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rather be a bear than a man; for the bear is not ashamed: he knows no
better. If you are content, like the bear, I am not. Stay with the woman
who gives you children: I will go to the woman who gives me dreams.
Grope in the ground for your food: I will bring it from the skies with
my arrows, or strike it down as it roams the earth in the pride of its
life. If I must have food or die, I will at least have it at as far a
remove from the earth as I can. The ox shall make it something nobler
than grass before it comes to me. And as the man is nobler than the ox,
I shall some day let my enemy eat the ox; and then I will slay and eat

ADAM. Monster! You hear this, Eve?

EVE. So that is what comes of turning your face to the clean clear
heavens! Man-eating! Child-eating! For that is what it would come to,
just as it came to lambs and kids when Abel began with sheep and goats.
You are a poor silly creature after all. Do you think I never have these
thoughts: I! who have the labor of the child-bearing: I! who have the
drudgery of preparing the food? I thought for a moment that perhaps this
strong brave son of mine, who could imagine something better, and could
desire what he imagined, might also be able to will what he desired
until he created it. And all that comes of it is that he wants to be a
bear and eat children. Even a bear would not eat a man if it could get
honey instead.

CAIN. I do not want to be a bear. I do not want to eat children. I do
not know what I want, except that I want to be something higher and
nobler than this stupid old digger whom Lilith made to help you to bring
me into the world, and whom you despise now that he has served your

ADAM [_in sullen rage_] I have half a mind to shew you that my spade can
split your undutiful head open, in spite of your spear.

CAIN. Undutiful! Ha! ha! [_Flourishing his spear_] Try it, old
everybody's father. Try a taste of fighting.

EVE. Peace, peace, you two fools. Sit down and be quiet; and listen to
me. [_Adam, with a weary shrug, throws down his spade. Cain, with
a laughing one, throws down his shield and spear. Both sit on the
ground_]. I hardly know which of you satisfies me least, you with your
dirty digging, or he with his dirty killing. I cannot think it was for
either of these cheap ways of life that Lilith set you free. [_To Adam_]
You dig roots and coax grains out of the earth: why do you not draw down
a divine sustenance from the skies? He steals and kills for his food;
and makes up idle poems of life after death; and dresses up his
terror-ridden life with fine words and his disease-ridden body with fine
clothes, so that men may glorify and honor him instead of cursing him as
murderer and thief. All you men, except only Adam, are my sons, or my
sons' sons, or my sons' sons' sons: you all come to see me: you all shew
off before me: all your little wisdoms and accomplishments are trotted
out before mother Eve. The diggers come: the fighters and killers come:
they are both very dull; for they either complain to me of the last
harvest, or boast to me of the last fight; and one harvest is just like
another, and the last fight only a repetition of the first. Oh, I have
heard it all a thousand times. They tell me too of their last-born:
the clever thing the darling child said yesterday, and how much more
wonderful or witty or quaint it is than any child that ever was born
before. And I have to pretend to be surprised, delighted, interested;
though the last child is like the first, and has said and done nothing
that did not delight Adam and me when you and Abel said it. For you were
the first children in the world, and filled us with such wonder and
delight as no couple can ever again feel while the world lasts. When I
can bear no more, I go to our old garden, that is now a mass of nettles
and thistles, in the hope of finding the serpent to talk to. But you
have made the serpent our enemy: she has left the garden, or is dead: I
never see her now. So I have to come back and listen to Adam saying the
same thing for the ten-thousandth time, or to receive a visit from the
last great-great-grandson who has grown up and wants to impress me with
his importance. Oh, it is dreary, dreary! And there is yet nearly seven
hundred years of it to endure.

CAIN. Poor mother! You see, life is too long. One tires of everything.
There is nothing new under the sun.

ADAM [_to Eve, grumpily_] Why do you live on, if you can find nothing
better to do than complain?

EVE. Because there is still hope.

CAIN. Of what?

EVE. Of the coming true of your dreams and mine. Of newly created
things. Of better things. My sons and my son's sons are not all diggers
and fighters. Some of them will neither dig nor fight: they are more
useless than either of you: they are weaklings and cowards: they are
vain; yet they are dirty and will not take the trouble to cut their
hair. They borrow and never pay; but one gives them what they want,
because they tell beautiful lies in beautiful words. They can remember
their dreams. They can dream without sleeping. They have not will enough
to create instead of dreaming; but the serpent said that every dream
could be willed into creation by those strong enough to believe in it.
There are others who cut reeds of different lengths and blow through
them, making lovely patterns of sound in the air; and some of them can
weave the patterns together, sounding three reeds at the same time, and
raising my soul to things for which I have no words. And others make
little mammoths out of clay, or make faces appear on flat stones, and
ask me to create women for them with such faces. I have watched those
faces and willed; and then I have made a woman-child that has grown up
quite like them. And others think of numbers without having to count on
their fingers, and watch the sky at night, and give names to the stars,
and can foretell when the sun will be covered with a black saucepan lid.
And there is Tubal, who made this wheel for me which has saved me so
much labor. And there is Enoch, who walks on the hills, and hears the
Voice continually, and has given up his will to do the will of the
Voice, and has some of the Voice's greatness. When they come, there is
always some new wonder, or some new hope: something to live for. They
never want to die, because they are always learning and always creating
either things or wisdom, or at least dreaming of them. And then you,
Cain, come to me with your stupid fighting and destroying, and your
foolish boasting; and you want me to tell you that it is all splendid,
and that you are heroic, and that nothing but death or the dread of
death makes life worth living. Away with you, naughty child; and do you,
Adam, go on with your work and not waste your time listening to him.

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

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?

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

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

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

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._


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.

The study windows, which have broad comfortable window seats, overlook
Hampstead Heath towards London. Consequently, it being a fine afternoon
in spring, the room is sunny. As you face these windows, you have on
your right the fireplace, with a few logs smouldering in it, and a
couple of comfortable library chairs on the hearthrug; beyond it and
beside it the door; before you the writing-table, at which the clerical
gentleman sits a little to your left facing the door with his right
profile presented to you; on your left a settee; and on your right a
couple of Chippendale chairs. There is also an upholstered square stool
in the middle of the room, against the writing-table. The walls are
covered with bookshelves above and lockers beneath.

The door opens; and another gentleman, shorter than the clerical one,
within a year or two of the same age, dressed in a well-worn tweed
lounge suit, with a short beard and much less style in his bearing and
carriage, looks in._

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [_familiar and by no means cordial_] Hallo! I
didn't expect you until the five o'clock train.

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [_coming in very slowly_] I have something on my
mind. I thought I'd come early.

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [_throwing down his pen_] What is on your mind?

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [_sitting down on the stool, heavily preoccupied
with his thought_] I have made up my mind at last about the time. I make
it three hundred years.

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [_sitting up energetically_] Now that is
extraordinary. Most extraordinary. The very last words I wrote when you
interrupted me were 'at least three centuries.' [_He snatches up his
manuscript, and points to it_]. Here it is: [_reading_] 'the term of
human life must be extended to at least three centuries.'

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN. How did you arrive at it?

_A parlor maid opens the door, ushering in a young clergyman._

THE PARLOR MAID. Mr Haslam. [_She withdraws_].

_The visitor is so very unwelcome that his host forgets to rise; and
the two brothers stare at the intruder, quite unable to conceal their
dismay. Haslam, who has nothing clerical about him except his collar,
and wears a snuff-colored suit, smiles with a frank school-boyishness
that makes it impossible to be unkind to him, and explodes into
obviously unpremeditated speech._

HASLAM. I'm afraid I'm an awful nuisance. I'm the rector; and I suppose
one ought to call on people.

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [_in ghostly tones_] We're not Church people, you

HASLAM. Oh, I don't mind that, if you don't. The Church people here are
mostly as dull as ditch-water. I have heard such a lot about you; and
there are so jolly few people to talk to. I thought you perhaps wouldn't
mind. _Do_ you mind? for of course I'll go like a shot if I'm in the

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [_rising, disarmed_] Sit down, Mr - er?

HASLAM. Haslam.


THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [_rising and offering him the stool_] Sit down.
[_He retreats towards the Chippendale chairs_].

HASLAM [_sitting down on the stool_] Thanks awfully.

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [_resuming his seat_] This is my brother Conrad,
Professor of Biology at Jarrowfields University: Dr. Conrad Barnabas. My
name is Franklyn: Franklyn Barnabas. I was in the Church myself for some

HASLAM [_sympathizing_] Yes: one cant help it. If theres a living in
the family, or one's Governor knows a patron, one gets shoved into the
Church by one's parents.

CONRAD [_sitting down on the furthest Chippendale with a snort of
amusement_] Mp!

FRANKLYN. One gets shoved out of it, sometimes, by one's conscience.

HASLAM. Oh yes; but where is a chap like me to go? I'm afraid I'm not
intellectual enough to split straws when theres a job in front of me,
and nothing better for me to do. I daresay the Church was a bit thick
for you; but it's good enough for me. It will last my time, anyhow [_he
laughs good-humoredly_].

FRANKLYN [_with renewed energy_] There again! You see, Con. It will last
his time. Life is too short for men to take it seriously.

HASLAM. Thats a way of looking at it, certainly.

FRANKLYN. I was not shoved into the Church, Mr Haslam: I felt it to be
my vocation to walk with God, like Enoch. After twenty years of it I
realized that I was walking with my own ignorance and self-conceit, and
that I was not within a hundred and fifty years of the experience and
wisdom I was pretending to.

HASLAM. Now I come to think of it, old Methuselah must have had to think
twice before he took on anything for life. If I thought I was going to
live nine hundred and sixty years, I don't think I should stay in the

FRANKLYN. If men lived even a third of that time, the Church would be
very different from the thing it is.

CONRAD. If I could count on nine hundred and sixty years I could make
myself a real biologist, instead of what I am now: a child trying to
walk. Are you sure you might not become a good clergyman if you had a
few centuries to do it in?

HASLAM. Oh, theres nothing much the matter with _me_: it's quite easy to
be a decent parson. It's the Church that chokes me off. I couldnt stick
it for nine hundred years. I should chuck it. You know, sometimes, when
the bishop, who is the most priceless of fossils, lets off something
more than usually out-of-date, the bird starts in my garden.

FRANKLYN. The bird?

HASLAM. Oh yes. Theres a bird there that keeps on singing 'Stick it or
chuck it: stick it or chuck it' - just like that - for an hour on end in
the spring. I wish my father had found some other shop for me.

_The parlor maid comes back._

THE PARLOR MAID. Any letters for the post, sir?

FRANKLYN. These. [_He proffers a basket of letters. She comes to the
table and takes them_].

HASLAM [_to the maid_] Have you told Mr Barnabas yet?

THE PARLOR MAID [_flinching a little_] No, sir.

FRANKLYN. Told me what?

HASLAM. She is going to leave you?

FRANKLYN. Indeed? I'm sorry. Is it our fault, Mr Haslam?

HASLAM. Not a bit. She is jolly well off here.

THE PARLOR MAID [_reddening_] I have never denied it, sir: I couldnt ask
for a better place. But I have only one life to live; and I maynt get
a second chance. Excuse me, sir; but the letters must go to catch the
post. [_She goes out with the letters._]

_The two brothers look inquiringly at Haslam._

HASLAM. Silly girl! Going to marry a village woodman and live in a hovel
with him and a lot of kids tumbling over one another, just because the
fellow has poetic-looking eyes and a moustache.

CONRAD [_demurring_] She said it was because she had only one life.

HASLAM. Same thing, poor girl! The fellow persuaded her to chuck it; and
when she marries him she'll have to stick it. Rotten state of things, I
call it.

CONRAD. You see, she hasnt time to find out what life really means. She
has to die before she knows.

HASLAM [_agreeably_] Thats it.

FRANKLYN. She hasnt time to form a well-instructed conscience.

HASLAM [_still more cheerfully_] Quite.

FRANKLYN. It goes deeper. She hasnt time to form a genuine conscience
at all. Some romantic points of honor and a few conventions. A world
without conscience: that is the horror of our condition.

HASLAM [_beaming_] Simply fatuous. [_Rising_] Well, I suppose I'd better
be going. It's most awfully good of you to put up with my calling.

CONRAD [_in his former low ghostly tone_] You neednt go, you know, if
you are really interested.

HASLAM [_fed up_] Well, I'm afraid I ought to - I really must get back - I
have something to do in the -

FRANKLYN [_smiling benignly and rising to proffer his hand_] Goodbye.

CONRAD [_gruffly, giving him up as a bad job_] Goodbye.

HASLAM. Goodbye. Sorry - er -

_As the rector moves to shake hands with Franklyn, feeling that he is
making a frightful mess of his departure, a vigorous sunburnt young lady
with hazel hair cut to the level of her neck, like an Italian youth in a
Gozzoli picture, comes in impetuously. She seems to have nothing on but
her short skirt, her blouse, her stockings, and a pair of Norwegian
shoes: in short, she is a Simple-Lifer._

THE SIMPLE-LIFER [_swooping on Conrad and kissing him_] Hallo, Nunk.
Youre before your time.

CONRAD. Behave yourself. Theres a visitor.

_She turns quickly and sees the rector. She instinctively switches at
her Gozzoli fringe with her fingers, but gives it up as hopeless._

FRANKLYN. Mr Haslam, our new rector. [_To Haslam_] My daughter Cynthia.

CONRAD. Usually called Savvy, short for Savage.

SAVVY. I usually call Mr Haslam Bill, short for William. [_She strolls
to the hearthrug, and surveys them calmly from that commanding

FRANKLYN. You know him?

SAVVY. Rather. Sit down, Bill.

FRANKLYN. Mr Haslam is going, Savvy. He has an engagement.

SAVVY. I know. I'm the engagement.

CONRAD. In that case, would you mind taking him into the garden while I
talk to your father?

SAVVY [_to Haslam_] Tennis?

HASLAM. Rather!

SAVVY. Come on. [_She dances out. He runs boyishly after her_].

FRANKLYN [_leaving his table and beginning to walk up and down the room
discontentedly_] Savvy's manners jar on me. They would have horrified
her grandmother.

CONRAD [_obstinately_] They are happier manners than Mother's manners.

FRANKLYN. Yes: they are franker, wholesomer, better in a hundred ways.
And yet I squirm at them. I cannot get it out of my head that Mother was
a well-mannered woman, and that Savvy has no manners at all.

CONRAD. There wasnt any pleasure in Mother's fine manners. That makes a
biological difference.

FRANKLYN. But there was beauty in Mother's manners, grace in them, style
in them: above all, decision in them. Savvy is such a cub.

CONRAD. So she ought to be, at her age.

FRANKLYN. There it comes again! Her age! her age!

CONRAD. You want her to be fully grown at eighteen. You want to force
her into a stuck-up, artificial, premature self-possession before she
has any self to possess. You just let her alone: she is right enough for
her years.

FRANKLYN. I have let her alone; and look at the result! Like all the
other young people who have been let alone, she becomes a Socialist.
That is, she becomes hopelessly demoralized.

CONRAD. Well, arnt you a Socialist?

FRANKLYN. Yes; but that is not the same thing. You and I were brought
up in the old bourgeois morality. We were taught bourgeois manners and
bourgeois points of honor. Bourgeois manners may be snobbish manners:
there may be no pleasure in them, as you say; but they are better than
no manners. Many bourgeois points of honor may be false; but at least
they exist. The women know what to expect and what is expected of
them. Savvy doesn't. She is a Bolshevist and nothing else. She has to
improvise her manners and her conduct as she goes along. It's often
charming, no doubt; but sometimes she puts her foot in it frightfully;
and then I feel that she is blaming me for not teaching her better.

CONRAD. Well, you have something better to teach her now, at all events.

FRANKLYN. Yes: but it is too late. She doesn't trust me now. She doesn't
talk about such things to me. She doesnt read anything I write. She
never comes to hear me lecture. I am out of it as far as Savvy is
concerned. [_He resumes his seat at the writing-table_].

CONRAD. I must have a talk to her.

FRANKLYN. Perhaps she will listen to you. You are not her father.

CONRAD. I sent her my last book. I can break the ice by asking her what
she made of it.

FRANKLYN. When she heard you were coming, she asked me whether all the
leaves were cut, in case it fell into your hands. She hasnt read a word
of it.

CONRAD [_rising indignantly_] What!

FRANKLYN [_inexorably_] Not a word of it.

CONRAD [_beaten_] Well, I suppose it's only natural. Biology is a dry
subject for a girl; and I am a pretty dry old codger.

[_He sits down again resignedly_].

FRANKLYN. Brother: if that is so; if biology as you have worked at it,
and religion as I have worked at it, are dry subjects like the old stuff
they taught under these names, and we two are dry old codgers, like the
old preachers and professors, then the Gospel of the Brothers Barnabas
is a delusion. Unless this withered thing religion, and this dry thing
science, have come alive in our hands, alive and intensely interesting,
we may just as well go out and dig the garden until it is time to dig
our graves. [_The parlor maid returns. Franklyn is impatient at the
interruption_]. Well? what is it now?

THE PARLOR MAID. Mr Joyce Burge on the telephone, sir. He wants to speak
to you.

FRANKLYN [_astonished_] Mr Joyce Burge!


FRANKLYN [_to Conrad_] What on earth does this mean? I havnt heard from
him nor exchanged a word with him for years. I resigned the chairmanship
of the Liberal Association and shook the dust of party politics from
my feet before he was Prime Minister in the Coalition. Of course, he
dropped me like a hot potato.

CONRAD. Well, now that the Coalition has chucked him out, and he is only
one of the half-dozen leaders of the Opposition, perhaps he wants to
pick you up again.

THE PARLOR MAID [_warningly_] He is holding the line, sir.

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