June 2019 - Page 2 of 4 - Cappadoica June 2019 - Page 2 of 4 - Cappadoica

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 1

Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952)

Molnar was born in 1878 in Budapest, the son, according to the translator of his plays, “of a Jewish medical practioner. He graduated from the Universities of Geneva and Budapest. His literary career was begun as a journalist at the age of eighteen.” Though Molnar is best known as a dramatist, he was the author of a few novels and several short stories. His is a cynical and worldly-wise philosophy, yet tempered always by a certain sentiment, which is perceptible in the bitter little fable printed in these pages. The Silver Hilt is in effect a parable, related with grace, humour, and a certain curious sentiment.

The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the author and translator for permission to use the MS.

The Silver Hilt

A Narrow ribbon of smoke wound its way lightly out of one of the many ch

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 9

During this time there was much talk of the colonel. People came and told me tales about him, but without observing the priest’s moderation. I defended the memory of the colonel. I recalled his good qualities, his virtues; had he not been austere?

“Austere!” they would interrupt. “Nonsense! He is dead, and it’s all over now. But he was a regular demon!”

And they would cite incidents and relate the colonel’s perversities, some of which were nothing less than extraordinary.

Need I confess it? At first I listened to all this talk with great curiosity; then, a queer pleasure penetrated my heart, a pleasure from which, sincerely, I tried to escape. And I continued to defend the colonel; I explained him, I attributed much of the fault-finding to local animosity; I admitted, yes, I admitted that he had been a trifle exacting, somewhat violent.

“Somewhat! Why he was as furious as a snake!” exclaimed the barber.

And all—t

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 8

“How much was he worth?” my brother asked me.

“I don’t know, but I know that he was very wealthy.”

“Really, he’s proved that he was a very true friend to you.”

“He certainly was—he was.”

Thus, by a strange irony of fate, all the colonel’s wealth came into my hands. At first I thought of refusing the legacy. It seemed odious to take a sou of that inheritance; it seemed worse than the reward of a hired assassin. For three days this thought obsessed me; but more and more I was thrust against this consideration: that my refusal would not fail to awake suspicion. Finally I settled upon a compromise; I would accept the inheritance and would distribute it in small sums, secretly.

This was not merely scruple on my part, it was also the desire to redeem my crime by virtuous deeds; and it seemed the only way to recover my peace of mind and feel that accounts were straight.

Suggested tragic deeds

I

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 7

We went out. Once in the street the passing from semi-obscurity to day-light dazed me and I staggered. I began to fear that it would no longer be possible for me to conceal the crime. I kept my eyes steadily fixed upon the ground and took my place in the procession. When all was over, I breathed once more. I was at peace with man. But I was not at peace with my conscience, and the first nights, naturally, I spent in restlessness and affliction. Need I tell you that I hastened to return to Rio de Janeiro, and that I dwelt there in terror and suspense, although far removed from the scene of the crime? I never smiled; I scarcely spoke; I ate very little; I suffered hallucinations and nightmares.

“Let the dead rest in peace,” they would say to me. “Such gloom is beyond all reason.”

Interesting phenomenon

And I was happy to find how people interpreted my symptoms; I praised the dead man highly, calling him a good soul, surly, in truth, but with a

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 6

Before daybreak I bandaged the wounds that I had received in the lace. Then only did I pluck up enough courage to return to the other loom. Twice I started, only to turn back; but it must be done, so I entered. Even then, I did not at first go to the bed. My legs shook, my heart pounded. I thought of flight; but that would have been a confession of the crime. … It was on the contrary very important for me to hide all traces of it. I approached the bed. I looked at the corpse, with its widely distended eyes and its mouth gaping, as if uttering the eternal reproach of the centuries: “Cain, what hast thou done with thy brother?” I discovered on the neck the marks of my nails; I buttoned the shirt to the top, and drew the bed-cover up to the dead man’s chin. Then I called a servant and told him that the colonel had died towards morning; I sent him to notify the vicar and the doctor.

My immediate departure

The first idea that came to me was to leave as soon

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 5

It seemed to me that I saw faces grinning on the walls; I heard muffled voices. The cries of the victim, the shrieks before the struggle and during its wild moments, continued to reverberate within me, and the air, in whatever direction I turned, seemed to shake with convulsions. Do not imagine that I am inventing pictures or aiming at verbal style. I swear to you that I heard distinctly voices that were crying at me: “Murderer! Murderer!”

All was quiet in the house. The tick-tick of the clock, very even, slow, dryly metrical, increased the silence and solitude. I put my ear to the door of the room, in hope of hearing a groan, a word, an insult, anything that would be a sign of life, that might bring back peace to my conscience; I was ready to let myself be struck ten, twenty, a hundred times, by the colonel’s hand. But, nothing—all was silent. I began to pace the room aimlessly; I sat down, I brought my hands despairingly to my head; I repented ever having come to

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 4

Very probably my chance was approaching. The colonel was rapidly getting worse. He made his will, the notary receiving almost as many insults as did I. The invalid’s treatment became more strict; short in-tervals of peace and rest became rarer then ever for me. Already I had lost the meager measure of pity that made me forget the old sufferer s excesses; inside of me seethed a cauldron of aversion and hatred. At the beginning of the month of August I decided definitely to leave.

The vicar and the doctor, finally accepting my explanations, asked me but a few days’ more service. I gave them a month. At the end of that lime I would depart, whatever might be the condition of the invalid.

I he vicar promised to find me a substitute.

Now for what happened. On the evening of the 24th of August the colonel had a violent attack of anger; he struck me, he called me the vilest names, he threatened to shoot me; finally he threw a plate of porridge that was too

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 3

But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.

“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”

“Nonsense!”

“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 2

Arriving there, I heard bad reports concerning the colonel. He was pictured to me as a disagreeable, harsh, exacting fellow; nobody could endure him, not even his own friends. He had used more attendants Ilian medicines. In fact he had broken the faces of two of them. But to all this I replied that I had no fear of persons in good health, still less of invalids. So, after first visiting the vicar, who confirmed all that I had heard and recommended to me charity and forbearance, I turned toward the colonel’s residence.

On a chair and suffering greatly

I found him on the veranda of his house, stretched out on a chair and suffering greatly. He received me fairly well. At first he examined me silently, piercing me with his feline eyes: then a kind of malicious smile spread over his features, which were rather hard. Finally he declared that all the attendants he had ever engaged hadn’t been worth a button, that they slept too much, were impudent and spent their

Read More

The Attendant’s Confession part 1

Brazil

J. M. Machado De Assis (1839-1908)

Born at Rio de Janeiro of poor parents, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis began his literary career at an early age, although it was not for some years that he succeeded in establishing a reputation. Long before his death he was regarded as the chief exponent of modern Brazilian literature. About 1880 he first became generally known, and until the end of his life he wrote industriously. He is best known for his rather pessimistic but finely conceived and well- written psychological novels and short stories.

The Attendant’s Confession is one of his characteristic tales. The present version, translated by Isaac Goldberg (and revised for this collection), is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from the volume, Brazilian Tales, translated by Isaac Goldberg. Copyright, 1921, by George Allen and Unwin.

The Attendant’s Confession

So you really think that what happened to

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