From the date of their marriage up to 1827, when my mother went to America, my father’s affairs had always been going down in the world. She had loved society, affecting a somewhat liberal role and professing an emotional dislike to tyrants, which sprung from the wrongs of would-be regicides and the poverty of patriot exiles. An Italian marquis who had escaped with only a second shirt from the clutches of some archduke whom he had wished to exterminate, or a French proletaire with distant ideas of sacrificing himself to the cause of liberty, were always welcome to the modest hospitality of her house. In after years, when marquises of another caste had been gracious to her, she became a strong Tory, and thought that archduchesses were sweet. But with her politics were always an affair of the heart — as, indeed, were all her convictions. Of reasoning from causes, I think that she knew nothing. Her heart was in every way so perfect, her desire to do good to all around her so thorough, and her power of self-sacrifice so complete, that she generally got herself right in spite of her want of logic; but it must be acknowledged that she was emotional. I can remember now her books, and can see her at her pursuits. The poets she loved best were Dante and Spenser. But she raved also of him of whom all such ladies were raving then, and rejoiced in the popularity and wept over the persecution of Lord Byron. She was among those who seized with avidity on the novels, as they came out, of the then unknown Scott, and who could still talk of the triumphs of Miss Edgeworth. With the literature of the day she was familiar, and with the poets of the past. Of other reading I do not think she had mastered much. Her life, I take it, though latterly clouded by many troubles, was easy, luxurious, and idle, till my father’s affairs and her own aspirations sent her to America. She had dear friends among literary people, of whom I remember Mathias, Henry Milman, and Miss Landon; but till long after middle life she never herself wrote a line for publication.
Of all the problems that confronted the World Government the most difficult was that of population. During the period of the Russian and Chinese Empires and subsequently under the World Empire, population in most countries had very seriously declined, and the average age had increased. The French had dwindled to a sprinkling of disheartened old people in a swarm of German and Russian invaders. Yet Germany and Russia themselves had suffered a startling decline of population. China under the Empire was badly depleted. The Japanese, whose sufferings had been worse than those of any other people, were almost exterminated. The Indians had multiplied after gaining their independence from Britain, but had declined heavily under the Russian and Chinese Empires. The British, reduced during the tyranny to a handful of semi-barbarians in a land of ruined factories, had later, under the influence of Tibetan missionaries, conceived a new national purpose even under the heel of the tyranny, and had concentrated on reproduction so effectively that the decline was stayed and these island peoples became sufficiently vigorous to undertake rebellion after rebellion. At the founding of the World Federation, Great Britain was inhabited by some eight million human beings.
After this close escape, it was clear to Grant as it had been clear to Lincoln that whatever forces were concentrated before Petersburg, the line of advance for Confederate invaders through the Shenandoah must be blocked. General Sheridan was placed in charge of the army of the Shenandoah and the 19th corps, instead of returning to the trenches of the James, marched on from Washington to Martinsburg and Winchester.
'Yeah, that's right.' Bond paid and put on the mask. He reluctantly let go of the table and wove through the entrance. There were raised tiers of wooden benches round the big square rink. Thank God for a chance to sit down! There was an empty seat on the aisle in the bottom row at rink level. Bond stumbled down the wooden steps and fell into it. He righted himself, said ' Sorry,' and put his head in his hands. The girl beside him, part of a group of harlequins, Wild Westerners, and pirates, drew her spangled skirt away, whispered something to her neighbour. Bond didn't care. They wouldn't throw him out on a night like this. Through the loud-speakers the violins sobbed into 'The Skaters' Waltz'. Above them the voice of the MC called, 'Last dance, ladies and gentlemen. And then all out on to the rink and join hands for the grand finale. Only ten minutes to go to midnight! Last dance, ladies and gentlemen. Last dance!' There was a rattle of applause. People laughed excitedly.
They got to the car. It was a black Sunbeam Alpine. Bond looked sharply at it and then at the number plate. Strangways's car. What the hell? "Where did you get this, Quarrel?"
I must certainly acknowledge that the first seven years of my official life were neither creditable to myself nor useful to the public service. These seven years were passed in London, and during this period of my life it was my duty to be present every morning at the office punctually at 10 A.M. I think I commenced my quarrels with the authorities there by having in my possession a watch which was always ten minutes late. I know that I very soon achieved a character for irregularity, and came to be regarded as a black sheep by men around me who were not themselves, I think, very good public servants. From time to time rumours reached me that if I did not take care I should be dismissed; especially one rumour in my early days, through my dearly beloved friend Mrs. Clayton Freeling — who, as I write this, is still living, and who, with tears in her eyes, besought me to think of my mother. That was during the life of Sir Francis Freeling, who died — still in harness — a little more than twelve months after I joined the office. And yet the old man showed me signs of almost affectionate kindness, writing to me with his own hand more than once from his death-bed.
It is nearly twenty years since I proposed to myself to write a history of English prose fiction. I shall never do it now, but the subject is so good a one that I recommend it heartily to some man of letters, who shall at the same time be indefatigable and light-handed. I acknowledge that I broke down in the task, because I could not endure the labour in addition to the other labours of my life. Though the book might be charming, the work was very much the reverse. It came to have a terrible aspect to me, as did that proposition that I should sit out all the May meetings of a season. According to my plan of such a history it would be necessary to read an infinity of novels, and not only to read them, but so to read them as to point out the excellences of those which are most excellent, and to explain the defects of those which, though defective, had still reached sufficient reputation to make them worthy of notice. I did read many after this fashion — and here and there I have the criticisms which I wrote. In regard to many, they were written on some blank page within the book; I have not, however, even a list of the books so criticised. I think that the Arcadia was the first, and Ivanhoe the last. My plan, as I settled it at last, had been to begin with Robinson Crusoe, which is the earliest really popular novel which we have in our language, and to continue the review so as to include the works of all English novelists of reputation, except those who might still be living when my task should be completed. But when Dickens and Bulwer died, my spirit flagged, and that which I had already found to be very difficult had become almost impossible to me at my then period of life.
‘Nov. 2, 1866.
They stopped half way down a cobbled side-street. Tempo led them through a wide apartment-house door and up two flights of stairs that had the smell of the Balkans-the smell of very old sweat and cigarette smoke and cabbage. He unlocked a door and showed them into a two-roomed flat with nondescript furniture and heavy red plush curtains drawn back to show the blank windows on the other side of the street. On a sideboard stood a tray with several unopened bottles, glasses and plates of fruit and biscuits-the welcome to Darko and to Darko's friends.
DAWN was a beautiful haze of gold and blue. Bond went outside and ate his bean curd and rice and drank his tea sitting on the spotless doorstep of the little cut-stone and timbered house, while indoors the family chattered like happy sparrows as the women went about their housework.