Lost Face


  • Narrator

    It was the end.

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  • Subienkow had travelled a long trail of bitterness and horror, homing like a dove for the capitals of Europe, and here, farther away than ever, in Russian America, the trail ceased.

  • He sat in the snow, arms tied behind him, waiting the torture.

  • He stared curiously before him at a huge Cossack, prone in the snow, moaning in his pain.

  • The men had finished handling the giant and turned him over to the women.

  • That they exceeded the fiendishness of the men, the manโ€™s cries attested.

  • Narrator

    Subienkow looked on, and shuddered.

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  • He was not afraid to die.

  • He had carried his life too long in his hands, on that weary trail from Warsaw to Nulato, to shudder at mere dying.

  • But he objected to the torture.

  • It offended his soul.

  • And this offence, in turn, was not due to the mere pain he must endure, but to the sorry spectacle the pain would make of him.

  • Narrator

    He knew that he would pray, and beg, and entreat, even as Big Ivan and the others that had gone before.

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  • This would not be nice.

  • To pass out bravely and cleanly, with a smile and a jestโ€”

  • ah!

  • that would have been the way.

  • But to lose control, to have his soul upset by the pangs of the flesh, to screech and gibber like an ape, to become the veriest beastโ€”

  • Narrator

    ah, that was what was so terrible.

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