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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHis Family - Chapter 44
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His Family - Chapter 44 Post by :otto_jurscha Category :Long Stories Author :Ernest Poole Date :May 2012 Read :3226

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His Family - Chapter 44

CHAPTER XLIV

And his dreams were of children. Their faces passed before him. Now they were young again in the house. They were eating their suppers, three small girls, chattering like magpies. From her end of the table their mother smiled quietly across at him. "Come children," she was saying, "that will do for a little while." But Roger said, "Oh, let them talk."... Then he saw new-comers. Bruce came in with Edith, and George and young Elizabeth, and Allan came with Deborah who had a baby in her arms, and Laura stood beside them. Here were his three daughters, grown, but still in some uncanny way they looked to him like children still; and behind them he detected figures long forgotten, of boys and girls whom he had known far back in his own childhood. John, too, had come into the house. Strangely now the walls were gone, had lifted, and a clamorous throng, laughing, shouting, pummeling, hedged him in on every hand--Deborah's big family!

Soon the uproar wearied him, and Roger tried to shut them out, to bring back again the walls to his house. And sometimes he succeeded, and he was left for a while in peace with Judith and his three small girls. But despite his efforts to keep them there, new faces kept intruding. Swiftly his small family grew, split into other families, and these were merged with other figures pressing in from every side. Again he felt the presence of countless families all around, dividing, reuniting, with ceaseless changes and fresh life--a never ending multitude. Here they were singing and dancing, and Laura gaily waved to him. At another place were only men, and they were struggling savagely to clutch things from each other's hands. A sea of scowling visages, angry shouts, fists clinched in air. And he thought he saw Bruce for an instant. Behind them lay wide valleys obscured by heavy clouds of smoke, and he could hear the roar of guns. But they vanished suddenly, and he saw women mourning now, and Edith with her children turned to him her anxious eyes. He tried to reach and help her, but already she had gone. And behind her came huge bending forms, men heaving at great burdens, jaws set in scowls of fierce revolt. And John was there on his crutches, and near him was a figure bound into a chair of steel, with terror in the straining limbs, while in desperation Deborah tried to wrench him free. Abruptly Roger turned away.

And in a twinkling all was gone, the tumult and the clamor, and he was in a silent place high up on a mountain side. It was dusk. A herd of cattle passed, and George came close behind them. And around him Roger saw, emerging from the semi-dark, faces turning like his own to the summits of the mountains and the billowy splendors there. It grew so dark he could see no more. There fell a deep silence, not a sound but the occasional chirp of a bird or the faint whirr of an insect. Even the glow on the peaks was gone. Darkness, only darkness.

"Surely this is death," he thought. After that he was alone. And presently from far away he heard the booming of a bell, deep and slow, sepulchral, as it measured off his life. Another silence followed, and this time it was more profound; and with a breathless awe he knew that all the people who had ever lived on earth were before him in the void to which he himself was drifting: people of all nations, of countless generations reaching back and back and back to the beginnings of mankind: the mightiest family of all, that had stumbled up through the ages, had slaved and starved and dreamed and died, had blindly hated, blindly killed, had raised up gods and idols and yearned for everlasting life, had laughed and played and danced along, had loved and mated, given birth, had endlessly renewed itself and handed on its heritage, had striven hungrily to learn, had groped its way in darkness, and after all its struggles had come now barely to the dawn. And then a voice within him cried,

"What is humanity but a child? In the name of the dead I salute the unborn!"

Slowly a glow appeared in his dream, and once again the scene had changed. The light was coming from long rows of houses rising tall and steep out of a teeming city street. And from these lighted houses children now came pouring forth. They filled the street from wall to wall with a torrent of warm vivid hues, they joined in mad tempestuous games, they shouted and they danced with glee, they whirled each other 'round and 'round. The very air seemed quivering. Then was heard the crash of a band, and he saw them marching into school. In and in and in they pressed, till the school seemed fairly bursting. Out they came by another way, and went off marching down the street with the big flag waving at their head. He followed and saw the street divide into narrower streets and bye-ways, into roads and country lanes. And all were filled with children. In endless multitudes they came--marching, marching, spreading, spreading, like wide bobbing fields of flowers rolling out across the land, toward a great round flashing sun above a distant rim of hills.

The sun rose strangely dazzling. It filled the heavens with blinding light. He felt himself drawn up and up--while from somewhere far behind he heard the cry of Deborah's child. A clear sweet thrill of happiness came. And after that--we do not know.

For he had left his family.


(THE END)
Ernest Poole's Novel: His Family

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