Review: It’s a beautiful spring day. The mood of Gabriel Andersen is shattered by the appearance of soldiers who are there to punish the villagers for something. Andersen is a school teacher who writes poetry at night. But he observes three villagers shot to death and several flogged mercilessly. This can’t go on. He distracts the soldiers so that an avenging force of villagers can come by the soldiers’ camp and cut them down. Now it’s his turn. He stands as tall as his short body will let him and is shot to pieces.
Quote: “Of his own death he did not think. It seemed to him that he had done with everything long, long ago. Something had died, had gone out and left him empty….”
Quote: “And when they grabbed him by the shoulder and he rose, and they quickly led him through the garden where the cabbages raised their dry heads, he could not formulate a single thought.”
Quote: “Something strange and incomprehensible, as if no longer of this world, no longer earthly, passed through Andersen’s mind. He straightened himself to the full height of his short body and threw back his head in simple pride. A strange indistinct sense of cleanness, strength and pride filled his soul, and everything—the sun and the sky and the people and the fields and death—seemed to him insignificant, remote and useless.”
Fifty Great European Short Stories. Ed. By Edward and Elizabeth Huberman. New York: Bantam Books. 1971.