A Reckless Character eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.

“No,” he thought, throwing aside his pen, “either I have no talent for writing in general, or I must wait a while yet!”

He began to call to mind his visit to the Milovidoffs, and all the narration of Anna, of that kind, splendid Anna....  The word she had uttered:  “unsullied!” suddenly struck him.  It was exactly as though something had scorched and illuminated him.

“Yes,” he said aloud, “she was unsullied and I am unsullied....  That is what has given her this power!”

Thoughts concerning the immortality of the soul, the life beyond the grave, again visited him.  “Is it not said in the Bible:  ’O death, where is thy sting?’ And in Schiller:  ‘And the dead also shall live!’ (Auch die Todten sollen leben!)—­Or here again, in Mickiewicz, ’I shall love until life ends ... and after life ends!’—­While one English writer has said:  ‘Love is stronger than death!’”—­The biblical sentence acted with peculiar force on Aratoff.  He wanted to look up the place where those words were to be found....  He had no Bible; he went to borrow one from Platosha.  She was astonished; but she got out an old, old book in a warped leather binding with brass clasps, all spotted with wax, and handed it to Aratoff.  He carried it off to his own room, but for a long time could not find that verse ... but on the other hand, he hit upon another: 

     “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
     for his friends".... (the Gospel of John, Chap.  XV, verse 13).

He thought:  “That is not properly expressed.—­It should read:  ’Greater power hath no man!’"....

“But what if she did not set her soul on me at all?  What if she killed herself merely because life had become a burden to her?—­What if she, in conclusion, did not come to that tryst with the object of obtaining declarations of love at all?”

But at that moment Clara before her parting on the boulevard rose up before him....  He recalled that sorrowful expression on her face, and those tears, and those words:—­“Akh, you have understood nothing!”

No!  He could not doubt for what object and for what person she had laid down her life....

Thus passed that day until nightfall.

XV

Aratoff went early to bed, without feeling particularly sleepy; but he hoped to find rest in bed.  The strained condition of his nerves caused him a fatigue which was far more intolerable than the physical weariness of the journey and the road.  But great as was his fatigue, he could not get to sleep.  He tried to read ... but the lines got entangled before his eyes.  He extinguished his candle, and darkness took possession of his chamber.—­But he continued to lie there sleepless, with closed eyes....  And now it seemed to him that some one was whispering in his ear....  “It is the beating of my heart, the rippling of the blood,” he thought....  But the whisper passed into coherent speech.  Some one was talking Russian hurriedly, plaintively, and incomprehensibly.  It was impossible to distinguish a single separate word....  But it was Clara’s voice!

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A Reckless Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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