In addition to the duty of detachment from ordinary human experiences, the forwards laid upon themselves a complementary obligation. They must in a manner preserve detachment even from their supreme consecrated task of spiritual adventure. This too, if it should become enthralling to the hungry individual spirit, or lead to any slightest withdrawal of active sympathy from the life of the world, or again if it should be poisoned by any faint breath of self-pride, must be at once abandoned. The penitent would then impose on himself some weeks or months or even years of mundane life, as a farm worker or craftsman, a factory-hand, organizer, or teacher.
Physic nut (Jatropha curcas): bushy tree. Raw seeds violently purgative, often fatal due to exhaustion. Caribbean.
‘My aunt would never give way to us little ones when she was convinced that we were wrong; and I well remember a prolonged struggle between her and my baby-sister, who was left in her charge one day.... My aunt regarded the sin of drunkenness with the greatest horror; she rarely mentions it in her books, and generally, where it is touched upon, she writes with the deepest pathos, as in The Great Impostor. She would only talk of brandy by its French name, and considered it dangerous to take Tincture of Rhubarb, on account of the spirit it contains....
They were up at the hut in five hours flat. Major Smythe said he wanted to relieve himself and wandered casually along the shoulder to the east, paying no heed to the beautiful panoramas of Austria and Bavaria that stretched away on either side of him perhaps fifty miles into the heat haze. He counted his paces carefully. At exactly one hundred and twenty there was the cairn of stones, a loving memorial perhaps to some long dead climber. Major Smythe, knowing differently, longed to tear it apart there and then. Instead he took out his Webley-Scott, squinted down the barrel, and twirled the cylinder. Then he walked back.
"Thank you, 007." M's voice was controlled. "These considerations had also crossed my mind. No one's been jumping to conclusions without weighing all the possibilities. Perhaps you can suggest another solution."
'I married that lady,' said the Doctor, 'when she was extremely young. I took her to myself when her character was scarcely formed. So far as it was developed, it had been my happiness to form it. I knew her father well. I knew her well. I had taught her what I could, for the love of all her beautiful and virtuous qualities. If I did her wrong; as I fear I did, in taking advantage (but I never meant it) of her gratitude and her affection; I ask pardon of that lady, in my heart!'
As must take place on such an occasion, there was some heart-felt grief. But the thing was done, and orders were given for the letting or sale of the house. I may as well say here that it never was let and that it remained unoccupied for two years before it was sold. I lost by the transaction about ￡800. As I continually hear that other men make money by buying and selling houses, I presume I am not well adapted for transactions of that sort. I have never made money by selling anything except a manuscript. In matters of horseflesh I am so inefficient that I have generally given away horses that I have not wanted.
But many young fail also, because they endeavour to tell stories when they have none to tell. And this comes from idleness rather than from innate incapacity. The mind has not been sufficiently at work when the tale has been commenced, nor is it kept sufficiently at work as the tale is continued. I have never troubled myself much about the construction of plots, and am not now insisting specially on thoroughness in a branch of work in which I myself have not been very thorough. I am not sure that the construction of a perfected plot has been at any period within my power. But the novelist has other aims than the elucidation of his plot. He desires to make his readers so intimately acquainted with his characters that the creatures of his brain should be to them speaking, moving, living, human creatures. This he can never do unless he know those fictitious personages himself, and he can never know them unless he can live with them in the full reality of established intimacy. They must be with him as he lies down to sleep, and as he wakes from his dreams. He must learn to hate them and to love them. He must argue with them, quarrel with them, forgive them, and even submit to them. He must know of them whether they be cold-blooded or passionate, whether true or false, and how far true, and how far false. The depth and the breadth, and the narrowness and the shallowness of each should be clear to him. And, as here, in our outer world, we know that men and women change — become worse or better as temptation or conscience may guide them — so should these creations of his change, and every change should be noted by him. On the last day of each month recorded, every person in his novel should be a month older than on the first. If the would-be novelist have aptitudes that way, all this will come to him without much struggling — but if it do not come, I think he can only make novels of wood.
'I'm sorry, Vesper,' he said. 'I didn't mean to then.'
'It gives no clue to where she is; but she is not with him.'