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THE RAIN

“The rain! The rain!” he said.

“Oh, go out in the rain,” she advised.

“But it’s too wet.”

“Don’t be silly. You can dry yourself, can’t you?”

So out he went, and how it was raining! Divots and divots of rain, hard out of the sky, and hurtling down like little thunderbolts bouncing across the road and splashing heavily on the pebbly gravel-path over which he ran; rain up in the trees, rivering off the roofs, gathering in the gutters, swamping the drains, wandering in patterns, like shallow streams, over the straight stretches of ground, simply rain everywhere! Certainly down his neck, across the backs of his legs, now in his socks, plashing against his muddy toes, puddles and puddles of rain everywhere, and not even the certainty that she would be there when he got there, but on he tore, on and on, with the few cars on the roads riding the rain high up into big, dirty sprays. On and on he went.

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Why? Why? he was thinking. Why am I running on and on like this?

The woods were wetter; water was everywhere. The incessant drum-tattoo of big droplets breaking, plash, plash, plash, on the muddiness; the trees aching with their burdens, shedding them in profuse, pattering rivers, the sky incessantly full of more, more and more rain, the sky like a grey pigeon in flight, constantly moving and moving, making more and more and more rain, and rain!

He was sodden; he was disgracefully wet. What girl would invite him in like this? What girl would not laugh herself silly looking at him? Oh, you drowned rat! he imagined her laughing. Oh, you drowned rat! in that peculiarly ringing tone of mockery he so loved and hated; but on, on, on, and with the rain.

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Why am I running? Why am I running? I’m compelled; I’m compelled to run. And on and on.

There was nothing; there was no day, no morning, no afternoon, just the sounding, soundless, grey sky, full of incessant tails of commotion and fans and flights of rain.

Why am I running? Why am I running? My heels are reined with mud. My eyes have the world’s tears over them. Why am I running? Why am I running? I am compelled. I am forced to. Love has sent me out into these wet, watery wastes where heaven is mud and mud is a part of the heaven. But on, but on, on. Will it never stop, never stop raining?

The rain is increasing. It is riding out of the sky like pale, watery flowers. The flowers are eyes. They have lashes. The wind is catching them up into a brilliant force. It is driving the rain; it is driving the rain. The rain is like pails, like pails emptied and scattered hither and thither, a thousand, liquid, dove-tailed darts and flowers of rain, so full of themselves hither and thither flying themselves, endlessly dancing down with sudden splats and round, emptying splashes into and under the greedy, guzzling earth.

The rain, the rain, will it never stop? It has flattened my head. It is down my cheeks, making my cheeks look like rough-surfaced fishes. Will it never stop? Will it never stop? It is all over my throat. It is down my chest. What will she think, seeing me drenched on her doorstep like this? What an eccentric! she’s bound to think. What a silly boy! She’ll be right. She’ll be right.

The streams are full of the rain. They are catching the sides of the banks in their riverine ecstasies. They are swelling like brown, turgid lives; they are rivering on; they have grown out of themselves; they have gone quite beyond their own definitions.

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The rain, isn’t it going to stop? and if it does, then what? What a state I’m in! Why didn’t you wait till it stopped? she’ll say. Because you’re a drip, she’ll say, and go away well pleased with her humour, laughing. Oh, I can’t, I just can’t appear like this!

The sky is a grey sea endlessly pouring. It will not let be. You need balance; you need check; you need sun. This monomania, rain, is silly, silly, silly. But I can’t appear like this, not like this. I must appear rakish, a dandy with a large hat and a large head, not like this. No, never like this.

The rain is a demon. It disperses appearances; it moves everything to something else or even somewhere else; it will not do to worship rain. You need balance; you need check; you need sun. This monomaniacal rain is silly, silly, silly.

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But the rain, the rain! Will it never give up! I can’t go in like this. Look at the tall trees, how drab and watery they are, how their leaves are pale, like watery, green things that are drowned, their bark streaked with impossible rain, grey, sleek rain, liquid eyed, slitting, changing, rounding, and rolling away. Plunk, plonk, plink. Out of the sky this detestable rain, always, always, always! But how wet, how wet I am.

“Was she in?” his mother asks.

“No,” he sobs, and his eyes are full of rain.

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