“Thou hast given away all thy wealth,” an even voice made itself heard.... “But surely thou art not regretting that thou hast done good?”
“I do not regret it,” replied the old man, with a sigh, “only here am I dying now.”
“And if there had been no beggars in the world to stretch out their hands to thee,” pursued the stranger, “thou wouldst have had no one to whom to show thy beneficence; thou wouldst not have been able to exercise thyself therein?”
The old man made no reply, and fell into thought.
“Therefore, be not proud now, my poor man,” spoke up the stranger again. “Go, stretch out thy hand, afford to other good people the possibility of proving by their actions that they are good.”
The old man started, and raised his eyes ... but the stranger had already vanished,—but far away, on the road, a wayfarer made his appearance.
The old man approached him, and stretched out his hand.—The wayfarer turned away with a surly aspect and gave him nothing.
But behind him came another, and this one gave the old man a small alms.
And the old man bought bread for himself with the copper coins which had been given him, and sweet did the bit which he had begged seem to him, and there was no shame in his heart—but, on the contrary, a tranquil joy overshadowed him.
I dreamed that a score of us were sitting in a large room with open windows.
Among us were women, children, old men.... We were all talking about some very unfamiliar subject—talking noisily and unintelligibly.
Suddenly, with a harsh clatter, a huge insect, about three inches and a half long, flew into the room ... flew in, circled about and alighted on the wall.
It resembled a fly or a wasp.—Its body was of a dirty hue; its flat, hard wings were of the same colour; it had extended, shaggy claws and a big, angular head, like that of a dragon-fly; and that head and the claws were bright red, as though bloody.
This strange insect kept incessantly turning its head downward, upward, to the right, to the left, and moving its claws about ... then suddenly it wrested itself from the wall, flew clattering through the room,—and again alighted, again began to move in terrifying and repulsive manner, without stirring from the spot. It evoked in all of us disgust, alarm, even terror.... None of us had ever seen anything of the sort; we all cried: “Expel that monster!” We all flourished our handkerchiefs at it from a distance ... for no one could bring himself to approach it ... and when the insect had flown in we had all involuntarily got out of the way.
Only one of our interlocutors, a pale-faced man who was still young, surveyed us all with surprise.—He shrugged his shoulders, he smiled, he positively could not understand what had happened to us and why we were so agitated. He had seen no insect, he had not heard the ominous clatter of its wings.