The Traveler – a Short Love Story

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Martha opens her door to a traveler during a storm. He stays, becoming a tyrant. She learns he’s Love, leaving her with reflection.

Cold, and icy was the night. The wind whistled fearfully and angrily, the rain fell tenaciously, now in gusts, now in strong downpours; and the two or three times that Martha had dared to approach her window to see if the storm was abating, she was dazzled by the purple light of lightning and horrified by the rumbling of thunder, so above her head, it seemed to tear down the house.

At the point when the elements were unleashing with more fury, Martha distinctly heard someone calling at her door, and she perceived a plaintive and urgent tone urging her to open.

Undoubtedly, prudence advised Martha to ignore it, for on such a frightful night, when no honorable neighbor dares to go out into the street, only malefactors and lost libertines are capable of braving wind and rain in search of adventures and prey.

Martha should have reflected that he who has a home, fire in it, and by his side a mother, a sister, a wife to console him, does not go out in January with a storm unleashed, nor does he call at strangers’ doors, nor disturb the tranquility of honest and secluded maidens.

But reflection, a most dignified and very ladylike person, has the damned vice of arriving late, which only serves to embitter tastes and season regrets. Martha’s reflection had lagged behind, as usual, and the impulse of pity, the first to leap in a woman’s heart, made the maiden, through the hatch, ask compassionately:

“Who’s there?”

A tenor voice, sweet and vibrant, replied in a persuasive tone:

“A traveler.”

And the blessed Martha, without delving into further inquiries, removed the bar, slid back the bolt, and turned the key, moved by the charm of that voice so vibrant and so sweet.

The traveler entered, greeting courteously; and, shaking off his hat with a gentle ease, its feathers dripping, and unveiling his cloak, soaked by the rain, he thanked for the hospitality and took a seat near the fire, well lit by Martha.

She barely dared to look at him, for at that moment the well-known late reflection began to take its toll, and Martha understood that giving shelter to the first one who calls is a notable recklessness.

Nevertheless, even without deciding to lift her eyes, she saw from the corner of her eye that her guest was a young man of good stature, pale, blond, with a pretty and sad face, an air of a gentleman, accustomed to command and to occupy a high position.

Martha felt shrunken and full of confusion, although the traveler appeared grateful and spoke flattering things to her, which seemed even more so because of the enchantment of his voice; and in order to disguise her turmoil, she hurried to serve dinner and offer the traveler the best room in the house, where he could retire to sleep.

Frightened by her own indiscreet conduct, Martha could not sleep at all that night, waiting impatiently for dawn so that the guest would leave. And it happened that when he came down, already rested and smiling, to have breakfast, he spoke nothing of leaving, nor at lunchtime, nor even in the afternoon; and Martha, entertained and captivated by his eloquence and chatter, did not have the courage to tell him that she was not an innkeeper by trade.

Weeks passed, months went by, and in Martha’s house there was no other master or owner than that traveler whom, on a stormy night, she had the imprudence to welcome. He commanded, and Martha obeyed, submissive, silent, swift as thought.

Do not think, however, that Martha was properly happy. On the contrary, she lived in constant unease and sorrow. I have called the traveler a master, but I should have called him a tyrant, for his despotic whims and his inconsistent mood drove Martha half crazy.

At first, the traveler seemed obedient, affectionate, flattering, humble; but he grew and asserted himself until there was no one who could bear him. The worst part was that Martha could never guess his desire or anticipate his discomfort: without reason or cause, when it should be least feared or expected, he was frenzied or very content, going, in less time than it takes to say it, from anger to flattery and from laughter to rage.

He suffered fits of fury and senseless tantrums, which within two minutes turned into displays of affection and angelic placidity; sometimes he stubbornly persisted like a child, sometimes he despaired like a man; he would either overwhelm Martha with insults or lavish her with the sweetest names and the most tender endearments.

His extravagances were sometimes so unbearable that Martha, with her nerves on edge, her soul turned inside out, and her heart in her mouth, cursed the fatal moment when she welcomed her terrible guest.

The worst part was that just when Martha, her patience exhausted, was about to revolt and shake off the yoke, it seemed as if he anticipated it and asked for forgiveness with the sincerity and grace of a child, so that Martha not only instantly forgot his grievances, but, for the exquisite pleasure of forgiving, she would suffer three times the past discomforts.

She had forgotten them all… when the guest, with half-words and precautions and circumlocutions, announced that “now” the time had come for his departure!

Martha stood like marble, and the slow tears that desperation wrung from her fell onto the hands of the traveler, who smiled sadly and murmured consoling phrases in a low voice, promises to write, to return, to remember.

And as Martha, in her bitterness, stammered reproaches, the guest, with that sweet and vibrant tenor voice, pleaded in apology:

“I told you, my dear, that I am a traveler. I stop, but I do not stay; I settle, but I do not settle down.”

And you must know that only upon hearing this frank declaration, only upon feeling that the most intimate fibers of her being were torn apart, did innocent Martha realize that that fatal traveler was Love, and that she had opened the door, without thinking, to the most cruel dictator of the world.

Ignoring Martha’s tears (he’s not one to attend to tears!), paying no heed to the trail of inexhaustible sorrow he left behind, Love departed, cloaked in his cape, the brim of his hat tilted – its feathers, now dry, curled and floated in the wind – in search of new horizons, to knock on other doors better barricaded and defended.

And Martha remained tranquil, mistress of her home, free from scares, fears, and alarms, and surrendered to the company of serious and excellent reflection, which advices so well, albeit a little late.

We do not know what they may have discussed; we only have certain news that on stormy nights, when the wind whistles and the rain beats against the windows, Martha, placing her hand upon her heart, which aches from beating so hurriedly, cannot help but listen, in case the guest should knock at the door.

Also Read: Uncharted Hearts or The Lost Heart

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1 thought on “The Traveler – a Short Love Story”

  1. This story is so beautifully written. Such expansive yet concise vocabulary skills demonstrated by the author paint emotional imagery that is moving and relateable. It was a genuine delight to read this work.

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