Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/83

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DEATH OF HIS BROTHER NICOLAS

53

before the end he slumbered, and suddenly awoke and whispered in terror, 'What is that?' He saw Death, and he felt himself swallowed up in the darkness. And if he found nothing to cling to, what shall I find? Yet less. Certainly, neither I nor anybody else will struggle to the last moment as he did."

And he continues, farther on:

"All who watched his last moments, say, 'How wonderfully quiet and peaceful was his death'; but I know how terribly painful it was to him, as not a single one of his feelings was hidden from me. Hundreds of times I say to myself, 'Let the dead bury the dead,' but in some way one has to spend one's remaining strength. You cannot bid a stone fall up and not downwards, where there is attraction. You cannot laugh at a worn-out joke. You cannot eat when you are not hungry. Is it worth while to trouble when tomorrow may begin the agony of death with its detestable lies and self-delusion, and when all ends in nothingness, naught for myself. Curious thing! 'Be useful, be virtuous, happy as long as you live,' people say to others. But usefulness, morality, and happiness are all united in truth. The truth I found after thirty-two years of life is that the condition of our existence is dreadful.