What
followed must have undoubtedly filled the driver with respect. The young
passengers were two students, one of philosophy, the other of medicine; they
were returning to amuse themselves in their native town. They embarked upon a
violent academic discussion upon crime and its causes, and, to give him his
due, the medical student was better informed than the philosopher.

Atavism;
alcoholism and its pathological consequences; defective birth; deformity;
Paludism; then nervous disorders! Such and such conquest of modern science—but
the case of reversion to type! Darwin, Hackel, Lombroso. At the case of
reversion to type, the driver opened wide his eyes in which shone a profound
admiration for the conquests of modern science.

Criminal
proper

“It
is obvious,” added the medical student. “The so-called criminal proper, taken
as a type, has unusually long arms, and very short feet, a flat and narrow
forehead, and a much developed occiput. To the experienced eye his face is
characteristically coarse and bestial; he is rudimentary man: he is, as I say,
a beast which has but lately got used to standing on its hind legs only, and to
raising its head towards the sky, towards the light.”

At
the age of twenty, after so much excitement, and after a good repast with wine
so well vinted and so well matured as Leiba’s, a phrase with a lyrical touch
came well even from a medical student.

Between
his studies of Darwin and Lombroso, the enthusiastic youth had found time to
imbibe a little Schopenhauer—“towards the sky, to-wards the light!”

Leiba
was far from understanding these “illuminating” ideas. Perhaps for the first
time did such grand words and fine subtleties of thought find expression in the
damp atmosphere of Podeni. But that which he understood better than anything,
much better even, than the speaker, was the striking illustration of the
theory: the case of reversion to type he knew in flesh and blood, it was the
portrait of Gheorghe. This portrait, which had just been drawn in broad outline
only, he could fill in perfectly in his own mind, down to the most minute
details.

The
coach had gone. Leiba followed it with his eyes until, turning to the left, it
was lost to sight round the hill. The sun was setting behind the ridge to the
west, and the twilight began to weave soft shapes in the Podeni valley.

Gloomy
innkeeper

The
gloomy innkeeper began to turn over in his mind all that he had heard. In the
dead of night, lost in the darkness, a man, two women and two young children,
torn without warning from the gentle arms of sleep by the hands of beasts with
human faces, and sacrificed one after the other, the agonized cries of the
children cut short by the dagger ripping open their bodies, the neck slashed
with a hatchet, the dull rattle in the throat with each gush of blood through
the wound; and the last victim, half-distraught, in a corner, witness of the
scene, and awaiting his turn. A condition far worse than execution was that of
the Jew without protection in the hands of the Gentile—skulls too fragile for
such fierce hands as those of the madman just now.

Leiba’s
lips, parched with fever, trembled as they mechanically followed his thoughts.
A violent shivering fit seized him; he entered the porch of the inn with
tottering steps.

“There
is no doubt,” thought Sura, “Leiba is not at all well, he is really ill; Leiba
has got ‘ideas’ into his head. Is not that easy to understand after all he has
been doing these last days, and especially after what he has done to-day?”

He
had had the inn closed before the lights were lit, to remain so until the
Sabbath was ended. Three times had some customers knocked at the door, calling
to him, in familiar voices, to undo it. He had trembled at each knock and had
stood still, whispering softly and with terrified eyes:

“Do
not move—I want no Gentiles here.”

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