Eden River

Free Eden River by Gerald Bullet

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Authors: Gerald Bullet
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daughters growing up around him.
    The river that flowed through Eden was now but a shining memory in Larian’s mind; but in this new country, too, there was a river, flanked by a broad stretch of land that was flooded twice in every ten moons and yielded two generous crops of barley. It was this circumstance, as much as anything, that put an end to the tribe’s wandering. The time was long past when they had been content to live on the fruits and roots of the earth: the slaughtering of bird and beast to the glory of the Holy Blood made it inevitable that sooner or later they should taste of flesh and find it good. Butthough at first the simple beasts would come at a call and suffer death with innocent surprise, with stupid patience, in time they learned enough of the changed nature of man to avoid his haunts; and the sons of Cain, forced not seldom to return empty-handed from a day’s distant hunting, soon learned the wisdom of gathering and hoarding barley against times of dearth. They hoarded, indeed, more of this precious grain than could be easily used, and far more than could be kept dry through the seasons of rains: a momentous accident, for passing one day near a barn in which a flood-ruined store of barley had been abandoned, Seelim, a son of Zildah, was attracted by a smell that was new and very pleasant to him, and following his sensitive nose he broke into the barn. His investigations took time, and he was in a state of hilarious excitement when at last he emerged into daylight again and staggered round the camp spreading the news of his discovery. Not till after he had slept, however, could his brothers get any sense out of him. Then, taking him with them, they went to see and taste the marvel for themselves. It was not long before they had devised a way of treading the grain and collecting the powerful water into drinking vessels: Seelimhad filled his belly with the grain itself, but now the virtue was found to live rather in the rain-water in which the grain lay soaking. The young men made good use of their discovery, and presently Cain and the women came along, to see what they would be at. Cain at first was inclined to anger, thinking that this merriment must be displeasing to the Holy Blood; but Zildah persuaded him to taste for himself, and very soon he needed no persuasion, for it seemed to him that his vision suddenly cleared and his whole body became filled with the light of heaven. He laughed and said: I am very beautiful. I am a river of great power. I made the earth and all that is in it. The morning stars sing at my word. The sun is my servant: I say to him, Go up, and he goes up, Go down, and he goes down. I could eat him if I wanted to; I could squeeze him between finger and thumb. But why should I trouble? asked Cain truculently. He swayed uncertainly on his feet. As for you, my little minnikins, I could blow you all away if I wanted to. All away with one little breath. But I like you. I like you all. There’s Larian making faces at me. What are you making faces for, eh? These foolish words, at which everyone laughed except Larian (themen and Zildah uproariously, the other women with nervous apprehension), were grotesquely inadequate as an expression of Cain’s mood. He was exalted, his spirit released of the load that his ingenious and tortured mind had laid upon it. Happiness ran in his veins; a vast benevolence towards himself and all the world struggled for expression in his clumsy speech. The nonsense that he uttered was no more than a kind of delirium in which his heart’s gaiety sketched a crude parody of itself. He did not listen to his words and was hardly conscious of them, being absorbed in the strange delight of this new experience. He was living two lives: while one part of him knew that he was here in exile, another part was breathing again the air of Eden, walking in a world upon which no shadow of sin or death had fallen. Pretty little children, he said,

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