A STORY 413
then I have had my punishment. Only one thing have I not acknowledged. When I last came^out of here and passed my master's farm, one thing and another boiled up in me,—I scratched a sulphur match along the wall, it ran a little too near the thatch of the roof, everything burned. Passion came over it, as it comes over me. I helped to save the cattle and effects. Nothing living wras burned but a flock of pigeons, which flew into the fire, and the watch-dog. I had not thought of it. One could hear it howling, and that howl I always hear still, when I want to sleep, and when I fall asleep, then comes the dog, so big and shaggy ; he lays himself on me, howls, presses me, and suffocates me. Then listen to what I tell you; you can snore, snore the whole night, and I not a short quarter of an hour.' And the blood shone in his eyes, he threw himself over his comrade and hit him with clenched fist in the face.
1 Angry Mads has gone mad again !' was the cry round about, and the other scoundrels caught hold of him, wrestled with him, and bent him so that his head sat between his legs where they bound it fast ; the blood was almost springing out of his eyes and all his pores.
' You will kill him,' shouted the priest, ' the miserable one !' And whilst he, in order to hinder them, stretched out his hand over the sinner, who already in this world suffered too severely, the scene changed ; they flew through rich halls, and through poor rooms; Self-indulgence, Envy, all the deadly sins marched past them ; an angel of judgement read their sins, their defence ; this was but weak before God, but God reads the hearts, He knows everything, the evil which comes from within and from without, He who is mercy and love. The hand of the priest trembled, he dared not stretch it forth to pull a hair from the sinner's head. And the tears streamed from his eyes, like the water of mercy and love, which quench the everlasting fires of Hell. And the cock crew.
1 Merciful God ! Thou will give her that rest in the grave, which I have not been able to obtain.'
* I have it now ! ' said the dead one, ' it was thy hard words, thy dark belief about God and His works, which drove me to thee ! Learn to know men; even in the wicked