My Childhood, by Maksim Gorky

Chapter IV

I WAS lying in a wide bed, with a thick blanket folded four times around me, listening to grandmother, who was saying her prayers. She was on her knees; and pressing one hand against her breast, she reverently crossed herself from time to time with the other. Out in the yard a hard frost reigned; a greenish moonlight peeped through the ice patterns on the window-panes, falling flatteringly on her kindly face and large nose, and kindling a phosphorescent light in her dark eyes. Her silky, luxuriant tresses were lit up as if by a furnace; her dark dress rustled, falling in ripples from her shoulders and spreading about her on the floor.

When she had finished her prayers grandmother undressed in silence, carefully folding up her clothes and placing them on the trunk in the corner. Then she came to bed. I pretended to be fast asleep.

“You are not asleep, you rogue, you are only making believe,” she said softly. “Come, my duck, let ‘s have some bedclothes!”

Foreseeing what would happen, I could not repress a smile, upon seeing which she cried: “So this is how you trick your old grandmother?” And taking hold of the blanket she drew it towards her with so much force and skill that I bounced up in the air, and turning over and over fell back with a squash into the soft feather bed, while she said with a chuckle: “What is it, little Hop o’ my Thumb? Have you been bitten by a mosquito?”

But sometimes she prayed for such a long time that I really did fall asleep, and did not hear her come to bed.

The longer prayers were generally the conclusion of a day of trouble, or a day of quarreling and fighting; and it was very interesting to listen to them. Grandmother gave to God a circumstantial account of all that had happened in the house. Bowed down, looking like a great mound, she knelt, at first whispering rapidly and indistinctly, then hoarsely muttering:

“O Lord, Thou knowest that all of us wish to do better. Michael, the elder, ought to have been set up in the town it will do him harm to be on the river; and the other is a new neighborhood and not overdone. I don’t know what will come of it all! There ‘s father now. Jaakov is his favorite. Can’t it be right to love one child more than the others’? He is an obstinate old man; do Thou, O Lord, teach him!”

Gazing at the dark-featured icon, with her large, brilliant eyes, she thus counseled God:

“Send him a good dream, O Lord, to make him understand how he ought to treat his children!”

After prostrating herself and striking her broad forehead on the floor, she again straightened herself, and said coaxingly:

“And send Varvara some happiness! How has she displeased Thee”? Is she more sinful than the others’? Why should a healthy young woman be so afflicted? And remember Gregory, O Lord! His eyes are getting worse and worse. If he goes blind he will be sent adrift. That will be terrible! He has used up all his strength for grandfather, but do you think it likely that grandfather will help him? O Lord! Lord!”

She remained silent for a long time, with her head bowed meekly, and her hands hanging by her sides, as still as if she had fallen asleep, or had been suddenly frozen.

“What else is there?” she asked herself aloud, wrinkling her brows.

“O Lord, save all the faithful! Pardon me accursed fool as I am! Thou knowest that I do not sin out of malice but out of stupidity.” And drawing a deep breath she would say lovingly and contentedly: “Son of God, Thou knowest all! Father, Thou seest all things.”

I was very fond of grandmother’s God Who seemed so near to her, and I often said:

“Tell me something about God.”

She used to speak about Him in a peculiar manner very quietly, strangely drawing out her words, closing her eyes; and she made a point of always sitting down and arranging her head-handkerchief very deliberately before she began.

“God’s seat is on the hills, amidst the meadows of Paradise; it is an altar of sapphires under silver linden trees which flower all the year round, for in Paradise there is no winter, nor even autumn, and the flowers never wither, for joy is the divine favor. And round about God many angels fly like flakes of snow; and it may be even that bees hum there, and white doves fly between Heaven and earth, telling God all about us and everybody. And here on earth you and I and grandfather each has been given an angel. God treats us all equally. For instance, your angel will go and tell God: ‘Lexei put his tongue out at grandfather.’ And God says: ‘All right, let the old man whip him.’ And so it is with all of us; God gives to all what they deserve to some grief, to others joy. And so all is right that He does, and the angels rejoice, and spread their wings and sing to Him without ceasing: ‘Glory be unto Thee, O God; Glory be unto Thee.’ And He just smiles on them, and it is enough for them and more.” And she would smile herself, shaking her head from side to side.

“Have you seen that?”

“No, I have not seen it, but I know.”

When she spoke about God, or Heaven, or the angels, she seemed to shrink in size; her face grew younger, and her liquid eyes emitted a curious warm radiance. I used to take her heavy, satiny plait in my hands, and wind it round my neck as I sat quite still and listened to the endless but never tedious story.

“It is not given to men to see God their sight is dim! Only the saints may look upon Him face to face. But I have seen angels myself; they reveal themselves sometimes to souls in a state of grace. I was standing in church at an early Mass, and I saw two moving about the altar like clouds. One could see everything, through them, growing brighter and brighter, and their gossamer-like wings touched the floor. They moved about the altar, helping old Father Elia, and supporting his elbows as he raised his feeble hands in prayer. He was very old, and being almost blind, stumbled frequently; but that day he got through the Mass quickly, and was finished early. When I saw them I nearly died of joy. My heart seemed as if it would burst; my tears ran down. Ah, how beautiful it was! Oh, Lenka, dear heart, where God is whether in Heaven or earth all goes well.”

“But you don’t mean to say that everything goes well here in our house?”

Making the sign of the cross grandmother answered:

“Our Lady be praised everything goes well.”

This irritated me. I could not agree that things were going well in our household. From my point of view they were becoming more and more intolerable.

One day, as I passed the door of Uncle Michael’s room I saw Aunt Natalia, not fully dressed, with her hands folded on her breast, pacing up and down like a creature distraught, and moaning, not loudly, but in a tone of agony:

“My God, take me under Thy protection! Remove me from here!”

I could sympathize with her prayer as well as I could understand Gregory when he growled:

“As soon as I am quite blind they will turn me out to beg; it will be better than this, anyhow.”

And I wished that he would make haste and go blind, for I meant to seize the opportunity to go away with him so that we could start begging together. I had already mentioned the matter to Gregory, and he had replied, smiling in his beard:

“That ‘s right! We will go together. But I shall show myself in the town. There ‘s a grandson of Vassili Kashmirin’s there his daughter’s son; he may give me something to do.”

More than once I noticed a blue swelling under the sunken eyes of Aunt Natalia; and sometimes a swollen lip was thrown into relief by her yellow face.

“Does Uncle Michael beat her, then?” I asked grandmother. And she answered with a sigh:

“Yes, he beats her, but not very hard the devil! Grandfather does not object so long as he does it at night. He is ill-natured, and she she is like a jelly!

“But he does not beat her as much as he used to,” she continued in a more cheerful tone. “He just gives her a blow on the mouth, or boxes her ears, or drags her about by the hair for a minute or so; but at one time he used to torture her for hours together. Grandfather beat me one Easter Day from dinner-time till bed-time. He kept on; he just stopped to get his breath sometimes, and then started again. And he used a strap too!”

“But why did he do it?”

“I forget now. Another time he knocked me about till I was nearly dead, and then kept me without food for five hours. I was hardly alive when he had finished with me.”

I was thunderstruck. Grandmother was twice as big as grandfather, and it was incredible that he should be able to get the better of her like this.

“Is he stronger than you, then?” I asked.

“Not stronger, but older. Besides, he is my husband, he has to answer for me to God; but my duty is to suffer patiently.”

It was an interesting and pleasing sight to see her dusting the icon and cleaning its ornamentation; it was richly adorned with pearls, silver and colored gems in the crown, and as she took it gently in her hands she gazed at it with a smile, and said in a tone of feeling:

“See what a sweet face it is!” And crossing herself and kissing it, she went on: “Dusty art thou, and be-grimed, Mother, Help of Christians, Joy of the Elect! Look, Lenia, darling, how small the writing is, and what tiny characters they are; and yet it is all quite distinct. It is called The Twelve Holy–Days,’ and in the middle you see the great Mother of God by predestination immaculate; and here is written: ‘Mourn not for me, Mother, because I am about to be laid in the grave.’ ”

Sometimes it seemed to me as if she played with the icon as earnestly and seriously as my Cousin Ekaterina with her doll.

She often saw devils, sometimes several together, sometimes one alone.

“One clear moonlight night, during the great Fast, I was passing the Rudolphovs’ house, and looking up I saw, on the roof, a devil sitting close to the chimney! He was all black, and he was holding his horned head over the top of the chimney and sniffing vigorously.

There he sat sniffing and grunting, the great, unwieldy creature, with his tail on the roof, scraping with his feet all the time. I made the sign of the Cross at him and said: ‘Christ is risen from the dead, and His enemies are scattered.’ At that he gave a low howl and slipped head over heels from the roof to the yard so he was scattered! They must have been cooking meat at the Rudolphovs’ that day, and he was enjoying the smell of it.”

I laughed at her picture of the devil flying head over heels off the roof, and she laughed too as she said:

“They are as fond of playing tricks as children. One day I was doing the washing in the washhouse and it was getting late, when suddenly the door of the little room burst open and in rushed lots of little red, green and black creatures like cockroaches, and all sizes, and spread themselves all over the place. I flew towards the door, but I could not get past; there I was unable to move hand or foot amongst a crowd of devils! They filled the whole place so that I could not turn round. They crept about my feet, plucked at my dress, and crowded round me so that I had not even room to cross myself. Shaggy, and soft, and warm, somewhat resembling cats, though they walked on their hind legs, they went round and round me, peering into everything, showing their teeth like mice, blinking their small green eyes, almost piercing me with their horns, and sticking out their little tails they were like pigs’ tails. Oh, my dear! I seemed to be going out of my mind. And didn’t they push me about too! The candle nearly went out, the water in the copper became luke-warm, the washing was all thrown about the floor. Ah! your very breath was trouble and sorrow.”

Closing my eyes, I could visualize the threshold of the little chamber with its gray cobble-stones, and the unclean stream of shaggy creatures of diverse colors which gradually filled the washhouse. I could see them blowing out the candle and thrusting out their impudent pink tongues. It was a picture both comical and terrifying.

Grandmother was silent a minute, shaking her head, before she burst out again:

“And I saw some fiends too, one wintry night, when it was snowing. I was coming across the Dinkov Causeway the place where, if you remember, your Uncle Michael and your Uncle Jaakov tried to drown your father in an ice-hole and I was just going to take the lower path, when there came the sounds of hissing and hooting, and I looked up and saw a team of three raven-black horses tearing towards me. On the coachman’s place stood a great fat devil, in a red nightcap, with protruding teeth. He was holding the reins, made of forged iron chains, with outstretched arms, and as there was no way round, the horses flew right over the pond, and were hidden by a cloud of snow. All those sitting in the sledge behind were devils too; there they sat, hissing and screaming and waving their nightcaps. In all, seven troikas like this tore by, as if they had been fire-engines, all with black horses, and all carrying a load of thoroughbred devils. They pay visits to each other, you know, and drive about in the night to their different festivities. I expect that was a devil’s wedding that I saw.”

One had to believe grandmother, because she spoke so simply and convincingly.

But the best of all her stories was the one which told how Our Lady went about the suffering earth, and how she commanded the woman-brigand, or the “Amazon-chief” Engalichev, not to kill or rob Russian people. And after that came the stories about Blessed Alexei; about Ivan the Warrior, and Vassili the Wise; of the Priest Kozlya, and the beloved child of God; and the terrible stories of Martha Posadnitz, of Baba Ustye the robber chief, of Mary the sinner of Egypt, and of sorrowing mothers of robber sons. The fairy-tales, and stories of old times, and the poems which she knew were without number.

She feared no one neither grandfather, nor devils, nor any of the powers of evil; but she was terribly afraid of black cockroaches, and could feel their presence when they were a long way from her. Sometimes she would wake me in the night whispering:

“Oleysha, dear, there is a cockroach crawling about. Do get rid of it, for goodness’ sake.”

Half-asleep, I would light the candle and creep about on the floor seeking the enemy a quest in which I did not always succeed at once.

“No, there’s not a sign of one,” I would say; but lying quite still with her head muffled up in the bed-clothes, she would entreat me in a faint voice:

“Oh, yes, there is one there! Do look again, please. I am sure there is one about somewhere.”

And she was never mistaken. Sooner or later I found the cockroach, at some distance from the bed; and throwing the blanket off her she would breathe a sigh of relief and smile as she said:

“Have you killed it? Thank God! Thank you.”

If I did not succeed in discovering the insect, she could not go to sleep again, and I could feel how she trembled in the silence of the night; and I heard her whisper breathlessly:

“It is by the door. Now it has crawled under the trunk.”

“Why are you so frightened of cockroaches’?”

“I don’t know myself,” she would answer, reasonably enough. “It is the way the horrid black things crawl about. God has given a meaning to all other vermin: woodlice show that the house is damp; bugs mean that the walls are dirty; lice foretell an illness, as every one knows; but these creatures! who knows what powers they possess, or what they live on?”

One day when she was on her knees, conversing earnestly with God, grandfather, throwing open the door, shouted hoarsely:

“Well, Mother, God has afflicted us again. We are on fire.”

“What are you talking about?” cried grandmother, jumping up from the floor; and they both rushed into the large parlor, making a great noise with their feet. “Eugenia, take down the icons. Natalia, dress the baby.”

Grandmother gave her orders in a stern voice of authority, but all grandfather did was to mutter: Ug h!”

I ran into the kitchen. The window looking on to the yard shone like gold, and yellow patches of light appeared on the floor, and Uncle Jaakov, who was dressing, trod on them with his bare feet, and jumped about as if they had burned him, shrieking:

“This is Mischka’s doing. He started the fire, and then went out.”

“Peace, cur!” said grandmother, pushing him towards the door so roughly that he nearly fell.

Through the frost on the window-panes the burning roof of the workshop was visible, with the curling flames pouring out from its open door. It was a still night, and the color of the flames was not spoiled by any admixture of smoke; while just above them hovered a dark cloud which, however, did not hide from our sight the silver stream of the Mlethchna Road. The snow glittered with a livid brilliance, and the walls of the house tottered and shook from side to side, as if about to hurl themselves into that burning corner of the yard where the flames disported themselves so gaily as they poured through the broad red cracks in the walls of the workshop, dragging crooked, red-hot nails out with them. Gold and red ribbons wound themselves about the dark beams of the roof, and soon enveloped it entirely; but the slender chimney-pot stood up straight in the midst of it all, belching forth clouds of smoke. A gentle crackling sound like the rustle of silk beat against our windows, and all the time the flames were spreading till the workshop, adorned by them, as it were, looked like the iconostasis in church, and became more and more attractive to me.

Throwing a heavy fur coat over my head and thrusting my feet into the first boots that came handy, I ran out to the porch and stood on the steps, stupefied and blinded by the brilliant play of light, dazed by the yells of my grandfather, and uncles, and Gregory, and alarmed by grandmother’s behavior, for she had wrapped an empty sack round her head, enveloped her body in a horse-cloth, and was running straight into the flames. She disappeared, crying, “The vitriol, you fools! It will explode!”

“Keep her back, Gregory!” roared grandfather. “Aie! she’s done for!”

But grandmother reappeared at this moment, blackened with smoke, half — fainting, bent almost double over the bottle of vitriolic oil which she was carrying in her stretched-out hands.

“Father, get the horse out!” she cried hoarsely, coughing and spluttering, “and take this thing off my shoulders. Can’t you see it is on fire?”

Gregory dragged the smoldering horse-cloth from her shoulders, and then, working hard enough for two men, went on shoveling large lumps of snow into the door of the workshop. My uncle jumped about him with an ax in his hands, while grandfather ran round grandmother, throwing snow over her; then she put the bottle into a snowdrift, and ran to the gate, where there were a great many people gathered together. After greeting them, she said:

“Save the warehouse, neighbors! If the fire fastens upon the warehouse and the hay-loft, we shall be burnt out; and it will spread to your premises. Go and pull off the roof and drag the hay into the garden! Gregory, why don’t you throw some of the snow on top, instead of throwing it all on the ground? Now, Jaakov, don’t dawdle about! Give some axes and spades to these good folk. Dear neighbors, behave like true friends, and may God reward you!”

She was quite as interesting to me as the fire. Illuminated by those flames which had so nearly devoured her, she rushed about the yard a black figure, giving assistance at all points, managing the whole thing, and letting nothing escape her attention.

Sharapa ran into the yard, rearing and nearly throwing grandfather down. The light fell on his large eyes which shone expressively; he breathed heavily as his forefeet pawed the air, and grandfather let the reins fall, and jumping aside called out: “Catch hold of him, Mother!”

She threw herself almost under the feet of the rearing horse, and stood in front of him, with outstretched arms in the form of a cross; the animal neighed pitifully and let himself be drawn towards her, swerving aside at the flames.

“Now, you are not frightened,” said grandmother in a low voice, as he patted his neck and grasped the reins, “Do you think I would leave you when you are in such a state? Oh, you silly little mouse!”

And the little “mouse,” who was twice as large as herself, submissively went to the gate with her, snuffling, and gazing at her red face.

Nyanya Eugenia had brought some muffled-up youngsters, who were bellowing in smothered tones, from the house.

“Vassili Vassilitch,” she cried, “we can’t find Alexei anywhere!”

“Go away! Go away!” answered grandfather, waving his hands, and I hid myself under the stairs so that Nyanya should not take me away.

The roof of the workshop had fallen in by this time, and the stanchions, smoking, and glittering like golden coal, stood out against the sky. With a howl and a crash a green, blue and red tornado burst inside the building, and the flames threw themselves with a new energy on the yard and on the people who were gathered round and throwing spadefuls of snow on the huge bonfire.

The heat caused the vats to boil furiously; a thick cloud of steam and smoke arose, and a strange odor, which caused one’s eyes to water, floated into the yard. I crept out from beneath the stairs and got under grandmother’s feet.

“Get away!” she shrieked. “You will get trampled on. Get away!”

At this moment a man on horseback, with a copper helmet, burst into the yard. His roan-colored horse was covered with froth, and he raised a whip high above his head and shouted threateningly:

“Make way there!”

Bells rang out hurriedly and gaily; it was just as beautiful as a festival day.

Grandmother pushed me back towards the steps.

“What did I tell you? Go away!”

I could not disobey her at such a time, so I went back to the kitchen and glued myself once more to the window; but I could not see the fire through that dense mass of people I could see nothing but the gleam of copper helmets amongst the winter caps of fur.

In a short time the fire was got under, totally extinguished, and the building submerged. The police drove the onlookers away, and grandmother came into the kitchen.

“Who is this”? Oh, it is you! Why aren’t you in bed? Frightened, eh? There ‘s nothing to be frightened about; it is all over now.”

She sat beside me in silence, shaking a little. The return of the quiet night with its darkness was a relief. Presently grandfather came in, and standing in the doorway said:

“Mother?”

“Yes?”

“Were you burned?”

“A little nothing to speak of.”

He lit a brimstone match, which lit up his soot-be-grimed face, looked for and found the candle on the table, and then came over swiftly and sat beside grandmother.

“The best thing we can do is to wash ourselves,” she said, for she was covered with soot too, and smelt of acrid smoke.

“Sometimes,” said grandfather, drawing a deep breath, “God is pleased to endue you with great good-sense.” And stroking her shoulder he added with a grin: “Only sometimes, you know, just for an hour or so; but there it is all the same.”

Grandmother smiled too, and began to say something, but grandfather stopped her, frowning:

“We shall have to get rid of Gregory. All this trouble has been caused by his neglect. His working days are over. He is worn out. That fool Jaaschka is sitting on the stairs crying; you had better go to him.”

She stood up and went out, holding her hand up to her face and blowing on her fingers; and grandfather, without looking at me, asked softly:

“You saw it all from the beginning of the fire, didn’t you”? Then you saw how grandmother behaved, didn’t you? And that is an old woman, mind you! crushed and breaking-up and yet you see! U ugh, youT

After a long silence, during which he sat huddled up, he rose and snuffed the candle, as he asked me:

“Were you frightened?”

“No.”

“Quite right! There was nothing to be frightened about.”

Irritably dragging his shirt from his shoulder, he went to the washstand in the corner, and I could hear him in the darkness stamping his feet as he exclaimed:

“A fire is a silly business. The person who causes a fire ought to be beaten in the market-place. He must be either a fool or a thief. If that was done there would be no more fires. Go away now, and go to bed! What are you sitting there for?”

I did as he told me, but sleep was denied to me that night. I had no sooner laid myself down when an unearthly howl greeted me, which seemed to come from the bed. I rushed back to the kitchen, in the middle of which stood grandfather, shirtless, holding a candle which flickered violently as he stamped his feet on the floor, crying:

“Mother! Jaakov! What is that?”

I jumped on the stove and hid myself in a corner, and the household was once more in a state of wild commotion; a heartrending howl beat against the ceiling and walls, increasing in sound every moment.

It was all just the same as it had been during the fire. Grandfather and uncle ran about aimlessly; grandmother shouted as she drove them away from one place to another; Gregory made a great noise as he thrust logs into the stove and filled the iron kettle with water. He went about the kitchen bobbing his head just like an Astrakhan camel.

“Heat the stove first,” said grandmother in a tone of authority.

He rushed to do her bidding, and fell over my legs.

“Who is there?” he cried, greatly flustered. “Phew! How you frightened me! You are always where you ought not to be.”

“What has happened?”

“Aunt Natalia has had a little baby born to her,” he replied calmly, jumping down to the floor.

I remembered that my mother had not screamed like that when her little baby was born.

Having placed the kettle over the fire, Gregory climbed up to me on the stove, and drawing a long pipe from his pocket, showed it to me.

“I am taking to a pipe for the good of my eyes,” he explained. “Grandmother advised me to take snuff, but I think smoking will do me more good.”

He sat on the edge of the stove with his legs crossed, looking down at the feeble light of the candle; his ears and cheeks were smothered in soot, one side of his shirt was torn, and I could see his ribs as broad as the ribs of a cask. One of his eyeglasses was broken; almost half of the glass had come out of the frame, and from the empty space peered a red, moist eye, which had the appearance of a wound.

Filling his pipe with coarse-cut tobacco, he listened to the groans of the travailing woman, and murmured disjointedly, like a drunken man:

“That grandmother of yours has burned herself so badly that I am sure I don’t know how she can attend to the poor creature. Just hear how your aunt is groaning. You know, they forgot all about her. She was taken bad when the fire first broke out. It was fright that did it. You see what pain it costs to bring children into the world, and yet women are thought nothing of! But, mark my words women ought to be thought a lot of, for they are the mothers ”

Here I dozed, and was awakened by a tumult: a banging of doors, and the drunken cries of Uncle Michael; these strange words floated to my ears:

“The royal doors must be opened!”

“Give her holy oil with rum, half a glass of oil, half a glass of rum, and a tablespoonful of soot ”

Then Uncle Michael kept asking like a tiresome child: ioo

“Let me have a look at her!”

He sat on the floor with his legs sprawling, and kept spitting straight in front of him, and banging his hands on the floor.

I began to find the stove unbearably hot, so I slid down, but when I got on a level with uncle he seized and held me by the legs, and I fell on the back of my head.

“Fool!” I exclaimed.

He jumped to his feet, grabbed me again, and roared:

“I’ll smash you against the stove ”

I escaped to a corner of the best parlor, under the image, and ran against grandfather’s knees; he put me aside, and gazing upwards, went on in a low voice:

“There is no excuse for any of us ”

The image-lamp burned brightly over his head, a candle stood on the table in the middle of the room, and the light of a foggy winter’s morning was already peeping in at the window.

Presently he bent towards me, and asked:

“What’s the matter with you?”

Everything was the matter with me my head was clammy, my body sorely weary; but I did not like to say so because everything about me was so strange. Almost all the chairs in the room were occupied by strangers; there were a priest in a lilac-colored robe, a gray-headed old man with glasses, in a military uniform, and many other people who all sat quite still like wooden figures, or figures frozen, as it were, in expectation of something, and listened to the sound of water splashing somewhere near. By the door stood Uncle Jaakov, very upright, with his hands behind his back. “Here!” said grandfather to him, “take this child to bed.”

My uncle beckoned me to follow him, and led the way on tiptoe to the door of grandmother’s room, and when I had got into bed he whispered:

“Your Aunt Natalia is dead.”

I was not surprised to hear it. She had not been visible for a long time, either in the kitchen or at meals.

“Where is grandmother?” I asked.

“Down there,” he replied, waving his hand, and went out of the room, still going softly on his bare feet.

I lay in bed and looked about me. I seemed to see hairy, gray, sightless faces pressed against the window-pane, and though I knew quite well that those were grandmother’s clothes hanging over the box in the corner, I imagined that some living creature was hiding there and waiting. I put my head under the pillow, leaving one eye uncovered so that I could look at the door, and wished that I dared jump out of bed and run out of the room. It was very hot, and there was a heavy, stifling odor which reminded me of the night when Tsiganok died, and that rivulet of blood ran along the floor.

Something in my head or my heart seemed to be swelling; everything that I had seen in that house seemed to stretch before my mind’s eye, like a train of winter sledges in the street, and to rise up and crush me.

The door opened very slowly, and grandmother crept into the room, and closing the door with her shoulder, came slowly forward; and holding out her hand to the blue light of the image-lamp, wailed softly, pitifully as a child:

“Oh, my poor little hand! My poor hand hurts me so!”

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37