But then when I came to write this,” and he tapped the paper on his knee, “when I came to write the passage about the castle at night, then I realised I was describing one of the things I had seen in the dream. Radiko at night, in the rain, in the dark, before sunrise. I saw that. I saw it in broad daylight two hundred miles away. Why? How? What does it mean? I don’t know, I’ve given up asking. I have no right to ask. I’ve forfeited my rights. I lived in my mind, in my emotions, in my vanity, I lived in the world I made, and made the rules for it. I chose to dream. But then when you wake up you have lost your citizenship in daylight. You have forgotten what real things mean. You have forfeited your rights.”
“Had one ever any rights?”
Less all around, he thought, coming back down from the Old Quarter to the river and walking up the boulevard under the trees by the bright water. Less cash, less strength, less time to live; less of a man to stand up against the storming of the human world and the universe at his mind and body, the storm of light and wind and sensation and passion that never ceased, never rested, until death; for the walls of a building, a prison, were dust in that storm. He felt peculiarly slight, light, insubstantial as he walked up the wide street by he river, a flickering thing, exposed, uncertain. This mote, this speck between the sun in its gulfs of light and the earth with its long shadow, this was himself, Itale Sorde, and he was supposed to withstand the entire universe in order to remain himself; not only that, to do his job; to be a part of it. It was a strange business to be a man walking in the sunlight, stranger than to be a stone, or a river, or a tree holding up its branches in the July heat. They all knew what they were doing. He did not.
If this was her world, she was strong enough to live in it.
…For any act done consciously may be defiant, may be independent, may change life utterly.
But one can only act thus if one knows there is no safety. So she thought, that Epiphany night, looking up at Orion and the other stars. One must wait outside. There is no hiding away from storm, waste, injustice, death. There is is no shelter, no stopping, only a pretense, a mean, stupid pretense of being safe and letting time and evil pass by outside. But we are all outside, Piera thought, and all defenseless. There is no safe house but death. Nothing of our own building will protect us, not the jails, nor the palaces, nor the comfortable houses. But the grandeur of knowing that, the pride and grandeur of being on one’s own at last, alone, under the enormous and indifferent sky, unhoused and unprotected! To be nothing, a girl, confused, grieved, frightened, foolish, shivering in the January frost, all that, yes, but also to learn at last the stature of her spirit: to come into her inheritance.