Forebodings Two Sketches part 4

Everything real seemed to disappear; only dimly lighted, vacant space remained, pervaded by the smell of chloroform. He seemed to be in the interior of a huge cone, stretching along the ground like a tunnel. Far away in the distance, where it narrowed towards the opening, there was a sparkling white spot; if he could get there, he might escape. He seemed to be traveling day and night towards that chink along unending spiral lines running within the surface of the tunnel; he traveled under compulsion and with great effort, slowly, like a snail, although within him something leaped up like a rabbit caught in a snare, or as if wings were fluttering in his soul.

He knew what was beyond that chink. Only a few steps would lead him to the ridge under the wood … to his own four strips of potato-field! And whenever he roused himself mechanically from his apathy he had a vision of the potato-harvest. The transparent autumn haze in the fields was bringing objects that were far

Forebodings Two Sketches part 3

“Let my fate go whither it listeth.”

In the darkest corner of a ward, in the bed marked number twenty- four, a farm laborer of about thirty years of age had been lying for several months. A black wooden tablet, bearing the words “Caries tuberculosa,” hung at the head of the bed, and shook at each movement of the patient. The poor fellow’s leg had had to be amputated above the knee, the result of a tubercular decay of the bone. He was a peasant, a potato-grower, and his forefathers had grown potatoes before him. He was now on his own, after having been in two situations; had been married for three years and had a baby son with a tuft of flaven hair. Then suddenly, from no cause that he could tell, his knee had pained him, and small ulcers had formed. He had afforded himself a carriage to the town, and there he had been handed over to the hospital at the expense of the parish.

He remembered distinctly how on that autumn afternoon he had driven in the sple

Forebodings Two Sketches part 2

“Anton, my dear fellow,” the other, said, “well, you understand what I mean; God knows. You may be sure . . . confound it all!”

The second bell sounded, and then the third. The sympathizing friend stepped out of the carriage, and, as the train started, he waved an odd kind of farewell greeting, as if he were threatening him with his fists.

In the carriage were a number of poor people, Jews, women with enormously wide cloaks, who had elbowed their way to their seats, and sat chattering or smoking.

The student stood up and looked out of the window without seeing. Lines of sparks like living fire passed by the grimy window-pane, and balls of vapor and smoke, resembling large tufts of wool, were dashed to pieces and hurried to the ground by the wind. The smoke curled round the small shrubs growing close to the ground, moistened by the rain in the valley. The dusk of the autumn day spread a dim light over the landscape, and produced an effect of inde

Forebodings Two Sketches part 1

Stefan Zeromski (1864-1925)

Zeromski is an intensely dynamic writer. Not so popular as his older contemporary Prus, he excels in the psychological analysis of his characters. In the story that follows, we feel the influence of the late Nineteenth Century Russian novelists. Zeromski began by writing stories of modem life, then produced a series of historical novels, and finally returned to his first manner. His short stories are sombre studies of character.

The present version, translated by Else C. M. Benecke, is reprinted from Polish Tales, Oxford University Press, by permission of the publisher.

Forebodings Two Sketches

I had spent an hour at the railway station, waiting for the train to come in. I had stared indifferently at several ladies in turn who were yawning in the comers of the waiting-room. Then I had tried the effect of making eyes at a fair young girl with a small white nose, rosy cheeks, and eyes like forget-me-nots; she had

The Massacre of the Innocents part 8

Round
the churchyard a multitude gathered in front of a long low green farmhouse. The
proprietor wept bitterly as he stood in his door-way. He was a fat,
jolly-looking man, and happened to arouse the compassion of a few soldiers who
sat near the wall in the sunlight, patting a dog. The soldier who was taking
off his child made gestures as if to convey the meaning, “What can I do? I’m
not to blame!”

One
peasant who was being pursued leaped into a boat near the stone bridge, and,
with his wife and children, rowed quickly across that part of the pond that was
not frozen. The Spaniards, who dared not follow, walked angrily among the reeds
by the shore. They climbed into the willows along the bankside, trying to reach
the boat with their lances. Unable to do so, they continued to threaten the
fugitives, who drifted out over the dark water.

The
orchard was still thronged with people: it was there, in the pres-ence of the
white-bearded commanding officer, that mos

The Massacre of the Innocents part 7

One
family, who had concealed themselves in the cellar of a large house, stood at
the gratings and wildly lamented, while the father desperately brandished his
pitchfork through the grating. Outside, an old bald-headed fellow sat on a
manure-heap, sobbing to himself. In the square a woman dressed in yellow had
fainted away, her weeping husband holding her up by the arms against a
pear-tree.

Another
woman, in red, clutched her little girl, whose hands had been cut off, and
lifted the child’s arms to see whether she could move. Still another woman was
escaping toward the open country, the soldiers running after her among the
haystacks, which stood out in sharp relief against the snow-covered fields.

Before
the Four Sons of Aymon confusion reigned. The peasants had made a barricade
while the soldiers encircled the inn, unable to effect an entrance. They were
trying to climb up to the sign-board by means of the vines, when they caught
sight of a ladder behind the

The Massacre of the Innocents part 6

There
had been a kermesse in this house: relatives had come to feast on waffles,
hams, and custards. At the sound of the smashing of windows they crouched
together behind the table, still laden with jugs and dishes.

The
soldiers went to the kitchen and after a savage fight in which many were
wounded, they seized all the small boys and girls, and a little servant who had
bitten the thumb of one soldier, left the house and closed the door behind them
to prevent their being followed.

Those
who had no children cautiously came forth from their houses and followed the
soldiers at a distance. They could see them throw down their victims on the
ground before the old man, and cold-bloodedly massacre them with lances or
swords.

Meanwhile
men and women crowded the windows of the blue farmhouse and the barn, cursing
and raising their arms to heaven as they contemplated the pink, red, and white
clothes of their motionless children on the ground among the trees. Th

The Massacre of the Innocents part 5

The
parishioners inquired of him in undertones, “What does he say? What is he going
to do?” Others, seeing the curt: in the orchard, emerged cautiously from their
huts, and women hastily came near and whispered in small groups among
themselves, while the soldiers who had been besieging the inn, came out again
when they saw the crowd assembling in the square.

Then
he who held the innkeeper’s child by one leg, cut off its head with a stroke of
the sword. The peasants saw the head fall, and the body bleeding on the ground.
The mother gathered it to her arms, forgetting the head, and ran toward her
house. On the way she stumbled against a tree, fell flat on the snow and lay in
a faint, while the father struggled with two soldiers.

Horror to the accompaniment

Some
of the younger peasants threw stones and wood at the Spaniards, but the horsemen
rallied and lowered their lances, the women scattered in all directions, while
the curd wi

The Massacre of the Innocents part 4

They
made their way toward the Golden Sun and knocked at the door. It was opened
with some hesitancy, and the Spaniards entered, warmed themselves before the
fire, and demanded ale. They then left the inn, taking with them pots,
pitchers, and bread for their companions, and the old man with the white beard
who stood waiting among his soldiers.

 As the street was still deserted, the
commanding officer sent off some horsemen behind the houses to guard the
village on the side facing the open country, and ordered the footmen to bring
to him all children two years old or under, as he intended to massacre them, in
accordance with what is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

The
men went first to the small inn of the Green Cabbage and the barber’s hut,
which stood close to each other in the central part of the street. One of them
opened the pigsty and a whole litter of pigs escaped and roamed about through
the village. The innkeeper and the barber came out of th

The Massacre of the Innocents part 3

The
sisters of the dead woman and various other relatives got into the cart, and
the curt: as well, for he was old and very fat and could walk only with the
greatest difficulty. They drove off into the wood, and in silence reached the
wide open fields, where they saw the dead soldiers, stripped naked, and the
horses lying on their backs on the shining ice among the trees.

They
went on toward the farm, which was still burning in the midst of the open
fields.

When
they reached the orchard of the burning house, they stopped short before the
garden gate and looked upon the terrible tragedy. Korneliz’ wife hung, naked,
from the branches of a huge chestnut. He himself climbed up a ladder into the
branches of the tree, below which his nine little girls awaited their mother on
the lawn. Korneliz made his way through the arching boughs overhead when all at
once, outlined against the bright snow, he caught sight of the crowd beneath,
looking up at him.