The other is gaunt and yellow of body. His ribs are faintly discernible at every breath. His hair is fair, thin, straight; his eyes are huge, round, pale grey in colour ... his gaze is uneasy and strangely bright. All his features are sharp-cut: his mouth is small, half open, with fish-like teeth; his nose is solid, aquiline; his chin projecting, covered with a whitish down. Those thin lips have never once smiled.
It is a regular, terrible, pitiless face! Moreover, the face of the first youth,—of the beauty,—although it is sweet and charming, does not express any compassion either. Around the head of the second are fastened a few empty, broken ears of grain intertwined with withered blades of grass. A coarse grey fabric encircles his loins; the wings at his back, of a dull, dark-blue colour, wave softly and menacingly.
Both youths appeared to be inseparable companions.
Each leaned on the other’s shoulder. The soft little hand of the first rested like a cluster of grapes on the harsh collar-bone of the second; the slender, bony hand of the second, with its long, thin fingers, lay outspread, like a serpent, on the womanish breast of the first.
And I heard a voice. This is what it uttered:
“Before thee stand Love and Hunger—–own brothers, the two fundamental bases of everything living.
“Everything which lives moves, for the purpose of obtaining food; and eats, for the purpose of reproducing itself.
“Love and Hunger have one and the same object; it is necessary that life should not cease,—one’s own life and the life of others are the same thing, the universal life.”
He possessed everything which was requisite to make him the scourge of his family.
He had been born healthy, he had been born rich—and during the whole course of his long life he had remained rich and healthy; he had never committed a single crime; he had never stumbled into any blunder; he had not made a single slip of the tongue or mistake.
He was irreproachably honest!... And proud in the consciousness of his honesty, he crushed every one with it: relatives, friends, and acquaintances.
His honesty was his capital ... and he exacted usurious interest from it.
Honesty gave him the right to be pitiless and not to do any good deed which was not prescribed;—and he was pitiless, and he did no good ... because good except by decree is not good.
He never troubled himself about any one, except his own very exemplary self, and he was genuinely indignant if others did not take equally assiduous care of it!
And, at the same time, he did not consider himself an egoist, and upbraided and persecuted egoists and egoism more than anything else!—Of course! Egoism in other people interfered with his own.
Not being conscious of a single failing, he did not understand, he did not permit, a weakness in any one else. Altogether, he did not understand anybody or anything, for he was completely surrounded by himself on all sides, above and below, behind and before.