Round about me the sun was still shining hotly and dimly; but in the distance, beyond the rye, not too far away, a dark-blue thunder-cloud lay in a heavy mass over one half of the horizon.
Everything was holding its breath ... everything was languishing beneath the ominous gleam of the sun’s last rays. Not a single bird was to be seen or heard; even the sparrows had hidden themselves. Only somewhere, close at hand, a solitary huge leaf of burdock was whispering and flapping.
How strongly the wormwood on the border-strips smells! I glanced at the blue mass ... and confusion ensued in my soul. “Well, be quick, then, be quick!” I thought. “Flash out, ye golden serpent! Rumble, ye thunder! Move on, advance, discharge thy water, thou evil thunder-cloud; put an end to this painful torment!”
But the storm-cloud did not stir. As before, it continued to crush the dumb earth ... and seemed merely to wax larger and darker.
And lo! through its bluish monotony there flashed something smooth and even; precisely like a white handkerchief, or a snowball. It was a white dove flying from the direction of the village.
It flew, and flew onward, always straight onward ... and vanished behind the forest.
Several moments passed—the same cruel silence still reigned.... But behold! Now two handkerchiefs are fluttering, two snowballs are floating back; it is two white doves wending their way homeward in even flight.
And now, at last, the storm has broken loose—and the fun begins!
I could hardly reach home.—The wind shrieked and darted about like a mad thing; low-hanging rusty-hued clouds swirled onward, as though rent in bits; everything whirled, got mixed up, lashed and rocked with the slanting columns of the furious downpour; the lightning flashes blinded with their fiery green hue; abrupt claps of thunder were discharged like cannon; there was a smell of sulphur....
But under the eaves, on the very edge of a garret window, side by side sit the two white doves,—the one which flew after its companion, and the one which it brought and, perhaps, saved.
Both have ruffled up their plumage, and each feels with its wing the wing of its neighbour....
It is well with them! And it is well with me as I gaze at them.... Although I am alone ... alone, as always.
How empty, and insipid, and insignificant is almost every day which we have lived through! How few traces it leaves behind it! In what a thoughtlessly-stupid manner have those hours flown past, one after another!
And, nevertheless, man desires to exist; he prizes life, he hopes in it, in himself, in the future.... Oh, what blessings he expects from the future!
And why does he imagine that other future days will not resemble the one which has just passed?