But what is to be done? Grieve? Lament? Thou wilt help neither thyself nor others in that way....
On the withered, bent tree the foliage is smaller, more scanty—but the verdure is the same as ever.
Do thou also shrivel up, retire into thyself, into thy memories, and there, deep, very deep within, at the very bottom of thy concentrated soul, thy previous life, accessible to thee alone, will shine forth before thee with its fragrant, still fresh verdure, and the caress and strength of the springtime!
But have a care ... do not look ahead, poor old man!
Two friends are sitting at a table and drinking tea.
A sudden noise has arisen in the street. Plaintive moans, violent oaths, outbursts of malicious laughter have become audible.
“Some one is being beaten,” remarked one of the friends, after having cast a glance out of the window.
“A criminal? A murderer?” inquired the other.—“See here, no matter who it is, such chastisement without trial is not to be tolerated. Let us go and defend him.”
“But it is not a murderer who is being beaten.”
“Not a murderer? A thief, then? Never mind, let us go, let us rescue him from the mob.”
“It is not a thief, either.”
“Not a thief? Is it, then, a cashier, a railway employee, an army contractor, a Russian Maecenas, a lawyer, a well-intentioned editor, a public philanthropist?... At any rate, let us go, let us aid him!”
“No ... they are thrashing a correspondent.”
“A correspondent?—Well, see here now, let’s drink a glass of tea first.”
It was a vision....
Two angels presented themselves before me ... two spirits.
I say angels ... spirits, because neither of them had any garments on their naked bodies, and from the shoulders of both sprang long, powerful wings.
Both are youths. One is rather plump, smooth of skin, with black curls. He has languishing brown eyes with thick eyelashes; his gaze is ingratiating, cheerful, and eager. A charming, captivating countenance a trifle bold, a trifle malicious. His full red lips tremble slightly. The youth smiles like one who has authority,—confidently and lazily; a sumptuous garland of flowers rests lightly on his shining hair, almost touching his velvet eyebrows. The spotted skin of a leopard, pinned with a golden dart, hangs lightly from his plump shoulders down upon his curving hips. The feathers of his wings gleam with changeable tints of rose-colour; their tips are of a brilliant red, just as though they had been dipped in fresh, crimson blood. From time to time they palpitate swiftly, with a pleasant silvery sound, the sound of rain in springtime.