Russian Literature. "The Fight with Death"

Mar 4, 2017, 1:38 PM |


Alexander Grin


The Fight with Death



- One not finished dial hurt my, - said Lorch to a doctor. - Yes, why you’re not leaving?
- A polite question, - answered slowly Diemen, looking intently. - The bed should be placed against the window. From here, across the abyss, can see the whole pink snow landscape. 
Look at the mountains, Lorch - there is nothing purer for thinking.

- Why you’re not leaving? - patient repeated firmly, forcing a doctor by look to turn around. - Diemen, be frank.

Lorch lay on his back, turned his head to his companion. Pointed features of his bloodless face, overgrown with forest of hairs would looked features a corpse, if would not were on this face a huge as if fell out of the thinness eyes, shining by sea of life. But Diemen knew well, that will not pass two days and the disease will abruptly finish with Lorch.

- I like to be here, - said Diemen. - They feed me good, I‘m breathing mountain’s air during two weeks and getting fat quickly. 
Lorch with difficulty put to his lips a cigarette, lit it and immediately threw: tobacco was disgusted with.
- I'm tormented by unfinished business, - repeated Lorch. - I'll tell you that. Perhaps you will then understand that I need to know the truth.
- Say, - angrily answered Diemen.
- One of these days will come Wilton. In his hands all the threads of the new concession, I personally have to speak with him. If I wont be able speak personally, it's important, without delay, to find a reliable person. You wont scare me. Yes or no?
- The third day you are interrogating me, - said the doctor. - Well, I'll tell you. You, Lorch, will die not later, than after two days.

Lorch shuddered so that clanged the mattress springs. He became excited, and at once more weakened from excitement. It became quiet. Doctor with face of shocked judge, who declared the death sentence, stood up, cracked by his fingers, and went to the window.
The patient hardly audible laughed.

- Wilton, guess , wont come - he said mockingly - and he does not have any concession. But I learned, that I needed. The bed is really possible to rearrange to the window.
- You by yourself... - began Diemen.
- By myself, yes. Thank you.
- Science is powerless.
- I know. I want to sleep.
Lorch closed eyes. 
The doctor came out, ordered to saddle a horse and went on the hunt. Lorch lay long motionless. Finally, with a sigh with whole breast, he said :
- That's abomination! Just disgusting. What is the abomination... - he repeated.


Lorch asleep and woke up at night, when it got dark. He did not feel neither worse nor better, but remembering the doctor's words, internally bristled with. 
- There will be a time to reflect about all this - he said, pressing the call button. The nurse entered.

Lorch said to call his nephew.

His nephew, broad-shouldered, slightly hunched young man of twenty-four years old, wearing glasses on a looking old blond face, hearing his uncle's orders, said to recently arrived sister:

- Apparently, Betsy, we won. You have cried at him?
- No. - Betsy, a lady of mature age, the seller of opium, found, that the tears is a big luxury, if you can manage without them.
- No, I did not cry and will cry only post factum. A testament in your favor.
 - As you want. I'm going.
 - Go. Hint, that I would like also to see him today.
Benjamin strongly rubbed his eyes with his fist and gently knocked on the door.

- Come, - severely allowed Lorch.

Benjamin, playing pained eyes, came up to the bed, sighed and sat down in the straight pose of Egyptian sitting statue.

- Uncle! Uncle! - strenuously bitterly he said. - When, finally, you get up? Fear hung over the house.
- Listen, Benjamin - began Lorch - today I spoke with the doctor.

He paused. Benjamin in advance put his hand to glasses, for toput offthem in pathetic moment - neither earlier nor later - to irrigate the handkerchief with tears.
Lorch looked at him and thought:

"This guy has three mistresses : two - impudent, beautiful creatures, and the third - a fool. He himself is a scoundrel. 
He counterfeited my three bills, and hates me, according to his speech at the Spartan Club. 
How many he had got for this performance - is unknown, but he spread enough of rumors and failed me in the district list. For this company my million – a short gum. "

- Oh! I hope, the doctor ... Uncle! You saved ?! - With an effort shouted nephew.
- Wait. I feel sorry for you - you, my dear, and Betsy, a great pity ...
- Uncle! - studied sobbing Benjamin - say that it will not be ... that you were joking!
- Not at all. You have to be reconciled with destiny.
- Oh my God?!
- Yes.
- So - be reconciled with?! Darling and dear uncle …
- Well, thanks. I want to say, that my illness has passed salutary crisis, and I after one day - the biggest, will again to sing with bass voice "The Pearl Fishers".

Benjamin was struck dumb. The gustof rough anger caused him to jump up, but he in time turned the rush of this feeling inincoherentrejoicing:
- That is a pig Diemen ! He could tell us ... Not to torment us! Congratulations, dear uncle! Live and work! I expected this!

Lorch looked at the dark keyhole, took with efforts a revolver under his pillow, and fired at the ceiling. Nephew jumped from him. Behind the door there was a squeal: someone fell there.
Benjamin opened the door, and showed himself and Lorch stretched Betsy.

- How you like to do this, Betsy! - meekly said Lorch.
- You fool! - hissed brother to sister, lifting her. - Good night, Uncle! You need a rest now!
 - As well as you - said Lorch coldly.

Relatives left. In the living room Betsy cried with tears of heavy hate. Benjamin took from a bouquet one rose, smelled it and turned flower corolla.
- He's lying. He malicious torturing us, - the nephew said. Betsy blewout her nose. 

They sat together and began to whisper.

By order of Lorch the bed was moved to the window. It were a hot nights.
The house was built on the very edge of the abyss : between the wall and plumb of the abyss remained a path two feet wide. Lorch saw over a mountain ridge, full in the placers of white stars moon; its light fell into the abyss over the impenetrable angle of shade. Looking out of the window in the direction of the legs, Lorch seen among the rocks on the cliff the bush of white flowers. He thought, that these flowers will remain, and he, Lorch, will not.

Then, deciding to continue to live, he carefully brought thoughts in order and realized, that the most important thing - to overcome the weakness. Lorch sharply got up. His head began to spin.

He began to swing, sitting; then he took from the bedside table a knife and hit himself with it in a hip. A sharp pain caused anxiety of heartbeat; the blood rushed to his head. Lorch sweated; sweat and rage of resistance gave his soul impetuous energy, accompanied by heat and trembling.
Not to mention the fact, that every movement for him was unspeakably disgusting (Lorch would like to give himself a painful peace), any idea of movement seemed quite abnormal phenomenon. Despite this, Lorch, as if hypnotized, rose and fell on the floor.
Boots was lying beside him; he, lying down, pulled them on, then caught the leg of the bed - got up, sat down and began to dress up. When he finished this business, he was tossing from side to side.

New attack of dizziness made him a few minutes to lie with face down in the pillow. After that he vomited; greedily desiring to drink, he spilled over oneself with water, but drained the decanter and threw it into the abyss. Then he went with sprawling feet to the door, but turned upat the fireplace.
From the fireplace Lorch went back to the door, but the fireplace again welcomed him, and he held it for five minutes. When he came finally to the door, everything was overturned in the room. Lorch went down on all fours, for not to make noise, half an hour spent on that to feel in the darkness by his head the door of the cupboard, found and began to drink a cognac.

Despite the strict prohibition of doctor to use even strong tea, not to mention the wine - Lorch, without a break, pulled out a bottle of strong cognac and fell into that kind of frenzy, when, independently of the circumstances, a man with fire in a head and the storm into the heart, being occupied by one thought, falls by victim of brainchild or overcomes it. 
That brainchild, that thought of Lorch was the pool. It was a quadrangular cement pond, where poured mountain ice stream. A hit of wine temporarily resurrected Lorch; staggering, but only in a drunken measure, wetfrom sweat, with a cigarette in his mouth, he passed through a side corridor into the courtyard, slipped into the pool as he was - in boots and suit, dipped himself, painfully trembling from the cold, got out and went back to bedroom.

The raw frost of stream banished all excitement of an organism to an incredibly burdened with thoughts head. Heart was beating like a machine gun. Lorch thought about everything at once - from the world's greatest problems to the bricks of house, and his thought with speed illuminating light was penetrating in all darkness of every kind of knowledge.
In the cupboard he took a second portion of the fiery medicines, but this serving strongly rushed to feet, and Lorch was forced to restore the balance with help of a doublet. Near a bed he musingly saw around on a floor different bottles of medicine and a puddle formed at the place of his state.
Then he climbed the window's sill, walked, a little sobering, along the wall, to the bush of white flowers, picked them, came back and lay down, undressed, under the blanket, previously throwing at it all pants and jackets, which had found in the wardrobe. Having done this, he stretched, pleasantly shuddered and suddenly – lost a consciousness.


- He did not wake up during this time? - Diemen asked the nurse.
- No. Even without turn around.
 - Where were you? During a attacklast night the patient could be thrown out of the window into the abyss. All were broken and overturned. He drank wine and swam. This is agony!
- You know, the doctor, the patient always drove me out of the bedroom. I confess - I had a nap ... but ...
- Go; case is anyway finished. Call Benjamin and Betsy.

Entered relatives - two signs of question, trying to become the exclamation.

- Well, that's what, - Diemen said - it will end not later than the evening. The trick is (probably - feverish attack) had the result, as you can see - complete unconsciousness. Pulse sharp and uneven. Breathing impetuous. The temperature dropped sharply, - an ominous portent. It is necessary ... we ... get ready ... to make orders.

Betsy, flashing with diamonds of red hands, covered her face and sincere began to sob froma joy. Benjamin twisted prayerfuly his hands. The doctor distressed.
      - The common fate of all of us ... - he began plaintively.
Lorch awake. His eyes were swift and healthy. 
- Bring to eat! - He shouted. - In a dream I saw a roast. Bring plenty of food - various. It would be nice pork pie, cognac, whiskey! Give me all of thatand a lot!