Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 153

as if to check whether or not everything was in order. The guard and the
condemned man seemed to have become friends; the condemned man was
making signs to the guard, despite the fact that the tight straps which
bound him made this difficult: the soldier bent over towards him; the
condemned man whispered something to him and the soldier nodded.
The explorer followed the officer: "You don't know yet what I am
going to do," he said. '"Of course,
shall give my opinion about the
procedure to the commander, not at the meeting, however, hut tete
nor shall
stay here long enough to be drawn into any meeting:
going away early tomorrow morning, or at least I'll board ship then."
seemed as though the officer had been listening. "So the procedure
did not convince you," he said to himself, and smiled as an old man smiles
at a child's nfinsen5e, withholding his own real musings behind the smile.
"Then the time has come," he said finally, and looked suddenly at
the explorer, his eyes shining with a certain challenge, a certain appeal
for cooperation. "Time for what?" the explorer asked anxiously, but
received no answer.
"You're free," said the officer to the condemned man in the latter's
own language. At first the condemned man did not believe it. "You're
free now," the officer said. The face of the condemned man showed signs
of life for the first time. Was this the truth? Or was it only a passing
whim on the part of the officer? Had the foreign explorer obtained pardon
for him? Which was it? His face seemed to ask these questions. But not
for long. Whatever it might be, if he could, he really wanted to be free,
and he began to shake himself as much as the harrow permitted.
"You're breaking my straps," the officer shouted. "Keep quiet, we'll
unfasten them for you." And with the help of the guard, to whom he had
made a sign, he- got to work. The condemned man chuckled gently to
himself, saying nothing; he turned his face first to the left towards the
officer, then to the right towards the guard; not forgetting the explorer.
"Pull him out," the officer ordered the guard. To do this, they were
obliged to move with a certain caution, on account of the harrow. The
condemned man, due to his impatience, already had a few slight lacerations
on his back.
From this moment on, however, the officer hardly bothered about him
more. He walked over to the explorer, took out again his small
leather brief-case, rummaged through it, finally found the paper he was
looking for and showed it to the explorer. "Read this," he said. "I can't,''
aid the explorer. "I told you before I can't read those pages." "But take
a good look at the page anyway," said the officer, stepping to the explorer's
side to read with him. When this did not help, either, in order to facilitate
the explorer's reading, he ran his little finger across the page, well above
as if the paper must not
touched under any condition. The explorer
made an effort, in order to be agreeable to the officer at least in this, but
was impossible. Now the officer began to spell out the writing, then he
read it once more connectedly. "It says:
JUST!'-Now you can read
80...,143,144,145,146,147,148,149,150,151,152 154,155,156,157,158,159,160
Powered by FlippingBook