and the rays of the sun. A single plant of this species
"You do not love Mary, do you? You will not marry her? Listen, you must offer me that sacrifice. I have lost everything in the world for you" . . .
Like a madman I sprang on the steps, jumped on my Circassian horse which was being led about the courtyard, and set off at full gallop along the road to Pyatigorsk. Unsparingly I urged on the jaded horse, which, snorting and all in a foam, carried me swiftly along the rocky road.
The sun had already disappeared behind a black cloud, which had been resting on the ridge of the western mountains; the gorge grew dark and damp. The Podkumok, forcing its way over the rocks, roared with a hollow and monotonous sound. I galloped on, choking with impatience. The idea of not finding Vera in Pyatigorsk struck my heart like a hammer. For one minute, again to see her for one minute, to say farewell, to press her hand. . . I prayed, cursed, wept, laughed. . . No, nothing could express my anxiety, my despair! . . . Now that it seemed possible that I might be about to lose her for ever, Vera became dearer to me than aught in the world -- dearer than life, honour, happiness! God knows what strange, what mad plans swarmed in my head. . . Meanwhile I still galloped, urging on my horse without pity. And, now, I began to notice that he was breathing more heavily; he had already stumbled once or twice on level ground. . . I was five versts from Essentuki -- a Cossack village where I could change horses.
All would have been saved had my horse been able to hold out for another ten minutes. But suddenly, in lifting himself out of a little gulley where the road emerges from the mountains at a sharp turn, he fell to the ground. I jumped down promptly, I tried to lift him up, I tugged at his bridle -- in vain. A scarcely audible moan burst through his clenched teeth; in a few moments he expired. I was left on the steppe, alone; I had lost my last hope. I endeavoured to walk -- my legs sank under me; exhausted by the anxieties of the day and by sleeplessness, I fell upon the wet grass and burst out crying like a child.
For a long time I lay motionless and wept bitterly, without attempting to restrain my tears and sobs. I thought my breast would burst. All my firmness, all my coolness, disappeared like smoke; my soul grew powerless, my reason silent, and, if anyone had seen me at that moment, he would have turned aside with contempt.
When the night-dew and the mountain breeze had cooled my burning brow, and my thoughts had resumed their usual course, I realized that to pursue my perished happiness would be unavail- ing and unreasonable. What more did I want? -- To see her? -- Why? Was not all over between us? A single, bitter, farewell kiss would not have enriched my recollections, and, after it, parting would only have been more difficult for us.
Still, I am pleased that I can weep. Perhaps, however, the cause of that was my shattered nerves, a night passed without sleep, two minutes opposite the muzzle of a pistol, and an empty stomach.
It is all for the best. That new suffering created within me a fortunate diversion -- to speak in military style. To weep is healthy, and then, no doubt, if I had not ridden as I did and had not been obliged to walk fifteen versts on my way back, sleep would not have closed my eyes on that night either.