UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Selected works , translated from the Spanish 1972

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SELECTED WORKS Plan de Evasion (Plan of Escape), a novel by Adolfo Bioy Casares El Adefesio (The Freak), a three-act play by Rafael Alberti Selections from Cantico (Canticle), poetry by Jorge Guillen "Otofio" ("Autumn"), a poem by Alfonso Canales Los Excelentes Varones (The Perfect Gentlemen), a one-act play by Max Aub Translated from the Spanish by MEREDYTH SAVAGE B . A . , University of Cal i fornia , Irvine, 1969 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of Creative Writing We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1972 In presenting t h i s thesis in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y shall make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Creative Writing The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada D a t e  April ?8, 197? i ABSTRACT This thesis i s composed of the t r a n s l a t i o n of previously untranslated works of important modern Spanish authors from Spain, Argentina and Mexico: Adolfo Bioy Casares (Argentine n o v e l i s t and frequent co l l a b o r a t o r with Jorge Luis Borges): PLAN DE EVASION, 1945. The en t i r e novel i s structured on a " f a n t a s t i c a l " formula of physiological-philosophical ideas--rooted in the psychological theories of William James and encompassing even the borders of the current threshold of b i o l o g i c a l engineering. This "formula" i s presented near the end of the novel and serves as the key to the r e a l i t y of the novel i t s e l f : to the manner of i t s architec- t u r e , i t s mental and emotional perceptions and i t s ultimate "resolution" which turns the conclusion back on i t s p a r t s , fo r c i n g the reader to make a reassessment of the perplexing com- ponents of r e a l i t y i n the novel and, perhaps, even to re- examine the questions of the nature of r e a l i t y i t s e l f . In a f u l l y f i c t i o n a l and highly symmetrical manner, the novel explores the question of r e a l i t y , b u i l d i n g i t s own structure of a network i i of multiple and c o n f l i c t i n g r e a l i t i e s which are each developed to be consistent with themselves but which c o n f l i c t i n s olubly at t h e i r ultimate junctures with each other. Rafael A l b e r t i (poet and dramatist of the famous "Generation of 1927" in Spain): EL ADEFESIO, 1944. This work, often compared with G a r a a Lorca's "House of Bernarda A l b a " , i s considered by the c r i t i c s to be his f i n e s t p l a y , and in Spain his work i s more highly regarded than that of Lorca. Like Lorca, in El Adefesio A l b e r t i u t i l i z e s common Spanish f o l k l o r e , but unlike Lorca he uses i t only as a springboard to larger and more complex ends. In the play he interweaves Spanish f o l k l o r e with Greek mythology and C h r i s t i a n legend, employing a naked, f l u i d symbolism i n a way that i s at moments s t r i k i n g l y modern and e x i s t e n t i a l . In the play he achieves a s t a r t l i n g poetic counterpoint between the c l a s s i c a l , l y r i c a l r i t u a l of t r a d i t i o n , with i t s elevated emotion, and a dissonant r i t u a l of grotesqueries suggestive of the modern theatre of the a b s u r d — r e s u l t i n g in a poetic unity that i s both r i c h and complex. Jorge G u i l l e n (an imagist poet, also of the "Generation of 1927" in Spain): CANTICO, 1928. His self-professed aims in i i i Cantico (a "poetry of affirmation") are to express his concept of the basic u n i t y , harmony and abundance of l i f e and of the intimate relatedness of a l l things in time and space. In the poems of Cantico Guillen pursues t h i s affirmation through p u r i t y , i n t e n s i t y of vis i o n and e x c l u s i o n , his verses charac- t e r i z e d by a r e f i n e d , j o y f u l c l a s s i c i s m and b r i l l i a n t metaphor. Alfonso Canales (an important member of the school of modern Spanish poets, whose works date from 1950 to the present): A/ 0T0N0, 1956. This poem i s from his book of poetry El Candado. Max Aub (major modern playwright and fervent a n t i - f a s c i s t , s e l f - e x i l e d from Spain and now residing in Mexico since 1942): LOS EXCELENTES VARONES, 1946. Although his work i s no longer recog- nized i n Spain, Aub i s generally regarded by c r i t i c s as one of the f i n e s t l i v i n g Spanish playwrights. The concerns which have dominated Aub's post-Spain writings are those of war, fascism, e x i l e , humanism and the dign i t y of man under pressure in r e l a - tion to moral values. Although Los Excelentes Varones, by Aub's own c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , belongs to the genre of his work which he c a l l s "police t h e a t r e " , i t i s much more than t h a t , being also a pierci n g black farce s a t i r i z i n g the recurrent and ominous impulse of s o c i e t y — p a s t , present and possibly future—toward the po l i c e s t a t e . iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Plan of Escape, Adolfo Bioy Casares 01 The Freak, Rafael A l b e r t i 172 Selections from C a n t i c l e , Jorge G u i l l e n 271 "Autumn", Alfonso Canales 277 The Perfect Gentleman, Max Aub 278 P L A N O F E S C A P E by ADOLFO BIOY CASARES (Buenos A i r e s , Argentina - 1945) Translated from the Spanish by MEREDYTH SAVAGE My f i r s t afternoon on these islands hasn't yet ended and already I have seen something of so grave a nature that I must ask f o r your help d i r e c t l y , without h e s i t a t i o n . I w i l l t r y to explain myself i n due order. This i s the f i r s t paragraph of the f i r s t l e t t e r from my nephew, naval lieutenant Henri Nevers. Among friends and r e l a t i v e s there w i l l always be someone who w i l l say that his most extra- ordinary and t e r r i b l e adventures would seem to j u s t i f y this tone of alarm, but that they, his "intimates", know that the real j u s t i f i - cation l i e s in his timorous nature. I myself f i n d in that paragraph the proportion of truth and e r r o r to which the best prophets a s p i r e ; furthermore, I do not believe that i t would be r i g h t to define Nevers as a coward. It i s true that he himself has r e a l i z e d that he was a hero t o t a l l y inadequate to the catastrophes that took place. We must not forget what his real preoccupations were, nor, at the same time, the extraordinary nature of those catastrophes. Since the day I l e f t Saint-Martin u n t i l today, u n c o n t r o l l a b l y , as in a d e l i r i u m , I have thought of Irene, Nevers says with his customary lack of decorum, and he continues: I have also thought of my f r i e n d s , those nights we talked 1 2 together in some cafe on the rue Vauban, among dark m i r r o r s , on the i l l u s o r y border of metaphysics. I think of the l i f e I have l e f t and I do not know whom I despise most, Pierre or myself. Pierre i s my older brother; as the head of the family he decided on Henry's e x i l e ; the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f a l l s on him. On the 27th of January, 1913, my nephew boarded the Nicolas Baudin and set s a i l f o r Cayenne. He spent the best moments of the journey with the books of Jules Verne, or with a book of medicine, Tropical Diseases For Everyone or wr i t i n g his Addenda to the Monograph on the Rolls of Qleron; the most r i d i c u l o u s moments were spent f l e e i n g conversations on p o l i t i c s or the next war, conver- sations he l a t e r regretted not having heard. Some f o r t y deportees were t r a v e l l i n g in the hold. By his own admission, Nevers used to imagine at night ( f i r s t as a kind of story he t o l d himself to forget his awful appointment, l a t e r as an involuntary t h i n g , recurring with almost i r r i t a t i n g persistence) that he went down to the hold and urged them to mutiny. In the colony there i s no danger of relapsing into those imaginings, he declares. Confused by the dread of l i v i n g in a prison he made no d i s t i n c t i o n s : the guards, the c o n v i c t s , the e x i l e s : they a l l repelled him. On the 18th of February he disembarked in Cayenne. He was received by the adjutant Legrain, a shabby man, a sort of country barber with kinky blond hair and azure eyes. Nevers asked f o r the governor. 3 "He's out on the islands." "Let's go see him." "Very well," Legrain said s o f t l y . "There's time for us to reach the governor's mansion, have something to drink and rest a b i t . We can't go u n t i l the Schelcher p u l l s out." "When does she leave?" "The 22nd." That was four days away. They entered a sagging, dark c a r r i a g e , worn with age. Nevers studied the c i t y l a b o r i o u s l y . Its c i t i z e n s were black, or yellow- ish white, with excessively f u l l s h i r t s and wide hats made of straw. ' Or there were the pr i s o n e r s , in red and white s t r i p e s . The houses were wood huts, of an ocherous c o l o r , or pink, or b o t t l e green or cerulean blue. The streets were not paved; from time to time a sparse reddish dust enveloped them. Nevers writes: The modest governor's palace owes i t s fame to i t s elevated f l o o r and to i t s use of the country's lumber, as durable as rocks, which the Jesuits used in construction. The penetrating insects and the humidity are beginning to rot the place. Those days that he spent in the capital of the penitentiary seemed to him a season in h e l l J He cursed his own weakness, he cursed that moment in which he had consented to go to Cayenne, Une saison en enfer 4 to distance himself f o r one year from his fiancee. He feared everything: from i l l n e s s , an accident, the incompletion of his purposes, a delay or obstacle to his return t o , even, an incon- ceivable betrayal by Irene. He imagined that he was condemned to these calamities by having permitted, without r e s i s t a n c e , t h e i r disposal of his destiny. Among c o n v i c t s , parolees and j a i l e r s he considered himself a conv i c t . The night before leaving f o r the i s l a n d s , a Mr. and Mrs. F r i n - zine i n v i t e d him to dinner. He asked Legrain i f he could make excuses. Legrain r e p l i e d that they were "very s o l i d " persons and i t would not be advisable to make enemies of them. He added: "Besides, they're already on your s i d e . The governor has offended a l l the r i g h t society of Cayenne. He i s an anarchist." I looked f o r a b r i l l i a n t , d i s d a i n f u l r e p l y , Nevers w r i t e s . As I couldn't f i n d one r i g h t away, I had to thank him f o r his advice, I had to enter into that felonious c i v i l i t y and be received at nine sharp by Mr. and Mrs. F r i n z i n e . He began to get ready long before time. Seized by a fear that they would interrogate him, or perhaps because of a d i a b o l i c r e l i s h f o r symmetries, he studied the a r t i c l e on prisons in the Larousse. It must have been twenty to nine when he went down the perron steps of the government palace. He crossed the square with the palm t r e e s , stopped to contemplate the disagreeable monument to 5 V i c t o r Hugues, condescended to l e t a shoeblack give him a b i t of a shine, and, detouring round the Botanical Gardens, he arrived in fr o n t of the Frinzine household. It was vast and green, with wide adobe w a l l s . A ceremonious concierge conducted him along lengthy c o r r i d o r s , through the secret d i s t i l l e r y , and at the vestibule of a purple- carpeted salon with gold incrustations on the w a l l s , she c a l l e d out his name. There were twenty people. Nevers remembered very few of them: the owners of the h o u s e — P h i l i p F r i n z i n e , the nameless w i f e , and C h a r l o t t e , t h e i r twelve or thirteen-year-old d a u g h t e r — a l l hugely obese, s h o r t , p o l i s h e d , pink; a Mr. Lambert, who cornered him against a mountain of pastries and asked him i f he didn't think that the most important element in man was d i g n i t y (Nevers r e a l i z e d with alarm that Mr Lambert expected an answer, but another guest intervened: "You're r i g h t , the a t t i t u d e of the governor..." Nevers moved away. He wanted to discover the "mystery" about the governor but he didn't want the complications of i n t r i g u e s . He repeated the sentence of the unknown guest, he repeated Lambert's sentence, he said to himself "anything i s the symbol of anything" and he f e l t v a i n l y s a t i s f i e d . ) He also remembered a Mrs. Wernaer: she hovered languidly around them and he went over to speak to her. He immediately learned of the evolution of F r i n z i n e , king of the colony's gold mines, yesterday, dishwasher in a back-street tavern. He also learned that Lambert was commander of the i s l a n d s , 6 that Peter C a s t e l , the governor, had established himself on the islands and that he had sent the commander to Cayenne. This was objectionable: Cayenne had always been the seat of government. But Castel was a subversive, he wanted to be alone with the prison- e r s . . . The woman also accused Castel of having w r i t t e n — a n d published in prestigious g u i l d newspapers—small poems in prose. They went into the dining room. To Nevers' r i g h t sat Mrs. Frinzine and on his l e f t the wife of the president of the Bank of Guiana; across from him, beyond four carnations that arched over a t a l l vase of blue g l a s s , C h a r l o t t e , the daughter of his hosts. At f i r s t there was laughter and great animation. Nevers noticed that immediately around him the conversation slackened. But, he confesses, when he was spoken to he did not answer: he t r i e d to r e c a l l what he had prepared that afternoon in the Larousse. F i n a l l y he overcame his amnesia; the sudden i l l u m i n a t i o n burst into words, and with h o r r i b l e enthusiasm he spoke of the urbane Bentham, author of The Defense of Usury and inventor of hedonistic compu- tation and panoptic prisons; he also evoked the penal system of useless labor and d e b i l i t a t i o n , o f Auburn. He thought he noticed that some of the guests took advantage of his pauses to t r y to change the subject; long afterwards i t occurred to him that speaking of prisons was perhaps not appropriate f o r such a reunion. He was confused, not hearing the few words s t i l l being s a i d , u n t i l suddenly he heard from the l i p s of Mrs. Frinzine (as at night when 7 we hear our own outcry that wakes us) a name: Rene'Ghill. Nevers "explains": I, even unconsciously, could remember the poet; that Mrs. Frinzine should evoke him was inconceivable. He asked imper- t i n e n t l y : "You knew G h i l l ? " "I know him very w e l l . You don't know the times he held me on his knee, in my father's restaurant in M a r s e i l l e s . I was a l i t t l e g i r l . . . a c h i l d then." With a sudden worship Nevers asked her what she remembered of the poet's verses. "I don't remember anything but my daughter can r e c i t e some marvelous l i n e s f o r us." This c a l l e d f o r action and Nevers spoke immediately of the Rolls of Oleron, that great coutumier, who f i x e d the rights of way of the ocean. He t r i e d to inflame his table companions against the renegades or foreigners who pretended that Richard the Lion-Hearted was the author of the R o l l s ; he also warned them against the candidacy—more romantic but quite f a l l a c i o u s — o f Eleanor of Guyena. "No," he t o l d them, "these jewels ( l i k e the immortal poems of the b l i n d bard) were not the work of a si n g l e genius; they were the product of the c i t i z e n s of our i s l a n d s , each d i s t i n c t and e f f e c t i v e as each p a r t i c l e of an alluvium." He r e c a l l e d at l a s t the f l i g h t y Pardessus and he implored those present not to l e t themselves be swayed by his heresy, which was b r i l l i a n t and perverse. 8 Once more I had supposed that my themes must be of i n t e r e s t to other m i n o r i t i e s , he confesses, but he f e l t compassion f o r those l i s t e n i n g to him and he asked: "Would the governor be w i l l i n g to help me in my investigations of the Rolls?" The question was absurd, but I hoped to toss them sweetmeats, the word "governor", to make them happy. They argued over the degree of Castel's c u l t u r e ; they agreed on his "personal charm"; Lambert attempted to compare him with the wise man of a book he had read: a weak, a i l i n g old man with plans to blow up the Comic Opera. The conversation detoured to the costs of the Comic Opera and to the question of which were the greatest t h e a t r e s , those of Europe or those of America. Mrs. Frinzine said that the poor guards went hungry because of the governor's zoo. " I f they didn't have t h e i r private chicken coops..." she i n s i s t e d , shouting to be heard. Through the carnations he looked at Charlotte. She remained s i l e n t , with her eyes circumspectfully cast on her p l a t e . At midnight he went out on the t e r r a c e . Resting on the balustrade, vaguely contemplating the trees of the Botanical Gardens, dark and mercurial in the radiance of the moonlight he recit e d some poems of G h i l l . He interrupted himself; he thought he 9 heard a s l i g h t murmur; he said to himself: i t i s the murmur of the American jungle; i t seemed, more l i k e l y , a murmuring of squir- r e l s or of monkeys; then he saw a woman making signs to him from the gardens; he t r i e d to contemplate the trees and to r e c i t e the poems of G h i l l ; he heard a woman's laughter. Before he l e f t he saw Charlotte again. She was in the room where the hats of the guests were stacked. Charlotte stretched out a short arm with her hand closed; she opened i t . Confusedly, Nevers saw a radiance, then a golden mermaid. "I give i t to you," the g i r l s a i d , with s i m p l i c i t y . At that moment some men walked i n . Charlotte shut her hand. He didn't sleep that night. He thought about Irene, and Charlotte appeared, prophetic and obscene. He promised himself that he would never go to the l i e s du S a l u t , that he would return to Re on the f i r s t boat. On the 22nd he boarded the rusty Schelcher. In among black, pale and sea-sick women and huge cages of chickens, s t i l l sick from the previous night's dinner, he made the t r i p to the i s l a n d s . He asked a s a i l o r i f there were no other means of communication between the islands and Cayenne. "One Sunday the Schelcher, the next the Rimbaud. But the administrators got nothing to complain about, what with t h e i r motor launch..." 10 Everything had been ominous since I l e f t Re, he w r i t e s , but when I saw the islands I f e l t a sudden a f f l i c t i o n . Many times he had imagined the a r r i v a l . As he arrived he f e l t that a l l hope was l o s t : now there would be no m i r a c l e , now there would be no cala- mity to keep him from his post in the pr i s o n . He l a t e r r e c a l l s that the appearance of the islands i s not unpleasant. Further s t i l l : with t h e i r t a l l palm trees and t h e i r rocks, they were the image of the islands that he had always dreamed o f , with Irene. S t i l l , i r r e s i s t a b l y , they repelled him, and our miserable v i l l a g e of Saint-Martin was as i f illuminated in his memory. At three in the afternoon he arrived at Royal Island. He notes: On the pier a dark Jew was waiting f o r me, Dreyfus by name. Nevers greets him rig h t o f f as "Mr. Governor". A guard whispers in his ear: "That's not the governor. That's Dreyfus, the parolee." Dreyfus couldn't have heard, because he said the governor was away. He took Nevers to his quarters in the administration; i t lacked the romantic (but decayed) splendor of the palace at Cayenne; i t was habitable. "I am at your command," Dreyfus stated as he opened the luggage. "My duties are to attend the governor and y o u r s e l f . l i e u - tenant. You may order whatever you wish." He was a man of medium hei g h t , of a greenish complexion, with 11 t i n y b r i l l i a n t eyes. He talked without moving, with a t o t a l s u a v i ty. When he l i s t e n e d he hal f - c l o s e d his eyes and s l i g h t l y pursed his l i p s : in his expression there i s an evident sarcasm, a repressed sagacity. "Where i s the governor?" "He's on Devil's Island." "We'll go there." "Impossible, s i r . The governor has prohibited a l l entry to the i s l a n d . " "And you w i l l not allow me to go out f o r a walk?" The question was weak. But Nevers went out slamming the door sharply. Immedi- ately Dreyfus appeared at his s i d e . He asked i f he could j o i n him and he smiled with a repulsive sweetness. Nevers didn't r e p l y ; they walked together. The i s l a n d i s not a congenial place: everywhere, the horror of seeing c o n v i c t s , the horror of di s p l a y i n g oneself free among con v i c t s . "The governor anxiously awaits you," Dreyfus s a i d . "I'm sure he w i l l v i s i t you t h i s very night." Nevers thought he perceived a ce r t a i n irony. He asks himself: i s t h i s simply a manner of speaking, or did his Jewish p e r s p i c a c i t y cause him to divine that I cursed the governor? Dreyfus eulogized the governor, he congratulated Nevers on his good fortune (to spend some years of his youth in the shadow of such a wise and cordial 12 leader) and himself f o r his own good fortune. "I hope i t won't be years," Nevers stated b o l d l y , and corrected himself: "I hope I won't have to go on walking with you f o r years." He arrived at a group of huge rocks on the coast. He looked out at the Island of S t . Joseph s t r a i g h t ahead, Devil's Island o f f in the waves, further out. He thought he was alone. Suddenly, Dreyfus spoke to him i n his quietest voice. Nevers f e l t dizzy and was a f r a i d of f a l l i n g in the sea. "It's j u s t me." Dreyfus continued: "I'm going now, lieutenant. But be c a r e f u l . It's easy to s l i p on the moss on the rocks, and under the water the sharks are watching you." He continued to study the islands (more careful now, pretending not to be more c a r e f u l ) . Then, when he was alone, he made the atrocious discovery. He thought he saw enormous serpents among the vegetation on Devil's Island, but f o r g e t t i n g the danger that waited in the sea, he moved forward a couple of steps and saw in f u l l daylight (as Cawley on that a s t r o l o g i c a l night on Lough Neagh, or l i k e the redskin on the Lago de Horcones) a greenish antediluvian animal. Engrossed, he walked to other rocks. The portentous truth revealed i t s e l f : 13 Devil's Island was camouflaged. A house, a cement p a t i o , some rocks, a small p a v i l l i o n , were camouflaged. What does t h i s mean? Nevers w r i t e s . That the governor i s a persecuted man? A madman? Or does i t mean war? He believed in the hypothesis of war: he would ask to be transferred to a s h i p . Or w i l l I spend a l l the time of the war here, f a r from Irene? Or w i l l I be a deserter? He adds in a p o s t s c r i p t : Eight hours have passed since I a r r i v e d . I s t i l l have not seen C a s t e l , I couldn't appeal to him about these camouflages, I couldn't hear his l i e s . II February 23 Nevers traversed Royal and St. Joseph Islands (in his l e t t e r of the 23rd he t e l l s me: I haven't yet found an excuse f o r making an appearance on Devil's I s l a n d ) . Royal Island and St. Joseph Island aren't larger than three square kilometers each; Devil's Island i s a l i t t l e smaller. According to Dreyfus, there were, altoge t h e r , some seven hundred and f i f t y inhabitants: f i v e on Devil's Island (the governor, the governor's secretary and three p o l i t i c a l p r i s o n e r s ) , four hundred on Royal I s l a n d , something more than three hundred and f o r t y on 14 St. Joseph. The main constructions are on Royal Island: the administration, the lighthouse, the h o s p i t a l , the workshops and warehouses, and the "red compound", the former slave quarters. On St. Joseph Island there i s an encampment surrounded by a w a l l , and a b u i l d i n g — " t h e castle"—composed of three p a v i l i o n s : two f o r those condemned to s o l i t a r y confinement and one f o r the insane. On Devil's Island there i s a b u i l d i n g with f l a t r o o f s , that looks to be new, some straw-thratched huts and a decrepit tower. The convicts are not obligated to perform any tasks; most of the day they wander about f r e e l y over the islands (with the exception of those confined in the " c a s t l e " , who never leave i t ) . He saw the prisoners in confinement: in minute, wet, s o l i t a r y c e l l s , with a bench and a b i t o f c l o t h , hearing the sound of the sea and the incessant shouting of the insane, exhausting themselves to write a name, a number, with t h e i r f i n g e r n a i l s on the w a l l s , a l - ready imbecile. He saw the insane: naked, among l e f t o v e r vegetables, howling. He returned to Royal Island; he inspected the red compound. It had the reputation of being the most s t i n k i n g , bloodiest place in the colony. The guards and convicts expected his v i s i t . Every- thing was in order, in a f i l t h and misery that are unforgettable, Nevers comments with outrageous sentimentality. He trembled as he entered the h o s p i t a l . It was an almost 15 pleasant place. He saw fewer sick men there than in the "castl e " and the red compound. He asked f o r the doctor. "Doctor? We haven't had one f o r a long time," said a guard. "The governor and the secretary attend the si c k . " Even i f I only gain the enmity of the governor, he w r i t e s , I_ w i l l t r y to a s s i s t the convicts. He then presents t h i s obscure r e f l e c t i o n : i f I do so, I w i l l make myself an accomplice to the existence of prisons. He adds that he w i l l avoid anything that could i n any way postpone his return to France. I l l The governor remained on Devil's Island, occupied in myster- ious a f f a i r s , of whose nature Dreyfus was ignorant or said he was ignorant. Nevers resolved to discover i f these a f f a i r s concealed some danger. He would have to move with extreme caution; to go to the is l a n d under the pretext of taking food or correspondence wouldn't do. It was true that there was a motor launch and more than one dinghy, but there was also a cable tramway, and an order f o r using i t . Dreyfus said that they used t h i s device (that couldn't hold a man) because the sea was usually rough around Devil's Island. They looked at the ocean: i t was calm. Then Dreyfus asked Nevers i f he had thought the tramway had been 16 i n s t a l l e d at Castel's orders. "The device was already set up .when I came here," Dreyfus added. "Unfortunately, that was many years before Mr. Castel was appointed governor." "And who l i v e s on the island?" asked Nevers (absent-mindedly: Dreyfus had t o l d him t h i s on the 23rd). "The governor, Mr. De Brinon and three p o l i t i c a l prisoners. There used to be one other, but the governor moved him to the red compound." This (placing a p o l i t i c a l prisoner among the common prisoners) must have caused a very frank and general i n d i g n a t i o n , so general that Nevers discovered i t even i n the words of that f a n a t i c follower of the governor. Nevers himself was confused, avowing that he would not t o l e r a t e such infamy. Later i t crossed his mind that that act of Castel's furnished him with the l e a s t danger- ous opportunity of v e r i f y i n g what was going on on Devil's Island; he thought the prisoner would have no objection to t a l k i n g (and i f he d i d , i t would s u f f i c e f o r Nevers to simulate an aversion to C a s t e l ) . He asked Dreyfus what the prisoner's name was. "Ferreol Bernheim." He added a number. Nevers took out a small notebook and entered these points i n f u l l view of Dreyfus; then he asked him who De Brinon was. 17 "A marvel, an Apollo," Dreyfus said with sincere enthusiasm. "He i s a young male nurse, of noble family. The governor's secretary." "Why i s there no doctor on the islands?" "There always was a doctor, but now the governor and Mr. De Brinon take care of the s i c k men themselves." Neither of the two were doctors. It can be alleged that neither was Pasteur, Nevers comments p e t u l a n t l y . I do not know i f i t would be wise to antagonize the healers. In the castle and in the red compound he saw a l l manner of sic k men, from anemics to lep e r s . He condemned Caste!, he f e l t that Castel should remove the sick from the i s l a n d s , send them to a h o s p i t a l . He f i n a l l y discovered that his passionate disapproval was not f a r from being a pue r i l e fear of contaminating himself, of never again seeing Irene, of remaining on the islands a few months, u n t i l death. IV March 3 Today I have committed an i n d i s c r e t i o n , he says i n his l e t t e r of March 3. He had spoken with Bernheim. In the afternoon he had gone to the red compound and sent f o r the prisoner. He was a 18 l i t t l e man with a shaven face the color of an old rubber b a l l , with dark, very deep eyes and a canine gaze, that came from f a r o f f , from below, humbly. He snapped to attention l i k e a German s o l d i e r and t r i e d to stand t a l l ; he managed to stare at Nevers in an oblique manner. "What do you want?" The voice was l o f t y , his glance, wretched. "Authority i s everything to me. But with the present aut h o r i t i e s I don't want any more truck than..." Nevers made a gesture of astonishment. He s a i d , offended: "I am not responsible f o r what happened before my a r r i v a l . " "You're r i g h t , " Bernheim conceded, defeated. "What happened, then?" "Nothing," he r e p l i e d . "Nothing: that r a t who i s a d i s c r e d i t to authority yanks me out of Devil's Island and puts me in with the common prisoners." "You must have committed some offense." "That's c l e a r enough," he said almost shouting. "I asked myself that very question. But you know what my duties were: 1) To gather coconuts. 2) To return promptly to the hut. I swear to you: there was never a man born who could beat me in punctual- i t y . " "I w i l l t r y to get you returned to your i s l a n d . " "Don't intervene, lieutenant. I don't want to owe anything 19 to the governor. I am a thorn in the conscience of France." Absurdly, Nevers writes: Bernheim seemed fascin a t e d ; he admired my scar. People assume that the cut I bear i s the souvenir of a f i g h t . It would be advantageous i f the convicts were to think i t i s a sign of aggression. He should not allude so l i g h t l y to a mark t h a t , except in the eyes of women (I suspect i t a t t r a c t s them!), offends the human race. Nevers knows i t i s not a sign of aggression. He must know that i t i s the sign of an idiosyncracy that distinguishes him, perhaps, in the h i s t o r y of morbid psychology. Here l i e s the o r i g i n of that blemish: Nevers was twelve or t h i r t e e n years o l d . He used to study in a garden, near a dark arbor of l a u r e l s . One afternoon he saw a g i r l come out of the arbor with her hair disheveled, a g i r l crying and bleeding. He saw her go away; a phantasmal horror kept him from helping her. He wanted to inspect the arbor; he didn't dare. He wanted to f l e e ; his c u r i o s i t y held him back. The g i r l didn't l i v e f a r away; her brothers, three boys a l i t t l e older than Nevers, appeared very s h o r t l y . They went into the arbor; they came out immediately. They asked him i f he hadn't seen a man wandering about. He said no. The boys went away. He experienced a desperate c u r i o s i t y , and he shouted to them: "I didn't see anyone because I was in the arbor a l l afternoon." He t o l d me that he must have shouted l i k e a madman, because i f he hadn't, the boys 20 wouldn't have believed him. They believed him and they l e f t him f o r dead. I return to the account of that 3rd of March, on the i s l a n d s . Nevers and Bernheim went out f o r a walk. They had been t a l k i n g f o r some time when Nevers suddenly thought that his conduct was imprudent. The impulsive frankness of Bernheim had captured him. He found himself agreeing w i t h , or t o l e r a t i n g without r e f u t a t i o n , well-aimed invectives against the governor and against French j u s t i c e . He remembered that he wasn't there to share the indigna- tion of t h i s man, nor to defend him against i n j u s t i c e ; he was there, simply, to interrogate him, since he feared that in the mystery of Devil's Island there might be something that could delay his return. He managed to reason t h i s out while Bernheim besieged him with eloquence, s u f f e r i n g his calamities anew and repeating that Castel was the worst disgrace in our h i s t o r y . Nevers decided to i n t e r r u p t him: "And now that the governor has f i n i s h e d the camouflages, what i s he doing?" "He i s camouflaging the inside of the house." And he added: "But we w i l l see what his camouflages are good f o r when..." Nevers didn't hear him. I f Castel had camouflaged the i n t e r i o r of the house, he was insane; i f he was insane, Nevers could forget his f e a r s . 21 He was s a t i s f i e d with the interview; nevertheless, he thought, the governor must not know about t h i s ; I must be on guard against his s i c k cunning and suspicions. When he returned to the administration he saw, at a d i s t a n c e , a man walking among the rocks and palm trees on Devil's Island. A f l o c k of heterogeneous animals was following him. A guard t o l d him that that man was the governor. V On the 5 t h he writes: Even though he anxiously awaits me, the governor s t i l l hasn't come. My urgency to see t h i s gentleman has i t s l i m i t s : f o r example, I want to know i f his loss of reason i s absolute or not, i f I ought to lock him up or i f his disorder i s confined to a mania. He wanted to c l a r i f y other points: What did De Brinon do? Did he take care of the sick man? Did he mis- tr e a t him? If the governor was not t o t a l l y mad, Nevers would consult him about the administration. At present there was no administration whatsoever. What would that suggest? Madness? Di s i n t e r e s t ? In that case the governor would not be abject. But who would not have doubts about a man whose vocation i t i s to govern a prison? Nevertheless, he r e f l e c t e d , I am here; i s i t a vocation that has 22 brought me? In Castel's l i b r a r y there were books on medicine, psychology and several novels of the nineteenth century; there were very few of the c l a s s i c s . Nevers was not a medical scholar. The only f r u i t he had gleaned from Tropical Diseases For Everyone was a pleasant but transient prestige among the servants of his house: at lea s t that was what he believed on March 5. In his l e t t e r of that date he thanks me f o r several books that I sent him, and he t e l l s me that his cousin Xavier Brissac was the only member of the family who bid him goodbye. Unfortunately, he w r i t e s , the name of the boat was 'Nicolas Baudin"; Xavier took advantage of the opportunity and remembered what a l l the residents of Oleron and Re in a l l the possible combinations around the tables at the "Cafe du Mirage" have repeated: Nicolas Baudin was the author of the discoveries which the English have a t t r i b u t e d to F l i n d e r s . Xavier had added f i n a l l y that as a r e s u l t of Nevers' stay on those islands so propitious to both the entomologist and the i n s e c t , he hoped--for the glory of F r a n c e — f o r works as s o l i d as those of Baudin. But not entomological works: works more appropriate to the nature of Nevers. Nevers l a t e r speaks of Dreyfus: I must admit that he i s less overbearing in his archipelago than in our l i t e r a t u r e . I have hardly seen him, I barely hear him, but everything has been 23 punctual and c o r r e c t , with the exception of the coffee: e x c e l l e n t . Immediately he asks himself i f t h i s r e c o n c i l i a t i o n may not be prophetic, i f t h i s i s n ' t the beginning of a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n with destiny, and he adds: In some moment of insomnia I have known t h i s fear: the l a x i t y brought on by the t r o p i c s , reaching the state of no longer desiring the return. But why allude to such dangers? I t is an i l l u s i o n to fear them. It i s the longing to dream that the climate, the i n s e c t s , the in c r e d i b l e p r i s o n , the unspeakable absence of Irene do not e x i s t . Concerning the p r i s o n , the insects and even the absence of Irene I w i l l raise no objections. With regard to the cl i m a t e , I believe he exaggerates. The events which took place occurred in February, March and A p r i l , in winter. It i s true that there a March summer i s in the habit of introducing i t s e l f ; i t i s true that winter in the Guianas i s as s u l t r y as summer in P a r i s . . . , but Nevers, against the w i l l of his e l d e r s , has spent more than one vacation in Paris and has never complained. He continued to look f o r an explanation f o r the governor's conduct; at times he was a f r a i d he had accepted the hypothesis of madness too e a s i l y . He resolved not to forget that i t was a hypo- th e s i s : i t was based e x c l u s i v e l y on the words of Bernheim. Perhaps in a casual manner of speaking, perhaps Bernheim had said "he i s camouflaging the i n t e r i o r " to mean that he was painting i t in some 24 extravagant fashion. Or maybe t h i s hypothesis was based on an erro r of observation, or some deficiency in the observer. I f the marks that Castel i s painting on the inside of the house are the same as those on the out s i d e , he thought, would i t not be f i t t i n g to deduce that neither of the two instances have anything to do with "camouflages"? Perhaps i t could be an experiment, something that neither Bernheim nor I understand. At any r a t e , he says with pathetic hopefulness, there exists the p r o b a b i l i t y that these paintings are not the omens of an approaching war. VI One n i g h t , on the t e r r a c e , while Dreyfus was serving c o f f e e , they had a t a l k . Because I detest everything in t h i s colony, I have been unjust to t h i s poor Jew, Nevers w r i t e s . Dreyfus was a man of some reading—he knew the t i t l e s of almost a l l the volumes in the l i b r a r y - - , versed in h i s t o r y , n a t u r a l l y endowed with a g i f t f o r speaking French and Spanish with sententious elegance, with the s l i g h t e s t i r o n y , e f f e c t i v e l y . His use of some archaic turns of phrase could suggest that his manner of speaking may have been studied. Nevers suspected a less f a n t a s t i c explanation: Dreyfus must be a Spanish Jew , one of those whom he had seen in Cairo and in Salonica: surrounded by people of other tongues, they 25 continued to speak the Spanish they had spoken in Spain when they were e x p e l l e d , four hundred years ago. Perhaps t h e i r ancestors were merchants or seamen and knew French, and perhaps from the mouth of Dreyfus he was hearing languages from the Middle Ages. He thought that Dreyfus' l i t e r a r y taste was not e x q u i s i t e . In vain Nevers t r i e d to exact his promise (which would have cost him nothing and would have soothed my conscience) to read someday the works of Theocritus, Mosco, Bion o r , at l e a s t , M a r i n e t t i . In vain he t r i e d to avoid Dreyfus r e l a t i n g to him The Mystery of the Yellow Room. According to Nevers, the h i s t o r i c works of his orderly were not confined to sedentary reading; Dreyfus had made several personal investigations with regard to the colony's past; he promised to show Nevers some things of i n t e r e s t ; Nevers didn't t e l l him that his i n t e r e s t lay p r e c i s e l y in ignoring both the present and the h i s t o r y of t h i s unfortunate region. Later he asked Dreyfus why there were so many insane on the i s l a n d s . "The climate, d e p r i v a t i o n , contagious disease," Dreyfus answered. "Don't get the idea that they were a l l as sane as you when they a r r i v e d . This question i s the source of f a v o r i t e slander: they w i l l t e l l you that i f a governor wants to get r i d of such and such an a s s i s t a n t , he claims him to be mad and locks him 26 up." To change the conversation, Nevers asked what the governor did with the animals. Dreyfus covered his face; he spoke in slow and trembling tones. "Yes, i t ' s h o r r i b l e . You want me to acknowledge... But he i s a great man." Nevers says that Dreyfus' contained a g i t a t i o n increased, and that he himself f e l t nervous, as i f an atrocious revelation were about to emerge. Dreyfus continued: "I know: there are things one doesn't r e f e r t o . Best to forget them, forget." Nevers did not dare to i n s i s t . He comments: "A dog can be toler a t e d l i k e the vain appendix of tante B r i s s a c . But how can you deal w i t h , what are the l i m i t s of loathing in dealing with a man who surrounds himself with flocks of foul-smelling animals? Friendship with an animal i s impossible; to l i v e together, mon- strous , my nephew continues, seeking a feeble o r i g i n a l i t y . The sensory processes of the animals are d i f f e r e n t from our own. We can't imagine t h e i r experiences. Master and dog never l i v e in the same world. The presence of the animals and Dreyfus' horror suggest some- th i n g , my cousin prophetically e x p l a i n s , that i s not l i k e r e a l i t y . But Castel wasn't a misunderstood or s i n i s t e r genius; he was a 27 madman, or a sordid c o l l e c t o r who used up the prisoners' food in his zoo. However, Nevers s t a t e s ; I won't write to the newspapers; I w i l l not expose Caste! for,"the moment. That a governor might have his enemy declared insane could be an anonymous b i t of s l a n d e r , or a moment of treason on the part of Dreyfus. But he might perhaps f i n d i t unwise to make an enemy of the governor of a p r i s o n , e s p e c i a l l y i f the prison was an i s l a n d in the middle of the sea. He would sometime return to France, and i f he f e l t l i k e proceeding with the exposure... But he would be with Irene, he would be happy, and the impassioned intentions he now f e l t would become part of the dream of Devil's I s l a n d , awful and past-tense. He f e l t as i f he had j u s t awakened in the middle of the night: he knew he would go back to sleep and that f o r some hours he would go on dreaming, but he t o l d himself not to take things very s e r i o u s l y , to maintain the most f l e x i b l e i n d i f f e r e n c e ( i f he should forget that he was dreaming). He f e l t r e l i e v e d , c e r t a i n he would not engage in further f o o l - hardiness. VII He says that on the night of March 9 he was so t i r e d he hadn't 28 the strength to break o f f his reading of Plutarch's Treatise on I s i s and O s i r i s and go to bed. He remembered that f i r s t v i s i t of the governor's as the fragment o f a dream. He had heard foo t s t e p s , below, in the court- yard; he went to the window; he saw no one. With the natural cunning of a subordinate, he hid the book and began l e a f i n g through a p o r t f o l i o . The governor entered. He was an o l d man with a smiling f a c e , a white beard and clouded blue eyes. Nevers f e l t he should defend himself against the easy i n c l i n a t i o n to consider him demented. The governor spread his arms and c r i e d out i n a voice l i k e that of a mouse, or a Japanese: "At l a s t , my f r i e n d , at l a s t . How I have looked forward to your coming! That good fe l l o w , Pierre B r i s s a c , has spoken to me about you in a long l e t t e r . I have long awaited your col l a b o r a t i o n . " He shouted as he embraced Nevers-,- he shouted as he clapped him on the back, he shouted as he embraced him again. He spoke at extremely close quarters. Nevers t r i e d to avoid that immediate fac e , that palpable breath. The governor i s p r o f e s s i o n a l l y j o v i a l , Nevers says, but he confesses t h a t , from the f i r s t moment, he regarded the governor with h o s t i l i t y . This harshness i s a new f a c u l t y in my nephew; perhaps the er r o r of sending him to the Guianas has not been so great a f t e r a l l . 29 The governor placed him i n charge of Royal Island and Saint Joseph's Island. He gave him the keys to the archives and the armory. "My l i b r a r y i s at your d i s p o s a l . What i s l e f t of my l i b r a r y : the volumes the guards haven't rented out yet." He i s a disagreeable old man, Nevers w r i t e s . With his eyes wide-open, as though he were in a state of wonderment, he always hunted out my eyes to stare at me face to face. He must be an imbecile, or a hypocrite. Nevers managed to t e l l him that he had seen the "camouflages". The governor didn't understand or pretended that he didn't. Nevers asked: "Are they experiments?" He regretted having volunteered the explanation. "Yes, experiments. But not a word more. You seem t i r e d . Experiments, my f r i e n d . " He was extremely t i r e d . Half-dreaming, he thought that the g o v e r n o r — i n order not to speak of the "camouflages"—had i n f l i c t e d that t e r r i b l e weariness on him. The governor looked at the p o r t f o l i o and s a i d : "Working at t h i s hour of the night. There i s no doubt: work i s i n t o x i c a t i n g . " "Each to his own taste . . . , " answered Nevers. 30 The reply was weak--not useless; i t saved him from simulating (out of cowardice, mere cowardice) an infamous concurrence. However, he wasn't c e r t a i n that his tone was d i s d a i n f u l . "Perhaps I spoke h a s t i l y , " the governor declared. "Perhaps," Nevers s t a t e d , now set in his h o s t i l i t y . The governor regarded him with his moist blue eyes. My nephew also looked back: he studied his wide forehead, his pink, puer i l e cheeks, his shocking white, spit t l e - c o v e r e d beard. It seemed to him that the governor was undecided as to whether to go out slamming the doors or whether to attempt, once more, an explanation. He decided that the p r o f i t he would derive from me merited another explanation, or else i t was his h o r r i b l e sweetness that p r e v a i l e d. "There i s one p o i n t , my f r i e n d , on which we w i l l both agree. It w i l l be the basis of a l l our operations. Do you note in me a cert a i n anxiety to a r r i v e at an agreement with you?" He had noticed i t ; i t i r r i t a t e d him. Caste! went on: "I w i l l be frank: I have placed a l l my hopes in you. I have needed what i t i s most d i f f i c u l t to get ahold of around here: an enlightened c o l l a b o r a t o r . Your a r r i v a l brings an end to my prob- lems, other than those of the work i t s e l f . That i s why I have greeted you with an enthusiasm that may perhaps seem to you extravagant. Don't ask me to explain myself; as we get to know 31 one another b e t t e r , we w i l l explain ourselves to each other imperceptibly." Nevers did not answer. Castel continued, saying: "I w i l l return to what we have taken as the basis of our agreement. For the great majority of men—for the poor, the s i c k , the imprisoned--!ife i s t e r r i b l e . There i s another point on which we can agree: i t i s the duty of a l l of us to t r y to better those l i v e s . " Nevers notes: I had suspected that at the bottom of the old man's anxiety there lay a p o l i t i c a l argument. Now he discovered a new horror: in accordance with his answer they could speak e i t h e r of p o l i t i c s or concern themselves with prison systems. He did not r e p l y . "We have the opportunity, the d i f f i c u l t opportunity, of acting on the l i v e s of a group of men. Look at i t : we are p r a c t i c a l l y free of c o n t r o l s . It doesn't matter that the group i s s m a l l , that i t may be l o s t among 'those i n f i n i t e in number and in misery'. As an example our work w i l l be world-wide. Our o b l i g a t i o n i s to save the f l o c k that we tend, save i t from i t s own destiny." Castel had made more than one ambiguous and alarming a f f i r m a t i o n ; a l l that my nephew perceived was the word " f l o c k " . He states that that word so enraged him that he awoke from his stupor. 32 The governor s a i d : "That i s why I believe that our function as j a i l e r s can be very g r a t i f y i n g . " "A l l j a i l e r s should think as you do," Nevers murmured pru- dently; immediately he raised his voice: " I f something could be done..." "I believe i t can be. What about you?' Nevers did not honor him with an answer. A moment l a t e r he remembered his intention of requesting permission to v i s i t Devil's Island; the governor had l e f t . VIII March 21, afternoon Nevers walked along the coast facing Devil's Island. His pretext was to study possible mooring s i t e s f o r a f u r t i v e (and improbable) landing. Less dangerous (and more impractical) would be to openly v i s i t C a s t e l . He was l o s t in thought when Bernheim appeared from behind as outcrop of rocks. Nevers wasn't in the l e a s t s t a r t l e d : there hung before him that look of a hunted dog. Bernheim asked him to hide among the rocks; he committed the imprudence of obeying him. 33 "My i n t u i t i o n i s never wrong," Bernheim shouted: "I know when I can t r u s t a man." Nevers wasn't l i s t e n i n g . He made a modest discovery: he perceived the unpleasant i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y between the haughty tone and the abject look of Bernheim. However, he heard; "Are you a pawn of Castel's?" He answered negatively. "I knew i t , " Bernheim exclaimed, "I knew i t . I hardly know you, but I w i l l reveal something to you that puts my fate in your hands." On top of some higher rocks Dreyfus appeared. He seemed not to have seen them; he moved away sta r i n g f i x e d l y at some point on the unending sea. Nevers wanted to r i d himself of the madman beside him; he s a i d : "There's Dreyfus," and he climbed up on the rocks. When he saw him, Dreyfus showed no s u r p r i s e ; a f t e r walking together a w h i l e , Dreyfus asked him: "Do you see that tower?" The tower was on Devil's Island; i t was constructed of wood painted white, i t was about twenty-five feet high and terminated in a platform. Nevers asked what i t was f o r . "Nothing," Dreyfus assured him. "It's there to remind some of us of h i s t o r y and to provoke others to sneer. The governor Daniel 34 b u i l t i t , in 1896 or 97. He placed a reserve guard on top and a Hotchkis machine-gun, and i f the captain wanted to escape: f i r e ! " "Captain Dreyfus?" "Yes, Dreyfus. I would l i k e you to go up sometime: from there the archipelago looks minute." Nevers asked him i f he was related to Dreyfus. "I don't have that honor," he r e p l i e d . "There are many Dreyfuses." "I didn't know that," he answered with i n t e r e s t . "My name i s Bordenave. I am c a l l e d Dreyfus because they say I'm always t a l k - ing about Captain Dreyfus." "Our l i t e r a t u r e reproduces him." "Really?" Dreyfus opened his eyes wide and smiled strangely. " I f you would l i k e to see a small museum dedicated to the captain..." Nevers followed him. He asked him i f he was born in France. He had been born in South America. Then they looked at the Dreyfus Museum. It consists of yellow mail bag, made of fi l a m e n t , and i t contains the envelope of a l e t t e r from Mrs. Lucia Dreyfus to D a n i e l , governor of the p r i s o n , the handle of a penknife with i n i t i a l s J.D. (Jacques Dreyfus?), some francs from Martinique, and a book: Shakespeare e t a i t - i l M. Bacon, ou vice versa? par Novus Ovidius, auteur des Metamorphoses S e n s o r i e l l e s , membre de l'Academie des Medailles et d'In s c r i p t i o n s . 35 Nevers wanted to leave. Dreyfus looked him in the eye; he stopped him; he asked him: "Don't you think that Victor Hugo and Zola were the greatest men in France?" Nevers writes: Zola i s understandable: he wrote J'Accuse and Dreyfus i s a f a n a t i c on the subject of Dreyfus. But V i c t o r Hugo ... This man who s e l e c t s from the h i s t o r y of F r a n c e — r i c h e r in generals than the most i n s i g n i f i c a n t South American r e p u b l i c — t w o writers as his most ardent i d o l s merits the b r i e f homage of our consciences. IX On the night of the 22nd he couldn't sleep. Insomnious, he attribut e d importance to the revelation he hadn't wanted to hear from Bernheim. He vaguely feared his censure for not having heard i t . With la s s i t u d e and e x a l t a t i o n he planned an immediate v i s i t to the red compound. With an e f f o r t of w i l l , he postponed the v i s i t to daybreak. He busied himself with the p a r t i c u l a r s of that i n c r e d i b l e v i s i t : how to assure, a f t e r a sleepless n i g h t , his e a r l y a r i s a l , how to begin speaking to Bernheim, how to r e f e r to t h e i r previous encounter. In the e a r l y hours he f e l l asleep; he dreamed. In his dream he l e f t once again from Saint-Martin, once 36 again he f e l t the pain of leaving Irene, and he wrote of that p a i n , in another l e t t e r . He r e c a l l e d the f i r s t sentence: I have given i n , I am leaving Irene; those persons who can keep me... Of the rest of the paragraph, he only remembered i t s general sense; approximately i t was as follows: those persons who could keep him from returning had assured him they wouldn't do so. He did not forget the f i n a l sentence (he says that in his dream i t was i r r e f u t a b l e ; I suspect that i t was merely a s i d e - e f f e c t of his worrisome v i g i l ) : even though there are no reasons to d i s b e l i e v e them I s t i l l fear the p o s s i b i l i t y of not r e t u r n i n g , of never again seeing Irene. On the following morning, Dreyfus brought him two l e t t e r s : one from Irene, the other from Xavier Br i s s a c . His cousin gave him a b i t of news that Nevers regarded as marvellous: on the 27th of A p r i l he would be replaced. That meant that Nevers could be in France by the middle of May. Xavier's l e t t e r also announced a forthcoming message from Irene. Nevers affirms that he f e l t no c u r i o s i t y as to what i t was. It couldn't be unpleasant or important. Irene's l e t t e r bore a more recent date than Xavier 1 s and did not allude to such news. He was happy; he f e l t serene. He endeavored to j u s t i f y Pierre (he conceded that he had been r i g h t : no man was worthy of Irene, and he, pale conversationalist of coffee houses, less than o t h e r s ) . 37 Let us r e c a l l the antecedents to t h i s e x i l e in the Guianas: the event that everyone knows about occurred (some papers important to the family's honor and to t h e i r s a l t marshes are l o s t ; a l l appearances implicate Nevers); Pierre believed in his g u i l t ; he t r i e d to save Irene... Nevers spoke with him, and--he a s s e r t s — h e was believed. Some f i f t e e n days of perfect happiness followed: everything had been s e t t l e d . Then Pierre c a l l e d him, he spoke to him v i o l e n t l y ( h i d i n g , perhaps, an uneasy conscience), and he ordered him to go away to the Guianas. He even l e t s l i p , as i f ashamed, a threat of'blackmail': he would t e l l everything to Irene i f he was not obeyed. He added: "In one year you w i l l return and you can marry Irene; at l e a s t you w i l l have my consent." Accord- ing to Nevers, t h i s proved that Pierre admitted his innocence. How does he e x p l a i n , then, Pierre's sending him to the Guianas? With considerable confusion. He makes use of every sort of argument: the contaminations l e f t by accusations, and he alleges to Captain Dreyfus (many who did not consider him g u i l t y neverthe- less refused to regard him as free of a l l blame), the hope that the t r i p and the rigorous l i f e in the Guianas would break o f f his disagreeable personality as a nighttime addict of the coffee houses, the hope that Irene would cease to love him. Nor does he well explain his strange conduct with Irene (he never said a word to her about the shady a f f a i r in which he was 38 involved). It was that conduct which permitted Pierre's move. I have here his exact words: If I have convinced you, i f I have convinced P i e r r e , who preferred not to believe me, what d i f f i c u l t y could I have with Irene, who loves me? (I write t h i s with s u p e r s t i t i o u s , with humiliating cowardice)... The only excuse for my pe r v e r s i t y with Irene i s my s t u p i d i t y and my perversity with myself. It seems that Nevers had sent Irene t h i s verse: Chere, pour peu que tu ne bouges, Renaissent tous mes d l s e s p o i r s . Je crains t o u j o u r s , --ce qu'est d'attendre!-- Quelque f u i t e atroce de vous. Irene reproaches him ( r i g h t f u l l y ) f o r sending her that verse, as i t was he who l e f t her. She also asks i f he means to imply that the distancing between them i s not merely geographic ( i n the f i r s t l i n e he uses " t u " , in the fourth he c a l l s her "vous"); 1  but that was only a joke (perhaps s l i g h t l y pedantic): the l e t t e r i s as l u c i d and tender as i t s author. 1  The verse i s not Henry Nevers'; i t i s Paul Verlaine's. (Publisher's Note) 39 He was happy; within a month his worries would be gone. Xavier's l e t t e r , however, bothered him. Why did Irene send him a message with that imbecile? Maybe the use of such rudimentary means of communication i s explained by Irene's desire not to lose a s i n g l e opportunity to cheer me up, to repeat to me that she i s waiting f o r me, that she loves me. That was the message. That was the important message in a l l Irene's l e t t e r s . Nevertheless, he confesses, at moments of absurd s e n s i t i v i t y (and--possibly due to the atmosphere, or the climate --such moments are not infrequent h e r e ) , I give in to shameful f e a r s . I should not mention these i n s i g n i f i c a n t f e e l i n g s : I do mention them so they w i l l put me to shame, so they w i l l disappear. X On the 23rd of March Nevers went over a l l of Royal Island and the red compound—not in search of Bernheim, not in search of the promised revelation (he f e e l s i t necessary to c l a r i f y t h i s ) — i n the performance of his routine. That afternoon the radiance was p a i n f u l . Everything g l i t t e r e d : the yellow walls of the b u i l d i n g s , a p a r t i c l e of sand on the black bark of a coconut t r e e , the red and white s t r i p e s of the prisoners. Nevers remembered the i n c r e d i b l e darkness of his room and he r a n , 40 uncertain, across the b r i l l i a n t courtyard. He saw a shadow. He saw a shaded spot under a s t a i r c a s e ; he took s h e l t e r . There was Bernheim, seated on an inverted bucket, reading. Nevers greeted him with excessive heartiness. "You can't imagine," Bernheim answered him, anxiously seeking his words, "my progress since the f i r s t time we met. I am most enthusiastic." The glow in his eyes was lachrymose, his countenance dismal. "In what way have you progressed?" "In everything. I assure you i t i s something b i g . . . v i t a l . . . It i s the ultimate, a communion with nature, God knows what..." "Having to do with what?" "Espionage." "Espionage?" "Yes, I am on guard. I must speak to you. Can you guess to whom I owe t h i s r e v i v a l ? " "I don't know." "To Castel." "Have you had a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n ? " "Never." Af t e r a s i l e n c e , he declared: "One must serve the cause." He seemed to wait,for Never's r e p l y ; he insisted slowly: "The cause over a l l . " 41 Nevers did not want to humor him. He asked him: "What were you reading?" "The Theory of C o l o r s , by Goethe. A book nobody asks f o r . Dreyfus rents i t out at a reasonable price." " T e l l me, you were on Devil's I s l a n d , what was Castel doing with the animals?" For the f i r s t time, Nevers a f f i r m s , a t r a c e , a "shadow" of color animated Bernheim's face. It was atr o c i o u s . I thought the man was going to vomit. When he had composed himself a l i t t l e , he spoke: "You know my creed. Violence i s our bread. But not with animals..." Nevers thought he could not stand to see Bernheim dis i n t e g r a t e i n his presence. He changed the subject. "You said we had to t a l k . . . " "Yes, we must t a l k . Not here; follow me." They walked to the l a t r i n e . Bernheim pointed to the i v o r y , and he s a i d , trembling: "I swear to you, I swear by the blood of a l l the men murdered here: there w i l l be a revolution." "A revolution?" Nevers scarcely heard him. He thought that i t was not easy to determine i f a man was insane. 42 "The revolutionaries are preparing something b i g . You could stop i t . " "I?" asked Nevers, out of courtesy. "Yes, you. But I w i l l c l a r i f y my s i t u a t i o n . I am not acting in favor of the present government... I am acting out of pure s e l f - i n t e r e s t . You w i l l t e l l the t r u t h : that I discovered the p l o t . But perhaps you think me mad. Maybe you w i l l go looking for Dreyfus, maybe you w i l l leave here... Someday you w i l l believe me. Maybe not today, but you w i l l believe me. It was you put me on the r i g h t track." "I put you on the r i g h t track?" "When you spoke to me about the "camouflages". There you have i t : me, always thinking of war, and I hadn't even discovered that i t was a question of "camouflages". From then on I have respected you. You w i l l say that that discovery i s nonsensical. A l l great discoveries appear to be nonsense. But everyone knows that Peter Castel i s a revolutionary." Nevers s a i d : "I have a great deal of work to do." "I was prepared f o r t h a t . I f my words come to pass, you w i l l believe me. Castel w i l l take the P r i e s t to Devil's I s l a n d , today or tomorrow. He i s a common prisoner; think about i t . Castel removed me from the i s l a n d ; he i s taking the P r i e s t there. He needs 43 people he can t r u s t : outlaws. He w i l l send you to Cayenne. There are two reasons: to r i d himself of the only observer who could disturb him; to bring dynamite." "Who w i l l bring i t ? " "You w i l l , and you won't be the f i r s t . Your predecessor made some ten t r i p s to Cayenne. There are enough reserves to blow the archipelago sky high." Nevers patted him on the shoulder and t o l d him to leave things in his hands. He crossed the courtyard, went into the administration b u i l d i n g , climbed stairways and walked down c o r r i d o r s , a r r i v e d at his room. Immediately he f e l t a great r e l i e f . XI He didn't know i f what Dreyfus had said might not be a t e r r i b l e piece of evidence. He wanted to ask advice, but of whom? He himself, s t i l l h o r r i f i e d at l i v i n g in a p r i s o n , was not reason- ing properly (besides, he had suffered a s l i g h t sunstroke). Maybe when he got used to t h i s l i f e , he thought, he would r e c a l l that moment when that b i t of news had seemed awful with the r e l i e f of having gotten through i t , of having passed through the danger of going mad. But, even though he hadn't grown accustomed to l i v i n g in a prison (and, i n c r e d i b l e as i t may seem, he celebrated that 44 f a c t ) , he was i n c l i n e d to give importance to the news Dreyfus had brought him. During the three days p r i o r to the announcement, nothing memorable had taken place: Dreyfus had seemed dejected, unhappy (I decided not to trouble him with questions, says Nevers; l i f e on these islands j u s t i f i e s a l l d e s p a i r ) . Castel had ordered him to send for some books (Marie Gaell's work on the resonance of touch and the topography of the octopus, a book by the English philosopher, Bain, on the senses and the i n t e l l e c t , a book of Marinesco's on synesthesia, and f i n a l l y — d a y b r e a k a f t e r so much shadow—a Spanish c l a s s i c : Suarez de Mendoza). Dreyfus sent them by the cable tram- way. On the night of the 25th, i t seemed to Nevers that Dreyfus was more abject than ever; he served dinner in s i l e n c e . This was oppressive: f o r both of them, t a l k i n g together at mealtime had become a modest and pleasant t r a d i t i o n . Nevers asked himself i f respecting the melancholy of his orderly didn't serve to increase i t , didn't seem to imply that he was displeased with him. He proposed the subject he would most have wanted to avoid. "What i s Bernheim accused of?" "Treason." "Then i t i s he, and not you, who should be c a l l e d Dreyfus;" he was attempting to suggest the subject of nicknames, a safer area 45 than that of Bernheim. "Don't speak about Captain Dreyfus l i k e that," said Dreyfus, offended. "What other nicknames are used here?" "Other nicknames... l e t ' s see: there i s the P r i e s t . " "Who i s the Priest?" Nevers asked r e s o l u t e l y . " M a r s i l l a c , one of the prisoners from St. Joseph's Island. I named him the P r i e s t because he i s presbyopic: he can only see at a distance; close up he sees absolutely nothing i f he's not wearing spectacles. He can't see his own body." And he remembered the l i n e s from The Mystery of the Yellow Room: The presbytery did not lose i t s charm Nor has the garden l o s t i t s splendor. Nevers congratulated him on his memory; Dreyfus seemed st r i c k e n with g r i e f . F i n a l l y he confessed: "Look, I spoke about the P r i e s t , and i t was p r e c i s e l y the Pr i e s t I didn't want to ta l k about. For days I've been perturbed about t h i s . Tomorrow you w i l l know about i t ; maybe i t w i l l be best i f I am the one to t e l l you. Please, do not condemn Mr. C a s t e l ; that great man must have some motive f o r doing t h i s t h i n g . He has ordered that tomorrow, at daybreak, we are to tra n s f e r the 46 P r i e s t to Devil's Island." XII March 27 The governor s t a r t l e d him. He entered the study unnoticed. Nevers heard, very c l o s e , on the back of his neck, his high-pitched o u t c r i e s , and he had the f r i g h t f u l sensation, founded on some distan t r e c o l l e c t i o n , of fi n d i n g himself suddenly face to face with a masked man. "What are you reading?" "Plutarch," i t would be useless to pretend otherwise. "Why waste your time? Culture shouldn't be a commerce with rudimentary men," pronounced the puppet voice. "Students of philosophy s t i l l c u l t i v a t e the dialogues of P l a t o , and the most exacting readers turn to Moliere to laugh at his jokes about doctors. The future i s black." "Black, 'camouflaged'," Nevers said c r a f t i l y . There was a s i l e n c e . Out of weakness, Nevers continued: "This book in t e r e s t s me. It has to do with symbols." "Symbols? Perhaps. But don't you think that in one thousand eight hundred years the subject should have enriched i t s e l f ? " 47 E v i d e n t l y , Nevers d e c l a r e s , Castel hadn't come to speak of such matters. He was t a l k i n g to develop a conversation. He stood a while thumbing abstractedlyvthrough the Trea t i s e on I s i s and O s i r i s . F i n a l l y he asked: "What have you thought about our l a s t conversation?" "Hardly anything." " I f you haven't given i t any thought, i t ' s because you d i s l i k e the prison intensely," Castel said q u i c k l y . " I f you d i s l i k e the p r i s o n , then my thoughts on the subject can't be objectionable to you." "I don't know," he had no desire to argue. "Your thoughts may a l l be well and good, but to busy y o u r s e l f with these matters seems to me, in a ce r t a i n sense, to make you an accomplice. I prefer to carry out my duties automatically." "Automatically? Is th i s the mission of a young man? Where i s your youth?" Nevers didn't know how to answer. The other man went on: "Youth i s revolutionary. Even I, who am an old man, believe in action." "Are you an anarchist?" Castel kept s t a r i n g into his eyes, a f f a b l y , almost t e a r f u l l y , u n t i l Nevers looked away. Without a doubt the governor r e a l i z e d he had gone quite f a r , but he continued in his s h r i l l , imperturbable 48 voi ce: "I don't know. I've never gotten involved with p o l i t i c s . I never had time. I believe in the d i v i s i o n of labor. P o l i t i c i a n s believe i n the reformation of s o c i e t y . . . I believe in the ref o r - mation of the i n d i v i d u a l . " "What does that consist of?" asked Nevers with simulated i n t e r e s t . He f e l t the governor was i n v e s t i g a t i n g . "Education, f i r s t of a l l . The transformations that can be achieved are i n f i n i t e . " The governor assured him that he, Nevers, did not even suspect the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of pedagogy: i t could save the sick and the imprisoned. Immediately he confided that he needed a co l l a b o r a t o r : "What we would do i s i n c r e d i b l e . Understand my tragedy: I am surrounded by subordinates, persons who would f a l s e l y i n t e r p r e t my plans. Penal l e g i s l a t i o n i t s e l f i s u n i n t e l l i g i b l e ; s e c l u s i o n , as a punishment of the offender, s t i l l p r e v a i l s in Europe. Now, not only do we waddle about l i k e geese; we t a l k with the mouths of geese; we repeat: Punishment i s the r i g h t of the offender. Needless to say, my aims run counter to that trans-Rhenish doctrine." Nevers f e l t that the moment to take his revenge had a r r i v e d . He declared in a trembling voice: "I am not interested in collaborating with you." Castel didn't answer. He gazed serenely o f f into the dis t a n c e , 49 as i f the walls were not there. He seemed t i r e d ; the color of his face was leaden. Had he already been l i k e that when he came in or was a l l that the e f f e c t of Nevers 1  reply? He did not appear to be the same man who had spoken with Nevers on the 9th of March. I have heard that such changes occur i n persons who take opium, or morphine. Nevers acknowledges that t h i s man, whom he wanted to f i n d abhorrent, seemed to him very old and almost d i g n i f i e d ; he was ready to believe that the revolution would be benevolent, to o f f e r his assistance. Then he remembered Irene, his decision to do nothing that could delay his return. Castel remained as he was f o r a few painful minutes, feigning an i n t e r e s t in Plutarch. Perhaps he didn't want to go o f f abruptly and appear offended. F i n a l l y he made a gesture of discouragement, or of f a r e w e l l ; he smiled and l e f t . Nevers f e l t no p i t y . XIII Some of the governor's remarks allowed f o r two i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s : according to one, the revolution would be pedagogical. Nevers, now in f u l l a b e r r a t i o n , does not hesitate to declare his preferrence for the second possible i n t e r p r e t a t i o n : the r e b e l l i o n of the prisoners. But the governor had not spoken to him of the t r i p to Cayenne. 50 To an un-biased observer, there had been, perhaps, no confirmation of Bernheim's prophecies. Besides, how to integrate the "camouflages" into the plan of insurrection? It would be madness to unleash the insurrection and remain on the i s l a n d s . However, Nevers considered, that i s what the "camouflage" i n d i c a t e s : a defense. In that case he shouldn't get alarmed: Castel was insane. There was another possible explanation. The "camouflages" were a defense against an attack during the uprising ( i f things were not resolved with due dispatch). This seemed confirmed by the f a c t that the governor hadn't "camouflaged" the other i s l a n d s . If he had the absurd intention of e s t a b l i s h i n g himself on the islands and founding a communist republic he would have "camouflaged" the whole t e r r i t o r y . Castel seemed to be ignorant of Nevers' approaching departure. If not, why had he spoken to him of his secret plans? Doubtless these plans concerned him so much that he didn't even read the mail ( i f the replacement f o r Nevers was on the way, the governor would have received word). Another explanation could be that the governor was preparing the attack f o r a date p r i o r to Xavier's a r r i - val . 51 XIV A p r i l 3 From under the eaves of the supply shed, Nevers looked absent- mindedly out at the prisoners who appeared and disappeared in the mist with t h e i r huge straw hats and red and white s t r i p e d s h i r t s . There was a c l e a r i n g , and he saw, f a r o f f , a man walking towards him, and then the vapours returned, and then the man emerged at his s i d e . It was Dreyfus. "Take care, lieutenant." "Do you think t h e y ' l l t r y to take advantage of these mists?" "No. I wasn't thinking of the prisoners," said Dreyfus, without astonishment. "I was thinking of the mists: the European shrouds, we c a l l them, because they're k i l l e r s . " He pauses, as i f in order not to lose the e f f e c t of his words; then he went on: "I've come from Devil's Island; the governor gave me t h i s note f o r you." He handed him an envelope. Nevers continued to stare at Dreyfus, the envelope forgotten i n his hand, undetermined as to whether he should ask him what news there was from the i s l a n d . Dreyfus was also watching him, on the s l y . Nevers assumed he was 52 curious to know what the note s a i d . This persuaded him not to ask questions, not to s a t i s f y Dreyfus' c u r i o s i t y . But he couldn't contain his own. He read the note. He confined himself to turning suddenly about to surprise Dreyfus s t a r i n g at him, to confound him. Later he said with i n d i f f e r e n c e : "It seems I ' l l be going to Cayenne." "To get provisions?" Nevers didn't answer. "I guessed," Dreyfus announced. He didn't ask him how he had guessed. He began to suspect that Bernheim's words were, at l e a s t in p a r t , t r u e . "How are the governor's paintings coming along?" "He's f i n i s h e d them. The c e l l s look j u s t f i n e . " "He's painted the c e l l s ? " "Yes, mottled." "What else i s new on the island?" "The poor P r i e s t had a cholera attack. Just when they were making l i f e better f o r him... I found him frothing at the mouth with his eyes s t a r t i n g out of his head." "Will he die?" "I don't know. Today he was unconscious, but as red-faced and robust as ever. The governor and Mr. De Brinon believe they can save him. It would be better i f he died." 53 Nevers asked him why he said that. Dreyfus t o l d him the story of the P r i e s t : The P r i e s t had been second mate on the Grampus, which was shipwrecked in the P a c i f i c . There were seventeen men on board. The c a p t a i n , along with f i v e of the men, escaped in a l i f e b o a t ; the f i r s t mate and f i v e others, in another boat; the P r i e s t and the four remaining men in another. The l i f e b o a t s were to t r y to keep in sight of each other. On the t h i r d n i g h t , the P r i e s t l o s t sight of the other two boats. A f t e r a week, the captain and the f i r s t mate with t h e i r crews reached the coast of C h i l e , near dead of t h i r s t and almost insane. After fourteen days, an English ship--the Toowit--picked up the P r i e s t : he was on an island covered with guano, in the ruins of an abandoned lighthouse, alone, waving a k n i f e , f u r i o u s l y a ssailed by s e a g u l l s . He t r i e d to attack the Englishmen. In the ship's infirmary he f e l l into delirium: he saw monsters and s e a g u l l s , white, f e r o c i o u s , continuous s e a g u l l s . On the blade of the knife there was dried blood. It was analyzed: i t was the blood of birds and men. The P r i e s t had no r e c o l l e c t i o n of his a r r i v a l at the i s l a n d nor of the days he had spent on the i s l a n d . There was no other proof against him than that of the disappearance of his companions and the dried blood. If the P r i e s t had k i l l e d them, Maitre Casneau had a l l e g e d , he had k i l l e d them in a f i t of madness. But a precedent in the police r e c o r d s — t h e 54 famous b a t t l e of 1905, among the dancers at the Casino de Tours-- and the zeal of a public prosecutor in the beginnings of a promis- ing career condemned him. 'What were the monsters?" asked Nevers. "Hallucinations." "And the seagulls?" "Real. I f i t hadn't been f o r that fragment of a lighthouse they would have eaten him a l i v e . " Nevers went to the study. Three hours of reading delivered him of a l l anxiety. Within a few days he would leave f o r Cayenne. If he was c a r e f u l , he would be free of any involvement in Castel's hypothetical r e b e l l i o n . Xavier was the appropriate man to replace him: he would f i g h t , he would punish, he would command. He r e f l e c t e d : i f he did not forget that his only purpose was to leave t h i s accursed episode of the Guianas, he would return very shortly to France, to Irene. Then he r e c a l l e d the news Dreyfus had given him. If the P r i e s t had had a cholera a t t a c k , there was plague on the i s l a n d s . He understood t h i s in a l l i t s horror. 55 XV A p r i l 5 It has nothing to do with keeping me o f f Devil's I s l a n d , with keeping me from suspecting what's going on there; i t has to do (Nevers believed he had i r r e f u t a b l e proof) with deceiving me, with provoking v i s i o n s and f a l l a c i o u s f e a r s . He no longer remembered the disease. There were no cholera victims here. There was no plague. The danger was the i n s u r r e c t i o n . He reveals how he arrived at t h i s discovery: in order to forget about the c h o l e r a , he superimposed pleasant images: a parkway in Fontainebleau, in Autumn, the face of Irene. They were tra n s l u c e n t , as i f r e f l e c t e d i n water; i f I disturbed the surface I succeeded i n temporarily deforming the e v e r l a s t i n g monster that lay at the bottom. Later he r e f l e c t e d : since he must think about the disease, i t would be best to study i t , to prevent i t . He looked f o r the book on t r o p i c a l diseases; in vain he ran through the index: the word "cholera" did not appear. Then he r e a l i z e d that i n a book such as h i s , diseases are registered by t h e i r pop- ular names; he remembered that c h o l e r a , i n the words of laymen such as himself, was c a l l e d "black vomit". Without d i f f i c u l t y he found the chapter. He read i t . He remembered that he had already 56 read i t on board. Then he made the discovery: the symptoms at t r i b u t e d to the P r i e s t were not the symptoms of cholera. The f a c t that his eyes bulged out of t h e i r sockets was not n a t u r a l , his foaming at the mouth was not probable, his being red-faced and robust was impossible. When he saw Dreyfus he asked him: "Who t o l d you that the P r i e s t had a cholera attack?" Dreyfus did not h e s i t a t e : "Mr. Castel." Nevers thought of t e l l i n g him of his discovery. He restrained himself. Every day Dreyfus esteemed him more h i g h l y , but Castel was s t i l l his i d o l . Besides, Dreyfus was quite ignorant: he didn't know what Captain Dreyfus had been accused o f ; he admired Vi c t o r Hugo because he confused him with V i c t o r Hugues, a buccaneer who had once been governor of the colony... Nevers adds: Never have I believed i n his irony. It i s f a c i a l , l i k e that of many of the peasants. It could be a t t r i b u t a b l e to a s l i g h t , a continuous poisoning from buttercup leaves. But he was calm. The r e b e l l i o n would take place in his absence. Dreyfus had brought him the l i s t of a r t i c l e s to be purchased i n Cayenne: there was no dynamite nor anything that could reasonably be translated as dynamite. Castel wants to get me away from here so as to have neither witnesses nor opposers. He s h a l l have n e i t h e r , 57 he a f f i r m s . He has ordered me to leave on the 8 t h . I regret not leaving today. I am not the hero f o r these catastrophes... He produces some " r e f l e c t i o n s " (his language i s , by nature, imprecise, metaphorical) which I hesitate to t r a n s c r i b e . But i f I tone down the f i d e l i t y of t h i s r e p o r t , I w i l l at the same time weaken i t s effectiveness against slanderers and others of i l l - i n t e n t . Furthermore, I t r u s t that t h i s w i l l not f a l l into the hands of Nevers' enemies. He says, in e f f e c t : In my thoughts I applaud, I support any and a l l r e b e l l i o n of prisoners. But i n the urgency of r e ality...one must be born f o r a c t i o n , know how, in the midst of blood and b u l l e t s , to make the r i g h t d e c i s i o n . He was not ignorant of his duties: to investigate i f Castel was preparing a r e b e l l i o n , to extinguish i t , to accuse C a s t e l . But, we must confess, he was not made of the metal of a good public o f f i c i a l . Every man must be ready to die f o r many causes, at any moment, as a gentleman, he wr i t e s . But not f o r a l l causes. Do not ask me to suddenly take an i n t e r e s t in t h i s , to implicate myself and die in a r e b e l l i o n in the Guianas. He waited impatiently f o r the day of his departure. 58 XVI A p r i l 7 The i n c r e d i b l e p o s s i b i l i t y of f l i g h t : that was what preoccupied him. He had renounced further i n v e s t i g a t i o n s . He did not want to become involved. His impatience f o r the a r r i v a l of the 8th increased continuously !  ;yesterday, above a l l today, i t was an in t o l e r a b l e obsession. Now everything has changed. When he awoke from his afternoon nap, next to the bed, excessively close (since he was emerging from a remote and imperson- al l e t h a r g y ) , stood Dreyfus. Dreyfus said to him: "I have two l e t t e r s f o r you; the governor sends them to you." One was addressed to him, the other to a Mr. L e i t a o , in Cayenne. He opened the f i r s t one. It contained a b r i e f note, asking him to bring back a pair of s p e c t a c l e s , according to the attached p r e s c r i p t i o n . "Who are the spectacles for?" he asked. "For the P r i e s t , " Dreyfus answered. That meant they were waiting f o r him, that the h o r r i b l e f a t e , from which he had thought himself saved, threatened him. Dreyfus spoke to him in his calmest voice: "Doyou know the news? I w i l l be leaving you." 59 "Leaving me?" "The governor has ordered my t r a n s f e r to Devil's Island. At 5:00 I w i l l take my belongings." It was two hours u n t i l Dreyfus would be l e a v i n g . Nevers was a f r a i d of reasoning l i k e a man in d e l i r i u m ; he suspected that even persons of Dreyfus' mediocrity could take apart a l l his proofs, his i n v i n c i b l e proofs that a r e b e l l i o n was gestating. But to consult him, wouldn't that be madness? Meanwhile, Dreyfus confessed the ideal of his l i f e : to go to Buenos A i r e s . A couple of B r a z i l i a n smugglers had advised him that f o r a few centimes, in Buenos Aires a man can go about i n a t r o l l e y c a r , throughout the e n t i r e c i t y . He didn't know what to decide, and there was l i t t l e time t i l l Dreyfus' departure. XVII I w i l l interpolate at t h i s point a document which w i l l perhaps c l a r i f y some points of my n a r r a t i v e ; i t i s a l e t t e r sent to me by my cousin Xavier Brissac (who replaced Henri Nevers on the Salvation Islands); i t i s dated A p r i l 8, 1913, on board the f r e i g h t e r U l a r i u s , en route to the Guianas. Without e v i l i n t e n t , guided by your emotions, no, guided by 60 others who looked at everything emotionally, through hate, you have judged your brother Pierre and me, you have slandered us. What happened? You wanted Henri, your protege, to be able to leave the Guianas and you thought that his anguished correspondence would perhaps move Pierre. It did not move him. Even so, he cal ls for me; he asks me i f I would accept the charge; I accept, and, just as in his youth, at eighty five years of age, Pierre, the glorious mariner, goes into battle against pol i t ic ians and bureaucrats, without a tremor; he manages to have me appointed, and I leave, in r e l i e f of Henri, your favorite , for He l l . And how do you show us your thanks? You slander Pierre in jes t , and me, seriously. Though what you said about me is extremely serious indeed, I wi l l begin by refuting what you said about Pierre, because he is the head of the family and because I am not a l i t terateur , a congenial Bohemian, but the captain of the frigate Xavier Brissac —who was a fu l l naval lieutenant and who hopes to become a fu l l naval captain—, a man of his Country, of his Family, an ordained man. Respectfully, but f i rmly, I declare that my voyage does not prove "that perverse mania of Pierre ' s : the sending of nephews to Devil 's Island". It does prove 61 A f t e r reading a l l the correspondence, Pierre showed signs of being t i r e d , not a sign of being moved. Do not suppose that these l e t t e r s must have caused him alarm as to Henri's state of mind; he comments: "Should I alarm myself now and e s p e c i a l l y because of these l e t t e r s ? It has been some long time now that his state of mind has had me alarmed and I begin to grow accustomed to that state." But he knows that i f Henri returns you w i l l experience great s a t i s f a c t i o n ; immediately Pierre undertakes the campaign, the thankless campaign, to secure his r e l i e f . It does not matter that he knows that the f r u i t of these labors w i l l be the serious reduction of a punishment which he himself imposed. He also believes that his e f f o r t s w i l l bring about a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n , your return to the house i n Saint-Martin and your d e f i n i t i v e abandonment of what he c a l l s "that absurd e x i l e in the ruined s a l t marshes of Saint-Pierre." Why has he decided that i t should be me who i s to r e l i e v e Henri? Don't deceive y o u r s e l f ; i t i s not his "mania"...; he supposes that i n the shadow of that notable governor of the colony, I It i s now the appropriate moment to refute the second piece of slander. It i s a l i e that I am the inventor of the promise that Irene made to marry me; i t i s art atrocious l i e that I am going to 62 Devil's Island to torture Henri. Imagine my s i t u a t i o n : I must support t h i s slander without even exclaiming: ask Irene! I swore to Irene I would not t a l k u n t i l Henri's'return,'until"she'can explain everything to him, personally. She fears that the news, delivered by someone e l s e , would wound him too deeply. If you were to speak to her--without my being there to defend myself--she would think that her scrupulousness does not matter to me. However, t h i s extreme concern of Irene's has come to be my concern to the extent that in attempting to correspond p e r f e c t l y , I have thought, at times of not keeping a l i t e r a l f i d e l i t y to my oath. In e f f e c t , i f our intent i s to keep Henri from s u f f e r i n g too much, ought we to permit h i m — b l i n d , dreaming of the happiness of returning to his b e l o v e d — t o depart thus f o r d i s i l l u s i o n ? You have said that I am going to torture Henri. My noble sentiments are a pretext; the truth i s the pleasure I derive in going o f f to s t r i k e a f a l l e n man. Have no hopes that I w i l l pardon the author of that abomination. I know that i t wasn't you. I know that you only repeated what you were t o l d . I also know that I w i l l f i n d out who said i t : there weren't many who heard me speak. We know them a l l . They were from our family. That's why I thought I could t r u s t them. I had forgotten i t was because of that I couldn't speak to them. There are no more f r e e s p i r i t s in our 63 family any longer; there are instruments of Pierre and instruments of Antoine and instruments of hate. I had forgotten. I cannot grow accustomed to l i v i n g at continuous war. Why am I going? Because Pierre commands i t , because you want Henri to r e t u r n , because Henri wants to return. (I disapprove, in Henri, of his thoughts and deeds. I do not hate him himself, as you suggest.) I f I do not go, everything w i l l be delayed; we are a d i f f i c u l t m i n ority, we volunteers f o r the t r o p i c s , f o r p r i s o n , cholera. I do not have in mind any miserable v i c t o r i e s , nor do I leave b l i n d l y . I am not ignorant of my s a c r i f i c e (which y o u — I say i t b i t t e r l y — c h o o s e to ignore). That which was a torture f o r him who believed himself loved, what horrors w i l l i t not af f o r d to him who i s loved? I have one consolation: f o r me, everything l i e s in waiting; f o r him, nothing. As I t o l d you, i t w i l l be on the 28th, and not the 27th, that I w i l l a r r i v e in Cayenne. I should l i k e to l i b e r a t e you both before then: him from his j u s t e x i l e , you from your unjust correspondence. But we have l o s t three days at anchorage; I hope there w i l l be no further delays. I have j u s t re-read t h i s l e t t e r . In order to t o l e r a t e i t you w i l l require great indulgence. I who am such a believer in hier- archy, exhorting you to set aside your c o n v i c t i o n s , to follow my 64 advice. I, the worst of your nephews, asking that i n a l l our actions regarding the r e l i e f of Henri, you may see a righteous i n t e n t . I don't know i f you can see t h i s . I don't know i f i t i s r i g h t to ask a man not to look at things through his own emotion. In a l l that Pierre d o e s — I speak with bitterness--you are i n c l i n e d to see e v i l i n t e n t i o n s ; in everything I d o — I speak without b i t t e r n e s s — y o u are i n c l i n e d to see his e v i l i n t e n t . However, I invoke our f a m i l y , i t s multiple pain. Leave the s a l t marshes of Oleron f o r e v e r . I say t h i s without s e l f i s h motive: they are a bad business. As Pierre says, you have sought asylum i n a ship- wreck. Come to our prosperous s a l t marshes in Re. For me, f o r whom the privations of Devil's Island l i e in wait, the p r i v a t i o n that concerns me now i s that of being deprived of the muddied s a l t of our home. Ah, my dear Antoine, how very sad i t i s to have a discord in the family. For the good of a l l of us, f o r the good of that t i n y flame that our generations must tend and transmit, because Saint- M a r t i n , chef de canton, i s watching over us and requires i t f o r his peace of mind, l e t us put an end to t h i s mutual d i s t r u s t . As an o f f i c e r of France, as a nephew in our venerable family... Etcetera. 65 XVIII A p r i l 8 The meal that Dreyfus' replacement served him was poor, the c o f f e e , miserable. But Nevers was calm. The innuendos which had been haunting him were f u t i l e . He attribu t e d these obsessions to the c l i m a t e , to the p e s t i l e n t i a l mists and to the d e l i r i o u s e f f e c t of the sun, and also to Bernheim, that r i d i c u l o u s l u n a t i c . Not only was he calm; he was bored. To escape his boredom he wanted to t a l k with Bernheim. It was true that some of his predictions had been r e a l i z e d ; s t i l l , not the most important one, which, together with Castel's reserved and suspicious a t t i t u d e , would have indicated the p o s s i b i l i t y of terrorism: there had been no order f o r dynamite: and i f i t doesn't come today, i t w i l l never come, because the governor thinks that I am leaving t h i s afternoon f o r Cayenne. He planned to remain in Cayenne u n t i l the 14th or the 15th. The reason f o r t h i s was that i t was not long now u n t i l the 27th and Nevers wanted his return to the islands to coincide with the a r r i v a l of Xavier B r i s s a c . He c l a r i f i e s t h i s : I f the governor has, in f a c t , real revolutionary i n t e n t i o n s , i t would be best that matters be placed in my cousin's hands. He f e l t he had nothing to f e a r . S t i l l , he would keep watch. 66 XIX A p r i l 11 He went ashore at 8:00 in Cayenne. He writes: This c i t y , where there are few p r i s o n e r s , many parolees and even free men, i s paradise on earth. In fro n t of the market he ran into Mrs. Frinzine'' and her daughter, they i n v i t e d him to lunch. He accepted, but he says that he was scarcely amiable and he t r i e s to j u s t i f y himself by invoking his urgent need to take a bath and change cl o t h e s . This would be admissable i f he had made a journey by land; a f t e r a sea voyage, i t i s meaningless. He arrived at the palace and ordered Legrain to prepare the bath. Legrain answered in a l l naturalness that the water had been shut o f f and that he couldn't bathe u n t i l 11:00. He was so discouraged he couldn't attend to any administration matters; nor could he read, because his books were in the suitcases and he had forgotten to ask Legrain to open them and he didn't feel up to opening them himself or to c a l l i n g him back. At 11:30 Legrain entered and t o l d him there was water. Nevers gave him the keys to open the suitcases and remove his cl o t h e s . He noticed that he had only one key r i n g : those to the archives and the armory were missing. Possibly the new orderly had put them in 67 his bags. He couldn't look f o r them. He had to bathe and shave: the Frinzines lunched at twelve sharp. He admits that the reunion with the Frinzines was pleasant. Charlotte r e c i t e d poems of G h i l l . Nevers r e c a l l e d the l i n e s : Autour des i l e s les poissons-volants s ' i l s sautent, ont l u i du sel de l a mer: He!as! les souvenirs s o r t i s du temps ont du temps qui les p r i t l e gout amer... Afterwards, accompanied by the Frinzine's, under an i n v a r i a b l e sun, he made the rounds of a l l the shops in Cayenne. He bought almost everything f o r which he had been commissioned; to j u s t i f y the delay of his r e t u r n , he forgot some of the items (among these, the P r i e s t ' s s p e c t a c l e s ) . I suspect I have been reasoning erroneously in supposing that the mysterious a c t i v i t i e s that occur on Devil's Island are p o l i t i c a l and r e v o l u t i o n a r y , he w r i t e s . Maybe Castel was a kind of Dr. Moreau. It was hard f o r him to b e l i e v e , however, that r e a l i t y could resemble a f a n t a s t i c novel. Perhaps the caution that advises me to remain here u n t i l the 27th i s absurd. Overwhelmed with the heat, in the beginnings of a sunstroke, at f i v e o'clock he managed to s l i p away from Mr. Frinzine''. He went 68 to the Botanical Gardens and sat r e s t i n g under the t r e e s . Long a f t e r dark, he returned to the palace. P a i n f u l l y , he thought of Irene. XX Night of the 10th to the 11th of A p r i l ; A p r i l 11 He notes: Impossible to sleep. He reproached himself f o r having considered so s u p e r f i c i a l l y the f o r g e t t i n g of the keys. If the prisoners should discover them: burnings, r e b e l l i o n , t r i b u n a l , g u i l l o t i n e , or the islands u n t i l death. He didn't think of the: means of averting these c a l a m i t i e s : anxiously he saw himself r e f u t i n g , with great e f f o r t , with f u t i l i t y , the accusations before a court m a r t i a l . To calm himself he thought of sending a telegram. What would they say about a prison o f f i c i a l who forgets the keys and then relays his oversight by wire? He thought of sending a l e t t e r . L aboriously, I calculated that the Rimbaud would not leave f o r f i v e days. Furthermore, he had already won the governor's enmity. Would i t be wise to write him such a l e t t e r ? He thought of w r i t i n g Dreyfus. But, what i f Dreyfus should decide to f i g h t his way c l e a r 69 with the guns and f l e e ? I t would be a more natural procedure than that of s e c r e t l y locking the armory (depriving himself of any c r e d i t ) . . . In the morning he was calmer. He decided to spend another day in Cayenne, r e s t i n g . Returning to the islands would be l i k e relapsing in an i l l n e s s . Perhaps there were s i t u a t i o n s awaiting him there that would a l t e r , that would ruin his l i f e . I f they hadn't found the keys by t h i s time, why should they f i n d them p r e c i s e l y today? Undoubtedly, the keys were in one of his desk drawers; the t r i p would be useless. At any r a t e , he would go back the following day. As to what he did on the 11th we have no news at a l l . We do know that at n i g h t f a l l he rested under the trees in the Botanical Gardens. XXI Night of A p r i l .11 He spent the night waiting f o r daybreak, when he would leave. His conduct seemed inconceivable to him. Or did i t seem inconceiva- ble (he asked himself, reproachfully) merely because he couldn't sleep? And his not sleeping—was t h i s due to his conduct or due 70 to his fear of insomnia? If there was even a minimal p r o b a b i l i t y that these delays might jeopardize Irene (his future with Irene), his staying was unforgivable. He longed f o r a v i v i d consciousness of the s i t u a t i o n ; he had the consciousness of an actor who r e c i t e s his p a rt. He decided to get up: he would seek out the launch—the Bellerophon—and he would go to the i s l a n d s , in the middle of the night. He would a r r i v e unexpectedly; maybe he could f r u s t r a t e the r e b e l l i o n . If the islands were now in the hands of the r e b e l s , the night would be more convenient. He started to get up. He a n t i c i - pated d i f f i c u l t i e s in leaving the palace; the doors were locked; he would have to c a l l f o r someone. Would he explain his reason f o r leaving? How could he avoid t h e i r t a l k i n g , conjecturing on the following day about his unecpected departure? It wasn't possible to leave by the window: there existed the danger of his being surprised i n the act and recognized or of not being recognized and shot a t . He also anticipated d i f f i c u l t i e s with the port a u t h o r i t i e s when he went to take out the Bellerophon. He asked himself i f the islands might not be i n t h e i r h o r r i b l e calm as always, and i f the u p r i s i n g , perhaps even a shot, might not be provoked by his a r r i v a l ; he imagined the explanations, the i n e v i t a b l e confession to C a s t e l . But he was resolved to go: he wanted to plan his actions and know the explanations he would give 71 on each occasion. Uncontrollably, he l o s t himself i n imaginings: he saw himself warring on the i s l a n d s ; he was touched by Dreyfus' l o y a l t y or he reproached him, o r a t o r i c a l l y , f o r his treason; or Bernheim, Castel and Charlotte Frinzine" repeated, laughing, that that absurd t r i p had d i s c r e d i t e d him,finished him o f f , or he thought of Irene and he exhausted himself with interminable declarations of love and c o n t r i t i o n . He heard a distant outcry. It was the parolees, with t h e i r enormous carts and t h e i r oxen, c o l l e c t i n g the garbage. He f e l t c o l d : i t was, very vaguely, daybreak. If he waited a l i t t l e , his departure would s t a r t l e no one. XXII A p r i l 12 He awoke at nine. He was t i r e d , but he had recovered his l u c i d i t y : the t r i p would be u s e l e s s , the p r o b a b i l i t y of calamities taking p l a c e , i n s i g n i f i c a n t . The keys were in his o f f i c e ; not a s i n g l e prisoner and very few guards went i n there, and i t wasn't impossible that the keys were in one of the desk drawers. The drawers in his desk were locked; anyone who found the keys would also have to f i n d out that they belonged to the archives and the 72 armory: that would be d i f f i c u l t in a p r i s o n , where there are so many keys, so many things locked up with keys. To think of a r e b e l l i o n was absurd; the prisoners were numbed by the r i g o r of prison r o u t i n e , and Castel's i n t e r e s t in s o c i a l and penal questions was s t r i c t l y s a d i s t i c . I must be s i c k , he w r i t e s , to believe i n Bernheim's ravings. L i v i n g in a j a i l could make him i l l . Conscience and j a i l s are incompatible, I heard him say one night when he f e l t i n s p i r e d . Those poor d e v i l s are l i v i n g j u s t a few yards from here (he was r e f e r r i n g to the s a l t deposits at Saint-Martin). The very idea should devastate us. The i n s t i g a t o r of t h i s madness was his f a t h e r . If he was out walking with his c h i l d r e n when the cage of the prison van passed by, he took them by the hand and hurried them away, f r a n t i c a l l y , as i f he wished to d e l i v e r them from an obscene and mortal v i s i o n . Undoubtedly, in his determination to send Henri to the Guianas, Pierre revealed his firmness, but also his marksman- ship. He opened the window that faced the courtyard and he c a l l e d out. A f t e r a few minutes the orderly answered. The man appeared a f t e r a quarter of an hour. He asked: "What can I do f o r you, lieutenant?" He didn't know. That i n q u i s i t i v e face annoyed him; he answered: 73 "My bags." "What was that?" "Yes, s u i t c a s e s , b r i e f c a s e s , luggage. I'm leaving." XXIII He ran into the Frinzine'family near the Market. "Well, here we are," said F r i n z i n e , with some excitement. "Out f o r a walk. A l l together: i t ' s s a f e r . And you, where are you going with a l l that?" (He had f i n a l l y noticed the suitcases.) "I'm leaving." "You're leaving us?" Nevers assured them he might possibly return that might. That made them fe e l much b e t t e r , the Frinzine's r e i t e r a t e d . Mrs. Frinzine' added: "We'll go with you down to the docks." He t r i e d to r e s i s t . Charlotte was his only a l l y ; she wanted to go home, but they didn't l i s t e n to her. In the urgent c o r d i a l - i t y of the Frinzine's, Nevers half-sensed the desire to conceal something o r , perhaps, to get him away from somewhere. He looked at the c i t y with n o s t a l g i a , as i f he had a' presentiment of not coming back. Ashamed, he found himself walking on the parts of the s t r e e t where there was the most dust, so that he might take 74 away with him a l i t t l e of the reddish dust of Cayenne. Absent- mindedly he discovered the cause of the F r i n z i n e s 1  nervousness: he had surprised them i n the v i c i n i t y of the Market. But the words they spoke to him were cordial and t h e i r nervousness reminded him of other f a r e w e l l s . His eyes grew moist. XXIV Before mooring the launch, he rounded Devil's Island. There was nothing new. He saw no one. The animals were wandering about loose, as always. He docked at Royal Island. Immediately he went to the Administration; t h e r e , i n his desk, was the rin g of keys. He asked the orderly who replaced Dreyfus i f there was any news. There was no news. In the afternoon Dreyfus appeared. They embraced l i k e friends who have been separated a long time. Dreyfus did not seem i r o n i c a l ; he was s m i l i n g , delighted. At l a s t he spoke: "The governor i s waiting f o r you." "Can I go to Devil's Island?' "Impossible, lie u t e n a n t . . . Did you bring the merchandise requested in the l e t t e r ? " "What l e t t e r ? " "The l e t t e r you took on the governor's behalf. I gave i t to 75 you with the res t of the orders." He thrust his hand in his pocket; there was the l e t t e r . He improvised: "The man t o l d me he wouldn't have anything a v a i l a b l e before the 26th." "Before the 26th!" Dreyfus repeated. "Not before the 26th. I brought what I could. I w i l l return." "What an upset f o r the governor. And what a time to upset him." "What's the matter with him?" " I f you see him you won't recognize him. Do you remember when he was here the f i r s t time? He has been transformed." "Transformed?" "He had an attack, but t h i s one was stronger than ever. He i s grey, l i k e ashes. You should see him move about; he's l i k e a sleepwalker." Nevers f e l t pangs of remorse. He s a i d : " I f he wants me t o , I ' l l go back t h i s very afternoon. I ' l l t r y to get that fellow to d e l i v e r me the goods..." Dreyfus asked him: "Did you get the spectacles f o r the P r i e s t ? " "No," Nevers answered. "The man can't see well at a l l . " "Is he c r i t i c a l ? " 76 "The governor says he's getting b e t t e r ; his i l l n e s s was a bad one. During the day we keep him in the dark, at nighttime, wide-awake. But he doesn't see what i s close to him; he can't see his own body; he only distinguishes objects that are more than two yards away from his eyes. Everything must be done f o r him: we must bathe him feed him. He eats i n the daytime, as he sleeps." "While he sleeps?" "Yes; when he's awake, he's too nervous; he has to be l e f t alone. He s t i l l raves and sees apparitions." Nevers was repentant. Then he r e f l e c t e d that the spectacles wouldn't have kept the P r i e s t from having v i s i o n s . To change the subject, he asked: "And what other news i s there from the island?" "None. L i f e i s very d i s t r e s s i n g . Always taking care of the sick." "The s i c k . There are more than one?" "Yes. The P r i e s t and one of the p r i s o n e r s - - J u l i e n , by name. Yesterday he had an attack." " F i r s t the P r i e s t , then C a s t e l , then..." "It's not the same th i n g . What a i l s the governor i s the i l l n e s s he has always had: headaches. It i s an honor to work f o r Mr. C a s t e l . Sick as he i s , he doesn't leave Ju l i e n ' s side f o r an in s t a n t . And Mr. De Brinon, the same: s a c r i f i c i n g himself a l l 77 day, as i f he weren't a nobleman. Blood t e l l s , l i e u t e n a n t , i t ' s t h e i r blood." "Castel doesn't go out?" "Hardly ever. A l i t t l e w h i l e , at n i g h t , to see the P r i e s t or to t a l k with the other prisoners." "Which prisoners?" Dreyfus refused to look at him. Then he explained: "The r e s t , the ones who are healthy. They v i s i t him at the p a v i l i o n . " "They'll catch the disease." "No; even I can't go into the room, Mr. De Brinon takes his meals to him." "De Brinon and the governor eat i n the si c k man's room?" "They sleep there too." "How often has the governor come to t h i s island and to St. Joseph's Island?" "Since you l e f t , not once." "And De Brinon?" "The same." "And you?" "I didn't come. There i s work to do, I assure you." He asked himself i f no one had noticed that the j a i l was without administrators. He thought i t would be wise to make an 78 inspection and not to forget to look over the archives and the armory. XXV He traversed Royal and St. Joseph's Islands. The punishments, the miseries went on... Possibly the abuses of the j a i l e r s had increased; i f so, i t wasn't noticeable. Without d i r e c t o r s , the most h o r r i b l e of prisons functions p e r f e c t l y . The convicts could only steal a boat and shipwreck in sight of the islands or dash t h e i r brains out in the l a t r i n e . A l l r e b e l l i o n was useless. He had had an obsession, a humiliating madness. At that moment someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned h a l f about and looked into the eyes of an old p r i s o n e r , Pordelanne, by name. Pordelanne slowly began to r a i s e his r i g h t arm; Nevers stepped back and he could see that the man held i n his hand a miniature doghouse. " I ' l l s e l l i t to you," he said in a f l u t e l i k e v o i c e . "What w i l l you give me f o r i t ? " Pordelanne r o l l e d up his pants a b i t and he kneeled c a r e f u l l y . He placed the t i n y doghouse on the ground, he drew his face near the door and shouted: "Constantine!" Immediately, out of the house leaped a wooden dog. Again he placed i t i n s i d e , clapped his 79 hands and the dog came out once more. "You made i t ? " Nevers asked. "Yes. The dog comes out because of the e f f e c t s of sound. When the batteries wear out, they can be changed. What w i l l you give me?" "Five francs." He gave him f i f t e e n and continued his p a t r o l , uncomfortable, cert a i n that that toy would bring about his d i s c r e d i t . He noted some changes i n the l i s t of prisoners in the red compound. Deloge and Favre had been transferred to Devil's Island; Roday and Z u r l i n g e r , from Devil's I s l a n d , replaced them. Nevers r e c a l l e d the nervousness that Dreyfus had showed when they spoke of the prisoners; he asked himself i f Castel had waited f o r him to go to Cayenne to arrange the exchange. He didn't become indignant; he thought that perhaps the governor had not been unjust; on Devil's Island the prisoners received better treatment; i t was possible that among the seven hundred and f i f t y prisoners on Royal and St. Joseph's Islands one of them might deserve i t , and that three of the p o l i t i c a l prisoners on Devil's Island were incurable bastards. In p r i n c i p l e , however, he was opposed to mixing the common prisoners with the p o l i t i c a l s . He returned to the governor's mansion; he went to the archives. Books, shelves, cobwebs: a l l was i n t a c t . He went to the armory: 80 nothing was missing. At the r e a r , as always, were the Schneider machine guns; to the r i g h t , on the f l o o r , the boxes of ammunition, well-locked, f u l l (he t r i e d to l i f t them); to the l e f t , the barrel of sewing machine o i l , which was used f o r the guns; also to the l e f t , on the shelves, the r i f l e s . However, the yellow curtain that was drawn over the shelves of r i f l e s was open, and in his r e c o l l e c t i o n i t had been closed. He undertook a new i n s p e c t i o n . He came up with the same r e s u l t s : except f o r the c u r t a i n , everything was in-order. Maybe, he thought, maybe some poor devil found the keys and a f t e r checking out the armory he chose to imagine that he hadn't prepared himself adequately, that the moment was not opportune and that he lacked an accomplice, that i t would be better to leave the keys and come back by night (when he would have a p l a n , and, above a l l , a boat with p r o v i s i o n s ) . Nevers confesses that as he locked the door and put the keys away, he regretted f r u s t r a t i n g the plans of that unknown man. He went in t o his room, l e f t the toy on the bureau, closed the Venetian blinds and lay down. Dreyfus had made an impression on him: maybe Castel wasn't a bastard a f t e r a l l . A good d i r e c t o r does not u t t e r l y ignore his p r i s o n , he doesn't allow i t to function a l l on i t s own. A l l good leaders believe in the necessity of organizing, of disturbing the status quo... Perhaps Castel was an excellent man. 81 The f a c t that the P r i e s t ' s symptoms did not correspond to those of cholera proved nothing against the governor; maybe the P r i e s t had an i l l n e s s resembling cholera and the governor had said cholera f o r the sake of s i m p l i f i c a t i o n , so that Dreyfus would understand; or maybe Dreyfus had misunderstood, or he had explained himself poorly. His fears were r i d i c u l o u s . It disturbed him that he was, at moments, a maniac, a madman. But he also f e l t r e l i e v e d : he would have to wait u n t i l Xavier's a r r i v a l , but he would wait in a normal world, with a normal mind. Then he remembered the p r o h i b i t i o n of his going to Devil's Island. A l l the same, he thought, there i s some mystery here. XXVI The mystery of Devil's Island does not concern me, even i f i t does e x i s t . The time i t took my nephew to a r r i v e at t h i s conclu- sion i s extraordinary. As f o r ourselves, who candidly believe in duty, that mystery would not be i n d i f f e r e n t to us. That wasn't the case with Nevers. Once again I remembered that my stay i n the Guianas was an episode in my l i f e . . . Time would erase i t l i k e other dreams. He passed from one obsession to another. He f e l t himself to 82 blame for the Pri e s t ' s blindness and f o r the shortage of medicine fo r the s i c k . He decided to go immediately to Cayenne, to look f o r the supplies he hadn't brought. He c a l l e d the or d e r l y . No one answered. He packed his suitcase and carried i t himself to the Bellerophon. Before l e a v i n g , he ran the launch along the coast of Devil's Island, slowly. He saw a prisoner f i s h i n g on the c l i f f s at the extreme southwest. Surrounded by c l i f f s and, further up, by forests of squalid palm t r e e s , the spot was out of sight of the inhabitants of Royal and St. Joseph Islands, and even ( i f they weren't purposely looking at the area) of the inhabitants of Devil's Island. He f e l t a sudden i n s p i r a t i o n , and he determined to speak with the man. There was hardly any danger of being caught in the a c t , and i f I am, the consequences w i l l come too l a t e . He t i e d up; he made an extremely complicated knot that excluded a l l p o s s i b i l i t y of a hasty r e t r e a t . The prisoner was immensely f a t . He glanced about, as i f to assure himself that there was no one nearby. To Nevers i t seemed that that gesture corresponded to him, not to the prisoner; immediately he admitted the p o s s i b i l i t y that the man might be p l o t t i n g some attack. With t h i s man f o r an a s s a i l a n t , he thought, a f i g h t would be not dangerous. But then everyone would know of his v i s i t to Devil's Island. It was too late to go back. 83 "How's the f i s h i n g ? " he asked. "Fine. Fine f o r not getting bored," the prisoner smiled nervously. "Is i t better here than in the red compound?" With repressed a g i t a t i o n he heard footsteps approaching up above; he took refuge behind a thorny shrub. Nearby, somewhere, the man was s m i l i n g , saying: "This i s marvelous. I can never thank the governor enough for what he has done f o r me." "Are you Favre or Deloge?" "Favre," said the man, s t r i k i n g his chest. "Favre." "Where do you l i v e ? " Nevers asked. "Over there." Favre pointed towards the top of the c l i f f . "In a hut. Deloge l i v e s i n another one, fu r t h e r on." Again there was the sound of footsteps. Since his a r r i v a l in the Guianas, he was continuously hearing s e n t i n e l s ; never had he heard them walk with such resounding and numerous footsteps. "Who's there?" he asked. "The horse," Favre answered. "Haven't you seen him? Go on up the c l i f f and have a look." He didn't know what to do; he didn't want to upset the pri s o n e r , and he was a f r a i d of climbing on up and allowing the man to take advantage of that moment to run to the launch and take o f f . 83OL He climbed with s i l e n t precautions (so as not to be seen from above, so as not to lose sight of the man who was below). A horse on the l o o s e — w h i t e and old—was running about in continuous c i r c l e s . The prisoner hadn't moved. "What's the matter with him?" Nevers asked. "You don't know? When we turn him loose, he s t a r t s running in c i r c l e s , l i k e he was demented. He makes me laugh: he doesn't even recognize the grass. You have to put i t in his mouth so he won't die of hunger. On t h i s i s l a n d a l l the animals are crazy." "An epidemic?" "No. The governor i s a real p h i l a n t h r o p i s t : he brings crazy animals here and he takes care of them. But now, with the s i c k men, he can't tend the animals." He didn't want the conversation to break o f f ; he s a i d , absent- l y : "Then you aren't bored here?" "You know the conditions. It's not so bad now that we spend the nights t a l k i n g with the governor." He refrained from asking what they talked about. In that f i r s t dialogue he should s e t t l e f o r some data on the paintings the governor had had done in the central p a v i l i o n . To approach t h i s subject i n d i r e c t l y , he asked: "The c o n d i t i o n s , what conditions?" 84 The man stood up and, d r a m a t i c a l l y , he l e t his f i s h i n g rod f a l l : "Did the governor send you to t a l k with me?" "No," said Nevers, perplexed. "Don't l i e , " the man shouted, and Nevers asked himself i f the noise of the sea would s i l e n c e those shouts. "Don't l i e . You haven't caught me doing anything wrong. If I have f a i l e d to keep my word, i t was by mistake. How was I to know that you had been sent to t e s t me?" "To t e s t you?" "When I saw your w i l l i n g n e s s , I thought we could t a l k . This very night I w i l l explain everything to the governor." Nevers seized him by the arms and shook him. "I give you my word that the governor has not sent me, e i t h e r to t e s t you, or to spy on you, or anything l i k e t h a t . Can't you speak to anyone?" "To Deloge." "You owe the governor a great f a v o r , and now you want to sadden him by t e l l i n g him that you haven't c a r r i e d out his orders. That i s n ' t gratitude." "He says he's doing i t f o r our own good," the prisoner groaned. "He says he's going to save us, and that i f we t a l k . . . " " I f you t a l k y o u ' l l hurt your chances," Nevers interrupted him, guided by his i n v i n c i b l e i n s t i n c t f o r losing o pportunities. 85 "I w i l l help you a l s o . I won't say anything about t h i s , and we w i l l spare the governor displeasure. You won't say anything about i t e i t h e r . Can I count on your word?" The man, overcome by a series of tenuous s i g h s , offered him a wet hand. Nevers saw i t shine i n the t w i l i g h t , and he shook i t with enthusiasm. Later he returned to Royal Island. He maintained his intention of going to Cayenne; he would leave the following morning, since he preferred not to travel by night. XXVI "What are you proposing to do?" inquired Dreyfus. It was ten in the morning. Nevers was dressing. "I'm going to Cayenne." "The governor asks you not to bother," Dreyfus answered. " I f the man won't have anything u n t i l the 26th, i t would be useless fo r you to go. The governor wishes to v i s i t you." Dreyfus withdrew. Nevers f e l t remorseful over his previous conduct. Nevertheless he asked himself how he would manage to t a l k with Favre again. A f t e r that noble exchange of promises and agree- ment of common in t e r e s t s (to avoid annoying C a s t e l , to avoid disobeying C a s t e l ) , another conversation was not seemly. 86 It was almost night when he went down to the dock. On the way he ran into the o r d e r l y . The man asked him: "Are you going to Cayenne?" "No. I'm going to check out the Bellerophon. She's not running properly." It was a miserable excuse. Motors are of i n t e r e s t to the human genre: he feared the orderly might follow him, or that (by the sound of the motor) he would discover the l i e . He walked quickly away. He boarded the launch, started her up and went out in the open sea. He navigated in one d i r e c t i o n and then another, as i f he were t e s t i n g the motor. Then he set o f f f o r Devil's Island. Favre waved his arm. He was in the same pla c e , f i s h i n g with another prisoner. Nevers saw no one e l s e . Favre greeted him c h e e r f u l l y and introduced him to his companion, Deloge, to whom he s a i d : "Don't worry. The gentleman i s a f r i e n d . He won't say anything to the governor." Deloge was d i s t r u s t f u l . He was s h o r t , or at le a s t so he seemed beside Favre; he had red h a i r , a vaguely strange gaze and a sharp, anxious expression. With poorly hidden c u r i o s i t y , he s c r u t i n i z e d Nevers. "Don't be a f r a i d , " Favre i n s i s t e d . "The gentleman wants to 87 help us. We can ta l k with him and know what's happening i n the world." Nevers f e l t he perceived that a sort of complicity had been established between Favre and himself; he wanted to take advantage of i t , and he spoke, without prudence or moderation, of his resolution to leave the islands as soon as p o s s i b l e . He asked Favre: "And you, i f you could leave here, where would you choose to l i v e ? " Deloge started l i k e a frightened animal. This seemed to stimulate Favre, who s a i d : "I would go to a s o l i t a r y i s l a n d . " Until he had come to the i s l a n d s , Nevers had dreamed of the s o l i t a r y i s l a n d . It made him indignant that that dream could beguile a recluse on Devil's Island. "But wouldn't you rather return to France, to Paris? Maybe to America?" "No," he r e p l i e d . " I t i s not possible to f i n d happiness in big c i t i e s . (Nevers thought: t h i s i s a phrase he has heard somewhere or read i n a book.) "Besides," Deloge submitted i n a deep v o i c e , "the governor has explained to us that sooner or l a t e r , we would be found out." "Even i f we were pardoned," Favre hastened to say "everyone would look at us with d i s t r u s t . Even our own f a m i l i e s . " 88 "We would be marked men," Deloge affirmed with a sudden gaiety. He repeated: "Marked men." "Deloge," said Favre, pointing to him, "wanted to go to Manoa, in the Dorado region." "The Dorado?" Nevers asked. "Yes, there the mud huts have golden r o o f s . But I can't swear to t h a t , because I haven't seen anything myself. Castel set us r i g h t . He says that gold i s worth the same as straw there. But I understand his reasons: Manoa i s in the i n t e r i o r of the Guianas. How could we get through the guarded zone?..." Favre stopped t a l k i n g suddenly; then he said nervously: "I t would be best i f you l e f t now. If Dreyfus should show up, or i f the governor finds out..." "Dreyfus never goes out at night," grunted Deloge. "It's l a t e f o r me as well," Nevers assured them. He didn't want to upset Favre; he didn't know what to say to calm him down. He gripped h i s hand f i r m l y , h alf-closed his eyes and t i l t e d his head to one side: i t was an e f f u s i v e language, adequately imprecise. Was Castel preparing them f o r an escape? Perhaps the i l l n e s s e s of J u l i e n and the P r i e s t f r u s t r a t e d his plans... He was thinking of taking them to an i s l a n d . Nevers asked himself what islands there were in the A t l a n t i c that would be adequate. He couldn't take them to the P a c i f i c . Unless he were to take them through a 89 tunnel... This i s not my a f f a i r . . . Above a l l , i f I am absent. But he didn't understand Castel's plans. As long as he remained on the islands he would t r y to investigate without run- ning any r i s k s . Perhaps he f e l t he had an ob l i g a t i o n to me. He had confided so many nonsensical suppositions to me that now, in the face of something c r e d i b l e , he wanted to c l e a r things up. XXVII There w i l l be those who w i l l proclaim my r e s p o n s i b i l i t y in the d e l i r i o u s plan that afforded Nevers his ambiguous discoveries and his enigmatic death. I do not shun r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , but I w i l l not bear that which I do not deserve. In the previous chapter I have sa i d : "Perhaps he f e l t he had an obl i g a t i o n to me. He had confided so many nonsensical suppositions to me that now, in the face of something c r e d i b l e , he wanted to c l e a r things up." I repeat t h i s . I acknowledge t h i s . Nothing more. Dreyfus announced to Nevers the governor's forthcoming v i s i t that night. Nevers was preoccupied; at about 10:00 that night he conceived the plan and immediately he tossed o f f a few glasses to muster enough courage to carry i t out. Up to 11:00 he believed that the governor would v i s i t him: a f t e r that he was in doubt, and l a t e r he f e l t that i t was absurd to have waited f o r him. With 90 that c o n v i c t i o n , the alcohol and the f i r s t volume of Montaigne's Essays, he f e l l asleep at his desk. He was wakened by the governor. To accuse me of a d i r e c t r e s p o n s i b i l i t y would be unjust: Nevers conceived the plan at 10:00, he c a r r i e d i t out at midnight, and I was in France and he was in the Salvation Islands. As f o r a general r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r not having discouraged him from such i r r e g u l a r a c t i v i t i e s , I also deny t h i s . If some day my l e t t e r s to Nevers are recovered, i t w i l l be seen that they are very few and that i f I display any i n t e r e s t in his " i n v e s t i g a t i o n " i t i s merely the i n t e r e s t that courtesy requires... Possibly someone may ask how, without anyone encouraging him, t h i s man who was not i r r e p r e s s i b l y bold could have invented those infamous l i e s , which endangered his l i f e , or his freedom, or the return that he so i n s i s t e n t l y d e s i r e d , how he had dared to ut t e r them, how he had the decisiveness and a b i l i t y to put on such an act before the governor, and to succeed in convincing him. Above a l l , Nevers was not t i m i d ; he wasn't ve r b a l l y t i m i d . He didn't lack the courage to speak; he did lack courage to face the consequences of what he s a i d . He declared himself d i s i n t e r - ested in r e a l i t y . Complications interested him. His complicity (apparently without doubt) in the a f f a i r that made i t necessary f o r him to leave France can corroborate me. His a t t i t u d e in the prison (from the very f i r s t moment, in an e n t i r e l y i r r e g u l a r manner, he 91 questioned the conduct of his superior) can corroborate me. A woman in Saint-Martin can corroborate me. Furthermore, though i t i s true that no one encouraged him, i t would be inaccurate to say that nothing encouraged him: he had been d r i n k i n g . The spectacle of the governor encouraged him a l s o . Nevers awoke because he f e l t a pressure on his shoulder. It was the governor's hand. The governor was not looking at him; he began to move about; he walked around the desk,sat down facing Nevers. He d r i f t e d a l i t t l e o f f course; he walked out of l i n e ; he passed the chair by a yard or two; he turned back and sat down, l i f e l e s s . His gaze was d i f f u s e , his eyes half-closed and sunken. His color was that of a corpse, l i k e that of the faces of bad actors when they play the part of old men. Perhaps that bad actor's likeness reminded Nevers of his intention to act his part. The governor seemed i l l . Nevers r e c a l l e d the headaches and the "attacks" that Dreyfus had spoken o f ; he remembered Dreyfus' r i d i c u l o u s expression: "he's l i k e a sleepwalker". He thought that Castel's c r i t i c a l f a c u l t i e s must be diminished... If the governor were to discover some weak point in his e x p o s i t i o n , he would l e t i t pass by, so as not to t i r e himself. He resolved to attempt his superfluous and desperate move, and, solemnly, he stood up. "Do you know why I am here?" He spoke almost shouting, so as to i n f l i c t a real torment on 92 C a s t e l . Indeed, the governor closed his eyes and held his head in his hands. "I am here because I have been accused of s t e a l i n g documents." That night he l i e d , c a r r i e d away by the same impulse, the same desperate c u r i o s i t y that had made him l i e years before on the occasion c a l l e d to mind by his abiding scar. He went on i n a lowered voice (so that he might be heard): "I have been accused of having sold those documents to a foreign power. I am here because of blackmail. The person who discovered the t h e f t knows that I am innocent, but he also knows that a l l appearances point to me and that no one w i l l believe in my innocence. He said that i f I went away from France f o r one y e a r , he wouldn't turn me i n : I accepted, as i f I were g u i l t y . Now, n a t u r a l l y , he has betrayed me. On the 27th my c o u s i n , Xavier B r i s s a c , w i l l a r r i v e , with the painful duty of replacing me and of d e l i v e r i n g to you the order f o r my arr e s t . " F i n a l l y the governor asked him: "Are you t e l l i n g me the truth?" Nevers nodded. "How can I determine i f you are innocent?" asked the governor, exasperated, spent. At the bottom of that weariness, Nevers divined the firmness of a man who has the means to resolve the s i t u a t i o n . 93 "Antoine Brissac," Nevers answered slowly, "ask my uncle Antoine; or i f not him, ask Pierre himself. You know them both." L i f e among the prisoners had begun to undermine my nephew's character. His invocation of Pierre w i l l perhaps stand as a mischievous b i t of vengeance, but his abuse of my friendship i s not r i g h t . Besides, we were in France, anf i f Nevers' story had been t r u e , how could Castel immediately obtain our testimony? "Are you cert a i n that you have been convicted?" "Quite c e r t a i n , " Nevers answered. He was interrogated, he was believed. The governor, i n a f l a t and trembling v o i c e , again asked him i f he was sure; Nevers said that he was. The governor exclaimed with a cert a i n v i v a c i t y : "I am glad." Then he closed his eyes and hid his face in his hands. He l e f t , protesting weakly as Nevers started to accompany him. XXVIII He unholstered his gun. He was paralyzed. He was thinking r a p i d l y , as i f in d e l i r i u m , with images. He wanted to understand, to resolve. He couldn't. Slowly, determined, he crossed the room; he opened the door, 94 followed the interminable hallways, climbed the s p i r a l s t a i r c a s e and went into his room, in the dark. He locked the door. He turned on the l i g h t . He had the impression of having moved l i k e a sleepwalker, l i k e a phantom. He f e l t no desire to s l e e p , no weariness, no pain; he didn't feel his own body; he was waitng. He took the p i s t o l i n his l e f t hand and extended his r i g h t . He saw that i t trembled. At that moment—or was i t much l a t e r ? — t h e r e was a knock on the door. That was what he had been waiting f o r . A f t e r a nightmare, that knock awakened him. In the knocking he recognized r e a l i t y , j o y f u l l y . Nevers, l i k e so many men, died not knowing that his r e a l i t y was dramatic. He l e f t the p i s t o l on the table and went to open the door. Kahn, the guard, came i n . He had seen l i g h t in the room, and he had "come in to t a l k " . Kahn r e s p e c t f u l l y remained standing, next to the t a b l e . Nevers picked up the gun and when he t o l d Kahn that he had to take i t apart and clean i t , a b u l l e t escaped from the chamber. I suspect that a f t e r his b r i e f , and, perhaps, heroic presen- ta t i o n before Castel he foresaw possible consequences. His nerves couldn't hold out. 95 XXIX Nevers' plan had consisted of presenting the matter of the s a l t marshes, which divided our family and took him away from France, as a public matter; a coarse p a r a l l e l i s m with the Dreyfus a f f a i r might be in operation here, and I don't think i t essential to dwell upon t h i s f r i v o l o u s handling of a matter that any one of us, i n the same circumstances, would have viewed with reverence and with t e r r o r . Stimulated by the a l c o h o l , he thought, perhaps, that the dangerous s i t u a t i o n , the indefensible s i t u a t i o n in which he had placed himself, would have no consequences. The l a s t conversation with Favre and Deloge had convinced him that the governor was preparing the break f o r very soon; the exchange of prisoners between Devil's Island and St. Joseph and Royal Islands was of unquestionable s i g n i f i c a n c e : the concentration on Devil's Island of the prisoners whose sentences were unjust. The consequences of my f a l s e confession may be: that the governor w i l l take me to the i s l a n d and reveal his plans to me, or that he w i l l take me there, not reveal his plans, but w i l l make me p a r t i c i p a t e in the break (I w i l l f i r s t t r y to i n v e s t i g a t e , then, to withdraw from the escape), o r , again, because of a j u s t i f i a b l e grudge, he might not take me to the i s l a n d , might not t e l l me anything and might not want me to 96 p a r t i c i p a t e i n the break at a l l . My "confession" w i l l have no further consequences, even i f Xavier a r r i v e s before the r e v o l t . The governor i s not in a position to look f o r complications; he w i l l not accuse me. Nor w i l l he wait f o r Xavier's a r r i v a l . A l l t h i s was an absurd manner of reasoning: i f Castel had wanted some of the prisoners to break out, Nevers would not have to break out (he could go whenever he wanted; he was not a p r i s o n e r ) . Four days passed and Nevers had heard no word from the governor. This s i l e n c e did not disturb him; i t gave him the i n c r e d i b l e hope that his words would have no consequences. On the fourth day he received a note, an order to present himself on Devil's Island on the 24th, at n i g h t f a l l . XXX A p r i l 16 At twelve o'clock, as on the previous n i g h t s , he opened the door of his room; he l i s t e n e d ; he walked along the dark c o r r i d o r . He went down the creaking s t a i r c a s e , t r y i n g not to make a sound, not to be heard. He passed through the o f f i c e , through the enormous vestibule that smelled of creosote. He opened the door: he was outside in a heavy lowering n i g h t , covered with clouds. 97 He walked i n a s t r a i g h t l i n e , then he turned to the l e f t and stopped at a palm t r e e . He sighed deeply; tremuluous, he t r i e d to hear i f someone had heard his s i g h i n g . He walked s i l e n t l y ; he paused at another t r e e ; he started walking again; he reached a tree with low branches, extended out over the water; among the branches he saw the form of a rowboat, and, surrounding i t , spectral foam that dissolved and reformed i n the g l i t t e r i n g blackness of the sea. He thought that the strokes of the oars might be heard, but that he should row immediately, that he musn't give the current a chance to carry him o f f down the coast. He climbed in the boat and rowed f r a n t i c a l l y . He steered towards Devil's I s l a n d , to the place he had been with Favre and Deloge. The crossing was a l i t t l e long, but the landing s i t e seemed r e l a t i v e l y secure. Knockings as i f from spongy vaults shook the hull of the rowboat, and surfaces of a deathly p a l l o r s l i d passed him. He had thought (days before, in the f i r s t crossing) that those ephemeral white patches must be waves illumined by the sparse beams of the moon that passed through openings in the clouds; then he remembered that prisoners who died on the islands were taken out by night in that rowboat and thrown into the sea; he had been t o l d that sharks played about the boat l i k e impatient dogs. His loathing of touching a shark urged him to land anywhere, but he continued to the s i t e he 98 he had planned on. He didn't know whether to admire his courage or to despise himself f o r the fear that he was f e e l i n g . He t i e d up the boat and climbed the c l i f f at the extreme southwest of the i s l a n d . The c l i f f seemed shorter to him; r i g h t away he found himself i n the f o r e s t of palm t r e e s . For the fourth night now he had reached those t r e e s . On the f i r s t n i g h t , he f e l t he c l e a r l y understood the dangers to which he was exposing himself, and he decided to go back. On the second night he went round Favre's hut. On the t i i r d n i g h t , he went around the central p a v i l i o n . He was leaving a clump of t r e e s , moving i n the d i r e c t i o n of Favre's hut, when he saw two shadows approaching him. He drew back, moving from one palm tree to another. He threw himself to the ground; he lay down on a s o i l chirping and crawling with i n s e c t s . The shadows entered the hut. As the hut was dark, he thought i t must be Favre and Deloge, come back from t h e i r t a l k with the governor; he decided to v i s i t them. But they didn't l i g h t the l a n t e r n ; i t might be better to go to the window and have a look. At that instant one of the two men came out, staggering. Then another appeared. One walked ahead of the other and they were carrying something, l i k e a s t r e t - cher. Nevers watched a t t e n t i v e l y . They were carrying a man. Immobile, sepulchred among i n s e c t s , he waited f o r them to 99 go away. Then he ran to the boat and f l e d the i s l a n d . The following day, when he wrote me, he complained of having been at such a distance, of not having seen the men's faces. The day a f t e r that he did not go to t a l k with Favre and Deloge. Nor did he go that night. He didn't go the next day. He didn't go on the 18th. He would never go again. He would go on the 26th to Cayenne. On the 27th Xavier would a r r i v e , and he, i n c r e d i b l y , would return to France. He was f r e e of the abominable dream of the Salvation Islands and i t seemed to him absurd to i n t e r f e r e in matters that had already taken,place. XXXI There would be no consequences i f the guards of Royal Island surprised him(it i s c l e a r that i f they didn't recognize him, or i f they pretended not to recognize him, the consequence would be a s h o t ) . But i f he were surprised on Devil's Island i t would have been disastrous.. Possibly everything could be reduced to an impossible explanation, but i f the mysteries of the is l a n d were t r u l y a t r o c i o u s — a s the adventure of the 16th seemed to i n d i c a t e — , i t would not be absurd to suppose that i n his v i s i t s to the islands he was r i s k i n g his l i f e . Who was the man who had been taken from Favre's hut? What had happened? Was he i l l ? Had he been murdered? 100 On the night of the 19th the temptation overpowered him and he got up to go to the i s l a n d . At the door of the administration bui l d i n g two guards were t a l k i n g harshly; he returned to his room and t o l d himself that f a t e had placed those two guards there to dissuade him. But on the 20th he went; he remained on the i s l a n d a few minutes and returned with the impression of having saved himself from considerable danger. On the 21st he went again. Deloge's hut was l i t up. Without further precautions he walked to the window; he looked i n : Deloge, with his red h a i r , redder than ever, was preparing coffee; he was s e r i o u s , w h i s t l i n g , and with his r i g h t hand, and at times with both hands, he was d i r e c t i n g an imaginary orchestra. Nevers f e l t an urge to go in and ask him what had happened to Favre. But his aim was to find.out what was going on in the central p a v i l i o n ; he was resolved that t h i s would be his l a s t incursion in the i s l a n d . He walked to the central p a v i l i o n , from one tree to another. Suddenly, he stopped: two men were advancing toward him. Nevers ducked behind a palm t r e e . He followed them at a d i s t a n c e , l o s i n g time taking refuge behind the t r e e s . The men went into Deloge's hut. To move i n close and spy on them would be dangerous: he would have to pass in f r o n t of the door or c i r c l e the hut at too great a distance. He preferred to wait. He knew what he was waiting f o r . One of the men appeared i n the doorway: he staggered, 101 as i f he were dragging something. Then the other appeared. They were carrying a man. Nevers remained a while among the t r e e s . Then he entered the hut. It seemed that everything was in d i s o r d e r , as in the photographs of the room where a murder has taken place. He remembered that the disorder was the same that he had seen from the window, when Deloge was making c o f f e e . The cup of coffee was on top of the l i t t l e stove. In the room there hung a vague odor of sickness. Nevers returned to Royal Island. XXXII The date of his return was drawing near, and Nevers was losing i n t e r e s t i n the mysteries of Devil's Island, he f e l t anxious to l e a v e , to once and f o r a l l be r i d of the obsession of those mysteries. He was determined to leave on the same ship in which Xavier would a r r i v e ; on the 26th he would be in Cayenne; on the 29th he would go to France. But before then, the night of the 24th would occur, the hight he was supposed to spend on Devil's Island. He plotted precautions f o r that i n e v i t a b l e night: he would t i e the rowboat to the Bellerophon, he would take i t i n tow to the tree where he had always landed, and then he would go i n the launch to the i s l a n d wharf. If i t should be necessary to f l e e , 102 he would have the rowboat ready in a safe place. He changed his plan: i t would be best to leave the Bellerophon in the secret place and go to the wharf in the rowboat. For a f a s t getaway, the launch would be more u s e f u l . On the 24th, at 7:30 in the afternoon, he took the Bellerophon and landed underneath the t r e e . He climbed the c l i f f , crossed the small f o r e s t of palm trees and walked to the central p a v i l i o n . He knocked; no one answered; he t r i e d to go i n ; the door was locked. He was returning when he ran into Dreyfus, who seemed to be coming from the wharf. "Where did you land?" asked Dreyfus. "I've been waiting f o r you since s i x . I thought you weren't coming." "I've been knocking on the door f o r some time. I almost f e e l l i k e leaving." "Everyone's very busy here. The governor waited f o r you up u n t i l a l i t t l e while ago. Where did you dock?" Nevers waved his hand i n the d i r e c t i o n of the wharf. "What has he c a l l e d me for?" he asked. "I don't know. The governor asks you to sleep in Favre's hut tonight. Tomorrow I w i l l prepare a room f o r you i n the central p a v i l i o n . " "Favre i s i l l ? " "Yes." 103 "The P r i e s t , J u l i e n and Deloge are i l l ? " "How did you know that Deloge i s sick?" "How I know i s not important. What does matter i s that I am brought here to be contaminated. That I am made to sleep in that hut, so that I cannot escape the disease." They went to the hut. Everything was very c l e a n , very well prepared. Nevers thought that i t was d i f f i c u l t to get ahold of good servants and that he ought to t r y to take Dreyfus to France. Dreyfus said to him: "Since I was waiting f o r you, I couldn't prepare your meal. I w i l l bring dinner at nine. Please forgive me." Nevers had taken along a book of Baudelaire. Among the poems that he read, he mentions "Correspondences". From 9:00 to 9:30 he was almost t r a n q u i l , almost happy. Dinner was excellent and the presence of Dreyfus comforted him. Once he was alone, he returned to his reading. Shortly before 11:00 he turned out the lantern and went to stand by the window. He stood there a long time. He f e l t t i r e d and sleepy. He thought that so much time had passed he could consider himself free f o r that night and that he could go to bed. F i r s t he looked at the time. He l i t a match. Fourteen minutes had passed. He leaned against the doorway. He stood l i k e t h i s a very long time. He affirms that his eyes were c l o s i n g . 104 He opened his eyes: s t i l l at some dis t a n c e , two men were walking towards him. He went inside and immediately thought that he would have to go out and hide among the t r e e s . But the men would see him le a v i n g . He was trapped. Then he attempted and succeeded in leaving by the window (with d i f f i c u l t y ; i t was very s m a l l ) . He stood there s t a r i n g , not out of c u r i o s i t y : he was so frightened that he couldn't move. The men entered the hut. The shortest man leaned over the bed. Nevers heard an exclamation of rage. "What i s i t ? " asked a strangely odd voi c e . "Light a match," said the voice that he recognized. Nevers f l e d to the launch. XXXIII Early on the morning of the 25th Nevers docked in Cayenne. Immediately he went to the governor's palace. He lay down, but he wasn't able to sleep. He was nervous and, to calm himself and compose his ideas, he wrote me these l i n e s : I am i n open war with Mr. C a s t e l . At any moment the order f o r my arrest w i l l a r r i v e from the i s l a n d s . It i s true that i t i s not convenient f o r him to make a move; i f he forces me to defend myself, he w i l l end up l o s i n g . 105 I must warn Xavier. If the governor convinces him, Who knows what l i e s i n store f o r me. But i f I convince him, the problem w i l l be to keep Xavier from i n i t i a t i n g proceedings against C a s t e l , from compelling me to t e s t i f y and postpone my return . He remembered the order contained in the l e t t e r . He took the l e t t e r from his pocket, and he read: "M. A l t i n o Leitao 18 bis rue des B e l l e s - F e u i l i e s , Cayenne." He went to the l i t t l e stove that was used f o r preparing breakfast and he heated water. Then he moistened his fingers and ran them along the seal of the envelope. He managed to open i t , with apparent ease (at f i r s t ) , with impatience (moments l a t e r ) . He tore the paper; he read: "Dear f r i e n d Leitao: I would appreciate your d e l i v e r i n g to the bearer of t h i s note a double supply of your accredited dynamite. We have urgent and highly s i g n i f i c a n t work here. 106 I remain your f a i t h f u l and attentive c l i e n t . Signed: Peter C a s t e l . A p r i l 6, 1914." Once the surprise of the f i r s t moment had passed--that the governor had not referred to him, Nevers, i r o n i c a l l y - - h e t r i e d to seal the envelope. Anyone could see that i t had been opened. On another envelope he t r i e d to imitate Castel's hand. He f a i l e d . At 8:00 Legrain entered, very s o i l e d and with an enormous crown of h a i r . Nevers asked him when Xavier's ship would a r r i v e . " I t a r r i v e s tomorrow, at the islands." "And when does i t come here?" " I t doesn't come here." He decided to return to the islands the following day, with the dynamite. If Castel said nothing to Xavier, he would say nothing and Castel w i l l be convinced of my intention not to t a l k . If Castel accuses me, I have the dynamite, as proof. " T e l l me, Legrain, who i s a Mr. Leitao?" "Leitao? The president of a company of B r a z i l i a n smugglers. The most powerful company. If some f u g i t i v e lands on one of his ships— e v e n though they promise to take him to T r i n i d a d , even though they charge him f o r the t r i p , believe me--they end up 107 cutting him open in search of suppositories with money i n s i d e . On land he i s n ' t dangerous." Nevers thought that the best weapon against Castel was that l e t t e r . He should keep i t ; i t was more convincing than the explosives themselves. Furthermore, in order to keep the l e t t e r , i t was essential that he not v i s i t the smuggler. He writes me: But i f I o f f e r the l e t t e r i n evidence, not only w i l l I demonstrate the censurable f r i e n d s h i p of Castel with the smuggler; I w i l l show that I have tampered with the mail . I doubt that he l e t himself be deceived by that f a l l a c y ; I suppose, more l i k e l y , he feared returning to the islands without f u l f i l l i n g Castel's orders. At any r a t e , he thought i t would not be a good thing f o r Leitao to discover that the l e t t e r had been opened. A f t e r a lengthy meditation before the typewriter, he found the s o l u t i o n . On a blue envelope, without l e t t e r h e a d , he typed Leitao's name and address. At 9:00 he stood i n the rue des B e l l e s - F e u i l l e s . A half-naked negress opened the door; she took him to a small study f i l l e d with books and t o l d him she would advise the man of the house of his presence. Shortly afterwards, an immense man, sweating profusely and wearing grey and red s t r i p e d pyjamas, came into the room. He was o l i v e - s k i n n e d , with s h o r t , disheveled h a i r and a few days' beard. 108 His hands were t i n y and white, p u e r i l e . "What can I do f o r you?" he breathed h e a v i l y , and he sighed. Nevers handed him the l e t t e r and t r i e d to discover i f Leitao looked at i t with su s p i c i o n . Leitao was looking f o r something; inexpressive, slowly, he opened and shut one of the desk drawers. F i n a l l y , he took out a letter-opener. He d e l i c a t e l y opened the envelope, removed the l e t t e r and spread i t out on the t a b l e . He sighed and thrust his hands calmly into his pyjama pockets u n t i l he found a handkerchief; then he looked f o r his eyeglasses. He cleaned them, put them on and read the l e t t e r . He placed his glasses on the desk, passed his hand over his face and emerged sig h i n g . "How i s the governor?" he asked with a smile that to Nevers seemed forced. "He's not very well," Nevers answered. Leitao sighed and s a i d : "A great man, the governor, a great man. But he doesn't believe in science. He doesn't believe in doctors. A real shame." He got up, heavy and huge, picked up the l e t t e r and l e f t . Half an hour l a t e r Nevers was s t i l l alone, t i m i d l y planning his getaway, r e s o l u t e l y fearing an ambush. Leitao entered; i n his snowy, abject fingers he held up an impeccable package. "Here i t Is," he s a i d , giving the package to Nevers. "Give 109 my respects to the governor." He passed his hands over his f a c e , sighed, and bowed solemnly. Nevers stammered a s a l u t a t i o n and moved back through the room, and back through the h a l l , t i l l he reached the s t r e e t . I f e l t a compassion, he w r i t e s , f o r that s l i p p e r y smuggler domiciled i n Cayenne. I f e l t a compassion f o r every person and f o r every thing that I saw. There they w e r e — l i k e the people that you see from the carriage window on the sidewalks of country towns: my unmerited happiness lay in le a v i n g . XXXIV 27th, afternoon It wasn't yet night when Nevers reached the i s l a n d s . Someone was s i g n a l l i n g to him from Devil's Island. He didn't answer: the sea was tossed and Nevers didn't dare l e t go of the t i l l e r . Immedi- at e l y he thought that in refusing to acknowledge the s a l u t a t i o n he would confirm his fame as a s t r a t e g i s t . He l e t the waves carry the Bellerophon s l i g h t l y towards Devil's Island: the man was Dreyfus. A f t e r the inscrutable adventure i n Deloge's hut, Nevers mistrusted everyone, even Dreyfus. Nevertheless he f e l t a great r e l i e f as he recognized him, and he greeted him i m p u l s i v e l y , waving no his arm. That gesture (he believed) committed him to mooring on Devil's Island. Dreyfus was on the c l i f f s at the southwest, where Nevers had always landed, and with repeated gestures Dreyfus pointed i n the d i r e c t i o n of the wharf; Nevers however, moored beneath the c l i f f s , next to the tree that stretches out over the sea. Dreyfus came forward spreading his arms. Nevers thought the reception a u s p i c i o u s , that he had not made a mistake in returning to the i s l a n d s , and, f i n a l l y , that he had l o s t his secret moorage. "How good that you're here," shouted Dreyfus, "you've no idea how I've been waiting f o r you." "Thank you," said Nevers, moved; then he thought he heard a note in Dreyfus' voice that suggested a new i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the reception. He asked: "Is something the matter?" "What we were a f r a i d of," Dreyfus sighed. He looked around him and continued: "We must be careful when we t a l k . " "Is the governor i l l ? " Nevers asked, as i f I s t i l l believed in the a t t a c k s , as i f the i r r e f u t a b l e episode in Deloge's hut had never happened. "He i s i l l , " said Dreyfus, i n c r e d i b l y . Nevers had a picture of Dreyfus managing everything, organ- i z i n g everyone's a n n i h i l a t i o n . But he musn't get d i s t r a c t e d I l l by f a n t a s t i c imaginings; i t was possible he might have to face them. The wind had calmed down. He f l a t t e r e d himself, affirming that the safety and firmness of the earth were vir t u e s that only we, the mariners, appreciate. They walked u p h i l l , to the l i t t l e f o r e s t of palm t r e e s . He stopped; he f e l t no urgency to reach the central p a v i l i o n , to reach a l l the troublesome s i t u a t i o n s I would have to r e s o l v e . But he asked without anxiety. "Has Captain Xavier Brissac arrived?" "Who?" "Captain Xavier Brissac." "No. No one has arrived here." "You're not expecting anyone eithe r ? " "I don't know..." There was no reason why he should, Nevers thought. Neverthe- less (he writes) I barely repressed t h i s insane thought: Dreyfus knew nothing about Xavier's forthcoming a r r i v a l , because Xavier's forthcoming a r r i v a l would never take place. I had invented everything myself, in my desperation to leave. But i t was bad enough that Xavier's ship was delayed... "And you think t h i s captain w i l l come?" "I'm ce r t a i n of i t . " " I t would be a good thing . There are very few of us." "Few? For what?" 112 "You are not ignorant of the s i t u a t i o n in the i s l a n d s . The governor f e l l i l l some days ago. We are e n t i r e l y without author- i t y . " "Do you fear something?" "I wouldn't go as f a r as t h a t , no. But i t may be that your captain w i l l a r r i v e too l a t e . " XXXV Nevers asked himself i f Dreyfus would be against or i n favor of the conspiracy. Dreyfus declared nobly: " I t may be a great d i s a s t e r . I was a f r a i d that trouble would break out with me alone, with the sick and Mr. De Brinon." Nevers t o l d himself that the s i t u a t i o n looked extremely serious and that maintaining his prestige in fron t of Dreyfus was not important, that he wouldn't think now about h i s prestige but of the s i t u a t i o n . He repeated that purpose to himself, four or f i v e times. They entered the central p a v i l i o n ; there was a smell of dis i n f e c t a n t s and a smell of food; the smell of a h o s p i t a l , Nevers thought. Confusedly, he saw on the walls splotches of red and blue and yellow. It was the famous i n t e r i o r "camouflage"; he looked at i t without c u r i o s i t y , with the urge to be gone from 113 there. He asked: "Where i s the governor?" "In a c e l l . In one of the four c e l l s here in the p a v i l i o n . . . " "You've locked him i n a c e l l ? " Nevers shouted. Dreyfus seemed uncomfortable. He excused himself: "It's not my f a u l t . I carry out the orders that I'm given." "Given by whom?" "The governor. If i t were up to me, I wouldn't have done i t . I carry out orders. The governor said we were to close him up i n a c e l l . " "Take me to him; I want to speak with the governor immediately." Dreyfus looked at him, amazed. He repeated: "Speak with the governor?" "Didn't you hear me?" asked Nevers. "The governor won't hear you. He doesn't recognize anyone." "I want to t a l k to him." "Whatever you say," said Dreyfus. "But he knows that i t ' s night. The order i s that the sick men are not to be disturbed at night." "Are you suggesting that I should wait u n t i l tomorrow to see him?" "To see him, no. You w i l l see him from above. But I beg of you, don't make any noise because he i s awake." " I f he's awake, why can't I t a l k to him?" 114 He regretted having gotten into a discussion with Dreyfus. "To t a l k to him, you w i l l have to wait u n t i l tomorrow, when he i s asleep." Nevers thought that he was already facing the r e b e l l i o n , and that Dreyfus' irony was not merely f a c i a l : i t was coarse as w e l l . But Dreyfus was seri o u s . Weakly, Nevers t o l d him that he didn't understand. "Do you think I understand?" asked Dreyfus a n g r i l y . " I t i s an order from the governor. Here, everything i s backwards and we w i l l a l l end up insane. But I am here to carry out orders." "The order i s to t a l k with the sick men while they are asleep?" "Exactly. I f you t a l k to them at n i g h t , they can't hear you, or they pretend not to hear you. I bathe and feed them i n the daytime." My nephew believed he understood. He asked: "When they are awake?" "No, when they're sleeping. When they are awake they are not to be disturbed. Mr. Castel l e f t you some written i n s t r u c t i o n s . " "Give them to me." "Mr. De Brinon has them. He's on Royal Island. We could go in your launch, or i n the rowboat." "We w i l l go. But f i r s t I w i l l speak with Mr. Castel." Dreyfus looked at him as i f in a stupor. Nevers did not 115 y i e l d . He was not to be gotten away from there before he had spoken with the governor. XXXVI " I f you want to see them, go on i n . " Dreyfus opened a door and motioned Nevers to enter f i r s t ; Nevers said: " I ' l l follow you," and, with cunning, conscious of his weakness and t h e a t r i c a l i t y , he clutched his gun. They crossed a large o f f i c e , with old leather chairs and a table heaped with books and papers in impeccable order. Dreyfus stopped. "Do you r e a l l y think i t wise to see Mr. Castel now? The si t u a t i o n on the is l a n d i s deadly se r i o u s . I wouldn't waste the time." "Obey me," Nevers shouted. Dreyfus made a courteous gesture f o r him to go ahead; he consented; he regretted having consented. He climbed a stairway, and, at the top , he stopped i n fro n t of a door; he opened i t ; they emerged onto a f l a t roof top under a remote and star-covered sky. Toward the center of the roof there was a s m a l l , yellowish e l e c t r i c l i g h t bulb. "Don't make a sound," Dreyfus advised. "We'll see them now." 116 XXXVII In order to a f f o r d a better understanding of the i n c r e d i b l e events that I am about to narrate, and to enable the reader to c l e a r l y imagine the f i r s t and already f a n t a s t i c v i s i o n that Nevers had of the "sick men", I w i l l describe the part of the p a v i l i o n which they occupied. In the center, on the ground f l o o r , there i s an open courtyard; i n the center of the courtyard, .a quadran- gular construction that formerly had contained four equal c e l l s . Dreyfus informs me that the governor had the i n t e r i o r walls of that construction torn down, Nevers w r i t e s . He then ordered them raised as they are now: they defined four unequal c e l l s , of scandalously abnormal shapes. What the governor intended with these changes i s a mystery which I have not ascertained. The curious thing i s that he did f i n d out.. Does, t h i s incon- s i s t e n c y , betray an incapacity to see his thoughts s y n t h e t i c a l l y ? Or, more l i k e l y , that Nevers never re-read that l a s t l e t t e r ? Castel's capricious design was (as the reader can appreciate from the plan I have attached to t h i s chapter) that each of the four c e l l s have one adjacent wall with the other three. 117 simple walls wall covered with mirrors The c e l l s have no roof; they are guarded from above. Previ- ously the catwalks or g a l l e r i e s that lead from the terrace and form a network over the en t i r e courtyard crossed over the c e l l s . Castel cut o f f the part of the catwalks that projected over the c e l l s , and he extended the upper edge of the w a l l s , so that i t could serve as a walkway f o r the j a i l e r s . Nevers observed: there aren't any r a i l i n g s , and the walls are very high; the former cat- walks must have been more secure. Rolls of canvas make i t possible f o r the c e l l s and the e n t i r e courtyard to be covered; at Castel's orders the canvases were spread when i t rained. One of the c e l l s i s i n t e r n a l . I f I had to lock myself up i n one of them, Nevers w r i t e s , I would choose that one. At lea s t I 118 would be free of the burning horror of those mirrors. He i s r e f e r r i n g , with his customary dramatics, to the huge, cheap mirrors i n the other c e l l s . They cover, on the i n s i d e , a l l the walls that overlook the courtyard. XXXVIII He walked to the banister and looked down: the r o o f l e s s p a v i l i o n in the center, the courtyard and the walls that surrounded the courtyard, were covered with intense red, yellow and blue splotches. Delirium tremens, thought Nevers. He adds: It seemed as i f some person of abhorrent taste had decorated the courtyard f o r a c e l e b r a t i o n , and he remembered " H e l l " , a melancholy dance hall in Brussels where we had met an i n t e r e s t i n g group of young pai n t e r s . He walked along the catwalk; at the edge of the ro o f l e s s p a v i l i o n he stopped; a f t e r a moment of h e s i t a t i o n he moved forward along the border of the w a l l . Crossing from one catwalk to another (following the rim of the w a l l , on the top of the p a v i l i o n ) was not d i f f i c u l t . He thought he ought to walk without stopping, u n t i l he reached the other s i d e ; he stopped. He forgot himself, at l a s t . In the f i r s t moments of that abominable v i s i o n he must have f e l t something akin to v e r t i g o , or nausea (but i t was not the lack of 119 a r a i l i n g that gave o r i g i n to those sensations). The c e l l s were plastered with p a i n t ; they had no other opening than that of the roof; the doors were l o s t i n the splotches on the walls; in each c e l l there stood a "sick man"; the four sic k men with t h e i r painted f a c e s , l i k e white K a f i r s , with yellow paint on t h e i r l i p s , in i d e n t i c a l red pyjamas with yellow and blue s t i p e s , stood s t i l l , but i n attitudes of motion, and Nevers had the impression that those attitudes were mutually dependent, that they formed a whole, or what in the Music Halls they c a l l a tableau vivant (but he himself adds: there was no opening through which they could see each other from one c e l l to the next). He suspected they must be a c t i n g , that a l l t h i s must be an impenetrable joke to confuse or d i s t r a c t him, with perverse designs. He decided to confront Castel immediately. In a voice that he couldn't c o n t r o l , he shouted: "What does t h i s mean?" Castel didn't answer; not even the s l i g h t e s t contraction of his face betrayed his having heard him. He shouted again. Castel remained imperturbable; a l l of the sic k men remained the same. He noticed that they had changed postures; f o r a few seconds he thought they had changed t h e i r positions abruptly, when he was looking at the governor; then he discovered that they were moving, but in a manner that was almost imperceptible, with the sluggishness 120 of a minute hand. "It's useless to shout," Dreyfus advised him. "They can't hear, or they don't want to hear." "They don't want to hear?" asked Nevers with careful emphasis. "You said they were pretending. Are they sick or not?" "Absolutely. But I have talked with them, and without shouting—please take n o t e — , without r a i s i n g my voice. And suddenly they didn't hear me, as i f I were t a l k i n g i n Turkish. It was t o t a l l y useless f o r me to shout. I got mad: I thought they were making fun of me. I even reached the point of imagining that i t was me who had l o s t my v o i c e , while my shouting made me deaf." "Are they insane?" "You know how a person changes when he i s wasted with i l l n e s s and fever." It seemed i n c r e d i b l e to be in f u l l control of his senses and to be seeing those men, l i k e four wax figures forming a l i v i n g tableau from four i s o l a t e d c e l l s . It seemed i n c r e d i b l e that the governor could have been in his senses and have painted the c e l l s with that chaotic profusion. Then Nevers r e c a l l e d that i n the sanatoriums f o r mental patients there were green rooms to calm the s i c k , and red rooms to e x c i t e them. He looked at the paintings. Three colors predominated: r e d , yellow and blue; there were com- binations of t h e i r variants as w e l l . He looked at the men. 121 The governor, with a pencil in his hand, repeated words that were almost u n i n t e l l i g i b l e and he passed slowly from perplexity to despair and from despair to joy. Favre, f a t t e r than ever, wept without moving his f a c e , with the d i s t i n c t ugliness of grotesque statues. The P r i e s t acted the part of a c o r r a l l e d beast: with his head lowered and dread i n his eyes, he seemed i n the act of marauding, but he was motionless. Deloge smiled v a i n l y , as i f he were in heaven and a blessed man ( v i l e and red-haired). Nevers f e l t the vaguest presence of a r e c o l l e c t i o n and a pronounced malaise; then he beheld that r e c o l l e c t i o n : a f r i g h t f u l v i s i t to the Grevin Museum, when he was eight years o l d . There were no beds i n the c e l l s , nor c h a i r s , nor other f u r n i - t ure. He asked Dreyfus: "I assume that beds are put in f o r them to sleep on." "Not at a l l , " Dreyfus answered implacably. "It's the governor's orders. Nothing i s set near them. When I go into the c e l l s I put on a p a i r of pyjamas l i k e t h e i r s . " Nevers wasn't l i s t e n i n g . "That too must be the governor's order," he murmured. "Not the order of a human being. I am not prepared to respect i t . " He pronounced very c l e a r l y the l a s t two or three words. "They sleep on those q u i l t s , " Dreyfus explained. Dreyfus hadn't noticed them. They were ov e r l a i d on the f l o o r 122 and painted in such a way that they vanished in the splotches of paint. He f e l t l o a t h i n g , not f e a r . Those four men seemed in o f f e n s i v e enough. In the grips of what he himself c a l l s a f l e e t i n g madness, he imagined they were under the influence of some a l k a l o i d and that Dreyfus was the organizer of everything. The ends that Dreyfus was pursuing, and what he was expecting of Nevers, were not revelations of that madness. XXXIX Or could i t be the governor who was responsible f o r a l l t h i s ? It didn't seem possible: he was one of the "sick men". Neverthe- less , Nevers continues, there are those who operate on themselves; those who commit s u i c i d e . Maybe he has put them to s l e e p , and put himself to s l e e p , f o r a long time, possibly f o r y e a r s , possibly u n t i l death. Without a doubt Dreyfus (consciously or unconsciously) gives them some drug. Maybe, he thought, already in f u l l conjectural f u r o r , that drug produces two alternate types of s l e e p , that correspond to our sleep and to our wakefulness. One type, of repose, which these patients experience during the day, another of a c t i v i t y : t h i s they experience at n i g h t , which i s emptier than the daytime, less r i c h in events capable of 123 in t e r r u p t i n g t h e i r sleep. The patients move l i k e sleepwalkers, and t h e i r d e s t i n y — s i n c e i t i s dreamed--need be no more f r i g h t e n - i n g , or more i n c a l c u l a b l e , than that of men awake; maybe i t i s more predictable (though no less complex), as i t depends on the personal h i s t o r y and the w i l l of the subject. From these poor mental labours, Nevers passes to I know not what metaphysical f a n t a s i e s ; he evokes Schopenhauer, and, pompously, narrates a dream: he has been subjected to an examination and he awaits the examiners' v e r d i c t . He awaits i t greedily and with t e r r o r , because i t i s on that v e r d i c t that his l i f e depends. Nevers sagaciously observes: however, I w i l l give the v e r d i c t myself, since the examiners, l i k e a l l dreams, are dependent on my w i l l . He concludes i l l i c i t l y : Perhaps a l l d e s t i n y ( s i c k n e s s , happiness, our physical appearance, misfortune) i s dependent on our w i l l . While he was thinking t h i s , the presence and expectations of Dreyfus made him uneasy. He must decide on his manner of conduct immediately; he started by gaining time f o r himself. "Let's go to the study," he said i n a voice that t r i e d to be authoritarian and came out t h i n . They went down from the r o o f , closed the door and Nevers sat down in the swivel chair facing the desk in the governor's o f f i c e . With a solemn gesture, he motioned Dreyfus to s i t down. Dreyfus, v i s i b l y impressed, sat on the edge of his c h a i r . Nevers didn't know 124 what they would t a l k about, but he had to speak s e r i o u s l y i f he intended to take charge of the s i t u a t i o n , and Dreyfus expected t h i s of him. He f e l t i n s p i r e d ; scarcely d i s g u i s i n g his enthusiasm, he asked: "The governor has l e f t i n s t r u c t i o n s f o r me?" "Quite so," r e p l i e d Dreyfus. "Do you have them?" "Mr. De Brinon has them." "Where i s Mr. De Brinon?" "On Royal Island." This was only the semblance of a dialogue, and Nevers' mind wandered while Dreyfus answered him. He contemplated a vase, or Roman urn, that stood on the desk. In the f r i e z e , a group of dancing g i r l s , o l d men and a youth were celebrating a ceremony per aes et libram; among them lay a maiden, dead. "How can I go to Royal Island?" "We have a dinghy. Besides, there i s your launch." Nevers was not ashamed of his question. T r a n q u i l l y , he thought that the maiden on the vase must have died on her wedding night. Undoubtedly that urn had contained her remains. Perhaps they contained them s t i l l . The urn was sealed. "But tonight I w i l l not move even a f i n g e r , lieutenant. I wouldn't go t i l l tomorrow." 125 There was anxiety in Dreyfus' vo i c e . Nevers asked himself i f i t was real or a f f e c t e d . "Why wouldn't you go today?" Nevers wanted to know i f the vase contained something, and he got up to shake i t . Dreyfus a t t r i b u t e d Nevers' movement to the solemnity of what they were saying. "Trust me, lieutenant," he exclaimed. "Leave the t r i p f o r tomorrow, and tonight I w i l l t e l l you why you did the r i g h t thing." Nevers didn't answer. "I wouldn't get angry," Dreyfus continued, with his most insinuating sweetness. " I f I were you, I would t a l k with me and we would draw up a plan and I would set about waiting f o r t h i s captain you say i s coming." Nevers resolved to go to Royal Island immediately. He was a f r a i d that he had been unfair to the governor and now he wanted to at l e a s t have the consideration to examine the i n s t r u c t i o n s that Castel had l e f t him; his r e t u r n — h e argues—might produce a convenient confusion among the mutineers. "Are you staying or coming with me?" he asked. It was a useful question. Dreyfus no longer protested; his passion lay in staying with the s i c k . Nevers l e f t the p a v i l i o n and went down to the tree he used f o r mooring. He boarded the launch; he quickly a r r i v e d at Royal 126 Island. He regretted not having docked more cau t i o u s l y . No guard was there to receive him. He asked himself i f his having triumphed so e a s i l y with Dreyfus had not been a misfortune. The i s l a n d was in darkness (far o f f , in the hospital and i n the Admin- i s t r a t i o n , there were a few l i g h t s ) . He asked himself where he would begin looking f o r De Brinon. He decided to s t a r t with the h o s p i t a l . While he walked up the slope he thought he saw two shadows that hid themselves among the palm t r e e s . He thought i t would be wise to walk slowly. He walked very slowly. Immediately he understood the torment that he had chosen... For an i n t e r v a l that seemed very long to him, he passed between the naked trunks of the palm t r e e s , as i f i n an atrocious dream. He reached the hospital at l a s t . There was De Brinon. Nevers didn't have a moment's doubt. It was the f i r s t time he had seen that a t h l e t i c young man with his frank and open face and i n t e l l i g e n t look who was leaning absent-mindedly over a p a t i e n t . The young man must be De Brinon. Nevers f e l t a great r e l i e f . He asked (not because the answer interested him, but to s t a r t a conversation): "Are you De Brinon?" 127 XL From outside he had heard a merry d i n . When he opened the door he encountered an oppressive darkness where, in the s i l e n c e and the stench, three yellowish candles trembled. Next to one of the candles glowed the face with the comforting expression. De Brinon raised his head; there was i n t e l l i g e n c e in his glance; his smile was frank. He answered: "What do you want?" Nevers says that he had the impression that the distance which separated him from De Brinon had disappeared and that the voice which he heard sprang o u t — a t r o c i o u s l y — a t his s i d e . He says that he c a l l s t h i s sound a "voice" because, apparently, De Brinon i s a man, but he heard the bleating of a sheep. A bleating astonishingly a r t i c u l a t e f o r a sheep. He adds that i t resembled the voice of a v e n t r i l o q u i s t i mitating a sheep and that De Brinon scarcely opened his mouth as he spoke. "I am De Brinon," the strange voice continued, and Nevers recognized i t : i t was one of the voices he had heard in the hut on Devil's Island, the night of his escape. "What do you want?" He could sense that the voice was amiable. A puerile gaiety shone in those clear-sighted eyes. Nevers suspected that De Brinon was mentally retarded. 128 He began to see in the darkness of the room. There were four prisoners. There were no j a i l e r s . Since his l a s t v i s i t , the f i l t h and disorder had increased. De Brinon was operating on the head of a p a t i e n t , and his hands and s h i r t sleeves were drenched with blood. Nevers t r i e d to speak with a f i r m voice: "I want the i n s t r u c t i o n s the governor l e f t f o r me." De Brinon frowned; he looked at him with a f l u s h of emotion, he seemed to suffocate. "I don't know anything about the i n s t r u c t i o n s the governor l e f t me. I don't know anything." He began to r e t r e a t l i k e a c o r r a l l e d animal. Nevers f e l t courageous in the face of t h i s enemy; fo r g e t t i n g the other men who looked at him from the shadows, he said d r i l y : "Give me those i n s t r u c t i o n s or I ' l l shoot." De Brinon c r i e d out, as i f the shot had already pierced him, and he started to c r y . The men f l e d in a tumult. Nevers advanced with his hand outstretched. The other man pulled an envelope out of his pocket and gave i t to Nevers, howling: "I don't have anything. I don't have anything." At that moment Dreyfus entered. Nevers looked at him i n alarm, but Dreyfus' face was composed; without a l t e r i n g that composure his l i p s moved. 129 "Hurry, lieutenant." Nevers heard the voice that came hushed and s i b i l a n t . "Something t e r r i b l e has happened." XL I "Deloge i s dead," said Dreyfus when they were outside. "Dead?" Nevers asked. Until that moment the four sick men on Devil's Island had seemed v i r t u a l l y dead to him. Now the idea that Deloge was dead seemed inadmissible. "What happened?" "I don't know. I didn't see a t h i n g . Now I'm worried about the others..." "The others?" "I don't know. I want to be close by." Again he passed through the f o r e s t of palm t r e e s . He looked i n s i s t e n t l y about him: he thought that no one was there. Immedi- ately he heard a woman's laugh, and, dimly, he saw two shadows. At f i r s t he had an unpleasant sensation, as i f the laughter offended him because Deloge had died; then he understood that that laughter suggested the p o s s i b i l i t y that Dreyfus was not insane... ( i f the j a i l e r s were s t i l l carrying out t h e i r j o b s , t h e i r wives would have been more careful of themselves). 130 Dreyfus didn't take him to the wharf. Nevers was so preoccupied that he only noticed that f a c t much l a t e r , when he went over the events of that i n c r e d i b l e day. They climbed i n t o the rowboat. Dreyfus rowed vigorously. They reached Devil's Island without having spoken a s i n g l e word. While he was tying up the boat, Dreyfus l o s t his footing and f e l l in the water. Nevers asked himself i f Dreyfus hadn't t r i e d to attack him. He refused to l e t him go to change his cl o t h e s . XLII His f i r s t notion was to delay the moment of seeing Deloge, the moment when that corpse would enter his memory, with a l l the atrocious d e t a i l s . He said with authority: "Before anything e l s e , I want to have an ov e r a l l look at things. Let's go up." He walked through the study; as i n a dream he found himself gazing at those old pieces of f u r n i t u r e , t e l l i n g himself that the tragedy which the l i e s du Salut had reserved f o r him had f i n a l l y come to pass, and that he f e l t a great r e l i e f ; with no r e l i e f whatsoever he trembled, he climbed the s t a i r c a s e , he made his way along the catwalks over the courtyard and arrived at the c e l l s . He looked down. 131 It was as i f there were a t e l e p a t h i c understanding between those men. As i f they knew that something f r i g h t f u l had happened, as i f they believed that the same thing would happen to each of them... Their postures ( t h e i r imperceptible movements) were those of men who expect an attack; s i l e n t , crouched, they stalked l i k e marauding animals, as i f i n a sluggish dance, as i f f e i n t i n g before an enemy, an enemy that was i n v i s i b l e to Nevers. Once again he extemporized the hypothesis of madness. He asked himself i f men who are si c k with the same madness had, simultaneously, the same v i s i o n s . Then he turned his attention to the dead man. Deloge was l y i n g on the f l o o r , near one of the walls of the c e l l , with the s h i r t of h i s pyjamas torn to pieces and with s i n i s t e r dark stains on his neck. He turned to look at the other men. Crouched as they were in warlike postures, they seemed p a t h e t i c a l l y defenseless. Nevers asked himself what hatred would j u s t i f y the persecution and murder of those i n v a l i d s . Dreyfus was watching him i n q u i r i n g l y ; he began to walk towards the roof top. Nevers followed him. They went down the s t a i r s ; they passed through the study, through the courtyard. In that t e r r i b l e moment he saw himself as i f from the outside 132 and he even allowed himself a private joke: he a t t r i b u t e d — w i t h o u t much o r i g i n a l i t y — t h e "camouflages" of the courtyard to a Mr. Van Gogh, a modernist painter. He f e l t that afterwards he, Nevers, would remain enclosed in his own memory as in a h e l l , making imbe- c i l i c jokes in that p a i n t - p l a s t e r e d , nightmarish courtyard as he walked towards the horror. However, when they reached the door of the c e l l he was s u f f i c i e n t l y calm to ask Dreyfus: "Is the door locked?" Dreyfus, trembling e i t h e r with fear or cold (the humidity was so great that his clothes hadn't d r i e d ) , answered a f f i r m a t i v e l y . "Was i t locked when Deloge died?" Again Dreyfus answered that i t was. "Is there another key besides yours?" "Yes, there i s ; in the study, i n the s a f e . But the only key to the safe has been in my possession, ever since the governor got sic k . " " A l r i g h t . Open the door." He was hoping to draw on the energy of his words. Maybe he succeeded s l i g h t l y . He entered the c e l l with r e s o l u t i o n . The perspiration in the h a i r and on the face of the corpse was dry. The torn s h i r t and the marks on his neck were, even to someone as inexperienced as himself, evident signs of a f i g h t . He s t a t e d , not without a shade of complacency: 133 "Murder: without a doubt." He regretted having said i t . I should hide that idea from Dreyfus. Besides—he t r i e s to j u s t i f y h i m s e l f — f o r Deloge t h i s matter i s no longer of any importance...and I shouldn't have l e t t h i s i n f i n i t e dream of Devil's Island take hold of me; I should have c a r e f u l l y avoided any possible dalays i n my returning to Saint-Martin, to my d e s t i n y , to Irene. The i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the crime w i l l be extensive... Maybe i t i s already too l a t e . XLIII He asked himself what motives Dreyfus would have f o r k i l l i n g Deloge. S t i l l , Dreyfus had asked him not to go to Royal Island. Had he done so only to throw him o f f the track? Or to get him to prevent the crime, because Dreyfus was a maniac and k i l l e d when he was alone? But up u n t i l today Dreyfus has been alone with the sick men... They l e f t the c e l l and locked i t . He kept the key. In the study, Dreyfus opened the iron s a f e ; he took out a handful of keys; he explained without h e s i t a t i o n which key corresponded to which door. They were a l l there. Nevers kept them. Wet and pi t e o u s , Dreyfus followed him with the humility of a dog. Nevers decided that he was harmless, but he didn't allow him 134 to go and change. He t o l d himself that he had a precise responsi- b i l i t y and that Dreyfus was s t i l l the only suspect. He found himself faced with an increasing c o l l e c t i o n of mysteries. Were they a l l independent of each other? Or were they bound together, did they form a system, perhaps s t i l l incomplete? He wanted to consult the governor's i n s t r u c t i o n s . Dreyfus wanted to go have a look at the si c k men; they went to see them. Nevers, to j u s t i f y his accompanying Dreyfus, alludes to his fear that Dreyfus might run o f f or k i l l someone. Once again he adopted the hypothesis that Dreyfus had organ- ized everything; he considered the foundations of his suspicions against him and found that he was more confident than ever of Dreyfus' innocence. He longed to f r a t e r n i z e with him, to confess the suspicions he had had, so that Dreyfus might forgive them, so they could face the mysteries together. He put o f f that longing; he knew that the prudent thing would be to keep his reserve to the end. The next day Xavier would a r r i v e , and he would make an impartial declaration of the f a c t s ; i f Xavier didn't a r r i v e , he would leave i n the Bellerophon and he would make a declaration before the a u t h o r i t i e s in Cayenne. Then he remembered that Dreyfus had brought him over in the rowboat and that the Bellerophon was on Royal Island. XLIV I had to break out of that indolence, he w r i t e s . To gain time (I had no p l a n ) , I decided to check over the i s l a n d concien- t i o u s l y . When he started speaking to Dreyfus, he saw the dangers of his proposal and he changed the word "i s l a n d " to the word "b u i l d i n g " . Maybe i t wouldn't be wise to go f a r from the c e l l s ; separating from each other, at those hours of the n i g h t , in the dark brush, would be foolhardy. They began with Castel's o f f i c e . Dreyfus looked under the s o f a , behind the c u r t a i n s , in a clothes c l o s e t . , If the criminal had seen us, Nevers comments, we would have l o s t his respect. He stood motionless next to the door, d i r e c t i n g Dreyfus' movements, keeping an eye on the courtyard and the central p a v i l i o n . Then they went to the room which Dreyfus c a l l e d the "laboratory". It was.large, barren, d i r t y and devastated; i t reminded Nevers of the foul-smelling room where M. Jaquimot used to operate on the dogs and cats of the old maids of Saint-Martin. In one corner there were several rugs and two or three f o l d i n g screens; a l l these objects were painted l i k e the c e l l s and the courtyard. Nevers compared them to a painter's palette and he made I know not what vagrant pronouncements on the analogy between things (which only existed in the beholder) and on symbols (which were 136 the only means that men had f o r dealing with r e a l i t y ) . "What does that mean?" he asked, pointing to the f o l d i n g screens. He thought they might perhaps be used f o r experiments on the sick men's v i s i o n (were they c o l o r - b l i n d ? ) . Dreyfus was thinking in a d i f f e r e n t vein: "Mental sickness," he repeated, sorrowfully. "Do you know what he does? What he's doing r i g h t now? Through the whole night he never l e t s go of a pencil and a piece of paper." "A blue pencil and a sheet of yellow paper? I've seen that . What's upsetting about that?" Nevers asked himself what was going on in the c e l l s . "Nothing i s as amusing as a l u n a t i c , " Dreyfus agreed, s m i l i n g . "Not even the best clowns in the c i r c u s . But the governor i s p i t i f u l . There he makes his n i g h t l y rounds r e c i t i n g , l i k e a man who's l o s t his memory, I don't know what lunacies about quiet seas and monsters, that suddenly turn into alphabets. Then his enthusi- asm r i s e s and he s t a r t s to rub the paper with his p e n c i l . It looks to me l i k e he imagines he's writing." "This search i s useless," Nevers declared. "We're wasting time." He was going to say that they should go have a look at the c e l l s ; he changed his mind. Instead, he would demonstrate that 137 he wasn't frightened. He spoke in a quiet voice: "The murderer can follow our course, e i t h e r ahead of us or behind. We'll never f i n d him t h i s way. We should separate and each of us go over the area in opposite d i r e c t i o n s , u n t i l we meet." Dreyfus was v i s i b l y impressed. Nevers conjectured: he w i l l keep s i l e n t or he w i l l make some excuse. He remained s i l e n t . Nevers didn't i n s i s t . He f e l t a great a f f e c t i o n f o r Dreyfus, and, with genuine compassion, he noticed again his wetness and his trembling. Dreyfus must have sensed these sentiments. "May I go and change?" he asked. " I ' l l put on some dry clothes and come back in two minutes." If Dreyfus had decided to spend a few minutes alone, Nevers himself admits, he must be f e e l i n g awfully poor. But he wanted to return immediately to the c e l l s . "Is there any alcohol to drink?" he asked. Dreyfus answered a f f i r m a t i v e l y . Nevers made him take a glass of rum. "Now l e t ' s go up and have a look at the sick men." They reached the walkways over the courtyard. Dreyfus went ahead. Suddenly he stopped; he was pale (with that greyish p a l l o r of mulattos), and almost without moving the muscles of his face he s a i d : "Another dead man." 138 XLV Nevers looked down. Immense, with his face swollen and s t a r i n g hideously upwards, Favre lay on his back on the c e l l f l o o r , dead. In the other c e l l s there was nothing new; the P r i e s t and the governor continued in t h e i r alarming attitudes of c o r r a l l e d animals, anxious to f l e e or to attack. Dreyfus and Nevers went down, they opened Favre's c e l l ( i t was locked) and went i n . Their examination of the corpse led them to assume that Favre had died of s t r a n g u l a t i o n , a f t e r a v i o l e n t s t r u g g l e . Nevers was depressed. His presence had not disturbed the c r i m i n a l . How could anyone oppose a man who strangled his victims through the walls of a c e l l ? Had the serie s concluded with Favre? Or were the other sic k men s t i l l to go? He thought i t was not impossible t h a t , from some p o i n t , the eyes of the assassin were watching him. "Let's go to the other c e l l s , " he ordered with brusque i l l - humor. "You go in t o the P r i e s t ' s c e l l and I ' l l go in C a s t e l ' s . I don't want them k i l l e d . " He had a debt with the governor and now he must protect him. Dreyfus looked at him, i n d e c i s i v e . Nevers unbuckled his b e l t with 139 the p i s t o l and gave i t to Dreyfus. "Have a drink," he t o l d him. "Lock y o u r s e l f i n the Pr i e s t ' s c e l l and walk from one side to the other. With the movement and the rum the cold w i l l pass. With the gun, your fear w i l l pass as w e l l . If I c a l l , run." They shook hands and each one went to the c e l l that he was to watch. XLVI The governor's c e l l was locked. Nevers opened the door care- f u l l y and entered on t i p t o e , t r y i n g not to make a sound. The governor's back was to the door; he didn't turn around. Nevers f e l t he hadn't heard him come i n . He didn't know whether to lock the door or not. F i n a l l y he decided to lock i t , leave the key in the lock and remain next to the door. The governor was standing up, with his back to Nevers, his face to the wall that overlooked the P r i e s t ' s c e l l . He was turning (Nevers v e r i f i e d t h i s in a careful survey) to the l e f t , with extreme slowness. Nevers could move progressively over to the r i g h t and keep the governor from seeing him. It wasn't out of fear that he would do t h i s , though the governor's a t t i t u d e seemed threatening; he wanted to avoid explanations about his delay in Cayenne; he feared the governor 140 would demand the package that Leitao had sent him. Absent-mindedly and without anxiety, he could follow the governor's sluggish movements; he heard him murmur some words that he couldn't understand; he took one step to the r i g h t and moved close behind his back. The governor stopped mumbling. Nevers stood motionless, r i g i d ; to be standing up, without moving, was, suddenly, a d i f f i c u l t task. The governor's murmurs began again. He t r i e d to hear; he moved s t i l l c l o s e r to hear. The governor was repeating several phrases. Nevers searched i n his pockets f o r a paper to write them down; he drew out the envelope containing the i n s t r u c t i o n s . The governor started to say something and immediately broke o f f , perplexed. C o l l e c t i n g fragments of phrases, Nevers wrote on the envelope: The medallion i s the pencil and the spear i s the paper, the monsters are men and the s t i l l water i s cement,a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i, j , k , l ,m,n,o,p,g. The governor pronounced the l e t t e r s slowly, as i f t r y i n g to f i x them i n his mind, as i f he were mentally undertaking d i f f i c u l t sketches. On the paper he sketched "a", "b", "c" with progressive e x u l t a t i o n ; then he changed to making down-strokes and c a n c e l l a t i o n s . He forgot the pencil and the paper he had in his hands; he wept; he chanted once again "The monsters are men..." and he repeated the alphabet with i n c i p i e n t hopefulness, with the exultation of v i c t o r y . 141 Nevers t o l d himself that he should read the i n s t r u c t i o n s . But the governor's progress, though sluggish in the extreme, forced him to move from where he was standing. Accustomed to moving slowly, i t seemed to him that he had moved dangerously f a r from the door. Then he r e a l i z e d that i n two leaps he would be next to i t . To suppose that the sluggishness of Castel's movements was simu- lated (he thought) would be insane. The governor had l o s t his greyish p a l l o r ; small and pink, with his chalk-white beard, he resembled a c h i l d disagreeably disguised as a gnome. His eyes were extremely wide-open and he bore an expression of hapless anxiety. In s p i t e of his intention of keeping himself c o n t i n u a l l y on the a l e r t , that heavy, reciprocal dance was t i r i n g him. He thought i t wouldn't matter i f he l e t his mind wander a b i t , as even a last-minute movement would s u f f i c e to put him out of the governor's range of v i s i o n . Pursuing t h i s languid occupation, he f o r g o t , f o r several moments, that his attention should not be directed so much towards the governor as towards the i n c r e d i b l e assassin who, at any moment, would intervene. He then observed the splotches of paint on the walls and f l o o r of the c e l l . The walls were painted i n yellow and blue patches, with red veins. On the f l o o r , next to the w a l l s , there was a border painted blue and yellow; on the rest of the f l o o r there were 142 combinations of three colors and groupings of t h e i r d e r i v a t i v e c o l o r s . Nevers made note of the following groups: a) antique-gold b) l i l a c c) s c a r l e t c e l e s t i a l - b l u e lemon-yellow saffron-yellow crimson, v e r m i l i o n , marine-blue, d) indigo e) l i l y - w h i t e canary-yellow gold purple, f i r e - r e d . The q u i l t , which was fastened i n the c l e f t in the f l o o r , was in d i g o , canary-yellow and purple. He remembered that the e n t i r e courtyard was painted ( l i k e the walls) in yellow and blue s p l o t c h e s , with red veins. The frequency of the red veins was regular. This p e c u l i a r r e g u l a r i t y suggested to him that behind a l l t h i s tumult of colors there lay a design. He asked himself i f that design could have some connection with the deaths. XLVI I Nevers opened the envelope and he read: 143 "TO HENRI NEVERS" "It w i l l make you indignant to receive t h i s l e t t e r ; nevertheless, I must write i t . I r e a l i z e that you have given me c l e a r and repeated proofs of not wanting to have anything to do with me. You w i l l say that t h i s l e t t e r i s another manifestation of my i n c r e d i b l e i n s i s t e n c e , but you w i l l also say that i t i s a posthumous manifestation, as you w i l l consider me scarcely less dead than a dead man and much more l o s t than a dying one. "You may rest assured that I have l i t t l e time l e f t f o r future i n s i s t e n c i e s . Hear me out with the calm c e r t a i n t y that the Peter Castel whom you have known and repudiated w i l l not come back to pester you. "I w i l l s t a r t at the beginning; i n the beginning we have the attitudes of each man to the other. You arrived at these islands with a bias which honors you, ready to f i n d everything abhorrent. I, f o r my p a r t , had made a discovery, and I needed a c o l l a b o r a t o r . The pains that a f f l i c t e d me in these l a s t years had progressed, and I understood that I had l i t t l e time l e f t to l i v e . "I needed a person capable of transmitting my discoveries to so c i e t y . I could have gone to France, but not without previously presenting my resignation and waiting f o r my resignation to be accepted, waiting f o r a replacement to a r r i v e . I didn't know i f 144 I could wait that long. Then I found out that you were coming to the colony; I found out that I would have f o r an a s s i s t a n t the author of The Rolls of GTeron. I beseech you to imagine my r e l i e f , my j o y , my impatience. I waited c o n f i d e n t l y ; I said to myself: he i s a cultured man; s o l i t u d e and the i n v i n c i b l e i n t e r e s t that l i e s in my discoveries w i l l unite our s p i r i t s . "Then I r e a l i z e d that I could have d i f f i c u l t i e s . It was essential to carry out experiments that c a l l e d f o r an i n d i f f e r e n c e to the laws of men and even to the l i v e s of certain men, o r , at the l e a s t , that c a l l e d f o r a d e f i n i t i v e f a i t h in the transcendence of my d i s c o v e r i e s . I knew that you were a cultured man; I knew no more. Would you consent to these experiments being made? Would my l i f e be enough to convince you? "I awaited you, then, with a j u s t i f i a b l e anxiety. This anx- i e t y , the concealments which were indispensable and your prejudice against everything on the islands produced a j u s t i f i a b l e repugnance on your part. In vain I t r i e d to conquer i t . Let me assure you that I now feel a very v i v i d aversion towards you. Believe me, t o o , that i f I charge you with publishing my discovery and i f I leave you part of my estate i t i s because I have no other s o l u t i o n l e f t . "De Brinon i s not capable of transmitting the invention. He has manual d e x t e r i t y ; I have taught him to work; i t would be 145 worthwhile u t i l i z i n g him i n the f i r s t transformations that are made, but De Brinon i s a s i c k man. Let's consider Bordenave: because of his condition as a parolee, Bordenave cannot leave the colony; because of his condition as an o r d e r l y , he won't be l i s t e n e d t o . I could entrust the invention to some friends I have in France. But, u n t i l the l e t t e r a rrives in France, u n t i l they take the essential measures, what w i l l happen? What w i l l happen to the proofs of the v a l i d i t y of my a f f i r m a t i o n s , to my proofs of f l e s h and blood? My invention i s transcendental--as you y o u r s e l f w i l l observe—and to ensure i t s not being l o s t , I have no other a l t e r n a t i v e but to leave i t to you; I t r u s t that you w i l l have no other a l t e r n a t i v e than to accept a charge which has been made so i n v o l u n t a r i l y . "I thought I could count on a c e r t a i n length of time; I was soon convinced that I must make an immediate d e c i s i o n . The pains were inc r e a s i n g . I sent you to Cayenne to b r i n g , in addition to the provisions and other things that were running low in the p r i s o n , a sedative that would l e t me forget my i l l n e s s and enable me to work. Either Mr. Leitao r e a l l y didn't have the sedative-- which i s d i f f i c u l t to believe--or you didn't choose to bring i t . The spasms grew worse to the point of being i n t o l e r a b l e ; I decided to take the step myself, the same step which, f o r moral reasons, was taken with the prisoners M a r s i l l a c , Favre and Deloge, the step 146 which f o r moral reasons founded on l i e s that you t o l d me, I had intended you to take. From now on I cease to be a man of s c i e n c e , to be converted into a subject of science; from now on I s h a l l feel no p a i n , I w i l l hear (forever) the beginning of the f i r s t movement of the Symphony in E Minor, by Brahms. "I am attaching to t h i s l e t t e r the explanation of my discov- e r i e s , the methods of a p p l i c a t i o n , and the disposal of my estate." Nevers turned the page over; on the following page he read: DISPOSAL OF ESTATE "On Devil's I s l a n d , 5 days p r i o r to the month of A p r i l , 1914... If the French Government consents to e i t h e r of the two p e t i t i o n s (a and b) which I set f o r t h below, a tenth part of my estate should be turned over, as payment f o r services rendered, to the naval l i e u - tenant Henri Nevers. "a) That I, governor of the colony, and the prisoners M a r s i l l a c , Deloge and Favre, are to remain quartered i n these c e l l s , cared f o r by the parolee Bordenave, while he l i v e s , and, afterwards, by an appointed caretaker, who i s to observe the i n s t r u c t i o n s I am leaving to Bordenave. "b) That I, governor of the colony, and the prisoners M a r s i l l a c , Deloge and Favre, are to be transported by s h i p , i n four 147 cabins painted as these c e l l s , to France, and that there we are to be situ a t e d i n a house that i s to be b u i l t on my property at S t . Brieux; t h i s house w i l l have a courtyard i d e n t i c a l to that of t h i s p a v i l i o n , and four c e l l s i d e n t i c a l to those which we now i n h a b i t . " I f e i t h e r of these p e t i t i o n s should be accepted, the costs are to be paid with the remaining nine-tenths of my e s t a t e , which i s to be deposited..." He goes on to give the i n s t r u c t i o n s f o r the painting of the unobstructed c e i l i n g o f the c e l l s (I note: the c e l l s on the i s l a n d have no r o o f ) , recommendations f o r the caretaker, threats to the government (in the case of i t s not consenting to e i t h e r of the p e t i t i o n s ; he says emphatically: "responsible in the eyes of p o s t e r i t y . . . " ) , and a mysterious f i n a l clause: " I f a f t e r a l l our deaths (includi n g Bordenave's), there should be a remnant of my remains, t h i s should be delivered to the R.P.A." The meaning of these i n i t i a l s i s an enigma which I have not resolved; I entrust i t to the i n q u i s i t i v e generosity of the reader. XLVIII Nevers declares that a vain sense of shame and i l l - c o n t a i n e d repentance (because of his conduct with the governor) clouded his 148 mind and that he had to: make a great e f f o r t to understand those astonishing pages; he owns that f o r a quarter of an hour, more or l e s s , he had forgotten to watch the governor; but he declares that his diversion was not so great as to allow f o r the entrance and e x i t of a criminal without his knowing i t , and I accept t h i s qual- i f i c a t i o n , because the reading i n which he was occupied was not passionately engaging, and because, outside of novels, these absolute d i s t r a c t i o n s are not customary. We are disposed, then, to share his opinion that nothing capable of overwhelmingly impressing the senses took place before he f i n i s h e d reading Castel's disposal of estate; what happened afterwards enters the category of events that had a witness; whether the witness l i e d , was deceived or t o l d the truth i s a question that can only be resolved by a l o g i c a l study of the e n t i r e t y of his d e c l a r a t i o n s . Nevers says that he heard a seri e s of smothered c r i e s , that there was a moment when he heard them almost unconsciously, and, another when he began to attend them, that t h i s succession, though precise in his mind, was s w i f t . When he raised his eyes, the governor was in the same position as when Nevers had entered, but with his arms stretched out before him, staggering. The f i r s t thing Nevers thought was, i n c r e d i b l y , that he had given him time to change positions and see him, and he asked himself i f the governor's face would be so l i v i d and blue from the horror of 149 seeing him in the c e l l ; he asked himself t h i s , confusing Castel's state with somnambulism and r e c a l l i n g the affirmation that i t i s dangerous to waken sleepwalkers. He went to a s s i s t the governor, though s e c r e t l y restrained by an inexcusable revulsion at touching him ( t h i s revulsion was not r e l a t e d to the governor's appearance but to his c o n d i t i o n , or,better s a i d , to the astonishing ignorance which Nevers had about his c o n d i t i o n ) . At that instant he was stopped by a number of shouts from Dreyfus, who c a l l e d f o r help. Nevers confesses that he thought: he i s f i n i s h i n g o f f the P r i e s t ; afterwards he w i l l say that he d i e d , i n e x p l i c a b l y , before his eyes. In that exceedingly short lapse of time he also asked himself i f the governor's state could be due to an awareness of the P r i e s t ' s s i t u a t i o n , and how that mysterious communication between the si c k men could be produced. His indecision lasted several i n s t a n t s , in those instants the governor collapsed; when Nevers asked him what was the matter w i t h , him, he was already dying. Then there was a knocking on the door; he opened i t . Dreyfus entered in a turmoil and asked Nevers to go help him: the P r i e s t was in contor- tions and moaned as i f he were dying; Dreyfus didn't know what to do...; at l a s t he f e l l s i l e n t , because he saw the governor's corpse. "Believe me," Dreyfus shouted a f t e r a pause, as i f he had reached a conclusion, "believe me," he shouted again, with pathetic g l e e , "the poor man knows, he knows what's happening." 150 "There i s nothing more to do here," said Nevers, taking hold of Dreyfus by the shoulders and pushing him outside; he knew how the governor's death must have impressed him. "Let's save the P r i e s t . " Then, as Nevers went out pushing a Dreyfus suddenly stripped of his w i l l , there might have occurred another dreadfully wondrous event. Nevers declares t h a t , from behind, a pa i r of hands (or what he f e l t to be a pa i r of hands), s o f t l y , without any e f f o r t at a l l , tightened about his neck. He turned around. In the c e l l there was only the corpse. XLIX "We've got to save the P r i e s t , " shouted Dreyfus; f o r the f i r s t time impatience glowed in his face. Nevers was in no hurry. He wasn't even thinking about the P r i e s t . He was thinking about the governor's l e t t e r , about the in s t r u c t i o n s the governor s a i d he had l e f t f o r him but which he hadn't received. He stopped Dreyfus. "Mr. Castel says he's l e f t me the explanation of some discov- eri e s that he's made. I only have a l e t t e r here and a disposal of estate." "And that's what he c a l l s an explanation," r e p l i e d Dreyfus in 151 a tone of reproach. "We've got to hurry to save the P r i e s t . " "Let's go," Nevers agreed. "But afterwards I'm going to Royal Island and clea r up t h i s matter with De Brinon." Now Dreyfus took him by the arm and forced him to stop; he spoke with passionate conviction: "Don't be rash." Nevers made him walk on. They reached the Pr i e s t ' s c e l l . "See f o r yourself," Dreyfus shouted. "See i f what I'm saying i s n ' t the t r u t h . He knows what's happened." Nevers says t h a t , in e f f e c t , the P r i e s t seemed agitated: he could scarcely breathe and his eyes seemed out of t h e i r o r b i t s . Nevers motioned Dreyfus not to t a l k ; he explained in a low voice: "Yes, perhaps he does know. But i t would be best not to say anything to him, j u s t in case. I would l i k e to take him to the study." "To the study?" asked Dreyfus, perplexed. "But you know... we're not supposed to take them out of the c e l l s . . . " "The others didn't leave t h e i r c e l l s . . . " Dreyfus' face once more expressed an enigmatic i r o n y . "I see," he declared, as i f he understood. "I see. You think h e ' l l be safer." Nevers turned to the P r i e s t : 152 "Mr. M a r s i l l a c , " he said i n a cl e a r v o i c e , "I would l i k e you to accompany us to the study." The P r i e s t seemed to hear, not that inoffensive sentence: something f r i g h t f u l . The color of his face changed suddenly, he was trembling ( s l u g g i s h l y ) . "Let's carry him," Nevers ordered. "You take hold of him under the arms; I ' l l get his legs." The calm determination with which these words were uttered compelled Dreyfus to obey. But when they c a r r i e d out the P r i e s t , Nevers himself f e l t a rush of t e r r o r . He stammered: "He's dead." He was r i g i d . Dreyfus confirmed: "He i s . " Then Nevers noticed that the P r i e s t was moving o b s t i n a t e l y , slowly. The e f f o r t the P r i e s t made to free himself from them began to t i r e them. Dreyfus looked around him, as i f he hoped to f i n d someone there who would save him. When they reached the courtyard, the P r i e s t shouted: "I'm drowning. I'm drowning." He a r t i c u l a t e d slowly, as i f slowly counting the s y l l a b l e s of a l i n e of poetry. "Why are you drowning?" Nevers asked, f o r g e t t i n g that the 153 P r i e s t was deaf. "You won't l e t me swim," answered the P r i e s t . They set him down. L He said to Dreyfus: "Let's carry him again." The P r i e s t seemed t e r r i f i e d ; s p l i t t i n g the word into s y l l a b l e s , he shouted: "Monsters." They l i f t e d him. He protested, r i g i d , almost immobile. He repeated: "Monsters." Nevers asked him: "Why do you c a l l us monsters?" "I'm drowning," shouted the P r i e s t . "I'm drowning." They set him down. Again he undertook his slow pilgrimage towards the c e l l . " T e l l me why you are drowning," Nevers asked. The P r i e s t didn't answer. "Let's take him to the study," s a i d Nevers, with f i r m r e s o l u t i o n . They c a r r i e d him. It wasn't easy to carry that r i g i d body. 154 The P r i e s t shouted: "I'm drowning. I'm drowning." "I won't turn you loose unless you t e l l me why you're drowning," Nevers r e p l i e d . "The s t i l l waters," the P r i e s t stammered. They took him to the rear of the study, to the wall furthest from the courtyard. Immediately the P r i e s t began to walk towards the door, slowly. The t e r r o r never l e f t his face. Nevers was d i s t r a c t e d . He was not disturbed when he f e l t on his neck the pressure of a p a i r of weak hands, l i k e a phantom. There in the study he had found a p o r t f o l i o with the t i t l e : Explanation of my experience; i n s t r u c t i o n s to Henri Nevers. Inside there were a number of loose notes, that must have been the f i r s t d r a f t of the explanation. As he opened that document, he vaguely saw that the P r i e s t was advancing, l i k e a s t a t u e , towards the door of the courtyard. LI "Unless one thing can symbolize another, science and everyday l i f e w i l l be impossible." H. Almar, Transmutations (Tr. I, V, 7). 155 Nevers read: "1. -- L i f e and the world, in the v i s i o n of an ordinary man: We l i v e upon stones and c l a y , among woods with green l e a v e s , devouring fragments of the universe that includes us, among flames, among f l u i d s , combining resonances, protecting the past and the f u t u r e , s u f f e r i n g , thermal, r i t u a l i s t i c , dreaming that we dream, i r r i t a t e d , s m e l l i n g , touching, among men, in an i n s a t i a b l e garden which our f a l l w i l l a b o l i s h . "The v i s i o n of physics: An opaque and interminable extension of protons and e l e c t r o n s , r a d i a t i n g in the void; o r , perhaps, (universal phantom) the aggregate of radiations from a body of matter which does not e x i s t . "As in cryptography, in the differences in atomic movements man i n t e r p r e t s : there: the taste of a drop of sea-water, there: the wind on dark causeways, there: the hardness of burnished metal, there: the fragrance of clover i n the hecatomb of summer, here: your face. I f there were a change in the movements of the atoms t h i s l i l y would be, perhaps, the crash of water that plunges over the dam, or a handful of g i r a f f e s , or the glory of l a t e a f t e r - noon. A change in the adjustment of my senses would make of the four walls of t h i s c e l l perhaps the shadow of the apple tree of the f i r s t orchard. 156 "How do you know that the b i r d which crosses the a i r i s not an immense world of voluptuous- ness , forbidden to your f i v e senses?" William Blake "2. We admit the world as bur senses reveal i t to us. I f we were c o l o r - b l i n d , we would be ignorant of some c o l o r . I f we had been born b l i n d we would be ignorant of c o l o r . There are u l t r a - v i o l e t c o l o r s , which we do not perceive. There are whistles that dogs hear, which are inaudible to man. If dogs were to t a l k , t h e i r language would perhaps be poor in visual i n d i c a t i o n s , but i t would have terms to denote shadings of smell of which we are ignorant. A special sense n o t i f i e s the f i s h of changes in water pressure and of the presence of rocks or other great o b s t a c l e s , when they swim at night. We do not understand the o r i e n t a t i o n of migratory b i r d s , nor what sense a t t r a c t s b u t t e r f l i e s l e t loose at distant points in a vast c i t y , and those which love u n i t e s . A l l the animal species which the world harbors l i v e in d i s t i n c t worlds. I f we look through a microscope, r e a l i t y changes: the known world disappears and t h i s fragment of matter, which to our eye i s one and motionless, i s p l u r a l , i t moves. It cannot be affirmed that one image i s more true than the other; both are inter p r e t a t i o n s of s i m i l a r machines, d i f f e r e n t l y gauged. Our world i s a synthesis furnished by the 157 senses; the microscope furnishes another. I f the senses should change, the image would change. We can describe the world as a mass of symbols capable of expressing anything; merely by a l t e r i n g the gauges of our senses, we may read another word in t h i s natural alphabet. "3. -- The nerve c e l l s in man are diverse i n accordance with the d i v e r s i t y of the senses. But there are animals that see, that s m e l l , that touch, that hear with a si n g l e organ. Everything begins with the evolution of a c e l l . A n o i r , E blanc, I rouge... i s not an absurd a f f i r m a t i o n ; i t i s an improvised response. The correspondence between sounds and colors e x i s t s . The essential unity of the senses and images, representations or data, e x i s t s , and i t i s an alchemy capable of converting pain into pleasure and the walls of a prison into plains of freedom. "4. -- Prison walls into plains of freedom: "This prison i n which I w r i t e , these sheets of paper, are only prison and paper f o r a determinate sensory gauge (that of man). If I change t h i s gauge, t h i s w i l l become a chaos wherein every- t h i n g , in accordance with certain r u l e s , may be imagined, or created. " C l a r i f i c a t i o n : "We see at a distance a determinate rectangle, and we believe that we see (and we know that i t i s ) a c y l i n d r i c a l tower. William James states that the world i s presented to us as an indeterminate 158 f l u x , a sort of compact curre n t , a vast inundation, where there are neither persons nor o b j e c t s , but, confusedly, s m e l l s , c o l o r s , sounds, contacts, pains, temperatures... The essence of mental a c t i v i t y consists of r e s t r a i n i n g and separating that which i s a continuous whole and grouping i t , u s e f u l l y , into o b j e c t s , persons, animals, vegetables... As l i t e r a l subjects of James, my patients w i l l face that renovated mass, and i n i t they w i l l have to remodel the world. They w i l l give meaning once again to the aggregate of symbols. L i f e , preferences, my d i r e c t i o n , w i l l preside over t h i s quest f o r l o s t o b j e c t s , f o r objects which they themselves w i l l invent in chaos. "5. -- I f the p a t i e n t s , once they are transformed, face the world f r e e l y , the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n they w i l l give to each object would escape my f o r e c a s t . There i s , perhaps, an order i n the uni- verse; there i s , c e r t a i n l y , an order i n my operations... But I do not know i f my l i f e w i l l l a s t long enough to investigate the c r i t e r i o n of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . "A primary point was, then, to present the patients with a r e a l i t y which would not abound in elements. Enumerate the elements of a common dwelling: c h a i r s , t a b l e s , beds, c u r t a i n s , rugs, lamps... At once the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of a chair seemed to me an exhausting problem. "While I was thinking about t h i s I commented: i t would be 159 i r o n i c to give them back t h e i r freedom in t h e i r own c e l l s . I soon became convinced that I had found the solut i o n to my d i f f i c u l t i e s . The c e l l s are bare chambers, and to the transformed men they can be gardens of the most boundless freedom. "I thought: to the p a t i e n t s , the c e l l s should be beautiful and desirable places. They can't be t h e i r houses of b i r t h , because my men w i l l not see the i n f i n i t y of objects that were there in t h e i r homes; for the same reason, they cannot be a great c i t y . They can be an i s l a n d . The fable of Robinson Crusoe i s one of the f i r s t myths of human i l l u s i o n , and Works and Days has furthered the t r a d i t i o n of the Islands of the Blessed: so ancient are they in the dreams of men. "My problems were, then: to prepare the c e l l s in such a way that the patients would perceive them and l i v e in them as i s l a n d s ; to prepare the patients in such a way that they would d i s i n t e r an i s l a n d from the tumultuous c o l l e c t i o n of c o l o r s , forms and perspec- tives which, f o r them, would be the c e l l s . The l i f e of each subject could have an influence in these i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . Since in each of them I would e f f e c t equal changes, and since I would present them with equal r e a l i t i e s , in order to avoid unpleasant surprises in the inte r p r e t a t i o n s i t suited my purposes to s e l e c t men whose l i v e s were not too d i s s i m i l a r . But circumstances and combinations are so various that looking f o r l i v e s which are not too d i s s i m i l a r i s 160 possibly a vain i n q u i r y ; nevertheless, the f a c t that a l l the patients had spent more than ten y e a r s , the l a s t ones, in a common p r i s o n , seemed to me quite promising. "I considered, too, that i f I dedicated the two or three months p r i o r to the operation to preparing, to educating the p a t i e n t s , the r i s k of unexpected in t e r p r e t a t i o n s would diminish. I awakened in my men the hope of freedom; I replaced the desire to return home and to c i t i e s with the ancient dream of the s o l i t a r y i s l a n d . Like c h i l d r e n , d a i l y they asked me to repeat the description of that i s l a n d where they would be happy. They came to imagine i t v i v i d l y , obsessively." Nevers' note: I spoke to Favre and Deloge during that prepara- tory period. Undoubtedly he had ordered them not to t a l k to anyone so they would keep the obsession pure, and to avoid people on the outside from drawing suspicious and erroneous conclusions ( l i k e my own). "6. -- Program: to operate on the brain and along the nerves. To operate on the tissues (epidermis, eye, e t c . ) . To operate on the locomotive system. "I reduced the v e l o c i t y of t h e i r movements; they were more laborious. In crossing the c e l l they should make the e f f o r t of 161 crossing an i s l a n d . " Nevers' note: This explains the Pr i e s t ' s r i g i d i t y , when we l i f t e d him to take him to the study. To protect them from n o i s e , which could communicate a contra- d i c t o r y r e a l i t y (our own), I combined t h e i r hearing with t h e i r sense of thouch. The person or object producing sound must touch the patient in order to be heard." Nevers' note: That i s why Castel didn't hear me; that i s why they heard Dreyfus at times; that i s why the P r i e s t heard me when we took him to the study. "These combinations of senses are often produced in patholo- gical states and, even, in states of health. Those most frequent are the syntheses of auditory sensations and chromatic sensations (once again: A n o i r , E blanc...) or of auditory or chromatic sensations and gustatory sensations. "I modified t h e i r visual system. They see as i f through f a r - sighted l e n s e s , put on i n reverse. The surface of a prison c e l l can seem to them l i k e a small i s l a n d . "In order f o r the walls of the c e l l to disappear ( v i s u a l l y ) , 162 i t was indispensable to change the dimensional system i n my men. I copy a paragraph from the t r e a t i s e of Dr. P e l c a r i : 'There are parts of the membrane of the eye e s p e c i a l l y s e n s i t i v e to each c o l o r ' there are c e l l s which analyze c o l o r s ; others combine the chromatic and the luminous sensations; the neurons of the center of the r e t i n a permit the appreciation of space; the chromatic system and the dimensional system have t h e i r point of departure in the eye, in c e l l s o r i g i n a l l y i d e n t i c a l and l a t e r d i v e r s i f i e d . ' Concerning t h i s p o i n t , see also Suarez de Mendoza, Marinesco, Douney. I resolved the problem by combining the chromatic c e l l s with the s p a t i a l . In my p a t i e n t s , the c e l l s which are s e n s i t i v e to c o l o r percieve space. The three essential colors gave three dimensions: blue, width; yellow, length; red,height." Nevers 1  note: Would a person who i s c o l o r - b l i n d be in a two- dimensional world? A purely c o l o r - b l i n d person--who sees one co l o r only--in a one-dimensional world? "A v e r t i c a l w a l l , painted blue and yellow, would appear as a beach; with s l i g h t red touches, l i k e a sea (the red would give the height of the waves). "With diverse combinations of the three colors I organized, in the c e l l s , the topography of the i s l a n d s . In a second preparatory 163 p e r i o d , immediately following the operation, I confronted the patients with those combinations. They were born, once again, to the world. They had to learn to i n t e r p r e t i t . I guided them to see here: a k n o l l , here: a sea, here: an arm of water, here: a beach, here: an outcrop of rocks, here: a f o r e s t . . . "My patients l o s t the f a c u l t y of seeing colors as c o l o r s . "I combined si g h t with hearing. Other men are able to hear, more or less w e l l , through a s o l i d body. The transformed men can see through a body which i s s o l i d and opaque. I hereby perfected the visual e x t i n c t i o n of the l i m i t s of the c e l l . "The f i r s t of my operations induced an unforeseen association between t a c t i l e , visual and auditory nerves; as a consequence, the patient could touch at a distance (as we hear at a distance and through s o l i d s , as we see at a distance and through transparent s o l i d s ) . "Due to a lack of time f o r comparison and resolution I did not introduce any changes in my operations; I always repeated the f i r s t one: a l l my patients possess t h i s f a c u l t y (possibly benefi- c i a l ) of touching at a distance." Nevers' note: 1) This explains the tenuous pressures, as i f from s o f t hands, on my neck. 2) When they touch through a w a l l , 164 do they feel the wall p a i n f u l l y , or as we feel a gas or a l i q u i d , or don't they feel i t at a l l ? Although they require the e x c i t a t i o n of the t a c t i l e centers in order to hear, I suppose that they are anesthetized in some way; i f they weren't, t h e i r sight and touch would give them contradictory information. "7. — Panoramic v i s i o n of the man who i s in the central i s l a n d , or c e l l : bordering the i s l a n d are the beaches (yellow and blue f r i n g e , almost t o t a l l y lacking in red); then the arms of the sea (the w a l l s ) ; then, the other i s l a n d s , each with t h e i r respective s e t t l e r , and t h e i r beaches; then, on to the horizon, islands surrounded by arms of the sea (the former i s l a n d s , r e f l e c t e d in the mirrors on the surrounding w a l l s ) . "Vision of the inhabitants of the surrounding i s l a n d s : on three sides they see the other i s l a n d s ; i n the m i r r o r s , t h e i r own i s l a n d , the other islands and the islands the mirrors r e f l e c t from the other isla n d s . " Nevers' note: The f l o o r of the courtyard i s painted l i k e the walls of the central c e l l . This explains the fear of drowning, expressed by the P r i e s t . Castel surrounded the islands by t h i s apparent sea, so the transformed men would not undertake t r i p s to regions of unforeseeable i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The mirrors of the outer 165 c e l l s propose known images, which keep the inconceivable recesses of the courtyard at a distance. "8. -- Another p o s s i b i l i t y : To change the emotions (as they are changed by tonics or opium). The world thus achieved would have seemed l i k e a drunkenness, heaven or love: i n t e n s i t i e s incompatible with i n t e l l i g e n c e . "Another: To cure the insane: to change t h e i r perception of r e a l i t y , in such a way as to adjust i t to t h e i r madness. "Another ( f o r future i n v e s t i g a t o r s ) : In men whose personality and memory are h o r r i b l e , to transform not only t h e i r perception of the world but also that of the ego; to achieve, through changes in the senses and through an adequate psychological preparation, the interruption of the s e l f and the b i r t h of a new individual within the previous one. But, as the desire f o r immortality i s , almost always, f o r personal immortality, I did not attempt the experience. "The world..." (Here Castel's notes break o f f ) . NEVERS 1  NOTES: I suspect that to avoid unforeseeable i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , Castel 166 decided the transformed men should be spoken t o , fed and washed while asleep (carrying out orders and even having b r i e f dialogues without waking i s a custom e a s i l y come by, spontaneous in many adults and in almost a l l c h i l d r e n ) . A l t e r a t i o n of the hours of waking and those of sleep: It was convenient that the c e l l s had no roof; i t was convenient that the diurnal l i g h t reached the transformed men. The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the sky would have been an arduous problem. The changing of the hours obviates these d i f f i c u l t i e s . The animals on Devil's Island: I r e c a l l the old horse, that Favre thought was crazy. He didn't recognize the grass. Undoubt- edly he was one of the f i r s t of Castel's transformations; undoubtedly the animals that Castel had on Devil's I s l a n d — a l l mad, according to Favre—served f o r experiments. Castel's transformation. With no great d i f f i c u l t y he would have seen the c e l l s as islands and the blotches of paint as beaches, seas or k n o l l s : f o r months he thought of some of them as represen- tations of the others (when he conceived of the painting of the c e l l s , when he c a r r i e d i t out, when he prepared the transformed men). In my op i n i o n , the governor was certa i n of p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the dream of the i s l a n d s , which he had i n s t i l l e d i n others, but he was a f r a i d of l o s i n g forever our v i s i o n of r e a l i t y ; at some moment he was a f r a i d . That i s why he repeated the l e t t e r s of the alphabet 167 and wanted to draw them out; that i s why he t r i e d to remember that the spear (a yellow sheet of paper, that i s to say, a yellow b l o b , that i s to say, a length) was a l s o , a piece of paper, to remember that the medallion (a blue p e n c i l , that i s to say, a blob of blue, that i s to say, a width) was, a l s o , a p e n c i l , to remember that the f r i g h t f u l s t i l l waters that surrounded him were, a l s o , cement. As f o r his enigmatic assertion that he would no longer feel p a i n , but that he would hear, f o r e v e r , the beginnings of the f i r s t movement of Brahms' Symphony in E minor, I see only one possible explanation: that the governor had achieved, or attempted, the transmutation of the sensations of his pain into auditory sensations. But since no pain always presents i t s e l f in the same form, we w i l l never know what music Castel i s hearing. How do the transformed men see each other? Maybe l i k e jumbled and mobile perspectives, with no s i m i l a r i t y to the human form; more l i k e l y , as men (as they look at t h e i r own bodies they encounter the same perspectives which they see in the others; i t i s not impossible that those perspectives take, f o r them, the human form--as others took the form of i s l a n d s , k n o l l s , seas, beaches--but neither i s i t impossible that those perspectives--seen, merely, as such--may be the only human image which they now know). The P r i e s t did not see men; he saw monsters. He found himself on an i s l a n d , and i t was on an i s l a n d , in the P a c i f i c , where he 168 had had his most v i v i d experience, the horrendous dream that was the key to his soul: in the madness brought about by the sun and hunger and t h i r s t , he had seen the seagulls that r e l e n t l e s s l y pursued him and his companions in agony as a s i n g l e monster, rami- f i e d and fragmentary. This explains the l i v i n g tableaux, the sluggish b a l l e t , the r e l a t i v e postures of the transformed men. They saw each other through the w a l l s . The P r i e s t lay in ambush. In these Islands of the Blessed, the P r i e s t had found his ship-wrecked i s l a n d , he had engaged i n his central d e l i r i u m , the hunting of monsters. They touched at a distance and through the w a l l s . The P r i e s t strangled them. They saw themselves g i r d l e d by the Pr i e s t ' s hands and, through the association of i d e a s , they suffered s t r a n g u l a t i o n . A l l fantasy i s real f o r him who believes in i t . On my neck, the pressure of his hands was s o f t . My movements were quick f o r him; I didn't give him time... Even in Dreyfus and in me (who weren't painted) he saw monsters. If he had seen himself, maybe he wouldn't have interpreted the r e s t of us as monsters. But he was f a r - s i g h t e d , and without glasses he couldn't see his own body. Why did Castel repeat the monsters are men? Because he had repeated i t to the P r i e s t , t r y i n g to convince him? Or because he himself had been a f r a i d , f o r the time when he would be in' his 169 archipelago, of seeing himself surrounded by monsters? Of J u l i e n , one of the "sick men" on Devil's I s l a n d , I didn't f i n d a t r a c e . Like a l l d i s c o v e r i e s , Castel's invention exacts, and w i l l exact, v i c t i m s . It doesn't even matter where i t a l l comes t o . What matters i s the e x a l t e d , peaceful, joyous work of human i n t e l l i g e n c e . Day i s breaking. I j u s t heard (I think) a shot. I ' l l have a look. Then I w i l l come back... LII Fragments of a l e t t e r from the naval lieutenant Xavier B r i s s a c , dated in the Isles du S a l u t , 3rd of May. Pierre has deluded Irene; he accuses me of the t h e f t of the documents, he slanders me... I seem to r e c a l l i t was the same accusation which brought about Henri's e x i l e . Nevertheless, Pierre w i l l order my r e t u r n . He i s not unaware that the copies of Henri's correspondence f e l l into my hands. I am glad that Henri's valor demonstrated during the r e v o l t has been rewarded with t h i s posthumous decoration. He deserved i t , a b s o l u t e l y , due to our family's influence and due to the account sent to you by Bordenave, a l i a s Dreyfus. 170 But I w i l l not tal k now of his eventual r e s p o n s i b i l i t y in the prisoners' conspiracy. I assure you, however, that the i n v e s t i - gation i s progressing. The keys to the armory are in his possession; the rebels did not force the door i n order to enter... Regarding Henri we s t i l l have contradicting reports. Some prisoners declare that he was k i l l e d by M a r s i l l a c , a l i a s the P r i e s t ; o t h e r s , captured in the Guianas, said he f l e d i n a rowboat, with the pretext of pursuing De Brinon. I must confess that I found a Mr. Bernheim, a pr i s o n e r , the most determined and useful of the informants. I am sending you some objects that belonged to Henri. Among them, a golden mermaid, miraculously saved from the greed of the priso n e r s . The l a s t events affected Bordenave. At times I ask myself ( r e c a l l i n g the secretary's idiocy) i f Castel might not have "transformed" him... At any r a t e , the man doesn't seem completely normal... I i n s p i r e hatred and t e r r o r in him. I understand that these sentiments are due to a lack of equilibrium on the part of Bordenave, that my part in them i s minimal. I see them, however, as signs of an adverse judgement. I know that he sent you an envelope with Henri's l a s t l e t t e r . I know that because of reports from the prisoners. Do not imagine that he consulted me... 171 Now he has disappeared. I have ordered that he be apprehended: he i s a dangerous c r i m i n a l . Besides, I hear rumors that i t i s his intention to accuse me, to declare that I k i l l e d Henri. P i t i f u l l y , I think that that absurd l i e could reach Saint-Martin and be employed by Pierre to torture my beloved Irene, to reproach her f o r her passion f o r me... Etcetera. T H E F R E A K (FABLE OF LOVE AND THE OLD LADIES) (Madrid, Spain 1944) by Rafael A l b e r t i Translated from the Spanish by MEREDYTH SAVAGE CHARACTERS IN THE FIRST ACT Alternate Names* GORGO (Gohr-go) UVA (Oo-vah) BITTERBERRY AULAGA (Ah-oo-lah-gah) THISTLEBUSH ALTEA (Ahl-tay-ah) MARSHMALLOW BION (Bee-yone) BION ANIMAS (Ah-nee-mahs) ..VESPER * The alternate names are rough equivalents of the Spanish names of the characters; i,e., uva means grape, and also berry (such as dogberry, gooseberry, e t c . as the case may be) -- always a f r u i t with negative c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . -- Translator's note. 174 The fable takes place in any year between 1874 and 1944 and in one of those f a n a t i c a l f a l l e n towns among the s i e r r a s o f Southern Spain, f u l l of Moslem r e c o l l e c t i o n s . 175 A C T O N E Front room i n a wealthy house. Side doors. Two o l d women, UVA and AULAGA are fussing over BION, a redskinned beggar, standing on a t a l l stool at the center of the stage. UVA, on her knees, i s mending one of the legs of his trousers. AULAGA, from high up on a c h a i r , i s combing and cutting his thick beard. It i s ni g h t . S i l e n c e . UVA: Aulaga AULAGA: Uva. UVA: Careful you don't forget what youre doing. AULAGA: Why do you keep saying that? UVA: I'm saying i t now because of the beard. BION: You stuck me with the needle, you woodpecker! UVA: Be quiet! You hear? ( S i l e n c e , h a l t i n g t h e i r labors f o r an instant.) 176 UVA: Gorgo's taking a long time getting back. AULAGA: She woke up yellow in the face t h i s morning. A l l of a sudden. UVA: And I might say that her teeth were cha t t e r i n g . AULAGA: And that a bo l t of l i g h t n i n g was about to burst from one of her eyes. BION: An eyebrow must have gotten stuck. UVA: I said to keep q u i e t , or I ' l l baste your leg to your pants. BION: An eyebrow, an eyebrow! AULAGA (cutting o f f his beard with one great c l i p of the s c i s s o r s . ) : There! For being a busybody and a babbler you' l l have to do without a beard. BION ( f u r i o u s ) : Dona Aulaga! But Dona Aulaga! AULAGA" Chsst! Quiet, q u i e t , she's coming back. (There are heard the dry taps of a walking cane on the f l o o r . Illuminated by a small c a n d l e s t i c k , Dona GORGQ appears in the doorway at the rear. She i s an ol d woman and i s wearing the beard of a man. Her countenance i s gloomy.) UVA, AULAGA and Bl6N (crossing themselves): Cross, c r o s s , cross! GORGO (drawing h e r s e l f up): Roost f u l l of falcons! Nest of gnats! Sheepskinners! Let those of th i s house tremble from t h i s day! Those of you who know me and those who have never seen me! Those who move about close by, under the point of t h i s s t i c k , 177 and those who are f a r away! Woe to those who are f a r away! Now I begin to be Gorgo. (She extinguishes the candle. • ' ' Shouting) Animas. Animas. Animas! BION (f r i g h t e n e d , from the top of the s t o o l ) : Gorgo, Gorgo, Dona Gorgo! AULAGA and UVA ( t e r r i f i e d ) : Holy c r o s s , cross of power, I c a l l on you f o r my death's hour! BION: But how can i t be that my mistress appears with my beard? GORGO ( r a i s i n g her cane): With your beard, Bion? With your l i c e - i nfested beard? Out, out of here, disturber of v i r g i n s ! BION ( f a l l i n g from the s t o o l , s u p p l i c a n t ) : Cry, pesky f l y ; c r i c k e t s f o r your feet and a b r i d l e f o r your teeth! GORGO: Animas, Animas, Animas! (ANIMAS e n t e r s , f a l l i n g to her knees.) ANIMAS: Dead r a t , dead c a t , d e l i v e r me God, from the b o i l i n g vat! 178 GORGO: Throw that rag with b r i s t l e s , that indecent t a t t e r into the garbage. BION: But my beard, Dona Gorgo, my b r i s t l e s . . . that honored t h i s face and th i s humble apparel! GORGO: In the garbage, Animas! Out into the s t r e e t ! Over the balcony or down the hollow of the s t a i r c a s e ! Quickly! Enough of charms and incantations--your mistress commands i t . BION: M/beard'. My beard! Bion w i l l not leave a l i v e without his beard! My mistletoe! GORGO: Out, out of here! (Pushing him with ANIMAS towards the side door at the l e f t . ) Nevermore w i l l there be in th i s house a beard other than mine. (Throwing the beggar's beard out the door with a gesture of disgust.) Oof! The men of t h i s house are done with forever! (She slams the door shut.) dust l i k e t h a t . (She s i t s , depressed.) God! God's God! Why did you choose to warn me? No, I didn't deserve i t . You have made me a vi c t i m of my own good f a i t h . 1,1 myself stuck t h i s bandage over my eyes. (While UVA weeps, s o f t l y , in an armchair, AULAGA stands absent-minded, l o s t i n clouds, at one extreme of the room.) You have punished my blindness, my good f a i t h , my lack of domination, of energy. Because you thought me author- i t a r i a n , hard, capable of stopping a bull with a s i n g l e s y l l a b l e , of r a i s i n g a wall with only a glance. But un t i l 179 today when you wounded me, when you struck me i n the pupils of my eyes, shook me l i k e an o l i v e t r e e , the whip of command did not crackle in my blood, nor did the thunder of power burst forth on my tongue. God! God's God! ( P u l l i n g o f f the beard and looking at i t . ) Thank you f o r t h i s symbol, f o r t h i s emblem of authority that you have hung on my face and that I without knowing i t s special g i f t have kept since so long ago. UVA: ( i n t e r r u p t i n g her sobbing): Ay, his beard, his was so b e a u t i f u l , s o f t and supple as a willow tree! GORGO: You're not suggesting that mine i s l i k e the beard on the ear of a cornstalk. UVA: But his beard was read. Ay! GORGO: And mine i s a s a i n t ' s . . . A r e l i c , Uva, a r e l i c . . . The so f t beard of one who flew from t h i s world. UVA (crying again): I want h i s , Bion's. GORGO: Q u i l l s l i k e that hog's sprout l i k e that! (Snaps her fingers.) UVA: Q u i l l s ? N e t t l e s , t h i s t l e s , needles of a p r i c k l y pear, that's what the beard you're wearing looks l i k e . GORGO: Do not c r i t i c i z e of f i n d f a u l t with one who i s beloved and dead...one who was your f r i e n d . 180 UVA: A f r i e n d of mine, with a beard? Close up I have never seen a beard other than Bion's. GORGO: A f r i e n d of yours and Aulaga's. Of the both of you. (She puts on the beard again and s t a r t s promenading about the room.) Well, you, Aulaga. Look. But what i s the matter with you? Come on! Are you so a f r a i d of me? Do I t e r r i f y you so much now? (Shouting at her.) Aulaga! Don't you hear me? Wake up. God! God's God! AULAGA ( f a r away, as i f asleep): Gorgo, Gorgo, Gorgoja... But i s that you, Gorgoja? GORGO: No, no! Look at me c a r e f u l l y . You're b l i n d . Open your eyes. (Shaking her.) That's i t , wide. Like a cow. (She comes and goes i n front of AULAGA, i n the manner of a man. I am no longer Gorgo now. Think, think. ( L i f t i n g UVA's face.) And you t o o , Uva. You have to know him, you haven't forgotten him. Look, look. (She s i t s , s t i l l i n the s t y l e of a man,) crossing her legs and i n a pensive manner.) "The o l i v e grove, the o l i v e grove! Those miserable fools are robbing me. They're r u i n i n g , me. I can't take i t any more, I can't! I'm going to explode!" Who s u f f e r e d , who despaired l i k e that? (She walks about, her hands on her shoulders, hopping about and saying quickly) "Saneta Maria, Saneta Dei G e n i t r i x , Sancta Virgo Virginum, Mater C h r i s t i , Mater Divinae. 181 Gratiae..." Uva, Aulaga, remember. AULAGA (with astonishment): Gorgo, Gorgo! GORGO: More, more, more! UVA: I see now, I see, Gorgo. GORGO: Think, my f r i e n d s . . . Look at me c l o s e l y now... Now guess... ( S i t t i n g and weakening her voice.) Daughter, l i t t l e daughter, A l t e a . . . (As i f dying and groping about f o r someone.) Come... I'm going away... away... with your mother... But you have Gorgo there... (Choking) Gorgo... (As she drops her head as i f dead and l e t s go of the cane) Obey her. AULAGA and UVA: Don Dino! Don dino! Don dino! ANIMAS: But what i s t h i s ? Ay! What i s i t that my eyes see, bl i n d fool that I am? B u t — i t i s my master, my poor l o r d Don Dino, j u s t as he was when the angels took him away.' (Kneeling) Master, m i s t r e s s , my l o r d , my lady! (UVA and AULAGA, on e i t h e r side of her in tones of a responsory) UVA: He was a firm s t a f f of v i r t u e s . AULAGA: A l e r t and watchful eye. UVA: He was a stern and concentrated frown. AULAGA: Just and powerful arm. UVA: Kindness. AULAGA: Love UVA: Laughter. 182 AULAGA: L i g h t . ANIMAS: Don Dino! My benefactor! Father of my l i t t l e mistress! I w i l l run and bring her, i t w i l l give her great joy to kiss him! (She runs out, shouting) Altea! Altea! GORGO ( r e v i v i n g , with a malicious l i t t l e grunt.): Yes, y e s , Don Dino, Din, D i n i t o , my dead brother. The very same, exact l y . How c l e a r l y you have recognized him! Of course! It i s his very beard! Not a h a i r less or a h a i r more! As he had i t on the morning of his death. (She takes i t o f f . ) But now I w i l l be your Gorgo again. Don't be a f r a i d of me, my daughters. (Again with a half-mocking l i t t l e grunt) ...Your Gorgo, your Gorgoja, your G o r g o j i l l a , the only f r i e n d you have in the town,in t h i s evil-minded town of l u s t f u l men... vi o l a t o r s of innocence ...drunkards! Ha, ha! UVA:(while GORGO brings a bo t t l e and three glasses): V i o l a t o r s ? Lustful men? (With malicious intent) You aren't saying that because of that poor fool of a p i g . . . whom you also protect. GORGO: Come, Uva, my l i t t l e grape, my l i t t l e c a t k i n , my sweet l i t t l e dogberry... A touch of rabies...? A l i t t l e glass of brandy, and holy peace. A l r i g h t ? It's good f o r gas pains. (Offering i t to AULAGA) Aulaga? AULAGE: No, G o r g o j i l l a , no. You know how i t makes my skin b r i s t l e up, how I turn into a porcupine. 183 UVA: Well, i f Aulaga i s n ' t d r i n k i n g , I won't e i t h e r . GORGO: Are you c a l l i n g me a drunkard, my fellow godmothers? When your blood c h i l l s you in the night... Because I've suddenly noticed that i t ' s going cold in my veins. And I need f i r e , daughters, flame... and smoke, smoke... AULAGE: I ' l l d r i n k , Gorgoja. UVA: Well, I won't r i g h t now. GORGO ( f i l l i n g AULAGA's glass from her own and s i t t i n g ) Thank you, Aulaga, (The two of them drink.) AULAGA: It's that one's f a u l t that black q u i l l s are s t a r t i n g to sprout from my pores. UVA: That one? I am not that one. GORGO: That one, that one, that one. UVA: Uva. GORGO: Uveal wart. UVA: Jealous women. AULAGA and GORGO: Ha, ha! UVA: She did i t purposely, she wanted t o . AULAGA: What venom are you gargling up? UVA: ...because he was bursting you open... AULAGA: Me, me? UVA: ...because he drove you wild with rapture, he swept you away, the two of you. 184 GORGO: Me? That rag-picker? That foul p i g l e t ? UVA: I don't know i f he swept you l i k e t h i s one here. AULAGA: This one, t h i s one? My name i s Aulaga. UVA: This one. GORGO: Uva. UVA: ...that's why, pretending to be the absent-minded one, you cut o f f his beard with one snip of the s c i s s o r s . . . (to GORGO) and you threw him out of the house. GORGO (threatening): Yes, y e s , And l e t him dare ever again to stamp his hoof in that doorway.' Let him t r y ! UVA ( t e a r f u l l y ) : Ay, so good, so unfortunate, so b e a u t i f u l ! GORGO (with feigned a f f e c t i o n ) : But, Uva, my poor l i t t l e goose- grape, my gooseberry, my l i t t l e goat's grape, what do you know about that? UVA: You're j e a l o u s . . . the two of you... because he preferred me. I won't say he loved me more... But he preferred me, that he d i d . AULAGA: Preferred you? Loved you? Not you, not me, not Gorgo. The three of us, the three of us the same! UVA: But I have been the most self-denying. Who dared to delouse him when we started protecting him? GORGO: Delouse him? W e l l , what about the f i n g e r n a i l s he had? Who clipped them to the quick? 185 AULAGA: With a chisel I had to break o f f the clay from one of his ears. And, afterwards, I've always been his barber. A worthy task, you won't deny that . UVA: Yes, but my s a c r i f i c e s , my s a c r i f i c e s . . . I f you knew! I s u f f e r , I s u f f e r f o r him more than Gorgo and you. GORGO (the glass trembling on her l i p s ) : More than Aulaga and I! Look at the s a i n t . The martyr. The sublime one! AULAGA: So, you're s u f f e r i n g f o r Bion more than a l l of us together! GORGO: That means, U v i t a , that you... Why, that you s a c r i f i c e y o u r s e l f f o r him so much behind my back! AULAGA: ...that you see him, that you have seen him without Gorgo or me knowing anything about i t . GORGO: Confess, Uva. Speak. AULAGA: Is the l i t t l e g i r l afraid? GORGO: Answer. You have seen him. Now I am beginning to understand your whimpering and that madness about his h a i r . AULAGA: Who would have guessed, Uva! (Getting up) Who, who,who! GORGO (shouting round about UVA): You've seen him. You've seen him. You've seen him. (Stopping h e r s e l f , d r i l y . ) And what e l s e , Uva? And what else? AULAGA (turning about in the opposite way): She saw him! She saw him! GORGO: And where, where, where? 186 AULAGA: Doggy dogberry! GORGO: It wasn't at your house because that would have been too... AULAGA: Greedy! GORGO: In the dining room for the poor... No, no! I have the key in my pocket... I'm the l a s t to leave... (More slowly and discouraged) In th i s house... in the garden... in the tower... (Pause) Ah! God! God's God! The coach house! Aulaga, the coach house! There, there! Through the f a l l e n door that opens into the f i e l d s ! Bark, Uva, confess! Howl, y e s , go on, howl that i t ' s true! UVA: No, no! AULAGA: S p i l l out the t r u t h , spurt i t out. UVA: Not even i n my thoughts. Never! I am a flower, a flower! GORGO: Flower, flower! In the dung heaps on the stable f l o o r ! UVA: Rose without s t a i n ! Purest nard! AULAGA: Beast, mountain wild cat! I'm going to scratch your eyes out, l i a r ! Run! I'm going to twist your h a i r o f f , pull i t from i t s roots. (UVA f l e e s about the room, pursued by AULAGA and GORGO.) UVA: I don't have a nephew, Aulaga, Aulaga! GORGO ( r a i s i n g the s t i c k ) : Bring that face of your over here. You'll see what sparks f l y from the bone. UVA: I have no-one! Alone! I'm alone! 187 GORGO: Dogberry! C a t t a i l ! AULAGA: Run! UVA: K i l l me! K i l l me! F u r i e s , f u r i e s ! Harpies! (ANIMAS e n t e r s , stopping the three panting o l d women.) GORGO (in a s o f t voice) : What do you want, Animas? How i s Altea? ANIMAS: What, what do I want, madam? (Excited) You, y e s , y e s , you, you know... Who could know better than you? You should have t o l d me. GORGO: Why have you been gone so long, Animas? • ANIMAS: Madam, oh my mistress! When one i s crying inside a tower the weeping can't be heard i n the gardens. GORGO: But he who seeks in earnest does not overlook a si n g l e corner. ANIMAS: And so I d i d , my l a d y , u n t i l I found her... I mean, un t i l I heard her... because I only heard her... Ay, my poor l i t t l e c h i l d ! GORGO: You heard her? Is i t true that you heard her? Did she dare, perhaps, to speak to you? ANIMAS: Madam, only you know what i s happening. But i f you are good, compassionate, i f you don't have your heart sewn up with a thread of s t e e l , see to i t that your n i e c e , that that precious c h i l d of mine, does not lose such beautiful eyes. 188 GORGO (sadly, but looking in subdued mockery at UVA and AULAGA): Be a u t i f u l ! B e a u t i f u l ! This i s the f i r s t time they have t r u l y wept. ANIMAS: They w i l l be l e f t without l i g h t , b l i n d , locked in that dark tower. (In a b r i e f pause on the part of ANIMAS, AULAGA and UVA stare at one another openly.) GORGO (her head buried): B l i n d . . . in a tower..., b l i n d . . . , b l i n d . . . ANIMAS: I who brought her up, I who sustained her in her f i r s t s t e p s , who placed the f i r s t flower in her h a i r , who took her to the mountain of the Crosses, who taught her how to graft rose bushes and to make toothpicks from the stems of jasmines. ... Out of compassion, l a d y , l i f t t h i s penalty and free her from that prison where you have locked her away from me, f o r I swear that Animas w i l l restore her to her l o v e , to the obedience, the respect that she owes you! GORGO: Her love... her love... ANIMAS: Only yours w i l l open the door. GORGO: I had thought, Animas... But, no... Here are the keys. ANIMAS ( k i s s i n g her): Oh, madam! (She s t a r t s to leave.) GORGO: Release her and bring her to me immediately. I have some 189 things to tal k to her about. (ANIMAS e x i t s . GORGO turns gravely, to UVA and AULAGA, but suddenly she runs toward the / ' ' door, shouting) Animas! Animas! (ANIMAS reappears, f e a r f u l . ) Dress Altea in her best dress, that one we a l l embroidered between us when she was queen of the vintage. ANIMAS: I w i l l dress her, madam. (She goes. UVA s i t s again, grievous, with signs of weeping, and AULAGA stands as i f in a trance at one extreme of the stage.) GORGO: Love, f o r me! Love! Did you hear, my g i r l s ? Come, UVA don't cry any more about that. It i s I who should be dying now. G o r g o j i l l a loves you and forgives you, and so does Aulaga. Aulaga, Uva: come with me to the center of the room. I need you. What would I do in th i s time of c r i s i s without my fellow godmothers? My niece i s going to come. Now you w i l l know everything. God! God's God! AULAGA: Gorgo. Gorgo. I am l i s t e n i n g . I'm waiting... UVA: What did you say? What have you j u s t said? GORGO: Men! UVA: Don't s t a r t again, Gorgo. I know, I already know enough. GORGO: Don't leave me. Support me. Help me. I need to be st r o n g , to have the word and manner of a man, to be my dead brother, uncle and father at once f o r t h i s h o r r i b l e cup that awaits me. 190 AULAGA: Men! UVA: Love! Love! GORGO: The mirror. Run bring i t here. To the center of the room. I want to cast her in i t s depths. I want her to bid farewell before sinking her in the memory of th i s moment. (She draws back, moving l i k e a sleepwalker, and looks at her r e f l e c t i o n , while AULAGA and UVA move slowly around the mirror.) Who i s i t I see there within? What do you give back to me, glass? Give me back what I've been. What yesterday your glass did spy (what do you give back to me, glass?) in your glass i s now l o s t from my eye. Who i s i t I see there w i t h i n , dead there, g l a s s , i f not I? And now, in f r o n t , three c h a i r s . So. (Moving a few steps.) One, two, three, f o u r , f i v e . . . At a good distance from the mirror, so we can see a l l of her. Let's see, s i t down, Aulaga. And you, Uva, to my l e f t . (She s i t s between the two of them.) AULAGA: This seems l i k e a holy t r i b u n a l , Gorgo. GORGO: No more, no l e s s , my c h i l d . The day of judgement. A dead man has appointed me judge of t h i s sad cause, on which I wish 191 to pass sentence with your help. Look at me. (She puts on the beard.) Will I be able to play my part worthily? (Looking heavenward.) My brother, I w i l l only make use of them i f I feel my energy f a i l i n g . (She disappears f o r an instant to the r i g h t , returning without the beard.) Ah, Uva! Put that large armchair next to the mirror. And you, Aulaga, draw up that l i t t l e t a b l e . That's i t . Ah, no! (Going to look.) The l i t t l e s i l v e r b e l l i s missing. Good, there. S i t close to me. Now, now we can c a l l her. (Ringing the b e l l ) Animas! s (Accompanied by ANIMAS, ALTEA enters dressed in a luxurious native costume and crowned with vine branches. ANIMAS, not daring to advance, remains in the doorway.) ALTEA (kneeling before GORGO): Forgive me, aunt, forgive me i f because of my short years I have caused you some s u f f e r i n g , and have f a l l e n short of the obedience, the l o v e , the respect I have always had f o r you. GORGO (sweetly): Rise, my c h i l d . An old woman has nothing to forgive the queen of beauty. ALTEA: Thank you, aunt. GORGO ( a f t e r motioning ANIMAS to go): You are b e a u t i f u l , A l t e a . Have you looked at yo u r s e l f i n the mirror, have you seen y o u r s e l f once again as the goddess of the f i e l d s ? 192 ALTEA (with emotion and bewilderment): Aunt! GORGO: Come, look at y o u r s e l f , c h i l d . We old women want to enjoy your youth with you. This glass i s going to receive you proudly. ALTEA ( i n d e c i s i v e , confused): I only want to please you... GORGO: Uva, Aulaga... Calm yourself* A l t e a . . . Take her to the mirror f o r her re c r e a t i o n . UVA (taking her by the hand): Child! AULAGA (by the shoulders): What a woman already! She's g l o r i o u s . UVA: You were so l i t t l e . . . ALTEA: I know that you love me... almost as much as Aunt Gorgo. UVA: You are f i r m , c h i l d AULAGA: Round and f r e s h , l i k e a golden j a r . (ALTEA smiles sweetly.) GORGO: Don't be humble, l i t t l e n i e c e , not with that look of a strong fresh tree about you. Be happy and take pride as I do in you. Laugh. (Getting up and going to her). No, you're not sad. Enjoy y o u r s e l f , glory in your beauty, in the flower of your years. (ALTEA laughs f a i n t l y . ) More, more. Come, you offend no one by de l i g h t i n g i n your beauty. Look at y o u r s e l f c a r e f u l l y in the mirror. See? Who i s more submissive, more plea s i n g , obedient? The mirror adds nothing nor does i t take away. It gives you back only what i s yours. (Raising ALTEA's arms). 193 Look at these arms, c h i l d . Do you think the glass l i e s ? Look at those eyes... what cheeks... what l i p s . . . what a c l u s t e r of h a i r . . . (She l e t s out ALTEA's hair.) Touch i t , Aulaga, Uva. ALTEA (sighing): Oh! UVA ( n o s t a l g i c ) : What softness! How i t glows! GORGO: You can boast of your shoulders... And what a t h r o a t , c h i l d ! Have you seen a neck l i k e yours i n the towns of t h i s land? No, don't lower your eyes... I t e l l you you're not to be modest. Have I brought you up to be l i k e that? You alone are mistress of what i s there i n s i d e . (She points to the glass.) ALTEA: I never r e a l l y looked at myself, auntie. GORGO: L i t t l e l i a r . Are you going to deceive me now? Come on! ALTEA: I am content to please you. GORGO: Please me... please me... Well who e l s e , my treasure? I f you had someone other than me... But he closed his eyes, he l e f t us one day, when the flower had scarcely appeared on the branch. Now you have opened, c h i l d . And I am here to care f o r you. I am something l i k e your gardener. It i s only me you have to thank. ALTEA: Yes, y e s , Aunt. GORGO: But touch her, Aulaga. What shapeliness! UVA: And what shoulders! My hand f a l l s asleep on them... GORGO: Oh, and t h i s bust, my friends? Once I read that magnolias... 194 But not here... Lunar lemons... What fragrance! A l l of you is a garden. ALTEA (as UVA s n i f f s her s k i n ) : It i s the fresh lavender that Animas puts in my c l o t h i n g . GORGO: The lavender of Animas! The aroma of your blood, of your flower's f l e s h . And i f that glass should see... But such t h i n g s , my n i e c e , are secrets reserved f o r more intimate mirrors. ALTEA (bashful): Auntie, f o r the love of God, Aulaga and Uva are here. UVA: Don't be vain; we too have had our May, you know. GORGO: Look, she's turned red as a poppy. ALTEA: I ' l l die i f I cannot merit your forgiveness. GORGO: Come now, be happy, A l t e a . Look, I'm not angry. What i t i s i s . . . p l a i n l y . . . being your father without being him... Educating you... Taking care of you... Trying to see that you do only what would have pleased him, made him proud... ALTEA: I never meant to do you harm, Aunt Gorgo. GORGO: Do me harm! And what makes you think t h a t , my chi l d ? I would l i k e to know. S i t down. (ALTEA s i t s . A f t e r looking at her f o r a moment.) Pity i t i s not a throne! What you r e a l l y deserve. But I'm going to s i t down too. Do me harm! (AULAGA and UVA s i t down with her.) Of course i f the shutters didn't 195 overlook the s t r e e t , s u r e l y , n i e c e , i t wouldn't have occurred to you to say what you have t o l d me now. Do me harm! ( B r i e f pause.) What does one see, my c h i l d , from the rooftop? Have you looked c a r e f u l l y ? Answer me. ALTEA (strangely): The countryside, auntie... The mountain of the Crosses... GORGO: And something else? ALTEA: The sky, aunt. GORGO: And what does one see from the garden terrace? ALTEA: The t r e e s . . . the flowers... the mud w a l l s . . . GORGO: That i s a l l ? ALTEA: B i r d s , the sky... GORGO: And through the shutters in the parlor downstairs, Altea? ALTEA: The s t r e e t . . . GORGO: The s t r e e t and nothing more? (ALTEA keeps s i l e n t . GORGO gets up.) Nothing more? That's not very much, niece. Are you sure? Nothing more than the str e e t ? ALTEA: The square... with the fountain... GORGO: And nothing more? ALTEA: ...the church. GORGO: Only that? Because the s t r e e t has been made to be walked on, so that people can walk up and down along i t . Isn't that t r u e , niece? 196 ALTEA: Aunt, I've loved you always, but I... How miserable I am, auntie! GORGO: And the shutters have been made to permit one to see without being seen what comes up and goes down along the s t r e e t . ALTEA: Aunt, aunt, I beg of you. GORGO: And to permit one also to speak with him who comes up and goes down along the s t r e e t . ALTEA ( f a l l i n g on her knees): Forgive me, forgive me! GORGO: Do me harm! And he who comes up and goes down along the s t r e e t , he who courts you from the s t r e e t at n i g h t , i s n ' t i t tr u e , A l t e a , that he must be t a l l , slender and brown, surely casting sparks from his eyes...? ALTEA: You have never made me c r y , auntie. GORGO: But, my dear, I don't want you to c r y . I am no harpy, no ferocious monster in ambush f o r your throat. Don't be frig h t e n e d , c h i l d . (She raises ALTEA to her feet.) Get hold of y o u r s e l f . UVA: As f o r us, you can speak f r e e l y , i n a l l confidence. GORGO: Are you l i s t e n i n g ? Aulaga, don't wander o f f . AULAGA (whose mind had wandered): Yes, y e s , we're the same as Gorgo. Don't be a f r a i d to speak. GORGO: So he i s tawny... olive-skinned... And his eyes... What color did we say his eyes were? (ALTEA remains s i l e n t . 197 GORGO, in a harsher tona) Black... but l i k e burning f i r e - brands... No? (ALTEA nods her head.) And he i s slender, l i k e a reed, as a good horseman should be... A great equestrian, c l e a r l y , the most gallant in these mountains. (She shakes ALTEA by the shoulders so that her niece hods her head l i k e a st u f f e d d o l l . ) And his name? That i s what I do not know, what you s t i l l haven't t o l d me, niece. UVA: But she's going to say i t , I'm sure. AULAGA: Aunt Gorgo must know. It's f o r your own good, c h i l d . Why torment her? GORGO: She w i l l say i t . UVA: And what reason i s there to keep i t s i l e n t ? I w i l l help you, l i t t l e morning s t a r . And Aulaga. You'll see how we w i l l bring i t to your l i p s , between the two of us. Is i t maybe L i n o , the son of Dona Margara, of the Ranch of the Lemon Trees? GORGO: Is i t ? (ALTEA denies i t weakly with her head.) AULAGA: Could i t be Leonico, the youngest of the Olmedo family? GORGO: Is i t ? (ALTEA, as before.) UVA: B i a s , the handsomest of the men of Pino. Grande? GORGO: Is i t ? (ALTEA denies i t s i l e n t l y . ) 198 AULAGA: Hernan, of the Zorzales family? Bornos, of Vina Hermosa? GORGO (threatening with her cane): Is i t , i s i t , i s i t ? ALTEA: Aunt, aunt, please! UVA: Well they are the r i c h e s t , c h i l d , the most renowned f o r twenty leagues around. GORGO (tearing o f f ALTEA's bodice i n a sudden jerk.) Could i t be some vermin, some scurvy scum from the d i s t r i c t of louse n i t s ? Come, c h i l d , answer or th i s s t i c k w i l l t e l l you what you have deserved f o r some time now. UVA: Maybe's she's ashamed, Gorgo, because who knows i f i t i s n ' t the barber down at the corner. AULAGA (laughing): Or Frasco, the sheepshearer, who has no eyebrows. GORGO: The sheepshearer? What more could t h i s s l y dead l i z a r d want! That's too great an honor f o r her. Do you know who she i s in love with? I ' l l t e l l you s e c r e t l y . (The three of them crowded together hear something from GORGO and burst out in explosive guffaws, holding t h e i r noses in a gesture of disgust.) UVA: Oof! Could i t be p o s s i b l e , G o r g o j i l l a ? AULAGA: It's d i s g u s t i n g , c h i l d , with such an occupation. GORGO: Oh yes , oh y e s , that's the one, the very one. UVA: I won't be the godmother at your wedding. Whoof! AULAGA: Even I wouldn't give him a kiss without f i r s t holding my nose. 199 THE THREE OF THEM: Ha, ha, ha, ha! (Like three shades, l i k e three s i n i s t e r shawls, laughing, mocking, wounding, they come and go around ALTEA who weeps s o f t l y , her face covered by her hair . ) GORGO: I t o l d you not to c r y , broomstick. Uncover your f a c e , or do you intend to sweep the f l o o r with those tangles? UVA: She looks l i k e a f r o g f i s h . AULAGA: The queen of the vintage! GORGO: The queen? Of the dung heap! Of the garbage dump! We're f i n i s h e d with the goddesses of beauty! Off with a l l trappings, trimmings and colored feathers! (She s t a r t s tearing o f f ALTEA's costume, yanking i t from her body.) Just what had you imagined! The queen! Now you're going to dress in the clothes you deserve. Bring them, Uva. They're i n the closet in my bedroom. The queen! And with secret pages who court you in the dead of night! Either you confess who he is or I ' l l s t r i p you naked and draw blood on your skin with my f i n g e r n a i l s . Say i t , say i t . . . ALTEA: I can't, aunt, I can't. K i l l me... Suck out my veins... Drag me by the h a i r . . . GORGO: No! I ' l l bury you a l i v e , between four w a l l s , and you w i l l never go out again, not even to ear l y morning mass. ALTEA: Bury me in the earth... a l i v e . . . , with my eyes open. 200 But don't ask me his name... I cannot... It i s impossible... There i s a knot in my throat. GORGO: Oh you cannot? You haven't the courage? You'll see i f that's t r u e , l i t t l e niece! (UVA has returned, bringing the black dress of an old woman, long, dismal, d e r i s i v e . ) GORGO: Aulaga, help Uva... The two of you, take these new endowments... f o r a goddess. Shut her up in them. (Starting to leave at the right.) Imprison her w e l l . God! God's God! (As the two old women dress ALTEA s i l e n t l y , off-stage GORGO can be heard shouting with s l i g h t pauses) Yes! Yes! I am here... I obey you... Immediately... Yes! I'm here! (Her face covered with a black linen cloth which f a l l s to her waist, s t i l l with her cane, GORGO returns to the room, c i r c l i n g slowly and sadly around ALTEA.) S p i r i t that watches on high. Never leave my s i d e . S p i r i t that s u f f e r s on high. With me ever abide. S p i r i t that shines on high. Your l i g h t from me never hide. 201 (Stopping in front of ALTEA, turning her back to the audience, she s i l e n t l y raises the linen cloth that covers her.) ALTEA ( a f t e r a cry of horror, while she f a l l s as i f dazzled to her knees): Castor... It i s Castor... GORGO ( s t i l l covered, she removes the beard, which she looks at for a moment before throwing i t down on the t a b l e . Now uncovered, looking upwards, with anguish and as i f to h e r s e l f ) : No! See the abyss into which you plunge us, brother. AULAGA (anguished, her voice r a p t ) : Castor , my nephew... He never t o l d me anything... (UVA laughs soundlessly, mocking.) GORGO (In a harsh but c r e s t f a l l e n manner, a f t e r l i f t i n g ALTEA from the f l o o r she covers her niece's face with her linen c l o t h . y / / Shouting): Animas! Animas! Animas! ANIMAS (entering): Madam... GORGO: Take t h i s freak from before my eyes. ANIMAS: Ay, my poor swallow, my l i t t l e morning s t a r ! GORGO (pointing to the e x i t with her cane): Silence! (ALTEA and ANIMAS leave.) 202 GORGO ( a f t e r a pause): So: Castor, the l i t t l e nephew of your dreams, Aulaga!... (To herse l f ) My heart had said i t to me. AULAGA (breaking into t e a r s ) : Gorgo... Gorgo... Gorgo... GORGO (as i f i l l u m i n e d , addressing the heavens): L i g h t . . . Only your Ttjht, my brother... (UVA breaks out laughing, until she i s f u l l y guffawing as the curtain slowly f a l l s . ) CHARACTERS IN THE SECOND ACT Same as those of the f i r s t a c t . A C T T W O The whitewashed rooftop. Creeping vines and beyond the r a i l i n g the branches of several t r e e s . From the rooftop one can see, l i k e a l a b y r i n t h , other ro o f t o p s , turrets with t h e i r weather vanes, kitchen chimneys, e t c . Flowerpots with flowers,cages with c a n a r i e s , basket c h a i r s . . . Dramatic, b a l d , yellow against the mid-afternoon sky: the Mountain of the Crosses. Dressed in bl a c k , ALTEA i s embroidering. Her beautiful h a i r i s loose and ANIMAS i s combing i t l o v i n g l y . ANIMAS: Angel, my seraph. What locks f o r the sun to always sing i t s joy i n ! What tresses f o r the breeze from the f i e l d s to comb! I would w i l l i n g l y seed them in flower pots and I would water them every afternoon, c e r t a i n that in the morning they would be bursting with flowers. Each time I touch them i t seems to me that I smooth vines that go creeping along the 205 whitewash of these w a l l s , f u l l of nests and the peeping of b i r d s . Do you hear me, Altea? Are you l i s t e n i n g , c h i l d ? ALTEA: I hear you, Animas, I hear you. ANIMAS: No, you're not l i s t e n i n g , dearest c h i l d , because I know where that head wanders, where that hurt breast f l i e s o f f t o . ALTEA (throwing down the embroidery frame and r i s i n g ) : Leave me be, f o r the love of God, Animas! I beg you. Don't lay your hands on my h a i r again. I want to be uncombed, disheveled, h o r r i b l e . . . ANIMAS: Poor l o v e , poor love! ALTEA: I can't take i t any more. I'm s u f f o c a t i n g . I am buried while s t i l l a l i v e , scorned, forgotten. (Messing up her hair) Why comb me and arrange my h a i r i f not even he remembers that someone l i v e s in torment, a p r i s o n e r , among these mute w a l l s . Hide my f a c e , cover me with Aunt Gorgo's black v e i l . I no longer want to see the sky above t h i s sad rooftop. ANIMAS: Do not despair, flower. Let's wait a l i t t l e . We don't know... ALTEA: I do, Animas, but admitting i t keeps me from sleeping at night. ANIMAS: He w i l l come looking f o r me soon. I am sure. ALTEA: Why do you console me with l i e s ? I know very well what i s happening. 206 ANIMAS: It i s t r u e , c h i l d , he used to follow my t r a i l at every moment, l i k e a hunting dog. And wherever we ran into each other he would even threaten to k i l l me i f I didn't bring your messages to him. ALTEA: He i s t i r e d , bored with not f e e l i n g close to me, with knowing that not even my eyes are spying on him from behind the window; desperate, because he thinks a l l t h i s i s useless... And he has gone away, you know that he has. He has f l e d from me, where he w i l l never again hear my name nor that of h i s Aunt Aulaga, who was tormenting him, persecuting him, harassed by Uva .and Aunt Gorgo. Castor doesn't love me any more. ANIMAS: Don't slander him, A l t e a , don't you punish him too, not even with your thoughts. ALTEA: Oh, and does he write me any more? And has he gone to look for you again i n the town? And does he pass by in the s t r e e t in the early mornings as before? And i f he only went away to keep from s u f f e r i n g the fury of those three old women any more, how could he have done so without seeing you, without entrusting someone to t e l l you? ANIMAS: Something i s going on, c h i l d . My heart says so. What do you and I know about what those two crazy o l d ladies are plot t i n g ? A l i t t l e patience... ALTEA: Impossible! Impossible! 207 ANIMAS: Just a l i t t l e spark l i k e t h at... ALTEA: From where could I draw str e n g t h , Animas, i f at times I now dream that I am no longer in l i f e ? GORGO'S VOICE: Altea! Altea! ALTEA: I hate her. I hate her. May God forgive me, but I hate her. I am a f r a i d of her, h o r r i f i e d . Fear s t e a l s the sleep from my eyes. Animas, because of your l o v e , d e l i v e r me from her! GORGO'S VOICE: What are you doing, Altea? ALTEA (going to the rear wall and c a l l i n g down): Nothing, aunt. (Through clenched teeth) Dear God, don't l e t her come up! GORGO'S VOICE: Is Animas with you? ALTEA: Yes, y e s , aunt, combing my h a i r . (A s i l e n c e , in which the b e l l s of a campanile clock are heard s t r i k i n g the hour.) Her voice... her footsteps... the b e l l s . . . And so i t goes on, every afternoon, every n i g h t , every day... The hours wound me... I do not want to hear the clocks or look ever again at that Mountain of the Crosses... where he must have gone away... ANIMAS: No, no, don't think that c h i l d . (Moving about ALTEA, as i f frightening someone o f f with her hands) Away from here, demons! Fly o f f , e v i l s p i r i t s ! Don't frighten my c h i l d . My c h i l d wants to r e s t . She wants to sleep i n peace. She wants 208 to l i s t e n to the story of "The King's Peacock". P a v i , pavf, i f the Prince saw me now he would f a l l in love with me!; or the story of the "Talking B i r d , the Singing Tree, and the Yellow Fountain". Once upon a time... (A clock nearer by s t r i k e s the hour, i n t e r r u p t i n g Animas.) GORGO'S VOICE: Al t e a ! Come down to the garden immediately. ANIMAS: Right away, madam. ALTEA: I'm coming down now, aunt. (ALTEA goes, while A^IIMAS stops to pick up the embroidery frame and sewing basket. When she s t a r t s to leave, BION appears, mysterious: his beard grown out, cleaner i n appear- ance in his s u i t of huge patches. Fast scene.) BION: S p i r i t s of Purgatory! ANIMAS: Jesus! BION: The mistress c a l l e d f o r me... ANIMAS: I11-done... and may God forgive me. You frightened me. BION (laughing): I came up the chimney, l i k e smoke... ANIMAS (almost l e a v i n g ) : And you w i l l go down l i k e l a s t time: by the s t a i r c a s e and shoved out the door... i f not over the 209 balcony. I'm going to run t e l l the mistress. BION ( c o n f i d e n t i a l l y ) : Just one l i t t l e t h i n g : . Wait. ANIMAS: Altea i s waiting f o r me in the garden. BION (tender): I t i s f o r her, my l i t t l e Moorish jasmine. ANIMAS ( i n t r i g u e d , going to him): For my c h i l d , you say? Quickly, go on, Bidn! BION (taking her by the waist) : Right away, my golden t h i s t l e . ANIMAS (breaking away): Come on, turn me l o o s e , bindweed.! BldN: Bad seed... parakeet... (Showing her a folded envelope) Well, I won't give i t to you. ANIMAS: Bion! Bidn! What i s that? BION: Yes, a l i t t l e l e t t e r . . . from the young man. ANIMAS (t r y i n g to snatch i t from him): From Ccfstor... a l e t t e r from Castor! BION: From the very same boy... entrusted to th i s beggar. ANIMAS: You w i l l give i t to me, Bion. Bl6N (with the l e t t e r between his te e t h , running to one edge of the rooftop): I f you come to take i t from me with your golden beak... GORGO'S VOICE (close by): Animas! Animas! ANIMAS (sup p l i c a n t , while the beggar hides the l e t t e r in his s h i r t ) : Bidn! Bidn! Out of kindness! (GORGO appears.) 210 GORGO (to ANIMAS, d i s t r u s t f u l and harsh): What does t h i s mean? Altea alone in the garden and you s t i l l up on the roof? The dog does not go astray before the lamb. (ANIMAS attempts to reply.) To your duty. Go on. (ANIMAS goes.) BION (honey!ike): Dona Flower. GORGO (with suspicion ): What do you have to say to Animas? BION (humble): I came to do my lady a s e r v i c e . . . GORGO (with her eternal l i t t l e grunt): A service? BION: Since you have had the good heart to c a l l f o r me... (He leaves f o r an i n s t a n t , reappearing with a large bundle.) I l e f t i t there, on the stairway... I heard chattering... I said to myself: Bion, don't l e t anyone see i t before Dona Gorgo. It is only f o r her. (He unwraps i t , l i f t i n g on high a large cage containing a black cat.) GORGO: Oof! What f i l t h ! A tomcat! BION: I sa i d to myself: there i s n ' t one in the house, Bion. Look around f o r a cat and take i t to the mistress. See how pretty i t i s ! GORGO: Take i t away! Take i t out of my sig h t ! It's probably f u l l of mange. BION: I f you don't l i k e i t , Dona Gorgo, i f you're going to offend the poor k i t t y . . . There are plenty of housetops and roofs 211 where i t can go wooing. (Humbly, he makes a gesture of opening- the cage, r e c i t i n g with sadness and authority) Out, mangy mouser, scabby tabby. That's the command of t h i s handsome l a d d i e . You love me, I love you. You are the cat to catch the r a t . GORGO (with p i t y ) : W e ll, leave i t then... You can turn i t loose in a l i t t l e while... BION: Wherever you say. GORGO: Well... somewhere I won't see i t . Like my brother Dino, I'm mad about parrots... But no dogs or tomcats. BION: Tomcat! A tomcat! Do you think t h i s i s a tomcat, Dona Gorgo? Bidn respects his mistress' judgement. GORGO: Perhaps i t ' s a mountain w i l d c a t . BION: Guess, guess... 212 The eyes are the eyes of a tomcat, but i t i s n ' t a tomcat. The e a r s , the ears of a tomcat, but i t i s n ' t a tomcat. The paws, the paws of a tomcat, but i t i s n ' t a tomcat. The t a i l , the t a i l of a tomcat, but i t i s n ' t a tomcat. No, my mistr e s s , no. Your house i s lar g e . I said to myself: a she-cat. It may have l i t t l e ones... A l l the u t i l i t i e s . . . Now i f my Do?fa Gorgo scorns i t . . . GORGO: I've sa i d you're to leave i t . . . I mean, you're to leave her. I am not so c r u e l , my f r i e n d , nor so ungrateful... I f I protect you, why i s that she-cat to be any less? Let her stay in the house and have a l l the kittens she wants. ( C i r c l i n g around him) But how well you look, Bion! A clean s u i t . . . l o v i n g l y mended... Your trousers... The knees patched... Your beard... BION: Now I take care of myself myself... since Dona Aulaga... GORGO: And yourknees as well? And that shining s h i r t ? Look how industrious he i s ! I see the work of cha r i t a b l e hands that do not rest f o r you. Bl6N: Dona Gorgo t e l l s you to come back... Put on your new c l o t h e s , I said to myself... as i f our holy Patron of the Crosses, which i s who you are to Bion, were c a l l i n g you to gl o r y . GORGO: We l l , now you are in glory once again. 213 BION (sweet-talking, drawing close to GORGO): And next to my guardian angel, that's how I also consider you, besides. GORGO (between tender and mocking): Angels do not t e l l l i t t l e l i e s . . . nor are they such great rogues. Those are things of the d e v i l . . . which i s what you are, Bion. (The beggar has been drawing c l o s e r and clos e r to her.) Oof! Get away from me, l i t t l e Satan--you smell l i k e sulphur! BION: But the devil has the face of a r a b b i t . . . and two horns on top... GORGO: And don't you? (BION searches f o r them with his hands.) Right there, there's where they s t i c k out, only no one but I can see them. BION: I t might be t r u e , Dona Gorgo, but I don't know where they are... You look f o r them f o r me. GORGO: Out, out of here-you're burning me with your breath! BION: I must already by damned when you, who are so good, say that I am. (He disappears, c a l l i n g out from w i t h i n , while Dona GORGO s i t s . ) Knock! Knock! GORGO: Who's there? BION (cavernous): The devil with his p i t c h f o r k . GORGO: And what does the devil with his pitchfork want? BION: To come i n . 214 W e l l, as f o r me, the devil with his pitchfork may come i n . (BION appears, carrying a palm-leaf broom in the manner of a t r i d e n t . ) GORGO (following the game, halfway between impassioned and mocking, s as BION swirls around her) Demon, demon, depart from t h i s so lonely heart. Viol ate r of v i r g i n s , vampire of vestal v i r t u e . Igniter of nightmare dreams, mosquito of mortal remorse. Greedy vulture of s o u l s , t h i e f of a l l hope. S p i n , s p i n , s p i n , spin as the blood now raves within and the s o u l , without l i g h t , grows t h i n . (BION, from behind Dona GQRGO's back, leans over, k i s s i n g her at great length. S o f t l y ) : Bion, Bion, what have you done? BION: Of a l l d e v i l s , Dona Gorgo. 215 GORGO ( r i s i n g , f u r i o u s ) : God! God's God! BION: Don't get mad my lady. GORGO (with her cane): Get out. Bl6N: I wanted to do you another s e r v i c e . . . GORGO: Into the s t r e e t ! BION (thrusting his hand into his s h i r t ) : I have a l i t t l e l e t t e r . GORGO: What? BION (submissive): The lady has been so c h a r i t a b l e . . . I can't go without giving i t to her. GORGO (changing to a s o f t e r tone): A l e t t e r , you? BION (giving i t to her:: From the young man... f o r the l i t t l e niece. GORGO: If you aren't a demon, you are governed by them. (Seizing him by the shoulders.) Look at me, Bidn, s t r a i g h t in my eyes. More, more. BION (emotional, looking away): I can't look at you, Dona Gorgo. GORGO: More, a l i t t l e more... BION (overwhelmed with tenderness): It makes the tears run from my eyes. Forgive me. GORGO: Ah 1 I see, I see... Could i t be possible? Enough. Bl6N: I didn't want to offend you. I came only to serve you. GORGO: And you have behaved l i k e an angel. ( C o n f i d e n t i a l l y ) And go on behaving y o u r s e l f , Bidn. You won't be so r r y . 216 BION: Beautiful Dona... GORGO: Now, wait f o r me on the t e r r a c e . The ladies w i l l be there sewing by now... Ah! and you can l e t that she-cat run free wherever she wants. s BION (as he leaves , with the cage): You love me, I love you. You are the she-cat to now catch the rat with a s i l v e r f o r k . (He goes.) GORGO ( f u r i o u s ) : Uva, Uva! What are you t r y i n g to do? Where i s i t you're going? What p i t are you digging f o r me without know- ing i t ? S p i t e f u l o l d woman. Jealous witch. V i n d i c t i v e hag ... (Squeezing the l e t t e r between her fingers and addressing her brother) Out of p i t y , have compassion f o r me! You could have intervened... Oh, nameless disgrace! But perhaps you have arranged i t t h i s way to t e s t your s i s t e r ' s metal. (She . reads s i l e n t l y f o r a moment) It cannot be! Are you going to to l e r a t e t h i s ? (Reading aloud) "I am so f a r away, my l o v e , so c l o s e l y watched here, in t h i s house l o s t in the middle of 217 the mountains, that I fear coming to the point of God knows what when the time comes f o r the dogs to make sport of me-- those bribed farm hands which our f u r i e s feed f o r my custody..." Oh! You granted me t o t a l authority as you lay dying, you who wanted me to become you y o u r s e l f , who l e f t me your voice and even the noble a t t r i b u t e that inhabited your face...! (She continues reading.) " A l t e a , A l t e a : i f i t be so that you are s t i l l a l i v e , i f sleep has not yet returned to your eyes, as i t i s with your Castor since he was taken from your s i d e , i f Animas i s s t i l l the only caretaker, the only support fo r our happiness..." Brother, brother! And that secret of yours at the hour of your death? And was i t f o r t h i s f i n a l e , which I hear now surrounds me, that I was capable of burying i t i n the most hidden corners of my bones? (She goes on reading.) "Always keep watch, A l t e a . See to i t that every night Animas is a l e r t at the edge of the garden. I do not yet know how, but I w i l l root you out of that f r i g h t f u l prison." (Insanely) God! God's God! F l y , b a t s , shades of evening, and screech through the town the dishonor, the unhappy ending of a family! Make haste, chimney swallows: swoop down to the squares and repeat i t to l i t t l e c h i l d r e n , that they may mock us, chanting i t to the market place! (On her knees and as i f in a trance) And you, my brother, s t r i k e me down! Draw back the b o l t , 218 quickly open up the skies and send me the punishment of an arrow that w i l l leave me riveted to the spot, n a i l e d , l i k e a black scarecrow on the highest of these walls! (She puts the l e t t e r away and runs towards the r a i l i n g at the r e a r , shouting) / S y Animas! Animas! Animas! Lock Altea in the tower! (They go up, confused, from the garden: sounds of t h e i r weeping and voices.) Obey me! Obey me, witch! S p i r i t that grieves from a f a r . Save y o u r s e l f with your s e c r e t . S p i r i t that weeps from a f a r . K i l l me with your s e c r e t . S p i r i t that keeps s i l e n t from a f a r . Carry me away with your s e c r e t . L i g h t . . . always your l i g h t ! I need i t more than ever, my brother. There i s s t i l l time... i f you have not already abandoned your daughter and th i s your wretched Gorgo. (Abruptly, AULAGA, UVA and BION burst out the door and onto the rooftop, the l a t t e r holding open in his hands a wide skein of wool. UVA, who i s winding i t nervously, bears a huge p a i r of s c i s s o r s dangling from her neck. AULAGA ca r r i e s a sewing basket, in which b a l l s of y a r n , long needles, h a l f - f i n i s h e d knit garments, other skeins of a l l c o l o r s , e t c . can 219 be seen. Evening i s f a l l i n g ; a red t w i l i g h t , v i o l e n t , increasingly sharpens the p r o f i l e of the Mountain of the Crosses against the clouded sky.) UVA: Gorgo! Gorgo! BION: Dona Gorgo! AULAGA: We heard your niece c r y i n g . . . Ay! What's happened,Gorgo? GORGO: My f r i e n d s , my s i s t e r s ! Dishonor! Disgrace! Don't come near me. Flee from me. I am s t a i n e d , covered with black mud. Trodden under f o o t . Wounded. Buried. Dead. Can't you see me, or i s i t that your eyes have burst in your faces? UVA: Rest a wh i l e , Gorgo. You're raving. AULAGA: I must be b l i n d . . . I don't see anything, daughter. BION: Does my mistress perhaps have a toothache? GORGO ( v i s i o n a r y ) : Altea i s being taken from me... She i s being stolen from us... She i s being snatched away... UVA ( s i t t i n g and s w i f t l y winding the y a r n , facing BION, who remains standing): Calm y o u r s e l f , my Gorgoja. Such words and such shouting... I know what's wrong with you: you're i n t o x i c a t e d . GORGO: Y « s , but with misfortunes... drunk with d i s a s t e r s . . . Castor! Castor! UVA: The brandy, G o r g o j i l l a ! AYLAGA: What? Castor? Has he come? Has he gone? Has he escaped? GORGO: Aren't you l i s t e n i n g at a l l ? Have stones been tossed in 220 your ears? AULAGA: That's what i t must be, Gorgo, because my head i s buzzing. GORGO (almost hypnotizing AULAGA, while UVA, impassive, continues to wind the yarn): It i s he! It i s he! It i s his very horse coming down the Mountain of the Crosses! AULAGA: I must have mists in my eyes, Gorgo. GORGO: Look, Aulaga! Wake up... L i s t e n , l i s t e n . AULAGA: Yes, yes... My poor mad boy! GORGO: Do you see him now, Aulaga? AULAGA: He's passing by the ironworks... GORGO: The whole town i s asleep... You are asleep... You and I are dying with sleep... He's r i d i n g the dancing horse... The yellow one. AULAGA: It i s he, i t i s ! He's passing near the fountain... (Murmuring) What gal l a n t r y ! How handsome! GORGO: Look at him... You w i l l never see him again... He stops... He r i s e s up in the saddle... Animas, help A l t e a . . . He leaps ... He embraces her waist... Sparks f l y from the hooves of his horse... A dog barks... A l l the dogs are barking... They run o f f ! They run at f u l l gallop! There, Aulaga, over there! AULAGA (shouting): Castor! Castor! My l i t t l e love! He's st e a l i n g her from me! Altea! Altea! 221 GORGO: Mercy, brother! A f t e r the t h i e f ! You are lo s i n g your daughter! AULAGA (breaking into t e a r s ) : He has taken her away! I am l e f t without him. My boy, my boy! GORGO: From t h i s moment I am accursed. Forsaken by your hand. God! God's God! (UVA breaks out in a s t r i d e n t guffaw, followed s h o r t l y a f t e r - ward by BION, while AULAGA, leaning on the r a i l i n g at the r e a r , remains l o s t i n space, her eyes f i x e d on the Mountain of the Crosses.) GORGO (wrenching the skein away from UVA): What are you laughing about, busy bee's stinger? ( S l i p p i n g the skein over BION up to his elbows.) And you too, Bio'n? Do you dare to laugh as well? You are amused to see us so content. How witty my l i t t l e royal parrots are! BION: Dona Uva was the f i r s t . . . UVA: What does the l i t t l e p i g l e t know about your a f f a i r s , Gorgoja? GORGO: What does he know? W e l l , l e t him laugh, l e t him laugh... That's why you begged me to bring him back... (She snatches the b a l l of yarn from UVA. As she binds the beggar's e n t i r e body with the yam) And you too can go on laughing, Uva. Come on! Ha, ha! Let's laugh together! Let's a l l laugh! « 222 There i s nothing happening here! Aulaga, come back to your senses. Our Uvita i s happy... Bion i s the happiest of beggars ... He fee l s l i k e laughing... Let's see. Your b a l l of yarn! Your skeins! (BION again laughs b o i s t e r o u s l y , to UVA's mute and growing i n d i g n a t i o n , as AULAGA imprisons him in other s k e i n s , j o i n i n g GORGO in snaring him in the thread.) AULAGA P u l l , pull the skein of wool! GORGO Quick, do not t a r r y , skein of Uvita of cat and dogberry! AULAGA Faster, f a s t e r , skein of laughter! 223 UVA ( r i s i n g , pale with f u r y ) : Enough! Leave him alone! Aulaga! Gorgo! GORGO (exhausted, spent): Slow now, be wary. skein of Uvita of dog and catberry. UVA: What games you think up, daughters! GORGO: No, Uva, i t ' s j u s t that he came to die of laughter... I too am dead... (She laughs disheartened, in a t r a g i c manner.) Bion i s good. Bion i s a s a i n t . Bi6n i s an angel..., a seraph with s i l v e r wings... Let me celebrate his return to Paradise. UVA: This house Paradise? That must have been in your brother's time. GORGO: Yes, Paradise, Paradise, that Bidn can enjoy as he pleases. He knows how better than you. (With mocking i n t e n t j Besides, he understands me. UVA (with astonishment, s t a r t i n g , uneasy): Him! GORGO: Yes, him, him. UVA (j e a l o u s ) : That he... What i s i t that you understand, you miserable wretch? 224 BION(mysterious): Chsst... Chsst... S i l e n c e , Dona Uva. UVA: What mysteries are these? BION (laughing): Mysteries? Those that my protector makes me pray every evening. UVA: Are you l i s t e n i n g , Aulaga? AULAGA: What were you saying? UVA: That now I'm going to be the porcupine i f you don't explain to me what's going on here. Quickly, the q u i l l s are s t a r t i n g to sprout! AULAGA: E x p l a i n , Uvita? Leaveme alone. Don't you see? They've taken my boy away... UVA: Gorgoja's t r i c k e r y , ninny. Now's the time to pay no attention to her. You hear me? Or do you too have a part in the understanding, the mystery of t h i s one here with Bion? GORGO: Did you say t h i s one? UVA: Yes, this one, this one with that one. (Unfastening the huge scissors.) And now that one's going to s i n g . . . And so are we. Come on, l i t t l e r o o s t e r , s i n g , chant! Cockadoodledoo! What i s i t that's going on between you and your mistress? S p i t , spurt out your s a l i v a , horny toad... Quack, quack! Slaver with that tongue... BION: My dear m i s t r e s s , Bion i s only a manacled dog... A dog of the s t r e e t s . 225 GORGO: But without a muzzle, Uva. Watch out... UVA (cutting the threads and skeins that imprison him): W e l l , b i t e , then, bark f r e e l y ! Come on! Bark! Bow wow! Howl, Bion, howl out! Owoooo! (BION breaks out howling and guffawing grotesquely along with UVA.) Cursed be the hour when you came back to th i s house! GORGO (tr y i n g to stop UVA's f i t ) : Aulaga! The wool! The wool! The poor people's wool! Go on! Keep i t up! Cut i t with the sc i s s o r s ! Cut i t o f f ! Tear i t ! Rip i t ! Pull i t to shreads! AULAGA: My socks! My scarves! My knit waistcoats! Bl6N: Dona Uva, Dona Uva! GORGO: Be char i t a b l e ! You're evil-minded! UVA (throwing the sewing basket and s c a t t e r i n g a l l the garments that are inside i t over the garden): Out! Let them go naked, l e t them shiver with cold! The unfortunates want clean garments, and our hands only weave mud. AULAGA: You frighten me, Uva. UVA: Alms such as those s t a i n the heavens. GORGO: You are damned. I see your serpent's body. UVA: You are p l o t t i n g something... I can smell i t . . . You do not f o r g i v e , you want everything f o r yourselves, gluttons. That one now, with her nephew, with that l i t t l e nephew that f e l l to her one good day from God knows where... And you, Gorgoja, 226 i f you could... (Giving the beggar a shove.) Why say any more? You make me blush to the t i p of my nose f o r shame. BION: Don't be impudent, Dona Uva, because I swear to you on my honor that Bion doesn't know any mysteries. UVA (thrusting the sc i s s o r s in his f a c e ) : Be quiet or I ' l l cut your eyes out! BIQ'N (running, followed by UVA): No, not that! My eyes... my beard! Calm your blood, my mistress. GORGO: Uva! Uva! AULAGA: She'll cut them! She'll cut them! Get those s c i s s o r s away from her! GORGO: She would do i t with her f i n g e r n a i l s . Vulture, vulture! UVA: To your cave! BION: Mysteries! GORGO: God! God's God! UVA: To your pigsty! Get out, get out! (BION f l e e s ; his c r i e s can be heard from within.) Mysteries! Mysteries! (Panting, a f t e r a pause.) It wasn't you who threw him out now. It was my turn t h i s time, Gorgoja. (She s i t s , depressed, covering her face with her hands.) GORGO: My poor l i t t l e grape, U v i t a , always s u f f e r i n g . UVA: I threw him out, I threw him out! And i t was me! Did you see? 227 GORGO: I don't want to complain, my daughter... But... what do you want me to do? This business of making a r i v e r out of a l i t t l e drop of water, a mountain out of a grain of sand... In the end, even though grapes turn into r a i s i n s , the heart i s a l i t t l e g i r l always ready to play skip-rope. UVA: Why did you agree to have him come? For t h i s , Gorgo, f o r t h i s ! GORGO ( i r o n i c ) : You asked me to so of t e n . You openly pleaded with me to have him stay on with us. UVA: Well, I hate myself, I'm disgusted that I c a r r i e d on so. GORGO: We would get so bored without him... UVA: I am ashamed. I can't forgive myself. GORGO (with i n t e n t , almost in her ear): Besides, Uva, Gorgo i s n ' t s p i t e f u l . . . Do you understand? And le a s t of a l l , v i n d i c t i v e . Forgive, forgive! I t has made me very happy to see him here again. UVA: Gorgo, Gorgo! Why are you saying that to me? GORGO (making her s u f f e r ) : I f i t doesn't offend you, i f you don't act l i k e a gooseberry, he can come back whenever he wants... Bidh i s good... Above a l l , he i s ser v i c e a b l e . . . You know, You know, he even brought me a c a t . UVA: A she-cat, that he sto l e from a neighbor f o r you. GORGO: And he was so happy! You should have seen him! Why, i t 228 was then he t o l d me that to him t h i s house was glory i t s e l f . UVA: Glory, G o r g o j i l l a ? What a stupid wretch! GORGO: Glory, yes; not Paradise, as I said before. UVA (more serene): What an i d e a , Gorgo! GORGO: Ah! And he also swore that I was his guardian angel... Isn't that d e l i g h t f u l , Uva? And he c a l l e d me a flower. Dona Flower! The poor man was so g r a t e f u l ! Do you understand i t a l l now? Those were our mysteries. UVA: Anyway, I'm s t i l l s u f f e r i n g , my daughter. Forgive me. GORGO: Calm y o u r s e l f . . . Smile a l i t t l e , jealous l i t t l e g i r l . You have offended him, mistreated him, thrown him out... UVA: He deserved i t . . . GORGO: ... only because of your s u s p i c i o n s , your imaginings... UVA: I thought he deserved i t . My soul i s going to burst. GORGO (growing s u l l e n ) : And me? What i s going to burst me open? Have you forgotten that I am dying.;, that I am in the midst of a b a t t l e , r i d d l e d with wounds... UVA: Gorgo! GORGO: ... that i t i s I who am going to d i e , i f you do not sustain me, i f you l e t me forget everything. Aulaga! AULAGA: You c a l l e d me? GORGO (transfigured): Yes, yes. Come to me. Don't you know? He must have t o l d you. My brother spoke to me a short while 229 ago. The rooftop was f i l l e d with his voice. F i r s t i t was a whisper: "Gorgo, Gorgo!" I looked at the chimneys... At f i r s t I thought i t was the smoke that was c a l l i n g me... "Here, Gorgo: It's me." It came from the vine branches... I put my ear to the leaves... No, i t was over there, beyond the weather vanes... "Do not f a l l asleep, s i s t e r . Your sleep would be treason. Let your eyes f a l l out before you close them. Altea i s going to be taken away... And you know, you know... I am s u f f e r i n g . . . My s p i r i t i s in sleepless torment... It weeps... Don't you hear how i t weeps? Do not condemn i t to H e l l . " AULAGA: Is that what he s a i d , Gorgo? GORGO: Didn't you hear him? Didn't you see from the terrace? I f e l t a f r a i d . I locked her in the tower again... The red rooster i s courting her... I hear that he i s preparing him- s e l f . . . That he i s sharpening his spurs... He i s going to come, he's coming... AULAGA: Castor! But hasn't he gone away? GORGO: He i s going to come! We can s t i l l stop him... AULAGA: Yes, yes! GORGO: ... Run to him... Turn his horse... AULAGA: He goes on, he goes on! GORGO: ... and take him away ... f a r away... 230 AULAGA: Stop, my boy! A moment! GORGO: ... beyond those mountains... to another countryside... u n t i l a l l t h i s i s swallowed on the tongue of o b l i v i o n . AULAGA (in a deli r i u m) : Ay, my boy! My death, my l i f e ! A word ...! Hear me... You don't know, you don't know...! You're going to s t a y , you won't leave me, when I t e l l you... UVA ( p i t e o u s l y ) : Aulaga, l i s t e n , Aulaga... AULAGA: I took you in as a l i t t l e boy... They brought you to me from I don't know where... from a dista n t farmhouse... when you were scarcely a flower... UVA: I beg of you... Look at me, at l e a s t . . . AULAGA: ... You grew up beside my s o l i t u d e . . . L i t t l e by l i t t l e I made you mine, without your being mine... as i f you had run about in my blood... inhabited my poor e n t r a i l s . . . UVA: Daughter, my daughter... AULAGA: ... And then, what lo v e , what love! My v i g i l , my s a c r i f i c e s , my anguish, are they worth nothing to you? I t e l l you how, my boy, but never repeat i t , never remind me of i t , ever... I am not your family... not even your aunt... That i s why you are everything to me... Don't leave me... GORGO: Aulaga, Aulaga! He won't go away, he w i l l not leave you... He won't take her away, we won't be l e f t without them... I know, I know... 231 UVA: This crime must be stopped. You are a pa i r of e g o i s t s . GORGO: Bite your tongue, Uva. What do you know about crimes? Haven't we consumed ourselves, waiting? Help me, i t i s a l l I ask. Sustain me a l i t t l e more and you w i l l see... (Shouting) Animas, Animas, Animas! Take the c h i l d from the tower and bring her to the rooftop! AULAGA: Gorgo commands. She i s the au t h o r i t y . The male. The man. She has her brother's enlightenment. UVA: It must be t r u e , daughters: Uva never knows anything. A l l that takes place here from now on w i l l weigh upon your shoulders. Gorgo i s responding to dictated s e c r e t s . GORGO (ill u m i n e d ) : I w i l l carry them out, be certain of tha t . . . And i f they should not be c a r r i e d out: May my poor eyes f a l l out, unhappy s p i r i t , s p i r i t i n disgrace. May my tongue s p l i t i n two, s p i r i t i n mourning, s p i r i t i n darkness. May my dry bones s p l i n t e r , s p i r i t in sorrow, s p i r i t without r e s t . 232 May my dry bones s p l i n t e r , s p i r i t in sorrow, s p i r i t without r e s t . May my blood a l l dry up, s p i r i t i n mortal anguish. May my heart freeze inside me, s p i r i t i n danger of death. May you never recognize me, s p i r i t i n danger of shadow. (After an expectant s i l e n c e which only serves to further darken the drama of the vi o l e n t t w i l i g h t , ALTEA, led by ANIMAS, her face covered with the black l i n e n - c l o t h , appears l i k e a shadow.) GORGO ( s o f t l y ) : I c a l l e d you, n i e c e , to t e l l you something which I have thought, that I have decided you should know... and also so that you may spend the l a s t of the afternoon with us. ALTEA: I don't want to know anything. I l i v e better in o b l i v i o n . GORGO: I s u f f e r because of t h a t , c h i l d . ALTEA: I am better o f f s i l e n t , alone there, with the chimney swallows and the clock b e l l s . 233 GORGO: A l t e a , Altea! ALTEA: Don't concern y o u r s e l f with me. Let me go back. GORGO: Animas, remove her v e i l . I know your torment, c h i l d . ANIMAS (murmuring to ALTEA as she removes the v e i l ) : Come, l i t t l e flower... UVA: Unhappy waxen rose. AULAGA: Well, I f i n d her as she always has been: l i k e a garden in May. ALTEA: I want to go. GORGO: My wish would not have been f o r t h i s . I am not my own mistress. Someone who keeps watch f o r your good commands me. I obey him. ALTEA: I beg you, aunt. I am no longer on t h i s earth. Think of me as having gone away, as having l e f t t h i s house a long time ago. GORGO: My c h i l d , i t i s always the f i r s t love which seems the saddest. That's the way i t was with me when I was a g i r l . . . That's the way i t has been with a l l of us. ALTEA: I don't want to tal k to anyone. GORGO: The Angel us b e l l i s going to t o l l . ALTEA: I ' l l hear i t from the tower. Give me permission to leave. GORGO: Animas, bring the poles. (ANIMAS leaves.) It i s time now. Do you remember? But you were such a c h i l d . . . 234 ALTEA ( d e c i s i v e ) : I'm going. GORGO (au t h o r i t a r i a n ) : Your father was a happy man. In the springtime, above a l l , he wouldn't miss an afternoon out here. Uva and Aulaga won't have forgotten. UVA: Yes, y e s , we used to hunt with him. GORGO: Today I want to remember him with you... Give him that pleasure, A l t e a . I do not ask f o r myself. UVA: Aulaga i s a f r a i d . AULAGA: I never hunted, but Gorgo, on the other hand... GORGO: It i s n ' t easy, niece. You have to be very a l e r t . Come on. You'll get your mind o f f things a l i t t l e . The b i r d s . . . not the b i r d s . That would be l i k e k i l l i n g defenseless flowers. But the bats... (Mysterious, obsessed) Look, look, niece... Look, a l l of you... They're s t i l l f l y i n g high up... They've j u s t come out... They f l y b l i n d , avoiding the tower s p i r e s . . . They nest in the d e v i l ' s head. And they c i r c l e round and round l i k e remorse... Their smell i s that of punished sorrow, of sick melancholy, of dry smoke, decomposing, and t h e i r wings, ribbed and f e a t h e r l e s s , are l i k e those of f a l l e n angels. (ANIMAS re t u r n s , bringing f i v e long canes, with a black cloth at the t i p of each. While ANIMAS hands them out to everyone) K i l l i n g them, knocking them down i s l i k e cleansing the conscience of s t a i n s , bleaching the soul of i t s s i n s . 235 (Now with her po l e , in the center of the roof.) S p i n , slowly spin those black kerchiefs and you w i l l see them obsessed, squeaking, creaking l i k e wooden bolts in the night... (They spin the canes about rhythmically while f a r o f f the Angel us begins to sound.) Black messengers of death, never nest on my forehead. AULAGA: Fa l 1 , f l y away, and l e t me rest i n my dreams! GORGO: Never disturb my breast with your dank and dismal designs. UVA: Fly away, f a l l , and l e t me bloom in my dreams! ANIMAS: Fl e e , spin away, and l e t her f l y without fear! GORGO: Never cloak t h i s dwelling with the co l o r of your disgrace. 236 ALTEA: F l y , f l y , and l e t me forgotten die I GORGO (stopping the hunt with the others): Die, d i e . . . What an extraordinary thought, niece! As i f f a l l e n from these f l y i n g demons. ALTEA: Yes, aunt, d i e , die from everything... To close my eyes and never again see t h i s p r i s o n , t h i s rooftop, that mountain... GORGO: These are the dark shadows of a g i r l in l o v e , c h i l d . But you would be c r u e l , A l t e a , and not to y o u r s e l f , nor to me, nor even to Animas, who goes without sleep at night f o r you, but to someone who i s the cause... ALTEA: I don't have anyone any more now. I am alone, surrounded by horror... ANIMAS: My heart... my love. GORGO: Alone, niece? ALTEA: Yes, yes. GORGO: Forgotten, niece? ALTEA: Yes. GORGO: Can you be certain of t h a t , without your blood r i s i n g ? ALTEA: I don't know. But that i s how I want i t to be. GORGO: Are you t e l l i n g the truth? Put your ear to your heart. 237 ALTEA: Aunt, aunt! GORGO: You doubt, c h i l d . I can see i t . ALTEA: Don't k i l l me slowly. K i l l me at once. I can't endure any more. GORGO: You are l y i n g to me, A l t e a . ALTEA: Leave me alone. I have t o l d you what I want. GORGO: You are unjust. Look. (She shows her the l e t t e r . Silence.) AULAGA: Gorgo, Gorgo! A l e t t e r ! ANIMAS (between her teeth): My God! GORGO: You're speechless, A l t e a . And you t o o , Uva. Yes, a l e t t e r . From Castor. Why not t e l l you the truth? (Pause, in which ALTEA, AULAGA and UVA take a step toward GORGO.) Don't come any c l o s e r , niece. Don't come c l o s e r , any of you... (A f a i n t smoke begins to come out of the chimneys while the Angel us b e l l s come and go in melancholy tones.) ALTEA (hard): You w i l l give i t to me. AULAGA: It belongs to me. ALTEA (moving her as i d e ) : Out of here, t h i e f ! UVA: It's f o r A l t e a . Give i t to her. ALTEA: I am i t s only mistress. I t i s mine. GORGO: Yours. But you w i l l not have i t . ALTEA: Yes. 238 GORGO: That won't be necessary, niece. I'm going to shout to you what i t says. Listen c a r e f u l l y . ALTEA: I want to read i t myself. AULAGA: No, l e t me. GORGO: You don't want to d i e . Castor loves you. ALTEA: I won't believe anything from you. Give i t to me. GORGO: He i s going to k i l l himself f o r you... He i s l i v i n g f a r away, he t e l l s you, very f a r from t h i s town, surrounded by mountains, guarded, abducted by these f u r i e s . (They move toward GORGO slowly.) Back, back! He w i l l never be able to escape... and he i s going to throw himself i n the r i v e r . . . hang himself from a branch... AULAGA: That i s n ' t true. ALTEA: I hate you. UVA: You took possession of that l e t t e r . GORGO: I took i t from Bion. That's why I wanted him to come back. You have betrayed me, procurer. ALTEA (beside h e r s e l f ) : It's mine! AULAGA (the same): It's mine! (They each take up one of the poles and rai s e them menacingly, a l l but ANIMAS.) 239 GORGO: It i s mine... Mine... Mine alone. (She tears i t to pieces and thrusts them into her dress, at the moment that they s t r i k e her down, together.) God! God's God! (As they beat her) S t r i k e me! Wound me! Draw my blood t i l l i t gushes! What do you know! See me now, my brother! Look at your own daughter... my f a i t h f u l f r i e n d s . . . ! But I w i l l defend you, I w i l l obey you, I w i l l save your honor, keeping your secret to the death... • Animas! Animas! You s t r i k e me too, what are you waiting for? (The Angelus sounds c l o s e r and louder now, while the thick smoke of the chimneys further blackens the evening and the curtain descends.) * 240 CHARACTERS IN THE THIRD ACT GORGO UVA AULAGA ALTEA BION ANIMAS FIRST BEGGAR SECOND BEGGAR THIRD BEGGAR FOURTH BEGGAR PEASANT CASTOR Shawl-covered women from the town and other poor people 241 A C T T H R E E Dona GORGO'S house garden. In the l e f t foreground, a white wall with a door. In the background, toward the center, the sudden thrust of a slender tower: low balcony with a door, and two windows. Trees, vines along the whitewashed w a l l s , flower pots... The garden has a romantic a i r and i s somewhat wild and lu x u r i a n t . To the right in the foreground i s a table a l l l a i d out: f r u i t , pitchers of wine, an immense covered d i s h , e t c . It i s night. And there i s a moon. GORGO, kneeling on the ground, illuminated by a ray of l i g h t , appears to be in a state of ecstacy. Illumined by another beam of l i g h t , ALTEA i s seen in the highest window in the tower. ALTEA: Some towers overlook the f i e l d s . Others, the sea, the sea. 242 The towers of my hope, what do they look upon? GORGO: See me here struck down, a l l f o r you, my brother: my temples, f a i n t my r i b s , in pain. It was not with the s t a l k s of l i l i e s , brother. Pointed s t i c k s , sharpened poles were what that n a i l e d me down. You saw me tossed to the e a r t h , brother. Eating the dust and b i t i n g the t i l e s you have walked on. To me, the thorns are d a h l i a s , f o r you, brother, sweet v i o l e t s , the blows, warm carnations, the n a i l s . 243 ALTEA (in a lower window): There are towers that look upon highways; others: ships that s a i l o f f to sea. The towers of my sadness, what w i l l they see? GORGO: The f r a u d , the v i l l a i n y , brother; the falsehood, madness, h u m i l i a t i o n , d e c e i t ; the slow execution, the crime, f o r you, brother; the shame of f o r g i v i n g those who beat me down. My brother: a l l f o r you, and more s t i l l , brother; i f i t be necessary••, l e t horses brand me with t h e i r h o o f p r i n t s . ALTEA (now on the balcony): Towers that s i n g , s m i l i n g ; towers which only weep. The towers of my agony, what w i l l they do? (With the ray of l i g h t , she withdraws from the balcony.) UVA'S VOICE (d a r k l y ) : Gorgo! GORGO: Who i s i t that c a l l s ? Let them deride me, brother; l e t them mock, l e t them laugh un t i l they are l e f t without l i p s . AULAGA'S VOICE (murmuring): Gorgo! BION'S VOICE: Dona Gorgo! GORGO: Come! Approach! I am here, yours, brother; ready to save the pure name which you have l e f t to us. ALTEA'S VOICE: Aunt! ANIMAS' VOICE: Mistress! GORGO: Do not weep, hidden s p i r i t , brother, brother! 245 This very day w i l l you be f r e e , h o l y , pure, immaculate. VOICES OF THE FOUR BEGGARS (mysterious): Dona Gorgo! Dona Gorgo! (The ray of l i g h t that illuminated GORGO disappears. In the garden, in a d i f f e r e n t area, UVA, AULAGA, BION and THE FOUR BEGGARS have entered. ANIMAS and ALTEA are out on the balcony. Those who have come into the garden bring with them l i g h t e d lanterns which they set on the table or hang from the trees.) GORGO (very humble arid s o f t during the scene): You have come, daughters. And you a l s o . Thanks, thanks. You are now here with me. It i s the day of c h a r i t y , of holy alms, which has been celebrated each year i n t h i s house. But t h i s year I have wanted to move i t forward. And also to have i t at night. See what a beautiful June moon i s to accompany our supper. Animas, Altea! I want you down in the garden. Come down, come down, the two of you. (They with draw from the balcony.) UVA: You have always c a l l e d us together on t h i s day so that we could help you. AULAGA: But t h i s time you haven't s a i d anything to us, Gorgo. GORGO: I have prepared everything myself. I haven't even l e t Animas spread the t a b l e c l o t h . 246 BION: And did my mistress even bring out the tables without any help? In other y e a r s , Bion c a r r i e d them out and he was also the one who beheaded the lamb with his hand. FIRST BEGGAR: What are we poor men good for? What are we f o r i f not to be ordered about? Come get t h i s , donkey. Go bring t h a t , imbecile. Run here, houndog. Go there, blockhead. SECOND BEGGAR: That's what I say, Dona Gorgo. Obey: At the stroke of one, take the mule out of the sun. At the stroke of two, a kick from the shoe, At the stroke of t h r e e , take her back to the t r e e . At the stroke of f o u r , whipped to the core. At the stroke of f i v e . . . GORGO: Enough, man, enough. That's the way of h e r e t i c s , of souls without a heart. THIRD BEGGAR: Well,-we'11 wash the dishes afterwards among ourselves. FOURTH BEGGAR: And on our knees, i f our mistress commands. FIRST BEGGAR: We would clean them with our snouts i f that were your pleasure. BION: On with the d i s h e s , on with the p l a t t e r s , to the tongues of these c a t s , j u s t made f o r such matters 1 247 GORGO: That i s how I would always wash yours, Bidn, i f you thought me worthy... UVA: You are sublime, Gorgo. GORGO: An unfortunate, a poor woman. UVA: You, poor, G o r g o j i l l a ? I would l i k e to see you barefoot, l i k e the true unfortunates. GORGO (continuously meek): You do not hurt me, U v i t a , because that i s how I am going to serve you th i s night. (She removes her shoes and stockings.) UVA: Jesus! AULAGA (deeply moved, making a kneeling gesture): Gorgo, my daughter, forgive me... I have hurt you... I doubted you... You are good... UVA: Only a b i t mad, a l i t t l e hypocrite... GORGO: And a l l that i s worst, Uva. Speak, shout i t i n p u b l i c , i f you wish... (taking AULAGA by the arm) No, Aulaga, no, no... It i s you who must forgive me... You are s u f f e r i n g . . . You aren't a l i v e . . . You are sick with a passion of the s p i r i t . . . UVA: Before i t was I who was the martyr. Now... Look! GORGO: Yes, look at us, simple ones, and r i d i c u l e with Dona Uva these two sad scarecrows. I t i s the night f o r forgiveness. (Turning slowly to leave) Have the kindness to wait f o r me a l i t t l e while... I w i l l come back to you s h o r t l y . 248 Light so mournful, l i g h t d i v i n e , today, without thorns, you w i l l shine. Light so s i c k l y , l i g h t so d i s t a n t , today you w i l l brighten in an i n s t a n t . (BION and THE FOUR BEGGARS,very emotional, as GORGO walks slowly toward the door) BION: Your legs have turned into carnations, Dona Gorgo! FIRST BEGGAR: Angel of kindness! SECOND BEGGAR: Patron of the poor! THIRD BEGGAR: Fountain of those in need! FOURTH BEGGAR: Refuge f o r the helpless! UVA (between her tee t h ) : Drunkard... madwoman... crazy madwoman... AULAGA: S a i n t , s a i n t , s a i n t ! (As Dona GORGO goes out, ALTEA and ANIMAS enter at the rear of the garden.) BION (happy): Begone, be damned, Martfn, horse-man, the moon has come, lantern in hand! UVA: AULAGA: BION: ANIMAS: FIRST BEGGAR: Altea! A l t e a ! The sweetheart of these walls! The maiden of the rooftops! The glory that from heaven came to pass comes to give us what she has and what she has not! BION (leaping about around ALTEA and ANIMAS): A l l to the round of the j e l l i e d quince, t h e r e ' l l be no bread without twopence! SECOND BEGGAR: With her dark eyes of hazlenuts that by day are stored away and at night are scattered. BION: THIRD BEGGAR: BION: FOURTH BEGGAR: BION: A l l to the round of the candied plum, there i s no weeping, no mournful drum! With her dove's arching b r e a s t , which by night has wings of white and by day hides in i t s nest! A l l to the round of the red car n a t i o n , paper less pen i s no s a l u t a t i o n ! With her l i p s of fragrant pine: by day they are orange by night they are lime! To the round that does not go round i f there i s no bread, no s t e r l i n g pound (A l l of them making begging gestures) FIRST BEGGAR: Give us one... SECOND BEGGAR: Give us two... 251 THIRD BEGGAR: Give us twenty... FOURTH BEGGAR: Flower divine! BION: And play the f i f e f i n e ! (While the FIRST BEGGAR plays a few s t r i d e n t whistles on the f i f e , BION and the other beggars seize and kiss the hands of ANIMAS, UVA and AULAGA, causing the women to c i r c l e r i d i c u l o u s l y around ALTEA: there is much kicking and shouting.) UVA (breaking the chorus): Feet of a mule! BION: To the round, follow the round, my Dona Uva! AULAGA (panting): My heart i s going to burst. Bl6N (embracing ANIMAS by the waist): Come, shepherdess, leopardess, the hour i s ever-best! ANIMAS: Beast! Thief! Watch out, y o u ' l l see! (The THREE BEGGARS advance towards ALTEA): SECOND BEGGAR: The queen! THIRD BEGGAR: The flower of the vintage! 252 FOURTH BEGGAR: The j u i c e of the wine press! ALTEA: Animas! Animas! ANIMAS (coming between them): If you dare to touch her I w i l l s p l i t you in two! BION ( p u l l i n g AULAGA to take her o f f among the t r e e s ) : My Dofia Aulaga, to the round, to the round: I pay in good money—hush, don't make a sound! AULAGA: Uva, Bion i s carrying me o f f ! He's leading me astray! UVA ( p u l l i n g AULAGA by the other hand): What more did you want, l i t t l e g i r l ? Turn her loose, you dog! • ANIMAS: Wicked men! Pigs! Out with a l l the beggars in t h i s town! (Suddenly the f i f e breaks i t s concert before the apparition of Dona GORGO, who i s wearing the beard, carrying a washbasin and, hanging over her arm, a small towel.) GORGO (from the doorway): Run! Jump! Be merry! It i s also the night f o r gaeity. (Gestures of surprise and astonishment by the BEGGARS) BION: The mistress has put on my beard again. UVA: What lack of respect! What an i n s u l t to your brother, G o r g o j i l l a ! To come out l i k e that in front of the poor! AULAGA: Gorgo! My Gorgo! What i s happening? You make my ha i r 253 stand on end. ALTEA ( t e r r i f i e d , s h i e l d i n g h e r s e l f behind ANIMAS): Animas, I want to leave. Come with me. Let's go. ANIMAS: Don Dino! Ay, my mad mistress! Let th i s torment stop now! Don't tremble, my c h i l d . (The BEGGARS, at l a s t , break out bellowing and laughing.) FOURTH BEGGAR: Dona GORGO has turned i n t o a goat! THIRD BEGGAR (on a l l fours pretending to be a goat): Butt away, long-beard, butt away. Maa! Maa! SECOND BEGGAR (to FIRST BEGGAR): You, sharpen i t s horns. And pla y , play! Play out loud and long! (The FIRST BEGGAR plays a few notes on the f i f e . ) BION (snatching the f i f e away from him): Have more composure; Bion i s the only beggar on intimate terms here! GORGO: Laugh. Screech. Mock me. My s p i r i t i s prepared. Don't you see? I t i s not Gorgo's s p i r i t now. Your shouts and laughter illuminate i t , bathing i t with pleasure and l i m i t - less d e l i g h t . . What did you think? Come to me. But no, don't come, don't force yourselves to take a s i n g l e step. I t i s I, on my knees, who w i l l come to you. (Kneeling, she moves toward them before the fear and s i l e n c e of a l l . ) What are these humble cobbles to the crevices and scratches that my f l e s h claims! Brambles and sharp-pointed pebbles are what 254 t h i s s p i r i t asks of me, quivering with hope. (She r i s e s before ALTEA, presenting her with the washbasin. As she washed ALTEA's hands) Let your hands be the f i r s t , niece. It i s not I who is going to wash them, returning them to t h e i r jasmine inno- cence. .. ALTEA: I have gone b l i n d , I have gone mad... I no longer know what I am doing, nor whom I am seeing... GORGO: Now, pure once again, they can grip the rod with renewed strength against me. Here i s my back, my poor bones that need i t . (ALTEA turns her face away, covering i t with her hands.) Animas, you didn't s t r i k e me, daughter, you didn't hammer your hate into the f a l l e n pain of your mistress... ANIMAS (hiding her hands): Madam, I would die f i r s t . . . GORGO (washing them): I w i l l wash yours a l s o . Now with greater s k i l l they can continue t h e i r secret work... UVA: You wash my hands? Never, never! This i s too much humili- a t i o n , Gorgo. GORGO: No, my U v i t a , on the contrary. (Washing them) It i s my g l o r y , i t i s h i s , his own... They w i l l feel h o l y , there w i l l blossom in them, perhaps, the new thought of caressing me a l i t t l e . . . AULAGA (going forward): Mine, y e s , I w i l l l e t you wash mine... (As she washes them) Oh, what peace! What sweetness! 255 What pleasure! GORGO: S t i l l more f o r me, Aulaga... BldN: Bion t o o, my mi s t r e s s , though I don't deserve i t . (His head bowed, r e s p e c t f u l l y , as she washes his hands) Blessed madam Gorgo, in heaven there i s an alcove with a l t a r and holy-water, Gorgo, reserved f o r you. Pater noster. Jesus. Amen. GORGO: Bion, B i o n c i l l o . . . The l i t t l e devil of t h i s house... One would need a torrent f o r you alone... THE FOUR BEGGARS (rushing impetuously to the washbowl): Now us, Dona Gorgo! FIRST BEGGAR: Me f i r s t . My hands are d i r t y . SECOND BEGGAR (giving him a shove): Have you had the mange? THIRD BEGGAR (shoving the SECOND BEGGAR): I have. And besides, I'm the new protege. FOURTH BEGGAR (pushing through them and plunging his hands in the water): But I'm the oldest! GORGO: A l l of you, a l l at the same time, l i k e good brothers. (As she pours water over t h e i r hands and dries them) 256 Simple s o u l s , d e c r i e d , by t h i s water be p u r i f i e d . Beautiful s o u l s , denied, by t h i s water be d e i f i e d . (She sets down the washbasin and removes the beard.) And now, c h i l d r e n , myself clean now and pure,all of you shining as s i l v e r , s i t with me at charity's t a b l e , at t h i s feast that today i s also that of peace and good w i l l . (GORGO goes to the center of the table and each one goes tb his p l a c e , stand- ing behind t h e i r chairs.) Let lis commend ourselves, before we begin, to him who bequeathed us t h i s holy and f a m i l i a r custom. May the table cloths of your house always open to your love. Give them your benediction, bless them from heaven above. Upon t h e i r unstained whiteness embroider your pure heart's love: f o r him embraced i n your s h i r t - s l e e v e s as f o r him you salute with your glove. Wine of your r i p e s t vineyards: 257 run in r i v e r s of s u n l i t l o v e. Olive t r e e s : o f f e r your branches and the brown sweet bread, your bud. Your e s t a t e , the choicest lamb, your orchard, the choicest guaves. Let not that which the knife cuts be unknown to the fork of the poor man who awaits your table as the tree awaits the dove, as the farmer awaits the r a i n , as your g l o r y , your s i s t e r ' s love. THE WOMEN: Amen. THE MEN: Amen. GORGO: So l e t i t be f o r him and f o r God. (They a l l s i t . As GORGO, s t i l l standing, s t a r t s to l i f t the l i d of the great covered dish that stands in the center of the t a b l e , a PEASANT e n t e r s , panting, at the rear of the garden.) 258 PEASANT (emerging from the t r e e s ) : Madam... Madam... (As i f su r p r i s e d , not expecting to see so many people) Dona Gorgo... (The PEASANT'S a r r i v a l produces a strange and tense si l e n c e . ) GORGO: What i s the matter with you? Speak. PEASANT (slowly, h e s i t a n t ) : Good evening... Forgive me... I thought I would f i n d the mistress of the house alone... GORGO (serene): As you see, i t i s not so. PEASANT ( v a c i l l a t i n g ) : I bring a message f o r you... GORGO: If i t i s by word of mouth, t e l l i t to me. PEASANT: The young man... ALTEA (standing): Castor! AULAGA (as an echo): Castor. GORGO: Go on. PEASANT: ... appeared at daybreak hanging from an o l i v e t r e e . . . (A new silence) ALTEA (shouting): You l i e ! AULAGA (questioning): Gorgo, daughter... GORGO: Is i t true what you say, man? UVA: Have you seen him? ANIMAS: Answer q u i c k l y . Come on! PEASANT: Ladies... The head shepherd has sent me... I've been r i d i n g a l l day... Many leagues... The boy... Go and t e l l the mistress... Hanged... With the rope from the w e l l . . . 259 GORGO (with f a t a l i s m ) : It had to happen. He himself had written i t . ALTEA ( d e c i s i v e l y ) : Animas. I want to see him. I'm going. ANIMAS: Then i t w i l l be with me, c h i l d . AULAGA ( f a i n t , t r y i n g to walk): I..., I... The two of you alone... UVA: You can't, daughter. S i t down. GORGO (in front of ALTEA): Nor you, niece. It would be us e l e s s , you don't know where he i s . And I w i l l go, on t h i s man's horse, only me. Go and prepare the horse. Do you have any- thing more to say? PEASANT (confused): Madam... (He goes. Pause) ALTEA: You have k i l l e d him (To AULAGA) And you. (To UVA) And you a l s o . UVA: I-.wished to help you A l t e a . Bion and Animas know that. Aulaga and Gorgo know. But i t couldn't be. It came out wrong. ALTEA: You are murderers. (To the BEGGARS) Let these poor men know i t . Look here at the three of them. You can shout i t through the town, howl i t from the rooftops, proclaim i t through the s t r e e t s . (BION and the FOUR BEGGARS, some standing and some seated, remain motionless, as i f made of stone.) What are you doing? Go. Go. Dead! Hanged from an o l i v e tree by your own hands. Show them your hands. Let the beggars see 260 them w e l l . They are the very same that drop alms and that strangle a throat. GORGO: Accuse me alone. Go on, go on. ALTEA: Quiet! Quiet, dismal old women, pluckers of the l i g h t from my eyes, of the joy from my years! GORGO: Thrash me, Rend me. Claw. Say more, but to me, only to me, f o r presently I w i l l t e l l you... ALTEA: T e l l me presently! Let no one dare! Let no one of you speak without your hands f a l l i n g o f f ! And leas t of a l l , you. You f i l l me with horror. A l l my l i f e has been a dark room, l i k e a sad, empty coal b i n . And now i t w i l l be more so.. Leave me be. I cannot see. I would prefer the company of wolves, the nocturnal solitude of the hyenas to being with you, with a l l of you, o l d dried up females, black horrors masked as austere and pious s o u l s . Go sleep serenely, my three custodian dogs. Now Castor belongs to no-one... Isn't that how you preferred i t , Aulaga? (AULAGA stares at her in mute a b e r r a t i o n , as ALTEA s t a r t s to leave.) A l l that was between these walls were n a i l s to me, even the leaves of the t r e e s , except f o r you, Animas, the only merciful shoulder f o r my unhappy, sleepless heart... ANIMAS: I'm going with you, my hea r t , to f l u f f your pillows with flowers so t h a t f o r the f i r s t time your sleep w i l l be s o f t . 261 ALTEA: No... Later... Tomorrow... I want to weep without anyone near me the rest of the night... Don't come with me, I ask you... ANIMAS: I w i l l do as you please, love... Go s l e e p , go cry alone, and I w i l l come up then at daybreak to see that the l i g h t does not steal your r e s t . ALTEA (illumined by a ray of l i g h t from above and moving slowly toward the rear of the garden, carrying a li g h t e d l a n t e r n ) : Dearest l o v e , dearest love: I without you, and you without me. When a l l the towers heralded your coming, l o v e , dearest l o v e , I without you, and you without me. When in my breast you were lov e , dearest l o v e , I without you, and you without me. What hope f o r my eyes, f o r my empty l i p s , l o v e , dearest l o v e , i f I be without you, and you without me? GORGO (deeply pained and in a low v o i c e ) : Al t e a . . . A l t e a . . . A l t e a . . . ANIMAS ( s t a r t i n g to leave s e c r e t l y ) : How can I leave you now, ch i l d ? How can I not go with you now, though i t be from a f a r , i f you go as i f dead? (She follows ALTEA, very slowly.) ALTEA (stopping a moment, beneath the door of her balcony): Bed of my heart, bedroom of my b l i s s , l o v e , dearest l o v e , without you, without me, nor I with you! ANIMAS: Love, dearest love... UVA: Love. AULAGA: Castor... Castor... (ANIMAS disappears.) ALTEA (as she appears in the upper most window of the tower): My shadow w i l l be a tower, yours an o l i v e t r e e , l o v e , dearest l o v e , I with you and you with me. 263 GORGO (overcome, returning slowly to the t a b l e , going to s i t down, and repeating i n an obsessed tone): Dearest love... Dearest love... Dearest love... Love... (There i s heard, as i f f a l l i n g from a height, a h o r r i f i e d cry from ALTEA.) ANIMAS' VOICE (wailing): A l t e a ! A l t e a ! Ay, l a d i e s ! Run! Help! A l l of you, come! GORGO (erect and t r a g i c ) : What to do now, my brother? The night of forgiveness, the supper of love and j o y , I have b l i n d l y exchanged f o r a night of madness, f o r a feast of horror and of death. (There i s a profound darkness, in which there can only be heard the hurried footsteps of them a l l as they run about the rear of the garden, each one going o f f with his l a n t e r n . Immediately afterwards there begins to be heard from afar the simple melancholy music of s t r e e t beggars of an organ grinder (or hornpipe, f l u t e , e t c . ) , and there can be seen beneath a l i g h t from above that illuminates only the t a b l e , the FOUR BEGGARS,who are s t e a l i n g from the t a b l e , shoving f r u i t , f o r k s , knives, e t c . i n t h e i r leather bags. A rhythmic, s i l e n t undertaking that i s to end with quiet and mocking laughter, as the l i g h t and music are extinguished i n the garden.) GORGO (appearing on ALTEA's balcony with a l i t candle and shouting): 264 God! God's God! Look, look well at what I have done! What an odious crime against your daughter i n order to save you! (Turning, and as i f ALTEA lay dead ins i d e the tower:) There you a r e , beautiful l i t t l e s p i r i t , poor s p o i l s of a love that the current of the same blood could not make po s s i b l e . Yes, daughter, i t was I who cast you from the tower, who has been leading you day by day to t h i s deplorable end. Cry, Gorgo, cry; l e t your tears f a l l t o o , my brother, on t h i s cruel stone that bows us down .and crushes us forever! ( L o s t , l i k e a sleepwalker, AULAGA emerges from among the shadows of the garden.) AULAGA: Who were you? Who brought you to me? Why did you come to the threshold of my loneliness and penetrate the depths of my bones? GORGO (to AULAGA): Soul i n torment, l o s t and errant shadow. I come to you, wretched, i f i t i s not too lat e f o r you to understand me, to curse me and console me. (Without even being heard by AULAGA, she withdraws from the balcony, which remains weakly il l u m i n a t e d . UVA emerges also from among the trees.) UVA (speaking, as i f not seeing AULAGA): I too... I too... You were not deceived, A l t e a . . . You said the truth and you burned me with your f i n g e r when you pointed me out... 265 AULAGA (at her s i d e , turning slowly in c i r c l e s , l i k e a phantom): I embroidered her dresses..., and I taught her to read..., and to hunt b u t t e r f l i e s . . . UVA: I mocked you, I j e e r e d , I insulted you with my laughter... And when I went to help you, I only did i t out of s p i t e . . . , out of je a l o u s y . . . , out of rage against Gorgo... AULAGA: I wanted your childhood to be the same garden as A l t e a ' s . . . UVA: ... but your love only awakened my envy... Your beauty wounded me... I was furious at your youth... (Carrying the li g h t e d candle, GORGO appears at the rear.) GORGO ( l i g h t i n g AULAGA's f a c e ) : Do you see me, Aulaga? (Going up to UVA) Do you recognize me, Uva? It i s I... It i s I... Pity me... Hate me... AULAGA (continuing, s t i l l as i f t a l k i n g to h e r s e l f ) : I played with her... Together we looked f o r nests... We covered the t i l e s of the roof tops with our hands... UVA: Let us hate one another, the three of us... Let us p i t y one another, the three of us... Let us blame each other... GORGO (going toward the t a b l e ) : I promised him, I swore to him on his deathbed... (Placing the candle in the center of the t a b l e , while AULAGA and UVA c i r c l e , slowly, around her) Before t h a t , my brother , l e t my eyes come loose from my e y e l i d s , l e t my heart come unstuck... Aulaga, Aulaga! It was I who gave Castor to you... Who put the c h i l d on your doorstep... Do you hear me? AULAGA (not hearing): He grew... He became a f i n e boy... They galloped together on the mountains... UVA: What are you saying, Gorgo? Bind your tongue... GORGO: Castor was his son..., by a poor g i r l laborer of his vine- yards..., from f a r o f f . . . , very f a r away... UVA: From your l i p s there escape things not even you want to confess to y o u r s e l f in se c r e t . GORGO: Aulaga, look, l i s t e n to me... My brother was a very good man... He even passed f o r a s a i n t . . . But you know, daughters, what l i f e i n these towns i s l i k e . . . And so many pretty g i r l s on his lands... He revealed his s i n to me weeping... It was the secret of a dying s o u l . . . AULAGA: Why didn't I take him away from t h i s house, my God? GORGO (stopping AULAGA): He was his c h i l d , do you understand? Do you comprehend? Half of Altea's blood also ran through the body of the boy... You were a s a i n t , innocent, alone... You l i v e d near us... Who better than you could I entrust him to? AULAGA (she continues to wander about, in a de l i r i u m ) : He f e l l i n love with her... How could I not see i t ? Why didn't he t e l l me anything? UVA: Aulaga, Aulaga... AULAGA: ... he f e l l i n love with her... and he was l i k e a dead 267 man then... GORGO: Damnation... Disgrace... Madness... I have battled since that night at the shutters. I have wrestled, with f r a n t i c d e l i r i u m , against the i n e v i t a b l e . . . I have l i e d . . . I have humiliated myself before the poor... I have l e t myself be beaten by those I most loved..., even by your daughter, brother, in whom I was defending you... And so ,much have I done, so much have I buried in s i d e of me in order to save your s e c r e t , that my e n t r a i l s have s p l i t open, exposing i t to the wind... And now everyone knows i t . . . And even the stones w i l l repeat i t . . . And Castor w i l l know i t a l s o . . . , because he has not k i l l e d himself..., and that man who came, that poor man of the f i e l d s was, without his knowing i t , a msssenger of my d e c e i t . . . Don't you hear? I hear a horse coming t h i s way... Aulaga! Aulaga! UVA: Leave her, Gorgo, i t i s better that she doesn't understand... speak to me, t e r r i f y me alone. AULAGA (now out of everything, moving toward the rear of the garden): I w i l l go looking f o r you, boy..., to mix my bones with yours, under the same branches of your death... (She disappears. The beginnings of daybreak enter the garden.) GORGO: I k i l l e d him only in myself... I k i l l e d him f o r Aulaga and f o r A l t e a , thinking thus to k i l l t h i s bad dream... I 268 came to believe that what I d e s i r e d , that what was only a thought had already come to pass, that the f l u t t e r i n g wings of scandal and dishonor had flown... UVA: Gorgo... Gorgoja... Gorgona... (BION enters.) GORGO (picking up the beard that she had tossed on the t a b l e ) : See, brother, in what an abyss you have plunged me... Your au t h o r i t y , the symbol of my manliness, has served f o r nothing... (As she burns the beard i n the candles flame) The l i g h t I have always implored from you has served only to blacken me and to end as the raving shadow of your g u i l t . Bion,open the garden gate, and run through the town knocking on the doors! Call out the harlots and the drunkards, the thieves and the beggars, l e t everyone come and hear Dona GORGO the good, the m e r c i f u l , proclaiming the leprosy and the misery of her soul! BION (kneeling before her and attempting to kiss the hem of her garment): No, no. Let them come and adore her, Dona Gorgo, my poor Saint of the Crosses, my l i t t l e Dona Flower... GORGO ( r a i s i n g him and p u l l i n g him o f f towards the trees with UVA): Go, my son, wake them up! Go on! Don't l e t him see me... He's here already... Don't you hear me? Let him f i r s t see my crime, in the dawn that Altea and Castor believed to be the 269 dawn of t h e i r happiness. (The three disappear. A f t e r a b r i e f pause, CASTOR can be seen leaping over the wall at the rear.) CASTOR ( s e c r e t i v e , moving through the garden, barely murmuring the words): Animas... Animas... Are you asleep? It's me... Castor... It i s time... (He continues walking, noting strangely the l i g h t e d candle on the rumpled tablecloth.) Where are you? What's the matter? Your heart i s asleep... (At the doorway, and seeing in the rear the f a i n t l y illumined balcony) I w i l l take you away... by f o r c e . . . I'm going to tear you away now from t h i s p r i s o n . . . (Entering and r a i s i n g his voice u n t i l he i s shouting) Altea! Altea! Altea! (With the reappearance of GORGO and UVA, the garden s t a r t s f i l l i n g with shadows: shawl-covered women from the town--!ike a s i n g l e black cape;BI0N, the FOUR BEGGARS and other poor people.) GORGO (proceeding toward the balcony, supported by BION and UVA): What am I? What was I? What are we? Weep f o r him and f o r me. S p i r i t that grieves on high. In peace you never w i l l l i e . 270 Who am I? What was I? What are we? Pray f o r him and f o r me. (The stage i s slowly illuminated with a strange splendor. ALTEA's balcony opens, and supported by ANIMAS, CASTOR appears, a l t e r e d , with his arms opened wide, in a gesture of horror and bewilderment.) GORGO ( f a l l i n g on her knees): Castor... Castor... Here, only Animas i s worthy to look at you..., to t e l l you your h i s t o r y . . . and c o l l e c t your t e a r s . . . Not I, not I... I am no more than a monster, a poor f a l l e n f u r y , a freak... (She covers h e r s e l f with a black l i n e n - c l o t h while the shawl- covered women arid the beggars cry out t h i s chant): ALL: Dawn of death, without l i g h t , Passion's unhappy n i g h t , on a l l the souls that are l o s t may heaven's pardon a l i g h t . (The l i g h t of dawn incre a s e s , the curtain slowly f a l l s . ) 271 S e l e c t i o n s f r o m : C A N T I C L E by Jorge G u i l l e n (Madrid, Spain, 1928) Translated from the Spanish by MEREDYTH SAVAGE CHILD C l a r i t y of the current, C i r c l e s of the rose, Enigmas of snow: Dawn and the beach in s h e l l s Turbulent machine, Joys of the moon With the vigor of patience: Sa l t of the brute wave. Moment without h i s t o r y , Stubbornly abundant With myths among things: Sea alone with i t s b i r d s . If such grace, So s o l e l y grace, r i c h , Total in a glance: Sea, present unity. Poet of pure games Without i n t e r v a l s , Divine, without ingenuity: The sea, the sea i n t a c t . TIME LOST ON THE SHORE The tangible day Offers i t s e l f , extends, Expands about me. Once again It o f f e r s me c h a i r s . No. Better on foot I w i l l watch the colors Of my summer, which s t i l l does not know me. For now, beneath My empty hands, A presentiment Of blue s l i p s f o r t h , Blue of another infancy Which w i l l have clouds For the pursuit Of many blue s , Possible at times Within the house Of f r i e n d s , very close --This also w i l l be mine. With access By means of brooks, mad With the merriment That emerges from August, And shadows of two In twos, i n d i s t i n c t On the banks That i n v i t e a grey green. Playing at the hours That themselves play, among A l l the hazards, What love w i l l not appear? Save me l i k e t h i s , time Lost on the shore, Free, such l o v e , Such hazards, the isl a n d s ! TERRESTRIAL SPHERE Will not even the ravisher of the waves Nor the amorous shipwreck Relieve you then, wise sea Who bend among curves? Incorruptible curves Over the perfect blue That denies a l l desire The apparition of foam. Midday form, How uni v e r s a l ! The refulgent Waves unfold The l i g h t into l i g h t and breeze. And the breeze glides --Infant seaman: 275 Bearing, y e s , but no wei g h t — Among a r i g o r of boundaries Which at midday tighten With accuracy. Splendor Deserted. The sphere, So a b s t r a c t , grieves. THE ABSENT-MINDED MAN How well i t rains by the r i v e r ! It rains l i t t l e and i t rains So tenderly That at times There l o i t e r s about a man the patience of moss. Through the damp, Threatenings of omens Pierce and f l e e . S t i l l kindly from the l a s t Wooded regions, A smoke Makes sketches Of i v y . For whom in th i s solitude? For him most vacant? Someone, Someone waits. And I go—who w i l l i t be?—by the r i v e r , by a r i v e r Recently rained upon. Why do the poplars Look at me so, If my custom hardly sees them? In i t s s i l e n c e , abandon extends the 276 Uninhabited branch. But courteous f l o r a emerges s t i l l over an October r a i n . I, along the smooth green, I go, I go looking f o r the two Here l o s t : For the attentive fisherman who, very young, Headlong At the river-edge, gathers Aimless clouds from the curren t , And f o r the prodigal musician who, without much s k i l l , From between the banks Goes singing and leaving words in naked And continuous s y l l a b l e s , La ra r i r a , ta ra r i r a , l a ra r i r a . . . I must have time Between my teeth and l i p s . . . With eyes c l o s e d , contemplating, Here no, beyond sight I see. I know of a r i v e r where in the morning There f l o a t and cross Curves Of margins. Errant To the point of non-being, where Does the ivy go, toward what towers Of no-one? Through the dampness Tunnels yearning f o r exteriors Open: Onto covered bridges, Onto passages under some green f o l i a g e Onto the refuge In remote v a l l e y s . Hummed rapture. How i t dreams, the voice that tumbles in the l o s t Song, So l o s t and f l u i d , towards the expansion of days Without landmarks, s l i p p e r y ! L a r a r i r a , l a r a r i r a , l a r a r i r a . . . The course of the r i v e r Leads. The clouds, Crumbling q u i e t l y , Keep t h e i r l e i s u r e , they do not pause, And the skies approach me In a weightless succession Of eternal firmament. Short, urgent V e r t i c a l s of r a i n , p e n c i l l e d annotations! It rains and there i s no malice, It r a i n s . L a r a r i r a . . . I hear them f a l l , these drops That s c a t t e r , without the strength of globes, Over the l a s t creaking Leaves, S t i l l hanging from autumn. Meanwhile, the bubbles in v i s i b l e succession, The r i v e r gathers and o f f e r s a l u l l i n g , Continuous, secure. No-one l i s t e n s ? 278 For me, f o r a l l the love of the moss. Happiness? Humming, the s e l f r e j o i c e s in i t s r i v e r . LIGHT ON THE MOUNTAIN Light on the mountain, dense With space only space, Deserted, f l a t : obstinate World at the smooth defense Of the shadow. The l i g h t thinks Colors with a f i n e and cruel Eagerness. There go Its happy u n i t i e s , The immolation of hues Of a gal l a n t paradise. A CHILD AND THE NIGHT IN THE COUNTRY Against whom (there i s no-one!) does the darkness take body? Fear trembling with i t s shadows exhales in gusts. Between sight and sleep A c h i l d says: "The b u l l s must be running!" Then? It w i l l s u f f i c e To make the defense darker: To hide in dreams! And the c h i l d f a l l s into sleep while from the dark Forms emerge i n the f i e l d s , the crowded n i g h t , b u l l s . 279 A Selection by Alfonso Canales (born Malaga, Spain - 1923) AUTUMN That afternoon, that afternoon was l i k e the center of a glass where the l i g h t turns l i v i d , p i e r c i n g a shock-white wall of coagulated c r y s t a l . The trees were moist; the rose bushes dripped; the earth was populated with sudden s n a i l s ; and fumes of new-made roof t i l e s f i l l e d the a i r . Wind s t i r r e d the sorrow of the banana t r e e s . The high treasure of pale gold s p i l l e d over and set papers from old p i c n i c s dancing on the p l a i n . Willow-herbs showed t h e i r tongues, searching f o r a new tear-drop. And time seemed already l i v e d by someone, already used, loosed from the heart of a b i r d that flew in another century. THE PERFECT GENTLEMEN by Max Aub (Mexico 1946) Translated from the Spani and adapted f o r radio by MEREDYTH SAVAGE 281 Note, then,the perfect gentleman, f i r s t to s t i f l e his passions, o r , at the very l e a s t , to conceal them with such dexteri t y that no counterplot may succeed i n deciphering his w i l l . GRACIAN,The Hero 282 C H A R A C T E R S ROSE GUSTAVE WTNKEL TIME: Spring. 1939. PLACE: B e r l i n . 283 ( B e r l i n , 1939. 1  A stark o f f i c e . Orv the w a l l : a f l a g with the swastika anila p o r t r a i t of H i t l e r . ROSE, a s t e r n , elegant man with a superior a i r , i s seated behind the desk. He i s t a l k i n g with GUSTAVE, his secretary , a meek and attentive clerk.) ROSE. The English come up with something good from time to time. Ki p l i n g said once, more or l e s s : "We must count heads or we must cut them o f f " . GUSTAVE. (Laughing.) Cutting's a short cut... ROSE. (Coldly.) You are too i n t e l l i g e n t f o r the post you hold. GUSTAVE. Please for g i v e me. ROSE. Have you no wish to better yourself? GUSTAVE. Who hasn't, Mr. Counselor General? ROSE. What did you do before j o i n i n g us here? GUSTAVE. The war... ROSE. And then? GUSTAVE. I joined the police f o r c e . ROSE. The Weimar police? GUSTAVE. The police are always the p o l i c e . ROSE. There are shades of d i f f e r e n c e , are there not? GUSTAVE. There are shades, Mr. Counselor General. (He laughs, ROSE smi1es•) ROSE. But to d i s t r u s t the whole world leads nowhere. We must r e a l i z e that a man determined to reveal nothing of his a c t i v i t i e s , a man resolved to l i e to the l a s t , i s impenetrable. GUSTAVE. Excuse me, Mr. Counselor General, but since you do me the honor of discussing my opinions, allow me to t e l l you, with a l l due respect, that I do not agree with you, I am sorry to say, s i r . The man who i s g u i l t y i s our best defense, and therefore we must d i s t r u s t everybody: we must f i n d in each man the p o s s i b i l i t y of a suspect. ROSE. I admit the l o g i c of your deduction. But l o g i c and r e a l i t y are two d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s , don't f o r g e t . With the former you can s a t i s f y your best i n s t i n c t s , while the l a t t e r catches you o f f guard, and chance has an unknown mother. We must l i v e in readi- ness f o r what l i f e b r i n g s , at each hour. Your p r i n c i p l e i s a poor one because of the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of putting i t into p r a c t i s e , at l e a s t the way the po l i c e are organized to date. Each man i s not as he i s but as he seems. What does a potential murderer matter to us? What dif f e r e n c e does i t make i f X hates us, i f he i s obedient? GUSTAVE. ...A world where everything would be t i e d together, where you knew what everyone was t h i n k i n g . . . i t would be the end of hypocracy. ROSE. Hypocracy i s saying what you are not thinking with the hope of having your chance at a l a t e r date: i f t h i s idea could be gotten r i d o f , we would see an end to that hardly honorable s e n t i - ment. GUSTAVE. It would be g r a t i f y i n g to l i v e in such a world. Every man with his f i l e up to date, in the morning... ROSE. Maybe, one day... GUSTAVE. We have made great progress. ROSE. I don't deny i t . GUSTAVE. The time w i l l come when everyone, absolutely everyone, w i l l 285 be f i l e d iin the General Directory. ROSE. And i t i s possible that i t i s then we w i l l begin to f a i l . . . GUSTAVE. Go on... Continue, Mr. Counselor General, i f I may be so bold. ROSE. We would have to divide up our attention in too great a number of possible offenders, i n order to be e f f e c t i v e . GUSTAVE. That could be solved by increasing the number of the p o l i c e . ROSE. The ramifications are not so important as the r o o t s . Once a noxious plant i s torn up by the r o o t s , i t s shoots lack strength and they die of s t a r v a t i o n . GUSTAVE. I respect your wisdom, and I follow the poetic sense of your statement, but, s i n c e r e l y , I believe--without meaning in any way that I do not admire your very c l e a r ideas--that the more we monopolize, the more smoothly the regime can move ahead. ROSE. As a preventative measure, but not as absolute s e c u r i t y . GUSTAVE. Now i t i s you who are the i d e a l i s t , Mr. Counselor General, s i r . . . To t a l k of absolute s e c u r i t y ! ROSE. The matter of idealism I w i l l grant i n j e s t , Mr. Hoffman. You know as well as I that s e c u r i t y i s synonymous with v i g i l a n c e . GUSTAVE. Well then... ROSE. Doesn't i t seem to you we have l o s t enough time with our personal ideas? Let's get to work. GUSTAVE. You l i k e working, s i r ? ROSE. Yes. GUSTAVE. So do I. ROSE. L i t t l e by l i t t l e the world i s shaking o f f the great harm that C h r i s t i a n i t y has done i t by regarding work as an e v i l imposed on us because of o r i g i n a l s i n . Adam and Eve in paradise have come to be embodied in a couple of m i l l i o n a i r e s sprawled in the sun in the Bahamas, l e t us say as the American example. Vagrancy— and what were our primary parents, according to Genesis, but a couple of vagrants...?--begins to receive a bad press. Man i s man because he works. It i s the only thing that d i s t i n - guishes him from the animals. His great value. Puts the devil in handcuffs... Could you get on without doing anything? GUSTAVE. No, s i r . ROSE. And you l i k e your work? GUSTAVE. Yes, s i r , Mr. Counselor General, and I ask you to forgive me: I l e t myself get ca r r i e d away by my imaginings and went a b i t out of bounds. ROSE. The reports 404-A and 208? GUSTAVE. Right here, s i r . ROSE. The reference from department B-20? And the 208? GUSTAVE. Here they are. ROSE. This sil e n c e of Bart's has me worried. GUSTAVE. A report arrived from Paris about t h a t , s i r . ROSE. Why haven't I seen i t ? GUSTAVE. I l e f t i t here on top of your desk, yesterday. ROSE. I haven't seen i t . Look f o r i t . You must have taken i t away with the r e s t . GUSTAVE. I hardly think so, s i r . ROSE. Don't argue! Nothing from Bergen, or from San Francisco? GUSTAVE. No. ROSE. Enquire by code. (The telephone r i n g s . Sound of GUSTAVE picking i t up.) GUSTAVE. Yes... It's personal, f o r you. ROSE. Yes... Good, send him i n . . . (Sound of ROSE hanging up the r e c e i v e r . To GUSTAVE.) Please leave. I ' l l c a l l you in l a t e r . (Sounds of GUSTAVE l e a v i n g , WINKEL entering.) ROSE. I hadn't hoped to see you down here. WINKEL. I can imagine... ROSE. To what do I owe t h i s pleasant surprise? WINKEL. Pleasant? ROSE. Whenever we have met, i t has always been a pleasure to t a l k with you. WINKEL. I can say the same. ROSE. Then we are in the best of a l l possible worlds. WINKEL. In that I am in agreement with you. ROSE. In that alone? WINKEL. And in a thousand other things... But, returning to the pleasantness of l i f e : Have you seen what a beautiful day i t i s ? ROSE. It i s spr i n g . WINKEL. I've had time to notice: I came to your o f f i c e on f o o t . C a r e f u l l y , mind you, but on f o o t . For some time now I have had a horror of automobiles. ROSE. When you passed through the park you must have observed the budding of new shoots at close hand, enjoyed the embalmed a i r . . . WINKEL. Did you say embalmed? ROSE. Exactly. WINKEL. I would prefer another word. 288 ROSE. There i s a di c t i o n a r y here, at your d i s p o s a l . But, forgive me, I was f o r g e t t i n g that you are a s p e c i a l i s t i n Egyptian h i s t o r y . If I am not mistaken, your h i s t o r i c a l f a v o r i t e s practiced three types of embalming. WINKEL. Yes,, according to the economic p o s s i b i l i t i e s of each person. ROSE. And what differences were there from type to type? WINKEL. Any d i c t i o n a r y w i l l t e l l you. ROSE. So they could s e l e c t , in l i f e , what kind of mummy they would turn into? WINKEL. P r e c i s e l y . And the way t h e i r i n t e s t i n e s were to be taken out. Whether by flank i n c i s i o n — t h a t was the most expensive method—or by the i n j e c t i o n of solvents per anum. The same way t h a t , today, you can choose between death by being run over or from a b u l l e t in the head. ROSE. There are other forms of death which are more peaceful. WINKEL. Cyanide i s highly recommended. ROSE. It's quick. WINKEL D i f f i c u l t to come by. ROSE. Not r e a l l y . WINKEL. Do you have something else to o f f e r me? ROSE. It i s you who have come to v i s i t me. WINKEL. But I would l i k e to hear you place at my d i s p o s a l , l e t us say, for example, a locomotive, so i t could crush me, the empty cage of an e l e v a t o r , so i t could break my neck: a steel g i r d e r . . . ROSE. So i t could f a l l on your head as you pass by a house under construction? WINKEL. Why not? ROSE. Too easy. One unexpected step on the part of the pedestrian would s u f f i c e to make i t miss t a r g e t . WINKEL. Something e l s e . . . I notice we haven't thought of f i r e , or of water. A f a l l i n a bath tub i s n ' t a bad solution e i t h e r . ROSE. Not to mention poison... WINKEL. Allow me to t e l l you that that i s more d i f f i c u l t . Centuries ago, when the master of the house was accustomed to eating separately, by himself, i t was c h i l d ' s play. Now i t i s only used as the l a s t remedy of vengeful wives. ROSE. E l e c t r i c i t y . . . WINKEL. Not a bad i d e a , but complicated. I have come to v i s i t you pr e c i s e l y to save you so much tro u b l e . ROSE. You are most kind. But believe me... WINKEL. Oh, I'm sure you don't s e l e c t the method of suppressing your fellow men y o u r s e l f . You need only mark a cross at the side of a name and the ex e c u t i o n — I said execution, Mr. Counselor General--the execution of your design i s delegated to competent s e r v i c e s . . . Am I not right? ROSE. You w i l l understand that I can only answer that I do not know what you are t a l k i n g about. WINKEL. I'm not surp r i s e d . You have so much work to do...!, But, making an e f f o r t , I do believe that you could r e c a l l having placed a s i g n — a dot, a dash, a c r o s s , I don't know what—a few days ago, beside my name... ROSE. I never knew that h i s t o r i a n s had such imagination... WINKEL. I am p e r f e c t l y aware that I am being watched. Do you want the lic e n s e number of the car? 010-421-G. Three men are quite a l o t f o r a s i n g l e man, and one as i n s i g n i f i c a n t as I am. ROSE. You astonish me, professor. Why should we be suspicious of such a zealous party member as you are? Your book on the Egyptian race i s a textbook in the U n i v e r s i t i e s of the Reich. I do not know what you can have to be a f r a i d of! WINKEL. No one doubts that I am an active supporter of the regime. But what brings me here i s not some the o r e t i c a l problem regard- ing our glorious p r i n c i p l e s . ROSE. A l l the more reason not to worry. You may go in peace. WINKEL. To die murdered at the f i r s t opportunity! No thanks... I w i l l confess that I was quite frightened u n t i l I got here. ROSE. And now you breathe f r e e l y ? WINKEL. As you can see, Mr. Counselor General. You po l i c e prefer to commit a "mistake"... I was very careful not to remain alone, not to walk close to the edge of sidewalks, and you know as well as I how to cross a s t r e e t in the middle of a group of pedestrians i t i s an excellent precaution against drivers that are inept or a l l too s k i l l f u l . Because my death must only appear as an unhappy accident. A f t e r a l l , I am one of the prides of the Nazi regime. Now I've calmed down: I can tal k to you. ROSE. Why didn't you do so by telephone, professor? WINKEL. Fear of e l e c t r i c i t y . . . or of being t o l d that the Counselor General was out. ROSE. Please t e l l me what you have to say. WINKEL. The organization of our world i s a curious t h i n g , my f r i e n d Rose. Forgive me! Mr. Counselor General of Information...! You and I belong to the same party. We have the same hopes, the same reverences. The p o l i c e . . . The people do not r e a l i z e that the p o l i c e are the authentic force of the f u t u r e . The armies are c a l l e d to disappear en masse; they w i l l be replaced by the p o l i c e , because future wars w i l l not be a matter of country against country they w i l l be i n t e r n a l , not c i v i l , a u t h e n t i c a l l y n a t i o n a l , in the i n t e r i o r of each country. The circumstances w i l l compel Germany to assume the police s u r v e i l l a n c e of the e n t i r e world. ROSE. The world w i l l be f i l l e d with statues of Fouche'. WINKEL. Perhaps... i f j u s t i c e had anything to do with a l l t h i s . The police are the coercive force of the world whose b i r t h we are now witnessing. The nation with the better force w i l l dominate. And, in the meantime, because of a chance event which neither your w i l l , nor my own, have anything to do-.with, you have to order my....suppression. It i s the reign of the p o l i c e . The p o l i c e , proprietors of the world! The world w i l l belong to the f l a t f o o t s ! Each man with his f i l i n g card! These are the slogans I propose to you. (Pause.) ...I was not a f r i e n d of Von K l e i n ' s . ROSE. Of course not. WINKEL. It was an accidental conversation. ROSE. A word tossed to the winds i s never recovered... WINKEL. Unless you make a recording... ROSE. I don't understand, professor. WINKEL. Analyzing the s i t u a t i o n , I decided that i t wasn't as desperate as i t might seem on the face of i t . You came to the conclusion that i t was essential to have me eliminated. I do not doubt that some voice may have been raised in my defense...! An i l l u s t r i o u s professor! But, as a l a s t r e s o r t , you a l l decided that what would be best f o r the people, f o r the party, f o r the Fuhrer—would be to take the ultimate precaution... Von Klein paid his debt and I am the only person who knows what no one ought to know: how the assasination of our ambassador in Paris was pre- pared and ca r r i e d out. It would do me no good to t e l l you that I had not the s l i g h t e s t i n t e r e s t in knowing the t r u t h . Besides, i f the man was a t r a i t o r , or on the point of becoming one, he i s well o f f dead. It was u s e f u l , was i t , that his death should appear to be the work of the communists? Fine! That way you k i l l e d two birds with one stone. What need did I have to f i n d out about i t ? ROSE. None, of course. But the fa c t i s that you do know... It i s c l e a r to us that you haven't t o l d anyone about i t . But you could do so at any moment... WINKEL. Unfortunately that i s t r u e , even though I would have no i n t e r e s t i n doing so. ROSE. Then the necessity of your disappearance w i l l not have escaped you... WINKEL. The truth of the matter i s that I have no wish to d i e . ROSE. What more do you have to hope f o r in l i f e ? To die serving our cause...! You are no longer very young. You have an ulcer in your duodenum, your children are already married. I can promise you a statue. WINKEL. Bust or f u l l figure? ROSE. Your choice. WINKEL. And the place? ROSE. Your home town, The u n i v e r s i t y . . . WINKEL. Unfortunately i t i s too l a t e . . . ROSE. I don't understand. WINKEL. For the good of our country I have to renounce a v i o l e n t death. ROSE. In t h i s too we can come to an agreement. WINKEL. I am a f r a i d not. ROSE. Explain y o u r s e l f at once. WINKEL. I f I should die one of these days, whatever the cause, a detailed account of everything t h a t , u n i n t e n t i o n a l l y , I have learned w i l l be published i;mmediately, in P a r i s . . . I assume you w i l l not doubt that I am a man who i s t r u l y devoted and loyal to my party. But I had no other choice. Believe me, i f I were j u s t anybody, I wouldn't have hesitated a moment to s a c r i f i c e myself. But I am on the verge of deciphering a palimpsest of the XXII Dynasty. How could I leave such a triumph to my colleagues I think you can e a s i l y understand. ROSE. Since you are so k i n d , could you do me the favor of advising me as to your means of d e l i v e r i n g the account of your curious discovery to the interested government? WINKEL. I have no o b j e c t i o n . On the same day that Von K l e i n , under the e f f e c t of a nervous c r i s i s , t o l d me the whole plot of the execution of the ambassador and how a l l the machinery was set up to accuse the Jews, or the communists--the l a t t e r were selected at the l a s t minute--, I r e a l i z e d the t e r r i b l e s i t u a t i o n that I was i n i f , as was most l i k e l y , there was someone, or something, there that was transmitting the conversation to the p o l i c e . ROSE. And then? WINKEL. The following day I went into a record shop... ROSE. (Consulting a card in the f i l e s . ) At 2:30 P.M. 294 WINKEL. Everyone knows that I have a great record c o l l e c t i o n — i t i s another of the reasons why I do not wish to d i e . Since i t was natural f o r me to be seen there, i t didn't a t t r a c t the attention of those who had already begun following me. At that time you had not yet made a d e c i s i o n . ROSE. You cut a recording and had i t sent to X... with a l e t t e r . WINKEL. How did you know? ROSE. It i s no more than a supposition. Well then, suppose i t ' s t r u e . What did your l e t t e r say? WINKEL. Don't you know? ROSE. Let us say that I don't. WINKEL. I breathe e a s i e r . Because, i f the l e t t e r were in your possession, that i s to say, i f the person to whom i t was addressed had been one of us, what would stop you from k i l l i n g me r i g h t here? ROSE. In s p i t e of the fact that my task may only be that of s e t t i n g crosses at the side of names...? WINKEL. Whatever. ROSE. The l e t t e r was addressed to Monsieur Charles Du Pare, professor at the Sorbonne, your colleague. WINKEL. Not a d i f f i c u l t guess. You don't frighten me, Mr. Counselor General. ROSE. But you have j u s t suggested... WINKEL. If you had the recording, you wouldn't have received me. Well, now you know: i f I disappear, the recording w i l l f a l l into the hands of the French Government, without f a i l . I f nothing happens to me, i t w i l l be destroyed the day a f t e r my natural death. ROSE. Then we must place you in the hands of the best s p e c i a l i s t s , 295 j u s t in case. Such a disturbance over a simple angina pec t o r i s ! WINKEL. My own doctor i s quite good enough. ROSE. It would be a beautiful international scandal! WINKEL. What disgrace would descend on our government! Imagine... Matters j u s t so t r i v i a l have provoked downfalls more famous than t h i s . ROSE. The foundations of the regime would be undermined... Do you have anything further to communicate to me? WINKEL. I hope you w i l l take the pertinent measures to see that I w i l l be l e f t to l i v e i n peace. ROSE. Don't worry, professor. WINKEL. Then, with your permission, I w i l l leave. ROSE. I wish you w e l l . . . WINKEL. I don't l i k e the tone in which you say tha t . . . ROSE. I am so r r y . But you w i l l l i k e t h i s even l e s s . . . (ROSE takes out a p i s t o l , shoots and k i l l s WINKEL. He rings a buzzer. S.S. guards enter. To guards.) Remove him. (The guards remove the corpse, as GUSTAVE comes in.) GUSTAVE. The Counselor General was in danger? ROSE. No. It was simply best to f i n i s h t h i s business o f f at once. (GUSTAVE stops behind ROSE. He draws out a gun.) GUSTAVE. Put up your hands. (ROSE obeys. GUSTAVE picks up the telephone.) GUSTAVE. (Not allowing for any discussion.) Get me the Chief... Gustave Hoffman speaking. I have Rose under a r r e s t . . . Don't argue with me...! I don't think he w i l l confess... He w i l l use 296 every device. If we broke every bone"in his body... Yes, he i s l i s t e n i n g to me and he knows he w i l l not leave the bu i l d i n g a l i v e . . . But a l l t h i s i s secondary: what matters i s to get ahold of the Professor's recording. Take t h i s down: Du Pare... Yes, D-u-p-a-r-c, professor at the Sorbonne in P a r i s . (To Rose.) Mr. Rose, would you be good enough to spare us the trouble of looking up the address in the directory? (Rose doesn't answer.) Find out his address... Yes... Mr. Rose did not suspect that we were l i s t e n i n g . The move was too c l e v e r . . . Be quick about i t - he has a capsule of cyanide in his mouth and I cannot keep him from b i t i n g into i t . And i t would not be sui t a b l e f o r his subor- dinates to see such a t h i n g . (He hangs up. To Rose.) If you l i k e , we can continue our discussion about the necessity of d i s t r u s t i n g everyone... Who was rig h t ? ROSE. Did you suspect me? GUSTAVE. No. We knew there was a t r a i t o r here. Nothing more. ROSE. You are Otto Rinkle. GUSTAVE. Yes. ROSE. I did not suspect. GUSTAVE. Nor I you. It has been a s u r p r i s e . . . Are you going to talk? ROSE. What do you think? GUSTAVE. You know better than anyone what measures we w i l l have to take. ROSE. I have the cyanide between my teeth. I have only to clench my jaws... GUSTAVE. I am so r r y . . . It's a speedy death. ROSE. Tomorrow the professor's report w i l l be published. I t was worth i t . GUSTAVE. I do not think so. Professor Du Pare i s a very good f r i e n d of ours. He has accepted various i n v i t a t i o n s from his f r i e n d Abetz... It w i l l not be d i f f i c u l t f o r us to get ahold of the recording, because now who i s going to know that the good Egyptologist has died? We have time ahead of us... Your gesture has been useless... You have remained at the halfway mark. I r e a l i z e that i t was a great temptation. It was worthwhile to chance i t . Can you imagine the newspapers of the e n t i r e world publishing the truth about Von Klein's death? It was t r u l y stupendous. E x c i t i n g . It i s possible that I would have done the same t h i n g , in your place. The trouble i s that I was l i s t e n i n g to the conversation. ROSE. Where i s the microphone? GUSTAVE. What does i t matter? ROSE. Pure c u r i o u s i t y . GUSTAVE. Keep your c u r i o u s i t y . ROSE. Thank you. GUSTAVE. You are welcome. The move was a good one. You k i l l e d the professor. The ministry would congratulate you f o r your d e c i s i o n : you saved time and spared them a problem. Who would suspect you? No one. Tomorrow Professor Winkel's confession would be published in P a r i s . A universal scandal. Great d i f f i c u l t i e s f o r us, a splendid weapon in the hands of your people. Who could know that you had found out about the existance of the recording? No one. Your act was normal. You were not resp o n s i b l e , o f f i c i a l l y , f o r the r e s u l t s . I admire the speediness of your d e c i s i o n . And your having resolved the s i t u a t i o n y o u r s e l f , without asking f o r i n s t r u c t i o n s . ROSE. Thank you. GUSTAVE. But we would have given the l i e to everything. And i t would have s u f f i c e d . Believe me. The truth does not weigh more than the l i e , once they have both been l e t out. A l l that humanity which follows us, the same as that which follows you, i s disposed not to believe anything that could be harmful to i t . ROSE. ( I r o n i c a l l y . ) The Fuhrer did t h a t , so i t i s well done... Do you have a concrete proposition to make to me? GUSTAVE. I would l i k e to hear such a thing from your own l i p s . (Pause.) You remain s i l e n t ? What did you hope for? To t r i c k me? Unfortunately, I know the cloth from which you are cut. This world of ours in which we happen to l i v e also has i t s heroes. The trouble i s that now they are not the generals of c h i v a l r y . I t i s we who are the heroes, whose name no one utters and never w i l l . ROSE. I did not know that you were a sentimental man. GUSTAVE. No one knows i t — n o t even my wife. I am sorry that i t was you. I l i k e you. But... You said y o u r s e l f : "Our best a l l y , the only one, i s the man who i s g u i l t y " . . . I f you hadn't condemned y o u r s e l f , who could have suspected you? What country do you belong to? ROSE. Me? The same as you: the p o l i c e . . . GUSTAVE. Wouldn't you l i k e to change parties? ROSE. No. GUSTAVE. You don't tr u s t . . . ? ROSE. No. Nor would any of you. But that i s not the problem. GUSTAVE. You have j u s t said that we are of the same country, within the species there should be no b a t t l e . . . 299 ROSE. Don't i n s i s t . We have no more time f o r di s c u s s i o n . (There i s knocking at the door.) GUSTAVE. Pleasant journey. ROSE. Thank you. (B r i e f pause. There i s further knocking at the door. ROSE'S gasp i s heard as the crushed cyanide capsule takes e f f e c t . B r i e f pause. Sound of ROSE's body f a l l i n g to the f l o o r . Sound of door opening. Footsteps.) ***** 1 The places and the date are interchangeable. (Author's note.) 2 -- This sentence i s printed in i t a l i c s because i t has been taken from the magazine, United States News, with the only change being that of Germany f o r U.S.A. (Author's note.) 300 BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Adolfo Bioy Casares, Plan de Evasion, Emece E d i t o r e s , 1945, Buenos A i r e s , Argentina. 2. Rafael A l b e r t i , El Adefesio, E d i t o r i a l Cuadernos, Madrid, Spain, 1944. 3. Jorge G u i l l e n , Cantico, Revista de Occidente, Madrid, Spain, 1928. 4. Alfonso Canales, El Candado, Malaga,-Spain, 1956, "Otono". 5. Max Aub, Los Excelentes Varones, Mexico D.F., Mexico, 1946.

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