Charon leaned forward and rowed. All things were one withhis weariness.
It was not with him a matter of years or of centuries,but of wide floods of time, and an old heaviness and a painin the arms that had become for him part of the scheme thatthe gods had made and was of a piece with Eternity.
If the gods had even sent him a contrary wind it wouldhave divided all time in his memory into two equal slabs.
So grey were all things always where he was that if anyradiance lingered a moment among the dead, on the face ofsuch a queen perhaps as Cleopatra, his eyes could not haveperceived it.
It was strange that the dead nowadays were coming in suchnumbers. They were coming in thousands where they used tocome in fifties. It was neither Charon's duty nor his wontto ponder in his grey soul why these things might be. Charon leaned forward and rowed.
Then no one came for a while. It was not unusual for thegods to send no one down from Earth for such a space. Butthe gods knew best.
Then one man came alone. And the little shade satshivering on a lonely bench and the great boat pushed off. Only one passenger; the gods knew best.
And great and weary Charon rowed on and on beside thelittle, silent, shivering ghost.
And the sound of the river was like a mighty sigh thatGrief in the beginning had sighed among her sisters, andthat could not die like the echoes of human sorrow failingon earthly hills, but was as old as time and the pain inCharon's arms.
Then the boat from the slow, grey river loomed up to thecoast of Dis and the little, silent shade still shiveringstepped ashore, and Charon turned the boat to go wearilyback to the world. Then the little shadow spoke, that hadbeen a man.
"I am the last," he said.
No one had ever made Charon smile before, no one beforehad ever made him weep.