Back to Methuselah eBook

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

ADAM.  No:  I am afraid of it.  I feel as if the ground were giving way under my feet when it speaks.  Do you stay and listen to it.

THE SERPENT [laughs]!!!

ADAM [brightening] That noise takes away fear.  Funny.  The snake and the woman are going to whisper secrets. [He chuckles and goes away slowly, laughing his first laugh].

EVE.  Now the secret.  The secret. [She sits on the rock and throws her arms round the serpent, who begins whispering to her].

Eve’s face lights up with intense interest, which increases until an expression of overwhelming repugnance takes its place.  She buries her face in her hands.


A few centuries later.  Morning.  An oasis in Mesopotamia.  Close at hand the end of a log house abuts on a kitchen garden.  Adam is digging in the middle of the garden.  On his right, Eve sits on a stool in the shadow of a tree by the doorway, spinning flax.  Her wheel, which she turns by hand, is a large disc of heavy wood, practically a flywheel.  At the opposite side of the garden is a thorn brake with a passage through it barred by a hurdle.

The two are scantily and carelessly dressed in rough linen and leaves.  They have lost their youth and grace; and Adam has an unkempt beard and jaggedly cut hair; but they are strong and in the prime of life.  Adam looks worried, like a farmer.  Eve, better humored (having given up worrying), sits and spins and thinks._

A MAN’S VOICE.  Hallo, mother!

EVE [looking across the garden towards the hurdle] Here is Cain.

ADAM [uttering a grunt of disgust]!!! [He goes on digging without raising his head].

Cain kicks the hurdle out of his way, and strides into the garden.  In pose, voice, and dress he is insistently warlike.  He is equipped with huge spear and broad brass-bound leather shield; his casque is a tiger’s head with bull’s horns; he wears a scarlet cloak with gold brooch over a lion’s skin with the claws dangling; his feet are in sandals with brass ornaments; his shins are in brass greaves; and his bristling military moustache glistens with oil.  To his parents he has the self-assertive, not-quite-at-ease manner of a revolted son who knows that he is not forgiven nor approved of.

CAIN [to Adam] Still digging?  Always dig, dig, dig.  Sticking in the old furrow.  No progress! no advanced ideas! no adventures!  What should I be if I had stuck to the digging you taught me?

ADAM.  What are you now, with your shield and spear, and your brother’s blood crying from the ground against you?

CAIN.  I am the first murderer:  you are only the first man.  Anybody could be the first man:  it is as easy as to be the first cabbage.  To be the first murderer one must be a man of spirit.

ADAM.  Begone.  Leave us in peace.  The world is wide enough to keep us apart.

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Back to Methuselah from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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