Back to Methuselah eBook

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ADAM.  Fear will drive me to anything.  The serpent gave me fear.  Let it now give me certainty or go in fear of me.

THE SERPENT.  Bind the future by your will.  Make a vow.

ADAM.  What is a vow?

THE SERPENT.  Choose a day for your death; and resolve to die on that day.  Then death is no longer uncertain but certain.  Let Eve vow to love you until your death.  Then love will be no longer uncertain.

ADAM.  Yes:  that is splendid:  that will bind the future.

EVE [displeased, turning away from the serpent] But it will destroy hope.

ADAM [angrily] Be silent, woman.  Hope is wicked.  Happiness is wicked. 
Certainty is blessed.

THE SERPENT.  What is wicked?  You have invented a word.

ADAM.  Whatever I fear to do is wicked.  Listen to me, Eve; and you, snake, listen too, that your memory may hold my vow.  I will live a thousand sets of the four seasons—­

THE SERPENT.  Years.  Years.

ADAM.  I will live a thousand years; and then I will endure no more:  I will die and take my rest.  And I will love Eve all that time and no other woman.

EVE.  And if Adam keeps his vow I will love no other man until he dies.

THE SERPENT.  You have both invented marriage.  And what he will be to you and not to any other woman is husband; and what you will be to him and not to any other man is wife.

ADAM [instinctively moving his hand towards her] Husband and wife.

EVE [slipping her hand into his] Wife and husband.

THE SERPENT [laughs]!!!

EVE [snatching herself loose from Adam] Do not make that odious noise,
I tell you.

ADAM.  Do not listen to her:  the noise is good:  it lightens my heart.  You are a jolly snake.  But you have not made a vow yet.  What vow do you make?

THE SERPENT.  I make no vows.  I take my chance.

ADAM.  Chance?  What does that mean?

THE SERPENT.  It means that I fear certainty as you fear uncertainty.  It means that nothing is certain but uncertainty.  If I bind the future I bind my will.  If I bind my will I strangle creation.

EVE.  Creation must not be strangled.  I tell you I will create, though I tear myself to pieces in the act.

ADAM.  Be silent, both of you.  I will bind the future.  I will be delivered from fear. [To Eve] We have made our vows; and if you must create, you shall create within the bounds of those vows.  You shall not listen to that snake any more.  Come [he seizes her by the hair to drag her away].

EVE.  Let me go, you fool.  It has not yet told me the secret.

ADAM [releasing her] That is true.  What is a fool?

EVE.  I do not know:  the word came to me.  It is what you are when you forget and brood and are filled with fear.  Let us listen to the snake.

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