Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

  Gustav Meyrink's The Green Face

Following an intuition, he laid his hands on his knees and sat upright in the position of Egyptian idols – with their impassive expressions they suddenly seemed to him like symbols of magic power – forcing his body to maintain a corpse-like stillness, whilst at the same time sending a fiery current of will power blazing through every fibre of his body.

After only a few minutes a storm of unprecedented fury was raging inside him. A demented cacophony of voices – were they animals or humans? – the angry barking of dogs and the shrill crowing of numerous cocks all echoed in his mind; in the room an uproar broke out as if the house was about to burst; the metallic thunder of a gong reverberated through his bones, as if hell were ringing in the Day of Judgment; he felt he was about to disintegrate and his skin burnt as if he were wearing the shirt of Nessus, but he gritted his teeth and did not allow his body the slightest movement.

Unceasingly, with every heartbeat, he called for Eva.

A voice, the softest of whispers that yet pierced the racket like a sharp needle, warned him not to play with forces whose strength he did not know, that he was not yet ready to master them, that at any moment he might be plunged into incurable madness – he ignored it.

The voice grew louder and louder, so loud that the hubbub around seemed to fade into the distance; it screamed at him to turn back: Eva would indeed come if he did not stop unleashing the dark forces of the underworld in his effort to call her, but if she should come before her time of spiritual development was finished, her life would be snuffed out like a candle flame the very moment she appeared, and that would burden him with a greater sorrow than he could bear. He gritted his teeth and ignored it. The voice then tried to reason with him: Eva would have long since come to him or sent news of where she was, if it had been allowed; and did he not have proof that she was alive and hourly sent her passionate thoughts out to him, in the certainty of her presence which he felt every day? He ignored it and called and called.

Suddenly the pandaemonium died down and he saw that the room was as bright as day. In the middle there rose, as if it had sprouted from the floorboards, a post of rotten wood with a cross-beam at the top, like a truncated cross.