Sophy arrives at the house of Dora's aunts, in due course. She has the most agreeable of faces, - not absolutely beautiful, but extraordinarily pleasant, - and is one of the most genial, unaffected, frank, engaging creatures I have ever seen. Traddles presents her to us with great pride; and rubs his hands for ten minutes by the clock, with every individual hair upon his head standing on tiptoe, when I congratulate him in a corner on his choice.
"Thanks, pal," said the girl ironically. "Like what? Playing the boats? And the reason I got called Tiffany is because when I was born, dear father Case was so sore I wasn't a boy he gave my mother a thousand bucks and a powder case from Tiffany's and walked out. Joined the Marines. In the end he got killed at Iwo Jima. So my mother just called me Tiffany Case and set about earning a living for us both. Started with a string of call-girls and then got more ambitious. Maybe that doesn't sound so good to you?" She looked at him half defensively and half pleadingly.
He assented to this in the most earnest manner; and implored me, if I should see him wandering an inch out of the right course, to recall him by some of those superior methods which were always at my command. But I regret to state that the fright I had given him proved too much for his best attempts at concealment. All the evening his eyes wandered to my aunt's face, with an expression of the most dismal apprehension, as if he saw her growing thin on the spot. He was conscious of this, and put a constraint upon his head; but his keeping that immovable, and sitting rolling his eyes like a piece of machinery, did not mend the matter at all. I saw him look at the loaf at supper (which happened to be a small one), as if nothing else stood between us and famine; and when my aunt insisted on his making his customary repast, I detected him in the act of pocketing fragments of his bread and cheese; I have no doubt for the purpose of reviving us with those savings, when we should have reached an advanced stage of attenuation.
TO MISS 鈥楲EILA鈥 HAMILTON.
I did, nevertheless, receive certain general impressions of the course of history and of a few outstanding events. After the settlement of the great dispute mankind recovered its fundamental unity of purpose. The villages carried on their busy and varied lives and their worldwide intercourse. The scientists continued their patient explorations and inventions. The classicists pursued the development of human culture into endless exfoliation. The forwards persisted in their spiritual exploration. As the general level of thought and feeling was raised, new spheres of experience were constantly explored. Generation succeeded generation with ever increasing capacity and opportunity. But also each generation came more surely into the knowledge that all this continuous Utopianism was in fact but a preparation for a great ordeal, and that before the race was ready to face that ordeal the very foundations of existence might crumble. The stars might suddenly be swept away like dust. Man’s dear and beautiful home might be shattered, and man himself annihilated.
Meanwhile she was one of the most envied girls in the building, and a member of the small company of Principal Secretaries who had access to the innermost secrets of the Service-'The Pearls and Twin-set' as they were called behind their backs by the other girls, with ironical reference to their supposedly 'County' and 'Kensington' backgrounds-and, so far as the Personnel Branch was concerned, her destiny in twenty years' time would be that single golden line right at the end of a New Year's Honours List, among the medals for officials of the Fishery Board, of the Post Office, of the Women's Institute, towards the bottom of the OBEs:
Mr. Dolloby rolled it up again, and gave it me back. 'I should rob my family,' he said, 'if I was to offer ninepence for it.'
"Commander Strangways, sir."
The policy of those who controlled this vast system of espionage was simply to ensure that all minds should be orthodox. As time went on, the inquisitors themselves came to be chosen solely from the ranks of those who were products of the system itself. So amazingly correct were these minds that they suffered nothing from the publicity of all their mental processes.
He catches a glimpse of himself in one of the wall mirrors.
'All right. But then you tell. I've never seen a man look so dead on his feet. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought you must be plastered.' She gave him a quick glance. 'You still look pretty bad. Here' - she leant forward to the dashboard -'I'll switch on the blower. Get you properly warmed up.' She paused. 'Well, my bit of the story's quite simple really. Papa rang me up one day from Marseilles to find out how I was. He asked if I had seen you and seemed very annoyed when he heard I hadn't. He practically ordered me to go and find you.' She glanced at him. 'He's quite taken to you, you know. Anyway he said he had found out the address of a certain man you were looking for. He said he was sure that by now you would have found out that address too. He said that, knowing you, I would find you somewhere close to this address. It was the Piz Gloria Club. He told me if I found you to tell you to watch your step, to look after yourself.' She laughed. 'How right he was! Well, so I left Davos, which had really put me on my feet again, like you said it would, and I came up to Samaden the day before yesterday. The Seilbahn wasn't running yesterday, so I was going to come up today to look for you. It was all as simple as that. Now you tell.'
I listened to all this with attention; and though, I must say, I had my doubts whether the country was quite as much obliged to the Commons as Mr. Spenlow made out, I respectfully deferred to his opinion. That about the price of wheat per bushel, I modestly felt was too much for my strength, and quite settled the question. I have never, to this hour, got the better of that bushel of wheat. It has reappeared to annihilate me, all through my life, in connexion with all kinds of subjects. I don't know now, exactly, what it has to do with me, or what right it has to crush me, on an infinite variety of occasions; but whenever I see my old friend the bushel brought in by the head and shoulders (as he always is, I observe), I give up a subject for lost.
Tibet surrendered; and, under the shock of this recognition of defeat, practically the whole population succumbed to the virus.. Those who retained their sanity strove in vain to protect the hosts of their childish compatriots from coming to hurt; but these, unable to cope with ordinary situations, were killed off in thousands. Their decaying bodies littered the plains and added to the pestilence. The sane were helpless, and their numbers constantly decreased. Meanwhile surrender had not brought peace. The victors dared not enter the conquered country, lest they should succumb to the virus. They therefore continued their efforts to exterminate the Tibetan people from the air. In this policy in due season they succeeded. For a few years the Himalayan remnant miserably survived, but in the end these last servants of the spirit were discovered by the Russian airmen. Henceforth their high valleys and gorges were systematically bombed until all trace of habitation had vanished.
When the great attack was launched, the sky over Tibet was darkened by the invading bombers. Every town and village and all the great isolated monasteries were very soon destroyed. Lhasa, the spiritual heart of the country, was completely obliterated.
Lord Arandale could imitate the Scotch accent very well, when giving humour to a droll story. “‘Your daughter, I suppose, Mr. Miller,’ I said, bowing to the lady. ‘My wife—Maistriss Miller—gin yier lordship has nay objection.’ ‘You are a fortunate man, Mr. Miller,’ I said; ‘such wives are not to be had every day,’ and I bowed again to the lady, who smiled. ‘Ye mauna pit nay sic notions intil woman’s heade, my Lord,’ said Miller; ‘Meg kens vara weel hersel, that she could niver heve evened hersel tle a Minister, gin he hed been a young calant, at hed time tle look about him for a mair befitting spoose.—Bit as a christian man, I ken ’at we awe come o’ Adam and Eve; and se, Meg, if she behave hersel, will di vara weel for me.’ Oswald, mean while, was making some pretty side speeches to Mrs. Miller; so that the old fellow, beginning to perceive that our visit was to his wife, not to himself, after fidgeting and looking foolish for a few minutes, seemed struck with a sudden thought, in pursuance of which he played us such a trick, as never was, I believe, practised before on two gay fellows like ourselves.
"I expect you know I wrote most of the chapter on the Force for the War Book. It's fifteen years since then. Doubt if I'd have much to add today."