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

THE LAZY MAN

Iron it is.  For the last six years I have worn fetters on them.

THE TOILER

And what was that for?

THE LAZY MAN

Because I was striving for your welfare, I wanted to liberate you, the coarse, uneducated people; I rebelled against your oppressors, I mutinied....  Well, and so they put me in prison.

THE TOILER

They put you in prison?  It served you right for rebelling!

    Two Years Later

THE SAME TOILER TO ANOTHER TOILER

Hearken, Piotra!...  Dost remember one of those white-handed lazy men was talking to thee the summer before last?

THE OTHER TOILER

I remember....  What of it?

FIRST TOILER

They’re going to hang him to-day, I hear; that’s the order which has been issued.

SECOND TOILER

Has he kept on rebelling?

FIRST TOILER

He has.

SECOND TOILER

Yes....  Well, see here, brother Mitry:  can’t we get hold of a bit of that rope with which they are going to hang him?  Folks say that that brings the greatest good luck to a house.

FIRST TOILER

Thou’rt right about that.  We must try, brother Piotra.

April, 1878.

THE ROSE

The last days of August....  Autumn had already come.

The sun had set.  A sudden, violent rain, without thunder and without lightning, had just swooped down upon our broad plain.

The garden in front of the house burned and smoked, all flooded with the heat of sunset and the deluge of rain.

She was sitting at a table in the drawing-room and staring with stubborn thoughtfulness into the garden, through the half-open door.

I knew what was going on then in her soul.  I knew that after a brief though anguished conflict, she would that same instant yield to the feeling which she could no longer control.

Suddenly she rose, walked out briskly into the garden and disappeared.

One hour struck ... then another; she did not return.

Then I rose, and emerging from the house, I bent my steps to the alley down which—­I had no doubt as to that—­she had gone.

Everything had grown dark round about; night had already descended.  But on the damp sand of the path, gleaming scarlet amid the encircling gloom, a rounded object was visible.

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