Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest
That good fight had been to me like a draught of wine, and made me for a while
oblivious of my loss and of the pain from my wound. But the glow and feeling of
exultation did not last: the lacerated flesh smarted; I was weak from loss of blood,
and oppressed with sensations of fatigue. If my foes had appeared on the scene
they would have made an easy conquest of me; but they came not, and I
continued to walk on, slowly and painfully, pausing often to rest.
At last, recovering somewhat from my faint condition, and losing all fear of being
overtaken, my sorrow revived in full force, and thought returned to madden me.
Alas! this bright being, like no other in its divine brightness, so long in the making,
now no more than a dead leaf, a little dust, lost and forgotten for ever--oh,
pitiless! Oh, cruel!
But I knew it all before--this law of nature and of necessity, against which all
revolt is idle: often had the remembrance of it filled me with ineffable melancholy;
only now it seemed cruel beyond all cruelty.
Not nature the instrument, not the keen sword that cuts into the bleeding tissues,
but the hand that wields it--the unseen unknown something, or person, that
manifests itself in the horrible workings of nature.
"Did you know, beloved, at the last, in that intolerable heat, in that moment of
supreme anguish, that he is unlistening, unhelpful as the stars, that you cried not
to him? To me was your cry; but your poor, frail fellow creature was not there to
save, or, failing that, to cast himself into the flames and perish with you, hating
Thus, in my insufferable pain, I spoke aloud; alone in that solitary place, a
bleeding fugitive in the dark night, looking up at the stars I cursed the Author of
my being and called on Him to take back the abhorred gift of life.
Yet, according to my philosophy, how vain it was! All my bitterness and hatred
and defiance were as empty, as ineffectual, as utterly futile, as are the
supplications of the meek worshipper, and no more than the whisper of a leaf,
the light whirr of an insect's wing. Whether I loved Him who was over all, as when
I thanked Him on my knees for guiding me to where I had heard so sweet and
mysterious a melody, or hated and defied Him as now, it all came from Him--love
and hate, good and evil.
But I know--I knew then--that in one thing my philosophy was false, that it was
not the whole truth; that though my cries did not touch nor come near Him they
would yet hurt me; and, just as a prisoner maddened at his unjust fate beats
against the stone walls of his cell until he falls back bruised and bleeding to the
floor, so did I wilfully bruise my own soul, and knew that those wounds I gave
myself would not heal.
Of that night, the beginning of the blackest period of my life, I shall say no more;
and over subsequent events I shall pass quickly.
Morning found me at a distance of many miles from the scene of my duel with the
Indian, in a broken, hilly country, varied with savannah and open forest. I was
well-nigh spent with my long march, and felt that unless food was obtained