“Then she said that she had entrusted a bundle of letters to my late wife; she could not possibly keep them at her own house owing to their peculiar character, and asked whether I would be good enough to return them to her. I felt a chill down my spine as I listened to her. With assumed calm I asked her what those contained? She trembled at the question and said:
“ ‘Your wife was the most faithful and loyal woman I ever met. She did not ask what they contained; she even gave me her word never to look into them.”
“ ‘Where did she keep your letters?’
“ ‘She said she kept them under lock and key in the drawer of her sewing-table. They are tied with a pink ribbon. You will easily recognize them. Thirty letters in all.’
“I took her to the room where the sewing-table stood and opened the drawer. I took out the bundle and handed it to her.
“ ‘Are these the letters?’
“She reached out for them eagerly.
“We chatted, had supper together and went to bed as usual, each in Our own room. I had by that time decided upon a course of action Which I would carry out with the stubbornness of a maniac. What a miserable deception on the part of nature to endow sin with such an open face, I said to myself as I entered her room at midnight and looked at her beautiful innocent face as she slept. The poison had taken effect in my soul and had eaten itself through every vein of my body. I placed my right hand silently on her neck and pressed it with all my might. For a moment she opened her eyes and looked at me astounded, then closed them again and died. She did not make a move in self- defense, but died as quietly as though she were in a dream.
Authority to investigate
She bore no grudge against me even for killing her. One drop of blood oozed through her lips and dropped on my hand—you know the spot. I only noticed it in the morning after it was already dried. We b
“I can’t say what it was that brought me to the belief that this was but pretense. Man is foolish enough to seek misery in the midst of his greatest happiness.
“She had a small sewing-table, the drawer of which she always kept locked. This began to torture me. I often noticed that she never left the key in the drawer and she never left it unlocked. What could she have to conceal so carefully? I became mad with jealousy. I did not believe her innocent eyes, her kisses and loving embraces. Perhaps all this was but cunning deceit?
“One day the Countess came to fetch her and managed to persuade her to spend the day at the Castle. I promised that I should follow later in the afternoon.
“The carriage had scarcely pulled out of the yard when I began trying to open the drawer of the sewing-table. One of the many keys I tried at last opened it. Rummaging among the many feminine effects under a folder of silk, I discovered a bundle of letters. One could
“I never experienced or heard anything like this before.”
There was nothing to be done but to repeat the operation. Everything passed off as it had the first time. The pain stopped, and though the patient experienced a great relief, this time he failed to smile, and when he thanked the doctor it was with a sad and depressed expression.
“You needn’t be surprised if I am back again in a month,” he said as he took leave.
“You mustn’t think of it.”
“It is as sure as there’s a God in heaven,” he said, with an air of finality. “Au revoir.”
The surgeon discussed the case with several of his colleagues, each of whom expressed a different opinion. Not one, however, could offer a satisfactory explanation.
A month passed and the patient did not appear. Another few weeks, and then, instead of the patient, came a letter from his place of residence. The surgeon opened it with pleasure, thinking that the pain had
“Stop,” he shouted, afraid lest the sufferer should sever a vein. “Since you believe it must be done, very well, I’ll do it.”
He then prepared for the operation. When it came to the actual cutting the doctor advised his patient to turn his head away, for people are generally upset at the sight of their own blood.
“Quite unnecessary,” said the other. “I must direct your hand so that you may know how far to cut.”
The stranger took the operation stoically and was helpful with his directions. His hand never even trembled, and when the round spot had been carved out he sighed a sigh of happy relief, as if a load had been taken off his shoulders.
“You don’t feel any pain now?” asked the surgeon.
“Not the least,” he said with a smile. “It is as if the pain had been cut off and the slight irritation caused by the cutting seems like a cool breeze after a hot spell. Just let the blood run. It soothes me.”
“Is that where it hurts?”
“Do you feel the pressure when I place my finger on it?”
The man could not answer, but the tears that came into his eyes told the story.
“It’s extraordinary. I can see nothing.”
“Neither do I, but the pain is still there and I would rather die than go on this way.”
The surgeon examined it all over again, with a microscope, took the man’s temperature, and finally shook his head.
“The skin is perfectly healthy. The arteries are normal; not the slightest inflammation or swelling. It is as normal as any hand can be.” “I think it is a bit redder on the spot.”
The stranger made a circle on the back of his hand about the size of a farthing: “Here.”
The doctor looked at the man. He began to think that he had to deal with a lunatic.
“You will have to stay in town and I shall try to help you
The Invisible Wound
Early one morning before the famous surgeon was even out of his bed he received an urgent caller who insisted that his case could not be postponed even for a minute; he demanded instant attention. The surgeon dressed hurriedly and rang for his valet.
“Let the patient come in,” he said.
The man who entered appeared to belong to the best class of society. His pale face and nervous demeanor betrayed physical suffering. His right hand was tied up in a sling and, although he could control his features, a painful groan escaped from his lips now and again.
“Please be seated. What can I do for you?”
“I haven’t been able to sleep for a week. There is some trouble with my right hand. I cannot make out what it is. It may be cancer or some other terrible disease. At first it did not bother me much, but lately it began to bum. I have not had a moment’s relief. It pains me terribly. The pain increases hourly, be
It would be possible to begin the history of the short story in Hungary with the transplanted legends of St. Francis in the Ehrenfeld manuscript, one of the first books in Hungarian literature, dating from the Middle Ages. In the ballads and romances and epics of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries we have discovered episodes that might have been fitted into a framework showing the historical development in the art of narrative among the Hungarians. But as a matter of fact, the earlier centuries are barren of important short stories.
It was only in the Eighteenth Century that modem Hungarian literature really began. The Kisfaludi brothers, who came toward the end of the century, were among its pioneers. Karoly Kisfaludi, though better known as a dramatist, may be taken as a typical figure, and the story chosen to represent his achievement is in itself a capital example of the art.
The Nineteenth Century, crowded as