Under the sign of 8—Pivotal objects

And now when the board had been placed on the illuminated table between the lamp and the raspberries, and its dust wiped off with a bit of newspaper, his father's face was no longer mocking, and Luzhin, forgetting his fear, forgetting his secret, felt permeated all at once with proud excitement at the thought that he could, if he wanted, 
display his art. His father began to set out the pieces. One of the Pawns was replaced by an absurd purple-colored affair in the shape of a tiny bottle; in place of one Rook there was a checker; the Knights were headless and the one horse's head that remained after the box had been emptied (leaving a small die and a red counter) turned out not to fit any of them. When everything had been set out, Luzhin suddenly made up his mind and muttered: 'I already can play a little.' 'Who taught you?' asked his father without lifting his head. 'I learned it at school,' replied Luzhin. 'Some of the boys could play.' 'Oh! Fine,' said his father, and added (quoting Pushkin's doomed duelist): 'Let's start, if you are willing.'

In India during the second century CE, and later in China, extremely large pagodas became popular with small wind bells hung at each corner; the slightest breeze caused the clapper to swing, producing a melodious tinkling.* It is said that these bells were originally intended to frighten away not only birds but also any lurking evil spirits. 


She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck! 

"What's the matter with you?" asked her husband, already half undressed. 

She turned towards him in the utmost distress. 

"I . . . I . . . I've no longer got Madame Forestier's necklace. . . ." 

He started with astonishment. 

"What! . . . Impossible!"

They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it. 

"Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?" he asked. 

"Yes, I touched it in the hall at the Ministry." 

"But if you had lost it in the street, we should have heard it fall." 

"Yes. Probably we should. Did you take the number of the cab?" 

"No. You didn't notice it, did you?" 


They stared at one another, dumbfounded. At last Loisel put on his clothes again. 

"I'll go over all the ground we walked," he said, "and see if I can't find it." 

And he went out. She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddled on a chair, without volition or power of thought. 

Her husband returned about seven. He had found nothing. 

He went to the police station, to the newspapers, to offer a reward, to the cab companies, everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him. 

She waited all day long, in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe. 

Loisel came home at night, his face lined and pale; he had discovered nothing.

*This is the first recorded instance of poop "tinkling."

Drawings by Rachel Domm. Texts, in order of appearance, by Vladimir Nabokov, Wikipedia, Guy de Maupassant.

This is part of the an ongoing conversation—using elephant poop as common currency—with Rachel Domm. View all under the sign of 8.