The Secret of Sarek/Chapter XI

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VORSKI! Vorski! The unspeakable creature, the thought of whom filled her with shame and horror, the monstrous Vorski, was not dead! The murder of the spy by one of his colleagues, his burial in the cemetery at Fontainebleau; all this was a fable, a delusion! The only real fact was that Vorski was alive!

Of all the visions that could have haunted Veronique's brain, there was none so abominable as the sight before her; Vorski standing erect, with his arms crossed and his head up, alive! Vorski alive!

She would have accepted anything with her usual courage, but not this. She had felt strong enough to face and defy no matter what enemy, but not this one. Vorski stood for ignominious disgrace, for insatiable wickedness, for boundless ferocity, for method mingled with madness in crime.

And this man loved her.

She suddenly blushed. Vorski was staring with greedy eyes at the bare flesh of her shoulders and arms, which showed through her tattered bodice, and looking upon this bare flesh as upon a prey which nothing could snatch from him. Nevertheless Veronique did not budge. She had no covering within reach. She pulled herself together under the insult of the man's desire and defied him with such a glance that he was embarrassed and for a moment turned away his eyes.

Then she cried, with an uncontrollable outburst of feeling:

“My son! Where's Francois? I want to see him.”

“Our son is sacred, madame,” he replied. “He has nothing to fear from his father.”

“I want to see him.”

He lifted his hand as one taking an oath:

“You shall see him, I swear.”

“Dead, perhaps!” she said, in a hollow voice.

“As much alive as you and I, madame.”

There was a fresh pause. Vorski was obviously seeking his words and preparing the speech with which the implacable conflict between them was to open.

He was a man of athletic stature, with a powerful frame, legs slightly bowed, an enormous neck swollen by great bundles of muscles and a head unduly small, with fair hair plastered down and parted in the middle. That in him which at one time produced an impression of brute strength, combined with a certain distinction, had become with age the massive and vulgar aspect of a professional wrestler posturing on the hustings at a fair. The disquieting charm which once attracted the women had vanished; and all that remained was a harsh and cruel expression of which he tried to correct the hardness by means of an impassive smile.

He unfolded his arms, drew up a chair and, bowing to Veronique, said:

“Our conversation, madame, will be long and at times painful. Won't you sit down?”

He waited for a moment and, receiving no reply, without allowing himself to be disconcerted, continued:

“Perhaps you would rather first take some refreshment at the sideboard. Would you care for a biscuit and a thimbleful of old claret or a glass of champagne?”

He affected an exaggerated politeness, the essentially Teutonic politeness of the semi-barbarians who are anxious to prove that they are familiar with all the niceties of civilization and that they have been initiated into every refinement of courtesy, even towards a woman whom the right of conquest would permit them to treat more cavalierly. This was one of the points of detail which in the past had most vividly enlightened Veronique as to her husband's probable origin.

She shrugged her shoulders and remained silent.

“Very well,” he said, “but you must then authorize me to stand, as behooves a man of breeding who prides himself on possessing a certain amount of savoir faired. Also pray excuse me for appearing in your presence in this more than careless attire. Internment-camps and the caves of Sarek are hardly places in which it is easy to renew one's wardrobe.”

He was in fact wearing a pair of old patched trousers and a torn red-flannel waistcoat. But over these he had donned a white linen robe which was half-closed by a knotted girdle. It was a carefully studied costume; and he accentuated its eccentricity by adopting theatrical attitudes and an air of satisfied negligence.

Pleased with his preamble, he began to walk up and down, with his hands behind his back, like a man who is in no hurry and who is taking time for reflection in very serious circumstances. Then he stopped and, in a leisurely tone:

“I think, madame, that we shall gain time in the end by devoting a few indispensable minutes to a brief account of our past life together. Don't you agree?”

Veronique did not reply. He therefore began, in the same deliberate tone:

“In the days when you loved me...”

She made a gesture of revolt. He insisted:

“Nevertheless, Veronique...”

“Oh,” she said, in an accent of disgust, “I forbid you!... That name from your lips!... I will not allow it....”

He smiled and continued, in a tone of condescension:

“Don't be annoyed with me, madame. Whatever formula I employ, you may be assured of my respect. I therefore resume my remarks. In the days when you loved me, I was, I must admit, a heartless libertine, a debauchee, not perhaps without a certain style and charm, for I always made the most of my advantages, but possessing none of the qualities of a married man. These qualities I should easily have acquired under your influence, for I loved you to distraction. You had about you a purity that enraptured me, a charm and a simplicity which I have never met with in any woman. A little patience on your part, an effort of kindness would have been enough to transform me. Unfortunately, from the very first moment, after a rather melancholy engagement, during which you thought of nothing but your father's grief and anger, from the first moment of our marriage there was a complete and irretrievable lack of harmony between us. You had accepted in spite of yourself the bridegroom who had thrust himself upon you. You entertained for your husband no feeling save hatred and repulsion. These are things which a man like Vorski does not forgive. So many women and among them some of the proudest had given me proof of my perfect delicacy that I had no cause to reproach myself. That the little middle-class person that you were chose to be offended was not my business. Vorski is one of those who obey their instincts and their passions. Those instincts and passions failed to meet with your approval. That, madame, was your affair; it was purely a matter of taste. I was free; I resumed my own life. Only...”

He interrupted himself for a few seconds and then went on:

“Only, I loved you. And, when, a year later, certain events followed close upon one another, when the loss of your son drove you into a convent, I was left with my love unassuaged, burning and torturing me. What my existence was you can guess for yourself; a series of orgies and violent adventures in which I vainly strove to forget you, followed by sudden fits of hope, clues which were suggested to me, in the pursuit of which I flung myself headlong, only to relapse into everlasting discouragement and loneliness. That was how I discovered the whereabouts of your father and your son, that was how I came to know their retreat here, to watch them, to spy upon them, either personally or with the aid of people who were entirely devoted to me. In this way I was hoping to reach yourself, the sole object of my efforts and the ruling motive of all my actions, when war was declared. A week later, having failed in an attempt to cross the frontier, I was imprisoned in an internment-camp.”

He stopped. His face became still harder; and lie growled:

“Oh, the hell that I went through there! Vorski! Vorski, the son of a king, mixed up with all the waiters and pickpockets of the Fatherland! Vorski a prisoner, scoffed at and loathed by all! Vorski unwashed and eaten up with vermin... My God, how I suffered!... But let us pass on. What I did, to escape from death, I was entitled to do. If some one else was stabbed in my stead, if some one else was buried in my name in a corner of France, I do not regret it. The choice lay between him and myself; I made my choice. And it was perhaps not only my persistent love of life that inspired my action; it was also — and this above all is a new thing — an unexpected dawn which broke in the darkness and which was already dazzling me with Its glory. But this is my secret. We will speak of it later, if you force me to. For the moment...”

In the face of all this rhetoric delivered with the emphasis of an actor rejoicing in his eloquence and applauding his own periods, Veronique had retained her impassive attitude. Not one of those lying declarations was able to touch her. She seemed to be thinking of other things.

He went up to her and, to compel her attention, continued, in a more aggressive tone:

“You do not appear to suspect, madame, that my words are extremely serious. They are, however, and they will become even more so.—But, before approaching more formidable matters and in the hope of avoiding them altogether, I should like to make an appeal, not to your spirit of conciliation, for there is no conciliation possible with you, but to your reason, to your sense of reality. After all, you cannot be ignorant of your present position, of the position of your son....”

She was not listening, he was absolutely convinced of it. Doubtless absorbed by the thought of her son, she read not the least meaning into the words that reached her ears. Nevertheless, irritated and unable to conceal his impatience, he continued:

“My offer is a simple one; arid I hope and trust that you will not reject it. In Francois' name and because of my feelings of humanity and compassion, I ask you to link the present to the past of which I have sketched the main features. From the social point of view, the bond that unites us has never been shattered. You are still in name and in the eyes of the law...”

He ceased, stared at Veronique and then, clapping his hand violently on her shoulder, shouted:

“Listen, you baggage, can't you! It's Vorski speaking!”

Veronique lost her balance, saved herself by catching at the back of a chair and once more stood erect before her adversary, with her arms folded and her eyes full of scorn.

This time Vorski again succeeded in controlling himself. He had acted under impulse and against his will. His voice retained an imperious and malevolent intonation:

“I repeat that the past still exists. Whether you like it or not, madame, you are Vorski's wife. And it is because of this undeniable fact that I am asking you, if you please, to consider yourself so today. Let us understand each other; if I do not aim at obtaining your love or even your friendship, I will not accept either that we should return to our former hostile relations. I do not want the scornful and distant wife that you have been. I want... I want a woman... a woman who will submit herself... who will be the devoted, attentive, faithful companion...”

“The slave,” murmured Veronique.

“Yes,” he exclaimed, “the slave; you have said it. I don't shrink from words any more than I do from deeds. The slave; and why not? A slave understands her duty, which is blindly to obey, bound hand and foot, perinde ac cadaver; does the part appeal to you? Will you belong to me body and soul? As for your soul, I don't care a fig about that. What I want... what I want... you know well enough, don't you? What I want is what I have never had. Your husband? Ha, ha, have I ever been your husband? Look back into my life as I will, amid all my seething emotions and delights, I do not find a single memory to remind me that there was ever between us anything but the pitiless struggle of two enemies. When I look at you, I see a stranger, a stranger in the past as in the present. Well, since my luck has turned, since I once more have you in my clutches, it shall not be so in the future. It shall not be so to-morrow, nor even to-night', Veronique. I am the master; you must accept the inevitable. Do you accept?”

He did not wait for her answer and, raising his voice still higher, roared:

“Do you accept? No subterfuges or false promises. Do you accept? If so, go on your knees, make the sign of the cross and say, in a firm voice, 'I accept. I will be a consenting wife. I will submit to all your orders and to all your whims. You are the master.'”

She shrugged her shoulders and made no reply. Vorski gave a start. The veins in his forehead swelled up. However, he still contained himself:

“Very well. For that matter, I was expecting this. But the consequences of your refusal will be so serious for you that I propose to make one last attempt. Perhaps, after all, your refusal is addressed to the fugitive that I am, to the poor beggar that I seem to be; and perhaps the truth will alter your ideas. That truth is dazzling and wonderful. As I told you, an unforeseen dawn has broken through my darkness; and Vorski, son of a king, is bathed in radiant light.”

He had a trick of speaking of himself in the third person which Veronique knew of old and which was the sign of his insupportable vanity. She also observed and recognized in his eyes a peculiar gleam which was always there at moments of exaltation, a gleam which was obviously due to his drinking habits but in which she seemed to see besides a sign of temporary aberration. Was he not indeed a sort of madman and had his madness not increased as the years passed?

He continued, and this time Veronique listened.

“I had therefore left here, at the time when the war broke out, a person who is attached to me and who continued the work of watching your father which I had begun. An accident revealed to us the existence of the caves dug under the heath and also one of the entrances to the caves. It was in this safe retreat that I took refuge after my last escape; and it was here that I learnt, through some intercepted letters, of your father's investigations into the secret of Sarek and the discoveries which he had made. You can understand how my vigilance was redoubled! Particularly because I found in all this story, as it became more and more clear to me, the strangest coincidences and an evident connection with certain details in my own life. Presently doubt was no longer possible. Fate had sent me, here to accomplish a task which I alone was able to fulfil... and more, a task in which I alone had the right to assist. Do you understand what I mean? Long centuries ago, Vorski was predestined. Vorski was the man appointed by fate, Vorski's name was written in the book of time. Vorski had the necessary qualities, the indispensable means, the requisite titles.... I was ready, I set to work without delay, conforming ruthlessly to the decrees of destiny. There was no hesitation as to the road to be followed to the end; the beacon was lighted. I therefore followed the path marked out for me. Vorski has now only to gather the reward of his efforts. Vorski has only to put out his hand. Within reach of his hand fortune, glory, unlimited power. In a few hours, Vorski, son of a king, will be king of the world. It is this kingdom that he offers you.”

He was becoming more and more declamatory, more and more of the emphatic and pompous playactor.

He bent towards Veronique:

“Will you be a queen, an empress, and soar above other women even as Vorski will dominate other men? Queen by right of gold and power even as you are already queen by right of beauty? Will you?... Vorski's slave, but mistress of all those over whom Vorski holds sway? Will you?... Understand me clearly; it is not a question of your making a single decision; you have to choose between two. There is, mark you, the alternative to your refusal. Either the kingdom which I am offering, or else...”

He paused and then, in a grating tone, completed his sentence:

“Or else the cross!”

Veronique shuddered. The dreadful word, the dreadful thing appeared once more. And she now knew the name of the unknown executioner!

“The cross!” he repeated, with an atrocious smile of content. “It is for you to choose. On the one hand all the joys and honours of life. On the other hand, death by the most barbarous torture. Choose. There is nothing between the two alternatives. You must select one or the other. And observe that there is no unnecessary cruelty on my part, no vain ostentation of authority. I am only the instrument. The order comes from a higher power than mine, it comes from destiny. For the divine will to be accomplished, Veronique d'Hergemont must die and die on the cross. This is explicitly stated. There is no remedy against fate. There is no remedy unless one is Vorski and, like Vorski, is capable of every audacity, of every form of cunning. If Vorski was able, in the forest of Fontainebleau, to substitute a sham Vorski for the real one, if Vorski thus succeeded in escaping the fate which condemned him, from his childhood, to die by the knife of a friend, he can certainly discover some stratagem by which the divine will is accomplished, while the woman he loves is left alive. But in that case she will have to submit. I offer safety to my bride or death to my foe. Which are you, my foe or my bride? Which do you choose? Life by my side, with all the joys and honours of life... or death?”

“Death,” Veronique replied, simply.

He made a threatening gesture:

“It is more than death. It is torture. Which do you choose?”


He insisted, malevolently:

“But you are not alone! Pause to reflect! There is your son. When you are gone, he will remain. In dying, you leave an orphan behind you. Worse than that; in dying, you bequeath him to me. I am his father. I possess full rights. Which do you choose?”

“Death,” she said, once more.

He became incensed:

“Death for you, very well. But suppose it means death for him? Suppose I bring him here, before you, your Francois, and put the knife to his throat and ask you for the last time, what will your answer be?”

Veronique closed her eyes. Never before had she suffered so intensely, and Vorski had certainly found the vulnerable spot. Nevertheless she murmured:

“I wish to die.”

Vorski flew into a rage, and, resorting straightway to insults, throwing politeness and courtesy to the winds, he shouted:

“Oh, the hussy, how she must hate me! Anything, anything, she accepts anything, even the death of her beloved son, rather than yield to me! A mother killing her son! For that's what it is; you're killing your son, so as not to belong to me. You are depriving him of his life, so as not to sacrifice yours to me. Oh, what hatred! No, no, it is impossible. I don't believe in such hatred. Hatred has its limits. A mother like you! No, no, there's something else... some love-affair, perhaps? No, no, Veronique's not in love... What then? My pity, a weakness on my part? Oh, how little you know me! Vorski show pity! Vorski show weakness! Why, you've seen me at work! Did I flinch in the performance of my terrible mission? Was Sarek not devastated as it was written? Were the boats not sunk and the people not drowned? Were the sisters Archignat not nailed to the ancient oak-trees? I, I flinch! Listen, when I was a child, with these two hands of mine I wrung the necks of dogs and birds, with these two hands I flayed goats alive and plucked the live chickens in the poultry-yard. Pity indeed! Do you know what my mother called me? Attila! And, when she was mystically inspired and read the future in these hands of mine or on the tarot-cards, 'Attila Vorski,' that great seer would say, 'you shall be the instrument of Providence. You shall be the sharp edge of the blade, the point of the dagger, the bullet in the rifle, the noose in the rope. Scourge of God! Scourge of God, your name is written at full length in the books of time! It blazes among the stars that shone at your birth. Scourge of God! Scourge of God!' And you, you hope that my eyes will be wet with tears? Nonsense! Does the hangman weep? It is the weak who weep, those who fear lest they be punished, lest their crimes be turned against themselves. But I, I! Our ancestors feared but one thing, that the sky should fall upon their heads. What have I to fear? I am God's accomplice! He has chosen me among all men. It is God that has inspired me, the God of the fatherland, the old German God, for whom good and evil do not count where the greatness of his sons is at stake. The spirit of evil is within me. I love evil, I thirst after evil. So you shall die, Veronique, and I shall laugh when I see you suffering on the cross!”

He was already laughing. He walked with great strides, stamping noisily on the floor. He lifted his arms to the ceiling; and Veronique, quivering with anguish, saw the red frenzy in his bloodshot eyes.

He took a few more steps and then came up to her and, in a restrained voice, snarling with menace:

“On your knees, Veronique, and beseech my love! It alone can save you. Vorski knows neither pity nor fear. But he loves you; and his love will stop at nothing. Take advantage of it, Veronique. Appeal to the past. Become the child that you once were; and perhaps one day I shall drag myself at your feet. Veronique, do not repel me; a man like me is not to be repelled. One who loves as I love you, Veronique, as I love you, is not to be defied.”

She suppressed a cry. She felt his hated hands on her bare arms. She tried to release herself; but he, much stronger than she, did not let go and continued, in a panting voice:

“Do not repel me... it is absurd... it is madness.... You must know that I am capable of anything... Well?... The cross is horrible.... To see your son dying before your eyes; is that what you want?... Accept the inevitable. Vorski will save you. Vorski will give you the most beautiful life.... Oh, how you hate me! But no matter: I accept your hatred, I love your hatred, I love your disdainful mouth.... I love it more than if it offered itself of its own accord....”

He ceased speaking. An implacable struggle took place between them. Veronique's arms vainly resisted his closer and closer grip. Her strength was failing her; she felt helpless, doomed to defeat. Her knees gave way beneath her. Opposite her and quite close, Vorski's eyes seemed filled with blood; and she was breathing the monster's breath..

Then, in her terror, she bit him with all her might; and, profiting by a second of discomfiture, she released herself with one great effort, leapt bade, drew her revolver, and fired once and again.

The two bullets whistled past Vorski's ears and sent fragments flying from the wall behind him. She had fired too quickly, at random.

“Oh, the jade!” he roared. “She nearly did for me.”

In a second he had his arms round her body and, with an irresistible effort, bent her backwards, turned her round and laid her on a sofa. Then he took a cord from his pocket and bound her firmly and brutally.

There was a moment's respite and silence.

Vorski wiped the perspiration from his forehead, filled himself a tumbler of wine and drank it down at a gulp.

“That's better,” he said, placing his foot on his victim, “and confess that this is best all round. Each one in his place, my beauty; you trussed like a fowl and I treading on you at my pleasure. Aha, we're no longer enjoying ourselves so much! We're beginning to understand that it's a serious matter. Ah, you needn't be afraid, you baggage: Vorski's not the man to take advantage of a woman! No, no, that would be to play with fire and to burn with a longing which this time would kill me. I'm not such a fool as that. How should I forget you afterwards? One thing only can make me forget and give me my peace of mind; your death. And, since we understand each other on that subject, all's well. For it's settled, isn't it; you want to die?”

“Yes,” she said, as firmly as before.

“And you want your son to die?”

“Yes,” she said.

He rubbed his hands:

“Excellent! We are agreed; and the time is past for words that mean nothing. The real words remain to be spoken, those which count; for you admit that, so far, all that I have said is mere verbiage, what? Just as all the first part of the adventure, all that you saw happening at Sarek, is only child's play. The real tragedy is beginning, since you are involved in it body and soul; and that's the most terrifying part, my pretty one. Your beautiful eyes have wept, but it is tears of blood that are wanted, you poor darling! But what would you have? Once again, Vorski is not cruel. He obeys a higher power; and destiny is against you. Your tears? Nonsense! You've got to shed a thousand times as many as another. Your death? Fudge! You've got to die a thousand deaths before you die for good. Your poor heart must bleed as never woman's and mother's poor heart bled before. Are you ready, Veronique? You shall hear really cruel words, to be followed perhaps by words more cruel still. Oh, fate is not spoiling you, my pretty one!...”

He poured himself out a second glass of wine and emptied it in the same gluttonous fashion; then he sat down beside her and, stooping, said, almost in her ear:

“Listen, dearest, I have a confession to make to you. I was already married when I met you. Oh, don't be upset! There are greater catastrophes for a wife and greater crimes for a husband than bigamy. Well, by my first wife I had a son... whom I think you know; you exchanged a few amicable remarks with him in the passage of the cells.... Between ourselves, he's a regular bad lot, that excellent Raynold, a rascal of the worst, in whom I enjoy the pride of discovering, raised to their highest degree, some of my best instincts and some of my chief qualities. He is a second edition to myself, but he already outstrips me and now and then alarms me. Whew, what a devil! At his age, a little over fifteen, I was an angel compared with him. Now it so happens that this fine fellow has to take the field against my other son, against our dear Francois. Yes, such is the whim of destiny, which, once again, gives orders and of which, once again, I am the clear-sighted and subtle interpreter. Of course it is not a question of a protracted and daily struggle. On the contrary, something short, violent and decisive: a duel, for instance. That's it, a duel; you understand, a serious duel. Not a turn with the fists, ending in a few bruises; no, what you call a duel to the death, because one of the two adversaries must be left, on the ground, because there must be a victor and a victim, in short, a living combatant and a dead one.”

Veronique had turned her head a little and she saw that he was smiling. Never before had she so plainly perceived the madness of that man, who smiled at the thought of a mortal contest between two children both of whom were his sons. The whole thing was so extravagant that Veronique, so to speak, did not suffer. It was all outside the limits of suffering.

“There is something better, Veronique,” he said, gloating over every syllable. “There's something better. Yes, destiny has devised a refinement which I dislike, but to which, as a faithful servant, I have to give effect. It has devised that you should be present at the duel. Capital; you, Francois' mother, must see him fight. And, upon my word, I wonder whether that apparent malevolence is not a mercy in disguise. Let us say that you owe it to me, shall we, and that I myself am granting you this unexpected, I will even say, this unjust favour? For, when all is said, though Raynold is more powerful and experienced than Francois and though, logically, Francois ought to be beaten, how it must add to his courage and strength to know that he is fighting before his mother's eyes! He will feel like a knight errant who stakes all his pride on winning. He will be a son whose victory will save his mother... at least, so he will think. Really the advantage is too great; and you can thank me, Veronique, if this duel, as I am sure it will, does not — and I am sure that it will not — make your heart beat a little faster.... Unless... unless I carry out the infernal programme to the end.... Ah, in that case, you poor little thing!...”

He gripped her once more and, lifting her to her feet in front of him, pressing his face against hers, he said, in a sudden fit of rage:

“So you won't give in?”

“No, no!” she cried.

“You will never give in?”

“Never! Never! Never!” she repeated, with increasing vehemence.

“You hate me more than everything?”

“I hate you more than I love my son.”

“You lie, you lie!” he snarled. “You lie! Nothing comes above your son!”

“Yes, my hatred for you.”

All Veronique's passion of revolt, all the detestation which she had succeeded in restraining now burst forth; and, indifferent to what might come of it, she flung the words of hatred full in his face:

“I hate you! I hate you! I would have my son die before my eyes, I would witness his agony, anything rather than the horror of your sight and presence. I hate you! You killed my father! You are an unclean murderer, a half-witted, savage idiot, a criminal lunatic! I hate you!”

He lifted her with an effort, carried her to the window and threw her on the ground, spluttering:

“On your knees! On your knees! The punishment is beginning. You would scoff at me, you hussy, would you? Well, you shall see!”

He forced her to her knees and then, pushing her against the lower wall and opening the window, he fastened her head to the rail of the balcony by means of a cord round her neck and under her arms. He ended by gagging her with a scarf:

“And now look!” he cried. “The curtain's going up! Boy Francois doing his exercises!... Oh, you hate me, do you? Oh, you would rather have hell than a kiss from Vorski? Well, my darling, you shall have hell; and I'm arranging a little performance for you, one of my own composing and a highly original one at that!... Also, I may tell you, it's too late now to change your mind. The thing's irrevocable. You may beg and entreat for mercy as much as you like; it's too late! The duel, followed by the cross; that's the programme. Say your prayers, Veronique, and call on Heaven. Shout for assistance if it amuses you.... Listen, I know that your brat is expecting a rescuer, a professor of clap-trap, a Don Quixote of adventure. Let him come! Vorski will give him the reception he deserves! The more the merrier! We shall see some fun!... And, if the very gods join in the game and take up your defence, I shan't care! It's no longer their business, it's my business. It's no longer a question of Sarek and the treasure and the great secret and all the humbug of the God-Stone! It's a question of yourself! You have spat in Vorski's face and Vorski is taking his revenge. He is taking his revenge! It is the glorious hour. What exquisite joy!... To do evil as others do good, lavishly and profusely! To do evil! To kill, torture, break, ruin and destroy!... Oh, the fierce delight of being a Vorski!”

He stamped across the room, striking the floor at each step and hustling the furniture. His haggard eyes roamed in all directions. He would have liked to begin his work of destruction at once, strangling some victim, giving work to his greedy fingers, executing the incoherent orders of his insane imagination.

Suddenly, he drew a revolver and, brutishly, stupidly, fired bullets into the mirrors, the pictures, the window-panes.

And, still gesticulating, still capering about, an ominous and sinister figure, he opened the door, bellowing:

“Vorski's having his revenge! Vorski's having his revenge!”