She was running to the road just beyond the village.
They had surely gone for a walk on the road, where they had been seen several times. She would meet them on the way, or in Jonah’s inn near the big forest.
On the Gentile’s lane, the last one of the village, the dogs in the yards heard her hastening steps upon the drenched earth. Some of them began to bark behind the gates, not caring to venture out into the rain; others were not so lazy and crawled out from under the gates with an angry yelping.
She neither saw nor heard them, however. She only gazed far out over the road, which began at the lane, and ran along.
One dog seized her skirt, which had become heavy with water. She did not heed this, and dragged the animal along for part of the way, until it tired of keeping pace with her in the pelting downpour. So it released her skirt. For a moment it thought of seizing her in some other spot, but at once, with a sullen growl, it set out for its yard.
On the road the wind became still stronger. And the thunder reechoed here with thousands of reverberations from the neighboring forest. Cheyne looked only straight before her, into the distance, through the dense, water-laden atmosphere.
The way was strewn with heaps of twigs and branches that had been severed by the lightning, and even, a few trees lay before her, tom up from their very roots, and charred.
“Would to God that the thunder would strike them even so!” she muttered.
She was consumed by an inner cry. Now she had found a definite form for all her curses. The thunder up yonder had tom it from her.
And she ran on, on. …
But what is this here?
A few paces before her lie two persons. A man and a woman. With contorted visages. In writhing positions. Their faces black as earth, their eyes rolled back. Two corpses, struck by lightning.
There was a brilliant flash, followed by a deafening thunderclap.
She recognized her daughter.
More by her clothes than by her charred countenance; more by her entire figure than by the horribly staring whites of her eyes.
The girl’s arm lay beneath that of the young man. The top of the open umbrella in the youth’s hand had been burned off.
The old woman was on the point of shrieking a curse, of adding her thunder to the fury of the storm’s thunder; her eyes flashed together with the lightning; in her heart there arose a devastating tempest.
She wished to cry out the most evil of words—that the dead maiden had earned her end. She desired to send after her the most wretched and degrading of names.
Suddenly, however, all grew black before her. A flood of molten lead seemed to pour into her head. Weariness and trembling fell upon her. Her garments, saturated with the rain, seemed to drag her to the earth. Her eyes were extinguished.
The thunder and lightning and shrieking of the wind broke out anew.
But within the old woman all was quiet, dark, dead. She sank to her knees before the corpse of her daughter, stretched over the body her trembling arms, and a dull flame flickered up in her eyes.
Her entire being quivered. Her teeth knocked together. And with a hoarse, toneless voice she gasped:
“My darling daughter! Hennye, my darling!”