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Franz Kafka
Metamorphosis 03
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III


No-one dared to remove the apple lodged in Gregor's flesh,
so it remained there as a visible reminder of his injury.
He had suffered it there for more than a month, and his
condition seemed serious enough to remind even his father
that Gregor, despite his current sad and revolting form, was
a family member who could not be treated as an enemy. On
the contrary, as a family there was a duty to swallow any
revulsion for him and to be patient, just to be patient.
Because of his injuries, Gregor had lost much of his
mobility-- probably permanently. He had been reduced to the
condition of an ancient invalid and it took him long, long
minutes to crawl across his room-- crawling over the ceiling
was out of the question-- but this deterioration in his
condition was fully (in his opinion) made up for by the door
to the living room being left open every evening. He got
into the habit of closely watching it for one or two hours
before it was opened and then, lying in the darkness of his
room where he could not be seen from the living room, he
could watch the family in the light of the dinner table and
listen to their conversation-- with everyone's permission,
in a way, and thus quite differently from before.

They no longer held the lively conversations of earlier
times, of course, the ones that Gregor always thought about
with longing when he was tired and getting into the damp
bed in some small hotel room. All of them were usually very
quiet nowadays. Soon after dinner, his father would go to
sleep in his chair; his mother and sister would urge each
other to be quiet; his mother, bent deeply under the lamp,
would sew fancy underwear for a fashion shop; his sister,
who had taken a sales job, learned shorthand and French in
the evenings so that she might be able to get a better
position later on. Sometimes his father would wake up and
say to Gregor's mother "you're doing so much sewing again
today!", as if he did not know that he had been dozing-- and
then he would go back to sleep again while mother and sister
would exchange a tired grin. With a kind of stubbornness,
Gregor's father refused to take his uniform off even at
home; while his nightgown hung unused on its peg Gregor's
father would slumber where he was, fully dressed, as if
always ready to serve and expecting to hear the voice of his
superior even here. The uniform had not been new to start
with, but as a result of this it slowly became even shabbier
despite the efforts of Gregor's mother and sister to look
after it. Gregor would often spend the whole evening
looking at all the stains on this coat, with its gold
buttons always kept polished and shiny, while the old man in
it would sleep, highly uncomfortable but peaceful.

As soon as it struck ten, Gregor's mother would speak gently
to his father to wake him and try to persuade him to go to
bed, as he couldn't sleep properly where he was and he
really had to get his sleep if he was to be up at six to get
to work. But since he had been in work he had become more
obstinate and would always insist on staying longer at the
table, even though he regularly fell asleep and it was then
harder than ever to persuade him to exchange the chair for
his bed. Then, however much mother and sister would
importune him with little reproaches and warnings he would
keep slowly shaking his head for a quarter of an hour with
his eyes closed and refusing to get up. Gregor's mother
would tug at his sleeve, whisper endearments into his ear,
Gregor's sister would leave her work to help her mother, but
nothing would have any effect on him. He would just sink
deeper into his chair. Only when the two women took him
under the arms he would abruptly open his eyes, look at them
one after the other and say: "What a life! This is what
peace I get in my old age!" And supported by the two women
he would lift himself up carefully as if he were carrying
the greatest load himself, let the women take him to the
door, send them off and carry on by himself while Gregor's
mother would throw down her needle and his sister her pen
so that they could run after his father and continue being of
help to him.

Who, in this tired and overworked family, would have had
time to give more attention to Gregor than was absolutely
necessary? The household budget became even smaller; so now
the maid was dismissed; an enormous, thick-boned charwoman
with white hair that flapped around her head came every
morning and evening to do the heaviest work; everything else
was looked after by Gregor's mother on top of the large
amount of sewing work she did. Gregor even learned,
listening to the evening conversation about what price they
had hoped for, that several items of jewellery belonging to
the family had been sold, even though both mother and
sister had been very fond of wearing them at functions and
celebrations. But the loudest complaint was that although
the flat was much too big for their present circumstances,
they could not move out of it, there was no imaginable way
of transferring Gregor to the new address. He could see
quite well, though, that there were more reasons than
consideration for him that made it difficult for them to
move, it would have been quite easy to transport him in any
suitable crate with a few air holes in it; the main thing
holding the family back from their decision to move was much
more to do with their total despair, and the thought that
they had been struck with a misfortune unlike anything
experienced by anyone else they knew or were related to.

They carried out absolutely everything that the world
expects from poor people, Gregor's father brought bank
employees their breakfast, his mother sacrificed herself by
washing clothes for strangers, his sister ran back and forth
behind her desk at the behest of the customers, but they
just did not have the strength to do any more. And the
injury in Gregor's back began to hurt as much as when it was
new. After they had come back from taking his father to bed
Gregor's mother and sister would now leave their work where
it was and sit close together, cheek to cheek; his mother
would point to Gregor's room and say "Close that door,
Grete", and then, when he was in the dark again, they would
sit in the next room and their tears would mingle, or they
would simply sit there staring dry-eyed at the table.

Gregor hardly slept at all, either night or day. Sometimes
he would think of taking over the family's affairs, just
like before, the next time the door was opened; he had long
forgotten about his boss and the chief clerk, but they would
appear again in his thoughts, the salesmen and the
apprentices, that stupid teaboy, two or three friends from
other businesses, one of the chambermaids from a provincial
hotel, a tender memory that appeared and disappeared again,
a cashier from a hat shop for whom his attention had been
serious but too slow, -- all of them appeared to him, mixed
together with strangers and others he had forgotten, but
instead of helping him and his family they were all of them
inaccessible, and he was glad when they disappeared.

Other times he was not at all in the mood to look after his
family, he was filled with simple rage about the lack of
attention he was shown, and although he could think of
nothing he would have wanted, he made plans of how he could
get into the pantry where he could take all the things he
was entitled to, even if he was not hungry. Gregor's sister
no longer thought about how she could please him but would
hurriedly push some food or other into his room with her
foot before she rushed out to work in the morning and at
midday, and in the evening she would sweep it away again
with the broom, indifferent as to whether it had been eaten
or-- more often than not-- had been left totally untouched.
She still cleared up the room in the evening, but now she
could not have been any quicker about it. Smears of dirt
were left on the walls, here and there were little balls of
dust and filth. At first, Gregor went into one of the worst
of these places when his sister arrived as a reproach to
her, but he could have stayed there for weeks without his
sister doing anything about it; she could see the dirt as
well as he could but she had simply decided to leave him
to it.

At the same time she became touchy in a way that was quite
new for her and which everyone in the family understood--
cleaning up Gregor's room was for her and her alone.
Gregor's mother did once thoroughly clean his room, and
needed to use several bucketfuls of water to do it--
although that much dampness also made Gregor ill and he lay
flat on the couch, bitter and immobile. But his mother was
to be punished still more for what she had done, as hardly
had his sister arrived home in the evening than she noticed
the change in Gregor's room and, highly aggrieved, ran back
into the living room where, despite her mothers raised and
imploring hands, she broke into convulsive tears. Her
father, of course, was startled out of his chair and the two
parents looked on astonished and helpless; then they, too,
became agitated; Gregor's father, standing to the right of
his mother, accused her of not leaving the cleaning of
Gregor's room to his sister; from her left, Gregor's sister
screamed at her that she was never to clean Gregor's room
again; while his mother tried to draw his father, who was
beside himself with anger, into the bedroom; his sister,
quaking with tears, thumped on the table with her small
fists; and Gregor hissed in anger that no-one had even
thought of closing the door to save him the sight of this
and all its noise.

Gregor's sister was exhausted from going out to work, and
looking after Gregor as she had done before was even more
work for her, but even so his mother ought certainly not to
have taken her place. Gregor, on the other hand, ought not
to be neglected. Now, though, the charwoman was here. This
elderly widow, with a robust bone structure that made her
able to withstand the hardest of things in her long life,
wasn't really repelled by Gregor. Just by chance one day,
rather than any real curiosity, she opened the door to
Gregor's room and found herself face to face with him. He
was taken totally by surprise, no-one was chasing him but he
began to rush to and fro while she just stood there in
amazement with her hands crossed in front of her. From then
on she never failed to open the door slightly every evening
and morning and look briefly in on him. At first she would
call to him as she did so with words that she probably
considered friendly, such as "come on then, you old dung-
beetle!", or "look at the old dung-beetle there!" Gregor
never responded to being spoken to in that way, but just
remained where he was without moving as if the door had
never even been opened. If only they had told this
charwoman to clean up his room every day instead of letting
her disturb him for no reason whenever she felt like it!
One day, early in the morning while a heavy rain struck the
windowpanes, perhaps indicating that spring was coming, she
began to speak to him in that way once again. Gregor was so
resentful of it that he started to move toward her, he was
slow and infirm, but it was like a kind of attack. Instead
of being afraid, the charwoman just lifted up one of the
chairs from near the door and stood there with her mouth
open, clearly intending not to close her mouth until the
chair in her hand had been slammed down into Gregor's back.
"Aren't you coming any closer, then?", she asked when Gregor
turned round again, and she calmly put the chair back in the
corner.

Gregor had almost entirely stopped eating. Only if he
happened to find himself next to the food that had been
prepared for him he might take some of it into his mouth to
play with it, leave it there a few hours and then, more
often than not, spit it out again. At first he thought it
was distress at the state of his room that stopped him
eating, but he had soon got used to the changes made there.
They had got into the habit of putting things into this room
that they had room for anywhere else, and there were now
many such things as one of the rooms in the flat had been
rented out to three gentlemen. These earnest gentlemen -
all three of them had full beards, as Gregor learned peering
through the crack in the door one day-- were painfully
insistent on things' being tidy. This meant not only in
their own room but, since they had taken a room in this
establishment, in the entire flat and especially in the
kitchen. Unnecessary clutter was something they could not
tolerate, especially if it was dirty. They had moreover
brought most of their own furnishings and equipment with
them. For this reason, many things had become superfluous
which, although they could not be sold, the family did not
wish to discard. All these things found their way into
Gregor's room. The dustbins from the kitchen found their
way in there too. The charwoman was always in a hurry, and
anything she couldn't use for the time being she would just
chuck in there. He, fortunately, would usually see no more
than the object and the hand that held it. The woman most
likely meant to fetch the things back out again when she had
time and the opportunity, or to throw everything out in one
go, but what actually happened was that they were left where
they landed when they had first been thrown unless Gregor
made his way through the junk and moved it somewhere else.
At first he moved it because, with no other room free where
he could crawl about, he was forced to, but later on he came
to enjoy it although moving about in the way left him sad
and tired to death and he would remain immobile for hours
afterwards.

The gentlemen who rented the room would sometimes take their
evening meal at home in the living room that was used by
everyone, and so the door to this room was often kept closed
in the evening. But Gregor found it easy to give up having
the door open, he had, after all, often failed to make use
of it when it was open and, without the family having
noticed it, lain in his room in its darkest corner. One
time, though, the charwoman left the door to the living room
slightly open, and it remained open when the gentlemen who
rented the room came in in the evening and the light was put
on. They sat up at the table where, formerly, Gregor had
taken his meals with his father and mother, they unfolded
the serviettes and picked up their knives and forks.
Gregor's mother immediately appeared in the doorway with a
dish of meat and soon behind her came his sister with a dish
piled high with potatoes. The food was steaming, and filled
the room with its smell. The gentlemen bent over the dishes
set in front of them as if they wanted to test the food
before eating it, and the gentleman in the middle, who
seemed to count as an authority for the other two, did
indeed cut off a piece of meat while it was still in its
dish, clearly wishing to establish whether it was
sufficiently cooked or whether it should be sent back to the
kitchen. It was to his satisfaction, and Gregor's mother
and sister, who had been looking on anxiously, began to
breathe again and smiled.

The family themselves ate in the kitchen. Nonetheless,
Gregor's father came into the living room before he went
into the kitchen, bowed once with his cap in his hand and
did his round of the table. The gentlemen stood as one, and
mumbled something into their beards. Then, once they were
alone, they ate in near perfect silence. It seemed
remarkable to Gregor that above all the various noises of
eating their chewing teeth could still be heard, as if they
had wanted to Show Gregor that you need teeth in order to
eat and it was not possible to perform anything with jaws
that are toothless however nice they might be. "I'd like to
eat something", said Gregor anxiously, "but not anything
like they're eating. They do feed themselves. And here I
am, dying!"

Throughout all this time, Gregor could not remember having
heard the violin being played, but this evening it began to
be heard from the kitchen. The three gentlemen had already
finished their meal, the one in the middle had produced a
newspaper, given a page to each of the others, and now they
leant back in their chairs reading them and smoking. When
the violin began playing they became attentive, stood up and
went on tip-toe over to the door of the hallway where they
stood pressed against each other. Someone must have heard
them in the kitchen, as Gregor's father called out: "Is the
playing perhaps unpleasant for the gentlemen? We can stop
it straight away."

"On the contrary", said the middle gentleman, "would the young
lady not like to come in and play for us here in the room, where it is,
after all, much more cosy and comfortable?" "Oh yes, we'd love to",
called back Gregor's father as if he had been the violin player
himself. The gentlemen stepped back into the room and waited.
Gregor's father soon appeared with the music stand, his mother with
the music and his sister with the violin. She calmly prepared
everything for her to begin playing; his parents, who had never rented
a room out before and therefore showed an exaggerated courtesy
towards the three gentlemen, did not even dare to sit on their own
chairs; his father leant against the door with his right hand pushed
in between two buttons on his uniform coat; his mother, though,
was offered a seat by one of the gentlemen and sat-- leaving the
chair where the gentleman happened to have placed it-- out of
the way in a corner.

His sister began to play; father and mother paid close
attention, one on each side, to the movements of her hands.
Drawn in by the playing, Gregor had dared to come forward a
little and already had his head in the living room. Before,
he had taken great pride in how considerate he was but now
it hardly occurred to him that he had become so thoughtless
about the others. What's more, there was now all the more
reason to keep himself hidden as he was covered in the dust
that lay everywhere in his room and flew up at the slightest
movement; he carried threads, hairs, and remains of food
about on his back and sides; he was much too indifferent to
everything now to lay on his back and wipe himself on the
carpet like he had used to do several times a day. And
despite this condition, he was not too shy to move forward a
little onto the immaculate floor of the living room.

No-one noticed him, though. The family was totally
preoccupied with the violin playing; at first, the three
gentlemen had put their hands in their pockets and come up
far too close behind the music stand to look at all the
notes being played, and they must have disturbed Gregor's
sister, but soon, in contrast with the family, they
withdrew back to the window with their heads sunk and
talking to each other at half volume, and they stayed by the
window while Gregor's father observed them anxiously. It
really now seemed very obvious that they had expected to
hear some beautiful or entertaining violin playing but had
been disappointed, that they had had enough of the whole
performance and it was only now out of politeness that they
allowed their peace to be disturbed. It was especially
unnerving, the way they all blew the smoke from their
cigarettes upwards from their mouth and noses. Yet Gregor's
sister was playing so beautifully. Her face was leant to
one side, following the lines of music with a careful and
melancholy expression. Gregor crawled a little further
forward, keeping his head close to the ground so that he
could meet her eyes if the chance came. Was he an animal if
music could captivate him so? It seemed to him that he was
being shown the way to the unknown nourishment he had been
yearning for. He was determined to make his way forward to
his sister and tug at her skirt to show her she might come
into his room with her violin, as no-one appreciated her
playing here as much as he would. He never wanted to let
her out of his room, not while he lived, anyway; his
shocking appearance should, for once, be of some use to him;
he wanted to be at every door of his room at once to hiss
and spit at the attackers; his sister should not be forced
to stay with him, though, but stay of her own free will; she
would sit beside him on the couch with her ear bent down to
him while he told her how he had always intended to send her
to the conservatory, how he would have told everyone about
it last Christmas-- had Christmas really come and gone
already?-- if this misfortune hadn't got in the way, and
refuse to let anyone dissuade him from it. On hearing all
this, his sister would break out in tears of emotion, and
Gregor would climb up to her shoulder and kiss her neck,
which, since she had been going out to work, she had kept
free without any necklace or collar.

"Mr. Samsa!", shouted the middle gentleman to Gregor's
father, pointing, without wasting any more words, with his
forefinger at Gregor as he slowly moved forward. The violin
went silent, the middle of the three gentlemen first smiled
at his two friends, shaking his head, and then looked back
at Gregor. His father seemed to think it more important to
calm the three gentlemen before driving Gregor out, even
though they were not at all upset and seemed to think Gregor
was more entertaining that the violin playing had been. He
rushed up to them with his arms spread out and attempted to
drive them back into their room at the same time as trying
to block their view of Gregor with his body. Now they did
become a little annoyed, and it was not clear whether it was
his father's behaviour that annoyed them or the dawning
realisation that they had had a neighbour like Gregor in the
next room without knowing it. They asked Gregor's father
for explanations, raised their arms like he had, tugged
excitedly at their beards and moved back towards their room
only very slowly. Meanwhile Gregor's sister had overcome
the despair she had fallen into when her playing was
suddenly interrupted. She had let her hands drop and let
violin and bow hang limply for a while but continued to look
at the music as if still playing, but then she suddenly
pulled herself together, lay the instrument on her mother's
lap who still sat laboriously struggling for breath where
she was, and ran into the next room which, under pressure
from her father, the three gentlemen were more quickly
moving toward. Under his sister's experienced hand, the
pillows and covers on the beds flew up and were put into
order and she had already finished making the beds and
slipped out again before the three gentlemen had reached the
room. Gregor's father seemed so obsessed with what he was
doing that he forgot all the respect he owed to his tenants.
He urged them and pressed them until, when he was already at
the door of the room, the middle of the three gentlemen
shouted like thunder and stamped his foot and thereby
brought Gregor's father to a halt. "I declare here and
now", he said, raising his hand and glancing at Gregor's
mother and sister to gain their attention too, "that with
regard to the repugnant conditions that prevail in this flat
and with this family" - here he looked briefly but
decisively at the floor-- "I give immediate notice on my
room. For the days that I have been living here I will, of
course, pay nothing at all, on the contrary I will consider
whether to proceed with some kind of action for damages from
you, and believe me it would be very easy to set out the
grounds for such an action." He was silent and looked
straight ahead as if waiting for something. And indeed, his
two friends joined in with the words: "And we also give
immediate notice." With that, he took hold of the door
handle and slammed the door.

Gregor's father staggered back to his seat, feeling his way
with his hands, and fell into it; it looked as if he was
stretching himself out for his usual evening nap but from
the uncontrolled way his head kept nodding it could be seen
that he was not sleeping at all. Throughout all this,
Gregor had lain still where the three gentlemen had first
seen him. His disappointment at the failure of his plan,
and perhaps also because he was weak from hunger, made it
impossible for him to move. He was sure that everyone would
turn on him any moment, and he waited. He was not even
startled out of this state when the violin on his mother's
lap fell from her trembling fingers and landed loudly on the
floor.

"Father, Mother", said his sister, hitting the table with
her hand as introduction, "we can't carry on like this.
Maybe you can't see it, but I can. I don't want to call
this monster my brother, all I can say is: we have to try
and get rid of it. We've done all that's humanly possible
to look after it and be patient, I don't think anyone could
accuse us of doing anything wrong." "She's absolutely
right", said Gregor's father to himself. His mother, who
still had not had time to catch her breath, began to cough
dully, her hand held out in front of her and a deranged
expression in her eyes.

Gregor's sister rushed to his mother and put her hand on her
forehead. Her words seemed to give Gregor's father some
more definite ideas. He sat upright, played with his
uniform cap between the plates left by the three gentlemen
after their meal, and occasionally looked down at Gregor as
he lay there immobile.

"We have to try and get rid of it", said Gregor's sister,
now speaking only to her father, as her mother was too
occupied with coughing to listen, "it'll be the death of
both of you, I can see it coming. We can't all work as hard
as we have to and then come home to be tortured like this,
we can't endure it. I can't endure it any more." And she
broke out so heavily in tears that they flowed down the face
of her mother, and she wiped them away with mechanical hand
movements. "My child", said her father with sympathy and
obvious understanding, "what are we to do?" His sister just
shrugged her shoulders as a sign of the helplessness that
had taken hold of her, displacing her earlier certainly when
she had broken into tears.

"If he could just understand us", said his father almost as
a question; his sister shook her hand vigorously through her
tears as a sign that of that there was no question.

"If he could just understand us", repeated Gregor's father,
closing his eyes in acceptance of his sister's certainty
that that was quite impossible, "then perhaps we could come
to some kind of arrangement with him. But as it is ..."

"It's got to go", shouted his sister, "that's the only way,
Father. You've got to get rid of the idea that that's
Gregor. We've only harmed ourselves by believing it for so
long. How can that be Gregor? If it were Gregor he would
have seen long ago that it's not possible for human beings
to live with an animal like that and he would have gone of
his own free will. We wouldn't have a brother any more,
then, but we could carry on with our lives and remember him
with respect. As it is this animal is persecuting us, it's
driven out our tenants, it obviously wants to take over the
whole flat and force us to sleep on the streets. Father,
look, just look", she suddenly screamed, "he's starting
again!" In her alarm, which was totally beyond Gregor's
comprehension, his sister even abandoned his mother as she
pushed herself vigorously out of her chair as if more
willing to sacrifice her own mother than stay anywhere near
Gregor. She rushed over to behind her father, who had
become excited merely because she was and stood up half
raising his hands in front of Gregor's sister as if to
protect her.

But Gregor had had no intention of frightening anyone, least
of all his sister. All he had done was begin to turn round
so that he could go back into his room, although that was in
itself quite startling as his pain-wracked condition meant
that turning round required a great deal of effort and he
was using his head to help himself do it, repeatedly raising
it and striking it against the floor. He stopped and looked
round. They seemed to have realised his good intention and
had only been alarmed briefly. Now they all looked at him
in unhappy silence. His mother lay in her chair with her
legs stretched out and pressed against each other, her eyes
nearly closed with exhaustion; his sister sat next to his
father with her arms around his neck.

"Maybe now they'll let me turn round", thought Gregor and
went back to work. He could not help panting loudly with
the effort and had sometimes to stop and take a rest. No-
one was making him rush any more, everything was left up to
him. As soon as he had finally finished turning round he
began to move straight ahead. He was amazed at the great
distance that separated him from his room, and could not
understand how he had covered that distance in his weak
state a little while before and almost without noticing it.
He concentrated on crawling as fast as he could and hardly
noticed that there was not a word, not any cry, from his
family to distract him.

He did not turn his head until he had reached the doorway.
He did not turn it all the way round as he felt his neck
becoming stiff, but it was nonetheless enough to see that
nothing behind him had changed, only his sister had stood
up. With his last glance he saw that his mother had now
fallen completely asleep.

He was hardly inside his room before the door was hurriedly
shut, bolted and locked. The sudden noise behind Gregor so
startled him that his little legs collapsed under him. It
was his sister who had been in so much of a rush. She had
been standing there waiting and sprung forward lightly,
Gregor had not heard her coming at all, and as she turned
the key in the lock she said loudly to her parents "At last!".

"What now, then?", Gregor asked himself as he looked round
in the darkness. He soon made the discovery that he could
no longer move at all. This was no surprise to him, it
seemed rather that being able to actually move around on
those spindly little legs until then was unnatural. He also
felt relatively comfortable. It is true that his entire
body was aching, but the pain seemed to be slowly getting
weaker and weaker and would finally disappear altogether.
He could already hardly feel the decayed apple in his back
or the inflamed area around it, which was entirely covered
in white dust. He thought back of his family with emotion
and love. If it was possible, he felt that he must go away
even more strongly than his sister. He remained in this
state of empty and peaceful rumination until he heard the
clock tower strike three in the morning. He watched as it
slowly began to get light everywhere outside the window too.
Then, without his willing it, his head sank down completely,
and his last breath flowed weakly from his nostrils.

When the cleaner came in early in the morning-- they'd often
asked her not to keep slamming the doors but with her
strength and in her hurry she still did, so that everyone in
the flat knew when she'd arrived and from then on it was
impossible to sleep in peace-- she made her usual brief look
in on Gregor and at first found nothing special. She
thought he was laying there so still on purpose, playing the
martyr; she attributed all possible understanding to him.
She happened to be holding the long broom in her hand, so
she tried to tickle Gregor with it from the doorway. When
she had no success with that she tried to make a nuisance of
herself and poked at him a little, and only when she found
she could shove him across the floor with no resistance at
all did she start to pay attention. She soon realised what
had really happened, opened her eyes wide, whistled to
herself, but did not waste time to yank open the bedroom
doors and shout loudly into the darkness of the bedrooms:
"Come and 'ave a look at this, it's dead, just lying there,
stone dead!"

Mr. and Mrs. Samsa sat upright there in their marriage bed
and had to make an effort to get over the shock caused by
the cleaner before they could grasp what she was saying.
But then, each from his own side, they hurried out of bed.
Mr. Samsa threw the blanket over his shoulders, Mrs. Samsa
just came out in her nightdress; and that is how they went
into Gregor's room. On the way they opened the door to the
living room where Grete had been sleeping since the three
gentlemen had moved in; she was fully dressed as if she had
never been asleep, and the paleness of her face seemed to
confirm this. "Dead?", asked Mrs. Samsa, looking at the
charwoman enquiringly, even though she could have checked
for herself and could have known it even without checking.
"That's what I said", replied the cleaner, and to prove it
she gave Gregor's body another shove with the broom, sending
it sideways across the floor. Mrs. Samsa made a movement as
if she wanted to hold back the broom, but did not complete
it. "Now then", said Mr. Samsa, "let's give thanks to God
for that". He crossed himself, and the three women followed
his example.

Grete, who had not taken her eyes from the corpse, said:
"Just look how thin he was. He didn't eat anything for so
long. The food came out again just the same as when it went
in". Gregor's body was indeed completely dried up and flat,
they had not seen it until then, but now he was not lifted
up on his little legs, nor did he do anything to make them
look away.

"Grete, come with us in here for a little while", said Mrs.
Samsa with a pained smile, and Grete followed her parents
into the bedroom but not without looking back at the body.
The cleaner shut the door and opened the window wide.
Although it was still early in the morning the fresh air had
something of warmth mixed in with it. It was already the
end of March, after all.

The three gentlemen stepped out of their room and looked
round in amazement for their breakfasts; they had been
forgotten about. "Where is our breakfast?", the middle
gentleman asked the cleaner irritably. She just put her
finger on her lips and made a quick and silent sign to the
men that they might like to come into Gregor's room. They
did so, and stood around Gregor's corpse with their hands in
the pockets of their well-worn coats. It was now quite
light in the room.

Then the door of the bedroom opened and Mr. Samsa appeared
in his uniform with his wife on one arm and his daughter on
the other. All of them had been crying a little; Grete now
and then pressed her face against her father's arm.

"Leave my home. Now!", said Mr. Samsa, indicating the door
and without letting the women from him. "What do you
mean?", asked the middle of the three gentlemen somewhat
disconcerted, and he smiled sweetly. The other two held
their hands behind their backs and continually rubbed them
together in gleeful anticipation of a loud quarrel which
could only end in their favour. "I mean just what I said",
answered Mr. Samsa, and, with his two companions, went in a
straight line towards the man. At first, he stood there
still, looking at the ground as if the contents of his head
were rearranging themselves into new positions. "Alright,
we'll go then", he said, and looked up at Mr. Samsa as if he
had been suddenly overcome with humility and wanted
permission again from Mr. Samsa for his decision. Mr. Samsa
merely opened his eyes wide and briefly nodded to him
several times. At that, and without delay, the man actually
did take long strides into the front hallway; his two
friends had stopped rubbing their hands some time before and
had been listening to what was being said. Now they jumped
off after their friend as if taken with a sudden fear that
Mr. Samsa might go into the hallway in front of them and
break the connection with their leader. Once there, all
three took their hats from the stand, took their sticks from
the holder, bowed without a word and left the premises. Mr.
Samsa and the two women followed them out onto the landing;
but they had had no reason to mistrust the men' intentions
and as they leaned over the landing they saw how the three
gentlemen made slow but steady progress down the many steps.
As they turned the corner on each floor they disappeared and
would reappear a few moments later; the further down they
went, the more that the Samsa family lost interest in them;
when a butcher's boy, proud of posture with his tray on his
head, passed them on his way up and came nearer than they
were, Mr. Samsa and the women came away from the landing
and went, as if relieved, back into the flat.

They decided the best way to make use of that day was for
relaxation and to go for a walk; not only had they earned a
break from work but they were in serious need of it. So
they sat at the table and wrote three letters of excusal,
Mr. Samsa to his employers, Mrs. Samsa to her contractor and
Grete to her principal. The cleaner came in while they were
writing to tell them she was going, she'd finished her work
for that morning. The three of them at first just nodded
without looking up from what they were writing, and it was
only when the cleaner still did not seem to want to leave
that they looked up in irritation. "Well?", asked Mr.
Samsa. The charwoman stood in the doorway with a smile on
her face as if she had some tremendous good news to report,
but would only do it if she was clearly asked to. The
almost vertical little ostrich feather on her hat, which had
been source of irritation to Mr. Samsa all the time she had
been working for them, swayed gently in all directions.
"What is it you want then?", asked Mrs. Samsa, whom the
cleaner had the most respect for. "Yes", she answered, and
broke into a friendly laugh that made her unable to speak
straight away, "well then, that thing in there, you needn't
worry about how you're going to get rid of it. That's all
been sorted out." Mrs. Samsa and Grete bent down over their
letters as if intent on continuing with what they were
writing; Mr. Samsa saw that the cleaner wanted to start
describing everything in detail but, with outstretched hand,
he made it quite clear that she was not to. So, as she was
prevented from telling them all about it, she suddenly
remembered what a hurry she was in and, clearly peeved,
called out "Cheerio then, everyone", turned round sharply
and left, slamming the door terribly as she went.

"Tonight she gets sacked", said Mr. Samsa, but he received
no reply from either his wife or his daughter as the
charwoman seemed to have destroyed the peace they had only
just gained. They got up and went over to the window where
they remained with their arms around each other. Mr. Samsa
twisted round in his chair to look at them and sat there
watching for a while. Then he called out: "Come here, then.
Let's forget about all that old stuff, shall we. Come and
give me a bit of attention". The two women immediately did
as he said, hurrying over to him where they kissed him and
hugged him and then they quickly finished their letters.
After that, the three of them left the flat together, which
was something they had not done for months, and took the
tram out to the open country outside the town. They had the
tram, filled with warm sunshine, all to themselves. Leant
back comfortably on their seats, they discussed their
prospects and found that on closer examination they were not
at all bad-- until then they had never asked each other
about their work but all three had jobs which were very good
and held particularly good promise for the future. The
greatest improvement for the time being, of course, would be
achieved quite easily by moving house; what they needed now
was a flat that was smaller and cheaper than the current one
which had been chosen by Gregor, one that was in a better
location and, most of all, more practical. All the time,
Grete was becoming livelier. With all the worry they had
been having of late her cheeks had become pale, but, while
they were talking, Mr. and Mrs. Samsa were struck, almost
simultaneously, with the thought of how their daughter was
blossoming into a well built and beautiful young lady. They
became quieter. Just from each other's glance and almost
without knowing it they agreed that it would soon be time to
find a good man for her. And, as if in confirmation of
their new dreams and good intentions, as soon as they
reached their destination Grete was the first to get up and
stretch out her young body.


-------------------------------------THE END--------------------------------
 

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