“Legend,” a very short tale from Jorge Luis Borges

“Legend” by Jorge Luis Borges

Translated by Andrew Hurley


Cain and Abel came upon each other after Abel’s death. They were walking through the desert, and they recognized each other from afar, since both men were very tall. The two brothers sat on the ground, made a fire, and ate. They sat silently, as weary people do when dusk begins to fall. In the sky, a star glimmered, though it had not yet been given a name. In the light of the fire, Cain saw that Abel’s forehead bore the mark of the stone, and he dropped the bread he was about to carry to his mouth and asked his brother to forgive him.

“Was it you that killed me, or did I kill you?” Abel answered. “I don’t re-member anymore; here we are, together, like before.”

“Now I know that you have truly forgiven me,” Cain said, “because forgetting is forgiving. I, too, will try to forget.”

“Yes,” said Abel slowly. “So long as remorse lasts, guilt lasts.”

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