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Franz Kafka
Metamorphosis 01
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[Translated by David Wyllie]


One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams,
he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.
He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a
little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and
divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was
hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any
moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the
size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he

"What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't a dream.
His room, a proper human room although a little too small,
lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A
collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table--
Samsa was a travelling salesman-- and above it there hung a
picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated
magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a
lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright,
raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower
arm towards the viewer.

Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull
weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane,
which made him feel quite sad. "How about if I sleep a
little bit longer and forget all this nonsense", he thought,
but that was something he was unable to do because he was
used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state
couldn't get into that position. However hard he threw
himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he
was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes
so that he wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs,
and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain
there that he had never felt before.

"Oh, God", he thought, "what a strenuous career it is that
I've chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business
like this takes much more effort than doing your own
business at home, and on top of that there's the curse of
travelling, worries about making train connections, bad and
irregular food, contact with different people all the time
so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly
with them. It can all go to Hell!" He felt a slight itch
up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back
towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better;
found where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with
lots of little white spots which he didn't know what to make
of; and when he tried to feel the place with one of his legs
he drew it quickly back because as soon as he touched it he
was overcome by a cold shudder.

He slid back into his former position. "Getting up early
all the time", he thought, "it makes you stupid. You've got
to get enough sleep. Other travelling salesmen live a life
of luxury. For instance, whenever I go back to the guest
house during the morning to copy out the contract, these
gentlemen are always still sitting there eating their
breakfasts. I ought to just try that with my boss; I'd get
kicked out on the spot. But who knows, maybe that would be
the best thing for me. If I didn't have my parents to think
about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have
gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him
everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He'd
fall right off his desk! And it's a funny sort of business
to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your
subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go
right up close because the boss is hard of hearing. Well,
there's still some hope; once I've got the money together to
pay off my parents' debt to him-- another five or six years
I suppose-- that's definitely what I'll do. That's when
I'll make the big change. First of all though, I've got to
get up, my train leaves at five."

And he looked over at the alarm clock, ticking on the chest
of drawers. "God in Heaven!" he thought. It was half past
six and the hands were quietly moving forwards, it was even
later than half past, more like quarter to seven. Had the
alarm clock not rung? He could see from the bed that it had
been set for four o'clock as it should have been; it
certainly must have rung. Yes, but was it possible to
quietly sleep through that furniture-rattling noise? True,
he had not slept peacefully, but probably all the more
deeply because of that. What should he do now? The next
train went at seven; if he were to catch that he would have
to rush like mad and the collection of samples was still not
packed, and he did not at all feel particularly fresh and
lively. And even if he did catch the train he would not
avoid his boss's anger as the office assistant would have
been there to see the five o'clock train go, he would have
put in his report about Gregor's not being there a long time
ago. The office assistant was the boss's man, spineless,
and with no understanding. What about if he reported sick?
But that would be extremely strained and suspicious as in
fifteen years of service Gregor had never once yet been ill.
His boss would certainly come round with the doctor from the
medical insurance company, accuse his parents of having a
lazy son, and accept the doctor's recommendation not to make
any claim as the doctor believed that no-one was ever ill
but that many were workshy. And what's more, would he have
been entirely wrong in this case? Gregor did in fact, apart
from excessive sleepiness after sleeping for so long, feel
completely well and even felt much hungrier than usual.

He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to
decide to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter
to seven. There was a cautious knock at the door near his
head. "Gregor", somebody called-- it was his mother-- "it's
quarter to seven. Didn't you want to go somewhere?" That
gentle voice! Gregor was shocked when he heard his own
voice answering, it could hardly be recognised as the voice
he had had before. As if from deep inside him, there was a
painful and uncontrollable squeaking mixed in with it, the
words could be made out at first but then there was a sort
of echo which made them unclear, leaving the hearer unsure
whether he had heard properly or not. Gregor had wanted to
give a full answer and explain everything, but in the
circumstances contented himself with saying: "Yes, mother,
yes, thank-you, I'm getting up now." The change in Gregor's
voice probably could not be noticed outside through the
wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with this
explanation and shuffled away. But this short conversation
made the other members of the family aware that Gregor,
against their expectations was still at home, and soon his
father came knocking at one of the side doors, gently, but
with his fist. "Gregor, Gregor", he called, "what's wrong?"
And after a short while he called again with a warning
deepness in his voice: "Gregor! Gregor!" At the other side
door his sister came plaintively: "Gregor? Aren't you well?
Do you need anything?"

Gregor answered to both sides: "I'm ready, now", making
an effort to remove all the strangeness from his voice by
enunciating very carefully and putting long pauses between
each, individual word. His father went back to his
breakfast, but his sister whispered: "Gregor, open the door,
I beg of you." Gregor, however, had no thought of opening
the door, and instead congratulated himself for his cautious
habit, acquired from his travelling, of locking all doors at
night even when he was at home.

The first thing he wanted to do was to get up in peace
without being disturbed, to get dressed, and most of all to
have his breakfast. Only then would he consider what to do
next, as he was well aware that he would not bring his
thoughts to any sensible conclusions by lying in bed. He
remembered that he had often felt a slight pain in bed,
perhaps caused by lying awkwardly, but that had always
turned out to be pure imagination and he wondered how his
imaginings would slowly resolve themselves today. He did
not have the slightest doubt that the change in his voice
was nothing more than the first sign of a serious cold,
which was an occupational hazard for travelling salesmen.

It was a simple matter to throw off the covers; he only had
to blow himself up a little and they fell off by themselves.
But it became difficult after that, especially as he was so
exceptionally broad. He would have used his arms and his
hands to push himself up; but instead of them he only had
all those little legs continuously moving in different
directions, and which he was moreover unable to control. If
he wanted to bend one of them, then that was the first one
that would stretch itself out; and if he finally managed to
do what he wanted with that leg, all the others seemed to
be set free and would move about painfully. "This is
something that can't be done in bed", Gregor said to
himself, "so don't keep trying to do it".

The first thing he wanted to do was get the lower part of
his body out of the bed, but he had never seen this lower
part, and could not imagine what it looked like; it turned
out to be too hard to move; it went so slowly; and finally,
almost in a frenzy, when he carelessly shoved himself
forwards with all the force he could gather, he chose the
wrong direction, hit hard against the lower bedpost, and
learned from the burning pain he felt that the lower part of
his body might well, at present, be the most sensitive.

So then he tried to get the top part of his body out of the
bed first, carefully turning his head to the side. This he
managed quite easily, and despite its breadth and its
weight, the bulk of his body eventually followed slowly in
the direction of the head. But when he had at last got his
head out of the bed and into the fresh air it occurred to
him that if he let himself fall it would be a miracle if his
head were not injured, so he became afraid to carry on
pushing himself forward the same way. And he could not
knock himself out now at any price; better to stay in bed
than lose consciousness.

It took just as much effort to get back to where he had been
earlier, but when he lay there sighing, and was once more
watching his legs as they struggled against each other even
harder than before, if that was possible, he could think of
no way of bringing peace and order to this chaos. He told
himself once more that it was not possible for him to stay
in bed and that the most sensible thing to do would be to
get free of it in whatever way he could at whatever
sacrifice. At the same time, though, he did not forget to
remind himself that calm consideration was much better than
rushing to desperate conclusions. At times like this he
would direct his eyes to the window and look out as clearly
as he could, but unfortunately, even the other side of the
narrow street was enveloped in morning fog and the view
had little confidence or cheer to offer him. "Seven o'clock,
already", he said to himself when the clock struck again,
"seven o'clock, and there's still a fog like this." And he
lay there quietly a while longer, breathing lightly as if he
perhaps expected the total stillness to bring things back to
their real and natural state.

But then he said to himself: "Before it strikes quarter past
seven I'll definitely have to have got properly out of bed.
And by then somebody will have come round from work to ask
what's happened to me as well, as they open up at work
before seven o'clock." And so he set himself to the task of
swinging the entire length of his body out of the bed all at
the same time. If he succeeded in falling out of bed in
this way and kept his head raised as he did so he could
probably avoid injuring it. His back seemed to be quite
hard, and probably nothing would happen to it falling onto
the carpet. His main concern was for the loud noise he was
bound to make, and which even through all the doors would
probably raise concern if not alarm. But it was something
that had to be risked.

When Gregor was already sticking half way out of the bed--
the new method was more of a game than an effort, all he had
to do was rock back and forth-- it occurred to him how
simple everything would be if somebody came to help him.
Two strong people-- he had his father and the maid in mind--
would have been more than enough; they would only have to
push their arms under the dome of his back, peel him away
from the bed, bend down with the load and then be patient
and careful as he swang over onto the floor, where,
hopefully, the little legs would find a use. Should he
really call for help though, even apart from the fact that
all the doors were locked? Despite all the difficulty he
was in, he could not suppress a smile at this thought.

After a while he had already moved so far across that it
would have been hard for him to keep his balance if he
rocked too hard. The time was now ten past seven and he
would have to make a final decision very soon. Then there
was a ring at the door of the flat. "That'll be someone
from work", he said to himself, and froze very still,
although his little legs only became all the more lively as
they danced around. For a moment everything remained quiet.
"They're not opening the door", Gregor said to himself,
caught in some nonsensical hope. But then of course, the
maid's firm steps went to the door as ever and opened it.
Gregor only needed to hear the visitor's first words of
greeting and he knew who it was - the chief clerk himself.
Why did Gregor have to be the only one condemned to work for
a company where they immediately became highly suspicious at
the slightest shortcoming? Were all employees, every one of
them, louts, was there not one of them who was faithful and
devoted who would go so mad with pangs of conscience that
he couldn't get out of bed if he didn't spend at least a couple
of hours in the morning on company business? Was it really
not enough to let one of the trainees make enquiries--
assuming enquiries were even necessary-- did the chief clerk
have to come himself, and did they have to show the whole,
innocent family that this was so suspicious that only the
chief clerk could be trusted to have the wisdom to
investigate it? And more because these thoughts had made
him upset than through any proper decision, he swang himself
with all his force out of the bed. There was a loud thump,
but it wasn't really a loud noise. His fall was softened a
little by the carpet, and Gregor's back was also more
elastic than he had thought, which made the sound muffled
and not too noticeable. He had not held his head carefully
enough, though, and hit it as he fell; annoyed and in pain,
he turned it and rubbed it against the carpet.

"Something's fallen down in there", said the chief clerk in
the room on the left. Gregor tried to imagine whether
something of the sort that had happened to him today could
ever happen to the chief clerk too; you had to concede that
it was possible. But as if in gruff reply to this question,
the chief clerk's firm footsteps in his highly polished
boots could now be heard in the adjoining room. From the
room on his right, Gregor's sister whispered to him to let
him know: "Gregor, the chief clerk is here."

"Yes, I know", said Gregor to himself; but without daring to
raise his voice loud enough for his sister to hear him.

"Gregor", said his father now from the room to his left,
"the chief clerk has come round and wants to know why you
didn't leave on the early train. We don't know what to say
to him. And anyway, he wants to speak to you personally.
So please open up this door. I'm sure he'll be good enough
to forgive the untidiness of your room."

Then the chief clerk called "Good morning, Mr. Samsa".

"He isn't well", said his mother to the chief clerk, while
his father continued to speak through the door. "He isn't
well, please believe me. Why else would Gregor have missed
a train! The lad only ever thinks about the business. It
nearly makes me cross the way he never goes out in the
evenings; he's been in town for a week now but stayed
home every evening. He sits with us in the kitchen and just
reads the paper or studies train timetables. His idea of
relaxation is working with his fretsaw. He's made a little
frame, for instance, it only took him two or three evenings,
you'll be amazed how nice it is; it's hanging up in his
room; you'll see it as soon as Gregor opens the door.
Anyway, I'm glad you're here; we wouldn't have been able to
get Gregor to open the door by ourselves; he's so stubborn;
and I'm sure he isn't well, he said this morning that he is,
but he isn't."

"I'll be there in a moment", said Gregor slowly and
thoughtfully, but without moving so that he would not miss
any word of the conversation. "Well I can't think of any
other way of explaining it, Mrs. Samsa", said the chief
clerk, "I hope it's nothing serious. But on the other hand,
I must say that if we people in commerce ever become
slightly unwell then, fortunately or unfortunately as you
like, we simply have to overcome it because of business
considerations." "Can the chief clerk come in to see you
now then?", asked his father impatiently, knocking at the
door again. "No", said Gregor. In the room on his right
there followed a painful silence; in the room on his left
his sister began to cry.

So why did his sister not go and join the others? She had
probably only just got up and had not even begun to get
dressed. And why was she crying? Was it because he had
not got up, and had not let the chief clerk in, because he was
in danger of losing his job and if that happened his boss
would once more pursue their parents with the same demands
as before? There was no need to worry about things like
that yet. Gregor was still there and had not the slightest
intention of abandoning his family. For the time being he
just lay there on the carpet, and no-one who knew the
condition he was in would seriously have expected him to let
the chief clerk in. It was only a minor discourtesy, and a
suitable excuse could easily be found for it later on, it
was not something for which Gregor could be sacked on the
spot. And it seemed to Gregor much more sensible to leave
him now in peace instead of disturbing him with talking at
him and crying. But the others didn't know what was
happening, they were worried, that would excuse their
behaviour. The chief clerk now raised his voice, "Mr.
Samsa", he called to him, "what is wrong? You barricade
yourself in your room, give us no more than yes or no for an
answer, you are causing serious and unnecessary concern to
your parents and you fail - and I mention this just by the
way - you fail to carry out your business duties in a way
that is quite unheard of. I'm speaking here on behalf of
your parents and of your employer, and really must request a
clear and immediate explanation. I am astonished, quite
astonished. I thought I knew you as a calm and sensible
person, and now you suddenly seem to be showing off with
peculiar whims. This morning, your employer did suggest a
possible reason for your failure to appear, it's true-- it
had to do with the money that was recently entrusted to you
-- but I came near to giving him my word of honour that that
could not be the right explanation. But now that I see your
incomprehensible stubbornness I no longer feel any wish
whatsoever to intercede on your behalf. And nor is your
position all that secure. I had originally intended to say
all this to you in private, but since you cause me to waste
my time here for no good reason I don't see why your parents
should not also learn of it. Your turnover has been very
unsatisfactory of late; I grant you that it's not the time
of year to do especially good business, we recognise that;
but there simply is no time of year to do no business at
all, Mr. Samsa, we cannot allow there to be."

"But Sir", called Gregor, beside himself and forgetting all
else in the excitement, "I'll open up immediately, just a
moment. I'm slightly unwell, an attack of dizziness, I
haven't been able to get up. I'm still in bed now. I'm
quite fresh again now, though. I'm just getting out of bed.
Just a moment. Be patient! It's not quite as easy as I'd
thought. I'm quite alright now, though. It's shocking,
what can suddenly happen to a person! I was quite alright
last night, my parents know about it, perhaps better than
me, I had a small symptom of it last night already. They
must have noticed it. I don't know why I didn't let you
know at work! But you always think you can get over an
illness without staying at home. Please, don't make my
parents suffer! There's no basis for any of the accusations
you're making; nobody's ever said a word to me about any of
these things. Maybe you haven't read the latest contracts I
sent in. I'll set off with the eight o'clock train, as
well, these few hours of rest have given me strength. You
don't need to wait, sir; I'll be in the office soon after
you, and please be so good as to tell that to the boss and
recommend me to him!" And while Gregor gushed out these
words, hardly knowing what he was saying, he made his way
over to the chest of drawers-- this was easily done,
probably because of the practise he had already had in bed--
where he now tried to get himself upright. He really did
want to open the door, really did want to let them see him
and to speak with the chief clerk; the others were being so
insistent, and he was curious to learn what they would say
when they caught sight of him. If they were shocked then it
would no longer be Gregor's responsibility and he could
rest. If, however, they took everything calmly he would
still have no reason to be upset, and if he hurried he
really could be at the station for eight o'clock. The first
few times he tried to climb up on the smooth chest of
drawers he just slid down again, but he finally gave himself
one last swing and stood there upright; the lower part of
his body was in serious pain but he no longer gave any
attention to it. Now he let himself fall against the back
of a nearby chair and held tightly to the edges of it with
his little legs. By now he had also calmed down, and kept
quiet so that he could listen to what the chief clerk was

"Did you understand a word of all that?" the chief clerk
asked his parents, "surely he's not trying to make fools of
us". "Oh, God!" called his mother, who was already in
tears, "he could be seriously ill and we're making him
suffer. Grete! Grete!" she then cried. "Mother?" his sister
called from the other side. They communicated across
Gregor's room. "You'll have to go for the doctor straight
away. Gregor is ill. Quick, get the doctor. Did you hear
the way Gregor spoke just now?"

"That was the voice of an animal", said the chief clerk,
with a calmness that was in contrast with his mother's
screams. "Anna! Anna!" his father called into the kitchen
through the entrance hall, clapping his hands, "get a
locksmith here, now!" And the two girls, their skirts
swishing, immediately ran out through the hall, wrenching
open the front door of the flat as they went. How had his
sister managed to get dressed so quickly? There was no
sound of the door banging shut again; they must have left it
open; people often do in homes where something awful
has happened.

Gregor, in contrast, had become much calmer. So they
couldn't understand his words any more, although they seemed
clear enough to him, clearer than before-- perhaps his ears
had become used to the sound. They had realised, though,
that there was something wrong with him, and were ready to
help. The first response to his situation had been
confident and wise, and that made him feel better. He felt
that he had been drawn back in among people, and from the
doctor and the locksmith he expected great and surprising
achievements-- although he did not really distinguish one
from the other. Whatever was said next would be crucial,
so, in order to make his voice as clear as possible, he
coughed a little, but taking care to do this not too loudly
as even this might well sound different from the way that a
human coughs and he was no longer sure he could judge this
for himself. Meanwhile, it had become very quiet in the
next room. Perhaps his parents were sat at the table
whispering with the chief clerk, or perhaps they were all
pressed against the door and listening.

Gregor slowly pushed his way over to the door with the
chair. Once there he let go of it and threw himself onto
the door, holding himself upright against it using the
adhesive on the tips of his legs. He rested there a little
while to recover from the effort involved and then set
himself to the task of turning the key in the lock with his
mouth. He seemed, unfortunately, to have no proper teeth--
how was he, then, to grasp the key?-- but the lack of teeth
was, of course, made up for with a very strong jaw; using
the jaw, he really was able to start the key turning,
ignoring the fact that he must have been causing some kind
of damage as a brown fluid came from his mouth, flowed
over the key and dripped onto the floor.

"Listen", said the chief clerk in the next room, "he's
turning the key." Gregor was greatly encouraged by this;
but they all should have been calling to him, his father and
his mother too: "Well done, Gregor", they should have cried,
"keep at it, keep hold of the lock!" And with the idea that
they were all excitedly following his efforts, he bit on the
key with all his strength, paying no attention to the pain
he was causing himself. As the key turned round he turned
around the lock with it, only holding himself upright with
his mouth, and hung onto the key or pushed it down again
with the whole weight of his body as needed. The clear
sound of the lock as it snapped back was Gregor's sign that
he could break his concentration, and as he regained his
breath he said to himself: "So, I didn't need the locksmith
after all". Then he lay his head on the handle of the door
to open it completely.

Because he had to open the door in this way, it was already
wide open before he could be seen. He had first to slowly
turn himself around one of the double doors, and he had to
do it very carefully if he did not want to fall flat on his
back before entering the room. He was still occupied with
this difficult movement, unable to pay attention to anything
else, when he heard the chief clerk exclaim a loud "Oh!",
which sounded like the soughing of the wind. Now he also
saw him-- he was the nearest to the door-- his hand pressed
against his open mouth and slowly retreating as if driven by
a steady and invisible force. Gregor's mother, her hair
still dishevelled from bed despite the chief clerk's being
there, looked at his father. Then she unfolded her arms,
took two steps forward towards Gregor and sank down onto
the floor into her skirts that spread themselves out around her
as her head disappeared down onto her breast. His father
looked hostile, and clenched his fists as if wanting to
knock Gregor back into his room. Then he looked uncertainly
round the living room, covered his eyes with his hands and
wept so that his powerful chest shook.

So Gregor did not go into the room, but leant against the
inside of the other door which was still held bolted in
place. In this way only half of his body could be seen,
along with his head above it which he leant over to one side
as he peered out at the others. Meanwhile the day had
become much lighter; part of the endless, grey-black
building on the other side of the street-- which was a
hospital-- could be seen quite clearly with the austere and
regular line of windows piercing its facade; the rain was
still falling, now throwing down large, individual droplets
which hit the ground one at a time. The washing up from
breakfast lay on the table; there was so much of it because,
for Gregor's father, breakfast was the most important meal
of the day and he would stretch it out for several hours as
he sat reading a number of different newspapers. On the
wall exactly opposite there was photograph of Gregor when he
was a lieutenant in the army, his sword in his hand and a
carefree smile on his face as he called forth respect for
his uniform and bearing. The door to the entrance hall was
open and as the front door of the flat was also open he
could see onto the landing and the stairs where they began
their way down below.

"Now, then", said Gregor, well aware that he was the only
one to have kept calm, "I'll get dressed straight away now,
pack up my samples and set off. Will you please just let me
leave? You can see", he said to the chief clerk, "that I'm
not stubborn and like I like to do my job; being a
commercial traveller is arduous but without travelling I
couldn't earn my living. So where are you going, in to the
office? Yes? Will you report everything accurately, then?
It's quite possible for someone to be temporarily unable to
work, but that's just the right time to remember what's been
achieved in the past and consider that later on, once the
difficulty has been removed, he will certainly work with all
the more diligence and concentration. You're well aware
that I'm seriously in debt to our employer as well as having
to look after my parents and my sister, so that I'm trapped
in a difficult situation, but I will work my way out of it
again. Please don't make things any harder for me than they
are already, and don't take sides against me at the office.
I know that nobody likes the travellers. They think we earn
an enormous wage as well as having a soft time of it.
That's just prejudice but they have no particular reason to
think better it. But you, sir, you have a better overview
than the rest of the staff, in fact, if I can say this in
confidence, a better overview than the boss himself-- it's
very easy for a businessman like him to make mistakes about
his employees and judge them more harshly than he should.
And you're also well aware that we travellers spend almost
the whole year away from the office, so that we can very
easily fall victim to gossip and chance and groundless
complaints, and it's almost impossible to defend yourself
from that sort of thing, we don't usually even hear about
them, or if at all it's when we arrive back home exhausted
from a trip, and that's when we feel the harmful effects of
what's been going on without even knowing what caused them.
Please, don't go away, at least first say something to show
that you grant that I'm at least partly right!"

But the chief clerk had turned away as soon as Gregor had
started to speak, and, with protruding lips, only stared
back at him over his trembling shoulders as he left. He did
not keep still for a moment while Gregor was speaking, but
moved steadily towards the door without taking his eyes off
him. He moved very gradually, as if there had been some
secret prohibition on leaving the room. It was only when he
had reached the entrance hall that he made a sudden
movement, drew his foot from the living room, and rushed
forward in a panic. In the hall, he stretched his right
hand far out towards the stairway as if out there, there
were some supernatural force waiting to save him.

Gregor realised that it was out of the question to let the
chief clerk go away in this mood if his position in the firm
was not to be put into extreme danger. That was something
his parents did not understand very well; over the years,
they had become convinced that this job would provide for
Gregor for his entire life, and besides, they had so much to
worry about at present that they had lost sight of any
thought for the future. Gregor, though, did think about the
future. The chief clerk had to be held back, calmed down,
convinced and finally won over; the future of Gregor and his
family depended on it! If only his sister were here! She
was clever; she was already in tears while Gregor was still
lying peacefully on his back. And the chief clerk was a
lover of women, surely she could persuade him; she would
close the front door in the entrance hall and talk him out
of his shocked state. But his sister was not there, Gregor
would have to do the job himself.

And without considering that he still was not familiar with
how well he could move about in his present state, or that
his speech still might not-- or probably would not-- be
understood, he let go of the door; pushed himself through
the opening; tried to reach the chief clerk on the landing
who, ridiculously, was holding on to the banister with both
hands; but Gregor fell immediately over and, with a little
scream as he sought something to hold onto, landed on his
numerous little legs. Hardly had that happened than, for
the first time that day, he began to feel alright with his
body; the little legs had the solid ground under them; to
his pleasure, they did exactly as he told them; they were
even making the effort to carry him where he wanted to go;
and he was soon believing that all his sorrows would soon be
finally at an end. He held back the urge to move but
swayed from side to side as he crouched there on the floor.
His mother was not far away in front of him and seemed, at
first, quite engrossed in herself, but then she suddenly
jumped up with her arms outstretched and her fingers spread
shouting: "Help, for pity's sake, Help!" The way she held
her head suggested she wanted to see Gregor better, but the
unthinking way she was hurrying backwards showed that she
did not; she had forgotten that the table was behind her
with all the breakfast things on it; when she reached the
table she sat quickly down on it without knowing what she
was doing; without even seeming to notice that the coffee
pot had been knocked over and a gush of coffee was pouring
down onto the carpet.

"Mother, mother", said Gregor gently, looking up at her. He
had completely forgotten the chief clerk for the moment, but
could not help himself snapping in the air with his jaws at
the sight of the flow of coffee. That set his mother
screaming anew, she fled from the table and into the arms of
his father as he rushed towards her. Gregor, though, had no
time to spare for his parents now; the chief clerk had
already reached the stairs; with his chin on the banister,
he looked back for the last time. Gregor made a run for
him; he wanted to be sure of reaching him; the chief clerk
must have expected something, as he leapt down several steps
at once and disappeared; his shouts resounding all around
the staircase. The flight of the chief clerk seemed,
unfortunately, to put Gregor's father into a panic as well.
Until then he had been relatively self controlled, but now,
instead of running after the chief clerk himself, or at
least not impeding Gregor as he ran after him, Gregor's
father seized the chief clerk's stick in his right hand (the
chief clerk had left it behind on a chair, along with his
hat and overcoat), picked up a large newspaper from the
table with his left, and used them to drive Gregor back into
his room, stamping his foot at him as he went. Gregor's
appeals to his father were of no help, his appeals were
simply not understood, however much he humbly turned his
head his father merely stamped his foot all the harder.

Across the room, despite the chilly weather, Gregor's mother
had pulled open a window, leant far out of it and pressed
her hands to her face. A strong draught of air flew in from
the street towards the stairway, the curtains flew up, the
newspapers on the table fluttered and some of them were
blown onto the floor. Nothing would stop Gregor's father as
he drove him back, making hissing noises at him like a wild
man. Gregor had never had any practice in moving backwards
and was only able to go very slowly. If Gregor had only
been allowed to turn round he would have been back in his
room straight away, but he was afraid that if he took the
time to do that his father would become impatient, and there
was the threat of a lethal blow to his back or head from the
stick in his father's hand any moment. Eventually, though,
Gregor realised that he had no choice as he saw, to his
disgust, that he was quite incapable of going backwards in a
straight line; so he began, as quickly as possible and with
frequent anxious glances at his father, to turn himself
round. It went very slowly, but perhaps his father was able
to see his good intentions as he did nothing to hinder him,
in fact now and then he used the tip of his stick to give
directions from a distance as to which way to turn.

If only his father would stop that unbearable hissing! It
was making Gregor quite confused. When he had nearly
finished turning round, still listening to that hissing, he
made a mistake and turned himself back a little the way he
had just come. He was pleased when he finally had his head
in front of the doorway, but then saw that it was too
narrow, and his body was too broad to get through it without
further difficulty. In his present mood, it obviously did
not occur to his father to open the other of the double
doors so that Gregor would have enough space to get through.
He was merely fixed on the idea that Gregor should be got
back into his room as quickly as possible. Nor would he
ever have allowed Gregor the time to get himself upright as
preparation for getting through the doorway. What he did,
making more noise than ever, was to drive Gregor forwards
all the harder as if there had been nothing in the way; it
sounded to Gregor as if there was now more than one father
behind him; it was not a pleasant experience, and Gregor
pushed himself into the doorway without regard for what
might happen. One side of his body lifted itself, he lay at
an angle in the doorway, one flank scraped on the white door
and was painfully injured, leaving vile brown flecks on it,
soon he was stuck fast and would not have been able to move
at all by himself, the little legs along one side hung
quivering in the air while those on the other side were
pressed painfully against the ground. Then his father gave
him a hefty shove from behind which released him from where
he was held and sent him flying, and heavily bleeding, deep
into his room. The door was slammed shut with the stick,
then, finally, all was quiet.


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