His words somewhat surprised me and I even remarked that I was astonished at this severity as it was not usual for the Hins to try to influence individual decisions and everybody acted as he thought fit.
Zatamon replied that this was the only wish which could not be complied with according to the individual's will because-as he said-there were mental patients who imagined themselves Behins while their case was only "simple" paranoia, which was curable, and their belief was nothing more than one of the usual obsessions ; for example they would imagine themselves to be a corkscrew or made of glass. Such milder cases should not be exposed to the grave disturbances of life among the Behins, and it was purely with regard to the seriousness of the consequences that they had examined my particular case so scrupulously.
His words again made me smile and I reassured him that I would withstand the encounter.
At this he stood up and we set off.
We crossed the park and soon we came to a big wall.
At the gate we had to ring. This was the first door on which I saw a lock. To my question he replied that many strange things took place among the Behins. They did not use things for the purpose for which they had been made. They asked for unnecessary things, which they were usually given, as there were cases when, if the request was refused, the Behin's face became distorted, his voice resembled a turkey's, and he began shouting even though one was standing quite near him. On such occasions they quite unnecessarily broke fragile objects, and sometimes even hit someone without being asked to do so. This perhaps meant a more serious stage of the sickness. It was for this -reason that such a mechanism was needed on the door, as this had the property of allowing it to be opened by a suitable device.
No sooner had the door opened than he took the key out of the door-keeper's hand and explained its operation, remarking that it had been designed by the technical department of the hospital. It was the simplest type of key with a smooth web. Any of our amateur scoundrels could have opened the closed gate.Smiling to myself I listened to his words and excitedly awaited the prospect of meeting my first Behin.
Oh, had I only known. I was to get into the most terrible bedlam in the world, that a chapter of my life was to commence to which I would not be able to look back even now without my heart being twisted by the memory of the sufferings and monstrosities! We entered a long corridor. In a window-recess a man was standing in a rather shabby-looking suit of clothes. In these clothes several holes gaped, and some parts hung in rags. On our arrival he watched with furrowed brows, put his forefinger on his nose and turned after us.
"You see," said Zatamon, "there is a cut in the middle of his head."
Frightened, I looked back, but saw only a hair-style parted in the middle, which caused me definite pleasure.
He led me into a room in which there were a bed, table, chair and a wardrobe. Most of them in the wall. Then he left me alone.
When I looked round my first impression was that although the furniture of the flat was quite decent, everything was considerably more worn than with the Hins. On certain pieces I even believed I could find definite traces of wilful damage.
A big electric cooker was in a particularly deplorable state. its plates were battered, half of its switches broken, its legs not complete, one being replaced by a brick.
But all this was for the moment of no interest to me. I wanted to get acquainted with my new country.
I went to the yard. I was faced with a vast area surrounded partly by a stone wall and partly by buildings. The end of this area could not even be seen from there. Somewhere in the background a shrub-covered hill rose, otherwise it was a huge area with grass and trees, with paths here and there, and a few benches. It was pleasant, sunny weather, and there were a lot of people wandering about. It was here that I saw people in groups for the first time. Their clothes, too, were in a similarly ragged state which I then attributed to the tight-fistedness of the Hins.
Under one of the trees a man placed glasses on a table, and pouring varying amounts of water into each, hammered out a tune on them. The others surrounded him, sang and — laughed!
After the terrible emptiness it was a veritable recreation for me. Can it be possible... With my heart throbbing with joy I ran to them.
I caught one of them.
"I am Gulliver," I said freely, smiling and offering my hand.
"Pricc- prucc," said he and put his forefinger on his nose.
Such words I did not know — they could not even occur in the Hin language where neither the letter "r" existed nor could two consonants come immediately after each other.
A shiver of horror went through me. So was he mad, too? He seemed to be so nice only a minute ago! What had come over him? Would it be some strange custom? But I could find no explanation at all. No, it could not be something normal. What should I do now? If I were to run away he might get into a fury. As for him, seeing my embarrassment, he suddenly and without the least transition began to laugh.
The hysterical laugh froze the blood in my veins; trembling, I looked towards the gate which, however, had closed irrevocably behind me.
In my confusion I looked for some way of reassuring him; for some reason for having addressed him.
"I only wanted to ask," I said, "when we shall eat."
The smile suddenly froze on his lips and he turned his back to me. The others, too, contemptuously turned their backs on me.
Utilizing this moment I hurriedly took to my heels. For a while I looked around and tried to find an opportunity to start a conversation with a more decent sort of person as I had in some way to acquaint myself with my strange environment.
I did not even know what the dangers were, and to what extent I was exposed to them.
In my mind, I gravely reproached Zatamon for having brought me here like this without an informative word. Although it was also true that if people with a soul really lived here, the Hins would not have been able to inform me anyway.
I realized that I was thrown back on my own resources and I had to find out something about them at any rate.
On a bench there was somebody reading a book. Hesitating briefly, I accosted him.
"Do I disturb you if I ask something?"
Placing his finger on his nose he said, "Pricc- prucc," and smiled.
So. This one, too. My knees were knocking. I stood there puzzled.
The smile froze from his lips, too, and he turned away.
But I had to talk to them for I knew nothing and was exposed to the greatest uncertainty.
"I have just been brought in," I said entreatingly. "I am uninitiated. Please answer me."
At this he suddenly became more friendly and turned to me. "Ah! I didn't know. Then, of course, the case is different. Everything is kvari. I see. So I shall teach you. Pricc- prucc is belki."
"What?" I was stupefied.
"Belki," he said cold-bloodedly while I was looking for a way of escape. "You, of course, don't understand it, as you don't know what the ketni is."
"Ketni. If they say pricc- prucc you must return it by putting your finger on your nose because with us it is the belki. If you don't do so, you don't behave in a ketni way, and of course they will enoate because of you."
"Well? Shouldn't they enoate if someone doesn't behave in a ketni manner?"
"Of course, of course," I said soothingly, "and what's that?"
"Ah, I see, you don't even know that either. Well, the way I plunged back into my book showed that I was inwardly enoating because of you. Be careful! You may expose yourself even to being hit if you are not ketni."
"If I don't say pricc- prucc?"
"Of course! Why are you surprised at it?"
"And if I say pricc- prucc?"
"Then they will smile at you, scratch your posterior at which you scratch theirs in turn. This indicates that neither of you is enoating because of the other and that both of you are ketni."
"Well, that's nonsense!" I snapped.
"Watch your tongue, and don't speak about the ketni like that as you may be exposed to the greatest enoa. I kvari your behaviour because you have just arrived, but you will learn the ketni which makes us superior to the bivak mob outside."
"Bivak. Because they behave like a bivak. If we belki to them they pay no attention to us either; even if we scratch their posterior they gaze at us idiotically. They are all idiots. From first to last! And they haven't the foggiest idea of the ketni."
With this he scratched my posterior and I had to scratch him back to prove the sanity of my mind! Slowly the horrible reality dawned on me.
The Reader is likely to be most annoyed at the many Behin words, charging me with negligence or even bumptious ostentation for not presenting them directly in English translation. And it is for this reason that I have to remark here and now that the untranslated words have no equivalent in the English language. They indicate special fixed ideas which simply do not exist in our culture.
As illustration, let the Reader imagine that somebody has pricked his finger, snatches it and puts it in his mouth. This gesture has a normal English name: pain. But if somebody places his finger on his nose, for no apparent reason, and calls it belki, how am I to translate it into the language of the sober citizens of my country?
Now another man was approaching the bench. He cut a strange figure, poor fellow. Above each of his knees a heavy copper cube hung on a chain which painfully knocked against his legs at every step, so he could only walk very slowly. I felt sorry for him.
My acquaintance suddenly jumped up, lifted his right foot with one hand and with a painful face he wailed towards him: "Vake! Vake!"
The man stopped, and with an infinitely grave grimace shook the copper cubes on his legs, asked with a smile: "How does your nose grow, ka1eb?"
From this I saw that the grabbing up of the foot and the vake were not expressions of pain but some new nonsense. Lest they should take me for a bivak I started from my seat, and placing my finger on my nose said to the newcomer: "Pricc- prucc."
By way of reply I got a deep, resentful look. My acquaintance dug me in the ribs with frightened perplexity, at which I, still more confused, scratched the posterior of the copper-cubed arrival.
At this the copper-cubed one contemptuously looked me up and down and wanted to move on but my acquaintance leapt before him and placing his right hand on his head explained entreatingly: "Elak betik! Oh, kvari for this bivak! The worthless creature has only just arrived and does not know what the ketni is."
Copper-cubes was considerably appeased; with a cordial smile he twitched the nose of my acquaintance and then mine. "That's a different matter," he said graciously. "How does your nose grow, kaleb?"
I gazed like an idiot and was about to say that it did not brow at all, but my acquaintance poked me again in the ribs, so I thought I had better keep silent. The newcomer continued on his way and my acquaintance, again snatching his right foot into his hand, wailed and bellowed vake- vake, so that I already wanted to go to his help but he pushed me away.
I stood there agape with my feet rooted to the ground.
When Copper-cubes was already far away, my acquaintance turned and fell on me angrily.
"How could you say pricc- prucc to a betik, you bivak?!"
"Well, was it not you who told me?" I stammered.
"But to a betik! Didn't you see the bilevs on his feet?"
"The copper cubes?"
"They are not copper-cubes, they are bilevs!"
"Are they not made of copper?"
"Well... " he said filled with anguish, "perhaps, if we look at it like that, that's what they are made of, but you must not say so."
"And why not if that's what they are made of?" I snorted.
"For you must understand they are not made of it!" he cried. "It is not material, it is an a n e b a ! You must not say about it that it is material, because it is the material-like manifestation of the bikru's existence, and it is not permitted even to think about whether it is material or not."
I had no idea what the aneba and the bikru were but the cube was material for certain. But what sort of stupidity is required for denying what everyone can see with his own eyes?!
I state at the outset that nobody ever called the bilevs material. Once I saw a locksmith who was just burnishing a pair of bilevs, and he, too, was convinced that actually there was nothing in his hands, or properly speaking there was the material-like manifestation of the bikru's being, which could be neither seen nor touched, though it was in his hands and he was, manifestly, continuously touching it.
At these words I was attacked anew by fear. In a seemingly calm way I enquired, "Then what is the b i l e v?" "It indicates that one is a betik."
"What does betik mean? What does a betik do?"
"Nothing! He is a betik! And a betik is elak!Do you understand? And when an elak is concerned the belki is not pricc- prucc but, as I did, you must snatch your foot in your hand and wail: 'Vake! Vake!' As an indication that your foot aches because you cannot wear bilevs on it."
"It aches because I don't wear them?" I was now utterly confused. "It would ache if I did!"
"Hush!" he said, looking round in a frightened manner. "You must not say so!"
"Come now!" I snorted. "You surely don't want to make me believe that my feet ache because I don't wear bilevs to hit them? Even the simplest common sense protests against such nonsense!"
"I recommend you in your own interest," he said severely, "not to speak in this manner. There are certain things which cannot be disputed, and must be accepted without reference to common sense as they are aneba things, and it is well known that all of us would be only too pleased to tie on the bilevs, because a betik is elak."
"Let me rather not be a betik and elak," I said with deep conviction at which he gave a loud laugh.
"Oh, what a bivak you are still ! You poor ignoramus! l recommend you not to say such things for the others will laugh their heads off. On the other hand, if you keep on asserting your nonsenses, they may grow angry and somebody will call you lamik, and if you suffer that, you must immediately stab a knife into him."
"Because he has said that I am lamik?"
"Who would compel me to stab a knife into him for that?"
He looked at me compassionately.
"Would you swallow somebody calling you lamik?"
"And why shouldn't he say it if it pleases him?"
"Because the word is borema!" he said with infinite solemnity.
"Borema. Yes, it is borema if you want to be sure of it."
I gazed at him stupefied.
"And what is borema?"
"For instance the word lamik."
This of course made me no wiser, as we were back again at the beginning.
"But what is this borema concept?"
"Well ... how shall I explain it to you... borema is a word for which, if used of you, you are bound to knife him who says it "
At this I burst into laughter.
"So I must stab, because it is borema, and it is borema because I must stab. Don't you think that there should be some firm starting-point to make both logical and understandable?"
He waved his hand.
"I see, you don't understand. You have no sense of the ketni, so I will not continue to explain. But I suggest to you that you should beware of anyone calling you lamik and letting them go unpunished."
Now I waved my hand in annoyance.
"Well, let them have some consideration when they say it. If it doesn't hurt me, I will not stab, and if I don't stab, it will be of even less harm to me."
He looked me up and down completely amazed.
"You... do you believe that it would be of no harm to, you?"
The laughter froze on my lips. By now I myself began to get scared.
"Why?" I asked. "What kind of danger could be entailed by my failure to stab someone?"
"What kind of danger? Oh, you poor newcomer! So you are not yet aware of the consequences?"
"No! Of course not! Tell me!" I urged him excitedly.
"Well, look here. If you don't take up the knife, the Behins will meet, draw up minutes of the meeting and declare you unqualified to fight with a knife."
"And what does that mean for me?"
"And this means," now he stepped back and poked his forefinger against my chest, "that later you will not be stabbed by others either!"
He placed his hands on his hips and waited for the effect, which did not fail to follow.
That is, I stood for a minute gaping, then laughter burst forth from me anew with overwhelming force.
As I saw it, here everybody continuously harped on words assembled in an idiotic way; to this they pay homage, to that they feel repugnance, but the main characteristic of each word was that it had nothing to do with reality.
My acquaintance gave an angry wave of the hand.
"You have no faculty for the ketni. Take care, because if I don't teach you, you will be exposed to the greatest enoa."
That much I had already guessed — enoa meant anger, contempt, or some such thing, to which the knife also belonged, so I thought it better to stifle the protest from my common sense and reverted to the main subject.
"Tell me, why was the betik interested in the growth of our noses?"
"Not the betik but the elak betik."
"But you said betik!"
"Yes, I did say that. But if you refer to him, you must call him an elak betik. I was sitting here on this bench earlier."
I was perplexed but again curbed my outraged common sense.
"A11 right, all right! So why was he interested in the growth of our noses?"
"First of all, he was not interested, as a betik is not interested in things, he only enquires. Next, if he were interested, he would not be interested in the growth of my nose, it's only a custom to enquire. But mind! You must not ask about the nose of a betik, only he about yours. This is the ketni."
I was fed up with the ketni. I should have liked to speak about more sober things.
"Tell me about eating here. Where do we get the food from and where do we eat it?"
He started in fear. He pressed his hand on his mouth and looked round in alarm.
"Hush! Don't say such a bivak thing! Say: when and from where do we get spirituality."
"Spirituality? Do people not eat here?"
"Hush! Hush! At least speak more softly!"
He drew nearer and explained in a whisper.
"Spirituality is what you have mentioned, but it. must not be said in that way, because it is kave."
"You mean that eating must not be called eating, because you have invented the word kave. A senselessly coined word you replace by another senseless one, and manufacture such concepts out of thin air, by the ton. Tell me: can a reasonable man not be found among you who would relentlessly say that we don't live for words themselves but that words are to be used in life?"
He now looked at me compassionately.
"I only wanted to help you," he said. "As for me, I kvari your words, because I am a tolerant and enlightened man, who has always professed that a wrong action does not necessarily result from bad intentions, but may also originate in ignorance. But you attack all the anebas so strongly that for this everybody would enoate and call you a lamik — you might even be heavily punished, too."
"Punished?" I cried, taken aback. "Whom did I want to harm? Did I not want to make life easier for you? I want to liberate you from the shackles of the nonsenses which meaninglessly render your life more difficult, and you have the nerve to enoate because of me?!"
"Don't say any more of that nonsense!" he cried with flashing eyes.
I was startled. Instead of saying thank you for the help, they were still persecuting one whose clear-sightedness wanted to improve their life. Such a thing could indeed only be done by lunatics.
It was a general custom with them that they did not expect kindness and morality of each other but certain compulsory lies. It was a more important requirement with them that the material nature of the copper cube should be denied so that nobody should beat his neighbour to death.
It is for this reason that I strongly suggest to anyone who may find himself among such lunatics not to try to be good and helpful, as it is their most characteristic attribute that they fly at the throat of the sound-minded.
So I preferred to let him have his way and he continued.
"You had better thank your good luck for having led you to me. Anyone else would have long ago taken you to the betik. But I don't want to suppose you have any ill will in you, and in spite of your strong attacks, I am still willing to believe that by learning the ketni you will mend your ways, for now you are still not aware of the monstrosity of your words. Well, pricc- prucc."
"Pricc- prucc," I said placing my finger on my nose by which he was visibly pleased, we scratched each other's posterior and I hurried on.
The Reader may have perceived that the speech of my acquaintance also included words which did not figure in the Hin language, such as good and ill will, punishment, laughing, pleasure, and so on. Although they were also for me completely new, I could gather their meaning from his speech, and now render them in English translation. I give in the original only those words which do not convey something which actually exists, so that in a language created by reason there cannot be any counterpart for them.
As I wanted to have a good look round at my new country, I set off in the yard.
After the long L-shaped building I saw some barn-like ones. I had, as yet, no idea as to their function, but I did see that they were in a very neglected state. I thought the Behins could not build it.
So I was all the more surprised to catch sight of a bricklayer's scaffold behind them that covered quite a tolerable building. But the real surprise came only later.
Part of the house was in fact already complete, above the scaffold, and a team of workers was engaged in demolishing it with pickaxes.
I did not understand the connection and pulling myself together I asked one of the workers what purpose the building was to serve.
He said that it would be flats for the Behins.
"Then why are you pulling down the other half of it?" I inquired.
"So that we should not remain homeless."
I thought I had not properly posed the question and asked again and again, but he repeatedly replied that the house which had been built had to be pulled down, because if it were to remain, people would remain homeless.
"Well, I don't understand that," I declared.
"I wonder why," he replied, distrustfully scrutinizing my face. "Why, it is obvious, even to the ultimate box-shaker."
"Box-shaker? What is a box-shaker?"
At this the mason put down his pickaxe and stepped towards me.
"Don't you understand that either?" he asked and a queer light flashed in his eyes.
My whole being became covered with goose-flesh.
"But yes... of course..." I stammered backing away. Then turning round suddenly, I shot off at a wild gallop. Fortunately the man did not follow me.
Now I hurried into my room without the least delay but I did not feel safe even there as it had no lock.
I also decided to leave the door open. At least I should see if anyone were to pass by. I was afraid of everything that might follow, but on the other hand I wanted to see everything, so that, from a safe distance, I should learn, without any scandals, as much as was necessary for me to avoid being beaten.
As I crouched in my room, a little table appeared from the wall by itself and through a flap-door behind it a dish of food was pushed onto it, and then the door closed again.
So the food problem had solved itself, thanks to the Hins thinking of everything. As for me, I fell upon it, and started to eat voraciously. Here I might have asked questions to no avail, everyone would have turned away shocked if asked about "spirituality", and I might have died of starvation because of the ketni.
A few minutes later a woman passed along the corridor. She stopped before the open door and glanced at me. She kept a handkerchief in front of her mouth (at that time I believed she had toothache) but even so I noticed she was smiling.
All this, however, lasted only a second because no sooner had her glance fallen on the food than she cried out and collapsed.
I darted up immediately to help her but already others had gathered. Excitedly they were questioning each other and when one of them caught sight of the food on my table and the spoon in my hand, he shouted at me, beside himself with rage:
"When you perform spirituality, shut the door, you bivak!"
"The lungs should be torn out of such a person!" bellowed another.
From somewhere a low grumbling could be heard: "Lamik..."
My blood froze in my veins. This was the word for which I had to stab, only I did not know why. I fingered the knife in bewil derment.
Outside a clamour of consternation could be heard. They looked for the grumbler and looked at me to see what I would do.
"But still it cannot be uttered," said another one breaking the silence.
"He has the right to say what he wants to," said a third. "He hasn't!"
"But he has!"
"Who said lamik?"
"It's none of your business!" then he turned to me. "To which beha do you belong, kona or kemon?"
I did not even know whether I was a boy or a girl, only that I had to answer to escape."Kona," I said daringly.
The word worked a miracle and brought about a turn of events for which I was not at all prepared. The crowd, which up to then had unanimously raged against me, broke into two groups. One half immediately wanted to jump upon me, the others, led by the former inquirer, stood in front of my door and wanted to push them back. Wild shouting broke out, and within a short space of time everybody was fighting. I thought of the woman lying in a faint who had been completely forgotten. I cried out that they should not trample her to death, but it seemed she was less than oblivious because no sooner did she get the first kick than her faint disappeared and with a further. scream she ran away.
And in the corridor more and more people intervened in the fight. One of my defenders was thrown against the door so that it was torn off its hinges, with a crack, the panes of glass fell out clattering, and I was jammed in and could not even cry for help, lest I might infringe an aneba or the like. To tell the truth I would have been pleasantly gratified if both parties had exterminated each other to the last man, but at least those who had wanted to rush at me should perish.
This latter desire fortunately materialized, as after a five-minute bloody struggle my enemies, still wildly shouting, were routed. My defender came in to me gasping, but at the sight of the food he turned red and spun round.
"Kvari, kvari" he stammered and tried to close the door while going out, at which it finally collapsed.
With a sudden inspiration I took the bed-cover and laid it over the food, which indeed solved the problem at once. My visitor came back in smiling, and placing his finger on his nose he panted out a warm pricc- prucc. After mutual scratching of posteriors a very friendly atmosphere evolved between us.
I had definitely the same feeling as during conjuring when the juggler says "Hey presto!" and a pigeon flies out of a top hat; what one does not understand is purely the connection between the "Hey presto" and the pigeon.
Although the situation was extremely confused I tried to conduct myself as befits a gentleman. I briefly begged his indulgence for my not being able to convey the gratitude I felt towards him, but frankly speaking I was a foreigner and in the Hin language there was no suitable expression for this.
I realized only afterwards what dangers might stem from my rash sincerity, because in this way I also disclosed that I had no idea of the nature of the kona as I had so bravely declared myself a short while ago.
But the Behin settlement is the land of surprises.
For my visitor, instead of rebuking me, with a broad smile expressed his great pleasure that even though I had not known what it was I had confessed myself kona, which proved I had immediately felt the boeto given by the kona.
I must say straight away that I never came to know anything about the nature of the boeto. Nor did they themselves. Nobody knew what it was. They merely continued to debate whether the kona or the kemon gave the true boeto. It was about this that the two perpetually quarrelling parties, or whatever they were, had been founded.
After this event my new acquaintance began to teach me with all willingness. He explained what the fooling was called if our enemy was lying on the ground; if someone stronger hit us unjustly; what we felt towards those who fought with or against us; what kind of feeling was caused by the sight of spirituality, or what one felt towards a betik or a bivak. This way I learned many things, such as joy, grief, gratitude, triumph, defeat, indignation, respect, and other words. I also understood that kvari was meant for something like an apology, ketni some rule of life, kave for shame, and yet these did not correspond precisely to their translation and the others had no equivalent at all in the English language. As to what the words aneba, betik, vake, elak, lamik, borema, boeti, bivak meant, I did not learn — neither then nor to this very day. My questions were in vain. They themselves simply did not know; they only explained that the aneba, for instance, must not be deprecated, that one had to behave towards a betik in a humble manner, but of the essence nobody knew a thing, and it was not even proper to ask about such matters. One characteristic of their words was precisely this: it was forbidden not only to doubt their truth, but also to think about them. One simply had to believe, but they often did not even say in what-simply to believe.
The situation reminded me very much of our mental hospitals, where, similarly, people feel pleasure, gratitude, love and hatred, but while one is happy painting his nose blue, another worships a duck's feather, a third hurls himself on the fourth with indignation if the latter is not willing to bow before a watertap and say "abracadabra"; while, if he does utter the word "abracadabra", he has his hand kissed.
And here there were a vast number of such abracadabras, for instance the word kona itself.
My protector, who, by the way, was called Zemoeki, reassured me that I should not be afraid, and wherever I became exposed to an attack, I had only to cry out "vake kona!" at which a lot of people who belonged to the kona would come to my help, all brave and valiant Behins, whereas those belonging to the kemon were all base and hated the konas. He could not give me any reason, except that the kemon believed 'it gave the true boeto, although it was widely known that outside the kona the true boeto was completely impossible. Anyone who did not admit it was heading in the wrong direction and it was for this reason that I had to hate the kemons.
Then I was suddenly given the instruction that were I to see a circle' drawn anywhere I should erase it and try to draw a square. If however, anyone drawing a square on the walls were to be attacked by the kemons, I should not hesitate to fly to his assistance, because we had to keep together in defence of the square, and even sacrifice our life for the anebas.
Then my new friend left with a warm pricc- prucc and I tried to get some fresh air.
I opened my window, then tried to warm my food which had grown cold, but this was a problem since the rickety electric hot-plate I mentioned earlier had no desire to function any more.
Using my pocket knife I managed to tinker with its broken switch so that finally it was willing to heat, but then its broken legs gave up the ghost. In the end I somehow managed to support it, warmed my lunch, and, considering the circumstances, ate it with a good appetite.
During my belated lunch, I endeavoured to sum up the experiences of the first day.
The Behins were definitely not hapless normal people expelled by the Hins' lack of understanding but were indeed insane: that much was already beyond doubt. Their disease far exceeded the mental disorders known to us. Even in our lunatic asylums it may occur, for instance, that someone eats his handkerchief, imagines himself to be noodles sprinkled with ground poppy-seeds and sugar, or falls out with someone else because he is not willing to see the sweeping-brush as a sceptre; but that they should create meaningless words at the cost of hard mental work for things which do not exist, and that the whole bedlam should subject itself to them, and that on account of stupid geometrical figures the whole society should pummel each other-such things cannot be imagined in our lunatic asylums.
So the Reader may be justified in thinking that for the sake of effect I perhaps colour the account of my travels with things as do not perfectly conform to reality, in the manner of travellers who, to show off their having seen a great deal of the world and relying on the fact that their data can hardly be checked, abuse the credulity of the public. I am afraid that during the chapters to follow the Reader's doubts will be still further increased, so I must assure him in advance that I have checked my travel notes several times, and preferred to include less in my book rather than exaggerate even once.
One thing is certain: at the sunset of the first day I remembered with a sigh the "horrors" of the "eventless" life among the Hins. I had thirsted for events. Well, my wish had definitely been granted; if only my nerves would be able to stand it!