He conducted me through the desolated rooms to an inner apartment which had been spared. He brought food and wine, and we seated ourselves, and he again began to weep. He related to me that he the other day had cudgeled the gray-clad man whom he had encountered with my shadow, so long and so far that he had lost all trace of me and had sunk to the earth in utter fatigue; that after this, as he could not find me, he returned home, whither presently the mob, at Rascal’s instigation, came rushing in fury, dashed in the windows, and gave full play to their lust of demolition. Thus did they to their benefactor. The servants had fled various ways. The police had ordered me, as a suspicious person, to quit the city, and had allowed only four-and-twenty hours in which to evacuate their jurisdiction. To that which I already knew of Rascal’s affluence and marriage, he had yet much to add. This scoundrel, from whom all had proceeded that had been done against me, must, from the beginning, have been in possession of my secret. It appeared that, attracted by gold, he had contrived to thrust himself upon me, and at the very first had procured a key to the gold cupboard, where he had laid the foundation of that fortune whose augmentation he could now afford to despise.
All this Bendel narrated to me with abundant tears, and then wept for joy that he again beheld me, again had me; and that after he had long doubted whither this misfortune might have led me, he saw me bear it so calmly and collectedly; for such an aspect had despair now assumed in me. My misery stood before me in its enormity and unchangeableness. I had wept my last tear; not another cry could be extorted from my heart; I presented to my fate my bare head with chill indifference.
“Bendel,” I said, “thou knowest my lot. Not without earlier blame has my heavy punishment befallen me. Thou, innocent man, shalt no longer bind thy destiny to mine. I do not desire it. I leave this very night; saddle me a horse; I ride alone; thou remainest; it is my will. Here still must remain some chests of gold; that retain thou; but I will alone wander unsteadily through the world. But if ever a happier hour should smile upon me, and fortune look on me with reconciled eyes, then will I remember thee, for I have wept upon thy firmly faithful bosom in heavy and agonizing hours.”
With a broken heart was this honest man compelled to obey this last command of his master, at which his soul shrunk with terror. I was deaf to his prayers, to his representations; blind to his tears. He brought me out my steed. Once more I pressed the weeping man to my bosom, sprang into the saddle, and under the shroud of night hastened from the grave of my existence, regardless which way my horse conducted me, since I had longer on earth no aim, no wish, no hope.