ESOL Gramatika Výslovnost Testy Kurz 60 Texty Idiomy Nápovědy Angličtina

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William Wilson

LET ME CALL MYSELF, for the present, William Wilson. The clean page now lying before me need not be blackened with my real name. This has been already too much the object for the horror-for the hate of my family. Have the winds not carried it, with my loss of honor, to the very ends of the earth? Oh, you who have been thrown out by all! To the world are you not forever dead? To its honors, to its flowers, to its golden hopes? And a cloud, heavy and endless, does it not hang forever between your hopes and heaven?

I would not, if I could, here or today, write down a record of my later years of sufferings beyond words and acts too terrible to be forgotten. These later years were so evil, so much deeper in all that is wrong, that my only purpose now is to tell how they began. Men usually go wrong by degrees. From me, in a moment, all goodness fell, as if I had dropped a coat. From small acts of darkness I passed, in one great step, into the blackest evil ever known.

Listen while I tell of the one cause that made this happen. Death is near, and his coming has softened my spirit. I desire, in passing through the shades of this valley, the understanding of my fellow men. I wish them to believe that I have been, in some measure, in the hands of forces beyond human control. I wish them to seek out for me, in the story I am about to tell, some small fact that proves I could have done only what I did. I would have them agree that what happened to me never happened to other men. Is it not true that no other ever suffered as I do? Have I not indeed been living in a dream? And am I not now dying from the horror and the mystery of the wildest dream ever dreamed on earth?

I am one of a family well known for their fanciful and too lively minds. As a small child I showed clearly that I too had the family character. As I advanced in years it grew more powerful in me. For many reasons it became a cause of talk among my friends, and the hurt it did me was great. I grew willful, I acted like a wild fool, and I let my desires control me.

My father and mother, weak in body and mind, could do but little to hold me back. When their efforts failed, of course my will grew stronger. From then on my voice in the house was law. At an age when few children are allowed to be free, I was left to be guided by my own will. I became the master of my own actions.

I remember my first school. It was in a large house about three hundred years old, in a small village in England, among a great number of big trees. All the houses there were very old. In truth, it was a dream-like and spirit-quieting place, that old town. At this moment I seem to feel the pleasant coolness under the shade of the trees, I remember the sweetness of the flowers, I hear again with delight I cannot explain the deep sound of the church bell breaking, each hour, into the stillness of the day.

It gives me, perhaps, as much of pleasure as I can now experience, to think about this school. Deep in suffering as I am-suffering only too real --perhaps no one will object if for a short time I forget my troubles and write a little about this period. Moreover, the period and place are important. It was then and there that I first saw, hanging over me, the terrible promise of things to come.

Let me then remember.

The house, I have said, was old and wide-spreading. The grounds about it were large, and there was a high wall around the whole. Beyond this wall we went three times a week, on one day to take short walks in the neighboring fields, and two times on Sunday to go to church. This was the one church in the village, and the head-teacher of our school was also the head of the church. With how deep a spirit of wonder and of doubt I would watch him there! This man, with slow step and quiet, thoughtful face, in clothes so different and so shining clean-could this be the same man who with a hard face and in clothes far from clean, stood ready to strike us if we did not follow the laws of our school? Oh, great and terrible question, beyond my small power to answer.

At a corner of the heavy wall was a heavy gate. This exception was a boy who, though not of my family, had the same name as my own. This boy was the only one who ever dared to say he did not believe all I told them and who would not follow my commands.

My mind was greatly troubled by the stand Wilson took against me. I tried to make the others think that I did not care. The truth was that I felt afraid of him. I had to fight to appear equal with him, but he easily kept himself equal with me. Yet no one else felt, as I did, that this proved him the better of the two.

Indeed, no one else saw the battle going on between us. All his attempts to stop me in what I wished to do were made when no one else could see or hear us. He did not desire, as I did, to stand first. He seemed only to wish to hold me back. Sometimes with wonder and without pleasure I saw that his manner seemed to show a kind of love for me. I felt no thanks for it, and I thought it meant only that he placed himself very high indeed.

Perhaps it was this love he showed for me, added to the fact that we had the same name, and also that we had entered the school on the same day, which began the story that we were brothers. Wilson did not, even very distantly, belong to my family. But if we had been brothers, we would have been near to each other indeed, for I have learned that we were both born on the nineteenth of January, 1809.

It may seem strange that although Wilson continued his attempts to command me, while I continued my attempts to rule him, I could not turn wholly against him. We had, to be sure, nearly every day a battle. In public it would seem that I had been proved the stronger; but he seemed somehow able to make me feel that this was not true, and he himself after all was stronger. Nevertheless, we continued to talk to each other in a more or less friendly way. On a number of subjects we agreed very well. I sometimes thought that if we had met at another time and place we might have become friends.

It is not easy to explain my real feelings toward him. There was no love, and there was fear. Yet I saw something to honor in him, and I wished to learn more about him. Anyone experienced in human nature will not need to be told that Wilson and I were always together.

This strange appearance of friendship although we were not friends caused, no doubt, the strangeness of the battle between us. I tried to make the others laugh at him; I tried to give him pain while seeming to play a light-hearted game. My attempts were not always successful, though my plans might have been well made. There was much about his character that simply would not be laughed at.

I could find, indeed, but one weakness. Perhaps he had been born with it or, perhaps it had come from some illness. No one but me would have made any use of it against him. He was not able to raise his voice above a very low whisper . This weakness I never failed to use in any way that lay in my power.

Wilson could fight back, and did. There was one way he had of troubling me beyond measure. How he first discovered that so small a thing could trouble me, is a question I never could answer; but, having discovered, he used it again and again. I had never liked my family name, and I had never liked my given name. Too many other people had the same; I would rather have had names that were not so often heard. The words sickened me. When, upon the day I arrived at the school, a second William Wilson came also, I felt angry with him for having the name. I knew I would have to hear the name each day a double number of times. The other William Wilson would be always near. It was sure to happen often that my actions and my belongings would be thought of as his, and his would be thought of as mine.

My anger grew stronger with every happening that showed that in any way, body or mind, William Wilson and I were alike. I had not then discovered the surprising fact that we were of fhe same age; but I saw that we were of the same height, and I saw that in form and in face we were also much the same. And then there was that story that we were brothers.

Nothing could trouble me more deeply (although I carefully tried to keep everyone from seeing it) than to hear anyone say anything about the likeness between us of mind, or of body, or of anything else. But, in truth, I had no reason to believe that (except that we were thought to be brothers, and except in the case of Wilson himself) this likeness was ever noticed by our schoolfellows. He saw it, and as clearly as I; that I knew well. He discovered that in this likeness he could always find a way of troubling me. Here is proved the more than usual sharpness of his mind.

His method, which was to increase the likeness between us, lay both in words and in actions; and very well indeed did he follow his plan. It was easy enough to have clothes like mine. He easily learned to walk and move as I did. His voice, of course, could not be as loud as mine, but he made his manner of speaking the same. And as for his whisper, it grew like my very own.

How greatly this most careful picture of myself troubled me, I will not now attempt to tell. It seemed that I was the only one who noticed it. I was the only one who saw Wilson's strange and knowing smiles. Pleased with having produced in my heart the desired result, he seemed to laugh to himself and cared nothing that no one laughed with him. For many months I wondered over the fact that the school did not feel his purpose or see its success, and laugh too. Perhaps his picture of me was so skilful, was so much more of the spirit than of the body, that only I could see it.

I have already spoken of how he seemed to think himself better and wiser than I. He would try to guide me; he would often try to stop me from doing things I had planned. He would tell me what I should and should not do; and he would do this not openly, but in a word or two in which I had to seek for the meaning. As I grew older I wished less and less to listen to him.

Yet, at this distant day, let me be just to him. I can remember no time when what he told me was wiser than would be expected from one of his years. His sense of what was good or bad was sharper than my own. I might, today, have been a better and a happier man had I listened oftener to those whispers.

As it was, I at length grew very restless under his eyes that always watched me. Every day I showed more and more openly that I had no use for anything he told me. I have said that, in the first years when we were schoolfellows, my feelings might have been easily turned into, friendship; but, in the later months, although he whispered to me less often then, I came near to hating him. He saw this once, I think, and after that tried, or seemed to try, to keep out of my sight.

It was about the same period, if I remember rightly, that by chance he acted more openly than usual and I discovered in his manner or general appearance something that deeply interested me. Somehow he brought to mind pictures of my earliest years -- I remembered, it seemed, things I could not have remembered. The pictures were wild, half-lighted, and not clear, but I felt that very long ago I must have known this person standing before me. This fancy, however, passed as quickly as it had come.

It was on this same day that I had my last talk at the school with this other, strange William Wilson.

The big old house, with its countless rooms, had several bedrooms opening into each other, where slept the greater number of the boys. There were, however, many smaller rooms. One of these belonged to Wilson.

That night, finding everyone asleep, I got out of bed, and, light in hand, went quietly through the house to Wilson's room. I had long been thinking of another of those plans to hurt him, in which I had up to then had little success. It was my purpose, now, to begin on this new plan.

Having reached his room, I entered without a sound, leaving the light outside. I advanced a step, and listened. He was asleep. I turned, took the light, and again went to the bed. I looked down upon his face.

The coldness of ice filled my whole body. My knees trembled, my whole spirit was filled with horror. I moved the light nearer to his face. Was this-this the face of William Wilson? I saw indeed that it was, but I trembled as if with sickness as I fancied that it was not. What was there in his face to trouble me so? I looked, while my mind seemed to wheel in circles in the rush of my thoughts. It was not like this-surely not like this -that he appeared in the daytime. The same name, the same form, the same day of coming to the school! And then his use of my walk, my voice, my manner! Was it, in truth, humanly possible, that what I now saw was the result, only, of his continued efforts to be like me? Filled with wonder and fear, cold and trembling, I put out the light, and in the dark quiet I went from his room, and left, at once, that old school, never to enter it again.

After some months spent at home, doing nothing, I went to study at the famous school called Eton. I had partly forgotten - my days at the other school, or at least during that time my feelings about those days had changed. The truth -the terrible truth-of what had happened there was gone. Now I doubted what I remembered. Now I called the subject into my mind only to smile at the strength of the strange fancies I had known.

Nor did the life I led at Eton change this view. The thoughtless fool's life into which I carelessly threw myself washed away everything valuable in my past.

I do not wish, however, to tell here the course of my wrongdoing-wrongdoing which broke every law of the school and escaped the watchful eyes of all the teachers. Three years of this had passed, and I had grown much larger in body and smaller in soul. One night I asked a party of my evil friends to a secret meeting in my room. We met at a late hour. The wine ran freely, and there were games of cards and godless talk, until the new day began appearing in the east. Warm with the wine and with the games of chance, I was raising my glass to drink in honor of some especially evil idea, when I heard the voice of a servant from without. He said that some person asked to speak with me in another room.

I was delighted. A few steps brought me to the entrance of the building. In this low and small room there hung no light. I could see the form of a young man about my own height, wearing clothes like those I myself was wearing at the, moment.

His face I could not see. Upon my entering he came quickly up to me, and, taking me by the arm, whispered the words "William Wilson!" in my ear.

There was something in the manner of the stranger, and in the trembling of his uplifted finger, which made my eyes open wide; but it was not this which had so strongly touched my mind and heart. It was the grave sound of those two, simple, well-known words, spoken in a whisper, which reached into my soul. Before I could think again and speak, he was gone.

For some weeks I thought about this happening. Who and what was this Wilson?-where did he come from?-and what were his purposes? I learned that for family reasons he had suddenly left the other school on the afternoon of the day I myself had gone. But in a short time I stopped thinking upon the subject; I gave all my thought to plans for study at Oxford University.

There I soon went. My father and mother supplied me with enough money to live like the sons of the richest families in Great Britain.

Now my nature showed itself with doubled force. I threw aside all honor. Among those who spent too much money, I spent more; and I added new forms of wrongdoing to the older ones already known well at the university. And I fell lower yet. Although it may not be easily believed, it is a fact that I forgot my position as a gentleman. I learned and used all the evil skills of those men who make a living by playing cards. Like such skilled gamblers, I played to make money.

My friends trusted me. To them I was the laughing but honorable William Wilson, who freely gave gifts to anyone and everyone, who was young and fanciful, but who never did anything really bad. For two years I was successful in this way. Then there came to the university a young man named Glendinning, who, the report was, had newly and easily become very rich. I soon found him of weak mind. This, of course, made him a fitting subject for my skill. I played with him often. At first, with the gambler's usual art, I let him take money from me. Then my plans were ready. I met him one night (this I planned to make our last meeting) at the room of another friend, Mr. Preston. There was a party of eight or ten. By my careful planning it seemed that chance started us to playing cards. In fact, it was Glendinning himself who first spoke of a card game.

We sat far into the night, and at last the others dropped out of the game. Glendinning and I played by ourselves, while the others watched. The game was the one I liked the best, a game called écarté. Glendinning played with a wild nervousness that I could not understand, though it was caused partly, I thought, by all the wine he had taken. In a very short time he had lost a great amount of money to me.

Now he wished to double the amount for which we played. This was as I had planned, but I made it seem that I did not wish to agree. But at last I said yes. In an hour he had lost four times as much money as before.

For some time his face had been growing white.

I had thought him so rich that the loss of money would not trouble him, and I believed this whiteness was the result of the wine. Now, fearing what my friends might say of me, I was about to stop the game when his cry of hopelessness made me understand that he had lost everything he owned. Weak of mind and made weaker by the wine, he should never have been allowed to play that night. But I had not stopped him; I had used his condition to destroy him.

What I might then have done I cannot say. The room was very quiet. I could feel the coolness in my friends.

At this moment the wide, heavy doors of the room were thrown open. Every light in the room went out, but I had seen that a stranger had entered, about my own height, wearing a long cloak. The darkness, however, was now complete; and we could only feel that he was standing among us. Then we heard his voice.

"Gentlemen," he said, in a low, clear, and never-to-be-forgotten whisper, which I felt deep in my bones, "Gentlemen, I am here only to do my duty. You cannot know the true character of the person who has tonight taken a large amount of money from Lord Glendinning. Please have him take off his coat, and then please look through it very carefully."

While he spoke there was not another sound in the room. As he ended, he was gone.

Can I-shall I tell what I felt?-must I say that I felt all the horrors of those judged forever wrong?

Many hands took me. Lights were brought. My friends looked through my coat. In it were found all the high cards needed in the game we had been playing. Secretly using these cards, I could have taken the money of anyone who played the game with me.

"Mr. Wilson," said Mr. Preston, in whose room we were, "this is yours." He lifted from the floor a rich, warm cloak. "We shall not look in this to prove again what we have proved already. Indeed, we have seen enough. You will understand, I hope, the need for you to leave Oxford. At least, you must leave my room at once."

Down in the dust though my spirit was, I might have tried to strike him for these words if at that moment I had not noticed something very surprising. My cloak had cost more money than most men could spend, and I had had it made for myself. It was different, I thought, from every other cloak in the world. When, therefore, Mr. Preston gave me that which he had picked up from the floor, I saw with terror that my own was already hanging on my arm, and the two were alike in every way.

I remembered that the strange being who had so mysteriously entered and left the room had had a cloak. No one else in the party had been wearing one. I placed the cloak offered by Preston over my own, and left his room. The next morning I began a hurried journey away from Oxford.

I ran, but I could not escape. I went from city to city, and in each one Wilson appeared. Paris, Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow-he followed me everywhere. Years passed. I went to the very ends of the earth. I ran in fear, as if from a terrible sickness. And still he followed.

Again and again I would ask myself, "Who is he?-from where did he come?-and what is his purpose?" But no answer was there found. And then I looked with the greatest care at the methods of his watch over me. I learned little. It was noticeable, indeed, that when he appeared now it was only to stop me in those actions from which evil might result. But what right did he have to seek to control me?

I also noticed that now for a long time, while always wearing clothes the same as mine, he never let me see his face. Did he think I should not know him? e destroyed my honor at Oxford, he stopped me in my plans for gaining a high position in Rome, in my revenge in Paris, in my love in Naples, in what he called my desire for too much riches in Egypt. Did he think I could fail to see that he was the William Wilson of my schoolboy days, the hated and feared William Wilson? But let me hurry to the last scene in my story.

Until now I had not tried to strike back. He was honorable and wise, he could be everywhere and he knew everything. I felt such wonder and even terror of him that I believed myself to be weak and helpless. Though it made me angry, I had done as he wished. But, of late days, I had given myself up wholly to wine, and I wished more and more to escape his control.

As I began to grow stronger, it seemed to me that he began to grow weaker. I felt a burning hope; in my secret thoughts I decided that I was going to be free.

It was at Rome, during the Carnival of 18-, that I went to a masquerade in the palace of the Duke Di Broglio. I had been drinking more wine than usual, and the rooms seemed very crowded and hot. I grew angry over forcing my way through the people. I was seeking (let me not say why) the young, the laughing, the beautiful wife of the aged Di Broglio. She had told me the secret of the dress she would be wearing, and now, having seen it, I was trying to make my way to her. At this moment I felt a hand placed upon my shoulder, and that ever-remembered low whisper within my ear.

In a wild anger I turned at once upon him and took him in a strong hold. He was dressed, as I had expected, like myself, in a rich cloak of blue. About his body was a band of red cloth from which hung a rapier . A mask of black cloth completely covered his face.

"You again!" I said, my anger growing hotter with each word. "Always you again! You shall not -you shall not hunt me like this until I die! Come with me now or I kill you where you stand!" I pulled him after me into a small room nearby.

Upon entering I threw him against the wall and closed the door. I commanded him to take his rapier in hand. After a moment, he took it, and stood on guard.

The fight was short indeed. I was wild with hate and anger; in my arm I felt the strength of a thousand men. In a few moments I had forced him back to the wall, and then, when he was helpless, I put my rapier again and again into his heart.

At that moment some person tried to open the door. I hurried to lock it, and then turned back to my dying enemy. But what human words can tell that surprise, that horror which filled me at the scene then offered to view? The moment in which I had turned to the door had been long enough, it seemed, for a great change to come at the far end of the room. A large looking glass-so it seemed to me-now stood where it had not been before. As I walked toward it in terror, I saw my own form, all spotted with blood, face white, advance to meet me with a weak and failing step.

So it appeared, I say, but was not. It was my enemy-it was Wilson, who then stood before me in the pains of death. His mask and cloak lay upon the floor. In his dress and in his face there was nothing which was not my own!

It was Wilson; but he spoke no longer in a whisper, and I could have believed that I myself was speaking while he said:

"I have lost. Yet from now on are you also dead -dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me you lived-and, in my death, see by this face, which is your own, how wholly, how completely, you have murdered yourself."