Full text: The waves

Susan. “ And Biddy has smacked down the bucket on the 
kitchen flaps.” 
“That is the first stroke of the church bell,” said Louis. 
‘ Then the others follow ; one, two ; one, two; one, two.” 
“ Look at the table-cloth, flying white along the table,” 
said Rhoda. “ Now there are rounds of white china, and 
silver streaks beside each plate.” 
“ Suddenly a bee booms in my ear,” said Neville. “It 
is here; it is past.” 
“1 burn, I shiver,” said Jinny, ““ out of this sun, into this 
“ Now they have all gone,” said Louis. “I am alone. 
They have gone into the house for breakfast, and I am left 
standing by the wall among the flowers. It is very early, 
before lessons. Flower after flower is specked on the 
depths of green. The petals are hatlequins. Stalks rise 
from the black hollows beneath. The flowers swim like fish 
made of light upon the dark, green waters. I hold a stalk 
in my hand. I am the stalk. My roots go down to the 
depths of the world, through earth dry with brick, and damp 
earth, through veins of lead and silver. I am all fibre. All 
tremors shake me, and the weight of the earth is pressed to 
my ribs, Up here my eyes are green leaves, unseeing. I 
am a boy in grey flannels with a belt fastened by a brass 
snake up here. Down there my eyes are the lidless eyes of 
a stone figure in a desert by the Nile. I see women passing 
with red pitchers to the river; I see camels swaying and 
men in turbans. I hear tramplings, tremblings, stirrings 
round me. 
“Up here Bernard, Neville, Jinny and Susan (but not 
Rhoda) skim the flower-beds with their nets. They skim 
the butterflies from the nodding tops of the flowers. They 
brush the surface of the world. Their nets are full of 
fluttering wings. ‘Louis! Louis! Louis!’ they shout. 
But they cannot see me. I am on the other side of the 
hedge. There are only little eye-holes among the leaves. 
Oh Lord, let them pass. Lord, let them lay their butterflies

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