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 poorly.
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._
THE DRUNKARD’S CONVERSATION
—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 ceiling.
—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 body.
—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.