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Witness La Gilbert Epub Bud

Such being the normal life of Oran, it will be easily understood that our fellowcitizens had not the faintest reason to apprehend the incidents that took place in the springof the year in question and were (as we subsequently realized) premonitory signs of thegrave events we are to chronicle. To some, these events will seem quite natural; to others,all but incredible. But, obviously, a narrator cannot take account of these differences ofoutlook. His business is only to say: "This is what happened," when he knows that itactually did happen, that it closely affected the life of a whole populace, and that there arethousands of eyewitnesses who can appraise in their hearts the truth of what he writes.

witness la gilbert epub bud

In any case the narrator (whose identity will be made known in due course) wouldhave little claim to competence for a task like this, had not chance put him in the way ofgathering much information, and had he not been, by the force of things, closely involvedin all that he proposes to narrate. This is his justification for playing the part of ahistorian. Naturally, a historian, even an amateur, always has data, personal or at secondhand, to guide him. The present narrator has three kinds of data: first, what he sawhimself; secondly, the accounts of other eyewitnesses (thanks to the part he played, hewas enabled to learn their personal impressions from all those figuring in this chronicle);and, lastly, documents that subsequently came into his hands. He proposes to draw onthese records whenever this seems desirable, and to employ them as he thinks best. Healso proposes...

Rieux nodded. A small boy had just run against his legs and fallen; he set him onhis feet again. Walking on, they came to the Place d'Armes. Gray with dust, the palmsand fig trees drooped despondently around a statue of the Republic, which too was coatedwith grime and dust. They stopped beside the statue. Rieux stamped his feet on theflagstones to shake off the coat of white dust that had gathered on them. His hat pushedslightly back, his shirt-collar gaping under a loosely knotted tie, his cheeks ill-shaven, thejournalist had the sulky, stubborn look of a young man who feels himself deeply injured.

The doctor glanced up at the statue of the Republic, then said he did not know ifhe was using the language of reason, but he knew he was using the language of the factsas everybody could see them, which wasn't necessarily the same thing.

Lifting the coverlet and chemise, he gazed in silence at the red blotches on thegirl's thighs and stomach, the swollen ganglia. After one glance the mother broke intoshrill, uncontrollable cries of grief. And every evening mothers wailed thus, with adistraught abstraction, as their eyes fell on those fatal stigmata on limbs and bellies; everyevening hands gripped Rieux's arms, there was a rush of useless words, promises, andtears; every evening the nearing tocsin of the ambulance provoked scenes as vain asevery form of grief. Rieux had nothing to look forward to but a long sequence of suchscenes, renewed again and again. Yes, plague, like abstraction, was monotonous; perhapsonly one factor changed, and that was Rieux himself. Standing at the foot of the statue ofthe Republic that evening, he felt it; all he was conscious of was a bleak indifferencesteadily gaining on him as he gazed at the door of the hotel Rambert had just entered.

And, as it so happens, what has yet to be recorded before coming to theculmination, during the period when the plague was gathering all its forces to fling themat the town and lay it waste, is the long, heartrendingly monotonous struggle put up bysome obstinate people like Rambert to recover their lost happiness and to balk the plagueof that part of themselves which they were ready to defend in the last ditch. This wastheir way of resisting the bondage closing in upon them, and while their resistance lackedthe active virtues of the other, it had (to the narrator's thinking) its point, and moreover itbore witness, even lit its futility and incoherences, to a salutary pride.

They had already seen children die, for many months now death had shown nofavoritism, but they had never yet watched a child's agony minute by minute, as they hadnow been doing since daybreak. Needless to say, the pain inflicted on these innocentvictims had always seemed to them to be what in fact it was: an abominable thing. Buthitherto they had felt its abomination in, so to speak, an abstract way; they had never hadto witness over so long a period the death-throes of an innocent child.

"My brothers, each one of us must be the one who stays!" There was no questionof not taking precautions or failing to comply with the orders wisely promulgated for thepublic weal in the disorders of a pestilence. Nor should we listen to certain moralists whotold us to sink on our knees and give up the struggle. No, we should go forward, gropingour way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at times, and try to do what good lay inour power. As for the rest, we must hold fast, trusting in the divine goodness, even as tothe deaths of little children, and not seeking personal respite.

"From that day on I couldn't even see the railway directory without a shudder ofdisgust. I took a horrified interest in legal proceedings, death sentences, executions, and Irealized with dismay that my father must have often witnessed those brutal murders, onthe days when, as I'd noticed without guessing what it meant, he rose very early in themorning. I remembered he used to wind his alarm-clock on those occasions, to makesure. I didn't dare to broach the subject with my mother, but I watched her now moreclosely and saw that their life in common had ceased to mean anything, she hadabandoned hope. That helped me to 'forgive her,' as I put it to myself at the time. Lateron, I learned that there'd been nothing to forgive; she'd been quite poor until her marriage,and poverty had taught her resignation.

But this rather tawdry exuberance was only one aspect of the town that day; not afew of those filling the streets at sundown, among them Rambert and his wife, hid underan air of calm satisfaction subtler forms of happiness. Many couples, indeed, and manyfamilies, looked like people out for a casual stroll, no more than that; in reality most ofthem were making sentimental pilgrimages to places where they had gone to school withsuffering. The newcomers were being shown the striking or obscurer tokens of theplague, relics of its passage. In some cases the survivor merely played the part of guide,the eyewitness who has "been through it," and talked freely of the danger withoutmentioning his fear. These were the milder forms of pleasure, little more than recreation.

Summoned to give evidence regarding what was a sort of crime, he has exercisedthe restraint that behooves a conscientious witness. All the same, following the dictates ofhis heart, he has deliberately taken the victims' side and tried to share with his fellowcitizens the only certitudes they had in common, love, exile, and suffering. Thus he cantruly say there was not one of their anxieties in which he did not share, no predicament oftheirs that was not his.

To be an honest witness, it was for him to confine himself mainly to what peopledid or said and what could be gleaned from documents. Regarding his personal troublesand his long suspense, his duty was to hold his peace. When now and then he refers tosuch matters, it is only for the light they may throw on his fellow citizens and in order togive a picture, as well defined as possible, of what most of the time they felt confusedly.

Tarrou, the men and the woman Rieux had loved and lost, all alike, dead or guilty,were forgotten. Yes, the old fellow had been right; these people were "just the same asever." But this was at once their strength and their innocence, and it was on this level,beyond all grief, that Rieux could feel himself at one with them. And it was in the midstof shouts rolling against the terrace wall in massive waves that waxed in volume andduration, while cataracts of colored fire fell thicker through the darkness, that Dr. Rieuxresolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold theirpeace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that somememorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simplywhat we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than todespise.


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