The Torture of Hope part 4

Forward! He must hasten toward that goal which he fancied (ab­surdly, no doubt) to be deliverance, toward the darkness from which he was now barely thirty paces distant. He pressed forward faster on his knees, his hands, at full length, dragging himself painfully along, and soon entered the dark portion of this terrible corridor.

Suddenly the poor wretch felt a gust of cold air on the hands resting upon the flags; it came from under the little door to which the two walls led.

Oh, Heaven, if that door should open outward. Every nerve in the miserable fugitive’s body thrilled with hope. He examined it from top to bottom, though scarcely able to distinguish its outlines in the sur­rounding darkness. He passed his hand over it: no bolt, no lock! A latch! He started up, the latch yielded to the pressure of his thumb: the door silently swung open before him.

“Halleluia!” murmured the rabbi in a transport of gratitude as, standing on the threshold, he

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The Torture of Hope part 3

Suddenly the sound of a sandaled foot approaching reached his ears. He trembled violently, fear stifled him, his sight grew dim. Well, it was over, no doubt. He pressed himself into a niche and, half lifeless with terror, waited.

It was a familiar hurrying along. He passed swiftly by, holding in his clenched hand an instrument of torture—a frightful figure—and van­ished. The suspense which the rabbi had endured seemed to have sus­pended the functions of life, and he lay nearly an hour unable to move. Fearing an increase of tortures if he were captured, he thought of re­turning to his dungeon.

But the old hope whispered in his soul that divine perhaps, which comforts us in our sorest trials. A miracle had happened. He could doubt no longer. He began to crawl toward the chance of excape. Exhausted by suffering and hunger, trembling with pain, he pressed onward. The sepulchral corridor seemed to lengthen mysteriously, while he, still advancing, gazed into th

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The Torture of Hope part 2

Perhaps Infinite Mercy will shine upon you at the last moment! We must hope so. There are examples. So sleep in peace to-night. To-morrow you will be included in the auto da fe: that is, you will be exposed to the quemadero, the symbolical flames of the Everlasting Fire: it burns, as you know, only at a distance, my son; and Death is at least two hours (often three) in coming, on account of the wet, iced bandages with which we protect the heads and hearts of the condemned. There will be forty- three of you. Placed in the last row, you will have time to invoke God and offer to Him this baptism of fire, which is of the Holy Spirit. Hope in the Light, and rest.”

With these words, having signed to his companions to unchain the prisoner, the prior tenderly embraced him. Then came the turn of the fra redemptor, who, in a low tone, entreated the Jew’s forgiveness for what he had made him suffer for the purpose of redeeming him; then the two familiars silently kissed him. This

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The Torture of Hope part 1

Villiers de L’isle Adam (1838-1889)

Count Villiers de l’Isle Adam, bom in Brittany in 1838, led a strange life. “Born without average will-power,” says Huneker, “except the will to imagine beautiful and strange things, all his years he fought the contending impulses of his dual nature.”

He was the very model of a bohemian. His strange tales, the best of which are collected under the title Cruel Tales, are fantastic prose poems in the manner of Poe. The Torture of Hope, according to Huneker, recalls Poe at his best.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an American collection of tales, not dated. It is from the volume of Cruel Tales.

The Torture of Hope

Many years ago, as evening was closing in, the venerable Pedro Arbuez d’Espila, sixth prior of the Dominicans of Segovia, and third Grand Inquisitor of Spain, followed by a fra redemptor, and pre­ceded by two familiars of the Holy Office, th

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