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Homo Sum — Volume 05

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92 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook Homo Sum, by Georg Ebers, Volume 5. #60 in our series by Georg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: Homo Sum, Volume 5.Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5498] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon June 2, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HOMO SUM, BY GEORG EBERS, V5 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger [NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author'sideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook Homo Sum, byGeorg Ebers, Volume 5. #60 in our series byGeorg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: Homo Sum, Volume 5.
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5498] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on June 2, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK HOMO SUM, BY GEORG EBERS, V5 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, orpointers, at the end of the file for those who maywish to sample the author's ideas before makingan entire meal of them. D.W.]
HOMO SBy Georg EberVolume 5.sUM
CHAPTER XVIII.Common natures can only be lightly touched by theimmeasurable depth of anguish that is experiencedby a soul that despairs of itself; but the moreheavily the blow of such suffering falls, the moresurely does it work with purifying power on him whohas to taste of that cup.Paulus thought no more of the fair, sleepingwoman; tortured by acute remorse he lay on thehard stones, feeling that he had striven in vain.When he had taken Hermas' sin and punishmentand disgrace upon himself, it had seemed to himthat he was treading in the very footsteps of theSaviour. And now?—He felt like one who, whilerunning for a prize, stumbles over a stone andgrovels in the sand when he is already close to thegoal."God sees the will and not the deed," he mutteredto himself. "What I did wrong with regard to Sirona—or what I did not do—that matters not. When Ileaned over her, I had fallen utterly and entirelyinto the power of the evil one, and was an ally ofthe deadliest enemy of Him to whom I haddedicated my life and soul. Of what avail was myflight from the world, and my useless sojourn in thedesert? He who always keeps out of the way of thebattle can easily boast of being unconquered to theend- but is he therefore a hero? The palm belongsto him who in the midst of the struggles and affairs
of the world clings to the heavenward road, andnever lets himself be diverted from it; but as for mewho walk here alone, a woman and a boy cross mypath, and one threatens and the other beckons tome, and I forget my aim and stumble into the bogof iniquity. And so I cannot find—no, here I cannotfind what I strive after. But how then—how?Enlighten me, O Lord, and reveal to me what Imust do."Thus thinking he rose, knelt down, and prayedfervently; when at last he came to the 'Amen,' hishead was burning, and his tongue parched.The clouds had parted, though they still hung inblack masses in the west; from time to timegleams of lightning shone luridly on the horizon andlighted up the jagged peak of mountain with a flare;the moon had risen, but its waning disk wasfrequently obscured by dark driving masses ofcloud; blinding flashes, tender light, and utterdarkness were alternating with bewildering rapidity,when Paulus at last collected himself, and wentdown to the spring to drink, and to cool his brow inthe fresh water. Striding from stone to stone hetold himself, that ere he could begin a new life, hemust do penance—some heavy penance; but whatwas it to be? He was standing at the very marginof the brook, hemmed in by cliffs, and was bendingdown to it, but before he had moistened his lips hedrew back: just because he was so thirsty heresolved to deny himself drink. Hastily, almostvehemently, he turned his back on the spring, andafter this little victory over himself, his storm-
tossed heart seemed a little calmer. Far, far fromhence and from the wilderness and from theSacred Mountain he felt impelled to fly, and hewould gladly have fled then and there to adistance. Whither should he flee? It was all thesame, for he was in search of suffering, andsuffering, like weeds, grows on every road. Andfrom whom? This question repeated itself againand again as if he had shouted it in the very homeof echo, and the answer was not hard to find: "It isfrom yourself that you would flee. It is your owninmost self that is your enemy; bury yourself inwhat desert you will, it will pursue you, and it wouldbe easier for you to cut off your shadow than toleave that behind?"His whole consciousness was absorbed by thissense of impotency, and now, after the stormyexcitement of the last few hours, the deepestdepression took possession of his mind.Exhausted, unstrung, full of loathing of himself andlife, he sank down on a stone, and thought overthe occurrences of the last few days with perfectimpartiality."Of all the fools that ever I met," thought he, "Ihave gone farthest in folly, and have thereby ledthings into a state of confusion which I myselfcould not make straight again, even if I were asage—which I certainly never shall be any morethan a tortoise or a phoenix. I once heard tell of ahermit who, because it is written that we ought tobury the dead, and because he had no corpse,slew a traveller that he might fulfil the
commandment: I have acted in exactly the sameway, for, in order to spare another man sufferingand to bear the sins of another, I have plunged aninnocent woman into misery, and made myselfindeed a sinner. As soon as it is light I will go downto the oasis and confess to Petrus and Dorotheawhat I have done. They will punish me, and I willhonestly help them, so that nothing of the penancethat they may lay upon me may be remitted. Theless mercy I show to myself, the more will theEternal judge show to me."He rose, considered the position of the stars, andwhen he perceived that morning was not far off, heprepared to return to Sirona, who was no longerany more to him than an unhappy woman to whomhe owed reparation for much evil, when a loud cryof distress in the immediate vicinity fell on his ear.He mechanically stooped to pick up a stone for aweapon, and listened. He knew every rock in theneighborhood of the spring, and when the strangegroan again made itself heard, he knew that itcame from a spot which he knew well and wherehe had often rested, because a large flat stonesupported by a stout pillar of granite, stood up farabove the surrounding rocks, and affordedprotection from the sun, even at noonday, whennot a hand's breath of shade was to be foundelsewhere.Perhaps some wounded beast had crept under therock for shelter from the rain. Paulus wentcautiously forward. The groaning sounded louder
and more distinct than before, and beyond a doubtit was the voice of a human being.The anchorite hastily threw away the stone, fellupon his knees, and soon found on the dry spot ofground under the stone, and in the farthermostnook of the retreat, a motionless human form."It is most likely a herdsman that has been struckby lightning," thought he, as he felt with his handsthe curly head of the sufferer, and the strong armsthat now bung down powerless. As he raised theinjured man, who still uttered low moans, andsupported his head on his broad breast, the sweetperfume of fine ointment was wafted to him fromhis hair, and a fearful suspicion dawned upon hismind."Polykarp!" he cried, while he clasped his handsmore tightly round the body of the sufferer who,thus called upon, moved and muttered a fewunintelligible words; in a low tone, but still much tooclearly for Paulus, for he now knew for certain thatbe had guessed rightly. With a loud cry of horrorhe grasped the youth's powerless form, raised himin his arms, and carried him like a child to themargin of the spring where he laid his noble burdendown in the moist grass; Polykarp started andopened his eyes.Morning was already dawning, the light clouds onthe eastern horizon were already edged with rosyfringes, and the coming day began to lift the darkveil from the forms and hues of creation.
The young man recognized the anchorite, who withtrembling hands was washing the wound at theback of his head, and his eye assumed an angryglare as he called up all his remaining strength andpushed his attendant from him. Paulus did notwithdraw, he accepted the blow from his victim asa gift or a greeting, thinking, "Aye, and I only wishyou had a dagger in your hand; I would not resist.you"The artist's wound was frightfully wide and deep,but the blood had flowed among his thick curls, andhad clotted over the lacerated veins like a thickdressing. The water with which Paulus now washedhis head reopened them, and renewed thebleeding, and after the one powerful effort withwhich Polykarp pushed away his enemy, he fellback senseless in his arms The wan morning-lightadded to the pallor of the bloodless countenancethat lay with glazed eyes in the anchorite's lap."He is dying!" murmured Paulus in deadly anguishand with choking breath, while he looked acrossthe valley and up to the heights, seeking help. Themountain rose in front of him, its majestic massglowing in the rosy dawn, while light translucentvapor floated round the peak where the Lord hadwritten His laws for His chosen people, and for allpeoples, on tables of stone; it seemed to Paulusthat he saw the giant form of Moses far, far up onits sublimest height and that from his lips in brazentones the strictest of all the commandments wasthundered down upon him with awful wrath, "Thoushalt not kill!"
Paulus clasped his hands before his face in silentdespair, while his victim still lay in his lap. He hadclosed his eyes, for he dared not look on theyouth's pale countenance, and still less dared helook up at the mountain; but the brazen voice fromthe height did not cease, and sounded louder andlouder; half beside himself with excitement, in hisinward ear he heard it still, "Thou shalt not kill!" andthen again, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor'swife!" a third time, "Thou shalt not commitadultery!" and at last a fourth, "Thou shalt havenone other gods but me!"He that sins against one of those laws is damned;and he—he had broken them all, broken themwhile striving to tread the thorny path to a life ofblessedness.Suddenly and wildly he threw his arms up toheaven, and sighing deeply, gazed up at thesacred hill.What was that? On the topmost peak of Sinaiwhence the Pharanite sentinels were accustomedto watch the distance, a handkerchief was wavingas a signal that the enemy were approaching.He could not be mistaken, and as in the face ofapproaching danger he collected himself andrecovered his powers of thought and deliberation,his ear distinctly caught the mighty floods of stirringsound that came over the mountain, from thebrazen cymbals struck by the watchmen to warnthe inhabitants of the oasis, and the anchorites.
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