The Unbearable Bassington eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 181 pages of information about The Unbearable Bassington.

Comus sat and watched it all with a sense of growing aching depression.  It was so utterly trivial to his eyes, so devoid of interest, and yet it was so real, so serious, so implacable in its continuity.  The brain grew tired with the thought of its unceasing reproduction.  It had all gone on, as it was going on now, by the side of the great rushing swirling river, this tilling and planting and harvesting, marketing and store-keeping, feast-making and fetish-worship and love-making, burying and giving in marriage, child-bearing and child-rearing, all this had been going on, in the shimmering, blistering heat and the warm nights, while he had been a youngster at school, dimly recognising Africa as a division of the earth’s surface that it was advisable to have a certain nodding acquaintance with.

It had been going on in all its trifling detail, all its serious intensity, when his father and his grandfather in their day had been little boys at school, it would go on just as intently as ever long after Comus and his generation had passed away, just as the shadows would lengthen and fade under the mulberry trees in that far away English garden, round the old stone fountain where a leaden otter for ever preyed on a leaden salmon.

Comus rose impatiently from his seat, and walked wearily across the hut to another window-opening which commanded a broad view of the river.  There was something which fascinated and then depressed one in its ceaseless hurrying onward sweep, its tons of water rushing on for all time, as long as the face of the earth should remain unchanged.  On its further shore could be seen spread out at intervals other teeming villages, with their cultivated plots and pasture clearings, their moving dots which meant cattle and goats and dogs and children.  And far up its course, lost in the forest growth that fringed its banks, were hidden away yet more villages, human herding-grounds where men dwelt and worked and bartered, squabbled and worshipped, sickened and perished, while the river went by with its endless swirl and rush of gleaming waters.  One could well understand primitive early races making propitiatory sacrifices to the spirit of a great river on whose shores they dwelt.  Time and the river were the two great forces that seemed to matter here.

It was almost a relief to turn back to that other outlook and watch the village life that was now beginning to wake in earnest.  The procession of water-fetchers had formed itself in a long chattering line that stretched river-wards.  Comus wondered how many tens of thousands of times that procession had been formed since first the village came into existence.  They had been doing it while he was playing in the cricket-fields at school, while he was spending Christmas holidays in Paris, while he was going his careless round of theatres, dances, suppers and card-parties, just as they were doing it now; they would be doing it when there was no one alive who remembered Comus Bassington.  This thought recurred again and again with painful persistence, a morbid growth arising in part from his loneliness.

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The Unbearable Bassington from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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