The ghost face jerked slowly round the room, looking. It saw the white bed with the twin smudges of the heads on the pillow. It stopped looking and slowly, painfully, a hand, with shiny metal in it, came up beside the head and smashed clumsily downward through the panes of glass.
Whilst All's converted to Divinity.
16 This was given by me as a present to my friend John Blackwood
He looked at his watch. Just after three o'clock, and he was due back at two-thirty. What the hell! God, it was hot. He wiped a hand across his forehead and then down the side of his trousers. He used not to sweat like this. The weather must be changing. Atomic bomb, whatever the scientists might say to the contrary. It would be good to be down somewhere in the South of France. Somewhere to bathe whenever he wanted. But he had had his leave for the year. That ghastly month they had given him after Tracy. Then he had gone to Jamaica. And what hell that had been. No! Bathing wasn't the answer. It was all right here, really. Lovely roses to look at. They smelled good and it was pleasant looking at them and listening to the faraway traffic. Nice hum of bees. The way they went around the flowers, doing their work for their queen. Must read that book about them by the Belgian chap, Metternich or something. Same man who wrote about the ants. Extraordinary purpose in life. They didn't have troubles. Just lived and died. Did what they were supposed to do and then dropped dead. Why didn't one see a lot of bees' corpses around? Ants' corpses? Thousands, millions of them must die every day. Perhaps the others ate them. Oh, well! Better go back to the office and get hell from Mary. She was a darling. She was right to nag at him as she did. She was his conscience. But she didn't realize the troubles he had. What troubles? Oh well. Don't let's go into that! James Bond got to his feet and went over and read the lead labels of the roses he had been gazing at. They told him that the bright vermilion ones were 'Super Star' and the white ones 'Iceberg'.
At last there came a crisis. Some climatic change covering the whole planet seems to have made life rather suddenly more difficult for man, and therefore for his parasite. Driven by starvation, the rats began to change their habits. Not content with ravaging man’s food stores, they attacked men themselves. They began by devouring the babies whenever they were left for a while unguarded. Sleeping adults were also attacked. Sometimes a host of hungry rodents would waylay a lonely hunter, seize his legs, clamber up his body, hang on to his flesh with their incisors, bite at his throat, drag him to the ground and devour him alive. It seems probable that some mutation in the rat had increased its efficiency as a carnivorous beast, for attack on large mammals and particularly on men became increasingly common. Men were by now much reduced in stature, rats increased in weight. There came a time when the rats no longer confined their attention to stealthy attacks on children and sleeping adults or to persons isolated from their fellows. They gathered in great armies and invaded the scattered settlements, exterminating their inhabitants. Century by century men fought a losing battle. Tribe after tribe was exterminated, country after country depopulated, until only in the most favoured region a few hard-pressed families lurked in the woods, feeding on roots and worms, meeting at the full moon in solemn conclave to chant their spells against the rodent enemy, and assert with stupid pride their superiority over all beasts. The almost meaningless jargon which issued from these baying mouths was their one remaining title to humanity. In it there still lurked fantastic corruptions of civilized speech, relics which had lived in the times of Shakespeare, Plato, Con-fu-tsze. For a few decades, perhaps centuries, these ultimate remnants of mankind hung on to life, attacked not only by the rats but many other pests and plagues, and by the weather. In this constant warfare their frail human physique combined with their sub-human mentality to make extinction inevitable. At some time or other, unmourned and unnoticed, the last human being was destroyed.
‘Duniashka!’ repeated the old lady.
And of my Rural Joys participate,
Leiter leant over the end of the bed. He wore his most quizzical smile. He said, "Well, I'll be goddamned, James. That was the neatest wrapup job I've ever lied my head off at. Everything clean as a whistle, and we've even collected a piece of lettuce."
Kissy changed with extreme propriety into her brown kimono and dried herself inside it. She announced that their haul was sixty-five awabi, which was quite wonderful. Of these Bond was responsible for ten, which was a very honourable first catch. Ridiculously pleased with himself, Bond took a vague bearing on the island which, because of the drifting of the boat, was now only a speck on the horizon, and gradually worked himself into the slow unlaboured sweep of a Scottish gillie.
After the last hope of the formation of a Radical party had disappeared, it was time for me to stop the heavy expenditure of time and money which the Review cost me. It had to some extent answered my personal purpose as a vehicle for my opinions. It had enabled me to express in print much of my altered mode of thought, and to separate myself in a marked manner from the narrower Benthamism of my early writings. This was done by the general tone of all I wrote, including various purely literary articles, but especially by the two papers (reprinted in the Dissertations) which attempted a philosophical estimate of Bentham and of Coleridge. In the first of these, while doing full justice to the merits of Bentham, I pointed out what I thought the errors and deficiencies of his philosophy. The substance of this criticism I still think perfectly just; but I have sometimes doubted whether it was right to publish it at that time. I have often felt that Bentham's philosophy, as an instrument of progress, has been to some extent discredited before it had done its work, and that to lend a hand towards lowering its reputation was doing more harm than service to improvement. Now, however, when a counter-reaction appears to be setting in towards what is good in Benthamism, I can look with more satisfaction on this criticism of its defects, especially as I have myself balanced it by vindications of the fundamental principles of Bentham's philosophy, which are reprinted along with it in the same collection. In the essay on Coleridge I attempted to characterize the European reaction against the negative philosophy of the eighteenth century: and here, if the effect only of this one paper were to be considered, I might be thought to have erred by giving undue prominence to the favourable side, as I had done in the case of Bentham to the unfavourable. In both cases, the impetus with which I had detached myself from what was untenable in the doctrines of Bentham and of the eighteenth century, may have carried me, though in appearance rather than in reality, too far on the contrary side. But as far as relates to the article on Coleridge, my defence is, that I was writing for Radicals and Liberals, and it was my business to dwell most on that in writers of a different school, from the knowledge of which they might derive most improvement.