chapter  VIII
44 Pages

VIII

IAMawakenedatdawnbythematinalcrescendo ofthepsalmodies.1,herehasbeensuchanexcess ofhumidityduringthenight,soheavyadew, thatinspiteofthethatchedroofeverything aroundmeandonmeissoaked,asaftera shower.

Inthecomp·1rativefreshnessoftheearly morning,Iclimbagainthefirststepsofthe temple,betweenthewornbalustrades,defaced bytherainsofcenturies.And,mindfulof theguardianbats,Ienterwithanexcessof caution,makingnomorenoisethanacat.My enemiesoflastnightareallasleepabove, hanging,headdownwards,bytheirclawsto thestonesoftheceiling,andsimulatingat thishourmyriadsoflittlebagsofdark-coloured velvet.Ihaveenterednow,andnoneofthem hassomuchasmoved.Irecognisethegallery, withitsresonanceasofacave,whichisdecorated,

asfaraseyecansee,withtheendlessbas~relief ofbattles.AndnowthatIseeitinits entirety,diminishingbeforemeinunbroken perspective,itseemsevenmoreinfinitelylong thanbefore.Agreenhalflighthasreplaced allatoncethecleardaylightthatwasbroadeningoutside.Thereisasmellofdampness,such asonemeetsinsubterraneanplaces,butitis dominatedherebythefustymusk-scentedodour oftheexcrementofthebats,whichisdeposited inalayeruponthegroundasifarainof browngrainsfellconstantlyfromthevault.