One Night part 4

A
night-watchman loomed up in front of me. “I come,” I said, “to get you to see
about a theft which has just been committed on my premises.”

The
man followed me, and the few words which he spoke dispelled my nightmare. At
that moment I was not aware what a comedy I was playing.

When
we reached the threshold of my lodging I would have dared to go into my room
and hunt in every nook and corner, and go to sleep at last in complete
tranquillity. The watchman searched the sitting- room, the bath-room, lighting
his flashlight, and made the rounds of the whole suite. In order to give weight
to my words—which lay very lightly upon me—I pretended that a jewel-case had
been lying on this taboret between the candlestick and the traveling bag, and
that the case had disappeared.

With
increasing zeal I vented my indignation on the sharpers who lounge around
hotels and prey on travelers, and inveighed against the authorities, who never
seem to be able to

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One Night part 3

Suddenly I saw, right before my eyes, the inn where we were staying. Trembling, I put the key in the lock. What awaited me behind the door? My friend had so completely vanished from my thoughts that I did not even ask myself whether he might have returned yet.

I searched all the crannies of our suite, one after the other; looked under the armchairs, sofas, and beds with a lighted candle, opened and quickly closed the cubbies, locked the door and carefully rearranged the furniture, and was frightened by my very eagerness to allay my fear. I loaded my revolver. In my bedroom I took the most elaborate precautions. To what end?

Somebody stopped on my floor

I certainly did not mean to try to go to sleep. I began to read, my eyes glued to the pages, but my attention really occupied with what might be lurking behind the door, outside the window. I could hear the, steps of a fellow-lodger coming up the stair, moving to the rhythm of my anx

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One Night part 2

The
darkness grew thicker and thicker. Unbroken chains of lights glowed along the
thoroughfares. One belfry after another awoke and great bells began to peal.

Not
far from me a church with yawning doors was engulfing the multitude. The
disappearance of the antlike creatures into this gigantic mouth assumed in my
eyes a disquieting significance. Had not my poor companion been carried along
by the crowd and thrust willy-nilly into this depth of the unknown, out of
which arose a ponderous gnashing and crunching of bronze upon bell-metal?

I
must have uttered a cry, because an old man who some time since had stopped on
the other side of the street to look at me, and who seemed to be seeking an
excuse to address me, said something unintel-ligible and then went away,
looking back reproachfully, enigmatically.

Our old-fashioned suite

I
was fairly twitching with anxiety. Our old-fashioned suite was many-cornered,
crammed with little

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One Night part 1

Emile Verhaeren (1855-1920)

Emile
Verhaeren was one of the most widely read poets of modern Belgium. Influenced
at first by the French Parnassiens and Natura-lists, he ultimately developed a
style and a philosophy of his own. He began work in the eighties. A large part
of his writings are poems, but in his plays and short stories, clearly the work
of a poet, he achieves effects of striking power.

One
Night is translated by Keene Wallis, and appears in the vol-ume, Five Tales by
Emile Verhaeren, Albert and Charles Boni, New York, 1924, by whose permission
it is here used.

One Night


Till be back directly,” the best friend I have in the world called to JL me as
he raced down the stairs of the great inn where we had just put up in the
outskirts of a decayed city of old Spain.

I
saw him disappear, then I heard his last “Be right back,” mingled with the
sound of his retreating footsteps. Left

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