There were cries of 'Oh, one more game, Miss Bunt!' But Bond politely rose with his whisky in his hand. 'We will play again tomorrow. I hope it's not going to start you all off smoking. I'm sure it was invented by the tobacco companies!'
I spoke to her, and she started, and cried out. But seeing me, she called me her dear Davy, her own boy! and coming half across the room to meet me, kneeled down upon the ground and kissed me, and laid my head down on her bosom near the little creature that was nestling there, and put its hand to my lips.
For some changes in the fortunes of my friends, I was prepared. My aunt had long been re-established at Dover, and Traddles had begun to get into some little practice at the Bar, in the very first term after my departure. He had chambers in Gray's Inn, now; and had told me, in his last letters, that he was not without hopes of being soon united to the dearest girl in the world.
As Bond put the card in his pocket he slipped his finger across it. It was engraved. `Thanks,' he said. `Well, Nash, come and meet Mrs Somerset. No reason why we shouldn't travel more or less together.' He smiled encouragingly.
'But even that is not all,' said I. 'During the last fortnight, some new trouble has vexed her; and she has been in and out of London every day. Several times she has gone out early, and been absent until evening. Last night, Traddles, with this journey before her, it was almost midnight before she came home. You know what her consideration for others is. She will not tell me what has happened to distress her.'
It was perhaps fifty yards from where the helicopter had landed to the group of buildings. Bond dawdled, getting preliminary bearings. Ahead was a long, low building, now ablaze with lights. To the right, and perhaps another fifty yards away, were the outlines of the typical modern cable railhead, a box-like structure, with a thick flat roof canted upwards from dose to the ground. As Bond examined it, its lights went out. Presumably the last car had reached the valley and the line was closed for the night. To the right of this was a large, bogus-chalet type structure with a vast veranda, sparsely lit, that would be for the mass tourist trade - again a typical piece of high-Alpine architecture. Down to the left, beneath the slope of the plateau, lights shone from a fourth building that, except for its flat roof, was out of sight.
'Barkis will be so glad,' said Peggotty, wiping her eyes with her apron, 'that it'll do him more good than pints of liniment. May I go and tell him you are here? Will you come up and see him, my dear?'
JAMES BOND awoke to a scream. It was a terrible, masculine scream out of hell. It fractionally held its first high, piercing note and then rapidly diminished as if the man had jumped off a cliff. It came from the right, from somewhere near the cable station perhaps. Even in Bond's room, muffled by the double windows, it was terrifying enough. Outside it must have been shattering.
Some of these symptoms were permanent, some passed off in a few weeks. But in every case the final emotional state was identical and permanent. The patient emerged into profound apathy. In extreme cases he cared for nothing but the satisfaction of bodily needs of nutrition and excretion. Even these might cease to interest him, so that, if left to himself, he might lie inert from morning till night. Such extreme cases were uncommon, but on the average the damage caused by the disease, though less obvious, was scarcely less disastrous. Most people recovered so far as to behave in a normal manner in respect of all simple animal impulses, but they no longer found any satisfaction whatever in the activities which are distinctively human. Thus an impulsive animal affection might be within their reach, but persistent and genuinely other-conscious human love was beyond them. Impossible also were all the other, less intimate forms of true community. Old habits of community-behaviour would persist and might at first carry the sufferers through the familiar social situations without any manifest change; but the fire was quenched. Little by little even the forms of decent social behaviour were abandoned. Abstract thought, even when their intelligence was still capable of it, they found unutterably boring. Art had no longer any meaning for them. Or rather, though intellectually they might still understand its technique, it could no longer stir them. The life of the spirit was wholly fatuous to them. The great common discipline and adventure, which they formerly accepted with enthusiasm, now stimulated them only to yawn and shrug their shoulders. Intellectually they understood it, but they had no feeling for it.
'Yes, my good friend,' said my aunt.