The Trespasser (Chapter 6, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 6

It was cold, and he shrank. For a moment he found himself thigh-deep,
watching the horizontal stealing of a ship through the intolerable
glitter, afraid to plunge. Laughing, he went under the clear
green water.

He was a poor swimmer. Sometimes a choppy wave swamped him, and he rose
gasping, wringing the water from his eyes and nostrils, while he heaved
and sank with the rocking of the waves that clasped his breast. Then he
stooped again to resume his game with the sea. It is splendid to play,
even at middle age, and the sea is a fine partner.

With his eyes at the shining level of the water, he liked to peer
across, taking a seal's view of the cliffs as they confronted the
morning. He liked to see the ships standing up on a bright floor; he
liked to see the birds come down.

But in his playing he drifted towards the spur of rock, where, as he
swam, he caught his thigh on a sharp, submerged point. He frowned at the
pain, at the sudden cruelty of the sea; then he thought no more of it,
but ruffled his way back to the clear water, busily continuing his play.

When he ran out on to the fair sand his heart, and brain, and body were
in a turmoil. He panted, filling his breast with the air that was
sparkled and tasted of the sea. As he shuddered a little, the wilful
palpitations of his flesh pleased him, as if birds had fluttered against
him. He offered his body to the morning, glowing with the sea's passion.
The wind nestled in to him, the sunshine came on his shoulders like warm
breath. He delighted in himself.

The rock before him was white and wet, like himself; it had a pool of
clear water, with shells and one rose anemone.

'She would make so much of this little pool,' he thought. And as he
smiled, he saw, very faintly, his own shadow in the water. It made him
conscious of himself, seeming to look at him. He glanced at himself, at
his handsome, white maturity. As he looked he felt the insidious
creeping of blood down his thigh, which was marked with a long red
slash. Siegmund watched the blood travel over the bright skin. It wound
itself redly round the rise of his knee.

'That is I, that creeping red, and this whiteness I pride myself on is
I, and my black hair, and my blue eyes are I. It is a weird thing to be
a person. What makes me myself, among all these?' Feeling chill, he wiped himself quickly.

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