The Fall from Grace

Now of all living creatures in Eden the serpent was more subtle than any other which the Lord God had made. And because of his subtlety there entered into him the knowledge and malice of an angel fallen because of pride from grace, and banished from the presence of the Lord God. This fallen angel’s evil influence found harbourage within the serpent; and Adam knew it not.

Couched in his beauty upon his coils, cold and stealthy, the changing colour of his scales rippling his whole length through, the serpent with lifted head would of his subtlety seek their company and share with them a knowledge that was his only. He would drowse beside them in the sun’s heat while they talked together, and as he listened, envy sprang up in him, and he hated them for their innocence and their peace in their happy obedience to him who had made them and set them free.

There came an hour in the fullness of morning when Adam was away from the woman, and the serpent, seeing it, approached her and was with Eve alone. She sat in dappled shade from the sun, whose light was on all around them, and whose heat was pleasant to her after the cold of the waters in which she had bathed. There she had seen her own image or reflex in its glass; and she had praised the Lord God at the thought she was so fair. The serpent lifted up his flat-browed head, fixed his eyes upon her as she sat sleeking her hair, and he said: ‘Where, now, is the man Adam?’

Eve told the serpent that he was gone into the glades of the Garden near at hand to gather fruit for them to eat.

The serpent couched lower, rimpling the scales upon his skin. ‘But is it not,’ he said, ‘that the Lord God hath forbidden thee and the man Adam, saying, “You shall not eat of any of the trees in the Garden”?’

Eve smiled, marvelling that the serpent should so speak.

‘Nay,’ she said, ‘we may eat of the fruit of any of the trees in the Garden. Except only the fruit of the Tree that is in the midst of it. Of that the Lord God hath said: “You shall not eat of it. Taste it not lest you die!”’

The Garden was still. Above them the wondrous blue of morning was brimmed with the light of day, and the shadows of tree and mountain moved with the sun. Except for the warbling of birds, there came no sound of any other voice between them, and the serpent drew back his head, and from his cold and changeless eyes steadfastly looked upon Eve, loveliest of all things on earth that the Lord God had made.

‘Yea,’ he answered, ‘and so the Lord God has said! But of a surety thou shalt not die. For he himself knows well that in the day that thou eat of the fruit of this Tree, then shall thine eyes be opened to his wisdom and thou shalt be as the divine ones, the angels of heaven, knowing both good and evil. It is no wonder that the fruit of the Tree hath been forbidden thee, for even though thou share it not with me, thou hast thine own secret wisdom. I did but desire to show thee how sweet and delectable are the fruits that grow upon this strange Tree’s branches.’

Eve listened to the guile of the serpent. She stooped her head upon her shoulders and thought deeply within herself of what he had said. And the serpent watching her, held his peace.

At length she answered him. ‘I know not,’ she said, ‘where grows the Tree. And Adam my husband expressly told me not even to seek to look upon it unless he were with me. It is well that the Lord God hath forbidden us the Tree, if only evil come of it.’

‘Yea,’ said the serpent. ‘But verily Adam thy husband hath seen it. I know well where grows this Tree of Knowledge. Come, now, let us go together, and thou thyself shalt see with thine own eyes how harmless it is. Yet, verily, it far surpasses every other tree that is in the Garden; and when I myself quaffed in its fragrance there was none to say me nay. But it may be thou hast no thirst for this wisdom, and thy husband himself would keep it from thee.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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