Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Nacha Regules > CHAPTER XVII
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 Monsalvat that very afternoon had taken lodgings in the house in order to be near Nacha. As Torres signed it, he read the receipt of the special delivery letter; and he hurried to the Messenger Service Bureau and there learned Nacha's address. When he reached the building where she lived he noticed a sign announcing a furnished room to let in this tenement which was an old family dwelling, now rented out to numerous lodgers. Monsalvat took the room on the top floor facing the street. Thus, it happened that when he appeared in Nacha's quarters he was already a tenant in the same house. Torres' efforts to find out what had become of Monsalvat were all unsuccessful. He even wrote to Nacha, who replied that she had not seen him nor had any news of him. These falsehoods did not much trouble her conscience. She wanted to keep Monsalvat near her, have him for herself alone; and she was fearful of his friends, of his associates at the ministry, of everything which threatened to interrupt her possession of him. When, in the afternoon, she came home from work, she could scarcely breathe with the anxiety and the fear of no longer finding him there.
But the emotion she felt was to all appearances purely fraternal. Suffering had spiritualized it. The first kiss had been the last. Nacha knew how little the physical aspect of love meant. She could not offer her lover something of as little price as her body. To Monsalvat she would give her heart and soul and whatever good there was in her; her tenderness, as immeasurable as space, and her suffering, as deep as the sea. Nor did he desire her. Nacha was no longer a mere woman to him; she had become a symbol, tremendously significant, of all women who pay the penalty she was paying, of those victims rejected by society—daughters of the mire and of human misery; and she was his sister as well. If at times he desired Nacha, the desire was fleeting, a passing sentiment. He knew that it was this sentiment which had drawn him towards her; and in this fact he saw a proof of the wisdom of instinct, of nature's fundamental soundness; for desire had, in moments of vacillation and uneasiness of conscience, led him to the right road. Now he was no longer a man of the world, nor a distinguished lawyer, nor anything else that he had been. As far as the world was concerned, he was a ruined man. But in his own eyes he had saved himself, found a purpose for his life; the purpose to give everything he had to others, and to suffer for them. What did all the rest matter if, in this course of conduct, he found what he recognized as the "Good" he craved?
And so time passed. Nacha went to the shop in the morning, and returned at night. Monsalvat went out only to go to the Ministry, and to offer relief to those in great need. When he came back from the office he gathered the children in the house together and taught them to read; and his evenings were for Nacha, for long waking dreams—a book in his hands, and silence keeping watch over them like a faithful dog. His evenings were for that idealized love which Nacha too now understood.
But one evening Nacha told him of the doubts that troubled her. Why sacrifice one's life, and tranquillity, and happiness, for others? With so much wretchedness in the world, what could one man's slow and small accomplishment matter? And why give one's whole soul to something that offered no visible reward?
"Nacha," he replied, "to sacrifice ourselves for others is a duty. It is the only reason for our living. If we all accepted this principle, life would be inconceivably beautiful. And what other principle makes our lives consistent with our opinions and our ideals—granted we have opinions and ideals? It is an obligation we owe to those from whom we have taken their share of happiness. There are not many who pay this debt, not many who comply with this law. People not only resist the law of love implicit in sacrifice, but they will to be selfish, and bad. But doesn't that make it all the more our duty, Nacha, to do what we can? We must win forgiveness for the wrongs we do our brothers, for the guilt of society in which we all share."
He stopped, and looked dreamily before him, as though he saw some luminous object in the distance. Then, after a moment of silence, he added:
"The work of one individual has tremendous value as an example. Good work is not lost. It arouses other souls; and each one of these will waken others, who, but for them, would continue to sleep. So, little by little, daylight will come; injustice will cease; and poverty will be a word."
Monsalvat was at work on two plays which Nacha helped him to copy. They proved to be somewhat incoherent compositions, full of anguish, and love, and pity. They excited keen interest among the theatrical managers to whom he submitted them but no one cared to produce them. Some one of the readers who examined them called the plays "anti-social"; and they were generally considered dangerous to established order. In truth, they contained too much human sympathy: but it may well be that justice, or even simple honesty, is a serious menace to society!
One Sunday afternoon Julieta came to call on Nacha. She was no longer the smiling Julieta of old. Bad luck had been haunting her footsteps of late; and for the last few weeks she had known what it was to go hungry. While she was telling Nacha her troubles Monsalvat came in. Julieta did not know him, and stopped short.
"It is my friend," said Nacha. "He can help you. Go on!"
Julieta, reassured as much by a glance at Monsalvat as by Nacha's words, told how her small savings had all been spent to help Sara who had suddenly developed a horrible disease.
"I thought I could earn more if I had to," said Julieta, "but I haven't been able to. I've had to give up my room at Lavalle Street; and they are going to put me out of the lodging house where I hav............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved