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Long, long ago there lived a stem of folks in a ord that was bounded by three sides by unthroughthringbare wald and on the forth by the steppe. They were a strong, bold and frolic folk, but evil times came upon them. Other stems came warring against them and drove them into the depth of the wald. The wald was dark and swampy for it was very ancient and the mights of the trees were so nearly forwoven that they shut out the sight of the sky and the sun raised its oily good to the fiest of thick leaves and reached the waters of the swamp. And where ever they reached those waters, attery steams arose and the folks began to get sick and die. They had to get out of the wald. But there were only two ways: one was to get back over the road they have come but at the end of it strong and baderdy foes awaited them. The other was to thrutch forward through the wald but there they would meet the entish trees whose mighty branches were closely entwined and whose narrow roots were sunk deep into the mire of the bogs. They were a mooty folk and they would have fought to the death with those who had once besiged them, had they not feared been wiped out in the fight. They had their forefathers behest to shield and if they died out their behests would die with them.

So they sat mulling over their weird through the long night with the attery steams rising around them and the wald singing its mournful song and the shadows of the fires leaped about them in the loudless dance and it seemed as if it won’t be a shadows dancing but the evil ghosts of wald and bog frealsing their sig.

Danko was one of them and he was young and handsome. Handsome lede are always mooty. And he said to his fellows:

"Stones are not to be driven by thinking. He who does naught will come to naught. Why should we tire our strength thinking and brooding? Arise! Let us go through the wald until we come out at the other end. After all it must have and end. Everything has an end. Come! Let us set forth!" They looked at him and saw that he was the best man among them for his eyes were aglow with life and strength.

“Lead us.” They said and he led them. And so he led them, Danko.

And they followed him willingly for they believed in him. It was a sweer track. It was dark and at every step the yawning bogs swallowed lede up and the trees were like a mighty wall barring the way. Their branches were closely forwoven; their roots were like snakes reaching out in every heading and every step these folks took cost them blood and sweat. For a long time they went on. And the further they went, the thicker grew the forest and the weaker grew their limbs and then they began to murmur against Danko, saying that he was young and unafared and had no right to bring them here. But he kept walking at the head, his ghost undaunted, his mind unclouded.

But one day a storm broke over the forest and the trees whispered together threatening. And right away it became as dark as if here had gathered all the nights that have passed since the wald was born. And the little folks walked on under the big trees amid the roar of the storm and as they walked, the entish trees creaked and sang a dark song and a lightening flashed above the tree tops throwing a cold blue light over the wald for a brief instant, forswinding as quickly as it had come up and striking fright into the hearts of the folks. And under the cold flashes of the lightening the trees seemed to be thin live things that were stretching out long nauld arms and weaving them into a net to catch these folks who were trying to break out from darkness.

And something cold and dark and fearsome peered at them through the dark leaves. It was a sweer track and the folks who had set out on it grew tired and lost heart but they were ashamed to own up their weakness and so they poured out their anger and wrath on Danko who was walking at the head. They began to wray him of being undowly of leading them. Fear was born in their hearts, binding their strong arms. Scare gripped them as they listened to the women wailing over the bodies of those who have died of the attery steams or lamenting over the weird of the living made helpless by fear. And fey words came to be spoken in the wald at first softly and shy, but louder and louder as time went on. And at last the folks thought of going to the foe and making him a gift of their freedom so frightened were they by the thought of death, that not one of them shrank from living the life of a thrall. They came to a halt and tired and angry they began to upbraid him there in the quivering darkness amid the sig and roar of the storm.

“You are a forcouth and evil wight who has brought us to grief”, they said. “You have tired us by leading us here. And for that you shall die.”

“You said ‘Lead Us’ and I led you.” Cried out Danko, turning to anleth them. “I have the boldness to lead you and that is why I undertook to do so. But you ? What have you done to help yourselves ? You have done nothing but follow me without husbanding your strengths for a longer march. You only followed me like a flock of sheep.”

His words only angered them the more, “You shall die! You shall die!” they shrieked. The wald roared and witherclanked their cries and the lightening tore the darkness to shreds.

Danko gazed upon those for whose sake he has undertaken such a great toil and he saw that they were like wild deers. Many folks were pressing about him, but he could feel no tokens of menshlyness in their ysights and he knew that he could foresee no mildness from them. Then wrath sieved in his breast, but it was quelled by kindness. He loved these folks and he feared that without him they would die and the fires of a great yearning to redd them and lead them out onto an easy path leaped up in his heart and these mighty fires were backshining in his eyes. And seeing this the folks thought that he was angered. They thought that is why his eyes flashed so, and they instantly grew weary, like wolfs, expecting him to through himself against them and they drew nearer about him that they might gripe him and kill him. He saw what they were thinking, but the fire in his heart only flared up higher for their thoughts and at the sorrow to the flames of his yearning.

And the wald went on singing its mournful song and the thunder crashed, and the rain poured down.

“What else can I do to redd these folks ?” cried out Danko above the thunder. And suddenly he reaped open his breast and tore out his heart and held it high above his head.

It shone like the sun, even brighter than the sun and the raging wald was subdued and lighted up by this fackel, the fackel of a grave love for the folks, and the darkness withdraw before it and plunged quivering into a yarning bark in the depth of the wald. And in their astonishment the people were as if turned into stone. The bold Danko cast his eye over the endless steppe, cast a gladful eye over this land of freedom, gave a stolt laugh and then he fell down and died.

And his followers were so full of happyness and hope that they did not bemark that he had died and that his mooty heart was still burning beside his dead body. But one shy wight took heed of it and fearing he knew not what, stomped on his flaming heart and it sent out a jar of sparks and went out.

Maxim Gorky

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