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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Guilt
By Maarten Maartens (J. M. W. van der Poorten Schwartz) (1858–1915)
 
From ‘God’s Fool’

IN the middle of the night Elias awoke. His brain was clear again, as fools’ brains go. He sat up in bed, and said, “Murder.”  1
  Murder. He did not know much about “death” and “killing,” but he knew what “murder” was. Christ had been murdered. Murder was hating a man so utterly that you wanted him to stop seeing, hearing, walking, speaking; that you wanted him to stop being, in a word. And so you tried to prevent his being. You struck him until he could no longer be. And he who did this thing, who made another human being to lie silent like a stick or stone, was a murderer. It was the very worst thing a man could be. The wicked Jews had murdered Christ. And Elias had murdered his brother.  2
  Murder. The whole room was full of it. Room? What did he know of rooms, of limits of space? He opened his horror-struck eyes wide, and they saw as much, or as little, as before—the immensity of darkness.  3
  He put out his hand and felt that he was among unusual surroundings. Where was he? In the place where God confines the wicked? Prison, the grave, hell—the idea was all one to him. He was in the darkness—the soul-darkness he had never known thus till this hour.  4
  Heaven and earth were aflame with the cry of murder. It rose up in his heart and flooded his whole existence. It pressed back upon him, and held him by the throat whenever he tried to shake it off. But he barely tried. His was a mind of few ideas, at the mercy of so merciless a tyrant as this. The wish to do away with, to silence, to annihilate. Elias had murdered his brother, as the Jews had murdered Christ.  5
  He dared not pray. He buried his face in the pillow and longed to be truly blind, that he might not see “murder”; truly deaf, that he might not hear “murder.” He dared not think of forgiveness. There could be no forgiveness for such crime as this. “Sins” to him had meant his childish petulances. He had never heard of any one forgiving Christ’s murderers. Everybody was still very angry with them, and yet it was a long time ago since Christ was killed. There could be no hope, no escape. There was nothing but this agony, beyond tears, beyond pardon. Nothing but the consciousness, which must remain forever, of being one of the very few among the worst of men.  6
  And he remembered that he had thought he was almost as good as the Lord Christ.  7
 
 
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