Across the Plank. One must be able to

Across the Plank. One must be able to dissimulate in intercourse with persons who are ashamed of their feelings; they take a sudden aversion to anyone who surprises them in a state of tenderness, or of enthusiastic and high-running feeling, as if he had seen their secrets. If one wants to be kind to them in such moments one should make them laugh, or say some kind of cold, playful wickedness: – their feeling thereby congeals, and they are again self-possessed. But I give the moral before the story. We were once on a time so near one another in the course of our lives, that nothing more seemed to hinder our friendship and fraternity, and there was merely a small plank between us. While you were just about to step on it, I asked you: “Do you want to come across the plank to me?” But then you did not want to come any longer; and when I again entreated, you were silent. Since then mountains and torrents, and whatever separates and alienates, have interposed between us, and even if we wanted to come to one another, we could no longer do so! When, however, you now remember that small plank, you have no longer words, but merely sobs and amazement.

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