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The Revolutionist

by Mikhail P. Artsybashev



Andersen sat motionless on the steps of the town hall, and thought. He
thought of how he, Gabriel Andersen, with his spectacles, cane,
overcoat and poems, had lied and betrayed fifteen men. He thought it
was terrible, yet there was neither pity, shame nor regret in his
heart. Were he to be set free, he knew that he, Gabriel Andersen, with
the spectacles and poems, would go straightway and do it again. He
tried to examine himself, to see what was going on inside his soul.
But his thoughts were heavy and confused. For some reason it was more
painful for him to think of the three men lying on the snow, looking
at the pale disk of the far-off moon with their dead, unseeing eyes,
than of the murdered officer whom he had struck two dry, ugly blows on
the head. Of his own death he did not think. It seemed to him that he
had done with everything long, long ago. Something had died, had gone
out and left him empty, and he must not think about it.

And when they grabbed him by the shoulder and he rose, and they
quickly led him through the garden where the cabbages raised their dry
heads, he could not formulate a single thought.

He was conducted to the road and placed at the railing with his back
to one of the iron bars. He fixed his spectacles, put his hands behind
him, and stood there with his neat, stocky body, his head slightly
inclined to one side.

At the last moment he looked in front of him and saw rifle barrels
pointing at his head, chest and stomach, and pale faces with trembling
lips. He distinctly saw how one barrel levelled at his forehead
suddenly dropped.

Something strange and incomprehensible, as if no longer of this world,
no longer earthly, passed through Andersen's mind. He straightened
himself to the full height of his short body and threw back his head
in simple pride. A strange indistinct sense of cleanness, strength and
pride filled his soul, and everything—the sun and the sky and the
people and the field and death—seemed to him insignificant, remote
and useless.

The bullets hit him in the chest, in the left eye, in the stomach,
went through his clean coat buttoned all the way up. His glasses
shivered into bits. He uttered a shriek, circled round, and fell with
his face against one of the iron bars, his one remaining eye wide
open. He clawed the ground with his outstretched hands as if trying to
support himself.

The officer, who had turned green, rushed toward him, and senselessly
thrust the revolver against his neck, and fired twice. Andersen
stretched out on the ground.

The soldiers left quickly. But Andersen remained pressed flat to the
ground. The index finger of his left hand continued to quiver for
about ten seconds.

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