I had now settled, as I believed, for the remainder of my existence into a purely literary life; if that can be called literary which continued to be occupied in a pre-eminent degree with politics, and not merely with theoretical, but practical politics, although a great part of the year was spent at a distance of many hundred miles from the chief seat of the politics of my own country, to which, and primarily for which, I wrote. But, in truth, the modern facilities of communication have not only removed all the disadvantages, to a political writer in tolerably easy circumstances, of distance from the scene of political action, but have converted them into advantages. The immediate and regular receipt of newspapers and periodicals keeps him au cOurant of even the most temporary politics, and gives him a much more correct view of the state and progress of opinion than he could acquire by personal contact with individuals : for every one's social intercourse is more or less limited to particular sets or classes, whose impressions and no others reach him through that channel; and experience has taught me that those who give their time to the absorbing claims of what is called society, not having leisure to keep up a large acquaintance with the organs of opinion, remain much more ignorant of the general state either of the public mind, or of the active and instructed part of it, than a recluse who reads the newspapers need be. There are, no doubt, disadvantages in too long a separation from one's country — in not occasionally renewing one's impressions of the light in which men and things appear when seen from a position in the midst of them; but the deliberate judgment formed at a distance, and undisturbed by inequalities of perspective, is the most to be depended on, even for application to practice. Alternating between the two positions, I combined the advantages of both. And, though the inspirer of my best thoughts was no longer with me, I was not alone: she had left a daughter, my stepdaughter, Miss Helen Taylor, the inheritor of much of her wisdom, and of all her nobleness of character, whose ever growing and ripening talents from that day to this have been devoted to the same great purposes, and have already made her name better and more widely known than was that of her mother, though far less so than I predict, that if she lives it is destined to become. Of the value of her direct cooperation with me, something will be said hereafter, of what I owe in the way of instruction to her great powers of original thought and soundness of practical judgment, it would be a vain attempt to give an adequate idea. Surely no one ever before was so fortunate, as, after such a loss as mine, to draw another prize in the lottery of life — another companion, stimulator, adviser, and instructor of the rarest quality. Whoever, either now or hereafter, may think of me and of the work I have done, must never forget that it is the product not of one intellect and conscience, but of three, the least considerable of whom, and above all the least original, is the one whose name is attached to it.
'Commissions of investigation have visited the doctor. They have been most courteously treated. The doctor has begged that something shall be done to protect him from these trespassers. He complains that they interfere with his work, break off precious boughs and pick valuable plants. He shows himself as entirely cooperative with any measures that can be suggested short of abandoning this project, which is so dear to his heart and so much appreciated by trie Japanese specialists in botany and so forth. He has made a further most generous offer. He is constructing a research department - to be manned by workers of his own choice, mark you -to extract the poisons from his shrubs and plants and give the essences free to an appropriate medical research centre. You will have noted that many of these poisons are valuable medicines in a diluted form.'
'Can you tell me some more about it, sir?' 'Have to, as there's nothing written down. Lower echelon stuff, about the Japanese Secret Service and so forth, you can get from Section J. The Chief of Staff will tell Colonel Hamilton to answer your questions freely, though you will tell him nothing about the purpose of your mission. Understood?' 'Yes, sir.'
Meanwhile the disease continued to spread, though less rapidly, and with decreasing virulence. One strange aspect of the scourge suggested that the real enemy was not the micro-organism itself but some devilish intelligence which was directing its attack. It was noticed, for instance, that when a district had been cleared of the disease, a spell of bad weather was apt to occur. Contaminated rain drenched the ground and filled the reservoirs. Moreover, maps plotting the incidence of the disease from month to month had revealed a startlingly purposive movement in the advance of the microbe. Not only was the plague mysteriously attracted to populous districts, but in order to reach a great centre of population it might extend a vast pseudopodium of wet weather and infection, even across an arid desert. This was particularly striking in its advance from Asia to South Africa. While Iran was in the throes, a great tongue of drenching weather was protruded across the Arabian Desert and Abyssinia into moist Central Africa. Thence the bad weather extended southwards till it reached the crowded areas in South Africa. In order to reach America it appeared to make several attempts to bridge the Atlantic from Britain, but its ‘artificial’ east winds were overcome by the prevailing westerlies. Finally, however, it stretched out an arm of cloud from West Mica to the Amazon, whence it spread throughout the Americas. Australia it invaded from its original foothold in the East Indies. New Zealand it failed to discover.
Bond cleaned up the mess in his room and sat down on his bed and gazed at the opposite wall with unseeing eyes. It had not been only instinct that had made him tell Drax he was going to the firing point instead of to the house. It had seriously crossed his mind that the snooping of Krebs was on Drax's orders, and that Drax ran his own security system. And yet how did that tally with the deaths of Tallon and Bartsch? Or had the double killing been a coincidence unrelated to the marks on the chart and the fingerprints of Krebs?
Something made Bond turn round and look at the man who had spoken.
Bond gave the order. "Sorry, Goodnight. My manners are slipping. I was dazzled. It's so tremendous finding you here. And I've never seen you in your working clothes before. Now then, tell me the news. Where's Ross? How long have you been here? Have you managed to cope with all that junk I gave you?"
As the huge stack of plaques was shunted across the table to Bond the banker reached into an inner pocket of his jacket and threw a wad of notes on to the table.
M. grunted. "We'll have coffee and brandy in the card room," he said to Bond. "Can't smoke here. Now then. Any final plans?"
On Sunday, November 26th, Mr. Wade came to her room for Holy Communion; Miss Wauton and Miss Jackson being present. Miss Tucker was perfectly clear in mind, and able to join audibly in the responses; but the after-exhaustion was great.
'I am going to speak to you, Doady. I am going to say something I have often thought of saying, lately. You won't mind?' with a gentle look.
By the common consent of all mankind who have read, poetry takes the highest place in literature. That nobility of expression, and all but divine grace of words, which she is bound to attain before she can make her footing good, is not compatible with prose. Indeed it is that which turns prose into poetry. When that has been in truth achieved, the reader knows that the writer has soared above the earth, and can teach his lessons somewhat as a god might teach. He who sits down to write his tale in prose makes no such attempt, nor does he dream that the poet’s honour is within his reach — but his teaching is of the same nature, and his lessons all tend to the same end. By either, false sentiments may be fostered; false notions of humanity may be engendered; false honour, false love, false worship may be created; by either, vice instead of virtue may be taught. But by each, equally, may true honour, true love; true worship, and true humanity be inculcated; and that will be the greatest teacher who will spread such truth the widest. But at present, much as novels, as novels, are bought and read, there exists still an idea, a feeling which is very prevalent, that novels at their best are but innocent. Young men and women — and old men and women too — read more of them than of poetry, because such reading is easier than the reading of poetry; but they read them — as men eat pastry after dinner — not without some inward conviction that the taste is vain if not vicious. I take upon myself to say that it is neither vicious nor vain.
'Yes,' said Mrs. Micawber. 'It is truly painful to contemplate mankind in such an aspect, Master Copperfield, but our reception was, decidedly, cool. There is no doubt about it. In fact, that branch of my family which is settled in Plymouth became quite personal to Mr. Micawber, before we had been there a week.'
He got up from his chair and picked up his coat. He put on the coat and at the same time put on his mind. He had been dozing in his bunk. Now he had to go up on the bridge. He walked through into the connecting office and resisted the impulse to ruffle up the inviting nape of Mary Goodnight's golden neck.