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A Grotesque Tragedy
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"Of their kind, but not of their sort," he answered. "For many years these will see none such as you saw last night. Those are centuries in advance of these. You saw that those could even dress themselves a little! It is true they cannot yet retain their clothes so long as they would--only, at present, for a part of the night; but they are pretty steadily growing more capable, and will by and by develop faces; for every grain of truthfulness adds a fibre to the show of their humanity. Nothing but truth can appear; and whatever is must seem."
"Are they upheld by this hope?" I asked.
"They are upheld by hope, but they do not in the least know their hope; to understand it, is yet immeasurably beyond them," answered Mr. Raven.
His unexpected appearance had caused me no astonishment. I was like a child, constantly wondering, and surprised at nothing.
"Did you come to find me, sir?" I asked.
"Not at all," he replied. "I have no anxiety about you. Such as you always come back to us."
"Tell me, please, who am I such as?" I said.
"I cannot make my friend the subject of conversation," he answered, with a smile.
"But when that friend is present!" I urged.
"I decline the more strongly," he rejoined.
"But when that friend asks you!" I persisted.
"Then most positively I refuse," he returned.
"Because he and I would be talking of two persons as if they were one and the same. Your consciousness of yourself and my knowledge of you are far apart!"
The lapels of his coat flew out, and the lappets lifted, and I thought the metamorphosis of HOMO to CORVUS was about to take place before my eyes. But the coat closed again in front of him, and he added, with seeming inconsequence,
"In this world never trust a person who has once deceived you. Above all, never do anything such a one may ask you to do."
"I will try to remember," I answered; "--but I may forget!"
"Then some evil that is good for you will follow."
"And if I remember?"
"Some evil that is not good for you, will not follow."
The old man seemed to sink to the ground, and immediately I saw the raven several yards from me, flying low and fast.
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