Friend And Enemy

Ivan Turgenev

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A prisoner, condemned to confinement for life, broke out of his prison and
took to head-long flight.... After him, just on his heels flew his gaolers
in pursuit.

He ran with all his might.... His pursuers began to be left behind.

But behold, before him was a river with precipitous banks, a narrow, but
deep river.... And he could not swim!

A thin rotten plank had been thrown across from one bank to the other. The
fugitive already had his foot upon it.... But it so happened that just
there beside the river stood his best friend and his bitterest enemy.

His enemy said nothing, he merely folded his arms; but the friend shrieked
at the top of his voice: 'Heavens! What are you doing? Madman, think what
you're about! Don't you see the plank's utterly rotten? It will break under
your weight, and you will inevitably perish!'

'But there is no other way to cross ... and don't you hear them in
pursuit?' groaned the poor wretch in despair, and he stepped on to the

'I won't allow it!... No, I won't allow you to rush to destruction!' cried
the zealous friend, and he snatched the plank from under the fugitive. The
latter instantly fell into the boiling torrent, and was drowned.

The enemy smiled complacently, and walked away; but the friend sat down on
the bank, and fell to weeping bitterly over his poor ... poor friend!

To blame himself for his destruction did not however occur to him ... not
for an instant.

'He would not listen to me! He would not listen!' he murmured dejectedly.

'Though indeed,' he added at last. 'He would have had, to be sure, to
languish his whole life long in an awful prison! At any rate, he is out
of suffering now! He is better off now! Such was bound to be his fate, I

'And yet I am sorry, from humane feeling!'

And the kind soul continued to sob inconsolably over the fate of his
misguided friend.

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