Back to Methuselah eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 333 pages of information about Back to Methuselah.

ADAM.  I do not blame you.  Go in peace.  Leave me to my digging, and your mother to her spinning.

CAIN.  Well, I will leave you to it, though I have shewn you a better way. [He picks up his shield and spear].  I will go back to my brave warrior friends and their splendid women. [He strides to the thorn brake].  When Adam delved and Eve span, where was then the gentleman? [He goes away roaring with laughter, which ceases as he cries from the distance] Goodbye, mother.

ADAM [grumbling] He might have put the hurdle back, lazy hound! [He replaces the hurdle across the passage].

EVE.  Through him and his like, death is gaining on life.  Already most of our grandchildren die before they have sense enough to know how to live.

ADAM.  No matter. [He spits on his hands, and takes up the spade again].  Life is still long enough to learn to dig, short as they are making it.

EVE [musing] Yes, to dig.  And to fight.  But is it long enough for the other things, the great things?  Will they live long enough to eat manna?

ADAM.  What is manna?

EVE.  Food drawn down from heaven, made out of the air, not dug dirtily from the earth.  Will they learn all the ways of all the stars in their little time?  It took Enoch two hundred years to learn to interpret the will of the Voice.  When he was a mere child of eighty, his babyish attempts to understand the Voice were more dangerous than the wrath of Cain.  If they shorten their lives, they will dig and fight and kill and die; and their baby Enochs will tell them that it is the will of the Voice that they should dig and fight and kill and die for ever.

ADAM.  If they are lazy and have a will towards death I cannot help it.  I will live my thousand years:  if they will not, let them die and be damned.

EVE.  Damned?  What is that?

ADAM.  The state of them that love death more than life.  Go on with your spinning; and do not sit there idle while I am straining my muscles for you.

EVE [slowly taking up her distaff] If you were not a fool you would find something better for both of us to live by than this spinning and digging.

ADAM.  Go on with your work, I tell you; or you shall go without bread.

EVE.  Man need not always live by bread alone.  There is something else.  We do not yet know what it is; but some day we shall find out; and then we will live on that alone; and there shall be no more digging nor spinning, nor fighting nor killing.

She spins resignedly; he digs impatiently.

PART II

The Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas

In the first years after the war an impressive-looking gentleman of 50 is seated writing in a well-furnished spacious study.  He is dressed in black.  His coat is a frock-coat; his tie is white; and his waistcoat, though it is not quite a clergyman’s waistcoat, and his collar, though it buttons in front instead of behind, combine with the prosperity indicated by his surroundings, and his air of personal distinction, to suggest the clerical dignitary.  Still, he is clearly neither dean nor bishop; he is rather too starkly intellectual for a popular Free Church enthusiast; and he is not careworn enough to be a great headmaster.

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