Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Gustav Meyrink's The Golem

Then I huddled down in the opposite corner and felt my skin slowly, very slowly begin to grow warmer. But the gruesome awareness of the icy skeleton inside my body refused to leave. I sat there motionless, my eyes wandering round the room. The playing card I had noticed first – the Juggler – was still in the ray of light that ran across the middle of the room.

I stared at it, I could not tear my eyes away.

As far as I could tell from that distance, it seemed to be a crude picture, painted in watercolours by a child's hand, representing the Hebrew character Aleph in the form of a man in quaint, old-fashioned dress, with a short, pointed beard, and one hand raised whilst the other pointed downwards. I could feel a disturbing thought seeping its way into my mind: did the man's face not bear a strange resemblance to my own? That beard, it wasn't right for a Juggler. I crawled over to where the card lay and threw it into the corner with the rest of the jumble, just to rid myself of the tormenting sight.

There it was now, lying there and gleaming across at me through the gloom, a blurred, greyish-white smudge.

I forced myself to think about what I could do to get back to my room. Wait for morning, then call out from the window to passers-by to find a ladder and bring me some candles or a lantern! Without a light I would never manage to find my way back through the maze of tunnels, that was certain, horrifyingly certain. Or, if the window should be too high, perhaps someone could climb onto the roof and use a rope …? My God! It struck me like a bolt of lightning. Now I knew where I was! A room without an entrance, with only a barred window, the ancient house in Altschulgasse that everyone avoided! Many years ago someone had let himself down by a rope to look in through the window and the rope had broken and … Yes! I was in the house where the ghostly figure of the Golem disappeared each time!