The Beast in the Jungle

He had justified his fear and achieved his fate ; he had failed, with the last exactitude, of all he was to fail of, and a moan now rose to his lips as he remembered she had prayed he mightn’t know. This horror of waking – this was knowledge, knowledge under the breath of which the very tears in his eyes seemed to freeze. Through them, none the less, he tried to fix it and hold it ; he kept it there before him so that he might feel the pain. That at least, belated and bitter, had something of the taste of life. But the bitterness suddenly sickened him, and it was as if, horribly, he saw in the truth, in the cruelty of his image, what had been appointed and done. He saw the Jungle of his life and saw the lurking Beast ; then, while he looked, perceived it, as by a stir of the air, rise, huge and hideous, for the leap that was to settle him. His eyes darkened – it was close ; and, instinctively turning, in his hallucination, to avoid it, he flung himself, on his face, on the tomb.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories & Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), p489-490

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