“Whither, mother dear?”
“Where he is lying.... I want to see ... I want to know ... I shall identify....”
I tried to persuade her not to go; but she was almost in hysterics. I understood that it was impossible to oppose her desire, and we set out.
And lo, again I am walking over the sand of the dunes, but I am no longer alone, I am walking arm in arm with my mother. The sea has retreated, has gone still further away; it is quieting down; but even its diminished roar is menacing and ominous. Here, at last, the solitary rock has shown itself ahead of us—and there is the seaweed. I look intently, I strive to distinguish that rounded object lying on the ground—but I see nothing. We approach closer. I involuntarily retard my steps. But where is that black, motionless thing? Only the stalks of the seaweed stand out darkly against the sand, which is already dry.... We go to the very rock.... The corpse is nowhere to be seen, and only on the spot where it had lain there still remains a depression, and one can make out where the arms and legs lay.... Round about the seaweed seems tousled, and the traces of one man’s footsteps are discernible; they go across the down, then disappear on reaching the flinty ridge.
My mother and I exchange glances and are ourselves frightened at what we read on our own faces....
Can he have got up of himself and gone away?
“But surely thou didst behold him dead?” she asks in a whisper.
I can only nod my head. Three hours have not elapsed since I stumbled upon the baron’s body.... Some one had discovered it and carried it away.—I must find out who had done it, and what had become of him.
But first of all I must attend to my mother.