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

Those who felt any desire to speak, after they had been stricken by the gaze of Lazarus, described the change that had come over them somewhat like this: 

All objects seen by the eye and palpable to the hand became empty, light and transparent, as though they were light shadows in the darkness; and this darkness enveloped the whole universe.  It was dispelled neither by the sun, nor by the moon, nor by the stars, but embraced the earth like a mother, and clothed it in a boundless black veil.

Into all bodies it penetrated, even into iron and stone; and the particles of the body lost their unity and became lonely.  Even to the heart of the particles it penetrated, and the particles of the particles became lonely.

The vast emptiness which surrounds the universe, was not filled with things seen, with sun or moon or stars; it stretched boundless, penetrating everywhere, disuniting everything, body from body, particle from particle.

In emptiness the trees spread their roots, themselves empty; in emptiness rose phantom temples, palaces and houses—­all empty; and in the emptiness moved restless Man, himself empty and light, like a shadow.

There was no more a sense of time; the beginning of all things and their end merged into one.  In the very moment when a building was being erected and one could hear the builders striking with their hammers, one seemed already to see its ruins, and then emptiness where the ruins were.

A man was just born, and funeral candles were already lighted at his head, and then were extinguished; and soon there was emptiness where before had been the man and the candles.

And surrounded by Darkness and Empty Waste, Man trembled hopelessly before the dread of the Infinite.

So spoke those who had a desire to speak.  But much more could probably have been told by those who did not want to talk, and who died in silence.

IV

At that time there lived in Rome a celebrated sculptor by the name of Aurelius.  Out of clay, marble and bronze he created forms of gods and men of such beauty that this beauty was proclaimed immortal.  But he himself was not satisfied, and said there was a supreme beauty that he had never succeeded in expressing in marble or bronze.  “I have not yet gathered the radiance of the moon,” he said; “I have not yet caught the glare of the sun.  There is no soul in my marble, there is no life in my beautiful bronze.”  And when by moonlight he would slowly wander along the roads, crossing the black shadows of the cypress-trees, his white tunic flashing in the moonlight, those he met used to laugh good-naturedly and say:  “Is it moonlight that you are gathering, Aurelius?  Why did you not bring some baskets along?”

And he, too, would laugh and point to his eyes and say:  “Here are the baskets in which I gather the light of the moon and the radiance of the sun.”

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