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buy myself off for a few crowns—but I wanted to relish the depths of horror to the full, I was enjoying the dreadful humiliation of the situation, in a kind of waking swoon. Without haste, entirely automatically, I went the way they had pushed me. But the very fact that I moved towards the light so obediently and without a word seemed to confuse the men. They whispered softly, and then began to talk to each other again in deliberately raised voices. “Let him go,” said one (a pock-marked little fellow), but the other replied, with apparent decision: “No, that won’t do. If poor starving devils like us do such things they put us behind bars. But a fine gentleman like this—he really deserves punishment.” I heard every word, and in their voices I detected their clumsily expressed request for me to begin negotiating with them; the criminal in me understood the criminal in them, understood that they wanted to torment me with fears, while I was tormenting them with my docility. It was a silent battle between us, and—oh, how rich in experience this night was!—and in the midst of deadly danger, here in this insalubrious grove on the Prater, in the company of a couple of ruffians and a whore, I felt the frenzied enchantment of gambling for the second time in twelve hours, but this time for the highest of stakes, for my whole comfortable existence, even my life. And with all the force of my quivering nerves, tensed as they were to breaking point, I abandoned myself to this great game, to the sparkling magic of chance. “Hey, there goes the cop,” said a voice behind me. “Our fine gentleman won’t like this, he’ll be behind bars a week or more.” It was meant to sound like a grim threat, but I heard the man’s hesitant uncertainty. I went placidly towards the dim light, where I did indeed see light glint on a police officer’s spiked helmet. Twenty more paces and I would have reached him. Behind me, the men had fallen silent. I realized they were slowing down. Next moment, I knew, they must retreat like cowards into the dark, into their own world, embittered by the failure of their 186

Stefan Zweig - Olağanüstü Bir Gece (Türkçe-Deutsch-English)  
Stefan Zweig - Olağanüstü Bir Gece (Türkçe-Deutsch-English)  
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