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redefinition of  impossible, they and all their co-workers, colleagues, acquaintances, cohabitants, heirs and
assigns were relieved of the necessity to calculate. It happened so quickly, one minute a heterogenous
mass of seething noncommunicants; the next, the end of Babel.
Henry, five years old, slept as usual flat on his back and face straight up, arms rigid, fists clenched under,
and pinned down by his buttocks, and his ankles together. He was having a nightmare, soundlessly, of
being surrounded by gentle smiling fathers, some of whom wore the masks of the other kids in his class,
and storekeepers, and passing puppy dogs, but who were really just smiling fathers, dressed up and being
gentle at the very verge of exploding in his face; and between him and all the fathers was a loving goddess
with soft hands full of forbidden lollipops and raisin-bread peanut-butter sandwiches to be passed to little
boys in the dark when they had been sent to bed without their suppers because they were little cowards;
this goddess was there to care for him and protect him, but when the explosion came, with this breath or
the next or the one after, the puppies and children and grocers and fathers would whisk through to him as
if the goddess weren t there at all; and while they did what they would do to him, she would still be there
smiling and ready with guilty lollipops, not knowing what the fathers were doing to him... And under this
nightmare was the color of hopelessness, the absolute certainty that to awake from it would be to emerge
into it; the dream and the world were one now, fused and identical.
Chapter 20
These were people, these are anecdotes, dwelt upon for their several elements of the extraordinary. But
each man alive has such a story, unique unto himself, of what is in him and of its molding by the forces
around him, and of his interpretations of those forces. Here a man sees a machine as a god, and there a
man sees God as an argument; and another uses men s argument quite as if it were a tool, a machine of his
own. For all his ability to work in concert with his fellows, and to induce some sympathy in their
vibrations, man remains isolated; no one knows exactly how another feels. At the very climax of sensation,
man approaches unconsciousness... unconsciousness of what? Why, of all around him; never of himself.
These were people, there are anecdotes of the night the world ended; this the night when people the
world over thought their thoughts and lived their lives and at long, long last were wrong in thinking that
tomorrow was the front part of today, yesterday the back, and that the way to go on was to go on as
before.
This was the night, and the very moment, when Paul Sanders rose from the couch, lifted Charlotte
Dunsay in his arms, and said,  Well, if it isn t now, it never will be...
When young Guido strode a pre-dawn Rome, his very bones aching with music and a carven miracle
under his arm, waiting the ardent reach of his unshackled talent. No lover, no miser, no acolyte on earth
loved money or woman or Master more than Guido loved this violin; no whelping fox or wounded water-
buffalo so watchful for an enemy...
When the cousins Mbala and Nuyu, the redeemed backslider and the convert, turned into a new and
glorious day of faith and many yams...
When Henry, who was five, lay stiffly in his bed and sniffled through a dream of smiling cruelties in a
place quite like all other places to him, where he was despised...
When Dimity Carmichael s dutiful alarm preceded the sunrise and she rose in her sensible cotton
gown and made ready, eyes averted, to take her morning shower...
When Sharon Brevix entered the dusk and the dark of her second lost day without shelter or food...
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and three quarter billion living times under this sun.
Chapter 21
He stood motionless with the girl in his arms, ready to put her down on the sofa; and then, without a
start, without a word of wonderment, Paul Sanders set her on her feet and stood supporting her with a
firm arm around her shoulders until her head cleared and she could stand alone.
There was nothing said, because there was in that moment nothing to be said. In a split second there [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]