Having made up my mind to break my principle, I started at once from Dublin to London. I arrived there on the morning of Thursday, 3d of November, and left it on the evening of Friday. In the meantime I had made my agreement with Messrs. Smith & Elder, and had arranged my plot. But when in London, I first went to Edward Chapman, at 193 Piccadilly. If the novel I was then writing for him would suit the Cornhill, might I consider my arrangement with him to be at an end? Yes; I might. But if that story would not suit the Cornhill, was I to consider my arrangement with him as still standing — that agreement requiring that my MS. should be in his hands in the following March? As to that, I might do as I pleased. In our dealings together Mr. Edward Chapman always acceded to every suggestion made to him. He never refused a book, and never haggled at a price. Then I hurried into the City, and had my first interview with Mr. George Smith. When he heard that Castle Richmond was an Irish story, he begged that I would endeavour to frame some other for his magazine. He was sure that an Irish story would not do for a commencement — and he suggested the Church, as though it were my peculiar subject. I told him that Castle Richmond would have to “come out” while any other novel that I might write for him would be running through the magazine — but to that he expressed himself altogether indifferent. He wanted an English tale, on English life, with a clerical flavour. On these orders I went to work, and framed what I suppose I must call the plot of Framley Parsonage.
His name was Micah True, he said, and he came from Colorado. Well, California, actually. And ifI really wanted to understand the Rarámuri, I should have been there when this ninety-five-yearoldman came hiking twenty-five miles over the mountain. Know why he could do it? Because noone ever told him he couldn’t. No one ever told him he oughta be off dying somewhere in an oldage home. You live up to your own expectations, man. Like when he named himself after his dog.
“Solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne
On going down in the morning, I found my aunt musing so profoundly over the breakfast table, with her elbow on the tray, that the contents of the urn had overflowed the teapot and were laying the whole table-cloth under water, when my entrance put her meditations to flight. I felt sure that I had been the subject of her reflections, and was more than ever anxious to know her intentions towards me. Yet I dared not express my anxiety, lest it should give her offence.
"You were to have been the cause of the fire. The evidence for Sanguinetti would have been that the managers, this Phancey couple, and of course they're in it up to their necks"-I remembered the way their attitude to me had changed on the last day; the way they too had treated me with contempt, as rubbish, as something that was to be thrown away-"they would say that they had told you to turn off the electricity-perfectly reasonable as the place was closing down-and use an oil-lamp for the last night. The remains of the oil-lamp would have been found. You had gone to sleep with the light on and somehow upset it. The whole place blazed up, and that was that. The buildings had a lot of timber in them, and the wind did the rest. My turning up was a nuisance, but not more than that. My remains would have been found too-or at any rate my car and wrist watch and the metal from my bag. I don't know what they'd have done about my gun and the one under your pillow. Those might have got them into trouble. The police would have checked the car with Canada and then the numbers of the guns with England, and that would have identified me. So why was my other gun under your pillow? That might have made the police think. If we were, well, sort of lovers, why was I sleeping so far away from you? Perhaps we had both been very proper and slept as far apart as possible and I had insisted that you have one of my guns to protect a lonely girl in the night. I don't know how they would have worked it out. But my guess is that our friends, once I told them I was a policeman, may have thought about guns and other incriminating hardware that wouldn't be destroyed in the fire and might have waited a few hours and then gone in and raked about in the ashes to take care of that sort of trouble. They'd have been careful about their raking, and of their footprints in the cinders, of course. But then, these people are pros." His mouth turned down. "By their standards, that is."
'Yes, sir,' said Hawker stolidly. He limped off on the short cut that would take him half way down the tenth fairway.
I never did in my days behold anything like Mowcher as she stood upon the dining table, intensely enjoying this refreshment, rubbing busily at Steerforth's head, and winking at me over it.
He pressed two more bells. He let her go and looked round the room. Someone had come while they were asleep and taken away the breakfast things. There was a drink tray on a sideboard against the wall. Bond went over and examined it. It had everything. Propped among the bottles were two menus, huge double-folio pages covered with print. They might have been from the Savoy Grill, or the '21', or the Tour d'Argent. Bond ran his eye down one of them. It began with Caviar double de Beluga and ended with Sorbet d la Champagne. In between was every dish whose constituents would not be ruined by a deep freeze. Bond tossed it down. One certainly couldn't grumble about the quality of the cheese in the trap!
Mr. Micawber's difficulties were an addition to the distressed state of my mind. In my forlorn state I became quite attached to the family, and used to walk about, busy with Mrs. Micawber's calculations of ways and means, and heavy with the weight of Mr. Micawber's debts. On a Saturday night, which was my grand treat, - partly because it was a great thing to walk home with six or seven shillings in my pocket, looking into the shops and thinking what such a sum would buy, and partly because I went home early, - Mrs. Micawber would make the most heart-rending confidences to me; also on a Sunday morning, when I mixed the portion of tea or coffee I had bought over-night, in a little shaving-pot, and sat late at my breakfast. It was nothing at all unusual for Mr. Micawber to sob violently at the beginning of one of these Saturday night conversations, and sing about jack's delight being his lovely Nan, towards the end of it. I have known him come home to supper with a flood of tears, and a declaration that nothing was now left but a jail; and go to bed making a calculation of the expense of putting bow-windows to the house, 'in case anything turned up', which was his favourite expression. And Mrs. Micawber was just the same.
'There has been a terrible accident. Madame . . .'
To this letter, I received an answer by return of post. As I read it, I seemed to hear Agnes speaking to me. It was like her cordial voice in my ears. What can I say more!
Five o'clock, six, seven. The sun set in Bond's driving mirror and still the Rolls sped on. They were through Dreux and Chartres and on to the long straight fifty-mile stretch into Orleans. If that was to be the night stop the Rolls ' wouldn't have done badly at all - over two hundred and fifty miles in something over six hours. Goldfinger was certainly no slouch when it came to motoring. He must be keeping the old Silver Ghost at maximum outside the towns. Bond began to close up.
'Oh! That's your partiality!' laughed Traddles. 'But, indeed, I am in a most enviable state. I work hard, and read Law insatiably. I get up at five every morning, and don't mind it at all. I hide the girls in the daytime, and make merry with them in the evening. And I assure you I am quite sorry that they are going home on Tuesday, which is the day before the first day of Michaelmas Term. But here,' said Traddles, breaking off in his confidence, and speaking aloud, 'ARE the girls! Mr. Copperfield, Miss Crewler - Miss Sarah - Miss Louisa - Margaret and Lucy!'
I had been long an ardent admirer of Comte's writings before I had any communication with himself; nor did I ever, to the last, see him in the body. But for some years we were frequent correspondents, until our correspondence became controversial, and our zeal cooled. I was the first to slacken correspondence; he was the first to drop it. I found, and he probably found likewise, that I could do no good to his mind, and that all the good he could do to mine, he did by his books. This would never have led to discontinuance of intercourse, if the differences between us had been on matters of simple doctrine. But they were chiefly on those points of opinion which blended in both of us with our strongest feelings, and determined the entire direction of our aspirations. I had fully agreed with him when he maintained that the mass of mankind, including even their rulers in all the practical departments of life, must, from the necessity of the case, accept most of their opinions on political and social matters, as they do on physical, from the authority of those who have bestowed more study on those subjects than they generally have it in their power to do. This lesson had been strongly impressed on me by the early work of Comte, to which I have adverted. And there was nothing in his great Treatise which I admired more than his remarkable exposition of the benefits which the nations of modern Europe have historically derived from the separation, during the middle ages, of temporal and spiritual power, and the distinct organization of the latter. I agreed with him that the moral and intellectual ascendancy, once exercised by priests, must in time pass into the hands of philosophers, and will naturally do so when they become sufficiently unanimous, and in other respects worthy to possess it. But when he exaggerated this line of thought into a practical system, in which philosophers were to be organized into a kind of corporate hierarchy, invested with almost the same spiritual supremacy (though without any secular power) once possessed by the Catholic church; when I found him relying on this spiritual authority as the only security for good government, the sole bulwark against practical oppression, and expecting that by it a system of despotism in the state and despotism in the family would be rendered innocuous and beneficial; it is not surprising, that while as logicians we were nearly at one, as sociologists we could travel together no further. M. Comte lived to carry out these doctrines to their extremest consequences, by planning, in his last work, the "Système de Politique Positive," the completest system of spiritual and temporal despotism which ever yet emanated from a human brain, unless possibly that of Ignatius Loyola: a system by which the yoke of general opinion, wielded by an organized body of spiritual teachers and rulers, would be made supreme over every action, and as far as is in human possibility, every thought, of every member of the community, as well in the things which regard only himself, as in those which concern the interests of others. It is but just to say that this work is a considerable improvement, in many points of feeling, over Comte's previous writings on the same subjects: but as an accession to social philosophy, the only value it seems to me to possess, consists in putting an end to the notion that no effectual moral authority can be maintained over society without the aid of religious belief; for Comte's work recognises no religion except that of Humanity, yet it leaves an irresistible conviction that any moral beliefs concurred in by the community generally may be brought to bear upon the whole conduct and lives of its individual members, with an energy and potency truly alarming to think of. The book stands a monumental warning to thinkers on society and politics, of what happens when once men lose sight in their speculations, of the value of Liberty and of Individuality.
And now? In the driver's seat sat a figure in a cafe-au-lait dust coat and cap, his big round face obscured by black-rimmed driving goggles. Beside him was a squat figure in black with a bowler hat placed firmly on the middle of his head. The two figures stared straight in front of them with a curious immobility. It was almost as if they were driving a hearse.
Bond took the Beretta, feeling the warmth of her on the metal. He flicked out the magazine. Three rounds left. And one in the breach. He replaced the magazine, put the gun on safe and tucked it into the top of his trousers. For the first time he realized that his coat was gone. One of his shirt sleeves hung in tatters. He tore it off and threw it away. He felt for the cigarette case in his right-hand hip pocket. It was gone. But in the left-hand pocket there was still his passport and note-case. He pulled them out. By the light of the moon he could see that they were cracked arid dented. He felt for his money in the note-case. It was still there. He put the things back in his pocket.
When we were all in a bustle outside the door, I found that Mr. Peggotty was prepared with an old shoe, which was to be thrown after us for luck, and which he offered to Mrs. Gummidge for that purpose.
I was happy and proud to serve Commander Bond in a close capacity during the past three years at the Ministry of Defence. If indeed our fears for him are justified, may I suggest these simple words for his epitaph? Many of the junior staff here feel they represent his philosophy: I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.'