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B. Royce

A Brief Sketch

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The young lover of the man-made lay sprawled out on top of the hill. He was on his back on the grass, a rolled up blanket under his head. The book he held blocked from his view the beautiful sunrise and he was so absorbed in his reading he didn't hear the flock of geese flying by, or even notice the sweet perfume in the light breeze. He was oblivious to the sky above and to the earth beneath. He was a boy totally at home, at peace with all things.

He was reading the biography of a great industrialist. The man had discovered great pockets of iron ore, had developed huge machines for digging it up and scooping it out, had worked sixteen hour days, and fed steel mills, bought them, expanded them, sent girders to skyscrapers and bridges, rails and sheets of gleaming steel to railroads, beams and brackets to new factories, a teacher of the earth, mastering it, using it, giving it beautiful purpose and meaning. The reading boy was so enthralled he could lie still no longer. He put down his book and stood up. His face caught the sun and shone briliantly. "To make things," he thought, "that's what I want to do. To find new uses for hills and rocks and land." He recalled the verse from Swinburne, 'What is here, dost thou know it?' and knew that he wanted more than anything to know.

He picked up his blanket and his book and walked down the hill, keenly aware of the grass and the flowers, the trees and the rocks, of the world lying at ready for action. He thought, "This is what it must mean to feel one with nature." He added, somewhat whimsically, "And for nature to feel one with man."

When he got back into town he was hailed by his older sister, who was carrying a Save the Earth sign. She said, "We're going to march for nature, and so would you if you knew anything. You never know what's going on."

He stared at her as at a stranger, then replied, "Aren't you going to injure the earth by walking on it? Haven't you already hurt the earth by turning trees into signs? How can you permit yourself to breathe, and thus dilute the purity of the air? And when you die aren't your remains going to remind the earth of your human ugliness? Know? I know what's going on. You and your friends have no purpose in life, no thought in your brains, no love of facts and truth. Nature is not one with you, but scorns you, disowns you, spits you out. Nature says, 'I see the enemy; it is the person of feeling who does not think, who does not identify and integrate me into his mind; it is the person who does not raise me up to the height of meaning, but who lets me lie around aimless; it is the hopeless one who takes no passionate action on me and through me; it is the unfocused one who never even knows me.'"

She had turned away before he had finished, with four or five of her friends who were frantically saying, "Lets get away from him; he's evil." "O my God, that was terrible." "Let's get across the street before he poisons our minds!" "Save the earth! Save the earth!" As they walked across the street there was a terrible wrenching sound and a gigantic shuddering; then suddenly, Crack! the street split in two! The predicted Big Quake had finally come.

He stood there untouched. Where his sister and her friends had been there was only a huge gaping hole. He marvelled at the sheer raw power of the quake. "Wow, to have that kind of power in my control, that would be fabulous!" He turned and walked down the street, a boy at one with nature, eager to know.

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