Best Russian Short Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about Best Russian Short Stories.

The musicians were insulted and left.  Then the guests departed one by one, for it was nearing night.  And when the quiet darkness enveloped them, and it became easier to breathe, the image of Lazarus suddenly arose before each one in stern splendour.  There he stood, with the blue face of a corpse and the raiment of a bridegroom, sumptuous and resplendent, in his eyes that cold stare in the depths of which lurked The Horrible! They stood still as if turned into stone.  The darkness surrounded them, and in the midst of this darkness flamed up the horrible apparition, the supernatural vision, of the one who for three days had lain under the measureless power of death.  Three days he had been dead.  Thrice had the sun risen and set—­and he had lain dead.  The children had played, the water had murmured as it streamed over the rocks, the hot dust had clouded the highway—­and he had been dead.  And now he was among men again—­touched them—­looked at them—­looked at them! And through the black rings of his pupils, as through dark glasses, the unfathomable There gazed upon humanity.

III

No one took care of Lazarus, and no friends or kindred remained with him.  Only the great desert, enfolding the Holy City, came close to the threshold of his abode.  It entered his home, and lay down on his couch like a spouse, and put out all the fires.  No one cared for Lazarus.  One after the other went away, even his sisters, Mary and Martha.  For a long while Martha did not want to leave him, for she knew not who would nurse him or take care of him; and she cried and prayed.  But one night, when the wind was roaming about the desert, and the rustling cypress trees were bending over the roof, she dressed herself quietly, and quietly went away.  Lazarus probably heard how the door was slammed—­it had not shut properly and the wind kept knocking it continually against the post—­but he did not rise, did not go out, did not try to find out the reason.  And the whole night until the morning the cypress trees hissed over his head, and the door swung to and fro, allowing the cold, greedily prowling desert to enter his dwelling.  Everybody shunned him as though he were a leper.  They wanted to put a bell on his neck to avoid meeting him.  But some one, turning pale, remarked it would be terrible if at night, under the windows, one should happen to hear Lazarus’ bell, and all grew pale and assented.

Since he did nothing for himself, he would probably have starved had not his neighbours, in trepidation, saved some food for him.  Children brought it to him.  They did not fear him, neither did they laugh at him in the innocent cruelty in which children often laugh at unfortunates.  They were indifferent to him, and Lazarus showed the same indifference to them.  He showed no desire to thank them for their services; he did not try to pat the dark hands and look into the simple shining little eyes.  Abandoned

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Best Russian Short Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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