He felt utterly, utterly overcome—as if he didn’t care what became of him any further. He didn’t care whether he were hit by a bomb, or whether he himself threw the next bomb, and hit somebody. He just didn’t care any more about anything in life or death. It was as if the reins of his life slipped from his hands. And he would let everything run where it would, so long as it did run.
Then he became aware of Lilly’s eyes on him—and automatically he joined the little man.
“Let us go,” said Lilly.
And they pushed their way through the door. The police were just marching across the square. Aaron and Lilly walked in the opposite direction. Groups of people were watching. Suddenly Lilly swerved — in the middle of the road was a large black glisten of blood, trickling horribly. A wounded man had run from the blow and fallen here.
Aaron did not know where he was going. But in the Via Tournabuoni Lilly turned towards the Arno, and soon they were on the Ponte Santa Trinita.
“Who threw the bomb?” said Aaron.
“I suppose an anarchist.”
“It’s all the same,” said Aaron.
The two men, as if unable to walk any further, leaned on the broad parapet of the bridge and looked at the water in the darkness of the still, deserted night. Aaron still had his flute section in his hand, his overcoat over his arm.
“Is that your flute?” asked Lilly.
“Bit of it. Smashed.”
“Let me look.”
He looked, and gave it back.
“No good,” he said.
“Oh, no,” said Aaron.
“Throw it in the river, Aaron,” said Lilly.
Aaron turned and looked at him.
“Throw it in the river,” repeated Lilly. “It’s an end.”
Aaron nervelessly dropped the flute into the stream. The two men stood leaning on the bridge-parapet, as if unable to move.
“We shall have to go home,” said Lilly. “Tanny may hear of it and be anxious.”
Aaron was quite dumbfounded by the night’s event: the loss of his flute. Here was a blow he had not expected. And the loss was for him symbolistic. It chimed with something in his soul: the bomb, the smashed flute, the end.
“There goes Aaron’s Rod, then,” he said to Lilly.
“It’ll grow again. It’s a reed, a water-plant—you can’t kill it,” said Lilly, unheeding.
“You’ll have to live without a rod, meanwhile.”
To which pleasant remark Aaron made no reply.
He went home to bed: and dreamed a strange dream. He dreamed that he was in a country with which he was not acquainted. Night was coming on, and he had nowhere to sleep. So he passed the mouth of a sort of cave or house, in which a woman, an old woman, sat. Therefore he entered, and though he could not understand the language, still his second self understood. The cave was a house: and men came home from work. His second self assumed that they were tin-miners.