She saw him dimly, sitting up; saw his arm lunge as if in a furious blow at the enshrouding night. Then for a space he was still.
“It is too much—it is more than one can bear!”
She could say nothing. To her, also, it seemed that this was as far as one could go. She waited through a long stillness. She could see that Denton sat with his arms about his knees, his chin almost touching them.
Then he laughed.
“No,” he said at last, “I’m going to stand it. That’s the peculiar thing. There isn’t a grain of suicide in us—not a grain. I suppose all the people with a turn that way have gone. We’re going through with it—to the end.”
Elizabeth thought grayly, and realised that this also was true.
“We’re going through with it. To think of all who have gone through with it: all the generations—endless—endless. Little beasts that snapped and snarled, snapping and snarling, snapping and snarling, generation after generation.”
His monotone, ended abruptly, resumed after a vast interval.
“There were ninety thousand years of stone age. A Denton somewhere in all those years. Apostolic succession. The grace of going through. Let me see! Ninety—nine hundred—three nines, twenty-seven—three thousand generations of men!—men more or less. And each fought, and was bruised, and shamed, and somehow held his own—going through with it—passing it on… . And thousands more to come perhaps—thousands!
“Passing it on. I wonder if they will thank us.”
His voice assumed an argumentative note. “If one could find something definite … If one could say, ‘This is why—this is why it goes on… .'”
He became still, and Elizabeth’s eyes slowly separated him from the darkness until at last she could see how he sat with his head resting on his hand. A sense of the enormous remoteness of their minds came to her; that dim suggestion of another being seemed to her a figure of their mutual understanding. What could he be thinking now? What might he not say next? Another age seemed to elapse before he sighed and whispered: “No. I don’t understand it. No!” Then a long interval, and he repeated this. But the second time it had the tone almost of a solution.
She became aware that he was preparing to lie down. She marked his movements, perceived with astonishment how he adjusted his pillow with a careful regard to comfort. He lay down with a sigh of contentment almost. His passion