Savva and The Life of Man
Leonid Andreyev

Part 5 out of 6

I feel so miserable not to be able to help you.


You make me ashamed of myself. I am a strong man with a good mind; I
am able, talented, and healthy, and yet I can't do a thing. My dear
wife, my little fairy is crying, and I am not able to help her. A
woman's tears are her husband's disgrace, I am ashamed.


But it isn't your fault that people don't appreciate you.


My ears are burning just as they used to when I was a boy and had had
them boxed. Why, you are hungry too, and I, egoist that I am, haven't
noticed it. It's mean of me.


My dear, I don't feel hungry.


It's unfair, it's contemptible. That ruffian who jostled me was right.
He saw I was a fat pig and that's all, a boar with sharp tusks but a
stupid head.


If you are going to keep on reproaching yourself, I'll cry again.


Don't, don't. No tears! Tears in your eyes frighten me. I am afraid
of those shining crystal drops, as if some other, some terrible person
were shedding them, not you. I won't let you cry. We have nothing, we
are poor. But I'll tell you of what we are going to have. I will charm
you with a bright fairy tale, my queen. I will array you in dazzling
dreams as in roses!


You mustn't be afraid. You are strong, you are a genius, you will
conquer. Your momentary despair will pass away, and divine inspiration
will again quicken your proud head.

MAN _(assumes a challenging attitude and throws an oak leaf into the
corner where the Unknown stands, saying)_ Ho, you, whatever your name,
Fate, Devil, or Life, I fling my glove down before you, I challenge
you to combat! The poor in spirit bow before your enigmatic power.
Your stony face inspires them with fear; in your silence they hear
the approaching tread of misery and terrible ruin. But I am strong and
bold, and I challenge you to combat! Come on! Let the swords glitter,
the shields clang! Deal and receive blows so that the earth trembles!
Ho, come forth to battle!

WIFE _(nestling up at his left, somewhat behind, speaking solemnly)_
Bolder, my husband, still bolder!


To your evil-boding inaction I oppose my living, daring strength; to
your gloom my clear, resonant laugh! Ho, repel the blows! You have
a stone brow, devoid of reason. I will throw the glowing balls of my
sparkling thought at it. You have a stone heart, devoid of pity. Take
care, I will pour into it the poison of my rebellious outcries. The
dark cloud of your grim wrath overshadows the sun. We will light the
darkness with our swords. Ho, repel the blows!


Bolder, still bolder, my proud knight! Your squire is behind you.


Victorious, I will sing songs which the whole world will reecho;
fallen under your blows, my only thought shall be to rise again and
rush into battle. There are weak spots in my armor, but when my red
blood is flowing, I will gather my last strength and cry: "You have
not conquered, evil Enemy of Man!"


Bolder, my knight! I will wash your wounds with my tears. I will stop
the flow of your red blood with my kisses.


And dying on the field of battle as the brave die, with one cry I will
destroy your blind joy: "I have conquered!" I have conquered, O cruel
Enemy. Unto my last breath I did not recognize your power!


Bolder, my knight, bolder! I will die beside you.


Ho, come forth to battle! Let the swords glitter, the shields clang!
Deal and receive blows to make the earth tremble! Ho, come forth!

_[For some time Man and his Wife remain in the same posture; then they
turn around, facing each other, and kiss._


That's the way we'll deal with life, my dear, won't we? Let it frown
like a blind owl in the sun--we'll compel it to smile.


And to dance to our songs--so we will, we two.


We two. You're a good wife, you're my true friend, you're a brave
little woman, and as long as you are with me I fear nothing. Poverty,
what does it amount to? To-day we're poor, to-morrow rich.


And what is hunger? To-day we are hungry, to-morrow satisfied.


Do you think so? It's quite possible. But I'll eat a lot. I shall need
so much to satisfy my hunger. Tell me, do you think this will prove
enough? In the, morning, tea or coffee or chocolate. You can have your
choice. It's free. Then a breakfast of three courses, then lunch, then
dinner, then--


More fruit. I like fruit.


Very well. I'll buy fruit by the barrel, direct from the wholesale
market. It's cheaper and fresher. Besides, we'll have our own garden.


But we have no land.


I'll buy land. I've always wanted to have my own piece of land. By the
way, I'll build a house for us and design it too. Let the rascals see
what sort of an architect I am.


I should like to live in Italy, close by the sea; in a white marble
villa in a grove of lemons and cypresses, with marble steps leading
straight down to the blue water.


I understand. That's all right. But I intend, besides, to build a
castle in the mountains of Norway. Below, the fjord; and above, on the
steep mountain, the castle. We have no paper. But look, I'll show it
to you on the wall here. Here is the fjord, you see?


Yes, beautiful.


Here, sparkling blue water gently beating against the green grass;
here, beautiful cinnamon-colored stone; and there, in the recess,
where this spot is, a bit of blue sky and serene white clouds.


Look, there is a white boat floating on the water--it looks like two
swans swimming side by side.


And up there rises the mountain. Bright and green below, it turns
gloomier and sterner as it ascends--rugged crags, dark shadows, fallen
boulders, and patches of clouds.


Like a ruined castle.


And there, on that spot--the middle one--I'll build my royal castle.


It's cold up there, and windy.


I'll have thick stone walls and large windows with all the panes made
out of a single piece of glass. At night, when the winter snowstorms
begin to rage and the fjord below to roar, we'll draw the curtains and
make a fire in the huge fireplace. It is such a tremendous fireplace
that it will hold a whole log. It will burn up a whole forest of


How nice and warm.


And how quiet too, if you will please notice. Carpets covering the
whole, floor and lots of books will make it cosy and quietly lively.
And we'll be there, the two of us. The wind howling outside and we two
sitting before the fireplace on a white bear-skin rug. "Wouldn't you
like to have a look at what's doing outside?" you'll say. "All right!"
And we'll go to the largest window and draw aside the curtain. Good
heavens! What a sight!


See the snow whirling.


Galloping like white horses, like myriads of frightened little
spirits, pale with fear and seeking safety in the night. And what a
howling and roaring!


Oh, it's cold. I'm shivering.


Go back to the fireplace, quick! Hey there, fetch me grandfather's
goblet--not that one, the golden one from which the vikings drank.
Fill it up with sparkling wine--not that way--fill it to the brim with
the burning draught. Venison is roasting on the spit. Bring it here.
I'll eat some. Quick, or I'll eat you. I'm hungry as the devil.


There, they have brought it. Now, go on.


Go on? I'll eat some, of course. What else do you expect? What are you
doing to my head, little wife?


I am the goddess of fame. I have woven a crown of the oak leaves that
our neighbors scattered here, and I'm crowning you. It's Fame that
has come to you, the beautiful goddess Fame. _(Puts the wreath on his


Yes, fame; loud, noisy fame. Look at the wall. Do you see this? It's
I, walking. And who is this next to me? Do you see?




Look, they are bowing to us; they are whispering about us; they are
pointing their fingers at us. There is a venerable old gentleman
saying with tears in his eyes: "Happy the land that has such
children!" See how pale this youth here has turned. Fame looked at him
and gave him a smile. That's after I built the People's House, which
is the pride of the whole country.


You are my famous husband. The oak wreath suits you so well. A laurel
wreath would become you still better.


Look, look, there come the representatives of the city where I was
born. They bow to me and say: "Our city is proud of the honor--"




What is it?


I found a bottle of milk.




And bread, soft, sweet-smelling bread. And a cigar.


Impossible! You are mistaken. It's the dampness from that damned wall,
that's what it is. It isn't milk.


But it is.


A cigar? Cigars don't grow on windows. They are sold for fortunes in
tobacco stores. It's a black stick, a piece of a branch, I'm sure.


Look and see. I suppose our neighbors brought it.


Our neighbors? I tell you they're people--they're not human--they're
divine. But even if the devil himself brought it--quick, give it here,
my sweet little wife.

_[Man's Wife seats herself on his knees, and so they eat. She breaks
off pieces of bread and puts them in his mouth. He feeds her the milk
from the bottle._


Seems to be cream.


No, it's milk. Chew better. You'll choke.


Give me the crust. It's so brown.


I told you, you'd choke.


No, it went down. I swallowed it.


The milk is running down my chin and neck. Oh, it's tickling me.


Lean over. I'll lick it off. We mustn't let a drop go to waste.


You're a cunning one.


There! Quick work. All good things soon come to an end. This
bottle seems to have a double bottom. It looks so large. The glass
manufacturers are terrible cheats.

_[He lights the cigar with the air of a man relaxing into beatific
repose. His Wife ties the red ribbon in her hair, looking at herself
in the dark pane of the window._


Don't you see?


I see everything. I see your ribbon, and I see, you want me to kiss
you on your dear little bare neck.


No, sir, I won't permit that. You've grown too forward of late anyway.
You take such liberties. Please go on smoking your cigar and leave my


What, isn't your neck mine? I'll be jiggered! Why, it's an attack
on the sacred rights of property _(She runs away; he catches her and
kisses her)_ So, the property rights have been restored. Now, my
dear, we'll dance. Imagine that this is a magnificent, a luxurious, a
wonderful, a supernatural, ah exquisitely beautiful palace.


Very well. I'm imagining it.


Imagine you're the queen of the ball.


All right. It is imagined.


And that counts, marquises, and dukes come up and ask you to dance.
But you refuse. You choose that one--What's his name?--the one in
uniform--the prince. What's the matter?


I don't like princes.


Indeed? Then whom do you like?


Talented artists.


Very well. Here's one for you. Why, girl, what are you doing? Are you
flirting with the air?


I am imagining.


All right. Imagine a wonderful orchestra. Here is the Turkish
drum--boom, boom, boom! _(He strikes his fist on the table as on a


Why, dear, it's only in the circus that they attract crowds by beating
drums, but in a palace--


Oh, hang it! Stop imagining that, then. Now imagine something else.
The violins are playing a melodious plaint; the flutes are singing
gently; the double bass drones like a beetle.

_[Man sits down, still wearing his oak wreath, and strikes up a dance
tune, clapping his hands in accompaniment. The melody is the same as
in the next scene at Man's ball. The Wife dances. She is well-formed
and graceful._


Oh, you darling!


I am the queen of the ball.

_[The song and dance grow ever jollier. Man rises slowly and begins
to dance lightly on the spot where he is standing; then he seizes his
Wife and dances with her. The oak wreath slips to one side. Someone
in Gray looks on indifferently, the candle burning brightly in his
petrified hand._




_The ball is in the drawing-room of Man's large mansion. It is a very
lofty, spacious, perfectly rectangular room. The floor is bright and
smooth. There is a certain irregularity about the room due to the
disproportionate size of the parts. Thus, the doors are very small
in proportion to the windows. This produces a strange, irritating
impression, as of something disharmonious, something lacking, and also
of something superfluous and adventitious. The whole is pervaded by a
chilly white, the monotony of which is broken only by a row of windows
in the rear wall. They are very high, reaching almost to the ceiling,
and dense with the blackness of night. Not one gleam, not a bright
spot shows in the blank spaces between the window frames. Man's wealth
shows in the abundance of gildings. There are gilded chairs, and
very wide gold frames enclose the pictures. These constitute the only
furniture as well as the only ornamentation. The lighting is from
three chandeliers shaped like tings, with a few electric lights placed
at a great distance apart. At the ceiling the light is bright, but
considerably less so below, so that the walls seem grayish.

The ball is in full swing. The music is furnished by an orchestra
of three pieces. The musicians resemble closely their respective
instruments; the violinist, a violin--lean neck, small head, a shock
of hair brushed to one side, back somewhat bent, a handkerchief
correctly adjusted on his shoulder under the violin; the flute-player,
a flute--very, tall, with a thin, elongated face, and stiff, thin
legs, the bass-violinist, a double-bass--stumpy, round-shouldered,
lower part of his body very stout, wide trousers. The uncommon effort
with which the musicians play is painfully evident. They beat time,
swing their heads, and shake their bodies. The tune is the same
throughout the ball, a short polka in two musical phrases, producing a
jolly, hopping, extremely insipid effect. The three instruments do
not quite keep time with one another, producing a sort of queer
detachment, a vacant space, as it were, between them and the sounds
which they produce.

Young men and girls are dancing dreamily. All are handsome,
distinguished-looking, with good figures. In contrast to the piercing
notes of the music, their dancing is smooth, noiseless, light. At
the first musical phrase, they circle around; at the second, they
gracefully part and join again. There is a slight mannerism in their

Along the walls, on the gilded chairs, sit the Guests, stiff and
constrained. They scarcely venture to move their heads. Their
conversation is also constrained. They do not whisper to one another;
they do not laugh, and they scarcely look at one another. They speak
abruptly, as if chopping out the words of a text. Their hands hanging
superciliously over their laps make their arms look as if they had
been broken at the wrists. The monotony of their faces is strongly
emphasized. Every face bears the same expression of self-satisfaction,
haughtiness, and inane respect for the wealth of Man.

The dancing girls are all in white, the men in black. Some of the
Guests wear black, white, and brightly yellow? flowers.

In the near corner, which is darker than the rest, Someone in Gray
called He stands motionless. The candle in his hand is reduced
two-thirds and burns with a strong, yellow light, casting a yellow
sheen on His stony face and chin._


--It is a very great honor to be a guest at Man's ball.

--You may add, it is an honor of which very few have been deemed
worthy. The whole city tried to get themselves invited, but only a
very few succeeded. My husband, my children, and I are quite proud of
the honor Man has showed us.

--I am really sorry for those who were not able to get here. They
won't sleep the whole night from sheer envy, and to-morrow they'll say
nasty things about the ball and call it a bore.

--They never saw such magnificence.

--Or such wonderful wealth and luxury.

--Or, I dare say, such charming, free and easy gayety.

--If this isn't gay, I should like to know what is.

--Oh, what's the use of talking? You can't convince people consumed by
jealousy. They'll tell us we didn't sit on gilded chairs, absolutely

--They'll say that the chairs were of the commonest sort, bought at
second hand.

--That the illumination was not by electricity, but just by tallow

--Say candle stumps.

--Or dirty lamps.

--They'll have the impudence to maintain that the mouldings in Man's
house are not gilded.

--And that the broad picture frames are not made of gold. It seems to
me I can hear the very ring of it.

--You can see its glitter. That's quite sufficient, I should think.

--I have rarely had the pleasure of hearing such music.

--It is divine harmony. It transports the soul to higher spheres.

--I should think the music good enough, considering the money paid for
it. It is the best trio in the city. They play on the most important
and solemn occasions.

--If you listen awhile, it compels your absolute attention. After a
ball at Man's, my children keep singing the tune a long time.

--I sometimes think I hear it in the street. I look around--no
musicians, no music.

--What I like especially in these musicians is the great effort they
make when they play. They know the price they're paid and don't want
to get the money for nothing. That's very decent of them.

--It seems as if they became a part of their instruments, their
efforts are so great.

--Or as if the instruments became part of them.

--How rich!

--How magnificent!

--How brilliant!

--How rich!

_[For some time the two expressions, "How rich! How magnificent!" are
repeated from different parts of the room, uttered abruptly, like a

--Beside this ballroom there are fourteen other magnificent rooms in
Man's house. I have seen them all. The dining-room has such a huge
fireplace that you can put a whole log into it. There are magnificent
guest-rooms and a beautiful boudoir. A large bedroom, and over the
pillows on the beds--just fancy!--canopies!

--Why, how wonderful! Canopies!

--Did you hear? Canopies!

--Permit me to continue. For their son, the little boy, they have a
beautiful bright room of golden yellow wood. It looks as if the sun
were shining into it all the time.

--He is such a fine boy. He has curly hair that looks like the rays of
the sun.

--That's true. When you look at him you wonder whether the sun has

--And when you look at his eyes you think: "Autumn is, gone, and the
blue sky is here again."

--Man loves his son madly. He bought him a pony for horseback riding,
a nice snow-white pony. My children--

--Pray, let me continue. Have I told you yet about the swimming-pool?

--No. No.

--A swimming-pool, a perfect marvel.

--What, a swimming-pool!

--Yes. And further on is Man's study, full of books, books, books.
They say he's a very learned man.

--You can see it by the books.

--I have seen his garden.

--I haven't.

--It was entrancing, I must say. Imagine an emerald-green lawn kept
beautifully mowed and trimmed at the edges. In the middle a path of
fine red sand.

--Flowers--even palms.

--Yes, even palms. And all the trees trimmed as carefully and
precisely as the lawn, some cut in the shape of pyramids, others
in the shape of green columns. There's a lovely fountain and little
plaster elves and deer scattered all around in the grass.

--How rich!

--How magnificent!

--How brilliant!

--How rich!

--Man did me the honor of showing me his stables and barns. I had
to tell him how much I admired his horses and carriages. I was
particularly impressed by his motor car.

--Think of it, he has seven servants; seven--a chef, a woman-cook, two
maids, gardeners--

--You forget the coachman and the chauffeur.

--Yes, of course, the coachman and the chauffeur.

--And they themselves do nothing at all. They are too fine.

--You must admit, it is a great honor to have been invited to Man's

--Don't you find the music somewhat monotonous?

--No, I don't, and I'm surprised you do. Don't you see what kind of
musicians they are?

--I should like to hear such music all my life. That's what I say.
There's something, in that music that stirs me.

--Me too.

--Me too.

--It is a delicious sensation to abandon oneself to dreams of
happiness under the influence of this music!

--To transport oneself in fancy to the astral spheres!

--How fine!

--How rich!

--How magnificent!

_[These phrases are repeated._

--I notice a stir at that door. Man and his Wife will soon pass
through the hall.

--The musicians are working away for dear life.

--There they are!

--They're coming! Look, they're coming!

_[Man, his Wife, his Friends, and his Enemies appear in the door on
the right, cross the room diagonally to the door on the left. The
dancers go on dancing, but part to make way for them. The musicians
play desperately loud and out of tune. Man has aged greatly. His long
hair and long beard are beginning to turn gray. But his face is manly
and handsome, and he walks with calm dignity and an air of coldness.
He looks straight ahead of him, as if not noticing those around him.
His Wife has also aged, but she is still beautiful and walks leaning
on his arm. She too seems not to notice the people around her, but
looks straight ahead, with a rather strange, almost fixed expression.
Both are richly dressed.

His Friends follow directly behind Man. They resemble one another very
much--noble faces, high and candid foreheads, honest eyes. They walk
proudly, throwing out their chests, stepping firmly and confidently,
and looking, now to this side, now to that, with condescension and
slight disdain. They wear white roses in their buttonholes.

Following them at a slight distance come Man's Enemies, also very much
resembling one another--mean, cunning faces; low, heavy foreheads;
long, ape-like arms. They walk uneasily, pushing, bending, and hiding
behind one another, and casting sharp, mean, envious, sidelong glances
from beneath lowered lids. Yellow roses appear in their buttonholes.
Thus they pass through the room, slowly and in perfect silence. The
sounds of the steps, the music, and the exclamations of the Guests
produce a sharply discordant noise._


--There they are. There they are. What an honor!

--How handsome he is!

--What a manly face!

--Look! Look!

--He isn't looking at us!

--He doesn't see us!

--We are his guests!

--What an honor! What an honor!

--And his wife! Look! Look!

--How beautiful she is!

--How proud!

--I tell you, just look at her diamonds!

--Her pearls! Her pearls!

--And her rubies!

--How rich! What an honor!

--Honor! Honor! Honor!

_[The same phrases are repeated again._

--Here are Man's Friends!

--Look, look, there are Man's Friends.

--Noble faces!

--Proud gait!

--They shine with the reflected splendor of his fame.

--How they love him!

--How faithful they are to him!

--What an honor to be one of Man's Friends!

--They regard everything here as their own!

--They're at home here!

--What an honor!

--Honor! Honor! Honor!

_[Same phrases are repeated._

--And there are Man's Enemies!

--Look, look, Man's Enemies!

--They walk like whipped curs!

--Man has subdued them!

--He's put a muzzle on them!

--They're wagging their tails!

--They're sneaking behind one another.

--They're pushing one another.

--Ha-ha! Ha-ha!

_[Everybody laughs._

--What mean faces!

--What greedy looks!



--They're afraid to look at us!

--They feel we're at home!

--Let's frighten them.

--Man'll be thankful to us for it.


_[They shout at Man's Enemies, mingling their shouts with laughter.
The Enemies huddle closer together and cast sharp, timid, sideward

--They're going! They're going!

--What an honor!

--They're going!

--Ho-ho! Ha-ha!

--They're gone! They're gone! They're gone!

_[The procession disappears through the door on the left. A pause of
silence. The music plays less loudly, and the dancers begin gradually
to fill the hall._

--Where did they go?

--I believe they went to the dining-room, where supper is being

--I suppose they'll soon invite us in. Do you see anybody looking for

--Yes, it's time for supper. If you eat too late, you can't sleep

--I always serve supper early.

--A late supper lies heavy on your stomach.

--And the music is still playing.

--And they're still dancing.

--I wonder they don't get tired.

--How rich!

--How magnificent!

--Do you know for how many guests they have prepared the supper?

--I didn't get a chance to count all the covers. The caterer came in,
and I had to get out.

--Could they possibly have forgotten us?

--Man is so proud, and we are so unimportant.

--Don't say that. My husband says we do him an honor by accepting his
invitation. We are rich, too.

--When you consider the reputation of his wife--

--Do you see anyone looking for us? Maybe he's looking for us in the
other rooms.

--How rich!

--If you are not careful with other people's money, it's easy to get
rich, I think.

--Oh, now, it's only his enemies who say that.

--Well, after all, there are some very respectable people among them.
I must admit that my husband--

--It is late, though.

--It's clear there must be a mistake somewhere. I can't believe we've
simply been forgotten.

--Evidently you know people and life very little if you think so.

--I am surprised. We are rich enough ourselves.

--It seems to me someone called us.

--You're mistaken, no one called us. I don't understand it. To
be quite frank--why did we come to a house like this, with such a
reputation? One should be very careful of the friends one chooses.

A LIVERIED LACKEY _(appears at the door)_

Man and his Wife beg the honored guests to step into the dining-room.

GUESTS _(rising quickly)_

--What a livery!

--He asked us to come in!

--I said there must be a mistake somewhere.

--Man is so good. I'm sure he hasn't had a chance to sit down at table

--Didn't I say someone was looking for us?

--What a livery!

--They say the supper is grand.

--Everything at Man's is done in a grand style.

--What music! What an honor to be at Man's ball!

--Let those envy us who--

--How grand!

--How magnificent!

--What an honor!

_[They go out one after the other, repeating the last phrases. One
couple after the other stop dancing and follow the Guests in silence.
For some time a single couple remain circling on the floor, but they
too join the others at last. The musicians, however, continue to play,
making the same desperate effort. The lackey turns out the electric
lights, leaving only one light in the farthest chandelier. The figures
of the musicians are vaguely seen in the dim light, swaying to and
fro with their instruments. The outline of Someone in Gray is sharply
visible. The flame of the candle flickers, illuminating His stony face
and chin with a garish, yellow light. He turns around without raising
his head, walks slowly and calmly through the whole length of the
room, and disappears through the door through which Man passed out._




_A large, gloomy, quadrangular room, with dark watts, dark floor, and
dark ceiling. There are two high, curtainless windows with eight panes
in the rear watt, and between them a small, low door. Two similar
windows appear in the right wall. Night glooms through the windows,
and when the door opens, the same deep blackness of night stares into
the room. In general, however bright Man's rooms may be, the vast
darkness of the windows engulfs the light.

On the left wall there is nothing but a small, low door leading to
the rest of the house. At the window on the right stands a broad sofa
covered with dark oilcloth. Man's desk is very simple and poor. On it
are seen a dimly burning, shaded lamp, a sheet of yellow paper with
a sketch drawn on it, and a lot of toys--little peaked cap, a wooden
horse without a tail, and a red, long-nosed clown with bells. Between
the windows there is an old dilapidated bookcase entirely empty. The
visible lines of dust left by the books show that they must have been
removed recently. The room has only one chair.

In the darkest corner stands Someone in Gray called He. The candle in
his hand is now no longer than it is thick. The wax is running over a
little. The stump burns with a reddish, flickering light, and casts a
red sheen on His stony face and chin.

The only remaining servant of Man, an Old Woman, is sitting on
the chair. She speaks in an even voice, addressing an imaginary


There! Man has slipped back into poverty. He had a lot of valuable
things, horses and carriages, and even an automobile. Now he has
nothing. Of all his servants I am the only one left. There are still
some good things in here and in two other rooms. There's the sofa and
the bookcase. But in the other twelve rooms there's not a thing. They
are dark and empty. Rats run around in them day and night and fight
and squeak. People are afraid, but I'm not. It's all the same to me.

An iron sign has been hanging on the gate for ever so long, saying
the house is for sale. But no one wants to buy it. The sign's rusty
already, and the rain has worn the letters away. But no one comes to
buy the house. No one wants an old house. Yet maybe someone will buy
it. Then we'll be going to look for another place to live in. It'll
be a strange place. My mistress will begin to cry, and I dare say, the
old gentleman will too. But I won't. It's all the same to me.

You wonder what's become of all his riches. I don't know. Maybe it
seems strange, but I've been living with other people all my life,
and many is the time I've seen money disappear, quietly running off
through some leak or other. That's the way it has happened to these
folks too. They had a lot, then it got to be a little, and then
nothing at all. People came and bought things. Then they stopped
coming. I once asked my mistress how it came about. She answered:
"People have stopped liking what they used to like; they have stopped
loving what they used to love." "How is that possible?" says I. "How
can people stop liking what they once liked?" She didn't answer and
fell to crying. But I didn't. It's all the same to me. It's all the
same to me.

People say they are surprised at me. It's terrible, they say, to
live in this house; terrible to sit here at night with only the wind
whining in the chimney and the rats squeaking and scuffling. Maybe it
is terrible, I don't know; but I don't think about it. Why should I?
There they sit, the two of them, in their room, looking at each other
and listening to the whining of the wind; and I sit in the kitchen
alone and listen to the whining of the wind. Doesn't the same wind
whine in our ears? Young folks used to come to see their son, and they
would all laugh and sing and go through the empty rooms to chase the
rats. But nobody comes to me, and I sit alone, all alone. There's no
one to talk to, so I talk to myself, and it's all the same to me.

I'm sure they had a hard enough time of it--no need of more ill luck.
But three days ago another misfortune happened to them. The young
gentleman went out walking, his hat cocked, his hair dressed in latest
fashion. And a bad man went and threw a stone at him from behind a
corner and broke his head like a nut. They brought him home, put him
to bed, and now he's dying in there. Maybe he'll recover and live--who
knows? The old lady and the old gentleman cried, and then they put all
the books on a wagon and sold them. With the money they hired a nurse,
bought medicines, and even grapes. So the books, too, were of some
good. But he doesn't eat the grapes. He doesn't even look at them.
They just lie there on the dish, just lie there.

DOCTOR _(enters through the outer door; his face looks red and his
manner is uneasy)_ Can you tell me if I am in the right place? I'm
a doctor. I have many visits to pay, and I often make mistakes. I'm
called here and there and everywhere, and all the houses look alike
and the people in them are all sad. Have I struck the right place?


I don't know.


I'll consult my note-book. Is there a child here choking with a sore




Is there a man here who suddenly went insane from poverty and attacked
his wife and two children with a hatchet? Four patients in all, I




Is there a girl here whose heart stopped beating? Don't lie, old
woman, I think she is here.




Well, I believe you. You seem to speak the truth. Is there a young man
here whose head was broken by a stone and who is dying?


Yes. Go through that door on the left, but don't go any farther. The
rats will eat you up!


Very well. They keep ringing, ringing all the time, day and night.
Here it is, late at night. All the lights in the street are out, and I
am still on the run. Often I make a mistake and enter the wrong house.
Yes, old woman, I do. _(Exit through the door leading inside)_


One doctor has already treated him, but didn't cure him. Now there's
another, and I guess he won't cure him either. Well! Then their son
will die, and we'll remain alone in the house. I'll sit in the
kitchen and talk to myself, and they'll sit in there keeping quiet and
thinking. Another room vacated, another room for the rats to scuffle
in. Let them squeak and scuffle. It's all the same to me. It's all
the same to me. You ask me why that bad fellow threw the stone at our
young gentleman. I don't know--how could I know why people want to
kill each other? One threw a stone from behind a corner and ran away;
the other one fell in a heap and is now dying--that's all I know. They
say that our young gentleman was a fine chap, very brave, and very
kind to poor people. I don't know anything about it--it is all the
same to me. Whether they are good or bad, young or old, quick or dead,
it is all the same to me. It is all the same to me.

As long as they pay, I'll stay with them; and when they stop paying,
I'll go to other people to do their housework, and finally I shall
stop altogether--when I get old, and my eyesight gets poor, so that
I can't tell salt from sugar. Then they'll turn me out and say: "Go
where you please. We'll hire another one." What of it? I'll go. It's
all the same to me. Here, there, or nowhere, it's all the same to me.
It's all the same to me.

_[Enter Doctor, Man and his Wife. Both have aged greatly and are
completely gray. Man's long bristling hair and beard give his face
a leonine appearance. He walks slightly stooping, but holds his head
erect and looks sternly and resolutely from beneath his gray eyebrows.
When he looks at anything closely, he puts on large, silver-framed


Your son has fallen into a deep sleep. Don't wake him. It may bring on
a turn for the better. You go to sleep too. When one has a chance to
sleep one should grab it and not stay up talking.


Thank you, doctor, it's been such a relief. Will you call to-morrow


Yes, to-morrow and the day after to-morrow. Old woman, you go to bed
too. It's late, it's time for all to go to bed. Is that the door to
leave by? I often make mistakes.

_[He goes out. The Old Woman goes also. Man and his Wife are left


Look, wife, I began to draw this while our son was still well. I
stopped at this line and thought I'd rest and resume the work later.
See what a simple, placid line it is, yet horrible to look at. It
may be the last line I shall have drawn in our boy's lifetime. What
malicious ignorance there is graven in its simplicity and placidity.


Don't get excited, my dear. Don't think those evil thoughts. I believe
the doctor told the truth and our son will recover.


Aren't you excited too? Look at yourself in the mirror. You're as
white as your hair, my old friend.


Of course, I am a little excited, but I'm convinced there's no danger.


Now, as always, you encourage me and fool me so sincerely, so
guilelessly. My poor squire, true guardian of my dulled sword, your
knight is a poor, broken-down man. He cannot hold a weapon in his
feeble hand. What do I see? Our son's toys. Who put them there?


My dear, you put them there yourself long ago. Have you forgotten? You
said you found it easier to work with the child's innocent toys beside


Yes, I had forgotten. But now it's terrible to look at them, as
terrible as it is for a convict to look at instruments of torture. If
the child dies, his toys will remain as a curse to the living. Wife,
wife, the sight of them is terrible to me!


It was when we were still poor that we bought them. How touching it is
to look at them, those poor, dear toys!


I can't help it, I must take them in my hands. Here's the horse with
the tail torn off. Hop, hop, horsie! Where are you galloping off to?
I'm going far, far away, papa, to where the fields are and the green
woods. Take me along, horsie. Hop, hop, hop! Sit down, dear papa. And
there's the soldier's cap, the cheap cap I tried on myself in fun when
I bought it. Who are you? I'm a knight, papa. I'm the bravest, the
strongest knight. Where are you going, my little knight? I'm going to
kill the dragon, dear papa. I'm going to free the captives, papa. Go,
go, my little knight. _(The Wife cries)_ And there's our everlasting
clown, with his kind, stupid face. But how ragged he is, as if he
had come out of a hundred frays. Tinkle, friend, the way you used to
tinkle. What, you can't? Only one bell left, you say? Well, I'll throw
you on the floor. _(Throws down the toy)_


What are you doing? Remember how often our boy kissed his funny face.


Yes, that was wrong of me. Forgive me, friend, forgive me. _(He bends
down with difficulty and picks up the clown)_ Still laughing? Don't.
I'll put you away, out of sight. Don't be angry, I can't bear your
smile now. Go and laugh in a place where I can't see you.


It breaks my heart to hear you speak like that. Believe me, our son
will get well. It wouldn't be just if the young were to die before the
old, would it?


Just? Where have you ever seen justice, wife?


Please, dear husband, I beg you, kneel down beside me, and let us both
pray to God.


It's hard for an old man to bend his old knees.


Bend them. You should--you must.


He will not hear me, He whose ear I've never troubled with either
praise or entreaty. You pray. You are the mother.


You pray--you are the father. If a father is not to pray for his son,
who is? To whom are you leaving him? Can one person tell the same
things in the same way as the two of us together?


Very well. Maybe eternal justice will answer the prayers of an old man
who bends his old knees.

_[Both go down on their knees, their faces turned to the corner
where the Unknown stands motionless; their arms are folded over their
breasts while they pray._


God, I beg you, let my son live. I can understand only one thing, I
can say only one thing, only one thing--God, let my son live. I
have no other words, all is dark around me, everything is falling.
I understand nothing, and there's such a terror in my heart, O Lord,
that I can say only this one thing--God, let my son live! Let him
live! Forgive me for praying so poorly. But I cannot pray in any other
way. You understand, O Lord, I can't. Look at me! Just look at me! Do
you see? Do you see how my head shakes, do you see how my hands shake?
But what are my hands, O Lord! Have pity on him. He is so young--he
has a birthmark on his right hand. Let him live, even if only a little
while, a little while. He is so young, such a mere foolish child--he's
still fond of sweets. I bought him grapes. Pity--have pity!

_[She weeps in a subdued way, covering her face with her hands. Man
speaks without looking at her._


Here I am praying, you see. I've bent my old knees. I've prostrated
myself in the dust before you. I'm kissing the ground, do you see?
Maybe I have sometimes offended you. If so, forgive me, forgive me. It
is true, I was haughty, arrogant. I demanded and did not beg. Often I
condemned--forgive me. And if you wish, if this be your will, punish
me, but spare my son. Spare him, I beg you. Not for mercy, not for
pity do I pray you. I pray for justice. You are old, and I am old too.
You will understand more easily than I. Bad people wanted to kill
him, people who insult you by their deeds and defile your earth--bad,
heartless people, who throw stones from behind corners. From
behind corners, the scoundrels! Do not then, I pray you, permit the
fulfilment of this evil deed. Stay the blood, give back the life--give
back the life to my noble son! You took everything away from me, but
did I ever ask you like a beggar: "Give me back my wealth, give me
back my friends, give me back my talent"? No, never. I did not even
ask you for my talent, and you know what his talent means to a man.
It is more than life. I thought perhaps that's the way it ought to be,
and I bore everything, bore everything with pride. But now I ask
you on my knees, in the dust, kissing the earth: "Give back my son's
life." I kiss your earth!

_[He rises. Someone called He listens indifferently to the father's
and mother's prayers._


I'm afraid your prayer was not humble enough. There was a certain tone
of pride in it.


No, no, my wife, I spoke well to Him, the way a man should speak. He
cannot love cringing flatterers better than brave, proud men who speak
the truth. No, wife, you cannot understand. Now I believe also and
feel reassured--in fact, I am happy. I feel that I too still signify
something to my boy, and it makes me glad. Go and see if he's asleep.
He needs a lot of good, hard sleep.

_[The Wife goes out. Man, with a friendly look to the corner where
Someone in Gray stands, picks up the toy clown, plays with it, and
gives its red nose a quick kiss. At that instant his Wife enters and
Man speaks shamefacedly._


I was begging his pardon. I insulted this fool. Well, how is our dear


He is so pale.


That's nothing. It'll pass away. He lost a lot of blood.


It makes me so sad to look at his poor shorn head. He had such
beautiful golden curls.


They had to be cut so that the wound could be washed. Never mind,
wife, his hair will grow again and be still finer. Did you keep what
was cut off? Be sure to keep it. His precious, blood is on it.


Yes, I put it away in the chest, the last one left of all our wealth.


Don't worry about wealth. Just wait until our son begins to work.
He'll restore all we've lost. I feel well again, wife, and I firmly
believe in our future. Do you remember our poor little rosy room? The
good neighbors scattered oak leaves in it, and you made a wreath of
them and put it on my head and said I was a genius.


I say so still. Other people have ceased to appreciate you, but not I.


No, my dear little wife, you're wrong. What genius creates outlives
the old dirty bundle of rags known as the body, whereas I am still
living, and my productions--


No, they're not dead and they never will die. Do you remember that
corner house you built ten years ago? Every evening at sunset you go
to look at it. Is there a more beautiful building in the whole city,
is there any with more depth to it?


Yes, I purposely built it so that the last rays of the setting sun
should fall upon it and set its windows aglow. When the whole city is
in darkness, my house is still taking leave of the sun. It was well
done, and perhaps it will survive me a little while at least. What do
you think?


Of course, my friend.


The only thing that hurts, wife, is that the people have forgotten me
so soon. They might have remembered me a little longer, just a little


They have forgotten what they knew, and ceased to love what they


They might have remembered me a little longer, a little longer.


I saw a young artist near that house. He studied it carefully and made
a sketch of it in his sketchbook.


Ah, why didn't you tell me that before? It's highly significant,
highly significant. It means that my ideas are accepted and handed
down by others, and even if I am forgotten, my ideas will live. It is
tremendously significant.


Yes, my dear, you are not forgotten. Do you remember the young man who
bowed so reverently to you on the street?


Yes, that's so, wife. He was a fine, very fine youth. He had such a
nice young face. It's good you reminded me of his bow. It has sent a
ray of brightness into my heart. But I feel sleepy. I must be tired. I
am old too, my dear little gray wife. Have you noticed it?


You're just as handsome as ever.


And my eyes are bright?


Yes, your eyes are bright.


And my hair is black as pitch?


It's so white, so like snow that it's even more beautiful.


And no wrinkles?


Yes, there are little wrinkles on your face, but--


Of course, I know I'm a beauty. To-morrow I'll buy myself a uniform
and enter the light cavalry. Yes? _(His Wife laughs)_


There, you're joking too, as in olden times. But lie down here and
sleep a little. I'll go to look after our boy. Don't worry, I won't
leave him. I'll call you when he wakes. You don't care to kiss an old
wrinkled hand, do you?

MAN _(kissing her hand)_

Go, you're the most beautiful woman I've ever known.


And the wrinkles?


What wrinkles? I only see a dear, kind, good, sensible face. Nothing
else. Don't take offence at my stern tone. Go to the boy, watch him,
stay with him like a quiet shadow of gentleness and love. And if he is
disturbed in his sleep, sing him a song as you used to do. And put the
grapes nearer, so that he can reach them.

_[The Wife goes out. Man lies down on the sofa, his head toward the
spot where Someone in Gray stands immobile, so that His hand almost
touches Man's gray, dishevelled hair. Man falls asleep quickly._


Man has fallen into a sound, sweet sleep, deceived by hope. His breath
is soft as a child's, his heart beats calmly and evenly, bringing
him relief. He knows not that in a few moments his son will die. In
mysterious dream-fancies a picture of impossible happiness arises
before him.

It seems to him that he and his son are drifting in a white boat along
a beautiful, quiet stream. It seems to him that it is a glorious day,
and he sees the deep sky and the transparent crystal water. He hears
the rustling of the reeds as they part before the boat. It seems to
him that he is happy and glad. All his feelings betray him.

Suddenly he is disturbed. The terrible truth has entered through the
thick veil of sleep and stung his thoughts.

"Why is your golden hair cut so short, my boy? Why?"

"I had a headache, papa, that's why."

And deceived once more, he feels happy again, sees the deep sky, and
hears the rustling of the parting reeds.

He knows not that his son is already dying. He hears not how, in a
last senseless hope, with a child's faith in the power of adults, his
son is calling him without words, with his heart: "Papa, papa, I am
dying! Hold me!" Man sleeps soundly and sweetly, and in the deceptive,
mysterious fancies there arises before him the picture of impossible
happiness. Awake, Man! Your son is dead.

_[Man lifts his head, frightened, and rises._


Ha! What is it? I thought I heard someone call me.

_[At that moment many women behind the scenes burst into a wail--the
loud, long-drawn wail over the dead. The Wife enters, frightfully




Yes, he is dead.


Did he call me?


No, he never awoke. He didn't call anyone. He is dead--my son, my
dear, darling boy!

_[She falls on her knees before Man and sobs, clasping his knees. Man
puts his hand on her hand and, turning to the corner where Someone in
Gray stands indifferently, speaks in a sobbing, but terrible voice._


You insulted a woman, scoundrel! You killed a boy! _(His Wife sobs.
Man softly strokes her hair with his trembling hand)_ Don't cry, my
dear, don't cry. He will scoff at our tears, just as He scoffed at
our prayers. And you--I don't know who you are--God, Devil, Fate, or
Life--I curse you!

_[Man speaks the following in a loud, powerful voice, one arm about
his wife as if to protect her, the other arm fiercely extended toward
the Unknown._


I curse everything that you have given. I curse the day on which I was
born. I curse the day on which I shall die. I curse the whole of my
life, its joys and its sorrows. I curse myself. I curse my eyes, my
ears, my tongue. I curse my heart and my head, and I fling everything
back at your cruel face, a senseless Fate! Be accursed, be forever
accursed! With my curses I conquer you. What else can you do to
me? Hurl me to the ground, I will laugh and shout in your face:
"Be accursed!" Seal my mouth with the clamps of death, with my
last thought I will shout into your stupid ears: "Be accursed, be
accursed!" Take my body, tear at it like a dog, drag it into the
darkness--I am not in it. I have disappeared, but disappearing I shall
repeat: "Be accursed, be accursed!" Through the woman whom you have
insulted, through the boy whom you have killed, I convey to you the
curses of Man!

_[He turns in silence, with fiercely uplifted hand. Someone in Gray
listens passively to the curses. The flame of the candle flickers as
if blown by the wind. Thus they stand for some time in tense silence
confronting each other, Man and Someone in Gray. The wailing behind
the scenes grows louder and more prolonged, passing into a doleful




_An uncertain, unsteady, blinking light, so dim that at first nothing
is distinguishable. When the eye grows accustomed to it, the following
scene becomes visible.

A long, wide room with a very low ceiling and windowless. The entrance
is down a flight of steps from somewhere above. The walls are bare and
dirty and resemble the coarse, stained hide of some huge animal. Along
the entire back wall up to the stairs runs a, bar with a top of
smooth glass. This is covered with bottles full of differently colored
liquors that are arranged in regular rows. Behind a low table sits
the Bartender, immobile, with his hands folded across his paunch. His
white face is blotched with red. His head is bald, and he has a large,
reddish beard. He wears an expression of utter calm and indifference,
which he maintains throughout, never changing his seat or his

Drunkards, both men and women, sit at small tables on wooden stools.
Their number seems to be augmented by their shadows dancing on the
walls and ceiling.

It is one endless monotony of repulsive ugliness and desolation.
The men's faces resemble masks with the various features
disproportionately magnified or reduced: big noses, or no noses at
all; eyes staring savagely, almost starting from their sockets, or
eyes narrowed to scarcely visible slits and points; huge Adam's apples
and tiny chins. Their hair is tangled, frowzy, dirty, covering half
the face on some of them. Despite their differences, a horrible
sameness is stamped upon their faces: a greenish, ghastly tinge of
decay and an expression that appears grotesque in some, gloomy and
stupidly timid in others.

They are dressed in dull rags, with here a bony arm bared, there
a sharp knee, and there again a frightfully sunken chest. Some are
almost entirely naked. The women differ little from the men, except
that they are even uglier and more uncouth. All have trembling heads
and hands and walk with an uncertain step, as if on a slippery, or
hilly, or sliding surface. Their voices, too, are all alike, rough and
hoarse. They speak as uncertainly as they walk, as if their lips were
frozen and refused to obey.

In the centre, at a separate table, sits Man, his gray, unkempt head
leaning on his arms. In this position he remains throughout the
scene, except during the one moment when he speaks. He is dressed very

In the corner stands Someone in Gray, with the candle burned nearly
to the end. The slender blue flame flickers, now bending, now striving
upward with its sharp little tongue. Its blue throws a ghastly glare
on His face and chin._


--Oh my! Oh my!

--Look, everything is swaying so strangely. There's nothing to rest
your eyes on.

--Everything is shaking as in a fever--the people, the chair, the

--Everything is floating and rocking as on waves.

--Do you hear a noise? I hear a kind of noise, as if an iron wheel
were rumbling, or stones falling from a mountain, large stones coming
down like rain.

--It's the ringing in your ears.

--It's the tingling of your blood. I feel my blood. It flows heavy
through my veins, thick, thick, black, smelling of rum. And when it
gets to my heart, it all falls down, and it's terrible.

--It seems to me I see flashes of lightning.

--I see huge, red woodpiles and people burning on them. It's
disgusting to smell the roasting flesh.

--Dark shadows circle around the piles. They are drunk, the shadows
are. Hey, invite me! I'll dance with you.

--Oh my! Oh my!

--I am happy, too. Who will laugh with me? Nobody. So I'll laugh by
myself. _(He laughs)_

--A charming woman is kissing my lips. She smells of musk and her
teeth are like a crocodile's. She wants to bite me. Get away, you
dirty hussy!

--I am not a dirty hussy. I am an old pregnant snake. I've been
watching a whole hour to see little snakes come out of my body below
and crawl around. Say, don't step on my little snakes.

--Where are you going?

--Who's walking there? Sit down. You make the whole house shake when
you walk.

--I can't. I feel awful sitting down.

--I too. When I am sitting I feel a horror running through my whole

--So do I. Let me go.

_[Three or four Drunkards reel aimlessly about, getting tangled up In
the chairs._

--Look what it's doing. It's been jumping for two hours, trying to get
on my knee. It just misses by an inch. I drive it away and it comes
back again.

--Black cockroaches are creeping under my skull and buzzing.

--My brain is falling apart. I feel the gray matter separating. My
brain is like rotten cheese. It stinks.

--There's some sort of a corpse here. I smell it.

--Oh my! Oh my!

--I'll sneak up to her to-night and cut her throat.

--The blood will flow. It's flowing already. See how red it is.

--I am constantly being followed by three men. They are calling me
into a dark corner of the vacant lot, and they want to kill me. They
are already at the door.

--Who is walking on the walls and ceiling?

--Good Lord! They have come to take me.



--My tongue is getting paralyzed. I'll cry. _(Cries)_

--My whole body is coming out. I'll soon be turned inside out, and
then I'll be all red.

--Listen, listen. Ho! Somebody! A monster is going for me. He's
raising his hand. Help! Ho!

--What is it? Help! A spider!


_[For some time they shout "Help!" hoarsely._

--We are all drunkards. Let's call down all the people from above.
It's so disgusting up there.

--No, don't. When I leave here and go out on the street, it rampages
and tears about like a wild beast and soon throws me off my, feet.

--We've all come here. We drink rum and it gives us joy.

--It gives us fright. I shiver the whole day from fright.

--Fright is better than life. Who wants to return to life?

--I don't.

--I don't. I'd rather croak here. I don't want to live.

--No one!

--Oh my! Oh my!

--Why does Man come here? He drinks little and just sits still. We
don't want him.

--Let him go to his own house. He has a house of his own.

--Fifteen rooms.

--Don't touch him. He has no place to go to any more.

--He has fifteen rooms.

--They're empty. Only rats run around and fight in them.

--And his wife.

--He hasn't any. Seems she died.

_[During this conversation and the following, Old Women in strange
headgear enter quietly and replace unnoticeably the Drunkards, who
quietly depart. The women mingle in the conversation, but in such a
way that no one notices it._


--He'll soon die, too. He can scarcely drag himself along, he's so

--He has fifteen rooms.

--Listen to the beating of his heart. It's uneven and faint. It'll
soon stop beating altogether.

--Hey, Man, give us an invitation to your house. You have fifteen

--It'll soon stop beating altogether, that old, sick, feeble heart of

--He's asleep, the drunken fool. It's dreadful to sleep, and yet he
sleeps. He might die in his sleep.

--Hey, there, wake him up!

--Do you remember how it used to beat when it was young and strong?

_[A low laugh is heard._

--Who's laughing? There are some here who have no business to be here.

--It just seems so to you. We are all alone, only we drunkards.

--I'll go out on the street and start a fight. I've been robbed. I'm
stark naked, and my skin is green.

--Good evening.

--The wheel is rumbling again. Oh, Lord, they'll crush me! Help!

_[No one responds._

--Good evening.

--Do you remember his birth? I believe you were there.

--I must be dying. Good Lord! Good Lord! Who will carry me to the
grave? Who will bury me? I'll be lying like a dog on the street.
People will step over me, wagons will ride over me. They'll crush me.
Oh, my God! Oh, my God! _(Cries)_

--Permit me to congratulate you, my dear friend, on the birth of your

--I am positive there is a mistake here. For a circle to fall out of a
straight line is an absurdity. I'll demonstrate it on the spot.

--You're right.

--Oh my! Oh my!

--It's only ignoramuses in mathematics who will permit it. I won't. I
won't permit it, do you hear?

--Do you remember the rosy dress and the little bare neck?

--And the flowers? The lilies-of-the-valley on which the dew never
dried, and the violets, and the green grass?

--Don't touch, don't touch the flowers, girls.

_[They utter a low and suppressed laugh._

--Oh my! Oh my!

_[The drunkards have all gone. Their places are taken by the Old
Women. The light grows steady and very faint. The figure of the
Unknown is sharply outlined, and so is Man's gray head, on which a,
faint light falls from above._


--Good evening.

--Good evening. What a splendid night!

--Here we are together again. How are you feeling?

--I cough a little.

_[They laugh suppressedly._

--It won't take long now. He'll die soon.

--Look at the candle. The flame is blue and thin and spreading
sideways. There's no more wax. It's only the wick that's burning.

--It doesn't want to go out.

--When did you ever see a flame that did want to go out?

--Don't dispute, don't dispute. Whether it wants to go out, or doesn't
want to go out, time is flying.

--Do you remember his motor car? He once almost ran me down.

--And his fifteen rooms?

--I was there a little while ago. The rats almost ate me up, and I
caught a cold in the draught. Someone had stolen the window frames,
and the wind was blowing through the whole house.

--Did you try the bed in which his wife died? Isn't it soft and nice?

--Yes, I went through all the rooms and let my fancy play a little.
They have such a pretty nursery. It's a pity the window frames are
knocked out there too, and the wind makes a racket with the litter on
the floor. And the child's bed too is so dear. Now the rats have made
their nest in it and breed their children there.

--Such dear, naked little rats.

_[They titter._

--And in his study the toys are lying on the table: a horse without a
tail, a soldier's cap, and a red-nosed clown. I played a little with
them. I put on the soldier's cap. It was very becoming to me. But
there's such a lot of dust on the things. I got all dirty.

--But did you go into the drawing-room where the ball was given? It's
so gay there.

--Yes, I did. Fancy what I saw. It was dark, the windows were broken,
and the wind was playing with the wall-paper--

--Making a sound as of music.

--And in the darkness the guests were squatting on their knees at the
wall--and you should have seen how they looked!

--We know.

--And they barked: "How rich! How magnificent! How brilliant! How

--You're joking, of course.

--Of course I'm joking. You know I have a funny disposition.

--How rich! How magnificent!

--How gay!

_[They titter._

--Let's remind him of it!

--How rich! How magnificent!

--Do you remember how the music played at your ball?

--He's going to die soon.

--The dancers circled about, circled about, and the music played so
gently, so beautifully. They played this way.

_[They make a semicircle about Man and hum the tune played by the
musicians at the ball._


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