.
"You, too, priest!" says Khorre, gruffly. Haggart looks with a
faint smile at his angry, bristled face, and says:
"I rather feel like sending him away. Let him go."
"Well, then, Abbot," says Desfoso, turning around, "we have decided,
in accordance with our conscience--to take the money. Do I speak
One voice answers for all:
DESFOSO--Well, sailor, where is the money?
HAGGART--Give it to them.
KHORRE (rudely)--Then give me back my knife and my pipe first! Who
is the eldest among you--you? Listen, then: Take crowbars and
shovels and go to the castle. Do you know the tower, the accursed
tower that fell? Go over there--"
He bends down and draws a map on the floor with his crooked finger.
All bend down and look attentively; only the abbot gazes sternly out
of the window, behind which the heavy fog is still grey. Haggart
whispers in a fit of rage:
"Mariet, it would have been better if you had killed me as I killed
Philipp. And now my father is calling me. Where will be the end of
my sorrow, Mariet? Where the end of the world is. And where is the
end of the world? Do you want to take my sorrow, Mariet?"
"I do, Haggart."
"No, you are a woman."
"Why do you torture me, Gart? What have I done that you should
torture me so? I love you."
"My tongue lied. I love you."
"A serpent has a double tongue, but ask the serpent what it wants--
and it will tell you the truth. It is your heart that lied. Was it
not you, girl, that I met that time on the road? And you said:
'Good evening.' How you have deceived me!"
Desfoso asks loudly:
"Well, abbot? You are coming along with us, aren't you, father.
Otherwise something wrong might come out of it. Do I speak properly?"
The abbot replies merrily:
"Of course, of course, children. I am going with you. Without me,
you will think of the church. I have just been thinking of the
church--of the kind of church you need. Oh, it's hard to get along
with you, people!"
The fishermen go out very slowly--they are purposely lingering.
"The sea is coming," says one. "I can hear it."
"Yes, yes, the sea is coming! Did you understand what he said?"
The few who remained are more hasty in their movements. Some of
them politely bid Haggart farewell.
"I am thinking, Haggart, what kind of a church we need. This one
will not do, it seems. They prayed here a hundred years; now it is
no good, they say. Well, then, it is necessary to have a new one, a
better one. But what shall it be?"
"'Pope's a rogue, Pope's a rogue.' But, then, I am a rogue, too.
Don't you think, Gart, that I am also something of a rogue? One
moment, children, I am with you."
There is some crowding in the doorway. The abbot follows the last
man with his eyes and roars angrily:
"Eh, you, Haggart, murderer! What are you smiling at? You have no
right to despise them like that. They are my children. They have
worked--have you seen their hands, their backs? If you haven't
noticed that, you are a fool! They are tired. They want to rest.
Let them rest, even at the cost of the blood of the one you killed.
I'll give them each a little, and the rest I will throw out into the
sea. Do you hear, Haggart?"
"I hear, priest."
The abbot exclaims, raising his arms:
"O Lord! Why have you made a heart that can have pity on both the
murdered and the murderer! Gart, go home. Take him home, Mariet,
and wash his hands!"
"To whom do you lie, priest?" asks Haggart, slowly. "To God or to
the devil? To yourself or to the people? Or to everybody?"
He laughs bitterly.
"Eh, Gart! You are drunk with blood."
"And with what are you drunk?"
They face each other. Mariet cries angrily, placing herself between
"May a thunder strike you down, both of you, that's what I am praying
to God. May a thunder strike you down! What are you doing with my
heart? You are tearing it with your teeth like greedy dogs. You
didn't drink enough blood, Gart, drink mine, then! You will never
have enough, Gart, isn't that true?"
"Now, now," says the abbot, calming them. "Take him home, Mariet.
Go home, Gart, and sleep more."
Mariet comes forward, goes to the door and pauses there.
"Gart! I am going to little Noni."
"Are you coming along with me?"
"I am going to little Noni. What shall I tell him about his father
when he wakes up?"
Haggart is silent. Khorre comes back and stops irresolutely at the
threshold. Mariet casts at him a glance full of contempt and then
goes out. Silence.
"Here it is, Noni. Drink it, my boy, but not all at once, not all
at once, Noni."
Haggart drinks; he examines the room with a smile.
"Nobody. Did you see him, Khorre? He is there, behind the curtain.
Just think of it, sailor--here we are again with him alone."
"Go home, Noni!"
"Right away. Give me some gin."
"And they? They have gone?"
"They ran, Noni. Go home, my boy! They ran off like goats. I was
laughing so much, Noni."
"Take down that toy, Khorre. Yes, yes, a little ship. He made it,
They examine the toy.
"Look how skilfully the jib was made, Khorre. Good boy, Philipp!
But the halyards are bad, look. No, Philipp! You never saw how real
ships are fitted out--real ships which rove over the ocean, tearing
its grey waves. Was it with this toy that you wanted to quench your
He throws down the little ship and rises:
"Call them! I assume command again, Khorre!"
The sailor turns pale and shouts enthusiastically:
"Noni! Captain! My knees are trembling. I will not be able to
reach them and I will fall on the way."
"You will reach them! We must also take our money away from these
people--what do you think, Khorre? We have played a little, and now
it is enough--what do you think, Khorre?"
He laughs. The sailor looks at him, his hands folded as in prayer,
and he weeps.
"These are your comrades, Haggart? I am so glad to see them. You
said, Gart, yes--you said that their faces were entirely different
from the faces of our people, and that is true. Oh, how true it is!
Our people have handsome faces, too--don't think our fishermen are
ugly, but they haven't these deep, terrible sears. I like them very
much, I assure you, Gart. I suppose you are a friend of Haggart's--
you have such stern, fine eyes? But you are silent? Why are they
silent, Haggart; did you forbid them to speak? And why are you
silent yourself, Haggart? Haggart!"
Illuminated by the light of torches, Haggart stands and listens to
the rapid, agitated speech. The metal of the guns and the uniforms
vibrates and flashes; the light is also playing on the faces of those
who have surrounded Haggart in a close circle--these are his nearest,
his friends. And in the distance there is a different game--there a
large ship is dancing silently, casting its light upon the black
waves, and the black water plays with them, pleating them like a
braid, extinguishing them and kindling them again.
A noisy conversation and the splashing of the waters--and the
dreadful silence of kindred human lips that are sealed.
"I am listening to you, Mariet," says Haggart at last. "What do you
want, Mariet? It is impossible that some one should have offended
you. I ordered them not to touch your house."
"Oh, no, Haggart, no! No one has offended me!" exclaimed Mariet
cheerfully. "But don't you like me to hold little Noni in my arms?
Then I will put him down here among the rocks. Here he will be warm
and comfortable as in his cradle. That's the way! Don't be afraid
of waking him, Gart; he sleeps soundly and will not hear anything.
You may shout, sing, fire a pistol--the boy sleeps soundly."
"What do you want, Mariet? I did not call you here, and I am not
pleased that you have come."
"Of course, you did not call me here, Haggart; of course, you
didn't. But when the fire was started, I thought: 'Now it will
light the way for me to walk. Now I will not stumble.' And I went.
Your friends will not be offended, Haggart, if I will ask them to
step aside for awhile? I have something to tell you, Gart. Of
course, I should have done that before, I understand, Gart; but I
only just recalled it now. It was so light to walk!"
Haggart says sternly:
"Step aside, Flerio, and you all--step aside with him."
They all step aside.
"What is it that you have recalled, Mariet? Speak! I am going away
forever from your mournful land, where one dreams such painful
dreams, where even the rocks dream of sorrow. And I have forgotten
Gently and submissively, seeking protection and kindness, the woman
presses close to his hand.
"O, Haggart! O, my dear Haggart! They are not offended because I
asked them so rudely to step aside, are they? O, my dear Haggart!
The galloons of your uniform scratched my cheek, but it is so pleasant.
Do you know, I never liked it when you wore the clothes of our fishermen
--it was not becoming to you, Haggart. But I am talking nonsense, and
you are getting angry, Gart. Forgive me!"
"Don't kneel. Get up."
"It was only for a moment. Here, I got up. You ask me what I want?
This is what I want: Take me with you, Haggart! Me and little Noni,
"You say that, Mariet? You say that I should take you along?
Perhaps you are laughing, woman? Or am I dreaming again?"
"Yes, I say that: Take me with you. Is this your ship? How large
and beautiful it is, and it has black sails, I know it. Take me on
your ship, Haggart. I know, you will say: 'We have no women on the
ship,' but I will be the woman: I will be your soul. Haggart, I
will be your song, your thoughts, Haggart! And if it must be so, let
Khorre give gin to little Noni--he is a strong boy."
"Eh, Mariet?" says Haggart sternly. "Do you perhaps want me to
believe you again? Eh, Mariet? Don't talk of that which you do not
know, woman. Are the rocks perhaps casting a spell over me and
turning my head? Do you hear the noise, and something like voices?
That is the sea, waiting for me. Don't hold my soul. Let it go,
"Don't speak, Haggart! I know everything. It was not as though I
came along a fiery road, it was not as though I saw blood to-day. Be
silent, Haggart! I have seen something more terrible, Haggart! Oh,
if you could only understand me! I have seen cowardly people who ran
without defending themselves. I have seen clutching, greedy fingers,
crooked like those of birds, like those of birds, Haggart! And out
of these fingers, which were forced open, gold was taken. And
suddenly I saw a man sobbing. Think of it, Haggart! They were
taking gold from him, and he was sobbing."
She laughs bitterly. Haggart advances a step toward her and puts
his heavy hand upon her shoulder:
"Yes, yes, Mariet. Speak on, girl, let the sea wait."
Mariet removes his hand and continues:
"'No,' I thought. 'These are not my brethren at all!' I thought
and laughed. And father shouted to the cowards: 'Take shafts and
strike them.' But they were running. Father is such a splendid man."
"Father is a splendid man," Haggart affirms cheerfully.
"Such a splendid man! And then one sailor bent down close to Noni--
perhaps he did not want to do any harm to him, but he bent down to
him too closely, so, I fired at him from your pistol. Is it nothing
that I fired at our sailor?"
"He had a comical face! You killed him, Mariet."
"No. I don't know how to shoot. And it was he who told me where
you were. O Haggart, O brother!"
She sobs, and then she speaks angrily with a shade of a serpentine
hiss in her voice:
"I hate them! They were not tortured enough; I would have tortured
them still more, still more. Oh, what cowardly rascals they are!
Listen, Haggart, I was always afraid of your power--to me there was
always something terrible and incomprehensible in your power. 'Where
is his God?' I wondered, and I was terrified. Even this morning I
was afraid, but now that this night came, this terror has fled, and I
came running to you over the fiery road: I am going with you,
Haggart. Take me, Haggart, I will be the soul of your ship!"
"I am the soul of my ship, Mariet. But you will be the song of my
liberated soul, Mariet. You shall be the song of my ship, Mariet!
Do you know where we are going? We are going to look for the end of
the world, for unknown lands, for unknown monsters. And at night
Father Ocean will sing to us, Mariet!"
"Embrace me, Haggart. Ah, Haggart, he is not a God who makes
cowards of human beings. We shall go to look for a new God."
Haggart whispers stormily:
"I lied when I said that I have forgotten everything--I learned this
in your land. I love you, Mariet, as I love fire. Eh, Flerio,
comrade!" He shouts cheerfully: "Eh, Flerio, comrade! Have you
prepared a salute?"
"I have, Captain. The shores will tremble when our cannons speak."
"Eh, Flerio, comrade! Don't gnash your teeth, without biting--no
one will believe you. Did you put in cannon balls--round, east-iron,
good cannon balls? Give them wings, comrade--let them fly like
blackbirds on land and sea."
"I love to think how the cannon ball flies, Mariet. I love to watch
its invisible flight. If some one comes in its way--let him! Fate
itself strikes down like that. What is an aim? Only fools need an
aim, while the devil, closing his eyes, throws stones--the wise game
is merrier this way. But you are silent! What are you thinking of,
"I am thinking of them. I am forever thinking of them."
"Are you sorry for them?" Haggart frowns.
"Yes, I am sorry for them. But my pity is my hatred, Haggart. I
hate them, and I would kill them, more and more!"
"I feel like flying faster--my soul is so free. Let us jest, Mariet!
Here is a riddle, guess it: For whom will the cannons roar soon? You
think, for me? No. For you? no, no, not for you, Mariet! For little
Noni, for him--for little Noni who is boarding the ship to-night. Let
him wake up from this thunder. How our little Noni will be surprised!
And now be quiet, quiet--don't disturb his sleep-- don't spoil little
The sound of voices is heard--a crowd is approaching.
"Where is the captain?"
"Here. Halt, the captain is here!"
"It's all done. They can be crammed into a basket like herrings."
"Our boatswain is a brave fellow! A jolly man."
Khorre, intoxicated and jolly, shouts:
"Not so loud, devils! Don't you see that the captain is here? They
scream like seagulls over a dead dolphin."
Mariet steps aside a little distance, where little Noni is sleeping.
KHORRE--Here we are, Captain. No losses, Captain. And how we
HAGGART--You got drunk rather early. Come to the point.
KHORRE--Very well. The thing is done, Captain. We've picked up all
our money--not worse than the imperial tax collectors. I could not
tell which was ours, so I picked up all the money. But if they have
buried some of the gold, forgive us, Captain--we are not peasants to
plough the ground.
Laughter. Haggart also laughs.
"Let them sow, we shall reap."
"Golden words, Noni. Eh, Tommy, listen to what the Captain is
saying. And another thing: Whether you will be angry or not--I have
broken the music. I have scattered it in small pieces. Show your
pipe, Tetyu! Do you see, Noni, I didn't do it at once, no. I told
him to play a jig, and he said that he couldn't do it. Then he lost
his mind and ran away. They all lost their minds there, Captain.
Eh, Tommy, show your beard. An old woman tore half of his beard out,
Captain--now he is a disgrace to look upon. Eh, Tommy! He has
hidden himself, he's ashamed to show his face, Captain. And there's
another thing: The priest is coming here."
Khorre, astonished, asks:
"Are you here? If she came to complain, I must report to you,
Captain--the priest almost killed one of our sailors. And she, too.
I ordered the men to bind the priest--"
"I don't understand your actions, Noni--"
Haggart, restraining his rage, exclaims:
"I shall have you put in irons! Silence!"
With ever-growing rage:
"You dare talk back to me, riff-raff! You--"
Mariet cautions him:
"Gart! They have brought father here."
Several sailors bring in the abbot, bound. His clothes are in
disorder, his face is agitated and pale. He looks at Mariet with
some amazement, and lowers his eyes. Then he heaves a sigh.
"Untie him!" says Mariet. Haggart corrects her restrainedly:
"Only I command here, Mariet. Khorre, untie him."
Khorre unfastens the knots. Silence.
"You have arranged a fine night, Haggart!"
Haggart speaks with restraint:
"It is unpleasant for me to see you. Why did you come here? Go
home, priest, no one will touch you. Keep on fishing--and what else
were you doing? Oh, yes--make your own prayers. We are going out to
the ocean; your daughter, you know, is also going with me. Do you
see the ship? That is mine. It's a pity that you don't know about
ships--you would have laughed for joy at the sight of such a beautiful
ship! Why is he silent, Mariet? You had better tell him."
ABBOT--Prayers? In what language? Have you, perhaps, discovered a
new language in which prayers reach God? Oh, Haggart, Haggart!
He weeps, covering his face with his hands. Haggart, alarmed, asks:
"You are crying, abbot?"
"Look, Gart, he is crying. Father never cried. I am afraid, Gart."
The abbot stops crying. Heaving a deep sigh, he says:
"I don't know what they call you: Haggart or devil or something else--
I have come to you with a request. Do you hear, robber, with a request?
Tell your crew not to gnash their teeth like that--I don't like it."
Haggart replies morosely:
"Go home, priest! Mariet will stay with me."
"Let her stay with you. I don't need her, and if you need her, take
her. Take her, Haggart. But--"
He kneels before him. A murmur of astonishment. Mariet, frightened,
advances a step to her father.
"Father! You are kneeling?"
ABBOT--Robber! Give us back the money. You will rob more for
yourself, but give this money to us. You are young yet, you will rob
some more yet--
HAGGART--You are insane! There's a man--he will drive the devil
himself to despair! Listen, priest, I am shouting to you: You have
simply lost your mind!
The abbot, still kneeling, continues:
"Perhaps, I have--by God, I don't know. Robber, dearest, what is
this to you? Give us this money. I feel sorry for them, for the
scoundrels! They rejoiced so much, the scoundrels. They blossomed
forth like an old blackthorn which has nothing but thorns and a
ragged bark. They are sinners. But am I imploring God for their
sake? I am imploring you. Robber, dearest--"
Mariet looks now at Haggart, now at the priest. Haggart is
hesitating. The abbot keeps muttering:
"Robber, do you want me to call you son? Well, then--son--it makes
no difference now--I will never see you again. It's all the same!
Like an old blackthorn, they bloomed--oh, Lord, those scoundrels,
those old scoundrels!"
"No," Haggart replied sternly.
"Then you are the devil, that's who you are. You are the devil,"
mutters the abbot, rising heavily from the ground. Haggart shows his
"Do you wish to sell your soul to the devil? Yes? Eh, abbot--don't
you know yet that the devil always pays with spurious money? Let me
have a torch, sailor!"
He seizes a torch and lifts it high over his head--he covers his
terrible face with fire and smoke.
"Look, here I am! Do you see? Now ask me, if you dare!"
He flings the torch away. What does the abbot dream in this land
full of monstrous dreams? Terrified, his heavy frame trembling,
helplessly pushing the people aside with his hands, he retreats. He
turns around. Now he sees the glitter of the metal, the dark and
terrible faces; he hears the angry splashing of the waters--and he
covers his head with his hands and walks off quickly. Then Khorre
jumps up and strikes him with a knife in his back.
"Why have you done it?"--the abbot clutches the hand that struck him
"Just so--for nothing!"
The abbot falls to the ground and dies.
"Why have you done it?" cries Mariet.
"Why have you done it?" roars Haggart.
And a strange voice, coming from some unknown depths, answers with
"You commanded me to do it."
Haggart looks around and sees the stern, dark faces, the quivering
glitter of the metal, the motionless body; he hears the mysterious,
merry dashing of the waves. And he clasps his head in a fit of terror.
"Who commanded? It was the roaring of the sea. I did not want to
kill him--no, no!"
Sombre voices answer:
"You commanded. We heard it. You commanded."
Haggart listens, his head thrown back. Suddenly he bursts into loud
"Oh, devils, devils! Do you think that I have two ears in order
that you may lie in each one? Go down on your knees, rascal!"
He hurls Khorre to the ground.
"String him up with a rope! I would have crushed your venomous head
myself--but let them do it. Oh, devils, devils! String him up with
Khorre whines harshly:
"Me, Captain! I was your nurse, Noni."
"I? Noni! Your nurse? You squealed like a little pig in the
cook's room. Have you forgotten it, Noni?" mutters the sailor
"Eh," shouts Haggart to the stern crowd. "Take him!"
Several men advance to him. Khorre rises.
"If you do it to me, to your own nurse--then you have recovered,
Noni! Eh, obey the captain! Take me! I'll make you cry enough,
Tommy! You are always the mischief-maker!"
Grim laughter. Several sailors surround Khorre as Haggart watches
them sternly. A dissatisfied voice says:
"There is no place where to hang him here. There isn't a single
"Let us wait till we get aboard ship! Let him die honestly on the
"I know of a tree around here, but I won't tell you," roars Khorre
hoarsely. "Look for it yourself! Well, you have astonished me,
Noni. How you shouted, 'String him up with a rope!' Exactly like
your father--he almost hanged me, too. Good-bye, Noni, now I
understand your actions. Eh, gin! and then--on the rope!"
Khorre goes off. No one dares approach Haggart; still enraged, he
paces back and forth with long strides. He pauses, glances at the
body and paces again. Then he calls:
"Flerio! Did you hear me give orders to kill this man?"
"You may go."
He paces back and forth again, and then calls:
"Flerio! Have you ever heard the sea lying?"
"If they can't find a tree, order them to choke him with their hands."
He paces back and forth again. Mariet is laughing quietly.
"Who is laughing?" asks Haggart in fury.
"I," answers Mariet. "I am thinking of how they are hanging him and
I am laughing. O, Haggart, O, my noble Haggart! Your wrath is the
wrath of God, do you know it? No. You are strange, you are dear,
you are terrible, Haggart, but I am not afraid of you. Give me your
hand, Haggart, press it firmly, firmly. Here is a powerful hand!"
"Flerio, my friend, did you hear what he said? He says the sea
"You are powerful and you are just--I was insane when I feared your
power, Gart. May I shout to the sea: 'Haggart, the Just'?"
"That is not true. Be silent, Mariet, you are intoxicated with
blood. I don't know what justice is."
"Who, then, knows it? You, you, Haggart! You are God's justice,
Haggart. Is it true that he was your nurse? Oh, I know what it
means to be a nurse; a nurse feeds you, teaches you to walk--you
love a nurse as your mother. Isn't that true, Gart--you love a
nurse as a mother? And yet--'string him up with a rope, Khorre'!"
She laughs quietly.
A loud, ringing laughter resounds from the side where Khorre was led
away. Haggart stops, perplexed.
"What is it?"
"The devil is meeting his soul there," says Mariet.
"No. Let go of my hand! Eh, who's there?"
A crowd is coming. They are laughing and grinning, showing their
teeth. But noticing the captain, they become serious. The people
are repeating one and the same name:
"Khorre! Khorre! Khorre!"
And then Khorre himself appears, dishevelled, crushed, but happy--the
rope has broken. Knitting his brow, Haggart is waiting in silence.
"The rope broke, Noni," mutters Khorre hoarsely, modestly, yet with
dignity. "There are the ends! Eh, you there, keep quiet! There is
nothing to laugh at--they started to hang me, and the rope broke,
Haggart looks at his old, drunken, frightened, and happy face, and
he laughs like a madman. And the sailors respond with roaring
laughter. The reflected lights are dancing more merrily upon the
waves--as if they are also laughing with the people.
"Just look at him, Mariet, what a face he has," Haggart is almost
choking with laughter. "Are you happy? Speak--are you happy? Look,
Mariet, what a happy face he has! The rope broke--that's very strong
--it is stronger even than what I said: 'String him up with a rope.'
Who said it? Don't you know, Khorre? You are out of your wits, and
you don't know anything--well, never mind, you needn't know. Eh,
give him gin! I am glad, very glad that you are not altogether
through with your gin. Drink, Khorre!"
"Eh, the boatswain wants a drink! Gin!"
Khorre drinks it with dignity, amid laughter and shouts of approval.
Suddenly all the noise dies down and a sombre silence reigns--a
woman's strange voice drowns the noise--so strange and unfamiliar, as
if it were not Mariet's voice at all, but another voice speaking with
"Haggart! You have pardoned him, Haggart?"
Some of the people look at the body; those standing near it step
aside. Haggart asks, surprised:
"Whose voice is that? Is that yours, Mariet? How strange! I did
not recognise your voice."
"You have pardoned him, Haggart?"
"You have heard--the rope broke--"
"Tell me, did you pardon the murderer? I want to hear your voice,
A threatening voice is heard from among the crowd:
"The rope broke. Who is talking there? The rope broke."
"Silence!" exclaims Haggart, but there is no longer the same
commanding tone in his voice. "Take them all away! Boatswain!
Whistle for everybody to go aboard. The time is up! Flerio! Get
the boats ready."
Khorre whistles. The sailors disperse unwillingly, and the same
threatening voice sounds somewhere from the darkness:
"I thought at first it was the dead man who started to speak. But I
would have answered him too: 'Lie there! The rope broke.'"
Another voice replies:
"Don't grumble. Khorre has stronger defenders than you are."
"What are you prating about, devils?" says Khorre. "Silence! Is
that you, Tommy? I know you, you are always the mischief-maker--"
"Come on, Mariet!" says Haggart. "Give me little Noni, I want to
carry him to the boat myself. Come on, Mariet."
"Eh, Mariet! The dreams are ended. I don't like your voice, woman--
when did you find time to change it? What a land of jugglers! I
have never seen such a land before!"
"Eh, Haggart! The dreams are ended. I don't like your voice,
either--little Haggart! But it may be that I am still sleeping--then
wake me. Haggart, swear that it was you who said it: 'The rope
broke.' Swear that my eyes have not grown blind and that they see
Khorre alive. Swear that this is your hand, Haggart!"
Silence. The voice of the sea is growing louder--there is the
splash and the call and the promise of a stern caress.
Silence. Khorre and Flerio come up to Haggart.
"All's ready, Captain," says Flerio.
"They are waiting, Noni. Go quicker! They want to feast to-night,
Noni! But I must tell you, Noni, that they--"
HAGGART--Did you say something, Flerio? Yes, yes, everything is
ready. I am coming. I think I am not quite through yet with land.
This is such a remarkable land, Flerio; the dreams here drive their
claws into a man like thorns, and they hold him. One has to tear his
clothing, and perhaps his body as well. What did you say, Mariet?
MARIET--Don't you want to kiss little Noni? You shall never kiss
"No, I don't want to."
"You will go alone."
"Yes, I will go alone."
"Did you ever cry, Haggart?"
"Who is crying now? I hear some one crying bitterly."
"That is not true--it is the roaring of the sea."
"Oh, Haggart! Of what great sorrow does that voice speak?"
"Be silent, Mariet. It is the roaring of the sea."
"Is everything ended now, Haggart?"
"Everything is ended, Mariet."
Mariet, imploring, says:
"Gart! Only one motion of the hand! Right here--against the heart--
"No. Leave me alone."
"Only one motion of the hand! Here is your knife. Have pity on me,
kill me with your hand. Only one motion of your hand, Gart!"
"Let go. Give me my knife."
"Gart, I bless you! One motion of your hand, Gart!"
Haggart tears himself away, pushing the woman aside:
"No! Don't you know that it is just as hard to make one motion of
the hand as it is for the sun to come down from the sky? Good-bye,
"You are going away?"
"Yes, I am going away. I am going away, Mariet. That's how it
"I shall curse you, Haggart. Do you know! I shall curse you,
Haggart. And little Noni will curse you, Haggart--Haggart!"
Haggart exclaims cheerfully and harshly:
"Eh, Khorre. You, Flerio, my old friend. Come here, give me your
hand--Oh, what a powerful hand it is! Why do you pull me by the
sleeve, Khorre? You have such a funny face. I can almost see how
the rope snapped, and you came down like a sack. Flerio, old friend,
I feel like saying something funny, but I have forgotten how to say
it. How do they say it? Remind me, Flerio. What do you want,
Khorre whispers to him hoarsely:
"Noni, be on your guard. The rope broke because they used a rotten
rope intentionally. They are betraying you! Be on your guard, Noni.
Strike them on the head, Noni."
Haggart bursts out laughing.
"Now you have said something funny. And I? Listen, Flerio, old
friend. This woman who stands and looks--No, that will not be funny!"
He advances a step.
"Khorre, do you remember how well this man prayed? Why was he
killed? He prayed so well. But there is one prayer he did not know--
this one--'To you I bring my great eternal sorrow; I am going to you,
And a distant voice, sad and grave, replies:
"Oh, Haggart, my dear Haggart."
But who knows--perhaps it was the roaring of the waves. Many sad
and strange dreams come to man on earth.
"All aboard!" exclaims Haggart cheerily, and goes off without
looking around. Below, a gay noise of voices and laughter resounds.
The cobblestones are rattling under the firm footsteps--Haggart is
He goes, without turning around.
He has gone away.
Loud shouting is heard--the sailors are greeting Haggart. They
drink and go off into the darkness. On the shore, the torches which
were cast aside are burning low, illumining the body, and a woman is
rushing about. She runs swiftly from one spot to another, bending
down over the steep rocks. Insane Dan comes crawling out.
"Is that you, Dan? Do you hear, they are singing, Dan? Haggart has
"I was waiting for them to go. Here is another one. I am gathering
the pipes of my organ. Here is another one."
"Be accursed, Dan!"
"Oho? And you, too, Mariet, be accursed!"
Mariet clasps the child in her arms and lifts him high. Then she
"Haggart, turn around! Turn around, Haggart! Noni is calling you.
He wants to curse you, Haggart. Turn around! Look, Noni, look--that
is your father. Remember him, Noni. And when you grow up, go out on
every sea and find him, Noni. And when you find him--hang your
father high on a mast, my little one."
The thundering salute drowns her cry. Haggart has boarded his ship.
The night grows darker and the dashing of the waves fainter--the
ocean is moving away with the tide. The great desert of the sky is
mute and the night grows darker and the dashing of the waves ever
JUDAS ISCARIOT AND OTHERS
Jesus Christ had often been warned that Judas Iscariot was a man of
very evil repute, and that He ought to beware of him. Some of the
disciples, who had been in Judaea, knew him well, while others had
heard much about him from various sources, and there was none who had
a good word for him. If good people in speaking of him blamed him,
as covetous, cunning, and inclined to hypocrisy and lying, the bad,
when asked concerning him, inveighed against him in the severest terms.
"He is always making mischief among us," they would say, and spit in
contempt. "He always has some thought which he keeps to himself. He
creeps into a house quietly, like a scorpion, but goes out again with
an ostentatious noise. There are friends among thieves, and comrades
among robbers, and even liars have wives, to whom they speak the
truth; but Judas laughs at thieves and honest folk alike, although he
is himself a clever thief. Moreover, he is in appearance the ugliest
person in Judaea. No! he is no friend of ours, this foxy-haired
Judas Iscariot," the bad would say, thereby surprising the good
people, in whose opinion there was not much difference between him
and all other vicious people in Judaea. They would recount further
that he had long ago deserted his wife, who was living in poverty and
misery, striving to eke out a living from the unfruitful patch of
land which constituted his estate. He had wandered for many years
aimlessly among the people, and had even gone from one sea to the
other,--no mean distance,--and everywhere he lied and grimaced, and
would make some discovery with his thievish eye, and then suddenly
disappear, leaving behind him animosity and strife. Yes, he was as
inquisitive, artful and hateful as a one-eyed demon. Children he had
none, and this was an additional proof that Judas was a wicked man,
that God would not have from him any posterity.
None of the disciples had noticed when it was that this ugly,
foxy-haired Jew first appeared in the company of Christ: but he had
for a long time haunted their path, joined in their conversations,
performed little acts of service, bowing and smiling and currying
favour. Sometimes they became quite used to him, so that he escaped
their weary eyes; then again he would suddenly obtrude himself on eye
and ear, irritating them as something abnormally ugly, treacherous
and disgusting. They would drive him away with harsh words, and for
a short time he would disappear, only to reappear suddenly,
officious, flattering and crafty as a one-eyed demon.
There was no doubt in the minds of some of the disciples that under
his desire to draw near to Jesus was hidden some secret intention--
some malign and cunning scheme.
But Jesus did not listen to their advice; their prophetic voice did
not reach His ears. In that spirit of serene contradiction, which
ever irresistibly inclined Him to the reprobate and unlovable, He
deliberately accepted Judas, and included him in the circle of the
chosen. The disciples were disturbed and murmured under their
breath, but He would sit still, with His face towards the setting
sun, and listen abstractedly, perhaps to them, perhaps to something
else. For ten days there had been no wind, and the transparent
atmosphere, wary and sensitive, continued ever the same, motionless
and unchanged. It seemed as though it preserved in its transparent
depths every cry and song made during those days by men and beasts
and birds--tears, laments and cheerful song, prayers and curses--and
that on account of these crystallised sounds the air was so heavy,
threatening, and saturated with invisible life. Once more the sun
was sinking. It rolled heavily downwards in a flaming ball, setting
the sky on fire. Everything upon the earth which was turned towards
it: the swarthy face of Jesus, the walls of the houses, and the
leaves of the trees--everything obediently reflected that distant,
fearfully pensive light. Now the white walls were no longer white,
and the white city upon the white hill was turned to red.
And lo! Judas arrived. He arrived bowing low, bending his back,
cautiously and timidly protruding his ugly, bumpy head--just exactly
as his acquaintances had described. He was spare and of good height,
almost the same as that of Jesus, who stooped a little through the
habit of thinking as He walked, and so appeared shorter than He was.
Judas was to all appearances fairly strong and well knit, though for
some reason or other he pretended to be weak and somewhat sickly. He
had an uncertain voice. Sometimes it was strong and manly, then
again shrill as that of an old woman scolding her husband,
provokingly thin, and disagreeable to the ear, so that ofttimes one
felt inclined to tear out his words from the ear, like rough,
decaying splinters. His short red locks failed to hide the curious
form of his skull. It looked as if it had been split at the nape of
the neck by a double sword-cut, and then joined together again, so
that it was apparently divided into four parts, and inspired
distrust, nay, even alarm: for behind such a cranium there could be
no quiet or concord, but there must ever be heard the noise of
sanguinary and merciless strife. The face of Judas was similarly
doubled. One side of it, with a black, sharply watchful eye, was
vivid and mobile, readily gathering into innumerable tortuous
wrinkles. On the other side were no wrinkles. It was deadly flat,
smooth, and set, and though of the same size as the other, it seemed
enormous on account of its wide-open blind eye. Covered with a
whitish film, closing neither night nor day, this eye met light and
darkness with the same indifference, but perhaps on account of the
proximity of its lively and crafty companion it never got full credit
When in a paroxysm of joy or excitement, Judas would close his sound
eye and shake his head. The other eye would always shake in unison
and gaze in silence. Even people quite devoid of penetration could
clearly perceive, when looking at Judas, that such a man could bring
And yet Jesus brought him near to Himself, and once even made him
sit next to Him. John, the beloved disciple, fastidiously moved
away, and all the others who loved their Teacher cast down their eyes
in disapprobation. But Judas sat on, and turning his head from side
to side, began in a somewhat thin voice to complain of ill-health,
and said that his chest gave him pain in the night, and that when
ascending a hill he got out of breath, and when he stood still on the
edge of a precipice he would be seized with a dizziness, and could
scarcely restrain a foolish desire to throw himself down. And many
other impious things he invented, as though not understanding that
sicknesses do not come to a man by chance, but as a consequence of
conduct not corresponding with the laws of the Eternal. Thus Judas
Iscariot kept on rubbing his chest with his broad palm, and even
pretended to cough, midst a general silence and downcast eyes.
John, without looking at the Teacher, whispered to his friend Simon
"Aren't you tired of that lie? I can't stand it any longer. I am
Peter glanced at Jesus, and meeting his eye, quickly arose.
"Wait a moment," said he to his friend.
Once more he looked at Jesus; sharply as a stone torn from a
mountain, he moved towards Judas, and said to him in a loud voice,
with expansive, serene courtesy--
"You will come with us, Judas."
He gave him a kindly slap on his bent back, and without looking at
the Teacher, though he felt His eye upon him, resolutely added in his
loud voice, which excluded all objection, just as water excludes air--
"It does not matter that you have such a nasty face. There fall
into our nets even worse monstrosities, and they sometimes turn out
very tasty food. It is not for us, our Lord's fishermen, to throw
away a catch, merely because the fish have spines, or only one eye.
I saw once at Tyre an octopus, which had been caught by the local
fishermen, and I was so frightened that I wanted to run away. But
they laughed at me. A fisherman from Tiberias gave me some of it to
eat, and I asked for more, it was so tasty. You remember, Master,
that I told you the story, and you laughed, too. And you, Judas, are
like an octopus--but only on one side."
And he laughed loudly, content with his joke. When Peter spoke, his
words resounded so forcibly, that it seemed as though he were driving
them in with nails. When Peter moved, or did anything, he made a
noise that could be heard afar, and which called forth a response
from the deafest of things: the stone floor rumbled under his feet,
the doors shook and rattled, and the very air was convulsed with
fear, and roared. In the clefts of the mountains his voice awoke the
inmost echo, and in the morning-time, when they were fishing on the
lake, he would roll about on the sleepy, glittering water, and force
the first shy sunbeams into smiles.
For this apparently he was loved: when on all other faces there
still lay the shadow of night, his powerful head, and bare breast,
and freely extended arms were already aglow with the light of dawn.
The words of Peter, evidently approved as they were by the Master,
dispersed the oppressive atmosphere. But some of the disciples, who
had been to the seaside and had seen an octopus, were disturbed by
the monstrous image so lightly applied to the new disciple. They
recalled the immense eyes, the dozens of greedy tentacles, the
feigned repose--and how all at once: it embraced, clung, crushed and
sucked, all without one wink of its monstrous eyes. What did it
mean? But Jesus remained silent, He smiled with a frown of kindly
raillery on Peter, who was still telling glowing tales about the
octopus. Then one by one the disciples shame-facedly approached
Judas, and began a friendly conversation, with him, but--beat a hasty
and awkward retreat.
Only John, the son of Zebedee, maintained an obstinate silence; and
Thomas had evidently not made up his mind to say anything, but was
still weighing the matter. He kept his gaze attentively fixed on
Christ and Judas as they sat together. And that strange proximity of
divine beauty and monstrous ugliness, of a man with a benign look,
and of an octopus with immense, motionless, dully greedy eyes,
oppressed his mind like an insoluble enigma.
He tensely wrinkled his smooth, upright forehead, and screwed up his
eyes, thinking that he would see better so, but only succeeded in
imagining that Judas really had eight incessantly moving feet. But
that was not true. Thomas understood that, and again gazed
Judas gathered courage: he straightened out his arms, which had been
bent at the elbows, relaxed the muscles which held his jaws in
tension, and began cautiously to protrude his bumpy head into the
light. It had been the whole time in view of all, but Judas imagined
that it had been impenetrably hidden from sight by some invisible,
but thick and cunning veil. But lo! now, as though creeping out from
a ditch, he felt his strange skull, and then his eyes, in the light:
he stopped and then deliberately exposed his whole face. Nothing
happened; Peter had gone away somewhere or other. Jesus sat pensive,
with His head leaning on His hand, and gently swayed His sunburnt
foot. The disciples were conversing together, and only Thomas gazed
at him attentively and seriously, like a conscientious tailor taking
measurement. Judas smiled; Thomas did not reply to the smile; but
evidently took it into account, as he did everything else, and
continued to gaze. But something unpleasant alarmed the left side of
Judas' countenance as he looked round. John, handsome, pure, without
a single fleck upon his snow-white conscience, was looking at him out
of a dark corner, with cold but beautiful eyes. And though he walked
as others walk, yet Judas felt as if he were dragging himself along
the ground like a whipped cur, as he went up to John and said: "Why
are you silent, John? Your words are like golden apples in vessels
of silver filigree; bestow one of them on Judas, who is so poor."
John looked steadfastly into his wide-open motionless eye, and said
nothing. And he looked on, while Judas crept out, hesitated a
moment, and then disappeared in the deep darkness of the open door.
Since the full moon was up, there were many people out walking.
Jesus went out too, and from the low roof on which Judas had spread
his couch he saw Him going out. In the light of the moon each white
figure looked bright and deliberate in its movements; and seemed not
so much to walk as to glide in front of its dark shadow. Then
suddenly a man would be lost in something black, and his voice became
audible. And when people reappeared in the moonlight, they seemed
silent--like white walls, or black shadows--as everything did in the
transparent mist of night. Almost every one was asleep when Judas
heard the soft voice of Jesus returning. All in and around about the
house was still. A cock crew; somewhere an ass, disturbed in his
sleep, brayed aloud and insolently as in daytime, then reluctantly
and gradually relapsed into silence. Judas did not sleep at all, but
listened surreptitiously. The moon illumined one half of his face,
and was reflected strangely in his enormous open eye, as on the
frozen surface of a lake.
Suddenly he remembered something, and hastily coughed, rubbing his
perfectly healthy chest with his hairy hand: maybe some one was not
yet asleep, and was listening to what Judas was thinking!
They gradually became used to Judas, and ceased to notice his
ugliness. Jesus entrusted the common purse to him, and with it there
fell on him all household cares: he purchased the necessary food and
clothing, distributed alms, and when they were on the road, it was
his duty to choose the place where they were to stop, or to find a
All this he did very cleverly, so that in a short time he had earned
the goodwill of some of the disciples, who had noticed his efforts.
Judas was an habitual liar, but they became used to this, when they
found that his lies were not followed by any evil conduct; nay, they
added a special piquancy to his conversation and tales, and made life
seem like a comic, and sometimes a tragic, tale.
According to his stories, he seemed to know every one, and each
person that he knew had some time in his life been guilty of evil
conduct, or even crime. Those, according to him, were called good,
who knew how to conceal their thoughts and acts; but if one only
embraced, flattered, and questioned such a man sufficiently, there
would ooze out from him every untruth, nastiness, and lie, like
matter from a pricked wound. He freely confessed that he sometimes
lied himself; but affirmed with an oath that others were still
greater liars, and that if any one in this world was ever deceived,
it was Judas.
Indeed, according to his own account, he had been deceived, time
upon time, in one way or another. Thus, a certain guardian of the
treasures of a rich grandee once confessed to him, that he had for
ten years been continually on the point of stealing the property
committed to him, but that he was debarred by fear of the grandee,
and of his own conscience. And Judas believed him--and he suddenly
committed the theft, and deceived Judas. But even then Judas still
trusted him--and then he suddenly restored the stolen treasure to the
grandee, and again deceived Judas. Yes, everything deceived him,
even animals. Whenever he pets a dog it bites his fingers; but when
he beats it with a stick it licks his feet, and looks into his eyes
like a daughter. He killed one such dog, and buried it deep, laying
a great stone on the top of it--but who knows? Perhaps just because
he killed it, it has come to life again, and instead of lying in the
trench, is running about cheerfully with other dogs.
All laughed merrily at Judas' tale, and he smiled pleasantly
himself, winking his one lively, mocking eye--and by that very smile
confessed that he had lied somewhat; that he had not really killed
the dog. But he meant to find it and kill it, because he did not
wish to be deceived. And at these words of Judas they laughed all
But sometimes in his tales he transgressed the bounds of probability,
and ascribed to people such proclivities as even the beasts do not
possess, accusing them of such crimes as are not, and never have been.
And since he named in this connection the most honoured people, some
were indignant at the calumny, while others jokingly asked:
"How about your own father and mother, Judas--were they not good people?"
Judas winked his eye, and smiled with a gesture of his hands. And
the fixed, wide-open eye shook in unison with the shaking of his
head, and looked out in silence.
"But who was my father? Perhaps it was the man who used to beat me
with a rod, or may be--a devil, a goat or a cock.... How can Judas
tell? How can Judas tell with whom his mother shared her couch.
Judas had many fathers: to which of them do you refer?"
But at this they were all indignant, for they had a profound
reverence for parents; and Matthew, who was very learned in the
scriptures, said severely in the words of Solomon:
"'Whoso slandereth his father and his mother, his lamp shall be
extinguished in deep darkness.'"
But John the son of Zebedee haughtily jerked out: "And what of us?
What evil have you to say of us, Judas Iscariot?"
But he waved his hands in simulated terror, whined, and bowed like a
beggar, who has in vain asked an alms of a passer-by: "Ah! they are
tempting poor Judas! They are laughing at him, they wish to take in
the poor, trusting Judas!" And while one side of his face was crinkled
up in buffooning grimaces, the other side wagged sternly and severely,
and the never-closing eye looked out in a broad stare.
More and louder than any laughed Simon Peter at the jokes of Judas
Iscariot. But once it happened that he suddenly frowned, and became
silent and sad, and hastily dragging Judas aside by the sleeve, he
bent down, and asked in a hoarse whisper--
"But Jesus? What do you think of Jesus? Speak seriously, I entreat you."
Judas cast on him a malign glance.
"And what do you think?"
Peter whispered with awe and gladness--
"I think that He is the son of the living God."
"Then why do you ask? What can Judas tell you, whose father was a
"But do you love Him? You do not seem to love any one, Judas."
And with the same strange malignity, Iscariot blurted out abruptly
and sharply: "I do."
Some two days after this conversation, Peter openly dubbed Judas "my
friend the octopus"; but Judas awkwardly, and ever with the same
malignity, endeavoured to creep away from him into some dark corner,
and would sit there morosely glaring with his white, never-closing eye.
Thomas alone took him quite seriously. He understood nothing of
jokes, hypocrisy or lies, nor of the play upon words and thoughts,
but investigated everything positively to the very bottom. He would
often interrupt Judas' stories about wicked people and their conduct
with short practical remarks:
"You must prove that. Did you hear it yourself? Was there any one
present besides yourself? What was his name?"
At this Judas would get angry, and shrilly cry out, that he had seen
and heard everything himself; but the obstinate Thomas would go on
cross-examining quietly and persistently, until Judas confessed that
he had lied, or until he invented some new and more probable lie,
which provided the others for some time with food for thought. But
when Thomas discovered a discrepancy, he would immediately come and
calmly expose the liar.
Usually Judas excited in him a strong curiosity, which brought about
between them a sort of friendship, full of wrangling, jeering, and
invective on the one side, and of quiet insistence on the other.
Sometimes Judas felt an unbearable aversion to his strange friend,
and, transfixing him with a sharp glance, would say irritably, and
almost with entreaty--
"What more do you want? I have told you all."
"I want you to prove how it is possible that a he-goat should be
your father," Thomas would reply with calm insistency, and wait for
It chanced once, that after such a question, Judas suddenly stopped
speaking and gazed at him with surprise from head to foot. What he
saw was a tall, upright figure, a grey face, honest eyes of
transparent blue, two fat folds beginning at the nose and losing
themselves in a stiff, evenly-trimmed beard. He said with conviction:
"What a stupid you are, Thomas! What do you dream about--a tree, a
wall, or a donkey?"
Thomas was in some way strangely perturbed, and made no reply. But
at night, when Judas was already closing his vivid, restless eye for
sleep, he suddenly said aloud from where he lay--the two now slept
together on the roof--
"You are wrong, Judas. I have very bad dreams. What think you?
Are people responsible for their dreams?"
"Does, then, any one but the dreamer see a dream?" Judas replied.
Thomas sighed gently, and became thoughtful. But Judas smiled
contemptuously, and firmly closed his roguish eye, and quickly gave
himself up to his mutinous dreams, monstrous ravings, mad phantoms,
which rent his bumpy skull to pieces.
When, during Jesus' travels about Judaea, the disciples approached a
village, Iscariot would speak evil of the inhabitants and foretell
misfortune. But almost always it happened that the people, of whom
he had spoken evil, met Christ and His friends with gladness, and
surrounded them with attentions and love, and became believers, and
Judas' money-box became so full that it was difficult to carry. And
when they laughed at his mistake, he would make a humble gesture with
his hands, and say:
"Well, well! Judas thought that they were bad, and they turned out
to be good. They quickly believed, and gave money. That only means
that Judas has been deceived once more, the poor, confiding Judas
But on one occasion, when they had already gone far from a village,
which had welcomed them kindly, Thomas and Judas began a hot dispute,
to settle which they turned back, and did not overtake Jesus and His
disciples until the next day. Thomas wore a perturbed and sorrowful
appearance, while Judas had such a proud look, that you would have
thought that he expected them to offer him their congratulations and
thanks upon the spot. Approaching the Master, Thomas declared with
decision: "Judas was right, Lord. They were ill-disposed, stupid
people. And the seeds of your words has fallen upon the rock." And
he related what had happened in the village.
After Jesus and His disciples left it, an old woman had begun to cry
out that her little white kid had been stolen, and she laid the theft
at the door of the visitors who had just departed. At first the
people had disputed with her, but when she obstinately insisted that
there was no one else who could have done it except Jesus, many
agreed with her, and even were about to start in pursuit. And
although they soon found the kid straying in the underwood, they
still decided that Jesus was a deceiver, and possibly a thief.
"So that's what they think of us, is it?" cried Peter, with a snort.
"Lord, wilt Thou that I return to those fools, and--"
But Jesus, saying not a word, gazed severely at him, and Peter in
silence retired behind the others. And no one ever referred to the
incident again, as though it had never occurred, and as though Judas
had been proved wrong. In vain did he show himself on all sides,
endeavouring to give to his double, crafty, hooknosed face an
expression of modesty. They would not look at him, and if by chance
any one did glance at him, it was in a very unfriendly, not to say
From that day on Jesus' treatment of him underwent a strange change.
Formerly, for some reason or other, Judas never used to speak
directly with Jesus, who never addressed Himself directly to him, but
nevertheless would often glance at him with kindly eyes, smile at his
rallies, and if He had not seen him for some time, would inquire:
"Where is Judas?"
But now He looked at him as if He did not see him, although as
before, and indeed more determinedly than formerly, He sought him out
with His eyes every time that He began to speak to the disciples or
to the people; but He was either sitting with His back to him, so
that He was obliged, as it were, to cast His words over His head so
as to reach Judas, or else He made as though He did not notice him at
all. And whatever He said, though it was one thing one day, and then
next day quite another, although it might be the very thing that Judas
was thinking, it always seemed as though He were speaking against him.
To all He was the tender, beautiful flower, the sweet-smelling rose
of Lebanon, but for Judas He left only sharp thorns, as though Judas
had neither heart, nor sight, nor smell, and did not understand, even
better than any, the beauty of tender, immaculate petals.
"Thomas! Do you like the yellow rose of Lebanon, which has a swarthy
countenance and eyes like the roe?" he inquired once of his friend,
who replied indifferently--
"Rose? Yes, I like the smell. But I have never heard of a rose
with a swarthy countenance and eyes like a roe!"
"What? Do you not know that the polydactylous cactus, which tore
your new garment yesterday, has only one beautiful flower, and only
But Thomas did not know this, although only yesterday a cactus had
actually caught in his garment and torn it into wretched rags. But
then Thomas never did know anything, though he asked questions about
everything, and looked so straight with his bright, transparent eyes,
through which, as through a pane of Phoenician glass, was visible a
wall, with a dismal ass tied to it.
Some time later another occurrence took place, in which Judas again
proved to be in the right.
At a certain village in Judaea, of which Judas had so bad an
opinion, that he had advised them to avoid it, the people received
Christ with hostility, and after His sermon and exposition of
hypocrites they burst into fury, and threatened to stone Jesus and
His disciples. Enemies He had many, and most likely they would have
carried out their sinister intention, but for Judas Iscariot. Seized
with a mad fear for Jesus, as though he already saw the drops of ruby
blood upon His white garment, Judas threw himself in blind fury upon
the crowd, scolding, screeching, beseeching, and lying, and thus gave
time and opportunity to Jesus and His disciples to escape.
Amazingly active, as though running upon a dozen feet, laughable and
terrible in his fury and entreaties, he threw himself madly in front
of the crowd and charmed it with a certain strange power. He shouted
that the Nazarene was not possessed of a devil, that He was simply an
impostor, a thief who loved money as did all His disciples, and even
Judas himself: and he rattled the money-box, grimaced, and beseeched,
throwing himself on the ground. And by degrees the anger of the
crowd changed into laughter and disgust, and they let fall the stones
which they had picked up to throw at them.
"They are not fit to die by the hands of an honest person," said
they, while others thoughtfully followed the rapidly disappearing
Judas with their eyes.
Again Judas expected to receive congratulations, praise, and thanks,
and made a show of his torn garments, and pretended that he had been
beaten; but this time, too, he was greatly mistaken. The angry Jesus
strode on in silence, and even Peter and John did not venture to
approach Him: and all whose eyes fell on Judas in his torn garments,
his face glowing with happiness, but still somewhat frightened,
repelled him with curt, angry exclamations.
It was just as though he had not saved them all, just as though he
had not saved their Teacher, whom they loved so dearly.
"Do you want to see some fools?" said he to Thomas, who was
thoughtfully walking in the rear. "Look! There they go along the
road in a crowd, like a flock of sheep, kicking up the dust. But you
are wise, Thomas, you creep on behind, and I, the noble, magnificent
Judas, creep on behind like a dirty slave, who has no place by the
side of his masters."
"Why do you call yourself magnificent?" asked Thomas in surprise.
"Because I am so," Judas replied with conviction, and he went on
talking, giving more details of how he had deceived the enemies of
Jesus, and laughed at them and their stupid stones.
"But you told lies," said Thomas.
"Of course I did," quickly assented Iscariot. "I gave them what
they asked for, and they gave me in return what I wanted. And what
is a lie, my clever Thomas? Would not the death of Jesus be the
greatest lie of all?"
"You did not act rightly. Now I believe that a devil is your
father. It was he that taught you, Judas."
The face of Judas grew pale, and something suddenly came over
Thomas, and as if it were a white cloud, passed over and concealed
the road and Jesus. With a gentle movement Judas just as suddenly
drew Thomas to himself, pressed him closely with a paralysing
movement, and whispered in his ear--
"You mean, then, that a devil has instructed me, don't you, Thomas?
Well, I saved Jesus. Therefore a devil loves Jesus and has need of
Him, and of the truth. Is it not so, Thomas? But then my father was
not a devil, but a he-goat. Can a he-goat want Jesus? Eh? And
don't you want Him yourselves, and the truth also?"
Angry and slightly frightened, Thomas freed himself with difficulty
from the clinging embrace of Judas, and began to stride forward
quickly. But he soon slackened his pace as he endeavoured to
understand what had taken place.
But Judas crept on gently behind, and gradually came to a
standstill. And lo! in the distance the pedestrians became blended
into a parti-coloured mass, so that it was impossible any longer to
distinguish which among those little figures was Jesus. And lo! the
little Thomas, too, changed into a grey spot, and suddenly--all
disappeared round a turn in the road.
Looking round, Judas went down from the road and with immense leaps
descended into the depths of a rocky ravine. His clothes blew out
with the speed and abruptness of his course, and his hands were
extended upwards as though he would fly. Lo! now he crept along an
abrupt declivity, and suddenly rolled down in a grey ball, rubbing
off his skin against the stones; then he jumped up and angrily
threatened the mountain with his fist--
"You too, damn you!"
Suddenly he changed his quick movements into a comfortable,
concentrated dawdling, chose a place by a big stone, and sat down
without hurry. He turned himself, as if seeking a comfortable
position, laid his hands side by side on the grey stone, and heavily
sank his head upon them. And so for an hour or two he sat on, as
motionless and grey as the grey stone itself, so still that he
deceived even the birds. The walls of the ravine rose before him,
and behind, and on every side, cutting a sharp line all round on the
blue sky; while everywhere immense grey stones obtruded from the
ground, as though there had been at some time or other, a shower
here, and as though its heavy drops had become petrified in endless
split, upturned skull, and every stone in it was like a petrified
thought; and there were many of them, and they all kept thinking
heavily, boundlessly, stubbornly.
A scorpion, deceived by his quietness, hobbled past, on its
tottering legs, close to Judas. He threw a glance at it, and,
without lifting his head from the stone, again let both his eyes rest
fixedly on something--both motionless, both veiled in a strange
whitish turbidness, both as though blind and yet terribly alert. And
lo! from out of the ground, the stones, and the clefts, the quiet
darkness of night began to rise, enveloped the motionless Judas, and
crept swiftly up towards the pallid light of the sky. Night was
coming on with its thoughts and dreams.
That night Judas did not return to the halting-place. And the
disciples, forgetting their thoughts, busied themselves with
preparations for their meal, and grumbled at his negligence.
Once, about mid-day, Jesus and His disciples were walking along a
stony and hilly road devoid of shade, and, since they had been more
than five hours afoot, Jesus began to complain of weariness. The
disciples stopped, and Peter and his friend John spread their cloaks
and those of the other disciples, on the ground, and fastened them
above between two high rocks, and so made a sort of tent for Jesus.
He lay down in the tent, resting from the heat of the sun, while they
amused Him with pleasant conversation and jokes. But seeing that
even talking fatigued Him, and being themselves but little affected
by weariness and the heat, they went some distance off and occupied
themselves in various ways. One sought edible roots among the stones
on the slope of the mountain, and when he had found them brought them
to Jesus; another, climbing up higher and higher, searched musingly
for the limits of the blue distance, and failing, climbed up higher
on to new, sharp-pointed rocks. John found a beautiful little blue
lizard among the stones, and smiling brought it quickly with tender
hands to Jesus. The lizard looked with its protuberant, mysterious
eyes into His, and then crawled quickly with its cold body over His
warm hand, and soon swiftly disappeared with tender, quivering tail.
But Peter and Philip, not caring about such amusements, occupied
themselves in tearing up great stones from the mountain, and hurling
them down below, as a test of their strength. The others, attracted
by their loud laughter, by degrees gathered round them, and joined in
their sport. Exerting their strength, they would tear up from the
ground an ancient rock all overgrown, and lifting it high with both
hands, hurl it down the slope. Heavily it would strike with a dull
thud, and hesitate for a moment; then resolutely it would make a
first leap, and each time it touched the ground, gathering from it
speed and strength, it would become light, furious, all-subversive.
Now it no longer leapt, but flew with grinning teeth, and the
whistling wind let its dull round mass pass by. Lo! it is on the
edge--with a last, floating motion the stone would sweep high, and
then quietly, with ponderous deliberation, fly downwards in a curve
to the invisible bottom of the precipice.
"Now then, another!" cried Peter. His white teeth shone between his
black beard and moustache, his mighty chest and arms were bare, and
the sullen, ancient rocks, dully wondering at the strength which
lifted them, obediently, one after another, precipitated themselves
into the abyss. Even the frail John threw some moderate-sized
stones, and Jesus smiled quietly as He looked at their sport.
"But what are you doing, Judas? Why do you not take part in the
game? It seems amusing enough?" asked Thomas, when he found his
strange friend motionless behind a great grey stone.
"I have a pain in my chest. Moreover, they have not invited me."
"What need of invitation! At all events, I invite you; come! Look
what stones Peter throws!"
Judas somehow or other happened to glance sideward at him, and
Thomas became, for the first time, indistinctly aware that he had two
faces. But before he could thoroughly grasp the fact, Judas said in
his ordinary tone, at once fawning and mocking--
"There is surely none stronger than Peter? When he shouts, all the
asses in Jerusalem think that their Messiah has arrived, and lift up
their voices too. You have heard them before now, have you not,
Smiling politely; and modestly wrapping his garment round his chest,
which was overgrown with red curly hairs, Judas stepped into the
circle of players.
And since they were all in high good humour, they met him with mirth
and loud jokes, and even John condescended to vouchsafe a smile, when
Judas, pretending to groan with the exertion, laid hold of an immense
stone. But lo! he lifted it with ease, and threw it, and his blind,
wide-open eye gave a jerk, and then fixed itself immovably on Peter;
while the other eye, cunning and merry, was overflowing with quiet
"No! you throw again!" said Peter in an offended tone.
And lo! one after the other they kept lifting and throwing gigantic
stones, while the disciples looked on in amazement. Peter threw a
great stone, and then Judas a still bigger one. Peter, frowning and
concentrated, angrily wielded a fragment of rock, and struggling as
he lifted it, hurled it down; then Judas, without ceasing to smile,
searched for a still larger fragment, and digging his long fingers
into it, grasped it, and swinging himself together with it, and
paling, sent it into the gulf. When he had thrown his stone, Peter
would recoil and so watch its fall; but Judas always bent himself
forward, stretched out his long vibrant arms, as though he were going
to fly after the stone. Eventually both of them, first Peter, then
Judas, seized hold of an old grey stone, but neither one nor the
other could move it. All red with his exertion, Peter resolutely
approached Jesus, and said aloud--
"Lord! I do not wish to be beaten by Judas. Help me to throw this
Jesus made answer in a low voice, and Peter, shrugging his broad
shoulders in dissatisfaction, but not daring to make any rejoinder,
came back with the words--
"He says: 'But who will help Iscariot?'"
Then glancing at Judas, who, panting with clenched teeth, was still
embracing the stubborn stone, he laughed cheerfully--
"Look what an invalid he is! See what our poor sick Judas is doing!"
And even Judas laughed at being so unexpectedly exposed in his
deception, and all the others laughed too, and even Thomas allowed
his pointed, grey, overhanging moustache to relax into a smile.
And so in friendly chat and laughter, they all set out again on the
way, and Peter, quite reconciled to his victor, kept from time to
time digging him in the ribs, and loudly guffawed--
"There's an invalid for you!"
All of them praised Judas, and acknowledged him victor, and all
chatted with him in a friendly manner; but Jesus once again had no
word of praise for Judas. He walked silently in front, nibbling the
grasses, which He plucked. And gradually, one by one, the disciples
craved laughing, and went over to Jesus. So that in a short time it
came about, that they were all walking ahead in a compact body, while
Judas--the victor, the strong man--crept on behind, choking with dust.
And lo! they stood still, and Jesus laid His hand on Peter's
shoulder, while with His other He pointed into the distance, where
Jerusalem had just become visible in the smoke. And the broad,
strong back of Peter gently accepted that slight sunburnt hand.
For the night they stayed in Bethany, at the house of Lazarus. And
when all were gathered together for conversation, Judas thought that
they would now recall his victory over Peter, and sat down nearer.
But the disciples were silent and unusually pensive. Images of the
road they had traversed, of the sun, the rocks and the grass, of
Christ lying down under the shelter, quietly floated through their