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CHAPTER THE THIRD

Night and the Open Sea


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I have tried throughout all this story to tell things as they happened to me. In the beginning—the sheets are still here on the table, grimy and dogs-eared and old-looking—I said I wanted to tell myself and the world in which I found myself, and I have done my best. But whether I have succeeded I cannot imagine. All this writing is gray now and dead and trite and unmeaning to me; some of it I know by heart. I am the last person to judge it.

As I turn over the big pile of manuscript before me, certain things become clearer to me, and particularly the immense inconsequence of my experiences. It is, I see now that I have it all before me, a story of activity and urgency and sterility. I have called it Tono-Bungay, but I had far better have called it Waste. I have told of childless Marion, of my childless aunt, of Beatrice wasted and wasteful and futile. What hope is there for a people whose women become fruitless? I think of all the energy I have given to vain things. I think of my industrious scheming with my uncle, of Crest Hill's vast cessation, of his resonant strenuous career. Ten thousand men have envied him

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