Four Short Stories By Emile Zola eBook

Émile Gaboriau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 618 pages of information about Four Short Stories By Emile Zola.

At first I followed our course pretty closely; then came a halt.  I was again lifted and carried about, and I concluded that we were in church, but when the funeral procession once more moved onward I lost all consciousness of the road we took.  A ringing of bells informed me that we were passing another church, and then the softer and easier progress of the wheels indicated that we were skirting a garden or park.  I was like a victim being taken to the gallows, awaiting in stupor a deathblow that never came.

At last they stopped and pulled me out of the hearse.  The business proceeded rapidly.  The noises had ceased; I knew that I was in a deserted space amid avenues of trees and with the broad sky over my head.  No doubt a few persons followed the bier, some of the inhabitants of the lodginghouse, perhaps—­Simoneau and others, for instance—­for faint whisperings reached my ear.  Then I heard a psalm chanted and some Latin words mumbled by a priest, and afterward I suddenly felt myself sinking, while the ropes rubbing against the edges of the coffin elicited lugubrious sounds, as if a bow were being drawn across the strings of a cracked violoncello.  It was the end.  On the left side of my head I felt a violent shock like that produced by the bursting of a bomb, with another under my feet and a third more violent still on my chest.  So forcible, indeed, was this last one that I thought the lid was cleft atwain.  I fainted from it.

CHAPTER IV

THE NAIL

It is impossible for me to say how long my swoon lasted.  Eternity is not of longer duration than one second spent in nihility.  I was no more.  It was slowly and confusedly that I regained some degree of consciousness.  I was still asleep, but I began to dream; a nightmare started into shape amid the blackness of my horizon, a nightmare compounded of a strange fancy which in other days had haunted my morbid imagination whenever with my propensity for dwelling upon hideous thoughts I had conjured up catastrophes.

Thus I dreamed that my wife was expecting me somewhere—­at Guerande, I believe—­and that I was going to join her by rail.  As we passed through a tunnel a deafening roll thundered over our head, and a sudden subsidence blocked up both issues of the tunnel, leaving our train intact in the center.  We were walled up by blocks of rock in the heart of a mountain.  Then a long and fearful agony commenced.  No assistance could possibly reach us; even with powerful engines and incessant labor it would take a month to clear the tunnel.  We were prisoners there with no outlet, and so our death was only a question of time.

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Four Short Stories By Emile Zola from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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