For some years after this I wrote very little, and nothing regularly, for publication: and great were the advantages which I derived from the intermission. It was of no common importance to me, at this period, to be able to digest and mature my thoughts for my own mind only, without any immediate call for giving them out in print. Had I gone on writing, it would have much disturbed the important transformation in my opinions and character, which took place during those years. The origin of this transformation, or at least the process by which I was prepared for it, can only be explained by turning some distance back.
The country was large, and the population small. Agriculture, which had been so carefully fostered by the new régime, now ceased to be possible, for the homesteads were bombed and machine-gunned, and the dams of the great reservoirs were destroyed. But the yak remained; the population reverted to a nomad pastoral life. Wandering in small groups, pitching their camouflaged tents in fresh places every night, they offered a poor target to the enemy. Fortunately the imperialists at first made no attempt to land troops by plane, for they believed that the whole country was infected with the strange disease that had frustrated the first land attacks. The Tibetans, meanwhile, were hastily spreading the precious virus throughout their territory. Its effect was to eliminate all who did not attain the necessary standard of lucidity to resist infection. Only a small minority were thus put out of action. These were cared for in special homes. A much larger number, but still only a minority, suffered from temporary mild attacks of the disease. The virus was now also spreading itself beyond the frontiers. There, of course, its effects were incomparably worse. Organization in the infected areas completely vanished.
The attack on Sumter placed upon the administration the duty of organising at once for the contest now inevitable the forces of the country. This work of organisation came at best but late because those who were fighting to break up the nation had their preparations well advanced. The first call for troops directed the governors of the loyal States to supply seventy-five thousand men for the restoration of the authority of the government. Massachusetts was the first State to respond by despatching to the front, within twenty-four hours of the publication of the call, its Sixth Regiment of Militia; the Seventh of New York started twenty-four hours later. The history of the passage of the Sixth through Baltimore, of the attack upon the columns, and of the deaths, in the resulting affray, of soldiers and of citizens has often been told. When word came to Washington that Baltimore was obstructing the passage of troops bound southward, troops called for the defence of the capital, the isolation of the government became sadly apparent. For a weary and anxious ten days, Lincoln and his associates were dreading from morning to morning the approach over the long bridge of the troops from Virginia whose camp-fires could be seen from the southern windows of the White House, and were looking anxiously northward for the arrival of the men on whose prompt service the safety of the capital was to depend. I have myself stood in Lincoln's old study, the windows of which overlook the Potomac, and have recalled to mind the fearful pressure of anxiety that must have weighed upon the President during those long days; as looking across the river, he could trace by the smoke the picket lines of the Virginia troops. He must have thought of the possibility that he was to be the last President of the United States, that the torch handed over to him by the faltering hands of his predecessor was to expire while he was responsible for the flame. The immediate tension was finally broken by the appearance of the weary and battered companies of the Massachusetts troops and the arrival two days later, by the way of Annapolis, of the New York Seventh with an additional battalion from Boston.
'Thank you, sir,' said Bond and went to the door.
Caballo forgave them as a friend, but not as a race director. He put out the word: the UriqueTarahumara were disqualified.
Bond read the speed gauge. It said twenty. For the first tune he paid attention to the driver. He was a villainous-looking Rastafari in dirty khaki overalls with a sweat rag round his forehead. A cigarette drooped from between the thin moustache and the straggling beard. He smelled quite horrible. Bond said, "My name's Mark Hazard. What's yours?"
Thus I began my new life, in a new name, and with everything new about me. Now that the state of doubt was over, I felt, for many days, like one in a dream. I never thought that I had a curious couple of guardians, in my aunt and Mr. Dick. I never thought of anything about myself, distinctly. The two things clearest in my mind were, that a remoteness had come upon the old Blunderstone life - which seemed to lie in the haze of an immeasurable distance; and that a curtain had for ever fallen on my life at Murdstone and Grinby's. No one has ever raised that curtain since. I have lifted it for a moment, even in this narrative, with a reluctant hand, and dropped it gladly. The remembrance of that life is fraught with so much pain to me, with so much mental suffering and want of hope, that I have never had the courage even to examine how long I was doomed to lead it. Whether it lasted for a year, or more, or less, I do not know. I only know that it was, and ceased to be; and that I have written, and there I leave it.