“I have a book,” he murmured, “a rare book.” . . .
And suddenly he left the studio and went to his own quarters. He wanted to bring the book to show to his friends. Argensola accompanied him, and they returned in a few minutes with the volume, leaving the doors open behind them, so as to make a stronger current of air among the hollows of the facades and the interior patio.
Tchernoff placed his precious book under the light. It was a volume printed in 1511, with Latin text and engravings. Desnoyers read the title, “The Apocalypse Illustrated.” The engravings were by Albert Durer, a youthful effort, when the master was only twenty-seven years old. The three were fascinated by the picture portraying the wild career of the Apocalyptic horsemen. The quadruple scourge, on fantastic mounts, seemed to be precipitating itself with a realistic sweep, crushing panic-stricken humanity.
Suddenly something happened which startled the three men from their contemplative admiration—something unusual, indefinable, a dreadful sound which seemed to enter directly into their brains without passing through their ears—a clutch at the heart. Instinctively they knew that something very grave had just happened.
They stared at each other silently for a few interminable seconds.
Through the open door, a cry of alarm came up from the patio.
With a common impulse, the three ran to the interior window, but before reaching them, the Russian had a presentiment.
“My neighbor! . . . It must be my neighbor. Perhaps she has killed herself!”
Looking down, they could see lights below, people moving around a form stretched out on the tiled floor. The alarm had instantly filled all the court windows, for it was a sleepless night—a night of nervous apprehension when everyone was keeping a sad vigil.
“She has killed herself,” said a voice which seemed to come up from a well. “The German woman has committed suicide.”
The explanation of the concierge leaped from window to window up to the top floor.
The Russian was shaking his head with a fatalistic expression. The unhappy woman had not taken the death-leap of her own accord. Someone had intensified her desperation, someone had pushed her. . . . The horsemen! The four horsemen of the Apocalypse! . . . Already they were in the saddle! Already they were beginning their merciless gallop of destruction!
The blind forces of evil were about to be let loose throughout the world.
The agony of humanity, under the brutal sweep of the four horsemen, was already begun!
WHAT DON MARCELO ENVIED