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1The Project Gutenberg EBook of Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
2Translated by David Wyllie.
4This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
5almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
6re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
7with this eBook or online at
9** This is a COPYRIGHTED Project Gutenberg eBook, Details Below **
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13Title: Metamorphosis
15Author: Franz Kafka
17Translator: David Wyllie
19Release Date: August 16, 2005 [EBook #5200]
20[This file was first posted on May 13, 2002]
22Language: English
30Copyright (C) 2002 David Wyllie.
36  Metamorphosis
37  Franz Kafka
39Translated by David Wyllie
46One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found
47himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.  He lay on
48his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could
49see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff
50sections.  The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready
51to slide off any moment.  His many legs, pitifully thin compared
52with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he
55"What's happened to me?" he thought.  It wasn't a dream.  His room,
56a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully
57between its four familiar walls.  A collection of textile samples
58lay spread out on the table - Samsa was a travelling salesman - and
59above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an
60illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame.  It showed
61a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright,
62raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm
63towards the viewer.
65Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather.
66Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel
67quite sad.  "How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all
68this nonsense", he thought, but that was something he was unable to
69do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present
70state couldn't get into that position.  However hard he threw
71himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was.  He
72must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he
73wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when
74he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt
77"Oh, God", he thought, "what a strenuous career it is that I've
78chosen! Travelling day in and day out.  Doing business like this
79takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on
80top of that there's the curse of travelling, worries about making
81train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different
82people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or
83become friendly with them.  It can all go to Hell!"  He felt a
84slight itch up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back
85towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better; found
86where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of little
87white spots which he didn't know what to make of; and when he tried
88to feel the place with one of his legs he drew it quickly back
89because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder.
91He slid back into his former position.  "Getting up early all the
92time", he thought, "it makes you stupid.  You've got to get enough
93sleep.  Other travelling salesmen live a life of luxury.  For
94instance, whenever I go back to the guest house during the morning
95to copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always still sitting
96there eating their breakfasts.  I ought to just try that with my
97boss; I'd get kicked out on the spot.  But who knows, maybe that
98would be the best thing for me.  If I didn't have my parents to
99think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have
100gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him
101everything I would, let him know just what I feel.  He'd fall right
102off his desk! And it's a funny sort of business to be sitting up
103there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there,
104especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is
105hard of hearing.  Well, there's still some hope; once I've got the
106money together to pay off my parents' debt to him - another five or
107six years I suppose - that's definitely what I'll do.  That's when
108I'll make the big change.  First of all though, I've got to get up,
109my train leaves at five."
111And he looked over at the alarm clock, ticking on the chest of
112drawers.  "God in Heaven!" he thought.  It was half past six and the
113hands were quietly moving forwards, it was even later than half
114past, more like quarter to seven.  Had the alarm clock not rung? He
115could see from the bed that it had been set for four o'clock as it
116should have been; it certainly must have rung.  Yes, but was it
117possible to quietly sleep through that furniture-rattling noise?
118True, he had not slept peacefully, but probably all the more deeply
119because of that.  What should he do now? The next train went at
120seven; if he were to catch that he would have to rush like mad and
121the collection of samples was still not packed, and he did not at
122all feel particularly fresh and lively.  And even if he did catch
123the train he would not avoid his boss's anger as the office
124assistant would have been there to see the five o'clock train go, he
125would have put in his report about Gregor's not being there a long
126time ago.  The office assistant was the boss's man, spineless, and
127with no understanding.  What about if he reported sick? But that
128would be extremely strained and suspicious as in fifteen years of
129service Gregor had never once yet been ill.  His boss would
130certainly come round with the doctor from the medical insurance
131company, accuse his parents of having a lazy son, and accept the
132doctor's recommendation not to make any claim as the doctor believed
133that no-one was ever ill but that many were workshy.  And what's
134more, would he have been entirely wrong in this case? Gregor did in
135fact, apart from excessive sleepiness after sleeping for so long,
136feel completely well and even felt much hungrier than usual.
138He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to decide
139to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter to seven.
140There was a cautious knock at the door near his head.  "Gregor",
141somebody called - it was his mother - "it's quarter to seven.
142Didn't you want to go somewhere?"  That gentle voice! Gregor was
143shocked when he heard his own voice answering, it could hardly be
144recognised as the voice he had had before.  As if from deep inside
145him, there was a painful and uncontrollable squeaking mixed in with
146it, the words could be made out at first but then there was a sort
147of echo which made them unclear, leaving the hearer unsure whether
148he had heard properly or not.  Gregor had wanted to give a full
149answer and explain everything, but in the circumstances contented
150himself with saying: "Yes, mother, yes, thank-you, I'm getting up
151now."  The change in Gregor's voice probably could not be noticed
152outside through the wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with
153this explanation and shuffled away.  But this short conversation
154made the other members of the family aware that Gregor, against
155their expectations was still at home, and soon his father came
156knocking at one of the side doors, gently, but with his fist.
157"Gregor, Gregor", he called, "what's wrong?"  And after a short
158while he called again with a warning deepness in his voice: "Gregor!
159Gregor!"  At the other side door his sister came plaintively:
160"Gregor? Aren't you well? Do you need anything?"  Gregor answered to
161both sides: "I'm ready, now", making an effort to remove all the
162strangeness from his voice by enunciating very carefully and putting
163long pauses between each, individual word.  His father went back to
164his breakfast, but his sister whispered: "Gregor, open the door, I
165beg of you."  Gregor, however, had no thought of opening the door,
166and instead congratulated himself for his cautious habit, acquired
167from his travelling, of locking all doors at night even when he was
168at home.
170The first thing he wanted to do was to get up in peace without being
171disturbed, to get dressed, and most of all to have his breakfast.
172Only then would he consider what to do next, as he was well aware
173that he would not bring his thoughts to any sensible conclusions by
174lying in bed.  He remembered that he had often felt a slight pain in
175bed, perhaps caused by lying awkwardly, but that had always turned
176out to be pure imagination and he wondered how his imaginings would
177slowly resolve themselves today.  He did not have the slightest
178doubt that the change in his voice was nothing more than the first
179sign of a serious cold, which was an occupational hazard for
180travelling salesmen.
182It was a simple matter to throw off the covers; he only had to blow
183himself up a little and they fell off by themselves.  But it became
184difficult after that, especially as he was so exceptionally broad.
185He would have used his arms and his hands to push himself up; but
186instead of them he only had all those little legs continuously
187moving in different directions, and which he was moreover unable to
188control.  If he wanted to bend one of them, then that was the first
189one that would stretch itself out; and if he finally managed to do
190what he wanted with that leg, all the others seemed to be set free
191and would move about painfully.  "This is something that can't be
192done in bed", Gregor said to himself, "so don't keep trying to do
195The first thing he wanted to do was get the lower part of his body
196out of the bed, but he had never seen this lower part, and could not
197imagine what it looked like; it turned out to be too hard to move;
198it went so slowly; and finally, almost in a frenzy, when he
199carelessly shoved himself forwards with all the force he could
200gather, he chose the wrong direction, hit hard against the lower
201bedpost, and learned from the burning pain he felt that the lower
202part of his body might well, at present, be the most sensitive.
204So then he tried to get the top part of his body out of the bed
205first, carefully turning his head to the side.  This he managed
206quite easily, and despite its breadth and its weight, the bulk of
207his body eventually followed slowly in the direction of the head.
208But when he had at last got his head out of the bed and into the
209fresh air it occurred to him that if he let himself fall it would be
210a miracle if his head were not injured, so he became afraid to carry
211on pushing himself forward the same way.  And he could not knock
212himself out now at any price; better to stay in bed than lose
215It took just as much effort to get back to where he had been
216earlier, but when he lay there sighing, and was once more watching
217his legs as they struggled against each other even harder than
218before, if that was possible, he could think of no way of bringing
219peace and order to this chaos.  He told himself once more that it
220was not possible for him to stay in bed and that the most sensible
221thing to do would be to get free of it in whatever way he could at
222whatever sacrifice.  At the same time, though, he did not forget to
223remind himself that calm consideration was much better than rushing
224to desperate conclusions.  At times like this he would direct his
225eyes to the window and look out as clearly as he could, but
226unfortunately, even the other side of the narrow street was
227enveloped in morning fog and the view had little confidence or cheer
228to offer him.  "Seven o'clock, already", he said to himself when the
229clock struck again, "seven o'clock, and there's still a fog like
230this."  And he lay there quietly a while longer, breathing lightly
231as if he perhaps expected the total stillness to bring things back
232to their real and natural state.
234But then he said to himself: "Before it strikes quarter past seven
235I'll definitely have to have got properly out of bed.  And by then
236somebody will have come round from work to ask what's happened to me
237as well, as they open up at work before seven o'clock."  And so he
238set himself to the task of swinging the entire length of his body
239out of the bed all at the same time.  If he succeeded in falling out
240of bed in this way and kept his head raised as he did so he could
241probably avoid injuring it.  His back seemed to be quite hard, and
242probably nothing would happen to it falling onto the carpet.  His
243main concern was for the loud noise he was bound to make, and which
244even through all the doors would probably raise concern if not
245alarm.  But it was something that had to be risked.
247When Gregor was already sticking half way out of the bed - the new
248method was more of a game than an effort, all he had to do was rock
249back and forth - it occurred to him how simple everything would be
250if somebody came to help him.  Two strong people - he had his father
251and the maid in mind - would have been more than enough; they would
252only have to push their arms under the dome of his back, peel him
253away from the bed, bend down with the load and then be patient and
254careful as he swang over onto the floor, where, hopefully, the
255little legs would find a use.  Should he really call for help
256though, even apart from the fact that all the doors were locked?
257Despite all the difficulty he was in, he could not suppress a smile
258at this thought.
260After a while he had already moved so far across that it would have
261been hard for him to keep his balance if he rocked too hard.  The
262time was now ten past seven and he would have to make a final
263decision very soon.  Then there was a ring at the door of the flat.
264"That'll be someone from work", he said to himself, and froze very
265still, although his little legs only became all the more lively as
266they danced around.  For a moment everything remained quiet.
267"They're not opening the door", Gregor said to himself, caught in
268some nonsensical hope.  But then of course, the maid's firm steps
269went to the door as ever and opened it.  Gregor only needed to hear
270the visitor's first words of greeting and he knew who it was - the
271chief clerk himself.  Why did Gregor have to be the only one
272condemned to work for a company where they immediately became highly
273suspicious at the slightest shortcoming? Were all employees, every
274one of them, louts, was there not one of them who was faithful and
275devoted who would go so mad with pangs of conscience that he
276couldn't get out of bed if he didn't spend at least a couple of
277hours in the morning on company business? Was it really not enough
278to let one of the trainees make enquiries - assuming enquiries were
279even necessary - did the chief clerk have to come himself, and did
280they have to show the whole, innocent family that this was so
281suspicious that only the chief clerk could be trusted to have the
282wisdom to investigate it? And more because these thoughts had made
283him upset than through any proper decision, he swang himself with
284all his force out of the bed.  There was a loud thump, but it wasn't
285really a loud noise.  His fall was softened a little by the carpet,
286and Gregor's back was also more elastic than he had thought, which
287made the sound muffled and not too noticeable.  He had not held his
288head carefully enough, though, and hit it as he fell; annoyed and in
289pain, he turned it and rubbed it against the carpet.
291"Something's fallen down in there", said the chief clerk in the room
292on the left.  Gregor tried to imagine whether something of the sort
293that had happened to him today could ever happen to the chief clerk
294too; you had to concede that it was possible.  But as if in gruff
295reply to this question, the chief clerk's firm footsteps in his
296highly polished boots could now be heard in the adjoining room.
297From the room on his right, Gregor's sister whispered to him to let
298him know: "Gregor, the chief clerk is here."  "Yes, I know", said
299Gregor to himself; but without daring to raise his voice loud enough
300for his sister to hear him.
302"Gregor", said his father now from the room to his left, "the chief
303clerk has come round and wants to know why you didn't leave on the
304early train.  We don't know what to say to him.  And anyway, he
305wants to speak to you personally.  So please open up this door.  I'm
306sure he'll be good enough to forgive the untidiness of your room."
307Then the chief clerk called "Good morning,  Mr. Samsa". "He isn't
308well", said his mother to the chief clerk, while his father
309continued to speak through the door.  "He isn't well, please believe
310me.  Why else would Gregor have missed a train! The lad only ever
311thinks about the business.  It nearly makes me cross the way he
312never goes out in the evenings; he's been in town for a week now but
313stayed home every evening.  He sits with us in the kitchen and just
314reads the paper or studies train timetables.  His idea of relaxation
315is working with his fretsaw.  He's made a little frame, for
316instance, it only took him two or three evenings, you'll be amazed
317how nice it is; it's hanging up in his room; you'll see it as soon
318as Gregor opens the door.  Anyway, I'm glad you're here; we wouldn't
319have been able to get Gregor to open the door by ourselves; he's so
320stubborn; and I'm sure he isn't well, he said this morning that he
321is, but he isn't."  "I'll be there in a moment", said Gregor slowly
322and thoughtfully, but without moving so that he would not miss any
323word of the conversation.  "Well I can't think of any other way of
324explaining it,  Mrs. Samsa", said the chief clerk, "I hope it's
325nothing serious.  But on the other hand, I must say that if we
326people in commerce ever become slightly unwell then, fortunately or
327unfortunately as you like, we simply have to overcome it because of
328business considerations."  "Can the chief clerk come in to see you
329now then?", asked his father impatiently, knocking at the door
330again.  "No", said Gregor.  In the room on his right there followed
331a painful silence; in the room on his left his sister began to cry.
333So why did his sister not go and join the others? She had probably
334only just got up and had not even begun to get dressed.  And why was
335she crying? Was it because he had not got up, and had not let the
336chief clerk in, because he was in danger of losing his job and if
337that happened his boss would once more pursue their parents with the
338same demands as before? There was no need to worry about things like
339that yet.  Gregor was still there and had not the slightest
340intention of abandoning his family.  For the time being he just lay
341there on the carpet, and no-one who knew the condition he was in
342would seriously have expected him to let the chief clerk in.  It was
343only a minor discourtesy, and a suitable excuse could easily be
344found for it later on, it was not something for which Gregor could
345be sacked on the spot.  And it seemed to Gregor much more sensible
346to leave him now in peace instead of disturbing him with talking at
347him and crying.  But the others didn't know what was happening, they
348were worried, that would excuse their behaviour.
350The chief clerk now raised his voice, "Mr. Samsa", he called to him,
351"what is wrong? You barricade yourself in your room, give us no more
352than yes or no for an answer, you are causing serious and
353unnecessary concern to your parents and you fail - and I mention
354this just by the way - you fail to carry out your business duties in
355a way that is quite unheard of.  I'm speaking here on behalf of your
356parents and of your employer, and really must request a clear and
357immediate explanation.  I am astonished, quite astonished.  I
358thought I knew you as a calm and sensible person, and now you
359suddenly seem to be showing off with peculiar whims.  This morning,
360your employer did suggest a possible reason for your failure to
361appear, it's true - it had to do with the money that was recently
362entrusted to you - but I came near to giving him my word of honour
363that that could not be the right explanation.  But now that I see
364your incomprehensible stubbornness I no longer feel any wish
365whatsoever to intercede on your behalf.  And nor is your position
366all that secure.  I had originally intended to say all this to you
367in private, but since you cause me to waste my time here for no good
368reason I don't see why your parents should not also learn of it.
369Your turnover has been very unsatisfactory of late; I grant you that
370it's not the time of year to do especially good business, we
371recognise that; but there simply is no time of year to do no
372business at all,  Mr. Samsa, we cannot allow there to be."
374"But Sir", called Gregor, beside himself and forgetting all else in
375the excitement, "I'll open up immediately, just a moment.  I'm
376slightly unwell, an attack of dizziness, I haven't been able to get
377up.  I'm still in bed now.  I'm quite fresh again now, though.  I'm
378just getting out of bed.  Just a moment.  Be patient! It's not quite
379as easy as I'd thought.  I'm quite alright now, though.  It's
380shocking, what can suddenly happen to a person! I was quite alright
381last night, my parents know about it, perhaps better than me, I had
382a small symptom of it last night already.  They must have noticed
383it.  I don't know why I didn't let you know at work! But you always
384think you can get over an illness without staying at home.  Please,
385don't make my parents suffer! There's no basis for any of the
386accusations you're making; nobody's ever said a word to me about any
387of these things.  Maybe you haven't read the latest contracts I sent
388in.  I'll set off with the eight o'clock train, as well, these few
389hours of rest have given me strength.  You don't need to wait, sir;
390I'll be in the office soon after you, and please be so good as to
391tell that to the boss and recommend me to him!"
393And while Gregor gushed out these words, hardly knowing what he was
394saying, he made his way over to the chest of drawers - this was
395easily done, probably because of the practise he had already had in
396bed - where he now tried to get himself upright.  He really did want
397to open the door, really did want to let them see him and to speak
398with the chief clerk; the others were being so insistent, and he was
399curious to learn what they would say when they caught sight of him.
400If they were shocked then it would no longer be Gregor's
401responsibility and he could rest.  If, however, they took everything
402calmly he would still have no reason to be upset, and if he hurried
403he really could be at the station for eight o'clock.  The first few
404times he tried to climb up on the smooth chest of drawers he just
405slid down again, but he finally gave himself one last swing and
406stood there upright; the lower part of his body was in serious pain
407but he no longer gave any attention to it.  Now he let himself fall
408against the back of a nearby chair and held tightly to the edges of
409it with his little legs.  By now he had also calmed down, and kept
410quiet so that he could listen to what the chief clerk was saying.
412"Did you understand a word of all that?" the chief clerk asked his
413parents, "surely he's not trying to make fools of us". "Oh, God!"
414called his mother, who was already in tears, "he could be seriously
415ill and we're making him suffer.  Grete! Grete!" she then cried.
416"Mother?" his sister called from the other side.  They communicated
417across Gregor's room.  "You'll have to go for the doctor straight
418away.  Gregor is ill.  Quick, get the doctor.  Did you hear the way
419Gregor spoke just now?"  "That was the voice of an animal", said the
420chief clerk, with a calmness that was in contrast with his mother's
421screams.  "Anna! Anna!" his father called into the kitchen through
422the entrance hall, clapping his hands, "get a locksmith here, now!"
423And the two girls, their skirts swishing, immediately ran out
424through the hall, wrenching open the front door of the flat as they
425went.  How had his sister managed to get dressed so quickly? There
426was no sound of the door banging shut again; they must have left it
427open;  people often do in homes where something awful has happened.
429Gregor, in contrast, had become much calmer.  So they couldn't
430understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to
431him, clearer than before - perhaps his ears had become used to the
432sound.  They had realised, though, that there was something wrong
433with him, and were ready to help.  The first response to his
434situation had been confident and wise, and that made him feel
435better.  He felt that he had been drawn back in among people, and
436from the doctor and the locksmith he expected great and surprising
437achievements - although he did not really distinguish one from the
438other.  Whatever was said next would be crucial, so, in order to
439make his voice as clear as possible, he coughed a little, but taking
440care to do this not too loudly as even this might well sound
441different from the way that a human coughs and he was no longer sure
442he could judge this for himself.  Meanwhile, it had become very
443quiet in the next room.  Perhaps his parents were sat at the table
444whispering with the chief clerk, or perhaps they were all pressed
445against the door and listening.
447Gregor slowly pushed his way over to the door with the chair.  Once
448there he let go of it and threw himself onto the door, holding
449himself upright against it using the adhesive on the tips of his
450legs.  He rested there a little while to recover from the effort
451involved and then set himself to the task of turning the key in the
452lock with his mouth.  He seemed, unfortunately, to have no proper
453teeth - how was he, then, to grasp the key? - but the lack of teeth
454was, of course, made up for with a very strong jaw; using the jaw,
455he really was able to start the key turning, ignoring the fact that
456he must have been causing some kind of damage as a brown fluid came
457from his mouth, flowed over the key and dripped onto the floor.
458"Listen", said the chief clerk in the next room, "he's turning the
459key."  Gregor was greatly encouraged by this; but they all should
460have been calling to him, his father and his mother too: "Well done,
461Gregor", they should have cried, "keep at it, keep hold of the
462lock!"  And with the idea that they were all excitedly following his
463efforts, he bit on the key with all his strength, paying no
464attention to the pain he was causing himself.  As the key turned
465round he turned around the lock with it, only holding himself
466upright with his mouth, and hung onto the key or pushed it down
467again with the whole weight of his body as needed.  The clear sound
468of the lock as it snapped back was Gregor's sign that he could break
469his concentration, and as he regained his breath he said to himself:
470"So, I didn't need the locksmith after all". Then he lay his head on
471the handle of the door to open it completely.
473Because he had to open the door in this way, it was already wide
474open before he could be seen.  He had first to slowly turn himself
475around one of the double doors, and he had to do it very carefully
476if he did not want to fall flat on his back before entering the
477room.  He was still occupied with this difficult movement, unable to
478pay attention to anything else, when he heard the chief clerk
479exclaim a loud "Oh!", which sounded like the soughing of the wind.
480Now he also saw him - he was the nearest to the door - his hand
481pressed against his open mouth and slowly retreating as if driven by
482a steady and invisible force.  Gregor's mother, her hair still
483dishevelled from bed despite the chief clerk's being there, looked
484at his father.  Then she unfolded her arms, took two steps forward
485towards Gregor and sank down onto the floor into her skirts that
486spread themselves out around her as her head disappeared down onto
487her breast.  His father looked hostile, and clenched his fists as if
488wanting to knock Gregor back into his room.  Then he looked
489uncertainly round the living room, covered his eyes with his hands
490and wept so that his powerful chest shook.
492So Gregor did not go into the room, but leant against the inside of
493the other door which was still held bolted in place.  In this way
494only half of his body could be seen, along with his head above it
495which he leant over to one side as he peered out at the others.
496Meanwhile the day had become much lighter; part of the endless,
497grey-black building on the other side of the street - which was a
498hospital - could be seen quite clearly with the austere and regular
499line of windows piercing its facade; the rain was still
500falling, now throwing down large, individual droplets which hit the
501ground one at a time.  The washing up from breakfast lay on the
502table; there was so much of it because, for Gregor's father,
503breakfast was the most important meal of the day and he would
504stretch it out for several hours as he sat reading a number of
505different newspapers.  On the wall exactly opposite there was
506photograph of Gregor when he was a lieutenant in the army, his sword
507in his hand and a carefree smile on his face as he called forth
508respect for his uniform and bearing.  The door to the entrance hall
509was open and as the front door of the flat was also open he could
510see onto the landing and the stairs where they began their way down
513"Now, then", said Gregor, well aware that he was the only one to
514have kept calm, "I'll get dressed straight away now, pack up my
515samples and set off.  Will you please just let me leave? You can
516see", he said to the chief clerk, "that I'm not stubborn and like I
517like to do my job; being a commercial traveller is arduous but
518without travelling I couldn't earn my living.  So where are you
519going, in to the office? Yes? Will you report everything accurately,
520then? It's quite possible for someone to be temporarily unable to
521work, but that's just the right time to remember what's been
522achieved in the past and consider that later on, once the difficulty
523has been removed, he will certainly work with all the more diligence
524and concentration.  You're well aware that I'm seriously in debt to
525our employer as well as having to look after my parents and my
526sister, so that I'm trapped in a difficult situation, but I will
527work my way out of it again.  Please don't make things any harder
528for me than they are already, and don't take sides against me at the
529office.  I know that nobody likes the travellers.  They think we
530earn an enormous wage as well as having a soft time of it.  That's
531just prejudice but they have no particular reason to think better
532it.  But you, sir, you have a better overview than the rest of the
533staff, in fact, if I can say this in confidence, a better overview
534than the boss himself - it's very easy for a businessman like him to
535make mistakes about his employees and judge them more harshly than
536he should.  And you're also well aware that we travellers spend
537almost the whole year away from the office, so that we can very
538easily fall victim to gossip and chance and groundless complaints,
539and it's almost impossible to defend yourself from that sort of
540thing, we don't usually even hear about them, or if at all it's when
541we arrive back home exhausted from a trip, and that's when we feel
542the harmful effects of what's been going on without even knowing
543what caused them.  Please, don't go away, at least first say
544something to show that you grant that I'm at least partly right!"
546But the chief clerk had turned away as soon as Gregor had started to
547speak, and, with protruding lips, only stared back at him over his
548trembling shoulders as he left.  He did not keep still for a moment
549while Gregor was speaking, but moved steadily towards the door
550without taking his eyes off him.  He moved very gradually, as if
551there had been some secret prohibition on leaving the room.  It was
552only when he had reached the entrance hall that he made a sudden
553movement, drew his foot from the living room, and rushed forward in
554a panic.  In the hall, he stretched his right hand far out towards
555the stairway as if out there, there were some supernatural force
556waiting to save him.
558Gregor realised that it was out of the question to let the chief
559clerk go away in this mood if his position in the firm was not to be
560put into extreme danger.  That was something his parents did not
561understand very well; over the years, they had become convinced that
562this job would provide for Gregor for his entire life, and besides,
563they had so much to worry about at present that they had lost sight
564of any thought for the future.  Gregor, though, did think about the
565future.  The chief clerk had to be held back, calmed down, convinced
566and finally won over; the future of Gregor and his family depended
567on it! If only his sister were here! She was clever; she was already
568in tears while Gregor was still lying peacefully on his back.  And
569the chief clerk was a lover of women, surely she could persuade him;
570she would close the front door in the entrance hall and talk him out
571of his shocked state.  But his sister was not there, Gregor would
572have to do the job himself.  And without considering that he still
573was not familiar with how well he could move about in his present
574state, or that his speech still might not - or probably would not -
575be understood, he let go of the door; pushed himself through the
576opening; tried to reach the chief clerk on the landing who,
577ridiculously, was holding on to the banister with both hands; but
578Gregor fell immediately over and, with a little scream as he sought
579something to hold onto, landed on his numerous little legs.  Hardly
580had that happened than, for the first time that day, he began to
581feel alright with his body; the little legs had the solid ground
582under them; to his pleasure, they did exactly as he told them; they
583were even making the effort to carry him where he wanted to go; and
584he was soon believing that all his sorrows would soon be finally at
585an end.  He held back the urge to move but swayed from side to side
586as he crouched there on the floor.  His mother was not far away in
587front of him and seemed, at first, quite engrossed in herself, but
588then she suddenly jumped up with her arms outstretched and her
589fingers spread shouting: "Help, for pity's sake, Help!"  The way she
590held her head suggested she wanted to see Gregor better, but the
591unthinking way she was hurrying backwards showed that she did not;
592she had forgotten that the table was behind her with all the
593breakfast things on it; when she reached the table she sat quickly
594down on it without knowing what she was doing; without even seeming
595to notice that the coffee pot had been knocked over and a gush of
596coffee was pouring down onto the carpet.
598"Mother, mother", said Gregor gently, looking up at her.  He had
599completely forgotten the chief clerk for the moment, but could not
600help himself snapping in the air with his jaws at the sight of the
601flow of coffee.  That set his mother screaming anew, she fled from
602the table and into the arms of his father as he rushed towards her.
603Gregor, though, had no time to spare for his parents now; the chief
604clerk had already reached the stairs; with his chin on the banister,
605he looked back for the last time.  Gregor made a run for him; he
606wanted to be sure of reaching him; the chief clerk must have
607expected something, as he leapt down several steps at once and
608disappeared; his shouts resounding all around the staircase.  The
609flight of the chief clerk seemed, unfortunately, to put Gregor's
610father into a panic as well.  Until then he had been relatively self
611controlled, but now, instead of running after the chief clerk
612himself, or at least not impeding Gregor as he ran after him,
613Gregor's father seized the chief clerk's stick in his right hand
614(the chief clerk had left it behind on a chair, along with his hat
615and overcoat), picked up a large newspaper from the table with his
616left, and used them to drive Gregor back into his room, stamping his
617foot at him as he went.  Gregor's appeals to his father were of no
618help, his appeals were simply not understood, however much he humbly
619turned his head his father merely stamped his foot all the harder.
620Across the room, despite the chilly weather, Gregor's mother had
621pulled open a window, leant far out of it and pressed her hands to
622her face.  A strong draught of air flew in from the street towards
623the stairway, the curtains flew up, the newspapers on the table
624fluttered and some of them were blown onto the floor.  Nothing would
625stop Gregor's father as he drove him back, making hissing noises at
626him like a wild man.  Gregor had never had any practice in moving
627backwards and was only able to go very slowly.  If Gregor had only
628been allowed to turn round he would have been back in his room
629straight away, but he was afraid that if he took the time to do that
630his father would become impatient, and there was the threat of a
631lethal blow to his back or head from the stick in his father's hand
632any moment.  Eventually, though, Gregor realised that he had no
633choice as he saw, to his disgust, that he was quite incapable of
634going backwards in a straight line; so he began, as quickly as
635possible and with frequent anxious glances at his father, to turn
636himself round.  It went very slowly, but perhaps his father was able
637to see his good intentions as he did nothing to hinder him, in fact
638now and then he used the tip of his stick to give directions from a
639distance as to which way to turn.  If only his father would stop
640that unbearable hissing! It was making Gregor quite confused.  When
641he had nearly finished turning round, still listening to that
642hissing, he made a mistake and turned himself back a little the way
643he had just come.  He was pleased when he finally had his head in
644front of the doorway, but then saw that it was too narrow, and his
645body was too broad to get through it without further difficulty.  In
646his present mood, it obviously did not occur to his father to open
647the other of the double doors so that Gregor would have enough space
648to get through.  He was merely fixed on the idea that Gregor should
649be got back into his room as quickly as possible.  Nor would he ever
650have allowed Gregor the time to get himself upright as preparation
651for getting through the doorway.  What he did, making more noise
652than ever, was to drive Gregor forwards all the harder as if there
653had been nothing in the way; it sounded to Gregor as if there was
654now more than one father behind him; it was not a pleasant
655experience, and Gregor pushed himself into the doorway without
656regard for what might happen.  One side of his body lifted itself,
657he lay at an angle in the doorway, one flank scraped on the white
658door and was painfully injured, leaving vile brown flecks on it,
659soon he was stuck fast and would not have been able to move at all
660by himself, the little legs along one side hung quivering in the air
661while those on the other side were pressed painfully against the
662ground.  Then his father gave him a hefty shove from behind which
663released him from where he was held and sent him flying, and heavily
664bleeding, deep into his room.  The door was slammed shut with the
665stick, then, finally, all was quiet.
672It was not until it was getting dark that evening that Gregor awoke
673from his deep and coma-like sleep.  He would have woken soon
674afterwards anyway even if he hadn't been disturbed, as he had had
675enough sleep and felt fully rested.  But he had the impression that
676some hurried steps and the sound of the door leading into the front
677room being carefully shut had woken him.  The light from the
678electric street lamps shone palely here and there onto the ceiling
679and tops of the furniture, but down below, where Gregor was, it was
680dark.  He pushed himself over to the door, feeling his way clumsily
681with his antennae - of which he was now beginning to learn the value
682- in order to see what had been happening there.  The whole of his
683left side seemed like one, painfully stretched scar,  and he limped
684badly on his two rows of legs.  One of the legs had been badly
685injured in the events of that morning - it was nearly a miracle that
686only one of them had been - and dragged along lifelessly.
688It was only when he had reached the door that he realised what it
689actually was that had drawn him over to it; it was the smell of
690something to eat.  By the door there was a dish filled with
691sweetened milk with little pieces of white bread floating in it.  He
692was so pleased he almost laughed, as he was even hungrier than he
693had been that morning, and immediately dipped his head into the
694milk, nearly covering his eyes with it.  But he soon drew his head
695back again in disappointment; not only did the pain in his tender
696left side make it difficult to eat the food - he was only able to
697eat if his whole body worked together as a snuffling whole - but the
698milk did not taste at all nice.  Milk like this was normally his
699favourite drink, and his sister had certainly left it there for him
700because of that, but he turned, almost against his own will, away
701from the dish and crawled back into the centre of the room.
703Through the crack in the door, Gregor could see that the gas had
704been lit in the living room.  His father at this time would normally
705be sat with his evening paper, reading it out in a loud voice to
706Gregor's mother, and sometimes to his sister, but there was now not
707a sound to be heard.  Gregor's sister would often write and tell him
708about this reading, but maybe his father had lost the habit in
709recent times.  It was so quiet all around too, even though there
710must have been somebody in the flat.  "What a quiet life it is the
711family lead", said Gregor to himself, and, gazing into the darkness,
712felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in
713such a nice home for his sister and parents.  But what now, if all
714this peace and wealth and comfort should come to a horrible and
715frightening end? That was something that Gregor did not want to
716think about too much, so he started to move about, crawling up and
717down the room.
719Once during that long evening, the door on one side of the room was
720opened very slightly and hurriedly closed again; later on the door
721on the other side did the same; it seemed that someone needed to
722enter the room but thought better of it.  Gregor went and waited
723immediately by the door, resolved either to bring the timorous
724visitor into the room in some way or at least to find out who it
725was; but the door was opened no more that night and Gregor waited in
726vain.  The previous morning while the doors were locked everyone had
727wanted to get in there to him, but now, now that he had opened up
728one of the doors and the other had clearly been unlocked some time
729during the day, no-one came, and the keys were in the other sides.
731It was not until late at night that the gaslight in the living room
732was put out, and now it was easy to see that parents and sister had
733stayed awake all that time, as they all could be distinctly heard as
734they went away together on tip-toe.  It was clear that no-one would
735come into Gregor's room any more until morning; that gave him plenty
736of time to think undisturbed about how he would have to re-arrange
737his life.  For some reason, the tall, empty room where he was forced
738to remain made him feel uneasy as he lay there flat on the floor,
739even though he had been living in it for five years.  Hardly aware
740of what he was doing other than a slight feeling of shame, he
741hurried under the couch.  It pressed down on his back a little, and
742he was no longer able to lift his head, but he nonetheless felt
743immediately at ease and his only regret was that his body was too
744broad to get it all underneath.
746He spent the whole night there.  Some of the time he passed in a
747light sleep, although he frequently woke from it in alarm because of
748his hunger, and some of the time was spent in worries and vague
749hopes which, however, always led to the same conclusion: for the
750time being he must remain calm, he must show patience and the
751greatest consideration so that his family could bear the
752unpleasantness that he, in his present condition, was forced to
753impose on them.
755Gregor soon had the opportunity to test the strength of his
756decisions, as early the next morning, almost before the night had
757ended, his sister, nearly fully dressed, opened the door from the
758front room and looked anxiously in.  She did not see him straight
759away, but when she did notice him under the couch - he had to be
760somewhere, for God's sake, he couldn't have flown away - she was so
761shocked that she lost control of herself and slammed the door shut
762again from outside.  But she seemed to regret her behaviour, as she
763opened the door again straight away and came in on tip-toe as if
764entering the room of someone seriously ill or even of a stranger.
765Gregor had pushed his head forward, right to the edge of the couch,
766and watched her.  Would she notice that he had left the milk as it
767was, realise that it was not from any lack of hunger and bring him
768in some other food that was more suitable? If she didn't do it
769herself he would rather go hungry than draw her attention to it,
770although he did feel a terrible urge to rush forward from under the
771couch, throw himself at his sister's feet and beg her for something
772good to eat.  However, his sister noticed the full dish immediately
773and looked at it and the few drops of milk splashed around it with
774some surprise.  She immediately picked it up - using a rag,
775not her bare hands - and carried it out.  Gregor was extremely
776curious as to what she would bring in its place, imagining the
777wildest possibilities, but he never could have guessed what his
778sister, in her goodness, actually did bring.  In order to test his
779taste, she brought him a whole selection of things, all spread out
780on an old newspaper.  There were old, half-rotten vegetables; bones
781from the evening meal, covered in white sauce that had gone hard; a
782few raisins and almonds; some cheese that Gregor had declared
783inedible two days before; a dry roll and some bread spread with
784butter and salt.  As well as all that she had poured some water into
785the dish, which had probably been permanently set aside for Gregor's
786use, and placed it beside them.  Then, out of consideration for
787Gregor's feelings, as she knew that he would not eat in front of
788her, she hurried out again and even turned the key in the lock so
789that Gregor would know he could make things as comfortable for
790himself as he liked.  Gregor's little legs whirred, at last he could
791eat.  What's more, his injuries must already have completely healed
792as he found no difficulty in moving.  This amazed him, as more than
793a month earlier he had cut his finger slightly with a knife, he
794thought of how his finger had still hurt the day before yesterday.
795"Am I less sensitive than I used to be, then?", he thought, and was
796already sucking greedily at the cheese which had immediately, almost
797compellingly, attracted him much more than the other foods on the
798newspaper.  Quickly one after another, his eyes watering with
799pleasure, he consumed the cheese, the vegetables and the sauce; the
800fresh foods, on the other hand, he didn't like at all, and even
801dragged the things he did want to eat a little way away from them
802because he couldn't stand the smell.  Long after he had finished
803eating and lay lethargic in the same place, his sister slowly turned
804the key in the lock as a sign to him that he should withdraw.  He
805was immediately startled, although he had been half asleep, and he
806hurried back under the couch.  But he needed great self-control to
807stay there even for the short time that his sister was in the room,
808as eating so much food had rounded out his body a little and he
809could hardly breathe in that narrow space.  Half suffocating, he
810watched with bulging eyes as his sister unselfconsciously took a
811broom and swept up the left-overs, mixing them in with the food he
812had not even touched at all as if it could not be used any more.
813She quickly dropped it all into a bin, closed it with its wooden
814lid, and carried everything out.  She had hardly turned her back
815before Gregor came out again from under the couch and stretched
818This was how Gregor received his food each day now, once in the
819morning while his parents and the maid were still asleep, and the
820second time after everyone had eaten their meal at midday as his
821parents would sleep for a little while then as well, and Gregor's
822sister would send the maid away on some errand.  Gregor's father and
823mother certainly did not want him to starve either, but perhaps it
824would have been more than they could stand to have any more
825experience of his feeding than being told about it, and perhaps his
826sister wanted to spare them what distress she could as they were
827indeed suffering enough.
829It was impossible for Gregor to find out what they had told the
830doctor and the locksmith that first morning to get them out of the
831flat.  As nobody could understand him, nobody, not even his sister,
832thought that he could understand them, so he had to be content to
833hear his sister's sighs and appeals to the saints as she moved about
834his room.  It was only later, when she had become a little more used
835to everything - there was, of course, no question of her ever
836becoming fully used to the situation - that Gregor would sometimes
837catch a friendly comment, or at least a comment that could be
838construed as friendly.  "He's enjoyed his dinner today", she might
839say when he had diligently cleared away all the food left for him,
840or if he left most of it, which slowly became more and more
841frequent, she would often say, sadly, "now everything's just been
842left there again".
844Although Gregor wasn't able to hear any news directly he did listen
845to much of what was said in the next rooms, and whenever he heard
846anyone speaking he would scurry straight to the appropriate door and
847press his whole body against it.  There was seldom any conversation,
848especially at first, that was not about him in some way, even if
849only in secret.  For two whole days, all the talk at every mealtime
850was about what they should do now; but even between meals they spoke
851about the same subject as there were always at least two members of
852the family at home - nobody wanted to be at home by themselves and
853it was out of the question to leave the flat entirely empty.  And on
854the very first day the maid had fallen to her knees and begged
855Gregor's mother to let her go without delay.  It was not very clear
856how much she knew of what had happened but she left within a quarter
857of an hour, tearfully thanking Gregor's mother for her dismissal as
858if she had done her an enormous service.  She even swore
859emphatically not to tell anyone the slightest about what had
860happened, even though no-one had asked that of her.
862Now Gregor's sister also had to help his mother with the cooking;
863although that was not so much bother as no-one ate very much.
864Gregor often heard how one of them would unsuccessfully urge another
865to eat, and receive no more answer than "no thanks, I've had enough"
866or something similar.  No-one drank very much either.  His sister
867would sometimes ask his father whether he would like a beer, hoping
868for the chance to go and fetch it herself.  When his father then
869said nothing she would add, so that he would not feel selfish, that
870she could send the housekeeper for it, but then his father would
871close the matter with a big, loud "No", and no more would be said.
873Even before the first day had come to an end, his father had
874explained to Gregor's mother and sister what their finances and
875prospects were.  Now and then he stood up from the table and took
876some receipt or document from the little cash box he had saved from
877his business when it had collapsed five years earlier.  Gregor heard
878how he opened the complicated lock and then closed it again after he
879had taken the item he wanted.  What he heard his father say was some
880of the first good news that Gregor heard since he had first been
881incarcerated in his room.  He had thought that nothing at all
882remained from his father's business, at least he had never told him
883anything different, and Gregor had never asked him about it anyway.
884Their business misfortune had reduced the family to a state of total
885despair, and Gregor's only concern at that time had been to arrange
886things so that they could all forget about it as quickly as
887possible.  So then he started working especially hard, with a fiery
888vigour that raised him from a junior salesman to a travelling
889representative almost overnight, bringing with it the chance to earn
890money in quite different ways.  Gregor converted his success at work
891straight into cash that he could lay on the table at home for the
892benefit of his astonished and delighted family.  They had been good
893times and they had never come again, at least not with the same
894splendour, even though Gregor had later earned so much that he was
895in a position to bear the costs of the whole family, and did bear
896them.  They had even got used to it, both Gregor and the family,
897they took the money with gratitude and he was glad to provide it,
898although there was no longer much warm affection given in return.
899Gregor only remained close to his sister now.  Unlike him, she was
900very fond of music and a gifted and expressive violinist, it was his
901secret plan to send her to the conservatory next year even though it
902would cause great expense that would have to be made up for in some
903other way.  During Gregor's short periods in town, conversation with
904his sister would often turn to the conservatory but it was only ever
905mentioned as a lovely dream that could never be realised.  Their
906parents did not like to hear this innocent talk, but Gregor thought
907about it quite hard and decided he would let them know what he
908planned with a grand announcement of it on Christmas day.
910That was the sort of totally pointless thing that went through his
911mind in his present state, pressed upright against the door and
912listening.  There were times when he simply became too tired to
913continue listening, when his head would fall wearily against the
914door and he would pull it up again with a start, as even the
915slightest noise he caused would be heard next door and they would
916all go silent.  "What's that he's doing now", his father would say
917after a while, clearly having gone over to the door, and only then
918would the interrupted conversation slowly be taken up again.
920When explaining things, his father repeated himself several times,
921partly because it was a long time since he had been occupied with
922these matters himself and partly because Gregor's mother did not
923understand everything first time.  From these repeated explanations
924Gregor learned, to his pleasure, that despite all their misfortunes
925there was still some money available from the old days.  It was not
926a lot, but it had not been touched in the meantime and some interest
927had accumulated.  Besides that, they had not been using up all the
928money that Gregor had been bringing home every month, keeping only a
929little for himself, so that that, too, had been accumulating.
930Behind the door, Gregor nodded with enthusiasm in his pleasure at
931this unexpected thrift and caution.  He could actually have used
932this surplus money to reduce his father's debt to his boss, and the
933day when he could have freed himself from that job would have come
934much closer, but now it was certainly better the way his father had
935done things.
937This money, however, was certainly not enough to enable the family
938to live off the interest; it was enough to maintain them for,
939perhaps, one or two years, no more.  That's to say, it was money
940that should not really be touched but set aside for emergencies;
941money to live on had to be earned.  His father was healthy but old,
942and lacking in self confidence.  During the five years that he had
943not been working - the first holiday in a life that had been full of
944strain and no success - he had put on a lot of weight and become
945very slow and clumsy.  Would Gregor's elderly mother now have to go
946and earn money? She suffered from asthma and it was a strain for her
947just to move about the home, every other day would be spent
948struggling for breath on the sofa by the open window.  Would his
949sister have to go and earn money? She was still a child of
950seventeen, her life up till then had been very enviable, consisting
951of wearing nice clothes, sleeping late, helping out in the business,
952joining in with a few modest pleasures and most of all playing the
953violin.  Whenever they began to talk of the need to earn money,
954Gregor would always first let go of the door and then throw himself
955onto the cool, leather sofa next to it, as he became quite hot with
956shame and regret.
958He would often lie there the whole night through, not sleeping a
959wink but scratching at the leather for hours on end.  Or he might go
960to all the effort of pushing a chair to the window, climbing up onto
961the sill and, propped up in the chair, leaning on the window to
962stare out of it.  He had used to feel a great sense of freedom from
963doing this, but doing it now was obviously something more remembered
964than experienced,  as what he actually saw in this way was becoming
965less distinct every day, even things that were quite near; he had
966used to curse the ever-present view of the hospital across the
967street, but now he could not see it at all, and if he had not known
968that he lived in Charlottenstrasse, which was a quiet street despite
969being in the middle of the city, he could have thought that he was
970looking out the window at a barren waste where the grey sky and the
971grey earth mingled inseparably.  His observant sister only needed to
972notice the chair twice before she would always push it back to its
973exact position by the window after she had tidied up the room, and
974even left the inner pane of the window open from then on.
976If Gregor had only been able to speak to his sister and thank her
977for all that she had to do for him it would have been easier for him
978to bear it; but as it was it caused him pain.  His sister,
979naturally, tried as far as possible to pretend there was nothing
980burdensome about it, and the longer it went on, of course, the
981better she was able to do so, but as time went by Gregor was also
982able to see through it all so much better.  It had even become very
983unpleasant for him, now, whenever she entered the room.  No sooner
984had she come in than she would quickly close the door as a
985precaution so that no-one would have to suffer the view into
986Gregor's room, then she would go straight to the window and pull it
987hurriedly open almost as if she were suffocating.  Even if it was
988cold, she would stay at the window breathing deeply for a little
989while.  She would alarm Gregor twice a day with this running about
990and noise making; he would stay under the couch shivering the whole
991while, knowing full well that she would certainly have liked to
992spare him this ordeal, but it was impossible for her to be in the
993same room with him with the windows closed.
995One day, about a month after Gregor's transformation when his sister
996no longer had any particular reason to be shocked at his appearance,
997she came into the room a little earlier than usual and found him
998still staring out the window, motionless, and just where he would be
999most horrible.  In itself, his sister's not coming into the room
1000would have been no surprise for Gregor as it would have been
1001difficult for her to immediately open the window while he was still
1002there, but not only did she not come in, she went straight back and
1003closed the door behind her, a stranger would have thought he had
1004threatened her and tried to bite her.  Gregor went straight to hide
1005himself under the couch, of course, but he had to wait until midday
1006before his sister came back and she seemed much more uneasy than
1007usual.  It made him realise that she still found his appearance
1008unbearable and would continue to do so, she probably even had to
1009overcome the urge to flee when she saw the little bit of him that
1010protruded from under the couch.  One day, in order to spare her even
1011this sight, he spent four hours carrying the bedsheet over to the
1012couch on his back and arranged it so that he was completely covered
1013and his sister would not be able to see him even if she bent down.
1014If she did not think this sheet was necessary then all she had to do
1015was take it off again, as it was clear enough that it was no
1016pleasure for Gregor to cut himself off so completely.  She left the
1017sheet where it was.  Gregor even thought he glimpsed a look of
1018gratitude one time when he carefully looked out from under the sheet
1019to see how his sister liked the new arrangement.
1021For the first fourteen days, Gregor's parents could not bring
1022themselves to come into the room to see him.  He would often hear
1023them say how they appreciated all the new work his sister was doing
1024even though, before, they had seen her as a girl who was somewhat
1025useless and frequently been annoyed with her.  But now the two of
1026them, father and mother, would often both wait outside the door of
1027Gregor's room while his sister tidied up in there, and as soon as
1028she went out again she would have to tell them exactly how
1029everything looked, what Gregor had eaten, how he had behaved this
1030time and whether, perhaps, any slight improvement could be seen.
1031His mother also wanted to go in and visit Gregor relatively soon but
1032his father and sister at first persuaded her against it.  Gregor
1033listened very closely to all this, and approved fully.  Later,
1034though, she had to be held back by force, which made her call out:
1035"Let me go and see Gregor, he is my unfortunate son! Can't you
1036understand I have to see him?", and Gregor would think to himself
1037that maybe it would be better if his mother came in, not every day
1038of course, but one day a week, perhaps; she could understand
1039everything much better than his sister who, for all her courage, was
1040still just a child after all, and really might not have had an
1041adult's appreciation of the burdensome job she had taken on.
1043Gregor's wish to see his mother was soon realised.  Out of
1044consideration for his parents, Gregor wanted to avoid being seen at
1045the window during the day, the few square meters of the floor did
1046not give him much room to crawl about, it was hard to just lie
1047quietly through the night, his food soon stopped giving him any
1048pleasure at all, and so, to entertain himself, he got into the habit
1049of crawling up and down the walls and ceiling.  He was especially
1050fond of hanging from the ceiling; it was quite different from lying
1051on the floor; he could breathe more freely; his body had a light
1052swing to it; and up there, relaxed and almost happy, it might happen
1053that he would surprise even himself by letting go of the ceiling and
1054landing on the floor with a crash.  But now, of course, he had far
1055better control of his body than before and, even with a fall as
1056great as that, caused himself no damage.  Very soon his sister
1057noticed Gregor's new way of entertaining himself - he had, after
1058all, left traces of the adhesive from his feet as he crawled about -
1059and got it into her head to make it as easy as possible for him by
1060removing the furniture that got in his way, especially the chest of
1061drawers and the desk.  Now, this was not something that she would be
1062able to do by herself; she did not dare to ask for help from her
1063father; the sixteen year old maid had carried on bravely since the
1064cook had left but she certainly would not have helped in this, she
1065had even asked to be allowed to keep the kitchen locked at all times
1066and never to have to open the door unless it was especially
1067important; so his sister had no choice but to choose some time when
1068Gregor's father was not there and fetch his mother to help her.  As
1069she approached the room, Gregor could hear his mother express her
1070joy, but once at the door she went silent.  First, of course, his
1071sister came in and looked round to see that everything in the room
1072was alright; and only then did she let her mother enter.  Gregor had
1073hurriedly pulled the sheet down lower over the couch and put more
1074folds into it so that everything really looked as if it had just
1075been thrown down by chance.  Gregor also refrained, this time, from
1076spying out from under the sheet; he gave up the chance to see his
1077mother until later and was simply glad that she had come.  "You can
1078come in, he can't be seen", said his sister, obviously leading her
1079in by the hand.  The old chest of drawers was too heavy for a pair
1080of feeble women to be heaving about, but Gregor listened as they
1081pushed it from its place, his sister always taking on the heaviest
1082part of the work for herself and ignoring her mother's warnings that
1083she would strain herself.  This lasted a very long time.  After
1084labouring at it for fifteen minutes or more his mother said it would
1085be better to leave the chest where it was, for one thing it was too
1086heavy for them to get the job finished before Gregor's father got
1087home and leaving it in the middle of the room it would be in his way
1088even more, and for another thing it wasn't even sure that taking the
1089furniture away would really be any help to him.  She thought just
1090the opposite; the sight of the bare walls saddened her right to her
1091heart; and why wouldn't Gregor feel the same way about it, he'd been
1092used to this furniture in his room for a long time and it would make
1093him feel abandoned to be in an empty room like that.  Then, quietly,
1094almost whispering as if wanting Gregor (whose whereabouts she did
1095not know) to hear not even the tone of her voice, as she was
1096convinced that he did not understand her words, she added "and by
1097taking the furniture away, won't it seem like we're showing that
1098we've given up all hope of improvement and we're abandoning him to
1099cope for himself? I think it'd be best to leave the room exactly the
1100way it was before so that when Gregor comes back to us again he'll
1101find everything unchanged and he'll be able to forget the time in
1102between all the easier".
1104Hearing these words from his mother made Gregor realise that the
1105lack of any direct human communication, along with the monotonous
1106life led by the family during these two months, must have made him
1107confused - he could think of no other way of explaining to himself
1108why he had seriously wanted his room emptied out.  Had he really
1109wanted to transform his room into a cave, a warm room fitted out
1110with the nice furniture he had inherited? That would have let him
1111crawl around unimpeded in any direction, but it would also have let
1112him quickly forget his past when he had still been human.  He had
1113come very close to forgetting, and it had only been the voice of his
1114mother, unheard for so long, that had shaken him out of it.  Nothing
1115should be removed; everything had to stay; he could not do without
1116the good influence the furniture had on his condition; and if the
1117furniture made it difficult for him to crawl about mindlessly that
1118was not a loss but a great advantage.
1120His sister, unfortunately, did not agree; she had become used to the
1121idea, not without reason, that she was Gregor's spokesman to his
1122parents about the things that concerned him.  This meant that his
1123mother's advice now was sufficient reason for her to insist on
1124removing not only the chest of drawers and the desk, as she had
1125thought at first, but all the furniture apart from the all-important
1126couch.  It was more than childish perversity, of course, or the
1127unexpected confidence she had recently acquired, that made her
1128insist; she had indeed noticed that Gregor needed a lot of room to
1129crawl about in, whereas the furniture, as far as anyone could see,
1130was of no use to him at all.  Girls of that age, though, do become
1131enthusiastic about things and feel they must get their way whenever
1132they can.  Perhaps this was what tempted Grete to make Gregor's
1133situation seem even more shocking than it was so that she could do
1134even more for him.  Grete would probably be the only one who would
1135dare enter a room dominated by Gregor crawling about the bare walls
1136by himself.
1138So she refused to let her mother dissuade her.  Gregor's mother
1139already looked uneasy in his room, she soon stopped speaking and
1140helped Gregor's sister to get the chest of drawers out with what
1141strength she had.  The chest of drawers was something that Gregor
1142could do without if he had to, but the writing desk had to stay.
1143Hardly had the two women pushed the chest of drawers, groaning, out
1144of the room than Gregor poked his head out from under the couch to
1145see what he could do about it.  He meant to be as careful and
1146considerate as he could, but, unfortunately, it was his mother who
1147came back first while Grete in the next room had her arms round the
1148chest, pushing and pulling at it from side to side by herself
1149without, of course, moving it an inch.  His mother was not used to
1150the sight of Gregor, he might have made her ill, so Gregor hurried
1151backwards to the far end of the couch.  In his startlement, though,
1152he was not able to prevent the sheet at its front from moving a
1153little.  It was enough to attract his mother's attention.  She stood
1154very still, remained there a moment, and then went back out to
1157Gregor kept trying to assure himself that nothing unusual was
1158happening, it was just a few pieces of furniture being moved after
1159all, but he soon had to admit that the women going to and fro, their
1160little calls to each other, the scraping of the furniture on the
1161floor, all these things made him feel as if he were being assailed
1162from all sides.  With his head and legs pulled in against him and
1163his body pressed to the floor, he was forced to admit to himself
1164that he could not stand all of this much longer.  They were emptying
1165his room out; taking away everything that was dear to him; they had
1166already taken out the chest containing his fretsaw and other tools;
1167now they threatened to remove the writing desk with its place
1168clearly worn into the floor, the desk where he had done his homework
1169as a business trainee, at high school, even while he had been at
1170infant school - he really could not wait any longer to see whether
1171the two women's intentions were good.  He had nearly forgotten they
1172were there anyway, as they were now too tired to say anything while
1173they worked and he could only hear their feet as they stepped
1174heavily on the floor.
1176So, while the women were leant against the desk in the other room
1177catching their breath, he sallied out, changed direction four times
1178not knowing what he should save first before his attention was
1179suddenly caught by the picture on the wall - which was already
1180denuded of everything else that had been on it - of the lady dressed
1181in copious fur.  He hurried up onto the picture and pressed himself
1182against its glass, it held him firmly and felt good on his hot
1183belly.  This picture at least, now totally covered by Gregor, would
1184certainly be taken away by no-one.  He turned his head to face the
1185door into the living room so that he could watch the women when they
1186came back.
1188They had not allowed themselves a long rest and came back quite
1189soon; Grete had put her arm around her mother and was nearly
1190carrying her.  "What shall we take now, then?", said Grete and
1191looked around.  Her eyes met those of Gregor on the wall.  Perhaps
1192only because her mother was there, she remained calm, bent her face
1193to her so that she would not look round and said, albeit hurriedly
1194and with a tremor in her voice: "Come on, let's go back in the
1195living room for a while?"  Gregor could see what Grete had in mind,
1196she wanted to take her mother somewhere safe and then chase him down
1197from the wall.  Well, she could certainly try it! He sat unyielding
1198on his picture.  He would rather jump at Grete's face.
1200But Grete's words had made her mother quite worried, she stepped to
1201one side, saw the enormous brown patch against the flowers of the
1202wallpaper, and before she even realised it was Gregor that she saw
1203screamed: "Oh God, oh God!"  Arms outstretched, she fell onto the
1204couch as if she had given up everything and stayed there immobile.
1205"Gregor!" shouted his sister, glowering at him and shaking her fist.
1206 That was the first word she had spoken to him directly since his
1207transformation.  She ran into the other room to fetch some kind of
1208smelling salts to bring her mother out of her faint; Gregor wanted
1209to help too - he could save his picture later, although he stuck
1210fast to the glass and had to pull himself off by force; then he,
1211too, ran into the next room as if he could advise his sister like in
1212the old days; but he had to just stand behind her doing nothing; she
1213was looking into various bottles, he startled her when she turned
1214round; a bottle fell to the ground and broke; a splinter cut
1215Gregor's face, some kind of caustic medicine splashed all over him;
1216now, without delaying any longer, Grete took hold of all the bottles
1217she could and ran with them in to her mother; she slammed the door
1218shut with her foot.  So now Gregor was shut out from his mother,
1219who, because of him, might be near to death; he could not open the
1220door if he did not want to chase his sister away, and she had to
1221stay with his mother; there was nothing for him to do but wait; and,
1222oppressed with anxiety and self-reproach, he began to crawl about,
1223he crawled over everything, walls, furniture, ceiling, and finally
1224in his confusion as the whole room began to spin around him he fell
1225down into the middle of the dinner table.
1227He lay there for a while, numb and immobile, all around him it was
1228quiet, maybe that was a good sign.  Then there was someone at the
1229door.  The maid, of course, had locked herself in her kitchen so
1230that Grete would have to go and answer it.  His father had arrived
1231home.  "What's happened?" were his first words; Grete's appearance
1232must have made everything clear to him.  She answered him with
1233subdued voice, and openly pressed her face into his chest: "Mother's
1234fainted, but she's better now.  Gregor got out."  "Just as I
1235expected", said his father, "just as I always said, but you women
1236wouldn't listen, would you."  It was clear to Gregor that Grete had
1237not said enough and that his father took it to mean that something
1238bad had happened, that he was responsible for some act of violence.
1239That meant Gregor would now have to try to calm his father, as he
1240did not have the time to explain things to him even if that had been
1241possible.  So he fled to the door of his room and pressed himself
1242against it so that his father, when he came in from the hall, could
1243see straight away that Gregor had the best intentions and would go
1244back into his room without delay, that it would not be necessary to
1245drive him back but that they had only to open the door and he would
1248His father, though, was not in the mood to notice subtleties like
1249that; "Ah!", he shouted as he came in, sounding as if he were both
1250angry and glad at the same time.  Gregor drew his head back from the
1251door and lifted it towards his father.  He really had not imagined
1252his father the way he stood there now; of late, with his new habit
1253of crawling about, he had neglected to pay attention to what was
1254going on the rest of the flat the way he had done before.  He really
1255ought to have expected things to have changed, but still, still, was
1256that really his father? The same tired man as used to be laying
1257there entombed in his bed when Gregor came back from his business
1258trips, who would receive him sitting in the armchair in his
1259nightgown when he came back in the evenings; who was hardly even
1260able to stand up but, as a sign of his pleasure, would just raise
1261his arms and who, on the couple of times a year when they went for a
1262walk together on a Sunday or public holiday wrapped up tightly in
1263his overcoat between Gregor and his mother, would always labour his
1264way forward a little more slowly than them, who were already walking
1265slowly for his sake; who would place his stick down carefully and,
1266if he wanted to say something would invariably stop and gather his
1267companions around him.  He was standing up straight enough now;
1268dressed in a smart blue uniform with gold buttons, the sort worn by
1269the employees at the banking institute; above the high, stiff collar
1270of the coat his strong double-chin emerged; under the bushy
1271eyebrows, his piercing, dark eyes looked out fresh and alert; his
1272normally unkempt white hair was combed down painfully close to his
1273scalp.  He took his cap, with its gold monogram from, probably, some
1274bank, and threw it in an arc right across the room onto the sofa,
1275put his hands in his trouser pockets, pushing back the bottom of his
1276long uniform coat, and, with look of determination, walked towards
1277Gregor.  He probably did not even know himself what he had in mind,
1278but nonetheless lifted his feet unusually high.  Gregor was amazed
1279at the enormous size of the soles of his boots, but wasted no time
1280with that - he knew full well, right from the first day of his new
1281life, that his father thought it necessary to always be extremely
1282strict with him.  And so he ran up to his father, stopped when his
1283father stopped, scurried forwards again when he moved, even
1284slightly.  In this way they went round the room several times
1285without anything decisive happening, without even giving the
1286impression of a chase as everything went so slowly.  Gregor remained
1287all this time on the floor, largely because he feared his father
1288might see it as especially provoking if he fled onto the wall or
1289ceiling.  Whatever he did, Gregor had to admit that he certainly
1290would not be able to keep up this running about for long, as for
1291each step his father took he had to carry out countless movements.
1292He became noticeably short of breath, even in his earlier life his
1293lungs had not been very reliable.  Now, as he lurched about in his
1294efforts to muster all the strength he could for running he could
1295hardly keep his eyes open; his thoughts became too slow for him to
1296think of any other way of saving himself than running; he almost
1297forgot that the walls were there for him to use although, here, they
1298were concealed behind carefully carved furniture full of notches and
1299protrusions - then, right beside him, lightly tossed, something flew
1300down and rolled in front of him.  It was an apple; then another one
1301immediately flew at him; Gregor froze in shock; there was no longer
1302any point in running as his father had decided to bombard him.  He
1303had filled his pockets with fruit from the bowl on the sideboard and
1304now, without even taking the time for careful aim, threw one apple
1305after another.  These little, red apples rolled about on the floor,
1306knocking into each other as if they had electric motors.  An apple
1307thrown without much force glanced against Gregor's back and slid off
1308without doing any harm.  Another one however, immediately following
1309it, hit squarely and lodged in his back; Gregor wanted to drag
1310himself away, as if he could remove the surprising, the incredible
1311pain by changing his position; but he felt as if nailed to the spot
1312and spread himself out, all his senses in confusion.  The last thing
1313he saw was the door of his room being pulled open, his sister was
1314screaming, his mother ran out in front of her in her blouse (as his
1315sister had taken off some of her clothes after she had fainted to
1316make it easier for her to breathe), she ran to his father, her
1317skirts unfastened and sliding one after another to the ground,
1318stumbling over the skirts she pushed herself to his father, her arms
1319around him, uniting herself with him totally - now Gregor lost his
1320ability to see anything - her hands behind his father's head begging
1321him to spare Gregor's life.
1328No-one dared to remove the apple lodged in Gregor's flesh, so it
1329remained there as a visible reminder of his injury.  He had suffered
1330it there for more than a month, and his condition seemed serious
1331enough to remind even his father that Gregor, despite his current
1332sad and revolting form, was a family member who could not be treated
1333as an enemy.  On the contrary, as a family there was a duty to
1334swallow any revulsion for him and to be patient, just to be patient.
1336Because of his injuries, Gregor had lost much of his mobility -
1337probably permanently.  He had been reduced to the condition of an
1338ancient invalid and it took him long, long minutes to crawl across
1339his room - crawling over the ceiling was out of the question - but
1340this deterioration in his condition was fully (in his opinion) made
1341up for by the door to the living room being left open every evening.
1342 He got into the habit of closely watching it for one or two hours
1343before it was opened and then, lying in the darkness of his room
1344where he could not be seen from the living room, he could watch the
1345family in the light of the dinner table and listen to their
1346conversation - with everyone's permission, in a way, and thus quite
1347differently from before.
1349They no longer held the lively conversations of earlier times, of
1350course, the ones that Gregor always thought about with longing when
1351he was tired and getting into the damp bed in some small hotel room.
1352 All of them were usually very quiet nowadays.  Soon after dinner,
1353his father would go to sleep in his chair; his mother and sister
1354would urge each other to be quiet; his mother, bent deeply under the
1355lamp, would sew fancy underwear for a fashion shop; his sister, who
1356had taken a sales job, learned shorthand and French in the evenings
1357so that she might be able to get a better position later on.
1358Sometimes his father would wake up and say to Gregor's mother
1359"you're doing so much sewing again today!", as if he did not know
1360that he had been dozing - and then he would go back to sleep again
1361while mother and sister would exchange a tired grin.
1363With a kind of stubbornness, Gregor's father refused to take his
1364uniform off even at home; while his nightgown hung unused on its peg
1365Gregor's father would slumber where he was, fully dressed, as if
1366always ready to serve and expecting to hear the voice of his
1367superior even here.  The uniform had not been new to start with, but
1368as a result of this it slowly became even shabbier despite the
1369efforts of Gregor's mother and sister to look after it.  Gregor
1370would often spend the whole evening looking at all the stains on
1371this coat, with its gold buttons always kept polished and shiny,
1372while the old man in it would sleep, highly uncomfortable but
1375As soon as it struck ten, Gregor's mother would speak gently to his
1376father to wake him and try to persuade him to go to bed, as he
1377couldn't sleep properly where he was and he really had to get his
1378sleep if he was to be up at six to get to work.  But since he had
1379been in work he had become more obstinate and would always insist on
1380staying longer at the table, even though he regularly fell asleep
1381and it was then harder than ever to persuade him to exchange the
1382chair for his bed.  Then, however much mother and sister would
1383importune him with little reproaches and warnings he would keep
1384slowly shaking his head for a quarter of an hour with his eyes
1385closed and refusing to get up.  Gregor's mother would tug at his
1386sleeve, whisper endearments into his ear, Gregor's sister would
1387leave her work to help her mother, but nothing would have any effect
1388on him.  He would just sink deeper into his chair.  Only when the
1389two women took him under the arms he would abruptly open his eyes,
1390look at them one after the other and say: "What a life! This is what
1391peace I get in my old age!"  And supported by the two women he would
1392lift himself up carefully as if he were carrying the greatest load
1393himself, let the women take him to the door, send them off and carry
1394on by himself while Gregor's mother would throw down her needle and
1395his sister her pen so that they could run after his father and
1396continue being of help to him.
1398Who, in this tired and overworked family, would have had time to
1399give more attention to Gregor than was absolutely necessary? The
1400household budget became even smaller; so now the maid was dismissed;
1401an enormous, thick-boned charwoman with white hair that flapped
1402around her head came every morning and evening to do the heaviest
1403work; everything else was looked after by Gregor's mother on top of
1404the large amount of sewing work she did.  Gregor even learned,
1405listening to the evening conversation about what price they had
1406hoped for, that several items of jewellery belonging to the family
1407had been sold, even though both mother and sister had been very fond
1408of wearing them at functions and celebrations.  But the loudest
1409complaint was that although the flat was much too big for their
1410present circumstances, they could not move out of it, there was no
1411imaginable way of transferring Gregor to the new address.  He could
1412see quite well, though, that there were more reasons than
1413consideration for him that made it difficult for them to move, it
1414would have been quite easy to transport him in any suitable crate
1415with a few air holes in it; the main thing holding the family back
1416from their decision to move was much more to do with their total
1417despair, and the thought that they had been struck with a misfortune
1418unlike anything experienced by anyone else they knew or were related
1419to.  They carried out absolutely everything that the world expects
1420from poor people, Gregor's father brought bank employees their
1421breakfast, his mother sacrificed herself by washing clothes for
1422strangers, his sister ran back and forth behind her desk at the
1423behest of the customers, but they just did not have the strength to
1424do any more.  And the injury in Gregor's back began to hurt as much
1425as when it was new.  After they had come back from taking his father
1426to bed Gregor's mother and sister would now leave their work where
1427it was and sit close together, cheek to cheek; his mother would
1428point to Gregor's room and say "Close that door, Grete", and then,
1429when he was in the dark again, they would sit in the next room and
1430their tears would mingle, or they would simply sit there staring
1431dry-eyed at the table.
1433Gregor hardly slept at all, either night or day.  Sometimes he would
1434think of taking over the family's affairs, just like before, the
1435next time the door was opened; he had long forgotten about his boss
1436and the chief clerk, but they would appear again in his thoughts,
1437the salesmen and the apprentices, that stupid teaboy, two or three
1438friends from other businesses, one of the chambermaids from a
1439provincial hotel, a tender memory that appeared and disappeared
1440again, a cashier from a hat shop for whom his attention had been
1441serious but too slow, - all of them appeared to him, mixed together
1442with strangers and others he had forgotten, but instead of helping
1443him and his family they were all of them inaccessible, and he was
1444glad when they disappeared.  Other times he was not at all in the
1445mood to look after his family, he was filled with simple rage about
1446the lack of attention he was shown, and although he could think of
1447nothing he would have wanted, he made plans of how he could get into
1448the pantry where he could take all the things he was entitled to,
1449even if he was not hungry.  Gregor's sister no longer thought about
1450how she could please him but would hurriedly push some food or other
1451into his room with her foot before she rushed out to work in the
1452morning and at midday, and in the evening she would sweep it away
1453again with the broom, indifferent as to whether it had been eaten or
1454- more often than not - had been left totally untouched.  She still
1455cleared up the room in the evening, but now she could not have been
1456any quicker about it.  Smears of dirt were left on the walls, here
1457and there were little balls of dust and filth.  At first, Gregor
1458went into one of the worst of these places when his sister arrived
1459as a reproach to her, but he could have stayed there for weeks
1460without his sister doing anything about it; she could see the dirt
1461as well as he could but she had simply decided to leave him to it.
1462At the same time she became touchy in a way that was quite new for
1463her and which everyone in the family understood - cleaning up
1464Gregor's room was for her and her alone.  Gregor's mother did once
1465thoroughly clean his room, and needed to use several bucketfuls of
1466water to do it - although that much dampness also made Gregor ill
1467and he lay flat on the couch, bitter and immobile.  But his mother
1468was to be punished still more for what she had done, as hardly had
1469his sister arrived home in the evening than she noticed the change
1470in Gregor's room and, highly aggrieved, ran back into the living
1471room where, despite her mothers raised and imploring hands, she
1472broke into convulsive tears.  Her father, of course, was startled
1473out of his chair and the two parents looked on astonished and
1474helpless; then they, too, became agitated; Gregor's father, standing
1475to the right of his mother, accused her of not leaving the cleaning
1476of Gregor's room to his sister; from her left, Gregor's sister
1477screamed at her that she was never to clean Gregor's room again;
1478while his mother tried to draw his father, who was beside himself
1479with anger, into the bedroom; his sister, quaking with tears,
1480thumped on the table with her small fists; and Gregor hissed in
1481anger that no-one had even thought of closing the door to save him
1482the sight of this and all its noise.
1484Gregor's sister was exhausted from going out to work, and looking
1485after Gregor as she had done before was even more work for her, but
1486even so his mother ought certainly not to have taken her place.
1487Gregor, on the other hand, ought not to be neglected.  Now, though,
1488the charwoman was here.  This elderly widow, with a robust bone
1489structure that made her able to withstand the hardest of things in
1490her long life, wasn't really repelled by Gregor.  Just by chance one
1491day, rather than any real curiosity, she opened the door to Gregor's
1492room and found herself face to face with him.  He was taken totally
1493by surprise, no-one was chasing him but he began to rush to and fro
1494while she just stood there in amazement with her hands crossed in
1495front of her.  From then on she never failed to open the door
1496slightly every evening and morning and look briefly in on him.  At
1497first she would call to him as she did so with words that she
1498probably considered friendly, such as "come on then, you old
1499dung-beetle!", or "look at the old dung-beetle there!"  Gregor never
1500responded to being spoken to in that way, but just remained where he
1501was without moving as if the door had never even been opened.  If
1502only they had told this charwoman to clean up his room every day
1503instead of letting her disturb him for no reason whenever she felt
1504like it! One day, early in the morning while a heavy rain struck the
1505windowpanes, perhaps indicating that spring was coming, she began to
1506speak to him in that way once again.  Gregor was so resentful of it
1507that he started to move toward her, he was slow and infirm, but it
1508was like a kind of attack.  Instead of being afraid, the charwoman
1509just lifted up one of the chairs from near the door and stood there
1510with her mouth open, clearly intending not to close her mouth until
1511the chair in her hand had been slammed down into Gregor's back.
1512"Aren't you coming any closer, then?", she asked when Gregor turned
1513round again, and she calmly put the chair back in the corner.
1515Gregor had almost entirely stopped eating.  Only if he happened to
1516find himself next to the food that had been prepared for him he
1517might take some of it into his mouth to play with it, leave it there
1518a few hours and then, more often than not, spit it out again.  At
1519first he thought it was distress at the state of his room that
1520stopped him eating, but he had soon got used to the changes made
1521there.  They had got into the habit of putting things into this room
1522that they had no room for anywhere else, and there were now many
1523such things as one of the rooms in the flat had been rented out to
1524three gentlemen.  These earnest gentlemen - all three of them had
1525full beards, as Gregor learned peering through the crack in the door
1526one day - were painfully insistent on things' being tidy.  This
1527meant not only in their own room but, since they had taken a room in
1528this establishment, in the entire flat and especially in the
1529kitchen.  Unnecessary clutter was something they could not tolerate,
1530especially if it was dirty.  They had moreover brought most of their
1531own furnishings and equipment with them.  For this reason, many
1532things had become superfluous which, although they could not be
1533sold, the family did not wish to discard.  All these things found
1534their way into Gregor's room.  The dustbins from the kitchen found
1535their way in there too.  The charwoman was always in a hurry, and
1536anything she couldn't use for the time being she would just chuck in
1537there.  He, fortunately, would usually see no more than the object
1538and the hand that held it.  The woman most likely meant to fetch the
1539things back out again when she had time and the opportunity, or to
1540throw everything out in one go, but what actually happened was that
1541they were left where they landed when they had first been thrown
1542unless Gregor made his way through the junk and moved it somewhere
1543else.  At first he moved it because, with no other room free where
1544he could crawl about, he was forced to, but later on he came to
1545enjoy it although moving about in the way left him sad and tired to
1546death and he would remain immobile for hours afterwards.
1548The gentlemen who rented the room would sometimes take their evening
1549meal at home in the living room that was used by everyone, and so
1550the door to this room was often kept closed in the evening.  But
1551Gregor found it easy to give up having the door open, he had, after
1552all, often failed to make use of it when it was open and, without
1553the family having noticed it, lain in his room in its darkest
1554corner.  One time, though, the charwoman left the door to the living
1555room slightly open, and it remained open when the gentlemen who
1556rented the room came in in the evening and the light was put on.
1557They sat up at the table where, formerly, Gregor had taken his meals
1558with his father and mother, they unfolded the serviettes and picked
1559up their knives and forks.  Gregor's mother immediately appeared in
1560the doorway with a dish of meat and soon behind her came his sister
1561with a dish piled high with potatoes.  The food was steaming, and
1562filled the room with its smell.  The gentlemen bent over the dishes
1563set in front of them as if they wanted to test the food before
1564eating it, and the gentleman in the middle, who seemed to count as
1565an authority for the other two, did indeed cut off a piece of meat
1566while it was still in its dish, clearly wishing to establish whether
1567it was sufficiently cooked or whether it should be sent back to the
1568kitchen.  It was to his satisfaction, and Gregor's mother and
1569sister, who had been looking on anxiously, began to breathe again
1570and smiled.
1572The family themselves ate in the kitchen.  Nonetheless, Gregor's
1573father came into the living room before he went into the kitchen,
1574bowed once with his cap in his hand and did his round of the table.
1575The gentlemen stood as one, and mumbled something into their beards.
1576 Then, once they were alone, they ate in near perfect silence.  It
1577seemed remarkable to Gregor that above all the various noises of
1578eating their chewing teeth could still be heard, as if they had
1579wanted to Show Gregor that you need teeth in order to eat and it was
1580not possible to perform anything with jaws that are toothless
1581however nice they might be.  "I'd like to eat something", said
1582Gregor anxiously, "but not anything like they're eating.  They do
1583feed themselves.  And here I am, dying!"
1585Throughout all this time, Gregor could not remember having heard the
1586violin being played, but this evening it began to be heard from the
1587kitchen.  The three gentlemen had already finished their meal, the
1588one in the middle had produced a newspaper, given a page to each of
1589the others, and now they leant back in their chairs reading them and
1590smoking.  When the violin began playing they became attentive, stood
1591up and went on tip-toe over to the door of the hallway where they
1592stood pressed against each other.  Someone must have heard them in
1593the kitchen, as Gregor's father called out: "Is the playing perhaps
1594unpleasant for the gentlemen? We can stop it straight away."  "On
1595the contrary", said the middle gentleman, "would the young lady not
1596like to come in and play for us here in the room, where it is, after
1597all, much more cosy and comfortable?"  "Oh yes, we'd love to",
1598called back Gregor's father as if he had been the violin player
1599himself.  The gentlemen stepped back into the room and waited.
1600Gregor's father soon appeared with the music stand, his mother with
1601the music and his sister with the violin.  She calmly prepared
1602everything for her to begin playing; his parents, who had never
1603rented a room out before and therefore showed an exaggerated
1604courtesy towards the three gentlemen, did not even dare to sit on
1605their own chairs; his father leant against the door with his right
1606hand pushed in between two buttons on his uniform coat; his mother,
1607though, was offered a seat by one of the gentlemen and sat - leaving
1608the chair where the gentleman happened to have placed it - out of
1609the way in a corner.
1611His sister began to play; father and mother paid close attention,
1612one on each side, to the movements of her hands.  Drawn in by the
1613playing, Gregor had dared to come forward a little and already had
1614his head in the living room.  Before, he had taken great pride in
1615how considerate he was but now it hardly occurred to him that he had
1616become so thoughtless about the others.  What's more, there was now
1617all the more reason to keep himself hidden as he was covered in the
1618dust that lay everywhere in his room and flew up at the slightest
1619movement; he carried threads, hairs, and remains of food about on
1620his back and sides; he was much too indifferent to everything now to
1621lay on his back and wipe himself on the carpet like he had used to
1622do several times a day.  And despite this condition, he was not too
1623shy to move forward a little onto the immaculate floor of the living
1626No-one noticed him, though.  The family was totally preoccupied with
1627the violin playing; at first, the three gentlemen had put their
1628hands in their pockets and come up far too close behind the music
1629stand to look at all the notes being played, and they must have
1630disturbed Gregor's sister, but soon, in contrast with the family,
1631they  withdrew back to the window with their heads sunk and talking
1632to each other at half volume, and they stayed by the window while
1633Gregor's father observed them anxiously.  It really now seemed very
1634obvious that they had expected to hear some beautiful or
1635entertaining violin playing but had been disappointed, that they had
1636had enough of the whole performance and it was only now out of
1637politeness that they allowed their peace to be disturbed.  It was
1638especially unnerving, the way they all blew the smoke from their
1639cigarettes upwards from their mouth and noses.  Yet Gregor's sister
1640was playing so beautifully.  Her face was leant to one side,
1641following the lines of music with a careful and melancholy
1642expression.  Gregor crawled a little further forward, keeping his
1643head close to the ground so that he could meet her eyes if the
1644chance came.  Was he an animal if music could captivate him so? It
1645seemed to him that he was being shown the way to the unknown
1646nourishment he had been yearning for.  He was determined to make his
1647way forward to his sister and tug at her skirt to show her she might
1648come into his room with her violin, as no-one appreciated her
1649playing here as much as he would.  He never wanted to let her out of
1650his room, not while he lived, anyway; his shocking appearance
1651should, for once, be of some use to him; he wanted to be at every
1652door of his room at once to hiss and spit at the attackers; his
1653sister should not be forced to stay with him, though, but stay of
1654her own free will; she would sit beside him on the couch with her
1655ear bent down to him while he told her how he had always intended to
1656send her to the conservatory, how he would have told everyone about
1657it last Christmas - had Christmas really come and gone already? - if
1658this misfortune hadn't got in the way, and refuse to let anyone
1659dissuade him from it.  On hearing all this, his sister would break
1660out in tears of emotion, and Gregor would climb up to her shoulder
1661and kiss her neck, which, since she had been going out to work, she
1662had kept free without any necklace or collar.
1664"Mr. Samsa!", shouted the middle gentleman to Gregor's father,
1665pointing, without wasting any more words, with his forefinger at
1666Gregor as he slowly moved forward.  The violin went silent, the
1667middle of the three gentlemen first smiled at his two friends,
1668shaking his head, and then looked back at Gregor.  His father seemed
1669to think it more important to calm the three gentlemen before
1670driving Gregor out, even though they were not at all upset and
1671seemed to think Gregor was more entertaining that the violin playing
1672had been.  He rushed up to them with his arms spread out and
1673attempted to drive them back into their room at the same time as
1674trying to block their view of Gregor with his body.  Now they did
1675become a little annoyed, and it was not clear whether it was his
1676father's behaviour that annoyed them or the dawning realisation that
1677they had had a neighbour like Gregor in the next room without
1678knowing it.  They asked Gregor's father for explanations, raised
1679their arms like he had, tugged excitedly at their beards and moved
1680back towards their room only very slowly.  Meanwhile Gregor's sister
1681had overcome the despair she had fallen into when her playing was
1682suddenly interrupted.  She had let her hands drop and let violin and
1683bow hang limply for a while but continued to look at the music as if
1684still playing, but then she suddenly pulled herself together, lay
1685the instrument on her mother's lap who still sat laboriously
1686struggling for breath where she was, and ran into the next room
1687which, under pressure from her father, the three gentlemen were more
1688quickly moving toward.  Under his sister's experienced hand, the
1689pillows and covers on the beds flew up and were put into order and
1690she had already finished making the beds and slipped out again
1691before the three gentlemen had reached the room.  Gregor's father
1692seemed so obsessed with what he was doing that he forgot all the
1693respect he owed to his tenants.  He urged them and pressed them
1694until, when he was already at the door of the room, the middle of
1695the three gentlemen shouted like thunder and stamped his foot and
1696thereby brought Gregor's father to a halt.  "I declare here and
1697now", he said, raising his hand and glancing at Gregor's mother and
1698sister to gain their attention too, "that with regard to the
1699repugnant conditions that prevail in this flat and with this family"
1700- here he looked briefly but decisively at the floor - "I give
1701immediate notice on my room.  For the days that I have been living
1702here I will, of course, pay nothing at all, on the contrary I will
1703consider whether to proceed with some kind of action for damages
1704from you, and believe me it would be very easy to set out the
1705grounds for such an action."  He was silent and looked straight
1706ahead as if waiting for something.  And indeed, his two friends
1707joined in with the words: "And we also give immediate notice."  With
1708that, he took hold of the door handle and slammed the door.
1710Gregor's father staggered back to his seat, feeling his way with his
1711hands, and fell into it; it looked as if he was stretching himself
1712out for his usual evening nap but from the uncontrolled way his head
1713kept nodding it could be seen that he was not sleeping at all.
1714Throughout all this, Gregor had lain still where the three gentlemen
1715had first seen him.  His disappointment at the failure of his plan,
1716and perhaps also because he was weak from hunger, made it impossible
1717for him to move.  He was sure that everyone would turn on him any
1718moment, and he waited.  He was not even startled out of this state
1719when the violin on his mother's lap fell from her trembling fingers
1720and landed loudly on the floor.
1722"Father, Mother", said his sister, hitting the table with her hand
1723as introduction, "we can't carry on like this.  Maybe you can't see
1724it, but I can.  I don't want to call this monster my brother, all I
1725can say is: we have to try and get rid of it.  We've done all that's
1726humanly possible to look after it and be patient, I don't think
1727anyone could accuse us of doing anything wrong."
1729"She's absolutely right", said Gregor's father to himself.  His
1730mother, who still had not had time to catch her breath, began to
1731cough dully, her hand held out in front of her and a deranged
1732expression in her eyes.
1734Gregor's sister rushed to his mother and put her hand on her
1735forehead.  Her words seemed to give Gregor's father some more
1736definite ideas.  He sat upright, played with his uniform cap between
1737the plates left by the three gentlemen after their meal, and
1738occasionally looked down at Gregor as he lay there immobile.
1740"We have to try and get rid of it", said Gregor's sister, now
1741speaking only to her father, as her mother was too occupied with
1742coughing to listen, "it'll be the death of both of you, I can see it
1743coming.  We can't all work as hard as we have to and then come home
1744to be tortured like this, we can't endure it.  I can't endure it any
1745more."  And she broke out so heavily in tears that they flowed down
1746the face of her mother, and she wiped them away with mechanical hand
1749"My child", said her father with sympathy and obvious understanding,
1750"what are we to do?"
1752His sister just shrugged her shoulders as a sign of the helplessness
1753and tears that had taken hold of her, displacing her earlier
1756"If he could just understand us", said his father almost as a
1757question; his sister shook her hand vigorously through her tears as
1758a sign that of that there was no question.
1760"If he could just understand us", repeated Gregor's father, closing
1761his eyes in acceptance of his sister's certainty that that was quite
1762impossible, "then perhaps we could come to some kind of arrangement
1763with him.  But as it is ..."
1765"It's got to go", shouted his sister, "that's the only way, Father.
1766You've got to get rid of the idea that that's Gregor.  We've only
1767harmed ourselves by believing it for so long.  How can that be
1768Gregor? If it were Gregor he would have seen long ago that it's not
1769possible for human beings to live with an animal like that and he
1770would have gone of his own free will.  We wouldn't have a brother
1771any more, then, but we could carry on with our lives and remember
1772him with respect.  As it is this animal is persecuting us, it's
1773driven out our tenants, it obviously wants to take over the whole
1774flat and force us to sleep on the streets.  Father, look, just
1775look", she suddenly screamed, "he's starting again!"   In her alarm,
1776which was totally beyond Gregor's comprehension, his sister even
1777abandoned his mother as she pushed herself vigorously out of her
1778chair as if more willing to sacrifice her own mother than stay
1779anywhere near Gregor.  She rushed over to behind her father, who had
1780become excited merely because she was and stood up half raising his
1781hands in front of Gregor's sister as if to protect her.
1783But Gregor had had no intention of frightening anyone, least of all
1784his sister.  All he had done was begin to turn round so that he
1785could go back into his room, although that was in itself quite
1786startling as his pain-wracked condition meant that turning round
1787required a great deal of effort and he was using his head to help
1788himself do it, repeatedly raising it and striking it against the
1789floor.  He stopped and looked round.  They seemed to have realised
1790his good intention and had only been alarmed briefly.  Now they all
1791looked at him in unhappy silence.  His mother lay in her chair with
1792her legs stretched out and pressed against each other, her eyes
1793nearly closed with exhaustion; his sister sat next to his father
1794with her arms around his neck.
1796"Maybe now they'll let me turn round", thought Gregor and went back
1797to work.  He could not help panting loudly with the effort and had
1798sometimes to stop and take a rest.  No-one was making him rush any
1799more, everything was left up to him.  As soon as he had finally
1800finished turning round he began to move straight ahead.  He was
1801amazed at the great distance that separated him from his room, and
1802could not understand how he had covered that distance in his weak
1803state a little while before and almost without noticing it.  He
1804concentrated on crawling as fast as he could and hardly noticed that
1805there was not a word, not any cry, from his family to distract him.
1806He did not turn his head until he had reached the doorway.  He did
1807not turn it all the way round as he felt his neck becoming stiff,
1808but it was nonetheless enough to see that nothing behind him had
1809changed, only his sister had stood up.  With his last glance he saw
1810that his mother had now fallen completely asleep.
1812He was hardly inside his room before the door was hurriedly shut,
1813bolted and locked.  The sudden noise behind Gregor so startled him
1814that his little legs collapsed under him.  It was his sister who had
1815been in so much of a rush.  She had been standing there waiting and
1816sprung forward lightly, Gregor had not heard her coming at all, and
1817as she turned the key in the lock she said loudly to her parents "At
1820"What now, then?", Gregor asked himself as he looked round in the
1821darkness.  He soon made the discovery that he could no longer move
1822at all.  This was no surprise to him, it seemed rather that being
1823able to actually move around on those spindly little legs until then
1824was unnatural.  He also felt relatively comfortable.  It is true
1825that his entire body was aching, but the pain seemed to be slowly
1826getting weaker and weaker and would finally disappear altogether.
1827He could already hardly feel the decayed apple in his back or the
1828inflamed area around it, which was entirely covered in white dust.
1829He thought back of his family with emotion and love.  If it was
1830possible, he felt that he must go away even more strongly than his
1831sister.  He remained in this state of empty and peaceful rumination
1832until he heard the clock tower strike three in the morning.  He
1833watched as it slowly began to get light everywhere outside the
1834window too.  Then, without his willing it, his head sank down
1835completely, and his last breath flowed weakly from his nostrils.
1837When the cleaner came in early in the morning - they'd often asked
1838her not to keep slamming the doors but with her strength and in her
1839hurry she still did, so that everyone in the flat knew when she'd
1840arrived and from then on it was impossible to sleep in peace - she
1841made her usual brief look in on Gregor and at first found nothing
1842special.  She thought he was laying there so still on purpose,
1843playing the martyr; she attributed all possible understanding to
1844him.  She happened to be holding the long broom in her hand, so she
1845tried to tickle Gregor with it from the doorway.  When she had no
1846success with that she tried to make a nuisance of herself and poked
1847at him a little, and only when she found she could shove him across
1848the floor with no resistance at all did she start to pay attention.
1849She soon realised what had really happened, opened her eyes wide,
1850whistled to herself, but did not waste time to yank open the bedroom
1851doors and shout loudly into the darkness of the bedrooms: "Come and
1852'ave a look at this, it's dead, just lying there, stone dead!"
1854Mr. and  Mrs. Samsa sat upright there in their marriage bed and had
1855to make an effort to get over the shock caused by the cleaner before
1856they could grasp what she was saying.  But then, each from his own
1857side, they hurried out of bed.  Mr. Samsa threw the blanket over his
1858shoulders,  Mrs. Samsa just came out in her nightdress; and that is
1859how they went into Gregor's room.  On the way they opened the door
1860to the living room where Grete had been sleeping since the three
1861gentlemen had moved in; she was fully dressed as if she had never
1862been asleep, and the paleness of her face seemed to confirm this.
1863"Dead?", asked  Mrs. Samsa, looking at the charwoman enquiringly,
1864even though she could have checked for herself and could have known
1865it even without checking.  "That's what I said",  replied the
1866cleaner, and to prove it she gave Gregor's body another shove with
1867the broom, sending it sideways across the floor.  Mrs. Samsa made a
1868movement as if she wanted to hold back the broom, but did not
1869complete it.  "Now then", said  Mr. Samsa, "let's give thanks to God
1870for that". He crossed himself, and the three women followed his
1871example.  Grete, who had not taken her eyes from the corpse, said:
1872"Just look how thin he was.  He didn't eat anything for so long.
1873The food came out again just the same as when it went in". Gregor's
1874body was indeed completely dried up and flat, they had not seen it
1875until then, but now he was not lifted up on his little legs, nor did
1876he do anything to make them look away.
1878"Grete, come with us in here for a little while", said  Mrs. Samsa
1879with a pained smile, and Grete followed her parents into the bedroom
1880but not without looking back at the body.  The cleaner shut the door
1881and opened the window wide.  Although it was still early in the
1882morning the fresh air had something of warmth mixed in with it.  It
1883was already the end of March, after all.
1885The three gentlemen stepped out of their room and looked round in
1886amazement for their breakfasts;  they had been forgotten about.
1887"Where is our breakfast?", the middle gentleman asked the cleaner
1888irritably.  She just put her finger on her lips and made a quick and
1889silent sign to the men that they might like to come into Gregor's
1890room.  They did so, and stood around Gregor's corpse with their
1891hands in the pockets of their well-worn coats. It was now quite
1892light in the room.
1894Then the door of the bedroom opened and  Mr. Samsa appeared in his
1895uniform with his wife on one arm and his daughter on the other.  All
1896of them had been crying a little; Grete now and then pressed her
1897face against her father's arm.
1899"Leave my home.  Now!", said  Mr. Samsa, indicating the door and
1900without letting the women from him.  "What do you mean?", asked the
1901middle of the three gentlemen somewhat disconcerted, and he smiled
1902sweetly.  The other two held their hands behind their backs and
1903continually rubbed them together in gleeful anticipation of a loud
1904quarrel which could only end in their favour.  "I mean just what I
1905said", answered  Mr. Samsa, and, with his two companions, went in a
1906straight line towards the man.  At first, he stood there still,
1907looking at the ground as if the contents of his head were
1908rearranging themselves into new positions.  "Alright, we'll go
1909then", he said, and looked up at  Mr. Samsa as if he had been
1910suddenly overcome with humility and wanted permission again from
1911Mr. Samsa for his decision.  Mr. Samsa merely opened his eyes wide
1912and briefly nodded to him several times.  At that, and without
1913delay, the man actually did take long strides into the front
1914hallway; his two friends had stopped rubbing their hands some time
1915before and had been listening to what was being said.  Now they
1916jumped off after their friend as if taken with a sudden fear that
1917Mr. Samsa might go into the hallway in front of them and break the
1918connection with their leader.  Once there, all three took their hats
1919from the stand, took their sticks from the holder, bowed without a
1920word and left the premises.  Mr. Samsa and the two women followed
1921them out onto the landing; but they had had no reason to mistrust
1922the men' intentions and as they leaned over the landing they saw how
1923the three gentlemen made slow but steady progress down the many
1924steps.  As they turned the corner on each floor they disappeared and
1925would reappear a few moments later; the further down they went, the
1926more that the Samsa family lost interest in them; when a butcher's
1927boy, proud of posture with his tray on his head, passed them on his
1928way up and came nearer than they were,  Mr. Samsa and the women came
1929away from the landing and went, as if relieved, back into the flat.
1931They decided the best way to make use of that day was for relaxation
1932and to go for a walk; not only had they earned a break from work but
1933they were in serious need of it.  So they sat at the table and wrote
1934three letters of excusal,  Mr. Samsa to his employers,  Mrs. Samsa
1935to her contractor and Grete to her principal.  The cleaner came in
1936while they were writing to tell them she was going, she'd finished
1937her work for that morning.  The three of them at first just nodded
1938without looking up from what they were writing, and it was only when
1939the cleaner still did not seem to want to leave that they looked up
1940in irritation.  "Well?", asked  Mr. Samsa.  The charwoman stood in
1941the doorway with a smile on her face as if she had some tremendous
1942good news to report, but would only do it if she was clearly asked
1943to.  The almost vertical little ostrich feather on her hat, which
1944had been source of irritation to  Mr. Samsa all the time she had
1945been working for them, swayed gently in all directions.  "What is it
1946you want then?", asked  Mrs. Samsa, whom the cleaner had the most
1947respect for.  "Yes", she answered, and broke into a friendly laugh
1948that made her unable to speak straight away, "well then, that thing
1949in there, you needn't worry about how you're going to get rid of it.
1950 That's all been sorted out."   Mrs. Samsa and Grete bent down over
1951their letters as if intent on continuing with what they were
1952writing;  Mr. Samsa saw that the cleaner wanted to start describing
1953everything in detail but, with outstretched hand, he made it quite
1954clear that she was not to.  So, as she was prevented from telling
1955them all about it, she suddenly remembered what a hurry she was in
1956and, clearly peeved, called out "Cheerio then, everyone", turned
1957round sharply and left, slamming the door terribly as she went.
1959"Tonight she gets sacked", said  Mr. Samsa, but he received no reply
1960from either his wife or his daughter as the charwoman seemed to have
1961destroyed the peace they had only just gained.  They got up and went
1962over to the window where they remained with their arms around each
1963other.  Mr. Samsa twisted round in his chair to look at them and sat
1964there watching for a while.  Then he called out: "Come here, then.
1965Let's forget about all that old stuff, shall we.  Come and give me a
1966bit of attention". The two women immediately did as he said,
1967hurrying over to him where they kissed him and hugged him and then
1968they quickly finished their letters.
1970After that, the three of them left the flat together, which was
1971something they had not done for months, and took the tram out to the
1972open country outside the town.  They had the tram, filled with warm
1973sunshine, all to themselves.  Leant back comfortably on their seats,
1974they discussed their prospects and found that on closer examination
1975they were not at all bad - until then they had never asked each
1976other about their work but all three had jobs which were very good
1977and held particularly good promise for the future.  The greatest
1978improvement for the time being, of course, would be achieved quite
1979easily by moving house; what they needed now was a flat that was
1980smaller and cheaper than the current one which had been chosen by
1981Gregor, one that was in a better location and, most of all, more
1982practical.  All the time, Grete was becoming livelier.  With all the
1983worry they had been having of late her cheeks had become pale, but,
1984while they were talking,  Mr. and  Mrs. Samsa were struck, almost
1985simultaneously, with the thought of how their daughter was
1986blossoming into a well built and beautiful young lady.  They became
1987quieter.  Just from each other's glance and almost without knowing
1988it they agreed that it would soon be time to find a good man for
1989her.  And, as if in confirmation of their new dreams and good
1990intentions, as soon as they reached their destination Grete was the
1991first to get up and stretch out her young body.
1998End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
1999Translated by David Wyllie.
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