And among us, from time to time, there arose laughter, ringing and joyous as the laughter of the gods!
Or suddenly, from some one’s lips, flew forth words, verses replete with wondrous beauty and with inspired power ... so that it seemed as though the very sky resounded in reply to them, and round about the sea throbbed with sympathy.... And then blissful silence began again.
Diving lightly through the soft waves, our swift boat glided on. It was not propelled by the breeze; it was ruled by our own sportive hearts. Whithersoever we wished, thither did it move, obediently, as though it were gifted with life.
We encountered islands, magical, half-transparent islands with the hues of precious stones, jacinths and emeralds. Intoxicating perfumes were wafted from the surrounding shores; some of these islands pelted us with a rain of white roses and lilies-of-the-valley; from others there rose up suddenly long-winged birds, clothed in rainbow hues.
The birds circled over our heads, the lilies and roses melted in the pearly foam, which slipped along the smooth sides of our craft.
In company with the flowers and the birds, sweet, sweet sounds were wafted to our ears.... We seemed to hear women’s voices in them.... And everything round about,—the sky, the sea, the bellying of the sail up aloft, the purling of the waves at the stern,—everything spoke of love, of blissful love.
And she whom each one of us loved—she was there ... invisibly and near at hand. Yet another moment and lo! her eyes would beam forth, her smile would blossom out.... Her hand would grasp thy hand, and draw thee after her into an unfading paradise!
O azure realm! I have beheld thee ... in my dream!
TWO RICH MEN
When men in my presence extol Rothschild, who out of his vast revenues allots whole thousands for the education of children, the cure of the sick, the care of the aged, I laud and melt in admiration.
But while I laud and melt I cannot refrain from recalling a poverty-stricken peasant’s family which received an orphaned niece into its wretched, tumble-down little hovel.
“If we take Katka,” said the peasant-woman; “we shall spend our last kopeks on her, and there will be nothing left wherewith to buy salt for our porridge.”
“But we will take her ... and unsalted porridge,” replied the peasant-man, her husband.
Rothschild is a long way behind that peasant-man!
THE OLD MAN
The dark, distressing days have come....
One’s own maladies, the ailments of those dear to him, cold and the gloom of old age. Everything which thou hast loved, to which thou hast surrendered thyself irrevocably, collapses and falls into ruins. The road has taken a turn down hill.