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part of it.

EVE. The Voice does not tell me not to kill you. Yet I do not want you
to die before me. No voice is needed to make me feel that.

ADAM [_throwing his arm round her shoulder with an expression of
anguish_] Oh no: that is plain without any voice. There is something
that holds us together, something that has no word -

THE SERPENT. Love. Love. Love.

ADAM. That is too short a word for so long a thing.

THE SERPENT [_laughs_]!!!

EVE [_turning impatiently to the snake_] That heart-biting sound again!
Do not do it. Why do you do it?

THE SERPENT. Love may be too long a word for so short a thing soon. But
when it is short it will be very sweet.

ADAM [_ruminating_] You puzzle me. My old trouble was heavy; but it was
simple. These wonders that you promise to do may tangle up my being
before they bring me the gift of death. I was troubled with the burden
of eternal being; but I was not confused in my mind. If I did not know
that I loved Eve, at least I did not know that she might cease to love
me, and come to love some other Adam and desire my death. Can you find a
name for that knowledge?

THE SERPENT. Jealousy. Jealousy. Jealousy.

ADAM. A hideous word.

EVE [_shaking him_] Adam: you must not brood. You think too much.

ADAM [_angrily_] How can I help brooding when the future has become
uncertain? Anything is better than uncertainty. Life has become
uncertain. Love is uncertain. Have you a word for this new misery?

THE SERPENT. Fear. Fear. Fear.

ADAM. Have you a remedy for it?

THE SERPENT. Yes. Hope. Hope. Hope.

ADAM. What is hope?

THE SERPENT. As long as you do not know the future you do not know that
it will not be happier than the past. That is hope.

ADAM. It does not console me. Fear is stronger in me than hope. I must
have certainty. [_He rises threateningly_]. Give it to me; or I will
kill you when next I catch you asleep.

EVE [_throwing her arms round the serpent_] My beautiful snake. Oh no.
How can you even think such a horror?

ADAM. Fear will drive me to anything. The serpent gave me fear. Let it
now give me certainty or go in fear of me.

THE SERPENT. Bind the future by your will. Make a vow.

ADAM. What is a vow?

THE SERPENT. Choose a day for your death; and resolve to die on that
day. Then death is no longer uncertain but certain. Let Eve vow to love
you until your death. Then love will be no longer uncertain.

ADAM. Yes: that is splendid: that will bind the future.

EVE [_displeased, turning away from the serpent_] But it will destroy

ADAM [_angrily_] Be silent, woman. Hope is wicked. Happiness is wicked.
Certainty is blessed.

THE SERPENT. What is wicked? You have invented a word.

ADAM. Whatever I fear to do is wicked. Listen to me, Eve; and you,
snake, listen too, that your memory may hold my vow. I will live a
thousand sets of the four seasons -

THE SERPENT. Years. Years.

ADAM. I will live a thousand years; and then I will endure no more: I
will die and take my rest. And I will love Eve all that time and no
other woman.

EVE. And if Adam keeps his vow I will love no other man until he dies.

THE SERPENT. You have both invented marriage. And what he will be to you
and not to any other woman is husband; and what you will be to him and
not to any other man is wife.

ADAM [_instinctively moving his hand towards her_] Husband and wife.

EVE [_slipping her hand into his_] Wife and husband.

THE SERPENT [_laughs_]!!!

EVE [_snatching herself loose from Adam_] Do not make that odious noise,
I tell you.

ADAM. Do not listen to her: the noise is good: it lightens my heart.
You are a jolly snake. But you have not made a vow yet. What vow do you

THE SERPENT. I make no vows. I take my chance.

ADAM. Chance? What does that mean?

THE SERPENT. It means that I fear certainty as you fear uncertainty. It
means that nothing is certain but uncertainty. If I bind the future I
bind my will. If I bind my will I strangle creation.

EVE. Creation must not be strangled. I tell you I will create, though I
tear myself to pieces in the act.

ADAM. Be silent, both of you. I _will_ bind the future. I will be
delivered from fear. [_To Eve_] We have made our vows; and if you must
create, you shall create within the bounds of those vows. You shall not
listen to that snake any more. Come [_he seizes her by the hair to drag
her away_].

EVE. Let me go, you fool. It has not yet told me the secret.

ADAM [_releasing her_] That is true. What is a fool?

EVE. I do not know: the word came to me. It is what you are when you
forget and brood and are filled with fear. Let us listen to the snake.

ADAM. No: I am afraid of it. I feel as if the ground were giving way
under my feet when it speaks. Do you stay and listen to it.

THE SERPENT [_laughs_]!!!

ADAM [_brightening_] That noise takes away fear. Funny. The snake and
the woman are going to whisper secrets. [_He chuckles and goes away
slowly, laughing his first laugh_].

EVE. Now the secret. The secret. [_She sits on the rock and throws her
arms round the serpent, who begins whispering to her_].

_Eve's face lights up with intense interest, which increases until an
expression of overwhelming repugnance takes its place. She buries her
face in her hands_.


_A few centuries later. Morning. An oasis in Mesopotamia. Close at hand
the end of a log house abuts on a kitchen garden. Adam is digging in the
middle of the garden. On his right, Eve sits on a stool in the shadow
of a tree by the doorway, spinning flax. Her wheel, which she turns by
hand, is a large disc of heavy wood, practically a flywheel. At the
opposite side of the garden is a thorn brake with a passage through it
barred by a hurdle.

The two are scantily and carelessly dressed in rough linen and leaves.
They have lost their youth and grace; and Adam has an unkempt beard and
jaggedly cut hair; but they are strong and in the prime of life. Adam
looks worried, like a farmer. Eve, better humored (having given up
worrying), sits and spins and thinks._

A MAN'S VOICE. Hallo, mother!

EVE [_looking across the garden towards the hurdle_] Here is Cain.

ADAM [_uttering a grunt of disgust_]!!! [_He goes on digging without
raising his head_].

_Cain kicks the hurdle out of his way, and strides into the garden. In
pose, voice, and dress he is insistently warlike. He is equipped with
huge spear and broad brass-bound leather shield; his casque is a tiger's
head with bull's horns; he wears a scarlet cloak with gold brooch over a
lion's skin with the claws dangling; his feet are in sandals with brass
ornaments; his shins are in brass greaves; and his bristling military
moustache glistens with oil. To his parents he has the self-assertive,
not-quite-at-ease manner of a revolted son who knows that he is not
forgiven nor approved of._

CAIN [_to Adam_] Still digging? Always dig, dig, dig. Sticking in the
old furrow. No progress! no advanced ideas! no adventures! What should I
be if I had stuck to the digging you taught me?

ADAM. What are you now, with your shield and spear, and your brother's
blood crying from the ground against you?

CAIN. I am the first murderer: you are only the first man. Anybody could
be the first man: it is as easy as to be the first cabbage. To be the
first murderer one must be a man of spirit.

ADAM. Begone. Leave us in peace. The world is wide enough to keep us

EVE. Why do you want to drive him away? He is mine. I made him out of my
own body. I want to see my work sometimes.

ADAM. You made Abel also. He killed Abel. Can you bear to look at him
after that?

CAIN. Whose fault was it that I killed Abel? Who invented killing? Did
I? No: he invented it himself. I followed your teaching. I dug and dug
and dug. I cleared away the thistles and briars. I ate the fruits of the
earth. I lived in the sweat of my brow, as you do. I was a fool. But
Abel was a discoverer, a man of ideas, of spirit: a true Progressive. He
was the discoverer of blood. He was the inventor of killing. He found
out that the fire of the sun could be brought down by a dewdrop. He
invented the altar to keep the fire alive. He changed the beasts he
killed into meat by the fire on the altar. He kept himself alive by
eating meat. His meal cost him a day's glorious health-giving sport and
an hour's amusing play with the fire. You learnt nothing from him: you
drudged and drudged and drudged, and dug and dug and dug, and made me do
the same. I envied his happiness, his freedom. I despised myself for
not doing as he did instead of what you did. He became so happy that he
shared his meal with the Voice that had whispered all his inventions to
him. He said that the Voice was the voice of the fire that cooked his
food, and that the fire that could cook could also eat. It was true: I
saw the fire consume the food on his altar. Then I, too, made an altar,
and offered my food on it, my grains, my roots, my fruit. Useless:
nothing happened. He laughed at me; and then came my great idea: why not
kill him as he killed the beasts? I struck; and he died, just as they
did. Then I gave up your old silly drudging ways, and lived as he had
lived, by the chase, by the killing, and by the fire. Am I not better
than you? stronger, happier, freer?

ADAM. You are not stronger: you are shorter in the wind: you cannot
endure. You have made the beasts afraid of us; and the snake has
invented poison to protect herself against you. I fear you myself. If
you take a step towards your mother with that spear of yours I will
strike you with my spade as you struck Abel.

EVE. He will not strike me. He loves me.

ADAM. He loved his brother. But he killed him.

CAIN. I do not want to kill women. I do not want to kill my mother. And
for her sake I will not kill you, though I could send this spear through
you without coming within reach of your spade. But for her, I could not
resist the sport of trying to kill you, in spite of my fear that you
would kill me. I have striven with a boar and with a lion as to which of
us should kill the other. I have striven with a man: spear to spear and
shield to shield. It is terrible; but there is no joy like it. I call
it fighting. He who has never fought has never lived. That is what has
brought me to my mother today.

ADAM. What have you to do with one another now? She is the creator, you
the destroyer.

CAIN. How can I destroy unless she creates? I want her to create more
and more men: aye, and more and more women, that they may in turn create
more men. I have imagined a glorious poem of many men, of more men than
there are leaves on a thousand trees. I will divide them into two great
hosts. One of them I will lead; and the other will be led by the man I
fear most and desire to fight and kill most. And each host shall try
to kill the other host. Think of that! all those multitudes of men
fighting, fighting, killing, killing! The four rivers running with
blood! The shouts of triumph! the howls of rage! the curses of despair!
the shrieks of torment! That will be life indeed: life lived to the very
marrow: burning, overwhelming life. Every man who has not seen it, heard
it, felt it, risked it, will feel a humbled fool in the presence of the
man who has.

EVE. And I! I am to be a mere convenience to make men for you to kill!

ADAM. Or to kill you, you fool.

CAIN. Mother: the making of men is your right, your risk, your agony,
your glory, your triumph. You make my father here your mere convenience,
as you call it, for that. He has to dig for you, sweat for you, plod
for you, like the ox who helps him to tear up the ground or the ass who
carries his burdens for him. No woman shall make me live my father's
life. I will hunt: I will fight and strive to the very bursting of my
sinews. When I have slain the boar at the risk of my life, I will throw
it to my woman to cook, and give her a morsel of it for her pains. She
shall have no other food; and that will make her my slave. And the man
that slays me shall have her for his booty. Man shall be the master of
Woman, not her baby and her drudge.

_Adam throws down his spade, and stands looking darkly at Eve._

EVE. Are you tempted, Adam? Does this seem a better thing to you than
love between us?

CAIN. What does he know of love? Only when he has fought, when he has
faced terror and death, when he has striven to the spending of the last
rally of his strength, can he know what it is to rest in love in the
arms of a woman. Ask that woman whom you made, who is also my wife,
whether she would have me as I was in the days when I followed the ways
of Adam, and was a digger and a drudge?

EVE [_angrily throwing down her distaff_] What! You dare come here
boasting about that good-for-nothing Lua, the worst of daughters and the
worst of wives! You her master! You are more her slave than Adam's ox or
your own sheepdog. Forsooth, when you have slain the boar at the risk
of your life, you will throw her a morsel of it for her pains! Ha! Poor
wretch: do you think I do not know her, and know you, better than that?
Do you risk your life when you trap the ermine and the sable and the
blue fox to hang on her lazy shoulders and make her look more like an
animal than a woman? When you have to snare the little tender birds
because it is too much trouble for her to chew honest food, how much of
a great warrior do you feel then? You slay the tiger at the risk of your
life; but who gets the striped skin you have run that risk for? She
takes it to lie on, and flings you the carrion flesh you cannot eat. You
fight because you think that your fighting makes her admire and desire
you. Fool: she makes you fight because you bring her the ornaments and
the treasures of those you have slain, and because she is courted and
propitiated with power and gold by the people who fear you. You say that
I make a mere convenience of Adam: I who spin and keep the house, and
bear and rear children, and am a woman and not a pet animal to please
men and prey on them! What are you, you poor slave of a painted face and
a bundle of skunk's fur? You were a man-child when I bore you. Lua was a
woman-child when I bore her. What have you made of yourselves?

CAIN [_letting his spear fall into the crook of his shield arm, and
twirling his moustache_] There is something higher than man. There is
hero and superman.

EVE. Superman! You are no superman: you are Anti-Man: you are to other
men what the stoat is to the rabbit; and she is to you what the leech is
to the stoat. You despise your father; but when he dies the world will
be the richer because he lived. When you die, men will say, 'He was a
great warrior; but it would have been better for the world if he had
never been born.' And of Lua they will say nothing; but when they think
of her they will spit.

CAIN. She is a better sort of woman to live with than you. If Lua nagged
at me as you are nagging, and as you nag at Adam, I would beat her black
and blue from head to foot. I have done it too, slave as you say I am.

EVE. Yes, because she looked at another man. And then you grovelled at
her feet, and cried, and begged her to forgive you, and were ten times
more her slave than ever; and she, when she had finished screaming and
the pain went off a little, she forgave you, did she not?

CAIN. She loved me more than ever. That is the true nature of woman.

EVE [_now pitying him maternally_] Love! You call that love! You call
that the nature of woman! My boy: this is neither man nor woman nor love
nor life. You have no real strength in your bones nor sap in your flesh.

CAIN. Ha! [_he seizes his spear and swings it muscularly_].

EVE. Yes: you have to twirl a stick to feel your strength: you cannot
taste life without making it bitter and boiling hot: you cannot love
Lua until her face is painted, nor feel the natural warmth of her flesh
until you have stuck a squirrel's fur on it. You can feel nothing but a
torment, and believe nothing but a lie. You will not raise your head to
look at all the miracles of life that surround you; but you will run ten
miles to see a fight or a death.

ADAM. Enough said. Let the boy alone.

CAIN. Boy! Ha! ha!

EVE [_to Adam_] You think, perhaps, that his way of life may be better
than yours after all. You are still tempted. Well, will you pamper me as
he pampers his woman? Will you kill tigers and bears until I have a heap
of their skins to lounge on? Shall I paint my face and let my arms waste
into pretty softness, and eat partridges and doves, and the flesh of
kids whose milk you will steal for me?

ADAM. You are hard enough to bear with as you are. Stay as you are; and
I will stay as I am.

CAIN. You neither of you know anything about life. You are simple
country folk. You are the nurses and valets of the oxen and dogs and
asses you have tamed to work for you. I can raise you out of that. I
have a plan. Why not tame men and women to work for us? Why not bring
them up from childhood never to know any other lot, so that they may
believe that we are gods, and that they are here only to make life
glorious for us?

ADAM [_impressed_] That is a great thought, certainly.

EVE [_contemptuously_] Great thought!

ADAM. Well, as the serpent used to say, why not?

EVE. Because I would not have such wretches in my house. Because I hate
creatures with two heads, or with withered limbs, or that are distorted
and perverted and unnatural. I have told Cain already that he is not a
man and that Lua is not a woman: they are monsters. And now you want to
make still more unnatural monsters, so that you may be utterly lazy and
worthless, and that your tamed human animals may find work a blasting
curse. A fine dream, truly! [_To Cain_] Your father is a fool skin deep;
but you are a fool to your very marrow; and your baggage of a wife is

ADAM. Why am I a fool? How am I a greater fool than you?

EVE. You said there would be no killing because the Voice would tell our
children that they must not kill. Why did it not tell Cain that?

CAIN. It did; but I am not a child to be afraid of a Voice. The Voice
thought I was nothing but my brother's keeper. It found that I was
myself, and that it was for Abel to be himself also, and look to
himself. He was not my keeper any more than I was his: why did he not
kill me? There was no more to prevent him than there was to prevent me:
it was man to man; and I won. I was the first conqueror.

ADAM. What did the Voice say to you when you thought all that?

CAIN. Why, it gave me right. It said that my deed was as a mark on me, a
burnt-in mark such as Abel put on his sheep, that no man should slay me.
And here I stand unslain, whilst the cowards who have never slain, the
men who are content to be their brothers' keepers instead of their
masters, are despised and rejected, and slain like rabbits. He who bears
the brand of Cain shall rule the earth. When he falls, he shall be
avenged sevenfold: the Voice has said it; so beware how you plot against
me, you and all the rest.

ADAM. Cease your boasting and bullying, and tell the truth. Does not the
Voice tell you that as no man dare slay you for murdering your brother,
you ought to slay yourself?


ADAM. Then there is no such thing as divine justice, unless you are

CAIN. I am not lying: I dare all truths. There is divine justice. For
the Voice tells me that I must offer myself to every man to be killed if
he can kill me. Without danger I cannot be great. That is how I pay for
Abel's blood. Danger and fear follow my steps everywhere. Without them
courage would have no sense. And it is courage, courage, courage, that
raises the blood of life to crimson splendor.

ADAM [_picking up his spade and preparing to dig again_] Take yourself
off then. This splendid life of yours does not last for a thousand
years; and I must last for a thousand years. When you fighters do not
get killed in fighting one another or fighting the beasts, you die from
mere evil in yourselves. Your flesh ceases to grow like man's flesh: it
grows like a fungus on a tree. Instead of breathing you sneeze, or cough
up your insides, and wither and perish. Your bowels become rotten; your
hair falls from you; your teeth blacken and drop out; and you die before
your time, not because you will, but because you must. I will dig, and

CAIN. And pray, what use is this thousand years of life to you, you
old vegetable? Do you dig any better because you have been digging for
hundreds of years? I have not lived as long as you; but I know all there
is to be known of the craft of digging. By quitting it I have set myself
free to learn nobler crafts of which you know nothing. I know the craft
of fighting and of hunting: in a word, the craft of killing. What
certainty have you of your thousand years? I could kill both of you; and
you could no more defend yourselves than a couple of sheep. I spare you;
but others may kill you. Why not live bravely, and die early and make
room for others? Why, I - I! that know many more crafts than either of
you, am tired of myself when I am not fighting or hunting. Sooner than
face a thousand years of it I should kill myself, as the Voice sometimes
tempts me to do already.

ADAM. Liar: you denied just now that it called on you to pay for Abel's
life with your own.

CAIN. The Voice does not speak to me as it does to you. I am a man: you
are only a grown-up child. One does not speak to a child as to a man.
And a man does not listen and tremble in silence. He replies: he makes
the Voice respect him: in the end he dictates what the Voice shall say.

ADAM. May your tongue be accurst for such blasphemy!

EVE. Keep a guard on your own tongue; and do not curse my son. It was
Lilith who did wrong when she shared the labor of creation so unequally
between man and wife. If you, Cain, had had the trouble of making Abel,
or had had to make another man to replace him when he was gone, you
would not have killed him: you would have risked your own life to save
his. That is why all this empty talk of yours, which tempted Adam just
now when he threw down his spade and listened to you for a while, went
by me like foul wind that has passed over a dead body. That is why there
is enmity between Woman the creator and Man the destroyer. I know you: I
am your mother. You are idle: you are selfish. It is long and hard and
painful to create life: it is short and easy to steal the life others
have made. When you dug, you made the earth live and bring forth as I
live and bring forth. It was for that that Lilith set you free from the
travail of women, not for theft and murder.

CAIN. The Devil thank her for it! I can make better use of my time than
to play the husband to the clay beneath my feet.

ADAM. Devil? What new word is that?

CAIN. Hearken to me, old fool. I have never in my soul listened
willingly when you have told me of the Voice that whispers to you. There
must be two Voices: one that gulls and despises you, and another that
trusts and respects me. I call yours the Devil. Mine I call the Voice of

ADAM. Mine is the Voice of Life: yours the Voice of Death.

CAIN. Be it so. For it whispers to me that death is not really death:
that it is the gate of another life: a life infinitely splendid and
intense: a life of the soul alone: a life without clods or spades,
hunger or fatigue -

EVE. Selfish and idle, Cain. I know.

CAIN. Selfish, yes: a life in which no man is his brother's keeper,
because his brother can keep himself. But am I idle? In rejecting your
drudgery, have I not embraced evils and agonies of which you know
nothing? The arrow is lighter in the hand than the spade; but the energy
that drives it through the breast of a fighter is as fire to water
compared with the strength that drives the spade into the harmless dirty
clay. My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.

ADAM. What is that word? What is pure?

CAIN. Turned from the clay. Turned upward to the sun, to the clear clean

ADAM. The heavens are empty, child. The earth is fruitful. The earth
feeds us. It gives us the strength by which we made you and all mankind.
Cut off from the clay which you despise, you would perish miserably.

CAIN. I revolt against the clay. I revolt against the food. You say it
gives us strength: does it not also turn into filth and smite us with
diseases? I revolt against these births that you and mother are so proud
of. They drag us down to the level of the beasts. If that is to be the
last thing as it has been the first, let mankind perish. If I am to
eat like a bear, if Lua is to bring forth cubs like a bear, then I had

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