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Cytherea Part 27

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"Then, finally, Savina and Cytherea were merged again. In Savina her pa.s.sion, always abnormal, hadn't been spent; there she was younger than the youngest girl I knew; incomparably more dangerous. She, too, had been constrained by the artificial, by conventionality; and when the moment of reality came it broke William Grove, f.a.n.n.y, Helena and Gregory--all the threads that precariously held us. She was stronger than I, Savina was the goal and I was only the seeker--that was the difference between us--and in absorbing me she was content."

"That is very ingenious," Daniel told him. "Do you notice that the smoke is thicker in the east?"

"Not more in one direction than in another," Lee answered indirectly; "in the east and south, the north and west, up above and underneath.

It's a good thing for our comfort that there's so much of it we can't see the fires. If the books of physics are to be credited, the center of the earth is liquid flame; certainly it is hot enough here to suggest something of the sort."

"It is worse in Oriente," Daniel informed him.

"What I have said," Lee Randon continued, "came from my remark, the one you disagreed with, about the need of an understanding everywhere!

Isolated, in a chance individual like me, it is worse than useless, fatal. It destroys the support of a common cause with a humanity only less resentful than sentimental. And this has brought me to the reason why--in spite of her splendid proposal--I can't go back to f.a.n.n.y: I have grown too detached to give her effort a possibility of success, of happiness for her."

"If you are so cursed abstract, you may as well be in Eastlake as at La Quinta," his brother a.s.serted.

"Your saying that is curious," Lee replied, "for it is exactly what I told a man, in circ.u.mstances remarkably like my own, not long ago. I explained that life was all monotonously alike; and that, therefore, it didn't really matter where he changed to. I still think that most of it is inexcusable, perhaps hopeless, but I can't subscribe to it. What f.a.n.n.y wants is contrition and the return to a time forever lost. I shouldn't be able to persuade her that I hadn't been in a temporary fever which, if she were sufficiently careful, would go and leave things very much as they were. That is her strength, her necessity, and she must uphold it until farthest old age and death."

Daniel Randon rose and went to the railing of the veranda, gazing intently into the hidden east. "You are right," he said, crediting Lee with a contention he hadn't made; "that is the refuse on Jagues."

"Helena and Gregory don't need me," Lee went on and on; "or, if you prefer--I am no longer afraid of words--I don't need them. I believe, in nature, that the length of paternity is measured by the helplessness of the young. An elephant is more devoted than a crow. My obligation was soon ended."

"Bring it down to this," Daniel's brevity was explicit: "what in the devil are you going to do?"

"I haven't any idea beyond the realization that I can't stay here taking up your room and Juan's time. It seems to me that for a month he has done nothing but concern himself with my comfort. I did, in Havana, while Savina was living, think of writing; but I have given it up because it would involve me in so much that is disagreeable. The amazing fact is that, since I have acquired a degree of wisdom, there is nothing for me to do, nowhere to go. The truth, I have always heard, will make you free; but for what, Daniel? What is it the truth will make you free for except to live in the solitude of public hatred? When I refuse, as I certainly shall, to return to f.a.n.n.y the world where I might accomplish something will be closed to me.

"I could be a farmer if it weren't for the impossibility of my sleeping through the early part of the night; my hands are too stiff to learn a trade. I don't want to learn a trade!" he exclaimed. "And as for starting more stock companies, rolling greater quant.i.ties of refuse into cigarettes or bottling harmless colored water, or controlling a news sheet in the interest of my other interests--" he could think of no term sufficiently descriptive of his remoteness from all that. "I shall have to be what a universal Eastlake will prefer to call me. I'd stay here, at La Quinta, if you could find something for me to do--like picking the limes fresh for the Daiquiri c.o.c.ktails. Do you think your company would carry me on its rolls for that? I could gather them in the morning and evening, when it was cooler. Thank G.o.d, I haven't any material ambition.

I like the clothes, the life, of that n.i.g.g.e.r, the capataz, who rode by, as well as most. I'd sit up on the mirador and keep--what do you call it?--the veija, for months on end."

The servant, Juan, small and dark in his white house coat, appeared with a tray on which two gla.s.ses with stems held a fragrant amber liquid.

"That is perfection," Lee murmured; "where else could it be found?

Advise me, Daniel," his voice was both light and serious. "You have never been known to give advice, but certainly my case is unusual enough to warrant extraordinary pains. Shall I make a neat hole at the proper point in my skull; or, better yet, put half a grain of a drug that will occur to you on my tongue and close my mouth on further indiscretions?

That has its aspects. But not so strongly after one of Juan's drinks; they are distilled illusions, vain dreams still of hope. They have all the brave ring of accomplishment without its effort. But I can see the end even of them--atrophy. Soon Cytherea will go into the attic, have her nose broken, and the rats will eat the clothes from her indifferent body. Cytherea on a pearl sh.e.l.l in the Ionic Sea... I was one of her train, Daniel." He leaned sharply forward--

Daniel Randon was asleep.

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Cytherea Part 27 summary

You're reading Cytherea. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Joseph Hergesheimer. Already has 455 views.

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