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Náhodná ukázka:

The Crocodile's Tail


SO I ripened to manhood, and when I returned to Smyrna, I was no longer young. I had been absent from that city for three years, during which I had acquired knowledge, both good and evil, of many countries. The ocean winds blew the wine fumes from my head, cleared my eyes, and restored strength to my limbs. I ate and drank and behaved like other people, save that I spoke less than they and was even more solitary than before. Solitude is some men's destiny--a destiny of mature years--but I had been lonely from childhood, a stranger in the world since the reed boat had carried me to the Theban shore. I had no need to adapt myself to loneliness as many must, since from the beginning it was home to me and a refuge in the dark.

But as I stood by the ship's figurehead amid the green, rolling waters and the wind blew folly from my mind, I saw far off two green eyes like moonlight on the sea; I heard Minea's spontaneous laughter and watched her dance on a threshing floor beside the roads of Babylon, in her flimsy dress young and slight as a tender reed. And her image was not grievous to me but rather a sweet torment such as a man feels on waking from a dream that is lovelier than life. When I thought of her, I rejoiced at having known her and would not have renounced one hour of her company, knowing that without her there would have been less of myself. The ship's figurehead was of cold, painted wood, but the face was a woman's. As I stood beside it with my face to the wind, I felt my manhood strong within me and was aware that there would yet be many women in my life since for a solitary man it is comfortless to lie every night alone. Yet I fancied that to me all these women would be but painted wooden figures and that, when in the darkness I took them to me, I should seek in them only Minea--only the glint of moonlight, the warmth of a slender body, the fragrance of cypress, which would remind me of Minea. Thus, by the figurehead of the ship, I bade her farewell.

My house in Smyrna was still standing though the shutters had been broken open by thieves. They had carried away all that was worth taking of such possessions as I had not entrusted to the safekeeping of the merchants. Since I had been away so long, my neighbors had begun to use the space before my house as rubbish dump and privy, the stench of which was very foul. Rats scuttled over the floor as I entered my rooms and tore the cobwebs from the lintels.

My neighbors were not pleased to see me. They averted their eyes and said to one another, "He is an Egyptian and all evil comes from Egypt." Therefore I went first to an inn, bidding Kaptah set my house in order so that I could once more live there, and then visited the merchants' houses where I had placed my funds. After my three years' traveling I had returned a poor man, for besides my own earnings I had lost what Horemheb had given me, mostly to the priests of Babylon on Minea's account.



(Mika Waltari, The Egyptian)

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