Fine people our neighbors are. It’s strange, there are so many good people in the world, and yet a man can die of hunger. Why is it?
You’ve turned so sad. Your face is growing pale. What is the matter? Do you see anything?
Yes, as I was joking, the terrible image of poverty glided in front of me and stopped there, in the corner. Do you see it? Arms stretched out in complaint, a child abandoned in the woods, a praying voice, and the stillness of a human desert. Help! No one hears. Help, I’m dying! No one hears. Look, wife, look! See the dark, gloomy shadows there, quivering and rising like black smoke from a long, terrible chimney leading into hell. Look! And I’m in the midst of them!
I’m afraid. I can’t look in that dark corner. Did you see all that in the street?
MAN Yes, I saw it in the street, and soon it’ll be that way with us.
No, God will not permit it.
Then why does He permit it to happen to others?
We’re better than others. We are good people. We never offend Him.
You think so? I do a lot of swearing.
You’re not bad.
Yes, I am bad. When I walk along the street and see all the things that don’t belong to us, I feel as if I had tusks like a boar. Oh, how much money I haven’t got! Listen, my dear wife. I was walking in the park to-day, that lovely park, where the paths are straight as arrows and the beech-trees like kings wearing crowns—
And I was walking in the city streets. Shops everywhere, such beautiful shops!
I saw men, beautifully dressed, carrying canes, and I thought: “I haven’t anything like that.”
I saw elegantly dressed women, wearing dainty shoes that make your feet beautiful, and pretty hats from under which your eyes shine impenetrably, and silk skirts that make such a mysterious rustle; and I thought: “I haven’t a good hat or a silk skirt.”
A ruffian jostled me. I showed him my tusks, and he fled in disgrace to hide himself in the crowd.