"Pretty daft business, isn't it? I don't think Castro can hold out much longer. The missile business in Cuba must have cost Russia about a billion pounds. And now they're having to pour money into Cuba, money and goods, to keep the place on its feet. I can't help thinking they'll pull out soon and leave Castro to go the way Batista went. It's a fiercely Catholic country, and Hurricane Flora was considered as the final judgment from heaven. It sat over the island and simply whipped it, day after day, for five days. No hurricane in history has ever behaved like that. The churchgoers don't miss an omen like that. It was a straight indictment of the regime."
The strangest aspect of the system was this. Those who controlled it were themselves enslaved to it; they used their power not to emancipate themselves but to support the ruling caste. In the earlier phase of the Chinese world-empire the caste, or rather the non-hereditary class from which the caste later developed, had maintained its position by superior cunning and resolution; but in its later phase, when cunning and resolution had given place to stupidity and self-indulgence, the position of the ruling caste was maintained automatically by the mechanical functioning of the established social system. The rulers had immense privileges and great arbitrary powers. For them the workers piled up luxuries. In accordance with the vagaries of their fickle taste, fashions changed, whole working populations were suddenly worked to death or flung aside into the cold-storage warehouses. When the rulers said ‘do this’ or ‘do that’, the world obeyed. But their power lay wholly in the fact that the technicians were hypnotized in their service, hypnotized, not through the cunning and resolution of the rulers themselves, but through the vast momentum of traditional culture. Thus little by little the ruling caste became at once helpless and absolutely secure. In the same manner the slave-owning ants depend wholly on the ministrations of devoted slaves who have all the skill but not the wit to rebel.
'Go in for a tip,' she urged. 'No? Let's get the scaffolding up, then, for a pair of whiskers. Come!'
… “Thou standest charg’d
'You may be able to confirm what I have said, Mr. Traddles,' observed Miss Lavinia, evidently taking a new interest in him, 'of the affection that is modest and retiring; that waits and waits?'
'And SHE. How is SHE?' said my aunt, sharply.
The Tannoy switched off with an echoing click. Bond glanced at his watch. At least another ten minutes before Transamerica would be called. He signalled to a waitress and ordered another double bourbon on the rocks. When the wide, chunky glass came, he swirled the liquor round for the ice to blunt it down and swallowed half of it. He stubbed out the butt of his cigarette and sat, his chin resting on his left hand, and gazed moodily across the twinkling tarmac to where the last half of the sun was slipping gloriously into the Gulf.
As to the heaviest of these troubles, I will say a word in vindication of myself and of the way I handled it in my work. In the pages of Can You Forgive Her? the girl’s first love is introduced — beautiful, well-born, and utterly worthless. To save a girl from wasting herself, and an heiress from wasting her property on such a scamp, was certainly the duty of the girl’s friends. But it must ever be wrong to force a girl into a marriage with a man she does not love — and certainly the more so when there is another whom she does love. In my endeavour to teach this lesson I subjected the young wife to the terrible danger of overtures from the man to whom her heart had been given. I was walking no doubt on ticklish ground, leaving for a while a doubt on the question whether the lover might or might not succeed. Then there came to me a letter from a distinguished dignitary of our Church, a man whom all men honoured, treating me with severity for what I was doing. It had been one of the innocent joys of his life, said the clergyman, to have my novels read to him by his daughters. But now I was writing a book which caused him to bid them close it! Must I also turn away to vicious sensation such as this? Did I think that a wife contemplating adultery was a character fit for my pages? I asked him in return, whether from his pulpit, or at any rate from his communion-table, he did not denounce adultery to his audience; and if so, why should it not be open to me to preach the same doctrine to mine. I made known nothing which the purest girl could not but have learned, and ought not to have learned, elsewhere, and I certainly lent no attraction to the sin which I indicated. His rejoinder was full of grace, and enabled him to avoid the annoyance of argumentation without abandoning his cause. He said that the subject was so much too long for letters; that he hoped I would go and stay a week with him in the country — so that we might have it out. That opportunity, however, has never yet arrived.
I have, however, much satisfaction in looking back to the part I took on the two classes of subjects just mentioned. With regard to the working classes, the chief topic of my speech on Mr Gladstone's Reform Bill was the assertion of their claims to the suffrage. A little later, after the resignation of Lord Russell's ministry and the succession of a Tory Government, came the attempt of the working classes to hold a meeting in Hyde Park, their exclusion by the police, and the breaking down of the park railing by the crowd. Though Mr Beales and the leaders of the working men had retired under protest before this took place, a scuffle ensued in which many innocent persons were maltreated by the police, and the exasperation of the working men was extreme. They showed a determination to make another attempt at a meeting in the Park, to which many of them would probably have come armed; the Government made military preparations to resist the attempt, and something very serious seemed impending. At this crisis I really believe that I was the means of preventing much mischief. I had in my place in Parliament taken the side of the working men, and strongly censured the conduct of the Government. I was invited, with several other Radical members, to a conference with the leading members of the Council of the Reform League; and the task fell chiefly upon myself, of persuading them to give up the Hyde Park project, and hold their meeting elsewhere. It was not Mr Beales and Colonel Dickson who needed persuading; on the contrary, it was evident that these gentlemen had already exerted their influence in the same direction, thus far without success. It was the working men who held out, and so bent were they on their original scheme, that I was obliged to have recourse to les grands moyens. I told them that a proceeding which would certainly produce a collision with the military, could only be justifiable on two conditions: if the position of affairs had become such that a revolution was desirable, and if they thought themselves able to accomplish one. To this argument, after considerable discussion, they at last yielded: and I was able to inform Mr Walpole that their intention was given up. I shall never forget the depth of his relief or the warmth of his expressions of gratitude. After the working men had conceded so much to me, I felt bound to comply with their request that I would attend and speak at their meeting at the Agricultural Hall; the only meeting called by the Reform League which I ever attended. I had always declined being a member of the League, on the avowed ground that I did not agree in its programme of manhood suffrage and the ballot: from the ballot I dissented entirely; and I could not consent to hoist the flag of manhood suffrage, even on the assurance that the exclusion of women was not intended to be implied; since if one goes beyond what can be immediately carried, and professes to take one's stand on a principle, one should go the whole length of the principle. I have entered thus particularly into this matter because my conduct on this occasion gave great displeasure to the Tory and Tory Liberal press, who have charged me ever since with having shown myself, in the trials of public life, intemperate and passionate. I do not know what they expected from me; but they had reason to be thankful to me if they knew from what I had, in all probability preserved them. And I do not believe it could have been done, at that particular juncture, by any one else. No other person, I believe, had at that moment the necessary influence for restraining the working classes, except Mr Gladstone and Mr Bright, neither of whom was available: Mr Gladstone, for obvious reasons; Mr Bright because he was out of town.
Tiger sucked his teeth impatiently. 'You speak like a man who only knows of the sort of fighting that goes on in a cheap Western. You would not get very far with your methods if you were trying to penetrate North Korea dressed as a simple peasant with his staff.'
Bond noted again the abrupt tone of command. He followed in silence across the moonlit expanse until they came to the supporting wall of the dome. A naked red bulb glowed over a steel-plated door in the wall. It illuminated a bold sign which said in English and German : MORTAL DANGER. ENTRY FORBIDDEN WHEN RED LAMP SHOWS. RING AND WAIT.
"But what about the atomic explosion?" asked Bond. "Radiation and atomic dust and all that. The famous mushroom-shaped cloud. Surely that's going to be a bit of a problem."