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shevek was not afraid. at first it was the joy of the thing. there was the body's assent, the body's surrender, the body's acceptance of him. later it was his own willing part, but first it was the body's, which was the part where all had been, all the time. the great love and surrender in which the body had been was the beginning, and there was no more. the body kept what was essential, what had been apart from time and space; and the moment became isolated and untouchable. afterward shevek grew more and more certain that the union of bodies that he had at first supposed only physical and sensual could not be described as a union at all: it was a naked identity, a wordless sharing, a sharing of a state which always had begun before birth and had never ended since. the orgy was total. he never thought of it afterward, in the long years after, except in terms of a moment in time in which they had attained an overwhelming knowledge, whose object was beyond naming.
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once he felt resentment because he could not feel more joy and admiration, and gratitude, and respect than he did. this shy, gentle, mild-mannered, almost ashamed-looking young man had become in the course of a little time a complete person to himself. such complete selfhood could be born only out of great love, but to shevek it seemed no more than a natural occurrence. sherut was in his bunk before the meter counter stopped chattering when takver came in. she kissed him, and then sat down on the edge of his bunk and stroked his head. they were old friends, lovers; she understood all about what had happened between them, and she needed to tell someone; shevek understood this and shut his teeth so as not to make his voice bitter. tears came into her eyes and it was a relief to be able to cry. shevek held out his hands to takver and she put hers on them, in the old gesture of theirs, with the careful finesse of her fingers. then, in the soft, quiet, rather than loud voice of an old, friendly, quite resigned friendship shevek told her the story. soon takver began to cry also, and there was nothing between them except the simple, quiet pleasure of being together. takver told him about the lonely childhood she had lived through. then, though at first takver had been sad, shevek soon began to tell her about the man of the tribe, the leader of the pack, whom he had killed by breaking his hand. shevek had begun to name him for the first time, but the thought of him had not been clearly defined. however, it was very certain that takver wanted the man to be, yes, the faceless spirit of that broken, driven child, terrible, but a spirit greater than that, a fusion of love and gratitude for the man, who had been the child of his muscles and wit, who was his comrade and a revelation of the intimate, radiating unity of every creature, an integrant part of the vividness and concreteness of all that exists, boundless love for the man, the man's purity which was the perfection of all that was, so that shevek was filled with peace and holiness when he spoke of him, which was called faith. in abbenay shevek remained a child still; he was too much a child to speak of his experience as a young man as though it were a new thing to him, as though he had had no part in it.