She held in her hand a long frond of a steppe flower—“Imperial sceptre" the Russian folk call it; and it does, indeed, resemble a sceptre.
As she flew rapidly above me she touched my head with that flower.
I darted toward her.... But she had already fluttered through the window, and away she flew headlong....
In the garden, in the wilderness of the lilac-bushes, a turtle-dove greeted her with its first cooing; and at the spot where she had vanished the milky-white sky flushed a soft crimson.
I recognised thee, goddess of fancy! Thou hast visited me by accident—thou hast flown in to young poets.
O poetry! O youth! O virginal beauty of woman! Only for an instant can ye gleam before me,—in the early morning of the early spring!
A tall, bony old woman with an iron face and a dull, impassive gaze is walking along with great strides, and pushing before her, with her hand as harsh as a stick, another woman.
This woman, of vast size, powerful, corpulent, with the muscles of a Hercules, and a tiny head on a bull-like neck-and blind—is pushing on in her turn a small, thin young girl.
This girl alone has eyes which see; she resists, turns backward, elevates her thin red arms; her animated countenance expresses impatience and hardihood.... She does not wish to obey, she does not wish to advance in the direction whither she is being impelled ... and, nevertheless, she must obey and advance.
Whoever likes may interpret this.
In the vicinity of a great city, on the broad, much-travelled road, an aged, ailing man was walking.
He was staggering as he went; his emaciated legs, entangling themselves, trailing and stumbling, trod heavily and feebly, exactly as though they belonged to some one else; his clothing hung on him in rags; his bare head drooped upon his breast.... He was exhausted.
He squatted down on a stone by the side of the road, bent forward, propped his elbows on his knees, covered his face with both hands, and between his crooked fingers the tears dripped on the dry, grey dust.
He was remembering....
He remembered how he had once been healthy and rich,—and how he had squandered his health, and distributed his wealth to others, friends and enemies.... And lo! now he had not a crust of bread, and every one had abandoned him, his friends even more promptly than his enemies.... Could he possibly humble himself to the point of asking alms? And he felt bitter and ashamed at heart.
And the tears still dripped and dripped, mottling the grey dust.
Suddenly he heard some one calling him by name. He raised his weary head and beheld in front of him a stranger: a face calm and dignified, but not stern; eyes not beaming, but bright; a gaze penetrating, but not evil.