How poignantly strange it was that life could afford him nothing save consciousness of the moment immediately at hand! Memory and anticipatioon, whatever else they might do--and they had important uses, of course, in rousing emotion--yet did not deal di rctly with reality. What you regretted, or were proud of, having done yesterday was no more real now than the deeds of Caeser Borgia or St. Paul; and what you looked forward to within the half-hour was as non-existent as the senility of your unborn great -grandchildren. Never was man brought into contact with reality save through the evanescent emotions and sensations of that single moment, that infinitesimal fraction of a second, which was passing now. This commonplace, so simple and so old, bewildered Kennaston when he came unreservedle to recognize it truth....
To live was to be through his senses conscious, one by one, of a restricted number of these fractions of a second. Success in life, then, had nothing to do with bank-accounts or public office, or any step toward increasing the length of one's obituary not ices, but meant to be engrossed utterly by as many as possible of these instants. And complete success required a finding, in these absorbing instants, of employment for every facultu he possessed. It was for this that Kennaston had always vaguely longed ; and to this, if only in dreams, he now attained.
If only in dreams! he debated: why, and was he not conscious, now, in his dreams, of every moment as it fled? And corporal life in banks and ballrooms and legislative halls and palaces, nowhere had anything more than that to offer mortal men.
It is not necessary to defend his course of reasoning; to the contrary, its fallacy is no less apparent than its conduciveness to unbusinesslike conclusions. But it is highly necessary to tell you that, according to Felix Kennaston's account, now, turn b y turn, he was in Horvendile's person rapt by nearly every passion, every emotion, the human race has ever known. True, throughout these dramas into which chance plunged him, in that he knew always he was dreaming, he was at once performer and spectator; but he played with the born actor's zest--feeling his part, as people say--and permitting the passion he portrayed to possess him almost completely.
Almost completely, be it repeated; for there was invariably a sufficient sense of knowing he was only dreaming to prevent entire abandonment to the raw emotion. Kennaston preferred it thus. He preferred in this more comely way to play with human passion s, rather than, as seemed the vulgar use, to consent to become their battered plaything.
It pleased him, too, to be able to have done with such sensations and emotions as did not interest him; for he had merely to touch Ettarre, and the dream ended. In this fashion he would very often terminate an existence which was becoming distasteful--resorting debonairly to this sort of sucide, and thus dismissing an era' s social ordering and its great people as toys that, played with, had failed to amuse Felix Kennaston.