2 CURTAINS FOR BOND?
Potential artists were also selected. These might either go into residence at one of the great art schools or universities; or else, living on the maintenance grant, they could allow their genius to pursue its own course, eking out their meagre grant by selling their works. Of set purpose, and not through mere niggardliness, the state allowed the young man or woman who chose to avoid all state-organized professions only a bare minimum of help, whether his field of adventure was art or science or philosophy. Thus it was hoped to weed out those who had not actually ‘got it in them’ to produce creative work. On the other hand, no matter how preposterous or shocking to the public his products might be, the adventurer was at least assured of his minimum grant. And if it had any real merit (unperceived by the majority), and indeed often if it had no real merit at all, he might well succeed in selling. For, unless his work was both technically feeble and quite extravagantly idiosyncratic, it was very likely to find some sort of market in the new culturally conscious world. For in this new world-society pictures, statues, music, and writing were in demand, in some cases by the national, in others by the world-wide public, and in yet others by one or other of the special publics, each interested in some particular sphere or genre of art. It. was not uncommon for a neglected young painter to leap from penury to affluence and fame on the sale of a single work. Many artists, however, had no such luck, and were forced to live on the maintenance grant alone throughout their lives. Some of these, ahead of their time, became world-famous after death, but the great majority were merely untalented enthusiasts. No one dreamed of grudging them their futile but harmless careers, since the community could well afford to maintain them. Indeed, since most farms kept open house for any stray travellers, and all villages provided meals and beds for a constant flow of visitors, these artistic failures could eat and sleep their way over the face of the earth and use their maintenance grant wholly for clothing and extra comforts.
How could this man have known that, only minutes after the scream? 'Is he badly hurt?'
Then, by degrees, an established sorrow was at home among us. My brother was an invalid, and the horrid word, which of all words were for some years after the most dreadful to us, had been pronounced. It was no longer a delicate chest, and some temporary necessity for peculiar care — but consumption! The Bruges doctor had said so, and we knew that he was right. From that time forth my mother’s most visible occupation was that of nursing. There were two sick men in the house, and hers were the hands that tended them. The novels went on, of course. We had already learned to know that they would be forthcoming at stated intervals — and they always were forthcoming. The doctor’s vials and the ink-bottle held equal places in my mother’s rooms. I have written many novels under many circumstances; but I doubt much whether I could write one when my whole heart was by the bedside of a dying son. Her power of dividing herself into two parts, and keeping her intellect by itself clear from the troubles of the world, and fit for the duty it had to do, I never saw equalled. I do not think that the writing of a novel is the most difficult task which a man may be called upon to do; but it is a task that may be supposed to demand a spirit fairly at ease. The work of doing it with a troubled spirit killed Sir Walter Scott. My mother went through it unscathed in strength, though she performed all the work of day-nurse and night-nurse to a sick household — for there were soon three of them dying.
`And what work could you do, Mister Grant? We have plenty of unskilled labour. We do not need truck-drivers and,' the colonel smiled fleetingly, `if there is any boxing to be done we have plenty of men who can box. Two possible Olympic champions among them, incidentally.'
'Would you love each other too much, without me?'
In the Freudian thesis, "his arm's length" would become the length of the masculine organ. But we need not linger over these esoterica. The support for my premise is well expressed in Mr. Peterson's sinewy prose and-though I would substitute the printing press for the gun in his concluding paragraph- his points are well taken. The subject, Scaramanga, is, in my opinion, a paranoiac in subconscious revolt against the father figure (i.e., the figure of authority) and a sexual fetishist with possible homosexual tendencies. He has other qualities which are self-evident from the earlier testimony. In conclusion, and having regard to the damage he has already wrought upon the personnel of the S.S., I conclude that his career should be terminated with the utmost dispatch-if necessary by the inhuman means he himself employs -in the unlikely event an agent of equal courage and dexterity can be made available. [Signed "C.C."]
'I have thought so much about it.'
Bond drove back fast to the house. It was just nine o'clock and as he came through the trees on to the concrete there was the wail of a siren and from the woods behind the house a double file of twelve men appeared running, in purposeful unison, towards the launching dome. They marked time while one of their number rang the bell, then the door opened and they filed through and out of sight.
Now I realized why he had lain like that, with his right hand doubled under the pillow. I guessed that he always slept like that. I thought his must be rather like a fireman's life, always waiting for a call. I thought how extraordinary it must be to have danger as your business.