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The Last Meeting by Ivan Turgenev

 

We had once been close and warm friends.... But an unlucky moment came ... and we parted as enemies.

Many years passed by.... And coming to the town where he lived, I learnt that he was helplessly ill, and wished to see me.

I made my way to him, went into his room.... Our eyes met.

I hardly knew him. God! what sickness had done to him!

Yellow, wrinkled, completely bald, with a scanty grey beard, he sat clothed in nothing but a shirt purposely slit open.... He could not bear the weight of even the lightest clothes. Jerkily he stretched out to me his fearfully thin hand that looked as if it were gnawed away, with an effort muttered a few indistinct words—whether of welcome or reproach, who can tell? His emaciated chest heaved, and over the dwindled pupils of his kindling eyes rolled two hard-wrung tears of suffering.

My heart sank.... I sat down on a chair beside him, and involuntarily dropping my eyes before the horror and hideousness of it, I too held out my hand.

But it seemed to me that it was not his hand that took hold of me.

It seemed to me that between us is sitting a tall, still, white woman. A long robe shrouds her from head to foot. Her deep, pale eyes look into vacancy; no sound is uttered by her pale, stern lips.

This woman has joined our hands.... She has reconciled us for ever.

Yes.... Death has reconciled us....

April 1878.