I do not wish to have it supposed from this that I quarrel with public judgment in affairs of literature. It is a matter of course that in all things the public should trust to established reputation. It is as natural that a novel reader wanting novels should send to a library for those by George Eliot or Wilkie Collins, as that a lady when she wants a pie for a picnic should go to Fortnum & Mason. Fortnum & Mason can only make themselves Fortnum & Mason by dint of time and good pies combined. If Titian were to send us a portrait from the other world, as certain dead poets send their poetry by means of a medium, it would be some time before the art critic of the Times would discover its value. We may sneer at the want of judgment thus displayed, but such slowness of judgment is human and has always existed. I say all this here because my thoughts on the matter have forced upon me the conviction that very much consideration is due to the bitter feelings of disappointed authors.
The ground shuddered slightly and the air sang as the five whirling scraps of cupronickel spat off into the dusk. The target went down and quickly rose again, decorated with four small white discs closely grouped on the bull's-eye. There was no fifth disc-not even a black one to show an inner or an outer.
It seemed that I had not been expected so soon, the carrier being much before his usual time. It seemed, too, that Mr. and Miss Murdstone had gone out upon a visit in the neighbourhood, and would not return before night. I had never hoped for this. I had never thought it possible that we three could be together undisturbed, once more; and I felt, for the time, as if the old days were come back.
“Can that noise be the bagpipes?” said Frances to Julia, trying to look from an upper window in one of the turrets of Arandale Castle. But no object immediately near the building could be discerned from windows situated as were those of this apartment. The more removed prospect, however, was rich and magnificent. Woods, which seemed interminable, every where met the eye; with, here and there, an opening among their ranges, displaying a grassy avenue which ran along till lost again in the far perspective of grove meeting grove. In some of those avenues stood herds of deer, looking around them with an air of the most stately security; in others, even hares and rabbits were sometimes seen to venture from under cover, cross a path, and disappear again, whilst innumerable cawing rooks, continually passing and repassing each other’s heavy flight, hovered over all the summits of the trees; and in their branches sat gay plumed peacocks, uttering, from time to time, their wild cry. To complete the picture, one of the grassy avenues already described, terminated in a smooth, still sheet of water, an arm of which was crossed, at a considerable height, by a light bridge of iron work; while, on its glassy surface, sailed two snow white swans, the sole visible inhabitants of this their watery realm.
'You are a very remarkable man, Dick!' said my aunt, with an air of unqualified approbation; 'and never pretend to be anything else, for I know better!'
At the time when these two great disputes were ceasing to be merely academic, and were actually appearing over the horizon of practical politics, the forwards stumbled upon the discovery, or seeming discovery, which, if true, must force the abandonment, not only of interstellar adventure and of eugenical improvement, but also of classical humanism itself. The announcement which they made, so far as I could comprehend it, was to this effect.
'Oh, shame, Miss Dartle! shame!' I said indignantly. 'How can you bear to trample on his undeserved affliction!'
The Americans, of course, like all other peoples, had agreed to the abolition of national armaments. They had their own unarmed police; and a contingent of the armed World Police, drawn from all peoples, was stationed at key points throughout the two continents. The seizing of the generators was carried out without opposition; but the American Government organized a general strike in protest, and there were great demonstrations in all the cities. In several parts of the continent rioters attacked the offices of the World Government. The native police did not intervene. Thereupon the World Police took control of the whole of the two American continents, along with Australia and New Zealand. Democratic government in the American hemisphere ceased. Rioting became widespread. But the American, Australian, and New Zealand governments, recognizing the futility of mere rioting, organized a vast campaign of civil disobedience and non-co-operation.
'Philopon is the chief factor in the increase in crime in Japan. According to the Welfare Ministry there are now 1,500,000 addicts in the country, of whom one million are under the age of 20, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police attribute 70 per cent of juvenile crime to the influences of the drug.