Back to Methuselah eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about Back to Methuselah.

ZOZIM.  Well, you are not suffering from that, are you?  You have not a mortified air.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN.  Naturally we are not absolutely insane and suicidal.  Nevertheless we impose on ourselves abstinences and disciplines and studies that are meant to prepare us for living three centuries.  And we seldom live one.  My childhood was made unnecessarily painful, my boyhood unnecessarily laborious, by ridiculous preparations for a length of days which the chances were fifty thousand to one against my ever attaining.  I have been cheated out of the natural joys and freedoms of my life by this dream to which the existence of these islands and their oracles gives a delusive possibility of realization.  I curse the day when long life was invented, just as the victims of Jonhobsnoxius cursed the day when eternal life was invented.

ZOZIM.  Pooh!  You could live three centuries if you chose.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN.  That is what the fortunate always say to the unfortunate.  Well, I do not choose.  I accept my three score and ten years.  If they are filled with usefulness, with justice, with mercy, with good-will:  if they are the lifetime of a soul that never loses its honor and a brain that never loses its eagerness, they are enough for me, because these things are infinite and eternal, and can make ten of my years as long as thirty of yours.  I shall not conclude by saying live as long as you like and be damned to you, because I have risen for the moment far above any ill-will to you or to any fellow-creature; but I am your equal before that eternity in which the difference between your lifetime and mine is as the difference between one drop of water and three in the eyes of the Almighty Power from which we have both proceeded.

ZOZIM [impressed] You spoke that piece very well, Daddy.  I couldnt talk like that if I tried.  It sounded fine.  Ah! here comes the ladies.

To his relief, they have just appeared on the threshold of the temple.

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [passing from exaltation to distress] It means nothing to him:  in this land of discouragement the sublime has become the ridiculous. [Turning on the hopelessly puzzled Zozim] ’Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long; and mine age is even as nothing in respect of thee.’

                              {Poppa, Poppa:  dont look like
    THE WIFE.} [running] {that. 
    THE DAUGHTER.}[to him] {Oh, granpa, whats the matter?

ZOZIM [with a shrug] Discouragement!

THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN [throwing off the women with a superb gesture] Liar! [Recollecting himself, he adds, with noble courtesy, raising his hat and bowing] I beg your pardon, sir; but I am NOT discouraged.

A burst of orchestral music, through which a powerful gong sounds, is heard from the temple.  Zoo, in a purple robe, appears in the doorway.

Project Gutenberg
Back to Methuselah from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook