Third Evening

"In the narrow lane close by - it is so narrow that my rays can slide down the walls of the houses for only a moment, and yet in that moment I see enough to understand the little world stirring below - I saw a woman. Sixteen years ago she was a child, and out in the country she used to play in the old parsonage garden. The rosebush hedges were old, and their blossoms had fallen. They had run wild, and grew rankly over the paths, twisting their long branches up the trunks of the apple trees. Here and there a rose still sat on her stem, not so lovely as the queen of the flowers usually appears, but the color was still there, and the fragrance too. The clergyman's little daughter seemed to me a much lovelier rose, as she sat on her stool under the straggling hedge and kissed her doll with the caved-in pasteboard cheeks.

"Ten years later, I saw her again; I saw her in a splendid ballroom, and she was the beautiful bride of a rich merchant. I was happy over her good fortune, and sought her again in the silent nights - alas, no one then heeded my clear eye, my trusty watch! My rose also grew up in rank wildness, like the roses in the parsonage garden. Life in the everyday world has its tragedies too, and tonight I witnessed the final act.

"In the narrow street, deathly ill, she lay upon her bed, and the wicked, rough, and cruel landlord, now her only acquaintance, tore away her blanket. 'Stand up!' he said. 'Your cheeks are enough to frighten anyone! Dress yourself! Get some money, or I'll throw you into the street! Get up, and hurry!'

" 'Death is in my breast!' she cried. 'Oh, let me rest!' But he dragged her up, painted her cheeks, put roses in her hair, set her at the window with a lighted candle beside her, and went away. I stared at her; she sat there motionless, though her hand fell down into her lap. The wind pushed against the window until it broke a pane, but still she did not move. The curtain fluttered about her like a flame - she was dead. There at the open window sat the dead one, as a preachment against sin - my rose from the parsonage garden!"