CAIN. I am not, perhaps, very clever; but—
EVE [interrupting him] Perhaps not; but do
not begin to boast of that.
It is no credit to you.
CAIN. For all that, mother, I have an instinct which tells me that death plays its part in life. Tell me this: who invented death?
Adam springs to his feet. Eve drops her distaff. Both shew the greatest consternation.
CAIN. What is the matter with you both?
ADAM. Boy: you have asked us a terrible question.
EVE. You invented murder. Let that be enough for you.
CAIN. Murder is not death. You know what I mean. Those whom I slay would die if I spared them. If I am not slain, yet I shall die. Who put this upon me? I say, who invented death?
ADAM. Be reasonable, boy. Could you bear to live for ever? You think you could, because you know that you will never have to make your thought good. But I have known what it is to sit and brood under the terror of eternity, of immortality. Think of it, man: to have no escape! to be Adam, Adam, Adam through more days than there are grains of sand by the two rivers, and then be as far from the end as ever! I, who have so much in me that I hate and long to cast off! Be thankful to your parents, who enabled you to hand on your burden to new and better men, and won for you an eternal rest; for it was we who invented death.
CAIN [rising] You did well: I, too, do not want to live for ever. But if you invented death, why do you blame me, who am a minister of death?