“And even as the first man, by his fall, devoted his posterity to misfortune, it would seem as if I, the workman, had consigned the whole race of artisans to endless sorrows, and as if they were expiating my crime: for they alone, during these eighteen centuries, have not yet been delivered.
“For eighteen centuries, the powerful and the happy of this world have said to the toiling people what I said to the imploring and suffering Saviour: ‘Go on! go on!’ And the people, sinking with fatigue, bearing their heavy cross, have answered in the bitterness of their grief: ’Oh, for pity’s sake! a few moments of repose; we are worn out with toil.’—Go on!’—’And if we perish in our pain, what will become of our little children and our aged mothers?’—’Go on! go on!’ And, for eighteen centuries, they and I have continued to struggle forward and to suffer, and no charitable voice has yet pronounced the word ‘Enough!’
“Alas! such is my punishment. It is immense, it is two-fold. I suffer in the name of humanity, when I see these wretched multitudes consigned without respite to profitless and oppressive toil. I suffer in the name of my family, when, poor and wandering, I am unable to bring aid to the descendants of my dear sister. But, when the sorrow is above my strength, when I foresee some danger from which I cannot preserve my own, then my thoughts, travelling over the world, go in search of that woman like me accursed, that daughter of a queen, who, like me, the son of a laborer, wanders, and will wander on, till the day of her redemption.
“Once in a century, as two planets draw nigh to each other in their revolutions, I am permitted to meet this woman during the dread week of the Passion. And after this interview, filled with terrible remembrances and boundless griefs, wandering stars of eternity, we pursue our infinite course.
“And this woman, the only one upon earth who, like me, sees the end of every century, and exclaims: ‘What another?’ this woman responds to my thought, from the furthest extremity of the world. She, who alone shares my terrible destiny, has chosen to share also the only interest that has consoled me for so many ages. Those descendants of my dear sister, she too loves, she too protects them. For them she journeys likewise from East to West and from North to South.
“But alas! the invisible hand impels her, the whirlwind carries her away, and the voice speaks in her ear: ’Go on!’—’Oh that I might finish my sentence!’ repeats she also,—’Go on!’—’A single hour—only a single hour of repose!’—Go on!’—’I leave those I love on the brink of the abyss.’—’Go on! Go on!—’”
Whilst this man thus went over the hill absorbed in his thoughts, the light evening breeze increased almost to a gale, a vivid flash streamed across the sky, and long, deep whistlings announced the coming of a tempest.