Is He Living or Is He Dead?

Tot oder lebendig

Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2012




I was spend­ing the month of March 1892 at Mentone, in the Rivi­era.
At this re­tired spot one has all the ad­vant­ages, privately, which are to be had pub­licly at Monte Carlo and Nice, a few miles farther along.
That is to say, one has the flood­ing sun­shine, the balmy air and the bril­liant blue sea, without the mar­ring ad­di­tions of hu­man pow-wow and fuss and feath­ers and dis­play.
Mentone is quiet, simple, rest­ful, un­pre­ten­tious; the rich and the gaudy do not come there. As a rule, I mean, the rich do not come there.
Now and then a rich man comes, and I presently got ac­quain­ted with one of these.
Par­tially to dis­guise him I will call him Smith. One day, in the Hotel des Anglais, at the second break­fast, he ex­claimed:
‘Quick! Cast your eye on the man go­ing out at the door. Take in every de­tail of him.’
‘Do you know who he is?’
‘Yes. He spent sev­er­al days here be­fore you came.
He is an old, re­tired, and very rich silk man­u­fac­turer from Ly­ons, they say, and I guess he is alone in the world,
for he al­ways looks sad and dreamy, and doesn’t talk with any­body. His name is Theo­phile Mag­nan.’
I sup­posed that Smith would now pro­ceed to jus­ti­fy the large in­terest which he had shown in Mon­sieur Mag­nan,
but, in­stead, he dropped into a brown study, and was ap­par­ently lost to me and to the rest of the world dur­ing some minutes.
Now and then he passed his fin­gers through his flossy white hair,
to as­sist his think­ing, and mean­time he al­lowed his break­fast to go on cool­ing. At last he said:
‘No, it’s gone; I can’t call it back.’
‘Can’t call what back?’
‘It’s one of Hans An­der­sen’s beau­ti­ful little stor­ies.
But it’s gone fro me. Part of it is like this: A child has a caged bird, which it loves but thought­lessly neg­lects.
The bird pours out its song un­heard and un­heeded;
but, in time, hun­ger and thirst as­sail the creature, and its song grows plaint­ive and feeble and fi­nally ceases — the bird dies.
The child comes, and is smit­ten to the heart with re­morse: then, with bit­ter tears and lam­ent­a­tions, it calls its mates,
and they bury the bird with elab­or­ate pomp and the tenderest grief, without know­ing, poor things, that it isn’t chil­dren only
who starve po­ets to death and then spend enough on their fu­ner­als and monu­ments
to have kept them alive and made them easy and com­fort­able. Now —’
But here we were in­ter­rup­ted.

Mark Twain
Is He Living or Is He Dead? / Tot oder lebendig
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