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I One morning, when regor !amsa woke from tro"bled dreams, he fo"nd himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin# $e lay on his armo"r%like ba&k, and if he lifted his head a little he &o"ld see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by ar&hes into stiff se&tions# The bedding was hardly able to &over it and seemed ready to slide off any moment# $is many legs, pitif"lly thin &ompared with the size of the rest of him, waved abo"t helplessly as he looked# 'What(s happened to me)' he tho"ght# It wasn(t a dream# $is room, a proper h"man room altho"gh a little too small, lay pea&ef"lly between its fo"r familiar walls# * &olle&tion of te+tile samples lay spread o"t on the table % !amsa was a travelling salesman % and above it there h"ng a pi&t"re that he had re&ently &"t o"t of an ill"strated magazine and ho"sed in a ni&e, gilded frame# It showed a lady fitted o"t with a f"r hat and f"r boa who sat "pright, raising a heavy f"r m"ff that &overed the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer# regor then t"rned to look o"t the window at the d"ll weather# Drops of rain &o"ld be heard hitting the pane, whi&h made him feel ,"ite sad# '$ow abo"t if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense', he tho"ght, b"t that was something he was "nable to do be&a"se he was "sed to sleeping on his right, and in his present state &o"ldn(t get into that position# $owever hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled ba&k to where he was# $e m"st have tried it a h"ndred times, sh"t his eyes so that he wo"ldn(t have to look at the flo"ndering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, d"ll pain there that he had never felt before# 'Oh, od', he tho"ght, 'what a stren"o"s &areer it is that I(ve &hosen- Travelling day in and day o"t# Doing b"siness like this takes m"&h more effort than doing yo"r own b"siness at home, and on top of that there(s the &"rse of travelling, worries abo"t making train &onne&tions, bad and irreg"lar food, &onta&t with different people all the time so that yo" &an never get to know anyone or be&ome friendly with them# It &an all go to $ell-' $e felt a slight it&h "p on his belly. p"shed himself slowly "p on his ba&k towards the headboard so that he &o"ld lift his head better. fo"nd where the it&h was, and saw that it was &overed with lots of little white spots whi&h he didn(t know what to make of. and when he tried to feel the pla&e with one of his legs he drew it ,"i&kly ba&k be&a"se as soon as he to"&hed it he was over&ome by a &old sh"dder# $e slid ba&k into his former position# ' etting "p early all the time', he tho"ght, 'it makes yo" st"pid# /o"(ve got to get eno"gh sleep# Other travelling salesmen live a life of l"+"ry# For instan&e, whenever I go ba&k to the g"est ho"se d"ring the morning to &opy o"t the &ontra&t, these gentlemen are always still sitting there eating their breakfasts# I o"ght to 0"st try that with my
boss. I(d get ki&ked o"t on the spot# 1"t who knows, maybe that wo"ld be the best thing for me# If I didn(t have my parents to think abo"t I(d have given in my noti&e a long time ago, I(d have gone "p to the boss and told him 0"st what I think, tell him everything I wo"ld, let him know 0"st what I feel# $e(d fall right off his desk- *nd it(s a f"nny sort of b"siness to be sitting "p there at yo"r desk, talking down at yo"r s"bordinates from "p there, espe&ially when yo" have to go right "p &lose be&a"se the boss is hard of hearing# Well, there(s still some hope. on&e I(ve got the money together to pay off my parents( debt to him % another five or si+ years I s"ppose % that(s definitely what I(ll do# That(s when I(ll make the big &hange# First of all tho"gh, I(ve got to get "p, my train leaves at five#' *nd he looked over at the alarm &lo&k, ti&king on the &hest of drawers# ' od in $eaven-' he tho"ght# It was half past si+ and the hands were ,"ietly moving forwards, it was even later than half past, more like ,"arter to seven# $ad the alarm &lo&k not r"ng) $e &o"ld see from the bed that it had been set for fo"r o(&lo&k as it sho"ld have been. it &ertainly m"st have r"ng# /es, b"t was it possible to ,"ietly sleep thro"gh that f"rnit"re%rattling noise) Tr"e, he had not slept pea&ef"lly, b"t probably all the more deeply be&a"se of that# What sho"ld he do now) The ne+t train went at seven. if he were to &at&h that he wo"ld have to r"sh like mad and the &olle&tion of samples was still not pa&ked, and he did not at all feel parti&"larly fresh and lively# *nd even if he did &at&h the train he wo"ld not avoid his boss(s anger as the offi&e assistant wo"ld have been there to see the five o(&lo&k train go, he wo"ld have p"t in his report abo"t regor(s not being there a long time ago# The offi&e assistant was the boss(s man, spineless, and with no "nderstanding# What abo"t if he reported si&k) 1"t that wo"ld be e+tremely strained and s"spi&io"s as in fifteen years of servi&e regor had never on&e yet been ill# $is boss wo"ld &ertainly &ome ro"nd with the do&tor from the medi&al ins"ran&e &ompany, a&&"se his parents of having a lazy son, and a&&ept the do&tor(s re&ommendation not to make any &laim as the do&tor believed that no%one was ever ill b"t that many were workshy# *nd what(s more, wo"ld he have been entirely wrong in this &ase) regor did in fa&t, apart from e+&essive sleepiness after sleeping for so long, feel &ompletely well and even felt m"&h h"ngrier than "s"al# $e was still h"rriedly thinking all this thro"gh, "nable to de&ide to get o"t of the bed, when the &lo&k str"&k ,"arter to seven# There was a &a"tio"s kno&k at the door near his head# ' regor', somebody &alled % it was his mother % 'it(s ,"arter to seven# Didn(t yo" want to go somewhere)' That gentle voi&e- regor was sho&ked when he heard his own voi&e answering, it &o"ld hardly be re&ognised as the voi&e he had had before# *s if from deep inside him, there was a painf"l and "n&ontrollable s,"eaking mi+ed in with it, the words &o"ld be made o"t at first b"t then there was a sort of e&ho whi&h made them "n&lear, leaving the hearer "ns"re whether he had heard properly or not# regor had wanted to give a f"ll answer and e+plain everything, b"t in the &ir&"mstan&es &ontented himself with saying2 '/es, mother, yes, thank%yo", I(m getting "p now#' The &hange in regor(s voi&e probably &o"ld not be noti&ed o"tside thro"gh the wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with this e+planation and sh"ffled away# 1"t this short &onversation made the other members of the family aware that regor, against their e+pe&tations was still at home, and soon his father &ame kno&king at one of the side doors, gently, b"t with his fist# ' regor, regor', he &alled, 'what(s wrong)' *nd after a short
while he &alled again with a warning deepness in his voi&e2 ' regorregor-' *t the other side door his sister &ame plaintively2 ' regor) *ren(t yo" well) Do yo" need anything)' regor answered to both sides2 'I(m ready, now', making an effort to remove all the strangeness from his voi&e by en"n&iating very &aref"lly and p"tting long pa"ses between ea&h, individ"al word# $is father went ba&k to his breakfast, b"t his sister whispered2 ' regor, open the door, I beg of yo"#' regor, however, had no tho"ght of opening the door, and instead &ongrat"lated himself for his &a"tio"s habit, a&,"ired from his travelling, of lo&king all doors at night even when he was at home# The first thing he wanted to do was to get "p in pea&e witho"t being dist"rbed, to get dressed, and most of all to have his breakfast# Only then wo"ld he &onsider what to do ne+t, as he was well aware that he wo"ld not bring his tho"ghts to any sensible &on&l"sions by lying in bed# $e remembered that he had often felt a slight pain in bed, perhaps &a"sed by lying awkwardly, b"t that had always t"rned o"t to be p"re imagination and he wondered how his imaginings wo"ld slowly resolve themselves today# $e did not have the slightest do"bt that the &hange in his voi&e was nothing more than the first sign of a serio"s &old, whi&h was an o&&"pational hazard for travelling salesmen# It was a simple matter to throw off the &overs. he only had to blow himself "p a little and they fell off by themselves# 1"t it be&ame diffi&"lt after that, espe&ially as he was so e+&eptionally broad# $e wo"ld have "sed his arms and his hands to p"sh himself "p. b"t instead of them he only had all those little legs &ontin"o"sly moving in different dire&tions, and whi&h he was moreover "nable to &ontrol# If he wanted to bend one of them, then that was the first one that wo"ld stret&h itself o"t. and if he finally managed to do what he wanted with that leg, all the others seemed to be set free and wo"ld move abo"t painf"lly# 'This is something that &an(t be done in bed', regor said to himself, 'so don(t keep trying to do it'# The first thing he wanted to do was get the lower part of his body o"t of the bed, b"t he had never seen this lower part, and &o"ld not imagine what it looked like. it t"rned o"t to be too hard to move. it went so slowly. and finally, almost in a frenzy, when he &arelessly shoved himself forwards with all the for&e he &o"ld gather, he &hose the wrong dire&tion, hit hard against the lower bedpost, and learned from the b"rning pain he felt that the lower part of his body might well, at present, be the most sensitive# !o then he tried to get the top part of his body o"t of the bed first, &aref"lly t"rning his head to the side# This he managed ,"ite easily, and despite its breadth and its weight, the b"lk of his body event"ally followed slowly in the dire&tion of the head# 1"t when he had at last got his head o"t of the bed and into the fresh air it o&&"rred to him that if he let himself fall it wo"ld be a mira&le if his head were not in0"red, so he be&ame afraid to &arry on p"shing himself forward the same way# *nd he &o"ld not kno&k himself o"t now at any pri&e. better to stay in bed than lose &ons&io"sness# It took 0"st as m"&h effort to get ba&k to where he had been earlier, b"t when he lay there sighing, and was on&e more wat&hing his legs as they str"ggled against ea&h other even harder than before, if that was possible, he &o"ld think of no way of bringing
he said to himself. as they open "p at work before seven o(&lo&k#' *nd so he set himself to the task of swinging the entire length of his body o"t of the bed all at the same time# If he s"&&eeded in falling o"t of bed in this way and kept his head raised as he did so he &o"ld probably avoid in0"ring it# $is ba&k seemed to be . the maid(s firm steps went to the door as ever and opened it# regor only needed to hear the visitor(s first words of greeting and he knew who it was % the &hief &lerk himself# Why did regor have to be the only one &ondemned to work for a &ompany where they immediately be&ame highly s"spi&io"s at the slightest short&oming) Were all employees. &a"ght in some nonsensi&al hope# 1"t then of &o"rse."iet# 'They(re not opening the door'. all he had to do was ro&k ba&k and forth % it o&&"rred to him how simple everything wo"ld be if somebody &ame to help him# Two strong people % he had his father and the maid in mind % wo"ld have been more than eno"gh. he said to himself when the &lo&k str"&k again. he did not forget to remind himself that &alm &onsideration was m"&h better than r"shing to desperate &on&l"sions# *t times like this he wo"ld dire&t his eyes to the window and look o"t as &learly as he &o"ld."ite hard."iries % ass"ming en. hopef"lly. 'seven o(&lo&k.pea&e and order to this &haos# $e told himself on&e more that it was not possible for him to stay in bed and that the most sensible thing to do wo"ld be to get free of it in whatever way he &o"ld at whatever sa&rifi&e# *t the same time. already'. they wo"ld only have to p"sh their arms "nder the dome of his ba&k."ietly a while longer. the little legs wo"ld find a "se# !ho"ld he really &all for help tho"gh. and whi&h even thro"gh all the doors wo"ld probably raise &on&ern if not alarm# 1"t it was something that had to be risked# When regor was already sti&king half way o"t of the bed % the new method was more of a game than an effort. b"t "nfort"nately. and probably nothing wo"ld happen to it falling onto the &arpet# $is main &on&ern was for the lo"d noise he was bo"nd to make. breathing lightly as if he perhaps e+pe&ted the total stillness to bring things ba&k to their real and nat"ral state# 1"t then he said to himself2 '1efore it strikes . and did . and froze very still."arter past seven I(ll definitely have to have got properly o"t of bed# *nd by then somebody will have &ome ro"nd from work to ask what(s happened to me as well. even apart from the fa&t that all the doors were lo&ked) Despite all the diffi&"lty he was in. bend down with the load and then be patient and &aref"l as he swang over onto the floor."iries were even ne&essary % did the &hief &lerk have to &ome himself. regor said to himself. peel him away from the bed. altho"gh his little legs only be&ame all the more lively as they dan&ed aro"nd# For a moment everything remained . tho"gh. where. was there not one of them who was faithf"l and devoted who wo"ld go so mad with pangs of &ons&ien&e that he &o"ldn(t get o"t of bed if he didn(t spend at least a &o"ple of ho"rs in the morning on &ompany b"siness) Was it really not eno"gh to let one of the trainees make en. lo"ts. he &o"ld not s"ppress a smile at this tho"ght# *fter a while he had already moved so far a&ross that it wo"ld have been hard for him to keep his balan&e if he ro&ked too hard# The time was now ten past seven and he wo"ld have to make a final de&ision very soon# Then there was a ring at the door of the flat# 'That(ll be someone from work'. and there(s still a fog like this#' *nd he lay there . even the other side of the narrow street was enveloped in morning fog and the view had little &onfiden&e or &heer to offer him# '!even o(&lo&k. every one of them.
it only took him two or three evenings.The lad only ever thinks abo"t the b"siness# It nearly makes me &ross the way he never goes o"t in the evenings. and hit it as he fell. I(m glad yo"(re here. regor(s sister whispered to him to let him know2 ' regor. whi&h made the so"nd m"ffled and not too noti&eable# $e had not held his head &aref"lly eno"gh. said his mother to the &hief &lerk. in the room on his left his sister began to &ry# !o why did his sister not go and 0oin the others) !he had probably only 0"st got "p and had not even beg"n to get dressed# *nd why was she &rying) Was it be&a"se he had not got "p. yo"(ll see it as soon as regor opens the door# *nyway. 'I hope it(s nothing serio"s# 1"t on the other hand. he(s so st"bborn. tho"gh. I m"st say that if we people in &ommer&e ever be&ome slightly "nwell then. the &hief &lerk is here#' '/es.they have to show the whole. said the &hief &lerk. he swang himself with all his for&e o"t of the bed# There was a lo"d th"mp. the &hief &lerk(s firm footsteps in his highly polished boots &o"ld now be heard in the ad0oining room# From the room on his right. said regor# In the room on his right there followed a painf"l silen&e. Mr# !amsa'# '$e isn(t well'. said regor slowly and tho"ghtf"lly. for instan&e."estion. we simply have to over&ome it be&a"se of b"siness &onsiderations#' '3an the &hief &lerk &ome in to see yo" now then)'. and had not let the &hief &lerk in. he(s been in town for a week now b"t stayed home every evening# $e sits with "s in the kit&hen and 0"st reads the paper or st"dies train timetables# $is idea of rela+ation is working with his fretsaw# $e(s made a little frame. b"t he isn(t#' 'I(ll be there in a moment'. please believe me# Why else wo"ld regor have missed a train. I know'. annoyed and in pain. asked his father impatiently. he said this morning that he is. fort"nately or "nfort"nately as yo" like. and regor(s ba&k was also more elasti& than he had tho"ght. said the &hief &lerk in the room on the left# regor tried to imagine whether something of the sort that had happened to him today &o"ld ever happen to the &hief &lerk too. b"t witho"t daring to raise his voi&e lo"d eno"gh for his sister to hear him# ' regor'. said regor to himself. be&a"se he was in danger of losing his 0ob and if that happened his boss wo"ld on&e more p"rs"e their parents with the same demands as before) There was no need to worry abo"t things like that yet# regor was still there and had not the slightest intention of abandoning his family# For the time being he 0"st lay . he t"rned it and r"bbed it against the &arpet# '!omething(s fallen down in there'. yo"(ll be amazed how ni&e it is. said his father now from the room to his left. Mrs# !amsa'. b"t it wasn(t really a lo"d noise# $is fall was softened a little by the &arpet. kno&king at the door again# '4o'. yo" had to &on&ede that it was possible# 1"t as if in gr"ff reply to this . b"t witho"t moving so that he wo"ld not miss any word of the &onversation# 'Well I &an(t think of any other way of e+plaining it. and I(m s"re he isn(t well. we wo"ldn(t have been able to get regor to open the door by o"rselves. 'the &hief &lerk has &ome ro"nd and wants to know why yo" didn(t leave on the early train# We don(t know what to say to him# *nd anyway. he wants to speak to yo" personally# !o please open "p this door# I(m s"re he(ll be good eno"gh to forgive the "ntidiness of yo"r room#' Then the &hief &lerk &alled ' ood morning. while his father &ontin"ed to speak thro"gh the door# '$e isn(t well. inno&ent family that this was so s"spi&io"s that only the &hief &lerk &o"ld be tr"sted to have the wisdom to investigate it) *nd more be&a"se these tho"ghts had made him "pset than thro"gh any proper de&ision. it(s hanging "p in his room.
they were worried."ite astonished# I tho"ght I knew yo" as a &alm and sensible person. we re&ognise that. it(s tr"e % it had to do with the money that was re&ently entr"sted to yo" % b"t I &ame near to giving him my word of hono"r that that &o"ld not be the right e+planation# 1"t now that I see yo"r in&omprehensible st"bbornness I no longer feel any wish whatsoever to inter&ede on yo"r behalf# *nd nor is yo"r position all that se&"re# I had originally intended to say all this to yo" in private."ite alright now. as well. yo" are &a"sing serio"s and "nne&essary &on&ern to yo"r parents and yo" fail % and I mention this 0"st by the way % yo" fail to &arry o"t yo"r b"siness d"ties in a way that is . he &alled to him. 'Mr# !amsa'. 'what is wrong) /o" barri&ade yo"rself in yo"r room. I haven(t been able to get "p# I(m still in bed now# I(m . I(ll be in the offi&e soon after yo". tho"gh# It(s sho&king. these few ho"rs of rest have given me strength# /o" don(t need to wait.I was . that wo"ld e+&"se their behavio"r# The &hief &lerk now raised his voi&e. and a s"itable e+&"se &o"ld easily be fo"nd for it later on.there on the &arpet. . 0"st a moment# I(m slightly "nwell. yo"r employer did s"ggest a possible reason for yo"r fail"re to appear. perhaps better than me. &alled regor. however.1"t yo" always think yo" &an get over an illness witho"t staying at home# 6lease. really did want to let them see him and to speak with the &hief &lerk."ite "nheard of# I(m speaking here on behalf of yo"r parents and of yo"r employer.There(s no basis for any of the a&&"sations yo"(re making. an atta&k of dizziness. tho"gh# I(m 0"st getting o"t of bed# 5"st a moment# 1e patient. I grant yo" that it(s not the time of year to do espe&ially good b"siness. and no%one who knew the &ondition he was in wo"ld serio"sly have e+pe&ted him to let the &hief &lerk in# It was only a minor dis&o"rtesy. b"t there simply is no time of year to do no b"siness at all. the others were being so insistent."ite as easy as I(d tho"ght# I(m . and he was &"rio"s to learn what they wo"ld say when they &a"ght sight of him# If they were sho&ked then it wo"ld no longer be regor(s responsibility and he &o"ld rest# If. b"t sin&e yo" &a"se me to waste my time here for no good reason I don(t see why yo"r parents sho"ld not also learn of it# /o"r t"rnover has been very "nsatisfa&tory of late. and now yo" s"ddenly seem to be showing off with pe&"liar whims# This morning. it was not something for whi&h regor &o"ld be sa&ked on the spot# *nd it seemed to regor m"&h more sensible to leave him now in pea&e instead of dist"rbing him with talking at him and &rying# 1"t the others didn(t know what was happening. and please be so good as to tell that to the boss and re&ommend me to him-' *nd while regor g"shed o"t these words."ite alright last night. don(t make my parents s"ffer. hardly knowing what he was saying. beside himself and forgetting all else in the e+&itement. Mr# !amsa. give "s no more than yes or no for an answer. 'I(ll open "p immediately."ite fresh again now. and really m"st re. they took everything . probably be&a"se of the pra&tise he had already had in bed % where he now tried to get himself "pright# $e really did want to open the door."est a &lear and immediate e+planation# I am astonished. we &annot allow there to be#' '1"t !ir'.It(s not . sir. my parents know abo"t it. I had a small symptom of it last night already# They m"st have noti&ed it# I don(t know why I didn(t let yo" know at work. nobody(s ever said a word to me abo"t any of these things# Maybe yo" haven(t read the latest &ontra&ts I sent in# I(ll set off with the eight o(&lo&k train. what &an s"ddenly happen to a person. he made his way over to the &hest of drawers % this was easily done.
rete-' she then &ried# 'Mother)' his sister &alled from the other side# They &omm"ni&ated a&ross regor(s room# '/o"(ll have to go for the do&tor straight away# regor is ill# 7"i&k. and that made him feel better# $e felt that he had been drawn ba&k in among people. then. said the &hief &lerk in the ne+t room. made "p for with a very strong 0aw. and if he h"rried he really &o"ld be at the station for eight o(&lo&k# The first few times he tried to &limb "p on the smooth &hest of drawers he 0"st slid down again. get the do&tor# Did yo" hear the way regor spoke 0"st now)' 'That was the voi&e of an animal'. now-' *nd the two girls. said the &hief &lerk. keep hold of the lo&k-' *nd with the idea that they were all e+&itedly following his . altho"gh they seemed &lear eno"gh to him. &learer than before % perhaps his ears had be&ome "sed to the so"nd# They had realised. wren&hing open the front door of the flat as they went# $ow had his sister managed to get dressed so . to grasp the key) % b"t the la&k of teeth was. flowed over the key and dripped onto the floor# '8isten'. immediately ran o"t thro"gh the hall. they m"st have left it open. and kept . to have no proper teeth % how was he. 'he(s t"rning the key#' regor was greatly en&o"raged by this. regor'. the lower part of his body was in serio"s pain b"t he no longer gave any attention to it# 4ow he let himself fall against the ba&k of a nearby &hair and held tightly to the edges of it with his little legs# 1y now he had also &almed down. their skirts swishing. it had be&ome very . in &ontrast. 'get a lo&ksmith here. tho"gh. he really was able to start the key t"rning. people often do in homes where something awf"l has happened# regor. who was already in tears. b"t they all sho"ld have been &alling to him."iet so that he &o"ld listen to what the &hief &lerk was saying# 'Did yo" "nderstand a word of all that)' the &hief &lerk asked his parents. "nfort"nately. of &o"rse.*nna-' his father &alled into the kit&hen thro"gh the entran&e hall. and from the do&tor and the lo&ksmith he e+pe&ted great and s"rprising a&hievements % altho"gh he did not really disting"ish one from the other# Whatever was said ne+t wo"ld be &r"&ial."i&kly) There was no so"nd of the door banging sh"t again. they sho"ld have &ried. b"t he finally gave himself one last swing and stood there "pright. 'keep at it."iet in the ne+t room# 6erhaps his parents were sat at the table whispering with the &hief &lerk. b"t taking &are to do this not too lo"dly as even this might well so"nd different from the way that a h"man &o"ghs and he was no longer s"re he &o"ld 0"dge this for himself# Meanwhile. that there was something wrong with him. in order to make his voi&e as &lear as possible. he &o"ghed a little. had be&ome m"&h &almer# !o they &o"ldn(t "nderstand his words any more. his father and his mother too2 'Well done. ignoring the fa&t that he m"st have been &a"sing some kind of damage as a brown fl"id &ame from his mo"th. 's"rely he(s not trying to make fools of "s'# 'Oh. and were ready to help# The first response to his sit"ation had been &onfident and wise.&almly he wo"ld still have no reason to be "pset. 'he &o"ld be serio"sly ill and we(re making him s"ffer# rete. with a &almness that was in &ontrast with his mother(s s&reams# '*nna. so. "sing the 0aw. holding himself "pright against it "sing the adhesive on the tips of his legs# $e rested there a little while to re&over from the effort involved and then set himself to the task of t"rning the key in the lo&k with his mo"th# $e seemed. or perhaps they were all pressed against the door and listening# regor slowly p"shed his way over to the door with the &hair# On&e there he let go of it and threw himself onto the door. od-' &alled his mother. &lapping his hands.
along with his head above it whi&h he leant over to one side as he peered o"t at the others# Meanwhile the day had be&ome m"&h lighter. then) It(s . the rain was still falling. "nable to pay attention to anything else. part of the endless. he said to the &hief &lerk. whi&h so"nded like the so"ghing of the wind# 4ow he also saw him % he was the nearest to the door % his hand pressed against his open mo"th and slowly retreating as if driven by a steady and invisible for&e# regor(s mother. &overed his eyes with his hands and wept so that his powerf"l &hest shook# !o regor did not go into the room."ite possible for someone to be temporarily "nable to work. there was so m"&h of it be&a"se. he will &ertainly work with all the more diligen&e ."ite &learly with the a"stere and reg"lar line of windows pier&ing its fa&ade. and as he regained his breath he said to himself2 '!o. for regor(s father. now throwing down large. and &len&hed his fists as if wanting to kno&k regor ba&k into his room# Then he looked "n&ertainly ro"nd the living room. well aware that he was the only one to have kept &alm. and he had to do it very &aref"lly if he did not want to fall flat on his ba&k before entering the room# $e was still o&&"pied with this diffi&"lt movement. and h"ng onto the key or p"shed it down again with the whole weight of his body as needed# The &lear so"nd of the lo&k as it snapped ba&k was regor(s sign that he &o"ld break his &on&entration. in to the offi&e) /es) Will yo" report everything a&&"rately. 'that I(m not st"bborn and I like to do my 0ob. said regor. individ"al droplets whi&h hit the gro"nd one at a time# The washing "p from breakfast lay on the table. grey%bla&k b"ilding on the other side of the street % whi&h was a hospital % &o"ld be seen . I didn(t need the lo&ksmith after all'# Then he lay his head on the handle of the door to open it &ompletely# 1e&a"se he had to open the door in this way. 'I(ll get dressed straight away now. being a &ommer&ial traveller is ard"o"s b"t witho"t travelling I &o"ldn(t earn my living# !o where are yo" going. b"t that(s 0"st the right time to remember what(s been a&hieved in the past and &onsider that later on. took two steps forward towards regor and sank down onto the floor into her skirts that spread themselves o"t aro"nd her as her head disappeared down onto her breast# $is father looked hostile. on&e the diffi&"lty has been removed. his sword in his hand and a &arefree smile on his fa&e as he &alled forth respe&t for his "niform and bearing# The door to the entran&e hall was open and as the front door of the flat was also open he &o"ld see onto the landing and the stairs where they began their way down below# '4ow. only holding himself "pright with his mo"th. it was already wide open before he &o"ld be seen# $e had first to slowly t"rn himself aro"nd one of the do"ble doors. then'. paying no attention to the pain he was &a"sing himself# *s the key t"rned ro"nd he t"rned aro"nd the lo&k with it. her hair still dishevelled from bed despite the &hief &lerk(s being there. pa&k "p my samples and set off# Will yo" please 0"st let me leave) /o" &an see'.efforts. looked at his father# Then she "nfolded her arms. breakfast was the most important meal of the day and he wo"ld stret&h it o"t for several ho"rs as he sat reading a n"mber of different newspapers# On the wall e+a&tly opposite there was photograph of regor when he was a lie"tenant in the army. b"t leant against the inside of the other door whi&h was still held bolted in pla&e# In this way only half of his body &o"ld be seen. he bit on the key with all his strength. when he heard the &hief &lerk e+&laim a lo"d 'Oh-'.
don(t go away. he let go of the door. and he was soon believing that all his sorrows wo"ld soon be finally at . the little legs had the solid gro"nd "nder them. only stared ba&k at him over his trembling sho"lders as he left# $e did not keep still for a moment while regor was speaking. and r"shed forward in a pani&# In the hall. if I &an say this in &onfiden&e.If only his sister were here. or that his spee&h still might not % or probably wo"ld not % be "nderstood. so that we &an very easily fall vi&tim to gossip and &han&e and gro"ndless &omplaints. a better overview than the boss himself % it(s very easy for a b"sinessman like him to make mistakes abo"t his employees and 0"dge them more harshly than he sho"ld# *nd yo"(re also well aware that we travellers spend almost the whole year away from the offi&e. there were some s"pernat"ral for&e waiting to save him# regor realised that it was o"t of the . they were even making the effort to &arry him where he wanted to go. she wo"ld &lose the front door in the entran&e hall and talk him o"t of his sho&ked state# 1"t his sister was not there. sir. we don(t "s"ally even hear abo"t them. p"shed himself thro"gh the opening. was holding on to the banister with both hands. for the first time that day. and that(s when we feel the harmf"l effe&ts of what(s been going on witho"t even knowing what &a"sed them# 6lease. to his pleas"re. they had be&ome &onvin&ed that this 0ob wo"ld provide for regor for his entire life. yo" have a better overview than the rest of the staff."estion to let the &hief &lerk go away in this mood if his position in the firm was not to be p"t into e+treme danger# That was something his parents did not "nderstand very well. with a little s&ream as he so"ght something to hold onto. so that I(m trapped in a diffi&"lt sit"ation. and besides. &onvin&ed and finally won over. &almed down. b"t I will work my way o"t of it again# 6lease don(t make things any harder for me than they are already. at least first say something to show that yo" grant that I(m at least partly right-' 1"t the &hief &lerk had t"rned away as soon as regor had started to speak. and it(s almost impossible to defend yo"rself from that sort of thing. b"t moved steadily towards the door witho"t taking his eyes off him# $e moved very grad"ally.and &on&entration# /o"(re well aware that I(m serio"sly in debt to o"r employer as well as having to look after my parents and my sister. he stret&hed his right hand far o"t towards the stairway as if o"t there. landed on his n"mero"s little legs# $ardly had that happened than. drew his foot from the living room. as if there had been some se&ret prohibition on leaving the room# It was only when he had rea&hed the entran&e hall that he made a s"dden movement. over the years. in fa&t. and don(t take sides against me at the offi&e# I know that nobody likes the travellers# They think we earn an enormo"s wage as well as having a soft time of it# That(s 0"st pre0"di&e b"t they have no parti&"lar reason to think better of it# 1"t yo".!he was &lever. did think abo"t the f"t"re# The &hief &lerk had to be held ba&k. regor wo"ld have to do the 0ob himself# *nd witho"t &onsidering that he still was not familiar with how well he &o"ld move abo"t in his present state. s"rely she &o"ld pers"ade him. b"t regor fell immediately over and. they did e+a&tly as he told them. tried to rea&h the &hief &lerk on the landing who. and. they had so m"&h to worry abo"t at present that they had lost sight of any tho"ght for the f"t"re# regor. the f"t"re of regor and his family depended on it. or if at all it(s when we arrive ba&k home e+ha"sted from a trip. ridi&"lo"sly. with protr"ding lips. she was already in tears while regor was still lying pea&ef"lly on his ba&k# *nd the &hief &lerk was a lover of women. tho"gh. he began to feel alright with his body.
along with his hat and over&oat. instead of r"nning after the &hief &lerk himself. in fa&t now and then he "sed the tip of his sti&k to give dire&tions from a distan&e as to whi&h way to t"rn# If only his father wo"ld stop that "nbearable hissing. to his disg"st. he looked ba&k for the last time# regor made a r"n for him. and his body was too broad to get thro"gh it witho"t f"rther diffi&"lty# In . at first. regor(s mother had p"lled open a window. the &hief &lerk m"st have e+pe&ted something.an end# $e held ba&k the "rge to move b"t swayed from side to side as he &ro"&hed there on the floor# $is mother was not far away in front of him and seemed. had no time to spare for his parents now. the &"rtains flew "p. as . and there was the threat of a lethal blow to his ba&k or head from the sti&k in his father(s hand any moment# <vent"ally."i&kly down on it witho"t knowing what she was doing. witho"t even seeming to noti&e that the &offee pot had been kno&ked over and a g"sh of &offee was po"ring down onto the &arpet# 'Mother. his sho"ts reso"nding all aro"nd the stair&ase# The flight of the &hief &lerk seemed. his appeals were simply not "nderstood. to p"t regor(s father into a pani& as well# 9ntil then he had been relatively self &ontrolled. as he leapt down several steps at on&e and disappeared. she fled from the table and into the arms of his father as he r"shed towards her# regor. and "sed them to drive regor ba&k into his room. the &hief &lerk had already rea&hed the stairs. when she rea&hed the table she sat ."ite engrossed in herself. tho"gh. mother'. he made a mistake and t"rned himself ba&k a little the way he had 0"st &ome# $e was pleased when he finally had his head in front of the doorway."ite &onf"sed# When he had nearly finished t"rning ro"nd. so he began. making hissing noises at him like a wild man# regor had never had any pra&ti&e in moving ba&kwards and was only able to go very slowly# If regor had only been allowed to t"rn ro"nd he wo"ld have been ba&k in his room straight away. she had forgotten that the table was behind her with all the breakfast things on it. b"t &o"ld not help himself snapping in the air with his 0aws at the sight of the flow of &offee# That set his mother s&reaming anew. regor(s father seized the &hief &lerk(s sti&k in his right hand :the &hief &lerk had left it behind on a &hair."ent an+io"s glan&es at his father. for pity(s sake.It was making regor . b"t then saw that it was too narrow. still listening to that hissing. to t"rn himself ro"nd# It went very slowly. or at least not impeding regor as he ran after him. b"t the "nthinking way she was h"rrying ba&kwards showed that she did not. he wanted to be s"re of rea&hing him. tho"gh.. "nfort"nately. b"t he was afraid that if he took the time to do that his father wo"ld be&ome impatient."i&kly as possible and with fre. with his &hin on the banister. b"t perhaps his father was able to see his good intentions as he did nothing to hinder him. the newspapers on the table fl"ttered and some of them were blown onto the floor# 4othing wo"ld stop regor(s father as he drove him ba&k. regor realised that he had no &hoi&e as he saw. $elp-' The way she held her head s"ggested she wanted to see regor better. looking "p at her# $e had &ompletely forgotten the &hief &lerk for the moment. . stamping his foot at him as he went# regor(s appeals to his father were of no help. however m"&h he h"mbly t"rned his head his father merely stamped his foot all the harder# *&ross the room. said regor gently. despite the &hilly weather. b"t now. that he was . leant far o"t of it and pressed her hands to her fa&e# * strong dra"ght of air flew in from the street towards the stairway. b"t then she s"ddenly 0"mped "p with her arms o"tstret&hed and her fingers spread sho"ting2 '$elp. pi&ked "p a large newspaper from the table with his left."ite in&apable of going ba&kwards in a straight line.
as he had had eno"gh sleep and felt f"lly rested# 1"t he had the impression that some h"rried steps and the so"nd of the door leading into the front room being &aref"lly sh"t had woken him# The light from the ele&tri& street lamps shone palely here and there onto the &eiling and tops of the f"rnit"re. as he was even h"ngrier than he had been that morning. b"t there was now not ."iet# II It was not "ntil it was getting dark that evening that regor awoke from his deep and &oma%like sleep# $e wo"ld have woken soon afterwards anyway even if he hadn(t been dist"rbed. it was the smell of something to eat# 1y the door there was a dish filled with sweetened milk with little pie&es of white bread floating in it# $e was so pleased he almost la"ghed. b"t down below. not only did the pain in his tender left side make it diffi&"lt to eat the food % he was only able to eat if his whole body worked together as a sn"ffling whole % b"t the milk did not taste at all ni&e# Milk like this was normally his favo"rite drink. all was . soon he was st"&k fast and wo"ld not have been able to move at all by himself. was to drive regor forwards all the harder as if there had been nothing in the way. painf"lly stret&hed s&ar. it obvio"sly did not o&&"r to his father to open the other of the do"ble doors so that regor wo"ld have eno"gh spa&e to get thro"gh# $e was merely fi+ed on the idea that regor sho"ld be got ba&k into his room as . regor &o"ld see that the gas had been lit in the living room# $is father at this time wo"ld normally be sat with his evening paper. and sometimes to his sister. and regor p"shed himself into the doorway witho"t regard for what might happen# One side of his body lifted itself. deep into his room# The door was slammed sh"t with the sti&k. and immediately dipped his head into the milk. feeling his way &l"msily with his antennae % of whi&h he was now beginning to learn the val"e % in order to see what had been happening there# The whole of his left side seemed like one."i&kly as possible# 4or wo"ld he ever have allowed regor the time to get himself "pright as preparation for getting thro"gh the doorway# What he did. and he limped badly on his two rows of legs# One of the legs had been badly in0"red in the events of that morning % it was nearly a mira&le that only one of them had been % and dragged along lifelessly# It was only when he had rea&hed the door that he realised what it a&t"ally was that had drawn him over to it. and heavily bleeding. b"t he t"rned. the little legs along one side h"ng . where regor was. leaving vile brown fle&ks on it. away from the dish and &rawled ba&k into the &entre of the room# Thro"gh the &ra&k in the door. making more noise than ever. reading it o"t in a lo"d voi&e to regor(s mother. and his sister had &ertainly left it there for him be&a"se of that. it so"nded to regor as if there was now more than one father behind him.his present mood. it was not a pleasant e+perien&e. it was dark# $e p"shed himself over to the door. almost against his own will. he lay at an angle in the doorway. nearly &overing his eyes with it# 1"t he soon drew his head ba&k again in disappointment. one flank s&raped on the white door and was painf"lly in0"red. then. finally."ivering in the air while those on the other side were pressed painf"lly against the gro"nd# Then his father gave him a hefty shove from behind whi&h released him from where he was held and sent him flying.
a so"nd to be heard# regor(s sister wo"ld often write and tell him abo"t this reading. felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in s"&h a ni&e home for his sister and parents# 1"t what now. b"t the door was opened no more that night and regor waited in vain# The previo"s morning while the doors were lo&ked everyone had wanted to get in there to him. and now it was easy to see that his parents and sister had stayed awake all that time. and. that gave him plenty of time to think "ndist"rbed abo"t how he wo"ld have to re%arrange his life# For some reason. it seemed that someone needed to enter the room b"t tho"ght better of it# regor went and waited immediately by the door. as they all &o"ld be distin&tly heard as they went away together on tip%toe# It was &lear that no%one wo"ld &ome into regor(s room any more "ntil morning. as early the ne+t morning. no%one &ame. resolved either to bring the timoro"s visitor into the room in some way or at least to find o"t who it was. always led to the same &on&l"sion2 for the time being he m"st remain &alm. empty room where he was for&ed to remain made him feel "neasy as he lay there flat on the floor. later on the door on the other side did the same. said regor to himself."iet life it is the family lead'. and he was no longer able to lift his head. b"t maybe his father had lost the habit in re&ent times# It was so . even tho"gh there m"st have been somebody in the flat# 'What a . b"t when she did noti&e him "nder the &o"&h % he had to be somewhere."iet all aro"nd too. for od(s sake. the tall. however. he m"st show patien&e and the greatest &onsideration so that his family &o"ld bear the "npleasantness that he. the door on one side of the room was opened very slightly and h"rriedly &losed again."ently woke from it in alarm be&a"se of his h"nger. as she opened the door again straight away and &ame in on tip%toe as if entering the room of someone serio"sly ill or even of a stranger# regor had p"shed his head forward. gazing into the darkness. in his present &ondition. was for&ed to impose on them# regor soon had the opport"nity to test the strength of his de&isions. right to the edge of the &o"&h. his sister. even tho"gh he had been living in it for five years# $ardly aware of what he was doing other than a slight feeling of shame. if all this pea&e and wealth and &omfort sho"ld &ome to a horrible and frightening end) That was something that regor did not want to think abo"t too m"&h. b"t he nonetheless felt immediately at ease and his only regret was that his body was too broad to get it all "nderneath# $e spent the whole night there# !ome of the time he passed in a light sleep. and wat&hed her# Wo"ld she noti&e that he had left the milk as it . and the keys were in the other sides# It was not "ntil late at night that the gaslight in the living room was p"t o"t. now that he had opened "p one of the doors and the other had &learly been "nlo&ked some time d"ring the day. altho"gh he fre. he &o"ldn(t have flown away % she was so sho&ked that she lost &ontrol of herself and slammed the door sh"t again from o"tside# 1"t she seemed to regret her behavio"r. almost before the night had ended. he h"rried "nder the &o"&h# It pressed down on his ba&k a little. and some of the time was spent in worries and vag"e hopes whi&h. b"t now. opened the door from the front room and looked an+io"sly in# !he did not see him straight away. nearly f"lly dressed. &rawling "p and down the room# On&e d"ring that long evening. so he started to move abo"t.
attra&ted him m"&h more than the other foods on the newspaper# 7"i&kly one after another. as eating so m"&h food had ro"nded o"t his body a little and he &o"ld hardly breathe in that narrow spa&e# $alf s"ffo&ating. whi&h had probably been permanently set aside for regor(s "se. he didn(t like at all. a few raisins and almonds. in her goodness. his in0"ries m"st already have &ompletely healed as he fo"nd no diffi&"lty in moving# This amazed him. &losed it with its wooden lid. &overed in white sa"&e that had gone hard. and &arried everything o"t# !he had hardly t"rned her ba&k before regor &ame o"t again from "nder the &o"&h and stret&hed himself# This was how regor re&eived his food ea&h day now. o"t of &onsideration for regor(s feelings. his sister slowly t"rned the key in the lo&k as a sign to him that he sho"ld withdraw# $e was immediately startled. he wat&hed with b"lging eyes as his sister "nself&ons&io"sly took a broom and swept "p the left%overs. bones from the evening meal. she h"rried o"t again and even t"rned the key in the lo&k so that regor wo"ld know he &o"ld make things as &omfortable for himself as he liked# regor(s little legs whirred. and pla&ed it beside them# Then. she bro"ght him a whole sele&tion of things. and was already s"&king greedily at the &heese whi&h had immediately. the fresh foods. and perhaps his sister wanted to spare them what distress she &o"ld as they were indeed s"ffering eno"gh# . as she knew that he wo"ld not eat in front of her. at last he &o"ld eat# What(s more. and he h"rried ba&k "nder the &o"&h# 1"t he needed great self%&ontrol to stay there even for the short time that his sister was in the room. half%rotten vegetables. b"t perhaps it wo"ld have been more than they &o"ld stand to have any more e+perien&e of his feeding than being told abo"t it. and the se&ond time after everyone had eaten their meal at midday as his parents wo"ld sleep for a little while then as well. he tho"ght of how his finger had still h"rt the day before yesterday# '*m I less sensitive than I "sed to be. b"t he never &o"ld have g"essed what his sister. and regor(s sister wo"ld send the maid away on some errand# regor(s father and mother &ertainly did not want him to starve either. then)'. imagining the wildest possibilities.was. his eyes watering with pleas"re."i&kly dropped it all into a bin. his sister noti&ed the f"ll dish immediately and looked at it and the few drops of milk splashed aro"nd it with some s"rprise# !he immediately pi&ked it "p % "sing a rag. almost &ompellingly. on the other hand. he tho"ght. altho"gh he did feel a terrible "rge to r"sh forward from "nder the &o"&h. throw himself at his sister(s feet and beg her for something good to eat# $owever. a&t"ally did bring# In order to test his taste. realise that it was not from any la&k of h"nger and bring him in some other food that was more s"itable) If she didn(t do it herself he wo"ld rather go h"ngry than draw her attention to it. as more than a month earlier he had &"t his finger slightly with a knife. the vegetables and the sa"&e. on&e in the morning while his parents and the maid were still asleep. mi+ing them in with the food he had not even to"&hed at all as if it &o"ld not be "sed any more# !he . all spread o"t on an old newspaper# There were old. and even dragged the things he did want to eat a little way away from them be&a"se he &o"ldn(t stand the smell# 8ong after he had finished eating and lay lethargi& in the same pla&e. some &heese that regor had de&lared inedible two days before. not her bare hands % and &arried it o"t# regor was e+tremely &"rio"s as to what she wo"ld bring in its pla&e. altho"gh he had been half asleep. he &ons"med the &heese. a dry roll and some bread spread with b"tter and salt# *s well as all that she had po"red some water into the dish.
"estion of her ever be&oming f"lly "sed to the sit"ation % that regor wo"ld sometimes &at&h a friendly &omment. or at least a &omment that &o"ld be &onstr"ed as friendly# '$e(s en0oyed his dinner today'. his father had e+plained to regor(s mother and sister what their finan&es and prospe&ts were# 4ow and then he stood "p from the table and took some re&eipt or do&"ment from the little &ash bo+ he had saved from his b"siness when it had &ollapsed five years earlier# regor heard how he opened the &ompli&ated lo&k and then &losed it again after he had taken the item he wanted# What he heard his father say was some of the first good news that regor heard sin&e he had first been in&ar&erated in his room# $e had tho"ght that nothing at all remained from his father(s b"siness. b"t even between meals they spoke abo"t the same s"b0e&t as there were always at least two members of the family at home % nobody wanted to be at home by themselves and it was o"t of the . not even his sister. when she had be&ome a little more "sed to everything % there was. lo"d '4o'. of &o"rse. so he had to be &ontent to hear his sister(s sighs and appeals to the saints as she moved abo"t his room# It was only later. at least he had never told him anything different."i&kly as possible# !o then he started working espe&ially hard. and regor had never asked him abo"t it anyway# Their b"siness misfort"ne had red"&ed the family to a state of total despair. and whenever he heard anyone speaking he wo"ld s&"rry straight to the appropriate door and press his whole body against it# There was seldom any &onversation. altho"gh that was not so m"&h bother as no%one ate very m"&h# regor often heard how one of them wo"ld "ns"&&essf"lly "rge another to eat. and re&eive no more answer than 'no thanks. I(ve had eno"gh' or something similar# 4o%one drank very m"&h either# $is sister wo"ld sometimes ask his father whether he wo"ld like a beer. tearf"lly thanking regor(s mother for her dismissal as if she had done her an enormo"s servi&e# !he even swore emphati&ally not to tell anyone the slightest abo"t what had happened."arter of an ho"r. even tho"gh no%one had asked that of her# 4ow regor(s sister also had to help his mother with the &ooking. sadly. she might say when he had diligently &leared away all the food left for him. hoping for the &han&e to go and fet&h it herself# When his father then said nothing she wo"ld add. whi&h slowly be&ame more and more fre. that was not abo"t him in some way. no . and regor(s only &on&ern at that time had been to arrange things so that they &o"ld all forget abo"t it as . with a fiery vigo"r that raised him from a 0"nior salesman to a travelling . and no more wo"ld be said# <ven before the first day had &ome to an end. nobody."estion to leave the flat entirely empty# *nd on the very first day the maid had fallen to her knees and begged regor(s mother to let her go witho"t delay# It was not very &lear how m"&h she knew of what had happened b"t she left within a . all the talk at every mealtime was abo"t what they sho"ld do now. b"t then his father wo"ld &lose the matter with a big. espe&ially at first. 'now everything(s 0"st been left there again'# *ltho"gh regor wasn(t able to hear any news dire&tly he did listen to m"&h of what was said in the ne+t rooms. or if he left most of it. even if only in se&ret# For two whole days. she wo"ld often say. tho"ght that he &o"ld "nderstand them."ent. that she &o"ld send the ho"sekeeper for it. so that he wo"ld not feel selfish.It was impossible for regor to find o"t what they had told the do&tor and the lo&ksmith that first morning to get them o"t of the flat# *s nobody &o"ld "nderstand him.
"ite different ways# regor &onverted his s"&&ess at work straight into &ash that he &o"ld lay on the table at home for the benefit of his astonished and delighted family# They had been good times and they had never &ome again. b"t regor tho"ght abo"t it . so that that. and the day when he &o"ld have freed himself from that 0ob wo"ld have &ome m"&h &loser.representative almost overnight. at least not with the same splendo"r. perhaps."ite hard and de&ided he wo"ld let them know what he planned with a grand anno"n&ement of it on 3hristmas day# That was the sort of totally pointless thing that went thro"gh his mind in his present state. that despite all their misfort"nes there was still some money available from the old days# It was not a lot. even tho"gh regor had later earned so m"&h that he was in a position to bear the &osts of the whole family. bringing with it the &han&e to earn money in . however. it was eno"gh to maintain them for. and la&king in self &onfiden&e# D"ring the five years that he had not been working % the first holiday in a life that had been f"ll of strain and no s"&&ess % he had p"t on a lot of weight and be&ome very slow and &l"msy# Wo"ld regor(s elderly mother now have to go and earn money) !he s"ffered from asthma and it was a strain for her 0"st to move abo"t the home. his father wo"ld say after a while. and only then wo"ld the interr"pted &onversation slowly be taken "p again# When e+plaining things. when his head wo"ld fall wearily against the door and he wo"ld p"ll it "p again with a start. money to live on had to be earned# $is father was healthy b"t old. &onversation with his sister wo"ld often t"rn to the &onservatory b"t it was only ever mentioned as a lovely dream that &o"ld never be realised# Their parents did not like to hear this inno&ent talk. pressed "pright against the door and listening# There were times when he simply be&ame too tired to &ontin"e listening. to his pleas"re. it was his se&ret plan to send her to the &onservatory ne+t year even tho"gh it wo"ld &a"se great e+pense that wo"ld have to be made "p for in some other way# D"ring regor(s short periods in town. both regor and the family. every other day wo"ld be spent str"ggling for breath on the sofa by the open window# Wo"ld his . &learly having gone over to the door. b"t it had not been to"&hed in the meantime and some interest had a&&"m"lated# 1esides that. as even the slightest noise he &a"sed wo"ld be heard ne+t door and they wo"ld all go silent# 'What(s that he(s doing now'. she was very fond of m"si& and a gifted and e+pressive violinist. his father repeated himself several times. b"t now it was &ertainly better the way his father had done things# This money. no more# That(s to say. altho"gh there was no longer m"&h warm affe&tion given in ret"rn# regor only remained &lose to his sister now# 9nlike him. was &ertainly not eno"gh to enable the family to live off the interest. they had not been "sing "p all the money that regor had been bringing home every month. keeping only a little for himself. one or two years. and did bear them# They had even got "sed to it. too. partly be&a"se it was a long time sin&e he had been o&&"pied with these matters himself and partly be&a"se regor(s mother did not "nderstand everything the first time# From these repeated e+planations regor learned. they took the money with gratit"de and he was glad to provide it. had been a&&"m"lating# 1ehind the door. regor nodded with enth"siasm in his pleas"re at this "ne+pe&ted thrift and &a"tion# $e &o"ld a&t"ally have "sed this s"rpl"s money to red"&e his father(s debt to his boss. it was money that sho"ld not really be to"&hed b"t set aside for emergen&ies.
whi&h was a . she went straight ba&k and &losed the door behind her. she probably even had to over&ome the "rge to flee when she saw the little bit of him that . sleeping late. a stranger wo"ld have tho"ght he had threatened her and tried to bite her# regor went straight to hide himself "nder the &o"&h. propped "p in the &hair. abo"t a month after regor(s transformation when his sister no longer had any parti&"lar reason to be sho&ked at his appearan&e. b"t it was impossible for her to be in the same room with him with the windows &losed# One day. &onsisting of wearing ni&e &lothes."ite near."ite hot with shame and regret# $e wo"ld often lie there the whole night thro"gh. motionless. b"t as it was it &a"sed him pain# $is sister. and if he had not known that he lived in 3harlottenstrasse. tried as far as possible to pretend there was nothing b"rdensome abo"t it. of &o"rse. he wo"ld stay "nder the &o"&h shivering the whole while. and 0"st where he wo"ld be most horrible# In itself. he had "sed to &"rse the ever%present view of the hospital a&ross the street. of &o"rse. and even left the inner pane of the window open from then on# If regor had only been able to speak to his sister and thank her for all that she had to do for him it wo"ld have been easier for him to bear it. her life "p till then had been very enviable. and the longer it went on."i&kly &lose the door as a pre&a"tion so that no%one wo"ld have to s"ffer the view into regor(s room. as what he a&t"ally saw in this way was be&oming less distin&t every day. 0oining in with a few modest pleas"res and most of all playing the violin# Whenever they began to talk of the need to earn money. &limbing "p onto the sill and. regor wo"ld always first let go of the door and then throw himself onto the &ool. the better she was able to do so. b"t now he &o"ld not see it at all. not sleeping a wink b"t s&rat&hing at the leather for ho"rs on end# Or he might go to all the effort of p"shing a &hair to the window. whenever she entered the room# 4o sooner had she &ome in than she wo"ld . knowing f"ll well that she wo"ld &ertainly have liked to spare him this ordeal. leaning on the window to stare o"t of it# $e had "sed to feel a great sense of freedom from doing this."iet street despite being in the middle of the &ity. she &ame into the room a little earlier than "s"al and fo"nd him still staring o"t the window. nat"rally. as he be&ame . b"t as time went by regor was also able to see thro"gh it all so m"&h better# It had even be&ome very "npleasant for him. b"t not only did she not &ome in. he &o"ld have tho"ght that he was looking o"t the window at a barren waste where the grey sky and the grey earth mingled inseparably# $is observant sister only needed to noti&e the &hair twi&e before she wo"ld always p"sh it ba&k to its e+a&t position by the window after she had tidied "p the room. then she wo"ld go straight to the window and p"ll it h"rriedly open almost as if she were s"ffo&ating# <ven if it was &old. helping o"t in the b"siness.sister have to go and earn money) !he was still a &hild of seventeen. even things that were . now. she wo"ld stay at the window breathing deeply for a little while# !he wo"ld alarm regor twi&e a day with this r"nning abo"t and noise making. his sister(s not &oming into the room wo"ld have been no s"rprise for regor as it wo"ld have been diffi&"lt for her to immediately open the window while he was still there. b"t doing it now was obvio"sly something more remembered than e+perien&ed. b"t he had to wait "ntil midday before his sister &ame ba&k and she seemed m"&h more "neasy than "s"al# It made him realise that she still fo"nd his appearan&e "nbearable and wo"ld &ontin"e to do so. leather sofa ne+t to it.
it was hard to 0"st lie ."ietly thro"gh the night. the few s. of &o"rse. &a"sed himself no damage# =ery soon his sister noti&ed regor(s new way of entertaining himself % he had. wo"ld often both wait o"tside the door of regor(s room while his sister tidied "p in there. father and mother. and regor wo"ld think to himself that maybe it wo"ld be better if his mother &ame in. his . they had seen her as a girl who was somewhat "seless and fre."ite different from lying on the floor. he got into the habit of &rawling "p and down the walls and &eiling# $e was espe&ially fond of hanging from the &eiling. and "p there. it was . in order to spare her even this sight. not every day of &o"rse. perhaps. the si+teen year old maid had &arried on bravely sin&e the &ook had left b"t she &ertainly wo"ld not have helped in this. whi&h made her &all o"t2 '8et me go and see regor. for all her &o"rage."are meters of the floor did not give him m"&h room to &rawl abo"t. and as soon as she went o"t again she wo"ld have to tell them e+a&tly how everything looked. even with a fall as great as that. he had far better &ontrol of his body than before and. and approved f"lly# 8ater. rela+ed and almost happy. any slight improvement &o"ld be seen# $is mother also wanted to go in and visit regor relatively soon b"t his father and sister at first pers"aded her against it# regor listened very &losely to all this. so his sister had no &hoi&e b"t to &hoose some time when regor(s father was not there and fet&h his mother to help her# *s she approa&hed the room. and really might not have had an ad"lt(s appre&iation of the b"rdensome 0ob she had taken on# regor(s wish to see his mother was soon realised# O"t of &onsideration for his parents. of &o"rse. his body had a light swing to it. tho"gh. he &o"ld breathe more freely. after all. she &o"ld "nderstand everything m"&h better than his sister who. this was not something that she wo"ld be able to do by herself. he spent fo"r ho"rs &arrying the bedsheet over to the &o"&h on his ba&k and arranged it so that he was &ompletely &overed and his sister wo"ld not be able to see him even if she bent down# If she did not think this sheet was ne&essary then all she had to do was take it off again."ently been annoyed with her# 1"t now the two of them. perhaps. as it was &lear eno"gh that it was no pleas"re for regor to &"t himself off so &ompletely# !he left the sheet where it was# regor even tho"ght he glimpsed a look of gratit"de one time when he &aref"lly looked o"t from "nder the sheet to see how his sister liked the new arrangement# For the first fo"rteen days. she had to be held ba&k by for&e.protr"ded from "nder the &o"&h# One day. b"t one day a week. b"t on&e at the door she went silent# First. espe&ially the &hest of drawers and the desk# 4ow. she had even asked to be allowed to keep the kit&hen lo&ked at all times and never to have to open the door "nless it was espe&ially important.3an(t yo" "nderstand I have to see him)'. to entertain himself. before. she did not dare to ask for help from her father. left tra&es of the adhesive from his feet as he &rawled abo"t % and got it into her head to make it as easy as possible for him by removing the f"rnit"re that got in his way. regor(s parents &o"ld not bring themselves to &ome into the room to see him# $e wo"ld often hear them say how they appre&iated all the new work his sister was doing even tho"gh. his food soon stopped giving him any pleas"re at all. and so. regor wanted to avoid being seen at the window d"ring the day. was still 0"st a &hild after all. he is my "nfort"nate son. how he had behaved this time and whether. regor &o"ld hear his mother e+press her 0oy. what regor had eaten. it might happen that he wo"ld s"rprise even himself by letting go of the &eiling and landing on the floor with a &rash# 1"t now.
he(d been "sed to this f"rnit"re in his room for a long time and it wo"ld make him feel abandoned to be in an empty room like that# Then. or the "ne+pe&ted &onfiden&e she had re&ently a&. that she was regor(s spokesman to his parents abo"t the things that &on&erned him# This meant that his mother(s advi&e now was s"ffi&ient reason for her to insist on removing not only the &hest of drawers and the desk. do be&ome enth"siasti& abo"t things and feel they m"st get their way whenever . won(t it seem like we(re showing that we(ve given "p all hope of improvement and we(re abandoning him to &ope for himself) I think it(d be best to leave the room e+a&tly the way it was before so that when regor &omes ba&k to "s again he(ll find everything "n&hanged and he(ll be able to forget the time in between all the easier'# $earing these words from his mother made regor realise that the la&k of any dire&t h"man &omm"ni&ation. and if the f"rnit"re made it diffi&"lt for him to &rawl abo"t mindlessly that was not a loss b"t a great advantage# $is sister. b"t it wo"ld also have let him . m"st have made him &onf"sed % he &o"ld think of no other way of e+plaining to himself why he had serio"sly wanted his room emptied o"t# $ad he really wanted to transform his room into a &ave. b"t regor listened as they p"shed it from its pla&e. almost whispering as if wanting regor :whose whereabo"ts she did not know."ietly. of &o"rse.sister &ame in and looked ro"nd to see that everything in the room was alright."i&kly forget his past when he had still been h"man# $e had &ome very &lose to forgetting. a warm room fitted o"t with the ni&e f"rnit"re he had inherited) That wo"ld have let him &rawl aro"nd "nimpeded in any dire&tion. was of no "se to him at all# irls of that age. she added 'and by taking the f"rnit"re away. his sister always taking on the heaviest part of the work for herself and ignoring her mother(s warnings that she wo"ld strain herself# This lasted a very long time# *fter labo"ring at it for fifteen min"tes or more his mother said it wo"ld be better to leave the &hest where it was. the sight of the bare walls saddened her right to her heart. "nheard for so long. that made her insist. and it had only been the voi&e of his mother. said his sister. she had be&ome "sed to the idea. as far as anyone &o"ld see. he gave "p the &han&e to see his mother "ntil later and was simply glad that she had &ome# '/o" &an &ome in. he &an(t be seen'. from spying o"t from "nder the sheet. she had indeed noti&ed that regor needed a lot of room to &rawl abo"t in. everything had to stay. b"t all the f"rnit"re apart from the all%important &o"&h# It was more than &hildish perversity. and why wo"ldn(t regor feel the same way abo"t it. this time. tho"gh. to hear not even the tone of her voi&e. did not agree. obvio"sly leading her in by the hand# The old &hest of drawers was too heavy for a pair of feeble women to be heaving abo"t. along with the monotono"s life led by the family d"ring these two months."ired. and only then did she let her mother enter# regor had h"rriedly p"lled the sheet down lower over the &o"&h and p"t more folds into it so that everything really looked as if it had 0"st been thrown down by &han&e# regor also refrained. as she had tho"ght at first. as she was &onvin&ed that he did not "nderstand her words. whereas the f"rnit"re. he &o"ld not do witho"t the good infl"en&e the f"rnit"re had on his &ondition. and for another thing it wasn(t even s"re that taking the f"rnit"re away wo"ld really be any help to him# !he tho"ght 0"st the opposite. "nfort"nately. that had shaken him o"t of it# 4othing sho"ld be removed. . for one thing it was too heavy for them to get the 0ob finished before regor(s father got home and leaving it in the middle of the room it wo"ld be in his way even more. not witho"t reason.
now they threatened to remove the writing desk with its pla&e &learly worn into the floor. so regor h"rried ba&kwards to the far end of the &o"&h# In his startlement. b"t. b"t he soon had to admit that the women going to and fro. p"shing and p"lling at it from side to side by herself witho"t. it held him firmly and felt good on his hot belly# This pi&t"re at least. tho"gh. bent her fa&e . he was for&ed to admit to himself that he &o"ld not stand all of this m"&h longer# They were emptying his room o"t. she soon stopped speaking and helped regor(s sister to get the &hest of drawers o"t with what strength she had# The &hest of drawers was something that regor &o"ld do witho"t if he had to. said rete and looked aro"nd# $er eyes met those of regor on the wall# 6erhaps only be&a"se her mother was there. b"t the writing desk had to stay# $ardly had the two women p"shed the &hest of drawers. and then went ba&k o"t to rete# regor kept trying to ass"re himself that nothing "n"s"al was happening. they had already taken o"t the &hest &ontaining his fretsaw and other tools. it was 0"st a few pie&es of f"rnit"re being moved after all. he sallied o"t. the desk where he had done his homework as a b"siness trainee. he might have made her ill."ite soon. groaning. &hanged dire&tion fo"r times not knowing what he sho"ld save first before his attention was s"ddenly &a"ght by the pi&t"re on the wall % whi&h was already den"ded of everything else that had been on it % of the lady dressed in &opio"s f"r# $e h"rried "p onto the pi&t"re and pressed himself against its glass. their little &alls to ea&h other. the s&raping of the f"rnit"re on the floor. taking away everything that was dear to him. even while he had been at infant s&hool%%he really &o"ld not wait any longer to see whether the two women(s intentions were good# $e had nearly forgotten they were there anyway. moving it an in&h# $is mother was not "sed to the sight of regor. at high s&hool. then)'. o"t of the room than regor poked his head o"t from "nder the &o"&h to see what he &o"ld do abo"t it# $e meant to be as &aref"l and &onsiderate as he &o"ld. wo"ld &ertainly be taken away by no%one# $e t"rned his head to fa&e the door into the living room so that he &o"ld wat&h the women when they &ame ba&k# They had not allowed themselves a long rest and &ame ba&k . while the women were leant against the desk in the other room &at&hing their breath. rete had p"t her arm aro"nd her mother and was nearly &arrying her# 'What shall we take now. now totally &overed by regor. he was not able to prevent the sheet at its front from moving a little# It was eno"gh to attra&t his mother(s attention# !he stood very still.they &an# 6erhaps this was what tempted rete to make regor(s sit"ation seem even more sho&king than it was so that she &o"ld do even more for him# rete wo"ld probably be the only one who wo"ld dare enter a room dominated by regor &rawling abo"t the bare walls by himself# !o she ref"sed to let her mother diss"ade her# regor(s mother already looked "neasy in his room. "nfort"nately. she remained &alm. it was his mother who &ame ba&k first while rete in the ne+t room had her arms ro"nd the &hest. as they were now too tired to say anything while they worked and he &o"ld only hear their feet as they stepped heavily on the floor# !o. all these things made him feel as if he were being assailed from all sides# With his head and legs p"lled in against him and his body pressed to the floor. of &o"rse. remained there a moment.
&eiling. maybe that was a good sign# Then there was someone at the door# The maid. so"nding as if he were both angry and glad at the same time# regor drew his head ba&k from the door and lifted it towards his father# $e really had not imagined his father the way he stood there now. as he did not have the time to e+plain things to him even if that had been possible# !o he fled to the door of his room and pressed himself against it so that his father. she fell onto the &o"&h as if she had given "p everything and stayed there immobile# ' regor-' sho"ted his sister. ran into the ne+t room as if he &o"ld advise his sister like in the old days. and finally in his &onf"sion as the whole room began to spin aro"nd him he fell down into the middle of the dinner table# $e lay there for a while. she slammed the door sh"t with her foot# !o now regor was sh"t o"t from his mother. glowering at him and shaking her fist# That was the first word she had spoken to him dire&tly sin&e his transformation# !he ran into the other room to fet&h some kind of smelling salts to bring her mother o"t of her faint. of late. that it wo"ld not be ne&essary to drive him ba&k b"t that they had only to open the door and he wo"ld disappear# $is father. had lo&ked herself in her kit&hen so that rete wo"ld have to go and answer it# $is father had arrived home# 'What(s happened)' were his first words. she &o"ld &ertainly try it. she was looking into vario"s bottles. a splinter &"t regor(s fa&e. altho"gh he st"&k fast to the glass and had to p"ll himself off by for&e. now. who. then he. n"mb and immobile. with his new habit of &rawling abo"t. too. b"t yo" women wo"ldn(t listen. and before she even realised it was regor that she saw s&reamed2 'Oh od. he began to &rawl abo"t. let(s go ba&k in the living room for a while)' regor &o"ld see what rete had in mind. oppressed with an+iety and self%reproa&h. '0"st as I always said. rete took hold of all the bottles she &o"ld and ran with them in to her mother. was not in the mood to noti&e s"btleties like that. oh od-' *rms o"tstret&hed. walls. of &o"rse."ite worried. &o"ld see straight away that regor had the best intentions and wo"ld go ba&k into his room witho"t delay. '*h-'. rete(s appearan&e m"st have made everything &lear to him# !he answered him with s"bd"ed voi&e."iet. albeit h"rriedly and with a tremor in her voi&e2 '3ome on. said his father.to her so that she wo"ld not look ro"nd and said. be&a"se of him. a bottle fell to the gro"nd and broke. and openly pressed her fa&e into his &hest2 'Mother(s fainted. she wanted to take her mother somewhere safe and then &hase him down from the wall# Well. witho"t delaying any longer. he startled her when she t"rned ro"nd. he &o"ld not open the door if he did not want to &hase his sister away. saw the enormo"s brown pat&h against the flowers of the wallpaper. there was nothing for him to do b"t wait. b"t he had to 0"st stand behind her doing nothing. that he was responsible for some a&t of violen&e# That meant regor wo"ld now have to try to &alm his father. he sho"ted as he &ame in. and. tho"gh. she stepped to one side. some kind of &a"sti& medi&ine splashed all over him.$e sat "nyielding on his pi&t"re# $e wo"ld rather 0"mp at rete(s fa&e# 1"t rete(s words had made her mother . he had negle&ted to pay attention to what was . all aro"nd him it was . he &rawled over everything. might be near to death. b"t she(s better now# regor got o"t#' '5"st as I e+pe&ted'. regor wanted to help too % he &o"ld save his pi&t"re later. when he &ame in from the hall. f"rnit"re. wo"ld yo"#' It was &lear to regor that rete had not said eno"gh and that his father took it to mean that something bad had happened. and she had to stay with his mother.
threw one apple after another# These little. all his senses in &onf"sion# The last thing he saw was the door of his room being p"lled open. "nder the b"shy eyebrows. then another one immediately flew at him. regor had to admit that he &ertainly wo"ld not be able to keep "p this r"nning abo"t for long. stiff &ollar of the &oat his strong do"ble%&hin emerged. and. wo"ld 0"st raise his arms and who. p"t his hands in his tro"ser po&kets. they were &on&ealed behind &aref"lly &arved f"rnit"re f"ll of not&hes and protr"sions % then. regor wanted to drag himself away."arely and lodged in his ba&k. kno&king into ea&h other as if they had ele&tri& motors# *n apple thrown witho"t m"&h for&e glan&ed against regor(s ba&k and slid off witho"t doing any harm# *nother one however. b"t nonetheless lifted his feet "n"s"ally high# regor was amazed at the enormo"s size of the soles of his boots. dark eyes looked o"t fresh and alert. as he l"r&hed abo"t in his efforts to m"ster all the strength he &o"ld for r"nning he &o"ld hardly keep his eyes open. something flew down and rolled in front of him# It was an apple. that his father tho"ght it ne&essary to always be e+tremely stri&t with him# *nd so he ran "p to his father. the sort worn by the employees at the banking instit"te.going on the rest of the flat the way he had done before# $e really o"ght to have e+pe&ted things to have &hanged. red apples rolled abo"t on the floor. probably. his pier&ing. dressed in a smart bl"e "niform with gold b"ttons. who wo"ld re&eive him sitting in the arm&hair in his nightgown when he &ame ba&k in the evenings. hit s. and threw it in an ar& right a&ross the room onto the sofa. right from the first day of his new life. with its gold monogram from. who wo"ld pla&e his sti&k down &aref"lly and. s&"rried forwards again when he moved. p"shing ba&k the bottom of his long "niform &oat. as for ea&h step his father took he had to &arry o"t &o"ntless movements# $e be&ame noti&eably short of breath. with look of determination. above the high. as if he &o"ld remove the s"rprising. who were already walking slowly for his sake. his mother ran o"t in front of her in her blo"se :as his . right beside him. immediately following it. even in his earlier life his l"ngs had not been very reliable# 4ow. if he wanted to say something wo"ld invariably stop and gather his &ompanions aro"nd him# $e was standing "p straight eno"gh now. who was hardly even able to stand "p b"t. stopped when his father stopped. the in&redible pain by &hanging his position. his sister was s&reaming. still. b"t wasted no time with that % he knew f"ll well. lightly tossed. as a sign of his pleas"re. his tho"ghts be&ame too slow for him to think of any other way of saving himself than r"nning. wo"ld always labo"r his way forward a little more slowly than them. largely be&a"se he feared his father might see it as espe&ially provoking if he fled onto the wall or &eiling# Whatever he did. here. there was no longer any point in r"nning as his father had de&ided to bombard him# $e had filled his po&kets with fr"it from the bowl on the sideboard and now. he almost forgot that the walls were there for him to "se altho"gh. some bank. walked towards regor# $e probably did not even know himself what he had in mind. b"t he felt as if nailed to the spot and spread himself o"t. his normally "nkempt white hair was &ombed down painf"lly &lose to his s&alp# $e took his &ap. on the &o"ple of times a year when they went for a walk together on a !"nday or p"bli& holiday wrapped "p tightly in his over&oat between regor and his mother. was that really his father) The same tired man as "sed to be laying there entombed in his bed when regor &ame ba&k from his b"siness trips. witho"t even taking the time for &aref"l aim. witho"t even giving the impression of a &hase as everything went so slowly# regor remained all this time on the floor. b"t still. even slightly# In this way they went ro"nd the room several times witho"t anything de&isive happening. regor froze in sho&k.
as if always ready to serve and e+pe&ting to hear the voi&e of his s"perior even here# The "niform had not been new to start with. in a way. f"lly dressed. learned shorthand and Fren&h in the evenings so that she might be able to get a better position later on# !ometimes his father wo"ld wake "p and say to regor(s mother 'yo"(re doing so m"&h sewing again today-'."estion % b"t this deterioration in his &ondition was f"lly :in his opinion.. regor(s mother wo"ld speak gently to his . as a family there was a d"ty to swallow any rev"lsion for him and to be patient. despite his &"rrent sad and revolting form."ite differently from before# They no longer held the lively &onversations of earlier times. his mother. long min"tes to &rawl a&ross his room % &rawling over the &eiling was o"t of the . his sister. her arms aro"nd him. lying in the darkness of his room where he &o"ld not be seen from the living room. "niting herself with him totally % now regor lost his ability to see anything % her hands behind his father(s head begging him to spare regor(s life# III 4o%one dared to remove the apple lodged in regor(s flesh.sister had taken off some of her &lothes after she had fainted to make it easier for her to breathe. while his nightgown h"ng "n"sed on its peg regor(s father wo"ld sl"mber where he was."iet. regor(s father ref"sed to take his "niform off even at home. his mother and sister wo"ld "rge ea&h other to be . and th"s . was a family member who &o"ld not be treated as an enemy# On the &ontrary. 0"st to be patient# 1e&a"se of his in0"ries. she ran to his father. while the old man in it wo"ld sleep."iet nowadays# !oon after dinner. he &o"ld wat&h the family in the light of the dinner table and listen to their &onversation % with everyone(s permission. who had taken a sales 0ob. regor had lost m"&h of his mobility % probably permanently# $e had been red"&ed to the &ondition of an an&ient invalid and it took him long. b"t as a res"lt of this it slowly be&ame even shabbier despite the efforts of regor(s mother and sister to look after it# regor wo"ld often spend the whole evening looking at all the stains on this &oat. her skirts "nfastened and sliding one after another to the gro"nd. highly "n&omfortable b"t pea&ef"l# *s soon as it str"&k ten. with its gold b"ttons always kept polished and shiny. of &o"rse. so it remained there as a visible reminder of his in0"ry# $e had s"ffered it there for more than a month. and his &ondition seemed serio"s eno"gh to remind even his father that regor. the ones that regor always tho"ght abo"t with longing when he was tired and getting into the damp bed in some small hotel room# *ll of them were "s"ally very . wo"ld sew fan&y "nderwear for a fashion shop. made "p for by the door to the living room being left open every evening# $e got into the habit of &losely wat&hing it for one or two ho"rs before it was opened and then. st"mbling over the skirts she p"shed herself to his father. his father wo"ld go to sleep in his &hair. bent deeply "nder the lamp. as if he did not know that he had been dozing % and then he wo"ld go ba&k to sleep again while mother and sister wo"ld e+&hange a tired grin# With a kind of st"bbornness.
send them off and &arry on by himself while regor(s mother wo"ld throw down her needle and his sister her pen so that they &o"ld r"n after his father and &ontin"e being of help to him# Who. look at them one after the other and say2 'What a life."ite well. so now the maid was dismissed. his mother wo"ld point to regor(s room and say '3lose that door. that there were more reasons than &onsideration for him that made it diffi&"lt for them to move. it wo"ld have been . &heek to &heek. the main thing holding the family ba&k from their de&ision to move was m"&h more to do with their total despair. thi&k%boned &harwoman with white hair that flapped aro"nd her head &ame every morning and evening to do the heaviest work.father to wake him and try to pers"ade him to go to bed. the ne+t time the door was opened. everything else was looked after by regor(s mother on top of the large amo"nt of sewing work she did# regor even learned. in this tired and overworked family. regor(s sister wo"ld leave her work to help her mother. however m"&h mother and sister wo"ld import"ne him with little reproa&hes and warnings he wo"ld keep slowly shaking his head for a . 0"st like before. listening to the evening &onversation abo"t what pri&e they had hoped for. as he &o"ldn(t sleep properly where he was and he really had to get his sleep if he was to be "p at si+ to get to work# 1"t sin&e he had been in work he had be&ome more obstinate and wo"ld always insist on staying longer at the table. his mother sa&rifi&ed herself by washing &lothes for strangers. let the women take him to the door. regor(s father bro"ght bank employees their breakfast. there was no imaginable way of transferring regor to the new address# $e &o"ld see . b"t they 0"st did not have the strength to do any more# *nd the in0"ry in regor(s ba&k began to h"rt as m"&h as when it was new# *fter they had &ome ba&k from taking his father to bed regor(s mother and sister wo"ld now leave their work where it was and sit &lose together. . when he was in the dark again. they wo"ld sit in the ne+t room and their tears wo"ld mingle."arter of an ho"r with his eyes &losed and ref"sing to get "p# regor(s mother wo"ld t"g at his sleeve. rete'. tho"gh. his sister ran ba&k and forth behind her desk at the behest of the &"stomers. an enormo"s. he had long forgotten abo"t his boss and the &hief &lerk.This is what pea&e I get in my old age-' *nd s"pported by the two women he wo"ld lift himself "p &aref"lly as if he were &arrying the greatest load himself."ite easy to transport him in any s"itable &rate with a few air holes in it. and the tho"ght that they had been str"&k with a misfort"ne "nlike anything e+perien&ed by anyone else they knew or were related to# They &arried o"t absol"tely everything that the world e+pe&ts from poor people. they &o"ld not move o"t of it. or they wo"ld simply sit there staring dry%eyed at the table# regor hardly slept at all. either night or day# !ometimes he wo"ld think of taking over the family(s affairs. wo"ld have had time to give more attention to regor than was absol"tely ne&essary) The ho"sehold b"dget be&ame even smaller. b"t they wo"ld appear again in his tho"ghts. that several items of 0ewellery belonging to the family had been sold. even tho"gh both mother and sister had been very fond of wearing them at f"n&tions and &elebrations# 1"t the lo"dest &omplaint was that altho"gh the flat was m"&h too big for their present &ir&"mstan&es. and then. b"t nothing wo"ld have any effe&t on him# $e wo"ld 0"st sink deeper into his &hair# Only when the two women took him "nder the arms he wo"ld abr"ptly open his eyes. even tho"gh he reg"larly fell asleep and it was then harder than ever to pers"ade him to e+&hange the &hair for his bed# Then. whisper endearments into his ear.
bitter and immobile# 1"t his mother was to be p"nished still more for what she had done. she &o"ld see the dirt as well as he &o"ld b"t she had simply de&ided to leave him to it# *t the same time she be&ame to"&hy in a way that was . be&ame agitated. regor(s sister s&reamed at her that she was never to &lean regor(s room again. two or three friends from other b"sinesses. standing to the right of his mother."ite new for her and whi&h everyone in the family "nderstood % &leaning "p regor(s room was for her and her alone# regor(s mother did on&e thoro"ghly &lean his room. was startled o"t of his &hair and the two parents looked on astonished and helpless. who was beside himself with anger. a&&"sed her of not leaving the &leaning of regor(s room to his sister. regor went into one of the worst of these pla&es when his sister arrived as a reproa&h to her. ran ba&k into the living room where.the salesmen and the apprenti&es. and regor hissed in anger that no%one had even tho"ght of &losing the door to save him the sight of this and all its noise# regor(s sister was e+ha"sted from going o"t to work. and altho"gh he &o"ld think of nothing he wo"ld have wanted. regor(s father. . despite her mothers raised and imploring hands. one of the &hambermaids from a provin&ial hotel. a tender memory that appeared and disappeared again. wasn(t really repelled by regor# 5"st by &han&e one day. he was filled with simple rage abo"t the la&k of attention he was shown. and needed to "se several b"&ketf"ls of water to do it % altho"gh that m"&h dampness also made regor ill and he lay flat on the &o"&h. with a rob"st bone str"&t"re that made her able to withstand the hardest of things in her long life. % all of them appeared to him. while his mother tried to draw his father. mi+ed together with strangers and others he had forgotten. then they. highly aggrieved. no%one was &hasing him b"t he began to r"sh to and fro while she 0"st stood there in amazement with her hands &rossed in front of her# From then on she never failed to open the door slightly every evening and morning and look briefly in on him# *t first she wo"ld &all to him as she did so with words that she . his sister. and looking after regor as she had done before was even more work for her. indifferent as to whether it had been eaten or % more often than not % had been left totally "nto"&hed# !he still &leared "p the room in the evening."aking with tears. too. she broke into &onv"lsive tears# $er father. into the bedroom. a &ashier from a hat shop for whom his attention had been serio"s b"t too slow. she opened the door to regor(s room and fo"nd herself fa&e to fa&e with him# $e was taken totally by s"rprise. th"mped on the table with her small fists. of &o"rse."i&ker abo"t it# !mears of dirt were left on the walls. from her left. here and there were little balls of d"st and filth# *t first. b"t even so his mother o"ght &ertainly not to have taken her pla&e# regor. b"t he &o"ld have stayed there for weeks witho"t his sister doing anything abo"t it. on the other hand. and in the evening she wo"ld sweep it away again with the broom. he made plans of how he &o"ld get into the pantry where he &o"ld take all the things he was entitled to. o"ght not to be negle&ted# 4ow. tho"gh. that st"pid teaboy. the &harwoman was here# This elderly widow. as hardly had his sister arrived home in the evening than she noti&ed the &hange in regor(s room and. even if he was not h"ngry# regor(s sister no longer tho"ght abo"t how she &o"ld please him b"t wo"ld h"rriedly p"sh some food or other into his room with her foot before she r"shed o"t to work in the morning and at midday. b"t now she &o"ld not have been any . and he was glad when they disappeared# Other times he was not at all in the mood to look after his family. rather than any real &"riosity. b"t instead of helping him and his family they were all of them ina&&essible.
the &harwoman 0"st lifted "p one of the &hairs from near the door and stood there with her mo"th open. perhaps indi&ating that spring was &oming.One day. fort"nately. and it remained open when the gentlemen who rented the room &ame in in the evening and the light was p"t on# They sat "p at the table where. the family did not wish to dis&ard# *ll these things fo"nd their way into regor(s room# The d"stbins from the kit&hen fo"nd their way in there too# The &harwoman was always in a h"rry. he had. or 'look at the old d"ng%beetle there-' regor never responded to being spoken to in that way. and there were now many s"&h things as one of the rooms in the flat had been rented o"t to three gentlemen# These earnest gentlemen % all three of them had f"ll beards. b"t what a&t"ally happened was that they were left where they landed when they had first been thrown "nless regor made his way thro"gh the 0"nk and moved it somewhere else# *t first he moved it be&a"se. after all. &learly intending not to &lose her mo"th "ntil the &hair in her hand had been slammed down into regor(s ba&k# '*ren(t yo" &oming any &loser. wo"ld "s"ally see no more than the ob0e&t and the hand that held it# The woman most likely meant to fet&h the things ba&k o"t again when she had time and the opport"nity. she asked when regor t"rned ro"nd again. and so the door to this room was often kept &losed in the evening# 1"t regor fo"nd it easy to give "p having the door open. he was slow and infirm. sin&e they had taken a room in this establishment. b"t it was like a kind of atta&k# Instead of being afraid. s"&h as '&ome on then. and she &almly p"t the &hair ba&k in the &orner# regor had almost entirely stopped eating# Only if he happened to find himself ne+t to the food that had been prepared for him he might take some of it into his mo"th to play with it. as regor learned peering thro"gh the &ra&k in the door one day % were painf"lly insistent on things( being tidy# This meant not only in their own room b"t. espe&ially if it was dirty# They had moreover bro"ght most of their own f"rnishings and e. or to throw everything o"t in one go. b"t 0"st remained where he was witho"t moving as if the door had never even been opened# If only they had told this &harwoman to &lean "p his room every day instead of letting her dist"rb him for no reason whenever she felt like it. formerly. he was for&ed to. with no other room free where he &o"ld &rawl abo"t. tho"gh. in the entire flat and espe&ially in the kit&hen# 9nne&essary &l"tter was something they &o"ld not tolerate. lain in his room in its darkest &orner# One time. then)'. yo" old d"ng%beetle-'. b"t he had soon got "sed to the &hanges made there# They had got into the habit of p"tting things into this room that they had no room for anywhere else. early in the morning while a heavy rain str"&k the windowpanes. the &harwoman left the door to the living room slightly open. they "nfolded the serviettes and pi&ked . witho"t the family having noti&ed it. spit it o"t again# *t first he tho"ght it was distress at the state of his room that stopped him eating. often failed to make "se of it when it was open and. leave it there a few ho"rs and then. and anything she &o"ldn(t "se for the time being she wo"ld 0"st &h"&k in there# $e. many things had be&ome s"perfl"o"s whi&h."ipment with them# For this reason. altho"gh they &o"ld not be sold. more often than not. she began to speak to him in that way on&e again# regor was so resentf"l of it that he started to move toward her. b"t later on he &ame to en0oy it altho"gh moving abo"t in that way left him sad and tired to death and he wo"ld remain immobile for ho"rs afterwards# The gentlemen who rented the room wo"ld sometimes take their evening meal at home in the living room that was "sed by everyone. regor had taken his meals with his father and mother.probably &onsidered friendly.
'b"t not anything like they(re eating# They do feed themselves# *nd here I am. his mother with the m"si& and his sister with the violin# !he &almly prepared everything for her to begin playing. he had taken great pride in how &onsiderate he was b"t now it hardly o&&"rred to him that he had be&ome so tho"ghtless abo"t the others# What(s more. did not even dare to sit on their own &hairs. and m"mbled something into their beards# Then. he &arried threads. and the gentleman in the middle. who had been looking on an+io"sly. bowed on&e with his &ap in his hand and did his ro"nd of the table# The gentlemen stood as one. was offered a seat by one of the gentlemen and sat % leaving the &hair where the gentleman happened to have pla&ed it % o"t of the way in a &orner# $is sister began to play. as regor(s father &alled o"t2 'Is the playing perhaps "npleasant for the gentlemen) We &an stop it straight away#' 'On the &ontrary'. &alled ba&k regor(s father as if he had been the violin player himself# The gentlemen stepped ba&k into the room and waited# regor(s father soon appeared with the m"si& stand. regor had dared to &ome forward a little and already had his head in the living room# 1efore. father and mother paid &lose attention. and now they leant ba&k in their &hairs reading them and smoking# When the violin began playing they be&ame attentive. given a page to ea&h of the others. who had never rented a room o"t before and therefore showed an e+aggerated &o"rtesy towards the three gentlemen. regor(s father &ame into the living room before he went into the kit&hen."p their knives and forks# regor(s mother immediately appeared in the doorway with a dish of meat and soon behind her &ame his sister with a dish piled high with potatoes# The food was steaming. we(d love to'. there was now all the more reason to keep himself hidden as he was &overed in the d"st that lay everywhere in his room and flew "p at the slightest movement. hairs. as if they had wanted to show regor that yo" need teeth in order to eat and it was not possible to perform anything with 0aws that are toothless however ni&e they might be# 'I(d like to eat something'. began to breathe again and smiled# The family themselves ate in the kit&hen# 4onetheless. 'wo"ld the yo"ng lady not like to &ome in and play for "s here in the room. regor &o"ld not remember having heard the violin being played. did indeed &"t off a pie&e of meat while it was still in its dish. one on ea&h side. &learly wishing to establish whether it was s"ffi&iently &ooked or whether it sho"ld be sent ba&k to the kit&hen# It was to his satisfa&tion. stood "p and went on tip%toe over to the door of the hallway where they stood pressed against ea&h other# !omeone m"st have heard them in the kit&hen. on&e they were alone. and remains of food abo"t on . said the middle gentleman. his parents. and filled the room with its smell# The gentlemen bent over the dishes set in front of them as if they wanted to test the food before eating it. his mother. b"t this evening it began to be heard from the kit&hen# The three gentlemen had already finished their meal. to the movements of her hands# Drawn in by the playing. after all. who seemed to &o"nt as an a"thority for the other two. his father leant against the door with his right hand p"shed in between two b"ttons on his "niform &oat. the one in the middle had prod"&ed a newspaper. said regor an+io"sly. and regor(s mother and sister. where it is. dying-' Thro"gho"t all this time. m"&h more &osy and &omfortable)' 'Oh yes. tho"gh. they ate in near perfe&t silen&e# It seemed remarkable to regor that above all the vario"s noises of eating their &hewing teeth &o"ld still be heard.
as no%one appre&iated her playing here as m"&h as he wo"ld# $e never wanted to let her o"t of his room. sin&e she had been going o"t to work. b"t stay of her own free will. t"gged e+&itedly at their beards and moved ba&k towards their room only very slowly# Meanwhile regor(s sister . even tho"gh they were not at all "pset and seemed to think regor was more entertaining than the violin playing had been# $e r"shed "p to them with his arms spread o"t and attempted to drive them ba&k into their room at the same time as trying to blo&k their view of regor with his body# 4ow they did be&ome a little annoyed. and they m"st have dist"rbed regor(s sister. how he wo"ld have told everyone abo"t it last 3hristmas % had 3hristmas really &ome and gone already) % if this misfort"ne hadn(t got in the way. he wanted to be at every door of his room at on&e to hiss and spit at the atta&kers. shaking his head. his sister sho"ld not be for&ed to stay with him. be of some "se to him. tho"gh# The family was totally preo&&"pied with the violin playing. keeping his head &lose to the gro"nd so that he &o"ld meet her eyes if the &han&e &ame# Was he an animal if m"si& &o"ld &aptivate him so) It seemed to him that he was being shown the way to the "nknown no"rishment he had been yearning for# $e was determined to make his way forward to his sister and t"g at her skirt to show her she might &ome into his room with her violin. tho"gh. raised their arms like he had. his sister wo"ld break o"t in tears of emotion. his sho&king appearan&e sho"ld. she had kept free witho"t any ne&kla&e or &ollar# 'Mr# !amsa-'. the way they all blew the smoke from their &igarettes "pwards from their mo"th and noses# /et regor(s sister was playing so bea"tif"lly# $er fa&e was leant to one side. and then looked ba&k at regor# $is father seemed to think it more important to &alm the three gentlemen before driving regor o"t. they withdrew ba&k to the window with their heads s"nk and talking to ea&h other at half vol"me. and regor wo"ld &limb "p to her sho"lder and kiss her ne&k. with his forefinger at regor as he slowly moved forward# The violin went silent. whi&h. he was not too shy to move forward a little onto the imma&"late floor of the living room# 4o%one noti&ed him. that they had had eno"gh of the whole performan&e and it was only now o"t of politeness that they allowed their pea&e to be dist"rbed# It was espe&ially "nnerving. in &ontrast with the family. she wo"ld sit beside him on the &o"&h with her ear bent down to him while he told her how he had always intended to send her to the &onservatory.his ba&k and sides. not while he lived. and ref"se to let anyone diss"ade him from it# On hearing all this. following the lines of m"si& with a &aref"l and melan&holy e+pression# regor &rawled a little f"rther forward. for on&e. pointing. anyway. he was m"&h too indifferent to everything now to lay on his ba&k and wipe himself on the &arpet like he had "sed to do several times a day# *nd despite this &ondition. sho"ted the middle gentleman to regor(s father. b"t soon. witho"t wasting any more words. at first. the three gentlemen had p"t their hands in their po&kets and &ome "p far too &lose behind the m"si& stand to look at all the notes being played. and they stayed by the window while regor(s father observed them an+io"sly# It really now seemed very obvio"s that they had e+pe&ted to hear some bea"tif"l or entertaining violin playing b"t had been disappointed. the middle of the three gentlemen first smiled at his two friends. and it was not &lear whether it was his father(s behavio"r that annoyed them or the dawning realisation that they had had a neighbo"r like regor in the ne+t room witho"t knowing it# They asked regor(s father for e+planations.
all I &an say is2 we have to try and get rid of it# We(ve done all that(s h"manly possible to look after it and be patient. her hand held o"t in front of her and a deranged e+pression in her eyes# regor(s sister r"shed to his mother and p"t forehead# $er words seemed to give regor(s definite ideas# $e sat "pright. hitting the table with her hand as introd"&tion. b"t then she s"ddenly p"lled herself together. and he waited# $e was not even startled o"t of this state when the violin on his mother(s lap fell from her trembling fingers and landed lo"dly on the floor# 'Father. and perhaps also be&a"se he was weak from h"nger. when he was already at the door of the room. he took hold of the door handle and slammed the door# regor(s father staggered ba&k to his seat. lay the instr"ment on her mother(s lap who still sat laborio"sly str"ggling for breath where she was. said regor(s sister. feeling his way with his hands. he said. the three gentlemen were more . on the &ontrary I will &onsider whether to pro&eed with some kind of a&tion for damages from yo". made it impossible for him to move# $e was s"re that everyone wo"ld t"rn on him any moment. as her mother was too o&&"pied with . b"t I &an# I don(t want to &all this monster my brother. and fell into it. the middle of the three gentlemen sho"ted like th"nder and stamped his foot and thereby bro"ght regor(s father to a halt# 'I de&lare here and now'."i&kly moving toward# 9nder his sister(s e+perien&ed hand. and ran into the ne+t room whi&h. 'we &an(t &arry on like this# Maybe yo" &an(t see it. now speaking only to her father. "nder press"re from her father. who still had not had time to &at&h her breath. and believe me it wo"ld be very easy to set o"t the gro"nds for s"&h an a&tion#' $e was silent and looked straight ahead as if waiting for something# *nd indeed. played with the plates left by the three gentlemen after o&&asionally looked down at regor as he lay her hand on her father some more his "niform &ap between their meal. said regor(s father to himself# $is mother. said his sister. and there immobile# 'We have to try and get rid of it'. 'that with regard to the rep"gnant &onditions that prevail in this flat and with this family' % here he looked briefly b"t de&isively at the floor % 'I give immediate noti&e on my room# For the days that I have been living here I will. of &o"rse.had over&ome the despair she had fallen into when her playing was s"ddenly interr"pted# !he had let her hands drop and let violin and bow hang limply for a while b"t &ontin"ed to look at the m"si& as if still playing. I don(t think anyone &o"ld a&&"se "s of doing anything wrong#' '!he(s absol"tely right'. the pillows and &overs on the beds flew "p and were p"t into order and she had already finished making the beds and slipped o"t again before the three gentlemen had rea&hed the room# regor(s father seemed so obsessed with what he was doing that he forgot all the respe&t he owed to his tenants# $e "rged them and pressed them "ntil. pay nothing at all. it looked as if he was stret&hing himself o"t for his "s"al evening nap b"t from the "n&ontrolled way his head kept nodding it &o"ld be seen that he was not sleeping at all# Thro"gho"t all this. regor had lain still where the three gentlemen had first seen him# $is disappointment at the fail"re of his plan. Mother'. his two friends 0oined in with the words2 '*nd we also give immediate noti&e#' With that. began to &o"gh d"lly. raising his hand and glan&ing at regor(s mother and sister to gain their attention too.
'that(s the only way."ite startling as his pain%wra&ked &ondition meant that t"rning ro"nd re. his sister shook her hand vigoro"sly thro"gh her tears as a sign that of that there was no . repeated regor(s father. tho"ght regor and went ba&k to work# $e &o"ld not help panting lo"dly with the effort and had sometimes to stop and take a rest# 4o%one was making him r"sh any more. it obvio"sly wants to take over the whole flat and for&e "s to sleep on the streets# Father. everything was left "p to him# *s soon as he had finally finished t"rning ro"nd he began to move straight ahead# $e was amazed at the great distan&e that separated him from his room. b"t we &o"ld &arry on with o"r lives and remember him with respe&t# *s it is this animal is perse&"ting "s. whi&h was totally beyond regor(s &omprehension."estion# 'If he &o"ld 0"st "nderstand "s'. his sister sat ne+t to his father with her arms aro"nd his ne&k# 'Maybe now they(ll let me t"rn ro"nd'. &losing his eyes in a&&eptan&e of his sister(s &ertainty that that was . sho"ted his sister. it(s driven o"t o"r tenants. she s"ddenly s&reamed. and &o"ld not "nderstand how he had &overed that distan&e in his weak . then. we &an(t end"re it# I &an(t end"re it any more#' *nd she broke o"t so heavily in tears that they flowed down the fa&e of her mother. least of all his sister# *ll he had done was begin to t"rn ro"nd so that he &o"ld go ba&k into his room. 'what are we to do)' $is sister 0"st shr"gged her sho"lders as a sign of the helplessness and tears that had taken hold of her. displa&ing her earlier &ertainty# 'If he &o"ld 0"st "nderstand "s'."estion. 'it(ll be the death of both of yo"."ired a great deal of effort and he was "sing his head to help himself do it. look."ite impossible. 'then perhaps we &o"ld &ome to some kind of arrangement with him# 1"t as it is ###' 'It(s got to go'. her eyes nearly &losed with e+ha"stion. Father# /o"(ve got to get rid of the idea that that(s regor# We(ve only harmed o"rselves by believing it for so long# $ow &an that be regor) If it were regor he wo"ld have seen long ago that it(s not possible for h"man beings to live with an animal like that and he wo"ld have gone of his own free will# We wo"ldn(t have a brother any more. his sister even abandoned his mother as she p"shed herself vigoro"sly o"t of her &hair as if more willing to sa&rifi&e her own mother than stay anywhere near regor# !he r"shed over to behind her father. repeatedly raising it and striking it against the floor# $e stopped and looked ro"nd# They seemed to have realised his good intention and had only been alarmed briefly# 4ow they all looked at him in "nhappy silen&e# $is mother lay in her &hair with her legs stret&hed o"t and pressed against ea&h other.&o"ghing to listen. said her father with sympathy and obvio"s "nderstanding. 0"st look'. altho"gh that was in itself . who had be&ome e+&ited merely be&a"se she was and stood "p half raising his hands in front of regor(s sister as if to prote&t her# 1"t regor had had no intention of frightening anyone. I &an see it &oming# We &an(t all work as hard as we have to and then &ome home to be tort"red like this. and she wiped them away with me&hani&al hand movements# 'My &hild'. 'he(s starting again-' In her alarm. said his father almost as a .
and his last breath flowed weakly from his nostrils# When the &leaner &ame in early in the morning % they(d often asked her not to keep slamming the doors b"t with her strength and in her h"rry she still did. stone dead-' Mr# and Mrs# !amsa sat "pright there in their marriage bed and had to make an effort to get over the sho&k &a"sed by the &leaner before they &o"ld grasp what she was saying# 1"t then. witho"t his willing it. regor had not heard her &oming at all. bolted and lo&ked# The s"dden noise behind regor so startled him that his little legs &ollapsed "nder him# It was his sister who had been in so m"&h of a r"sh# !he had been standing there waiting and spr"ng forward lightly. so that everyone in the flat knew when she(d arrived and from then on it was impossible to sleep in pea&e % she made her "s"al brief look in on regor and at first fo"nd nothing spe&ial# !he tho"ght he was laying there so still on p"rpose. ea&h from his own side. then)'.state a little while before and almost witho"t noti&ing it# $e &on&entrated on &rawling as fast as he &o"ld and hardly noti&ed that there was not a word. and that is how they went into regor(s room# On the way they opened the door to the living room where rete had been sleeping sin&e the three gentlemen had moved in. playing the martyr. it seemed rather that being able to a&t"ally move aro"nd on those spindly little legs "ntil then was "nnat"ral# $e also felt relatively &omfortable# It is tr"e that his entire body was a&hing. regor asked himself as he looked ro"nd in the darkness# $e soon made the dis&overy that he &o"ld no longer move at all# This was no s"rprise to him. and the paleness of her fa&e seemed to &onfirm this# 'Dead)'. only his sister had stood "p# With his last glan&e he saw that his mother had now fallen &ompletely asleep# $e was hardly inside his room before the door was h"rriedly sh"t. and only when she fo"nd she &o"ld shove him a&ross the floor with no resistan&e at all did she start to pay attention# !he soon realised what had really happened. she was f"lly dressed as if she had never been asleep. his head sank down &ompletely. whistled to herself. she attrib"ted all possible "nderstanding to him# !he happened to be holding the long broom in her hand. Mrs# !amsa 0"st &ame o"t in her nightdress. . asked Mrs# !amsa. from his family to distra&t him# $e did not t"rn his head "ntil he had rea&hed the doorway# $e did not t"rn it all the way ro"nd as he felt his ne&k be&oming stiff. b"t it was nonetheless eno"gh to see that nothing behind him had &hanged. whi&h was entirely &overed in white d"st# $e tho"ght ba&k of his family with emotion and love# If it was possible."iringly. opened her eyes wide. looking at the &harwoman en. so she tried to ti&kle regor with it from the doorway# When she had no s"&&ess with that she tried to make a n"isan&e of herself and poked at him a little. he felt that he m"st go away even more strongly than his sister# $e remained in this state of empty and pea&ef"l r"mination "ntil he heard the &lo&k tower strike three in the morning# $e wat&hed as it slowly began to get light everywhere o"tside the window too# Then. 0"st lying there. b"t the pain seemed to be slowly getting weaker and weaker and wo"ld finally disappear altogether# $e &o"ld already hardly feel the de&ayed apple in his ba&k or the inflamed area aro"nd it. it(s dead. they h"rried o"t of bed# Mr# !amsa threw the blanket over his sho"lders. b"t did not waste time to yank open the bedroom doors and sho"t lo"dly into the darkness of the bedrooms2 '3ome and (ave a look at this. not any &ry. and as she t"rned the key in the lo&k she said lo"dly to her parents '*t last-'# 'What now.
they had been forgotten abo"t# 'Where is o"r breakfast)'. bowed witho"t a word and left the premises# Mr# !amsa and the two women followed them o"t onto the landing. he stood there still. b"t now he was not lifted "p on his little legs. who had not taken her eyes from the &orpse. all three took their hats from the stand. his two friends had stopped r"bbing their hands some time before and had been listening to what was being said# 4ow they 0"mped off after their friend as if taken with a s"dden fear that Mr# !amsa might go into the hallway in front of them and break the &onne&tion with their leader# On&e there. b"t did not &omplete it# '4ow then'. &ome with "s in here for a little while'. and he smiled sweetly# The other two held their hands behind their ba&ks and &ontin"ally r"bbed them together in gleef"l anti&ipation of a lo"d . and the three women followed his e+ample# rete. sending it sideways a&ross the floor# Mrs# !amsa made a movement as if she wanted to hold ba&k the broom."ite light in the room# Then the door of "niform with his of them had been fa&e against her the bedroom opened and Mr# !amsa appeared in his wife on one arm and his da"ghter on the other# *ll &rying a little.even tho"gh she &o"ld have &he&ked for herself and &o"ld have known it even witho"t &he&king# 'That(s what I said'. and rete followed her parents into the bedroom b"t not witho"t looking ba&k at the body# The &leaner sh"t the door and opened the window wide# *ltho"gh it was still early in the morning the fresh air had something of warmth mi+ed in with it# It was already the end of Mar&h. the middle gentleman asked the &leaner irritably# !he 0"st p"t her finger on her lips and made a . nor did he do anything to make them look away# ' rete. replied the &leaner."arrel whi&h &o"ld only end in their favo"r# 'I mean 0"st what I said'. and. and to prove it she gave regor(s body another shove with the broom. said Mrs# !amsa with a pained smile. answered Mr# !amsa. looking at the gro"nd as if the &ontents of his head were rearranging themselves into new positions# '*lright. and looked "p at Mr# !amsa as if he had been s"ddenly over&ome with h"mility and wanted permission again from Mr# !amsa for his de&ision# Mr# !amsa merely opened his eyes wide and briefly nodded to him several times# *t that. rete now and then pressed her father(s arm# '8eave my home# 4ow-'. said Mr# !amsa. and witho"t delay. he said. indi&ating the door and witho"t letting the women from him# 'What do yo" mean)'. 'let(s give thanks to od for that'# $e &rossed himself. with his two &ompanions. after all# The three gentlemen stepped o"t of their room and looked ro"nd in amazement for their breakfasts. we(ll go then'. said2 '5"st look how thin he was# $e didn(t eat anything for so long# The food &ame o"t again 0"st the same as when it went in'# regor(s body was indeed &ompletely dried "p and flat. the man a&t"ally did take long strides into the front hallway. asked the middle of the three gentlemen somewhat dis&on&erted. went in a straight line towards the man# *t first. they had not seen it "ntil then. and stood aro"nd regor(s &orpse with their hands in the po&kets of their well%worn &oats# It was now . b"t they had had no reason to mistr"st the men(s intentions and as they leaned over the landing they saw how the three gentlemen made slow b"t steady progress down the many steps# *s they t"rned the &orner on ea&h floor they disappeared and ."i&k and silent sign to the men that they might like to &ome into regor(s room# They did so. took their sti&ks from the holder. said Mr# !amsa.
with o"tstret&hed hand.wo"ld reappear a few moments later. then# 8et(s forget abo"t all that old st"ff."i&kly finished their letters# *fter that. and it was only when the &leaner still did not seem to want to leave that they looked "p in irritation# 'Well)'. shall we# 3ome and give me a bit of attention'# The two women immediately did as he said. pro"d of post"re with his tray on his head. swayed gently in all dire&tions# 'What is it yo" want then)'. Mrs# !amsa to her &ontra&tor and rete to her prin&ipal# The &leaner &ame in while they were writing to tell them she was going. not only had they earned a break from work b"t they were in serio"s need of it# !o they sat at the table and wrote three letters of e+&"sal. said Mr# !amsa. and took the tram o"t to the open &o"ntry o"tside the town# They had the tram. she s"ddenly remembered what a h"rry she was in and. all to themselves# 8eant ba&k &omfortably on their seats. t"rned ro"nd sharply and left. and broke into a friendly la"gh that made her "nable to speak straight away. most of all. he made it . b"t he re&eived no reply from either his wife or his da"ghter as the &harwoman seemed to have destroyed the pea&e they had only 0"st gained# They got "p and went over to the window where they remained with their arms aro"nd ea&h other# Mr# !amsa twisted ro"nd in his &hair to look at them and sat there wat&hing for a while# Then he &alled o"t2 '3ome here. slamming the door terribly as she went# 'Tonight she gets sa&ked'. ba&k into the flat# They de&ided the best way to make "se of that day was for rela+ation and to go for a walk. she(d finished her work for that morning# The three of them at first 0"st nodded witho"t looking "p from what they were writing. b"t wo"ld only do it if she was &learly asked to# The almost verti&al little ostri&h feather on her hat. b"t. the more that the !amsa family lost interest in them."ite &lear that she was not to# !o. whom the &leaner had the most respe&t for# '/es'. one that was in a better lo&ation and. of &o"rse. Mr# !amsa to his employers. when a b"t&her(s boy. &learly peeved. that thing in there. &alled o"t '3heerio then. she answered. whi&h had been a so"r&e of irritation to Mr# !amsa all the time she had been working for them. the f"rther down they went. h"rrying over to him where they kissed him and h"gged him and then they . Mr# !amsa and the women &ame away from the landing and went. whi&h was something they had not done for months. everyone'. more pra&ti&al# *ll the time. the three of them left the flat together. passed them on his way "p and &ame nearer than they were. asked Mrs# !amsa. Mr# !amsa saw that the &leaner wanted to start des&ribing everything in detail b"t. yo" needn(t worry abo"t how yo"(re going to get rid of it# That(s all been sorted o"t#' Mrs# !amsa and rete bent down over their letters as if intent on &ontin"ing with what they were writing. with the tho"ght of how their da"ghter was . rete was be&oming livelier# With all the worry they had been having of late her &heeks had be&ome pale. as if relieved. filled with warm s"nshine."ite easily by moving ho"se. almost sim"ltaneo"sly. asked Mr# !amsa# The &harwoman stood in the doorway with a smile on her fa&e as if she had some tremendo"s good news to report. while they were talking. they dis&"ssed their prospe&ts and fo"nd that on &loser e+amination they were not at all bad % "ntil then they had never asked ea&h other abo"t their work b"t all three had 0obs whi&h were very good and held parti&"larly good promise for the f"t"re# The greatest improvement for the time being. 'well then. wo"ld be a&hieved . Mr# and Mrs# !amsa were str"&k. as she was prevented from telling them all abo"t it. what they needed now was a flat that was smaller and &heaper than the &"rrent one whi&h had been &hosen by regor.
as soon as they rea&hed their destination rete was the first to get "p and stret&h o"t her yo"ng body# .blossoming into a well b"ilt and bea"tif"l yo"ng lady# They be&ame ."ieter# 5"st from ea&h other(s glan&e and almost witho"t knowing it they agreed that it wo"ld soon be time to find a good man for her# *nd. as if in &onfirmation of their new dreams and good intentions.
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