As to my private reading, I can only speak of what I remember. History continued to be my strongest predilection, and most of all ancient history. Mitford's Greece I read continually; my father had put me on my guard against the Tory prejudices of this writer, and his perversions of facts for the white-washing of despot, and blackening of popular institutions. These points he discoursed on, exemplifying them from the Greek orators and historians, with such effect that in reading Mitford my sympathies were always on the contrary side to those of the author, and I could, to some extent, have argued the point against him: yet this did not diminish the ever new pleasure with which I read the book. Roman history, both in my old favourite, Hooke, and in Ferguson, continued to delight me. A book which, in spite of what is called the dryness of its style, I took great pleasure in, was the Ancient Universal History, through the incessant reading of which I had my head full of historical details concerning the obscurest ancient people, while about modern history, except detached passages, such as the Dutch war of independence, I knew and cared comparatively little. A voluntary exercise, to which throughout my boyhood I was much addicted, was what I called writing histories. I successively imposed a Roman history, picked out of Hooke; an abridgment of the Ancient Universal History; a History of Holland, from my favourite Watson and from an anonymous compilation; and in my eleventh and twelfth year I occupied myself with writing what I flattered myself was something serious. This was no less than a history of the Roman Government, compiled (with the assistance of Hooke) from Livy and Dionysius: of which I wrote as much as would have made an octavo volume, extending to the epoch of the Licinian Laws. It was, in fact, an account of the struggles between the patricians and plebeians, which now engrossed all the interest in my mind which I had previously felt in the mere wars and conquest of the Romans. I discussed all the institutional point as they arose: though quite ignorant of Niebuhr's researches, I, by such lights as my father had given me, vindicated the Agrarian Laws on the evidence of Livy, and upheld to the best of my ability the Roman democratic party. A few years later, in my contempt of my childish efforts, I destroyed all these papers, not then anticipating that I could ever feel any curiosity about my first attempt at writing and reasoning. My father encouraged me in this useful amusement, though, as I think judiciously, he never asked to see what I wrote; so that I did not feel that in writing it I was accountable to any one, nor had the chilling sensation of being under a critical eye.
The leaders of Tibet knew well that the peoples of China could not be freed unless the imperialists were everywhere attacked by their own subject population. This seemed at first likely to happen; but Chinese nationalism was a strong sentiment, and the rulers were able to make good use of it. The Tibetan leaders, though daring and even foolhardy when their daemon urged them forward, were also realists. Instead of trying to press on into the heart of China, they consolidated the positions they had gained, and waited. They also broadcast to the people of China, saying in effect, ‘We are not conquerors. We desire no empire. If you want freedom, rebel, and we will press on to help you. Otherwise we shall leave you alone. We shall merely defend those peoples whom we have already freed, and only if they wish us to help them.’ All this they said knowing that the Chinese rulers had an exaggerated idea of the Tibetan power, that they feared the complete destruction of their empire, and that they were in the mood to arrange a peace.
‘3. Not one woman in a hundred at least is so free from home-ties as myself.
I had broken eight eggs into a bowl and had whipped them gently with a fork. The huge chunk of butter had melted in the saucepan. Beside it, in the frying pan, the bacon was beginning to sizzle. I poured the eggs into the saucepan and began to stir. While my hands concentrated, my mind was busy on ways to escape. Everything depended on whether the man called Sluggsy, when he came back from his inspection, remembered to lock the back door. If he didn't, I could make a dash for it. There would be no question of using the Vespa. I hadn't run it for a week. Priming the carburetor, and the three kicks that might be necessary to start it from cold, would be too long. I would have to leave my belongings, all my precious money, and just go like a hare to right or left, get round the end of the cabins and in among the trees. I reflected that of course I wouldn't run to the right. The lake behind the cabins would narrow my escape route. I would run to the left. There, there was nothing but miles of trees. I would be soaked to the skin within a few yards of the door, and freezing cold for the rest of the night. My feet, in their stupid little sandals, would be cut to ribbons. I might easily get lost into the bargain. But those were problems I would have to cope with. The main thing was to get away from these men. Nothing else mattered.
When Major Smythe had finished telling his story, Bond said unemotionally, "Yes, that's more or less the way I figured it."
Oh boy, what an idiot I am, he thinks. He bites his lip andturns back to face Rosa.
'Can you cook this young gentleman's breakfast for him, if you please?' said the Master at Salem House.