Throughout my life I have seen, without one exception, narrow shouldered men performing innumerable idiotic acts, brutalising their fellows, and corrupting souls by every means. They call the motive for their actions: fame. Seeing these exhibitions l've longed to laugh, with the rest, but that strange imitation -was impossible. Taking a penknife with a sharp edged blade, I slit the flesh at the points joining the lips. For an instant I believed my aim was achieved. I saw in a mirror the mouth ruined at my own will! An error! Besides, the blood gushing freely from the two -wounds prevented my distinguishing whether this really -was the grin of others. But after some moments of comparison I saw quite clearly that my smile did not resemble that of humans: the fact is, I -was not laughing.

I have seen men, hideous men - with terrible eyes sunk deep in their sockets, outmatch the hardness of rock, the rigidity of cast steel, the shark's cruelty, the insolence of youth, the insane fury of criminals, the hypocrite's treachery, the most extraordinary play-actors, priests' strength of character, and the most secretive, coldest creatures of heaven and earth. I have seen moralists -weary of laying bare their hearts and bringing down on themselves the implacable -wrath from on high. I have seen them all together - the most powerful first levelled at heaven like that of a child already wilful towards its mother - probably stimulated by some denizen of hell, their eyes brimful of remorse and yet smarting -with hatred, in glacial silence, not daring to spill out the unfruitful and mighty meditations harboured in their hearts, meditations so crammed -with injustice and horror, enough to sadden the God of mercy -with compassion.

Or I've seen them at every moment of the day from the start of infancy to the end of dotage, while disgorging incredible curses, insensate curses against all that breathes, against themselves and Providence, prostitute -women and children and thus dishonour those parts of the body consecrated to modesty. Then the seas swell their waters, swallow ships in their abysses; earth tremors and hurricanes topple houses; plagues and divers epidemics decimate praying families. Yet men are unaware of all this. I have seen them also blushing and blenching with shame at their behaviour on earth - but rarely. Tempests, sisters of cyclones; bluish firmament whose beauty I do not admit; hypocrite sea, image of my heart; earth with mysterious womb; inhabitants of the spheres; the whole universe; God who grandly created it, you I invoke: Show me one honest man! . .. May your grace multiply my natural strength tenfold, for at the sight of such a monster I might die of astonishment.

One dies at less. One should let one's fingernails grow for a fortnight. Oh! how sweet to snatch brutally from his bed a boy who has as yet nothing upon his upper lip, and, with eyes open wide, to feign to stroke his forehead softly, brushing back his beautiful locks! And all of a sudden, just when he least expects it, to sink your long nails into his tender breast, but not so that he dies, for if he died you would miss the sight of his subsequent sufferings. Then you drink his blood, sucking the wounds, and during this time, which should last an eternity, the child weeps. Nothing is as good as his blood, still warm, and extracted in the manner mentioned-except it be his tears, bitter as salt. Man, have you never tasted your blood -when you've inadvertently cut a finger? Good, isn't it, for it has no taste. Feed then, since your blood and tears do not disgust you, feed confidently upon the adolescent's tears and blood. Blindfold his eyes while you rip his quivering flesh, and having listened for long hours to his sublime screams akin to the piercing death-rattles forced from the throats of the mortally injured in a battle, rush off like an avalanche, race back from the nextdoor room, and pretend to be coming to his aid. You'll untie his hands with their swollen nerves and veins, restore sight to his distraught eyes as you resume sucking his tears, his blood.

Then how real repentance is! The divine spark within us, -which so rarely appears, manifests itself-too late! How the heart overflows at being able to console the innocent -whom one has harmed! "Child, you who have just suffered cruel pains: who could have perpetrated upon you a crime I do not know how to name! Unfortunate youth, how you must suffer! Forgive me, child: he who confronts your noble and holy countenance - he it is who broke your bones and tore the flesh that hangs from various parts of your body. Was it my sick mind's delirium? Was it a hidden instinct distinct from reason, like that of an eagle tearing at its prey, that drove me to commit this crime? And yet I suffered as much as my victim! Forgive me, child. I want us-once freed from this fleeting life - to be entwined throughout eternity, to form one being only, my mouth gummed to yours. Even in this way my punishment will not be complete, for you -will rend me incessantly with both teeth and nails. I shall deck my body with scented garlands for this expiatory holocaust, and together we shall suffer, you through tearing me, I through being torn . . . my mouth gummed to yours.

0 blond, soft-eyed child, will you now do what I counsel you? I want you to do it despite yourself, and you will gladden my conscience. Later, you could place him in hospital, since the cripple couldn't earn a living. They'll call you a good man: laurel wreaths and gold medals shall hide your bare feet, and be strewn over the great tomb with its ancient slab. 0 you whose name I do not wish to inscribe upon this page consecrated to the sanctity of crime: I know your forgiveness was as immense as the universe. But I exist still!