Full text: The waves

z THE WAVES 
are among the breadcrumbs and the stained napkins again. 
That knife is already congealing with grease. Disorder, 
sordidity and corruption surround us. We have been taking 
into our mouths the bodies of dead birds. It is with these 
greasy crumbs, slobbered over napkins, and little corpses 
that we have to build. Always it begins again ; always there 
is the enemy; eyes meeting ours; fingers twitching ours; 
the effort waiting. Call the waiter. Pay the bill. We must 
pull ourselves up out of our chairs. We must find our coats. 
We must go. Must, must, must—detestable word. Once 
more, I who had thought myself immune, who had said, 
‘Now I am rid of all that,” find that the wave has tumbled 
me over, head over heels, scattering my possessions, leaving 
me to collect, to assemble, to heap together, summon my 
forces, tise and confront the enemy. 
“It is strange that we, who are capable of so much suffering, 
should inflict so much suffering. Strange that the face of a 
person, whom I scarcely know save that I think we met 
once on the gangway of a ship bound for Africa—a mere 
adumbration of eyes, cheeks, nostrils—should have power 
to inflict this insult. You look, eat, smile, are bored, pleased, 
annoyed—that is all I know. Yet this shadow which has sat 
by me for an hour or two, this mask from which peep two 
eyes, has power to drive me back, to pinion me down among 
all those other faces, to shut me in a hot room; to send 
me dashing like a moth from candle to candle. 
“ But wait. While they add up the bill behind the screen, 
wait one moment. Now that I have reviled you for the blow 
that sent me staggering among peelings and crumblings and 
old scraps of meat, I will record in words of one syllable 
how also under your gaze with that compulsion on me I 
begin to perceive this, that and the other. The clock ticks ; 
the woman sneezes ; the waiter comes—there is a gradual 
coming together, running into one, acceleration and unifica- 
tion. Listen : a whistle sounds, wheels rush, the door creaks 
on its hinges. I regain the sense of the complexity and the 
reality and the struggle, for which I thank you. And with 
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