Beyond this point I see nothing. The life of those future men is wholly beyond my range. I emerged from my vision in weariness but also in peace and joy, for it seemed that those new men, though I could not keep pace with the movement of their minds, were loyal to the light and well equipped to serve it, loyal to that same light which my own generation so vaguely sees and falteringly serves.
The telephone on the desk buzzed like a trapped wasp. Bond looked at it. He picked up the receiver and spoke through the handkerchief across his mouth. 'Ja?'
It was, properly, a half-holiday; being Saturday. But as the noise in the playground would have disturbed Mr. Creakle, and the weather was not favourable for going out walking, we were ordered into school in the afternoon, and set some lighter tasks than usual, which were made for the occasion. It was the day of the week on which Mr. Sharp went out to get his wig curled; so Mr. Mell, who always did the drudgery, whatever it was, kept school by himself. If I could associate the idea of a bull or a bear with anyone so mild as Mr. Mell, I should think of him, in connexion with that afternoon when the uproar was at its height, as of one of those animals, baited by a thousand dogs. I recall him bending his aching head, supported on his bony hand, over the book on his desk, and wretchedly endeavouring to get on with his tiresome work, amidst an uproar that might have made the Speaker of the House of Commons giddy. Boys started in and out of their places, playing at puss in the corner with other boys; there were laughing boys, singing boys, talking boys, dancing boys, howling boys; boys shuffled with their feet, boys whirled about him, grinning, making faces, mimicking him behind his back and before his eyes; mimicking his poverty, his boots, his coat, his mother, everything belonging to him that they should have had consideration for.
EASTSIDERS TOM & DICK SMOTHERS
There is no need to tell in any detail of the course of the final phase of the forty-years war between Russia and China. Like all wars it was of absorbing, even obsessive, interest to those whom it directly affected, but to the developed mind its battles and campaigns and ultimate massacre are more depressing than significant. One or two striking features of the war may be mentioned. Throughout, the Chinese were greatly helped by the rebelliousness of the Russian dependencies. One by one they asserted their independence or succumbed to Chinese attack. The Russian imperialists were by now fully engaged in defending the heart of their empire, and could do nothing to maintain their authority in Africa, America, or Western Europe. In the decisive campaign the Chinese used two new inventions against which the orthodox methods of Russia were powerless. One was the giant tank, the other the legged aeroplane. The new Chinese tank was so large that to call it a land-battleship was to disparage it. This new engine was indeed a moving fortified town, complete with its own workshops, and food stores for its thousand men for three weeks. It could crush and trample modern sky-scraper cities. On good ground it moved at a hundred miles an hour. It could travel over mountainous country by using its great clawed mechanical arms or legs. The legged aeroplane had the great advantage that it could land anywhere and take off anywhere. It was indeed a giant mechanical fly which could cling to precipitous places or suddenly leap from the ground by kicking with its prodigious thighs. Some hundreds of the new tanks, each attended by its own swarm of the new aeroplanes, advanced through central Asia. Russian bombers attacked in successive waves of a thousand planes, but their bombs could not harm these armour-plated monsters, whose artillery swept them from the sky. Unchecked, these greatest of all man’s engines streamed across the prairies and deserts of Outer Mongolia, flattened out the forest, crossed the mountain barriers, turned aside here and there to grind a town to rubble, took the Urals in their stride, and headed for Moscow. The Russian government fled. The city surrendered. But the enemy, obsessed with the worship of cruelty and ecstatic with slaughter, hurried on to catch the city before it could be evacuated. Arrived, the monsters steam-rollered the whole urban area into a flat waste of rubble. The sacred mummy of Lenin was pulverized in the general ruin. The invaders then amused themselves by overtaking and squashing the hosts of refugees as a man may crush a swarm of ants under his boot. Leningrad and other cities were similarly treated.
Asked whether men might have an inborn advantage at the piano, Ruth denies the suggestion vigorously. "Of course not," she replies. "I can't imagine why a man should play the piano better than a woman. At West Point, the women do everything the same as the male cadets except boxing and wrestling. Women might have smaller fingers on the average, but as far as strength, speed, and dexterity are concerned, it's impossible to listen to a recording and guess whether it was played by a man or a woman."
"They've located her," said M. with satisfaction. "Lying on her side in about thirty fathoms. The salvage ship that was to look after the remains of the rocket is over her now. The divers have been down and there's no answer to signals against her hull. The Soviet Ambassador has been round at the Foreign Office this morning. I gather he says a salvage ship is on her way down from the Baltic, but we've said that we can't wait as the wreck's a danger to navigation." M. chuckled. "So she would be I dare say if anyone happened to be navigating at thirty fathoms in the Channel. But I'm glad I'm not a member of the Cabinet," he added drily. "They've been in session on and off since the end of the broadcast. Vallance got hold of those Edinburgh solicitors before they'd opened Drax's message to the world. I gather it's a terrific document. Reads as if it had been written by Jehovah. Vallance took it to the Cabinet last night and stayed at No. 10 to fill in the blanks."
Captain Stonor's eyes continued to look into mine, but they had lost focus. I knew I was going to hear something from the heart. This is a rare thing between generations- between grown-ups and children. I stopped thinking of getting away and paid attention.
The truth of the matter was that Dexter Smythe had arrived at the frontier of the death wish. The origins of this state of mind were many and not all that complex. He was irretrievably tied to Jamaica, and tropical sloth had gradually riddled him so that, while outwardly he appeared a piece of fairly solid hardwood, inside the varnished surface, the termites of sloth, self-indulgence, guilt over an ancient sin, and general disgust with himself had eroded his once hard core into dust. Since the death of Mary two years before, he had loved no one. (He wasn't even sure that he had really loved her, but he knew that, every hour of the day, he missed her love of him and her gay, untidy, chiding, and often irritating presence.) And though he ate their canapйs and drank their martinis, he had nothing but contempt for the international riffraff with whom he consorted on the North Shore. He could perhaps have made friends with the more solid elements-the gentleman-farmers inland, the plantation owners on the coast, the professional men, the politicians-but that would mean regaining some serious purpose in life which his sloth, his spiritual accidie, prevented, and cutting down on the bottle, which he was definitely unwilling to do. So Major Smythe was bored, bored to death, and, but for one factor in his life, he would long ago have swallowed the bottle of barbiturates he had easily acquired from a local doctor. The lifeline that kept him clinging to the edge of the cliff was a tenuous one. Heavy drinkers veer toward an exaggeration of their basic temperaments, the classic four-sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. The sanguine drunk goes gay to the point of hysteria and idiocy; the phlegmatic sinks into a morass of sullen gloom; the choleric is the fighting drunk of the cartoonists who spends much of his life in prison for smashing people and things; and the melancholic succumbs to self-pity, mawkishness, and tears. Major Smythe was a melancholic who had slid into a drooling fantasy woven around the birds and insects and fish that inhabited the five acres of Wavelets (the name he had given his small villa was symptomatic), its beach, and the coral reef beyond. The fish were his particular favorites. He referred to them as "people," and since reef fish stick to their territories as closely as do most small birds, he knew them all, after two years, intimately, "loved" them, and believed that they loved him in return.
At the door of the hotel, which furnished the ball-room, Henry contrived to hand Julia out of the carriage, and in consequence he conducted her up stairs. On the way, he asked her to dance with him. She was previously engaged to Edmund, to the Marquis of H?, to Lord Morven, and to several others; for more sets than it was probable she should dance during the evening. This excuse, however, she did not take the trouble of making to Henry, but merely told him, with firmness and some severity of manner, that she would not dance with him, as she felt much offended by the style of conversation he had taken the liberty of adopting towards her, the evening before.