Timar's Two Worlds, by Mór Jókai


Chapter i.

The Broken Sword.

Timar remained on the island till frost covered the green grass — till the leaves fell, and the nightingales and thrushes were silent. Then he made up his mind to return to the world, the world of reality; and he left Noémi behind, alone with her little child on the ownerless island. “But I shall come back this winter”— and with those words he left her.

Noémi did not know what those words betokened at Michael’s home. Round the island the Danube was never entirely frozen in the severest winter; the glass never fell much below freezing-point; ivy and laurels could stand the cold with ease. But Michael had severe weather for his journey. On the upper Danube snow had already fallen, and he took a whole week to reach Komorn. He had to wait a whole day before he could cross the river — there was so much ice that it was unsafe to launch a boat. Once he had ventured alone in a small boat across the river in flood; but then Noémi was waiting for him. Now he was going to Timéa — to get a divorce from her.

His decision was taken — they must have a divorce. Noémi could not live alone on that desert island. The woman must have justice in return for her fidelity and love: accursed would he be who could find it in his heart to abandon her who had given herself to him body and soul. And then, too, Timéa would be happy.

That thought gnawed him — that Timéa would be happy. If only he could hate her, if he had a single accusation to bring against her, so as to put her away as one he could despise and forget!

He had to leave his carriage at Uj–Szöny, for wheels could not yet pass the ice, so he arrived on foot at home. When he went in, it seemed to him as if Timéa were afraid of him; as if the hand she gave him trembled, and her voice too, when she greeted him. This time she did not offer him her white cheek to be kissed.

Timar hastened to his room, on pretense of laying aside his wraps. If only there was some reason for this embarrassment! And another sign had not escaped him — Athalie’s expression. In her eyes shone the fire of a diabolical triumph, the light of a malicious joy. How if Athalie knew something?

At table he met the two women again. They all three sat silently together, watching each other. Timéa only said to Michael, “This time you have stayed away very long.”

Timar would not say, “I shall soon leave you altogether,” but he thought it. He had to consult his lawyer first as to a possible ground for a separation. It was impossible to think of one. Only “unconquerable mutual aversion” could be put forward.

But would the wife consent? All depended on her. Timar pondered this question all the afternoon, and told the servants not to tell any one of his return, as he could not see visitors.

Toward evening some one opened the door. Athalie stood before him, with the same spiteful satisfaction shining from her eyes, the same triumphant smile playing round her lips. Michael drew back before her repellent glance.

“What brings you here, Athalie?” he asked, with confusion.

“Well, Herr von Levetinczy, what do you think? Do you not want to know anything from me?”

“What?” he whispered eagerly, shutting the door, and staring at Athalie with wide-opened eyes.

“What do you want to know?” said the beautiful woman, still smiling. “Indeed that is hard to guess. I have been in your house these six years; every year I have seen you return home, and every year with a different expression on your face. At first tormenting jealousy, then easy good-humor, afterward assumed tranquillity, and absorption in business. I studied all these phases. Last year I thought the tragedy was over — you looked like a man who is ready for the grave. But you may be sure that on all this round world there is no one who prays for your life as I do.”

Michael frowned, and possibly Athalie understood him.

“No, sir,” she repeated, passionately; “for if there is anyone in the world who loves you, they can not possibly wish that you may live long as heartily as I do. Now I see the same look on your face as last year — that is the true one: you would like to hear about Timéa?”

“Do you know anything?” asked Timar, eagerly, putting his back against the door as if to keep Athalie a prisoner.

She laughed scornfully; not she but Michael was the prisoner.

“I know much — all,” she replied; “enough to bring us all to perdition. Myself and the other, and you too.”

Michael’s blood froze in his veins. “Tell me all.”

“That is what I came for. But listen quietly to the end, that I may tell you things which lead to madness, if not death.”

“One word first, is Timéa unfaithful?”

“She is, and you will be absolutely convinced of it.”

In Timar’s heart a nobler feeling arose to protest against this suspicion. “Take care what you say!”

“Your saintly picture, then, came down out of its altar-frame to listen to a report which said that the noble major had fought on her account with some strange officer, and wounded him so badly that his own sword broke in two over the head of his adversary. The picture heard this rumor. Frau Sophie told her, and the eyes of the saintly image shed tears. Perhaps you are a heretic, and do not believe in miraculous tears. But it is true; and Frau Sophie told the noble major next day. Frau Sophie loves to be a go-between; she loves flattery and intrigue. The reported tears had the result that Frau Sophie brought back a box and a letter from the major. In the box were the half-broken blade and the handle of the sword with which the major had fought. It was a souvenir.”

“Well, there is nothing wrong in that,” said Michael, with affected calm.

“Ah, yes, but the letter!”

“Did you read it?”

“No; but I know what it contained.”

“How can you know that?”

“Because the saint replied, and Frau Sophie was the messenger.”

“Go on,” said Timar.

“Yes, for the story is not nearly finished. The letter was not a scented pink note; it was written on your own desk, sealed with your own seal, and its contents might have been to repulse the major’s advances forever and ever. But that was not what it said.”

“Who knows?”

“Frau Sophie and I, and you will be a third directly. How unexpectedly you returned today! — how can people come at such an inconvenient time? The Danube is full of ice, the ice-flakes lie in heaps, and no living creature can cross. One would think that on such a day the town would be so safely shut off that even a jealous husband, if he were outside, could not get in. How could you come today?”

“Do not torture me, Athalie.”

“Did you not notice the confusion on your picture’s face when surprised by your arrival? Did not her hand tremble in yours? You managed your arrival so badly; Frau Sophie had to go out again to the smart major with the short message —‘It can not be today.’”

Timar’s face was disfigured with rage. Then he sunk back in his chair and said, “I don’t believe you.”

“You need not do so,” said Athalie, with a shrug. “I will only advise you to trust your own eyes. It can not be today, because you have come home; but it might be tomorrow. Suppose you went away? You often go in winter to the Platten See, when it is frozen and they begin to fish under the ice. It is capital sport. You might say tomorrow, ‘While this cold lasts, I will be off to Fured to see how the fogasch get on,’ and then you might shut yourself up in your other house here, and wait till some one taps at your window and says ‘Now.’ Then you would come back here.”

“And I should do that?” exclaimed Timar, shuddering.

Athalie looked him up and down contemptuously. “You are a coward!” and with that she turned to go.

But Michael sprung after her and seized her by the arm.

“Stop! I will take your advice and do what you tell me.”

“Then listen to me,” said Athalie, and pressed so close to his face that he felt her burning breath.

“When Herr Brazovics built this house, the room in which Timéa sleeps was the parlor. Who were his usual guests? Business people, boon companions, merchants, dealers. This room has a hiding-place in the wall above the staircase, where the steps turn, and the inner side makes an angle. Into this hole in the wall it is possible to gain access from outside. There is a closet where old rubbish is kept, which is seldom opened. But even if it stood open it would hardly occur to any one to try the screws of the ventilator one after another. The center screw on the right-hand side is movable. But even if any one drew it out it would tell nothing — it is only a simple peg. But whoever is in possession of a peculiar key, which can be inserted in place of the peg, only requires to press the top of the key, from which wards instantly appear, and by a single turn of the key the cupboard is noiselessly pushed aside. From thence one can enter the hiding-place, which receives light and air from a slit in the roof. This hollow in the wall goes as far as Timéa’s bedroom, where in former times Herr Brazovics’ guests used to pass the night. The concealed passage ends in a glass door which is hidden from the room by a picture. This picture is a mother-of-pearl mosaic representing St. George and the dragon, and appears to be a votive image built into the wall. It has often been proposed to take the picture away, but Timéa never would allow it. One of the pieces of mosaic can be slipped aside, and through the blank space everything that passes in the room can be seen and heard.”

“What did your father want with such a hiding-place?”

“I think it had to do with his business. He had many affairs with contractors and officials. There was good living to be had at his house, and when he had got his visitors into a good temper, he left them to themselves, slipped into the secret room and listened from thence to their conversation. In this way he obtained much important business information, from which he derived considerable advantage. Once when he had himself taken rather too much at table, he sent me to listen in the passage, and in this way I learned the secret. The key is in my possession. When all Herr Brazovics’ property was seized by judicial decree, I could, if I had chosen, have conveyed all his valuables out of the house by this means. But I was too proud to steal.”

“And can you get into the bedroom from this hiding-place?”

“The picture of St. George is on hinges, and can be opened like a door.”

“So that you can at any time enter Timéa’s room from that passage?” asked Michael, with an uncontrollable shudder.

Athalie smiled proudly. “I never needed to creep in to her by secret routes. Timéa sleeps with open doors, and you know that I can always pass freely through her room. She sleeps so soundly too.”

“Give me the key.”

Athalie took the puzzle key from her pocket. The lower end was shaped like a screw, only on pressing the handle a key appeared. She showed Timar how to manage it. A voice in his heart — perhaps that of his guardian angel — whispered to Timar to throw this key into the deep well in the yard. But he took no heed of the voice; he only listened to Athalie’s whisper in his ear.

“If you leave home tomorrow and come back at the signal, go straight to the hiding-place, and you will learn all you want to know. Will you come?”

“I shall be there.”

“Do you generally carry arms? — a pistol or a dagger? — one can never tell what may happen. The picture of St. George opens to the right when you press on a button-shaped handle, and when open it just covers Timéa’s bed. Do you understand?”

She pressed Michael’s hand violently, looking with flaming eyes of rage into his, and added something, but not audibly. Only her lips moved, her teeth chattered, and her eyes rolled — they were soundless words. What could she have said? Timar stared in a dazed way like a sleep-walker, then suddenly raised his head to ask Athalie something. He was alone — only the key grasped in his hand showed that it was no dream.

Never had Timar suffered such torture as in the long hours till the evening of the next day. He followed Athalie’s advice, and remained at home till noon. After dinner he said he must go to the Platten See and look after the fishery he had hired.

As he had crossed the ice-floes of the Danube on foot to get to Komorn, he could easily go over again without luggage in the same way. His carriage too was waiting on that side, for it had not yet been able to get across: a road would have to be prepared. Without any interview with his agents, without a glance at his books, he thrust a pile of bank-notes, uncounted, into his pocket, and left the house. At the threshold he met the postman, who brought a registered letter, and demanded a receipt. Michael was in too great haste to go back to his room; he carried pen and ink with him, and laying the receipt on the broad back of the postman, he signed his name to it. Then he looked at the letter. It was from his agent at Rio Janeiro; but without opening it, he put it in his pocket. What did he care for all the flour trade in the world? He kept one room in his house in the Servian Street always heated in winter. This room was entered by a separate staircase, which was kept locked, and was divided by several empty rooms from the offices. Timar reached it unobserved; there he sat down by the window and waited.

The cold north wind outside drew lovely ice-flowers on the window-panes, so that no one could see in or out.

Now he would get what he wanted — the proof of Timéa’s infidelity. And yet — yet, the thought hurt him so deeply! While his fancy pictured this first private rendezvous between that woman and that man, every drop of blood seemed to rush to the surface and darken the light of his mind.

Shame, jealousy, thirst for vengeance consumed him.

It is hard to endure humiliation, even if some advantage is to be derived from it. He now began to feel what a treasure he possessed in Timéa. He had been ready enough to abandon this treasure, or even voluntarily to give it back, but to allow himself to be robbed of it! — the thought enraged him. He struggled with himself as to what he should do. If Athalie’s instilled poison had reached his heart, he would have kept to the idea of a murderous rush with a dagger in his hand from behind the picture, so as to kill the faithless wife amidst the hottest caresses of her lover. Athalie panted for Timéa’s blood; but a husband’s revenge seeks a different object — he must have the man’s life. Not like an assassin, but face to face — each with a sword in his hand, and then a struggle for life or death. Then, again, cold-blooded calculating reason comes uppermost, and says, “Why shed blood? you want scandal, not revenge; you should rush from your hiding-place, call in the servants, and drive the guilty woman and her seducer from your house. So a reasonable being would act. You are no soldier to seek satisfaction at the point of the sword. Here is the judge, and here the law.”

But still he could not forbear from keeping stiletto and pistol ready on the table as Athalie had advised. Who knows what may happen? The moment will decide which gets the upper hand — whether the vengeful assassin, the dishonored husband, or the prudent man of business who would reckon an open scandal to his credit side, as facilitating the desired divorce.

Meanwhile evening had come. One lamp after another was lighted: Herr von Levetinczy paid for the lighting of this street out of his own pocket. The shadows of the passers-by flitted across the frozen panes.

One such figure stopped before the window, and a low knock was heard. It seemed to Timar as if the ice-flowers detached from the glass by the tap were the rustling leaves of a fairy forest, which whispered to him, “Do not go.” He hesitated. The tap was repeated.

“I am coming!” he called in a low voice, took pistol and dagger, and crept out of the house.

The whole way he never met a human creature; the streets were already deserted. He only saw a dark shadow flitting on before him, vanishing in the darkness now and then, and at last slipping round the corner. He followed, and found all the doors open; some helping hand had opened the wicket, the house-door, and even the closet in the wall. He could enter without any noise; at the point described he found the movable screw, and put the key in its place; the secret door flew open, and shut behind him.

Timar found himself in the concealed passage — a spy in his own house.

Yes! A spy too! What meanness was there he had not committed? and all this “because a poor fellow remains always only a clerk, and it is the rich for whom life is worth living.” Now he has riches and splendor.

Stumbling and feeling about, he groped along the wall, till he came to a part where a feeble light was perceptible. There was the picture of St. George: the light of the lamp shone through the crevices of the mosaic. He found the movable piece of mother-of-pearl, in whose place was a thick sheet of glass. He looked into the room; on the table stood a lamp with a ground glass shade. Timéa walked up and down.

An embroidered white dress floated from her waist; her folded hands hung down. The door of the antechamber opened, and Frau Sophie came in; she said something low to Timéa, but Timar could hear every whisper. This hole in the wall was like the ear of Dionysius, it caught every sound. “Can he come?” asked Frau Sophie.

“I am waiting for him,” said Timéa.

Then Frau Sophie went out again. Timéa drew from her wardrobe a drawer, and took out a box; she carried it to the table and stood opposite Timar, so that the lamp threw its whole light on her face; the listener could detect the slightest change of expression. Timéa opened the box. In it lay a sword-hilt and a broken blade. At first glance the woman started, and her contracted brows betokened horror. Then her face cleared, and took once more, with its meeting eyebrows, the look of a saint’s picture, with a black halo round its brow. Tenderness dawned in her melancholy features; she lifted the box and held the sword so near her lips that Timar began to tremble lest she should kiss it. Even the sword was his rival.

The longer Timéa looked at it, the brighter grew her eyes. At last she plucked up courage to grasp the hilt; she took it out and made passes in the air with it. . . . If she had known that there was some one near her to whom every stroke was torture —

There was a tap at the door. Timéa put down the broken sword hastily, and stammered out a faint “Come in!” But first she pulled down the lace of her sleeves, which had fallen back from her wrist. The major entered. He was a fine man, with a handsome, soldierly face. Timéa did not go to meet him, but stood by the lamp; Timar’s eyes never left her. Damnation! — what did he see? As the major entered Timéa blushed. Yes, the marble statue could glow with sunrise tints, the saint’s image could move, and the virginal snow-white adorned itself with roses. The white face had found some one who could set it on fire. Was further proof, were words wanting?

Timar was near bursting from the picture, and, like the dragon before St. George killed it, would have thrown himself between the two before Timéa’s lips could speak what her face betrayed.

But no. Perhaps he had only dreamed it — Timéa’s face was colorless as ever. With calm dignity she signed to the major to take a chair; she sat down on a distant sofa, and her look was severe and cold. The major held his shako in one hand, and in the other his sword with its golden knot, and sat as stiff as if he had been in his general’s presence. They looked at each other in silence — both struggling with painful thoughts. Timéa broke the silence. “Sir, you sent me a curious letter in company with a yet more singular present. It was a broken sword.” She opened the box and took out a letter. “Your letter runs thus: ‘Gracious lady, I have fought a duel today, and my adversary owes it only to the chance that my sword broke that he was not killed on the spot. This duel is intimately connected with most extraordinary circumstances, which concern you, and still more your husband. Allow me a few minutes’ interview, that I may tell you what you ought to know.’ In this letter the words ‘your husband’ are twice underlined, and this it was which decided me to give you the opportunity of speaking to me. Speak! In what does your duel concern the private affairs of Herr von Levetinczy? I will listen to you as long as what you have to say treats of him: if you enter on any other subject I will leave you.”

The major bowed with grateful fervor. “I will begin then, madame, by telling you that an unknown man has been about in the town, who wears the uniform of a naval officer, and therefore has an entrée to military society. He seems to be a man of the world, and is an entertaining companion. Who he may be I know not, for it is not my way to be inquisitive. This man has spent some weeks among us, and seems to have plenty of money. He gave as a reason for being here that he was waiting for Herr von Levetinczy, with whom he had important private affairs to settle. At last he began to annoy us, and looked so mysterious as he asked every day about Herr von Levetinczy, that we fancied he must be an adventurer, and one day we drove him into a corner. We wished to know what manner of man he was, and I undertook the inquiry. When we asked why he did not go to your husband’s agents, he said his business was of a very private and delicate nature, which could only be personally discussed. ‘Listen,’ I said. ‘I do not believe that you have any delicate business with Herr von Levetinczy; who you are we do not know, but we do know that he is a man of honor and character, whose position and reputation are above suspicion. He is a man whose private life is blameless, and who can therefore have no reason for private interviews with people of your sort.’”

While the major spoke, Timéa had risen slowly; she now stepped up to him and said, “I thank you.”

And again Timar saw on her white cheek that soft rosy glow, never seen by him before, but which now rested there. The woman had flushed at the thought that the man she loved could defend him who, as her husband, stood between their two hearts.

The major continued his narrative, and in order not to confuse Timéa by looking at her, sought some other object in the room on which to fix his eye. He chose the dragon’s head in the picture of St. George. But that was the exact spot through which Timar looked into the room, so that it seemed to him as if the major directed his words purposely to him, although it was much too dark where Timar stood for any one to see him.

“On this the man’s face changed suddenly; he leaped up like a sleeping dog when one treads on his tail. ‘What!’ he cried, so that every one could hear. ‘You think Levetinczy is a rich man with a great name — a clever man, a happy family man, a faithful subject? I will prove to you that this man, if I can once meet him, will take flight from here next day — that he will leave his lovely wife and his house in the lurch, and fly from Hungary, from Europe, so that you will never hear of him again.’”

Timéa’s hand strayed involuntarily to the hilt of the broken sword.

“Instead of answering the man, I struck him in the face.”

Timar drew back his head from the peep-hole, as if the blow might reach him.

“I saw at once that the man regretted what he had said. He would gladly have escaped the consequences of the blow, but I would not let him off. I stood in his way and said, ‘You are an officer and carry a sword — you know to what such an affair leads among men of honor. There is a ball-room upstairs at the hotel; we will have the candles lighted; then you shall choose two of us as seconds, I also will choose two, and we will fight it out.’ We did not leave him time for reflection. The man fought like a pirate: twice he tried to seize my sword with his left hand; then I got angry and gave him such a cut over the head that he fell. Luckily for him, it was with the flat of the blade, which was the reason of my sword breaking. The next day the man, so our surgeon told me, had left the town — his wound can not have been a dangerous one.”

Timéa took out the Turkish sword and looked at the hilt; then she laid it on the table and stretched out her hand in silence to the major. He took it gently in both his own, and carried it to his lips; it could hardly be seen whether he kissed it. Timéa did not draw it away.

“I thank you!” whispered the major, so low that Timar could not hear it in his hiding-place, but the eyes said it too. A long pause followed. Timéa sat down again on the sofa and supported her head on her hand.

The major spoke at last. “I did not request an interview, gracious lady, to boast of a deed which in itself must be painful to you, and was really only the duty of a friend, nor to receive the thanks you so kindly offered me by a grasp of the hand. That was a more than sufficient reward. But not on that account did I request you to meet me, but to ask a very important question. Gracious lady, is it possible that there should be any truth in what this man said?”

Timéa started as if struck by lightning. And the bolt struck Timar too; every nerve thrilled at the question.

“What are you thinking of?” cried Timéa, passionately.

“At last it is out,” said the major, rising from his chair. “And now I will not go without an answer. I say openly, is it possible that there is truth in this accusation? I have not repeated all that this man said about Levetinczy: he accused him of everything that can be said against a man. Is it conceivable that Timar’s life could take such a frightful course as that which the last owner of this unlucky house only escaped by death? For if that is possible, then no respect could restrain me from beseeching you in God’s name, dear lady, to delay not a moment in fleeing from this doomed house. I can not leave you to ruin — I can not look on while another drags you into the abyss.”

The glowing words found a response in Timéa’s bosom. Timar watched in trembling excitement his wife’s mental conflict. Timéa remained victorious; she collected all her energy, and answered quietly, “Do not be alarmed, sir. I can assure you that that man, whoever he was, and wherever he came from, told a lie, and his accusations are groundless. I know intimately the position of Herr von Levetinczy; for during his absence I managed his affairs, and am thoroughly acquainted with every detail. His finances are in order, and even if all he has now at stake were lost by some unlucky chance, no pillar of his house would be shaken. I can also tell you with a clear conscience that of all his property there is not a thaler dishonestly come by. Levetinczy is a rich man, who need not blush for his wealth.”

Why did Timar’s cheeks burn so there in the darkness?

The major sighed. “You have convinced me, gracious lady; I never believed anything against his financial reputation. But this man had much to say about your husband in his character as head of a family. Allow me to ask you one thing: Are you happy?”

Timéa looked at him with inexpressible pathos, and in her eyes lay the words, “You see me, and yet you ask?”

“Riches and luxury surround you,” continued the major, boldly; “but if that is true — which on my honor I never asked, and which, when told me, I answered with the lie direct, and a blow in the face — if it is true that you suffer and are unhappy, I should not be a man if I had not the courage to say to you, gracious lady, there is another who suffers like you. Throw far from you these unlucky riches; make an end of this suffering of two people, who in the next world can accuse a third person in the sight of God of being the cause of it: consent to a divorce!”

Timéa pressed both hands to her breast, and looked up like a martyr on her road to the stake: all her anguish was aroused at this moment.

When Timar saw her so, he struck his forehead with his fist, and turned his face from the Judas-hole through which he had been looking. For the next few moments he saw and heard no more. When torturing curiosity drew him again to the spot of light, and he cast a look into the room, he no longer saw a martyr before him. Timéa’s face was calm.

“Sir,” she said gently to the major, “that I should have heard you to the end is a proof of my respect. Leave me this feeling, and never again ask me what you did today. I call the whole world to witness whether I have ever complained by word or tear. Of whom should I complain? Of my husband, who is the noblest and best man in the world? Of him who saved the strange child’s life? who thrice defied death in the waters’ depths for my sake? When I was a despised and derided creature he protected me; for my sake he visited the house of his deadly enemy, that he might watch over me. When I had become a homeless beggar he gave me — a servant — his hand, his riches, and made me mistress of his house. And when he offered me his hand he meant it; he was not deceiving me.” As she spoke, Timéa went to a closet and opened the doors. “Look here, sir,” she said, as she spread out before the major the train of a dress hanging within. “Do you recognize this dress? It is the one I worked. You saw it for weeks while I worked at it. Every stitch is a buried dream, a sad memory to me. They told me it was to be my wedding-gown; and when it was finished, they said, ‘Take it off: it is for another bride.’ Ah! sir, that was a mortal stab to my heart: I have been sore from that incurable wound all these years. And now should I separate myself from the good man who never courted me, as a child, with flatteries, to turn my head, but remained respectfully in the distance, and waited till others had trodden me under foot to raise me to himself, and has never ceased, with superhuman, angelic patience, his endeavors to cure my wound and to share my sorrow with me? I should separate from the man who has no one but me to love him, to whom I am a whole world, the only being that ties him to life, or at whose coming his gloomy face is cheered? I should leave a man whom every one honors and loves? Tell him that I hate him — I, who owe everything to him, and who brought him no dowry but a sick and loveless heart?”

The major hid his face at these words of the passionate and excited woman. And that other man behind the picture of St. George — must he not feel like the dragon when the knight thrust his spear into him?

“But, sir,” continued Timéa, whose lovely face was illumined by the irresistible charm of womanly dignity, “even if Timar were the exact opposite of all that he is known to be-if he were a ruined man, a beggar — I would not leave him — then least of all. If disgrace covered his name, I would not discard that name; I would share his shame, as I have shared his success. If the whole world despised him, I should still owe him eternal gratitude; if he were exiled, I would follow him into banishment, and live with him in the woods if he were a robber. If he wished to take his life, I would die with him —”

(What is that? Is it the dragon that weeps there in the picture?)

“And, sir, if even the bitterest, cruelest insult of all to a woman were inflicted on me — if I learned that my husband was unfaithful, to me — that he loved another — I would say, ‘God bless her who gave him the happiness of which I have robbed him;’ and I would not even then divorce him — I would not do it if he wished it. I will never separate from him, for I know what is due to my oath and the salvation of my soul!”

And the major too sobbed — he too.

Timéa stopped to recover her composure. Then in a soft and gentle voice she continued: “And now leave me forever. The stab you gave my heart years ago is healed by this sword-stroke: I keep this broken blade as a remembrance. As often as my eye falls on it, I will think that you are a brave soul, and it will be balm to me. And because for years you have never spoken to me nor approached me, I will forgive your having come and spoken to me now.” . . .

When Timar burst through the closet out of the hiding-place, a dark figure stood in his way. Was it a shadow, a phantom, or a spirit? It was Athalie. Timar pushed, the dark figure away, and while he pressed her with one hand against the wall, he whispered in her ear, “I curse you! and accursed be this house and the ashes of him who built it!”

Then he rushed like a madman down the stairs.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56