Other images rise up before me.... I hear the merry murmur of family, of country life. Two red-gold little heads, leaning against each other, gaze bravely at me with their bright eyes; the red cheeks quiver with suppressed laughter; their hands are affectionately intertwined; their young, kind voices ring out, vying with each other; and a little further away, in the depths of a snug room, other hands, also young, are flying about, with fingers entangled, over the keys of a poor little old piano, and the Lanner waltz cannot drown the grumbling of the patriarchal samovar....
“How fair, how fresh were the roses....”
The candle flares up and dies out.... Who is that coughing yonder so hoarsely and dully? Curled up in a ring, my aged dog, my sole companion, is nestling and quivering at my feet.... I feel cold.... I am shivering ... and they are all dead ... all dead....
“How fair, how fresh were the roses.”
I sailed from Hamburg to London on a small steamer. There were two of us passengers: I and a tiny monkey, a female of the ouistiti breed, which a Hamburg merchant was sending as a gift to his English partner.
She was attached by a slender chain to one of the benches on the deck, and threw herself about and squeaked plaintively, like a bird.
Every time I walked past she stretched out to me her black, cold little hand, and gazed at me with her mournful, almost human little eyes.—I took her hand, and she ceased to squeak and fling herself about.
There was a dead calm. The sea spread out around us in a motionless mirror of leaden hue. It seemed small; a dense fog lay over it, shrouding even the tips of the masts, and blinding and wearying the eyes with its soft gloom. The sun hung like a dim red spot in this gloom; but just before evening it became all aflame and glowed mysteriously and strangely scarlet.
Long, straight folds, like the folds of heavy silken fabrics, flowed away from the bow of the steamer, one after another, growing ever wider, wrinkling and broadening, becoming smoother at last, swaying and vanishing. The churned foam swirled under the monotonous beat of the paddle-wheels; gleaming white like milk, and hissing faintly, it was broken up into serpent-like ripples, and then flowed together at a distance, and vanished likewise, swallowed up in the gloom.
A small bell at the stern jingled as incessantly and plaintively as the squeaking cry of the monkey.
Now and then a seal came to the surface, and turning an abrupt somersault, darted off beneath the barely-disturbed surface.
And the captain, a taciturn man with a surly, sunburned face, smoked a short pipe and spat angrily into the sea, congealed in impassivity.
To all my questions he replied with an abrupt growl. I was compelled, willy-nilly, to have recourse to my solitary fellow-traveller—the monkey.