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The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 6

A soft, creeping noise could be heard, as the ladies, with their fingers on their lips, slipped away from behind the curtains.

“I have loved you for a long time,” said the Red Scoundrel in a melting tone.

Something seemed to choke the woman, but she told herself it was only imagination.

“I adore you.”

The woman could not take her eyes off his hand. And she pleaded:

“If you love me, let go the hilt of your sword.”

“Never,” shouted Scarlet in the heat of his passion, and drew his chair closer.

The Lady was trembling like a leaf in an evening breeze.

“You are beautiful!” howled the Scarlet Bone. “You are as beautiful as the morning star, and I tell you frankly I am going to make you my own love.”

His grip on the sword tightened.

“He’ will not let go of it.” thought the terrified woman. “He will not let go of it. I am lost.”

She made an atte

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 5

She lay resting on a large sofa when the Red Bone (that was what they called the Scarlet Count among themselves) entered the room. She rose and went to meet him, offering him a seat. The Lord sat down, on a footstool and, as was customary with knights, held his sword between his knees. The Lady, who until now had not dared to cast even a glance at the sword, looked at it shyly. She was taken aback by the sight. The sword, studded with diamonds and precious stones, ended at the hilt in a simple silver sheet. It had an uncanny faded look about it and gleamed in the dimness of the room with a ghostly light.

They could not see the thirty-three women peeping in from behind the heavy drapery and curtains. But these women agreed that the Count looked irresistibly powerful, though they always before considered him ridiculous.

“It’s fine weather,” said the Red Bone.

“Yes, very fine,” said the Lady, and was greatly relieved when she saw that the Count h

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 4

The Count opened his eyes wide. He was known as an admirer of feminine charms, but had never had any success with ladies of rank. His face was gleaming with joy.

“I have ground silver into dust,” continued the Maestro, “and boiled it in the juice of Asperula Odorato and then in the juice of the root of Azarum Europseum. These are the ingredients. But the chemical proportion that yields the magic is my own secret. Ecce…”

And he raised the lid of one of the pots. There were indeed bits of silver balls boiling in the juice of something that smelled horribly Btrange. He had cooked the whole mess the night before as a last chance.

“And—?”

“And of this silver dust I shall mold a thin sheet of silver plate; with that silver plate you will graciously cover the hilt of your sword and while you are courting the ladies keep your left hand on the hilt of the sword. There is no great lady, baroness, countess, duchess, or even queen, who w

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 3

Thus wailed the Maestro, bending to the floor again and again to stroke his long whiskers.

Suddenly, in the midst of his distress, he heard footsteps in the corridor. In a moment the door opened, and in the middle of the diabolical kitchen stood Count Scarlet with threateningly puckered eyebrows. The Count was tall, lanky, freckled1, with close-cropped red hair, and a wicked bony face. His hands were as large as beefsteaks. His knees stuck out from his tightly fitting trousers like two bunions. He lifted his aristocratic, hairy red hand, and his tiny pig eyes grinned searchingly:

“Well, Maestro!”

The Maestro suddenly grew limp and tried to sit down on the air. He gulped a big dry gulp, turned the color of onyx and faintingly whispered, “Well, what does that ‘Well’ mean?”

“It means what it means,” said the Count coldly.

Deadly silence

It was a terrible moment. The seriousness of the situation was accentuat

Read More

The Silver Hilt part 2

The Maestro looked at this bit of gold and scratched his head. Count Scarlet had flown into a violent temper the night before. He was tired of having had him on his back for the past year and a half. The Maestro ate, drank and lived well, besides spending enormous sums for experiments, and he had not been able to make more than this tiny bit of gold. Once last year, the Count had determined to throw the Maestro out, when luckily the Maestro had succeeded in creating the gold.

It is true that he had been able to do so only by inserting the gold—which he had bought—into the lead which he was supposed to have transformed. But Count Scarlet, cunning rascal though he was, had not dis-covered this. With the weirdest and most impressive ceremonies, exactly a t the stroke of midnight, the Maestro put the stick of lead into the fire in the presence of the Count, and when they removed the jar from under the lead, the gold was discovered in the bottom of it.

And then t

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

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

Read More

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

Read More

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

Read More

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

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