The Salamander and Other Gothic Tales
flattering to the ego, would be rather tedious. I did not wish to arouse the sort of society gossip which could harm a blameless girl; of putting an end to it by the usual means, that is by marriage, I had no intention. For this reason I began to visit my aunt much less often - and in any case I had no time: I had started on a different pursuit. One day at a ball I met with a woman who stopped me in my tracks. It seemed to me that I had seen her somewhere; her face was so familiar to me that I
nonsense and you are assured that you are understood; on both sides pride arises and is maintained, and pride is the chalice into which all human sins are poured: it glitters and jingles and its arabesque lures your gaze, while your lips invol untarily touch the seductive beverage. The Countess and I shared this fatal vessel. I admired in her the playful ness of her mind, her beauty, her fervid imagination, the refinement of her heart. She admired in me my strength of character, the boldness of
moral beings which inhabit a person and are engendered by his will, and of which only traces are preserved in the worldly chronicles. What I can now relate only gradually was, at the time of my vision, presented to me in one and the same instant. My being was, as it were, fragmented. On the one hand, I saw the developing picture of the whole of 116 The Cosmorama humanity; on the other, a picture of the people whose fate was tied to my fate. In this unusual state of the organism, my mind felt
its usual order. Our Yakko lay in Zverev’s bedroom with a swollen head and in the grip of a strong fever. He tossed about on the bed, pronouncing now incomprehen sible words and now calling for family members, and for Elsa. This went on for entire days. Finally Yakko returned to his senses and the first person whom his weakened memory recognised was Maria Yegorovna. She was 173 The Salamander and Other Gothic Tales sitting beside the bed and looking with concern at the sick man. - Where am I?
metals, created for the adornment of our sky, has been - in this hand! Yakko listened to the old man and did not know whether to believe him or not: the old man spoke with such power, with such vehement convic tion.... It was true that they had set about their wonderful task three times already and three times they had found - just ash. But Yakko knew that more than one learned mage in Holland, France and Germany had believed in alchemy and had laboured over the philosopher’s stone. Many laughed