All his life, he’d had a dim awareness of his own stupidity and laziness. From moment to moment, it drew nearer or hung back, like a panther stalking its prey.

Now it no longer even bothered to hide from him; it trod by his side in perfect silence, rubbing its great black velvet head against his leg and looking up into his eyes from time to time as if to say: “Shall I devour you right now? Or if not now, then when?”

It licked its massive chops: “I must confess: I’ve been stalking you for so long that, in a strange way, you’ve become one of my closest friends.”

It laughed to itself, its deep voice juddering in its powerful lungs.

“How contrary to nature!” It exclaimed, and ate him up.


Then he’ll leave me, and then my luck will turn…

At last I’ll have to keep quiet in earnest, weeping softly from time to time, hiding my shy prayers in the creases of the cold white sky, driving my pick against the dark hard Earth, drying my runny red nose with the backs of the rags on my hands and massaging the raw, chafed skin beneath my ankle manacles, chained as I will be to a line of bitter penitents in the shadow of a row of icy mountains in an unremembered country.