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Roald Dahl The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl, Volume 1

This collection of Roald Dahl's adult short stories, from his world-famous books, includes many seen in the television series, T !"S #$ T%" &'"()"CT"D* +ith their vibrant characters, their subtle twists and turns, and bi,arre and often macabre -lots, these stories shock in a way that makes them utterly addictive* Roald Dahi can stand you on your head, twist you in knots, tie u- your hands and leave you .as-in. for more*

Contents /0SS, /0SS The !andlady 1 +illiam and 2ary 13 The +ay u- to %eaven 43 )arson's )leasure 35 2rs 6i7by and the Colonel's Coat 118 Royal 9elly 115 :eor.y )or.y 135 :enesis and Catastro-he 818 "dward the Con;ueror 888 )i. 84< The Cham-ion of the +orld 8=1 #V"R T# >#& Death of an #ld #ld 2an 181 n frican Story 1?1 )iece of Cake 158 2adame Rosette 1=< /atina ?8? >esterday was 6eautiful ?5< They Shall 'ot :row #ld ?53 6eware of the Do. ?@8 #nly This 41< Someone !ike >ou 41@ S+0TC% 60TC% The Visitor 411 The :reat Switcheroo 5<8 The !ast ct 513 6itch 5=<

/0SS, /0SS

The !andlady

60!!> +" V"R had travelled down from !ondon on the slow afternoon train, with a chan.e at Swindon on the way, and by the time he .ot to 6ath it was about nine o'clock in the evenin. and the moon was comin. u- out of a clear starry sky over the houses o--osite the station entrance* 6ut the air was deadly cold and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on his cheeks* A"7cuse me,A he said, Abut is there a fairly chea- hotel not too far away from hereBA ATry The 6ell and Dra.on,A the -orter answered, -ointin. down the road* AThey mi.ht take you in* 0t's about a ;uarter of a mile alon. on the other side*A 6illy thanked him and -icked u- his suitcase and set out to walk the ;uarter-mile to The 6ell and Dra.on* %e had never been to 6ath before* %e didn't know anyone who lived there* 6ut 2r :reenslade at the %ead #ffice in !ondon had told him it was a s-lendid city* A$ind your own lod.in.s,A he had said, Aand then .o alon. and re-ort to the 6ranch 2ana.er as soon as you've .ot yourself settled*A 6illy was seventeen years old* %e was wearin. a new navy-blue overcoat, a new brown trilby hat, and a new brown suit, and he was feelin. fine* %e walked briskly down the street* %e was tryin. to do everythin. briskly these days* 6riskness, he had decided, was the one common characteristic of all successful businessmen* The bi. shots u- at %ead #ffice were absolutely fantastically brisk all the time* They were ama,in.* There were no sho-s in this wide street that he was walkin. alon., only a line of tall houses on each side, all of them identical* They had -orches and -illars and four or five ste-s .oin. u- to their front doors, and it was obvious that once u-on a time they had been very swanky residences* 6ut now, even in the darkness, he could see that the -aint was -eelin. from the woodwork on their doors and windows, and that the handsome white faades were cracked and blotchy from ne.lect* Suddenly, in a downstairs window that was brilliantly illuminated by a street-lam- not si7 yards away, 6illy cau.ht si.ht of a -rinted notice -ro--ed ua.ainst the .lass in one of the u--er -anes* 0t said 6"D 'D 6R" /$ ST* There was a vase of -ussy-willows, tall and beautiful, standin. 9ust underneath the notice* %e sto--ed walkin.* %e moved a bit closer* :reen curtains Csome sort of velvety materialD were han.in. down on either side of the window* The -ussywillows looked wonderful beside them* %e went ri.ht u- and -eered throu.h the .lass into the room, and the first thin. he saw was a bri.ht fire burnin. in the hearth* #n the car-et in front of the fire, a -retty little dachshund was curled u- aslee- with its nose tucked into its belly* The room itself, so far as he could see in the half-darkness, was filled with -leasant furniture* There was a baby.rand -iano and a bi. sofa and several -lum- armchairsE and in one corner he s-otted a lar.e -arrot in a ca.e* nimals were usually a .ood si.n in a -lace like this, 6illy told himselfE and all in all, it looked to him as thou.h it would be a -retty decent house to stay in* Certainly it would be more comfortable than The 6ell and Dra.on* #n the other hand, a -ub would be more con.enial than a boardin.-house* There would be beer and darts in the evenin.s, and lots of -eo-le to talk to, and it would -robably be a .ood bit chea-er, too* %e had stayed a cou-le of ni.hts in a -ub once before and he had liked it* %e had never stayed in any boardin.-houses, and, to be -erfectly honest, he was a tiny bit fri.htened of them* The name itself con9ured u- ima.es of watery cabba.e, ra-acious landladies, and a -owerful smell of ki--ers in the livin.-room* fter ditherin. about like this in the cold for two or three minutes, 6illy decided that he would walk on and take a look at The 6ell and Dra.on before makin. u- his mind* %e turned to .o*

nd now a ;ueer thin. ha--ened to him* %e was in the act of ste--in. back and turnin. away from the window when all at once his eye was cau.ht and held in the most -eculiar manner by the small notice that was there* 6"D 'D 6R" /$ ST, it said* 6"D 'D 6R" /$ ST, 6"D 'D 6R" /$ ST, 6"D 'D 6R" /$ ST* "ach word was like a lar.e black eye starin. at him throu.h the .lass, holdin. him, com-ellin. him, forcin. him to stay where he was and not to walk away from that house, and the ne7t thin. he knew, he was actually movin. across from the window to the front door of the house, climbin. the ste-s that led u- to it, and reachin. for the bell* %e -ressed the bell* $ar away in a back room he heard it rin.in., and then at once -it must have been at once because he hadn't even had time to take his fin.er from the bell-button -the door swun. o-en and a woman was standin. there* 'ormally you rin. the bell and you have at least a half-minute's wait before the door o-ens* 6ut this dame was like a 9ack-in-the-bo7* %e -ressed the bell -and out she -o--edF 0t made him 9um-* She was about forty-five or fifty years old, and the moment she saw him, she .ave him a warm welcomin. smile* A)lease come in,A she said -leasantly* She ste--ed aside, holdin. the door wide o-en, and 6illy found himself automatically startin. forward into the house* The com-ulsion or, more accurately, the desire to follow after her into that house was e7traordinarily stron.* A0 saw the notice in the window,A he said, holdin. himself back* A>es, 0 know*A A0 was wonderin. about a room*A A0t's all ready for you, my dear,A she said* She had a round -ink face and very .entle blue eyes* A0 was on my way to The 6ell and Dra.on,A 6illy told her* A6ut the notice in your window 9ust ha--ened to catch my eye*A A2y dear boy,A she said, Awhy don't you come in out of the coldBA A%ow much do you char.eBA A$ive and si7-ence a ni.ht, includin. breakfast*A 0t was fantastically chea-* 0t was less than half of what he had been willin. to -ay* A0f that is too much,A she added, Athen -erha-s 0 can reduce it 9ust a tiny bit* Do you desire an e.. for breakfastB "..s are e7-ensive at the moment* 0t would be si7-ence less without the e..*A A$ive and si7-ence is fine,A he answered* A0 should like very much to stay here*A A0 knew you would* Do come in*A She seemed terribly nice* She looked e7actly like the mother of one's best school-friend welcomin. one into the house to stay for the Christmas holidays* 6illy took off his hat, and ste--ed over the threshold* AGust han. it there,A she said, Aand let me hel- you with your coat*A There were no other hats or coats in the hall* There were no umbrellas, no walkin.-sticks -nothin.* A+e have it all to ourselves,A she said, smilin. at him over her shoulder as she led the way u-stairs* A>ou see, it isn't very often 0 have the -leasure of takin. a visitor into my little nest*A The old .irl is sli.htly dotty, 6illy told himself* 6ut at five and si7-ence a ni.ht, who .ives a damn about thatB A0 should've thou.ht you'd be sim-ly swam-ed with a--licants,A he said -olitely* A#h, 0 am, my dear, 0 am, of course 0 am* 6ut the trouble is that 0'm inclined to be 9ust a teeny weeny bit choosey and -articular -if you see what 0 mean*A A h, yes*A A6ut 0'm always ready* "verythin. is always ready day and ni.ht in this house 9ust on the offchance that an acce-table youn. .entleman will come alon.*

nd it is such a -leasure, my dear, such a very .reat -leasure when now and a.ain 0 o-en the door and 0 see someone standin. there who is 9ust e7actly ri.ht*A She was half-way u- the stairs, and she -aused with one hand on the stair-rail, turnin. her head and smilin. down at him with -ale li-s* A!ike you,A she added, and her blue eyes travelled slowly all the way down the len.th of 6illy's body, to his feet, and then u- a.ain* #n the first-floor landin. she said to him, AThis floor is mine*A They climbed u- a second fli.ht* A nd this one is all yours,A she said* A%ere's your room* 0 do ho-e you'll like it*A She took him into a small but charmin. front bedroom, switchin. on the li.ht as she went in* AThe mornin. sun comes ri.ht in the window, 2r )erkins* 0t 0s 2r )erkins, isn't itBA A'o,A he said* A0t's A+eaver*A A2r +eaver* %ow nice* 0've -ut a waterbottle between the sheets to air them out, 2r +eaver* 0t's such a comfort to have a hot water-bottle in a stran.e bed with clean sheets, don't you a.reeB nd you may li.ht the .as fire at any time if you feel chilly*A AThank you,A 6illy said* AThank you ever so much*A %e noticed that the beds-read had been taken off the bed, and that the bedclothes had been neatly turned back on one side, all ready for someone to .et in* A0'm so .lad you a--eared,A she said, lookin. earnestly into his face* A0 was be.innin. to .et worried*A AThat's all ri.ht,A 6illy answered bri.htly* A>ou mustn't worry about me*A %e -ut his suitcase on the chair and started to o-en it* A nd what about su--er, my dearB Did you mana.e to .et anythin. to eat before you came hereBA A0'm not a bit hun.ry, thank you,A he said* A0 think 0'll 9ust .o to bed as soon as -ossible because tomorrow 0've .ot to .et u- rather early and re-ort to the office*A AVery well, then* 0'll leave you now so that you can un-ack* 6ut before you .o to bed, would you be kind enou.h to -o- into the sittin.-room on the .round floor and si.n the bookB "veryone has to do that because it's the law of the land, and we don't want to .o breakin. any laws at this sta.e in the -roceedin.s, do weBA She .ave him a little wave of the hand and went ;uickly out of the room and closed the door* 'ow, the fact that his landlady a--eared to be sli.htly off her rocker didn't worry 6illy in the least* fter all, she was not only harmless--there was no ;uestion about that--but she was also ;uite obviously a kind and .enerous soul* %e .uessed that she had -robably lost a son in the war, or somethin. like that, and had never .ot over it* So a few minutes later, after un-ackin. his suitcase and washin. his hands, he trotted downstairs to the .round floor and entered the livin.-room* %is landlady wasn't there, but the fire was .lowin. in the hearth, and the little dachshund was still slee-in. in front of it* The room was wonderfully warm and cosy* 0'm a lucky fellow, he thou.ht, rubbin. his hands* This is a bit of all ri.ht* %e found the .uest-book lyin. o-en on the -iano, so he took out his -en and wrote down his name and address* There were only two other entries above his on the -a.e, and, as one always does with .uest-books, he started to read them* #ne was a Christo-her 2ulholland from Cardiff* The other was :re.ory +* Tem-le from 6ristol* That's funny, he thou.ht suddenly* Christo-her 2ullholland* 0t rin.s a bell* 'ow where on earth had he heard that rather unusual name beforeB +as he a boy at schoolB 'o* +as it one of his sister's numerous youn. men, -erha-s, or a friend of his father'sB 'o, no, it wasn't any of those* %e .lanced down a.ain at the book* Christo-her 2ulholland

811 Cathedral Road, Cardiff :re.ory +* Tem-le 83 Sycamore Drive, 6ristol s a matter of fact, now he came to think of it, he wasn't at all sure that the second name didn't have almost as much of a familiar rin. about it as the first* A:re.ory Tem-leBA he said aloud, searchin. his memory* AChristo-her 2ulhollandB ASuch charmin. boys,A a voice behind him answered, and he turned and saw his landlady sailin. into the room with a lar.e silver tea-tray in her hands* She was holdin. it well out in front of her, and rather hi.h u-, as thou.h the tray were a -air of reins on a frisky horse* AThey sound somehow familiar,A he said* AThey doB %ow interestin.*A A0'm almost -ositive 0've heard those names before somewhere* 0sn't that ;ueerB 2aybe it was in the news-a-ers* They weren't famous in any way, were theyB 0 mean famous cricketers or footballers or somethin. like thatBA A$amous,A she said, settin. the tea-tray down on the low table in front of the sofa* A#h no, 0 don't think they were famous* 6ut they were e7traordinarily handsome, both of them, 0 can -romise you that* They were tall and youn. and handsome, my dear, 9ust e7actly like you*A #nce more, 6illy .lanced down at the book* A!ook here, he said, noticin. the dates* This last entry is over two years old*A A0t isBA A>es, indeed* nd Christo-her 2ulholland's is nearly a year before that-more than three >ears a.o*A ADear me,A she said, shakin. her head and heavin. a dainty little si.h* A0 would never have thou.ht it* %ow time does fly away from us all, doesn't it, 2r +ilkinsBA A0t's +eaver,A 6illy said* A+-e-a-v-e-r*A A#h, of course it isFA she cried, sittin. down on the sofa* A%ow silly of me* 0 do a-olo.i,e* 0n one ear and out the other, that's me, 2r +eaver*A A>ou know somethin.BA 6illy said* ASomethin. that's really ;uite e7traordinary about all thisBA A'o, dear, 0 don't*A A+ell, you see both of these names, 2ulholland and Tem-le, 0 not only seem to remember each of them se-arately, so to s-eak, but somehow or other, in some -eculiar way, they both a--ear to be sort of connected to.ether as well* s thou.h they were both famous for the same sort of thin., if you see what 0 mean--like-like Dem-sey and Tunney, for e7am-le, or Churchill and Roosevelt*A A%ow amusin.,A she said* A6ut come over here now, dear, and sit down beside me on the sofa and 0'll .ive you a nice cu- of tea and a .in.er biscuit before you .o to bed*A A>ou really shouldn't bother,A 6illy said* A0 didn't mean you to do anythin. like that*A %e stood by the -iano, watchin. her as she fussed about with the cu-s and saucers* %e noticed that she had small, white, ;uickly movin. hands, and red fin.er-nails* A0'm almost -ositive it was in the news-a-ers 0 saw them,A 6illy said* A0'll think of it in a second* 0'm sure 0 will*A There is nothin. more tantali,in. than a thin. like this which lin.ers 9ust outside the borders of one's memory* %e hated to .ive u-* A'ow wait a minute,A he said* A+ait 9ust a minute* 2uiholland***Christo-her 2uiholland***wasn't that the name of the "ton schoolboy who was on a walkin.-tour throu.h the +est Country, and then all of a sudden A2ilkBA she said* A nd su.arBA A>es, -lease* nd then all of a sudden A"ton schoolboyBA she said* A#h no,

my dear, that can't -ossibly be ri.ht because my 2r 2uiholland was certainly not an "ton schoolboy when he came to me* %e was a Cambrid.e under.raduate* Come over here now and sit ne7t to me and warm yourself in front of this lovely fire* Come on* >our tea's all ready for you*A She -atted the em-ty -lace beside her on the sofa, and she sat there smilin. at 6illy and waitin. for him to come over* %e crossed the room slowly, and sat down on the ed.e of the sofa* She -laced his teacu- on the table in front of him* AThere we are,A she said* A%ow nice and cosy this is, isn't itBA 6illy started si--in. his tea* She did the same* $or half a minute or so, neither of them s-oke* 6ut 6illy knew that she was lookin. at him* %er body was half-turned towards him, and he could feel her eyes restin. on his face, watchin. him over the rim of her teacu-* 'ow and a.ain, he cau.ht a whiff of a -eculiar smell that seemed to emanate directly from her -erson* 0t was not it, the least un-leasant, and it reminded him well, he wasn't ;uite sure what it reminded him of )ickled walnutsB 'ew leatherB #r was it the corridors of a hos-italB A2r 2ulholland was a .reat one for his tea,A she said at len.th* A'ever in my life have 0 seen anyone drink as much tea as dear, sweet 2r 2uiholland*A A0 su--ose he left fairly recently,A 6illy said* %e was still -u,,lin. his head about the two names* %e was -ositive now that he had seen them in the news-a-ers in the headlines* A!eftBA she said, archin. her brows* A6ut my dear boy, he never left* %e's still here* 2r Tem-le is also here* They're on the third floor, both of them to.ether*A 6illy set down his cu- slowly on the table, and stared at his landlady* She smiled back at him, and then she -ut out one of her white hands and -atted him comfortin.ly on the knee* A%ow old are you, my dearBA she asked* ASeventeen*A ASeventeenFA she cried* A#h, it's the -erfect a.eF 2r 2ulholland was also seventeen* 6ut 0 think he was a trifle shorter than you are, in fact 0'm sure he was, and his teeth weren't ;uite so white* >ou have the most beautiful teeth, 2r +eaver, did you know thatBA AThey're not as .ood as they look,A 6illy said* AThey've .ot sim-ly masses of fillin.s in them at the back*A A2r Tem-le, of course, was a little older,A she said, i.norin. his remark* A%e was actually twenty-ei.ht* nd yet 0 never would have .uessed it if he hadn't told me, never in my whole life* There wasn't a blemish on his body*A A whatBA 6illy said* A%is skin was 9ust like a baby's*A There was a -ause* 6illy -icked u- his teacu- and took another si- of his tea, then he set it down a.ain .ently in its saucer* %e waited for her to say somethin. else, but she seemed to have la-sed into another of her silences %e sat there starin. strai.ht ahead of him into the far corner of the room, bitin. his lower li-* AThat -arrot,A he said at last* A>ou know somethin.B 0t had me com-letely fooled when 0 first saw it throu.h the window from the street* 0 could have sworn it was alive*A A las, no lon.er*A A0t's most terribly clever the way it's been done,A he said* A0t doesn't look in the least bit dead* +ho did itBA A0 did*A A>ou didBA A#f course,A she said* A nd have you met my little 6asil as wellBA She nodded towards the dachshund curled u- so comfortably in front of the fire* 6illy looked at it* nd suddenly, he reali,ed that this animal had all the time been 9ust as silent and motionless as the -arrot* %e -ut out a hand and touched it .ently on the to- of its back* The back was hard and cold, and when he -ushed the hair to one side with his fin.ers, he could see the skin underneath, .reyish-black and dry and -erfectly -reserved*

A:ood .racious me,A he said* A%ow absolutely fascinatin.*A %e turned away from the do. and stared with dee- admiration at the little woman beside him on the sofa* A0t must be most awfully difficult to do a thin. like that*A A'ot in the least,A she said* A0 stuff all my little -ets myself when they -ass away* +ill you have another cu- of teaBA A'o, thank you,A 6illy said* The tea tasted faintly of bitter almonds, and he didn't much care for it* A>ou did si.n the book, didn't youBA A#h, yes*A AThat's .ood* 6ecause later on, if 0 ha--en to for.et what you were called, then 0 can always come down here and look it u-* 0 still do that almost every day with 2r 2ulholland and 2r--A ATem-le,A 6illy said* A:re.ory Tem-le* "7cuse my askin., but haven't there been any other .uests here e7ce-t them in the last two or three yearsBA %oldin. her teacu- hi.h in one hand, inclinin. her head sli.htly to the left, she looked u- at him out of the corners of her eyes and .ave him another .entle little smile* A'o, my dear,A she said* A#nly you*A

+illiam and 2ary

+0!!0 2 )" R! did not leave a .reat deal of money when he died, and his will was a sim-le one* +ith the e7ce-tion of a few small be;uests to relatives, he left all his -ro-erty to his wife* The solicitor and 2rs )earl went over it to.ether in the solicitor's office, and when the business was com-leted, the widow .ot u- to leave* t that -oint, the solicitor took a sealed envelo-e from the folder on his desk and held it out to his client* A0 have been instructed to .ive you this,A he said* A>our husband sent it to us shortly before he -assed away*A The solicitor was -ale and -rim, and out of res-ect for a widow he ke-t his head on one side as he s-oke, lookin. downward* A0t a--ears that it mi.ht be somethin. -ersonal, 2rs )earl* 'o doubt you'd like to take it home with you and read it in -rivacy*A 2rs )earl acce-ted the envelo-e and went out into the street* She -aused on the -avement, feelin. the thin. with her fin.ers* letter of farewell from +illiamB )robably, yes* formal letter* 0t was bound to be formal--stiff and formal* The man was inca-able of actin. otherwise* %e had never done anythin. informal in his life* 2y dear 2ary, 0 trust that you will not -ermit my de-arture from this world to u-set you too much, but that you will continue to observe those -rece-ts which have .uided you so well durin. our -artnershi- to.ether* 6e dili.ent and di.nified in all thin.s* 6e thrifty with your money* 6e very careful that you do not--** et cetera, et cetera* ty-ical +illiam letter* #r was it -ossible that he mi.ht have broken down at the last moment and written her somethin. beautifulB 2aybe this was a beautiful tender messa.e, a sort of love letter, a lovely warm note of thanks to her for .ivin. him thirty years of her life and for ironin. a million shirts and cookin. a million meals and makin. a million beds, somethin. that she could read over and over a.ain, once a day at least, and she would kee- it for ever in the bo7 on the dressin.-table to.ether with her brooches*

There is no knowin. what -eo-le will do when they are about to die, 2rs )earl told herself, and she tucked the envelo-e under her arm and hurried home* She let herself in the front door and went strai.ht to the livin.-room and sat down on the sofa without removin. her hat or coat* Then she o-ened the envelo-e and drew out the contents* These consisted, she saw, of some fifteen or twenty sheets of lined white -a-er, folded over once and held to.ether at the toleft-hand corner by a cli-* "ach sheet was covered with the small, neat, forwardslo-in. writin. that she knew so well, but when she noticed how much of it there was, and in what a neat businesslike manner it was written, and how the first -a.e didn't even be.in in the nice way a letter should, she be.an to .et sus-icious* She looked away* She lit herself a ci.arette* She took one -uff and laid the ci.arette in the ashtray* 0f this is about what 0 am be.innin. to sus-ect it is about, she told herself, then 0 don't want to read it* Can one refuse to read a letter from the deadB >es* +ell*** She .lanced over at +illiam's em-ty chair on the other side of the fire-lace* 0t was a bi. brown leather armchair, and there was a de-ression on the seat of it, made by his buttocks over the years* %i.her u-, on the backrest, there was a dark oval stain on the leather where his head had rested* %e used to sit readin. in that chair and she would be o--osite him on the sofa, sewin. on buttons or mendin. socks or -uttin. a -atch on the elbow of one of his 9ackets, and every now and then a -air of eyes would .lance u- from the book and settle on her, watchful, but stran.ely im-ersonal, as if calculatin. somethin.* She had never liked those eyes* They were ice blue, cold, small, and rather close to.ether, with two dee- vertical lines of disa--roval dividin. them* ll her life they had been watchin. her* nd even now, after a week alone in the house, she sometimes had an uneasy feelin. that they were still there, followin. her around, starin. at her from doorways, from em-ty chairs, throu.h a window at ni.ht* Slowly she reached into her handba. and took out her s-ectacles and -ut them on* Then, holdin. the -a.es u- hi.h in front of her so that they cau.ht the late afternoon li.ht from the window behind, she started to readH This note, my dear 2ary, is entirely for you, and will be .iven you shortly after 0 am .one* Do not be alarmed by the si.ht of all this writin.* 0t is nothin. but an attem-t on my -art to e7-lain to you -recisely what !andy is .oin. to do to me, and why 0 have a.reed that he should do it, and what are his theories and his ho-es* >ou are my wife and you have a ri.ht to know these thin.s* 0n fact you must know them* Durin. the -ast few days, 0 have tried very hard to s-eak with you about !andy, but you have steadfastly refused to .ive me a hearin.* This, as 0 have already told you, is a very foolish attitude to take, and 0 find it not entirely an unselfish one either* 0t stems mostly from i.norance, and 0 am absolutely convinced that if only you were made aware of all the facts, you would immediately Achan.e your view* That is why 0 am ho-in. that when 0 am no lon.er with you, and your mind is less distracted, you will consent to listen to me more carefully throu.h these -a.es* 0 swear to you that when you have read my story, your sense of anti-athy will vanish, and enthusiasm will take its -lace* 0 even dare to ho-e that you will become a little -roud of what 0 have done* s you read on, you must for.ive me, if you will, for the coolness of my style, but this is the only way 0 know of .ettin. my messa.e over to you clearly* >ou see, as my time draws near, it is natural that 0 be.in to brim with every kind of sentimentality under the sun* "ach day 0 .row more e7trava.antly wistful, es-ecially in the evenin.s, and unless 0 watch myself closely my emotions will be overflowin. on to these -a.es* 0 have a wish, for e7am-le, to write somethin. about you and what a satisfactory wife you have been to me throu.h the years and am -romisin. myself that if there is time, and 0 still have the stren.th, 0 shall do that ne7t* 0 have a yearnin. also to s-eak about this #7ford of mine where 0 have been

livin. and teachin. for the -ast seventeen years, to tell somethin. about the .lory of the -lace and to e7-lain, if 0 can, a little of what it has meant to have been allowed to work in its midst* ll the thin.s and -laces that 0 loved so well kee- crowdin. in on me now in this .loomy bedroom* They are bri.ht and beautiful as they always were, and today, for some reason, 0 can see them more clearly than ever* The -ath around the lake in the .ardens of +orcester Colle.e, where !ovelace used to walk* The .ateway at )embroke* The view westward over the town from 2a.dalen Tower* The .reat hail at Christchurch* The little rockery at St Gohn's where 0 have counted more than a do,en varieties of cam-anula, includin. the rare and dainty C* +aldsteiniana* 6ut there, you seeF 0 haven't even be.un and already 0'm fallin. into the tra-* So let me .et started nowE and let you read it slowly, my dear, without any of that sense of sorrow or disa--roval that mi.ht otherwise embarrass your understandin.* )romise me now that you will read it slowly, and that you will -ut yourself in a cool and -atient frame of mind before you be.in* The details of the illness that struck me down so suddenly in my middle life are known to you* 0 need not waste time u-on them--e7ce-t to admit at once how foolish 0 was not to have .one earlier to my doctor* Cancer is one of the few remainin. diseases that these modern dru.s cannot cure* sur.eon can o-erate if it has not s-read too farE but with me, not only did 0 leave it too late, but the thin. had the effrontery to attack me in the -ancreas, makin. both sur.ery and survival e;ually im-ossible* So here 0 was with somewhere between one and si7 months left to live, .rowin. more melancholy every hour--and then, all of a sudden, in comes !andy* That was si7 weeks a.o, on a Tuesday mornin., very early, lon. before your visitin. time, and the moment he entered 0 knew there was some sort of madness in the wind* %e didn't cree- in on his toes, shee-ish and embarrassed, not knowin. what to say, like all my other visitors* %e came in stron. and smilin., and he strode u- to the bed and stood there lookin. down at me with a wild bri.ht .limmer in his eyes, and he said, A+illiam, my boy, this is -erfect* >ou're 9ust the one 0 wantFA )erha-s 0 should e7-lain to you here that althou.h Gohn !andy has never been to our house, and you have seldom if ever met him, 0 myself have been friendly with him for at least nine years* 0 am, of course, -rimarily a teacher of -hiloso-hy, but as you know 0've lately been dabblin. a .ood deal in -sycholo.y as well* !andy's interests and mine have therefore sli.htly overla--ed* %e is a ma.nificent neuro-sur.eon, one of the finest, and recently he has been kind enou.h to let me study the results of some of his work, es-ecially the varyin. effects of -refrontal lobotomies u-on different ty-es of -sycho-ath* So you can see that when he suddenly burst in on me that Tuesday mornin., we were by no means stran.ers to one another* A!ook,A he said, -ullin. u- a chair beside the bed* A0n a few weeks you're .oin. to be dead* CorrectBA Comin. from !andy, the ;uestion didn't seem es-ecially unkind* 0n a way it was refreshin. to have a visitor brave enou.h to touch u-on the forbidden sub9ect* A>ou're .oin. to e7-ire ri.ht here in this room, and then they'll take you out and cremate you*A A6ury me,A 0 said* AThat's even worse* nd then whatB Do you believe you'll .o to heavenBA A0 doubt it,A 0 said, Athou.h it would be comfortin. to think so*A A#r hell, -erha-sBA A0 don't really see why they should send me there*A A>ou never know, my dear +illiam*A A+hat's all this aboutBA 0 asked* A+ell,A he said, and 0 could see him watchin. me carefully, A-ersonally, 0 don't believe that after you're dead you'll ever hear of yourself a.ain-unless**** A and here he -aused and smiled and leaned closer unless, of course, you have the sense to -ut yourself into my hands* +ould you care to consider a -ro-ositionBA((((

The way he was starin. at me, and studyin. me, and a--raisin. me with a ;ueer kind of hun.riness, 0 mi.ht have been a -iece of -rime beef on the counter and he had bou.ht it and was waitin. for them to wra- it u-* A0'm really serious about it, +illiam* +ould you care to consider a -ro-ositionBA A0 don't know what you're talkin. about*A AThen listen and 0'll tell you* +ill you listen to meBA A:o on then, if you like* 0 doubt 0've .ot very much to lose by hearin. it*A A#n the contrary, you have a .reat deal to .ain-es-ecially after you're dead*A 0 am sure he was e7-ectin. me to 9um- when he said this, but for some reason 0 was ready for t* 0 lay ;uite still, watchin. his face and that slow white smile of his that always revealed the .old clas- on an u--er denture curled around the canine on the left side of his mouth* AThis is a thin., +illiam, that 0've been workin. on ;uietly for some years* #ne or two others here at the hos-ital have been hel-in. me es-ecially 2orrison, and we've com-leted a number of fairly successful trials with laboratory animals* 0'm at the sta.e now where 0'm ready to have a .o with a man* 0t's a bi. idea, and it may sound a bit far-fetched at first, but from a sur.ical -oint of view there doesn't seem to be any reason why it shouldn't be more or less -racticable*A !andy leaned forward and -laced both hands on the ed.e of my bed* %e has a .ood face, handsome in a bony sort of way, with none of the usual doctor's look about it* >ou know that look, most of them have it* 0t .limmers at you out of their eyeballs like a dull electric si.n and it reads #nly 0 can save you* 6ut Gohn !andy's eyes were wide and bri.ht and little s-arks of e7citement were dancin. in the centres of them* AIuite a lon. time a.o,A he said, A0 saw a short medical film that had been brou.ht over from Russia* 0t was a rather .ruesome thin., but interestin.* 0t showed a do.'s head com-letely severed from the body, but with the normal blood su--ly bein. maintained throu.h the arteries and veins by means of an artificial heart* 'ow the thin. is thisH that do.'s head, sittin. there all alone on a sort of tray, was alive* The brain was functionin.* They -roved it by several tests* $or e7am-le, when food was smeared on the do.'s li-s, the ton.ue would come out and lick it awayH and the eyes would follow a -erson movin. across the room* A0t seemed reasonable to conclude from this that the head and the brain did not need to be attached to the rest of the body in order to remain alive -rovided, of course, that a su--ly of -ro-erly o7y.enated blood could be maintained* A'ow then* 2y own thou.ht, which .rew out of seein. this film, was to remove the brain from the skull of a human and kee- it alive and functionin. as an inde-endent unit for an unlimited -eriod after he is dead* >our brain, for e7am-le, after you are dead*A A0 don't like that,A 0 said* ADon't interru-t, +illiam* !et me finish* So far as 0 can tell from subse;uent e7-eriments, the brain is a -eculiarly self-su--ortin. ob9ect* 0t manufactures its own cerebros-inal fluid* The ma.ic -rocesses of thou.ht and memory which .o on inside it are manifestly not im-aired by the absence of limbs or trunk or even of skull, -rovided, as 0 say, that you kee- -um-in. in the ri.ht kind of o7y.enated blood under the -ro-er conditions* A2y dear +illiam, 9ust think for a moment of your own brain* 0t is in -erfect sha-e* 0t is crammed full of a lifetime of learnin.* 0t has taken you years of work to make it what it is* 0t is 9ust be.innin. to .ive out some firstrate ori.inal ideas* >et soon it is .oin. to have to die alon. with the rest of your body sim-ly because your silly little -ancreas is riddled with cancer*A A'o thank you,A 0 said to him* A>ou can sto- there* 0t's a re-ulsive idea, and even if you could do it, which 0 doubt, it would be ;uite -ointless* +hat -ossible use is there in kee-in. my brain alive if 0 couldn't talk or see or hear or feelB )ersonally, 0 can think of nothin. more un-leasant*A A0 believe that you would be able to communicate with us,A !andy said* A nd

we mi.ht even succeed in .ivin. you a certain amount of vision* 6ut let's take this slowly* 0'll come to all that later on* The fact remains that you're .oin. to die fairly soon whatever ha--ensE and my -lans would not involve touchin. you at all until after you are dead* Come now, +illiam* 'o true -hiloso-her could ob9ect to lendin. his dead body to the cause of science*A AThat's not -uttin. it ;uite strai.ht,A 0 answered* A0t seems to me there'd be some doubts as to whether 0 were dead or alive by the time you'd finished with me*A A+ell,A he said, smilin. a little, A0 su--ose you're ri.ht about that* 6ut 0 don't think you ou.ht to turn me down ;uite so ;uickly, before you know a bit more about it*A A0 said 0 don't want to hear it*A A%ave a ci.arette,A he said, holdin. out his case* A0 don't smoke, you know that*A %e took one himself and lit it with a tiny silver li.hter that was no bi..er than a shillin. -iece* A -resent from the -eo-le who make my instruments,A he said* A0n.enious, isn't itBA 0 e7amined the li.hter, then handed it back* A2ay 0 .o onBA he asked* A0'd rather you didn't*A AGust lie still and listen* 0 think you'll find it ;uite interestin.*A There were some blue .ra-es on a -late beside my bed* 0 -ut the -late on my chest and be.an eatin. the .ra-es* A t the very moment of death,A !andy said, A0 should have to be standin. by so that 0 could ste- in immediately and try to kee- your brain alive*A A>ou mean leavin. it in the headBA ATo start with, yes* 0'd have to*A A nd where would you -ut it after thatBA A0f you want to know, in a sort of basin*A A re you really serious about thisBA ACertainly 0'm serious*A A ll ri.ht* :o on*A A0 su--ose you know that when the heart sto-s and the brain is de-rived of fresh blood and o7y.en, its tissues die very ra-idly* nythin. from four to si7 minutes and the whole thin.'s dead* "ven after three minutes you may .et a certain amount of dama.e* So 0 should have to work ra-idly to -revent this from ha--enin.* 6ut with the hel- of the machine, it should all be ;uite sim-le*A A+hat machineBA AThe artificial heart* +e've .ot a nice ada-tation here of the one ori.inally devised by le7is Carrel and !indber.h* 0t o7y.enates the blood, kee-s it at the ri.ht tem-erature, -um-s it in at the ri.ht -ressure, and does a number of other little necessary thin.s* 0t's really not at all com-licated*A ATell me what you would do at the moment of death,A 0 said* A+hat is the first thin. you would doBA ADo you know anythin. about the vascular and venous arran.ement of the brainBA A'o* AThen listen* 0t's not difficult* The blood su--ly to the brain is derived from two main sources, the internal carotid arteries and the vertebral arteries* There are two of each, makin. four arteries in all* :ot thatBA A>es*A A nd the return system is even sim-ler* The blood is drained away by only two lar.e veins, the internal 9u.ulars* So you have four arteries .oin. u---they .o u- the neck of course and two veins comin. down* round the brain itself they naturally branch out into other channels, but those don't concern us* +e never touch them*A A ll ri.ht,A 0 said* A0ma.ine that 0've 9ust died* 'ow what would you doBA A0 should immediately o-en your neck and locate the four arteries, the

carotids and the vertebrals* 0 should then -erfuse them, which means that 0'd stick a lar.e hollow needle into each* These four needles would be connected by tubes to the artificial heart* AThen, workin. ;uickly, 0 would dissect out both the left and ri.ht 9u.ular veins and hitch these also to the heart machine to com-lete the circuit* 'ow switch on the machine, which is already -rimed with the ri.ht ty-e of blood and there you are* The circulation throu.h your brain would be restored*A A0'd be like that Russian do.*A A0 don't think you would* $or one thin., you'd certainly lose consciousness when you died, and 0 very much doubt whether you would come to a.ain for ;uite a lon. time--if indeed you came to at all* 6ut, conscious or not, you'd be in a rather interestin. -osition, wouldn't youB >ou'd have a cold dead body and a livin. brain*A !andy -aused to savour this deli.htful -ros-ect* The man was so entranced and bemused by the whole idea that he evidently found it im-ossible to believe 0 mi.ht not be feelin. the same way* A+e could now afford to take our time,A he said* A nd believe me, we'd need it* The first thin. we'd do would be to wheel you to the o-eratin.-room, accom-anied of course by the machine, which must never sto- -um-in.* The ne7t -roblem**** A ll ri.ht,A 0 said* AThat's enou.h* 0 don't have to hear the details*A A#h but you must,A he said* A0t is im-ortant that you should know -recisely what is .oin. to ha--en to you all the way throu.h* >ou see, afterwards, when you re.ain consciousness, it will be much more satisfactory from your -oint of view if you are able to remember e7actly where you are and how you came to be there* 0f only for your own -eace of mind you should know that* >ou a.reeBA 0 lay still on the bed, watchin. him* ASo the ne7t -roblem would be to remove your brain, intact and undama.ed, from your dead body* The body is useless* 0n fact it has already started to decay* The skull and the face are also useless* They are both encumbrances and 0 don't want them around* ll 0 want is the brain, the clean beautiful brain, alive and -erfect* So when 0 .et you on the table 0 will take a saw, a small oscillatin. saw, and with this 0 shall -roceed to remove the whole vault of your skull* >ou'd still be unconscious at that -oint so 0 wouldn't have to bother with anaesthetic*A A!ike hell, you wouldn't,A 0 said* A>ou'd be out cold, 0 -romise you that, +illiam* Don't for.et you died 9ust a few minutes before*A A'obody's sawin. off the to- of my skull without an anaesthetic,A 0 said* !andy shru..ed his shoulders* A0t makes no difference to me,A he said* A0'll be .lad to .ive you a little -rocaine if you want it* 0f it will make you any ha--ier 0'll infiltrate the whole scal- with -rocaine, the whole head, from the neck u-*A AThanks very much,A 0 said* A>ou know,A he went on, Ait's e7traordinary what sometimes ha--ens* #nly last week a man was brou.ht in unconscious, and 0 o-ened his head without any anaesthetic at all and removed a small blood clot* 0 was still workin. inside the skull when he woke u- and be.an talkin.* A+here am 0B' he asked* A>ou're in hos-ital*' A+ell,' he said* A$ancy that*' ATell me,' 0 asked him, Ais this botherin. you, what 0'm doin.B' A'o,' he answered* A'ot at all* +hat are you doin.B' A0'm 9ust removin. a blood clot from your brain*' A>ou areB' AGust lie still* Don't move, 0'm nearly finished*' ASo that's the bastard who's been .ivin. me all those headaches,' the man said*A !andy -aused and smiled, rememberin. the occasion* AThat's word for word

what the man said,A he went on, Aalthou.h the ne7t day he couldn't even recollect the incident* 0t's a funny thin., the brain*A A0'll have the -rocaine,A 0 said* A s you wish, +illiam* nd now, as 0 say, 0'd take a small oscillatin. saw and carefully remove your com-lete calvarium--the whole vault of the skull* This would e7-ose the to- half of the brain, or rather the outer coverin. in which it is wra--ed* >ou may or may not know that there are three se-arate coverin.s around the brain itself the outer one called the dura mater or dura, the middle one called the arachnoid, and the inner one called the -ia mater or -ia* 2ost laymen seem to have the idea that the brain is a naked thin. floatin. around in fluid in your head* 6ut it isn't* 0t's wra--ed u- neatly in these three stron. coverin.s, and the cerebros-inal fluid actually flows within the little .a- between the two coverin.s, known as the subarachnoid s-ace* s 0 told you before, this fluid is manufactured by the brain and it drains off into the venous system by osmosis* A0 myself would leave all three coverin.s--don't they have lovely names, the dura, the arachnoid, and the -iaB--0'd leave them all intact* There are many reasons for this, not least amon. them bein. the fact that within the dura run the venous channels that drain the blood from the brain into the 9u.ular* A'ow,A he went on, Awe've .ot the u--er half of your skull off so that the to- of the brain, wra--ed in its outer coverin., is e7-osed* The ne7t ste- is the really tricky oneH to release the whole -acka.e so that it can be lifted cleanly away, leavin. the stubs of the four su--ly arteries and the two veins han.in. underneath ready to be re-connected to the machine* This is an immensely len.thy and com-licated business involvin. the delicate chi--in. away of much bone, the severin. of many nerves, and the cuttin. and tyin. of numerous blood vessels* The only way 0 could do it with any ho-e of success would be by takin. a ron.eur and slowly bitin. off the rest of your skull, -eelin. it off downward like an oran.e until the sides and underneath of the brain coverin. are fully e7-osed* The -roblems involved are hi.hly technical and 0 won't .o into them but 0 feel fairly sure that the work can be done* 0t's sim-ly a ;uestion of sur.ical skill and -atience* nd don't for.et that 0'd have -lenty of time, as much as 0 wanted, because the artificial heart would be continually -um-in. away alon.side the o-eratin.-table, kee-in. the brain alive* A'ow, let's assume that 0've succeeded in -eelin. off your skull and removin. everythin. else that surrounds the sides of the brain* That leaves it connected to the body only at the base, mainly by the s-inal column and by the two lar.e veins and the four arteries that are su--lyin. it with blood* So what ne7tB A0 would sever the s-inal column 9ust above the first cervical vertebra, takin. .reat care not to harm the two vertebral arteries which are in that area* 6ut you must remember that the dura or outer coverin. is o-en at this -lace to receive the s-inal column, so 0'd have to close this o-enin. by sewin. the ed.es of the dura to.ether* There'd be no -roblem there* A t this -oint, 0 would be ready for the final move* To one side, on a table, 0'd have a basin of a s-ecial sha-e, and this would be filled with what we call Rin.er's Solution* That is a s-ecial kind of fluid we use for irri.ation in neurosur.ery* 0 would now cut the brain com-letely loose by severin. the su--ly arteries and the veins* Then 0 would sim-ly -ick it u- in my hands and transfer it to the basin* This would be the only other time durin. the whole -roceedin. when the blood flow would be cut offH but once it was in the basin, it wouldn't take a moment to reconnect the stubs of the arteries and veins to the artificial heart* ASo there you are,A !andy said* A>our brain is now in the basin, and still alive, and there isn't any reason why it shouldn't stay alive for a very lon. time, years and years -erha-s, -rovided we looked after the blood and the machine*A A6ut would it functionBA A2y dear +illiam, how should 0 knowB 0 can't even tell you whether it would re.ain consciousness*A

A nd if it didBA AThere nowF That would be fascinatin.FA A+ould itBA 0 said, and 0 must admit 0 had my doubts* A#f course it wouldF !yin. there with all your thinkin. -rocesses workin. beautifully, and your memory as well*** A nd not bein. able to see or feel or smell or hear or talk,A 0 said*(((( A hFA he cried* A0 knew 0'd for.otten somethin.F 0 never told you about the eye* !isten* 0 am .oin. to try to leave one of your o-tic nerves intact, as well as the eye itself* The o-tic nerve is a little thin. about the thickness of a clinical thermometer and about two inches in len.th as it stretches between the brain and the eye* The beauty of it is that it's not really a nerve at all* 0t's an out-ouchin. of the brain itself, and the dura or brain coverin. e7tends alon. it and is attached to the eyeball* The back of the eye is therefore in very close contact with the brain, and cerebros-inal fluid flows ri.ht u- to it* A ll this suits my -ur-ose very well, and makes it reasonable to su--ose that 0 could succeed in -reservin. one of your eyes* 0've already constructed a small -lastic case to contain the eyeball, instead of your own socket, and when the brain is in the basin, submer.ed in Rin.er's Solution, the eyeball in its case will float on the surface of the li;uid*A AStarin. at the ceilin.,A 0 said* A0 su--ose so, yes* 0'm afraid there wouldn't be any muscles there to move it around* 6ut it mi.ht be sort of fun to lie there so ;uietly and comfortably -eerin. out at the world from your basin*A A%ilarious,A 0 said* A%ow about leavin. me an ear as wellBA A0'd rather not try an ear this time*A A0 want an ear,A 0 said* A0 insist u-on an ear*A A'o*,' A0 want to listen to 6ach*A A>ou don't understand how difficult it would be,A !andy said .ently* AThe hearin. a--aratus--the cochlea, as it's called, is a far more delicate mechanism than the eye* +hat's more, it is encased in bone* So is a -art of the auditory nerve that connects it with the brain* 0 couldn't -ossibly chisel the whole thin. out intact*A ACouldn't you leave it encased in the bone and brin. the bone to the basinBA A'o,A he said firmly* AThis thin. is com-licated enou.h already* nd anyway, if the eye works, it doesn't matter all that much about your hearin.* +e can always hold u- messa.es for you to read* >ou really must leave me to decide what is -ossible and what isn't*A A0 haven't yet said that 0'm .oin. to do it*A A0 know, +illiam, 0 know*A A0'm not sure 0 fancy the idea very much*A A+ould you rather be dead alto.etherBA A)erha-s 0 would* 0 don't know yet* 0 wouldn't be able to talk, would 0BA A#f course not*A AThen how would 0 communicate with youB %ow would you know that 0'm consciousBA A0t would be easy for us to know whether or not you re.ain consciousness,A !andy said* AThe ordinary electro-ence-halo.ra-h could tell us that* +e'd attach the electrodes directly to the frontal lobes of your brain, there in the basin*A A nd you could actually tellBA A#h, definitely* ny hos-ital could do that -an of it*A A6ut 0 couldn't communicate with you*A A s a matter of fact,A !andy said, A0 believe you could* There's a man u- in !ondon called +ertheimer who's doin. some interestin. work on the sub9ect of thou.ht communication, and 0've been in touch with him* >ou know, don't you, that the thinkin. brain throws off electrical and chemical dischar.esB nd that these dischar.es .o out in the form of waves, rather like radio wavesBA

A0 know a bit about it,A 0 said* A+ell, +ertheimer has constructed an a--aratus somewhat similar to the ence-halo.ra-h, thou.h far more sensitive, and he maintains that within certain narrow limits it can hel- him to inter-ret the actual thin.s that a brain is thinkin.* 0t -roduces a kind of .ra-h which is a--arently deci-herable into words or thou.hts* +ould you like me to ask +ertheimer to come and see youBA A'o,A 0 said* !andy was already takin. it for .ranted that 0 was .oin. to .o throu.h with this business, and 0 resented his attitude* A:o away now and leave me alone,A 0 told him* A>ou won't .et anywhere by tryin. to rush me*A %e stood u- at once and crossed to the door* A#ne ;uestion,A 0 said* %e -aused with a hand on the doorknob* A>es, +illiamBA ASim-ly this* Do you yourself honestly believe that when my brain is in that basin, my mind will be able to function e7actly as it is doin. at -resentB Do you believe that 0 will be able to think and reason as 0 can nowB nd will the -ower of memory remainBA A0 don't see why not,A he answered* A0t's the same brain* 0t's alive* 0t's undama.ed* 0n fact, it's com-letely untouched* +e haven't even o-ened the dura* The bi. difference, of course, would be that we've severed every sin.le nerve that leads into it--e7ce-t for the one o-tic nerve--and this means that your thinkin. would no lon.er be influenced by your senses* >ou'd be livin. in an e7traordinary -ure and detached world* 'othin. to bother you at all, not even -ain* >ou couldn't -ossibly feel -ain because there wouldn't be any nerves to feel it with* 0n a way, it would be an almost -erfect situation* 'o worries or fears or -ains or hun.er or thirst* 'ot even any desires* Gust your memories and your thou.hts and if the remainin. eye ha--ened to function, then you could read books as well* 0t all sounds rather -leasant to me*A A0t does, does itBA A>es, +illiam, it does* nd -articularly for a Doctor of )hiloso-hy* 0t would be a tremendous e7-erience* >ou'd be able to reflect u-on the ways of the world with a detachment and a serenity that no man had ever attained before* nd who knows what mi.ht not ha--en thenF :reat thou.hts and solutions mi.ht come to you, .reat ideas that could revolutioni,e our way of lifeF Try to ima.ine, if you can, the de.ree of concentration that you'd be able to achieveFA A nd the frustration,A 0 said* A'onsense* There couldn't be any frustration* >ou can't have frustration without desire, and you couldn't -ossibly have any desire* 'ot -hysical desire, anyway*A A0 should certainly be ca-able of rememberin. my -revious life in the world, and 0 mi.ht desire to return to it*A A+hat, to this messF #ut of your comfortable basin and back into this madhouseFA A nswer one more ;uestion,A 0 said* A%ow lon. do you believe you could keeit aliveBA AThe brainB +ho knowsB )ossibly for years and years* The conditions would be ideal* 2ost of the factors that cause deterioration would be absent, thanks to the artificial heart* The blood-ressure would remain constant at all times, an im-ossible condition in real life* The tem-erature would also be constant* The chemical com-osition of the blood would be near -erfect* There would be no im-urities in it, or virus, no bacteria, nothin.* #f course it's foolish to .uess, but 0 believe that a brain mi.ht live for two or three hundred years in circumstances like these* :oodbye for now,A he said* A0'll dro- in and see you tomorrow*A %e went out ;uickly, leavin. me, as you mi.ht .uess, in a fairly disturbed state of mind* 2y immediate reaction after he had .one was one of revulsion towards the whole business* Somehow, it wasn't at all nice* There was somethin. basically re-ulsive about the idea that 0 myself, with all my mental faculties intact, should be reduced to a small slimy blob lyin. in a -ool of water* 0t was

monstrous, obscene, unholy* nother thin. that bothered me was the feelin. of hel-lessness that 0 was bound to e7-erience once !andy had .ot me into the basin* There could be no .oin. back after that, no way of -rotestin. or e7-lainin.* 0 would be committed for as lon. as they could kee- me alive* nd what, for e7am-le, if 0 could not stand itB +hat if it turned out to be terribly -ainfulB +hat if 0 became hystericalB 'o le.s to run away on* 'o voice to scream with* 'othin.* 0'd 9ust have to .rin and bear it for the ne7t two centuries* 'o mouth to .rin with either* t this -oint, a curious thou.ht struck me, and it was thisH Does not a man who has had a le. am-utated often suffer from the delusion that the le. is still thereB Does he not tell the nurse that the toes he doesn't have any more are itchin. like mad, and so on and so forthB 0 seemed to have heard somethin. to that effect ;uite recently* Very well* #n the same -remise, was it not -ossible that my brain, lyin. there alone in that basin, mi.ht not suffer from a similar delusion in re.ard to my bodyB 0n which case, all my usual aches and -ains could come floodin. over me and 0 wouldn't even be able to take an as-irin to relieve them* #ne moment 0 mi.ht be ima.inin. that 0 had the most e7cruciatin. cram- in my le., or a violent indi.estion, and a few minutes later, 0 mi.ht easily .et the feelin. that my -oor bladder--you know me was so full that if 0 didn't .et to em-tyin. it soon it would burst* %eaven forbid* 0 lay there for a lon. time thinkin. these horrid thou.hts* Then ;uite suddenly, round about midday, my mood be.an to chan.e* 0 became less concerned with the un-leasant as-ect of the affair and found myself able to e7amine !andy's -ro-osals in a more reasonable li.ht* +as there not, after all, 0 asked myself, somethin. a bit comfortin. in the thou.ht that my brain mi.ht not necessarily have to die and disa--ear in a few weeks' timeB There was indeed* 0 am rather -roud of my brain* 0t is a sensitive, lucid, and uberous or.an* 0t contains a -rodi.ious store of information, and it is still ca-able of -roducin. ima.inative and ori.inal theories* s brains .o, it is a damn .ood one, thou.h 0 say it myself* +hereas my body, my -oor old body, the thin. that !andy wants to throw away--well, even you, my dear 2ary, will have to a.ree with me that there is really nothin. about that which is worth -reservin. any more* 0 was lyin. on my back eatin. a .ra-e* Delicious it was, and there were three little seeds in it which 0 took out of my mouth and -laced on the ed.e of the -late* A0'm .oin. to do it,A 0 said ;uietly* A>es, by :od, 0'm .oin. to do it* +hen !andy comes back to see me tomorrow 0 shall tell him strai.ht out that 0'm .oin. to do it*A 0t was as ;uick as that* nd from then on, 0 be.an to feel very much better* 0 sur-rised everyone by .obblin. an enormous lunch, and shortly after that you came in to visit me as usual* 6ut how well 0 looked, you told me* %ow bri.ht and well and chir-y* %ad anythin. ha--enedB +as there some .ood newsB >es, 0 said there was* nd then, if you remember, 0 bade you sit down and make yourself comfortable and 0 be.an immediately to e7-lain to you as .ently as 0 could what was in the wind* las, you would have none of t* 0 had hardly be.un tellin. you the barest details when you flew into a fury and said that the thin. was revoltin., dis.ustin., horrible, unthinkable, and when 0 tried to .o on, you marched out of the room* +ell, 2ary, as you know, 0 have tried to discuss this sub9ect with you many times since then, but you have consistently refused to .ive me a hearin.* %ence this note, and 0 can only ho-e that you will have the .ood sense to -ermit yourself to read it* 0t has taken me a lon. time to write* Two weeks have .one since 0 started to scribble the first sentence, and 0'm now a .ood deal weaker

than 0 was then* 0 doubt whether 0 have the stren.th to say much more* Certainly 0 won't say .ood-bye, because there's a chance, 9ust a tiny chance, that if !andy succeeds in his work 0 may actually see you a.ain later, that is if you brin. yourself to come and visit me* 0 am .ivin. orders that these -a.es shall not be delivered to you until a week after 0 am .one* 6y now, therefore, as you sit readin. them, seven days have already ela-sed since !andy did the deed* >ou yourself may even know what the outcome has been* 0f you don't, if you have -ur-osely ke-t yourself a-art and have refused to have anythin. to do with it--which 0 sus-ect may be the case---lease chan.e your mind now and .ive !andy a call to see how thin.s went with me* That is the least you can do* 0 have told him that he may e7-ect to hear from you on the seventh day* >our faithful husband, +illiam 6e .ood when 0 am .one, and always remember that it is harder to be a widow than a wife* Do not drink cocktails* Do not waste money* Do not smoke ci.arettes* Do not eat -astry* Do not use li-stick* Do not buy a television a--aratus* /ee- my rose beds and my rockery well weeded in the summers* nd incidentally 0 su..est that you have the tele-hone disconnected now that 0 shall have no further use for it* 2rs )earl laid the last -a.e of the manuscri-t slowly down on the sofa beside her* %er little mouth was -ursed u- ti.ht and there was a whiteness around her nostrils* 6ut reallyF >ou would think a widow was entitled to a bit of -eace after all these years* The whole thin. was 9ust too awful to think about* 6eastly and awful* 0t .ave her the shudders* She reached for her ba. and found herself another ci.arette* She lit it, inhalin. the smoke dee-ly and blowin. it out in clouds all over the room* Throu.h the smoke she could see her lovely television set, brand new lustrous, hu.e, crouchin. defiantly but also a little selfconsciously on to- of what used to be +illiam's worktable* +hat would he say, she wondered, if he could see that nowB She -aused, to remember the last time he had cau.ht her smokin. a ci.arette* That was about a year a.o, and she was sittin. in the kitchen by the o-en window havin. a ;uick one before he came home from work* She'd had the radio on loud -layin. dance music and she had turned round to -our herself another cu- of coffee and there he was standin. in the doorway, hu.e and .rim, starin. down at her with those awful eyes, a little black dot of fury bla,in. in the centre of each* $or four weeks after that, he had -aid the housekee-in. bills himself and .iven her no money at all, but of course he wasn't to know that she had over si7 -ounds salted away in a soa--flake carton in the cu-board under the sink* A+hat is itBA she had said to him once durin. su--er* A re you worried about me .ettin. lun. cancerBA A0 am not,A he had answered* AThen why can't 0 smokeBA A6ecause 0 disa--rove, that's why*A %e had also disa--roved of children, and as a result they had never had any of them either* +here was he now, this +illiam of hers, the .reat disa--roverB !andy would be e7-ectin. her to call u-* Did she have to call !andyB +ell, not really, no* She finished her ci.arette, then lit another one immediately from the old stub* She looked at the tele-hone that was sittin. on the worktable beside the television set* +illiam had asked her to call* %e had s-ecifically re;uested that she tele-hone !andy as soon as she had read the letter* She hesitated, fi.htin. hard now a.ainst that old in.rained sense of duty that she didn't ;uite yet dare

to shake off* Then, slowly, she .ot to her feet and crossed over to the -hone on the worktable* She found a number in the book, dialled it, and waited* A0 want to s-eak to 2r !andy, -lease*A A+ho is callin.BA A2rs )earl* 2rs +illiam )earl*A A#ne moment, -lease*A lmost at once, !andy was on the the end of the wire* A2rs )earlBA AThis is 2rs )earl*A There was a sli.ht -ause* A0 am so .lad you called at last, 2rs )earl*(((( >ou are ;uite well, 0 ho-eBA The voice was ;uiet, unemotional, courteous* A0 wonder if you would care to come over to the hos-italB Then we can have a little chat* 0 e7-ect you are very ea.er to know how it all came out*A She didn't answer* A0 can tell you now that everythin. went -retty smoothly, one way and another* $ar better, in fact, than 0 was entitled to ho-e* 0t is not only alive, 2rs )earl, it is conscious* 0t recovered consciousness on the second day* 0sn't that interestin.BA She waited for him to .o on* A nd the eye is seein.* +e are sure of that because we .et an immediate chan.e in the deflections on the ence-halo.ra-h when we hold somethin. u- in front of it* nd now we're .ivin. it the news-a-er to read every day*A A+hich news-a-erBA 2rs )earl asked shar-ly* AThe Daily 2irror* The headlines are lar.er*A A%e hates the 2irror* :ive him The Times*A There was a -ause, then the doctor said, AVery well, 2rs )earl* +e'll .ive it The Times* +e naturally want to do all we can to kee- it ha--y*A A%im,A she said* A'ot it* %imFA A%im,A the doctor said* A>es, 0 be. your -ardon* To kee- him ha--y* That's one reason why 0 su..ested you should come alon. here as soon as -ossible* 0 think it would be .ood for him to see you* >ou could indicate how deli.hted you were to be with him a.ain--smile at him and blow him a kiss and all that sort of thin.* 0t's bound to be a comfort to him to know that you are standin. by*A There was a lon. -ause* A+ell,A 2rs )earl said at last, her voice suddenly very meek and tired* A0 su--ose 0 had better come on over and see how he is*A A:ood* 0 knew you would* 0'll wait here for you* Come strai.ht u- to my office on the second floor* :ood-bye*A %alf an hour later, 2rs )earl was at the hos-ital* A>ou mustn't be sur-rised by what he looks like,A !andy said as he walked beside her down a corridor* A'o, 0 won't*A A0t's bound to be a bit of a shock to you at first* %e's not very -re-ossessin. in his -resent state, 0'm afraid*A A0 didn't marry him for his looks, Doctor*A !andy turned and stared at her* +hat a ;ueer little woman this was, he thou.ht with her lar.e eyes and her sullen, resentful air* %er features, which must have been ;uite -leasant once, had now .one com-letely* The mouth was slack, the cheeks loose and flabby, and the whole face .ave the im-ression of havin. slowly but surely sa..ed to -ieces throu.h years and years of 9oyless married life* They walked on for a while in silence* ATake your time when you .et inside,A !andy said* A%e won't know you're in there until you -lace your face directly above his eye* The eye is always o-en, but he can't move it at all, so the field of vision is very narrow* t -resent we have it lookin. u- at the ceilin.* nd of course he can't hear anythin.* +e can talk to.ether as much as we like* 0t's in here*A !andy o-ened a door and ushered her into a small s;uare room*

A0 wouldn't .o too close yet,A he said, -uttin. a hand on her arm* AStay back here a moment with me until you .et used to it all*A There was a bi..ish white enamel bowl about the si,e of a washbasin standin. on a hi.h white table in the centre of the room, and there were half a do,en thin -lastic tubes comin. out of it* These tubes were connected with a whole lot of .lass -i-in. in which you could see the blood flowin. to and from the heart machine* The machine itself made a soft rhythmic -ulsin. sound* A%e's in there,A !andy said, -ointin. to the basin, which was too hi.h for her to see into* ACome 9ust a little closer* 'ot too near*A %e led her two -aces forward* 6y stretchin. her neck, 2rs )earl could now see the surface of the li;uid inside the basin* 0t was clear and still, and on it there floated a small oval ca-sule, about the si,e of a -i.eon's e..* AThat's the eye in there,A !andy said* ACan you see itBA A>es*A ASo far as we can tell, it is still in -erfect condition* 0t's his ri.ht eye, and the -lastic container has a lens on it similar to the one he used in his own s-ectacles* t this moment he's -robably seein. ;uite as well as he did before*A AThe ceilin. isn't much to look at,A 2rs )earl said* ADon't worry about that* +e're in the -rocess of workin. out a whole -ro.ramme to kee- him amused, but we don't want to .o too ;uickly at first*A A:ive him a .ood book*A A+e will, we will* re you feelin. all ri.ht, 2rs )earlBA A>es*A AThen we'll .o forward a little more, shall we, and you'll be able to see the whole thin.*A %e led her forward until they were standin. only a cou-le of yards from the table and now she could see ri.ht down into the basin* AThere you are,A !andy said* AThat's +illiam*A %e was far lar.er than she had ima.ined he would be, and darker in colour* +ith all the rid.es and creases runnin. over his surface, he reminded her of nothin. so much as an enormous -ickled walnut* She could see the stubs of the four bi. arteries and the two veins comin. out from the base of him and the neat way in which they were 9oined to the -lastic tubesE and with each throb of the heart machine, all the tubes .ave a little 9erk in unison as the blood was -ushed throu.h them* A>ou'll have to lean over,A !andy said, Aand -ut your -retty face ri.ht above the eye* %e'll see you then, and you can smile at him and blow him a kiss* 0f 0 were you 0'd say a few nice thin.s as well* %e won't actually hear them, but 0'm sure he'll .et the .eneral idea*A A%e hates -eo-le blowin. kisses at him,A 2rs )earl said* A0'll do it my own way if you don't mind*A She ste--ed u- to the ed.e of the table, leaned forward until her face was directly over the basin, and looked strai.ht down in +illiam's eye* A%allo, dear,A she whis-ered* A0t's me 2ary*A The eye, bri.ht as ever, stared back at her with a -eculiar, fi7ed intensity* A%ow are you, dearBA she said* The -lastic ca-sule was trans-arent all the way round so that the whole of the eyeball was visible* The o-tic nerve connectin. the underside of it to the brain looked a short len.th of .rey s-a.hetti* A re you feelin. all ri.ht, +illiamBA 0t was a ;ueer sensation -eerin. into her husband's eye when there was no face to .o with it* ll she had to look at was the eye, and she ke-t starin. at it, and .radually it .rew bi..er and bi..er, and in the end it was the only thin. that she could see--a sort of face in itself* There was a network of tiny red veins runnin. over the white surface of the eyeball, and in the ice-blue of the

iris there were three or four rather -retty darkish streaks radiatin. from the -u-il in the centre* The -u-il was lar.e and black, with a little s-ark of li.ht reflectin. from one side of it* A0 .ot your letter, dear, and came over at once to see how you were* Dr !andy says you are doin. wonderfully well* )erha-s if 0 talk slowly you can understand a little of what 0 am sayin. by readin. my li-s*A There was no doubt that the eye was watchin. her* AThey are doin. everythin. -ossible to take care of you, dear* This marvellous machine thin. here is -um-in. away all the time and 0'm sure it's a lot better than those silly old hearts all the rest of us have* #urs are liable to break down at any moment, but yours will .o on for ever*A She was studyin. the eye closely, tryin. to discover what there was about it that .ave it such an unusual a--earance* A>ou seem fine, dear, sim-ly fine* Really you do*A 0t looked ever so much nicer, this eye, than either of his eyes used to look, she told herself* There was a softness about it somewhere, a calm, kindly ;uality that she had never seen before* 2aybe it had to do with the dot in the very centre, the -u-il* +illiam's -u-ils used always to be tiny black -inheads* They used to .lint at you, stabbin. into your brain, seein. ri.ht throu.h you, and they always knew at once what you were u- to and even what you were thinkin.* 6ut this one she was lookin. at now was lar.e and soft and .entle, almost cow-like* A re you ;uite sure he's consciousBA she asked, not lookin. u-* A#h yes, com-letely,A !andy said* A nd he can see meBA A)erfectly*A A0sn't that marvellousB 0 e7-ect he's wonderin. what ha--ened*A A'ot at all* %e knows -erfectly well where he is and why he's there* %e can't -ossibly have for.otten that*A A>ou mean he knows he's in this basinBA A#f course* nd if only he had the -ower of s-eech, he would -robably be able to carry on a -erfectly normal conversation with you this very minute* So far as 0 can see, there should be absolutely no difference mentally between this +illiam here and the one you used to know back home*A A:ood .racious me,A 2rs )earl said, and she -aused to consider this intri.uin. as-ect* >ou know what, she told herself, lookin. behind the eye now and starin. hard at the .reat .rey -ul-y walnut that lay so -lacidly under the water, 0'm not at all sure that 0 don't -refer him as he is at -resent* 0n fact, 0 believe that 0 could live very comfortably with this kind of a +illiam* 0 could co-e with this one* AIuiet, isn't heBA she said* A'aturally he's ;uiet*A 'o ar.uments and criticisms, she thou.ht, no constant admonitions, no rules to obey, no ban on smokin. ci.arettes, no -air of cold disa--rovin. eyes watchin. me over the to- of a book in the evenin.s, no shirts to wash and iron, no meals to cook, nothin. but the throb of the heart machine, which was rather a soothin. sound anyway and certainly not loud enou.h to interfere with television* ADoctor,A she said* A0 do believe 0'm suddenly .ettin. to feel the most enormous affection for him* Does that sound ;ueerBA A0 think it's ;uite understandable*A A%e looks so hel-less and silent lyin. there under the water in his little basin*A A>es, 0 know* A%e's like a baby, that's what he's like* %e's e7actly like a little baby*A !andy stood still behind her, watchin.* AThere,A she said softly, -eerin. into the basin* A$rom now on 2ary's .oin. to look after you all by herself and you've nothin. to worry about in the world* +hen can 0 have him back home, DoctorBA

A0 be. your -ardonBA A0 said when can 0 have him back--back in my own houseBA A>ou're 9okin.,A !andy said* She turned her head slowly around and looked directly at him* A+hy should 0 9okeBA she asked* %er face was bri.ht, her eyes round and bri.ht as two diamonds* A%e couldn't -ossibly be moved*A A0 don't see why not*A AThis is an e7-eriment, 2rs )earl*A A0t's my husband, Dr !andy*A funny little nervous half-smile a--eared on !andy's mouth* A+ell**** A he said* A0t is my husband, you know*A There was no an.er in her voice* She s-oke ;uietly, as thou.h merely remindin. him of a sim-le fact* AThat's rather a tricky -oint,A !andy said, wettin. his li-s* A>ou're a widow now, 2rs )earl* 0 think you must resi.n yourself to that fact*A She turned away suddenly from the table and crossed over to the window* A0 mean it,A she said, fishin. in her ba. for a ci.arette* A0 want him back*A !andy watched her as she -ut the ci.arette between her li-s and lit it* &nless he were very much mistaken, there was somethin. a bit odd about this woman, he thou.ht* She seemed almost -leased to have her husband over there in the basin* %e tried to ima.ine what his own feelin.s would be if it were his wife's brain lyin. there and her eye starin. at him out of that ca-sule* %e wouldn't like it* AShall we .o back to my room nowBA he said* She was standin. by the window, a--arently ;uite calm and rela7ed, -uffin. her ci.arette* A>es, all ri.ht*A #n her way -ast the table she sto--ed and leaned over the basin once more* A2ary's leavin. now, sweetheart,A she said* A nd don't you worry about a sin.le thin., you understandB +e're .oin. to .et you ri.ht back home where we can look after you -ro-erly 9ust as soon as we -ossibly can* nd listen dear**** A t this -oint she -aused and carried the ci.arette to her li-s, intendin. to take a -uff* 0nstantly the eye flashed* She was lookin. strai.ht into it at the time and ri.ht in the centre of it she saw a tiny but brilliant flash of li.ht, and the -u-il contracted into a minute black -in-oint of absolute fury* t first she didn't move* She stood bendin. over the basin, holdin. the ci.arette u- to her mouth, watchin. the eye* Then very slowly, deliberately, she -ut the ci.arette between her li-s and took a lon. suck* She inhaled dee-ly, and she held the smoke inside her lun.s for three or four secondsE then suddenly, whoosh, out it came throu.h her nostrils in two thin 9ets which struck the water in the basin, and billowed out over the surface in a thick blue cloud, envelo-in. the eye* !andy was over by the door, with his back to her, waitin.* ACome on, 2rs )earl,A he called* ADon't look so cross, +illiam,A she said softly* A0t isn't any .ood lookin. cross*A !andy turned his head to see what she was doin.* A'ot any more it isn't,A she whis-ered* A6ecause from now on, my -et, you're .oin. to do 9ust e7actly what 2ary tells you* Do you understand thatBA A2rs )earl,A !andy said, movin. towards her* ASo don't be a nau.hty boy a.ain, will you, my -recious,A she said, takin. another -ull at the ci.arette* A'au.hty boys are liable to .et -unished most severely nowadays, you ou.ht to know that*A !andy was beside her now, and he took her by the arm and be.an drawin. her firmly but .ently away from the table* A:ood-bye, darlin.,A she called* A0'll be back soon*A AThat's enou.h, 2rs )earl*A

A0sn't he sweetBA she cried, lookin. u- at !andy with bi. bri.ht eyes* A0sn't he heavenB 0 9ust can't wait to .et him home*A

The +ay u- to %eaven

!! her life, 2rs $oster had had an almost -atholo.ical fear of missin. a train, a -lane, a boat, or even a theatre curtain* 0n other res-ects, she was not a -articularly nervous woman, but the mere thou.ht of bein. late on occasions like these would throw her into such a state of nerves that she would be.in to twitch* 0t was nothin. much--9ust a tiny vellicatin. muscle in the corner of the left eye, like a secret wink--but the annoyin. thin. was that it refused to disa--ear until an hour or so after the train or -lane or whatever it was had been safely cau.ht* 0t was really e7traordinary how in certain -eo-le a sim-le a--rehension about a thin. like catchin. a train can .row into a serious obsession* t least half an hour before it was time to leave the house for the station, 2rs $oster would ste- out of the elevator all ready to .o, with hat and coat and .loves, and then, bein. ;uite unable to sit down, she would flutter and fid.et about from room to room until her husband, who must have been well aware of her state, finally emer.ed from his -rivacy and su..ested in a cool dry voice that -erha-s they had better .et .oin. now, had they notB 2r $oster may -ossibly have had a ri.ht to be irritated by this foolishness of his wife's, but he could have had no e7cuse for increasin. her misery by kee-in. her waitin. unnecessarily* 2ind you, it is by no means certain that this is what he did, yet whenever they were to .o somewhere, his timin. was so accurate--9ust a minute or two late, you understand and his manner so bland that it was hard to believe he wasn't -ur-osely inflictin. a nasty -rivate little torture of his own on the unha--y lady* nd one thin. he must have known--that she would never dare to call out and tell him to hurry* %e had disci-lined her too well for that* %e must also have known that if he was -re-ared to wait even beyond the last moment of safety, he could drive her nearly into hysterics* #n one or two s-ecial occasions in the later years of their married life, it seemed almost as thou.h he had wanted to miss the train sim-ly in order to intensify the -oor woman's sufferin.* ssumin. Cthou.h one cannot be sureD that the husband was .uilty, what made his attitude doubly unreasonable was the fact that, with the e7ce-tion of this one small irre-ressible foible, 2rs $oster was and always had been a .ood and lovin. wife* $or over thirty years, she had served him loyally and well* There was no doubt about this* "ven she, a very modest woman, was aware of it, and althou.h she had for years refused to let herself believe that 2r $oster would ever consciously torment her, there had been times recently when she had cau.ht herself be.innin. to wonder* 2r "u.ene $oster, who was nearly seventy years old, lived with his wife in a lar.e si7-storey house in 'ew >ork City, on "ast Si7ty-second Street, and they had four servants* 0t was a .loomy -lace, and few -eo-le came to visit them* 6ut on this -articular mornin. in Ganuary, the house had come alive and there was a .reat deal of bustlin. about* #ne maid was distributin. bundles of dust sheets to every room, while another was dra-in. them over the furniture* The butler was brin.in. down suitcases and -uttin. them in the hail* The cook ke-t -o--in. u- from the kitchen to have a word with the butler, and 2rs $oster herself, in an oldfashioned fur coat and with a black hat on the to- of her head, was flyin. from room to room and -retendin. to su-ervise these o-erations* ctually, she was

thinkin. of nothin. at all e7ce-t that she was .oin. to miss her -lane if her husband didn't come out of his study soon and .et ready* A+hat time is it, +alkerBA she said to the butler as she -assed him* A0t's ten minutes -ast nine, 2adam*A A nd has the car comeBA A>es, 2adam, it's waitin.* 0'm 9ust .oin. to -ut the lu..a.e in now*A A0t takes an hour to .et to 0dlewild,A she said* A2y -lane leaves at eleven* 0 have to be there half an hour beforehand for the formalities* 0 shall be late* 0 9ust know 0'm .oin. to be late*A A0 think you have -lenty of time, 2adam,A the butler said kindly* A0 warned 2r $oster that you must leave at nine-fifteen* There's still another five minutes*A A>es, +alker, 0 know, 0 know* 6ut .et the lu..a.e in ;uickly, will you -leaseBA She be.an walkin. u- and down the hail, and whenever the butler came by, she asked him the time* This, she ke-t tellin. herself, was the one -lane she must not miss* 0t had taken months to -ersuade her husband to allow her to .o* 0f she missed it, he mi.ht easily decide that she should cancel the whole thin.* nd the trouble was that he insisted on comin. to the air-ort to see her off* ADear :od,A she said aloud, A0'm .oin. to miss t* 0 know, 0 know, 0 know 0'm .oin. to miss it*A The little muscle beside the left eye was twitchin. madly now* The eyes themselves were very close to tears* A+hat time is it, +alkerBA A0t's ei.hteen minutes -ast, 2adam*A A'ow 0 really will miss itFA she cried* A#h, 0 wish he would comeFA This was an im-ortant 9ourney for 2rs $oster* She was .oin. all alone to )aris to visit her dau.hter, her only child, who was married to a $renchman* 2rs $oster didn't care much for the $renchman, but she was fond of her dau.hter, and, more than that, she had develo-ed a .reat yearnin. to set eyes on her three .randchildren* She knew them only from the many -hoto.ra-hs that she had received and that she ke-t -uttin. u- all over the house* They were beautiful, these children* She doted on them, and each time a new -icture arrived she would carry it away and sit with it for a lon. time, starin. at it lovin.ly and searchin. the small faces for si.ns of that old satisfyin. blood likeness that meant so much* nd now, lately, she had come more and more to feel that she did not really wish to live out her days in a -lace where she could not be near these children, and have them visit her, and take them for walks, and buy them -resents, and watch them .row* She knew, of course, that it was wron. and in a way disloyal to have thou.hts like these while her husband was still alive* She knew also that althou.h he was no lon.er active in his many enter-rises, he would never consent to leave 'ew >ork and live in )aris* 0t was a miracle that he had ever a.reed to let her fly over there alone for si7 weeks to visit them* 6ut, oh, how she wished she could live there always, and be close to themF A+alker, what time is itBA ATwenty-two minutes -ast, 2adam*A s he s-oke, a door o-ened and 2r $oster came into the hall* %e stood for a moment, lookin. intently at his wife, and she looked back at him--at this diminutive but still ;uite da--er old man with the hu.e bearded face that bore such an astonishin. resemblance to those old -hoto.ra-hs of ndrew Carne.ie* A+ell,A he said, A0 su--ose -erha-s we'd better .et .oin. fairly soon if you want to catch that -lane*A A>es, dear--yesF "verythin.'s ready* The car's waitin.*A AThat's .ood, he said* +ith his head over to one side, he was watchin. her closely* %e had a -eculiar way of cockin. the head and then movin. it in a series of small, ra-id 9erks* 6ecause of this and because he was clas-in. his hands uhi.h in front of him, near the chest, he was somehow like a s;uirrel standin. there--a ;uick clever old s;uirrel from the )ark* A%ere's +alker with your coat, dear* )ut it on*A

A0'll be with you in a moment,A he said* A0'm 9ust .oin. to wash my hands*A She waited for him, and the tall butler stood beside her, holdin. the coat and the hat* A+alker, will 0 miss itBA A'o, 2adam,A the butler said* A0 think you'll make it all ri.ht*A Then 2r $oster a--eared a.ain, and the butler hel-ed him on with his coat* 2rs $oster hurried outside and .ot into the hired Cadillac* %er husband came after her, but he walked down the ste-s of the house slowly, -ausin. halfway to observe the sky and to sniff the cold mornin. air* A0t looks a bit fo..y,A he said as he sat down beside her in the car* A nd it's always worse out there at the air-ort* 0 shouldn't be sur-rised if the fli.ht's cancelled already*A ADon't say that, dear---lease*A They didn't s-eak a.ain until the car had crossed over the river to !on. 0sland* A0 arran.ed everythin. with the servants,A 2r $oster said* AThey're all .oin. off today* 0 .ave them half--ay for si7 weeks and told +alker 0'd send him a tele.ram when we wanted them back*A A>es,A she said* A%e told me*A A0'll move into the club toni.ht* 0t'll be a nice chan.e stayin. at the club*A A>es, dear* 0'll write to you*A A0'll call in at the house occasionally to see that everythin.'s all ri.ht and to -ick u- the mail*A A6ut don't you really think +alker should stay there all the time to look after thin.sBA she asked meekly* A'onsense* 0t's ;uite unnecessary* nd anyway, 0'd have to -ay him full wa.es*A A#h yes,A she said* A#f course*A A+hat's more, you never know what -eo-le .et u- to when they're left alone in a house,A 2r $oster announced, and with that he took out a ci.ar and, after sni--in. off the end with a silver cutter, lit it with a .old li.hter* She sat still in the car with her hands clas-ed to.ether ti.ht under the ru.* A+ill you write to meBA she asked* A0'll see,A he said* A6ut 0 doubt it* >ou know 0 don't hold with letterwritin. unless there's somethin. s-ecific to say*A A>es, dear, 0 know* So don't you bother*A They drove on, alon. Iueen's 6oulevard, and as they a--roached the flat marshland on which 0dlewild is built, the fo. be.an to thicken and the car had to slow down* A#h dearFA cried 2rs $oster* A0'm sure 0'm .oin. to miss it nowF +hat time is itBA ASto- fussin.,A the old man said* A0t doesn't matter anyway* 0t's bound to be cancelled now* They never fly in this sort of weather* 0 don't know why you bothered to come out*A She couldn't be sure, but it seemed to her that there was suddenly a new note in his voice, and she turned to look at him* 0t was difficult to observe any chan.e in his e7-ression under all that hair* The mouth was what counted* She wished, as she had so often before, that she could see the mouth clearly* The eyes never showed anythin. e7ce-t when he was in a ra.e* A#f course,A he went on, Aif by any chance it does .o, then 0 a.ree with you--you'll be certain to miss it now* +hy don't you resi.n yourself to thatBA She turned away and -eered throu.h the window at the fo.* 0t seemed to be .ettin. thicker as they went alon., and now she could only 9ust make out the ed.e of the road and the mar.in of .rassland beyond it* She knew that her husband was still lookin. at her* She .lanced at him a.ain, and this time she noticed with a kind of honor that he was starin. intently at the little -lace in the corner of

her left eye where she could feel the muscle twitchin.* A+on't youBA he said* A+on't 0 whatBA A6e sure to miss it now if it .oes* +e can't drive fast in this muck*A %e didn't s-eak to her any more after that* The car crawled on and on* The driver had a yellow lam- directed on to the ed.e of the road, and this hel-ed him to kee- .oin.* #ther li.hts, some white and some yellow, ke-t comin. out of the fo. towards them, and there was an es-ecially bri.ht one that followed close behind them all the time* Suddenly, the driver sto--ed the car* AThereFA 2r $oster cried* A+e're stuck* 0 knew it*A A'o, sir,A the driver said, turnin. round* A+e made it* This is the air-ort*A +ithout a word, 2rs $oster 9um-ed out and hurried throu.h the main entrance into the buildin.* There was a mass of -eo-le inside, mostly disconsolate -assen.ers standin. around the ticket counters* She -ushed her way throu.h and s-oke to the clerk* A>es,A he said* A>our fli.ht is tem-orarily -ost-oned* 6ut -lease don't .o away* +e're e7-ectin. this weather to clear any moment*A She went back to her husband who was still sittin. in the car and told him the news* A6ut don't you wait, dear,A she said* AThere's no sense in that*A A0 won't,A he answered* ASo lon. as the driver can .et me back* Can you .et me back, driverBA A0 think so,A the man said* A0s the lu..a.e outBA A>es, sir*A A:ood-bye, dear,A 2rs $oster said, leanin. into the car and .ivin. her husband a small kiss on the coarse .rey fur of his cheek* A:ood-bye,A he answered* A%ave a .ood tri-*A The car drove off, and 2rs $oster was left alone* The rest of the day was a sort of ni.htmare for her* She sat for hour after hour on a bench, as close to the airline counter as -ossible, and every thirty minutes or so she would .et u- and ask the clerk if the situation had chan.ed* She always received the same re-ly--that she must continue to wait, because the fo. mi.ht blow away at any moment* 0t wasn't until after si7 in the evenin. that the louds-eakers finally announced that the fli.ht had been -ost-oned until eleven o'clock the ne7t mornin.* 2rs $oster didn't ;uite know what to do when she heard this news* She stayed sittin. on her bench for at least another half-hour, wonderin., in a tired, ha,y sort of way, where she mi.ht .o to s-end the ni.ht* She hated to leave the air-ort* She didn't wish to see her husband* She was terrified that in one way or another he would eventually mana.e to -revent her from .ettin. to $rance* She would have liked to remain 9ust where she was, sittin. on the bench the whole ni.ht throu.h* That would be the safest* 6ut she was already e7hausted, and it didn't take her lon. to reali,e that this was a ridiculous thin. for a elderly lady to do* So in the end she went to a -hone and called the house* %er husband, who was on the -oint of leavin. for the club, answered it himself* She told him the news, and asked whether the servants were still there* AThey've all .one,A he said* A0n that case, dear, 0'll 9ust .et myself a room somewhere for the ni.ht* nd don't you bother yourself about it at all*A AThat would be foolish,A he said* A>ou've .ot a lar.e house here at your dis-osal* &se it*A A6ut, dear, it's em-ty*A AThen 0'll stay with you myselfA AThere's no food in the house* There's nothin.*A AThen eat before you come in* Don't be so stu-id, woman* "verythin. you do, you seem to want to make a fuss about it*A

A>es,A she said* A0'm sorry* 0'll .et myself a sandwich here, and then 0'll come on in*A #utside, the fo. had cleared a little, but it was still a lon., slow drive in the ta7i, and she didn't arrive back at the house on Si7ty-second Street until fairly late* %er husband emer.ed from his study when he heard her comin. in* A+ell,A he said, standin. by the study door, Ahow was )arisBA A+e leave at eleven in the mornin.,A she answered* A0t's definite*A A>ou mean if the fo. clears*A A0t's clearin. now* There's a wind comin. u-*A A>ou look tired,A he said* A>ou must have had an an7ious day*A A0t wasn't very comfortable* 0 think 0'll .o strai.ht to bed*A A0've ordered a car for the mornin.,A he said* A'ine o'clock*A A#h, thank you, dear* nd 0 certainly ho-e you're not .oin. to bother to come all the way out a.ain to see me off*A A'o,A he said slowly* A0 don't think 0 will* 6ut there's no reason why you shouldn't dro- me at the club on your way*A She looked at him, and at that moment he seemed to be standin. a lon. way off from her, beyond some borderline* %e was suddenly so small and far away that she couldn't be sure what he was doin., or what he was thinkin., or even what he was* AThe club is downtown,A she said* A0t isn't on the way to the air-ort*A A6ut you'll have -lenty of time, my dear* Don't you want to dro- me at the clubBA A#h, yes--of course*A AThat's .ood* Then 0'll see you in the mornin. at nine*A She went u- to her bedroom on the second floor, and she was so e7hausted from her day that she fell aslee- soon after she lay down* 'e7t mornin., 2rs $oster was u- early, and by ei.ht-thirty she was downstairs and ready to leave* Shortly after nine, her husband a--eared* ADid you make any coffeeBA he asked* A'o, dear* 0 thou.ht you'd .et a nice breakfast at the club* The car is here* 0t's been waitin.* 0'm all ready to .o*A They were standin. in the hall--they always seemed to be meetin. in the hall nowadays--she with her hat and coat and -urse, he in a curiously cut "dwardian 9acket with hi.h la-els* A>our lu..a.eBA A0t's at the air-ort*A A h yes,A he said* A#f course* nd if you're .oin. to take me to the club first, 0 su--ose we'd better .et .oin. fairly soon, hadn't weBA A>esFA she cried* A#h, yes---leaseFA A0'm 9ust .oin. to .et a few ci.ars* 0'll be ri.ht with you* >ou .et in the car*A She turned and went out to where the chauffeur was standin., and he o-ened the car door for her as she a--roached* A+hat time is itBA she asked him* A bout nine-fifteen*A 2r $oster came out five minutes later, and watchin. him as he walked slowly down the ste-s, she noticed that his le.s were like .oat's le.s in those narrow stove-i-e trousers that he wore* s on the day before, he -aused halfway down to sniff the air and to e7amine the sky* The weather was still not ;uite clear, but there was a wis- of sun comin. throu.h the mist* A)erha-s you'll be lucky this time,A he said as he settled himself beside her in the car* A%urry, -lease,A she said to the chauffeur* ADon't bother about the ru.* 0'll arran.e the ru.* )lease .et .oin.* 0'm late*A The man went back to his seat behind the wheel and started the en.ine*

AGust a momentFA 2r $oster said suddenly* A%old it a moment, chauffeur, will youBA A+hat is it, dearBA She saw him searchin. the -ockets of his overcoat* A0 had a little -resent 0 wanted you to take to "llen,A he said* A'ow, where on earth is itB 0'm sure 0 had it in my hand as 0 came down*A A0 never saw you carryin. anythin.* +hat sort of -resentBA A little bo7 wra--ed u- in white -a-er* 0 for.ot to .ive it to you yesterday* 0 don't want to for.et it today*A A little bo7FA 2rs $oster cried* A0 never saw any little bo7FA She be.an huntin. frantically in the back of the car* %er husband continued searchin. throu.h the -ockets of his coat* Then he unbuttoned the coat and felt around in his 9acket* AConfound it,A he said, A0 must've left it in my bedroom* 0 won't be a moment*A A#h, -leaseFA she cried* A+e haven't .ot timeF )lease leave itF >ou can mail it* 0t's only one of those silly combs anyway* >ou're always .ivin. her combs*A A nd what's wron. with combs, may 0 askBA he said, furious that she should have for.otten herself for once* A'othin., dear, 0'm sure* 6ut* AStay hereFA he commanded* A0'm .oin. to .et it*A A6e ;uick, dearF #h, -lease be ;uickFA She sat still, waitin. and waitin.* AChauffeur, what time is itBA The man had a wristwatch, which he consulted* A0 make it nearly ninethirty*A ACan we .et to the air-ort in an hourBA AGust about*A t this -oint, 2rs $oster suddenly s-otted a corner of somethin. white wed.ed down in the crack of the seat on the side where her husband had been sittin.* She reached over and -ulled out a small -a-er-wra--ed bo7, and at the same time she couldn't hel- noticin. that it was wed.ed down firm and dee-, as thou.h with the hel- of a -ushin. hand* A%ere it isFA she cried* A0've found itF #h dear, and now he'll be u- there for ever searchin. for itF Chauffeur, ;uickly run in and call him down, will you -leaseBA The chauffeur, a man with a small rebellious 0rish mouth, didn't care very much for any of this, but he climbed out of the car and went u- the ste-s to the front door of the house* Then he turned and came back* ADoor's locked,A he announced* A>ou .ot a keyBA A>es--wait a minute*A She be.an huntin. madly in her -urse* The little face was screwed u- ti.ht with an7iety, the li-s -ushed outward like a s-out* A%ere it isF 'o 0'll .o myself* 0t'll be ;uicker* 0 know where he'll be*A She hurried out of the car and u- the ste-s to the front door, holdin. the key in one hand* She slid the key into the keyhole and was about to turn it--and then she sto--ed* %er head came u-, and she stood there absolutely motionless, her whole body arrested ri.ht in the middle of all this hurry to turn the key and .et into the house, and she waited--five, si7, seven, ei.ht, nine, ten seconds, she waited* The way she was standin. there, with her head in the air and the body so tense, it seemed as thou.h she were listenin. for the re-etition of some sound that she had heard a moment before from a -lace far away inside the house* >es--;uite obviously she was listenin.* %er whole attitude was a listenin. one* She a--eared actually to be movin. one of her ears closer and closer to the door* 'ow it was ri.ht u- a.ainst the door, and for still another few seconds she remained in that -osition, head u-, ear to door, hand on key, about to enter but not enterin., tryin. instead, or so it seemed, to hear and to analyse these sounds that were comin. faintly from this -lace dee- within the house* Then, all at once, she s-ran. to life a.ain* She withdrew the key from the door and came runnin. back down the ste-s* A0t's too lateFA she cried to the chauffeur* A0 can't wait for him, 0 sim-ly

can't* 0'll miss the -lane* %urry now, driver, hurryF To the air-ortFA The chauffeur, had he been watchin. her closely, mi.ht have noticed that her face had turned absolutely white and that the whole e7-ression had suddenly altered* There was no lon.er that rather soft and silly look* -eculiar hardness had settled itself u-on the features* The little mouth, usually so flabby, was now ti.ht and thin, the eyes were bri.ht, and the voice, when she s-oke, carried a new note of authority* A%urry, driver, hurryFA A0sn't your husband travellin. with youBA the man asked, astonished* ACertainly notF 0 was only .oin. to dro- him at the club* 0t won't matter* %e'll understand* %e'll .et a cab* Don't sit there talkin., man* :et .oin.F 0've .ot a -lane to catch for )arisFA +ith 2rs $oster ur.in. him from the back seat, the man drove fast all the way, and she cau.ht her -lane with a few minutes to s-are* Soon she was hi.h uover the tlantic, reclinin. comfortably in her aero-lane chair, listenin. to the hum of the motors, headin. for )aris at last* The new mood was still with her* She felt remarkably stron. and, in a ;ueer sort of way, wonderful* She was a trifle breathless with it all, but this was more from -ure astonishment at what she had done than anythin. else, and as the -lane flew farther and farther away from 'ew >ork and "ast Si7ty-second Street, a .reat sense of calmness be.an to settle u-on her* 6y the time she reached )aris, she was 9ust as stron. and cool and calm as she could wish* She met her .randchildren, and they were even more beautiful in the flesh than in their -hoto.ra-hs* They were like an.els, she told herself, so beautiful they were* nd every day she took them for walks, and fed them cakes, and bou.ht them -resents, and told them charmin. stories* #nce a week, on Tuesdays, she wrote a letter to her husband--a nice, chatty letter--full of news and .ossi-, which always ended with the words A'ow be sure to take your meals re.ularly, dear, althou.h this is somethin. 0'm afraid you may not be doin. when 0'm not with you*' +hen the si7 weeks were u-, everybody was sad that she had to return to merica, to her husband* "verybody, that is, e7ce-t her* Sur-risin.ly, she didn't seem to mind as much as one mi.ht have e7-ected, and when she kissed them all .ood-bye, there was somethin. in her manner and in the thin.s she said that a--eared to hint at the -ossibility of a return in the not too distant future* %owever, like the faithful wife she was, she did not overstay her time* "7actly si7 weeks after she had arrived, she sent a cable to her husband and cau.ht the -lane back to 'ew >ork* rrivin. at 0dlewild, 2rs $oster was interested to observe that there was no car to meet her* 0t is -ossible that she mi.ht even have been a little amused* 6ut she was e7tremely calm and did not overti- the -orter who hel-ed her into a ta7i with her ba..a.e* 'ew >ork was colder than )aris, and there were lum-s of dirty snow lyin. in the .utters of the streets* The ta7i drew u- before the house on Si7ty-second Street, and 2rs $oster -ersuaded the driver to carry her two lar.e cases to the to- of the ste-s* Then she -aid him off and ran. the bell* She waited, but there was no answer* Gust to make sure, she ran. a.ain, and she could hear it tinklin. shrilly far away in the -antry, at the back of the house* 6ut still no one came* So she took out her own key and o-ened the door herself* The first thin. she saw as she entered was a .reat -ile of mail lyin. on the floor where it had fallen after bein. sli--ed throu.h the letter bo7* The -lace was dark and cold* dust sheet was still dra-ed over the .randfather clock* 0n s-ite of the cold, the atmos-here was -eculiarly o--ressive, and there was a faint and curious odour in the air that she had never smelled before* She walked ;uickly across the hall and disa--eared for a moment around the corner to the left, at the back* There was somethin. deliberate and -ur-oseful about this actionE she had the air of a woman who is off to investi.ate a rumour or to confirm a sus-icion* nd when she returned a few seconds later, there was a

little .limmer of satisfaction on her face* She -aused in the centre of the hail, as thou.h wonderin. what to do ne7t* Then, suddenly, she turned and went across into her husband's study* #n the desk she found his address book, and after huntin. throu.h it for a while she -icked uthe -hone and dialled a number* A%ello,A she said* A!isten--this is 'ine "ast Si7ty-second Street***>es, that's ri.ht* Could you send someone round as soon as -ossible, do you thinkB >es, it seems to be stuck between the second and third floors* t least, that's where the indicator's -ointin.***Ri.ht awayB #h, that's very kind of you* >ou see, my le.s aren't any too .ood for walkin. u- a lot of stairs* Thank you so much* :oodbye*A She re-laced the receiver and sat there at her husband's desk, -atiently waitin. for the man who would be comin. soon to re-air the lift*

)arson's )leasure

2R 6#::0S was drivin. the car slowly, leanin. back comfortably in the seat with one elbow restin. on the sill of the o-en window* %ow beautiful the countryside, he thou.htE how -leasant to see a si.n or two of summer once a.ain* The -rimroses es-ecially* nd the hawthorn was e7-lodin. white and -ink and red alon. the hed.es and the -rimroses were .rowin. underneath in little clum-s, and it was beautiful* %e took one hand off the wheel and lit himself a ci.arette* The best thin. now, he told himself, would be to make for the to- of 6rill %ill* %e could see it about half a mile ahead* nd that must be the villa.e of 6rill, that cluster of cotta.es amon. the tree ri.ht on the very summit* "7cellent* 'ot mans of his Sunday sections had a nice elevation like that to work from*(((( %e drove u- the bill and sto--ed the car 9ust short of the summit on the outskirts of the villa.e* Then he .ot out and looked around* Down below, the countryside was s-read out before him like a hu.e .reen car-et* %e could see for miles* 0t was -erfect* %e took a -ad and -encil from his -ocket, leaned a.ainst the back of the car, and allowed his -ractised eye to travel slowly over the landsca-e* %e could see one medium farmhouse over on the ri.ht, back in the fields, with a track leadin. to it from the road* There was another lar.er one beyond it* There was a house surrounded by tall elms that looked as thou.h it mi.ht be a Iueen nne, and there were two likely farms away over on the left* $ive -laces in all* That was about the lot in this direction* 2r 6o..is drew a rou.h sketch on his -ad showin. the -osition of each so that he'd be able to find them easily when he was down below, then he .ot back into the car and drove u- throu.h the villa.e to the other side of the hill* $rom there he s-otted si7 more -ossibles--five farms and one bi. white :eor.ian house* %e studied the :eor.ian house throu.h his binoculars* 0t had a clean -ros-erous look, and the .arden was well ordered* That was a -ity* %e ruled it out immediately* There was no -oint in callin. on the -ros-erous* 0n this s;uare then, in this section, there were ten -ossibles in all* Ten was a nice number, 2r 6o..is told himself* Gust the ri.ht amount for a leisurely afternoon's work* +hat time was it nowB Twelve o'clock* %e would have liked a -int of beer in the -ub before he started, but on Sundays they didn't o-en until one* Very well, he would have it later* %e .lanced at the notes on his -ad* %e decided to take the Iueen nne first, the house with the elms* 0t had looked nicely dila-idated throu.h the binoculars* The -eo-le there could -robably do with some

money* %e was always lucky with Iueen nnes, anyway* 2r 6o..is climbed back into the car, released the handbrake, and be.an cruisin. slowly down the hill without the en.ine* -art from the fact that he was at this moment dis.uised in the uniform of a cler.yman, there was nothin. very sinister about 2r Cyril 6o..is* 6y trade he was a dealer in anti;ue furniture, with his own sho- and showroom in the /in.'s Road, Chelsea* %is -remises were not lar.e, and .enerally he didn't do a .reat deal of business, but because he always bou.ht chea-, very very chea-, and sold very very dear, he mana.ed to make ;uite a tidy little income every year* %e was a talented salesman, and when buyin. or sellin. a -iece he could slide smoothly into whichever mood suited the client best* %e could become .rave and charmin. for the a.ed, obse;uious for the rich, sober for the .odly, masterful for the weak, mischievous for the widow, arch and saucy for the s-inster* %e was well aware of his .ift, usin. it shamelessly on every -ossible occasionE and often, at the end of an unusually .ood -erformance, it was as much as he could do to -revent himself from turnin. aside and takin. a bow or two as the thunderin. a--lause of the audience went rollin. throu.h the theatre* 0n s-ite of this rather clownish ;uality of his, 2r 6o..is was not a fool* 0n fact, it was said of him by some that he -robably knew as much about $rench, "n.lish, and 0talian furniture as anyone else in !ondon* %e also had sur-risin.ly .ood taste, and he was ;uick to reco.ni,e and re9ect an un.raceful desi.n, however .enuine the article mi.ht be* %is real love, naturally, was for the work of the .reat ei.hteenth-century "n.lish desi.ners, 0nce, 2ayhew, Chi--endale, Robert dam, 2anwarin., 0ni.o Gones, %e--lewhite, /ent, Gohnson, :eor.e Smith, !ock, Sheraton, and the rest of them, but even with these he occasionally drew the line* %e refused, for e7am-le, to allow a sin.le -iece from Chi--endale's Chinese or :othic -eriod to come into his showroom, and the same was true of some of the heavier 0talian desi.ns of Robert dam* Durin. the -ast few years, 2r 6o..is had achieved considerable fame amon. his friends in the trade by his ability to -roduce unusual and often ;uite rare items with astonishin. re.ularity* --arently the man had a source of su--ly that was almost ine7haustible, a sort of -rivate warehouse, and it seemed that all he had to do was to drive out to it once a week and hel- himself* +henever they asked him where he .ot the stuff, he would smile knowin.ly and wink and murmur somethin. about a little secret* The idea behind 2r 6o..is's little secret was a sim-le one, and it had come to him as a result of somethin. that had ha--ened on a certain Sunday afternoon nearly nine years before, while he was drivin. in the country* %e had .one out in the mornin. to visit his old mother, who lived in Sevenoaks, and on the way back the fanbelt on his car had broken, causin. the en.ine to overheat and the water to boil away* %e had .ot out of the car and walked to the nearest house, a smallish farm buildin. about fifty yards off the road, and had asked the woman who answered the door if he could -lease have a 9u. of water* +hile he was waitin. for her to fetch it, he ha--ened to .lance in throu.h the door to the livin.room, and there, not five yards from where he was standin., he s-otted somethin. that made him so e7cited the sweat be.an to come out all over the to- of his head* 0t was a lar.e oak armchair of a ty-e that he had only seen once before in his life* "ach arm, as well as the -anel at the back, was su--orted by a row of ei.ht beautifully turned s-indles* The back -anel itself was decorated by an inlay of the most delicate floral desi.n, and the head of a duck was carved to lie alon. half the len.th of either arm* :ood :od, he thou.ht* This thin. is late fifteenth centuryF %e -oked his head in further throu.h the door, and there, by heavens, was another of them on the other side of the fire-laceF %e couldn't be sure, but two chairs like that must be worth at least a thousand -ounds u- in !ondon* nd oh, what beauties they wereF +hen the woman returned, 2r 6o..is introduced himself and strai.ht away

asked if she would like to sell her chairs* Dear me, she said* 6ut why on earth should she want to sell her chairsB 'o reason at all, e7ce-t that he mi.ht be willin. to .ive her a -retty nice -rice* nd how much would he .iveB They were definitely not for sale, but 9ust out of curiosity, 9ust for fun, you know, how much would he .iveB Thirty-five -ounds* %ow muchB Thirty-five -ounds* Dear me, thirty-five -ounds* +ell, well, that was very interestin.* She'd always thou.ht they were valuable* They were very old* They were very comfortable too* She couldn't -ossibly do without them, not -ossibly* 'o, they were not for sale but thank you very much all the same* They weren't really so very old, 2r 6o..is told her, and they wouldn't be at all easy to sell, but it 9ust ha--ened that he had a client who rather liked that sort of thin.* 2aybe he could .o u- another two -ounds--call it thirty-seven* %ow about thatB They bar.ained for half an hour, and of course in the end 2r 6o..is .ot the chairs and a.reed to -ay her somethin. less than a twentieth of their value* That evenin., drivin. back to !ondon in his old station-wa.on with the two fabulous chairs tucked away snu.ly in the back, 2r 6o..is had suddenly been struck by what seemed to him to be a most remarkable idea* !ook here, he said* 0f there is .ood stuff in one farmhouse, then why not in othersB +hy shouldn't he search for itB +hy shouldn't he comb the countrysideB %e could do it on Sundays* 0n that way, it wouldn't interfere with his work at all* %e never knew what to do with his Sundays* So 2r 6o..is bou.ht ma-s, lar.e scale ma-s of all the counties around !ondon, and with a fine -en he divided each of them u- into a series of s;uares* "ach of these s;uares covered an actual area of five miles by five, which was about as much territory, he estimated, as he could co-e with on a sin.le Sunday, were he to comb it thorou.hly* %e didn't want the towns and the villa.es* 0t was the com-aratively isolated -laces, the lar.e farmhouses and the rather dila-idated country mansions, that he was lookin. forE and in this way, if he did one s;uare each Sunday, fifty-two s;uares a year, he would .radually cover every farm and every country house in the home counties* 6ut obviously there was a bit more to it than that* Country folk are a sus-icious lot* So are the im-overished rich* >ou can't .o about rin.in. their bells and e7-ectin. them to show you around their houses 9ust for the askin., because they won't do it* That way you would never .et beyond the front door* %ow then was he to .ain admittanceB )erha-s it would be best if he didn't let them know he was a dealer at all* %e could be the tele-hone man, the -lumber, the .as ins-ector* %e could even be a cler.yman* $rom this -oint on, the whole scheme be.an to take on a more -ractical as-ect* 2r 6o..is ordered a lar.e ;uantity of su-erior cards on which the followin. le.end was en.ravedH T%" R"V"R"'D C>R0! +0''0':T#' 6#::0S )resident of the Society 0n association with for the )reservation of The Victoria and Rare $urniture lbert 2useum*(((( $rom now on, every Sunday, he was .oin. to be a nice old -arson s-endin. his holiday travellin. around on a labour of love for the ASociety', com-ilin. an inventory of the treasures that lay hidden in the country homes of "n.land* nd who in the world was .oin. to kick him out when they heard that oneB 'obody* nd then, once he was inside, if he ha--ened to s-ot somethin. he really wanted, well he knew a hundred different ways of dealin. with that* Rather to 2r 6o..is's sur-rise, the scheme worked* 0n fact, the friendliness with which he was received in one house after another throu.h the countryside was, in the be.innin., ;uite embarrassin., even to him* slice of cold -ie, a .lass of -ort, a cu- of tea, a basket of -lums, even a full sit-down Sunday dinner with the

family, such thin.s were constantly bein. -ressed u-on him* Sooner or later, of course, there had been some bad moments and a number of un-leasant incidents, but then nine years is more than four hundred Sundays, and that adds u- to a .reat ;uantity of houses visited* ll in all, it had been an interestin., e7citin., and lucrative business* nd now it was another Sunday and 2r 6o..is was o-eratin. in the country of 6uckin.hamshire, in one of the most northerly s;uares on his ma-, about ten miles from #7ford, and as he drove down the hill and headed for his first house, the dila-idated Iueen nne, he be.an to .et the feelin. that this was .oin. to be one of his lucky days* %e -arked the car about a hundred yards from the .ates and .ot out to walk the rest of the way* %e never liked -eo-le to see his car until after a deal was com-leted* dear old cler.yman and a lar.e station-wa.on somehow never seemed ;uite ri.ht to.ether* lso the short walk .ave him time to e7amine the -ro-erty closely from the outside and to assume the mood most likely to be suitable for the occasion* 2r 6o..is strode briskly u- the drive* %e was a small fat-le..ed man with a belly* The face was round and rosy, ;uite -erfect for the -an, and the two lar.e brown eyes that bul.ed out at you from this rosy face .ave an im-ression of .entle imbecility* %e was dressed in a black suit with the usual -arson's do.-collar round his neck, and on his head a soft black hat* %e carried an old oak walkin.stick which lent him, in his o-inion, a rather rustic easy-.oin. air* %e a--roached the front door and ran. the bell* %e heard the sound of footste-s in the hall and the door o-ened and suddenly there stood before him, or rather above him, a .i.antic woman dressed in ridin.-breeches* "ven throu.h the smoke of her ci.arette he could smell the -owerful odour of stables and horse manure that clun. about her* A>esBA she asked, lookin. at him sus-iciously* A+hat is it you wantBA 2r 6o..is, who half e7-ected her to whinny any moment, raised his hat, made a little bow, and handed her his card* A0 do a-olo.i,e for botherin. you,A he said, and then he waited, watchin. her face as she read the messa.e* A0 don't understand,A she said, handin. back the card* A+hat is it you wantBA 2r 6o..is e7-lained about the Society for the )reservation of Rare $urniture* AThis wouldn't by any chance be somethin. to do with the Socialist )artyBA she asked, starin. at him fiercely from under a -air of -ale bushy brows* $rom then on, it was easy* Tory in ridin.breeches, male or female, was always a sittin. duck for 2r 6o..is* %e s-ent two minutes deliverin. an im-assioned eulo.y on the e7treme Ri.ht +in. of the Conservative )arty, then two more denouncin. the Socialists* s a clincher, he made -articular reference to the 6ill that the Socialists had once introduced for the abolition of bloods-orts in the country, and went on to inform his listener that his idea of heaven--Athou.h you better not tell the bisho-, my dearA--was a -lace where one could hunt the fo7, the sta., and the hare with lar.e -acks of tireless hounds from morn till ni.ht every day of the week, includin. Sundays* +atchin. her as he s-oke, he could see the ma.ic be.innin. to do its work* The woman was .rinnin. now, showin. 2r 6o..is a set of enormous, sli.htly yellow teeth* A2adam,A he cried, A0 be. of you, -lease don't .et me started on Socialism*A t that -oint, she let out a .reat .uffaw of lau.hter, raised an enormous red hand, and sla--ed him so hard on the shoulder that he nearly went over* ACome inFA she shouted* A0 don't know what the hell you want, but come on inFA &nfortunately, and rather sur-risin.ly, there was nothin. of any value in the whole house, and 2r 6o..is, who never wasted time on barren territory, soon made his e7cuses and took his leave* The whole visit had taken less than fifteen minutes, and that, he told himself as he climbed back into his car and started off

for the ne7t -lace, was e7actly as it should be* $rom now on, it was all farmhouses, and the nearest was about half a mile uthe road* 0t was a lar.e half-timbered brick buildin. of considerable a.e, and there was a ma.nificent -ear tree still in blossom coverin. almost the whole of the south wall* 2r 6o..is knocked on the door* %e waited, but no one came* %e knocked a.ain, but still there was no answer, so he wandered around the back to look for the farmer amon. the cowsheds* There was no one there either* %e .uessed that they must all still be in church, so he be.an -eerin. in the windows to see if he could s-ot anythin. interestin.* There was nothin. in the dinin.-room* 'othin. in the library either* %e tried the ne7t window, the livin.-room, and there, ri.ht under his nose, in the little alcove that the window made, he saw a beautiful thin., a semicircular card-table in maho.any, richly veneered, and in the style of %e--lewhite, built around 13=<* A h-ha,A he said aloud, -ressin. his face hard a.ainst the .lass* A+ell done, 6o..is*A 6ut that was not all* There was a chair there as well, a sin.le chair, and if he were not mistaken it was of an even finer ;uality than the table* nother %e--lewhite, wasn't itB nd oh, what a beautyF The lattices on the back were finely carved with the honeysuckle, the husk, and the -aterae, the canin. on the seat was ori.inal, the le.s were very .racefully turned and the two back ones had that -eculiar outward s-lay that meant so much* 0t was an e7;uisite chair* A6efore this day is done,A 2r 6o..is said softly, A0 shall have the -leasure of sittin. down u-on that lovely seat*A %e never bou.ht a chair without doin. this* 0t was a favourite test of his, and it was always an intri.uin. si.ht to see him lowerin. himself delicately into the seat, waitin. for the A.ive', e7-ertly .au.in. the -recise but infinitesimal de.ree of shrinka.e that the years had caused in the mortice and dovetail 9oints* 6ut there was no hurry, he told himself* %e would return here later* %e had the whole afternoon before him* The ne7t farm was situated some way back in the fields, and in order to keehis car out of si.ht, 2r 6o..is had to leave it on the road and walk about si7 hundred yards alon. a strai.ht track that led directly into the back yard of the farmhouse* This -lace, he noticed as he a--roached, was a .ood deal smaller than the last, and he didn't hold out much ho-e for it* 0t looked ramblin. and dirty, and some of the sheds were clearly in bad re-air* There were three men standin. in a close .rou- in a corner of the yard, and one of them had two lar.e black .reyhounds with him, on leashes* +hen the men cau.ht si.ht of 2r 6o..is walkin. forward in his black suit and -arson's collar, they sto--ed talkin. and seemed suddenly to stiffen and free,e, becomin. absolutely still, motionless, three faces turned towards him, watchin. him sus-iciously as he a--roached* The oldest of the three was a stum-y man with a wide fro.-mouth and small shifty eyes, and althou.h 2r 6o..is didn't know it, his name was Rummins and he was the owner of the farm* The tall youth beside him, who a--eared to have somethin. wron. with one eye, was 6ert, the son of Rummins* The shortish flat-faced man with a narrow corru.ated brow and immensely broad shoulders was Claud* Claud had dro--ed in on Rummins in the ho-e of .ettin. a -iece of -ork or ham out of him from the -i. that had been killed the day before* Claud knew about the killin.--the noise of it had carried far across the fields--and he also knew that a man should have a .overnment -ermit to do that sort of thin., and that Rummins didn't have one* A:ood afternoon,A 2r 6o..is said* A0sn't it a lovely dayBA 'one of the three men moved* t that moment they were all thinkin. -recisely the same thin. that somehow or other this cler.yman, who was certainly not the local fellow, had been sent to -oke his nose into their business and to re-ort what he found to the .overnment*

A+hat beautiful do.s,A 2r 6o..is said* A0 must say 0've never been .reyhound-racin. myself, but they tell me it's a fascinatin. s-ort*A .ain the silence, and 2r 6o..is .lanced ;uickly from Rummins to 6ert, then to Claud, then back a.ain to Rummins, and he noticed that each of them had the same -eculiar e7-ression on his face, somethin. between a 9eer and a challen.e, with a contem-tuous curl to the mouth and a sneer around the nose* A2i.ht 0 in;uire if you are the ownerBA 2r 6o..is asked, undaunted, addressin. himself to Rummins* A+hat is it you wantBA A0 do a-olo.i,e for troublin. you, es-ecially on a Sunday*A 2r 6o..is offered his card and Rummins took it and held it u- close to his face* The other two didn't move, but their eyes swivelled over to one side, tryin. to see* A nd what e7actly mi.ht you be wantin.BA Rummins asked* $or the second time that mornin., 2r 6o..is e7-lained at some len.th the aims and ideals of the Society for the )reservation of Rare $urniture* A+e don't have any,A Rummins told him when it was over* A>ou're wastin. your time*A A'ow, 9ust a minute, sir,A 2r 6o..is said, raisin. a fin.er* AThe last man who said that to me was an old farmer down in Susse7, and when he finally let me into his house, d'you know what 0 foundB dirty-lookin. old chair in the corner of the kitchen, and it turned out to be worth four hundred -oundsF 0 showed him how to sell it, and he bou.ht himself a new tractor with the money*A A+hat on earth are you talkin. aboutBA Claud said* AThere ain't no chair in the world worth four hundred -ound*A A"7cuse me,A 2r 6o..is answered -rimly, Abut there are -lenty of chairs in "n.land worth more than twice that fi.ure* nd you know where they areB They're tucked away in the farms and cotta.es all over the country, with the owners usin. them as ste-s and ladders and standin. on them with hobnailed boots to reach a -ot of 9am out of the to- cu-board or to han. a -icture* This is the truth 0'm tellin. you, my friends*A Rummins shifted uneasily on his feet* A>ou mean to say all you want to do is .o inside and stand there in the middle of the room and look aroundBA A"7actly,A 2r 6o..is said* %e was at last be.innin. to sense what the trouble mi.ht be* A0 don't want to -ry into your cu-boards or into your larder* 0 9ust want to look at the furniture to see if you ha--en to have any treasures here, and then 0 can write about them in our Society ma.a,ine*A A>ou know what 0 thinkBA Rummins said, fi7in. him with his small wicked eyes* A0 think you're after buyin. the sniff yourself* +hy else would you be .oin. to all this troubleBA A#h, dear me* 0 only wish 0 had the money* #f course, if 0 saw somethin. that 0 took a .reat fancy to, and it wasn't beyond my means, 1 mi.ht be tem-ted to make an offer* 6ut alas, that rarely ha--ens*A A+ell,A Rummins said, A0 don't su--ose there's any harm in your takin. a look around if that's all you want*A %e led the way across the yard to the back door of the farmhouse, and 2r 6o..is followed himE so did the son 6ert, and Claud with his two do.s* They went throu.h the kitchen, where the only furniture was a chea- deal table with a dead chicken lyin. on it, and they emer.ed into a fairly lar.e, e7ceedin.ly filthy livin.-room* nd there it wasF 2r 6o..is saw it at once, and he sto--ed dead in his tracks and .ave a little shrill .as- of shock* Then he stood there for five, ten, fifteen seconds at least, starin. like an idiot, unable to believe, not darin. to believe what he saw before him* 0t couldn't be true, not -ossiblyF 6ut the lon.er he stared, the more true it be.an to seem* fter all, there it was standin. a.ainst the wall ri.ht in front of him, as real and as solid as the house itself* nd who in the world could -ossibly make a mistake about a thin. like thatB dmittedly it was -ainted white, but that made not the sli.htest difference* Some idiot had done that* The -aint could easily be stri--ed off* 6ut .ood :odF Gust

look at itF nd in a -lace like thisF t this -oint, 2r 6o..is became aware of the three men, Rummins, 6ert, and Claud, standin. to.ether in a .rou- over by the fire-lace, watchin. him intently* They had seen him sto- and .as- and stare, and they must have seen his face turnin. red, or maybe it was white, but in any event they had seen enou.h to s-oil the whole .oddamn business if he didn't do somethin. about it ;uick* 0n a flash, 2r 6o..is cla--ed one hand over his heart, sta..ered to the nearest chair, and colla-sed into it, breathin. heavily* A+hat's the matter with youBA Claud asked* A0t's nothin.,A he .as-ed* A0'll be all ri.ht in a minute* )lease--a .lass of water* 0t's my heart*A 6ert fetched him the water, handed it to him, and stayed close beside him, starin. down at him with a fatuous leer on his face* A0 thou.ht maybe you were lookin. at somethin.,A Rummins said* The wide fro.mouth widened a fraction further into a crafty .rin, showin. the stubs of several broken teeth* A'o, no,A 2r 6o..is said* A#h dear me, no* 0t's 9ust my heart* 0'm so sorry* 0t ha--ens every now and then* 6ut it .oes away ;uite ;uickly* 0'll be all ri.ht in a cou-le of minutes*A %e must have time to think, he told himself* 2ore im-ortant still, he must have time to com-ose himself thorou.hly before he said another word* Take it .ently, 6o..is* nd whatever you do, kee- calm* These -eo-le may be i.norant, but they are not stu-id* They are sus-icious and wary and sly* nd if it is really true--no it can't be, it can't be true* %e was holdin. one hand u- over his eyes in a .esture of -ain, and now, very carefully, secretly, he made a little crack between two of the fin.ers and -eeked throu.h* Sure enou.h, the thin. was still there, and on this occasion he took a .ood lon. look at it* >es--he had been ri.ht the first timeF There wasn't the sli.htest doubt about itF 0t was really unbelievableF +hat he saw was a -iece of furniture that any e7-ert would have .iven almost anythin. to ac;uire* To a layman, it mi.ht not have a--eared -articularly im-ressive, es-ecially when covered over as it was with dirty white -aint, but to 2r 6o..is it was a dealer's dream* %e knew, as does every other dealer in "uro-e and merica, that amon. the most celebrated and coveted e7am-les of ei.hteenthcentury "n.lish furniture in e7istence are the three famous -ieces known as AThe Chi--endale Commodes'* %e knew their history backwards that the first was Adiscovered' in 1@8<, in a house at 2oreton-in2arsh,((((( and was sold at Sotheby's the same yearE that the other two turned u- in the same auction rooms a year later, both comin. out of Raynham %all, 'orfolk* They all fetched enormous -rices* %e couldn't ;uite remember the e7act fi.ure for the first one, or even the second, but he knew for certain that the last one to be sold had fetched thirtynine hundred .uineas* nd that was in 1@81F Today the same -iece would surely be worth ten thousand -ounds* Some man, 2r 6o..is couldn't remember his name, had made a study of these commodes fairly recently and had -roved that all three must have come from the same worksho-, for the veneers were all from the same lo., and the same set of tem-lates had been used in the construction of each* 'o invoices had been found for any of them, but all the e7-erts were a.reed that these three commodes could have been e7ecuted only by Thomas Chi--endale himself, with his own hands, at the most e7alted -eriod in his career* nd here, 2r 6o..is ke-t tellin. himself as he -eered cautiously throu.h the crack in his fin.ers, here was the fourth Chi--endale CommodeF nd he had found itF %e would be richF %e would also be famousF "ach of the other three was known throu.hout the furniture world by a s-ecial name--The Chastleton Commode, The $irst Raynham Commode, The Second Raynham Commode* This one would .o down in history as The 6o..is CommodeF Gust ima.ine the faces of the boys u- there in !ondon when they .ot a look at it tomorrow mornin.F nd the luscious offers comin. in from the bi. fellows over in the +est "nd--$rank )artrid.e, 2allet, Getley, and

the rest of themF There would be a -icture of it in The Times, and it would say, AThe very fine Chi--endale Commode which was recently discovered by 2r Cyril 6o..is, a !ondon dealer**** A Dear :od, what a stir he was .oin. to makeF This one here, 2r 6o..is thou.ht, was almost e7actly similar to the Second Raynham Commode* C ll three, the Chastleton and the two Raynhams, differed from one another in a number of small ways*D 0t was a most im-ressive handsome affair, built in the $rench rococo style of Chi--endale's Directoire -eriod, a kind of lar.e fat chest-of-drawers set u-on four carved and fluted le.s that raised it about a foot from the .round* There were si7 drawers in all, two lon. ones in the middle and two shorter ones on either side* The ser-entine front was ma.nificently ornamented alon. the to- and sides and bottom, and also vertically between each set of drawers, with intricate carvin.s of festoons and scrolls and clusters* The brass handles, althou.h -artly obscured by white -aint, a--eared to be su-erb* 0t was, of course, a rather Aheavy' -iece, but the desi.n had been e7ecuted with such ele.ance and .race that the heaviness was in no way offensive* A%ow're you feelin. nowBA 2r 6o..is heard someone sayin.* AThank you, thank you, 0'm much better already* 0t -asses ;uickly* 2y doctor says it's nothin. to worry about really so lon. as 0 rest for a few minutes whenever it ha--ens* h yes,A he said, raisin. himself slowly to his feet* AThat's better* 0'm all ri.ht now*A trifle unsteadily, he be.an to move around the room e7aminin. the furniture, one -iece at a time, commentin. u-on it briefly* %e could see at once that a-art from the commode it was a very -oor lot* A'ice oak table,A he said* A6ut 0'm afraid it's not old enou.h to be of any interest* :ood comfortable chairs, but ;uite modern, yes, ;uite modern* 'ow this cu-board, well, it's rather attractive, but a.ain, not valuable* This chest-ofdrawersA--he walked casually -ast the Chi--endale Commode and .ave it a little contem-tuous fli- with his fin.ers--Aworth a few -ounds, 0 dare say, but no more* rather crude re-roduction, 0'm afraid* )robably made in Victorian times* Did you -aint it whiteBA A>es,A Runimins said, A6ert did it*A A very wise move* 0t's considerably less offensive in white*A AThat's a stron. -iece of furniture,A Rummins said* ASome nice carvin. on it too*A A2achine-carved,A 2r 6o..is answered su-erbly, bendin. down to e7amine the e7;uisite craftsmanshi-* A>ou can tell it a mile off* 6ut still, 0 su--ose it's ;uite -retty in its way* 0t has its -oints*A %e be.an to saunter off, then he checked himself and turned slowly back a.ain* %e -laced the ti- of one fin.er a.ainst the -oint of his chin, laid his head over to one side, and frowned as thou.h dee- in thou.ht* A>ou know whatBA he said, lookin. at the commode, s-eakin. so casually that his voice ke-t trailin. off* A0've 9ust remembered***0've been wantin. a set of le.s somethin. like that for a lon. time* 0've .ot a rather curious table in my own little home, one of those low thin.s that -eo-le -ut in front of the sofa, sort of a coffee-table, and last 2ichaelmas, when 0 moved house, the foolish movers dama.ed the le.s in the most shockin. way* 0'm very fond of that table* 0 always kee- my bi. 6ible on it, and all my sermon notes*A %e -aused, strokin. his chin with the fin.er* A'ow 0 was 9ust thinkin.* These le.s on your chestof-drawers mi.ht be very suitable* >es, they mi.ht indeed* They could easily be cut off and fi7ed on to my table*A %e looked around and saw the three men standin. absolutely still, watchin. him sus-iciously, three -airs of eyes, all different but e;ually mistrustin., small -i.-eyes for Rummins, lar.e slow eyes for Claud, and two odd eyes for 6ert, one of them very ;ueer and boiled and misty -ale, with a little black dot in the centre, like a fish eye on a -late* 2r 6o..is smiled and shook his head* ACome, come, what on earth am 0 sayin.B 0'm talkin. as thou.h 0 owned the -iece myself* 0 do a-olo.i,e*A A+hat you mean to say is you'd like to buy it,A Rummins said*

A+ell**** A 2r 6o..is .lanced back at the commode, frownin.* A0'm not sure* 0 mi.ht and then a.ain***on second thou.hts no***0 think it mi.ht be a bit too much trouble* 0t's not worth it* 0'd better leave it*A A%ow much were you thinkin. of offerin.BA Rummins asked* A'ot much, 0'm afraid* >ou see, this is not a .enuine anti;ue* 0t's merely a re-roduction*A A0'm not so sure about that,A Rummins told him* A0t's been in here over twenty years, and before that it was u- at the 2anor %ouse* 0 bou.ht it there myself at auction when the old S;uire died* >ou can't tell me that thin.'s new*,, A0t's not e7actly new, but it's certainly not more than about si7ty years old*A(((( A0t's more than that,A Rummins said* A6ert, where's that bit of -a-er you once found at the back of one of them drawersB That old bill*A The boy looked vacantly at his father* 2r 6o..is o-ened his mouth, then ;uickly shut it a.ain without utterin. a sound* %e was be.innin. literally to shake with e7citement, and to calm himself he walked over to the window and stared out at a -lum- brown hen -eckin. around for stray .rains of corn in the yard* A0t was in the back of that drawer underneath all them rabbit-snares,A Rummins was sayin.* A:o on and fetch it out and show it to the -arson*A +hen 6ert went forward to the commode, 2r 6o..is turned round a.ain* %e couldn't stand not watchin. him* %e saw him -ull out one of the bi. middle drawers, and he noticed the beautiful way in which the drawer slid o-en* %e saw 6ert's hand di--in. inside and rumma.in. around amon. a lot of wires and strin.s* A>ou mean thisBA 6ert lifted out a -iece of folded yellowin. -a-er and carried it over to the father, who unfolded it and held it u- close to his face* A>ou can't tell me this writin. ain't bloody old,A Rummins said, and he held the -a-er out to 2r 6o..is, whose whole arm was shakin. as he took it* 0t was brittle and it cracked sli.htly between his fin.ers* The writin. was in a lon. slo-in. co--er-late handH "dward 2onta.u, "s;* Dr To Thos* Chi--endale lar.e maho.any Commode Table of e7ceedin. fine wood, very rich carvd, set u-on fluted le.s, two very neat sha-ed lon. drawers in the middle -art and two ditto on each side, with rich chasd 6rass %andles and #rnaments, the whole com-letely finished in the most e7;uisite taste =3 (((( 2r 6o..is was holdin. on to himself ti.ht and fi.htin. to su--ress the e7citement that was s-innin. round inside him and makin. him di,,y* #h :od, it was wonderfulF +ith the invoice, the value had climbed even hi.her* +hat in heaven's name would it fetch nowB Twelve thousand -oundsB $ourteenB 2aybe fifteen or even twentyB +ho knowsB #h, boyF %e tossed the -a-er contem-tuously on to the table and said ;uietly, A0t's e7actly what 0 told you, a Victorian re-roduction* This is sim-ly the invoice that the seller the man who made it and -assed it off as an anti;ue--.ave to his client* 0've seen lots of them* >ou'll notice that he doesn't say he made it himself* That would .ive the .ame away*A ASay what you like,A Rummins announced, Abut that's an old -iece of -a-er*A A#f course it is, my dear friend* 0t's Victorian, late Victorian* bout ei.hteen ninety* Si7ty or seventy years old* 0've seen hundreds of them* That was a time when masses of cabinet-makers did nothin. else but a--ly themselves to fakin. the fine furniture of the century before*A A!isten, )arson,A Rummins said, -ointin. at him with a thick dirty fin.er, A0'm not sayin. as how you may not know a fair bit about this furniture business, but what 0 am sayin. is thisH %ow on earth can you be so mi.hty sure it's a fake when you haven't even seen what it looks like underneath all that -aintBA ACome here,A 2r 6o..is said* ACome over here and 0'll show you*A %e stood beside the commode and waited for them to .ather round* A'ow, anyone .ot a knifeBA Claud -roduced a horn-handled -ocket knife, and 2r 6o..is took it and o-ened the smallest blade* Then, workin. with a--arent casualness but actually with e7treme care, he be.an chi--in. off the white -aint from a small area on the to-

of the commode* The -aint flaked away cleanly from the old hard varnish underneath, and when he had cleared away about three s;uare inches, he ste--ed back and said, A'ow, take a look at thatFA 0t was beautiful--a warm little -atch of maho.any, .lowin. like a to-a,, rich and dark with the true colour of its two hundred years* A+hat's wron. with itBA Rummins asked* A0t's -rocessedF nyone can see thatFA A%ow can you see it, 2isterB >ou tell us*A A+ell, 0 must say that's a trifle difficult to e7-lain* 0t's chiefly a matter of e7-erience* 2y e7-erience tells me that without the sli.htest doubt this wood has been -rocessed with lime* That's what they use for maho.any, to .ive it that dark a.ed colour* $or oak, they use -otash salts, and for walnut it's nitric acid, but for maho.any it's always lime*A The three men moved a little closer to -eer at the wood* There was a sli.ht stirrin. of interest amon. them now* 0t was always intri.uin. to hear about some new form of crookery or dece-tion* A!ook closely at the .rain* >ou see that touch of oran.e in amon. the dark red-brown* That's the si.n of lime*A They leaned forward, their noses close to the wood, first Rummins, then Claud, then 6en* A nd then there's the -atina,A 2r 6o..is continued* AThe whatBA %e e7-lained to them the meanin. of this word as a--lied to furniture* A2y dear friends, you've no idea the trouble these rascals will .o to to imitate the hard beautiful bron,e-like a--earance of .enuine -atina* 0t's terrible, really terrible, and it makes me ;uite sick to s-eak of itFA %e was s-ittin. each word shar-ly off the ti- of the ton.ue and makin. a sour mouth to show his e7treme distaste* The men waited, ho-in. for more secrets* AThe time and trouble that some mortals will .o to in order to deceive the innocentFA 2r 6o..is cried* A0t's -erfectly dis.ustin.F D'you know what they did here, my friendsB 0 can reco.ni,e it clearly* 0 can almost see them doin. it, the lon., com-licated ritual of rubbin. the wood with linseed oil, coatin. it over with french -olish that has been cunnin.ly coloured, brushin. it down with -umicestone and oil, bees-wa7in. it with a wa7 that contains dirt and dust, and finally .ivin. it the heat treatment to crack the -olish so that it looks like twohundredyear-old varnishF 0t really u-sets me to contem-late such knaveryFA The three men continued to .a,e at the little -atch of dark wood* A$eel itFA 2r 6o..is ordered* A)ut your fin.ers on itF There, how does it feel, warm or coldBA A$eels cold,A Rummins said* A"7actly, my friendF 0t ha--ens to be a fact that faked -atina is always cold to the touch* Real -atina has a curiously warm feel to it*A AThis feels normal,A Rummins said, ready to ar.ue* A'o, sir, it's cold* 6ut of course it takes an e7-erienced and sensitive fin.er-ti- to -ass a -ositive 9ud.ement* >ou couldn't really be e7-ected to 9ud.e this any more than 0 could be e7-ected to 9ud.e the ;uality of your barley* "verythin. in life, my dear sir, is e7-erience*A The men were starin. at this ;ueer moonfaced cler.yman with the bul.in. eyes, not ;uite so sus-iciously now because he did seem to know a bit about his sub9ect* 6ut they were still a lon. way from trustin. him* 2r 6o..is bent down and -ointed to one of the metal drawer-handles on the commode* AThis is another -lace where the fakers .o to work,A he said* A#ld brass normally has a colour and character all of its own* Did you know thatBA They stared at him, ho-in. for still more secrets* A6ut the trouble is that they've become e7ceedin.ly skilled at matchin. it* 0n fact it's almost im-ossible to tell the difference between A.enuine old' and Afaked old'* 0 don't mind admittin. that it has me .uessin.* So there's not really any -oint in our scra-in. the -aint off these handles* +e wouldn't be any the

wiser*A A%ow can you -ossibly make new brass look like oldBA Claud said* A6rass doesn't rust, you know*A A>ou are ;uite ri.ht, my friend* 6ut these scoundrels have their own secret methods*A ASuch as whatBA Claud asked* ny information of this nature was valuable, in his o-inion* #ne never knew when it mi.ht come in handy* A ll they have to do,A 2r 6o..is said, Ais to -lace these handles overni.ht in a bo7 of maho.any shavin.s saturated in sal ammoniac* The sal ammoniac turns the metal .reen, but if you rub off the .reen, you will find underneath it a fine soft silvery-warm lustre, a lustre identical to that which comes with very old brass* #h, it is so bestial, the thin.s they doF +ith iron they have another trick*A A+hat do they do with ironBA Claud asked, fascinated* A0ron's easy,A 2r 6o..is said* A0ron locks and -lates and hin.es are sim-ly buried in common salt and they come out all rusted and -itted in no time*A A ll ri.ht,A Rummins said* ASo you admit you can't tell about the handles* $or all you know, they may be hundreds and hundreds of years old* CorrectBA A h,A 2r 6o..is whis-ered, fi7in. Rummins with two bi. bul.in. brown eyes* AThat's where you're wron.* +atch this*A $rom his 9acket -ocket, he took out a small screwdriver* t the same time, althou.h none of them saw him do it, he also took out a little brass screw which he ke-t well hidden in the -alm of his hand* Then he selected one of the screws in the commode--there were four to each handle--and be.an carefully scra-in. all traces of white -aint from its head* +hen he had done this, he started slowly to unscrew it* A0f this is a .enuine old brass screw from the ei.hteenth century,A he was sayin., Athe s-iral will be sli.htly uneven and you'll be able to see ;uite easily that it has been hand-cut with a file* 6ut if this brasswork is faked from more recent times, Victorian or later, then obviously the screw will be of the same -eriod* 0t will be a mass--roduced, machine-made article* nyone can reco.ni,e a machine-made screw* +ell, we shall see*A 0t was not difficult, as he -ut his hands over the old screw and drew it out, for 2r 6o..is to substitute the new one hidden in his -alm* This was another little trick of his, and throu.h the years it had -roved a most rewardin. one* The -ockets of his cler.yman's 9acket were always stocked with a ;uantity of cheabrass screws of various si,es* AThere you are,A he said, handin. the modern screw to Rummins* ATake a look at that* 'otice the e7act evenness of the s-iralB See itB #f course you do* 0t's 9ust a chea- common little screw you yourself could buy today in any ironmon.er's in the country*A The screw was handed round from the one to the other, each e7aminin. it carefully* "ven Rummins was im-ressed now* 2r 6o..is -ut the screwdriver back in his -ocket to.ether with the fine hand-cut screw that he'd taken from the commode, and then he turned and walked slowly -ast the three men towards the door* A2y dear friends,A he said, -ausin. at the entrance to the kitchen, Ait was so .ood of you to let me -ee- inside your little home--so kind* 0 do ho-e 0 haven't been a terrible old bore*A Rummins .lanced u- from e7aminin. the screw* A>ou didn't tell us what you were .oin. to offer,A he said* A h,A 2r 6o..is said* AThat's ;uite ri.ht* 0 didn't, did 0B +ell, to tell you the honest truth, 0 think it's all a bit too much trouble* 0 think 0'll leave it*A A%ow much would you .iveBA A>ou mean that you really wish to -art with itBA A0 didn't say 0 wished to -art with it* 0 asked you how much*A 2r 6o..is looked across at the commode, and he laid his head first to one

side, then to the other, and he frowned, and -ushed out his li-s, and shru..ed his shoulders, and .ave a little scornful wave of the hand as thou.h to say the thin. was hardly worth thinkin. about really, was itB AShall we say***ten -ounds* 0 think that +ould be fair*A ATen -oundsFA Rummins cried* ADon't be so ridiculous, )arson, -leaseFA A0t's worth more'n that for firewoodFA Claud said, dis.usted* A!ook here at the billFA Rummins went on, stabbin. that -recious document so fiercely with his dirty fore-fin.er that 2r 6o..is became alarmed* A0t tells you e7actly what it costF "i.htyseven -oundsF nd that's when it was new* 'ow it's anti;ue it's worth doubleFA A0f you'll -ardon me, no, sir, it's not* 0t's a second-hand re-roduction* 6ut 0'll tell you what, my friend--0'm bein. rather reckless, 0 can't hel- it-0'll .o u- as hi.h as fifteen -ounds* %ow's thatBA A2ake it fifty,A Rummins said* delicious little ;uiver like needles ran all the way down the back of 2r 6o..is's le.s and then under the soles of his feet* %e had it now* 0t was his* 'o ;uestion about that* 6ut the habit of buyin. chea-, as chea- as it was humanly -ossible to buy, ac;uired by years of necessity and -ractice, was too stron. in him now to -ermit him to .ive in so easily* A2y dear man,A he whis-ered softly, A0 only want the le.s* )ossibly 0 could find some use for the drawers later on, but the rest of it, the carcass itself, as your friend so ri.htly saidE it's firewood, that's all*A A2ake it thirty-five,A Rummins said* A0 couldn't sir, 0 couldn'tF 0t's not worth it* nd 0 sim-ly mustn't allow myself to ha..le like this about a -rice* 0t's all wron.* 0'll make you one final offer, and then 0 must .o* Twenty -ounds*A A0'll take it,A Rummins sna--ed* A0t's yours*A A#h dear,A 2r 6o..is said, clas-in. his hands* AThere 0 .o a.ain* 0 should never have started this in the first -lace*A A>ou can't back out now, )arson* deal's a deal*A A>es, yes, 0 know*A A%ow're you .oin. to take itBA A+ell, let me see* )erha-s if 0 were to drive my car u- into the yard, you .entlemen would be kind enou.h to hel- me load itBA A0n a carB This thin.'ll never .o in a carF >ou'll need a truck for thisFA A0 don't think so* nyway, we'll see* 2y car's on the road* 0'll be back in a 9iffy* +e'll mana.e it somehow, 0'm sure*A 2r 6o..is walked out into the yard and throu.h the .ate and then down the lon. track that led across the field towards the road* %e found himself .i..lin. ;uite uncontrollably, and there was a feelin. inside him as thou.h hundreds and hundreds of tiny bubbles were risin. u- from his stomach and burstin. merrily in the to- of his head, like s-arklin.-water* ll the buttercu-s in the field were suddenly turnin. into .olden soverei.ns, .listenin. in the sunli.ht* The .round was littered with them, and he swun. off the track on to the .rass so that he could walk amon. them and tread on them and hear the little metallic tinkle they made as he kicked them around with his toes* %e was findin. it difficult to stohimself from breakin. into a run* 6ut cler.ymen never runE they walk Slowly* +alk slowly, 6o..is* /ee- calm, 6o..is* There's no hurry now* The commode is yoursF >ours for twenty -ounds, and it's worth fifteen or twenty thousandF The 6o..is CommodeF 0n ten minutes it'll be loaded into your car--it'll .o in easily and you'll be drivin. back to !ondon and sin.in. all the wayF 2r 6o..is drivin. the 6o..is Commode home in the 6o..is car* %istoric occasion* +hat wouldn't a news-a-erman .ive to .et a -icture of thatF Should he arran.e itB )erha-s he should* +ait and see* #h, .lorious dayF #h, lovely sunny summer dayF #h, .lory beF 6ack in the farmhouse, Rummins was sayin., A$ancy that old bastard .ivin. twenty -ound for a load of 9unk like this*A A>ou did very nicely, 2r Rummins,A Claud told him* A>ou think he'll -ay

youBA A+e don't -ut it in the car till he do*A A nd what if it won't .o in the carBA Claud asked* A>ou know what 0 think, 2r RumminsB >ou want my honest o-inionB 0 think the bloody thin.'s too bi. to .o in the car* nd then what ha--ensB Then he's .oin. to say to hell with it and 9ust drive off without it and you'll never see him a.ain* 'or the money either* %e didn't seem all that keen on havin. it, you know*A Rummins -aused to consider this new and rather alarmin. -ros-ect* A%ow can a thin. like that -ossibly .o in a carBA Claud went on relentlessly* A -arson never has a bi. car anyway* >ou ever seen a -arson with a bi. car, 2r RumminsBA ACan't say 0 have*A A"7actlyF rid now listen to me* 0've .ot an idea* %e told us, didn't he, that it was only the le.s he was wantin.* Ri.htB So all we've .ot to do is to cut Aem off ;uick ri.ht here on the s-ot before he comes back, then it'll be sure to .o in the car* ll we're doin. is savin. him the trouble of cuttin. them off himself when he .ets home* %ow about it, 2r RumminsBA Claud's flat bovine face .limmered with a mawkish -ride* A0t's not such a bad idea at that,A Rummins said, lookin. at the commode* A0n fact it's a bloody .ood idea* Come on then, we'll have to hurry* >ou and 6ert carry it out into the yard* 0'll .et the saw* Take the drawers out first*A +ithin a cou-le of minutes, Claud and 6en had carried the commode outside and had laid it u-side down in the yard amidst the chicken dro--in.s and cow dun. and mud* 0n the distance, half-way across the field, they could see a small black fi.ure stridin. alon. the -ath towards the road* They -aused to watch* There was somethin. rather comical about the way in which this fi.ure was conductin. itself* "very now and a.ain it would break into a trot, then it did a kind of ho-, ski-, and 9um-, and once it seemed as thou.h the sound of a cheerful son. came ri--lin. faintly to them from across the meadow* A0 reckon he's barmy,A Claud said, and 6ert .rinned darkly, rollin. his misty eye slowly round in its socket* Rummins came waddlin. over from the shed, s;uat and fro.like, carryin. a lon. saw* Claud took the saw away from him and went to work* ACut Aem close,A Rummins said* ADon't for.et he's .oin. to use Aem on another table*A The maho.any was hard and very dry, and as Claud worked, a fine red dust s-rayed out from the ed.e of the saw and fell softly to the .round* #ne by one, the le.s came off, and when they were all severed, 6ert stoo-ed down and arran.ed them carefully in a row* Claud ste--ed back to survey the results of his labour* There was a lon.ish -ause* AGust let me ask you one ;uestion, 2r Rummins,A he said slowly* A"ven now, could you -ut that enormous thin. into the back of a carBA A'ot unless it was a van*A ACorrectFA Claud cried* A nd -arsons don't have vans, you know* ll they've .ot usually is -iddlin. little 2orris "i.hts or ustin Sevens*A AThe le.s is all he wants,A Rummins said* A0f the rest of it won't .o in, then he can leave it* %e can't com-lain* %e's .ot the le.s*A A'ow you know better'n that, 2r Rummins,A Claud said -atiently* A>ou know damn well he's .oin. to start knockin. the -rice if he don't .et every sin.le bit of this into the car* -arson's 9ust as cunnin. as the rest of Aem when it comes to money, don't you make any mistake about that* "s-ecially this old boy* So why don't we .ive him his firewood now and be done with it* +here d'you kee- the a7eBA A0 reckon that's fair enou.h,A Rummins said* A6en, .o fetch the a7e*A 6ert went into the shed and fetched a tall woodcutter's a7e and .ave it to Claud* Claud s-at on the -alms of his hands and rubbed them to.ether* Then, with a lon.-armed hi.h-swin.in. action, he be.an fiercely attackin. the le.less carcass of the commode*

0t was hard work, and it took several minutes before he had the whole thin. more or less smashed to -ieces* A0'll tell you one thin.,A he said, strai.htenin. u-, wi-in. his brow* AThat was a bloody .ood car-enter -ut this 9ob to.ether and 0 don't care what the -arson says*A A+e're 9ust in timeFA Rummins called out* A%ere he comesFA

2rs 6i7by and the Colonel's Coat

2"R0C is the land of o--ortunities for women* lready they own about ei.htyfive -er cent of the wealth of the nation* Soon they will have it all* Divorce has become a lucrative -rocess, sim-le to arran.e and easy to for.etE and ambitious females can re-eat it as often as they -lease and -arlay their winnin.s to astronomical fi.ures* The husband's death also brin.s satisfactory rewards and some ladies -refer to rely u-on this method* They know that the waitin. -eriod will not be unduly -rotracted for overwork and hy-ertension are bound to .el the -oor devil before lon., and he will die at his desk with a bottle of ben,edrines in one hand and a -acket of tran;uilli,ers in the other* Succeedin. .enerations of youthful merican males are not deterred in the sli.htest by this terrifyin. -attern of divorce and death* The hi.her the divorce rate climbs, the more ea.er they become* >oun. men marry like mice, almost before they have reached the a.e of -uberty, and a lar.e -ro-ortion of them have at least two e7-wives on the -ayroll by the time they are thirtysi7 (((( years old* To su--ort these ladies in the manner to which they are accustomed, the men must work like slaves, which is of course -recisely what they are* 6ut now at last, as they a--roach their -remature middle a.e, a sense of disillusionment and fear be.ins to cree- slowly into their hearts, and in the evenin.s they take to huddlin. to.ether in little .rou-s, in clubs and bars, drinkin. their whiskies and swallowin. their -ills, and tryin. to comfort one another with stories* The basic theme of these stories never varies* There are always three main characters--the husband, the wife, and the dirty do.* The husband is a decent clean-livin. man, workin. hard at his 9ob* The wife is cunnin., deceitful, and lecherous, and she is invariably u- to some sort of 9i..ery--okery with the dirty do.* The husband is too .ood a man even to sus-ect her* Thin.s look black for the husband* +ill the -oor man ever find outB 2ust he be a cuckold for the rest of his lifeB >es, he must* 6ut waitF Suddenly, by a brilliant manoeuvre, the husband com-letely turns the tables on his monstrous s-ouse* The woman is flabber.asted, stu-efied, humiliated, defeated* The audience of men around the bar smiles ;uietly to itself and takes a little comfort from the fantasy* There are many of these stories .oin. around, these wonderful wishful thinkin. dreamworld inventions of the unha--y male, but most of them are too fatuous to be worth re-eatin., and far too fruity to be -ut down on -a-er* There is one, however, that seems to be su-erior to the rest, -articularly as it has the merit of bein. true* 0t is e7tremely -o-ular with twice-or thricebitten males in search of solace, and if you are one of them, and if you haven't heard it before, you may en9oy the way it comes out* The story is called A2rs 6i7by and the Colonel's Coat', and it .oes somethin. like thisH ((((2r and 2rs 6i7by lived in a smallish a-artment somewhere in 'ew >ork City* 2r 6i7by was a dentist who made an avera.e income* 2rs 6i7by was a bi. vi.orous woman with a wet mouth* #nce a month, always on $riday afternoons, 2rs 6i7by would board the train at )ennsylvania Station and travel to 6altimore to visit her old aunt* She would s-end the ni.ht

with the aunt and return to 'ew >ork on the followin. day in time to cook su--er for her husband* 2r 6i7by acce-ted this arran.ement .ood-naturedly* %e knew that unt 2aude lived in 6altimore, and that his wife was very fond of the old lady, and certainly it would be unreasonable to deny either of them the -leasure of a monthly meetin.* AGust so lon. as you don't ever e7-ect me to accom-any you,A 2r 6i7by had said in the be.innin.* A#f course not, darlin.,A 2rs 6i7by had answered* A fter all, she is not your aunt* She's mine*A So far so .ood* s it turned out, however, the aunt was little more than a convenient alibi for 2rs 6i7by* The dirty do., in the sha-e of a .entleman known as the Colonel, was lurkin. slyly in the back.round, and our heroine s-ent the .reater -art of her 6altimore time in this scoundrel's com-any* The Colonel was e7ceedin.ly wealthy* %e lived in a charmin. house on the outskirts of town* 'o wife or family encumbered him, only a few discreet and loyal servants, and in 2rs 6i7by's absence he consoled himself by ridin. his horses and huntin. the fo7* >ear after year, this -leasant alliance between 2rs 6i7by and the Colonel continued without a hitch* They met so seldom--twelve times a year is not much when you come to think of it--that there was little or no chance of their .rowin. bored with one another* #n the contrary, the lon. wait between meetin.s only made the heart .row fonder, and each se-arate occasion became an e7citin. reunion* ATally-hoFA the Colonel would cry each time he met her at the station in the bi. car* A2y dear, 0'd almost for.otten how ravishin. you looked* !et's .o to earth*A "i.ht years went by* 0t was 9ust before Christmas, and 'its 6i7by was standin. on the station in 6altimore waitin. for the train to take her back to 'ew >ork* This -articular visit which had 9ust ended had been more than usually a.reeable, and she was in a cheerful mood* 6ut then the Colonel's com-any always did that to her these days* The man had a way of makin. her feel that she was alto.ether a rather remarkable woman, a -erson of subtle and e7otic talents, fascinatin. beyond measureE and what a very different thin. that was from the dentist husband at home who never succeeded in makin. her feel that she was anythin. but a son of eternal -atient, (((( someone who dwelt in the waitin.-room, silent amon. the ma.a,ines, seldom if ever nowadays to be called in to suffer the finicky -recise ministrations of those clean -ink hands* AThe Colonel asked me to .ive you this,A a voice beside her said* She turned and saw +ilkins, the Colonel's .room, a small wi,ened dwarf with .rey skin, and he was -ushin. a lar.e flattish cardboard bo7 into her arms* A:ood .racious meFA she cried, all of a flutter* A2y heavens, what an enormous bo7F +hat is it, +ilkinsB +as there a messa.eB Did he send me a messa.eBA A'o messa.e,A the .room said, and he walked away* s soon as she was on the train, 2rs 6i7by carried the bo7 into the -rivacy of the !adies' Room and locked the door* %ow e7citin. this wasF Christmas -resent from the Colonel* She started to undo the strin.* A0'll bet it's a dress,A she said aloud* A0t mi.ht even be two dresses* #r it mi.ht be a whole lot of beautiful underclothes* 0 won't look* 0'll 9ust feel around and try to .uess what it is* 0'll try to .uess the colour as well, and e7actly what it looks like* lso how much it cost*A She shut her eyes ti.ht and slowly lifted off the lid* Then she -ut one hand down into the bo7* There was some tissue -a-er on to-E she could feel it and hear it rustlin.* There was also an envelo-e or a card of some sort* She i.nored this and be.an burrowin. underneath the tissue -a-er, the fin.ers reachin. out delicately, like tendrils* A2y :od,A she cried suddenly* A0t can't be trueFA She o-ened her eyes wide and stared at the coat* Then she -ounced on it and lifted it out of the bo7, Thick layers of fur made a lovely noise a.ainst the

tissue -a-er as they unfolded, and when she held it u- and saw it han.in. to its full len.th, it was so beautiful it took her breath away* 'ever had she seen mink like this before* 0t was mink, wasn't itB >es, of course it was* 6ut what a .lorious colourF The fur was almost -ure black* t first she thou.ht it was blackE but when she held it closer to the window she saw that there was a touch of blue in it as well, a dee- rich blue, like cobalt* Iuickly she looked at the label* 0t said sim-ly, +0!D ! 6R D#R 20'/* There was nothin. else, no si.n of where it had been bou.ht or anythin.* 6ut that, she told herself, was -robably the Colonel's doin.* The wily old fo7 was makin. darn sure he didn't leave any tracks* :ood for him* 6ut what in the world could it have costB She hardly dared to think* $our, five, si7 thousand dollarsB )ossibly more* She 9ust couldn't take her eyes off it* 'or, for, that matter, could she wait to try it on* Iuickly she sli--ed off her own -lain red coat* She was -antin. a little now, she couldn't hel- it, and her eyes were stretched very wide* 6ut oh :od, the feel of that furF nd those hu.e wide sleeves with their thick turned-ucuffsF +ho was it had once told her that they always used female skins for the arms and male skins for the rest of the coatB Someone had told her that* Goan Rutfield, -robablyE thou.h how Goan would know anythin. about mink she couldn't ima.ine* The .reat black coat seemed to slide on to her almost of its own accord, like a second skin* #h boyF 0t was the ;ueerest feelin.F She .lanced into the mirror* 0t was fantastic* %er whole -ersonality had suddenly chan.ed com-letely* She looked da,,lin., radiant, rich, brilliant, volu-tuous, all at the same time* nd the sense of -ower that it .ave herF 0n this coat she could walk into any -lace she wanted and -eo-le would come scurryin. around her like rabbits* The whole thin. was 9ust too wonderful for wordsF 2rs 6i7by -icked u- the envelo-e that was still lyin. in the bo7* She o-ened it and -ulled out the Colonel's letterH 0 once heard you sayin. you were fond of mink so 0 .ot you this* 0'm told it's a .ood one* )lease acce-t it with my sincere .ood wishes as a -artin. .ift* $or my own -ersonal reasons 0 shall not be able to see you any more* :ood-bye and .ood luck* +ellF 0ma.ine thatF Ri.ht out of the blue, 9ust when she was feelin. so ha--y* 'o more Colonel* +hat a dreadful shock* She would miss him enormously* Slowly, 2rs 6i7by be.an strokin. the lovely soft black fur of the coat* +hat you lose on the swin.s you .et back on the roundabouts* She smiled and folded the letter, meanin. to tear it u- and throw it out of the window, but in foldin. it she noticed that there was somethin. written on the other sideH )s* Gust tell them that nice .enerous aunt of yours .ave it to you for Christmas* 2rs 6i7by's mouth, at that moment stretched wide in a silky smile, sna--ed back like a -iece of elastic* AThe man must be madFA she cried* A unt 2aude doesn't have that son (((( of money* She couldn't -ossibly .ive me this*A 6ut if unt 2aude didn't .ive it to her, then who didB #h :odF 0n the e7citement of findin. the coat and tryin. it on, she had com-letely overlooked this vital as-ect* 0n a cou-le of hours she would be in 'ew >ork* Ten minutes after that she would be home, and the husband would be there to .reet herE and even a man like Cyril, dwellin. as he did in a dark -hle.my world of root canals, bicus-ids, and caries, would start askin. a few ;uestions if his wife suddenly walt,ed in from a week-end wearin. a si7-thousand-dollar mink coat* >ou know what 0 think, she told herself* 0 think that .oddamn Colonel has done this on -ur-ose 9ust to torture me* %e knew -erfectly well unt 2aude didn't have enou.h money to buy this* %e knew 0 wouldn't be able to kee- it*

6ut the thou.ht of -artin. with it now was more than 2rs 6i7by could bear* A0've .ot to have this coatFA she said aloud* A0've .ot to have this coatF 0've .ot to have this coatFA Very well, my dear* >ou shall have the coat* 6ut don't -anic* Sit still and kee- calm and start thinkin.* >ou're a clever .irl, aren't youB >ou've fooled him before* The man never has been able to see much further than the end of his own -robe, you know that* So 9ust sit absolutely still and think* There's lots of time* Two and a half hours later, 2rs 6i7by ste--ed off the train at )ennsylvania Station and walked ;uietly to the e7it* She was wearin. her old red coat a.ain now and carryin. the cardboard bo7 in her arms* She si.nalled for a ta7i* ADriver,A she said, Awould you know of a -awnbroker that's still o-en around hereBA The man behind the wheel raised his brows and looked back at her, amused* A)lenty alon. Si7th venue,A he answered* ASto- at the first one you see, then, will you -leaseBA She .ot in and was driven away* Soon the ta7i -ulled u- outside a sho- that had three brass balls han.in. over the entrance* A+ait for me, -lease,A 2rs 6i7by said to the driver, and she .ot out of the ta7i and entered the sho-* There was an enormous cat crouchin. on the counter eatin. fishheads out of a white saucer* The animal looked u- at 2rs 6i7by with bri.ht yellow eyes, then looked away a.ain and went on eatin.* 2rs 6i7by stood by the counter, as far away from the cat as -ossible, waitin. for someone to come, starin. at the watches, the shoe buckles, the enamel brooches, the old binoculars, the broken s-ectacles, the false teeth* +hy did they always -awn their teeth, she wondered* A>esBA the -ro-rietor said, emer.in. from a dark -lace in the back of the sho-* A#h, .ood evenin.,A 2rs 6i7by said* She be.an to untie the strin. around the bo7* The man went u- to the cat and started strokin. it alon. the to- of its back, and the cat went on eatin. the fishheads* A0sn't it silly of meBA 2rs 6i7by said* A0've .one and lost my -ocket-book, and this bein. Saturday, the banks are all closed until 2onday and 0've sim-ly .ot to have some money for the week-end* This is ;uite a valuable coat, but 0'm not askin. much* 0 only want to borrow enou.h on it to tide me over till 2onday* Then 0'll come back and redeem it*A The man waited, and said nothin.* 6ut when she -ulled out the mink and allowed the beautiful thick fur to fall over the counter, his eyebrows went u- and he drew his hand away from the cat and came over to look at it* %e -icked it uand held it out in front of him* A0f only 0 had a watch on me or a rin.,A 2rs 6i7by said, A0'd .ive you that instead* 6ut the fact is 0 don't have a thin. with me other than this coat*A She s-read out her fin.ers for him to see* A0t looks new,A the man said, fondlin. the soft fur* A#h yes, it is* 6ut, as 0 said, 0 only want to borrow enou.h to tide me over till 2onday* %ow about fifty dollarsBA A0'll loan you fifty dollars*A A0t's worth a hundred times more than that, but 0 know you'll take .ood care of it until 0 return*A The man went over to a drawer and fetched a ticket and -laced it on the counter* The ticket looked like one of those labels you tie on to the handle of your suitcase, the same sha-e and si,e e7actly, and the same stiff brownish -a-er* 6ut it was -erforated across the middle so that you could tear it in two, and both halves were identical* A'ameBA he asked* A!eave that out* nd the address*A She saw the man -ause, and she saw the nib of the -en hoverin. over the

dotted line, waitin.* A>ou don't have to -ut the name and address, do youBA The man shru..ed and shook his head and the -en-nib moved on down to the ne7t line* A0t's 9ust that 0'd rather not,A 2rs 6i7by said* A0t's -urely -ersonal*A A>ou'd better not lose this ticket, then*A A0 won't lose it*A A>ou reali,e that anyone who .ets hold of it can come in and claim the articleBA A>es, 0 know that*A ASim-ly on the number*A A>es, 0 know*A A+hat do you want me to -ut for a descri-tionBA A'o descri-tion either, thank you* 0t's not necessary* Gust -ut the amount 0'm borrowin.*A The -en-nib hesitated a.ain, hoverin. over the dotted line beside the word RT0C!"* A0 think you ou.ht to -ut a descri-tion* descri-tion is always a hel- if you want to sell the ticket* >ou never know, you mi.ht want to sell it sometime*A A0 don't want to sell it*A A>ou mi.ht have to* !ots of -eo-le do*A A!ook,A 2rs 6i7by said* A0'm not broke, if that's what you mean* 0 sim-ly lost my -urse* Don't you understandBA A>ou have it your own way then,A the man said* A0t's your coat*A t this -oint an un-leasant thou.ht struck 2rs 6i7by* ATell me somethin.,A she said* A0f 0 don't have a descri-tion on my ticket, how can 0 be sure you'll .ive me back the coat and not somethin. else when 0 returnBA A0t .oes in the books*A A6ut all 0've .ot is a number, So actually you could hand me any old thin. you wanted, isn't that soBA ADo you want a descri-tion or don't youBA the man asked* A'o,A she said* A0 trust you*A The man wrote Afifty dollars' o--osite the word vu (((( on both sections of the ticket, then he tore it in half alon. the -erforations and slid the lower -ortion across the counter* %e took a wallet from the inside -ocket of his 9acket and e7tracted five ten-dollar bills* AThe interest is three -er cent a month,A he said* A>es, all ri.ht* nd thank you* >ou'll take .ood care of it, won't youBA The man nodded but said nothin.* AShall 0 -ut it back in the bo7 for youBA A'o,A the man said* 2rs 6i7by turned and went out of the sho- on to the street where the ta7i was waitin.* Ten minutes later, she was home* ADarlin.,A she said as she bent over and kissed her husband* ADid you miss meBA Cyril 6i7by laid down the evenin. -a-er and .lanced at the watch on his wrist* A0t's twelve and a half minutes -ast si7,A he said* A>ou're a bit late, aren't youBA A0 know* 0t's those dreadful trains* unt 2aude sent you her love as usual* 0'm dyin. for a drink, aren't youBA The husband folded his news-a-er into a neat rectan.le and -laced it on the arm of his chair* Then he stood u- and crossed over to the sideboard* %is wife remained in the centre of the room -ullin. off her .loves, watchin. him carefully, wonderin. how lon. she ou.ht to wait* %e had his back to her now, bendin. forward to measure the .in, -uttin. his face ri.ht u- close to the measurer and -eerin. into it as thou.h it were a -atient's mouth* 0t was funny how small he always looked after the Colonel* The Colonel was hu.e and bristly, and when you were near to him he smelled faintly of horseradish*

This one was small and neat and bony and he didn't really smell of anythin. at all, e7ce-t -e--ermint dro-s, which he sucked to kee- his breath nice for the -atients* ASee what 0've bou.ht for measurin. the vermouth,A he said, holdin. u- a calibrated .lass beaker* A0 can .et it to the nearest milli.ram with this*A ADarlin., how clever*A 0 really must try to make him chan.e the way he dresses, she told herself* %is suits are 9ust too ridiculous for words* There had been a time when she thou.ht they were wonderful, those "dwardian 9ackets with hi.h la-els and si7 buttons down the front, but now they merely seemed absurd* So did the narrow stove-i-e trousers* >ou had to have a s-ecial sort of face to wear thin.s like that, and Cyril 9ust didn't have it* %is was a lon. bony countenance with a narrow nose and a sli.htly -ro.nathous 9aw, and when you saw it comin. u- out of the toof one of those ti.htly fittin. oldfashioned suits it looked like a caricature of Sam +eller* %e -robably thou.ht it looked like 6eau 6rummel* 0t was a fact that in the office he invariably .reeted female -atients with his white coat unbuttoned so that they would catch a .lim-se of the tra--in.s underneathE and in some obscure way this was obviously meant to convey the im-ression that he was a bit of a do.* 6ut 2rs 6i7by knew better* The -luma.e was a bluff* 0t meant nothin.* 0t reminded her of an a.ein. -eacock struttin. on the lawn with only half its feathers left* #r one of those fatuous self-fertili,in. flowers--like the dandelion* dandelion never has to .et fertili,ed for the settin. of its seed, and all those brilliant yellow -etals are 9ust a waste of time, a boast, a mas;uerade* +hat's the word the biolo.ists useB Subse7ual* dandelion is subse7ual* So, for that matter, are the summer broods of water fleas* 0t sounds a bit like !ewis Carroll, she thou.ht-water fleas and dandelions and dentists* AThank you, darlin.,A she said, takin. the 2artini and seatin. herself on the sofa with her handba. on her la-* A nd what did you do last ni.htBA A0 stayed on in the office and cast a few inlays* 0 also .ot my accounts uto date*A A'ow really, Cyril, 0 think it's hi.h time you let other -eo-le do your donkey work for you* >ou're much too im-ortant for that sort of thin.* +hy don't you .ive the inlays to the mechanicBA A0 -refer to do them myself* 0'm e7tremely -roud of my inlays*A A0 know you are, darlin., and 0 think they're absolutely wonderful* They're the best inlays in the whole world* 6ut 0 don't want you to burn yourself out* nd why doesn't that )ulteney woman do the accountsB That's -art of her 9ob, isn't itBA AShe does do them* 6ut 0 have to -rice everythin. u- first* She doesn't know who's rich and who isn't*A AThis 2artini is -erfect,A 2rs 6i7by said, settin. down her .lass on the side table* AIuite -erfect*A She o-ened her ba. and took out a handkerchief as if to blow her nose* A#h lookFA she cried, seein. the ticket* A0 for.ot to show you thisF 0 found it 9ust now on the seat of my ta7i* 0t's .ot a number on it, and 0 thou.ht it mi.ht be a lottery ticket or somethin., so 0 ke-t it*A She handed the small -iece of stiff brown -a-er to her husband who took it in his fin.ers and be.an e7aminin. it minutely from all an.les, as thou.h it were a sus-ect tooth* A>ou know what this isBA he said slowly* A'o dear, 0 don't*A A0t's a -awn ticket*A A whatBA A ticket from a -awnbroker* %ere's the name and address of the sho--somewhere on Si7th venue*A A#h dear, 0 am disa--ointed* 0 was ho-in. it mi.ht be a ticket for the 0rish Swee-*A AThere's no reason to be disa--ointed,A Cyril 6i7by said* A s a matter of fact this could be rather amusin.*A

A+hy could it be amusin., darlin.BA %e be.an e7-lainin. to her e7actly how a -awn ticket worked, with -articular reference to the fact that anyone -ossessin. the ticket was entitled to claim the article* She listened -atiently until he had finished his lecture* A>ou think it's worth claimin.BA she asked* A0 think it's worth findin. out what it is* >ou see this fi.ure of fifty dollars that's written hereB >ou know what that meansBA A'o, dear, what does it meanBA A0t means that the item in ;uestion is almost certain to be somethin. ;uite valuable*A A>ou mean it'll be worth fifty dollarsBA A2ore like five hundred*A A$ive hundredFA ADon't you understandBA he said* A -awnbroker never .ives you more than about a tenth of the real value*A A:ood .raciousF 0 never knew that*A AThere's a lot of thin.s you don't know, my dear* 'ow you listen to me* Seein. that there's no name and address of the owner**** A A6ut surely there's somethin. to say who it belon.s toBA A'ot a thin.* )eo-le often do that* They don't want anyone to know they've been to a -awnbroker* They're ashamed of it*A AThen you think we can kee- itBA A#f course we can kee- it* This is now our ticket*A A>ou mean my ticket,A 2rs 6i7by said firmly* A0 found it*A A2y dear .irl, what does it matterB The im-ortant thin. is that we are now in a -osition to .o and redeem it any time we like for only fifty dollars* %ow about thatBA A#h, what funFA she cried* A0 think it's terribly e7citin., es-ecially when we don't even know what it is* 0t could be anythin., isn't that ri.ht, CyrilB bsolutely anythin.FA A0t could indeed, althou.h it's most likely to be either a rin. or a watch*A A6ut wouldn't it be marvellous if it was a real treasureB 0 mean somethin. really old, like a wonderful old vase or a Roman statue*A AThere's no knowin. what it mi.ht be, my dear* +e shall 9ust have to wait and see*A A0 think it's absolutely fascinatin.F :ive me the ticket and 0'll rush over first thin. 2onday mornin. and find outFA A0 think 0'd better do that*A A#h noFA she cried* A!et me do itFA A0 think not* 0'll -ick it u- on my way to work*A A6ut it's my ticketF )lease let me do it, CyrilF +hy should you have all the funBA A>ou don't know these -awnbrokers, my dear* >ou're liable to .et cheated*A A0 wouldn't .et cheated, honestly 0 wouldn't* :ive the ticket to me, -lease*A A lso you have to have fifty dollars,A he said, smilin.* A>ou have to -ay out fifty dollars in cash before they'll .ive it to you*A A0've .ot that,A she said* A0 think*A A0'd rather you didn't handle it, if you don't mind*A A6ut Cyril, 0 found it* 0t's mine* +hatever it is, it's mine, isn't that ri.htBA A#f course it's yours, my dear* There's no need to .et so worked u- about it*A A0'm not* 0'm 9ust e7cited, that's all*A A0 su--ose it hasn't occurred to you that this mi.ht be somethin. entirely masculine a -ocket-watch, for e7am-le, or a set of shirt-studs* 0t isn't only women that .o to -awnbrokers, you know*A A0n that case 0'll .ive it to you for Christmas,A 2rs 6i7by said

ma.nanimously* A0'll be deli.hted* 6ut if it's a woman's thin., 0 want it myself* 0s that a.reedBA (((( AThat sounds very fair* +hy don't you come with me when 0 collect itBA 2rs 6i7by was about to say yes to this, but cau.ht herself 9ust in time* She had no wish to be .reeted like an old customer by the -awnbroker in her husband's -resence* A'o,A she said slowly* A0 don't think 0 will* >ou see, it'll be even more thrillin. if 0 stay behind and wait* #h, 0 do ho-e it isn't .oin. to be somethin. that neither of us wants*A A>ou've .ot a -oint there,A he said* A0f 0 don't think it's worth fifty dollars, 0 won't even take it*A A6ut you said it would be worth five hundred*A A0'm ;uite sure it will* Don't worry*A A#h, Cyril* 0 can hardly waitF 0sn't it e7citin.BA A0t's amusin.,A he said, sli--in. the ticket into his waistcoat -ocket* AThere's no doubt about that*A 2onday mornin. came at last, and after breakfast 2rs 6i7by followed her husband to the door and hel-ed him on with his coat* ADon't work too hard, darlin.,A she said* A'o, all ri.ht*A A%ome at si7BA A0 ho-e so*A A re you .oin. to have time to .o to that -awnbrokerBA she asked* A2y :od, 0 for.ot all about it* 0'll take a cab and .o there now* 0t's on my way,A A>ou haven't lost the ticket, have youBA A0 ho-e not,A he said, feelin. in his waistcoat -ocket* A'o, here it is*A A nd you have enou.h moneyBA AGust about*A ADarlin., A she said, standin. close to him and strai.htenin. his tie, which was -erfectly strai.ht, A0f it ha--ens to be somethin. nice, somethin. you think 0 mi.ht like, will you tele-hone me as soon as you .et to the officeBA A0f you want me to, yes*A A>ou know, 0'm sort of ho-in. it'll be somethin. for you, Cyril* 0'd much rather it was for you than for me*A AThat's very .enerous of you, my dear* 'ow 0 must run*A bout an hour later, when the tele-hone ran., 2rs 6i7by was across the room so fast she had the receiver off the hook before the first rin. had finished* A0 .ot itFA he said* A>ou didF #h, Cyril, what was itB +as it somethin. .oodBA A:oodFA he cried* A0t's fantasticF >ou wait till you .et your eyes on thisF >ou'll swoonFA ADarlin., what is itB Tell me ;uickFA A>ou're a lucky .irl, that's what you are*A A0t's for me, thenBA A#f course it's for you* Thou.h how in the world it ever .ot to be -awned for only fifty dollars 0'll be damned if 0 know* Someone's cra,y*A ACyrilF Sto- kee-in. me in sus-enseF 0 can't bear itFA A>ou'll .o mad when you see it*A A+hat is itBA ATry to .uess*A 2rs 6i7by -aused* 6e careful, she told herself 6e very careful now* A necklace,A she said* A+ron.*A A diamond rin.*A A>ou're not even warm* 0'll .ive you a hint* 0t's somethin. you can wear*A ASomethin. 0 can wearB >ou mean like a hatBA

A'o, it's not a hat,A he said, lau.hin.* A$or .oodness sake, CyrilF +hy don't you tell meBA A6ecause 0 want it to be a sur-rise* 0'll brin. it home with me this evenin.*A A>ou'll do nothin. of the sortFA she cried* A0'm comin. ri.ht down there to .et it nowFA A0'd rather you didn't do that*A ADon't be silly, darlin.* +hy shouldn't 0 comeBA A6ecause 0'm too busy* >ou'll disor.ani,e my whole mornin. schedule* 0'm half an hour behind already*A AThen 0'll come in the lunch hour* ll ri.htBA A0'm not havin. a lunch hour* #h well, come at one-thirty then, while 0'm havin. a sandwich* :ood-bye*A t half -ast one -recisely, 2rs 6i7by arrived at 2r 6i7by's -lace of business and ran. the bell* %er husband, in his white dentist's coat, o-ened the door himself* A#h, Cyril, 0'm so e7citedFA ASo you should be* >ou're a lucky .irl, did you know thatBA %e led her down the -assa.e and into the sur.ery* A:o and have your lunch, 2iss )ulteney,A he said to the assistant, who was busy -uttin. instruments into the sterili,er* A>ou can finish that when you come back*A %e waited until the .irl had .one, then he walked over to a closet that he used for han.in. u- his clothes and stood in front of it, -ointin. with his fin.er* A0t's in there,A he said* A'ow--shut your eyes*A 2rs 6i7by did as she was told* Then she took a dee- breath and held it, and in the silence that followed she could hear him o-enin. the cu-board door and there was a soft swishin. sound as he -ulled out a .arment from amon. the other thin.s han.in. there* A ll ri.htF >ou can lookFA A0 don't dare to,A she said, lau.hin.* A:o on* Take a -eek*A Coyly, be.innin. to .i..le, she raised one eyelid a fraction of an inch, 9ust enou.h to .ive her a dark blurry view of the man standin. there in his white overalls holdin. somethin. u- in the air* A2inkFA he cried* AReal minkFA t the sound of the ma.ic word she o-ened her eyes ;uick, and at the same time she actually started forward in order to clas- the coat in her arms* 6ut there was no coat* There was only a ridiculous fur neck-iece dan.lin. from her husband's hand* A$east your eyes on thatFA he said, wavin. it in front of her face* 2rs 6i7by -ut a hand u- to her mouth and started backin. away* 0'm .oin. to scream, she told herself* 0 9ust know it* 0'm .oin. to scream* A+hat's the matter, my dearB Don't you like itBA %e sto--ed wavin. the fur and stood starin. at her, waitin. for her to say somethin.* A+hy yes,A she stammered* A0***0***think it's***it's lovely***really lovely*A AIuite took your breath away for a moment there, didn't itBA A>es, it did*A A2a.nificent ;uality,A he said* A$ine colour, too* >ou know somethin. my dearB 0 reckon a -iece like this would cost you two or three hundred dollars at least if you had to buy it in a sho-*A A0 don't doubt it*A There were two skins, two narrow man.ylookin. skins with their heads still on them and .lass beads in their eye sockets and little -aws han.in. down* #ne of them had the rear end of the other in its mouth, bitin. it* A%ere,A he said* ATry it on*A %e leaned forward and dra-ed the thin. around her neck, then ste--ed back to admire* A0t's -erfect* 0t really suits you* 0t isn't everyone who has mink, my dear*A

A'o, it isn't*A A6etter leave it behind when you .o sho--in. or they'll all think we're millionaires and start char.in. us double*A A0'll try to remember that, Cyril*A A0'm afraid you mustn't e7-ect anythin. else for Christmas* $ifty dollars was rather more than 0 was .oin. to s-end anyway*A %e turned away and went over to the basin and be.an washin. his hands* ARun alon. now, my dear, and buy yourself a nice lunch* 0'd take you out myself but 0've .ot old man :orman in the waitin.-room with a broken clas- on his denture*A 2rs 6i7by moved towards the door* 0'm .oin. to kill that -awnbroker, she told herself* 0'm .oin. ri.ht back there to the sho- this very minute and 0'm .oin. to throw this filthy neck-iece ri.ht in his face and if he refuses to .ive me back my coat 0'm .oin. to kill him* ADid 0 tell you 0 was .oin. to be late home toni.htBA Cyril 6i7by said, still washin. his hands* (((( A'o*,, A0t'll -robably be at least ei.ht-thirty the way thin.s look at the moment* 0t may even be nine*A A>es, all ri.ht* :ood-bye*A 2rs 6i7by went out, slammin. the door behind her* t that -recise moment, 2iss )ulteney, the secretary-assistant, came sailin. -ast her down the corridor on her way to lunch* A0sn't it a .or.eous dayBA 2iss )ulteney said as she went by, flashin. a smile* There was a lilt in her walk, a little whiff of -erfume attendin. her, and she looked like a ;ueen, 9ust e7actly like a ;ueen in the beautiful black mink coat that the Colonel had .iven to 2rs 6i7by*

Royal Gelly

A0T worries me to death, lbert, it really does,A 2rs Taylor said* She ke-t her eyes fi7ed on the baby who was now lyin. absolutely motionless in the crook of her left arm* A0 9ust know there's somethin. wron.*A The skin on the baby's face had a -early translucent ;uality and was stretched very ti.htly over the bones* ATry a.ain,A lbert Taylor said* A0t won't do any .ood*A A>ou have to kee- tryin., 2abel,A he said* She lifted the bottle out of the sauce-an of hot water and shook a few dro-s of milk on to the inside of her wrist, testin. for tem-erature* ACome on,A she whis-ered* ACome on, my baby* +ake u- and take a bit more of this*A There was a small lam- on the table close by that made a soft yellow .low all around her* A)lease,A she said* ATake 9ust a weeny bit more*A The husband watched her over the to- of his ma.a,ine* She was half dead with e7haustion, he could see that, and the -ale oval face, usually so .rave and serene, had taken on a kind of -inched and des-erate look* 6ut even so, the droof her head as she .a,ed down at the child was curiously beautiful* A>ou see,A she murmured* A0t's no .ood* She won't have it*A She held the bottle u- to the li.ht, s;uintin. at the calibrations* A#ne ounce a.ain* That's all she's taken* 'o it isn't even that* 0t's only

three-;uarters* 0t's not enou.h to kee- body and soul to.ether, lbert, it really isn't* 0t worries me to death*A A0 know,A he said* A0f only they could find out what was wron.*A AThere's nothin. wron., 2abel* 0t's 9ust a matter of time*A A#f course there's somethin. wron.*A ADr Robinson says no*A A!ook,A she said, standin. u-* A>ou can't tell me it's natural for a si7week-old child to wei.h less, less by more than two whole -ounds than she did when she was bornF Gust look at those le.sF They're nothin. but skin and boneFA The tiny baby lay lim-ly on her arm, not movin.* ADr Robinson said you was to sto- worryin., 2abel* So did that other one*A A%aFA she said* A0sn't that wonderfulF 0'm to sto- worryin.FA A'ow, 2abel*A A+hat does he want me to doB Treat it as some sort of a 9okeBA A%e didn't say that*A A0 hate doctorsF 0 hate them allFA she cried, and she swun. away from him and walked ;uickly out of the room towards the stairs, carryin. the baby with her* lbert Taylor stayed where he was and let her .o* 0n a little while he heard her movin. about in the bedroom directly over his head, ;uick nervous footste-s .oin. ta- ta- ta- on the linoleum above* Soon the footste-s would sto-, and then he would have to .et u- and follow her, and when he went into the bedroom he would find her sittin. beside the cot as usual, starin. at the child and cryin. softly to herself and refusin. to move* AShe's starvin., lbert,A she would say* A#f course she's not starvin.*A AShe is starvin.* 0 know she is* nd lbertBA A>esBA A0 believe you know it too, but you won't admit it* 0sn't that ri.htBA "very ni.ht now it was like this* !ast week they had taken the child back to the hos-ital, and the doctor had e7amined it carefully and told them that there was nothin. the matter* A0t took us nine years to .et this baby, Doctor,A 2abel had said* A0 think it would kill me if anythin. should ha--en to her*A That was si7 days a.o and since then it had lost another five ounces* 6ut worryin. about it wasn't .oin. to hel- anybody, lbert Taylor told himself* #ne sim-ly had to trust the doctor on a thin. like this* %e -icked u- the ma.a,ine that was still lyin. on his la- and .lanced idly down the list of contents to see what it had to offer this weekH mon. the 6ees in 2ay %oney Cookery The 6ee $armer and the 6* )harm* "7-eriences in the Control of 'osema The !atest on Royal 9elly This +eek in the -iary The %ealin. )ower of )ro-olis Re.ur.itations 6ritish 6eekee-ers nnual Dinner ssociation 'ews* (((( ll his life lbert Taylor had been fascinated by anythin. that had to do with bees* s a small boy he often used to catch them in his bare hands and .o runnin. with them into the house to show to his mother, and sometimes he would -ut them on his face and let them crawl about over his cheeks and neck, and the astonishin. thin. about it all was that he never .ot stun.* #n the contrary, the bees seemed to en9oy bein. with him* They never tried to fly away, and to .et rid of them he would have to brush them off .ently with his fin.ers* "ven then they would fre;uently return and settle a.ain on his arm or hand or knee, any -lace where the skin was bare* %is father, who was a bricklayer, said there must be some witch's stench about the boy, somethin. no7ious that came oo,in. out throu.h the -ores of the skin, and that no .ood would ever come of it, hy-noti,in. insects like that* 6ut the mother said it was a .ift .iven him by :od, and even went so far as to com-are him with St $rancis and the birds* s he .rew older, lbert Taylor's fascination with bees develo-ed into an obsession, and by the time he was twelve he had built his first hive* The

followin. summer he had ca-tured his first swarm* Two years later, at the a.e of fourteen, he had no less than five hives standin. neatly in a row a.ainst the fence in his father's small back yard, and already--a-art from the normal task of -roducin. honey--he was -ractisin. the delicate and com-licated business of rearin. his own ;ueens, .raftin. larvae into artificial cell cu-s, and all the rest of it* %e never had to use smoke when there was work to do inside a hive, and he never wore .loves on his hands or a net over his head* Clearly there was some stran.e sym-athy between this boy and the bees, and down in the villa.e, in the sho-s and -ubs, they be.an to s-eak about him with a certain kind of res-ect, and -eo-le started comin. u- to the house to buy his honey* +hen he was ei.hteen, he had rented one acre of rou.h -asture alon.side a cherry orchard down the valley about a mile from the villa.e, and there he had set out to establish his own business* 'ow, eleven years later, he was still in the same s-ot, but he had si7 acres of .round instead of one, two hundred and forty well-stocked hives, and a small house he'd built mainly with his own hands* %e had married at the a.e of twenty and that, a-art from the fact that it had taken them over nine years to .et a child, had also been a success* 0n fact, everythin. had .one -retty well for lbert until this stran.e little baby .irl came alon. and started fri.htenin. them out of their wits by refusin. to eat -ro-erly and losin. wei.ht every day* %e looked u- from the ma.a,ine and be.an thinkin. about his dau.hter* That evenin., for instance, when she had o-ened her eyes at the be.innin. of the feed, he had .a,ed into them and seen somethin. that fri.htened him to death a kind of misty vacant stare, as thou.h the eyes themselves were not connected to the brain at all but were 9ust lyin. loose in their sockets like a cou-le of small .rey marbles* Did those doctors really know what they were talkin. aboutB %e reached for an ash-tray and started slowly -ickin. the ashes out from the bowl of his -i-e with a matchstick* #ne could always take her alon. to another hos-ital, somewhere in #7ford -erha-s* %e mi.ht su..est that to 2abel when he went u-stairs* %e could still hear her movin. around in the bedroom, but she must have taken off her shoes now and -ut on sli--ers because the noise was very faint* %e switched his attention back to the ma.a,ine and went on with his readin.* %e finished the article called A"7-eriences in the Control of 'osema', then turned over the -a.e and be.an readin. the ne7t one, AThe !atest on Royal Gelly'* %e doubted very much whether there would be anythin. in this that he didn't know alreadyH +hat is this wonderful substance called royal 9ellyB %e reached for the tin of tobacco on the table beside him and be.an fillin. his -i-e, still readin.* Royal 9elly is a .landular secretion -roduced by the nurse bees to feed the larvae immediately they have hatched from the e..* The -haryn.eal .lands of bees -roduce this substance in much the same way as the mammary .lands of vertebrates -roduce milk* The fact is of .reat biolo.ical interest because no other insects in the world are known to have evolved such a -rocess* ll old stuff, he told himself, but for want of anythin. better to do, he continued to read* Royal 9elly is fed in concentrated form to all bee larvae for the first three days after hatchin. from the e..E but beyond that -oint, for all those who are destined to become drones or workers, this -recious food is .reatly diluted with honey and -ollen* #n the other hand, the larvae which are destined to become ;ueens are fed throu.hout the whole of their larval -eriod on a concentrated diet of -ure royal 9elly* %ence the name* bove him, u- in the bedroom, the noise of the footste-s had sto--ed alto.ether* The house was ;uiet* %e struck a match and -ut it to his -i-e* Royal 9elly must be a substance of tremendous nourishin. -ower, for on this diet alone, the honey-bee larva increases in wei.ht fifteen hundred times in five

days* That was -robably about ri.ht, he thou.ht, althou.h for some reason it had never occurred to him to consider larval .rowth in terms of wei.ht before* This is as if a seven-and-a-half--ound baby should increase in that time to five tons* lbert Taylor sto--ed and read that sentence a.ain* %e read it a third time* This is as if a seven-and-a-half--ound baby A2abelFA he cried, 9um-in. ufrom his chair* A2abelF Come hereFA %e went out into the hall and stood at the foot of the stairs callin. for her to come down* There was no answer* %e ran u- the stairs and switched on the li.ht on the landin.* The bedroom door was closed* %e crossed the landin. and o-ened it and stood in the doorway lookin. into the dark room* A2abel,A he said* ACome downstairs a moment, will you -leaseB 0've 9ust had a bit of an idea* 0t's about the baby*A The li.ht from the landin. behind him cast a faint .low over the bed and he could see her dimly now, lyin. on her stomach with her face buried in the -illow and her arms u- over her head* She was cryin. a.ain* A2abel,A he said, .oin. over to her, touchin. her shoulder* A)lease come down a moment* This may be im-ortant*A A:o away,A she said* A!eave me alone*A ADon't you want to hear about my ideaBA A#h, lbert, 0'm tired,A she sobbed* A0'm so tired 0 don't know what 0'm doin. any more* 0 don't think 0 can .o on* 0 don't think 0 can stand it*A There was a -ause* lbert Taylor turned away from her and walked slowly over to the cradle where the baby was lyin., and -eered in* 0t was too dark for him to see the child's face, but when he bent down close he could hear the sound of breathin., very faint and ;uick* A+hat time is the ne7t feedBA he asked* ATwo o'clock, 0 su--ose*A A nd the one after thatBA ASi7 in the mornin.*A A0'll do them both,A he said* A>ou .o to slee-*A She didn't answer* A>ou .et -ro-erly into bed, 2abel, and .o strai.ht to slee-, you understandB nd sto- worryin.* 0'm takin. over com-letely for the ne7t twelve hours* >ou'll .ive yourself a nervous breakdown .oin. on like this*A A>es,A she said* A0 know*A A0'm takin. the ni--er and myself and the alarm clock into the s-are room this very moment, so you 9ust lie down and rela7 and for.et all about us* Ri.htBA lready he was -ushin. the cradle out throu.h the door* A#h, lbert,A she sobbed* ADon't you worry about a thin.* !eave it to me*A A lbert A>esBA A0 love you, lbert*A A0 love you too, 2abel* 'ow .o to slee-*A lbert Taylor didn't see his wife a.ain until nearly eleven o'clock the ne7t mornin.* A:ood .racious meFA she cried, rushin. down the stairs in dressin.-.own and sli--ers* A lbertF Gust look at the timeF 0 must have sle-t twelve hours at leastF 0s everythin. all ri.htB +hat ha--enedBA %e was sittin. ;uietly in his armchair, smokin. a -i-e and readin. the mornin. -a-er* The baby was in a sort of carry-cot on the floor at his feet, slee-in.* A%ullo, dear,A he said, smilin.* She ran over to the cot and looked in* ADid she take anythin., lbertB %ow many times have you fed herB She was due for another one at ten o'clock, did you know thatB lbert Taylor folded the news-a-er neatly into a s;uare and -ut it away on

the side table* A0 fed her at two in the mornin.,A he said, Aand she took about half an ounce, no more* 0 fed her a.ain at si7 and she did a bit better that time, two ounces**** A ATwo ouncesF #h, lbert, that's marvellousFA A nd we 9ust finished the last feed ten minutes a.o* There's the bottle on the mantel-iece* #nly one ounce left* She drank three* %ow's thatBA %e was .rinnin. -roudly, deli.hted with his achievement* The woman ;uickly .ot down on her knees and -eered at the baby* ADon't she look betterBA he asked ea.erly* ADon't she look fatter in the faceBA A0t may sound silly,A the wife said, Abut 0 actually think she does* #h, lbert, you're a marvelF %ow did you do itBA AShe's turnin. the corner,A he said* AThat's all it is* Gust like the doctor -ro-hesied, she's turnin. the corner*A A0 -ray to :od you're ri.ht, lbert*A A#f course 0'm ri.ht* $rom now on, you watch her .o*A The woman was .a,in. lovin.ly at the baby* A>ou look a lot better yourself too, 2abel*A A0 feel wonderful* 0'm sorry about last ni.ht*A A!et's kee- it this way,A he said* A0'll do all the ni.ht feeds in future* >ou do the day ones*A She looked u- at him across the cot, frownin.* A'o,A she said* A#h no, 0 wouldn't allow you to do that*A A0 don't want you to have a breakdown, 2abel*A A0 won't, not now 0've had some slee-*A A2uch better we share it*A A'o, lbert* This is my 9ob and 0 intend to do it* !ast ni.ht won't ha--en a.ain*A There was a -ause* lbert Taylor took the -i-e out of his mouth and e7amined the .rain on the bowl* A ll ri.ht,A he said* A0n that case 0'll 9ust relieve you of the donkey work, 0'll do all the sterili,in. and the mi7in. of the food and .ettin. everythin. ready* That'll hel- you a bit, anyway*A She looked at him carefully, wonderin. what could have come over him all of a sudden* A>ou see, 2abel, 0've been thinkin. (((( A>es, dear*A A0've been thinkin. that u- until last ni.ht 0've never even raised a fin.er to hel- you with this baby*A AThat isn't true*A A#h yes it is* So 0've decided that from now on 0'm .oin. to do my share of the work* 0'm .oin. to be the feed-mi7er and the bottle-sterili,er* Ri.htBA A0t's very sweet of you, dear, but 0 really don't think it's necessary*** ACome onFA he cried* ADon't chan.e the luckF 0 done it the last three times and 9ust look what ha--enedF +hen's the ne7t oneB Two o'clock, isn't itBA A>es*A A0t's all mi7ed,A he said* A"verythin.'s all mi7ed and ready and all you've .ot to do when the time comes is to .o out there to the larder and take it off the shelf and warm it u-* That's some hel-, isn't itBA The woman .ot u- off her knees and went over to him and kissed him on the cheek* >ou're such a nice man,A she said* A0 love you more and more every day 0 know you*A !ater, in the middle of the afternoon, when lbert was outside in the sunshine workin. amon. the hives, he heard her callin. to him from the house* A lbertFA she shouted* A lbert, come hereFA She was runnin. throu.h the buttercu-s towards him* %e started forward to meet her, wonderin. what was wron.* A#h, lbertF :uess whatFA A0've 9ust finished .ivin. her the two-o'clock feed and she's taken the

whole lotFA A'oFA A"very dro- of itF #h, lbert, 0'm so ha--yF She's .oin. to be all ri.htF She's turned the corner 9ust like you saidFA She came u- to him and threw her arms around his neck and hu..ed him, and he cla--ed her on the back and lau.hed and said what a marvellous little mother she was* A+ill you come in and watch the ne7t one and see if she does it a.ain, lbertBA %e told her he wouldn't miss it for anythin., and she hu..ed him a.ain, then turned and ran back to the house, ski--in. over the .rass and sin.in. all the way* 'aturally, there was a certain amount of sus-ense in the air as the time a--roached for the si7o'clock feed* 6y five thirty both -arents were already seated in the livin.-room waitin. for the moment to arrive* The bottle with the milk formula in it was standin. in a sauce-an of warm water on the mantel-iece* The baby was aslee- in its carry-cot on the sofa* t twenty minutes to si7 it woke u- and started screamin. its head off* AThere you areFA 2rs Taylor cried* AShe's askin. for the bottle* )ick her u;uick, lbert, and hand her to me here* :ive me the bottle first*A %e .ave her the bottle, then -laced the baby on the woman's la-* Cautiously, she touched the baby's li-s with the end of the ni--le* The baby sei,ed the ni--le between its .ums and be.an to suck ravenously with a ra-id -owerful action* A#h, lbert, isn't it wonderfulBA she said, lau.hin.* A0t's terrific, 2abel*A 0n seven or ei.ht minutes, the entire contents of the bottle had disa--eared down the baby's throat* A>ou clever .irl,A 2rs Taylor said* A$our ounces a.ain*A lbert Taylor was leanin. forward in his chair, -eerin. intently into the baby's face* A>ou know whatBA he said* AShe even seems as thou.h she's -ut on a touch of wei.ht already* +hat do you thinkBA The mother looked down at the child* ADon't she seem bi..er and fatter to you, 2abel, than she was yesterdayBA A2aybe she does, lbert* 0'm not sure* lthou.h actually there couldn't be any real .ain in such a short time as this* The im-ortant thin. is that she's eatin. normally*A AShe's turned the corner,A lbert said* A0 don't think you need worry about her any more*A A0 certainly won't*A A>ou want me to .o u- and fetch the cradle back into our own bedroom, 2abelBA A>es, -lease,A she said* lbert went u-stairs and moved the cradle* The woman followed with the baby, and after chan.in. its na--y, she laid it .ently down on its bed* Then she covered it with sheet and blanket* ADoesn't she look lovely, lbertBA she whis-ered* A0sn't that the most beautiful baby you've ever seen in your entire lifeBA A!eave her be now, 2abel,A he said* ACome on downstairs and cook us a bit of su--er* +e both deserve it*A fter they had finished eatin., the -arents settled themselves in armchairs in the livin.room, lbert with his ma.a,ine and his -i-e, 2rs Taylor with her knittin.* 6ut this was a very different scene from the one of the ni.ht before* Suddenly, all tensions had vanished* 2rs Taylor's handsome oval face was .lowin. with -leasure, her cheeks were -ink, her eyes were s-arklin. bri.ht, and her mouth was fi7ed in a little dreamy smile of -ure content* "very now and a.ain she would .lance u- from her knittin. and .a,e affectionately at her husband* #ccasionally, she would sto- the clickin. of her needles alto.ether for a few seconds and sit ;uite still, lookin. at the ceilin., listenin. for a cry or a whim-er from u-stairs* 6ut all was ;uiet* A lbert,A she said after a while*

A>es, dearBA A+hat was it you were .oin. to tell me last ni.ht when you came rushin. uto the bedroomB >ou said you had an idea for the baby*A lbert Taylor lowered the ma.a,ine on to his la- and .ave her a lon. sly look* ADid 0BA he said* A>es*A She waited for him to .o on, but he didn't* A+hat's the bi. 9okeBA she asked* A+hy are you .rinnin. like thatBA A0t's a 9oke all ri.ht,A he said* ATell it to me, dear*A A0'm not sure 0 ou.ht to,A he said* A>ou mi.ht call me a liar*A She had seldom seen him lookin. so -leased with himself as he was now, and she smiled back at him, e..in. him on* A0'd 9ust like to see your face when you hear it, 2abel, that's all*A A lbert, what is all thisBA %e -aused, refusin. to be hurried* A>ou do think the baby's better, don't youBA he asked* A#f course 0 do*A A>ou a.ree with me that all of a sudden she's feedin. marvellously and lookin. one-hundred-ercent differentBA A0 do, lbert, yes*A AThat's .ood,A he said, the .rin widenin.* >ou see, it's me that did it*A ADid whatBA A0 cured the baby*A A>es, dear, 0'm sure you did*A 2rs Taylor went ri.ht on with her knittin.* A>ou don't believe me, do youBA A#f course 0 believe you, lbert* 0 .ive you all the credit, every bit of it*A AThen how did 0 do itBA A+ell,A she said, -ausin. a moment to think* A0 su--ose it's sim-ly that you're a brilliant feedmi7er* "ver since you started mi7in. the feeds she's .ot better and better*A A>ou mean there's some sort of an art in mi7in. the feedsBA A --arently there is*A She was knittin. away and smilin. ;uietly to herself, thinkin. how funny men were* A0'll tell you a secret,A he said* A>ou're absolutely ri.ht* lthou.h, mind you, it isn't so much how you mi7 it that counts* 0t's what you -ut in* >ou reali,e that, don't you, 2abelBA 2rs Taylor sto--ed knittin. and looked u- shar-ly at her husband* A lbert,A she said, Adon't tell me you've been -uttin. thin.s into that child's milkBA %e sat there .rinnin.* A+ell, have you or haven't youBA A0t's -ossible,A he said* A0 don't believe it*A %e had a stran.e fierce way of .rinnin. that showed his teeth* A lbert,A she said* ASto- -layin. with me like this*A A>es, dear, all ri.ht*A A>ou haven't really -ut anythin. into her milk, have youB nswer me -ro-erly, lbert* This could be serious with such a tiny baby*A AThe answer is yes, 2abel*A A lbert TaylorF %ow could youBA A'ow don't .et e7cited,A he said* A0'll tell you all about it if you really want me to, but for heaven's sake kee- your hair on*A A0t was beerFA she cried* A0 9ust know it was beerFA ADon't be so daft, 2abel, -lease*A AThen what was itBA lbert laid his -i-e down carefully on the table beside him and leaned back in his chair* ATell me,A he said, Adid you ever by any chance ha--en to hear me

mentionin. somethin. called royal 9ellyBA A0 did not*A A0t's ma.ic,A he said* A)ure ma.ic* nd last ni.ht 0 suddenly .ot the idea that if 0 was to -ut some of this into the baby's milk**** A A%ow dare youFA A'ow, 2abel, you don't even know what it is yet*A A0 don't care what it is,A she said* A>ou can't .o -uttin. forei.n bodies like that into a tiny baby's milk* >ou must be mad*A A0t's -erfectly harmless, 2abel, otherwise 0 wouldn't have done it* 0t comes from bees*A A0 mi.ht have .uessed that*A A nd it's so -recious that -ractically no one can afford to take it* +hen they do, it's only one little dro- at a time*A A nd how much did you .ive to our baby, mi.ht 0 askBA (((( A l,* tin, he said, Athat's the whole -oint* That's where the difference lies* 0 reckon that our baby, 9ust in the last four feeds, has already swallowed about fifty times as much royal 9elly as anyone else in the world has ever swallowed before* %ow about thatBA A lbert, sto- -ullin. my le.*A A0 swear it,A he said -roudly* She sat there starin. at him, her brow wrinkled, her mouth sli.htly o-en* A>ou know what this stuff actually costs, 2abel, if you want to buy itB There's a -lace in merica advertisin. it for sale at this very moment for somethin. like five hundred dollars a -ound 9arF $ive hundred dollarsF That's more than .old, you knowFA She hadn't the faintest idea what he was talkin. about* A0'll -rove it,A he said, and he 9um-ed u- and went across to the lar.e bookcase where he ke-t all his literature about bees* #n the to- shelf, the back numbers of the merican 6ee 9ournal were neatly stacked alon.side those of the 6ritish 6ee Gournal, 6eecraft, and other ma.a,ines* %e took down the last issue of the merican 6ee Gournal and turned to a -a.e of small classified advertisements at the back* A%ere you are,A he said* A"7actly as 0 told you* A+e sell royal 9elly--J?=< -er lb* 9ar wholesale*A %e handed her the ma.a,ine so she could read it herself* A'ow do you believe meB This is an actual sho- in 'ew >ork, 2abel* 0t says so*A A0t doesn't say you can .o stirrin. it into the milk of a -ractically newborn baby,A she said* A0 don't know what's come over you, lbert, 0 really don't*A A0t's curin. her, isn't itBA A0'm not so sure about that, now*A ADon't be so damn silly, 2abel* >ou know it is*A AThen why haven't other -eo-le done it with their babiesBA A0 kee- tellin. you,A he said* A0t's too e7-ensive* )ractically nobody in the world can afford to buy royal 9elly 9ust for eatin. e7ce-t maybe one or two multimillionaires* The -eo-le who buy it are the bi. com-anies that make women's face creams and thin.s like that* They're usin. it as a stunt* They mi7 a tiny -inch of it into a bi. 9ar of face cream and it's sellin. like hot cakes for absolutely enormous -rices* They claim it takes out the wrinkles*A A nd does itBA A'ow how on earth would 0 know that, 2abelB nyway,A he said, returnin. to his chair, Athat's not the -oint* The -oint is this* 0t's done so much .ood to our little baby 9ust in the last few hours that 0 think we ou.ht to .o ri.ht on .ivin. it to her* 'ow don't interru-t, 2abel* !et me finish* 0've .ot two hundred and forty hives out there and if 0 turn over maybe a hundred of them to makin. royal 9elly, we ou.ht to be able to su--ly her with all she wants*A A lbert Taylor,A the woman said, stretchin. her eyes wide and starin. at him* A%ave you .one out of your mindBA

AGust hear me throu.h, will you -leaseBA A0 forbid it,A she said, Aabsolutely* >ou're not to .ive my baby another dro- of that horrid 9elly, you understandBA A'ow, 2abel A nd ;uite a-art from that, we had a shockin. honey cro- last year, and if you .o foolin. around with those hives now, there's no tellin. what mi.ht not ha--en*A AThere's nothin. wron. with my hives, 2abel*A A>ou know very well we had only half the normal cro- last year*A ADo me a favour, will youBA he said* A!et me e7-lain some of the marvellous thin.s this stuff does*A A>ou haven't even told me what it is yet*A A ll ri.ht, 2abel* 0'll do that too* +ill you listenB +ill you .ive me a chance to e7-lain itBA She si.hed and -icked u- her knittin. once more* A0 su--ose you mi.ht as well .et it off your chest, lbert* :o on and tell me*A %e -aused, a bit uncertain now how to be.in* 0t wasn't .oin. to be easy to e7-lain somethin. like this to a -erson with no detailed knowled.e of a-iculture at all* A>ou know, don't you,A he said, Athat each colony has only one ;ueenBA A>es*A A nd that this ;ueen lays all the e..sBA A>es, dear* That much 0 know*A A ll ri.ht* 'ow the ;ueen can actually lay two different kinds of e..s* >ou didn't know that, but she can* 0t's what we call one of the miracles of the hive* She can lay e..s that -roduce drones, and she can lay e..s that -roduce workers* 'ow if that isn't a miracle, 2abel, 0 don't know what is*A A>es, lbert, all ri.ht*A AThe drones are the males* +e don't have to worry about them* The workers are all females* So is the ;ueen, of course* 6ut the workers are unse7ed females, if you see what 0 mean* Their or.ans are com-letely undevelo-ed, whereas the ;ueen is tremendously se7y* She can actually lay her own wei.ht in e..s in a sin.le day*A %e hesitated, marshallin. his thou.hts* A'ow what ha--ens is this* The ;ueen crawls around on the comb and lays her e..s in what we call cells* >ou know all those hundreds of little holes you see in a honeycombB +ell, a brood comb is 9ust about the same e7ce-t the cells don't have honey in them, they have e..s* She lays one e.. to each cell, and in three days each of these e..s hatches out into a tiny .rub* +e call it a larva* A'ow, as soon as this larva a--ears, the nurse bees--they're youn. workers-all crowd round and start feedin. it like mad* nd you know what they feed it onBA ARoyal 9elly,A 2abel answered -atiently* ARi.htFA he cried* AThat's e7actly what they do feed it on* They .et this stuff out of a .land in their heads and they start -um-in. it into the cell to feed the larva* nd what ha--ens thenBA %e -aused dramatically, blinkin. at her with his small watery-.rey eyes* Then he turned slowly in his chair and reached for the ma.a,ine that he had been readin. the ni.ht before* A>ou want to know what ha--ens thenBA he asked, wettin. his li-s* A0 can hardly wait*A ARoyal 9elly,A he read aloud, Amust be a substance of tremendous nourishin. -ower, for on this diet alone, the honeybee larva increases in wei.ht fifteen hundred times in five daysFA A%ow muchBA A$ifteen hundred times, 2abel* nd you know what that means if you -ut it in terms of a human bein.B 0t means,A he said, lowerin. his voice, leanin. forward, fi7in. her with those small -ale eyes, Ait means that in five days a baby wei.hin. seven and a half -ounds to start off with would increase in wei.ht to five tonsFA $or the second time, 2rs Taylor sto--ed knittin.*

A'ow you mustn't take that too literally, 2abel*A A+ho says 0 mustn'tBA A0t's 9ust a scientific way of -uttin. it, that's all*A AVery well, lbert* :o on*A A6ut that's only half the story,A he said* AThere's more to come* The really ama,in. thin. about royal 9elly, 0 haven't told you yet* 0'm .oin. to show you now how it can transform a -lain dulllookin. little worker bee with -ractically no se7 or.ans at all into a .reat bi. beautiful fertile ;ueen*A A re you sayin. our baby is dull-lookin. and -lainBA she asked shar-ly* A'ow don't .o -uttin. words into my mouth, 2abel, -lease* Gust listen to this* Did you know that the ;ueen bee and the worker bee, althou.h they are com-letely different when they .row u-, are both hatched out of e7actly the same kind of e..BA A0 don't believe that,A she said* A0t's as true as 0'm sittin. here, 2abel, honest it is* ny time the bees want a ;ueen to hatch out of the e.. instead of a worker, they can do it*A A%owBA A h,A he said, shakin. a thick forefin.er in her direction* AThat's 9ust what 0'm comin. to* That's the secret of the whole thin.* 'ow what do you think it is, 2abel, that makes this miracle ha--enBA ARoyal 9elly,A she answered* A>ou already told me*A ARoyal 9elly it isFA he cried, cla--in. his hands and bouncin. u- on his seat* %is bi. round face was .lowin. with e7citement now, and two vivid -atches of scarlet had a--eared hi.h u- on each cheek* A%ere's how it works* 0'll -ut it very sim-ly for you* The bees want a new ;ueen* So they build an e7tra-lar.e cell, a ;ueen cell we call it, and they .et the old ;ueen to lay one of her e..s in there, (((( The other one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine e..s she lays in ordinary worker cells* 'ow* s soon as these e..s hatch into larvae, the nurse bees rally round and start )um-in. in the royal 9elly* ll of them .et it, workers as well as ;ueen* 6ut here's the vital thin., 2abel, so listen carefully* %ere's where the difference comes* The worker larvae only receive this s-ecial marvellous food for the first three days of their larval life, fter that they have a com-lete chan.e of diet* A+hat really ha--ens is they .et weaned, e7ce-t that it's not like an ordinary weanin. because it's so sudden* fter the third day they're -ut strai.ht away on to more or less routine bees' food--a mi7ture of honey and -ollen and then about two weeks later they emer.e from the cells as workers* A6ut not so the larva in the ;ueen cellF This one .ets royal 9elly all the way throu.h its larval life* The nurse bees sim-ly -our it into the cell, so much so in fact that the little larva is literally floatin. in it* nd that's what makes it into a ;ueenFA A>ou can't -rove it,A she said* ADon't talk so damn silly, 2abel, -lease* Thousands of -eo-le have -roved it time and time a.ain, famous scientists in every country in the world* ll you have to do is take a larva out of a worker cell and -ut it in a ;ueen cell that's what we call .raftin.--and 9ust so lon. as the nurse bees kee- it well su--lied with royal 9elly, then -restoF--it'll .row u- into a ;ueenF nd what makes it more marvellous still is the absolutely enormous difference between a ;ueen and a worker when they .row u-* The abdomen is a different sha-e* The stin. is different* The le.s are different* The**** A0n what way are the le.s differentBA she asked, testin. him* AThe le.sB +ell, the workers have little -ollen baskets on their le.s for carryin. the -ollen* The ;ueen has none* 'ow here's another thin.* The ;ueen has fully develo-ed se7 or.ans* The workers don't* nd most ama,in. of all, 2abel, the ;ueen lives for an avera.e of four to si7 years* The worker hardly lives that many months* nd all this difference sim-ly because one of them .ot royal 9elly and the other didn'tFA A0t's -retty hard to believe,A she said, Athat a food can do all that*A

A#f course it's hard to believe* 0t's another of the miracles of the hive* 0n fact it's the bi..est ruddy miracle of them all* 0t's such a hell of a bi. miracle that it's baffled the .reatest men of science for hundreds of years* +ait a moment* Stay here* Don't move*A .ain he 9um-ed u- and went over to the bookcase and started rumma.in. amon. the books and ma.a,ines* A0'm .oin. to find you a few of the re-orts* %ere we are* %ere's one of them* !isten to this*A %e started readin. aloud from a co-y of the merican 6ee 9ournalH A!ivin. in Toronto at the head of a fine research laboratory .iven to him by the -eo-le of Canada in reco.nition of his truly .reat contribution to humanity in the discovery of insulin, Dr $rederick * 6antin. became curious about royal 9elly* %e re;uested his staff to do a basic fractional analysis**** %e -aused* A+ell, there's no need to read it all, but here's what ha--ened* Dr 6antin. and his -eo-le took some royal 9elly from ;ueen cells that contained two-day-old larvae, and then they started analysin. it* nd what d'you think they foundB AThey found,A he said, Athat royal 9elly contained -henolsE sterols, .lycerils, de7trose, and--now here it comes--and ei.hty to ei.hty-five -er cent unidentified acidsFA %e stood beside the bookcase with the ma.a,ine in his hand, smilin. a funny little furtive smile of trium-h, and his wife watched him, bewildered* %e was not a tall manE he had a thick -lum- -ul-y-lookin. body that was built close to the .round on abbreviated le.s* The le.s were sli.htly bowed* The head was hu.e and round, covered with bristly short-cut hair, and the .reater -art of the face--now that he had .iven u- shavin. alto.ether--was hidden by a brownish yellow fu,, about an inch lon.* 0n one way and another, he was rather .rotes;ue to look at, there was no denyin. that* A"i.hty to ei.hty-five -er cent,A he said, Aunidentified acids* 0sn't that fantasticBA %e turned back to the bookshelf and be.an huntin. throu.h the other ma.a,ines* A+hat does it mean, unidentified acidsBA AThat's the whole -ointF 'o one knowsF 'ot even 6antin. could find out* >ou've heard of 6antin.BA A'o*A A%e 9ust ha--ens to be about the most famous livin. doctor in the world today, that's all*A !ookin. at him now as he bu,,ed around in front of the bookcase with his bristly head and his hairy face and his -lum- -ul-y body, she couldn't helthinkin. that somehow, in some curious way, there was a touch of the bee about this man* She had often seen women .row to look like the horses that they rode, and she had noticed that -eo-le who bred birds or bull terriers or -omeranians fre;uently resembled in some small but startlin. manner the creature of their choice* 6ut u- until now it had never occurred to her that her husband mi.ht look like a bee* 0t shocked her a bit* A nd did 6antin. ever try to eat it,A she asked, Athis royal 9ellyBA A#f course he didn't eat it, 2abel* %e didn't have enou.h for that* 0t's too -recious*A A>ou know somethin.BA she said, starin. at him but smilin. a little all the same* A>ou're .ettin. to look 9ust a teeny bit like a bee yourself, did you know thatBA %e turned and looked at her* A0 su--ose it's the beard mostly,A she said* A0 do wish you'd sto- wearin. it* "ven the colour is sort of bee-ish, don't you thinkBA A+hat the hell are you talkin. about, 2abelBA A lbert,A she said* A>our lan.ua.e*A ADo you want to hear any more of this or don't youBA A>es, dear, 0'm sorry* 0 was only 9okin.* Do .o on*A %e turned away a.ain and -ulled another ma.a,ine out of the bookcase and be.an leafin. throu.h the

-a.es* A'ow 9ust listen to this, 2abel* A0n 1@1@, %eyl e7-erimented with twentyone-day-old rats, in9ectin. them with royal 9elly in varyin. amounts* s a result, he found a -recocious follicular develo-ment of the ovaries directly in -ro-ortion to the ;uantity of royal 9elly in9ected*A AThereFA she cried* A0 knew itFA A/new whatBA A0 knew somethin. terrible would ha--en*A A'onsense* There's nothin. wron. with that* 'ow here's another, 2abel* AStill and 6urden found that a male rat which hitherto had been unable to breed, u-on receivin. a minute daily dose of royal 9elly, became a father many times over*A A lbert,A she cried, Athis stuff is much too stron. to .ive to a babyF 0 don't like it at all*A A'onsense, 2abel*A AThen why do they only try it out on rats, tell me thatB +hy don't some of these famous scientists take it themselvesB They're too clever, that's why* Do you think Dr 6antin. is .oin. to risk finishin. u- with -recious ovariesB 'ot him*A A6ut they have .iven it to -eo-le, 2abel* %ere's a whole article about it* !isten*A %e turned the -a.e and a.ain be.an readin. from the ma.a,ine* A0n 2e7ico, in 1@41, a .rou- of enli.htened -hysicians be.an -rescribin. minute doses of royal 9elly for such thin.s as cerebral neuritis, arthritis, diabetes, autointo7ication from tobacco, im-otence in men, asthma, crou-, and .out***There are stacks of si.ned testimonials* celebrated stockbroker in 2e7ico City contracted a -articularly stubborn case of -soriasis* %e became -hysically unattractive* %is clients be.an to forsake him* %is business be.an to suffer* 0n des-eration he turned to royal 9elly--one dro- with every meal--and -restoF he was cured in a fortni.ht* waiter in the Caf Gena, also in 2e7ico City, re-orted that his father, after takin. minute doses of this wonder substance in ca-sule form, sired a healthy boy child at the a.e of ninety* bullfi.ht -romoter in ca-ulco, findin. himself landed with a rather lethar.ic-lookin. bull, in9ected it with one .ramme of royal 9elly Can e7cessive doseD 9ust before it entered the arena* Thereu-on, the beast became so swift and sava.e that it -rom-tly dis-atched two -icadors, three horses, and a matador, and finally* (((( A!istenFA 2rs Taylor said, interru-tin. him* A0 think the baby's cryin.*A lbert .lanced u- from his readin.* Sure enou.h, a lusty yellin. noise was comin. from the bedroom above* AShe must be hun.ry,A he said* %is wife looked at the clock* A:ood .racious meFA she cried, 9um-in. u-* A0t's -ast her time a.ain alreadyF >ou mi7 the feed, lbert, ;uickly, while 0 brin. her downF 6ut hurryF 0 don't want to kee- her waitin.*A 0n half a minute, 2rs Taylor was back, carryin. the screamin. infant in her arms* She was flustered now, still ;uite unaccustomed to the .hastly nonstoracket that a healthy baby makes when it wants its food* ADo be ;uick, lbertFA she called, settlin. herself in the armchair and arran.in. the child on her la-* A)lease hurryFA lbert entered from the kitchen and handed her the bottle of warm milk* A0t's 9ust ri.ht,A he said* A>ou don't have to test it*A She hitched the baby's head a little hi.her in the crook of her arm, then -ushed the rubber teat strai.ht into the wide-o-en yellin. mouth* The baby .rabbed the teat and be.an to suck* The yellin. sto--ed* 2rs Taylor rela7ed* A#h, lbert, isn't she lovelyBA AShe's terrific, 2abel--thanks to royal 9elly*A A'ow, dear, 0 don't want to hear another word about that nasty stuff* 0t fri.htens me to death*A A>ou're makin. a bi. mistake,A he said* A+e'll see about that*A The baby went on suckin. the bottle*

A0 do believe she's .oin. to finish the whole lot a.ain, lbert*A A0'm sure she is,A he said* nd a few minutes later, the milk was all .one* A#h, what a .ood .irl you areFA 2rs Taylor cried, as very .ently she started to withdraw the ni--le* The baby sensed what she was doin. and sucked harder, tryin. to hold on* The woman .ave a ;uick little tu., and -lo-, out it came* A+aaF +aaF +aaF +aaF +aaFA the baby yelled* A'asty old wind,A 2rs Taylor said, hoistin. the child on to her shoulder and -attin. its back* 0t belched twice in ;uick succession* AThere you are, my darlin., you'll be all ri.ht now*A $or a few seconds, the yellin. sto--ed* Then it started a.ain* A/ee- belchin. her,A lbert said* AShe's drunk it too ;uick*A %is wife lifted the baby back on to her shoulder* She rubbed its s-ine* She chan.ed it from one shoulder to the other* She laid it on its stomach on her la-* She sat it u- on her knee* 6ut it didn't belch a.ain, and the yellin. became louder and more insistent every minute* A:ood for the lun.s,A lbert Taylor said, .rinnin.* AThat's the way they e7ercise their lun.s, 2abel, did you know thatBA AThere, there, there,A the wife said, kissin. it all over the face* AThere, there, there*A They waited another five minutes, but not for one moment did the screamin. sto-* AChan.e the na--y,A lbert said* A0t's .ot a wet na--y, that's all it is*A %e fetched a clean one from the kitchen, and 2rs Taylor took the old one off and -ut the new one on* This made no difference at all* A+aaF +aaF +aaF +aaF +aaFA the baby yelled* A>ou didn't stick the safety -in throu.h the skin, did you, 2abelBA A#f course 0 didn't,A she said, feelin. under the na--y with her fin.ers to make sure* The -arents sat o--osite one another in their armchairs, smilin. nervously, watchin. the baby on the mother's la-, waitin. for it to tire and sto- screamin.* A>ou know whatBA lbert Taylor said at last* A0'll bet she's still hun.ry* 0'll bet all she wants is another swi. at that bottle* %ow about me fetchin. her an e7tra lotBA A0 don't think we ou.ht to do that, lbert*A A0t'll do her .ood,A he said, .ettin. u- from his chair* A0'm .oin. to warm her u- a second hel-in.*A %e went into the kitchen, and was away several minutes* A+hen he returned he was holdin. a bottle brimful of milk* A0 made her a double,A he announced* A"i.ht ounces* Gust in case*A A lbertF re you madB Don't you know it's 9ust as bad to overfeed as it is to underfeedBA A>ou don't have to .ive her the lot, 2abel* >ou can sto- any time you like* :o on,A he said, standin. over her* A:ive her a drink*A 2rs Taylor be.an to tease the baby's u--er li- with the end of the ni--le* The tiny mouth closed like a tra- over the rubber teat and suddenly there was silence in the room* The baby's whole body rela7ed and a look of absolute bliss came over its face as it started to drink* AThere you are, 2abelF A+hat did 0 tell youBA The woman didn't answer* AShe's ravenous, that's what she is* Gust look at her suck*A 2rs Taylor was watchin. the level of the milk in the bottleH 0t was dro--in. fast, and before lon. three or four ounces out of the ei.ht had disa--eared* AThere,A she said* AThat'll do*A A>ou can't -ull it away now, 2abel*A A>es, dear* 0 must*A

A:o on, woman* :ive her the rest and sto- fussin.*A A6ut lbert* AShe's famished, can't you see thatB :o on, my beauty,A he said* A>ou finish that bottle*A A0 don't like it, lbert,A the wife said, but she didn't -ull the bottle away* AShe's makin. u- for lost time, 2abel, that's all she's doin.*A $ive minutes later the bottle was em-ty* Slowly, 2rs Taylor withdrew the ni--le, and this time there was no -rotest from the baby, no sound at all* 0t lay -eacefully on the mother's la-, the eyes .la,ed with contentment, the mouth halfo-en, the li-s smeared with milk* ATwelve whole ounces, 2abelFA lbert Taylor said* AThree times the normal amountF 0sn't that ama,in.FA The woman was starin. down at the baby* nd now the old an7ious ti.ht-li--ed look of the fri.htened mother was slowly returnin. to her face* A+hat's the matter with youBA lbert asked* A>ou're not worried by that, are youB >ou can't e7-ect her to .et back to normal on a lousy four ounces, don't be ridiculous*A ACome here, lbert,A she said* A+hatBA A0 said come here*A %e went over and stood beside her* ATake a .ood look and tell me if you see anythin. different*A %e -eered closely at the baby* AShe seems bi..er, 2abel, if that's what you mean* 6i..er and fatter*A A%old her,A she ordered* A:o on, -ick her u-*A %e reached out and lifted the baby u- off the mother's la-* A:ood :odFA he cried* AShe wei.hs a tonFA A"7actly*A A'ow isn't that marvellousFA he cried, beamin.* A0'll bet she must be back to normal alreadyFA A0t fri.htens me, lbert* 0t's too ;uick*A A'onsense, woman*A A0t's that dis.ustin. 9elly that's done it,A she said* A0 hate the stuff*A AThere's nothin. dis.ustin. about royal 9elly,A he answered, indi.nant* ADon't be a fool, lbertF >ou think it's normal for a child to start -uttin. on wei.ht at this s-eedBA A>ou're never satisfiedFA he cried* A>ou're scared stiff when she's losin. and now you're absolutely terrified because she's .ainin.F +hat's the matter with you, 2abelBA The woman .ot u- from her chair with the baby in her arms and started towards the door* A ll 0 can say is,A she said, Ait's lucky 0'm here to see you don't .ive her any more of it, that's all 0 can say*A She went out, and lbert watched her throu.h the o-en door as she crossed the hail to the foot of the stairs and started to ascend, and when she reached the third or fourth ste- she suddenly sto--ed and stood ;uite still for several seconds as thou.h rememberin. somethin.* Then she turned and came down a.ain rather ;uickly and re-entered the room* A lbert,A she said* A>esBA A0 assume there wasn't any royal 9elly in this last feed we've 9ust .iven herBA A0 don't see why you should assume that, 2abel*A A lbertFA A+hat's wron.BA he asked, soft and innocent* A%ow dare youFA she cried* lbert Taylor's .reat bearded face took on a -ained and -u,,led look* A0 think you ou.ht to be very .lad she's .ot another bi. dose of it inside her,A he

said* A%onest 0 do* nd this is a very bi. dose, 2abel, believe you me*A The woman was standin. 9ust inside the doorway clas-in. the slee-in. baby in her arms and starin. at her husband with hu.e eyes* She stood very erect, her body absolutely still with fury, her face -aler, more ti.ht-li--ed than ever* A>ou mark my words,A lbert was sayin., >ou're .oin. to have a ni--er there soon that'll win first -ri,e in any baby show in the entire country* %ey, why don't you wei.h her now and see what she isB >ou want me to .et the scales, 2abel, so you can wei.h herBA The woman walked strai.ht over to the lar.e table in the centre of the room and laid the baby down and ;uickly started takin. off its clothes* A>esFA she sna--ed* A:et the scalesFA #ff came the little ni.ht.own, then the undervest* Then she un-inned the na--y and she drew it away and the baby lay naked on the table* A6ut 2abelFA lbert cried* A0t's a miracleF She's fat as a -u--yFA 0ndeed, the amount of flesh the child had -ut on since the day before was astoundin.* The small sunken chest with the rib bones showin. all over it was now -lum- and round as a barrel, and the belly was bul.in. hi.h in the air* Curiously, thou.h, the arms and le.s did not seem to have .rown in -ro-ortion* Still short and skinny, they looked like little sticks -rotrudin. from a ball of fat* A!ookFA lbert said* AShe's even be.innin. to .et a bit of fu,, on the tummy to kee- her warmFA %e -ut out a hand and was about to run the ti-s of his fin.ers over the -owderin. of silky yellowy-brown hairs that had suddenly a--eared on the baby's stomach* ADon't you touch herFA the woman cried* She turned and faced him, her eyes bla,in., and she looked suddenly like some kind of little fi.htin. bird with her neck arched over towards him as thou.h she were about to fly at his face and -eck his eyes out* A'ow wait a minute,A he said, retreatin.* A>ou must be madFA she cried* A'ow wait 9ust one minute, 2abel, will you -lease, because if you're still thinkin. this stuff is dan.erous**** That is what you're thinkin., isn't itB ll ri.ht, then* !isten carefully* 0 shall now -roceed to -rove to you once and for all, 2abel, that royal 9elly is absolutely harmless to human bein.s, even in enormous doses* $or e7am-le--why do you think we had only half the usual honey cro- last summerB Tell me that*A %is retreat, walkin. backwards, had taken him three or four yards away from her, where he seemed to feel more comfortable* AThe reason we had only half the usual cro- last summer,A he said slowly, lowerin. his voice, Awas because 0 turned one hundred of my hives over to the -roduction of royal 9elly*A A>ou whatBA A h,A he whis-ered* A0 thou.ht that mi.ht sur-rise you a bit* nd 0've been makin. it ever since ri.ht under your very nose*A %is small eyes were .lintin. at her, and a slow sly smile was cree-in. around the corners of his mouth* A>ou'll never .uess the reason, either,A he said* A0've been afraid to mention it u- to now because 0 thou.ht it mi.ht***well***sort of embarrass you*A There was a sli.ht -ause* %e had his hands clas-ed hi.h in front of him, level with his chest, and he was rubbin. one -alm a.ainst the other, makin. a soft scra-in. noise* A>ou remember that bit 0 read you out of the ma.a,ineB That bit about the ratB !et me see now, how does it .oB AStill and 6urden found that a male rat which hitherto had been unable to breed**** A %e hesitated, the .rin widenin., showin. his teeth* A>ou .et the messa.e, 2abelBA She stood ;uite still, facin. him* AThe very first time 0 ever read that sentence, 2abel, 0 9um-ed strai.ht out of my chair and 0 said to myself if it'll work with a lousy rat, 0 said, then there's no reason on earth why it shouldn't work with lbert Taylor*A

%e -aused a.ain, cranin. his head forward and turnin. one ear sli.htly in his wife's direction, waitin. for her to say somethin., 6ut she didn't* (((( A nd here's another thin.,A he went on* A0t made me feel so absolutely marvellous, 2abel, and so sort of com-letely different to what 0 was before that 0 went ri.ht on takin. it even after you'd announced the 9oyful tidin.s* 6uckets of it 0 must have swallowed durin. the last twelve months*A The bi. heavy haunted-lookin. eyes of the woman were movin. intently over the man's face and neck* There was no skin showin. at all on the neck, not even at the sides below the ears* The whole of it, to a -oint where it disa--eared into the collar of the shirt, was covered all the way around with those shortish silky hairs, yellowy black* A2ind you,A he said, turnin. away from her, .a,in. lovin.ly now at the baby, Ait's .oin. to work far better on a tiny infant than on a fully develo-ed man like me* >ou've only .ot to look at her to see that, don't you a.reeBA The woman's eyes travelled slowly downward and settled on the baby* The baby was lyin. naked on the table, fat and white and comatose, like some .i.antic .rub that was a--roachin. the end of its larval life and would soon emer.e into the world com-lete with mandibles and win.s* A+hy don't you cover her u-, 2abelBA he said* A+e don't want our little ;ueen to catch a cold*A

:eor.y )or.y

+0T%#&T in any way wishin. to blow my own trum-et, 0 think that 0 can claim to bein. in most res-ects a moderately well-matured and rounded individual* 0 have travelled a .ood deal* 0 am ade;uately read* 0 s-eak :reek and !atin* 0 dabble in science* 0 can tolerate a mildly liberal attitude in the -olitics of others* 0 have com-iled a volume of notes u-on the evolution of the madri.al in the fifteenth century* 0 have witnessed the death of a lar.e number of -ersons in their bedsE and in addition, 0 have influenced, at least 0 ho-e 0 have, the lives of ;uite a few others by the s-oken word delivered from the -ul-it* >et in s-ite of all this, 0 must confess that 0 have never in my life--well, how shall 0 -ut itB--0 have never really had anythin. much to do with women* To be -erfectly honest, u- until three weeks a.o 0 had never so much as laid a fin.er on one of them e7ce-t -erha-s to hel- her over a stile or somethin. like that when the occasion demanded* nd even then 0 always tried to ensure that 0 touched only the shoulder or the waist or some other -lace where the skin was covered, because the one thin. 0 never could stand was actual contact between my skin and theirs* Skin touchin. skin, my skin, that is, touchin. the skin of a female, whether it were le., neck, face, hand, or merely fin.er, was so re-u.nant to me that 0 invariably .reeted a lady with my hands clas-ed firmly behind my back to avoid the inevitable handshake* 0 could .o further than that and say that any sort of -hysical contact with them, even when the skin wasn't bare, would disturb me considerably* 0f a woman stood close to me in a ;ueue so that our bodies touched, or if she s;uee,ed in beside me on a bus seat, hi- to hi- and thi.h to thi.h, my cheeks would be.in burnin. like mad and little -rickles of sweat would start comin. out all over the crown of my head* This condition is all very well in a schoolboy who has 9ust reached the a.e of -uberty* +ith him it is sim-ly Dame 'ature's way of -uttin. on the brakes and holdin. the lad back until he is old enou.h to behave himself like a .entleman* 0

a--rove of that* 6ut there was no reason on :od's earth why 0, at the ri-e old a.e of thirtyone, should continue to suffer a similar embarrassment* 0 was well trained to resist tem-tation, and 0 was certainly not .iven to vul.ar -assions* %ad 0 been even the sli.htest bit ashamed of my own -ersonal a--earance, then that mi.ht(((( )ossibly have e7-lained the whole thin.* 6ut 0 was not* #n the contrary, and thou.h 0 say it myself, the fates had been rather kind to me in that re.ard* 0 stood e7actly five and a half feet tall in my stockin.ed feet, and my shoulders, thou.h they slo-ed downward a little from the neck, were nicely in balance with my small neat frame* C)ersonally, 0've always thou.ht that a little slo-e on the shoulder lends a subtle and faintly aesthetic air to a man who is not overly tall, don't you a.reeBD 2y features were re.ular, my teeth were in e7cellent condition C-rotrudin. only a smallish amount from the u--er 9awD, and my hair, which was an unusually brilliant .in.er-red, .rew thickly all over my scal-* :ood heavens above, 0 had seen men who were -erfect shrim-s in com-arison with me dis-layin. an astonishin. a-lomb in their dealin.s with the fairer se7* nd oh, how 0 envied themF %ow 0 lon.ed to do likewise--to be able to share in a few of those -leasant little rituals of contact that 0 observed continually takin. -lace between men and women--the touchin. of hands, the -eck on the cheek, the linkin. of arms, the -ressure of knee a.ainst knee or foot a.ainst foot under the dinin.table, and most of all, the full-blown violent embrace that comes when two of them 9oin to.ether on the floor--for a dance* 6ut such thin.s were not for me* las, 0 had to s-end my time avoidin. them instead* nd this, my friends, was easier said than done, even for a humble curate in a small country re.ion far from the flesh-ots of the metro-olis* 2y flock, you understand, contained an inordinate number of ladies* There were scores of them in the -arish and the unfortunate thin. about it was that at least si7ty -er cent of them were s-insters, com-letely untamed by the benevolent influence of holy matrimony* 0 tell you 0 was 9um-y as a s;uirrel* #ne would have thou.ht that with all the careful trainin. my mother had .iven me as a child, 0 should have been ca-able of takin. this sort of thin. well in my strideE and no doubt 0 would have done if only she had lived lon. enou.h to com-lete my education* 6ut alas, she was killed when 0 was still ;uite youn.* She was a wonderful woman, my mother* She used to wear hu.e bracelets on her wrists, five or si7 of them at a time, with all sorts of thin.s han.in. from them and tinklin. a.ainst each other as she moved* 0t didn't matter where she was, you could always find her by listenin. for the noise of those bracelets* 0t was better than a cowbell* nd in the evenin.s she used to sit on the sofa in her black trousers with her feet tucked u- underneath her, smokin. endless ci.arettes from a lon. black holder* nd 0'd be crouchin. on the floor, watchin. her* A>ou want to taste my martini, :eor.eBA she used to ask* A'ow sto- it, :lare,A my father would say* A0f you're not careful you'll stunt the boy's .rowth*A A:o on,A she said* ADon't be fri.htened of it* Drink it*A 0 always did everythin. my mother told me* AThat's enou.h,A my father said* A%e only has to know what it tastes like*A A)lease don't interfere, 6oris* This is very im-ortant*A 2y mother had a theory that nothin. in the world should be ke-t secret from a child* Show him everythin.* 2ake him e7-erience it* A0'm not .oin. to have any boy of mine .oin. around whis-erin. dirty secrets with other children and havin. to .uess about this thin. and that sim-ly because no one will tell him*A Tell him everythin.* 2ake him listen* ACome over here, :eor.e, and 0'll tell you what there is to know about :od*A She never read stories to me at ni.ht before 0 went to bedE she 9ust Atold' me thin.s instead* nd every evenin. it was somethin. different* ACome over here, :eor.e, because now 0'm .oin. to tell you about 2ohammed*A

She would be sittin. on the sofa in her black trousers with her le.s crossed and her feet tucked u- underneath her, and she'd beckon to me in a ;ueer lan.uorous manner with the hand that held the lon. black ci.arette-holder, and the ban.les would start 9in.lin. all the way u- her arm* A0f you must have a reli.ion 0 su--ose 2ohammedanism is as .ood as any of them* 0t's all based on kee-in. healthy* >ou have lots of wives, and you mustn't ever smoke or drink*A A+hy mustn't you smoke or drink, 2ummyBA A6ecause if you've .ot lots of wives you have to kee- healthy and virile*A A+hat is virileBA A0'll .o into that tomorrow, my -et* !et's deal with one sub9ect at a time* nother thin. about the 2ohammedan is that he never never .ets consti-ated*A A'ow, Clare,A my father would say, lookin. u- from his book* AStick to the facts*A A2y dear 6oris, you don't know anythin. about it* 'ow if only you would try bendin. forward and touchin. the .round with your forehead mornin., noon, and ni.ht every day, facin. 2ecca, you mi.ht have a bit less trouble in that direction yourselfA 0 used to love listenin. to her, even thou.h 0 could only understand about half of what she was sayin.* She really was tellin. me secrets, and there wasn't anythin. more e7citin. than that* ACome over here, :eor.e, and 0'll tell you -recisely how your father makes his money*A A'ow, :lare, that's ;uite enou.h*A A'onsense, darlin.* +hy make a secret out of it with the childB %e'll only ima.ine somethin. much much worse*A 0 was e7actly ten years old when she started .ivin. me detailed lectures on the sub9ect of se7* This was the bi..est secret of them all, and therefore the most enthrallin.* ACome over here, :eor.e, because now 0'm .oin. to tell you how you came into this world, ri.ht from the very be.innin.*A 0 saw my father .lance u- ;uietly, and o-en his mouth wide the way he did when he was .oin. to say somethin. vital, but my mother was already fi7in. him with those brilliant shinin. eyes of hers, and he went slowly back to his book without utterin. a sound* A>our -oor father is embarrassed,A she said, and she .ave me her -rivate smile, the one that she .ave nobody else, only to me--the one-sided smile where 9ust one corner of her mouth lifted slowly u-ward until it made a lovely lon. wrinkle that stretched ri.ht u- to the eye itself, and became a sort of wink-smile instead* A"mbarrassment, my -et, is the one thin. that 0 want you never to feel* nd don't think for a moment that your father is embarrassed only because of you*A 2y father started wri..lin. about in his chair* A2y :od, he's even embarrassed about thin.s like that when he's alone with me, his own wife*A A bout thin.s like whatBA 0 asked* t that -oint my father .ot u- and ;uietly left the room* 0 think it must have been about a week after this that my mother was killed* 0t may -ossibly have been a little later, ten days or a fortni.ht, 0 can't be sure* ll 0 know is that we were .ettin. near the end of this -articular series of Atalks' when it ha--enedE and because 0 myself was -ersonally involved in the brief chain of events that led u- to her death, 0 can still remember every sin.le detail of that curious ni.ht 9ust as clearly as if it were yesterday* 0 can switch it on in my memory any time 0 like and run it throu.h in front of my eyes e7actly as thou.h it were the reel of a cinema filmE and it never varies* 0t always ends at -recisely the same -lace, no more and no less, and it always be.ins in the same -eculiarly sudden way, with the screen in darkness, and my mother's voice somewhere above me, callin. my nameH A:eor.eF +ake u-, :eor.e, wake u-FA

nd then there is a bri.ht electric li.ht da,,lin. in my eyes, and ri.ht from the very centre of it, but far away, the voice is still callin. meH A:eor.e, wake u- and .et out of bed and -ut your dressin.-.own onF IuicklyF >ou're comin. downstairs* There's somethin. 0 want you to see* Come on, child, come onF %urry u-F nd -ut your sli--ers on* +e're .oin. outside*A A#utsideBA ADon't ar.ue with me, :eor.e* Gust do as you're told*A 0 am so slee-y 0 can hardly see to walk, but my mother takes me firmly by the hand and leads me downstairs and out throu.h the front door into the ni.ht where the cold air is like a s-on.e of water in my face, and 0 o-en my eyes wide and see the lawn all s-arklin. with frost and the cedar tree with its tremendous arms standin. black a.ainst a thin small moon* nd overhead a .reat mass of stars is wheelin. u- into the sky* +e hurry across the lawn, my mother and 0, her bracelets all 9in.lin. like mad and me havin. to trot to kee- u- with her* "ach ste- 0 take 0 can feel the cris- frosty .rass crunchin. softly underfoot* AGose-hine has 9ust started havin. her babies,A my mother says* A0t's a -erfect o--ortunity* >ou shall watch the whole -rocess*A There is a li.ht burnin. in the .ara.e when we .et there, and we .o inside* 2y father isn't there, nor is the car, and the -lace seems hu.e and bare, and the concrete floor is free,in. cold throu.h the soles of my bedroom sli--ers* Gose-hine is reclinin. on a hea- of straw inside the low wire ca.e in one corner of the room lar.e blue rabbit with small -ink eyes that watch us sus-iciously as we .o towards her* (((( The husband, whose name is 'a-oleon, is now in a se-arate ca.e in the o--osite corner, and 0 notice that he is standin. uon his hind le.s scratchin. im-atiently at the nettin.* A!ookFA my mother cries* AShe's havin. the first oneF 0t's almost outFA +e both cree- closer to Gose-hine, and 0 s;uat down beside the ca.e with my face ri.ht u- a.ainst the wire* 0 am fascinated* %ere is one rabbit comin. out of another* 0t is ma.ical and rather s-lendid* 0t is also very ;uick* A!ook how it comes out all neatly wra--ed u- in its own little cello-hane ba.FA my mother is sayin.* A nd 9ust look how she's takin. care of it nowF The -oor darlin. doesn't have a face-flannel, and even if she did she couldn't hold it in her -aws, so she's washin. it with her ton.ue instead*A The mother rabbit rolls her small -ink eyes an7iously in our direction, and then 0 see her shiftin. -osition in the straw so that her body is between us and the youn. one* ACome round the other side,A my mother says* AThe silly thin. has moved* 0 do believe she's tryin. to hide her baby from us*A +e .o round the other side of the ca.e* The rabbit follows us with her eyes* cou-le of yards away the buck is -rancin. madly u- and down, clawin. at the wire* A+hy is 'a-oleon so e7citedBA 0 ask* A0 don't know, dear* Don't you bother about him* +atch Gose-hine* 0 e7-ect she'll be havin. another one soon* !ook how carefully she's washin. that little babyF She's treatin. it 9ust like a human mother treats hersF 0sn't it funny to think that 0 did almost e7actly the same sort of thin. to you onceBA The bi. blue doe is still watchin. us, and now, a.ain, she -ushes the baby away with her nose and rolls slowly over to face the other way* Then she .oes on with her lickin. and cleanin.* A0sn't it wonderful how a mother knows instinctively 9ust what she has to doBA my mother says* A'ow you 9ust ima.ine, my -et, that the baby is you, and Gose-hine is me--wait a minute, come back over here a.ain so you can .et a better look*A +e cree- back around the ca.e to kee- the baby in view* ASee how she's fondlin. it and kissin. it all overF ThereF She's really kissin. it now, isn't sheF "7actly like me and youFA

0 -eer closer* 0t seems a ;ueer way of kissin. to me* A!ookFA 0 scream* AShe's eatin. itFA nd sure enou.h, the head of the baby rabbit is now disa--earin. swiftly into the mother's mouth* A2ummyF IuickFA 6ut almost before the sound of my scream has died away, the whole of that tiny -ink body has vanished down the mother's throat* 0 swin. ;uickly around, and the ne7t thin. 0 know 0'm lookin. strai.ht into my own mother's face, not si7 inches above me, and no doubt she is tryin. to say somethin. or it may be that she is too astonished to say anythin., but all 0 see is the mouth, the hu.e red mouth o-enin. wider and wider until it is 9ust a .reat bi. round .a-in. hole with a black centre, and 0 scream a.ain, and this time 0 can't sto-* Then suddenly out come her hands, and 0 can feel her skin touchin. mine, the lon. cold fin.ers closin. ti.htly over my fists, and 0 9um- back and 9erk myself free and rush blindly out into the ni.ht* 0 run down the drive and throu.h the front .ates, screamin. all the way, and then, above the noise of my own voice 0 can hear the 9in.le of bracelets comin. u- behind me in the dark, .ettin. louder and louder as she kee-s .ainin. on me all the way down the lon. hill to the bottom of the lane and over the brid.e on to the main road where the cars are streamin. by at si7ty miles an hour with headli.hts bla,in.* Then somewhere behind me 0 hear a screech of tyres skiddin. on the road surface, and then there is silence, and 0 notice suddenly that the bracelets aren't 9in.lin. behind me any more* )oor 2other* 0f only she could have lived a little lon.er* 0 admit that she .ave me a nasty fri.ht with those rabbits, but it wasn't her fault, and anyway ;ueer thin.s like that were always ha--enin. between her and me* 0 had come to re.ard them as a sort of tou.henin. -rocess that did me more .ood than harm* 6ut if only she could have lived lon. enou.h to com-lete my education, 0'm sure 0 should never have had all that trouble 0 was tellin. you about a few minutes a.o* 0 want to .et on with that now* 0 didn't mean to be.in talkin. about my mother* She doesn't have anythin. to do with what 0 ori.inally started out to say* 0 won't mention her a.ain* 0 was tellin. you about the s-insters in my -arish* 0t's an u.ly word, isn't it--s-insterB 0t con9ures u- the vision either of a strin.y old hen with a -uckered mouth or of a hu.e ribald monster shoutin. around the house in ridin.breeches* 6ut these were not like that at all* They were a clean, healthy, wellbuilt .rou- of females, the ma9ority of them hi.hly bred and sur-risin.ly wealthy, and 0 feel sure that the avera.e unmarried man would have been .ratified to have them around* 0n the be.innin., when 0 first came to the vicara.e, 0 didn't have too bad a time* 0 en9oyed a measure of -rotection, of course, by reason of my callin. and my cloth* 0n addition, 0 myself ado-ted a cool di.nified attitude that was calculated to discoura.e familiarity* $or a few months, therefore, 0 was able to move freely amon. my -arishioners, and no one took the liberty of linkin. her arm in mine at a charity ba,aar, or of touchin. my fin.ers with hers as she -assed me the cruet at su--ertime* 0 was very ha--y* 0 was feelin. better than 0 had in years* "ven that little nervous habit 0 had of flickin. my earlobe with my forefin.er when 0 talked be.an to disa--ear* This was what 0 call my first -eriod, and it e7tended over a--ro7imately si7 months* Then came trouble* 0 su--ose 0 should have known that a healthy male like myself couldn't ho-e to evade embroilment indefinitely sim-ly by kee-in. a fair distance between himself and the ladies* 0t 9ust doesn't work* 0f anythin. it has the o--osite effect* 0 would see them eyein. me covertly across the room at a whist drive, whis-erin. to one another, noddin., runnin. their ton.ues over their li-s, suckin.

at their ci.arettes, -lottin. the best a--roach, but always whis-erin., and sometimes 0 overheard snatches of their talk--A+hat a shy -erson***he's 9ust a trifle nervous, isn't he***he's much too tense*** he needs com-anionshi-***he wants loosenin. u-*** we must teach him how to rela7*A nd then slowly as the weeks went by, they be.an to stalk me* 0 knew they were doin. it* 0 could feel it ha--enin. althou.h at first they did nothin. definite to .ive themselves away* That was my second -eriod* 0t lasted for the best -art of a year and was very tryin. indeed* 6ut it was -aradise com-ared with the third and final -hase* $or now, instead of sni-in. at me s-oradically from far away, the attackers suddenly came char.in. out of the wood with bayonets fi7ed* 0t was terrible, fri.htenin.* 'othin. is more calculated to unnerve a man than the swift une7-ected assault* >et 0 am not a coward* 0 will stand my .round a.ainst any sin.le individual of my own si,e under any circumstances* 6ut this onslau.ht, 0 am now convinced, was conducted by vast numbers o-eratin. as one skilfully coordinated unit* The first offender was 2iss "l-hinstone, a lar.e woman with moles* 0 had dro--ed in on her durin. the afternoon to solicit a contribution towards a new set of bellows for the or.an, and after some -leasant conversation in the library she had .raciously handed me a che;ue for two .uineas* 0 told her not to bother to see me to the door and 0 went out into the hall to .et my hat* 0 was about to reach for it when all at once--she must have come ti--toein. u- behind me--all at once 0 felt a bare arm slidin. throu.h mine, and one second later her fin.ers were entwined in my own, and she was s;uee,in. my hand hard, in out, in out, as thou.h it were the bulb of a throat-s-ray* A re you really so Very Reverend as you're always -retendin. to beBA she whis-ered* +ellF ll 0 can tell you is that when that arm of hers came slidin. in under mine, it felt e7actly as thou.h a cobra was coilin. itself around my wrist* 0 lea-ed away, -ulled o-en the front door, and fled down the drive without lookin. back* The very ne7t day we held a 9umble sale in the villa.e hall Ca.ain to raise money for the new bellowsD, and towards the end of it 0 was standin. in a corner ;uietly drinkin. a cu- of tea and kee-in. an eye on the villa.ers crowdin. round the stalls when all of a sudden 0 heard a voice beside me sayin., ADear me, what a hun.ry look you have in those eyes of yours*A The ne7t instant a lon. curvaceous body was leanin. u- a.ainst mine and a hand with red fin.ernails was tryin. to -ush a thick slice of coconut cake into my mouth* A2iss )rattley,A 0 cried* A)leaseFA 6ut she'd .ot me u- a.ainst the wall, and with a teacu- in one hand and a saucer in the other 0 was -owerless to resist* 0 felt the sweat breakin. out all over me and if my mouth hadn't ;uickly become full of the cake she was -ushin. into it, 0 honestly believe 0 would have started to scream* nasty incident, that oneE but there was worse to come* The ne7t day it was 2iss &nwin* 'ow 2iss &nwin ha--ened to be a close friend of 2iss "l-hinstone's and of 2iss )rattley's, and this of course should have been enou.h to make me very cautious* >et who would have thou.ht that she of all -eo-le* 2iss &nwin, that ;uiet .entle little mouse who only a few weeks before had -resented me with a new hassock e7;uisitely worked in needle-oint with her own hands, who would have thou.ht that she would ever have taken a liberty with anyoneB So when she asked me to accom-any her down to the cry-t to show her the Sa7on murals, it never entered my head that there was devilry afoot* 6ut there was* 0 don't -ro-ose to describe that encounterE it was too -ainful* nd the ones which followed were no less sava.e* 'early every day from then on, some new outra.eous incident would take -lace* 0 became a nervous wreck* t times 0 hardly knew what 0 was doin.* 0 started readin. the burial service at youn. :ladys )itcher's weddin.* 0 dro--ed 2rs %arris's new baby into the font durin. the

christenin. and .ave it a nasty duckin.* n uncomfortable rash that 0 hadn't had in over two years rea--eared on the side of my neck, and that annoyin. business with my earlobe came back worse than ever before* "ven my hair be.an comin. out in my comb* The faster 0 retreated, the faster they came after me* +omen are like that* 'othin. stimulates them ;uite so much as a dis-lay of modesty or shyness in a man* nd they become doubly -ersistent if underneath it all they ha--en to detect--and here 0 have a most difficult confession to make--if they ha--en to detect, as they did in me, a little secret .leam of lon.in. shinin. in the backs of the eyes* >ou see, actually 0 was mad about women* >es, 0 know* >ou will find this hard to believe after all that 0 have said, but it was -erfectly true* >ou must understand that it was only when they touched me with their fin.ers or -ushed u- a.ainst me with their bodies that 0 became alarmed* )rovidin. they remained at a safe distance, 0 could watch them for hours on end with the same -eculiar fascination that you yourself mi.ht e7-erience in watchin. a creature you couldn't bear to touch--an octo-us, for e7am-le, or a lon. -oisonous snake* 0 loved the smooth white look of a bare arm emer.in. from a sleeve, curiously naked like a -eeled banana* 0 could .et enormously e7cited 9ust from watchin. a .irl walk across the room in a ti.ht dressE and 0 -articularly en9oyed the back view of a -air of le.s when the feet were in rather hi.h heels-the wonderful braced-u- look behind the knees, with the le.s themselves very taut as thou.h they were made of stron. elastic stretched out almost to breakin.--oint, but not ;uite* Sometimes, in !ady 6irdwell's drawin.room, sittin. near the window on a summer's afternoon, 0 would .lance over the rim of my teacu- towards the swimmin. -ool and become a.itated beyond measure by the si.ht of a little -atch of sunburned stomach bul.in. between the to- and bottom of a two--iece bathin.-suit* There is nothin. wron. in havin. thou.hts like these* ll men harbour them from time to time* 6ut they did .ive me a terrible sense of .uilt* 0s it me, 0 ke-t askin. myself, who is unwittin.ly res-onsible for the shameless way in which these ladies are now behavin.B 0s it the .leam in my eye Cwhich 0 cannot controlD that is constantly rousin. their -assions and e..in. them onB m 0 unconsciously .ivin. them what is sometimes known as the come-hither si.nal every time 0 .lance their wayB m 0B #r is this brutal conduct of theirs inherent in the very nature of the femaleB 0 had a -retty fair idea of the answer to this ;uestion, but that was not .ood enou.h for me* 0 ha--en to -ossess a conscience that can never be consoled by .uessworkE it has to have -roof* 0 sim-ly had to find out who was really the .uilty -arty in this case--me or them, and with this ob9ect in view, 0 now decided to -erform a sim-le e7-eriment of my own invention, usin. Snellin.'s rats* year or so -reviously 0 had had some trouble with an ob9ectionable choirboy named 6illy Snellin.* #n three consecutive Sundays this youth had brou.ht a -air of white rats into church and had let them loose on the floor durin. my sermon* 0n the end 0 had confiscated the animals and carried them home and -laced them in a bo7 in the shed at the bottom of the vicara.e .arden* )urely for humane reasons 0 had then -roceeded to feed them, and as a result, but without any further encoura.ement from me, the creatures be.an to multi-ly very ra-idly* The two became five, and five became twelve* 0t was at this -oint that 0 decided to use them for research -ur-oses* There were e7actly e;ual numbers of males and females, si7 of each, so that conditions were ideal* 0 first isolated the se7es, -uttin. them into two se-arate ca.es, and 0 left them like that for three whole weeks* 'ow a rat is a very lascivious animal, and any ,oolo.ist will tell you that for them this is an inordinately lon. -eriod of se-aration* t a .uess 0 would say that one week of enforced celibacy for a rat is e;ual to a--ro7imately one year of the same treatment for someone like 2iss "l-hinstone or 2iss )rattley So you can see that 0 was doin. a -retty fair 9ob in re-roducin. actual conditions*

+hen the three weeks were u-, 0 took a lar.e bo7 that was divided across the centre by a little fence, and 0 -laced the females on one side and the males on the other* The fence consisted of nothin. more than three sin.le strands of naked wire, one inch a-art, but there was a -owerful electric current runnin. throu.h the wires* To add a touch of reality to the -roceedin.s, 0 .ave each female a name* The lar.est one, who also had the lon.est whiskers, was 2iss "l-hinstone* The one with a short thick tail was 2iss )rattley* The smallest of them all was 2iss &nwin, and so on* The males, all si7 of them, were 2"* 0 now -ulled u- a chair and sat back to watch the result* ll rats are sus-icious by nature, and when 0 first -ut the two se7es to.ether in the bo7 with only the wire between them, neither side made a move* The males stared hard at the females throu.h the fence* The females stared back, waitin. for the males to come forward* 0 could see that both sides were tense with yearnin.* +hiskers ;uivered and noses twitched and occasionally a lon. tail would flick shar-ly a.ainst the wall of the bo7* fter a while, the first male detached himself from his .rou- and advanced .in.erly towards the fence, his belly close to the .round* %e touched a wire and was immediately electrocuted* The remainin. eleven rats fro,e, motionless* There followed a -eriod of nine and a half minutes durin. which neither side movedE but 0 noticed that while all the males were now starin. at the dead body of their collea.ue, the females had eyes only for the males* Then suddenly 2iss )rattley with the short tail could stand it no lon.er* She came boundin. forward, hit the wire, and dro--ed dead* The males -ressed their bodies closer to the .round and .a,ed thou.htfully at the two cor-ses by the fence* The females also seemed to be ;uite shaken, and there was another wait, with neither side movin.* 'ow it was 2iss &nwin who be.an to show si.ns of im-atience* She snorted audibly and twitched a -ink mobile nose-end from side to side, then suddenly she started 9erkin. her body ;uickly u- and down as thou.h she were doin. -ushu-s* She .lanced round at her remainin. four com-anions, raised her tail hi.h in the air as much as to say, A%ere 0 .o, .irls,A and with that she advanced briskly to the wire, -ushed her head throu.h it, and was killed* Si7teen minutes later, 2iss $oster made her first move* 2iss $oster was a woman in the villa.e who bred cats, and recently she had had the effrontery to -ut u- a lar.e si.n outside her house in the %i.h Street, sayin. $#ST"R'S C T$"R>* Throu.h lon. association with the creatures she herself seemed to have ac;uired all their most no7ious characteristics, and whenever she came near me in a room 0 could detect, even throu.h the smoke of her Russian ci.arette, a faint but -un.ent aroma of cat* She had never struck me as havin. much control over her baser instincts, and it was with some satisfaction, therefore, that 0 watched her flow as she foolishly took her own life in a last des-erate -lun.e towards the masculine se7* 2iss 2ont.omery-Smith came ne7t, a small determined woman who had once tried to make me believe that she had been en.a.ed to a bisho-* She died tryin. to cree- on her belly under the lowest wire, and 0 must say 0 thou.ht this a very fair reflection u-on the way in which she lived her life* nd still the five remainin. males stayed motionless, waitin.* The fifth female to .o was 2iss )lumley* She was a devious one who was continually sli--in. little messa.es addressed to me into the collection ba.* #nly the Sunday before, 0 had been in the vestry countin. the money after mornin. service and had come across one of them tucked inside a folded ten-shillin. note* >our -oor throat sounded hoarse today durin. the sermon, it said* !et me brin. you a bottle of my own cherry -ectoral to soothe it down* 2ost affectionately, "unice )lumley* 2iss )lumley ambled slowly u- to the wire, sniffed the centre strand with the ti- of her nose, came a fraction too close, and received two hundred and forty volts of alternatin. current throu.h her body*

The five males stayed where they were, watchin. the slau.hter* nd now only 2iss "l-hinstone remained on the feminine side* $or a full half-hour neither she nor any of the others made a move* $inally one of the males stirred himself sli.htly, took a ste- forward, hesitated, thou.ht better of it, and slowly sank back into a crouch on the floor* This must have frustrated 2iss "l-hinstone beyond measure, for suddenly, with eyes bla,in., she rushed forward and took a flyin. lea- at the wire* 0t was a s-ectacular 9um- and she nearly cleared itE but one of her hind le.s .ra,ed the to- strand, and thus she also -erished with the rest of her se7* 0 cannot tell you how much .ood it did me to watch this sim-le and, thou.h 0 say it myself, this rather in.enious e7-eriment* 0n one stroke 0 had laid o-en the incredibly lascivious, sto-atnothin. nature of the female* 2y own se7 was vindicatedE my own conscience was cleared* 0n a trice, all those awkward little flashes of .uilt from which 0 had continually been sufferin. flew out of the window* 0 felt suddenly very stron. and serene in the knowled.e of my own innocence* $or a few moments 0 toyed with the absurd idea of electrifyin. the black iron railin.s that ran around the vicara.e .ardenE or -erha-s 9ust the .ate would be enou.h* Then 0 would sit back comfortably in a chair in the library and watch throu.h the window as the real 2isses "l-hinstone and )rattley and &nwin came forward one after the other and -aid the final -enalty for -esterin. an innocent male* Such foolish thou.htsF +hat 0 must actually do now, 0 told myself, was to weave around me a sort of invisible electric fence constructed entirely out of my #wn -ersonal moral fibre* 6ehind this 0 would sit in -erfect safety while the enemy, one after another, flun. themselves a.ainst the wire* 0 would be.in by cultivatin. a brus;ue manner* 0 would s-eak cris-ly to all women, and refrain from smilin. at them* 0 would no lon.er ste- back a -ace when one of them advanced u-on me* 0 would stand my .round and .lare at her, and if she said somethin. that 0 considered su..estive, 0 would make a shar- retort* 0t was in this mood that 0 set off the very ne7t day to attend !ady 6irdwell's tennis -arty* 0 was not a -layer myself, but her ladyshi- had .raciously invited me to dro- in and min.le with the .uests when -lay was over at si7 o'clock* 0 believe she thou.ht that it lent a certain tone to a .atherin. to have a cler.yman -resent, and she was -robably ho-in. to -ersuade me to re-eat the -erformance 0 .ave the last time 0 was there, when 0 sat at the -iano for a full hour and a ;uarter after su--er and entertained the .uests with a detailed descri-tion of the evolution of the madri.al throu.h the centuries* 0 arrived at the .ates on my cycle -rom-tly at si7 o'clock and -edalled uthe lon. drive towards the house* This was the first week of Gune, and the rhododendrons were massed in .reat banks of -ink and -ur-le all the way alon. on either side* 0 was feelin. unusually blithe and dauntless* The -revious day's e7-eriment with rats had made it im-ossible now for anyone to take me by sur-rise* 0 knew e7actly what to e7-ect and 0 was armed accordin.ly* ll around me the little fence was u-* A h, .ood evenin., Vicar,A !ady 6irdwell cried, advancin. u-on me with both arms outstretched* 0 stood my .round and looked her strai.ht in the eye* A%ow's 6irdwellBA 0 said* AStill u- in the cityBA 0 doubt whether she had ever before in her life heard !ord 6irdwell referred to thus by someone who had never even met him* 0t sto--ed her dead in her tracks* She looked at me ;ueerly and didn't seem to know how to answer* A0'll take a seat if 0 may,A 0 said, and walked -ast her towards the terrace where a .rou- of nine or ten .uests were settled comfortably in cane chairs, si--in. their drinks* They were mostly women, the usual crowd, all of them dressed in white tennis clothes, and as 0 strode in amon. them my own sober black suitin.

seemed to .ive me, 0 thou.ht, 9ust the ri.ht amount of se-arateness for the occasion* The ladies .reeted me with smiles* 0 nodded to them and sat down in a vacant chair, but 0 didn't smile back* A0 think -erha-s 0'd better finish my story another time,A 2iss "l-hinstone was sayin.* A0 don't believe the vicar would a--rove*A She .i..led and .ave me an arch look* 0 knew she was waitin. for me to come out with my usual little nervous lau.h and to say my usual little sentence about how broadminded 0 wasE but 0 did nothin. of the sort* 0 sim-ly raised one side of my u--er li- until it sha-ed itself into a tiny curl of contem-t C0 had -ractised in the minor that mornin.D, and then 0 said shar-ly, in a loud voice, A2ens sana in cor-ore sano*A A+hat's thatBA she cried* ACome a.ain, Vicar*A A clean mind in a healthy body,A 0 answered* A0t's a family motto*A There was an odd kind of silence for ;uite a lon. time after this* 0 could see the women e7chan.in. .lances with one another, frownin., shakin. their heads* AThe vicar's in the dum-s,A 2iss $oster announced* She was the one who bred cats* A0 think the vicar needs a drink*A AThank you,A 0 said, Abut 0 never imbibe* >ou know that*A AThen do let me fetch you a nice coolin. .lass of fruit cu-BA This last sentence came softly and rather suddenly from someone 9ust behind me, to my ri.ht, and there was a note of such .enuine concern in the s-eaker's voice that 0 turned round* 0 saw a lady of sin.ular beauty whom 0 had met only once before, about a month a.o* %er name was 2iss Roach, and 0 remembered that she had struck me then as bein. a -erson far out of the usual run* 0 had been -articularly im-ressed by her .entle and reticent natureE and the fact that 0 had felt comfortable in her -resence -roved beyond doubt that she was not the sort of -erson who would try to im-in.e herself u-on me in any way* A0'm sure you must be tired after cyclin. all that distance,A she was sayin. now* 0 swivelled ri.ht round in my chair and looked at her carefully* She was certainly a strikin. -erson--unusually muscular for a woman, with broad shoulders and -owerful arms and a hu.e calf bul.in. on each le.* The flush of the afternoon's e7ertions was still u-on her, and her face .lowed with a healthy red sheen* AThank you so much, 2iss Roach,A 0 said, Abut 0 never touch alcohol in any form* 2aybe a small .lass of lemon s;uash*A AThe fruit cu- is only made of fruit, )adre*A %ow 0 loved a -erson who called me A)adre'* The word has a military rin. about it that con9ures u- visions of stern disci-line and officer rank* A$ruit cu-BA 2iss "l-hinstone said* A0t's harmless*A A2y dear man, it's nothin. but vitamin C,A 2iss $oster said* A2uch better for you than fi,,y lemonade,A !ady 6irdwell said* ACarbon dio7ide attacks the linin. of the stomach*A A0'll .et you some,A 2iss Roach said, smilin. at me -leasantly* 0t was a .ood o-en smile, and there wasn't a trace of .uile or mischief from one corner of the mouth to the other* She stood u- and walked over to the drink table* 0 saw her slicin. an oran.e, then an a--le, then a cucumber, then a .ra-e, and dro--in. the -ieces into a .lass* Then she -oured in a lar.e ;uantity of li;uid from a bottle whose label 0 couldn't ;uite read without my s-ectacles, but 0 fancied that 0 saw the name G02 on it, or T02 or )02, or some such word* A0 ho-e there's enou.h left,A !ady 6irdwell called out* AThose .reedy children of mine do love it so*A A)lenty,A 2iss Roach answered, and she brou.ht the drink to me and set it on the table* "ven without tastin. it 0 could easily understand why children adored it*

The li;uid itself was dark amber-red and there were .reat hunks of fruit floatin. around amon. the ice cubesE and on to- of it all, 2iss Roach had -laced a s-ri. of mint* 0 .uessed that the mint had been -ut there s-ecially for me, to take some of the sweetness away and to lend a touch of .rown-u-ness to a concoction that was otherwise so obviously for youn.sters* AToo sticky for you, )adreFA A0t's delectable,A 0 said, si--in. it* AIuite -erfect*A 0t seemed a -ity to .ul- it down ;uickly after all the trouble 2iss Roach had taken to make it, but it was so refreshin. 0 couldn't resist* ADo let me make you anotherFA 0 liked the way she waited until 0 had set the .lass on the table, instead of tryin. to take it out of my hand* A0 wouldn't eat the mint if 0 were you,A 2iss "l-hinstone said* A0'd better .et another bottle from the house,A !ady 6irdwell called out* A>ou're .oin. to need it, 2ildred*A ADo that,A 2iss Roach re-lied* A0 drink .allons of the stuff myself,A she went on, s-eakin. to me* A nd 0 don't think you'd say that 0'm e7actly what you mi.ht call emaciated*A A'o indeed,A 0 answered fervently* 0 was watchin. her a.ain as she mi7ed me another brew, noticin. how the muscles ri--led under the skin of the arm that raised the bottle* %er neck also was uncommonly fine when seen from behindE not thin and strin.y like the necks of a lot of these so-called modern beauties, but thick and stron. with a sli.ht rid.e runnin. down either side where the sinews bul.ed* 0t wasn't easy to .uess the a.e of a -erson like this, but 0 doubted whether she could have been more than fortyei.ht or nine* 0 had 9ust finished my second bi. .lass of fruit cu- when 0 be.an to e7-erience a most -eculiar sensation* 0 seemed to be floatin. u- out of my chair, and hundreds of little warm waves came washin. in under me, liftin. me hi.her and hi.her* 0 felt as buoyant as a bubble, and everythin. around me seemed to be bobbin. u- and down and swirlin. .ently from side to side* 0t was all very -leasant, and 0 was overcome by an almost irresistible desire to break into son.* A$eelin. ha--yBA 2iss Roach's voice sounded miles and miles away, and when 0 turned to look at her, 0 was astonished to see how near she really was* She, also, was bobbin. u- and down* ATerrific,A 0 answered* A0'm feelin. absolutely terrific*A %er face was lar.e and -ink, and it was so close to me now that 0 could see the -ale car-et of fu,, coverin. both her cheeks, and the way the sunli.ht cau.ht each tiny se-arate hair and made it shine like .old* ll of a sudden 0 found myself wantin. to -ut out a hand and stroke those cheeks of hers with my fin.ers* To tell the truth 0 wouldn't have ob9ected in the least if she had tried to do the same to me* A!isten,A she said softly* A%ow about the two of us takin. a little stroll down the .arden to see the lu-insBA A$ine,A 0 answered* A!ovely* nythin. you say*A There is a small :eor.ian summer-house alon.side the cro;uet lawn in !ady 6irdwell's .arden, and the very ne7t thin. 0 knew, 0 was sittin. inside it on a kind of chaise-lon.ue and 2iss Roach was beside me* 0 was still bobbin. u- and down, and so was she, and so, for that matter, was the summer-house, but 0 was feelin. wonderful* 0 asked 2iss Roach if she would like me to .ive her a son.* A'ot now,A she said, encirclin. me with her arms and s;uee,in. my chest a.ainst hers so hard that it hurt* ADon't,A 0 said, meltin.* AThat's better,A she ke-t sayin.* AThat's much better, isn't itBA %ad 2iss Roach or any other female tried to do this sort of thin. to me an hour before, 0 don't ;uite know what would have ha--ened* 0 think 0 would -robably have fainted* 0 mi.ht even have died* 6ut here 0 was now, the same old me, actually relishin. the contact of those enormous bare arms a.ainst my bodyF lso-and this was the most ama,in. thin. of all--0 was be.innin. to feel the ur.e to

reci-rocate* 0 took the lobe of her left ear between my thumb and forefin.er, and tu..ed it -layfully* A'au.hty boy,A she said* 0 tu..ed harder and s;uee,ed it a bit at the same time* This roused her to such a -itch that she be.an to .runt and snort like a ho.* %er breathin. became loud and stertorous* A/iss me,A she ordered* A+hatBA 0 said* ACome on, kiss me*A t that moment, 0 saw her mouth* 0 saw this .reat mouth of hers comin. slowly down on to- of me, startin. to o-en, and comin. closer and closer, and o-enin. wider and widerE and suddenly my whole stomach be.an to roll ri.ht over inside me and 0 went stiff with terror* A'oFA 0 shrieked* ADon'tF Don't, 2ummy, don'tFA 0 can only tell you that 0 had never in all my life seen anythin. more terrifyin. than that mouth* 0 sim-ly could not stand it comin. at me like that* %ad it been a red-hot iron someone was -ushin. into my face 0 wouldn't have been nearly so -etrified, 0 swear 0 wouldn't* The stron. arms were around me, -innin. me down so that 0 couldn't move, and the mouth ke-t .ettin. lar.er and lar.er, and then all at once it was ri.ht on to- of me, hu.e and wet and cavernous, and the ne7t second--0 was inside it* 0 was ri.ht inside this enormous mouth, lyin. on my stomach alon. the len.th of the ton.ue, with my feet somewhere around the back of the throatE and 0 knew instinctively that unless 0 .ot myself out a.ain at once 0 was .oin. to be swallowed alive--9ust like that baby rabbit* 0 Could feel my le.s bein. drawn down the throat by some kind of suction, and ;uickly 0 threw u- Afly arms and .rabbed hold of the lower front teeth and held on for dear life* 2y head was near the mouth-entrance, and 0 could actually look ri.ht out between the li-s and see a little -atch of the world outside--sunli.ht shinin. on the -olished wooden floor of the summer-house, and on the floor itself a .i.antic foot in a white tennis shoe* 0 had a .ood .ri- with my fin.ers on the ed.e of the teeth, and in s-ite of the suction, 0 was mana.in. to haul myself u- slowly towards the dayli.ht when suddenly the u--er teeth came down on my knuckles and started cho--in. away at them so fiercely 0 had to let .o* 0 went slidin. back down the throat, feet first, clutchin. madly at this and that as 0 went, but everythin. was so smooth and sli--ery 0 couldn't .et a .ri-* 0 .lim-sed a bri.ht flash of .old on the left as 0 slid -ast the last of the molars, and then three inches farther on 0 saw what must have been the uvula above me, dan.lin. like a thick red stalactite from the roof of the throat* 0 .rabbed at it with both hands but the thin. slithered throu.h my fin.ers and 0 went on down* 0 remember screamin. for hel-, but 0 could hardly hear the sound of my own voice above the noise of the wind that was caused by the throat-owner's breathin.* There seemed to be a .ale blowin. all the time, a ;ueer erratic .ale that blew alternately very cold Cas the air came inD and very hot Cas it went out a.ainD* 0 mana.ed to .et my elbows hooked over a shar- fleshy rid.e--0 -resume the e-i.lottis--and for a brief moment 0 hun. there, defyin. the suction and scrabblin. with my feet to find a foothold on the wall of the laryn7E but the throat .ave a hu.e swallow that 9erked me away, and down 0 went a.ain* $rom then on, there was nothin. else for me to catch hold of, and down and down 0 went until soon my le.s were dan.lin. below me in the u--er reaches of the stomach, and 0 could feel the slow -owerful -ulsin. of -eristalsis dra..in. away at my ankles, -ullin. me down and down and down* $ar above me, outside in the o-en air, 0 could hear the distant babble of women's voicesH A0t's not true*** A6ut my dear 2ildred, how awful AThe man must be mad*A A>our -oor mouth, 9ust look at it*A

se7 maniac***A sadist***Someone ou.ht to write to the bisho-*A nd then 2iss Roach's voice, louder than the others, swearin. and screechin. like a -arakeetH A%e's damn lucky 0 didn't kill him, the little bastardF***0 said to him, listen, 0 said, if ever 0 ha--en to want any of my teeth e7tracted, 0'll .o to the dentist, not to a .oddam vicar***0t isn't as thou.h 0'd .iven him any encoura.ement eitherF* A+here is he now, 2ildredBA A:od knows* 0n the bloody summer-house, 0 Su--ose*A A%ey .irls, let's .o and root him outFA #h dear, oh dear* !ookin. back on it now, some three weeks later, 0 don't know how 0 ever came throu.h the ni.htmare of that awful afternoon without takin. leave of my senses* .an. of witches like that is a very dan.erous thin. to fool around with, and had they mana.ed to catch me in the summer-house ri.ht then and there when their blood was u-, they would as likely as not have torn me limb from limb on the s-ot* "ither that, or 0 should have been fro.marched down to the -olice station with !ady 6irdwell and 2iss Roach leadin. the -rocession throu.h the main street of the villa.e* 6ut of course they didn't catch me* They didn't catch me then, and they haven't cau.ht me yet, and if my luck continues to hold, 0 think 0've .ot a fair chance of evadin. them alto.ether or anyway for a few months, until they for.et about the whole affair* s you mi.ht .uess, 0 am havin. to kee- entirely to myself and to take no -art in -ublic affairs or social life* 0 find that writin. is a most salutary occu-ation at a time like this, and 0 s-end many hours each day -layin. with sentences* 0 re.ard each sentence as a little wheel, and my ambition lately has been to .ather several hundred of them to.ether at once and to fit them all end to end, with the co.s interlockin., like .ears, but each wheel a different si,e, each turnin. at a different s-eed* 'ow and a.ain 0 try to -ut a really bi. one ri.ht ne7t to a very small one in such a way that the bi. one, turnin. slowly, will make the small one s-in so fast that it hums* Very tricky, that* 0 also sin. madri.als in the evenin.s, but 0 miss my own har-sichord terribly* ll the same, this isn't such a bad -lace, and 0 have made myself as comfortable as 0 -ossibly can* 0t is a small chamber situated in what is almost certainly the -rimary section of the duodenal loo-, 9ust before it be.ins to run vertically downward in front of the ri.ht kidney* The floor is ;uite level--indeed it was the first level -lace 0 came to durin. that horrible descent down 2iss Roach's throat--and that's the only reason 0 mana.ed to sto- at all* bove me, 0 can see a -ul-y sort of o-enin. that 0 take to be the -ylorus, where the stomach enters the small intestine C0 can still remember some of those dia.rams my mother used to show meD, and below me, there is a funny little hole in the wall where the -ancreatic duct enters the lower section of the duodenum* 0t is all a trifle bi,arre for a man of conservative tastes like myself* )ersonally 0 -refer oak furniture and -ar;uet floorin.* 6ut there is anyway one thin. here that -leases me .reatly, and that is the walls* They are lovely and soft, like a sort of -addin., and the advanta.e of this is that 0 can bounce ua.ainst them as much as 0 wish without hurtin. myself* There are several other -eo-le about, which is rather sur-risin., but thank :od they are every one of them males* $or some reason or other, they all wear white coats, and they bustle around -retendin. to be very busy and im-ortant* 0n actual fact, they are an uncommonly i.norant bunch of fellows* They don't even seem to reali,e where they are* 0 try to tell them, but they refuse to listen* Sometimes 0 .et so an.ry and frustrated with them that 0 lose my tem-er and start to shoutE and then a sly mistrustful look comes over the faces and they be.in backin. slowly away, and sayin., A'ow then* Take it easy* Take it easy, vicar,

A A

there's a .ood boy* Take it easy*A +hat sort of talk is thatB 6ut there is one oldish man--he comes in to see me every mornin. after breakfast--who a--ears to live sli.htly closer to reality than the others* %e is civil and di.nified, and 0 ima.ine he is lonely because he likes nothin. better than to sit ;uietly in my room and listen to me talk* The only trouble is that whenever we .et on to the sub9ect of our whereabouts, he starts tellin. me that he's .oin. to hel- me to esca-e* %e said it a.ain this mornin., and we had ;uite an ar.ument about it* A6ut can't you see,A 0 said -atiently, A0 don't want to esca-e*A A2y dear Vicar, why ever notBA A0 kee- tellin. you--because they're all searchin. for me outside*A A+hoBA A2iss "l-hinstone and 2iss Roach and 2iss )rattley and all the rest of them*A A+hat nonsense*A A#h yes they areF nd 0 ima.ine they're after you as well, but you won't admit it*A A'o, my friend, they are not after me*A AThen may 0 ask -recisely what you are doin. down hereBA bit of a stum-er for him, that one* 0 could see he didn't know how to answer it* A0'll bet you were foolin. around with 2iss Roach and .ot yourself swallowed u- 9ust the same as 0 did* 0'll bet that's e7actly what ha--ened, only you're ashamed to admit it*A %e looked suddenly so wan and defeated when 0 said this that 0 felt sorry for him* A+ould you like me to sin. you a son.BA 0 asked* 6ut he .ot u- without answerin. and went ;uietly out into the corridor* ACheer u-,A 0 called after him* ADon't be de-ressed* There is always some balm in :ilead*A

:enesis and Catastro-he True Story

AT%0S is normal,A the doctor was sayin.* AGust lie back and rela7*A %is voice was miles away in the distance and he seemed to be shoutin. at her* A>ou have a son*A A>ou have a fine son* >ou understand that, don't youB fine son* Did you hear him cryin.BA A0s he all ri.ht, DoctorBA A#f course he is all ri.ht*A A)lease let me see him*A A>ou'll see him in a moment*A A>ou are certain he is all ri.htBA A0 am ;uite certain*A A0s he still cryin.BA ATry to rest* There is nothin. to worry about*A A+hy has he sto--ed cryin., DoctorB +hat ha--enedBA ADon't e7cite yourself, -lease* "verythin. is normal*A

A0 want to see him* )lease let me see him*A ADear lady,A the doctor said, -attin. her hand* A>ou have a fine stron. healthy child* Don't you believe me when 0 tell you thatBA A+hat is the woman over there doin. to himBA A>our baby is bein. made to look -retty for you,A the doctor said* A+e are .ivin. him a little wash, that is all* >ou must s-are us a moment or two for that*A A>ou swear he is all ri.htBA A0 swear it* 'ow lie back and rela7* Close your eyes* :o on, close your eyes* That's ri.ht* That's better* :ood .irl* A0 have -rayed and -rayed that he will live, Doctor*A A#f course he will live* +hat are you talkin. aboutBA AThe others didn't*A A+hatBA A'one of my other ones lived, Doctor*A The doctor stood beside the bed lookin. down at the -ale e7hausted face of the youn. woman* %e had never seen her before today* She and her husband were new -eo-le in the town* The innkee-er's wife, who had come u- to assist in the delivery, had told him that the husband worked at the local customs-house on the border and that the two of them had arrived ;uite suddenly at the inn with one trunk and one suitcase about three months a.o* The husband was a drunkard, the innkee-er's wife had said, an arro.ant, overbearin., bullyin. little drunkard, but the youn. woman was .entle and reli.ious* nd she was very sad* She never smiled* 0n the few weeks that she had been here, the innkee-er's wife had never once seen her smile* lso there was a rumour that this was the husband's third marria.e, that one wife had died and that the other had divorced him for unsavoury reasons* 6ut that was only a rumour* The doctor bent down and -ulled the sheet u- a little hi.her over the -atient's chest* A>ou have nothin. to worry about,A he said .ently* AThis is a -erfectly normal baby*A AThat's e7actly what they told me about the others* 6ut 0 lost them all, Doctor* 0n the last ei.hteen months 0 have lost all three of my children, so you mustn't blame me for bein. an7ious*A AThreeBA AThis is my fourth***in four years*A The doctor shifted his feet uneasily on the bare floor* A0 don't think you know what it means, Doctor, to lose them all, all three of them, slowly, se-arately, one by one* 0 kee- seein. them* 0 can see :ustav's face now as clearly as if he were lyin. here beside me in the bed* :ustav was a lovely boy, Doctor* 6ut he was always ill* 0t is terrible when they are always ill and there is nothin. you can do to hel- them*A A0 know*A The woman o-ened her eyes, stared u- at the doctor for a few seconds, then closed them a.ain* A2y little .irl was called 0da* She died a few days before Christmas* That is only four months a.o* 0 9ust wish you could have seen 0da, Doctor*A A>ou have a new one now*A A6ut 0da was so beautiful*A A>es,A the doctor said* A0 know*A A%ow can you knowBA she cried* A0 am sure that she was a lovely child* 6ut this new one is also like that*A The doctor turned away from the bed and walked over to the window and stood there lookin. out* 0t was a wet .rey -ril afternoon, and across the street he could see the red roofs of the houses and the hu.e raindro-s s-lashin. on the tiles* A0da was two years old, Doctor***and she was so beautiful 0 was never able to take my eyes off her from the time 0 dressed her in the mornin. until she was safe in bed a.ain at ni.ht* 0 used to live in holy terror of somethin. ha--enin. to that child* :ustav had .one and my little #tto had also .one and she was all 0

had left* Sometimes 0 used to .et u- in the ni.ht and cree- over to the cradle and -ut my ear close to her mouth 9ust to make sure that she was breathin.*A ATry to rest,A the doctor said, .oin. back to the bed* A)lease try to rest*A The woman's face was white and bloodless, and there was a sli.ht bluish-.rey tin.e around the nostrils and the mouth* few strands of dam- hair hun. down over her forehead, stickin. to the skin* A+hen she died***0 was already -re.nant a.ain when that ha--ened, Doctor* This new one was a .ood four months on its way when 0da died* A0 don't want itF' 0 shouted after the funeral* A0 won't have itF 0 have buried enou.h childrenF' nd my husband***he was strollin. amon. the .uests with a bi. .lass of beer in his hand***he turned around ;uickly and said, A0 have news for you, /lara, 0 have .ood news*' Can you ima.ine that, DoctorB +e have 9ust buried our third child and he stands there with a .lass of beer in his hand and tells me that he has .ood news* AToday 0 have been -osted to 6raunau,' he says, Aso you can start -ackin. at once* This will be a new start for you, /lara,' he says* A0t will be a new -lace and you can have a new doctor A)lease don't talk any more*A A>ou are the new doctor, aren't you, DoctorBA AThat's ri.ht*A A nd here we are in 6raunau*A A>es*A A0 am fri.htened, Doctor*A ATry not to be fri.htened*A A+hat chance can the fourth one have nowBA A>ou must sto- thinkin. like that*A A0 can't hel- it* 0 am certain there is somethin. inherited that causes my children to die in this way* There must be*A AThat is nonsense*A ADo you know what my husband said to me when #tto was born, DoctorB %e came into the room and he looked into the cradle where #tto was lyin. and he said, A+hy do all my children have to be so small and weakBA A0 am sure he didn't say that*A A%e -ut his head ri.ht into #tto's cradle as thou.h he were e7aminin. a tiny insect and he said, A ll 0 am sayin. is why can't they be better s-ecimensB That's all 0 am sayin.*' nd three days after that, #tto was dead* +e ba-tised him ;uickly on the third day and he died the same evenin.* nd then :ustav died* nd then 0da died* ll of them died, Doctor*** and suddenly the whole house was em-ty ADon't think about it now*A A0s this one so very smallBA A%e is a normal child*A A6ut smallBA A%e is a little small, -erha-s* 6ut the small ones are often a lot tou.her than the bi. ones* Gust ima.ine, $rau %itler, this time ne7t year he will be almost learnin. how to walk* 0sn't that a lovely thou.htBA She didn't answer this* A nd two years from now he will -robably be talkin. his head off and drivin. you cra,y with his chatter* %ave you settled on a name for him yetBA A nameBA A>es*A A0 don't know* 0'm not sure* 0 think my husband said that if it was a boy we were .oin. to call him dolfus*A AThat means he would be called dolfA A>es* 2y husband likes dolf because it has a certain similarity to lois* 2y husband is called lois*A A"7cellent*A A#h noFA she cried, startin. u- suddenly from the -illow* AThat's the same ;uestion they asked me when #tto was bornF 0t means he is .oin. to dieF >ou are .oin. to ba-ti,e him at onceFA 'ow, now,A the doctor said, takin. her .ently by the shoulders* A>ou are

;uite wron.* 0 -romise you you are wron.* 0 was sim-ly bein. an in;uisitive old man, that is all* 0 love talkin. about names* 0 think dol-hus is a -articularly fine name* 0t is one of my favourites* nd look--here he comes now*A The innkee-er's wife, carryin. the baby hi.h u- on her enormous bosom, came sailin. across the room towards the bed* A%ere is the little beautyFA she cried, beamin.* A+ould you like to hold him, my dearB Shall 0 -ut him beside youBA A0s he well wra--edBA the doctor asked* A0t is e7tremely cold in here*A ACertainly he is well wra--ed*A The baby was ti.htly swaddled in a white woollen shawl, and only the tiny -ink head -rotruded* The innkee-er's wife -laced him .ently on the bed beside the mother* AThere you are,A she said* A'ow you can lie there and look at him to your heart's content*A A0 think you will like him,A the doctor said, smilin.* A%e is a fine little baby*A A%e has the most lovely handsFA the innkee-er's wife e7claimed* ASuch lon. delicate fin.ersFA The mother didn't move* She didn't even turn her head to look* A:o onFA cried the innkee-er's wife* A%e won't bite youFA A0 am fri.htened to look* 0 don't care to believe that 0 have another baby and that he is all ri.ht*A ADon't be so stu-id*A Slowly, the mother turned her head and looked at the small, incredibly serene face that lay on the -illow beside her* A0s this my babyBA A#f course*A A#h***oh***but he is beautiful*A The doctor turned away and went over to the table and be.an -uttin. his thin.s into his ba.* The mother lay on the bed .a,in. at the child and smilin. and touchin. him and makin. little noises of -leasure* A%ello, dolfus,A she whis-ered* A%ello, my little dolf* ASsshhFA said the innkee-er's wife* A!istenF 0 think your husband is comin.*A The doctor walked over to the door and o-ened it and looked out into the corridor* A%err %itlerFA A>es*A ACome in, -lease*A small man in a dark-.reen uniform ste--ed softly into the room and looked around him* ACon.ratulations,A the doctor said* A>ou have a son*A The man had a -air of enormous whiskers meticulously .roomed after the manner of the "m-eror $ran, Gosef, and he smelled stron.ly of beer* A sonBA A>es*A A%ow is heBA A%e is fine* So is your wife*A A:ood*A The father turned and walked with a curious little -rancin. stride over to the bed where his wife was lyin.* A+ell, /lara,A he said, smilin. throu.h his whiskers* A%ow did 0t .oB %e bent down to take a look at the baby* Then he bent lower* 0n a series of ;uick 9erky movements, he bent lower and lower until his face was only about twelve inches from the baby's head* The wife lay sideways on the -illow, starin. u- at him with a kind of su--licatin. look* A%e has the most marvellous -air of lun.s,A the innkee-er's wife announced* A>ou should have heard him screamin. 9ust after he came into this world*A A6ut my :od, /iara A+hat is it, dearBA AThis one is even smaller than #tto wasFA The doctor took a cou-le of ;uick -aces forward* AThere is nothin. wron. with that child,A he said*

Slowly, the husband strai.htened u- and turned away from the bed and looked at the doctor* %e seemed bewildered and stricken* A0t's no .ood lyin., Doctor,A he said* A0 know what it means* 0t's .oin. to be the same all over a.ain*A A'ow you listen to me,A the doctor said* A6ut do you know what ha--ened to the others, DoctorBA A>ou must for.et about the others, %err %itler* :ive this one a chance*A A6ut so small and weakFA A2y dear sir, he has only 9ust been born*A A"ven so**** A+hat are you tryin. to doBA cried the innkee-er's wife* ATalk him into his .raveBA AThat's enou.hFA the doctor said shar-ly* The mother was wee-in. now* :reat sobs were shakin. her body* The doctor walked over to the husband and -ut a hand on his shoulder* A6e .ood to her,A he whis-ered* A)lease* 0t is very im-ortant*A Then he s;uee,ed the husband's shoulder hard and be.an -ushin. him forward surre-titiously to the ed.e of the bed* The husband hesitated* The doctor s;uee,ed harder, si.nallin. him ur.ently throu.h fin.ers and thumb* t last, reluctantly, the husband bent down and kissed his wife li.htly on the cheek* A ll ri.ht, /lara,A he said* A'ow sto- cryin.*A A0 have -rayed so hard that he will live, lois*A A>es*A A"very day for months 0 have .one to the church and be..ed on my knees that this one will be allowed to live*A A>es, /lara, 0 know*A AThree dead children is all that 0 can stand, don't you reali,e thatBA A#f course*A A%e must live, lois* %e must, he must #h :od, be merciful unto him now***A

"dward the Con;ueror

!#&0S , holdin. a dishcloth in her hand, ste--ed out of the kitchen door at the back of the house into the cool #ctober sunshine* A"dwardFA she called* A"d-wardF !unch is readyFA She -aused a moment, listenin.E then she strolled out on to the lawn and continued across it--a little shadow attendin. her--skirtin. the rose bed and touchin. the sundial li.htly with one fin.er as she went by* She moved rather .racefully for a woman who was small and -lum-, with a lilt in her walk and a .entle swin.in. of the shoulders and the arms* She -assed under the mulberry tree on to the brick -ath, then went all the way alon. the -ath until she came to the -lace where she could look down into the di- at the end of this lar.e .arden* A"dwardF !unchFA She could see him now, about ei.hty yards away, down in the di- on the ed.e of the wood the tallish narrow fi.ure in khaki slacks and dark-.reen sweater, workin. beside a bi. bonfire with a fork in his hands, -itchin. brambles on to the to- of the fire* 0t was bla,in. fiercely, with oran.e flames and clouds of milky smoke, and the smoke was driftin. back over the .arden with a wonderful scent of autumn and burnin. leaves* !ouisa went down the slo-e towards her husband* %ad she wanted, she could easily have called a.ain and made herself heard, but there was somethin. about a first-class bonfire that im-elled her towards it, ri.ht u- close so she could feel

the heat and listen to it burn* A!unch,A she said, a--roachin.* A#h, hello* ll ri.ht--yes* 0'm comin.*A A+hat a .ood fire*A A0've decided to clear this -lace ri.ht out,A her husband said* A0'm sick and tired of all these brambles*A %is lon. face was wet with -ers-iration* There were small beads of it clin.in. all over his moustache like dew, and two little rivers were runnin. down his throat on to the turtleneck of the sweater* A>ou better be careful you don't overdo it, "dward*A A!ouisa, 0 do wish you'd sto- treatin. me as thou.h 0 were ei.hty* bit of e7ercise never did anyone any harm*A A>es, dear, 0 know* #h, "dwardF !ookF !ookFA The man turned and looked at !ouisa, who was -ointin. now to the far side of the bonfire* A!ook, "dwardF The catFA Sittin. on the .round, so close to the fire that the flames sometimes seemed actually to be touchin. it, was a lar.e cat of a most unusual colour* 0t stayed ;uite still, with its head on one side and its nose in the air, watchin. the man and woman with a cool yellow eye* A0t'll .et burntFA !ouisa cried, and she dro--ed the dishcloth and darted swiftly in and .rabbed it with both hands, whiskin. it away and -uttin. it on the .rass well clear of the flames* A>ou cra,y cat,A she said, dustin. off her hands* A+hat's the matter with youBA ACats know what they're doin.,A the husband said* A>ou'll never find a cat doin. somethin. it doesn't want* 'ot cats*A A+hose is itB >ou ever seen it beforeBA A'o, 0 never have* Damn -eculiar colour*A The cat had seated itself on the .rass and was re.ardin. them with a sidewise look* There was a veiled inward e7-ression about the eyes, somethin. curiously omniscient and -ensive, and around the nose a most delicate air of contem-t, as thou.h the si.ht of these two middle-a.ed -ersons--the one small, -lum-, and rosy, the other lean and e7tremely sweaty--were a matter of some sur-rise but very little im-ortance* $or a cat, it certainly had an unusual colour--a -ure silvery .rey with no blue in it at all--and the hair was very lon. and silky* !ouisa bent down and stroked its head* A>ou must .o home,A she said* A6e a .ood cat now and .o on home to where you belon.*A The man and wife started to stroll back u- the hill towards the house* The cat .ot u- and followed, at a distance first, but ed.in. closer and closer as they went alon.* Soon it was alon.side them, then it was ahead, leadin. the way across the lawn to the house, walkin. as thou.h it owned the whole -lace, holdin. its tail strai.ht u- in the air, like a mast* A:o home,A the man said* A:o on home* +e don't want you*A 6ut when they reached the house, it came in with them, and !ouisa .ave it some milk in the kitchen* Durin. lunch, it ho--ed u- on to the s-are chair between them and sat throu.h the meal with its head 9ust above the level of the table watchin. the -roceedin.s with those dark-yellow eyes which ke-t movin. slowly from the woman to the man and back a.ain* A0 don't like this cat,A "dward said* A#h, 0 think it's a beautiful cat* 0 do ho-e it stays a little while*A A'ow, listen to me, !ouisa* The creature can't -ossibly stay here* 0t belon.s to someone else* 0t's lost* nd if it's still tryin. to han. around this afternoon, you'd better take it to the -olice* They'll see it .ets home*A fter lunch, "dward returned to his .ardenin.* !ouisa, as usual, went to the -iano* She was a com-etent -ianist and a .enuine music-lover, and almost every afternoon she s-ent an hour or so -layin. for herself* The cat was now lyin. on the sofa, and she -aused to stroke it as she went by* 0t o-ened its eyes, looked

at her a moment, then closed them a.ain and wet-it back to slee-* A>ou're an awfully nice cat,A she said* A nd such a beautiful colour* 0 wish 0 could kee- you*A Then her fin.ers, movin. over the fur on the cat's head, came into contact with a small lum-, a little .rowth 9ust above the ri.ht eye* )oor cat,A she said* A>ou've .ot bum-s on your beautiful face* >ou must be .ettin. old*A She went over and sat down on the lon. -iano stool but she didn't immediately start to -lay* #ne of her s-ecial little -leasures was to make every day a kind of concert day, with a carefully arran.ed -ro.ramme which she worked out in detail before she be.an* She never liked to break her en9oyment by havin. to sto- while she wondered what to -lay ne7t* ll she wanted was a brief -ause after each -iece while the audience cla--ed enthusiastically and called for more* 0t was so much nicer to ima.ine an audience, and now and a.ain while she was -layin.--on the lucky days, that is--the room would be.in to swim and fade and darken, and she would see nothin. but row u-on row of seats and a sea of white faces u-turned towards her, listenin. with a ra-t and adorin. concentration* Sometimes she -layed from memory, sometimes from music* Today she would -lay from memoryE that was the way she felt* nd what should the -ro.ramme beB She sat before the -iano with her small hands clas-ed on her la-, a -lum- rosy little -erson with a round and still ;uite -retty face, her hair done u- in a neat bun at the back of her head* 6y lookin. sli.htly to the ri.ht, she could see the cat curled u- aslee- on the sofa, and its silvery-.rey coat was beautiful a.ainst the -ur-le of the cushion* %ow about some 6ach to be.in withB #r, better still, Vivaldi* The 6ach ada-tation for or.an of the D minor Concerto :rosso* >es--that first* Then -erha-s a little Schumann* CarnavalB That would be fun* nd after that--well, a touch of !is,t for a chan.e* #ne of the )etrarch Sonnets* The second one--that was the loveliest the $ ma9or* Then another Schumann, another of his .ay ones--/indcrsccncn* nd lastly, for the encore, a 6rahms walt,, or maybe two of them if she felt like it* Vivaldi, Schumann, !is,t, Schumann, 6rahms* very nice -ro.ramme, one that she could -lay easily without the music* She moved herself a little closer to the -iano and -aused a moment while someone in the audience---already she could feel that this was one of the lucky days--while someone in the audience had his last cou.hE then, with the slow .race that accom-anied nearly all her movements, she lifted her hands to the keyboard and be.an to -lay* She wasn't, at that -articular moment, watchin. the cat at all--as a matter of fact she had for.otten its -resence--but as the first dee- notes of the Vivaldi sounded softly in the room, she became aware, out of the corner of one eye, of a sudden flurry, a flash of movement on the sofa to her ri.ht* She sto--ed -layin. at once* A+hat is itBA she said, turnin. to the cat* A+hat's the matterBA The animal, who a few seconds before had been slee-in. -eacefully, was now sittin. bolt u-ri.ht on the sofa, very tense, the whole body a;uiver, ears u- and eyes wide o-en, starin. at the -iano ADid 0 fri.hten youBA she asked .ently* )erha-s you've never heard music before*A 'o, she told herself* 0 don't think that's what is* #n second thou.hts, it seemed to her that the cat's attitude was not one of fear* There was no shrinkin. or backin. away* 0f anythin., there was a leanin. forward, a kind of ea.erness about the creature, and the face--well, there was rather an odd e7-ression on the face, somethin. of a mi7ture between sur-rise and shock* #f course, the face of a cat is a small and fairly e7-ressionless thin., but if you watch carefully the eyes and ears workin. to.ether, and -articularly that little area of mobile skin below the ears and sli.htly to one side, you can occasionally see the reflection of very -owerful emotions* !ouisa was watchin. the face closely now, and because she was curious to see what would ha--en a second time, she reached out her hands to the keyboard and be.an a.ain to -lay the Vivaldi* This time the cat was ready for it, and all that ha--ened to be.in with was a small e7tra tensin. of the body* 6ut as the music swelled and ;uickened into that first e7citin. rhythm of the introduction to the fu.ue, a stran.e look that

mounted almost to ecstasy be.an to settle u-on the creature's face* The ears, which u- to then had been -ricked u- strai.ht, were .radually drawn back, the eyelids droo-ed, the head went over to one side, and at that moment !ouisa could have sworn that the animal was actually a--reciatin. the work* +hat she saw Cor thou.ht she sawD was somethin. she had noticed many times on the faces of -eo-le listenin. very closely to a -iece of music* +hen the sound takes com-lete hold of them and drowns them in itself, a -eculiar, intensely ecstatic look comes over them that you can reco.ni,e as easily as a smile* So far as !ouisa could see, the cat was now wearin. almost e7actly this kind of look* !ouisa finished the fu.ue, then -layed the siciliana, and all the way throu.h she ke-t watchin. the cat on the sofa* The final -roof for her that the animal was listenin. came at the end, when the music sto--ed* 0t blinked, stirred itself a little, stretched a le., settled into a more comfortable -osition, took a ;uick .lance round the room, then looked e7-ectantly in her direction* 0t was -recisely the way a concert-.oer reacts when the music momentarily releases him in the -ause between two movements of a sym-hony* The behaviour was so thorou.hly human it .ave her a ;ueer a.itated feelin. in the chest* A>ou like thatBA she asked* A>ou like VivaldiBA The moment she'd s-oken, she felt ridiculous, but not--and this to her was a trifle sinister--not ;uite so ridiculous as she knew she should have felt* +ell, there was nothin. for it now e7ce-t to .o strai.ht ahead with the ne7t number on the )ro.ramme, which was Carnaval* s soon as she be.an to -lay, the cat a.ain stiffened and sat u- strai.hterE then, as it became slowly and blissfully saturated with the sound, it rela-sed into the ;ueer meltin. mood of ecstasy that seemed to have somethin. to do with drownin. and with dreamin.* 0t was really an e7trava.ant si.ht--;uite a comical one, too--to see this silvery cat sittin. on the sofa and bein. carried away like this* nd what made it more screwy than ever, !ouisa thou.ht, was the fact that this music, which the animal seemed to be en9oyin. so much, was manifestly too difficult, too classical, to be a--reciated by the ma9ority of humans in the world* 2aybe, she thou.ht, the creature's not really en9oyin. it at all* 2aybe it's a sort of hy-notic reaction, like with snakes* fter all, if you can charm a snake with music, then why not a catB "7ce-t that millions of cats hear the stuff every day of their lives, on radio and .ramo-hone and -iano, and, as far as she knew, there'd never yet been a case of one behavin. like this* This one was actin. as thou.h it were followin. every sin.le note* 0t was certainly a fantastic thin.* 6ut was it not also a wonderful thin.B 0ndeed it was* 0n fact, unless she was much mistaken, it was a kind of miracle, one of those animal miracles that ha--en about once every hundred years* A0 could see you loved that one,A she said when the -iece was over* A lthou.h 0'm sorry 0 didn't -lay it any too well today* +hich did you like best-the Vivaldi or the SchumannBA The cat made no re-ly, so !ouisa, fearin. she mi.ht lose the attention of her listener, went strai.ht into the ne7t -art of the -ro.ramme--!is,t's second )etrarch Sonnet* nd now an e7traordinary thin. ha--ened* She hadn't -layed more than three or four bars when the animal's whiskers be.an -erce-tibly to twitch* Slowly it drew itself u- to an e7tra hei.ht, laid its head on one side, then on the other, and stared into s-ace with a kind of frownin. concentrated look that seemed to say, A+hat's thisB Don't tell me* 0 know it so well, but 9ust for the moment 0 don't seem to be able to -lace it*A !ouisa was fascinated, and with her little mouth half o-en and half smilin., she continued to -lay, waitin. to see what on earth was .oin. to ha--en ne7t* The cat stood u-, walked to one end of the sofa, sat down a.ain, listened some moreE then all at once it bounded to the floor and lea-ed u- on to the -iano stool beside her* There it sat, listenin. intently to the lovely sonnet, not dreamily this time, but very erect, the lar.e yellow eyes fi7ed u-on !ouisa's fin.ers*

A+ellFA she said as she struck the last chord* ASo you came u- to sit beside me, did youB >ou like this better than the sofaB ll ri.ht, 0'll let you stay, but you must kee- still and not 9um- about*A She -ut out a hand and stroked the cat softly alon. the back, from head to tail* AThat was !is,t,A she went on* A2ind you, he can sometimes be ;uite horribly vul.ar, but in thin.s like this he's really charmin.*A She was be.innin. to en9oy this odd animal -antomime, so she went strai.ht on into the ne7t item on the -ro.ramme, Schumann's /inderscenen* She hadn't been -layin. for more than a minute two when she reali,ed that the cat had a.ain moved, and was now back in its old -lace on the sofa* She'd been watchin. her hands at the time, and -resumably that was why she hadn't even noticed its .oin.E all the same, it must have been an e7tremely swift and silent move* The cat was still starin. at her, still a--arently attendin. closely to the music, and yet it seemed to !ouisa that there was not now the same ra-turous enthusiasm there'd been durin. the -revious -iece, the !is,t* 0n addition, the act of leavin. the stool and returnin. to the sofa a--eared in itself to be a mild but -ositive .esture of disa--ointment* A+hat's the matterBA she asked when it was over* A+hat's wron. with SchumannB +hat's so marvellous about !is,tBA The cat looked strai.ht back at her with those yellow eyes that had small 9et-black bars lyin. vertically in their centres* This, she told herself, is really be.innin. to .et interestin.--a trifle s-ooky, too, when she came to think of it* 6ut one look at the cat sittin. there on the sofa, so bri.ht and attentive, so obviously waitin. for more music, ;uickly reassured her* A ll ri.ht,A she said* A0'll tell you what 0'm .oin. to do* 0'm .oin. to alter my -ro.ramme s-ecially for you* >ou seem to like !is,t so much, 0'll .ive you another*A She hesitated, searchin. her memory for a .ood !is,tE then softly she be.an to -lay one of the twelve little -ieces from Der +ethnachtsbaum* She was now watchin. the cat very closely, and the first thin. she noticed was that the whiskers a.ain be.an to twitch* 0t 9um-ed down to the car-et, stood still a moment, inclinin. its head, ;uiverin. with e7citement, and then, with a slow, silky stride, it walked around the -iano, ho--ed u- on the stool, and sat down beside her* They were in the middle of all this when "dward came in from the .arden* A"dwardFA !ouisa cried, 9um-in. u-* A#h, "dward, darlin.F !isten to thisF !isten what's ha--enedFA A+hat is it nowBA he said* A0'd like some tea*A %e had one of those narrow, shar--nosed, faintly ma.enta faces, and the sweat was makin. it shine as thou.h it were a lon. wet .ra-e* A0t's the catFA !ouisa cried, -ointin. to it sittin. ;uietly on the -iano stool* AGust wait till you hear what's ha--enedFA A0 thou.ht 0 told you to take it to the -olice*A A6ut, "dward, listen to me* This is terribly e7citin.* This is a musical cat*A A#h, yesBA AThis cat can a--reciate music, and it can understand it too*A A'ow sto- this nonsense, !ouisa, and for :od's sake let's have some tea* 0'm hot and tired from cuttin. brambles and buildin. bonfires*A %e sat down in an armchair, took a ci.arette from a bo7 beside him, and lit it with an immense -atent li.hter that stood near the bo7* A+hat you don't understand,A !ouisa said, is that somethin. e7tremely e7citin. has been ha--enin. here in our house while you were out, somethin. that may even be***well***almost momentous*A ;uite sure of that*A A"dward, -leaseFA !ouisa was standin. by the -iano, her little -ink face -inker than ever, a scarlet rose hi.h u- on each cheek* A0f you want to know,A she said, A0'll tell

you what 0 think*A A0'm listenin., dear*A A0 think it mi.ht be -ossible that we are at this moment sittin. in the -resence of--A She sto--ed, as thou.h suddenly sensin. the absurdity of the thou.ht* A>esBA A>ou may think it silly, "dward, but it's honestly what 0 think*A A0n the -resence of whom, for heaven's sakeBA A#f $ran, !is,t himselfFA %er husband took a lon. slow -ull at his ci.arette and blew the smoke u- at the ceilin.* %e had the ti.ht-skinned, concave cheeks of a man who has worn a full set of dentures for many years, and every time he sucked at a ci.arette, the cheeks went in even more, and the bones of his face stood out like a skeleton's* A0 don't .et you,A he said* A"dward, listen to me* $rom what 0've seen this afternoon with my own eyes, it really looks as thou.h this mi.ht be some sort of a reincarnation*A A>ou mean this lousy catBA ADon't talk like that, dear, -lease*A A>ou're not ill, are you, !ouisaBA A0'm -erfectly all ri.ht, thank you very much* 0'm a bit confused 0 don't mind admittin. it, but who wouldn't be after what's 9ust ha--enedB "dward, 0 swear to you*A A+hat did ha--en, if 0 may askBA !ouisa told him, and all the while she was s-eakin., her husband lay s-rawled in the chair with his le.s stretched out in front of him, suckin. at his ci.arette and blowin. the smoke u- at the ceilin.* There was a thin cynical smile on his mouth* A0 don't see anythin. very unusual about that,A he said when it was over* A ll it is it's a trick cat* 0t's been tau.ht tricks, that's all*A ADon't be so silly, "dward* "very time 0 -lay !is,t, he .ets all e7cited and comes runnin. over to sit on the stool beside me* 6ut only for !is,t, and nobody can teach a cat the difference between !is,t and Schumann* >ou don't even know it yourself* 6ut this one can do it every sin.le time* Iuite obscure !is,t, too*A ATwice,A the husband said* A%e's only done it twice*A ATwice is enou.h*A A!et's see him do it a.ain* Come on*A A'o,A !ouisa said* ADefinitely not* 6ecause if this is !is,t, as 0 believe it is, or anyway the soul of !is,t or whatever it is that comes back, then it's certainly not ri.ht or even very kind to -ut him throu.h a lot of silly undi.nified tests*A A2y dear womanF This is a cat--a rather stu-id .rey cat that nearly .ot its coat sin.ed by the bonfire this mornin. in the .arden* nd anyway, what do you know about reincarnationBA A0f the soul is there, that's enou.h for me,A !ouisa said firmly* AThat's all that counts*A ACome on, then* !et's see him -erform* !et's see him tell the difference between his own stuff and someone else's*A A'o, "dward* 0've told you before, 0 refuse to -ut him throu.h any more silly circus tests* %e's had ;uite enou.h of that for one day* 6ut 0'll tell you what 0 will do* 0'll -lay him a little more of his own music*A A fat lot that'll -rove*A A>ou watch* nd one thin. is certain--as soon as he reco.ni,es it, he'll refuse to bud.e off that stool where he's sittin. now*A !ouisa went to the music shelf, took down a book of !is,t, thumbed throu.h it ;uickly, and chose another of his finer com-ositions--the 6 minor Sonata* She had meant to -lay only the first -art of the work, but once she .ot started and saw how the cat was sittin. there literally ;uiverin. with -leasure and watchin. her hands with that ra-turous concentrated look, she didn't have the heart to

sto-* She -layed it all the way throu.h* +hen it was finished, she .lanced u- at her husband and smiled* AThere you are,A she said* A>ou can't tell me he wasn't absolutely lovin. it*A A%e 9ust likes the noise, that's all*A A%e was lovin. it* +eren't you, darlin.BA she said, liftin. the cat in her arms* A#h, my .oodness, if only he could talk* Gust think of it, dear--he met 6eethoven in his youthF %e knew Schubert and 2endelssohn and Schumann and 6erlio, and :rie. and Delacroi7 and 0n.res and %eine and 6al,ac* nd let me see***2y heavens, he was +a.ner's father-in-lawF 0'm holdin. +a.ner's father-in-law in my armsFA A!ouisaFA her husband said shar-ly, sittin. u- strai.ht* A)ull yourself to.ether*A There was a new ed.e to his voice now, and he s-oke louder* !ouisa .lanced u- ;uickly* A"dward, 0 do believe you're 9ealousFA A#f a miserable .rey catFA AThen don't be so .rum-y and cynical about it all* 0f you're .oin. to behave like this, the best thin. you can do is to .o back to your .ardenin. and leave the two of us to.ether in -eace* That will be best for all of us, won't it, darlin.BA she said, addressin. the cat, strokin. its head* A nd later on this evenin., we shall have some more music to.ether, you and 0, some more of your own work* #h, yes,A she said, kissin. the creature several times on the neck, Aand we mi.ht have a little Cho-in, too* >ou needn't tell me--0 ha--en to know you adore Cho-in* >ou used to be .reat friends with him, didn't you, darlin.B s a matter of fact if 0 remember ri.htly--it was in Cho-in's a-artment that you met the .reat love of your life, 2adame Somethin.-or-#ther* %ad three ille.itimate children by her, too, didn't youB >es, you did, you nau.hty thin., and don't .o tryin. to deny it* So you shall have some Cho-in,A she said, kissin. the cat a.ain, Aand that'll -robably brin. back all sorts of lovely memories to you, won't itBA A!ouisa, sto- this at onceFA don't be so stuffy, "dward*A A>ou're behavin. like a -erfect idiot, woman* nd anyway, you for.et we're .oin. out this evenin., to 6ill and 6etty's for canasta*A A#h, but 0 couldn't -ossibly .o out now* There's no ;uestion of that*A "dward .ot u- slowly from his chair, then bent down and stubbed his ci.arette hard into the ashtray* ATell me somethin.,A he said ;uietly* A>ou don't really believe this--this twaddle you're talkin., do youBA A6ut of course 0 do* 0 don't think there's any ;uestion about it now* nd, what's more, 0 consider that it -uts a tremendous res-onsibility u-on us, "dward-u-on both of us* >ou as well*A A>ou know what 0 think,A he said* A0 think you ou.ht to see a doctor* nd damn ;uick, too*A +ith that, he turned and stalked out of the room, throu.h the french windows, back into the .arden* !ouisa watched him stridin. across the lawn towards his bonfire and his brambles, and she waited until he was out of si.ht before she turned and ran to the front door, still carryin. the cat* Soon she was in the car, drivin. to town* She -arked in front of the library, locked the cat in the car, hurried uthe ste-s into the buildin., and headed strai.ht for the reference room* There she be.an searchin. the cards for books on two sub9ects--R"0'C R' T0#' and !0SKT* &nder R"0'C R' T0#' she found somethin. called Recurrin. "arth-!ives--%ow and +hy, by a man called $* 2ilton +illis, -ublished in 1@81* &nder !0SKT she found two bio.ra-hical volumes* She took out all three books, returned to the car, and drove home* 6ack in the house, she -laced the cat on the sofa, sat herself down beside it with her books, and -re-ared to do some serious readin.* She would be.in, she decided, with 2r $* 2ilton +illis's work* The volume was thin and a trifle soiled, but it had a .ood heavy feel to it, and the author's name had an authoritative rin.*

The doctrine of reincarnation, she read, states that s-iritual souls -ass from hi.her to hi.her forms of animals* A man can, for instance, no more be reborn as an animal than an adult can rebecome a child*' She read this a.ain* 6ut how did he knowB %ow could he be so sureB %e couldn't* 'o one could -ossibly be certain about a thin. like that* t the same time, the statement took a .ood deal of the wind out of her sails* A round the centre of consciousness of each of us, there are, besides the dense outer body, four other bodies, invisible to the eye of flesh, but -erfectly visible to -eo-le whose faculties of -erce-tion of su-er-hysical thin.s have under.one the re;uisite develo-ment*** She didn't understand that one at all, but she read on, and soon she came to an interestin. -assa.e that told how lon. a soul usually stayed away from the earth before returnin. in someone else's body* The time varied accordin. to ty-e, and 2r +illis .ave the followin. breakdownH Drunkards and the ?<L4< >" RS unem-loyable &nskilled labourers 5<L1<< >" RS Skilled workers 1<<L8<< >" RS The bour.eoisie 8<<L1<< >" RS The u--er-middle classes 4<< >" RS The hi.hest class of .entleman farmers 5<<L1,<<< >" RS Those in the )ath of 0nitiation*1,4<<L8,<<< >" RS Iuickly she referred to one of the other books, to find out how lon. !is,t had been dead* 0t said he died in 6ayreuth in 1==5* That was si7ty-seven years a.o* Therefore, accordin. to 2r +illis, he'd have to have been an unskilled labourer to come back so soon* That didn't seem to fit at all* #n the other hand, she didn't think much of the author's methods of .radin.* ccordin. to him, Athe hi.hest class of .entleman farmer' was 9ust about the most su-erior bein. on the earth* Red 9ackets and stirru- cu-s and the bloody, sadistic murder of the fo7* 'o, she thou.ht, that isn't ri.ht* 0t was a -leasure to find herself be.innin. to doubt 2r +illis* !ater in the book, she came u-on a list of some of the more famous reincarnations* "-ictetus, she was told, returned to earth as Ral-h +aldo "merson* Cicero came back as :ladstone, lfred the :reat as Iueen Victoria, +illiam the Con;ueror as !ord /itchener* shoka Vardhana, /in. of 0ndia in 838 6c, came back as Colonel %enry Steel #lcott, an esteemed merican lawyer* )ytha.oras returned as 2aster /oot %oomi, the .entleman who founded the Theoso-hical Society with 2me 6lacatsky and Colonel %* S* #lcott Cthe esteemed merican lawyer, alias shoka Vardhana, /in. of 0ndiaD* 0t didn't say who 2me 6lavatsky had been* 6ut ATheodore Roosevelt,' it said, Ahas for numbers of incarnations -layed .reat -ans as a leader of men***$rom him descended the royal line of ancient Chaldea, he havin. been, about 1<,<<< 6C, a--ointed :overnor of Chaldea by the ".o we know as Caesar who was then ruler of )ersia***Roosevelt and Caesar have been to.ether time after time as military and administrative leadersE at one time, many thousands of years a.o, they were husband and wife* That was enou.h for !ouisa* 2r $* 2ilton +illis was clearly nothin. but a .uesser* She was not im-ressed by his do.matic assertions* The fellow was -robably on the ri.ht track, but his -ronouncements were e7trava.ant, es-ecially the first one of all, about animals* Soon she ho-ed to be able to confound the whole Theoso-hical Society with her -roof that man could indeed rea--ear as a lower animal* lso that he did not have to be an unskilled labourer to come back within a hundred years* She now turned to one of the !is,t bio.ra-hies, and she was .lancin. throu.h it casually when her husband came in a.ain from the .arden* +hat are you doin. nowBA he asked* A#h 9ust checkin. u- a little here and there* !isten, my dear, did you know that Theodore Roosevelt once was Caesar's wifeBA A!ouisa,A he said, Alook--why don't we sto- this nonsenseB 0 don't like to see you makin. a fool of yourself like this* Gust .ive me that .oddamn cat and 0'll take it to the -olice station myself*A !ouisa didn't seem to hear him* She was starin. o-en-mouthed at a -icture of !is,t in the book that lay on her la-* A2y :odFA she cried* A"dward, lookFA A+hatBA

A!ookF The warts on his faceF 0 for.ot all about themF %e had these .reat warts on his face and it was a famous thin.* "ven his students used to cultivate little tufts of hair on their own faces in the same s-ots, 9ust to be like him*A A+hat's that .ot to do with itBA A'othin.* 0 mean not the students* 6ut the warts have*A A#h, Christ,A the man said* A#h, Christ :od lmi.hty*A AThe cat has them, tooF !ook, 0'll show you*A She took the animal on to her la- and be.an e7aminin. his face* AThereF There's oneF nd there's anotherF +ait a minuteF 0 do believe they're in the same -lacesF +here's that -ictureBA 0t was a famous -ortrait of the musician in his old a.e, showin. the fine -owerful face framed in a mass of lon. .rey hair that covered his ears and came half-way down his neck* #n the face itself, each lar.e wart had been faithfully re-roduced, and there were five of them in all* A'ow, in the -icture there's one above the ri.ht eyebrow*A She looked above the ri.ht eyebrow of the cat* A>esF 0t's thereF 0n e7actly the same -laceF nd another on the left, at the to- of the nose* That one's there, tooF nd one 9ust below it on the cheek* nd two fairly close to.ether under the chin on the ri.ht side* "dwardF "dwardF Come and lookF They're e7actly the same*A A0t doesn't -rove a thin.*A She looked u- at her husband who was standin. in the centre of the room in his .reen sweater and khaki slacks, still -ers-irin. freely* A>ou're scared, aren't you, "dwardB Scared of losin. your -recious di.nity and havin. -eo-le think you mi.ht be makin. a fool of yourself 9ust for once*A A0 refuse to .et hysterical about it, that's all*A !ouisa turned back to the book and be.an readin. some more* AThis is interestin.,A she said* A0t says here that !is,t loved all of Cho-in's work e7ce-t one--the Scher,o in 6 flat, minor* --arently he hated that* %e called it the A:overness Scher,o', and said that it ou.ht to be reserved solely for -eo-le in that -rofessionA ASo whatBA A"dward, listen* s you insist on bein. so horrid about all this, 0'll tell you what 0'm .oin. to do* 0'm .oin. to -lay this scher,o ri.ht now and you can stay here and see what ha--ens*A A nd then maybe you will dei.n to .et us some su--er*A !ouisa .ot u- and took from the shelf a lar.e .reen volume containin. all of Cho-in's works* A%ere it is* #h yes, 0 remember it* 0t is rather awful* 'ow, listen--or, rather, watch* +atch to see what he does*A She -laced the music on the -iano and sat down* %er husband remained standin.* %e had his hands in his -ockets and a ci.arette in his mouth, and in s-ite of himself he was watchin. the cat, which was now do,in. on the sofa* +hen !ouisa be.an to -lay, the first effect was as dramatic as ever* The animal 9um-ed u- as thou.h it had been stun., and it stood motionless for at least a minute, the ears -ricked u-, the whole body ;uiverin.* Then it became restless and be.an to walk back and forth alon. the len.th of the sofa* $inally, it ho--ed down on to the floor, and with its nose and tail held hi.h in the air, it marched slowly, ma9estically, from the room* AThereFA !ouisa cried, 9um-in. u- and runnin. after it* AThat does itF That really -roves itFA She came back carryin. the cat which she -ut down a.ain on the sofa* %er whole face was shinin. with e7citement now, her fists were clenched white, and the little bun on to- of her head was loosenin. and .oin. over to one side* A+hat about it, "dwardB +hat d'you thinkBA She was lau.hin. nervously as she s-oke* A0 must say it was ;uite amusin.*A A musin.F 2y dear "dward, it's the most wonderful thin. that's ever ha--enedF #h, .oodness meFA she cried, -ickin. u- the cat a.ain and hu..in. it to her bosom* A0sn't it marvellous to think we've .ot $ran, !is,t stayin. in the houseBA

A'ow, !ouisa* Don't let's .et hysterical*A A0 can't hel- t, 0 sim-ly can't* nd to ima.ine that he's actually .oin. to live with us for alwaysFA A0 be. your -ardonBA A#h, "dwardF 0 can hardly talk from e7citement* nd d'you know what 0'm .oin. to do ne7tB "very musician in the whole world is .oin. to want to meet him, that's a fact, and ask him about the -eo-le he knew--about 6eethoven and Cho-in and Schubert-- A%e can't talk,A her husband said* A+ell all ri.ht* 6ut they're .oin. to want to meet him anyway, 9ust to see him and touch him and to -lay their own music to him, modern music he's never heard before*A A%e wasn't that .reat* 'ow, if it had been 6ach or 6eethoven ADon't interru-t, "dward, -lease* So what Ain .oin. to do is to notify all the im-ortant livin. com-osers everywhere* 0t's my duty* 0'll tell them !is,t is here, and invite them to visit him* nd you know whatB They'll come flyin. in from every corner of the earthFA ATo see a .rey catBA ADarlin., it's the same thin.* 0t's him* 'o one cares what he looks like* #h, "dward, it'll be the most e7citin. thin. there ever wasFA They'll think you're mad*A >ou wait and see*A She was holdin. the cat in her arms and -ettin. it tenderly but lookin. across at her husband, who now walked over to the french windows and stood there starin. out into the .arden* The evenin. was be.innin., and the lawn was turnin. slowly from .reen to black, and in the distance he could see the smoke from his bonfire risin. u- in a white column* A'o,A he said, without turnin. round, A0'm not havin. it* 'ot in this house* 0t'll make us both look -erfect fools*A A"dward, what do you meanBA AGust what 0 say* 0 absolutely refuse to have you stirrin. u- a lot of -ublicity about a foolish thin. like this* >ou ha--en to have found a trick cat* #/--that's fine* /ee- it, if it -leases you* 0 don't mind* 6ut 0 don't wish you to .o any further than that* Do you understand me, !ouisaBA A$urther than whatBA A0 don't want to hear any more of this cra,y talk* >ou're actin. like a lunatic*A !ouisa -ut the cat slowly down on the sofa* Then slowly she raised herself to her full small hei.ht and took one -ace forward* ADamn you, "dwardFA she shouted, stam-in. her foot* A$or the first time in our lives somethin. really e7citin. comes alon. and you're scared to death of havin. anythin. to do with it because someone may lau.h at youF That's ri.ht, isn't itB >ou can't deny it, can youBA A!ouisa,A her husband said* AThat's ;uite enou.h of that* )ull yourself to.ether now and sto- this at once*A %e walked over and took a ci.arette from the bo7 on the table, then lit it with the enormous -atent li.hter* %is wife stood watchin. him, and now the tears were be.innin. to trickle out of the inside corners of her eyes, makin. two little shiny rivers where they ran throu.h the -owder on her cheeks* A+e've been havin. too many of these scenes 9ust lately, !ouisa,A he was sayin.* A'o no, don't interru-t* !isten to me* 0 make full allowance for the fact that this may be an awkward time of life for you, and that A#h, my :odF >ou idiotF >ou -om-ous idiotF Can't you see that this is different, this is--this is somethin. miraculousB Can't you see thatBA t that -oint, he came across the room and took her firmly by the shoulders* %e had the freshly lit ci.arette between his li-s, and she could see faint contours on his skin where the heavy -ers-iration had dried u- in -atches* A!isten,A he said* A0'm hun.ry* 0've .iven u- my .olf and 0've been workin. all day in the .arden, and 0'm tired and hun.ry and 0 want some su--er* So do you* #ff you .o now to the kitchen and .et us both somethin. .ood to eat*A

!ouisa ste--ed back and -ut both hands to her mouth* A2y heavensFA she cried* A0 for.ot all about it* %e must be absolutely famished* "7ce-t for some milk, 0 haven't .iven him a thin. to eat since he arrived*A A+hoBA A+hy, him of course* 0 must .o at once and cook somethin. really s-ecial* 0 wish 0 knew what his favourite dishes used to be* +hat do >ou think he would like best, "dwardBA A:oddamn it, !ouisaFA A'ow, "dward, -lease* 0'm .oin. to handle this my way 9ust for once* >ou stay here,A she said, bendin. down and touchin. the cat .ently with her fin.ers* A0 won't be lon.*A !ouisa went into the kitchen and stood for a moment, wonderin. what s-ecial dish she mi.ht -re-are* %ow about a soufflB nice cheese soufflB >es, that would be rather s-ecial* #f course, "dward didn't much care for them, but that couldn't be hel-ed* She was only a fair cook, and she couldn't be sure of always havin. a souffl come out well, but she took e7tra trouble this time and waited a lon. while to make certain the oven had heated fully to the correct tem-erature* +hile the souffl was bakin. and she was searchin. around for somethin. to .o with it, it occurred to her that !is,t had -robably never in his life tasted either avocado -ears or .ra-efruit, so she decided to .ive him both of them at once in a salad* 0t would be fun to watch his reaction* 0t really would* +hen it was all ready, she -ut it on a tray and carried it into the livin.room* t the e7act moment she entered, she saw her husband comin. in throu.h the french windows from the .arden* A%ere's his su--er,A she said, -uttin. it on the table and turnin. towards the sofa* A+here is heBA %er husband closed the .arden door behind him and walked across the room to .et himself a ci.arette* A"dward, where is heBA A+hoBA A>ou know who*A A l', yes* >es, that's ri.ht* +ell--0'll tell you*A %e was bendin. forward to li.ht the ci.arette, and his hands were cu--ed around the enormous -atent li.hter* %e .lanced u- and saw !ouisa lookin. at him--at his shoes and the bottoms of his khaki slacks, which were dam- from walkin. in lon. .rass* A0 9ust went out to see how the bonfire was .oin.,A he said* %er eyes travelled slowly u-ward and rested on his hands* A0t's still burnin. fine,A he went on* A0 think it'll kee- .oin. all ni.ht*A 6ut the way she was starin. made him uncomfortable* A+hat is itBA he said, lowerin. the li.hter* Then he looked down and noticed for the first time the lon. thin scratch that ran dia.onally clear across the back of one hand, from the knuckle to the wrist* A"dwardFA A>es,A he said, A0 know* Those brambles are terrible* They tear you to -ieces* 'ow, 9ust a minute, !ouisa* +hat's the matterBA A"dwardFA A#h, for :od's sake, woman, sit down and kee- calm* There's nothin. to .et worked u- about, !ouisaF !ouisa, sit downFA

)i. <'C" u-on a time, in the City of 'ew >ork, a beautiful baby boy was born into this

world, and the 9oyful -arents named him !e7in.ton* 'o sooner had the mother returned home from the hos-ital carryin. !e7in.ton in her arms than she said to her husband, ADarlin., now you must take me out to a most marvellous restaurant for dinner so that we can celebrate the arrival of our son and heir*A %er husband embraced her tenderly and told her that any woman who could -roduce such a beautiful child as !e7in.ton deserved to .o absolutely anywhere she wanted* 6ut was she stron. enou.h yet, he in;uired, to start runnin. around the city late at ni.htB A'o,A she said, she wasn't* 6ut what the hell* So that evenin. they both dressed themselves u- in fancy clothes, and leavin. little !e7in.ton in the care of a trained infant's nurse who was costin. them twenty dollars a day and was Scottish into the bar.ain, they went out to the finest and most e7-ensive restaurant in town* There they each ate a .iant lobster and drank a bottle of cham-a.ne between them, and after that they went on to a ni.htclub, where they drank another bottle of cham-a.ne and then sat holdin. hands for several hours while they recalled and discussed and admired each individual -hysical feature of their lovely newborn son* They arrived back at their house on the "ast Side of 2anhattan at around two o'clock in the mornin. and the husband -aid off the ta7i driver and then be.an feelin. in his -ockets for the key to the front door* fter a while, he announced that he must have left it in the -ocket of his other suit, and he su..ested that they rin. the bell and .et the nurse to come down and let them in* n infant's nurse at twenty dollars a day must e7-ect to be hauled out of bed occasionally in the ni.ht, the husband said* So he ran. the bell* They waited* 'othin. ha--ened* %e ran. it a.ain, lon. and loud* They waited another minute* Then they both ste--ed back on to the street and shouted the nurse's name C2c)ottleD u- at the nursery windows on the third floor, but there was still nB res-onse* The house was dark and silent* The wife be.an to .row a--rehensive* %er baby was im-risoned in this -lace, she told herself* lone with 2c)ottle* nd who was 2c)ottleB They had known her for two days, that was all, and she had a thin mouth, a small disa--rovin. eye, and a starchy bosom, and ;uite clearly she was in the habit of slee-in. too soundly for safety* 0f she couldn't hear the front doorbell, then how on earth did she e7-ect to hear a baby cryin.B +hy this very second the -oor thin. mi.ht be swallowin. its ton.ue or suffocatin. on its -illow* A%e doesn't use a -illow,A the husband said* A>ou are not to worry* 6ut 0'll .et you in if that's what you want*A %e was feelin. rather su-erb after all the cham-a.ne, and now he bent down and undid the laces of one of his black -atentleather shoes, and took it off* Then, holdin. it by the toe, he flun. it hard and strai.ht throu.h the dinin.-room window on the .round floor* AThere you are,A he said, .rinnin.* A+e'll deduct it from 2c)ottle's wa.es*A %e ste--ed forward and very carefully -ut a hand throu.h the hole in the .lass and released the catch* Then he raised the window* A0 shall lift you in first, little mother,A he said, and took his wife around the waist and lifted her off the .round* This brou.ht her bi. red mouth ulevel with his own, and very close, so he started kissin. her* %e knew from e7-erience that women like very much to be kissed in this -osition, with their bodies held ti.ht and their le.s dan.lin. in the air, so he went on doin. it for ;uite a lon. time, and she wi..led her feet, and made loud .ul-in. noises down in her throat* $inally, the husband turned her round and be.an easin. her .ently throu.h the o-en window into the dinin.-room* t this -oint, a -olice -atrol car came nosin. silently alon. the street towards them* 0t sto--ed about thirty yards away, and three co-s of 0rish e7traction lea-ed out of the car and started runnin. in the direction of the husband and wife, brandishin. revolvers* AStick Aem u-FA the co-s shouted* AStick Aem u-FA 6ut it was im-ossible for the husband to obey this order without lettin. .o of his wife, and had he done

this she would either have fallen to the .round or would have been left dan.lin. half in and half out of the house, which is a terribly uncomfortable -osition for a womanE so he continued .allantly to -ush her u-ward and inward throu.h the window* The co-s, all of whom had received medals before for killin. robbers, o-ened fire immediately, and althou.h they were still runnin., and althou.h the wife in -articular was -resentin. them with a very small tar.et indeed, they succeeded in scorin. several direct hits on each body--sufficient anyway to -rove fatal in both cases* Thus, when he was no more than twelve days old, little !e7in.ton became an or-han* MMM The news of this killin., for which the three -olicemen subse;uently received citations, was ea.erly conveyed to all the relatives of the deceased cou-le by news-a-er re-orters, and the ne7t mornin. the closest of these relatives, as well as a cou-le of undertakers, three lawyers, and a -riest, climbed into ta7is and set out for the house with the broken window* They assembled in the livin.-room, men and women both, and they sat around in a circle on the sofas and armchairs, smokin. ci.arettes and si--in. sherry and debatin. what on earth should be done now with the baby u-stairs, the or-han !e7in.ton* 0t soon became a--arent that none of the relatives was -articularly keen to assume res-onsibility for the child, and the discussions and ar.uments continued all throu.h the day* "verybody declared an enormous, almost an irresistible desire to look after him, and would have done so with the .reatest of -leasure were it not for the fact that their a-artment was too small, or that they already had one baby and couldn't -ossibly afford another, or that they wouldn't know what to do with the -oor little thin. when they went abroad in the summer, or that they were .ettin. on in years, which surely would be most unfair to the boy when he .rew u-, and so on and so forth* They all knew, of course, that the father had been heavily in debt for a lon. time and that the house was mort.a.ed and that conse;uently there would be no money it all to .o with the child* They were still ar.uin. like mad at si7 in the evenin. when suddenly, in the middle of it all, an old aunt of the deceased father Cher name was :loss-anD swe-t in from Vir.inia, and without even removin. her hat and coat, not even -ausin. to sit down, i.norin. all offers of a martini, a whisky, a sherry, she announced firmly to the assembled relatives that she herself intended to take sole char.e of the infant boy from then on* +hat was more, she said, she would assume full financial res-onsibility on all counts, includin. education, and everyone else could .o back home where they belon.ed and .ive their consciences a rest* So sayin., she trotted u-stairs to the nursery and snatched !e7in.ton from his cradle and swe-t out of the house with the baby clutched ti.htly in her arms, while the relatives sim-ly sat and stared and smiled and looked relieved, and 2c)ottle the nurse stood stiff with disa--roval at the head of the stairs, her li-s com-ressed, her arms folded across her starchy bosom* nd thus it was that the infant !e7in.ton, when he was thirteen days old, left the City of 'ew >ork and travelled southward to live with his :reat unt :loss-an in the State of Vir.inia* MMM unt :loss-an was nearly seventy when she became .uardian to !e7in.ton, but to look at her you would never have .uessed it for one minute* She was as s-ri.htly as a woman half her a.e, with a small, wrinkled, but still ;uite beautiful face and two lovely brown eyes that s-arkled at you in the nicest way* She was also a s-inster, thou.h you would never have .uessed that either, for there was nothin. s-inster9sh about unt :loss-an* She was never bitter or .loomy or irritableE she didn't have a moustacheE and she wasn't in the least bit 9ealous of other -eo-le, which in itself is somethin. you can seldom say about either a s-inster or a vir.in lady, althou.h of course it is not known for certain whether unt :loss-an ;ualified on both counts* 6ut she was an eccentric old woman, there was no doubt about that* $or the

-ast thirty years she had lived a stran.e isolated life all by herself in a tiny cotta.e hi.h u- on the slo-es of the 6lue Rid.e 2ountains, several miles from the nearest villa.e* She had five acres of -asture, a -lot for .rowin. ve.etables, a flower .arden, three cows, a do,en hens, and a fine cockerel* nd now she had little !e7in.ton as well* She was a strict ve.etarian and re.arded the consum-tion of animal flesh as not only unhealthy and dis.ustin., but horribly cruel* She lived u-on lovely clean foods like milk, butter, e..s, cheese, ve.etables, nuts, herbs, and fruit and she re9oiced in the conviction that no livin. creature would be slau.htered on her account, not even a shrim-* #nce, when a brown hen of hers -assed away in the -rime of life from bein. e..bound, unt :loss-an was so distressed that she nearly .ave u- e..-eatin. alto.ether* She knew not the first thin. about babies, but that didn't worry her in the least* t the railway station in 'ew >ork, while waitin. for the train that would take her and !e7in.ton back to Vir.inia, she bou.ht si7 feedin.-bottles, two do,en dia-ers, a bo7 of safety -ins, a carton of milk for the 9ourney, and a small -a-er-covered book called The Care of 0nfants* +hat more could anyone wantB nd when the train .ot .oin., she fed the baby some milk, chan.ed its na--ies after a fashion, and laid it down on the seat to slee-* Then she read The Care of 0nfants from cover to cover* AThere is no -roblem here,A she said, throwin. the book out of the window* A'o -roblem at all*A nd curiously enou.h there wasn't* 6ack home in the cotta.e everythin. went 9ust as smoothly as could be* !ittle !e7in.ton drank his milk and belched and yelled and sle-t e7actly as a .ood baby should, and unt :loss-an .lowed with 9oy whenever she looked at him and showered him with kisses all day lon.* 6y the time he was si7 years old, youn. !e7in.ton had .rown into a most beautiful boy with lon. .olden hair and dee- blue eyes the colour of cornflowers* %e was bri.ht and cheerful, and already he was learnin. to hel- his old aunt in all sorts of different ways around the -ro-erty, collectin. the e..s from the chicken house, turnin. the handle of the butter churn, di..in. u- -otatoes in the ve.etable .arden and searchin. for wild herbs on the side of the mountain* Soon, unt :loss-an told herself, she would have to start thinkin. about his education* 6ut she couldn't bear the thou.ht of sendin. him away to school* She loved him so much now that it would kill her to be -arted from him for any len.th of time* There was, of course, that villa.e school down in the valley, but it was a dreadful-lookin. -lace, and if she sent him there she 9ust knew they would start forcin. him to eat meat the very first day he arrived A>ou know what, my darlin.BA the said to him one day when he was sittin. on a stool in the kitchen watchin. her make cheese* A0 don't really see why 0 shouldn't .ive you your lessons myself*A The boy looked u- at her with his lar.e blue eyes, and .ave her a lovely trustin. smile* AThat would be nice,A he said* A nd the very first thin. 0 should do would be to teach you how to cook*A A0 think 0 would like that, unt :loss-an*A A+hether you like it or not, you're .oin. to have to learn some time,A she said* AVe.etarians like us don't have nearly so many foods to choose from as ordinary -eo-le, and therefore they must learn to be doubly e7-ert with what they have*A A unt :loss-an,A the boy said, Awhat do ordinary -eo-le eat that we don'tBA A nimals,A she answered, tossin. her head in dis.ust* A>ou mean live animalsBA A'o,A she said* ADead ones*A The boy considered this for a moment* A>ou mean when they die they eat them instead of buryin. themBA AThey don't wait for them to die, my -et* They kill them*A A%ow do they kill them, unt :loss-anBA AThey usually slit their throats with a knife*A A6ut what kind of animalsBA

ACows and -i.s mostly, and shee-*A ACowsFA the boy cried* A>ou mean like Daisy and Snowdro- and !ilyBA A"7actly, my dear*A A6ut how do they eat them, unt :loss-anBA AThey cut them u- into bits and they cook the bits* They like it best when it's all red and bloody and stickin. to the bones* They love to eat lum-s of cow's flesh with the blood oo,in. out of it*A A)i.s tooBA AThey adore -i.s*A A!um-s of bloody -i.'s meat,A the boy said* A0ma.ine that* +hat else do they eat, unt :loss-aflBA AChickens*A AChickensFA A2illions of them*A A$eathers and allBA A'o, dear, not the feathers* 'ow run alon. outside and .et unt :loss-an a bunch of chives, will you, my darlin.*A Shortly after that, the lessons be.an* They covered five sub9ects, readin., writin., .eo.ra-hy, arithmetic, and cookin., but the latter was by far the most -o-ular with both teacher and -u-il* 0n fact, it very soon became a--arent that youn. !e7in.ton -ossessed a truly remarkable talent in this direction* %e was a born cook* %e was de7trous and ;uick* %e could handle his -ans like a 9u..ler* %e could slice a sin.le -otato in twenty -a-er-thin slivers in less time than it took his aunt to -eel it* %is -alate was e7;uisitely sensitive, and he could taste a -ot of stron. onion sou- and immediately detect the -resence of a sin.le tiny leaf of sa.e* 0n so >oun. a boy, all this was a bit bewilderin. to unt :loss-an, and to tell the truth she didn't ;uite know what to make of it* 6ut she was -roud as -roud as could be, all --a* the same, and -redicted a brilliant future for the child* A+hat a mercy it is,A she said, Athat 0 have such a wonderful little fellow to look after me in my dota.e*A nd a cou-le of years later, she retired from the kitchen for .ood, leavin. !e7in.ton in sole char.e of all household cookin.* The boy was now ten years old, and unt :loss-an was nearly ei.hty* +ith the kitchen to himself, !e7in.ton strai.ht away be.an e7-erimentin. with dishes of his own invention* The old favourites no lon.er interested him* %e had a violent ur.e to create* There were hundreds of fresh ideas in his head* A0 will be.in,A he said, Aby devisin. a chestnut souffle*A %e made it and served it u- for su--er that very ni.ht* 0t was terrific* A>ou are a .eniusFA unt :loss-an cried, lea-in. u- from her chair and kissin. him on both cheeks, A>ou will make historyFA $rom then on, hardly a day went by without some new delectable creation bein. set u-on the table* There was 6ra,ilnut sou-, hominy cutlets, ve.etable ra.out, dandelion omelette, creamcheese fritters, stuffed-cabba.e sur-rise, stewed fo..a.e, shallots a la bonne femme, beetroot mousse -i;uant, -runes Stro.anoff, Dutch rarebit, turni-s on horseback, flamin. s-ruceneedle tans, and many many other beautiful com-ositions* 'ever before in her life, unt :loss-an declared, had she tasted such food as thisE and in the mornin.s, lon. before lunch was due, she would .o out on to the -orch and sit there in her rockin.-chair, s-eculatin. about the comin. meal, lickin. her cho-s, sniffin. the aromas that came waftin. out trou.h the kitchen window* A+hat's that you're makin. in there today, boyBA she would call out* ATry to .uess, unt :loss-an*A ASmells like a bit of salsify fritters to me,A she would say, sniffin. vi.orously* Then out he would come, this ten-year-old child, a little .rin of trium-h on his face, and in his hands a bi. steamin. -ot of the most heavenly stew made entirely of -arsni-s and lova.e* A>ou know what you ou.ht to do,A his aunt said to him, .obblin. the stew*

A>ou ou.ht to set yourself down this very minute with -a-er and -encil and write a cookin.-book*A %e looked at her across the table, chewin. his -arsni-s slowly* A+hy notBA she cried* A0've tau.ht you how to write and 0've tau.ht you how to cook and flow all you've .ot to do is -ut the two thin.s to.ether* >ou write a cookin.-book, my darlin., and it'll make you famous the whole world over* A ll ri.ht,A he said* A0 will*A nd that very day, !e7in.ton be.an writin. the first -a.e of that monumental work which was to* occu-y him for the rest of his life* %e called it "at :ood and %ealthy* Seven years later, by the time he was seventeen, he had recorded over nine thousand different reci-es, all of them ori.inal, all of them delicious* 6ut now, suddenly, his labours were interru-ted by the tra.ic death of unt :loss-an* She was afflicted in the ni.ht by a violent sei,ure, and !e7in.ton, who had rushed into her bedroom to see what all the noise was about, found her lyin. on her bed yellin. and cussin. and twistin. herself into all manner of com-licated knots* 0ndeed, she was a terrible si.ht to behold, and the a.itated youth danced around her in his -y9amas, wrin.in. his hands, and wonderin. what on earth he should do* $inally in an effort to cool her down, he fetched a bucket of water from the -ond in the cow field and ti--ed it over her head, but this only intensified the -aro7ysms, and the old lady e7-ired within the hour* AThis is really too bad,A the -oor boy said, -inchin. her several times to make sure that she was dead* A nd how suddenF %ow ;uick and suddenF +hy only a few hours a.o she seemed in the very best of s-irits* She even took three lar.e hel-in.s of my most recent creation, devilled mushroombur.ers, and told me how succulent it was*A fter wee-in. bitterly for several minutes, for he had loved his aunt very much, he -ulled himself to.ether and carried her outside and buried her behind the cowshed* The ne7t day, while tidyin. u- her belon.in.s, he came across an envelo-e that was addressed to him in unt :loss-an's handwritin.* %e o-ened it and drew out two fifty-dollar bills and a letter* Darlin. boy Nthe letter saidO, 0 know that you have never yet been down the mountain since you were thirteen days old, but as soon as 0 die you must -ut on a -air of shoes and a clean shirt and walk down to the villa.e and find a doctor* sk the doctor to .ive you a death certificate to -rove that 0 am dead* Then take this certificate to my lawyer, a man called 2r Samuel Kuckermann, who lives in 'ew >ork City and who has a co-y of my will* 2r Kuckermann will arran.e everythin.* The cash in this envelo-e is to -ay the doctor for the certificate and to cover the cost of your 9ourney to 'ew >ork* 2r Kuckermann will .ive you more money when you .et there, and it is my earnest wish that you use it to further your researches into culinary and ve.etarian matters, and that you continue to work u-on that .reat book of yours until you are satisfied that it is com-lete in every way* >our lovin. aunt--:loss-an* !e7in.ton, who had always done everythin. his aunt told him, -ocketed the money, -ut on a -air of shoes and a clean shin, and went down the mountain to the villa.e where the doctor lived* A#ld :loss-anBA the doctor said* A2y :od, is she deadBA ACertainly she's dead,A the youth answered* A0f you will come back home with me now 0'll di. her u- and you can see for yourself*A A%ow dee- did you bury herBA the doctor asked* ASi7 or seven feet down, 0 should think*A A nd how lon. a.oBA A#h, about ei.ht hours*A AThen she's dead,A the doctor announced* A%ere's the certificate*A MMM #ur hero now sets out for the City of 'ew >ork to find 2r Samuel Kuckermann* %e travelled on foot, and he sle-t under hed.es, and he lived on berries and wild

herbs, and it took him si7teen days to reach the metro-olis* A+hat a fabulous -lace this isFA he cried as he stood at the corner of $ifty-seventh Street and $ifth venue, starin. around him* AThere are no cows or chickens anywhere, and none of the women looks in the least like unt :loss-an*A s for 2r Samuel Kuckermann, he looked like nothin. that !e7in.ton had ever seen before* %e was a small s-on.y man with livid 9owls and a hu.e ma.enta nose, and when he smiled, bits of .old flashed at you marvellously from lots of different -laces inside his mouth* 0n his lu7urious office, he shook !e7in.ton warmly by the hand and con.ratulated him u-on his aunt's death* A0 su--ose you knew that your dearly beloved .uardian was a woman of considerable wealthBA he said* A>ou mean the cows and the chickensBA A0 mean half a million bucks,A 2r Kuckermann said* A%ow muchBA A%alf a million dollars, my boy* nd she's left it all to you*A 2r Kuckermann leaned back in his chair and clas-ed his hands over his s-on.y -aunch* t the same time, he be.an secretly workin. his ri.ht forefin.er in throu.h his waistcoat and under his shirt so as to scratch the skin around the circumference of his navel--a favourite e7ercise of his, and one that .ave him a -eculiar -leasure* A#f course, 0 shall have to deduct fifty -er cent for my services,A he said, A6ut that still leaves you with two hundred and fifty .rand*A A0 am richFA !e7in.ton cried* AThis is wonderfulF %ow soon can 0 have the moneyBA A* A +ell, 2r Kuckermann said, luckily for you, 0 ha--en to be on rather cordial terms with the ta7 authorities around here, and 0 am confident that 0 shall be able to -ersuade them to waive all death duties and back ta7es*A A%ow kind you are,A murmured !e7in.ton* A0 should naturally have to .ive somebody a small honorarium*A Thatever you say, 2r Kuckermann*A 0 think a hundred thousand would be sufficient* :ood .racious, isn't that rather e7cessiveBA 'ever underti- a ta7 ins-ector or a 854 -oliceman,A 2r Kuckermann said* ARemember that*A A6ut how much does it leave for meBA the youth asked meekly* A#ne hundred and fifty thousand* 6ut then you've .ot the funeral e7-enses to -ay out of that*A A$uneral e7-ensesBA A>ou've .ot to -ay for the funeral -arlour* Surely you know thatBA A6ut 0 buried her myself, 2r Kuckermann, behind the cowshed*A A0 don't doubt it,A the lawyer said* ASo whatBA A0 never used a funeral -arlour*A A!isten,A 2r Kuckermann said -atiently* A>ou may not know it, but there is a law in this state which says that no beneficiary under a will may receive a sin.le -enny of his inheritance until the funeral -arlour has been -aid in full*A A>ou mean that's a lawBA ACertainly, it's a law, and a very .ood one it is, too* The funeral -arlour is one of our .reat national institutions* 0t must be -rotected at all costs* 2r Kuckermann himself, to.ether with a .rou- of -ublic-s-irited doctors, controlled a cor-oration that owned a chain of nine lavish funeral -arlours in the city, not to mention a casket factory in 6rooklyn and a -ost.raduate school for embalmers in +ashin.ton %ei.hts* The celebration of death was therefore a dee-ly reli.ious affair in 2r Kuckermann's eyes* 0n fact, the whole business affected him -rofoundly, almost as -rofoundly, one mi.ht say, as the birth of Christ affected the sho-kee-er* A>ou had no ri.ht to .o out and bury your aunt like that,A he said* A'one at all*A A0'm very sorry, 2r Kuckermann*A

A+hy, it's downri.ht subversive*A A0'll do whatever you say, 2r Kuckermann* ll 0 want to know is how much 0'm .oin. to .et in the end, when everythin.'s -aid*A There was a -ause* 2r Kuckermann si.hed and frowned and continued secretly to run the ti- of his fin.er around the rim of his navel* AShall we say fifteen thousandBA he su..ested, flashin. a bi. .old smile* AThat's a nice round fi.ure*A ACan 0 take it with me this afternoonBA A0 don't see why not*A So 2r Kuckermaim summoned his chief cashier and told him to .ive !e7in.ton fifteen thousand dollars out of the -etty cash, and to obtain a recei-t* The youth, who by this time was deli.hted to be .ettin. anythin. at all, acce-ted the money .ratefully and stowed it away in his kna-sack* Then he shook 2r Kuckermann warmly by the hand, thanked him for all his hel-, and went out of the office* AThe whole world is before meFA our hero cried as he emer.ed into the street* A0 now have fifteen thousand dollars to see me throu.h until my book is -ublished* nd after that, of course, 0 shall have a .reat deal more*A %e stood on use -avement, wonderin. which way to .o* %e turned left and be.an strollin. slowly down the street, starin. at the si.hts of the city* A+hat a revoltin. smell,A he said, sniffin. the air* A0 can't stand this*A %is delicate olfactory nerves, tuned to receive only the most delicious kitchen aromas, were bein. tortured by the stench of the diesel-oil fumes -ourin. out of the backs of buses* A0 must .et out of this -lace before my nose is ruined alto.ether,A he said* A6ut first, 0've sim-ly .ot to have somethin. to eat* 0'm starvin.*A The -oor boy had had nothin. but berries and wild herbs for the -ast two weeks, and now his stomach was yearnin. for solid food* 0'd like a nice hominy cutlet, he told himself* #r maybe a few 9uicy salsify fritters* %e crossed the street and entered a small restaurant* The -lace was hot inside, and dark and silent* There was a stron. smell of cookin.fat and cabba.e water* The only other customer was a man with a brown hat on his head, crouchin. intently over his food, who did not look u- as !e7in.ton came in* #ur hero seated himself at a corner table and hun. his kna-sack on the back of his chair* This he told himself, is .oin. to be most interestin.* 0n all my seventeen years 0 have tasted only the cookin. of two -eo-le, unt :loss-an and myself--unless one counts 'urse 2c)ottle, who must have heated my bottle a few times when 0 was an infant* 6ut 0 am now about to sam-le the art of a new chef alto.ether, and -erha-s, if 0 am lucky, 0 may -ick u- a cou-le of useful ideas for my book* waiter a--roached out of the shadows at the back, and stood beside the table* A%ow do you do,A !e7in.ton said* A0 should like a lar.e hominy cutlet -lease* Do it twentyfive seconds each side, in a very hot skillet with sour cream, and s-rinkle a -inch of lova.e on it before servin.--unless of course your chef knows a more ori.inal method, in which case 0 should be deli.hted to try it*A The waiter laid his head over to one side and looked carefully at his customer* A>ou want the roast -ork and cabba.eBA he asked* AThat's all we .ot left*A ARoast what and cabba.eBA The waiter took a soiled handkerchief from his trouser -ocket and shook it o-en with a violent flourish, as thou.h he were crackin. a whi-* Then he blew his nose loud and wet* A>ou want it or don't youBA he said, wi-in. his nostrils* A0 haven't the fo..iest idea what it is,A !e7in.ton re-lied, Abut 0 should love to try it* >ou see, 0 am writin. a cookin.-book and***A A#ne -ork and cabba.eFA the waiter shouted, and somewhere in the back of the restaurant, far away in the darkness, a voice answered him* The waiter disa--eared* !e7in.ton reached into his kna-sack for his -ersonal

knife and fork* These were a -resent from unt :loss-an, .iven him when he was si7 years old, made of solid silver, and he had never eaten with any other instruments since* +hile waitin. for the food to arrive, he -olished them lovin.ly with a )iece of soft muslin* Soon the waiter returned carryin. a -late on which there lay a thick .reyish-white slab of somethin. hot* !e7in.ton leaned forward an7iously to smell it as it was -ut down before him* %is nostrils were wide o-en to receive the scent, ;uiverin. and sniffin.* A6ut this is absolute heavenFA he e7claimed* A+hat an aromaF 0t's tremendousFA The waiter ste--ed back a -ace, watchin. his customer carefully* A'ever in my life have 0 smelled anythin. as rich and wonderful as thisFA our hero cried, sei,in. his knife and fork* A+hat on earth is it made ofBA The man in the brown hat looked around and stared, then returned to his eatin.* The waiter was backin. away towards the kitchen* !e7in.ton cut off a small -iece of the meat, im-aled it on his silver fork, and carried it u- to his nose so as to smell it a.ain* Then he -o--ed it into his mouth and be.an to chew it slowly, his eyes half closed, his body tense* AThis is fantasticFA he cried* A0t is a brand-new flavourF #h, :loss-an, my beloved unt, how 0 wish you were with me now so you could taste this remarkable dishF +aiterF Come here at onceF 0 want youFA The astonished waiter was now watchin. from the other end of the room, and he seemed reluctant to move any closer* A0f you will come and talk to me 0 will .ive you a -resent,A !e7in.ton said, wavin. a hundreddollar-bill* A)lease come over here and talk to me*A The waiter sidled cautiously back to the table, snatched away the money, and held it u- to his face, -eerin. at it from all an.les* Then he sli--ed it ;uickly into his -ocket* A+hat can 0 do for you, my friendBA he asked* A!ook,A !e7in.ton said* A0f you will tell me what this delicious dish is made of, and e7actly how it is -re-ared, 0 will .ive you another hundred*A A0 already told you,A the man said* A0t's -ork*A A nd e7actly what is -orkBA A>ou never had roast -ork beforeBA the waiter asked, starin.* A$or heaven's sake, man, tell me what it is and sto- kee-in. me in sus-ense like this*A A0t's -i.,A the waiter said* A>ou 9ust bun. it in the oven*A A)i.FA A ll -ork is -i.* Didn't you know thatBA A>ou mean this is -i.'s meatBA A0 .uarantee it*A A6ut***but***that's im-ossible,A the youth stammered* A unt :loss-an, who knew more about food than anyone else in the world, said that meat of any kind was dis.ustin., revoltin., horrible, foul, nauseatin., and beastly* nd yet this -iece that 0 have here on my -late is without doubt the most delicious thin. that 0 have ever tasted* 'ow how on earth do you e7-lain thatB unt :loss-an certainly +ouldn't have told me it was revoltin. if it +asn'tA A2aybe your aunt didn't know how to cook it,A the waiter said* A0s that -ossibleBA A>ou're damned ri.ht it is* "s-ecially with -ork* )ork has to be very well done or you can't eat it*A A"urekaFA !e7in.ton cried* A0'll bet that's e7actly what ha--enedF She did it wron.FA %e handed the man another hundred-dollar bill* A!ead me to the kitchen,A he said* A0ntroduce me to the .enius who -re-ared this meat*A !e7in.ton was at once taken to the kitchen, and there he met the cook who was an elderly man with a rash on one side of his neck* AThis will cost you another hundred,A the waiter said* !e7in.ton was only too .lad to obli.e, but this time he .ave the money to

the cook* A'ow listen to me,A he said* A0 have to admit that 0 am really rather confused by what the waiter has 9ust been tellin. me* re you ;uite sure that the delectable dish which 0 have 9ust been eatin. was -re-ared from -i.'s fleshBA The cook raised his ri.ht hand and be.an scratchin. the rash on his neck* A+ell,A he said, lookin. at the waiter and .ivin. him a sly wink, Aall 0 can tell you is that 0 think it was -i.'s meat*A A>ou mean you're not sureBA A#ne can never be sure*A AThen what else could it have beenBA A+ell,A the cook said, s-eakin. very slowly and still starin. at the waiter* AThere's 9ust @ chance, you see, that it mi.ht have been a -iece of human stuffA A>ou mean a manBA A>es*A A:ood heavens*A A#r a woman* 0t could have been either* They both taste the same*A A+ell--now you really do sur-rise me,A the youth declared* A#ne lives and learns*A A0ndeed one does*A A s a matter of fact, we've been .ettin. an awful lot of it 9ust lately from the butcher's in -lace of -ork,A the cook declared* A%ave you reallyBA AThe trouble is, it's almost im-ossible to tell which is which* They're both very .ood*A AThe -iece 0 had 9ust now was sim-ly su-erb*A A0'm .lad you liked it,A the cook said* A6ut to be ;uite honest, 0 think that it was a bit of -i.* 0n fact, 0'm almost sure it was*A A>ou areBA A>es, 0 am*A A0n that case, we shall have to assume that you are ri.ht,A !e7in.ton said* ASo now will you -lease tell me--and here is another hundred dollars for your trouble--will you -lease tell me -recisely how you -re-ared itBA The cook, after -ocketin. the money, launched &-on a colourful descri-tion of how to roast a loin of -ork, while the youth, not wantin. to miss a sin.le word of so .reat a reci-e, sat down at the kitchen table and recorded every detail in his notebook* A0s that allBA he asked when the cook had finished* AThat's all*A A6ut there must be more to it than that, surelyBA A>ou .ot to .et a .ood -iece of meat to start off with,A the cook said* AThat's half the battle* 0t's .ot to be a .ood ho. and it's .ot to be butchered ri.ht, otherwise it'll turn out lousy whichever way you cook it*A AShow me how,A !e7in.ton said* A6utcher me one now so 0 can learn*A A+e don't butcher -i.s in the kitchen,A the cook said* AThat lot you 9ust ate came from a -ackin.house over in the 6ron7*A AThen .ive me the addressFA The cook .ave him the address, and our hero, after thankin. them both many times for all their kindnesses, rushed outside and lea-t into a ta7i and headed for the 6ron7* The -ackin. house was a bi. four-storey brick buildin., and the air around it smelled sweet and heavy, like musk* t the main entrance .ates, there was a lar.e notice which said V0S0T#RS +"!C#2" T '> T02", and thus encoura.ed, !e7in.ton walked throu.h the .ates and entered a cobbled yard which surrounded the buildin. itself* %e then followed a series of si.n-osts CT%0S + > $#R T%" :&0D"D T#&RSD, and c8me eventually to a small corru.ated-iron shed set well a-art from the main buildin. CV0S0T#RS' w 1T1'<<2D* fter knockin. -olitely on the door, he went in* There were si7 other -eo-le ahead of him 9 the waitin.-room* There was a fat mother with her two little boys a.ed about nine and eleven* There was a bri.ht-

eyed youn. cou-le who looked as thou.h they mi.ht be on their honeymoon* nd there was a -ale woman with lon. white .loves, who sat very u-ri.ht, lookin. strai.ht ahead, with her hands folded on her la-* 'obody s-oke* !e7in.ton wondered whether they were all writin. cookin.-books like himself, but when he -ut this ;uestion to them aloud, he .ot no answer* The .rown-u-s merely smiled mysteriously to themselves and shook their heads, and the two children stared at him as thou.h they were seein. a lunatic* Soon, the door o-ened and a man with a merry -ink face -o--ed his head into the room and said, A'e7t, -lease*A The mother and the two boys .ot u- and went out* bout ten minutes later, the same man returned A'e7t, -lease,A he said a.ain, and the honeymoon cou-le 9um-ed u- and followed him outside* Two new visitors came in and sat down a middle-a.ed husband and a middlea.ed wife, the wife carryin. a wicker sho--in.-basket containin. .roceries* A'e7t, -lease,A said the .uide, and the woman +ith the lon. white .loves .ot u- and left* Several more -eo-le came in and took their )laces on the stiff-backed wooden chairs* Soon the .uide returned for the fourth time, and now it was !e7in.ton's turn to .o outside* A$ollow me, -lease,A the .uide said, leadin. the youth across the yard towards the main buildin.* A%ow e7citin. this isFA !e7in.ton cried, ho--in. from one foot to the other* A0 only wish my dear unt :loss-an could be with me now to see what 0 am .oin. to see*A A0 myself only do the -reliminaries,A the .uide said* AThen 0 shall hand you over to someone else*A A nythin. you say,A cried the ecstatic youth* $irst they visited a lar.e -enned-in area at the back of the buildin. where several hundred -i.s were wanderin. around* A%ere's where they start,A the .uide said* A nd over there's where they .o in*A A+hereBA ARi.ht there*A The .uide -ointed to a lon. wooden shed that stood a.ainst the outside wall of the factory* A+e call it the shacklin.--en* This way, -lease*A Three men wearin. lon. rubber boots were drivin. a do,en -i.s into the shacklin.--en 9ust as !e7in.ton and the .uide a--roached, so they all went in to.ether* A'ow,A the .uide said, Awatch how they shackle them*A 0nside, the shed was sim-ly a bare wooden room with no roof, and there was a steel cable with hooks on it that ke-t movin. slowly alon. the len.th of one wall, -arallel with the .round, about three feet u-* +hen it reached the end of the shed, this cable suddenly chan.ed direction and climbed vertically u-ward throu.h the o-en roof towards the to- floor of the main buildin.* The twelve -i.s were huddled to.ether at the far end of the -en, standin. ;uietly, lookin. a--rehensive* #ne of the men in rubber boots -ulled a len.th of metal chain down from the wall and advanced u-on the nearest animal, a--roachin. it from the rear* Then he bent down and ;uickly loo-ed one end of the chain around one of the animal's hind le.s* The other end he attached to a hook on the movin. cable as it went by* The cable ke-t movin.* The chain ti.htened* The -i.'s le. was -ulled u- and back, and then the -i. itself be.an to be dra..ed backwards* 6ut it didn't fall down* 0t was rather a nimble -i., and somehow it mana.ed to kee- its balance on three le.s, ho--in. from foot to foot and stru..lin. a.ainst the -ull of the chain, but .oin. back and back all the time until at the end of the -en where the cable chan.ed direction and went vertically u-ward, the creature was suddenly 9erked off its feet and borne aloft* Shrill -rotests filled the air* ATruly a fascinatin. -rocess,A !e7in.ton said* 6ut what was the funny crackin. noise it made as it went u-BA A)robably the le.,A the .uide answered* "ither that or the -elvis*A

A6ut doesn't that matterBA A+hy should it matterBA the .uide asked* >ou don't eat the bones*A The rubber-booted men were busy shacklin. u- the rest of the -i.s, and one after another they were hooked to the movin. cable and hoisted u- throu.h the roof, -rotestin. loudly as they went* AThere's a .ood deal more to this reci-e than 9ust -ickin. herbs,A !e7in.ton said* A unt :loss-an would never have made it*A t this -oint, while !e7in.ton was .a,in. skyward at the last -i. to .o u-, a man in rubber boots a--roached him ;uietly from behind and loo-ed one end of a chain around the youth's own ankle, hookin. the other end to the movin. belt* The ne7t moment, before he had time to reali,e what was ha--enin., our hero was 9erked off his feet and dra..ed backwards alon. the concrete floor of the shacklin.--en* ASto-FA he cried* A%old everythin.F 2y le. is cau.htFA 6ut nobody seemed to hear him, and five seconds later, the unha--y youn. man was 9erked off the floor and hoisted vertically u-ward throu.h the o-en roof of the -en, dan.lin. u-side down by one ankle, and wri..lin. like a fish* A%el-FA he shouted* A%el-F There's been a fri.htful mistakeF Sto- the en.inesF !et me downFA The .uide removed a ci.ar from his mouth and looked u- serenely at the ra-idly ascendin. youth, but he said nothin.* The men in rubber boots were already on their way out to collect the ne7t batch of -i.s* A#h, save meFA our hero cried* A!et me downF )lease let me downFA 6ut he was now a--roachin. the to- floor of the buildin. where the movin. belt curled like a snake and entered a lar.e hole in the wall, a kind of doorway without doorE and there, on the threshold, waitin. to .reet him, clothed in a dark-stained yellow rubber a-ron, and lookin. for all the world like Saint )eter at the :ates of %eaven, the sticker stood* !e7in.ton saw him only from u-side down, and very briefly at that, but even so he noticed at once the e7-ression of absolute -eace and benevolence on the man's face, the cheerful twinkle in the eyes, the little wistful smile, the dim-les in his cheeks--and all this .ave him ho-e* A%i there,A the sticker said, smilin.* AIuickF Save meFA our hero cried* A+ith -leasure,A the sticker said, and takin. !e7in.ton .ently by one ear with his left hand, he raised his ri.ht hand and deftly slit o-en the boy's 9u.ular vein with a knife* The belt moved on* !e7in.ton went with it* "verythin. was still u-side down and the blood was -ourin. out of his throat and .ettin. into his eyes, but he could still see after a fashion, and he had a blurred im-ression of bein. in an enormously lon.--room, and at the far end of the room there was a .reat smokin. cauldron of water, and there were dark fi.ures, half hidden in the steam, dancin. around the ed.e of it, brandishin. lon. -oles* The conveyor-belt seemed to be travellin. ri.ht over the to- of the cauldron, and the -i.s seemed to be dro--in. one by one into the boilin. water, and one of the -i.s seemed to be wearin. lon. white .loves on its front feet* Suddenly our hero started to feel very slee-y, but it wasn't until his .ood stron. heart had -um-ed the last dro- of blood from his body that he -assed on out of this, the best of all -ossible worlds, into the ne7t*

The Cham-ion of the +orld

!! day, in between servin. customers, we had been crouchin. over the table in the office of the fillin.-station, -re-arin. the raisins* They were -lum- and soft and swollen from bein. soaked in water, and when you nicked them with a ra,or-blade the skin s-ran. o-en and the 9elly stuff inside s;uee,ed out as easily as you could wish* 6ut we had a hundred and ninety-si7 of them to do alto.ether and the evenin. was nearly u-on us before we had finished* ADon't they look marvellousFA Claud cried, rubbin. his hands to.ether hard* A+hat time is it, :ordonBA AGust after five*A Throu.h the window we could see a stationwa.on -ullin. u- at the -um-s with a woman at the wheel and about ei.ht children in the back eatin. ice-creams* A+e ou.ht to be movin. soon,A Claud said* The whole thin.'ll be a washout if we don't arrive before sunset, you reali,e that*A %e was .ettin. twitchy now* %is face had the same flushed and -o-eyed look it .ot before a do.-race or when there was a date with :lance in the evenin.* +e both went outside and Claud .ave the man the number of .allons she wanted* +hen she had .one, he remained standin. in the middle of the driveway s;uintin. an7iously u- at the sun which was now only the width of a man's hand above the line of trees alon. the crest of the rid.e on the far side of the valley* A ll ri.ht,A 0 said* A!ock u-*A %e went ;uickly from -um- to -um-, securin. each no,,le in its holder with a small -adlock* A>ou'd better take off that yellow -ullover,A he said* A+hy should 0BA A>ou'll be shinin. like a bloody beacon out there in the moonli.ht*A A0'll be all ri.ht*A A>ou will not,A he said* ATake if off, :ordon, -lease* 0'll see you in three minutes*A %e disa--eared into his caravan behind the fillin. station, and 0 went indoors and chan.ed my yellow -ullover for a blue one* +hen we met a.ain outside, Claud was dressed in a -air of black trousers and a dark-.reen turtleneck sweater* #n his head he wore a brown cloth ca- with the -eak -ulled down low over his eyes, and he looked like an a-ache actor out of a ni.htclub* A+hat's under thereBA 0 asked, seein. the bul.e at his waistline* %e -ulled u- his sweater and showed me two thin but very lar.e white cotton sacks which were bound neat and ti.ht around his belly* ATo carry the stuff,A he said darkly* A0 see*A A!et's .o,A he said* A0 still think we ou.ht to take the car*A A0t's too risky* They'll see it -arked*A A6ut it's over three miles u- to that wood*A A>es,A he said* A nd 0 su--ose you reali,e we can .et si7 months in the clink if they catch us*A Ayou never told me that*A ADidn't 0BA A0'm not comin.,A 0 said* A0t's not worth it*A AThe walk will do you .ood, :ordon* Come on*A 0t was a calm sunny evenin. with little wis-s of brilliant white cloud han.in. motionless in the sky, and the valley was cool and very ;uiet as the two of us be.an walkin. to.ether alon. the .rass ver.e on the side of the road that ran between the hills towards #7ford* A>ou .ot the raisinsBA Claud asked* AThey're in my -ocket*A

A:ood,A he said* A2arvellous*A Ten minutes later we turned left off the main road into a narrow lane with hi.h hed.es on either side and from now on it was all u-hill* A%ow many kee-ers are thereBA 0 asked* AThree*A minute threw away a half-finished ci.arette* minute later he lit another* A0 don't usually a--rove of new methods,A he said* A'ot on this sort of a 9ob* A#f course*A A6ut by :od, :ordon, 0 think we're on to a hot one this time*A >ou doBA AThere's no ;uestion about it*A A0 ho-e you're ri.ht*A A0t'll be a milestone in the history of -oachin.,A he said* A6ut don't you .o tellin. a sin.le soul how we've done it, you understand* 6ecause if this ever leaked out we'd have every bloody fool in the district doin. the same thin. and there wouldn't be a -heasant left*A A0 won't say a word*A A>ou ou.ht to be very -roud of yourself,A he went on* AThere's been men with brains studyin. this -roblem for hundreds of years and not one of them's ever come u- with anythin. even a ;uarter as artful as you have* +hy didn't you tell me about it beforeBA A>ou never invited my o-inion,A 0 said* nd that was the truth* 0n fact, u- until the day before, Claud had never even offered to discuss with me the sacred sub9ect of -oachin.* #ften enou.h, on a summer's evenin. when work was finished, 0 had seen him with ca- on head slidin. ;uietly out of his caravan and disa--earin. u- the road towards the woodsE and sometimes, watchin. him throu.h the windows of the fillin.station, 0 would find myself wonderin. e7actly what he was .oin. to do, what wily tricks he was .oin. to -ractise all alone u- there under the trees in the dead of ni.ht* %e seldom came back until very late, and never, absolutely never did he brin. any of the s-oils with him -ersonally on his return* 6ut the followin. afternoon--and 0 couldn't ima.ine how he did it--there would always be a -heasant or a hare or a brace of -artrid.es han.in. u- in the shed behind the fillin.station for us to eat* This summer he had been -articularly active, and durin. the last cou-le of months he had ste--ed u- the tem-o to a -oint where he was .oin. out four and sometimes five ni.hts a week* 6ut that was not all* 0t seemed to me that recently his whole attitude towards -oachin. had under.one a subtle and mysterious chan.e* %e was more -ur-oseful about it now, more ti.htli--ed and intense than before, and 0 had the im-ression that this was not so much a .ame any lon.er as a crusade, a sort of -rivate war that Claud was wa.in. sin.le-handed a.ainst an invisible and hated enemy* 6ut whoB 0 wasn't sure about this, but 0 had a sus-icion that it was none other than the famous 2r Victor %a,el himself, the owner of the land and the -heasants* 2r %a,el was a local brewer with an unbelievably arro.ant manner* %e was rich beyond words, and his -ro-erty stretched for miles alon. either side of the valley* %e was a self-made man with no charm at all and -revious few virtues* %e loathed all -ersons of humble station, havin. once been one of them himself, and he strove des-erately to min.le with what he believed were the ri.ht kind of folk* %e rode to hounds and .ave shootin.--arties and wore fancy waistcoats and every weekday he drove an enormous black Rolls-Royce -ast the fillin.-station on his way to the brewery* s he flashed by, we would sometimes catch a .lim-se of the .reat .listenin. brewer's face above the wheel, -ink as a ham, all soft and inflamed from drinkin. too much beer* nyway, yesterday afternoon, ri.ht out of the blue, Claud had suddenly said to me, A0'll be .oin. on u- to %a,el's woods a.ain toni.ht* +hy don't you come alon.BA

A+ho, meBA A0t's about the last chance this year for -heasants,A he had said* AThe shootin.-season o-ens Saturday and the birds'll be scattered all over the -lace after that--if there's any left*A A+hy the sudden invitationBA 0 had asked, .reatly sus-icious* A'o s-ecial reason, :ordon* 'o reason at all*A A0s it riskyBA %e hadn't answered this* A0 su--ose you kee- a .un or somethin. hidden away u- thereBA A .unFA he cried, dis.usted* A'obody ever shoots -heasants, didn't you know thatB >ou've only .ot to fire a ca---istol in %a,el's woods and the kee-ers'll be on you*A AThen how do you do itBA A h,A he said, and the eyelids droo-ed over the eyes, veiled and secretive* There was a lon. -ause* Then he said, ADo you think you could kee- your mouth shut if 0 was to tell you a thin. or twoBA ADefinitely*A A0've never told this to anyone else in my whole life, :ordon*A A0 am .reatly honoured,A 0 said* A>ou can trust me com-letely*A %e turned his head, fi7in. me with -ale eyes* The eyes were lar.e and wet and o7-like, and they were so near to me that 0 could see my own face reflected u-side down in the centre of each* A0 am now about to let you in on the three best ways in the world of -oachin. a -heasant,A he said* A nd seein. that you're the .uest on this little tri-, 0 am .oin. to .ive you the choice of which one you'd like us to use toni.ht* %ow's thatBA AThere's a catch in this*A AThere's no catch, :ordon* 0 swear it*A A ll ri.ht, .o on*A A'ow, here's the thin.,A he said* A%ere's the first bi. secret*A %e -aused and took a lon. suck at his ci.arette* A)heasants,A he whis-ered softly, Ais cra,y about raisins*A ARaisinsBA AGust ordinary raisins* 0t's like a mania with them* 2y dad discovered that more than forty years a.o 9ust like he discovered all three of these methods 0'm about to describe to you now*A A0 thou.ht you said your dad was a drunk*A A2aybe he was* 6ut he was also a .reat -oacher, :ordon* )ossibly the .reatest there's ever been in the history of "n.land* 2y dad studied -oachin. like a scientist*A A0s that soBA A0 mean it* 0 really mean it*A A0 believe you*A ADo you know,A he said, Amy dad used to kee- a whole flock of -rime cockerels in the back yard -urely for e7-erimental -ur-oses*A ACockerelsBA AThat's ri.ht* nd whenever he thou.ht u- some new stunt for catchin. a -heasant, he'd try it out on a cockerel first to see how it worked* That's how he discovered about raisins* 0t's also how he invented the horsehair method*A Claud -aused and .lanced over his shoulder as thou.h to make sure that there was nobody listenin.* A%ere's how it's done,A he said* A$irst you take a few raisins and you soak them overni.ht in water to make them nice and -lum- and 9uicy* Then you .et a bit of .ood stiff horsehair and you cut it u- into half-inch len.ths* Then you -ush one of these len.ths of horsehair throu.h the middle of each raisin so that there's about an ei.hth of an inch of it stickin. out on either side* >ou followBA A>es*A A'ow--the old -heasant comes alon. and eats one of these raisins* Ri.htB nd

you're watchin. him from behind a tree* So what thenBA A0 ima.ine it sticks in his throat*A AThat's obvious, :ordon* 6ut here's the ama,in. thin.* %ere's what my dad discovered* The moment this ha--ens, the bird never moves his feet a.ainF %e becomes absolutely rooted to the s-ot, and there he stands -um-in. his silly neck u- and down 9ust like it was a -iston, and all you've .ot to do is walk calmly out from the -lace where you're hidin. and -ick him u- <1 your hands*A A0 don't believe that*A A0 swear it,A he said* A#nce a -heasant's had the horsehair you can fire a rifle in his eat and he won't even 9um-* 0t's 9ust one of those une7-lainable little thin.s* 6ut it takes a .enius to discover it*A %e -aused, and there was a .leam of -ride in his eye now as he dwelt for a moment or two u-on the memory of his father, the .reat inventor* ASo that's 2ethod 'umber #ne,A he said* A2ethod 'umber Two is even more sim-le still* ll you do is you have a fishin. line* Then you bait the hook with a raisin and you fish for the -heasant 9ust like you fish for a fish* >ou -ay out the line about fifty yards and you lie there on your stomach in the bushes waitin. till you .et a bite* Then you haul him in*A A0 don't think your father invented that one*A A0t's very -o-ular with fishermen,A he said, choosin. not to hear me* A/een fishermen who can't .et down to the seaside as often as they want* 0t .ives them a bit of the old thrill* The only trouble is it's rather noisy* The -heasant s;uawks like hell as you haul him in, and then every kee-er in the wood comes runnin.*A A+hat is 2ethod 'umber ThreeBA 0 asked* A h,A he said* A'umber Three's a real beauty* 0t was the last one my dad ever invented before he -assed away*A A%is final .reat workBA A"7actly, :ordon* nd 0 can even remember the very day it ha--ened, a Sunday mornin. 0t was, and suddenly my dad comes into the rutchen holdin. a hu.e white cockerel in his hands and he says, A0 think 0've .ot itF' There's a little smile on his face and a shine of .lory in his eyes and he comes in very soft and ;uiet and he -uts the bird down ri.ht in the middle of the kitchen table and he says, A6y :od 0 think 0've .ot a .ood one this timeF' A .ood whatB' 2um says, lookin. u- from the sink* A%orace, take that filthy bird off my table*' The cockerel has a funny little -a-er hat over its head, like an ice-cream cone u-side down, and my dad is -ointin. to it -roudly* AStroke him,' he says* A%e won't move an inch*' The cockerel starts scratchin. away at the -a-er hat with one of its feet, but the hat seems to be stuck on with .lue and it won't come off* A'o bird in the world is .oin. to run away once you cover u- his eyes,' my dad says, and he starts -okin. the cockerel with his fin.er and -ushin. it around on the table, but it doesn't take the sli.htest bit of notice* A>ou can have this one,' he says, talkin. to 2um* A>ou can kill it and dish it u- for dinner as a celebration of what 0 have 9ust invented*' nd then strai.ht away he takes me by the arm and marches me ;uickly out the door and off we .o over the fields and u- into the bi. forest the other side of %addenham which used to belon. to the Duke of 6uckin.ham, and in less than two hours we .et five lovely fat -heasants with no more trouble than it takes to .o out and buy them in a sho-*A Claud -aused for breath* %is eyes were hu.e and moist and dreamy as they .a,ed back into the wonderful world of his youth* A0 don't ;uite follow this,A 0 said* A%ow did he .et the -a-er hats over the -heasants' heads u- in the woodsBA A>ou'd never .uess it*A A0'm sure 0 wouldn't*A AThen here it is* $irst of all you di. a little hole in the .round* Then you twist a -iece of -a-er into the sha-e of a cone and you fit this into the hole, hollow end u-ward, like a cu-* Then you smear the -a-er cu- all around the inside with bird-lime and dro- in a few raisins* t the same time you lay a trail of raisins alon. the .round leadin. u- to it* 'ow--the old -heasant comes -eckin.

alon. the trail, and when he .ets to the hole he -o-s his head inside to .obble the raisins and the ne7t thin. he knows he's .ot a -a-er hat stuck over his eyes and he can't see a thin.* 0sn't it marvellous what some -eo-le think of, :ordonB Don't you a.reeBA A>our dad was a .enius,A 0 said* AThen take your -ick* Choose whichever one of the three methods you fancy and we'll use it toni.ht*A A>ou don't think they're all 9ust a trifle on the crude side, do youBA ACrudeFA he cried, a.hast* A#h my :odF nd who's been havin. roasted -heasant in the house nearly every sin.le day for the last si7 months and not a -enny to -ayBA %e turned and walked away towards the door of the worksho-* 0 could see that he was dee-ly -ained by my remark* +ait a minute,A 0 said* ADon't .o*A >ou want to come or don't youBA >es, but let me ask you somethin. first* 0've lust had a bit of an idea*A A/ee- it,A he said* A>ou are talkin. about a sub9ect you don't know the first thin. about*A ADo you remember that bottle of slee-in.--ills the doc .ave me last month when 0 had a bad backBA A+hat about themBA A0s there any reason why those wouldn't work on a -heasantBA Claud closed his eyes and shook his head -ityin.ly from side to side* A+ait,A 0 said* A0t's not worth discussin.,A he said* A'o -heasant in the world is .oin. to swallow those lousy red ca-sules* Don't you know any better than thatBA A>ou are for.ettin. the raisins,A 0 said* A'ow listen to this* +e take a raisin* Then we soak it till it swells* Then we make a tiny slit in one side of it with a ra,or-blade* Then we hollow it out a little* Then we o-en u- one of my red ca-sules and -our all the -owder into the raisin* Then we .et a needle and cotton and very carefully we sew u- the slit* 'ow* #ut of the corner of my eye, 0 saw Claud's mouth slowly be.innin. to o-en* A'ow,A 0 said* A+e have a nice clean-lookin. raisin with two and a half .rains of seconal inside it, and let me tell you somethin. now* That's enou.h do-e to knock the avera.e mall unconscious, never mind about birdsFA 0 -aused for ten seconds to allow the full im-act of this to strike home* A+hat's more, with this method we could o-erate on a really .rand scale* +e could -re-are twenty raisins if we felt like it, and all we'd have to do is scatter them around the feedin.-.rounds at sunset and then walk away* %alf an hour later we'd come back, and the -ills would be be.innin. to work, and the -heasants would be u- in the trees by then, roostin., and they'd be startin. to feel .ro..y, and they'd be wobblin. and tryin. to kee- their balance, and soon every -heasant that had eaten one sin.le raisin would keel over unconscious and fall to the .round* 2y dear boy, they'd be dro--in. out of the trees like a--les, and all we'd have to do is walk around -ickin. them u-FA Claud was starin. at me, ra-t* A#h Christ,A he said softly* A nd they'd never catch us either* +e'd sim-ly stroll throu.h the woods dro--in. a few raisins here and there as we went, and even if they were watchin. us they wouldn't notice anythin.*A A:ordon,A he said, layin. a hand on my knee and .a,in. at me with eyes lar.e and bri.ht as two stars* A0f this thin. works, it will revolutioni,e -oachin.*A A0'm .lad to hear it*A A%ow many -ills have you .ot leftBA he asked* A$orty-nine* There were fifty in the bottle and 0've only used one*A $orty-nine's not enou.h* +e want at least two hundred*A A re you madFA 0 cried* %e walked slowly away and stood by the door +ith his back to me, .a,in. at

the sky* ATwo hundred's the bare minimum,A he said ;uietly* AThere's really not much -oint in doin. it unless we have two hundred*A +hat is it now, 0 wondered* +hat the hell's he tryin. to doB AThis is the last chance we'll have before the season o-ens,A he said* A0 couldn't -ossibly .et any more*A A>ou wouldn't want us to come back em-tyhanded, would youBA A6ut why so manyBA Claud turned his head and looked at me with lar.e innocent eyes* A+hy notBA he said .ently* ADo you have any ob9ectionBA 2y :od, 0 thou.ht suddenly* The cra,y bastard is out to wreck 2r Victor %a,el's o-enin.-day shootin.--arty* A>ou .et us two hundred of those -ills,A he said, Aand then it'll be worth doin.*A A0 can't*A A>ou could try, couldn't youBA 2r %a,el's -arty took -lace on the first of #ctober every year and it was a very famouS event* Debilitated .entleman in tweed suits, some with titles and some who were merely rich, motored in from miles around with their .un-bearers and do.s and wives, and all day lon. the noise of shootin. rolled across the valley* There were always enou.h -heasants to .o round, for each summer the woods were methodically restocked with do,ens and do,ens of youn. birds at incredible e7-ense* 0 had heard it said that the cost of rearin. and kee-in. each -heasant uto the time when it was ready to be shot was well over five -ounds Cwhich is a--ro7imately the -rice of two hundred loaves of breadD* 6ut to 2r %a,el it was worth every -enny of it* %e became, if only for a few hours, a bi. cheese in a little world and even the !ord !ieutenant of the County sla--ed him on the back and tried to remember his first name when he said .oodbye* A%ow would it be if we 9ust reduced the doseBA Claud asked* A+hy couldn't we divide the contents of one ca-sule amon. four raisinsBA A0 su--ose you could if you wanted to*A A6ut would a ;uarter of a ca-sule be stron. enou.h for each birdBA #ne sim-ly had to admire the man's nerve* 0t was dan.erous enou.h to -oach a sin.le -heasant u- in those woods at this time of year and here he was -lannin. to knock off the bloody lot* A ;uarter would be -lenty,A 0 said* A>ou're sure of thatBA A+ork it out for yourself* 0t's all done by bodywei.ht* >ou'd still be .ivin. about twenty times more than is necessary*A AThen we'll ;uarter the dose,A he said, rubbin. his hands* %e -aused and calculated for a moment* A+e'll have one hundred and ninety-si7 raisinsFA ADo you reali,e what that involvesBA 0 said* AThey'll take hours to -re-are*A A+hat of itFA he cried* A+e'll .o tomorrow instead* +e'll soak the raisins overni.ht and then we'll have all mornin. and afternoon to .et them ready*A nd that was -recisely what we did* 'ow, twenty-four hours later, we were on our way* +e had been walkin. steadily for about forty minutes and we were nearin. the -oint where the lane curved round to the ri.ht and ran alon. the crest of the hill towards the bi. wood where the -heasants lived* There was about a mile to .o* A0 don't su--ose by any chance these kee-ers mi.ht be carryin. .unsBA 0 asked* A ll kee-ers carry .uns,A Claud said* 0 had been afraid of that* A0t's for the vermin mostly*A A * li* A#f course there's no .uarantee they won't take a -ot at a -oacher now and a.ain*A

A>ou're 9okin.*A A'ot at all* 6ut they only do it from behind* #nly when you're runnin. away* They like to -e--er you in the le.s at about fifty yards*A AThey can't do thatFA 0 cried* A0t's a criminal offenceFA ASo is -oachin.,A Claud said* +e walked on awhile in silence* The sun was below the hi.h hed.e on our ri.ht now and the lane was in shadow* A>ou can consider yourself lucky this isn't thirty years a.o,A he went on* AThey used to shoot you on si.ht in those days*A ADo you believe thatBA A0 know it,A he said* A2any's the ni.ht when 0 was a ni--er 0've .one into the kitchen and seen my old dad lyin. face downward on the table and 2um standin. over him di..in. the .ra-eshot out of his buttocks with a -otato knife*A ASto-,A 0 said* A0t makes me nervous*A A>ou believe me, don't youBA A>es, 0 believe you*A ATowards the end he was so covered in tiny little white scars he looked e7actly like it was snowin.*A A>es,A 0 said* A ll ri.ht*A A)oacher's arse, they used to call it,A Claud said* A nd there wasn't a man in the whole villa.e who didn't have a bit of it one way or another* 6ut my dad was the cham-ion*A A:ood luck to him,A 0 said* A0 wish to hell he was here now,A Claud said, wistful* A%e'd have .iven anythin. in the world to be comin. with us on this 9ob toni.ht*A A%e could take my -lace,A 0 said* A:ladly*A +e had reached the crest of the hill and now we could see the wood ahead of us, hu.e and dark with the sun .oin. down behind the trees and little s-arks of .old shinin. throu.h* A>ou'd better let me have those raisins,A Claud said* 0 .ave him the ba. and he slid it .ently into his trouser -ocket* A'o talkin. once we're inside,A he said* AGust follow me and try not to .o sna--in. any branches*A $ive minutes later we were there* The lane ran ri.ht u- to the wood itself and then skirted the ed.e of it for about three hundred yards +ith only a little hed.e between* Claud sli--ed throu.h the hed.e on all fours and 0 followed* 0t was cool and dark inside the wood* 'o sunli.ht came in at all* AThis is s-ooky,A 0 said* ASsshhFA Claud was very tense* %e was walkin. 9ust ahead of me, -ickin. his feet uhi.h and -uttin. them down .ently on the moist .round* %e ke-t his head movin. all the time, the eyes swee-in. slowly from side to side, searchin. for dan.er* 0 tried doin. the same, but soon 0 be.an to see a kee-er behind every tree, so 0 .ave it u-* Then a lar.e -atch of sky a--eared ahead of us in the roof of the forest and 0 knew that this must be the clearin.* Claud had told me that the clearin. was the -lace where the youn. birds were introduced into the woods in early Guly, where they were fed and watered and .uarded by the kee-ers, and where many of them stayed from force of habit until the shootin. be.an* AThere are always -lenty of -heasants in the clearin.,A he had said* A/ee-ers too, 0 su--ose*A A>es, but there's thick bushes all around and that hel-s*A +e were now advancin. in a series of ;uick crouchin. s-urts, runnin. from tree to tree and sto--in. and waitin. and listenin. and runnin. on a.ain, and then at last we were kneelin. safely behind a bi. clum- of alder ri.ht on the ed.e of the clearin. and Claud was .rinnin. and nud.in. me in the ribs and -ointin. throu.h the branches at the -heasants* The -lace was absolutely stiff with birds* There must have been two hundred

of them at least struttin. around amon. the tree-stum-s* A>ou see what 0 meanBA Claud whis-ered* 0t was an astonishin. si.ht, a sort of -oacher's dream come true* nd how close they wereF Some of them were not more than ten -aces from where we knelt* The hens were -lum- and creamybrown and they were so fat their breast-feathers almost brushed the .round as they walked* The cocks were slim and beautiful, with lon. tails and brilliant red -atches around the eyes, like scarlet s-ectacles* 0 .lanced at Claud* %is bi. o7-like face was transfi7ed in ecstasy* The mouth was sli.htly o-en and the eyes had a kind of .la,y look about them as they stared at the -heasants* 0 believe that all -oachers react in rou.hly the same way as this on si.htin. .ame* They are like women who si.ht lar.e emeralds in a 9eweller's window, the only difference bein. that the women are less di.nified in the methods they em-loy later on to ac;uire the loot* )oacher's arse is nothin. to the -unishment that a female is willin. to endure* A,,* AC h-ha, Claud said softly* >ou see the kee-erBA A+hereBA A#ver the other side, by that bi. tree* !ook carefully*A A2y :odFA A0t's all ri.ht* %e can't see us*A +e crouched close to the .round, watchin. the kee-er* %e was a smallish man with a ca- #n his head and a .un under his arm* %e never moved* %e was like a little -ost standin. there* A!et's .o,A 0 whis-ered* The kee-er's face was shadowed by the -eak of his ca-, but it seemed to me that he was lookin. directly at us* A0'm not stayin. here,A 0 said* A%ush,A Claud said* Slowly, never takin. his eyes from the kee-er, he reached into his -ocket and brou.ht out a sin.le raisin* %e -laced it in the -alm of his ri.ht hand, and then ;uickly, with a little flick of the wrist, he threw the raisin hi.h into the air* 0 watched it as it went sailin. over the bushes and 0 saw it land within a yard or so of two henbirds standin. to.ether beside an old tree-stum-* 6oth birds turned their heads shar-ly at the dro- of the raisin* Then one of them ho--ed over and made a ;uick -eck at the .round and that must have been it* 0 .lanced u- at the kee-er* %e hadn't moved* Claud threw a second raisin into the clearin.E then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth* t this -oint, 0 saw the kee-er turn away his head in order to survey the wood behind him* Iuick as a flash, Claud -ulled the -a-er ba. out of his -ocket and ti--ed a hu.e -ile of raisins into the cu- of his ri.ht hand* ASto-,A 0 said* 6ut with a .reat swee- of the arm he flun. the whole handful hi.h over the bushes into the clearin.* They fell with a soft little -atter, like raindro-s on dry leaves, and every sin.le -heasant in the -lace must either have seen them comin. or heard them fall* There was a flurry of win.s and a rush to find the treasure* The kee-er's head flicked round as thou.h there were a s-rin. inside his neck* The birds were all -eckin. away madly at the raisins* The kee-er took two ;uick -aces forward and for a moment 0 thou.ht he was .oin. to investi.ate* 6ut then he sto--ed, and his face came u- and his eyes be.an travellin. slowly around the -erimeter of the clearin.* A$ollow me,A Claud whis-ered* A nd kee- down*A %e started crawlin. away swiftly on all fours, like some kind of a monkey* 0 went after him* %e had his nose close to the .round and his hu.e ti.ht buttocks were winkin. at the sky and it was easy to see now how -oacher's arse had come to be an occu-ational disease amon. the fraternity*

+e went alon. like this for about a hundred yards* A'ow run,A Claud said* +e .ot to our feet and ran, and a few minutes later we emer.ed throu.h the hed.e into the lovely o-en safety of the lane* A0t went marvellous,A Claud said, breathin. heavily* ADidn't it .o absolutely marvellousBA The bi. face was scarlet and .lowin. with trium-h* A0t was a mess,A 0 said* A+hatFA he cried* A#f course it was* +e can't -ossibly .o back flow* That kee-er knows there was someone there*A A%e knows nothin.,A Claud said* A0n another five minutes it'll be -itch dark inside the wood and he'll be slo-in. off home to his su--er*A A0 think 0'll 9oin him*A A>ou're a .reat -oacher,A Claud said* %e sat down on the .rassy bank under the hed.e and lit a ci.arette* The sun had set now and the sky was a -ale smoke blue, faintly .la,ed with yellow* 0n the woods behind us the shadows and the s-aces in between the trees were turnin. from .rey to black* A%ow lon. does a slee-in.--ill take to workBA Claud asked* A!ook out,A 0 said* AThere's someone comin.*A The man had a--eared suddenly and silently out of the dusk and he was only thirty yards away when 0 saw him* A nother bloody kee-er,A Claud said* +e both looked at the kee-er as he came down the lane towards us* %e had a shot.un under his arm and there was a black !abrador walkin. at his heels* %e sto--ed when he was a few -aces away and the do. sto--ed with him and stayed behind him, watchin. us throu.h the kee-er's le.s* A:ood evenin.,A Claud said, nice and friendly* This one was a tall bony man about forty with a swift eye and a hard cheek and hard dan.erous hands* A0 know you,A he said softly, comin. closer* A0 know the both of you*A Claud didn't answer this* A>ou're from the fillin'-station* Ri.htBA %is li-s were thin and dry, with some sort of a brownish crust over them* A>ou're Cubba.e and %awes and you're from the fillin'-station on the main road* Ri.htBA A+hat are we -layin.BA Claud said* ATwenty IuestionsBA The kee-er s-at out a bi. .ob of s-it and 0 saw it .o floatin. throu.h the air and land with a -lo- on a -atch of dry dust si7 inches from Claud's feet* 0t looked like a little baby oyster lyin. there* A6eat it,A the man said* A:o on* :et out*A Claud sat on the bank smokin. his ci.arette and lookin. at the .ob of s-it* A:o on,A the man said* A:et out*A +hen he s-oke, the u--er li- lifted above the .um and 0 could see a row of small discoloured teeth, one of them black, the others ;uince and ochre* AThis ha--ens to be a -ublic hi.hway,A Claud said* A/indly do not molest us*A The kee-er shifted the .un from his left arm to his ri.ht* A>ou're loiterin',A he said, Awith intent to commit a felony* 0 could run you in for that*A A'o you couldn't,A Claud said* ll this made me rather nervous* A0've had my eye on you for some time,A the kee-er said, lookin. at Claud* A0t's .ettin. late,A 0 said* AShall we stroll onBA Claud fli--ed away his ci.arette and .ot Slowly to his feet* A ll ri.ht,A he said* A!et's .o*A +e wandered off down the lane the way we had come, leavin. the kee-er standin. there, and soon the man was out of si.ht in the half-darkness behind us*

AThat's the head kee-er,A Claud said* A%is name is Rabbetts*A A!et's .et the hell out,A 0 said* ACome in here,A Claud said* There was a .ate on our left leadin. into a field and we climbed over it and sat down behind the hed.e* A2r Rabbetts is also due for his su--er,A Claud said* A>ou mustn't worry about him*A +e sat ;uietly behind the hed.e waitin. for the kee-er to walk -ast us on his way home* few stars were showin. and a bri.ht three;uarter moon was comin. u- over the hills behind us in the east* A%ere he is,A Claud whis-ered* ADon't move*A The kee-er came lo-in. softly u- the lane with the do. -addin. ;uick and soft-footed at his heels, and we watched them throu.h the hed.e as they went by* A%e won't be comin. back toni.ht,A Claud said* A%ow do you know thatBA A kee-er never waits for you in the wood if he knows where you live* %e .oes to your house and hides outside and watches for you to coniC back*A AThat's worse*A A'o, it isn't, not if you dum- the loot somewhere else before you .o home* %e cant touch you then*A A+hat about the other one, the one in the clearin.BA A%e's .one too*A A>ou can't be sure of that*A A0've been studyin. these bastards for months, :ordon, honest 0 have* 0 know all their habits* There's no dan.er*A Reluctantly 0 followed him back into the wood* 0t was -itch dark in there now and very silent, and as we moved cautiously forward the noise of our footste-s seemed to .o echoin. around the walls of the forest as thou.h we were walkin. in a cathedral* A%ere's where we threw the raisins,A Claud said* 0 -eered throu.h the bushes* The clearin. lay dim and milky in the moonli.ht* A>ou're ;uite sure the kee-er's .oneBA A0 know he's .one*A 0 could 9ust see Claud's face under the -eak of his ca-, the -ale li-s, the soft -ale cheeks, and the lar.e eyes with a little s-ark of e7citement dancin. slowly in each* A re they roostin.BA A>es*A A+hereaboutsBA A ll around* They don't .o far*A A+hat do we do ne7tBA A+e stay here and wait* 0 brou.ht you a li.ht,A he added, and he handed me one of those small -ocket flashli.hts sha-ed like a fountain--en* A>ou may need it* 0 +as be.innin. to feel better* AShall we see if we can s-ot some of them sittin. in the treesBA 0 said* A0 should like to see how they look when they're roostin.*A AThis isn't a nature-study,A Claud said* A)lease be ;uiet*A +e stood there for a lon. time waitin. for somethin. to ha--en* A0've 9ust had a nasty thou.ht,A 0 said* A0f a bird can kee- its balance on a branch when it's aslee-, then surely there isn't any reason why the -ills should make it fall down*A Claud looked at me ;uick* A fter all,A 0 said, Ait's not dead* 0t's still only slee-in.*A A0t's do-ed,A Claud said* A6ut that's 9ust a dee-er sort of slee-* +hy should we e7-ect it to fall down 9ust because it's in a dee-er slee-BA

There was a .loomy silence* A+e should've tried it with chickens,A Claud said* A2y dad would've done that*A A>our dad was a .enius,A 0 said* t that moment there came a soft thum- from the wood behind us* A%eyFA ASshhFA +e stood listenin.* Thum-* AThere's anotherFA 0t was a dee- muffled sound as thou.h a ba. of sand had been dro--ed from about shoulder hei.ht* Thum-F AThey're -heasantsFA 0 cried* A+aitF A A0'm sure they're -heasantsFA Thum-F Thum-F A>ou're ri.htFA +e ran back into the wood* A+here were theyBA A#ver hereF Two of them were over hereFA A0 thou.ht they were this way*A A/ee- lookin.FA Claud shouted* AThey can't be far*A +e searched for about a minute* A%ere's oneFA he called* +hen 0 .ot to him he was holdin. a ma.nificent cock-bird in both hands* +e e7amined it closely with our flashli.hts* A0t's do-ed to the .ills,A Claud said* A0t's still alive, 0 can feel its heart, but it's do-ed to the bloody .ills*A Thum-F AThere's anotherFA Thum-F Thum-F ATwo moreFA Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F AGesus ChristFA Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F ll around us the -heasants were startin. to rain down out of the trees* +e be.an rushin. around madly in the dark, swee-in. the .round with our flashli.hts* Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F This lot fell almost on to- of me* 0 was ri.ht under the tree as they came down and 0 found all three of them immediately two cocks and a hen* They were lim- and warm, the feathers wonderfully soft the hand* A+here shall 0 -ut themBA 0 called out* 0 was holdin. them by the le.s* A!ay them here, :ordonF Gust -ile them u- here where it's li.htFA Claud was standin. on the ed.e of the clearin. with the moonli.ht streamin. down all over him and a .reat bunch of -heasants in each hand* %is face was bri.ht, his eyes bi. and bri.ht and wonderful, and he was starin. around him like a child who has 9ust discovered that the whole world is made of chocolate* Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F A0 don't like it,A 0 said* A0t's too many*A A0t's beautifulFA he cried and he dum-ed the birds he was carryin. and ran off to look for more* Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F 0t was easy to find them now* There were one or two lyin. under every tree* 0 ;uickly collected si7 more, three in each hand, and ran back and dum-ed them

with the others* Then si7 more* Then si7 more after that* nd still they ke-t fallin.* Claud was in a whirl of ecstasy now, dashin. about like a mad .host under the trees* 0 could see the beam of his flashli.ht wavin. around 0t' the dark and each time he found a bird he .ave a little yel- of trium-h* Thum-F Thum-F Thum-F AThat bu..er %a,el ou.ht to hear thisFA he called out* ADon't shout,A 0 said* A0t fri.htens me*A Awhat's thatBA ADon't shout* There mi.ht be kee-ers*A AScrew the kee-ersFA he cried* AThey're all eatin.FA $or three or four minutes, the -heasants ke-t on fallin.* Then suddenly they sto--ed* A/ee- searchin.FA Claud shouted* AThere's -lenty more on the .roundFA ADon't you think we ou.ht to .et out while the .oin.'s .oodBA A'o,A he said* +e went on searchin.* 6etween us we looked under every tree within a hundred yards of the clearin., north, south, east, and west, and 0 think we found most of them in the end* t the collectin.--oint there was a -ile of -heasants as bi. as a bonfire* A0t's a miracle,A Claud was sayin.* A0t's a bloody miracle*A %e was starin. at them in a kind of trance* A+e'd better 9ust take half a do,en each and .et out ;uick,A 0 said* A0 would like to count them, :ordon*A AThere's no time for that*A A0 must count them*A <, 0 said* Come on* A#ne* ATwo*** AThree*** A$our %e be.an countin. them very carefully, -ickin. ueach bird in turn and layin. it carefully to one side* The moon was directly overhead now and the whole clearin. was brilliantly illuminated* A0'm not standin. around here like this,A 0 said* 0 walked back a few -aces and hid myself in the shadows, waitin. for him to finish* A hundred and seventeen***a hundred and ei.hteen***a hundred and nineteen***a hundred and twentyFA he cried* A#ne hundred and twenty birdsF 0t's an all-time recordFA 0 didn't doubt it for a moment* AThe most my dad ever .ot in one ni.ht was fifteen and he was drunk for a week afterwardsFA A>ou're the cham-ion of the world,A 0 said* A re you ready nowBA A#ne minute,A he answered and he -ulled u- his sweater and -roceeded to unwind the two bi. white cotton sacks from around his belly A%ere's yours,A he said, handin. one of them to me* A$ill it u- ;uick*A The li.ht of the moon was so stron. 0 could read the small -rint alon. the base of the sack* G* +* :R&2), it said* /"ST#' $!#&R 20!!S, !#'D#' swi 3* A>ou don't think that bastard with the brown teeth is watchin. us this very moment from behind a treeBA AThere's no chance of that,A Claud said* A%e's down at the fillin.-station like 0 told you, waitin. for us to come home*A +e started loadin. the -heasants into the sacks* They were soft and flo--ynecked and the skin underneath the feathers was still warm* AThere'll be a ta7i waitin. for us in the lane,A Claud said* A+hatBA A0 always .o back in a ta7i, :ordon, didn't you know thatBA 0 told him 0 didn't* A ta7i is anonymous,A Claud said* A'obody knows who's inside a ta7i e7ce-t

the driver* 2y dad tau.ht me that*A A+hich driverBA ACharlie /inch* %e's only too .lad to obli.e*A +e finished loadin. the -heasants, and 0 tried to hum- my bul.in. sack on to my shoulder* 2y sack had about si7ty birds inside it, and it must have wei.hed a hundredwei.ht and a half, at least* A0 can't carry this,A 0 said* A+e'll have to leave some of them behind*A ADra. it,A Claud said* AGust -ull it behind you*,, +e started off throu.h the -itch-black woods, -ullin. the -heasants behind us* A+e'll never make it all the way back to the villa.e like this,A 0 said* ACharlie's never let me down yet,A Claud said* +e came to the mar.in of the wood and )eered throu.h the hed.e into the lane* Claud Said, ACharlie boyA very softly and the old man behind the wheel of the ta7i not five yards away )oked his head out into the moonli.ht and .ave &s a sly toothless .rin* +e slid throu.h the hed.e, dra..in. the sacks after us alon. the .round* A%ulloFA Charlie said* A+hat's thisBA A0t's cabba.es,A Claud told him* A#-en the door*A Two minutes later we were safely inside the ta7i, cruisin. slowly down the hill towards the villa.e* 0t was all over now bar the shoutin.* Claud was trium-hant, burstin. with -ride and e7citement, and he ke-t leanin. forward and ta--in. Charlie /inch on the shoulder and sayin., A%ow about it, CharlieB %ow about this for a haulBA and Charlie ke-t .lancin. back -o-eyed at the hu.e bul.in. sacks lyin. on the floor between us and sayin., AGesus Christ, man, how did you do itBA AThere's si7 brace of them for you, Charlie,A Claud said* nd Charlie said, A0 reckon -heasants is .oin. to be a bit scarce u- at 2r Victor %a,el's o-enin.day shoot this year,A and Claud said, A0 ima.ine they are, Charlie, 0 ima.ine they are*A A+hat in :od's name are you .oin. to do with a hundred and twenty -heasantsBA 0 asked* A)ut them in cold stora.e for the winter,A Claud said* A)ut them in with the do.meat in the dee-free,e at the fillin.-station*A A'ot toni.ht, 0 trustBA A'o, :ordon, not toni.ht* +e leave them at 6essie's house toni.ht*A-A6essie whoBA A6essie #r.an*A A6essie #r.anFA A6essie always delivers my .ame, didn't you know thatBA A0 don't know anythin.,A 0 said* 0 was com-letely stunned* 2rs #r.an was the wife of the Reverend Gack #r.an, the local vicar* A lways choose a res-ectable woman to deliver your .ame,A Claud announced* AThat's correct, Charlie, isn't itBA A6essie's a ri.ht smart .irl,A Charlie said* +e were drivin. throu.h the villa.e now and the street-lam-s were still on and the men were wanderin. home from the -ubs* 0 saw +ill )rattley lettin. himself in ;uietly by the side-door of his fishmon.er's sho- and 2rs )rattley's head was stickin. out of the window 9ust above him, but he didn't know it* AThe vicar is very -artial to roasted -heasant,A Claud said* A%e han.s it ei.hteen days,A Charlie said, Athen he .ives it a cou-le of .ood shakes and all the feathers dro- off*A The ta7i turned left and swun. in throu.h the .ates of the vicara.e* There were no li.hts on in the house and nobody met us* Claud and 0 dum-ed the -heasants in the coal shed at the rear, and then we said .ood-bye to Charlie PCinch and walked back in the moonli.ht to the fillin.-station, em-ty-handed* +hether or not 2r Rabbetts was watchin. us as we went inD 0 do not know* +e saw no si.n of him* MMM A%ere she comes,A Claud said to me the ne7t mornin.*

A+hoBA A6essie--6essie #r.an*A %e s-oke the name -roudly and with a sli.ht -ro-rietary air, as thou.h he were a .eneral referrin. to his bravest officer* 0 followed him outside* ADown there,A he said, -ointin.* $ar away down the road 0 could see a small female fi.ure advancin. towards us* A+hat's she -ushin.BA 0 asked* Claud .ave me a sly look* AThere's only one safe way of deliverin. .ame,A he announced, Aand that's under a baby*A A>es,A 0 murmured, Ayes, of course*A AThat'll be youn. Christo-her #r.an in there, a.ed one and a half* %e's a lovely child :ordon*A 0 could 9ust make out the small dot of a baby sittin. hi.h u- in the -ram, which had its hood folded down* AThere's si7ty or seventy -heasants at least under that little ni--er,A Claud said ha--ily* A>ou 9ust ima.ine that*A A>ou can't -ut si7ty or seventy -heasants 1< a -ram*A-- A>ou can if it's .ot a dee- well underneath it and if you take out the mattress and -ack them in ti.ht, ri.ht u- to the to-* ll you need then is a sheet* >ou'll be sur-rised how little room a -heasant takes u- when it's lim-*A +e stood beside the -um-s waitin. for 6eSS1C or.an to arrive* 0t was one of those warm windless Se-tember mornin.s with a darkenin. sky and a smell of thunder in the air* ARi.ht throu.h the villa.e bold as brass,A Claud said* A:ood old 6essie*A AShe seems in rather a hurry to me*A Claud lit a new ci.arette from the stub of the old one* A6essie is never in a hurry,A he said* AShe certainly isn't walkin. normal,A 0 told him, A>ou look*A %e s;uinted at her throu.h the smoke of his ci.arette* Then he took the ci.arette out of his mouth and looked a.ain* A+ellBA 0 said* AShe does seem to be .oin. a tiny bit ;uick, doesn't sheBA he said carefully* AShe's .oin. damn ;uick*A There was a -ause* Claud was be.innin. to stare very hard at the a--roachin. woman* A)erha-s she doesn't want to be cau.ht in the rain, :ordon* 0'll bet that's e7actly what it is, she thinks it's .oin. to rain and she don't want the baby to .et wet*A A+hy doesn't she -ut the hood u-BA %e didn't answer this* AShe's runnin.FA 0 cried* A!ookFA 6essie had suddenly broken into a full s-rint* Claud stood very still, watchin. the womanE and in the silence that followed 0 fancied 0 could hear a baby screamin.* A('hat's u-BA %e didn't answer* AThere's somethin. wron. with that baby,A 0 Said A!isten*A t this -oint, 6essie was about two hundred yards away from us but closin. fast* ACan you hear him nowBA 0 said* A>es*A A%e's yellin. his head off*A The small shrill voice in the distance was .rowin. louder every second, frantic, -iercin., nonsto-, almost hysterical* A%e's havin. a fit,A Claud announced*

A0 think he must be*A AThat's why she's runnin., :ordon* She wants to .et him in here ;uick and -ut him under a cold ta-*A A0'm sure you're ri.ht,A 0 said* A0n fact 0 know you're ri.ht* Gust listen to that noise*A A0f it isn't a fit, you can bet your life it's somethin. like it*A A0 ;uite a.ree*A Claud shifted his feet uneasily on the .ravel of the driveway* AThere's a thousand and one different thin.s kee- ha--enin. every day to little babies like that,A he said* A#f course*A A0 knew a baby once who cau.ht his fin.ers in the s-okes of the -ram wheel* %e lost the lot* 0t cut them clean off*A A>es*A A+hatever it is,A Claud said, A0 wish to Christ she'd sto- runnin.*A lon. truck loaded with bricks came &) behind 6essie and the driver slowed down and -oked his head out of the window to stare* 6essle i.nored him and flew on, and she was so closeH now 0 could see her bi. red face with the mou 115 1 wide o-en, -antin. for breath* 0 noticed she was wearin. white .loves on her hands, very -rim and dainty, and there was a funny little white hat to match -erched ri.ht on the to- of her head, like a mushroom* Suddenly, out of the -ram, strai.ht u- into the air, flew an enormous -heasantF Claud let out a cry of horror* The fool in the truck .oin. alon. beside 6essie started roarin. with lau.hter* The -heasant fla--ed around drunkenly for a few seconds, then it lost hei.ht and landed in the .rass by the side of the road* .rocer's van came u- behind the truck and be.an hootin. to .et by* 6essie ke-t runnin.* Then whooshF a second -heasant flew u- out of the -ram* Then a third, and a fourth* Then a fifth* A2y :odFA 0 said* A0t's the -illsF They're wearin. offFA Claud didn't say anythin.* 6essie covered the last fifty yards at a tremendous -ace, and she came swin.in. into the driveway of the fillin.-station with birds flyin. u- out of the -ram in all directions* A+hat the hell's .oin. onBA she cried* A:o round the backFA 0 shouted* A:o round the backFA 6ut she -ulled u- shara.ainst the first -um- in the line, and before we could reach her she had sei,ed the screamin. infant in her arms and dra..ed him clear* A'oF 'oFA Claud cried, racin. towards her* Don't lift the babyF )ut him backF %old down the sheetFA 6ut she wasn't even listenin., and with the wei.ht of the child suddenly lifted away, a .reat cloud of -heasants rose u- out of the -ram, fifty or si7ty of them, at least, and the whole sky above us was filled with hu.e brown birds fla--in. their win.s furiously to .ain hei.ht* Claud and 0 started runnin. u- and down the driveway wavin. our arms to fri.hten them off the -remises* A:o awayFA we shouted* AShooF :o awayFA 6ut they were too do-ey still to take any notice of us and within half a minute down they came a.ain and settled themselves like a swarm of locusts all over the front of my fillin.-station* The -lace was covered with them* They sat win. to win. alon. the ed.es of the roof and on the concrete cano-y that came out over the -um-s, and a do,en at least were clin.in. to the sill of the office window* Some had flown down on to the rack that held the bottles of lubricatin.-oil, and others were slidin. about on the bonnets of my second-hand cars* #ne cock-bird with a fine tail was -erched su-erbly on to- of a -etrol -um-, and ;uite a number, those that were too drunk to stay aloft, sim-ly s;uatted in the driveway at our feet, fluffin. their

feathers and blinkin. their small eyes* cross the road, a line of cars had already started formin. behind the brick-lorry and the .rocery-van, and -eo-le were o-enin. their doors and .ettin. out and be.innin. to cross over to have a closer look* 0 .lanced at my watch* 0t was twenty to nine* ny moment now, 0 thou.ht, a lar.e black car is .oin. to come streakin. alon. the road from the direction of the villa.e, and the car will be a Rolls, and the face behind the wheel will be the .reat .listenin. brewer's face of 2r Victor %a,el* AThey near -ecked him to -iecesFA 6essie was shoutin., clas-in. the screamin. baby to her bosom* A>ou .o on home, 6essie,A Claud said, white in the face* A!ock u-,A 0 said* A)ut out the si.n* +e've .one for the day*A

#V"R T# >#&

Death of an #ld #ld 2an <% :od, how 0 am fri.htened* 'ow that 0 am alone 0 don't have to hide itE 0 don't have to hide anythin. any lon.er* 0 can let my face .o because no one can see meE because there's twenty-one thousand feet between me and them and because now that it's ha--enin. a.ain 0 couldn't -retend any more even if 0 wanted to* 'ow 0 don't have to -ress my teeth to.ether and ti.hten the muscles of my 9aw as 0 did durin. lunch when the cor-oral brou.ht in the messa.eE when he handed it to Tinker and Tinker looked uat me and said, ACharlie, it's your turn* >ou're ne7t u-*A s if 0 didn't know that* s if 0 didn't know that 0 was ne7t u-* s if 0 didn't know it last ni.ht when 0 went to bed, and at midni.ht when 0 was still awake and all the way throu.h the ni.ht, at one in the mornin. and at two and three and four and five and si7 and at seven o'clock when 0 .ot u-* s if 0 didn't know it while 0 was dressin. and while 0 was havin. breakfast and while 0 was readin. the ma.a,ines in the mess, -layin. shove-half-enny in the mess, readin. the notices in the mess, -layin. billiards in the mess* 0 knew it then and 0 knew it when we went in to lunch, while we were eatin. that mutton for lunch* nd when the cor-oral came into the room with the messa.e it wasn't anythin. at all* 0t wasn't anythin. more than when it be.ins to rain because there is a black cloud in the sky* +hen he handed the -a-er to Tinker 0 knew what Tinker was .oin. to say before he had o-ened his mouth* 0 knew e7actly what he was .oin. to say* So that wasn't anythin. either* 6ut when he folded the messa.e u- and -ut it in his -ocket and said, A$inish your -uddin.* >ou've .ot -lenty of time,A that was when it .ot worse, because 0 knew for certain then that it was .oin. to ha--en a.ain, that within half an hour 0 would be stra--in. myself in and testin. the en.ine and si.nallin. to the airmen to -ull away the chocks* The others were all sittin. around eatin. their -uddin.E mine was still on my -late in front of me, and 0 couldn't take another mouthful* 6ut it was fine when 0 ti.htened my 9aw muscles and said, AThank :od for that* 0'm tired of sittin. around here -ickin. my nose*A 0t was certainly fine when 0 said that* 0t must have sounded like any of the others 9ust before they started off* nd when 0 .ot u- to leave the table and said, ASee you at tea time,A that must have sounded all ri.ht too* 6ut now 0 don't have to do any of that* Thank Christ 0 don't have to do that

now* 0 can 9ust loosen u- and let myself .o* 0 can do or say anythin. 0 want so lon. as 0 fly this aero-lane -ro-erly* 0t didn't use to be like this* $our years a.o it was wonderful* 0 loved doin. it because it was e7citin., because the waitin. on the aerodrome was nothin. more than the waitin. before a football .ame or before .oin. in to batE and three years a.o it was all ri.ht too* 6ut then always the three months of restin. and the .oin. back a.ain and the restin. and the .oin. backE always .oin. back and always .ettin. away with it, everyone sayin. what a fine -ilot, no one knowin. what a near thin. it was that time near 6russels and how lucky it was that time over Die--e and how bad it was that other time over Die--e and how lucky and bad and scared 0've been every minute of every tri- every week this year* 'o one knows that* They all say, ACharlie's a .reat -ilot,A ACharlie's a born flyer,A ACharlie's terrific*A 0 think he was once, but not any lon.er* "ach time now it .ets worse* t first it be.ins to .row u-on you slowly, comin. u-on you slowly, cree-in. u- on you from behind, makin. no noise, so that you do not turn round and see it comin.* 0f you saw it comin., -erha-s you could sto- it, but there is no warnin.* 0t cree-s closer and closer, like a cat cree-s closer stalkin. a s-arrow, and then when it is ri.ht behind you, it doesn't s-rin. like the cat would s-rin.E it 9ust leans forward and whis-ers in your ear* 0t touches you .ently on the shoulder and whis-ers to you that you are youn., that you have a million thin.s to do and a million thin.s to say, that if you are not careful you will buy it, that you are almost certain to buy it sooner or later, and that when you do you will not be anythin. any lon.erE you will 9ust be a charred cor-se* 0t whis-ers to you about how your cor-se will look when it is charred, how black it will be and how it will be twisted and brittle, with the face and the fin.ers black and the shoes off the feet because the shoes always come off the feet when you die like that* t first it whis-ers to you only at ni.ht, when you are lyin. awake in bed at ni.ht* Then it whis-ers to you at odd moments durin. the day, when you are doin. your teeth or drinkin. a beer or when you are walkin. down the -assa.eE and in the end it becomes so that you hear it all day and all ni.ht all the time* There's 09muiden* Gust the same as ever, with the little knob stickin. out 9ust beside it* There are the $risians, Te7el, Vlieland, Terschellin., meland, Guist and 'orderney* 0 know them all* They look like bacteria under a microsco-e* There's the Kuider Kee, there's %olland, there's the 'orth Sea, there's 6el.ium, and there's the worldE there's the whole bloody world ri.ht there, with all the -eo-le who aren't .oin. to .et killed and all the houses and the towns and the sea with all the fish* The fish aren't .oin. to .et killed either* 0'm the only one that's .oin. to .et killed* 0 don't want to die* #h :od, 0 don't want to die* 0 don't want to die today anyway* nd it isn't the -ain* Really it isn't the -ain* 0 don't mind havin. my le. mashed or my arm burnt offE 0 swear to you that 0 don't mind that* 6ut 0 don't want to die* $our years a.o 0 didn't mind* 0 remember distinctly not mindin. about it four years a.o* 0 didn't mind about it three years a.o either* 0t was all fine and e7citin.E it always is when it looks as thou.h you may be .oin. to lose, as it did then* 0t is always fine to fi.ht when you are .oin. to lose everythin. anyway, and that was how it was four years a.o* 6ut now we're .oin. to win* 0t is so different when you are .oin. to win* 0f 0 die now 0 lose fifty years of life, and 0 don't want to lose that* 0'll lose anythin. e7ce-t that because that would be all the thin.s 0 want to do and all the thin.s 0 want to seeE all the thin.s like .oin. on slee-in. with Goey* !ike .oin. home sometimes* !ike walkin. throu.h a wood* !ike -ourin. out a drink from a bottle* !ike lookin. forward to week ends and like bein. alive every hour every day every year for fifty years* 0f 0 die now 0 will miss all that, and 0 will miss everythin. else* 0 will miss the thin.s that 0 don't know about* 0 think those are really the thin.s 0 am fri.htened of missin.* 0 think the reason 0 do not want to die is because of the thin.s 0 ho-e will ha--en* >es, that's ri.ht* 0'm sure that's ri.ht* )oint a revolver at a tram-, at a wet shiverin. tram- on the side of

the road and say, A0'm .oin. to shoot you,A and he will cry, ADon't shoot* )lease don't shoot*A The tram- clin.s to life because of the thin.s he ho-es will ha--en* 0 am clin.in. to it for the same reasonE but 0 have clun. for so lon. now that 0 cannot hold on much lon.er* Soon 0 will have to let .o* 0t is like han.in. over the ed.e of a cliff, that's what it is likeE and 0've been han.in. on too lon. now, holdin. on to the to- of the cliff with my fin.ers, not bein. able to -ull myself back u-, with my fin.ers .ettin. more and more tired, be.innin. to hurt and to ache, so that 0 know that sooner or later 0 will have to let .o* 0 dare not cry out for hel-E that is one thin. that 0 dare not doE so 0 .o on han.in. over the side of this cliff, and as 0 han. 0 kee- kickin. a little with my feet a.ainst the side of the cliff, tryin. des-erately to find a foothold, but it is stee- and smooth like the side of a shi-, and there isn't any foothold* 0 am kickin. now, that's what 0 am doin.* 0 am kickin. a.ainst the smooth side of the cliff, and there isn't any foothold* Soon 0 shall have to let .o* The lon.er 0 han. on the more certain 0 am of that, and so each hour, each day, each ni.ht, each week, 0 become more and more fri.htened* $our years a.o 0 wasn't han.in. over the ed.e like this* 0 was runnin. about in the field above, and althou.h 0 knew that there was a cliff somewhere and that 0 mi.ht fall over t, 0 did not mind* Three years a.o it was the same, but now it is different* 0 know that 0 am not a coward* 0 am certain of that* 0 will always kee.oin.* %ere 0 am today, at two o'clock in the afternoon, sittin. here flyin. a course of one hundred and thirty-five at three hundred and si7ty miles an hour and flyin. wellE and althou.h 0 am so fri.htened that 0 can hardly think, yet 0 am .oin. on to do this thin.* There was never any ;uestion of not .oin. or of turnin. back* 0 would rather die than turn back, Turnin. back never enters into it* 0t would be easier if it did* 0 would -refer to have to fi.ht that than to have to fi.ht this fear* There's +assalt* !ittle camoufla.ed .rou- of buildin.s and .reat bi. camoufla.ed aerodrome, -robably full of one-o-nines and one-nineties* %olland looks wonderful* 0t must be a lovely -lace in the summer* 0 e7-ect they are haymakin. down there now* 0 e7-ect the :erman soldiers are watchin. the Dutch .irls haymakin.* 6astards* +atchin. them haymakin., then makin. them come home with them afterwards* 0 would like to be haymakin. now* 0 would like to be haymakin. and drinkin. cider* The -ilot was sittin. u-ri.ht in the cock-it* %is face was nearly hidden by his .o..les and by his o7y.en mask* %is ri.ht hand was restin. li.htly u-on the stick, and his left hand was forward on the throttle* ll the time he was lookin. around him into the sky* $rom force of habit his head never ceased to move from one side to the other, slowly, mechanically, like clockwork, so that each moment almost, he searched every -art of the blue sky, above, below and all around* 6ut it was into the li.ht of the sun itself that he looked twice as lon. as he looked anywhere elseE for that is the -lace where the enemy hides and waits before he 9um-s u-on you* There are only two -laces in which you can hide yourself when you are u- in the sky* #ne is in cloud and the other is in the li.ht of the sun* %e flew onE and althou.h his mind was workin. u-on many thin.s and althou.h his brain was the brain of a fri.htened man, yet his instinct was the instinct of a -ilot who is in the sky of the enemy* +ith a ;uick .lance, without sto--in. the movement of his head, he looked down and checked his instruments* The .lance took no more than a second, and like a camera can record a do,en thin.s at once with the o-enin. of a shutter, so he at a .lance recorded with his eyes his oil -ressure, his -etrol, his o7y.en, his rev counter, boost and his airs-eed, and in the same instant almost he was lookin. u- a.ain into the sky* %e looked at the sun, and as he looked, as he screwed u- his eyes and searched into the da,,lin. bri.htness of the sun, he thou.ht that he saw somethin.* >es, there it wasE a small black s-eck movin. slowly across the bri.ht surface of the sun, and to him the s-eck was not a s-eck but a life-si,e :erman -ilot sittin. in a $ocke +ulf which had cannon in its win.s* %e knew that he had been seen* %e was certain that the one above was

watchin. him, takin. his time, sure of bein. hidden in the bri.htness of the sun, watchin. the S-itfire and waitin. to -ounce* The man in the S-itfire did not take his eye away from the small s-eck of black* %is head was ;uite still now* %e was watchin. the enemy, and as he watched, his left hand came away from the throttle and be.an to move delicately around the cock-it* 0t moved ;uickly and surely, touchin. this thin. and that, switchin. on his reflector si.ht, turnin. his tri..er button from Asafe' over to Afire' and -ressin. .ently with his thumb u-on a lever which increased, ever so sli.htly, the -itch of the airscrew* There was no thou.ht in his head now save for the thou.ht of battle* %e was no lon.er fri.htened or thinkin. of bein. fri.htened* ll that was a dream, and as a slee-er who o-ens his eyes in the mornin. and for.ets his dream, so this man had seen the enemy and had for.otten that he was fri.htened* 0t was always the same* 0t had ha--ened a hundred times before, and now it was ha--enin. a.ain* Suddenly, in an instant he had become cool and -recise, and as he -re-ared himself, as he made ready his cock-it, he watched the :erman, waitin. to see what he would do* This man was a .reat -ilot* %e was .reat because when the time came, whenever the moment arrived, his coolness was .reat and his coura.e was .reat, and more than anythin. else his instinct was .reat, .reater by far than his coolness or his coura.e or his e7-erience* 'ow he eased o-en the throttle and -ulled the stick .ently backwards, tryin. to .ain hei.ht, tryin. to .ain a little of the five-thousand-feet advanta.e which the :erman had over him* 6ut there was not much time* The $ocke +ulf came out of the sun with its nose down and it came fast* The -ilot saw it comin. and he ke-t .oin. strai.ht on, -retendin. that he had not seen it, and all the time he was lookin. over his shoulder, watchin. the :erman, waitin. for the moment to turn* 0f he turned too soon, the :erman would turn with him, and he would be duck sou-* 0f he turned too late, the :erman would .et him anyway -rovided that he could shoot strai.ht, and he would be duck sou- then too* So he watched and waited, turnin. his head and lookin. over his shoulder, 9ud.in. his distanceE and as the :erman came within ran.e, as he was about to -ress his thumb u-on the tri..er button, the -ilot swerved* %e yanked the stick hard back and over to the left, he kicked hard with his left foot u-on the rudder-bar, and like a leaf which is cau.ht u- and carried away by a .ust of wind, the S-itfire fli--ed over on to its side and chan.ed direction* The -ilot blacked out* s his si.ht came back, as the blood drained away from his head and from his eyes, he looked u- and saw the :erman fi.hter Away ahead, turnin. with him, bankin. hard, tryin. to turn ti.hter and ti.hter in order to .et back on the tail of the S-itfire* The fi.ht was on* A%ere we .o,A he said to himself* A%ere we .o a.ain,A and he smiled once, ;uickly, because he was confident and because he had done this so many times before and because each time he had won* The man was a beautiful -ilot* 6ut the :erman was .ood too, and when the S-itfire a--lied a little fla- in order to turn in ti.hter circles, the $ocke +ulf a--eared to do the same, and they turned to.ether* +hen the S-itfire throttled back suddenly and .ot on his tail, the $ocke +u0f half-rolled and dived out and under and was away, -ullin. u- a.ain in a loo- and rollin. off the to-, so that he came in a.ain from behind* The S-itfire half-rolled and dived away, but the $ocke +ulf antici-ated him, and half-rolled and dived with him, behind him on his tail, and here he took a ;uick shot at the S-itfire, but he missed* $or at least fifteen minutes the two small aircraft rolled and dived around each other in the sky* Sometimes they would se-arate, wheelin. around and around in ti.ht turns, watchin. one another, circlin. and watchin. like two bo7ers circlin. each other in the rin., waitin. for an o-enin. or for the dro--in. of a .uardE then there would be a stall-turn and one would attack the other, and the divin. and the rollin. and the ,oomin. would start all over a.ain* ll the time the -ilot of the S-itfire sat u-ri.ht in his cock-it, and he flew his aircraft not with his hands but with the ti-s of his fin.ers, and the S-itfire was not a S-itfire but a -art of his own bodyE the muscles of his arms and le.s were in the win.s and in the tail of the machine so that when he banked and turned and dived and climbed he was not movin. his hands and his le.s, but

only the win.s and the tail and the body of the aero-laneE for the body of the S-itfire was the body of the -ilot, and there was no difference between the one and the other* So it went on, and all the while, as they fou.ht and as they flew, they lost hei.ht, comin. down nearer and nearer to the fields of %olland, so that soon they were fi.htin. only three thousand feet above the .round, and one could see the hed.es and the small trees and shadows which the small trees made u-on the .rass* #nce the :erman tried a lon. shot, from a thousand yards, and the -ilot of the S-itfire saw the tracer streamin. -ast in front of the nose of his machine* #nce, when they flew close -ast each other, he saw, for a moment, the head and shoulders of the :erman under the .lass roof of his cock-it, the head turned towards him, with the brown helmet, the .o..les, the nose and the white scarf* #nce when he blacked out from a ;uick -ull-out, the black-out lasted lon.er than usual* 0t lasted maybe five seconds, and when his si.ht came back, he looked ;uickly around for the $ocke +ulf and saw it half a mile away, flyin. strai.ht at him on the beam, a thin inch-lon. black line which .rew ;uickly, so that almost at once it was no lon.er an inch, but an inch and a half, then two inches, then si7 and then a foot* There was hardly any time* There was a second or -erha-s two at the most, but it was enou.h because he did not have to think or to wonder what to doE he had only to allow his instinct to control his arms and his le.s and the win.s and the body of the aero-lane* There was only one thin. to do, and the S-itfire did it* 0t banked stee-ly and turned at ri.ht-an.les towards the $ocke +ulf, facin. it and flyin. strai.ht towards it for a head-on attack* The two machines flew fast towards each other* The -ilot of the S-itfire sat u-ri.ht in his cock-it, and now, more than ever, the aircraft was a -an of his body* %is eye was u-on the reflector si.ht, the small yellow electric-li.ht dot which was -ro9ected u- in front of the windshield, and it was u-on the thinness of the $ocke +ulf beyond* Iuickly, -recisely, he moved his aircraft a little this way and that, and the yellow dot, which moved with the aircraft, danced and 9erked this way and that, and then suddenly it was u-on the thin line of the $ocke +uif and there it stayed* %is ri.ht thumb in the leather .love felt for the firin.buttonE he s;uee,ed it .ently, as a rifleman s;uee,es a tri..er, his .uns fired, and at the same time, he saw the small s-urts of flame from the cannon in the nose of the $ocke +ulf* The whole thin., from be.innin. to end, took -erha-s as lon. as it would take you to li.ht a ci.arette* The :erman -ilot came strai.ht on at him and he had a sudden, vivid, colourless view of the round nose and the thin outstretched win.s of the $ocke +ulf* Then there was a crack as their win.-ti-s met, and there was a s-linterin. as the -ort win. of the S-itfire came away from the body of the machine* The S-itfire was dead* 0t fell like a dead bird falls, flutterin. a little as it diedE continuin. in the direction of its fli.ht as it fell* The hands of the -ilot, almost in a sin.le movement, undid his stra-s, tore off his helmet and slid back the hood of the cock-itE then they .ras-ed the ed.es of the cock-it and he was out and away, fallin., reachin. for the ri-cord, .ras-in. it with his ri.ht hand, -ullin. on it so that his -arachute billowed out and o-ened and the stra-s 9erked him hard between the fork of his le.s* ll of a sudden the silence was .reat* The wind was blowin. on his face and in his hair and he reached u- a hand and brushed the hair away from his eyes* %e was about a thousand feet u-, and he looked down and saw flat .reen country with fields and hed.es and no trees* %e could see some cows in the field below him* Then he looked u-, and as he looked, he said A:ood :od,A and his ri.ht hand moved ;uickly to his ri.ht hi-, feelin. for his revolver which he had not brou.ht with him* $or there, not more than five hundred yards away, -arachutin. down at the same time and at the same hei.ht, was another man, and he knew when he saw him that it could be only the :erman -ilot* #bviously his -lane had been dama.ed at the same time as the S-itfire in the collision* %e must have .ot out ;uickly tooE and now here they were, both of them -arachutin. down so close to each other that they mi.ht even land in the same field*

%e looked a.ain at the :erman, han.in. there in his stra-s with his le.s a-art, his hands above his head .ras-in. the cords of the -arachute* %e seemed to be a small man, thickly built and by no means youn.* The :erman was lookin. at him too* %e ke-t lookin., and when his body swun. around the other way, he turned his head, lookin. over his shoulder* So they went on down* 6oth men were watchin. each other, thinkin. about what would ha--en soon, and the :erman was the kin. because he was landin. in his own territory* The -ilot of the S-itfire was comin. down in enemy countryE he would be taken -risoner, or he would be killed, or he would kill the :erman, and if he did that, he would esca-e* 0 will esca-e anyway, he thou.ht* 0'm sure 0 can run faster than the :erman* %e does not look as thou.h he could run very fast* 0 will race him across the fields and .et away* The .round was close now* There were not many seconds to .o* %e saw that the :erman would almost certainly land in the same field as he, the field with the cows* %e looked down to see what the field was like and whether the hed.es were thick and whether there was a .ate in the hed.e, and as he looked, he saw below him in the field a small -ond, and there was a small stream runnin. throu.h the -ond* 0t was a cow-drinkin. -ond, muddy round the ed.es and muddy in the water* The -ond was ri.ht below him* %e was no more than the hei.ht of a horse above it and he was dro--in. fastE he was dro--in. ri.ht into the middle of the -ond* Iuickly he .ras-ed the cords above his head and tried to s-ill the -arachute to one side so that he would chan.e direction, but he was too lateE it wasn't any .ood* ll at once somethin. brushed the surface of his brain and the to- of his stomach, and the fear which he had for.otten in the fi.htin. was u-on him a.ain* %e saw the -ond and the black surface of the water of the -ond, and the -ond was not a -ond, and the water was not waterE it was a small black hole in the surface of the earth which went on down and down for miles and miles, with stee- smooth sides like the sides of a shi-, and it was so dee- that when you fell into it, you went on fallin. and fallin. and you fell for ever* %e saw the mouth of the hole and the dee-ness of it, and he was only a small brown -ebble which someone had -icked u- and thrown into the air so that it would fall into the hole* %e was a -ebble which someone had -icked u- in the .rass of the field* That was all he was and now he was fallin. and the hole was below him* S-lash* %e hit the water* %e went throu.h the water and his feet hit the bottom of the -ond* They sank into the mud on the bottom and his head went under the water, but it came u- a.ain and he was standin. with the water u- to his shoulders* The -arachute was on to- of himE his head was tan.led in a mass of cords and white silk and he -ulled at them with his hands, first this way and then that, but it only .ot worse, and the fear .ot worse because the white silk was coverin. his head so that he could see nothin. but a mass of white cloth and a tan.le of cords* Then he tried to move towards the bank, but his feet were stuck in the mudE he had sunk u- to his knees in the mud* So he fou.ht the -arachute and the tan.led cords of the -arachute, -ullin. at them with his hands and tryin. to .et them clear of his headE and as he did so he heard the sound of footste-s runnin. on the .rass* %e heard the noise of the footste-s comin. closer and the :erman must have 9um-ed, because there was a s-lash and he was knocked over by the wei.ht of a man's body* %e was under the water, and instinctively he be.an to stru..le* 6ut his feet were still stuck in the mud, the man was on to- of him and there were hands around his neck holdin. him under and s;uee,in. his neck with stron. fin.ers* %e o-ened his eyes and saw brown water* %e noticed the bubbles in the water, small bri.ht bubbles risin. slowly u-ward in the brown water* There was no noise or shoutin. or anythin. else, but only the bri.ht bubbles movin. u-ward in the water, and suddenly, as he watched them, his mind became clear and calm like a sunny day* 0 won't stru..le, he thou.ht* There is no -oint in stru..lin., for when there is a black cloud in the sky, it is bound to rain* %e rela7ed his body and all the muscles in his body because he had no further wish to stru..le* %ow nice it is not to stru..le, he thou.ht* There is no

-oint in stru..lin.* 0 was a fool to have stru..led so much and for so lon.E 0 was a fool to have -rayed for the sun when there was a black cloud in the sky* 0 should have -rayed for rainE 0 should have shouted for rain* 0 should have shouted, !et it rain, let it rain in solid sheets and 0 will not care* Then it would have been easy* 0t would have been so easy then* 0 have stru..led for five years and now 0 don't have to do it any more* This is so much betterE this is ever so much better, because there is a wood somewhere that 0 wish to walk throu.h, and you cannot walk stru..lin. throu.h a wood* There is a .irl somewhere that 0 wish to slee- with, and you cannot slee- stru..lin. with a .irl* >ou cannot do anythin. stru..lin.E es-ecially you cannot live stru..lin., and so now 0 am .oin. to do all the thin.s that 0 want to do, and there will be no more stru..lin.* See how calm and lovely it is like this* See how sunny it is and what a beautiful field this is, with the cows and the little -ond and the .reen hed.es with -rimroses .rowin. in the hed.es* 'othin. will worry me any more now, nothin. nothin. nothin.E not even that man s-lashin. in the water of the -ond over there* %e seems very -uffed and out of breath* %e seems to be dra..in. somethin. out of the -ond, somethin. heavy* 'ow he's .ot it to the side and he's -ullin. it u- on to the .rass* %ow funnyE it's a body* 0t's a body of a man* s a matter of fact, 0 think it's me* >es, it is me* 0 know it is because of that smud.e of yellow -aint on the front of my flyin. suit* 'ow he's kneelin. down, searchin. in my -ockets, takin. out my money and my identification card* %e's found my -i-e and the letter 0 .ot this mornin. from my mother* %e's takin. off my watch* 'ow he's .ettin. u-* %e's .oin. away* %e's .oin. to leave my body behind, lyin. on the .rass beside the -ond* %e's walkin. ;uickly away across the field towards the .ate* %ow wet and e7cited he looks* %e ou.ht to rela7 a bit* %e ou.ht to rela7 like me* %e can't be en9oyin. himself that way* 0 think 0 will tell him* A+hy don't you rela7 a bitBA :oodness, how he 9um-ed when 0 s-oke to him* nd his faceE 9ust look at his face* 0've never seen a man look as fri.htened as that* %e's startin. to run* %e kee-s lookin. back over his shoulder, but he kee-s on runnin.* 6ut 9ust look at his faceE 9ust look how unha--y and fri.htened he is* 0 do not want to .o with him* 0 think 0'll leave him* 0 think 0'll stay here for a bit* 0 think 0'll .o alon. the hed.es and find some -rimroses, and if 0 am lucky 0 may find some white violets* Then 0 will .o to slee-* 0 will .o to slee- in the sun*

frican Story

$#R "n.land, the war be.an in Se-tember, 1@1@* The -eo-le on the island knew about it at once and be.an to -re-are themselves* 0n farther -laces the -eo-le heard about it a few minutes afterwards, and they too be.an to -re-are themselves* nd in "ast frica, in /enya Colony, there was a youn. man who was a white hunter, who loved the -lains and the valleys and the cool ni.hts on the slo-es of /iliman9aro* %e too heard about the war and be.an to -re-are himself* %e made his way over the country to 'airobi, and he re-orted to the R $ and asked that they make him a -ilot* They took him in and he be.an his trainin. at 'airobi air-ort, flyin. in little Ti.er 2oths and doin. well with his flyin.* fter five weeks he nearly .ot court-martialled because he took his -lane uand instead of -ractisin. s-ins and stall-turns as he had been ordered to do, he flew off in the direction of 'akuru to look at the wild animals on the -lain* #n the way, he thou.ht he saw a Sable antelo-e, and because these are rare animals, he became e7cited and flew down low to .et a better view* %e was lookin. down at

the antelo-e out of the left side of the cock-it, and because of this he did not see the .iraffe on the other side* The leadin. ed.e of the starboard win. struck the neck of the .iraffe 9ust below the head and cut clean throu.h it* %e was flyin. as low as that* There was dama.e to the win., but he mana.ed to .et back to 'airobi, and as 0 said, he was nearly court-martialled, because you cannot e7-lain away a thin. like that by sayin. you hit a lar.e bird, not when there are -ieces of .iraffe skin and .iraffe hair stickin. to the win. and the stays* fter si7 weeks he was allowed to make his first solo cross-country fli.ht, and he flew off from 'airobi to a -lace called "ldoret, which is a little town ei.ht thousand feet u- in the %i.hlands* 6ut a.ain he was unlucky* This time he had en.ine failure on the way, due to water in the fuel tanks* %e ke-t his head and made a beautiful forced landin. without dama.in. the aircraft, not far from a little shack which stood alone on the hi.hland -lain with no other habitation in si.ht* That is lonely country u- there* %e walked over to the shack, and there he found an old man, livin. alone, with nothin. but a small -atch of sweet -otatoes, some brown chickens and a black cow* The old man was kind to him* %e .ave him food and milk and a -lace to slee-, and the -ilot stayed with him for two days and two ni.hts, until a rescue -lane from 'airobi s-otted his aircraft on the .round, landed beside it, found out what was wron., went away and came back with clean -etrol which enabled him to take off and return* 6ut durin. his stay, the old man, who was lonely and had seen no one for many months, was .lad of his com-any and of the o--ortunity to talk* %e talked much and the -ilot listened* %e talked of the lonely life, of the lions that came in the ni.ht, of the ro.ue ele-hant that lived over the hill in the west, of the hotness of the days and of the silence that came with the cold at midni.ht* #n the second ni.ht he talked about himself* %e told a lon., stran.e story, and as he told it, it seemed to the -ilot that the old man was liftin. a .reat wei.ht off his shoulders in the tellin.* +hen he had finished, he said that he had never told that to anyone before, and that he would never tell it to anyone a.ain, but the story was so stran.e that the -ilot wrote it down on -a-er as soon as he .ot back to 'airobi* %e wrote it not in the old man's words, but in his own words, -aintin. it as a -icture with the old man as a character in the -icture, because that was the best way to do it* %e had never written a story before, and so naturally there were mistakes* %e did not know any of the tricks with words which writers use, which they have to use 9ust as -ainters have to use tricks with -aint, but when he had finished writin., when he -ut down his -encil and went over to the airmen's canteen for a -int of beer, he left behind him a rare and -owerful tale* +e found it in his suitcase two weeks later when we were .oin. throu.h his belon.in.s after he had been killed in trainin., and because he seemed to have no relatives, and because he was my friend, 0 took the manuscri-t and looked after it for him* This is what he wrote* The old man came out of the door into the bri.ht sunshine, and for a moment he stood leanin. on his stick, lookin. around him, blinkin. at the stron. li.ht* %e stood with his head on one side, lookin. u-, listenin. for the noise which he thou.ht he had heard* %e was small and thick and well over seventy years old, althou.h he looked nearer ei.hty-five, because rheumatism had tied his body into knots* %is face was covered with .rey hair, and when he moved his mouth, he moved it only on one side of his face* #n his head, whether indoors or out, he wore a dirty white to-ee* %e stood ;uite still in the bri.ht sunshine, screwin. u- his eyes, listenin. for the noise* >es, there it was a.ain* The head of the old man flicked around and he looked towards the small wooden hut standin. a hundred yards away on the -asture* This time there was no doubt about itH the yel- of a do., the hi.h-itched, shar--

-iercin. yel- of -ain which a do. .ives when he is in .reat dan.er* Twice more it came and this time the noise was more like a scream than a yel-* The note was hi.her and more shar-, as thou.h it were wrenched ;uickly from some small -lace inside the body* The old man turned and lim-ed fast across the .rass towards the wooden shed where Gudson lived, -ushed o-en the door and went in* The small white do. was lyin. on the floor and Gudson was standin. over it, his le.s a-art, his black hair fallin. all over his lon., red faceE standin. there tall and skinny, mutterin. to himself and sweatin. throu.h his .reasy white shirt* %is mouth hun. o-en in an odd way, lifeless way, as thou.h his 9aw was too heavy for him, and he was dribblin. .ently down the middle of his chin* %e stood there lookin. at the small white do. which was lyin. on the floor, and with one hand he was slowly twistin. his left earE in the other he held a heavy bamboo* The old man i.nored Gudson and went down on his knees beside his do., .ently runnin. his thin hands over its body* The do. lay still, lookin. u- at him with watery eyes* Gudson did not move* %e was watchin. the do. and the man* Slowly the old man .ot u-, risin. with difficulty, holdin. the to- of his stick with both hands and -ullin. himself to his feet* %e looked around the room* There was a dirty rum-led mattress lyin. on the floor in the far cornerE there was a wooden table made of -ackin. cases and on it a )rimus stove and a chi--ed blueenamelled sauce-an* There were chicken feathers and mud on the floor* The old man saw what he wanted* 0t was a heavy iron bar standin. a.ainst the wall near the mattress, and he hobbled over towards it, thum-in. the hollow wooden floorboards with his stick as he went* The eyes of the do. followed his movements as he lim-ed across the room* The old man chan.ed his stick to his left hand, took the iron bar in his ri.ht, hobbled back to the do. and without -ausin., he lifted the bar and brou.ht it down hard u-on the animal's head* %e threw the bar to the .round and looked u- at Gudson, who was standin. there with his le.s a-art, dribblin. down his chin and twitchin. around the corners of his eyes* %e went ri.ht u- to him and be.an to s-eak* %e s-oke very ;uietly and slowly, with a terrible an.er, and as he s-oke he moved only one side of his mouth* A>ou killed him,A he said* A>ou broke his back*A Then, as the tide of an.er rose and .ave him stren.th, he found more words* %e looked u- and s-at them into the face of the tall Gudson, who twitched around the corners of his eyes and backed away towards the wall* A>ou lousy, mean, do.-beatin. bastard* That was my do.* +hat the hell ri.ht have you .ot beatin. my do., tell me that* nswer me, you slobberin. madman* nswer me*A Gudson was slowly rubbin. the -alm of his left hand u- and down on the front of his shirt, and now the whole of his face be.an to twitch* +ithout lookin. u-, he said, A%e wouldn't sto- lickin. that old -lace on his -aw* 0 couldn't stand the noise it made* >ou know 0 can't stand noises like that, lickin., lickin., lickin.* 0 told him to sto-* %e looked u- and wa..ed his tailE but then he went on lickin.* 0 couldn't stand it any lon.er, so 0 beat him*A The old man did not say anythin.* $or a moment it looked as thou.h he were .oin. to hit this creature* %e half raised his arm, dro--ed it a.ain, s-at on the floor, turned around and hobbled out of the door into the sunshine* %e went across the .rass to where a black cow was standin. in the shade of a small acacia tree, chewin. its cud, and the cow watched him as he came lim-in. across the .rass from the shed* 6ut it went on chewin., munchin. its cud, movin. its 9aws re.ularly, mechanically, like a metronome in slow time* The old man came lim-in. u- and stood beside it, strokin. its neck* Then he leant a.ainst its shoulder and scratched its back with the butt end of his stick* %e stood there for a lon. time, leanin. a.ainst the cow, scratchin. it with his stickE and now and a.ain he would s-eak to it, s-eakin. ;uiet little words, whis-erin. them almost, like a -erson tellin. a secret to another* 0t was shady under the acacia tree, and the country around him looked lush and -leasant after the lon. rains, for the .rass .rows .reen u- in the %i.hlands

of /enyaE and at this time of the year, after the rains, it is as .reen and rich as any .rass in the world* way in the north stood 2ount /enya itself, with snow u-on its head, with a thin white -lume trailin. from its summit where the city winds made a storm and blew the white -owder from the to- of the mountain* Down below, u-on the slo-es of that same mountain there were lion and ele-hant, and sometimes durin. the ni.ht one could hear the roar of the lions as they looked at the moon* The days -assed and Gudson went about his work on the farm in a silent, mechanical kind of way, takin. in the corn, di..in. the sweet -otatoes and milkin. the black cow, while the old man stayed indoors away from the fierce frican sun* #nly in the late afternoon when the air be.an to .et cool and shar-, did he hobble outside, and always he went over to his black cow and s-ent an hour with it under the acacia tree* #ne day when he came out he found Gudson standin. beside the cow, re.ardin. it stran.ely, standin. in a -eculiar attitude with one foot in front of the other and .ently twistin. his ear with his ri.ht hand* A+hat is it nowBA said the old man as he came lim-in. u-* ACow won't sto- chewin.,A said Gudson* AChewin. her cud,A said the old man* A!eave her alone*A Gudson said, A0t's the noise, can't you hear itB Crunchy noise like she was chewin. -ebbles, only she isn'tE she's chewin. .rass and s-it* !ook at her, she .oes on and on crunchin., crunchin., crunchin., and it's 9ust .rass and s-it* 'oise .oes ri.ht into my head*A A:et out,A said the old man* A:et out of my si.ht*A t dawn the old man sat, as he always did, lookin. out of his window, watchin. Gudson comin. across from his hut to milk the cow* %e saw him comin. slee-ily across the field, talkin. to himself as he walked, dra..in. his feet, makin. a dark .reen trail in the wet .rass, carryin. in his hand the old four.allon kerosene tin which he used as a milk -ail* The sun was comin. u- over the escar-ment and makin. lon. shadows behind the man, the cow and the little acacia tree* The old man saw Gudson -ut down the tin and he saw him fetch the bo7 from beside the acacia tree and settle himself u-on it, ready for the milkin.* %e saw him suddenly kneelin. down, feelin. the udder of the cow with his hands and at the same time the old man noticed from where he sat that the animal had no milk* %e saw Gudson .et u- and come walkin. fast towards the shack* %e came and stood under the window where the old man was sittin. and looked u-* ACow's .ot no milk,A he said* The old man leaned throu.h the o-en window, -lacin. both his hands on the sill* A>ou lousy bastard, you've stole it*A A0 didn't take it,A said Gudson* A0 bin aslee-*A A>ou stole it*A The old man was leanin. farther out of the window, s-eakin. ;uietly with one side of his mouth* A0'll beat the hell out of you for this,A he said* Gudson said, ASomeone stole it in the ni.ht, a native, one of the /ikuyu* #r maybe she's sick*A 0t seemed to the old man that he was tellin. the truth* A+e'll see,A he said, Aif she milks this evenin.E and now for Christ's sake, .et out of my si.ht*A 6y evenin. the cow had a full udder and the old man watched Gudson draw two ;uarts of .ood thick milk from under her* The ne7t mornin. she was em-ty* 0n the evenin. she was full* #n the third mornin. she was em-ty once more* #n the third ni.ht the old man went on watch* s soon as it be.an to .et dark, he stationed himself at the o-en window with an old twelve-bore shot .un lyin. on his la-, waitin. for the thief who came and milked his cow in the ni.ht* t first it was -itch dark and he could not see the cow even, but soon a three;uarter moon came over the hills and it became li.ht, almost as thou.h it was day time* 6ut it was bitter cold because the %i.hlands are seven thousand feet u-, and the old man shivered at his -ost and -ulled his brown blanket closer around his

shoulders* %e could see the cow well now, 9ust as well as in dayli.ht, and the little acacia tree threw a dee- shadow across the .rass, for the moon was behind it* ll throu.h the ni.ht the old man sat there watchin. the cow, and save when he .ot u- once and hobbled back into the room to fetch another blanket, his eyes never left her* The cow stood -lacidly under the small tree, chewin. her cud and .a,in. at the moon* n hour before dawn her udder was full* The old man could see itE he had been watchin. it the whole time, and althou.h he had not seen the movement of its swellin. any more than one can see the movement of the hour hand of a watch, yet all the time he had been conscious of the fillin. as the milk came down* 0t was an hour before dawn* The moon was low, but the li.ht had not .one* %e could see the cow and the little tree and the .reenness of the .rass around the cow* Suddenly he 9erked his head* %e heard somethin.* Surely that was a noise he heard* >es, there it was a.ain, a rustlin. in the .rass ri.ht underneath the window where he was sittin.* Iuickly he -ulled himself u- and looked over the sill on to the .round* Then he saw it* lar.e black snake, a 2amba, ei.ht feet lon. and as thick as a man's arm, was .lidin. throu.h the wet .rass, headin. strai.ht for the cow and .oin. fast* 0ts small -ear-sha-ed head was raised sli.htly off the .round and the movement of its body a.ainst the wetness made a clear hissin. sound like .as esca-in. from a 9et* %e raised his .un to shoot* lmost at once he lowered it a.ain, why he did not know, and he sat there not movin., watchin. the 2amba as it a--roached the cow, listenin. to the noise it made as it went, watchin. it come uclose to the cow and waitin. for it to strike* 6ut it did not strike* 0t lifted its head and for a moment let it sway .ently back and forthE then it raised the front -art of its black body into the air under the udder of the cow, .ently took one of the thick teats into its mouth and be.an to drink* The cow did not move* There was no noise anywhere, and the body of the 2amba curved .racefully u- from the .round and hun. under the udder of the cow* 6lack snake and black cow were clearly visible out there in the moonli.ht* $or half an hour the old man watched the 2amba takin. the milk of the cow* %e saw the .entle -ulsin. of its black body as it drew the li;uid out of the udder and he saw it, after a time, chan.e from one teat to another, until at last there was no lon.er any milk left* Then the 2amba .ently lowered itself to the .round and slid back throu.h the .rass in the direction whence it came* #nce more it made a clear hissin. noise as it went, and once more it -assed underneath the window where the old man sat, leavin. a thin dark trail in the wet .rass where it had .one* Then it disa--eared behind the shack* Slowly the moon went down behind the rid.e of 2ount /enya* lmost at the same time the sun rose u- out of the escar-ment in the east and Gudson came out of his hut with the four.allon kerosene tin in his hand, walkin. slee-ily towards the cow, dra..in. his feet in the heavy dew as he went* The old man watched him comin. and waited* Gudson bent down and felt the udder with his hand and as he did so, the old man shouted at him* Gudson 9um-ed at the sound of the old man's voice* A0t's .one a.ain,A said the old man* Gudson said, A>es, cow's em-ty*A A0 think,A said the old man slowly, A0 think that it was a /ikuyu boy* 0 was do,in. a bit and only woke u- as he was makin. off* 0 couldn't shoot because the cow was in the way* %e made off behind the cow* 0'll wait for him toni.ht* 0'll .et him toni.ht,A he added* Gudson did not answer* %e -icked u- his four-.allon tin and walked back to his hut* That ni.ht the old man sat u- a.ain by the window watchin. the cow* $or him there was this time a certain -leasure in the antici-ation of what he was .oin. to see* %e knew that he would see the 2amba a.ain, but he wanted to make ;uite certain* nd so, when the .reat black snake slid across the .rass towards the cow an hour before sunrise, the old man leaned over the window sill and followed the

movements of the 2amba as it a--roached the cow* %e saw it wait for a moment under the belly of the animal, lettin. its head sway slowly backwards and forwards half a do,en times before finally raisin. its body from the .round to take the teat of the cow into its mouth* %e saw it drink the milk for half an hour, until there was none left, and he saw it lower its body and slide smoothly back behind the shack whence it came* nd while he watched these thin.s, the old man be.an lau.hin. ;uietly with one side of his mouth* Then the sun rose u- from behind the hills, and Gudson came out of his hut with the four.allon tin in his hand, but this time he went strai.ht to the window of the shack where the old man was sittin. wra--ed u- in his blankets* A+hat ha--enedBA said Gudson* The old man looked down at him from his window* A'othin.,A he said* A'othin. ha--ened* 0 do,ed off a.ain and the bastard came and took it while 0 was aslee-* !isten, Gudson,A he added, Awe .ot to catch this boy, otherwise you'll be .oin. short of milk, not that that would do you any harm* 6ut we .ot to catch him* 0 can't shoot because he's too cleverE the cow's always in the way* >ou'll have to .et him*A A2e .et himB %owBA The old man s-oke very slowly* A0 think,A he said, A0 think you must hide beside the cow, ri.ht beside the cow* That is the only way you can catch him*A Gudson was rum-lin. his hair with his left hand* AToday,A continued the old man, Ayou will di. a shallow trench ri.ht beside the cow* 0f you lie in it and if 0 cover you over with hay and .rass, the thief won't notice you until he's ri.ht alon.side*A A%e may have a knife,A Gudson said* A'o, he won't have a knife* >ou take your stick* That's all you'll need*A Gudson said, A>es, 0'll take my stick* +hen he comes, 0'll 9um- u- and beat him with my stick*A Then suddenly he seemed to remember somethin.* A+hat about her chewin.BA he said* ACouldn't stand her chewin. all ni.ht, crunchin. and crunchin., crunchin. s-it and .rass like it was -ebbles* Couldn't stand that all ni.ht,A and he be.an twistin. a.ain at his left ear with his hand* A>ou'll do as you're bloody well told,A said the old man* That day Gudson du. his trench beside the cow which was to be tethered to the small acacia tree so that she could not wander about the field* Then, as evenin. came and as he was -re-arin. to lie down in the trench for the ni.ht, the old man came to the door of his shack and said, A'o -oint in doin. anythin. until early mornin.* They won't come till the cow's full* Come in here and waitE it's warmer than your filthy little hut*A Gudson had never been invited into the old man's shack before* %e followed him in, ha--y that he would not have to lie all ni.ht in the trench* There was a candle burnin. in the room* 0t was stuck into the neck of a beer bottle and the bottle was on the table* A2ake some tea,A said the old man, -ointin. to the )rimus stove standin. on the floor* Gudson lit the stove and made tea* The two of them sat down on a cou-le of wooden bo7es and be.an to drink* The old man drank his hot and made loud suckin. noises as he drank* Gudson ke-t blowin. on his, si--in. it cautiously and watchin. the old man over the to- of his cu-* The old man went on suckin. away at his tea until suddenly Gudson said, ASto-*A %e said it ;uietly, -laintively almost, and as he said it he be.an to twitch around the corners of his eyes and around his mouth* A+hatBA said the old man* Gudson said, AThat noise, that suckin. noise you're makin.*A The old man -ut down his cu- and re.arded the other ;uietly for a few moments, then he said, A%ow many do.s you killed in your time, GudsonBA There was no answer* A0 said how manyB %ow many do.sBA Gudson be.an -ickin. the tea leaves out of his cu- and stickin. them on to the back of his left hand* The old man was leanin. forward on his bo7*

A%ow many do.s, GudsonBA Gudson be.an to hurry with his tea leaves* %e 9abbed his fin.ers into his em-ty cu-, -icked out a tea leaf, -ressed it ;uickly on to the back of his hand and ;uickly went back for another* +hen there were not many left and he did not find one immediately, he bent over and -eered closely into the cu-, tryin. to find the ones that remained* The back of the hand which held the cu- was covered with wet black tea leaves* AGudsonFA The old man shouted, and one side of his mouth o-ened and shut like a -air of ton.s* The candle flame flickered and became still a.ain* Then ;uietly and very slowly, coa7in.ly, as someone to a child* A0n all your life, how many do.s has it beenBA Gudson said, A+hy should 0 tell youBA %e did not look u-* %e was -ickin. the tea leaves off the back of his hand one by one and returnin. them to the cu-* A0 want to know, Gudson*A The old man was s-eakin. very .ently* A0'm .ettin. keen about this too* !et's talk about it and make some -lans for more fun*A Gudson looked u-* ball of saliva rolled down his chin, hun. for a moment in the air, sna--ed and fell to the floor* A0 only kill Aem because of a noise*A A%ow often've you done itB 0'd love to know how often*A A!ots of times lon. a.o*A A%owB Tell me how you used to do it* +hat did you like bestBA 'o answer* ATell me, Gudson* 0'd love to know*A A0 don't see why 0 should* 0t's a secret*A A0 won't tell* 0 swear 0 won't tell*A A+ell, if you'll -romise*A Gudson shifted his seat closer and s-oke in a whis-er* A#nce 0 waited till one was slee-in., then 0 .ot a bi. stone and dro--ed it on his head*A The old man .ot u- and -oured himself a cu- of tea* A>ou didn't kill mine like that*A A0 didn't have time* The noise was so bad, the lickin., and 0 9ust had to do it ;uick*A A>ou didn't even kill him*A A0 sto--ed the noise*A The old man went over to the door and looked out* 0t was dark* The moon had not yet risen, but the ni.ht was clear and cold with many stars* 0n the east there was a little -aleness in the sky, and as he watched, the -aleness .rew and it chan.ed from a -aleness into a bri.htness, s-readin. over the sky so that the li.ht was reflected and held by the small dro-s of dew u-on the .rass alon. the hi.hlandsE and slowly, the moon rose u- over the hills* The old man turned and said, A6etter .et ready* 'ever knowE they mi.ht come early toni.ht*A Gudson .ot u- and the two of them went outside* Gudson lay down in the shallow trench beside the cow and the old man covered him over with .rass, so that only his head -ee-ed out above the .round* A0 shall be watchin., too,A he said, Afrom the window* 0f 0 .ive a shout, 9um- u- and catch him*A %e hobbled back to the shack, went u-stairs, wra--ed himself in blankets and took u- his -osition by the window* 0t was early still* The moon was nearly full and it was climbin.* 0t shone u-on the snow on the summit of 2ount /enya* fter an hour the old man shouted out of the windowH A re you still awake, GudsonBA A>es,A he answered, A0'm awake*A ADon't .o to slee-,A said the old man* A+hatever you do, don't .o to slee-*A ACow's crunchin. all the time,A said Gudson* A:ood, and 0'll shoot you if you .et u- now,A said the old man* A>ou'll shoot meBA A0 said 0'll shoot you if you .et u- now*A .entle sobbin. noise came u- from where Gudson lay, a stran.e .as-in. sound as thou.h a child was tryin. not to cry, and in the middle of it, Gudson's

voice, A0've .ot to moveE -lease let me move* This crunchin.*A A0f you .et u-,A said the old man, A0'll shoot you in the belly*A $or another hour or so the sobbin. continued, then ;uite suddenly it sto--ed* Gust before four o'clock it be.an to .et very cold and the old man huddled dee-er into his blankets and shouted, A re you cold out there, GudsonB re you coldBA A>es,A came the answer* ASo cold* 6ut 0 don't mind because cow's not crunchin. any more* She's aslee-*A The old man said, A+hat are you .oin. to do with the thief when you catch himBA A0 don't know*A A+ill you kill himBA -ause* A0 don't know* 0'll 9ust .o for himH A0'll watch,A said the old man* A0t ou.ht to be fun*A %e was leanin. out of the window with his arms restin. on the sill* Then he heard the hiss under the window sill, and looked over and saw the black 2amba, slidin. throu.h the .rass towards the cow, .oin. fast and holdin. its head 9ust a little above the .round as it went* +hen the 2amba was five yards away, the old man shouted* %e cu--ed his hands to his mouth and shouted, A%ere he comes, GudsonE here he comes* :o and .et him*A Gudson lifted his head ;uickly and looked u-* s he did so he saw the 2amba and the 2amba saw him* There was a second, or -erha-s two, when the snake sto--ed, drew back and raised the front -art of its body in the air* Then the stroke* Gust a flash of black and a sli.ht thum- as it took him in the chest* Gudson screamed, a lon., hi.h--itched scream which did not rise nor fall, but held its note until .radually it faded into nothin.ness and there was silence* 'ow he was standin. u-, ri--in. o-en his shirt, feelin. for the -lace in his chest, whim-erin. ;uietly, moanin. and breathin. hard with his mouth wide o-en* nd all the while the old man sat ;uietly at the o-en window, leanin. forward and never takin. his eyes away from the one below* "verythin. comes very ;uick when one is bitten by a black 2amba, and almost at once the -oison be.an to work* 0t threw him to the .round, where he lay hum-in. his back and rollin. around on the .rass* %e no lon.er made any noise* 0t was all very ;uiet, as thou.h a man of .reat stren.th was wrestlin. with a .iant whom one could not see, and it was as thou.h the .iant was twistin. him and not lettin. him .et u-, stretchin. his arms throu.h the fork of his le.s and -ushin. his knees uunder his chin* Then he be.an -ullin. u- the .rass with his hands and soon after that he lay on his back kickin. .ently with his le.s* 6ut he didn't last very lon.* %e .ave a ;uick wri..le, hum-ed his back a.ain, turnin. over as he did it, then he lay on the .round ;uite still, lyin. on his stomach with his ri.ht knee drawn uunderneath his chest and his hands stretched out above his head* Still the old man sat by the window, and even after it was all over, he stayed where he was and did not stir* There was a movement in the shadow under the acacia tree and the 2amba came forward slowly towards the cow* 0t came forward a little, sto--ed, raised its head, waited, lowered its head, and slid forward a.ain ri.ht under the belly of the animal* 0t raised itself into the air and took one of the brown teats in its mouth and be.an to drink* The old man sat watchin. the 2amba takin. the milk of the cow, and once a.ain he saw the .entle -ulsin. of its body as it drew the li;uid out of the udder* +hile the snake was still drinkin., the old man .ot u- and moved away from the window* A>ou can have his share,A he said ;uietly* A+e don't mind you havin. his share,A and as he s-oke he .lanced back and saw a.ain the black body of the 2amba curvin. u-ward from the .round, 9oinin. with the belly of the cow* A>es,A he said a.ain, Awe don't mind your havin. his share*A

)iece of Cake 0 D# not remember much of itE not beforehand anywayE not until it ha--ened* There was the landin. at $ouka, where the 6lenheim boys were hel-ful and .ave us tea while we were bein. refuelled* 0 remember the ;uietness of the 6lenheim boys, how they came into the mess-tent to .et some tea and sat down to drink it without sayin. anythin.E how they .ot u- and went out when they had finished drinkin. and still they did not say anythin.* nd 0 knew that each one was holdin. himself to.ether because the .oin. was not very .ood ri.ht then* They were havin. to .o out too often, and there were no re-lacements comin. alon.* +e thanked them for the tea and went out to see if they had finished refuellin. our :ladiators* 0 remember that there was a wind blowin. which made the windsock stand out strai.ht, like a si.n-ost, and the sand was blowin. u- around our le.s and makin. a rustlin. noise as it swished a.ainst the tents, and the tents fla--ed in the wind so that they were like canvas men cla--in. their hands* A6omber boys unha--y,A )eter said* A'ot unha--y,A 0 answered* A+ell, they're browned off*A A'o* They've had it, that's all* 6ut they'll kee- .oin.* >ou can see they're tryin. to kee- .oin.*A #ur two old :ladiators were standin. beside each other in the sand and the airmen in their khaki shirts and shorts seemed still to be busy with the refuellin.* 0 was wearin. a thin white cotton flyin. suit and )eter had on a blue one* 0t wasn't necessary to fly with anythin. warmer* )eter said, A%ow far away is itBA ATwenty-one miles beyond Charin. Cross,A 0 answered, Aon the ri.ht side of the road*A Charin. Cross was where the desert road branched north to 2ersah 2atruh* The 0talian army was outside 2ersah, and they were doin. -retty well* 0t was about the only time, so far as 0 know, that the 0talians have done -retty well* Their morale .oes u- and down like a sensitive altimeter, and ri.ht then it was at forty thousand because the 7is was on to- of the world* +e hun. around waitin. for the refuellin. to finish* )eter said, A0t's a -iece of cake*A A>es* 0t ou.ht to be easy*A +e se-arated and 0 climbed into my cock-it* 0 have always remembered the face of the airman who hel-ed me to stra- in* %e was oldish, about forty, and bald e7ce-t for a neat -atch of .olden hair at the back of his head* %is face was all wrinkles, his eyes were like my .randmother's eyes, and he looked as thou.h he had s-ent his life hel-in. to stra- in -ilots who never came back* %e stood on the win. -ullin. my stra-s and said, A6e careful* There isn't any sense not bein. careful*A A)iece of cake,A 0 said* A!ike hell*A AReally* 0t isn't anythin. at all* 0t's a -iece of cake*A 0 don't remember much about the ne7t bitE 0 only remember about later on* 0 su--ose we took off from $ouka and flew west towards 2ersah, and 0 su--ose we flew at about ei.ht hundred feet* 0 su--ose we saw the sea to starboard and 0 su--ose-no, 0 am certain--that it was blue and that it was beautiful, es-ecially where it rolled u- on to the sand and made a lon. thick white line east and west as far as you could see, 0 su--ose we flew over Charin. Cross and flew on for twenty-one miles to where they had said it would be, but 0 do not know* 0 know only that there was trouble, lots and lots of trouble, and 0 know that we had turned round

and were comin. back when the trouble .ot worse* The bi..est trouble of all was that 0 was too low to bale out, and it is from that -oint on that my memory comes back to me* 0 remember the di--in. of the nose of the aircraft and 0 remember lookin. down the nose of the machine at the .round and seein. a little clum- of camel-thorn .rowin. there all by itself, 0 remember seein. some rocks lyin. in the sand beside the camel-thorn, and the camel-thorn and the sand and the rocks lea-t out of the .round and came to me* 0 remember that very clearly* Then there was a small .a- of notrememberin.* 0t mi.ht have been one second or it mi.ht have been thirtyE 0 do not know* 0 have an idea that it was very short, a second -erha-s, and ne7t 0 heard a crum-h on the ri.ht as the starboard win. tank cau.ht fire, then another crum-h on the left as the -ort tank did the same* To me that was not si.nificant, and for a while 0 sat still, feelin. comfortable, but a little drowsy* 0 couldn't see with my eyes, but that was not si.nificant either* There was nothin. to worry about* 'othin. at all* 'ot until 0 felt the hotness around my le.s* t first it was only a warmness and that was all ri.ht too, but all at once it was a hotness, a very stin.in. scorchin. hotness uand down the sides of each le.* 0 knew that the hotness was un-leasant, but that was all 0 knew* 0 disliked it, so 0 curled my le.s u- under the seat and waited* 0 think there was somethin. wron. with the tele.ra-h system between the body and the brain* 0t did not seem to be workin. very well* Somehow it was a bit slow in tellin. the brain all about it and in askin. for instructions* 6ut 0 believe a messa.e eventually .ot throu.h, sayin., ADown here there is a .reat hotness* +hat shall we doB CSi.nedD !eft !e. and Ri.ht !e.*' $or a lon. time there was no re-ly* The brain was fi.urin. the matter out* Then slowly, word by word, the answer was ta--ed over the wires* AThe--lane--is--burnin.* :et out re-eat--.et--out .et--out*' The order was relayed to the whole system, to all the muscles in the le.s, arms and body, and the muscles went to work* They tried their bestE they -ushed a little and -ulled a little, and they strained .reatly, but it wasn't any .ood* &- went another tele.ram, ACan't .et out* Somethin. holdin. us in*' The answer to this one took even lon.er in arrivin., so 0 9ust sat there waitin. for it to come, and all the time the hotness increased* Somethin. was holdin. me down and it was u- to the brain to find out what it was* +as it .iants' hands -ressin. on my shoulders, or heavy stones or houses or steam rollers or filin. cabinets or .ravity or was it ro-esB +ait a minute* Ro-es--ro-es* The messa.e was be.innin. to come throu.h* 0t came very slowly* A>our--stra-s* &ndo--your stra-s*' 2y arms received the messa.e and went to work* They tu..ed at the stra-s, but they wouldn't undo* They tu..ed a.ain and a.ain, a little feebly, but as hard as they could, and it wasn't any use* 6ack went the messa.e* A%ow do we undo the stra-sBA This time 0 think that 0 sat there for three or four minutes waitin. for the answer* 0t wasn't any use hurryin. or .ettin. im-atient* That was the one thin. of which 0 was sure* 6ut what a lon. time it was all takin.* 0 said aloud, A6u..er it* 0'm .oin. to be burnt* 0'm*** but 0 was interru-ted* The answer was comin.-no, it wasn't--yes, it was, it was slowly comin. throu.h* A)ull--out--the--;uick release---in--you--bloody--fool--and--hurry*' #ut came the -in and the stra-s were loosed* 'ow, let's .et out* !et's .et out, let's .et out* 6ut 0 couldn't do it* 0 sim-ly couldn't lift myself out of the cock-it* rms and le.s tried their best but it wasn't any use* last des-erate messa.e was flashed u-wards and this time it was marked A&r.ent*' ASomethin. else is holdin. us down,' it said* ASomethin. else, somethin. else, somethin. heavy*' Still the arms and le.s did not fi.ht* They seemed to know instinctively that there was no -oint in usin. u- their stren.th* They stayed ;uiet and waited for the answer, and oh what a time it took* Twenty, thirty, forty hot seconds* 'one of them really white hot yet, no si,,lin. of flesh or smell of burnin. meat, but that would come any moment now, because those old :ladiators aren't made of stressed steel like a %urricane or a S-it* They have taut canvas win.s, covered

with ma.nificently inflammable do-e, and underneath there are hundreds of small thin sticks, the kind you -ut under the lo.s for kindlin., only these are drier and thinner* 0f a clever man said, A0 am .oin. to build a bi. thin. that will burn better and ;uicker than anythin. else in the world,' and if he a--lied himself dili.ently to his task, he would -robably finish u- by buildin. somethin. very like a :ladiator* 0 sat still waitin.* Then suddenly the re-ly, beautiful in its briefness, but at the same time e7-lainin. everythin.* A>our---arachute--turn--the buckle*' 0 turned the buckle, released the -arachute harness and with some effort hoisted myself u- and tumbled over the side of the cock-it* Somethin. seemed to be burnin., so 0 rolled about a bit in the sand, then crawled away from the fire on all fours and lay down* 0 heard some of my machine-.un ammunition .oin. off in the heat and 0 heard some of the bullets thum-in. into the sand near by* 0 did not worry about themE 0 merely heard them* Thin.s were be.innin. to hurt* 2y face hurt most* There was somethin. wron. with my face* Somethin. had ha--ened to it* Slowly 0 -ut u- a hand to feel it* 0t was sticky* 2y nose didn't seem to be there* 0 tried to feel my teeth but 0 cannot remember whether 0 came to any conclusion about them* 0 think 0 do,ed off* ll of a sudden there was )eter* 0 heard his voice and 0 heard him dancin. around and yellin. like a madman and shakin. my hand and sayin. AGesus, 0 thou.ht you were still inside* 0 came down half a mile away and ran like hell* re you all ri.htBA 0 said, A)eter, what has ha--ened to my noseBA 0 heard him strikin. a match in the dark* The ni.ht comes ;uickly in the desert* There was a -ause* A0t actually doesn't seem to be there very much,A he said* ADoes it hurtBA ADon't be a bloody fool, of course it hurts*A %e said he was .oin. back to his machine to .et some mor-hia out of his emer.ency -ack, but he came back a.ain soon, sayin. he couldn't find his aircraft in the dark* A)eter,A 0 said, A0 can't see anythin.*A A0t's ni.ht,A he answered* A0 can't see either*A 0t was cold now* 0t was bitter cold, and )eter lay down close alon.side so that we could both kee- a little warmer* "very now and then he would say, A0've never seen a man without a nose before,A 0 ke-t s-ewin. a lot of blood and every time 0 did it, )eter lit a match* #nce he .ave me a ci.arette, but it .ot wet and 0 didn't want it anyway* 0 do not know how lon. we stayed there and 0 remember only very little more* 0 remember that 0 ke-t tellin. )eter that there was a tin of sore throat tablets, in my -ocket, and that he should take one, otherwise he would catch my sore throat* 0 remember askin. him where we were and him sayin., A+e're between the two armies,A and then 0 remember "n.lish voices from an "n.lish -atrol askin. if we were 0talians* )eter said somethin. to themE 0 cannot remember what he said* !ater 0 remember hot thick sou- and one s-oonful makin. me sick* nd all the time the -leasant feelin. that )eter was around, bein. wonderful, doin. wonderful thin.s and never .oin. away* That is all that 0 can remember* MM M The men stood beside the air-lane -aintin. away and talkin. about the heat* A)aintin. -ictures on the aircraft,A 0 said* A>es,A said )eter* A0t's a .reat idea* 0t's subtle*A A+hyBA 0 said* AGust you tell me*A AThey're funny -ictures,A he said* AThe :erman -ilots will all lau.h when they see themE they'll shake so with their lau.hin. that they won't be able to shoot strai.ht*A A#h baloney baloney baloney*A A'o, it's a .reat idea* 0t's fine* Come and have a look*A +e ran towards the line of aircraft* A%o-, ski-, 9um-,A said )eter* A%o-

ski- 9um-, kee- in time*A A%o- ski- 9um-,A 0 said, A%o- ski- 9um-,A and we danced alon.* The -ainter on the first aero-lane had a straw hat on his head and a sad face* %e was co-yin. the drawin. out of a ma.a,ine, and when )eter saw it he said, A6oy oh boy look at that -icture,A and he be.an to lau.h* %is lau.h be.an with a rumble and .rew ;uickly into a belly-roar and he sla--ed his thi.hs with his hands both at the same time and went on lau.hin. with his body doubled u- and his mouth wide o-en and his eyes shut* %is silk to- hat fell off his head on to the sand* AThat's not funny,A 0 said* A'ot funnyFA he cried* A+hat d'you mean Anot funny'B !ook at me* !ook at me lau.hin.* !au.hin. like this 0 couldn't hit anythin.* 0 couldn't hit a hay wa.on or a house or a louse*A nd he ca-ered about on the sand, .ur.lin. and shakin. with lau.hter* Then he sei,ed me by the arm and we danced over to the ne7t aero-lane* A%o- ski- 9um-,A he said* A%o- ski- 9um-*A There was a small man with a crum-led face writin. a lon. story on the fusela.e with a red crayon* %is straw hat was -erched strai.ht on the back of his head and his face was shiny with sweat* A:ood mornin.,A he said* A:ood mornin., .ood mornin.,A and he swe-t his hat off his head in a very ele.ant way* )eter said, AShut u-,A and bent down and be.an to read what the little man had been writin.* ll the time )eter was s-lutterin. and rumblin. with lau.hter, and as he read he be.an to lau.h afresh* %e rocked from one side to the other and danced around on the sand sla--in. his thi.hs with his hands and bendin. his body* A#h my, what a story, what a story, what a story* !ook at me* !ook at me lau.hin.,A and he ho--ed about on his toes, shakin. his head and chortlin. like a madman* Then suddenly 0 saw the 9oke and 0 be.an to lau.h with him* 0 lau.hed so much that my stomach hurt and 0 fell down and rolled around on the sand and roared and roared because it was so funny that there was nothin. else 0 could do* A)eter, you're marvellous,A 0 shouted* A6ut can all those :erman -ilots read "n.lishBA A#h hell,A he said* A#h hell* Sto-,A he shouted* ASto- your work,A and the -ainters all sto--ed their -aintin. and turned round slowly and looked at )eter* They did a little ca-er on their toes and be.an to chant in unison* ARubbishy thin.s--on all the win.s, on all the win.s, on all the win.s,A they chanted* AShut u-,A said )eter* A+e're in a 9am* +e must kee- calm* +here's my tohatBA A+hatBA 0 said* A>ou can s-eak :erman,A he said* A>ou must translate for us* %e will translate for you,A he shouted to the -ainters* A%e will translate*A Then 0 saw his black to- hat lyin. in the sand* 0 looked away, then 0 looked around and saw it a.ain* 0t was a silk o-era hat and it was lyin. there on its side in the sand* A>ou're mad,A 0 shouted* A>ou're madder than hell* >ou don't know what you're doin.* >ou'll .et us all killed* >ou're absolutely -lumb cra,y, do you know thatB >ou're cra,ier than hell* 2y :od, you're cra,y*A A:oodness, what a noise you're makin.* >ou mustn't shout like thatH it's not .ood for you*A This was a woman's voice* A>ou've made yourself all hot,A she said, and 0 felt someone wi-in. my forehead with a handkerchief* A>ou mustn't work yourself u- like that*A Then she was .one and 0 saw only the sky, which was -ale blue* There were no clouds and all around were the :erman fi.hters* They were above, below and on every side and there was no way 0 could .oE there was nothin. 0 could do* They took it in turns to come in to attack and they flew their aircraft carelessly, bankin. and loo-in. and dancin. in the air* 6ut 0 was not fri.htened, because of the funny -ictures on my win.s* 0 was confident and 0 thou.ht, A0 am .oin. to fi.ht a hundred of them alone and 0'll shoot them all down* 0'll shoot them while they are lau.hin.E that's what 0'll do*' Then they flew closer* The whole sky was full of them* There were so many

that 0 did not know which ones to watch and which ones to attack* There were so many that they made a black curtain over the sky and only here and there could 0 see a little of the blue showin. throu.h* 6ut there was enou.h to -atch a Dutchman's trousers, which was all that mattered* So lon. as there was enou.h to do that, then everythin. was all ri.ht* Still they flew closer* They came nearer and nearer, ri.ht u- in front of my face so that 0 saw only the black crosses which stood out bri.htly a.ainst the colour of the 2esserschmitts and a.ainst the blue of the skyE and as 0 turned my head ;uickly from one side to the other 0 saw more aircraft and more crosses and then 0 saw nothin. but the arms of the crosses and the blue of the sky* The arms had hands and they 9oined to.ether and made a circle and danced around my :ladiator, while the en.ines of the 2esserschmitts san. 9oyfully in a dee- voice* They were -layin. #ran.es and !emons and every now and then two would detach themselves and come out into the middle of the floor and make an attack and 0 knew then that it was #ran.es and !emons* They banked and swerved and danced u-on their toes and they leant a.ainst the air first to one side, then to the other* A#ran.es and !emons said the bells of St Clements,A san. the en.ines* 6ut 0 was still confident* 0 could dance better than they and 0 had a better -artner* She was the most beautiful .irl in the world* 0 looked down and saw the curve of her neck and the .entle slo-e of her -ale shoulders and 0 saw her slender arms ea.er and outstretched* Suddenly 0 saw some bullet holes in my starboard win. and 0 .ot an.ry and scared both at the same timeE but mostly 0 .ot an.ry* Then 0 .ot confident and 0 said, AThe :erman who did that had no sense of humour* There's always one man in a -arty who has no sense of humour* 6ut there's nothin. to worry aboutE there's nothin. at all to worry about*A Then 0 saw more bullet holes and 0 .ot scared* 0 slid back the hood of the cock-it and stood u- and shouted, A>ou fools, look at the funny -ictures* !ook at the one on my tailE look at the story on my fusela.e* )lease look at the story on my fusela.e*A 6ut they ke-t on comin.* They tri--ed into the middle of the floor in twos, shootin. at me as they came* nd the en.ines of the 2esserschmitts san. loudly* A+hen will you -ay me, said the bells of #ld 6aileyBA san. the en.ines, and as they san. the black crosses danced and swayed to the rhythm of the music* There were more holes in my win.s, in the en.ine cowlin. and in the cock-it* Then suddenly there were some in my body* 6ut there was no -ain, even when 0 went into a s-in, when the win.s of my -lane went fli-, fli-, fli- fli-, faster and faster, when the blue sky and the black sea chased each other round and round until there was no lon.er any sky or sea but 9ust the flashin. of the sun as 0 turned* 6ut the black crosses were followin. me down, still dancin. and still holdin. hands and 0 could still hear the sin.in. of their en.ines* A%ere comes a candle to li.ht you to bed, here comes a cho--er to cho- off your head,A san. the en.ines* Still the win.s went fli-, fli-, fli- fli-, and there was neither sky nor sea around me, but only the sun* Then there was only the sea* 0 could see it below me and 0 could see the white horses, and 0 said to myself, AThose are white horses ridin. a rou.h sea*A 0 knew then that my brain was .oin. well because of the white horses and because of the sea* 0 knew that there was not much time because the sea and the white horses were nearer, the white horses were bi..er and the sea was like a sea and like water, not like a smooth -late* Then there was only one white horse, rushin. forward madly with his bit in his teeth, foamin. at the mouth, scatterin. the s-ray with his hooves and archin. his neck as he ran* %e .allo-ed on madly over the sea, riderless and uncontrollable, and 0 could tell that we were .oin. to crash* fter that it was warmer, and there were no black crosses and there was no sky* 6ut it was only warm because it was not hot and it was not cold* 0 was sittin. in a .reat red chair made of velvet and it was evenin.* There was a wind

blowin. from behind* A+here am 0BA 0 said* A>ou are missin.* >ou are missin., believed killed*A AThen 0 must tell my mother*A A>ou can't* >ou can't use that -hone*A A+hy notBA A0t .oes only to :od*A A+hat did you say 0 wasBA A2issin., believed killed*A AThat's not true* 0t's a lie* 0t's a lousy lie because here 0 am and 0'm not missin.* >ou're 9ust tryin. to fri.hten me and you won't succeed* >ou won't succeed, 0 tell you, because 0 know it's a lie and 0'm .oin. back to my s;uadron* >ou can't sto- me because 0'll 9ust .o* 0'm .oin., you see, 0'm .oin.*A 0 .ot u- from the red chair and be.an to run* A!et me see those (-rays a.ain, nurse*A AThey're here, doctor*A This was the woman's voice a.ain, and now it came closer* A>ou have been makin. a noise toni.ht, haven't youB !et me strai.hten your -illow for you, you're -ushin. it on to the floor*A The voice was close and it was very soft and nice* A m 0 missin.BA A'o, of course not* >ou're fine*A AThey said 0 was missin.*A ADon't be sillyE you're fine*A #h everyone's silly, silly, silly, but it was a lovely day, and 0 did not want to run but 0 couldn't sto- because my le.s were carryin. me and 0 had no control over them* 0t was as if they did not belon. to me, althou.h when 0 looked down 0 saw that they were mine, that the shoes on the feet were mine and that the le.s were 9oined to my body* 6ut they would not do what 0 wantedE they 9ust went on runnin. across the field and 0 had to .o with them* 0 ran and ran and ran, and althou.h in some -laces the field was rou.h and bum-y, 0 never stumbled* 0 ran -ast trees and hed.es and in one field there were some shee- which sto--ed their eatin. and scam-ered off as 0 ran -ast them* #nce 0 saw my mother in a -ale .rey dress bendin. down -ickin. mushrooms, and as 0 ran -ast she looked u- and said, A2y basket's nearly fullE shall we .o home soonBA but my le.s wouldn't sto- and 0 had to .o on* Then 0 saw the cliff ahead and 0 saw how dark it was beyond the cliff* There was the .reat cliff and beyond it there was nothin. but darkness, althou.h the sun was shinin. in the field where 0 was runnin.* The li.ht of the sun sto--ed dead at the ed.e of the cliff and there was only darkness beyond* AThat must be where the ni.ht be.ins,' 0 thou.ht, and once more 0 tried to sto- but it was not any .ood* 2y le.s be.an to .o faster towards the cliff and they be.an to take lon.er strides, and 0 reached down with my hand and tried to sto- them by clutchin. the cloth of my trousers, but it did not workE then 0 tried to fall down* 6ut my le.s were nimble, and each time 0 threw myself 0 landed on my toes and went on runnin.* 'ow the cliff and the darkness were much nearer and 0 could see that unless 0 sto--ed ;uickly 0 should .o over the ed.e* #nce more 0 tried to throw myself to the .round and once more 0 landed on my toes and went on runnin.* 0 was .oin. fast as 0 came to the ed.e and 0 went strai.ht on over it into the darkness and be.an to fall* t first it was not ;uite dark* 0 could see little trees .rowin. out of the face of the cliff, and 0 .rabbed at them with my hands as 0 went down* Several times 0 mana.ed to catch hold of a branch, but it always broke off at once because 0 was so heavy and because 0 was fallin. so fast, and once 0 cau.ht a thick branch with both hands and the tree leaned forward and 0 heard the sna--in. of the roots one by one until it came away from the cliff and 0 went on fallin.* Then it became darker because the sun and the day were in the fields far away at the to- of the cliff, and as 0 fell 0 ke-t my eyes o-en and watched the darkness turn from .reyblack to black, from black to 9et black and from 9et black to -ure li;uid

blackness which 0 could touch with my hands but which 0 could not see* 6ut 0 went on fallin., and it was so black that there was nothin. anywhere and it was not any use doin. anythin. or carin. or thinkin. because of the blackness and because of the fallin.* 0t was not any use* A>ou're better this mornin.* >ou're much better*A 0t was the woman's voice a.ain* A%allo*A A%alloE we thou.ht you were never .oin. to .et conscious*A A+here am 0BA A0n le7andriaE in hos-ital*A A%ow lon. have 0 been hereBA A$our days*A A@(That time is itBA ASeven o'clock in the mornin.*A A+hy can't 0 seeBA 0 heard her walkin. a little closer* A#h, we've 9ust -ut a banda.e around your eyes for a bit*A A%ow lon. forBA AGust for a while* Don't worry* >ou're fine* >ou were very lucky, you know*A 0 was feelin. my face with my fin.ers but 0 couldn't feel itE 0 could only feel somethin. else* A+hat's wron. with my faceBA 0 heard her comin. u- to the side of my bed and 0 felt her hand touchin. my shoulder* A>ou mustn't talk any more* >ou're not allowed to talk* 0t's bad for you* Gust lie still and don't worry* >ou're fine*A 0 heard the sound of her footste-s as she walked across the floor and 0 heard her o-en the door and shut it a.ain* A'urse,A 0 said* A'urse*A 6ut she was .one*

2adame Rosette A<% Gesus, this is wonderful,A said the Sta.* %e was lyin. back in the bath with a Scotch and soda in one hand and a ci.arette in the other* The water was ri.ht u- to the brim and he was kee-in. it warm by turnin. the ta- with his toes* %e raised his head and took a little si- of his whisky, then he lay back and closed his eyes* A$or :od's sake, .et out,A said a voice from the ne7t room* ACome on, Sta., you've had over an hour*A Stuffy was sittin. on the ed.e of the bed with no clothes on, drinkin. slowly and waitin. his turn* The Sta. said, A ll ri.ht* 0'm lettin. the water out now,A and he stretched out a le. and fli--ed u- the -lu. with his toes* Stuffy stood u- and wandered into the bathroom holdin. his drink in his hand* The Sta. lay in the bath for a few moments more, then, balancin. his .lass carefully on the soa- rack, he stood u- and reached for a towel* %is body was short and s;uare, with stron. thick le.s and e7a..erated calf muscles* %e had coarse curly .in.er hair and a thin, rather -ointed face covered with freckles* There was a layer of -ale .in.er hair on his chest* AGesus,A he said, lookin. down into the bathtub, A0've brou.ht half the desert with me*A Stuffy said, A+ash it out and let me .et in* 0 haven't had a bath for five

months*A This was back in the early days when we were fi.htin. the 0talians in !ibya* #ne flew very hard in those days because there were not many -ilots* They certainly could not send any out from "n.land because there they were fi.htin. the 6attle of 6ritain* So one remained for lon. -eriods out in the desert, livin. the stran.e unnatural life of the desert, livin. in the same dirty little tent, washin. and shavin. every day in a mu. full of one's own s-at-out tooth water, all the time -ickin. flies out of one's tea and out of one's food, havin. sandstorms which were as much in the tents as outside them so that -lacid men became bloodyminded and lost their tem-ers with their friends and with themselvesE havin. dysentery and .i--y tummy and mastoid and desert sores, havin. some bombs from the 0talian S-3@s, havin. no water and no women, havin. no flowers .rowin. out of the .roundE havin. very little e7ce-t sand sand sand* #ne flew old :loster :ladiators a.ainst the 0talian CR?8s, and when one was not flyin., it was difficult to know what to do* #ccasionally one would catch scor-ions, -ut them in em-ty -etrol cans and match them a.ainst each other in fierce mortal combat* lways there would be a cham-ion scor-ion in the s;uadron, a sort of Goe !ouis who was invincible and won all his fi.hts* %e would have a nameE he would become famous and his trainin. diet would be a .reat secret known only to the owner* Trainin. diet was considered very im-ortant with scor-ions* Some were trained on corned beef, some on a thin. called 2achonachies, which is an un-leasant canned meat stew, some on live beetles and there were others who were -ersuaded to take a little beer 9ust before the fi.ht, on the -remise that it made the scor-ion ha--y and .ave him confidence* These last ones always lost* 6ut there were .reat battles and .reat cham-ions, and in the afternoons when the flyin. was over, one could often see a .rou- of -ilots and airmen standin. around in a circle on the sand, bendin. over with their hands on their knees, watchin. the fi.ht, e7hortin. the scor-ions and shoutin. at them as -eo-le shout at bo7ers or wrestlers in a rin.* Then there would be a victory, and the man who owned the winner would become e7cited* %e would dance around in the sand yellin., wavin. his arms in the air and e7tollin. in a loud voice the virtues of the victorious animal* The .reatest scor-ion of all was owned by a ser.eant called +ishful who fed him only on marmalade* The animal had an unmentionable name, but he won forty-two consecutive fi.hts and then died ;uietly in trainin. 9ust when +ishful was considerin. the -roblem of retirin. him to stud* So you can see that because there were no .reat -leasures while livin. in the desert, the small -leasures became .reat -leasures and the -leasures of children became the -leasures of .rown men* That was true for everyoneE for the -ilots, the fitters, the ri..ers, the cor-orals who cooked the food, and the men who ke-t the stores* 0t was true for the Sta. and for Stuffy, so true that when the two of them wan.led a fortyei.ht hour -ass and a lift by air into Cairo, and when they .ot to the hotel, they were feelin. about havin. a bath rather as you would feel on the first ni.ht of your honeymoon* The Sta. had dried himself and was lyin. on the bed with a towel round his waist, with his hands u- behind his head, and Stuffy was in the bath, lyin. with his head a.ainst the back of the bath, .roanin. and si.hin. with ecstasy* The Sta. said, AStuffy*A A>es*A A+hat are we .oin. to do nowBA A+omen,A said Stuffy* A+e must find some women to take out to su--er*A The Sta. said, A!ater* That can wait till later*A 0t was early afternoon* A0 don't think it can wait,A said Stuffy* A>es,A said the Sta., Ait can wait*A The Sta. was very old and wiseE he never rushed any fences* %e was twentyseven, much older than anyone else in the s;uadron, includin. the :#, and his 9ud.ement was much res-ected by the others* A!et's do a little sho--in. first,A he said* AThen whatBA said the voice from the bathroom*

AThen we can consider the other situation*A There was a -ause* ASta.BA A>es*A ADo you know any women hereBA A0 used to* 0 used to know a Turkish .irl with very white skin called +enka, and a >u.oslav .irl who was si7 inches taller than 0, called /iki, and another who 0 think was Syrian* 0 can't remember her name*A ARin. them u-,A said Stuffy* A0've done t* 0 did it while you were .ettin. the whisky* They've all .one* 0t isn't any .ood*A A0t's never any .ood,A Stuffy said* The Sta. said, A+e'll .o sho--in. first* There is -lenty of time*A 0n an hour Stuffy .ot out of the bath* They both dressed themselves in clean khaki shorts and shirts and wandered downstairs, throu.h the lobby of the hotel and out into the bri.ht hot street* The Sta. -ut on his sun.lasses* Stuffy said, A0 know* 0 want a -air of sun.lasses*A A ll ri.ht* +e'll .o and buy some*A They sto--ed a .harry, .ot in and told the driver to .o to Cicurel's* Stuffy bou.ht his sun.lasses and the Sta. bou.ht some -oker dice, then they wandered out a.ain on to the hot crowded street* ADid you see that .irlBA said Stuffy* AThe one that sold us the sun.lassesBA A>es* That dark one*A A)robably Turkish,A said Sta.* Stuffy said, A0 don't care what she was* She was terrific* Didn't you think she was terrificBA They were walkin. alon. the Sharia /asr-el'il with their hands in their -ockets, and Stuffy was wearin. the sun.lasses which he had 9ust bou.ht* 0t was a hot dusty afternoon, and the sidewalk was crowded with ".y-tians and rabs and small boys with bare feet* The flies followed the small boys and bu,,ed around their eyes, tryin. to .et at the inflammation which was in them, which was there because their mothers had done somethin. terrible to those eyes when the boys were youn., so that they would not be eli.ible for military conscri-tion when they .rew older* The small boys -attered alon. beside the Sta. and Stuffy shoutin., A6aksheesh, baksheesh,A in shrill insistent voices, and the flies followed the small boys* There was the smell of Cairo, which is not like the smell of any other city* 0t comes not from any one thin. or from any one -laceE it comes from everythin. everywhereE from the .utters and the sidewalks, from the houses and the sho-s and the thin.s in the sho-s and the food cookin. in the sho-s, from the horses and the dun. of the horses in the streets and from the drainsE it comes from the -eo-le and the way the sun bears down u-on the -eo-le and the way the sun bears down u-on the .utters and the drains and the horses and the food and the refuse in the streets* 0t is a rare, -un.ent smell, like somethin. which is sweet and rottin. and hot and salty and bitter all at the same time, and it is never absent, even in the cool of the early mornin.* The two -ilots walked alon. slowly amon. the crowd* ADidn't you think she was terrificBA said Stuffy* %e wanted to know what the Sta. thou.ht* AShe was all ri.ht*A ACertainly she was all ri.ht* >ou know what, Sta.BA A+hatBA A0 would like to take that .irl out toni.ht*A They crossed over a street and walked on a little farther* The Sta. said, A+ell, why don't youB +hy don't you rin. u- RosetteBA A+ho in the hell's RosetteBA A2adame Rosette,A said the Sta.* AShe is a .reat woman*A They were -assin. a -lace called Tim's 6ar* 0t was run by an "n.lishman

called Tim :ilfillan who had been a ;uartermaster ser.eant in the last war and who had somehow mana.ed to .et left behind in Cairo when the army went home* ATim's,A said the Sta.* A!et's .o in*A There was no one inside e7ce-t for Tim, who was arran.in. his bottles on shelves behind the bar* A+ell, well, well,A he said, turnin. around, A+here you boys been all this timeBA A%ello, Tim*A %e did not remember them, but he knew by their looks that they were in from the desert* A%ow's my old friend :ra,ianiBA he said, leanin. his elbows on the counter* A%e's bloody close,A said the Sta.* A%e's outside 2ersah*A A+hat you flyin. nowBA A:ladiators*A A%ell, they had those here ei.ht years a.o*A ASame ones still here,A said the Sta.* AThey're cla--ed out*A They .ot their whisky and carried the .lasses over to a table in the corner* Stuffy said, A+ho's this RosetteBA The Sta. took a lon. drink and -ut down the .lass* AShe's a .reat woman,A he said* A+ho is sheBA AShe's a filthy old Syrian Gewess*A A ll ri.ht,A said Stuffy, Aall ri.ht, but what about her*A A+ell,A said Sta., A0'll tell you* 2adame Rosette runs the bi..est brothel in the world* 0t is said that she can .et you any .irl that you want in the whole of Cairo*A A6ullshit*A A'o, it's true* >ou 9ust rin. her u- and tell her where you saw the woman, where she was workin., what sho- and at which counter, to.ether with an accurate descri-tion, and she will do the rest*A ADon't be such a bloody fool,A said Stuffy* A0t's true* 0t's absolutely true* Thirty-three s;uadron told me about her*A AThey were -ullin. your le.*A A ll ri.ht* >ou .o and look her u- in the -hone book*A AShe wouldn't be in the -hone book under that name*A A0'm tellin. you she is,A said Sta.* A:o and look her u- under Rosette* >ou'll see 0'm ri.ht*A Stuffy did not believe him, but he went over to Tim and asked him for a tele-hone directory and brou.ht it back to the table* %e o-ened it and turned the -a.es until he came to R-o-s* %e ran his fin.er down the column* Rose--i*** Rosery Rosette* There it was, Rosette, 2adame and the address and number, clearly -rinted in the book* The Sta. was watchin. him* A:ot itBA he said* A>es, here it is* 2adame Rosette*A A+ell, why don't you .o and rin. her u-BA A+hat shall 0 sayBA The Sta. looked down into his .lass and -oked the ice with his fin.er* ATell her you are a Colonel,A he said* AColonel %i..insE she mistrusts -ilot officers* nd tell her that you have seen a beautiful dark .irl sellin. sun.lasses at Cicurel's and that you would like, as you -ut it, to take her out to dinner*A AThere isn't a tele-hone here*A A#h yes there is* There's one over there*A Stuffy looked around and saw the tele-hone on the wall at the end of the bar* A0 haven't .ot a -iastre -iece*A A+ell, 0 have,A said Sta.* %e fished in his -ocket and -ut a -iastre on the table* ATim will hear everythin. 0 say*A

A+hat the hell does that matterB %e -robably rin.s her u- himself* >ou're windy,A he added* A>ou're a shit,A said Stuffy* Stuffy was 9ust a child* %e was nineteenE seven whole years youn.er than the Sta.* %e was fairly tall and he was thin, with a lot of black hair and a handsome wide-mouthed face which was coffee brown from the sun of the desert* %e was un;uestionably the finest -ilot in the s;uadron, and already in these early days, his score was fourteen 0talians confirmed destroyed* #n the .round he moved slowly and la,ily like a tired -erson and he thou.ht slowly and la,ily like a slee-y child, but when he was u- in the air his mind was ;uick and his movements were ;uick, so ;uick that they were like refle7 actions* 0t seemed, when he was on the .round, almost as thou.h he was restin., as thou.h he was do,in. a little in order to make sure that when he .ot into the cock-it he would wake u- fresh and ;uick, ready for that two hours of hi.h concentration* 6ut Stuffy was away from the aerodrome now and he had somethin. on his mind which had waked him u- almost like flyin.* 0t mi.ht not last, but for the moment anyway, he was concentratin.* %e looked a.ain in the book for the number, .ot u- and walked slowly over to the tele-hone* %e -ut in the -iastre, dialled the number and heard it rin.in. the other end* The Sta. was sittin. at the table lookin. at him and Tim was still behind the bar arran.in. his bottles* Tim was only about five yards away and he was obviously .oin. to listen to everythin. that was said* Stuffy felt rather foolish* %e leaned a.ainst the bar and waited, ho-in. that no one would answer* Then click, the receiver was lifted at the other end and he heard a woman's voice sayin., A llo*A %e said, A%ello, is 2adame Rosette thereBA %e was watchin. Tim* Tim went on arran.in. his bottles, -retendin. to take no notice, but Stuffy knew that he was listenin.* AThis ees 2adame Rosette* #o ees itBA %er voice was -etulant and .ritty* She sounded as if she did not want to be bothered with anyone 9ust then* Stuffy tried to sound casual* AThis is Colonel %i..ins*A AColonel ooBA AColonel %i..ins*A %e s-elled it* A>es, Colonel* +hat do you wantBA She sounded im-atient* #bviously this was a woman who stood no nonsense* %e still tried to sound casual* A+ell, 2adame Rosette, 0 was wonderin. if you would hel- me over a little matter*A Stuffy was watchin. Tim* %e was listenin. all ri.ht* >ou can always tell if someone is listenin. when he is -retendin. not to* %e is careful not to make any noise about what he is doin. and he -retends that he is concentratin. very hard u-on his 9ob* Tim was like that now, movin. the bottles ;uickly from one shelf to another, watchin. the bottles, makin. no noise, never lookin. around into the room* #ver in the far corner the Sta. was leanin. forward with his elbows on the table, smokin. a ci.arette* %e was watchin. Stuffy, en9oyin. the whole business and knowin. that Stuffy was embarrassed because of Tim* Stuffy had to .o on* A0 was wonderin. if you could hel- me,A he said* A0 was in Cicurel's today buyin. a -air of sun.lasses and 0 saw a .irl there whom 0 would very much like to take out to dinner*A A+hat's Aer nameBA The hard, ras-in. voice was more business-like than ever* A0 don't know,A he said, shee-ishly* A+hat's she look likeBA A+ell, she's .ot dark hair, and tall and, well, she's very beautiful*A A+hat sort of dress was she wearin.BA A"r, let me see* 0 think it was a kind of white dress with red flowers -rinted all over it*A Then, as a brilliant afterthou.ht, he added, AShe had a red belt*A %e remembered that she had been wearin. a shiny red belt* There was a -ause* Stuffy watched Tim who wasn't makin. any noise with the bottlesE he was -ickin. them u- carefully and -uttin. them down carefully* Then the loud .ritty voice a.ain, A0t may cost you a lot*A

AThat's all ri.ht*A Suddenly he didn't like the conversation any more* %e wanted to finish it and .et away* A2i.ht cost you si7 -ounds, mi.ht cost you ei.ht or ten* 0 don't know till 0've seen her* That all ri.htBA A>es yes, that's all ri.ht*A A+here you livin., ColonelBA A2etro-olitan %otel,A he said without thinkin.* A ll ri.ht, 0 .ive you a rin. later*A nd she -ut down the receiver, ban.* Stuffy hun. u-, went slowly back to the table and sat down* A+ell,A said Sta., Athat was all ri.ht, wasn't itBA A>es, 0 su--ose so*A A+hat did she sayBA AShe said that she would call me back at the hotel*A A>ou mean she'll call Colonel %i..ins at the hotel*A Stuffy said, A#h Christ*A Sta. said, A0t's all ri.ht* +e'll tell the desk that the Colonel is in our room and to -ut his calls throu.h to us* A+hat else did she sayBA AShe said it may cost me a lot, si7 or ten -ounds*A ARosette will take ninety -er cent of it,A said Sta.* AShe's a filthy old Syrian Gewess*A A%ow will she work itBA Stuffy said* %e was really a .entle -erson and now he was feelin. worried about havin. started somethin. which mi.ht become com-licated* A+ell,A said Sta., Ashe'll dis-atch one of her -im-s to locate the .irl and find out who she is* 0f she's already on the books, then it's easy* 0f she isn't, the -im- will -ro-osition her there and then over the counter at Cicurel's* 0f the .irl tells him to .o to hell, he'll u- the -rice, and if she still tells him to .o to hell, he'll u- the -rice still more, and in the end she'll be tem-ted by the cash and -robably a.ree* Then Rosette ;uotes you a -rice three times as hi.h and takes the balance herself* >ou have to -ay her, not the .irl* #f course, after that the .irl .oes on Rosette's books, and once she's in her clutches she's finished* 'e7t time Rosette will dictate the -rice and the .irl will not be in a -osition to ar.ue*A A+hyBA A6ecause if she refuses, Rosette will say, A ll ri.ht, my .irl, 0 shall see that your em-loyers, that's Cicurel's, are told about what you did last time, how you've been workin. for me and usin. their sho- as a market -lace* Then they'll fire you*' That's what Rosette will say, and the wretched .irl will be fri.htened and do what she's told*A Stuffy said, ASounds like a nice -erson*A A+hoBA A2adame Rosette*A ACharmin.,A said Sta.* AShe's a charmin. -erson*A 0t was hot* Stuffy wi-ed his face with his handkerchief A2ore whisky,A said Sta.* A%i, Tim, two more of those*A Tim brou.ht the .lasses over and -ut them on the table without sayin. anythin.* %e -icked u- the em-ty .lasses and went away at once* To Stuffy it seemed as thou.h he was different from what he had been when they first came in* %e wasn't cheery any more, he was ;uiet and offhand* There wasn't any more A%i, you fellows, where you been all this time' about him now, and when he .ot back behind the counter he turned his back and went on arran.in. the bottles* The Sta. said, A%ow much money you .otBA A'ine -ounds, 0 think*A A2ay not be enou.h* >ou .ave her a free hand, you know* >ou ou.ht to have set a limit* She'll stin. you now*A A0 know,A Stuffy said* They went on drinkin. for a little while without talkin.* Then Sta. said, A+hat you worryin. about, StuffyBA

A'othin.,A he answered* A'othin. at all* !et's .o back to the hotel* She may rin. u-*A They -aid for their drinks and said .ood-bye to Tim, who nodded but didn't say anythin.* They went back to the 2etro-olitan and as they went -ast the desk, the Sta. said to the clerk, A0f a call comes in for Colonel %i..ins, -ut it throu.h to our room* %e'll be there*A The ".y-tian said, A>es, sir,A and made a note of it* 0n the bedroom, the Sta. lay down on his bed and lit a ci.arette* A nd what am 0 .oin. to do toni.htBA he said* Stuffy had been ;uiet all the way back to the hotel* %e hadn't said a word* 'ow he sat down on the ed.e of the other bed with his hands still in his -ockets and said, A!ook, Sta., 0'm not very keen on this Rosette deal any more* 0t may cost too much* Can't we -ut it offBA The Sta. sat u-* A%ell no,A he said* A>ou're committed* >ou can't fool about with Rosette like that* She's -robably workin. on it at this moment* >ou can't back out now*A A0 may not be able to afford it,A Stuffy said* A+ell, wait and see*A Stuffy .ot u-, went over to the -arachute ba. and took out the bottle of whisky* %e -oured out two, filled the .lasses with water from the ta- in the bathroom, came back and .ave one to the Sta.* ASta.,A he said* ARin. u- Rosette and tell her that Colonel %i..ins has had to leave town ur.ently, to re9oin his re.iment in the desert* Rin. her u- and tell her that* Say the Colonel asked you to deliver the messa.e because he didn't have time*A ARin. her u- yourselfA AShe'd reco.ni,e my voice* Come on, Sta., you rin. her*A A'o,A he said, A0 won't*A A!isten,A said Stuffy suddenly* 0t was the child Stuffy s-eakin.* A0 don't want to .o out with that woman and 0 don't want to have any dealin.s with 2adame Rosette toni.ht* +e can think of somethin. else*A The Sta. looked u- ;uickly* Then he said, A ll ri.ht* 0'll rin. her*A %e reached for the -hone book, looked u- her number and s-oke it into the tele-hone* Stuffy heard him .et her on the line and he heard him .ivin. her the messa.e from the Colonel* There was a -ause, then the Sta. said, A0'm sorry 2adame Rosette, but it's nothin. to do with me* 0'm merely deliverin. a messa.e*A nother -auseE then the Sta. said the same thin. over a.ain and that went on for ;uite a lon. time, until he must have .ot tired of it, because in the end he -ut down the receiver and lay back on his bed* %e was roarin. with lau.hter* AThe lousy old bitch,A he said, and he lau.hed some more* Stuffy said, A+as she an.ryBA A n.ry,A said Sta.* A+as she an.ryB >ou should have heard her* +anted to know the Colonel's re.iment and :od knows what else and said he'd have to -ay* She said you boys think you can fool around with me but you can't*A A%ooray,A said Stuffy* AThe filthy old Gewess*A A'ow what are we .oin. to doBA said the Sta.* A0t's si7 o'clock already*A A!et's .o out and do a little drinkin. in some of those :y--i -laces*A A$ine* +e'll do a :y--i -ub crawl*A They had one more drink, then they went out* They went to a -lace called the "7celsior, then they went to a -lace called the S-hin7, then to a small -lace called by an ".y-tian name, and by ten o'clock they were sittin. ha--ily in a -lace which hadn't .ot a name at all, drinkin. beer and watchin. a kind of sta.e show* t the S-hin7 they had -icked u- a -ilot from Thirty-three s;uadron, who said that his name was +illiam* %e was about the same a.e as Stuffy, but his face was youn.er, for he had not been flyin. so lon.* 0t was es-ecially around his mouth that he was youn.er* %e had a round schoolboy face and a small turned-unose and his skin was brown from the desert* The three of them sat ha--ily in the -lace without a name drinkin. beer,

because beer was the only thin. that they served there* 0t was a lon. wooden room with an un-olished wooden sawdust floor and wooden tables and chairs* t the far end there was a raised wooden sta.e where there was a show .oin. on* The room was full of ".y-tians, sittin. drinkin. black coffee with the red tarbooshes on their heads* There were two fat .irls on the sta.e dressed in shiny silver -ants and silver brassieres* #ne was wa..lin. her bottom in time to the music* The other was wa..lin. her bosom in time to the music* The bosom wa..ler was most skilful* She could wa..le one bosom without wa..lin. the other and sometimes she would wa..le her bottom as well* The ".y-tians were s-ellbound and ke-t .ivin. her a bi. hand* The more they cla--ed the more she wa..led and the more she wa..led the faster the music -layed, and the faster the music -layed, the faster she wa..led, faster and faster and faster, never losin. the tem-o, never losin. the fi7ed brassy smile that was u-on her face, and the ".y-tians cla--ed more and more and louder and louder as the s-eed increased* "veryone was very ha--y* +hen it was over +illiam said, A+hy do they always have those dreary fat womenB +hy don't they have beautiful womenBA The Sta. said, AThe :y--ies like them fat* They like them like that*A A0m-ossible,A said Stuffy* A0t's true,A Sta. said* A0t's an old business* 0t comes from the days where there used to be lots of famines here, and all the -oor -eo-le were thin and all the rich -eo-le and the aristocracy were well fed and fat* 0f you .ot someone fat you couldn't .o wron.E she was bound to be hi.h-class*A A6ullshit,A said Stuffy* +illiam said, A+ell, we'll soon find out* 0'm .oin. to ask those :y--ies*A %e 9erked his thumb towards two middle-a.ed ".y-tians who were sittin. at the ne7t table, only about four feet away* A'o,A said Sta.* A'o, +illiam* +e don't want them over here*A A>es,A said Stuffy* A>es,A said +illiam* A+e've .ot to find out why the :y--ies like fat women*A %e was not drunk* 'one of them was drunk, but they were ha--y with a fair amount of beer and whisky, and +illiam was the ha--iest* %is brown schoolboy face was radiant with ha--iness, his turned-u- nose seemed to have turned u- a little more, and he was -robably rela7in. for the first time in many weeks* %e .ot u-, took three -aces over to the table of the ".y-tians and stood in front of them, smilin.* A:entlemen,A he said, Amy friends and 0 would be honoured if you would 9oin us at our table*A The ".y-tians had dark .reasy skins and -od.y faces* They were wearin. the red hats and one of them had a .old tooth* t first, when +illiam addressed them, they looked a little alarmed* Then they cau.ht on, looked at each other, .rinned and nodded* A)leess,A said one* A)leess,A said the other, and they .ot u-, shook hands with +illiam and followed him over to where the Sta. and Stuffy were sittin.* +illiam said, A2eet my friends* This is the Sta.* This is Stuffy* 0 am +illiam*A The Sta. and Stuffy stood u-, they all shook hands, the ".y-tians said A)leessA once more and then everyone sat down* The Sta. knew that their reli.ion forbade them to drink* A%ave a coffee,A he said* The one with the .old tooth .rinned broadly, raised his -alms u-ward and hunched his shoulders a little* A$or me,A he said, A0 am accustomed* 6ut for my frient,A and he s-read out his hands towards the other, Afor my frient--0 cannot s-eak*A The Sta. looked at the friend* ACoffeeBA he asked* A)leess,A he answered* A0 am accustomed*A A:ood,A said Sta.* ATwo coffees*A

%e called a waiter* ATwo coffees,A he said* A nd, wait a minute* Stuffy, +illiam, more beerBA A$or me,A Stuffy said, A0 am accustomed* 6ut for my friend,A and he turned towards +illiam, Afor my friend--0 cannot s-eak*A +illiam said, A)lease* 0 am accustomed*A 'one of them smiled* The Sta. said, A:ood* +aiter, two coffees and three beers*A The waiter fetched the order and the Sta. -aid* The Sta. lifted his .lass towards the ".y-tians and said, A6un. ho*A A6un. ho,A said Stuffy* A6un. ho,A said +illiam* The ".y-tians seemed to understand and they lifted their coffee cu-s* A)leess,A said the one* AThank you,A said the other* They drank* The Sta. -ut down his .lass and said, A0t is an honour to be in your country*A A>ou likeBA A>es,A said the Sta.* AVery fine*A The music had started a.ain and the two fat women in silver ti.hts were doin. an encore* The encore was a knockout* 0t was surely the most remarkable e7hibition of muscle control that has ever been witnessedE for althou.h the bottomwa..ler was still 9ust wa..lin. her bottom, the bosom-wa..ler was standin. like an oak tree in the centre of the sta.e with her arms above her head* %er left bosom she was rotatin. in a clockwise direction and her ri.ht bosom in an anticlockwise direction* t the same time she was wa..lin. her bottom and it was all in time to the music* :radually the music increased its s-eed, and as it .ot faster, the rotatin. and the wa..lin. .ot faster and some of the ".y-tians were so s-ellbound by the contra-rotatin. bosoms of the woman that they were unconsciously followin. the movements of the bosoms with their hands, holdin. their hands u- in front of them and describin. circles in the air* "veryone stam-ed their feet and screamed with deli.ht and the two women on the sta.e continued to smile their fi7ed brassy smiles* Then it was over* The a--lause .radually died down* ARemarkable,A said the Sta.* A>ou likeBA A)lease, it was remarkable*A AThose .irls,A said the one with the .old tooth, Avery s-ecial*A +illiam couldn't wait any lon.er* %e leaned across the table and said, A2i.ht 0 ask you a ;uestionBA A)leess,A said :olden Tooth* A)leess*A A+ell,A said +illiam, A%ow do you like your womenB !ike this--slimBA and he demonstrated with his hands* A#r like this--fatBA The .old tooth shone bri.htly behind a bi. .rin* A$or me, 0 like this, fat,A and a -air of -od.y hands drew a bi. circle in the air* A nd your friendBA said +illiam* A$or my frient,A he answered, A0 cannot s-eak*A A)leess,A said the friend* A!ike this*A %e .rinned and drew a fat .irl in the air with his hands* Stuffy said, A+hy do you like them fatBA :olden Tooth thou.ht for a moment, then he said, A>ou like them slim, ehBA A)lease,A said Stuffy* A0 like them slim*A A+hy you like them slimB >ou tell me*A Stuffy rubbed the back of his neck with the -alm of his hand* A+illiam,A he said, Awhy do we like them slimBA A$or me,A said +illiam, A0 am accustomed*A ASo am 0,A Stuffy said* A6ut whyBA +illiam considered* A0 don't know,A he said* A0 don't know why we like them slim*A A%a,A said :olden Tooth, A>ou don't know*A %e leaned over the table towards +illiam and said trium-hantly, A nd me, 0 do not know either*A

6ut that wasn't .ood enou.h for +illiam* AThe Sta.,A he said, Asays that all rich -eo-le in ".y-t used to be fat and all -oor -eo-le were thin*A A'o,A said :olden Tooth, A'o no no* !ook those .irls u- there* Very fatE very -oor* !ook ;ueen of ".y-t, Iueen $arida* Very thinE very rich* Iuite wron.*A A>es, but what about years a.oBA said +illiam* A+hat is this, years a.oBA +illiam said, A#h all ri.ht* !et's leave it*A The ".y-tians drank their coffee and made noises like the last bit of water runnin. out of the bathtub* +hen they had finished, they .ot u- to .o* A:oin.BA said the Sta.* A)leess,A said :olden Tooth* +illiam said, AThank you*A Stuffy said, A)leess*A The other ".y-tian said, A)leessA and the Sta. said, AThank you*A They all shook hands and the ".y-tians de-arted* ARo-ey ty-es,A said +illiam* AVery,A said Stuffy* AVery ro-ey ty-es*A The three of them sat on drinkin. ha--ily until midni.ht, when the waiter came u- and told them that the -lace was closin. and that there were no more drinks* They were still not really drunk because they had been takin. it slowly, but they were feelin. healthy* A%e says we've .ot to .o*A A ll ri.ht* +here shall we .oB +here shall we .o, Sta.BA A0 don't know* +here do you want to .oBA A!et's .o to another -lace like this,A said +illiam* AThis is a fine -lace*A There was a -ause* Stuffy was strokin. the back of his neck with his hand* ASta.,A he said slowly, A0 know where 0 want to .o* 0 want to .o to 2adame Rosette's and 0 want to rescue all the .irls there*A A+ho's 2adame RosetteBA +illiam said* AShe's a .reat woman,A said the Sta.* AShe's a filthy old Syrian Gewess,A said Stuffy* AShe's a lousy old bitch,A said the Sta.* A ll ri.ht,A said +illiam* A!et's .o* 6ut who is sheBA They told him who she was* They told him about their tele-hone calls and about Colonel %i..ins, and +illiam said, ACome on, let's .o* !et's .o and rescue all the .irls*A They .ot u- and left* +hen they went outside, they remembered that they were in a rather remote -art of the town* A+e'll have to walk a bit,A said Sta.* A'o .harries here*A 0t was a dark starry ni.ht with no moon* The street was narrow and blackedout* 0t smelled stron.ly with the smell of Cairo* 0t was ;uiet as they walked alon., and now and a.ain they -assed a man or sometimes two men standin. back in the shadow of a house, leanin. a.ainst the wall of the house, smokin.* A0 say,A said +illiam, Aro-ey, whatBA AVery,A said Stuffy* AVery bad ty-es*A They walked on, the three of them walkin. abreastE s;uare short .in.erhaired Sta., tall dark Stuffy, and tall youn. +illiam who went bareheaded because he had lost his ca-* They headed rou.hly towards the centre of the town where they knew that they would find a .harry to take them on to Rosette* Stuffy said, A#h, won't the .irls be -leased when we rescue themBA AGesus,A said the Sta., Ait ou.ht to be a -arty*A ADoes she actually kee- them locked u-BA +illiam said* A+ell, no,A said Sta.* A'ot e7actly* 6ut if we rescue them now, they won't have to work any more toni.ht anyway* >ou see, the .irls she has at her -lace are nothin. but ordinary sho- .irls who still work durin. the day in the sho-s* They have all of them made some mistake or other which Rosette either en.ineered or found out about, and now she has -ut the screws on themE she makes them come alon. in the evenin., 6ut they hate her and they do not de-end on her for a livin.* They would kick her in the teeth if they .ot the chance*A

Stuffy said, A+e'll .ive them the chance*A They crossed over a street* +illiam said, A%ow many .irls will there be there, Sta.BA A0 don't know* 0 su--ose there mi.ht be thirty*A A:ood :od,A said +illiam* AThis will be a -arty* Does she really treat them very badlyBA The Sta. said, AThirty-three s;uadron told me that she -ays them nothin., about twenty akkers a ni.ht* She char.es the customers a hundred or two hundred akkers each* "very .irl earns for Rosette between five hundred and a thousand akkers every ni.ht*A A:ood :od,A said +illiam* A thousand -iastres a ni.ht and thirty .irls* She must be a millionaire*A AShe is* Someone calculated that not even countin. her outside business, she makes the e;uivalent of about fifteen hundred -ounds a week* That's, let me see, that's between five and si7 thousand -ounds a month* Si7ty thousand -ounds a year*A Stuffy came out of his dream* AGesus,A he said, AGesus Christ* The filthy old Syrian Gewess*A AThe lousy old bitch,A said +illiam* They were comin. into a more civili,ed section of the town, but still there were no .harries* The Sta. said, ADid you hear about 2ary's %ouseBA A+hat's 2ary's %ouseBA said +illiam* A0t's a -lace in le7andria* 2ary is the Rosette of le7*A A!ousy old bitch,A said +illiam* A'o,A Sta. said* AThey say she's a .ood woman* 6ut anyway, 2ary's %ouse was hit by a bomb last week* The navy was in -ort at the time and the -lace was full of sailors, nautic ty-es*A A/illedBA A!ots of them killed* nd d'you know what ha--enedB They -osted them as killed in action*A AThe dmiral is a .entleman,A said Stuffy* A2a.nificent,A said +illiam* Then they saw a .harry and hailed it* Stuffy said, A+e don't know the address*A A%e'll know it,A said Sta.* A2adame Rosette,A he said to the driver* The driver .rinned and nodded* Then +illiam said, A0'm .oin. to drive* :ive me the reins, driver, and sit u- here beside me and tell me where to .o*A The driver -rotested vi.orously, but when +illiam .ave him ten -iastres, he .ave him the reins* +illiam sat hi.h u- on the driver's seat with the driver beside him* The Sta. and Stuffy .ot in the back of the carria.e* ATake off,A said Stuffy* +illiam took off* The horses be.an to .allo-* A'o .ood,A shrieked the driver* A'o .ood* Sto-*A A+hich way RosetteBA shouted +illiam* ASto-,A shrieked the driver* +illiam was ha--y* ARosette,A he shouted* A+hich wayBA The driver made a decision* %e decided that the only way to sto- this madman was to .et him to his destination* AThis way,A he shrieked* A!eft*A +illiam -ulled hard on the left rein and the horses swerved around the corner* The .harry took it on one wheel* AToo much bank,A shouted Stuffy from the back seat* A+hich way nowBA shouted +illiam* A!eft,A shrieked the driver* They took the ne7t street to the left, then they took one to the ri.ht, two more to the left, then one to the ri.ht a.ain and suddenly the driver yelled, A%ere -leess, here Rosette* Sto-*A +illiam -ulled hard on the reins and .radually the horses raised their heads with the -ullin. and slowed down to a trot* ACThereBA said +illiam*

A%ere,A said the driver* A)leess*A %e -ointed to a house twenty yards ahead* +illiam brou.ht the horses to a sto- ri.ht in front of it* A'ice work, +illiam,A said Stuffy* AGesus,A said the Sta.* AThat was ;uick*A A2arvellous,A said +illiam* A+asn't itBA %e was very ha--y* The driver was sweatin. throu.h his shirt and he was too fri.htened to be an.ry* +illiam said, A%ow muchBA A)leess, twenty -iastres*A +illiam .ave him forty and said, AThank you very much* $ine horses*A The little man took the money, 9um-ed u- on to the .harry, and drove off* %e was in a hurry to .et away* They were in another of those narrow, dark streets, but the houses, what they could see of them, looked hu.e and -ros-erous* The one which the driver had said was Rosette's was wide and thick and three storeys hi.h, built of .rey concrete, and it had a lar.e thick front door which stood wide o-en* s they went in, the Sta. said, A'ow leave this to me* 0've .ot a -lan*A 0nside there was a cold .rey dusty stone hall, lit by a bare electric li.ht bulb in the ceilin., and there was a man standin. in the hall* %e was a mountain of la man, a hu.e ".y-tian with a flat face and two cauliflower ears* 0n his wrestlin. days he had -robably been billed as bdul the /iller or The )oisonous )asha, but now he wore a dirty white cotton suit* The Sta. said, A:ood evenin.* 0s 2adame Rosette hereBA bdul looked hard at the three -ilots, hesitated, then said, A2adame Rosette to- floor*A AThank you,A said Sta.* AThank you very much*A Stuffy noticed that the Sta. was bein. -olite* There was always trouble for somebody when he was like that* 6ack in the s;uadron, when he was leadin. a fli.ht, when they si.hted the enemy and when there was .oin. to be a battle, the Sta. never .ave an order without sayin. A)lease' and he never received a messa.e without sayin. AThank you*' %e was sayin. AThank youA now to bdul* They went u- the bare stone ste-s which had iron railin.s* They went -ast the first landin. and the second landin., and the -lace was as bare as a cave* t the to- of the third fli.ht of ste-s, there was no landin.E it was walled off, and the stairs ran u- to a door* The Sta. -ressed the bell* They waited a while, then a little -anel in the door slid back and a -air of small black eyes -eeked throu.h* woman's voice said, A+hat you boys wantBA 6oth the Sta. and Stuffy reco.ni,ed the voice from the tele-hone* The Sta. said, A+e would like to see 2adame Rosette*A %e -ronounced the 2adame in the $rench way because he was bein. -olite* A>ou officersB #nly officers here,A said the voice* She had a voice like a broken board* A>es,A said Sta.* A+e are officers*A A>ou don't look like officers* +hat kind of officersBA A0$* There was a -ause* The Sta. knew that she was considerin.* She had -robably had trouble with -ilots before, and he ho-ed only that she would not see A+illiam and the li.ht that was dancin. in his eyesE for +illiam was still feelin. the way he had felt when he drove the .harry* Suddenly the -anel closed and the door o-ened* A ll ri.ht, come in,A she said* She was too .reedy, this woman, even to -ick her customers carefully* They went in and there she was* Short, fat, .reasy, with wis-s of untidy black hair stra..lin. over her foreheadE a lar.e, mud-coloured face, a lar.e wide nose and a small fish mouth, with 9ust the trace of a black moustache above the mouth* She had on a loose black satin dress* ACome into the office, boys,A she said, and started to waddle down the -assa.e to the left* 0t was a lon. wide -assa.e, about fifty yards lon. and four

or five yards wide* 0t ran throu.h the middle of the house, -arallel with the street, and as you came in from the stairs, you had to turn left alon. it* ll the way down there were doors, about ei.ht or ten of them on each side* 0f you turned ri.ht as you came in from the stairs, you ran into the end of the -assa.e, but there was one door there too, and as the three of them walked in, they heard a babble of female voices from behind that door* The Sta. noted that it was the .irls' dressin.-room* AThis way, boys,A said Rosette* She turned left and slo--ed down the -assa.e, away from the door with the voices* The three followed her, Sta. first, then Stuffy, then +illiam, down the -assa.e which had a red car-et on the floor and hu.e -ink lam-shades han.in. from the ceilin.* They .ot about halfway down the -assa.e when there was a yell from the dressin.-room behind them* Rosette sto--ed and looked around* A>ou .o on, boys,A she said, Ainto the office, last door on the left* 0 won't be a minute*A She turned and went back towards the dressin.room door* They didn't .o on* They stood and watched her, and 9ust as she .ot to the door, it o-ened and a .irl rushed out* $rom where they stood, they could see that her fair hair was all over her face and that she had on an untidy-lookin. .reen evenin. dress* She saw Rosette in front of her and she sto--ed* They heard Rosette say somethin., somethin. an.ry and ;uick s-oken, and they heard the .irl shout somethin. back at her* They saw Rosette raise her ri.ht arm and they saw her hit the .irl smack on the side of the face with the -alm of her hand* They saw her draw back her hand and hit her a.ain in the same -lace* She hit her hard* The .irl -ut her hands u- to her face and be.an to cry* Rosette o-ened the door of the dressin.-room and -ushed her back inside* AGesus,A said the Sta.* AShe's tou.h*A +illiam said, ASo am 0*A Stuffy didn't say anythin.* Rosette came back to them and said, ACome alon., boys* Gust a bit of trouble, that's all*A She led them to the end of the -assa.e and in throu.h the last door on the left* This was the office* 0t was a medium-si,ed room with two red -lush sofas, two or three red -lush armchairs and a thick red car-et on the floor* 0n one corner was a small desk, and Rosette sat herself behind it, facin. the room* ASit down, boys,A she said* The Sta. took an armchair, Stuffy and +illiam sat on a sofa* A+ell,A she said, and her voice became shar- and ur.ent* A!et's do business*A The Sta. leaned forward in his chair* %is short .in.er hair looked somehow wron. a.ainst the bri.ht red -lush* A2adame Rosette,A he said, Ait is a .reat -leasure to meet you* +e have heard so much about you*A Stuffy looked at the Sta.* %e was bein. -olite a.ain* Rosette looked at him too, and her little black eyes were sus-icious* A6elieve me,A the Sta. went on, Awe've really been lookin. forward to this for ;uite a time now*A %is voice was so -leasant and he was so -olite that Rosette took it* AThat's nice of you boys,A she said* A>ou'll always have a .ood time here* 0 see to that* 'ow business*A +illiam couldn't wait any lon.er* %e said slowly* AThe Sta. says that you're a .reat woman*A AThanks, boys*A Stuffy said, AThe Sta. says that you're a filthy old Syrian Gewess*A +illiam said ;uickly, AThe Sta. says that you're a lousy old bitch*A A nd 0 know what 0'm talkin. about,A said the Sta.* Rosette 9um-ed to her feet* A+hat's thisBA she shrieked, and her face was no lon.er the colour of mudE it was the colour of red clay* The men did not move* They did not smile or lau.hE they sat ;uite still, leanin. forward a little in their seats, watchin. her* Rosette had had trouble before, -lenty of it, and she knew how to deal with it* 6ut this was different* They didn't seem drunk, it wasn't about money and it

wasn't about one of her .irls* 0t was about herself and she didn't like it* A:et out,A she yelled* A:et out unless you want trouble*A 6ut they did not move* $or a moment she -aused, then she ste--ed ;uickly from behind her desk and made for the door* 6ut the Sta. was there first and when she went for him, Stuffy and +illiam each cau.ht one of her arms from behind* A+e'll lock her in,A said the Sta.* A!et's .et out*A Then she really started yellin. and the words which she used cannot be written down on -a-er, for they were terrible words* They -oured out of her small fish mouth in one lon. unbroken hi.h--itched stream, and little bits of s-it and saliva came out with them* Stuffy and +illiam -ulled her back by the arms towards one of the bi. chairs and she fou.ht and yelled like a lar.e fat -i. bein. dra..ed to the slau.hter* They .ot her in front of the chair and .ave her a ;uick -ush so that she fell backwards into it* Stuffy ni--ed across to her desk, bent down ;uickly and 9erked the tele-hone cord from its connection* The Sta. had the door o-en and all three of them were out of the room before Rosette had time to .et u-* The Sta. had taken the key from the inside of the door, and now he locked it* The three of them stood outside in the -assa.e* AGesus,A said the Sta.* A+hat a womanFA A2ad as hell,A +illiam said* A!isten to her*A They stood outside in the -assa.e and they listened* They heard her yellin., then she be.an ban.in. on the door, but she went on yellin. and her voice was not the voice of a woman, it was the voice of an enra.ed but articulate bull* The Sta. said, A'ow ;uick* The .irls* $ollow me* nd from now on you've .ot to act serious* >ou've .ot to act serious as hell*A %e ran down the -assa.e towards the dressin. room, followed by Stuffy and +illiam* #utside the door he sto--ed, the other two sto--ed and they could still hear Rosette yellin. from her office* The Sta. said, A'ow don't say anythin.* Gust act serious as hell,A and he o-ened the door and went in* There were about a do,en .irls in the room* They all looked u-* They sto--ed talkin. and looked u- at the Sta., who was standin. in the doorway* The Sta. clicked his heels and said, AThis is the 2ilitary )olice* !es :endarmes 2illta9res*A %e said it in a stern voice and with a strai.ht face and he was standin. there in the doorway at attention with his ca- on his head* Stuffy and +illiam stood behind him* AThis is the 2ilitary )olice,A he said a.ain, and he -roduced his identification card and held it u- between two fin.ers* The .irls didn't move or say anythin.* They stayed still in the middle of what they were doin. and they were like a tableau because they stayed so still* #ne had been -ullin. on a stockin. and she stayed like that, sittin. on a chair with her le. out strai.ht and the stockin. u- to her knee with her hands on the stockin.* #ne had been doin. her hair in front of a mirror and when she looked round she ke-t her hands u- to her hair* #ne was standin. u- and had been a--lyin. li-stick and she raised her eyes to the Sta. but still held the li-stick to her mouth* Several were 9ust sittin. around on -lain wooden chairs, doin. nothin., and they raised their heads and turned them to the door, but they went on sittin.* 2ost of them were in some sort of shiny evenin. dress, one or two were halfclothed, but most of them were in shiny .reen or shiny blue or shiny red or shiny .old, and when they turned to look at the Sta., they were so still that they were like a tableau* The Sta. -aused* Then he said, A0 am to state on behalf of the authorities that they are sorry to disturb you* 2y a-olo.ies, mesd'moiselles* 6ut it is necessary that you come with us for -ur-oses of re.istration, et cetera* fterwards you will be allowed to .o* 0t is a mere formality* 6ut now you must come, -lease* 0 have conversed with 2adame*A The Sta. sto--ed s-eakin., but still the .irls did not move* A)lease,A said the Sta., A.et your coats* +e are the military*A %e ste--ed aside and held o-en the door* Suddenly the tableau dissolved, the .irls .ot u-,

-u,,led and murmurin., and two or three of them moved towards the door* The others followed* The ones that were halfclothed ;uickly sli--ed into dresses, -atted their hair with their hands and came too* 'one of them had coats* ACount them,A said the Sta. to Stuffy as they filed out of the door* Stuffy counted them aloud and there were fourteen* A$ourteen, sir,A said Stuffy, who was tryin. to talk like a ser.eant-ma9or* The Sta. said, ACorrect,A and he turned to the .irls who were crowded in the -assa.e* A'ow, mesd'moiselles, 0 have the list of your names from 2adame, so -lease do not try to run away* nd do not worry* This is merely a formality of the military*A +illiam was out in the -assa.e o-enin. the door which led to the stairs, and he went out first* The .irls followed and the Sta. and Stuffy brou.ht u- the rear* The .irls were ;uiet and -u,,led and worried and a little fri.htened and they didn't talk, none of them talked e7ce-t for a tall one with black hair who said, A2on Dieu, a formality of the military* 2on Dieu, men Dieu, what ne7t*A 6ut that was all and they went on down* 0n the hall they met the ".y-tian who had a fiat face and two cauliflower ears* $or a moment it looked as thou.h there would be trouble* 6ut the Sta. waved his identification card in his face and said, AThe 2ilitary )olice,A and the man was so sur-rised that he did nothin. and let them -ass* nd so they came out into the street and the Sta. said, A0t is necessary to walk a little way, but only a very little way,A and they turned ri.ht and walked alon. the sidewalk with the Sta. leadin., Stuffy at the rear and +illiam walkin. out on the road .uardin. the flank* There was some moon now* #ne could see ;uite well and +illiam tried to kee- in ste- with Sta. and Stuffy tried to kee- in stewith +illiam, and they swun. their arms and held their heads u- hi.h and looked very military, and the whole thin. was a si.ht to behold* $ourteen .irls in shiny evenin. dresses, fourteen .irls in the moonli.ht in shiny .reen, shiny blue, shiny red, shiny black and shiny .old, marchin. alon. the street with the Sta. in front, +illiam alon.side and Stuffy at the rear* 0t was a si.ht to behold* The .irls had started chatterin.* The Sta. could hear them, althou.h he didn't look around* %e marched on at the head of the column and when they came to the crossroads he turned ri.ht* The others followed and they had walked fifty yards down the block when they came to an ".y-tian caf* The Sta. saw it and he saw the li.hts burnin. behind the blackout curtains* %e turned around and shouted A%altFA The .irls sto--ed, but they went on chatterin. and anyone could see that there was mutiny in the ranks* >ou can't make fourteen .irls in hi.h heels and shiny evenin. dresses march all over town with you at ni.ht, not for lon. anyway, not for lon., even if it is a formality of the military* The Sta. knew it and now he was s-eakin.* Al'vlesd'moiselles,A he said, Alisten to me*A 6ut there was mutiny in the ranks and they went on talkin. and the tall one with dark hair was sayin., A2on Dieu, what is thisB A+hat in hell's name sort of a thin. is this, oh mon DieuBA AIuiet,A said the Sta.* AIuietFA and the second time he shouted it as a command* The talkin. sto--ed* A2esd'moiselles,A he said, and now he became -olite* %e talked to them in his best way and when the Sta. was -olite there wasn't anyone who didn't take it* 0t was an e7traordinary thin. because he could make a kind of smile with his voice without smilin. with his li-s* %is voice smiled while his face remained serious* 0t was a most forcible thin. because it .ave -eo-le the im-ression that he was bein. serious about bein. nice* A2esd'moiselles,A he said, and his voice was smilin.* A+ith the military there always has to be formality* 0t is somethin. unavoidable* 0t is somethin. that 0 re.ret e7ceedin.ly* 6ut there can be chivalry also* nd you must know that with the R $ there is .reat chivalry* So now it will be a -leasure if you will all come in here and take with us a .lass of beer* 0t is the chivalry of the military*A %e ste--ed forward, o-ened the door of the caf and said, A#h for :od's sake, let's have a drink* +ho wants a drinkBA

Suddenly the .irls saw it all* They saw the whole thin. as it was, all of them at once* 0t took them by sur-rise* $or a second they considered* Then they looked at one another, then they looked at the Sta., then they looked around at Stuffy and at +illiam, and when they looked at those two they cau.ht their eyes, and the lau.hter that was in them* ll at once the .irls be.an to lau.h and +illiam lau.hed and Stuffy lau.hed and they moved forward and -oured into the caf* The tall one with dark hair took the Sta. by the arm and said, A2on Dieu, 2ilitary )olice, mon Dieu, oh mon Dieu,A and she threw her head back and lau.hed and the Sta. lau.hed with her* +illiam said, A0t is the chivalry of the military,A and they moved into the caf* The -lace was rather like the one that they had been in before, wooden and sawdusty, and there were a few coffee-drinkin. ".y-tians sittin. around with the red tarbooshes on their heads* +illiam and Stuffy -ushed three round tables to.ether and fetched chairs* The .irls sat down* The ".y-tians at the other tables -ut down their coffee cu-s, turned around in their chairs and .a-ed* They .a-ed like so many fat muddy fish, and some of them shifted their chairs round facin. the -arty so that they could .et a better view and they went on .a-in.* waiter came u- and the Sta. said, ASeventeen beers* 6rin. us seventeen beers*A The waiter said A)leessA and went away* s they sat waitin. for the drinks the .irls looked at the three -ilots and the -ilots looked at the .irls* +illiam said, A0t is the chivalry of the military,A and the tall dark .irl said, A2on Dieu, you are cra,y -eo-le, oh mon Dieu*A The waiter brou.ht the beer* +illiam raised his .lass and said, ATo the chivalry of the military*A The dark .irl said, A#h mon Dieu*A Stuffy didn't say anythin.* %e was busy lookin. around at the .irls, si,in. them u-, tryin. to decide now which one he liked best so that he could .o to work at once* The Sta. was smilin. and the .irls were sittin. there in their shiny evenin. dresses, shiny red, shiny .old, shiny blue, shiny .reen, shiny black and shiny silver, and once a.ain it was almost a tableau, certainly it was a -icture, and the .irls were sittin. there si--in. their beer, seemin. ;uite ha--y, not seemin. sus-icious any more because to them the whole thin. now a--eared e7actly as it was and they understood* AGesus,A said the Sta., %e -ut down his .lass and looked around him* A#h Gesus, there's enou.h here for the whole s;uadron* %ow 0 wish the whole s;uadron was hereFA %e took another drink, sto--ed in the middle of it and -ut down his .lass ;uickly* A0 know what,A he said* A+aiter, oh waiter*A A)leess*A A:et me a bi. -iece of -a-er and a -encil*A A)leess*A The waiter went away and came back with a sheet of -a-er* %e took a -encil from behind his ear and handed it to the Sta.* The Sta. ban.ed the table for silence* A2esd'moiselles,A he said, Afor the last time there is a formality* 0t is the last of all the formalities*A A#f the military,A said +illiam* A#h mon Dieu,A said the dark .irl* A0t is nothin.,A the Sta. said* A>ou are re;uired to write your name and your tele-hone number on this -iece of -a-er* 0t is for my friends in the s;uadron* 0t is so that they can be as ha--y as 0 am now, but without the same trouble beforehand*A The Sta.'s voice was smilin. a.ain* #ne could see that the .irls liked his voice* A>ou would be very kind if you would do that,A he went on, Afor they too would like to meet you* 0t would be a -leasure*A A+onderful,A said +illiam* ACra,y,A said the dark .irl, but she wrote her name and number on the -a-er and -assed it on* The Sta. ordered another round of beer* The .irls certainly looked funny sittin. there in their dresses, but they were writin. their names down on the -a-er* They looked ha--y and +illiam -articularly looked ha--y, but

Stuffy looked serious because the -roblem of choosin. was a wei.hty one and it was heavy on his mind* They were .ood-lookin. .irls, youn. and .oodlookin., all different, com-letely different from each other because they were :reek and Syrian and $rench and 0talian and li.ht ".y-tian and >u.oslav and many other thin.s, but they were .oodlookin., all of them were .ood-lookin. and handsome* The -iece of -a-er had come back to the Sta. now and they had all written on itE fourteen stran.ely written names and fourteen tele-hone numbers* The Sta. looked at it slowly* AThis will .o on the s;uadron notice-boardE he said, Aand 0 will be re.arded as a .reat benefactor*A +illiam said, A0t should .o to head;uarters* 0t should be mimeo.ra-hed and circulated to all s;uadrons* 0t would be .ood for morale*A A#h mon Dieu,A said the dark .irl* A>ou are cra,y*A Slowly Stuffy .ot to his feet, -icked u- his chair, carried it round to the other side of the table and -ushed it between two of the .irls* ll he said was A"7cuse me* Do you mind if 0 sit hereBA t last he had made u- his mind, and now he turned towards the one on his ri.ht and ;uietly went to work* She was very -rettyE very dark and very -retty and she had -lenty of sha-e* Stuffy be.an to talk to her, com-letely oblivious to the rest of the com-any, turnin. towards her and leanin. his head on his hand* +atchin. him, it was not so difficult to understand why he was the .reatest -ilot in the s;uadron* %e was a youn. concentrator, this StuffyE an intense athletic concentrator who moved towards what he wanted in a dead strai.ht line* %e took hold of windin. roads and carefully he made them strai.ht, then he moved over them with .reat s-eed and nothin. sto--ed him* %e was like that, and now he was talkin. to the -retty .irl but no one could hear what he was sayin.* 2eanwhile the Sta. was thinkin.* %e was thinkin. about the ne7t move, and when everyone was .ettin. towards the end of their third beer, he ban.ed the table a.ain for silence* A2esd'moiselles,A he said* A0t will be a -leasure for us to escort you home* 0 will take five of you,A--he had worked it all out AStuffy will take five, and Gamface will take four* +e will take three .harries and 0 will take five of you in mine and 0 will dro- you home one at a time*A military*,, said, A0t is the chivalry of the military*A AStuffy,A said the Sta.* AStuffy, is that all ri.htB >ou take five* 0t's uto you whom you dro- off last*A Stuffy looked around* A>es,A he said* A#h yes* That suits me*A A+illiam, you take four* Dro- them home one by oneE you understand*A A)erfectly,A said +illiam* A#h -erfectly*A They all .ot u- and moved towards the door* The tall one with dark hair took the Sta.'s arm and said, A>ou take meBA A>es,A he answered* A0 take you*A A>ou dro- me off lastBA A>es* 0 dro- you off last*A A#h mon Dieu,A she said* AThat will be fine*A #utside they .ot three .harries and they s-lit u- into -arties* Stuffy was movin. ;uickly* %e .ot his .irls into the carria.e ;uickly, climbed in after them and the Sta. saw the .harry drive off down the street* Then he saw +illiam's .harry move off, but it seemed to start away with a sudden 9erk, with the horses breakin. into a .allo- at once* The Sta. looked a.ain and he saw +illiam -erched hi.h u- on the driver's seat with the reins in his hands* The Sta. said, A!et's .o,A and his five .irls .ot into their .harry* 0t was a s;uash, but everyone .ot in* The Sta. sat back in his seat and then he felt an arm -ushin. u- and under and linkin. with his* 0t was the tall one with dark hair* %e turned and looked at her* A%ello,A he said* A%ello, you*A A h,A she whis-ered* A>ou are such .oddam cra,y -eo-le*A nd the Sta. felt a warmness inside him and he be.an to hum a little tune as the .harry rattled on throu.h the dark streets*

/atina MSome brief notes about the last days of R $ fi.hters in the first :reek cam-ai.n*M

)"T"R saw her first* She was sittin. on a stone, ;uite still, with her hands restin. on her la-* She was starin. vacantly ahead, seein. nothin., and all around, u- and down the little street, -eo-le were runnin. backward and forward with buckets of water, em-tyin. them throu.h the windows of the burnin. houses* cross the street on the cobblestones, there was a dead boy* Someone had moved his body close in to the side so that it would not be in the way* little farther down an old man was workin. on a -ile of stones and rubble* #ne by one he was carryin. the stones away and dum-in. them to the side* Sometimes he would bend down and -eer into the ruins, re-eatin. a name over and over a.ain* ll around there was shoutin. and runnin. and fires and buckets of water and dust* nd the .irl sat ;uietly on the stone, starin. ahead, not movin.* There was blood runnin. down the left side of her face* 0t ran down from her forehead and dro--ed from her chin on to the dirty -rint dress she was wearin.* )eter saw her and said, A!ook at that little .irl*A +e went u- to her and $in -ut his hand on her shoulder, bendin. down to e7amine the cut* A!ooks like a -iece of shra-nel,A he said* AShe ou.ht to see the Doc*A )eter and 0 made a chair with our hands and $in lifted her u- on to it* +e started back throu.h the streets and out towards the aerodrome, the two of us walkin. a little awkwardly, bendin. down, facin. our burden* 0 could feel )eter's fin.ers clas-in. ti.htly in mine and 0 could feel the buttocks of the little .irl restin. li.htly on my wrists* 0 was on the left side and the blood was dri--in. down from her face on to the arm of my flyin. suit, runnin. down the water-roof cloth on to the back of my hand* The .irl never moved or said anythin.* $in said, AShe's bleedin. rather fast* +e'd better walk a bit ;uicker*A 0 couldn't see much of her face because of the blood, but 0 could tell that she was lovely* She had hi.h cheekbones and lar.e round eyes, -ale blue like an autumn sky, and her hair was short and fair* 0 .uessed she was about nine years old* This was in :reece in early -ril, 1@?1, at )aramythia* #ur fi.hter s;uadron was stationed on a muddy field near the villa.e* +e were in a dee- valley and all around us were the mountains* The free,in. winter had -assed, and now, almost before anyone knew it, s-rin. had come* 0t had come ;uietly and swiftly, meltin. the ice on the lakes and brushin. the snow off the mountain to-sE and all over the airfield we could see the -ale .reen shoots of .rass -ushin. u- throu.h the mud, makin. a car-et for our landin.s* 0n our valley there were warm winds and wild flowers* The :ermans, who had -ushed in throu.h >u.oslavia a few days before, were now o-eratin. in force, and that afternoon they had come over very hi.h with about thirty-five Dorniers and bombed the villa.e* )eter and $in and 0 were off duty for a while, and the three of us had .one down to see if there was anythin. we could do in the way of rescue work* +e had s-ent a few hours di..in. around in the ruins and hel-in. to -ut out fires, and we were on our way back when we saw the .irl* 'ow, as we a--roached the landin. field, we could see the %urricanes circlin. around comin. in to land, and there was the Doc standin. out in front

of'the dis-ersal tent, 9ust as he should have been, waitin. to see if anyone had been hurt* +e walked towards him, carryin. the child, and $in, who was a few yards in front, said, ADoc, you la,y old devil, here's a 9ob for you*A The Doc was youn. and kind and morose e7ce-t when he .ot drunk* +hen he .ot drunk he san. very well* ATake her into the sick bay,A he said* )eter and 0 carried her in and -ut her down on a chair* Then we left her and wandered over to the dis-ersal tent to see how the boys had .ot alon.* 0t was be.innin. to .et dark* There was a sunset behind the rid.e over in the west, and there was a full moon, a bombers' moon, climbin. u- into the sky* The moon shone u-on the shoulders of the tents and made them whiteE small white -yramids, standin. u- strai.ht, clusterin. in little orderly .rou-s around the ed.es of the aerodrome* They had a scared-shee- look about them the way they clustered themselves to.ether, and they had a human look about them the way they stood u- close to one another, and it seemed almost as thou.h they knew that there was .oin. to be trouble, as thou.h someone had warned them that they mi.ht be for.otten and left behind* "ven as 0 looked, 0 thou.ht 0 saw them move* 0 thou.ht 0 saw them huddle 9ust a fraction nearer to.ether* nd then, silently, without a sound, the mountains cre-t a little closer into our valley* $or the ne7t two days there was much flyin.* There was the .ettin. u- at dawn, there was the flyin., the fi.htin. and the slee-in.E and there was the retreat of the army* That was about all there was or all there was time for* 6ut on the third day the clouds dro--ed down over the mountains and slid into the valley* nd it rained* So we sat around in the mess-tent drinkin. beer and resinato, while the rain made a noise like a sewin. machine on the roof* Then lunch* $or the first time in days the whole s;uadron was -resent* $ifteen -ilots at a lon. table with benches on either side and A2onkey, the C# sittin. at the head* +e were still in the middle of our fried corned beef when the fla- of the tent o-ened and in came the Doc with an enormous dri--in. raincoat over his head* nd with him, under the coat, was the little .irl* She had a banda.e round her head* The Doc said, A%ello* 0've brou.ht a .uest*A +e looked around and suddenly, automatically, we all stood u-* The Doc was takin. off his raincoat and the little .irl was standin. there with her hands han.in. loose by her sides lookin. at the men, and the men were all lookin. at her* +ith her fair hair and -ale skin she looked less like a :reek than anyone 0've ever seen* She was fri.htened by the fifteen scruffy-lookin. forei.ners who had suddenly stood u- when she came in, and for a moment she halfturned as if she were .oin. to run away out into the rain* 2onkey said, A%allo* %allo there* Come and sit down*A ATalk :reek,A the Doc said* AShe doesn't understand*A $in and )eter and 0 looked at one another and $in said, A:ood :od, it's our little .irl* 'ice work, Doc*A She reco.ni,ed $in and walked round to where he was standin.* %e took her by the hand and sat her down on the bench, and everyone else sat down too* +e .ave her some fried corned beef and she ate it slowly, lookin. down at her -late while she ate* 2onkey said, A:et )ericles*A )ericles was the :reek inter-reter attached to the s;uadron* %e was a wonderful man we'd -icked u- at >anina, where he had been the local school teacher* %e had been out of work ever since the war started* AThe children do not come to school,A he said* AThey are u- in the mountains and fi.ht* 0 cannot teach sums to the stones*A )ericles came in* %e was old, with a beard, a lon. -ointed nose and sad .rey eyes* >ou couldn't see his mouth, but his beard had a way of smilin. when he talked* A sk her her name,A said 2onkey*

%e said somethin. to her in :reek* She looked u- and said, A/atina*A That was all she said* A!ook, )ericles,A )eter said, Aask her what she was doin. sittin. by that hea- of ruins in the villa.e*A $in said, A$or :od's sake leave her alone*A A sk her, )ericles,A said )eter* A+hat should 0 askBA said )ericles, frownin.* )eter said, A+hat she was doin. sittin. on that hea- of stuff in the villa.e when we found her*A )ericles sat down on the bench beside her and he talked to her a.ain* %e s-oke .ently and you could see that his beard was smilin. a little as he s-oke, hel-in. her* She listened and it seemed a lon. time before she answered* +hen she s-oke, it was only a few words, and the old man translatedH AShe says that her family were under the stones*A #utside the rain was comin. down harder than ever* 0t beat u-on the roof of the mess-tent so that the canvas shivered as the water bounced u-on it* 0 .ot uand walked over and lifted the fla- of the tent* The mountains were invisible behind the rain, but 0 knew they were around us on every side* 0 had a feelin. that they were lau.hin. at us, lau.hin. at the smallness of our numbers and at the ho-eless coura.e of the -ilots* 0 felt that it was the mountains, not us, who were the clever ones* %ad not the hills that very mornin. turned and looked northward towards Te-elene where they had seen a thousand :erman aircraft .athered under the shadow of #lym-usB +as it not true that the snow on the to- of Dodona had melted away in a day, sendin. little rivers of water runnin. down across our landin. fieldB %ad not /ata-hidi buried his head in a cloud so that our -ilots mi.ht be tem-ted to fly throu.h the whiteness and crash a.ainst his ru..ed shouldersB nd as 0 stood there lookin. at the rain throu.h the tent fla-, 0 knew for certain that the mountains had turned a.ainst us* 0 could feel it in my stomach* 0 went back into the tent and there was $in, sittin. beside /atina, tryin. to teach her "n.lish words* 0 don't know whether he made much -ro.ress, but 0 do know that once he made her lau.h and that was a wonderful thin. for him to have done* 0 remember the sudden sound of her hi.h lau.hter and how we all looked uand saw her faceE how we saw how different it was to what it had been before* 'o one but $in could have done it* %e was so .ay himself that it was difficult to be serious in his -resence* %e was .ay and tall and black-haired, and he was sittin. there on the bench, leanin. forward, whis-erin. and smilin., teachin. /atina to s-eak "n.lish and teachin. her how to lau.h* MMM The ne7t day the skies cleared and once a.ain we saw the mountains* +e did a -atrol over the troo-s which were already retreatin. slowly towards Thermo-ylae, and we met some 2esserschmitts and Gu-=3s dive-bombin. the soldiers* 0 think we .ot a few of them, but they .ot Sandy* 0 saw him .oin. down* 0 sat ;uite still for thirty seconds and watched his -lane s-irallin. .ently downward* 0 sat and waited for the -arachute* 0 remember switchin. over my radio and sayin. ;uietly, ASandy, you must 9um- now* >ou must 9um-E you're .ettin. near the .round*A 6ut there was no -arachute* +hen we landed and ta7ied in there was /atina, standin. outside the dis-ersal tent with the DocE a tiny shrim- of a .irl in a dirty -rint dress, standin. there watchin. the machines as they came in to land* To $in, as he walked in, she said, ATha .irisis 7ana*A $in said, A+hat does it mean, )ericlesBA A0t 9ust means Ayou are back a.ain',A and he smiled* The child had counted the aircraft on her fin.ers as they took off, and now she noticed that there was one missin.* +e were standin. around takin. off our -arachutes and she was tryin. to ask us about it, when suddenly someone said, A!ook out* %ere they come*A They came throu.h a .a- in the hills, a mass of thin, black silhouettes, comin. down u-on the aerodrome* There was a scramble for the slit trenches and 0 remember seein. $in catch

/atina round the waist and carry her off with us, and 0 remember seein. her fi.ht like a ti.er the whole way to the trenches* s soon as we .ot into the trench and $in had let her .o, she 9um-ed out and ran over on to the airfield* Down came the 2esserschmitts with their .uns bla,in., swoo-in. so low that you could see the noses of the -ilots stickin. out under their .o..les* Their bullets threw u- s-urts of dust all around and 0 saw one of our %urricanes burst into flames* 0 saw /atina standin. ri.ht in the middle of the field, standin. firmly with her le.s astride and her back to us, lookin. u- at the :ermans as they dived -ast* 0 have never seen anythin. smaller and more an.ry and more fierce in my life* She seemed to be shoutin. at them, but the noise was .reat and one could hear nothin. at all e7ce-t the en.ines and the .uns of the aero-lanes* Then it was over* 0t was over as ;uickly as it had be.un, and no one said very much e7ce-t $in, who said, A0 wouldn't have done that, everE not even if 0 was cra,y*A That evenin. 2onkey .ot out the s;uadron records and added /atina's name to the list of members, and the e;ui-ment officer was ordered to -rovide a tent for her* So, on the eleventh of -ril, 1@?1, she became a member of the s;uadron* 0n two days she knew the first name or nickname of every -ilot and $in had already tau.ht her to say A ny luckBA and A'ice work*A 6ut that was a time of much activity, and when 0 try to think of it hour by hour, the whole -eriod becomes ha,y in my mind* 2ostly, 0 remember, it was escortin. the 6lenheims to Valona, and if it wasn't that, it was a .roundstrafe of 0talian trucks on the lbanian border or an S#S from the 'orthumberland Re.iment sayin. they were havin. the hell bombed out of them by half the aircraft in "uro-e* 'one of that can 0 remember* 0 can remember nothin. of that time clearly, save for two thin.s* The one was /atina and how she was with us all the timeE how she was everywhere and how wherever she went the -eo-le were -leased to see her* The other thin. that 0 remember was when the 6ull came into the mess-tent one evenin. after a lone -atrol* The 6ull was an enormous man with massive, sli.htly hunched shoulders and his chest was like the to- of an oak table* 6efore the war he had done many thin.s, most of them thin.s which one could not do unless one conceded beforehand that there was no difference between life and death* %e was ;uiet and casual and when he came into a room or into a tent, he always looked as thou.h he had made a mistake and hadn't really meant to come in at all* 0t was .ettin. dark and we were sittin. round in the tent -layin. shove-half-enny when the 6ull came in* +e km that he had 9ust landed* %e .lanced around a little a-olo.etically, then he said, A%ello,A and wandered over to the bar and be.an to .et out a bottle of beer* Someone said, ASee anythin., 6ullBA The 6ull said, A>es,A and went on fiddlin. with the bottle of beer* 0 su--ose we were all very interested in our .ame of shove-half-enny because no one said anythin. else for about five minutes* Then )eter said, A+hat did you see, 6ullBA The 6ull was leanin. a.ainst the bar, alternately si--in. his beer and tryin. to make a hootin. noise by blowin. down the neck of the em-ty bottle* )eter said, A+hat did you seeBA The 6ull -ut down the bottle and looked u-* A$ive S-3@s,A he said* 0 remember hearin. him say it, but 0 remember also that our .ame was e7citin. and that $in had one more shove to win* +e all watched him miss it and )eter said, A$in, 0 think you're .oin. to lose*A nd $in said, A:o to hell*A +e finished the .ame, then 0 looked u- and saw the 6ull still leanin. a.ainst the bar makin. noises with his beer bottle* %e said, AThis sounds like the old 2auretania comin. into 'ew >ork harbour,A and he started blowin. into the bottle a.ain* A+hat ha--ened with the S-3@sBA 0 said* %e sto--ed his blowin. and -ut down the bottle*

A0 shot them down*A "veryone heard it* t that moment eleven -ilots in that tent sto--ed what they were doin. and eleven heads flicked around and looked at the 6ull* %e took another drink of his beer and said ;uietly, A t one time 0 counted ei.hteen -arachutes in the air to.ether*A few days later he went on -atrol and did not come back* Shortly afterwards 2onkey .ot a messa.e from thens* 0t said that the s;uadron was to move down to "levsis and from there do a defence of thens itself and also cover the troo-s retreatin. throu.h the Thermo-ylae )ass* /atina was to .o with the trucks and we told the Doc he was to see that she arrived safely* 0t would take them a day to make the 9ourney* +e flew over the mountains towards the south, fourteen of us, and at two-thirty we landed at "levsis* 0t was a lovely aerodrome with runways and han.arsE and best of all, thens was only twenty-five minutes away by car* That evenin., as it was .ettin. dark, 0 stood outside my tent* 0 stood with my hands in my -ockets watchin. the sun .o down and thinkin. of the work which we were to do* The more that 0 thou.ht of it, the more im-ossible 0 knew it to be* 0 looked u-, and once a.ain 0 saw the mountains* They were closer to us here, crowdin. in u-on us on all sides, standin. shoulder to shoulder, tall and naked, with their heads in the clouds, surroundin. us everywhere save in the south, where lay )iraeus and the o-en sea* 0 knew that each ni.ht, when it was Very dark, when we were all tired and slee-in. in our tents, those mountains would move forward, cree-in. a little closer, makin. no noise, until at last on the a--ointed day they would tumble forward with one .reat rush and -ush us into the sea* $in emer.ed from his tent* A%ave you seen the mountainsBA 0 said* AThey're full of .ods* They aren't any .ood,A he answered* A0 wish they'd stand still,A 0 said* $in looked u- at the .reat cra.s of )anes and )entelikon* AThey're full of .ods,A he said* ASometimes, in the middle of the ni.ht, when there is a moon, you can see the .ods sittin. on the summits* There was one on /ata-hidi when we were at )aramythia* %e was hu.e, like a house but without any sha-e and ;uite black*A A>ou saw himBA A#f course 0 saw him*A A+henBA 0 said* A+hen did you see him, $inBA $in said, A!et's .o into thens* !et's .o and look at the women in thens*A The ne7t day the trucks carryin. the .round staff and the e;ui-ment rumbled on to the aerodrome, and there was /atina sittin. in the front seat of the leadin. vehicle with the Doc beside her* She waved to us as she 9um-ed down, and she came runnin. towards us, lau.hin. and callin. our names in a curious :reek way* She still had on the same dirty -rint dress and she still had a banda.e round her foreheadE but the sun was shinin. in her hair* +e showed her the tent which we had -re-ared for her and we showed her the small cotton ni.htdress which $in had obtained in some mysterious way the ni.ht before in thens* 0t was white with a lot of little blue birds embroidered on the front and we all thou.ht that it was very beautiful* /atina wanted to -ut it on at once and it took a lon. time to -ersuade her that it was meant only for slee-in. in* Si7 times $in had to -erform a com-licated act which consisted of -retendin. to -ut on the ni.htdress, then 9um-in. on to the bed and fallin. fast aslee-* 0n the end she nodded vi.orously and understood* $or the ne7t two days nothin. ha--ened, e7ce-t that the remnants of another s;uadron came down from the north and 9oined us* They brou.ht si7 %urricanes, so that alto.ether we had about twenty machines* Then we waited* #n the third day :erman reconnaissance aircraft a--eared, circlin. hi.h over )iraeus, and we chased after them but never .ot u- in time to catch them* This was understandable, because our radar was of a very s-ecial ty-e* 0t is obsolete now,

and 0 doubt whether it will ever be used a.ain* ll over the country, in all the villa.es, u- on the mountains and out on the islands, there were :reeks, all of whom were connected to our small o-erations room by field tele-hone* +e had no o-erations officer, so we took it in turns to be on duty for the day* 2y turn came on the fourth day, and 0 remember clearly what ha--ened* t si7-thirty in the mornin. the -hone bu,,ed* AThis is -3,A said a very :reek voice* AThis is -3* There are noises overhead*A 0 looked at the ma-* There was a little rin. with A -3' written inside it 9ust beside >anina* 0 -ut a cross on the celluloid which covered the ma- and wrote A'oises' beside it, as well as the timeH A<511 hours*A Three minutes later the -hone went a.ain* AThis is -?* This is -?* There are many noises above me,A said an old ;uaverin. voice, Abut 0 cannot see because there are thick clouds*A 0 looked at the ma-* -? was 2t /arava* 0 made another cross on the celluloid and wrote A2any noises--<51?,' and then 0 drew a line between >anina and /arava* 0t -ointed towards thens, so 0 si.nalled the Areadiness' crew to scramble, and they took off and circled the city* !ater they saw a Gu*-== on reconnaissance hi.h above them, but they never cau.ht it* 0t was in such a way that one worked the radar* That evenin. when 0 came off duty 0 could not hel- thinkin. of the old :reek, sittin. all alone in a hut u- at -?E sittin. on the slo-e of /arava lookin. u- into the whiteness and listenin. all day and all ni.ht for noises in the sky* 0 ima.ined the ea.erness with which he sei,ed the tele-hone when he heard somethin., and the 9oy he must have felt when the voice at the other end re-eated his messa.e and thanked him* 0 thou.ht of his clothes and wondered if they were warm enou.h and 0 thou.ht, for some reason, of his boots, which almost certainly had no soles left u-on them and were stuffed with tree bark and -a-er* That was -ril seventeenth* 0t was the evenin. when 2onkey said, AThey say the :ermans are at !amia, which means that we're within ran.e of their fi.hters* Tomorrow the fun should start*A 0t did* t dawn the bombers came over, with the fi.hters circlin. around overhead, watchin. the bombers, waitin. to -ounce, but doin. nothin. unless someone interfered with the bombers* 0 think we .ot ei.ht %urricanes into the air 9ust before they arrived* 0t was not my turn to .o u-, so with /atina standin. by my side 0 watched the battle from the .round* The child never said a word* 'ow and a.ain she moved her head as she followed the little s-ecks of silver dancin. hi.h above in the sky* 0 saw a -lane comin. down in a trail of black smoke and 0 looked at /atina* The hatred which was on the face of the child was the fierce burnin. hatred of an old woman who has hatred in her heartE it was an old woman's hatred and it was stran.e to see it* 0n that battle we lost a ser.eant called Donald* t noon 2onkey .ot another messa.e from thens* 0t said that morale was bad in the ca-ital and that every available %urricane was to fly in formation low over the city in order to show the inhabitants how stron. we were and how many aircraft we had* "i.hteen of us took off* +e flew in ti.ht formation u- and down the main streets 9ust above the roofs of the houses* 0 could see the -eo-le lookin. u-, shieldin. their eyes from the sun, lookin. at us as we flew over, and in one street 0 saw an old woman who never looked u- at all* 'one of them waved, and 0 knew then that they were resi.ned to their fate* 'one of them waved, and 0 knew, althou.h 0 could not see their faces, that they were not even .lad as we flew -ast* Then we headed out towards Thermo-ylae, but on the way we circled the cro-olis twice* 0t was the first time 0 had seen it so close* 0 saw a little hill--a mound almost, it seemed--and on the to- of it 0 saw the white columns* There were a .reat number of them, .rou-ed to.ether in -erfect order, not crowdin. one another, white in the sunshine, and 0 wondered, as 0

looked at them, how anyone could have -ut so much on to- of so small a hill in such an ele.ant way* Then we flew u- the .reat Thermo-ylae )ass and 0 saw lon. lines of vehicles movin. slowly southwards towards the sea* 0 saw occasional -uffs of white smoke where a shell landed in the valley and 0 saw a direct hit on the road which made a .a- in the line of trucks* 6ut we saw no enemy aircraft* +hen we landed 2onkey said, ARefuel ;uickly and .et in the air a.ainE 0 think they're waitin. to catch us on the .round*A 6ut it was no use* They came down out of the sky five minutes after we had landed* 0 remember 0 was in the -ilots' room in 'umber Two %an.ar, talkin. to $in and to a bi. tall man with rum-led hair called )addy* +e heard the bullets on the corru.ated-iron roof of the han.ar, then we heard e7-losions and the three of us dived under the little wooden table in the middle of the room 6ut the table u-set* )addy set it u- a.ain and crawled underneath* AThere's somethin. about bein. under a table,A he said* A0 don't feel safe unless 0'm under a table*A $in said, A0 never feel safe*A %e was sittin. on the floor watchin. the bullets makin. holes in the corru.ated-iron wall of the room* There was a .reat clatter as the bullets hit the tin* Then we became brave and .ot u- and -ee-ed outside the door* There were many 2esserschmitt 1<@s circlin. the aerodrome, and one by one they strai.htened out and dived -ast the han.ers, s-rayin. the .round with their .uns* 6ut they did somethin. else* They slid back their cock-it hoods and as they came -ast they threw out small bombs which e7-loded when they hit the .round and fiercely flun. ;uantities of lar.e lead balls in every direction* Those were the e7-losions which we had heard, and it was a .reat noise that the lead balls made as they hit the han.ar* Then 0 saw the men, the .round crews, standin. u- in their slit trenches firin. at the 2esserschmitts with rifles, reloadin. and firin. as fast as they could, cursin. and shoutin. as they shot, aimin. ludicrously, ho-elessly, aimin. at an aero-lane with 9ust a rifle* t "levsis there were no other defences* Suddenly the 2esserschmitts all turned and headed for home, all e7ce-t one, which .lided down and made a smooth belly landin. on the aerodrome* Then there was chaos* The :reeks around us raised a shout and 9um-ed on to the fire tender and headed out towards the crashed :erman aero-lane* t the same time more :reeks streamed out from every corner of the field, shoutin. and yellin. and cryin. for the blood of the -ilot* 0t was a mob intent u-on ven.eance and one could not blame themE but there were other considerations* +e wanted the -ilot for ;uestionin., and we wanted him alive* 2onkey, who was standin. on the tarmac, shouted to us, and $in and )addy and 0 raced with him towards the station wa.on which was standin. fifty yards away* 2onkey was inside like a flash, started the en.ine and drove off 9ust as the three of us 9um-ed on the runnin. board* The fire tender with the :reeks on it was not fast and it still had two hundred yards to .o, and the other -eo-le had a lon. way to run* 2onkey drove ;uickly and we beat them by about fifty yards* +e 9um-ed u- and ran over to the 2esserschmitt, and there, sittin. in the cock-it, was a fairhaired boy with -ink cheeks and blue eyes* 0 have never seen anyone whose face showed so much fear* %e said to 2onkey in "n.lish, A0 am hit in the le.*A +e -ulled him out of the cock-it and .ot him into the car, while the :reeks stood around watchin.* The bullet had shattered the bone in his shin* +e drove him back and as we handed him over to the Doc, 0 saw /atina standin. close, lookin. at the face of the :erman* This kid of nine was standin. there lookin. at the :erman and she could not s-eakE she could not even move* She clutched the skin of her dress in her hands and stared at the man's face* AThere is a mistake somewhere,A she seemed to be sayin.* AThere must be a mistake* This one has -ink cheeks and fair hair and blue eyes* This cannot -ossibly be one of them* This is an ordinary boy*A She watched him as they -ut him on a stretcher and carried him off, then she turned and ran across the .rass to her tent*

0n the evenin. at su--er 0 ate my fried sardines, but 0 could not eat the bread or the cheese* $or three days 0 had been conscious of my stomach, of a hollow feelin. such as one .ets 9ust before an o-eration or while waitin. to have a tooth out in the dentist's house* 0 had had it all day for three days, from the moment 0 woke u- to the time 0 fell aslee-* )eter was sittin. o--osite me and 0 asked him about it* A0've had it for a week,A he said* A0t's .ood for the bowels* 0t loosens them* A:erman aircraft are like liver -ills,A said $in from the bottom of the table* AThey are very .ood for you, aren't they, DocBA The Doc saidE A2aybe you've had an overdose*A A0 have,A said $in, A0've had an overdose of :erman liver -ills* 0 didn't read the instructions on the bottle* Take two before retirin.*A )eter said, A0 would love to retire*A fter su--er three of us walked down to the han.ers with 2onkey, who said, A0'm worried about this .round-strafin.* They never attack the han.ars because they know that we never -ut anythin. inside them* Toni.ht 0 think we'll collect four of the aircraft and -ut them into 'umber Two %an.ar*A That was a .ood idea* 'ormally the %urricanes were dis-ersed all over the ed.e of the aerodrome, but they were -icked off one by one, because it was im-ossible to be in the air the whole time* The four of us took a machine each and ta7ied it into 'umber Two %an.ar, and then we -ulled the .reat slidin. doors to.ether and locked them* The ne7t mornin., before the sun had risen from behind the mountains, a flock of Gu-=3s came over and blew 'umber Two %an.ar ri.ht off the face of the earth* Their bombin. was .ood and they did not even hit the han.ars on either side of it* That afternoon they .ot )eter* %e went off towards a villa.e called /halkis, which was bein. bombed by Gu-==s, and no one ever saw him a.ain* :ay, lau.hin. )eter, whose mother lived on a farm in /ent and who used to write to him in lon., -ale-blue envelo-es which he carried about in his -ockets* 0 had always shared a tent with )eter, ever since 0 came to the s;uadron, and that evenin. after 0 had .one to bed he came back to that tent* >ou need not believe meE 0 do not e7-ect you to, but 0 am tellin. you what ha--ened* 0 always went to bed first, because there is not room in one of those tents for two -eo-le to be turnin. around at the same time* )eter usually came in two or three minutes afterwards* That evenin. 0 went to bed and 0 lay thinkin. that toni.ht he would not be comin.* 0 wondered whether his body lay tan.led in the wrecka.e of his aircraft on the side of some bleak mountain or whether it was at the bottom of the sea, and 0 ho-ed only that he had had a decent funeral* Suddenly 0 heard a movement* The fla- of the tent o-ened and it shut a.ain* 6ut there were no footste-s* Then 0 heard him sit down on his bed* 0t was a noise that 0 had heard every ni.ht for weeks -ast and always it had been the same* 0t was 9ust a thum- and a creakin. of the wooden le.s of the cam- bed* #ne after the other the flyin. boots were -ulled off and dro--ed u-on the .round, and as always one of them took three times as lon. to .et off as the other* fter that there was the .entle rustle of a blanket bein. -ulled back and then the creakin.s of the rickety bed as it took the wei.ht of a man's body* They were sounds 0 had heard every ni.ht, the same sounds in the same order, and now 0 sat u- in bed and said, A)eter*A 0t was dark in the tent* 2y voice sounded very loud* A%allo, )eter* That was tou.h luck you had today*A 6ut there was no answer* 0 did not feel uneasy or fri.htened, but 0 remember at the time touchin. the ti- of my nose with my fin.er to make sure that 0 was thereE then because 0 was very tired, 0 went to slee-* 0n the mornin. 0 looked at the bed and saw it had been sle-t in* 6ut 0 did not show it to anyone, not even to $in* 0 -ut the blankets back in -lace myself and -atted the -illow*

0t was on that day, the twentieth of -ril, 1@?1, that we fou.ht the 6attle thens* 0t was -erha-s the last of the .reat do.fi.htin. air battles that will ever be fou.ht, because nowadays the -lanes fly always in .reat formation of win.s and s;uadrons, and attack is carried out methodically and scientifically u-on the orders of the leader* 'owadays one does not do.fi.ht at all over the sky e7ce-t u-on very rare occasions* 6ut the 6attle of thens was a lon. and beautiful do.fi.ht in which fifteen %urricanes fou.ht for half an hour with between one hundred and fifty and two hundred :erman bombers and fi.hters* The bombers started comin. over early in the afternoon* 0t was a lovely s-rin. day and for the first time the sun had in it a trace of real summer warmth* The sky was blue, save for a few wis-y clouds here and there and the mountains stood out black and clear a.ainst the blue of the sky* )entelikon no lon.er hid his head in the clouds* %e stood over us, .rim and forbiddin., watchin. every move and knowin. that each thin. we did was of little -ur-ose* 2en were foolish and were made only so that they should die, while mountains and rivers went on for ever and did not notice the -assin. of time* %ad not )entelikon himself many years a.o looked down u-on Thermo-ylae and seen a handful of S-artans defendin. the -ass a.ainst the invadersE seen them fi.ht until there was not one man left alive amon. themB %ad he not seen the )ersians cut to -ieces by !eonidas at 2arathon, and had he not looked down u-on Salamis and u-on the sea when Themistocles and the thenians drove the enemy from their shores, causin. them to lose more than two hundred sailsB ll these thin.s and many more he had seen, and now he looked down u-on us, we were as nothin. in his eyes* lmost there was a look of scorn u-on the face of the mountain, and 0 thou.ht for a moment that 0 could hear the lau.hter of the .ods* They knew so well that we were not enou.h and that in the end we must lose* The bombers came over 9ust after lunch, and at once we saw that there were a .reat number of them* +e looked u- and saw that the sky was full of little silver s-ecks and the sunli.ht danced and s-arkled u-on a hundred different -airs of win.s* There were fifteen %urricanes in all and they fou.ht like a storm in the sky* 0t is not easy to remember much about such a battle, but 0 remember lookin. u- and seein. in the sky a mass of small black dots* 0 remember thinkin. to myself that those could not be aero-lanesE they sim-ly could not be aero-lanes, because there were not so many aero-lanes in the world* Then they were on us, and 0 remember that 0 a--lied a little fla- so that 0 should be able to turn in ti.hter circlesE then 0 remember only one or two small incidents which -hoto.ra-hed themselves u-on my mind* There were the s-urts of flame from the .uns of a 2esserschmitt as he attacked from the frontal ;uarter of my starboard side* There was the :erman whose -arachute was on fire as it o-ened* There was the :erman who flew u- beside me and made rude si.ns at me with his fin.ers* There was the %urricane which collided with a 2esserschmitt* There was the aero-lane which collided with a man who was descendin. in a -arachute, and which went into a cra,y fri.htful s-in towards the earth with the man and the -arachute dan.lin. from its -ort win.* There were the two bombers which collided while swervin. to avoid a fi.hter, and 0 remember distinctly seein. a man bein. thrown clear out of the smoke and debris of the collision, han.in. in mid-air with his arms outstretched and his le.s a-art* 0 tell you there was nothin. that did not ha--en in that battle* There was the moment when 0 saw a sin.le %urricane doin. ti.ht turns around the summit of 2t )arnes with nine 2esserschmitts on its tail and then 0 remember that suddenly the skies seemed to clear* There was no lon.er any aircraft in si.ht* The battle was over* 0 turned around and headed back towards "levsis, and as 0 went 0 looked down and saw thens and )iraeus and the rim of the sea as it curved around the .ulf and travelled southward towards the 2editerranean* 0 saw the -ort of )iraeus where the bombs had fallen and 0 saw the smoke and fire risin. above the docks* 0 saw the narrow coastal -lain, and on it 0 saw tiny bonfires, thin columns of black smoke curlin. u-ward and driftin. away to of

the east* They were the fires of aircraft which had been shot down, and 0 ho-ed only that none of them were %urricanes* Gust then 0 ran strai.ht into a Gunkers ==E a stra..ler, the last bomber returnin. from the raid* %e was in trouble and there was black smoke streamin. from one of his en.ines* lthou.h 0 shot at him, 0 don't think that it made any difference* %e was comin. down anyway* +e were over the sea and 0 could tell that he wouldn't make the land* %e didn't* %e came down smoothly on his belly in the blue :ulf of )iraeus, two miles from the shore* 0 followed him and circled, waitin. to make sure that the crew .ot out safely into their din.hy* Slowly the machine be.an to sink, di--in. its nose under the water and liftin. its tail into the air* 6ut there was no si.n of the crew* Suddenly, without any warnin., the rear .un started to fire* They o-ened u- with their rear .un and the bullets made small 9a..ed holes in my starboard win.* 0 swerved away and 0 remember shoutin. at them* 0 slid back the hood of the cock-it and shouted, A>ou lousy brave bastards* 0 ho-e you drown*A The bomber sank soon backwards* +hen 0 .ot back they were all standin. around outside the han.ars countin. the score, and /atina was sittin. on a bo7 with tears rollin. down her cheeks* 6ut she was not cryin., and $in was kneelin. down beside her, talkin. to her in "n.lish, ;uietly and .ently, for.ettin. that she could not understand* +e lost one third of our %urricanes in that battle, but the :ermans lost more* The Doc was dressin. someone who had been burnt and he looked u- and said, A>ou should have heard the :reeks on the aerodrome cheerin. as the bombers fell out of the sky*A s we stood around talkin., a truck drove u- and a :reek .ot out and said that he had some -ieces of body inside* AThis is the watch,A he said, Athat was on the arm*A 0t was a silver wrist watch with a luminous dial, and on the back there were some initials* +e did not look inside the truck* 'ow we had, 0 think, nine %urricanes left* That evenin. a very senior R $ officer came out from thens and said, ATomorrow at dawn you will all fly to 2e.ara* 0t is about ten miles down the coast* There is a small field there on which you can land* The rmy is workin. on it throu.hout the ni.ht* They have two bi. rollers there and they are rollin. it smooth* The moment you land you must hide your aircraft in the olive .rove which is on the south side of the field* The .round staff are .oin. farther south to r.os and you can 9oin them later, but you may be able to o-erate from 2e.ara for a day or two*A $in said, A+here's /atinaB Doc, you must find /atina and see that she .ets to r.os safely*A The Doc said, A0 will,A and we knew that we could trust him* t dawn the ne7t mornin., when it was still dark, we took off and flew to the little field at 2e.ara, ten miles away* +e landed and hid our %urricanes in the olive .rove and broke off branches of the trees and -ut them over the aircraft* Then we sat down on the slo-e of a small hill and waited for orders* s the sun rose u- over the mountains we looked across the field and saw a mass of :reek villa.ers comin. down from the villa.e of 2e.ara, comin. down towards our field* There were many hundreds of them, women and children mostly, and they all came down towards our field, hurryin. as they came* $in said, A+hat the hell,A and we sat u- on our little hill and watched, wonderin. what they were .oin. to do* They dis-ersed all around the ed.e of the field and .athered armfuls of heather and bracken* They carried it out on to the field, and formin. themselves into lon. lines, they be.an to scatter the heather and the bracken over the .rass* They were camoufla.in. our landin. field* The rollers, when they had rolled out the .round and made it flat for landin., had left marks which were easily visible from above, and so the :reeks came out of their villa.e, every man, woman and child, and be.an to -ut matters ri.ht* To this day 0 do not know who told them to do it* They stretched in a lon. line across the field, walkin. forward slowly and

scatterin. the heather, and $in and 0 went out and walked amon. them* They were old women and old men mostly, very small and very sad-lookin., with dark, dee-ly wrinkled faces and they worked slowly scatterin. the heather* s we walked by, they would sto- their work and smile, sayin. somethin. in :reek which we could not understand* #ne of the children .ave $in a small -ink flower and he did not know what to do with it, but walked around carryin. it in his hand* Then we went back to the slo-e of the hill and waited* Soon the field tele-hone bu,,ed* 0t was the very senior officer s-eakin.* %e said that someone must fly back to "levsis at once and collect im-ortant messa.es and money* %e said also that all of us must leave our little field at 2e.ara and .o to r.os that evenin.* The others said that they would wait until 0 came back with the money so that we could all fly to r.os to.ether* t the same time, someone had told the two rmy men who were still rollin. our field, to destroy their rollers so that the :ermans would not .et them* 0 remember, as 0 was .ettin. into my %urricane, seein. the two hu.e rollers char.in. towards each other across the field and 0 remember seein. the rmy men 9um- aside 9ust before they collided* There was a .reat crash and 0 saw all the :reeks who were scatterin. heather sto- in their work and look u-* $or a moment they stood rock still, lookin. at the rollers* Then one of them started to run* 0t was an old woman and she started to run back to the villa.e as fast as she could, shoutin. somethin. as she went, and instantly every man, woman and child in the field seemed to take fri.ht and ran after her* 0 wanted to .et out and run beside them and e7-lain to themE to say 0 was sorry but that there was nothin. else we could do* 0 wanted to tell them that we would not for.et them and that one day we would come back* 6ut it was no use* 6ewildered and fri.htened, they ran back to their homes, and they did not sto- runnin. until they were out of si.ht, not even the old men* 0 took off and flew to "levsis* 0 landed on a dead aerodrome* There was not a soul to be seen* 0 -arked my %urricane, and as 0 walked over to the han.ars the bombers came over once a.ain* 0 hid in a ditch until they had finished their work, then .ot u- and walked over to the small o-erations room* The tele-hone was still on the table, so for some reason 0 -icked u- the receiver and said, A%allo*A rather :erman voice at the other end answered* 0 said, ACan you hear meBA and the voice saidH A>es, yes, 0 can hear you*A A ll ri.ht,A 0 said, Alisten carefully*A A>es, continue -lease*A AThis is the R $ s-eakin.* nd one day we will come back, do you understand* #ne day we will come back*A Then 0 tore the tele-hone from its socket and threw it throu.h the .lass of the closed window* +hen 0 went outside there was a small man in civilian clothes standin. near the door* %e had a revolver in one hand and a small ba. in the other* ADo you want anythin.BA he said in ;uite .ood "n.lish* 0 said, A>es, 0 want im-ortant messa.es and -a-ers which 0 am to carry back to r.os*A A%ere you are,A he said, as he handed me the ba.* A nd .ood luck*A 0 flew back to 2e.ara* There were two :reek destroyers standin. offshore, burnin. and sinkin.* 0 circled our field and the others ta7ied out, took off and we all flew off towards r.os* The landin. .round at r.os was 9ust a kind of small field* 0t was surrounded by thick olive .roves into which we ta7ied our aircraft for hidin.* 0 don't know how lon. the field was, but it was not easy to land u-on it* >ou had to come in low han.in. on the -ro-, and the moment you touched down you had to start -uttin. on brake, 9erkin. it on and 9erkin. it off a.ain the moment she started to nose over* 6ut only one man overshot and crashed* The .round staff had arrived already and as we .ot out of our aircraft /atina came runnin. u- with a basket of black olives, offerin. them to us and -ointin. to our stomachs, indicatin. that we must eat*

$in bent down and ruffled her hair with his hand* %e said, A/atina, one day we must .o into town and buy you a new dress*A She smiled at him but did not understand and we all started to eat black olives* Then 0 looked around and saw that the wood was full of aircraft* round every corner there was an aero-lane hidden in the trees, and when we asked about it we learned that the :reeks had brou.ht the whole of their air force down to r.os and -arked them in that little wood* They were -eculiar ancient models, not one of them less than five years old, and 0 don't know how many do,en there were there* That ni.ht we sle-t under the trees* +e wra--ed /atina u- in a lar.e flyin. suit and .ave her a flyin. helmet for a -illow, and after she had .one to slee- we sat around eatin. black olives and drinkin. resinato out of an enormous cask* 6ut we were very tired, and soon we fell aslee-* ll the ne7t day we saw the truckloads of troo-s movin. down the road towards the sea, and as often as we could we took off and flew above them* The :ermans ke-t comin. over and bombin. the road near by, but they had not yet s-otted our airfield* !ater in the day we were told that every available %urricane was to take off at si7 -* m* to -rotect an im-ortant shi--in. move, and the nine machines, which were all that were now left, were refuelled and .ot ready* t three minutes to si7 we be.an to ta7i out of the olive .rove on to the field* The first two machines took off, but 9ust as they left the .round somethin. black swe-t down out of the sky and shot them both down in flames* 0 looked around and saw at least fifty 2esserschmitt 11<s circlin. our field, and even as 0 looked some of them turned and came down u-on the remainin. seven %urricanes which were waitin. to take off* There was no time to do anythin.* "ach one of our aircraft was,, hit in that first swoo-, althou.h funnily enou.h only one of the -ilots was hurt* 0t was im-ossible now to take off, so we 9um-ed out of our aircraft, hauled the wounded -ilot out of his cock-it and ran with him back to the slit trenches, to the wonderful bi., dee- ,i.-,a..in. slit trenches which had been du. by the :reeks* The 2esserschmitts took their time* There was no o--osition either from the .round or from the air, e7ce-t that $in was firin. his revolver* 0t is not a -leasant thin. to be .round-strafed es-ecially if they have cannon in their win.sE and unless one has a dee- slit trench in which to lie, there is no future in it* $or some reason, -erha-s because they thou.ht it was a .ood 9oke, the :erman -ilots went for the slit trenches before they bothered about the aircraft* The first ten minutes was s-ent rushin. madly around the corners of the trenches so as not to be cau.ht in a trench which ran -arallel with the line of fli.ht of the attackin. aircraft* 0t was a hectic, dreadful ten minutes, with everyone shoutin. A%ere comes another,A and scramblin. and rushin. to .et around the corner into the other section of the trench* Then the :ermans went for the %urricanes and at the same time for the mass of old :reek aircraft -arked all around the olive .rove, and one by one, methodically and systematically, they set them on fire* The noise was terrific, and everywhere--in the trees, on the rocks and on the .rass--the bullets s-lattered* 0 remember -ee-in. cautiously over the to- of our trench and seein. a small white flower .rowin. 9ust a few inches away from my nose* 0t was -ure white and it had three -etals* 0 remember lookin. -ast it and seein. three of the :ermans divin. on my own %urricane which was -arked on the other side of the field and 0 remember shoutin. at them, althou.h 0 do not know what 0 said* Then suddenly 0 saw /atina* She was runnin. out from the far corner of the aerodrome, runnin. ri.ht out into the middle of this mass of bla,in. .uns and burnin. aircraft, runnin. as fast as she could* #nce she stumbled, but she scrambled to her feet a.ain and went on runnin.* Then she sto--ed and stood lookin. u-, raisin. her fists at the -lanes as they flew -ast* 'ow as she stood there, 0 remember seein. one of the 2esserschmitts turnin.

and comin. in low strai.ht towards her and 0 remember thinkin. that she was so small that she could not be hit* 0 remember seein. the s-urts of flame from his .uns as he came, and 0 remember seein. the child, for a s-lit second, standin. ;uite still, facin. the machine* 0 remember that the wind was blowin. in her hair* Then she was down* The ne7t moment 0 shall never for.et* #n every side, as if by ma.ic, men a--eared out of the .round* They swarmed out of their trenches and like a cra,y mob -oured on to the aerodrome, runnin. towards the tiny little bundle, which lay motionless in the middle of the field* They ran fast, crouchin. as they went, and 0 remember 9um-in. u- out of my slit trench and 9oinin. with them* 0 remember thinkin. of nothin. at all and watchin. the boots of the man in front of me, noticin. that he was a little bow-le..ed and that his blue trousers were much too lon.* 0 remember seein. $in arrive first, followed closely by a ser.eant called +ishful, and 0 remember seein. the two of them -ick u- /atina and start runnin. with her back towards the trenches* 0 saw her le., which was 9ust a lot of blood and bones, and 0 saw her chest where the blood was s-urtin. out on to her white -rint dressE 0 saw, for a moment, her face, which was white as the snow on to- of #lym-us* 0 ran beside $in, and as he ran, he ke-t sayin., AThe lousy bastards, the lousy, bloody bastards,A and then as we .ot to our trench 0 remember lookin. round and findin. that there was no lon.er any noise or shootin.* The :ermans had .one* $in said, A+here's the DocBA and suddenly there he was, standin. beside us, lookin. at /atina--lookin. at her face* The Doc .ently touched her wrist and without lookin. u- he said, AShe is not alive*A They -ut her down under a little tree, and when 0 turned away 0 saw on all sides the fires of countless burnin. aircraft* 0 saw my own %urricane burnin. near by and 0 stood starin. ho-elessly into the flames as they danced around the en.ine and licked a.ainst the metal of the win.s* 0 stood starin. into the flames, and as 0 stared the fire became a dee-er red and 0 saw beyond it not a tan.led mass of smokin. wrecka.e, but the flames of a hotter and intenser fire which now burned and smouldered in the hearts of the -eo-le of :reece* Still 0 stared, and as 0 stared 0 saw in the centre of the fire, whence the red flames s-ran., a bri.ht, white heat, shinin. bri.ht and without any colour* s 0 stared, the bri.htness diffused and became soft and yellow like sunli.ht, and throu.h it, beyond it, 0 saw a youn. child standin. in the middle of a field with the sunli.ht shinin. in her hair* $or a moment she stood lookin. uinto the sky, which was clear and blue and without any cloudsE then she turned and looked towards me, and as she turned 0 saw that the front of her white -rint dress was stained dee- red, the colour of blood* Then there was no lon.er any fire or any flames and 0 saw before me only the .lowin. twisted wrecka.e of a burned-out -lane* 0 must have been standin. there for ;uite a lon. time*

>esterday was 6eautiful

%" bent down and rubbed his ankle where it had been s-rained with the walkin. so that he couldn't see the ankle bone* Then he strai.htened u- and looked around him* %e felt in his -ocket for a -acket of ci.arettes, took one out and lit it* %e

wi-ed the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand and he stood in the middle of the street lookin. around him* ADammit, there must be someone here,A he said aloud, and he felt better when he heard the sound of his voice* %e walked on, lim-in., walkin. on the toe of his in9ured foot, and when he turned the ne7t corner he saw the sea and the way the road curved around between the ruined houses and went on down the hill to the ed.e of the water* The sea was calm and black* %e could clearly make out the line of hills on the mainland in the distance and he estimated that it was about ei.ht miles away* %e bent down a.ain to rub his ankle* A:od dammit,A he said* AThere must be some of them still alive*A 6ut there was no noise anywhere, and there was a stillness about the buildin.s and about the whole villa.e which made it seem as thou.h the -lace had been dead for a thousand years* Suddenly he heard a little noise as thou.h someone had moved his feet on the .ravel and when he looked around he saw the old man* %e was sittin. in the shade on a stone beside a water trou.h, and it seemed stran.e that he hadn't seen him before* A%ealth to you,A said the -ilot* A:hia son*A %e had learned :reek from the -eo-le u- around !arissa and >anina* The old man looked u- slowly, turnin. his head but not movin. his shoulders* %e had a .reyishwhite beard* %e had a cloth ca- on his head and he wore a shirt which had no collar* 0t was a .rey shin with thin black stri-es* %e looked at the -ilot and he was like a blind man who looks towards somethin. but does not see* A#ld man, 0 am .lad to see you* re there no other -eo-le in the villa.eBA There was no answer* The -ilot sat down on the ed.e of the water trou.h to rest his ankle* A0 am 0n.lese,A he said* A0 am an aviator who has been shot down and 9um-ed out by the -arachute* 0 am 0n.lese*A The old man moved his head slowly u- and down* A0n.lesus,A he said ;uietly* A>ou are 0n.lesus*A A>es, 0 am lookin. for someone who has a boat* 0 wish to .o back to the mainland*A There was a -ause, and when he s-oke, the old man seemed to be talkin. in his slee-* AThey come over all the time,A he said* AThe :ermanoi they come over all the time*A The voice had no e7-ression* %e looked u- into the sky, then he turned and looked behind him in the sky* AThey will come a.ain today, 0n.lese* They will come a.ain soon*A There was no an7iety in his voice* There was no e7-ression whatsoever* A0 do not understand why they come to us,A he added* The -ilot said, A)erha-s not today* 0t is late now* 0 think they have finished for today*A A0 do not understand why they come to us, 0n.lese* There is no one here*A The -ilot said, A0 am lookin. for a man who has a boat who can take me across to the mainland* 0s there a boat owner now in the villa.eBA A boatBA A>es*A There was a -ause while the ;uestion was considered* AThere is such a man*A ACould 0 find himB +here does he liveBA AThere is a man in the villa.e who owns a boat*A A)lease tell me what is his nameBA The old man looked u- a.ain at the sky* AGoannis is the one here who has a boat*A AGoannis whoBA AGoannis S-irakis,A and he smiled* The name seemed to have a si.nificance for the old man and he smiled* A+here does he liveBA the -ilot said* A0 am sorry to be .ivin. you this trouble*A A+here he livesBA A>es*A

The old man considered this too* Then he turned and looked down the street towards the sea*A Goannis was livin. in the house nearest to the water* 6ut his house isn't any more* The :ermans hit it this mornin.* 0t was early and it was still dark* >ou can see the house isn't any more* 0t isn't any more*A A+here is he nowBA A%e is livin. in the house of ntonina n.elou* That house there with the red colour on the window*A %e -ointed down the street* AThank you very much* 0 will .o and call on the boat owner*A A"ver since he was a boy,A the old man went on, AGoannis has had a boat* %is boat is white with a blue line around the to-,A and he smiled a.ain* A6ut at the moment 0 do not think he will be in the house* %is wife will be there* nna will be there, with ntonina n.elou* They will be home*A AThank you a.ain* 0 will .o and s-eak to his wife*A The -ilot .ot u- and started to .o down the street, but almost at once the man called after him, A0n.lese*A The -ilot turned* A+hen you s-eak to the wife of Goannis--when you s-eak to nna***you should remember somethin.*A %e -aused, searchin. for words* %is voice wasn't e7-ressionless any lon.er and he was lookin. u- at the -ilot* A%er dau.hter was in the house when the :ermanoi came* 0t is 9ust somethin. that you should remember*A The -ilot stood on the road waitin.* A2aria* %er name was 2aria*A A0 will remember,A answered the -ilot* A0 am sorry*,, %e turned away and walked down the hill to the house with the red windows* %e knocked and waited* %e knocked a.ain louder and waited* There was the noise of footste-s and the door o-ened* 0t was dark in the house and all he could see was that the woman had black hair and that her eyes were black like her hair* She looked at the -ilot who was standin. out in the sunshine* A%ealth to you,A he said* A0 am 0n.lese*A She did not move* A0 am lookin. for Goannis S-irakis* They say that he owns a boat*A Still she did not move* A0s he in the houseBA A'o A)erha-s his wife is here* She could know where he is*A t first there was no answer* Then the woman ste--ed back and held o-en the door* ACome in, 0n.lesus,A she said* %e followed her down the -assa.e and into a back room* The room was dark because there was no .lass in the windows--only -atches of cardboard* 6ut he could see the old woman who was sittin. on the bench with her arms restin. on the table* She was tiny* She was small like a child and her face was like a little screwed-uball of brown -a-er* A+ho is itBA she said in a hi.h voice* The first woman said, AThis is an 0n.lesus* %e is lookin. for your husband because he re;uires a boat*A A%ealth to you, 0n.lesus,A the old woman said* The -ilot stood by the door, 9ust inside the room* The first woman stood by the window and her arms hun. down by her sides* The old woman said, A+here are the :ermanoiBA %er voice seemed bi..er than her body* A'ow they are around !amia*A A!amia*A She nodded* ASoon they will be here* )erha-s tomorrow they will be here* 6ut 0 do not care* Do you hear me, 0n.lesus, 0 do not care*A She was leanin. forward a little in her chair and the -itch of her voice was becomin. hi.her* A+hen they come it will be nothin. new* They have already been here* "very day they have been here* "very day they come over and they bom bom bom and you shut your eyes and you o-en them a.ain and you .et u- and you .o outside and the houses

are 9ust dust and the -eo-le*A %er voice rose and fell* She -aused, breathin. ;uickly, then she s-oke more ;uietly* A%ow many have you killed, 0n.lesusBA The -ilot -ut out a hand and leaned a.ainst the door to rest his ankle* A0 have killed some,A he said ;uietly* A%ow manyBA A s many as 0 could, old woman* +e cannot count the number of men*A A/ill them all,A she said softly* A:o and kill every man and every woman and baby* Do you hear me, 0n.lesusB >ou must kill them all*A The little brown ball of -a-er became smaller and more screwed u-* AThe first one 0 see 0 shall kill*A She -aused* A nd then, 0n.lesus, and then later, his family will hear that he is dead*A The -ilot did not say anythin.* She looked u- at him and her voice was different* A+hat is it you want, 0n.lesusBA %e said, A bout the :ermanoi, 0 am sorry* 6ut there is not much we can do*A A'o,A she answered, Athere is nothin.* nd youBA A0 am lookin. for Goannis* 0 wish to use his boat*A AGoannis,A she said ;uietly, Ahe is not here* %e is out*A Suddenly she -ushed back the bench, .ot to her feet and went out of the room* ACome,A she said* %e followed her down the -assa.e towards the front door* She looked even smaller when she was standin. than when she was sittin. down and she walked ;uickly down the -assa.e towards the door and o-ened it* She ste--ed out into the sunshine and for the first time he saw how very old she was* She had no li-s* %er mouth was 9ust wrinkled skin like the rest of her face and she screwed u- her eyes at the sun and looked u- the road* AThere he is,A she said* AThat's him*A She -ointed at the old man who was sittin. beside the drinkin. trou.h* The -ilot looked at the man* Then he turned to s-eak to the old woman, but she had disa--eared into the house*

They Shall 'ot :row #ld

T%" two of us sat outside the han.ar on wooden bo7es* 0t was noon* The sun was hi.h and the heat of the sun was like a close fire* 0t was hotter than hell out there by the han.ar* +e could feel the hot air touchin. the inside of our lun.s when we breathed and we found it better if we almost closed our li-s and breathed in ;uicklyE it was cooler that way* The sun was u-on our shoulders and u-on our backs, and all the time the sweat see-ed out from our skin, trickled down our necks, over our chests and down our stomachs* 0t collected 9ust where our belts were ti.ht around the to-s of our trousers and it filtered under the ti.htness of our belts where the wet was very uncomfortable and made -rickly heat on the skin* #ur two %urricanes were standin. a few yards away, each with that -atient, smu. look which fi.hter -lanes have when the en.ine is not turnin., and beyond them the thin black stri- of the runway slo-ed down towards the beaches and towards the sea* The black surface of the runway and the white .rassy sand on the sides of the runway shimmered and shimmered in the sun* The heat ha,e hun. like a va-our over the aerodrome* The Sta. looked at his watch* A%e ou.ht to be back,A he said* The two of us were on readiness, sittin. there for orders to take off* The

Sta. moved his feet on the hot .round* A%e ou.ht to be back,A he said* 0t was two and a half hours since $in had .one and he certainly should have come back by now* 0 looked u- into the sky and listened* There was the noise of airmen talkin. beside the -etrol wa.on and there was the faint -oundin. of the sea u-on the beachesE but there was no si.n of an aero-lane* +e sat a little while lon.er without s-eakin.* A0t looks as thou.h he's had it,A 0 said* A>e-,A said the Sta.* A0t looks like it*A The Sta. .ot u- and -ut his hands into the -ockets of his khaki shorts* 0 .ot u- too* +e stood lookin. northwards into the clear sky, and we shifted our feet on the .round because of the softness of the tar and because of the heat* A+hat was the name of that .irlBA said the Sta. without turnin. his head* A'ikki,A 0 answered* The Sta. sat down a.ain on his wooden bo7, still with his hands in his -ockets and he looked down at the .round between his feet* The Sta. was the oldest -ilot in the s;uadronE he was twentyseven* %e had a mass of coarse .in.er hair which he never brushed* %is face was -ale, even after all this time in the sun, and covered with freckles* %is mouth was wide and ti.ht closed* %e was not tall but his shoulders under his khaki shirt were broad and thick like those of a wrestler* %e was a ;uiet -erson* A%e'll -robably be all ri.ht,A he said, lookin. u-* A nd anyway, 0'd like to meet the Vichy $renchman who can .et $in*A +e were in )alestine fi.htin. the Vichy $rench in Syria* +e were at %aifa, and three hours before the Sta., $in and 0 had .one on readiness* $in had flown off in res-onse to an ur.ent call from the 'avy, who had -honed u- and said that there were two $rench destroyers movin. out of 6eyrouth harbour* )lease .o at once and see where they are .oin., said the 'avy* Gust fly u- the coast and have a look and come back ;uickly and tell us where they are .oin.* So $in had flown off in his %urricane* The time had .one by and he had not returned* +e knew that there was no lon.er much ho-e* 0f he hadn't been shot down, he would have run out of -etrol some time a.o* 0 looked down and 0 saw his blue R $ ca- which was lyin. on the .round where he had thrown it as he ran to his aircraft, and 0 saw the oil stains on to- of the ca- and the shabby bent -eak* 0t was difficult now to believe that he had .one* %e had been in ".y-t, in !ibya and in :reece* #n the aerodrome and in the mess we had had him with us all of the time* %e was .ay and tall and full of lau.hter, this $in, with black hair and a lon. strai.ht nose which he used to stroke u- and down with the ti- of his fin.er* %e had a way of listenin. to you while you were tellin. a story, leanin. back in his chair with his face to the ceilin. but with his eyes lookin. down on the .round, and it was only last ni.ht at su--er that he had suddenly said, A>ou know, 0 wouldn't mind marryin. 'ikki* 0 think she's a .ood .irl*A The Sta. was sittin. o--osite him at the time, eatin. baked beans* A>ou mean 9ust occasionally,A he said* 'ikki was in a cabaret in %aifa* A'o,A said $in* ACabaret .irls make fine wives* They are never unfaithful* There is no novelty for them in bein. unfaithfulE that would be like .oin. back to the old 9ob*A The Sta. had looked u- from his beans* ADon't be such a bloody fool,A he said* A>ou wouldn't really marry 'ikki*A A'ikki,A said $in with .reat seriousness, Acomes of a fine family* She is a .ood .irl* She never uses a -illow when she slee-s* Do you know why she never uses a -illow when she slee-sBA A'o* The others at the table were listenin. now* "veryone was listenin. to $in talkin. about 'ikki* A+ell, when she was very youn. she was en.a.ed to be married to an officer

in the $rench 'avy* She loved him .reatly* Then one day when they were sunbathin. to.ether on the beach he ha--ened to mention to her that he never used a -illow when he sle-t* 0t was 9ust one of those little thin.s which -eo-le say to each other for the sake of conversation* 6ut 'ikki never for.ot it* $rom that time onwards she be.an to -ractise slee-in. without a -illow* #ne day the $rench officer was run over by a truck and killedE but althou.h to her it was very uncomfortable, she still went on slee-in. without a -illow to -reserve the memory of her lover*A $in took a mouthful of beans and chewed them slowly* A0t is a sad story,A he said* A0t shows that she is a .ood .irl* 0 think 0 would like to marry her*A That was what $in had said last ni.ht at su--er* 'ow he was .one and 0 wondered what little thin. 'ikki would do in his memory* The sun was hot on my back and 0 turned instinctively in order to take the heat u-on the other side of my body* s 0 turned, 0 saw Carmel and the town of %aifa* 0 saw the stee- -ale-.reen slo-e of the mountain as it dro--ed down towards the sea, and below it 0 saw the town and the bri.ht colours of the houses shinin. in the sun* The houses with their white-washed walls covered the sides of Carmel and the red roofs of the houses were like a rash on the face of the mountain* +alkin. slowly towards us from the .rey corru.ated iron han.ar, came the three men who were the ne7t crew on readiness* They had their yellow 2ae +ests slun. over their shoulders and they came walkin. slowly towards us, holdin. their helmets in their hands as they came* +hen they were close, the Sta. said, A$in's had it,A and they said, A>es, we know*A They sat down on the wooden bo7es which we had been usin., and immediately the sun was u-on their shoulders and u-on their backs and they be.an to sweat* The Sta. and 0 walked away* The ne7t day was a Sunday and in the mornin. we flew u- the !ebanon valley to .round-strafe an aerodrome called Rayak* +e flew -ast %ermon who had a hat of snow u-on his head, and we came down out of the sun on to Rayak and on to the $rench bombers on the aerodrome and be.an our strafin.* 0 remember that as we flew -ast, skimmin. low over the .round, the doors of the $rench bombers o-ened* 0 remember seein. a whole lot of women in white dresses runnin. out across the aerodromeE 0 remember -articularly their white dresses* >ou see, it was a Sunday and the $rench -ilots had asked their ladies out from 6eyrouth to look over the bombers* The Vichy -ilots had said, come out on Sunday mornin. and we will show you our aero-lanes* 0t was a very Vichy $rench thin. for them to do* So when we started shootin., they all tumbled out and be.an to run across the aerodrome in their white Sunday dresses* 0 remember hearin. 2onkey's voice over the radio, sayin., A:ive them a chance, .ive them a chance,A and the whole s;uadron wheeled around and circled the aerodrome once while the women ran over the .rass in every direction* #ne of them stumbled and fell twice and one of them was lim-in. and bein. hel-ed by a man, but we .ave them time* 0 remember watchin. the small bri.ht flashes of a machine .un on the .round and thinkin. that they should at least have sto--ed their shootin. while we were waitin. for their white-dressed women to .et out of the way* That was the day after $in had .one* The ne7t day the Sta. and 0 sat once more at readiness on the wooden bo7es outside the han.ar* )addy, a bi. fair-haired boy, had taken $in's -lace and was sittin. with us* 0t was noon* The sun was hi.h and the heat of the sun was like a close fire* The sweat ran down our necks, down inside our shirts, over our chests and stomachs, and we sat there waitin. for the time when we would be relieved* The Sta. was sewin. the stra- on to his helmet with a needle and cotton and tellin. of how he had seen 'ikki the ni.ht before in %aifa and of how he had told her about $in* Suddenly we heard the noise of an aero-lane* The Sta. sto--ed his talkin. and we all looked u-* The noise was comin. from the north, and it .rew louder and louder as the aero-lane flew closer, and then the Sta. said suddenly, A0t's a

%urricane*A The ne7t moment it was circlin. the aerodrome, lowerin. its wheels to land* A+ho is itBA said the fair-haired )addy* A'o one's .one out this mornin.*A Then, as it .lided -ast us on to the runway, we saw the number on the tail of the machine, %*??83, and we knew that it was $in* +e were standin. u- now, watchin. the machine as it ta7ied towards us, and when it came u- close and swun. round for -arkin. we saw $in in the cock-it* %e waved his hand at us, .rinned and .ot out* +e ran u- and shouted at him, A+here've you beenBA A+here in the hell have youF beenB ADid you force-land and .et away a.ainBA ADid you find a woman in 6eyrouthBA A$in, where in the hell have you beenBA #thers were comin. u- and crowdin. around him now, fitters and ri..ers and the men who drove the fire tender, and they all waited to hear what $in would say* %e stood there -ullin. off his helmet, -ushin. back his black hair with his hand, and he was so astonished at our behaviour that at first he merely looked at us and did not s-eak* Then he lau.hed and he said, A+hat in the hell's the matterB A+hat's the matter with all of youBA A+here have you beenBA we shouted* A+here have you been for two daysBA &-on the face of $in there was a .reat and enormous astonishment* %e looked ;uickly at his watch* A$ive -ast twelve,A he said* A0 left at eleven, one hour and five minutes a.o* Don't be a lot of damn fools* 0 must .o and re-ort ;uickly* The 'avy will want to know that those destroyers are still in the harbour at 6eyrouth*A %e started to walk awayE 0 cau.ht his arm* A$in,A 0 said ;uietly, Ayou've been away since the day before yesterday* +hat's the matter with youBA %e looked at me and lau.hed* A0've seen you or.ani,e much better 9okes than this one,A he said* A0t isn't so funny* 0t isn't a bit funny*A nd he walked away* +e stood there, the Sta., )addy and 0, the fitters, the ri..ers and the men who drove the fireen.ine, watchin. $in as he walked away* +e looked at each other, not knowin. what to say or to think, understandin. nothin., knowin. nothin. e7ce-t that $in had been serious when he s-oke and that what he said he had believed to be true* +e knew this because we knew $in, and we knew it because when one has been to.ether as we had been to.ether, then there is never any doubtin. of anythin. that anyone says when he is talkin. about his flyin.E there can only be a doubtin. of one's self* These men were doubtin. themselves, standin. there in the sun doubtin. themselves, and the Sta. was standin. by the win. of $in's machine -eelin. off with his fin.ers little flakes of -aint which had dried u- and cracked in the sun* Someone said, A+ell, 0'll be bu..ered,A and the men turned and started to walk ;uietly back to their 9obs* The ne7t three -ilots on readiness came walkin. slowly towards us from the .rey corru.ated-iron han.ar, walkin. slowly under the heat of the sun and swin.in. their helmets in their hands as they came* The Sta., )addy and 0 walked over to the -ilots' mess to have a drink and lunch* The mess was a small white wooden buildin. with a verandah* 0nside there were two rooms, one a sittin. room with armchairs and ma.a,ines and a hole in the wall throu.h which you could buy drinks, and the other a dinin. room with one lon. wooden table* 0n the sittin. room we found $in talkin. to 2onkey, our C#* The other -ilots were sittin. around listenin. and everybody was drinkin. beer* +e knew that it was really a serious business iii s-ite of the beer and the armchairsE that 2onkey was doin. what he had to do and doin. it in the only way -ossible* 2onkey was a rare man, tall with a handsome face, an 0talian bullet wound in his le. and a casual friendly efficiency* %e never lau.hed out loud, he 9ust choked and .runted dee- in his throat* $in was sayin., A>ou must .o easy, 2onkeyE you must hel- me to sto- thinkin. that 0've .one mad*A

$in was bein. serious and sensible, but he was worried as hell* A0 have told you all 0 know,A he said* AThat 0 took off at eleven o'clock, that 0 climbed u- hi.h, that 0 flew to 6eyrouth, saw the two $rench destroyers and came back, landin. at five -ast twelve* 0 swear to you that that is all 0 know*A %e looked around at us, at the Sta. and me, at )addy and Gohnny and the half-do,en other -ilots in the room, and we smiled at him and nodded to show him that we were with him, not a.ainst him, and that we believed what he said* 2onkey said, A+hat in the hell am 0 .oin. to say to %ead;uarters at GerusalemB 0 re-orted you missin.* 'ow 0've .ot to re-ort your return* They'll insist on knowin. where you've been*A The whole thin. was .ettin. to be too much for $in* %e was sittin. u-ri.ht, ta--in. with the fin.ers of his left hand on the leather arm of his chair, ta--in. with ;uick shar- ta-s, leanin. forward, thinkin., thinkin., fi.htin. to think, ta--in. on the arm of the chair and then he be.an ta--in. the floor with his foot as well* The Sta. could stand it no lon.er* A2onkey,A he said, A2onkey, let's 9ust leave it all for a bit* !et's leave it and -erha-s $in will remember somethin. later on*A )addy, who was sittin. on the arm of the Sta.'s chair, said, A>es, and meanwhile we could tell %I that $in had force-landed in a field in Syria, taken two days to re-air his aircraft, then flown home*A "verybody was hel-in. $in* The -ilots were all hel-in. him* 0n the mind of each of us was the certain knowled.e that here was somethin. that concerned us .reatly* $in knew it, althou.h that was all he knew, and the others knew it because one could see it u-on their faces* There was a tension, a fine hi.h-drawn tension in the room, because here for the first time was somethin. which was neither bullets nor fire nor the cou.hin. of an en.ine nor burst tyres nor blood in the cock-it nor yesterday nor today, nor even tomorrow* 2onkey felt it too, and he said, A>es, let's have another drink and leave it for a bit* 0'll tell %I that you force-landed in Syria and mana.ed to .et off a.ain later*A +e had some more beer and went in to lunch* 2onkey ordered bottles of )alestine white wine with the meal to celebrate $in's return* fter that no one mentioned the thin. at allE we did not even talk about it when $in wasn't there* 6ut each one of us continued to think about it secretly, knowin. for certain that it was somethin. im-ortant and that it was not finished* The tension s-read ;uickly throu.h the s;uadron and it was with all the -ilots* 2eanwhile the days went by and the sun shone u-on the aerodrome and u-on the aircraft and $in took his -lace amon. us flyin. in the normal way* Then one day, 0 think it was about a week later, we did another .roundstrafe of Rayak aerodrome* There were si7 of us, with 2onkey leadin. and $in flyin. on his starboard side* +e came in low over Rayak and there was -lenty of li.ht flak, and as we went in on the first run, )addy's machine was hit* s we wheeled for the second run we saw his %urricane win. .ently over and dive strai.ht to the .round at the ed.e of the aerodrome* There was a .reat billow of white smoke as it hit, then the flames, and as the flames s-read the smoke turned from white to black and )addy was with it* 0mmediately there was a crackle over the radio and 0 heard $in's voice, very e7cited, shoutin. into his micro-hone, shoutin., A0've remembered it* %ello, 2onkey, 0've remembered it all,A and 2onkey's calm slow re-ly, A#/ $in, #/E don't for.et it*A +e did our second run and then 2onkey led us ;uickly away, weavin. in and out of the valleys, with the bare .rey brown hills far above us on either side, and all the way home, all throu.h the half-hour's fli.ht, $in never sto--ed shoutin. over the RT* $irst he would call to 2onkey and say, A%ello, 2onkey, 0've remembered it, all of itE every bit of it*A Then he would say, A%ello, Sta., 0've remembered it, all of itE 0 can't for.et it now*A %e called me and he called Gohnny and he called +ishfulE he called us all se-arately over and over a.ain, and he was so e7cited that sometimes he shouted too loudly into his mike and we could not hear what he was sayin.*

+hen we landed, we dis-ersed our aircraft and because $in for some reason had to -ark his at the far side of the aerodrome, the rest of us were in the #-erations room before him* The -s room was beside the han.ar* 0t was a bare -lace with a lar.e table in the middle of the floor on which there was a ma- of the area* There was another smaller table with a cou-le of tele-hones, a few wooden chairs and benches and at one end the floor was stacked with 2ae +ests, -arachutes and helmets* +e were standin. there takin. off our flyin. clothin. and throwin. it on to the floor at the end of the room when $in arrived* %e came ;uickly into the doorway and sto--ed* %is black hair was standin. u- strai.ht and untidy because of the way in which he had -ulled off his helmetE his face was shiny with sweat and his khaki shirt was dark and wet* %is mouth was o-en and he was breathin. ;uickly, %e looked as thou.h he had been runnin.* %e looked like a child who had rushed downstairs into a room full of .rown-u-s to say that the cat has had kittens in the nursery and who does not know how to be.in* +e had all heard him comin. because that was what we had been waitin. for* "veryone sto--ed what they were doin. and stood still, lookin. at $in* 2onkey said, A%ello $in,A and $in said, A2onkey, you've .ot to believe this because it's what ha--ened*A 2onkey was standin. over by the table with the tele-honesE the Sta. was near him, s;uare short .in.er-haired Sta., standin. u- strai.ht, holdin. a 2ae +est in his hand, lookin. at $in* The others were at the far end of the room* +hen $in s-oke, they be.an to move u- ;uietly until they were closer to him, until they reached the ed.e of the bi. ma- table which they touched with their hands* There they stood, lookin. at $in, waitin. for him to be.in* %e started at once, talkin. ;uickly, then calmin. down and talkin. more slowly as he .ot into his story* %e told everythin., standin. there by the door of the #-s room, with his yellow 2ae +est still on him and with his helmet and o7y.en mask in his hand* The others stayed where they were and listened, and as 0 listened to him, 0 for.ot that it was $in s-eakin. and that we were in the #-s room at %aifaE 0 for.ot everythin. and went with him on his 9ourney, and did not come back until he had finished* A0 was flyin. at about twenty thousand,A he said* A0 flew over Tyre and Sidon and over the Damour River and then 0 flew inland over the !ebanon hills, because 0 intended to a--roach 6eyrouth from the east* Suddenly 0 flew into cloud, thick white cloud which was so thick and dense that 0 could see nothin. e7ce-t the inside of my cock-it* 0 couldn't understand it, because a moment before everythin. had been clear and blue and there had been no cloud anywhere* A0 started to lose hei.ht to .et out of the cloud and 0 went down and down and still 0 was in t* 0 knew that 0 must not .o too low because of the hills, but at si7 thousand the cloud was still around me* 0t was so thick that 0 could see nothin., not even the nose of my machine nor the win.s, and the cloud condensed on the windshield and little rivers of water ran down the .lass and .ot blown away by the sli-stream* 0 have never seen cloud like that before* 0t was thick and white ri.ht u- to the ed.es of the cock-it* 0 felt like a man on a ma.ic car-et, sittin. there alone in this little .lass-to--ed cock-it, with no win.s, no tail, no en.ine and no aero-lane* A0 knew that 0 must .et out of this cloud, so 0 turned and flew west over the sea away from the mountainsE then 0 came down low by my altimeter* 0 came down to five hundred feet, four hundred, three hundred, two hundred, one hundred, and the cloud was still around me* $or a moment 0 -aused* 0 knew that it was unsafe to .o lower* Then, ;uite suddenly, like a .ust of wind, came the feelin. that there was nothin. below meE no sea nor earth nor anythin. else and slowly, deliberately, 0 o-ened the throttle, -ushed the stick hard forward and dived* A0 did not watch the altimeterE 0 looked strai.ht ahead throu.h the windshield at the whiteness of the cloud and 0 went on divin.* 0 sat there -ressin. the stick forward, kee-in. her in the dive, watchin. the vast clin.in. whiteness of the cloud and 0 never once wondered where 0 was .oin.* 0 9ust went*

A0 do not know how lon. 0 sat thereE it may have been minutes and it may have been hoursE 0 know only that as 0 sat there and ke-t her divin., 0 was certain that what was below me was neither mountains nor rivers nor earth nor sea and 0 was not afraid* AThen 0 was blinded* 0t was like bein. half aslee- in bed when someone turns on the li.ht* A0 came out of the cloud so suddenly and so ;uickly that 0 was blinded* There was no s-ace of time between bein. in it and bein. out of it* #ne moment 0 was in it and the whiteness was thick around me and in that same moment 0 was out of it and the li.ht was so bri.ht that 0 was blinded* 0 screwed u- my eyes and held them ti.ht closed for several seconds* A+hen 0 o-ened them everythin. was blue, more blue than anythin. that 0 had ever seen* 0t was not a dark blue, nor was it a bri.ht blueE it was a blue blue, a -ure shinin. colour which 0 had never seen before and which 0 cannot describe* 0 looked around* 0 looked u- above me and behind me* 0 sat u- and -eered below me throu.h the .lass of the cock-it and everywhere it was blue* 0t was bri.ht and clear, like -leasant sunli.ht, but there was no sun* AThen 0 saw them* A$ar ahead and above 0 saw a lon. thin line of aircraft flyin. across the sky* They were movin. forward in a sin.le black line, all at the same s-eed, all in the same direction, all close u-, followin. one behind the other, and the line stretched across the sky as far as the eye could see* 0t was the way they moved ahead, the ur.ent way in which they -ressed forward forward forward like shi-s sailin. before a .reat wind, it was from this that 0 knew everythin.* 0 do not know why or how 0 knew it, but 0 knew as 0 looked at them that these were the -ilots and air crews who had been killed in battle, who now, in their own aircraft were makin. their last fli.ht, their last 9ourney* A s 0 flew hi.her and closer 0 could reco.ni,e the machines themselves* 0 saw in that lon. -rocession nearly every ty-e there was* 0 saw !ancasters and Dorniers, %alifa7es and %urricanes, 2esserschmitts, S-itfires, Stirlin.s, Savoia 3@s, 9unket ==s, :ladiators, %am-dens, 2acchi 8<<s, 6lenheims, $ocke +ulfs, 6eaufi.hters, Swordfish and %einkels* ll these and many more 0 saw, and the movin. line reached across the blue sky both to the one side and to the other until it faded from si.ht* A0 was close to them now and 0 be.an to sense that 0 was bein. sucked towards them re.ardless of what 0 wished to do* There was a wind which took hold of my machine, blew it over and tossed it about like a leaf and 0 was -ulled and sucked as by a .iant vorte7 towards the other aero-lanes* There was nothin. 0 could do for 0 was in the vorte7 and in the arms of the wind* This all ha--ened very ;uickly, but 0 remember it clearly* 0 felt the -ull of my aircraft becomin. stron.erE 0 was whisked forward faster and faster, and then suddenly 0 was flyin. in the -rocession itself, movin. forward with the others, at the same s-eed and on the same course* head of me, close enou.h for me to see the colour of the -aint on its win.s, was a Swordfish, an old $leet ir rm Swordfish* 0 could see the heads and helmets of the observer and the -ilot as they sat in their cock-its, the one behind the other* head of the Swordfish there was a Dornier, a $lyin. )encil, and beyond the Dornier there were others which 0 could not reco.ni,e from where 0 was* A+e flew on and on* 0 could not have turned and flown away even if 0 had wanted to* 0 do not know why, althou.h it may have been somethin. to do with the vorte7 and with the wind, but 0 knew that it was so* 2oreover, 0 was not really flyin. my aircraftE it flew itself* There was no manoeuvrin. to reckon with, no s-eed, no hei.ht, no throttle, no stick, no nothin.* #nce 0 .lanced down at my instruments and saw that they were all dead, 9ust as they are when the machine is sittin. on the .round* ASo we flew on* 0 had no idea how fast we went* There was no sensation of s-eed and for all 0 know, it was a million miles an hour* 'ow 0 come to think of it, 0 never once durin. that time felt either hot or cold or hun.ry or thirstyE 0

felt none of those thin.s* 0 felt no fear, because 0 knew nothin. of which to be afraid* 0 felt no worry, because 0 could remember nothin. or think of nothin. about which to be worried* 0 felt no desire to do anythin. that 0 was not doin. or to have anythin. that 0 did not have, because there was nothin. that 0 wished to do and there was nothin. that 0 wished to have* 0 felt only -leasure at bein. where 0 was, at seein. the wonderful li.ht and the beautiful colour around me* #nce 0 cau.ht si.ht of my face in the cock-it minor and 0 saw that 0 was smilin., smilin. with my eyes and with my mouth, and when 0 looked away 0 knew that 0 was still smilin., sim-ly because that was the way 0 felt* #nce, the observer in the Swordfish ahead of me turned and waved his hand* 0 slid back the roof of my cock-it and waved back* 0 remember that even when 0 o-ened the cock-it, there was no rush of air and no rush of cold or heat, nor was there any -ressure of the sli-stream on my hand* Then 0 noticed that they were all wavin. at each other, like children on a roller-coaster and 0 turned and waved at the man in the 2acchi behind me* A6ut there was somethin. ha--enin. alon. the line* $ar u- in front 0 could see that the aero-lanes had chan.ed course, were wheelin. around to the left and losin. hei.ht* The whole -rocession, as it reached a certain -oint, was bankin. around and .lidin. downwards in a wide, swee-in. circle* 0nstinctively 0 .lanced down over the cock-it, and there 0 saw s-read out below me a vast .reen -lain* 0t was .reen and smooth and beautifulE it reached to the far ed.es of the hori,on where the blue of the sky came down and mer.ed with the .reen of the -lain* A nd there was the li.ht* #ver to the left, far away in the distance was a bri.ht white li.ht, shinin. bri.ht and without any colour* 0t was as thou.h the-sun, but somethin. far bi..er than the sun, somethin. without sha-e or form whose li.ht was bri.ht but not blindin., was lyin. on the far ed.e of the .reen -lain* The li.ht s-read outwards from a centre of brilliance and it s-read far u- into the sky and far out over the -lain* +hen 0 saw it, 0 could not at first look away from t* 0 had no desire to .o towards it, into it, and almost at once the desire and the lon.in. became so intense that several times 0 tried to -ull my aircraft out of the line and fly strai.ht towards itE but it was not -ossible and 0 had to fly with the rest* A s they banked around and lost hei.ht 0 went with them, and we be.an to .lide down towards the .reen -lain below* 'ow that 0 was closer, 0 could see the .reat mass of aircraft u-on the -lain itself* They were everywhere, scattered over the .round like currants u-on a .reen car-et* There were hundreds and hundreds of them, and each minute, each second almost, their numbers .rew as those in front of me landed and ta7ied to a standstill* AIuickly we lost hei.ht* Soon 0 saw that the ones 9ust in front of me were lowerin. their wheels and -re-arin. to land* The Dornier ne7t but one to me levelled off and touched down* Then the old Swordfish* The -ilot turned a little to the left out of the way of the Dornier and landed beside him* 0 turned to the left of the Swordfish and levelled off* 0 looked out of the cock-it at the .round, 9ud.in. the hei.ht, and 0 saw the .reen of the .round blurred as it rushed -ast me and below me* A0 waited for my aircraft to sink and to touch down* 0t seemed to take a lon. time* ACome on,' 0 said* ACome on, come on*' 0 was only about si7 feet u-, but she would not sink* A:et down,' 0 shouted, A-lease .et down*' 0 be.an to -anic* 0 became fri.htened* Suddenly 0 noticed that 0 was .ainin. s-eed* 0 cut all the switches but it made no difference* The aircraft was .atherin. s-eed, .oin. faster and faster, and 0 looked around and saw behind me the lon. -rocession of aircraft dro--in. down out of the sky and swee-in. in to land* 0 saw the mass of machines u-on the .round, scattered far across the -lain and away on one side 0 saw the li.ht, that shinin. white li.ht which shone so bri.htly over the .reat -lain and to which 0 lon.ed to .o* 0 know that had 0 been able to land, 0 would have started to run towards that li.ht the moment 0 .ot out of my aircraft* A nd now 0 was flyin. away from it* 2y fear .rew* s 0 flew faster and

farther away, the fear took hold of me until soon 0 was fi.htin. cra,y mad, -ullin. at the stick, wrestlin. with the aero-lane, tryin. to turn it around, back towards the li.ht* +hen 0 saw that it was im-ossible, 0 tried to kill myself* 0 really wanted to kill myself then* 0 tried to dive the aircraft into the .round, but it flew on strai.ht* 0 tried to 9um- out of the cock-it, but there was a hand u-on my shoulder which held me down* 0 tried to ban. my head a.ainst the sides of the cock-it, but it made no difference and 0 sat there fi.htin. with my machine and with everythin. until suddenly 0 noticed that 0 was in cloud* 0 was in the same thick white cloud as beforeE and 0 seemed to be climbin.* 0 looked behind me, but the cloud had closed in all round* There was nothin. now but this vast im-enetrable whiteness* 0 be.an to feel sick and .iddy* 0 did not care any lon.er what ha--ened one way or the other, 0 9ust sat there lim-ly, lettin. the machine fly on by itself* A0t seemed a lon. time and 0 am sure that 0 sat there for many hours* 0 must have .one to slee-* s 0 sle-t, 0 dreamed* 0 dreamed not of the thin.s that 0 had 9ust seen, but of the thin.s of my ordinary life, of the s;uadron, of 'ikki and of the aerodrome here at %aifa* 0 dreamed that 0 was sittin. at readiness outside the han.ar with two others, that a re;uest came from the 'avy for someone to do a ;uick recce over 6eyrouthE and because 0 was first u-, 0 9um-ed into my %urricane and went off* 0 dreamed that 0 -assed over Tyre and Sidon and over the Damour River, climbin. u- to twenty thousand as 0 went* Then 0 turned inland over the !ebanon hills, swun. around and a--roached 6eyrouth from the east* 0 was above the town, -eerin. over the side of the cock-it, lookin. for the harbour and tryin. to find the two $rench destroyers* Soon 0 saw them, saw them clearly, tied u- close alon.side each other by the wharf, and 0 banked around and dived for home as fast as 0 could* The 'avy's wron., 0 thou.ht to myself as 0 flew back* The destroyers are still in the harbour* 0 looked at my watch* n hour and a half* A0've been ;uick,' 0 said* AThey'll be -leased*' 0 tried to call u- on the radio to .ive the information, but 0 couldn't .et throu.h* AThen 0 came back here* +hen 0 landed, you all crowded around me and asked me where 0 had been for two days, but 0 could remember nothin.* 0 did not remember anythin. e7ce-t the fli.ht to 6eyrouth until 9ust now, when 0 saw )addy bein. shot down* s his machine hit the .round, 0 found myself sayin., A>ou lucky bastard* >ou lucky, lucky bastard,' and as 0 said it, 0 knew why 0 was sayin. it and remembered everythin.* That was when 0 shouted to you over the radio* That was when 0 remembered*A $in had finished* 'o one had moved or said anythin. all the time that he had been talkin.* 'ow it was only 2onkey who s-oke* %e shuffled his feet on the floor, turned and looked out of the window and said ;uietly, almost in a whis-er, A+ell, 0'll be damned,A and the rest of us went slowly back to the business of takin. off our flyin. clothin. and stackin. it in the corner of the room on the floorE all e7ce-t the Sta., s;uare short Sta., who stood there watchin. $in as $in walked slowly across the room to -ut away his clothin.* fter $in's story, the s;uadron returned to normal* The tension which had been with us for over a week, disa--eared* The aerodrome was a ha--ier -lace in which to be* 6ut no one ever mentioned $in's 9ourney* +e never once s-oke about it to.ether, not even when we .ot drunk in the evenin. at the "7celsior in %aifa* The Syrian cam-ai.n was comin. to an end* "veryone could see that it must finish soon, althou.h the Vichy -eo-le were still fi.htin. fiercely south of 6eyrouth* +e were still flyin.* +e were flyin. a .reat deal over the fleet, which was bombardin. the coast, for we had the 9ob of -rotectin. them from the Gunker ==s which came over from Rhodes* 0t was on the last one of these fli.hts over the fleet that $in was killed* +e were flyin. hi.h above the shi-s when the Gu-==s came over in force and there was a battle* +e had only si7 %urricanes in the airE there were many of the Gunkers and it was a .ood fi.ht* 0 do not remember much about what went on at the time* #ne never does* 6ut 0 remember that it was a hectic, chasin. fi.ht, with the

Gunkers divin. for the shi-s, with the shi-s barkin. at them, throwin. ueverythin. into the air so that the sky was full of white flowers which blossomed ;uickly and .rew and blew away with the wind* 0 remember the :erman who blew u- in mid-air, ;uickly, with 9ust a white flash, so that where the bomber had been, there was nothin. left e7ce-t tiny little -ieces fallin. slowly downwards* 0 remember the one that had its rear turret shot away, which flew alon. with the .unner han.in. out of the tail by his stra-s, stru..lin. to .et back into the machine* 0 remember one, a brave one who stayed u- above to fi.ht us while the others went down to dive-bomb* 0 remember that we shot him u- and 0 remember seein. him turn slowly over on to his back, -ale .reen belly u-wards like a dead fish, before finally he s-un down* nd 0 remember $in* 0 was close to him when his aircraft cau.ht fire* 0 could see the flames comin. out of the nose of his machine and dancin. over the en.ine cowlin.* There was black smoke comin. from the e7haust of his %urricane* 0 flew u- close and 0 called to him over the RT* A%ello, $in,A 0 called, Ayou'd better 9um-*A %is voice came back, calm and slow* A0t's not so easy*A AGum-,A 0 shouted, A9um- ;uickly*A 0 could see him sittin. there under the .lass roof of the cock-it* %e looked towards me and shook his head* A0t's not so easy,A he answered* A0'm a bit shot u-* 2y arms are shot u- and 0 can't undo the stra-s*A A:et out,A 0 shouted* A$or :od's sake, .et out,A but he did not answer* $or a moment his aircraft flew on, strai.ht and level, then .ently, like a dyin. ea.le, it di--ed a win. and dived towards the sea* 0 watched it as it wentE 0 watched the thin trail of black smoke which it made across the sky, and as 0 watched, $in's voice came a.ain over the radio, clear and slow* A0'm a lucky bastard,A he was sayin.* A lucky, lucky bastard*A

6eware of the Do.

D#+' below there was only a vast white undulatin. sea of cloud* bove there was the sun, and the sun was white like the clouds, because it is never yellow when one looks at it from hi.h in the air* %e was still flyin. the S-itfire* %is ri.ht hand was on the stick and he was workin. the rudderbar with his left le. alone* 0t was ;uite easy* The machine was flyin. well* %e knew what he was doin.* "verythin. is fine, he thou.ht* 0'm doin. all ri.ht* 0'm doin. nicely* 0 know my way home* 0'll be there in half an hour* +hen 0 land 0 shall ta7i in and switch off my en.ine and 0 shall say, hel- me to .et out, will you* 0 shall make my voice sound ordinary and natural and none of them will take any notice* Then 0 shall say, someone hel- me to .et out* 0 can't do it alone because 0've lost one of my le.s* They'll all lau.h and think that 0'm 9okin. and 0 shall say, all ri.ht, come and have a look, you unbelievin. bastards* Then >orky will climb u- on to the win. and look inside* %e'll -robably be sick because of all the blood and the mess* 0 shall lau.h and say, for :od's sake, hel- me .et out* %e .lanced down a.ain at his ri.ht le.* There was not much of it left* The cannon-shell had taken him on the thi.h, 9ust above the knee, and now there was nothin. but a .reat mess and a lot of blood* 6ut there was no -ain* +hen he looked down, he felt as thou.h he were seein. somethin. that did not belon. to him* 0t

had nothin. to do with him* 0t was 9ust a mess which ha--ened to be there in the cock-itE somethin. stran.e and unusual and rather interestin.* 0t was like findin. a dead cat on the sofa* %e really felt fine, and because he still felt fine, he felt e7cited and unafraid* 0 won't even bother to call u- on the radio for the blood-wa.on, he thou.ht* 0t isn't necessary* nd when 0 land 0'll sit there ;uite normally and say, some of you fellows come and hel- me out, will you, because 0've lost one of my le.s* That will be funny* 0'll lau.h a little while 0'm sayin. itE 0'll say it calmly and slowly, and they'll think 0'm 9okin.* +hen >orky comes u- on to the win. and .ets sick, 0'll say, >orky you old son of a bitch, have you fi7ed my car yet* Then when 0 .et out 0'll make my re-ort* !ater 0'll .o u- to !ondon* 0'll take that half bottle of whisky with me and 0'll .ive it to 6luey* +e'll sit in her room and drink it* 0'll .et the water out of the bathroom ta-* 0 won't say much until it's time to .o to bed, then 0'll say, 6luey 0've .ot a sur-rise for you* 0 lost a le. today* 6ut 0 don't mind so lon. as you don't* 0t doesn't even hurt* +e'll .o everywhere in cars* 0 always hated walkin. e7ce-t when 0 walked down the street of the co--ersmiths in 6a.hdad, but 0 could .o in a rickshaw* 0 could .o home and cho- wood, but the head always flies off the a7e* %ot water, that's what it needsE -ut it in the bath and make the handle swell* 0 cho--ed lots of wood last time 0 went home and 0 -ut the a7e in the bath* Then he saw the sun shinin. on the en.ine cowlin. of his machine* %e saw the sun shinin. on the rivets in the metal, and he remembered the aero-lane and he remembered where he was* %e reali,ed that he was no lon.er feelin. .oodE that he was sick and .iddy* %is head ke-t fallin. forward on to his chest because his neck seemed no lon.er to have any stren.th* 6ut he knew that he was flyin. the S-itfire* %e could feel the handle of the stick between the fin.ers of his ri.ht hand* 0'm .oin. to -ass out, he thou.ht* ny moment now 0'm .oin. to -ass out* %e looked at his altimeter* Twenty-one thousand* To test himself he tried to read the hundreds as well as the thousands* Twenty-one thousand and whatB s he looked the dial became blurred and he could not even see the needle* %e knew then that he must bale outE that there was not a second to lose, otherwise he would become unconscious* Iuickly, frantically, he tried to slide back the hood with his left hand, but he had not the stren.th* $or a second he took his ri.ht hand off the stick and with both hands he mana.ed to -ush the hood back* The rush of cold air on his face seemed to hel-* %e had a moment of .reat clearness* %is actions became orderly and -recise* That is what ha--ens with a .ood -ilot* %e took some ;uick dee- breaths from his o7y.en mask, and as he did so, he looked out over the side of the cock-it* Down below there was only a vast white sea of cloud and he reali,ed that he did not know where he was* 0t'll be the Channel, he thou.ht* 0'm sure to fall in the drink* %e throttled back, -ulled off his helmet, undid his stra-s and -ushed the stick hard over to the left* The S-itfire di--ed its -ort win. and turned smoothly over on to its back* The -ilot fell out* s he fell, he o-ened his eyes, because he knew that he must not -ass out before he had -ulled the cord* #n one side he saw the sunE on the other he saw the whiteness of the clouds, and as he fell, as he somersaulted in the air, the white clouds chased the sun and the sun chased the clouds* They chased each other in a small circleE they ran faster and faster and there was the sun and the clouds and the clouds and the sun, and the clouds came nearer until suddenly there was no lon.er any sun but only a .reat whiteness* The whole world was white and there was nothin. in it* 0t was so white that sometimes it looked black, and after a time it was either white or black, but mostly it was white* %e watched it as it turned from white to black, then back to white a.ain, and the white stayed for a lon. time, but the black lasted only for a few seconds* %e .ot into the habit of .oin. to slee- durin. the white -eriods, of wakin. u- 9ust in time to see the world when it was black* The black was very ;uick* Sometimes it was only a flash, a flash of

black li.htnin.* The white was slow and in the slowness of it, he always do,ed off* #ne day, when it was white, he -ut out a hand and he touched somethin.* %e took it between his fin.ers and crum-led it* $or a time he lay there, idly lettin. the ti-s of his fin.ers -lay with the thin. which they had touched* Then slowly he o-ened his eyes, looked down at his hand and saw that he was holdin. somethin. which was white* 0t was the ed.e of a sheet* %e knew it was a sheet because he could see the te7ture of the material and the stitchin.s on the hem* %e screwed uhis eyes and o-ened them a.ain ;uickly* This time he saw the room* %e saw the bed in which he was lyin.E he saw the .rey walls and the door and the .reen curtains over the window* There were some roses on the table by his bed* Then he saw the basin on the table near the roses* 0t was a white enamel basin and beside it there was a small medicine .lass* This is a hos-ital, he thou.ht* 0 am in a hos-ital* 6ut he could remember nothin.* %e lay back on his -illow, lookin. at the ceilin. and wonderin. what had ha--ened* %e was .a,in. at the smooth .reyness of the ceilin. which was so clean and .rey, and then suddenly he saw a fly walkin. u-on it* The si.ht of this fly, the suddenness of seein. this small black s-eck on a sea of .rey, brushed the surface of his brain, and ;uickly, in that second, he remembered everythin.* %e remembered the S-itfire and he remembered the altimeter showin. twenty-one thousand feet* %e remembered the -ushin. back of the hood with both hands and he remembered the balin. out* %e remembered his le.* 0t seemed all ri.ht now* %e looked down at the end of the bed, but he could not tell* %e -ut one hand underneath the bedclothes and felt for his knees* %e found one of them, but when he felt for the other, his hand touched somethin. which was soft and covered in banda.es* Gust then the door o-ened and a nurse came in* A%ello,A she said* ASo you've waked u- at last*A She was not .ood-lookin., but she was lar.e and clean* She was between thirty and forty and she had fair hair* 2ore than that he did not notice* A+here am 0BA A>ou're a lucky fellow* >ou landed in a wood near the beach* >ou're in 6ri.hton* They brou.ht you in two days a.o, and now you're all fi7ed u-* >ou look fine*A A0've lost a le.,A he said* AThat's nothin.* +e'll .et you another one* 'ow you must .o to slee-* The doctor will be comin. to see you in about an hour*A She -icked u- the basin and the medicine .lass and went out* 6ut he did not slee-* %e wanted to kee- his eyes o-en because he was fri.htened that if he shut them a.ain everythin. would .o away* %e lay lookin. at the ceilin.* The fly was still there* 0t was very ener.etic* 0t would run forward very fast for a few inches, then it would sto-* Then it would run forward a.ain, sto-, run forward, and every now and then it would take off and bu,, around viciously in small circles* 0t always landed back in the same -lace on the ceilin. and started runnin. and sto--in. all over a.ain* %e watched it for so lon. that after a while it was no lon.er a fly, but only a black s-eck u-on a sea of .rey, and he was still watchin. it when the nurse o-ened the door, and stood aside while the doctor came in* %e was an rmy doctor, a ma9or, and he had some last war ribbons on his chest* %e was bald and small, but he had a cheerful face and kind eyes* A+ell, well,A he said* ASo you've decided to wake u- at last* %ow are you feelin.BA A0 feel all ri.ht*A AThat's the stuff* >ou'll be u- and about in no time*A The doctor took his wrist to feel his -ulse* A6y the way,A he said, Asome of the lads from your s;uadron were rin.in. uand askin. about you* They wanted to come alon. and see you, but 0 said that they'd better wait a day or two* Told them you were all ri.ht and that they could

come and see you a little later on* Gust lie ;uiet and take it easy for a bit* :ot somethin. to readBA %e .lanced at the table with the roses* A'o* +ell, nurse will look after you* She'll .et you anythin. you want*A +ith that he waved his hand and went out, followed by the lar.e clean nurse* +hen they had .one, he lay back and looked at the ceilin. a.ain* The fly was still there and as he lay watchin. it he heard the noise of an aero-lane in the distance* %e lay listenin. to the sound of its en.ines* 0t was a lon. way away* 0 wonder what it is, he thou.ht* !et me see if 0 can -lace it* Suddenly he 9erked his head shar-ly to one side* nyone who has been bombed can tell the noise of a Gunkers ==* They can tell most other :erman bombers for that matter, but es-ecially a Gunkers ==* The en.ines seem to sin. a duet* There is a deevibratin. bass voice and with it there is a hi.h -itched tenor* 0t is the sin.in. of the tenor which makes the sound of a Gu-== somethin. which one cannot mistake* %e lay listenin. to the noise and he felt ;uite certain about what it was* 6ut where were the sirens and where the .unsB That :erman -ilot certainly had a nerve comin. near 6ri.hton alone in dayli.ht* The aircraft was always far away and soon the noise faded away into the distance* !ater on there was another* This one, too, was far away, but there was the same dee- undulatin. bass and the hi.h swin.in. tenor and there was no mistakin. it* %e had heard that noise every day durin. the 6attle* %e was -u,,led* There was a bell on the table by the bed* %e reached out his hand and ran. it* %e heard the noise of footste-s down the corridor* The nurse came in* A'urse, what were those aero-lanesBA A0'm sure 0 don't know* 0 didn't hear them* )robably fi.hters or bombers* 0 e7-ect they were returnin. from $rance* +hy, what's the matterBA AThey were Gu-==s* 0'm sure they were Gu-==s* 0 know the sound of the en.ines* There were two of them* +hat were they doin. over hereBA The nurse came u- to the side of his bed and be.an to strai.hten out the sheets and tuck them in under the mattress* A:racious me, what thin.s you ima.ine* >ou mustn't worry about a thin. like that* +ould you like me to .et you somethin. to readBA A'o, thank you*A She -atted his -illow and brushed back the hair from his forehead with her hand* AThey never come over in dayli.ht any lon.er* >ou know that* They were -robably !ancasters or $lyin. $ortresses*A A'urse*A A>es*A ACould 0 have a ci.aretteBA A+hy certainly you can*A She went out and came back almost at once with a -acket of )layers and some matches* She handed one to him and when he had -ut it in his mouth, she struck a match and lit it* A0f you want me a.ain,A she said, A9ust rin. the bell,A and she went out* #nce towards evenin. he heard the noise of another aircraft* 0t was far away, but even so he knew that it was a sin.le-en.ined machine* 0t was .oin. fastE he could tell that* %e could not -lace it* 0t wasn't a S-it, and it wasn't a %urricane* 0t did not sound like an merican en.ine either* They make more noise* %e did not know what it was, and it worried him .reatly* )erha-s 0 am very ill, he thou.ht* )erha-s 0 am ima.inin. thin.s* )erha-s 0 am a little delirious* 0 sim-ly do not know what to think* That evenin. the nurse came in with a basin of hot water and be.an to wash him* A+ell,A she said, A0 ho-e you don't think that we're bein. bombed*A She had taken off his -y9ama to- and was soa-in. his ri.ht arm with a flannel* %e did not answer* She rinsed the flannel in the water, rubbed more soa- on it, and be.an to

wash his chest* A>ou're lookin. fine this evenin.,A she said* AThey o-erated on you as soon as you came in* They did a marvellous 9ob* >ou'll be all ri.ht* 0've .ot a brother in the R $,A she added* A$lyin. bombers*A %e said, A0 went to school in 6ri.hton*A She looked u- ;uickly* A+ell, that's fine,A she said* A0 e7-ect you'll know some -eo-le in the town*A A>es,A he said, A0 know ;uite a few*A She had finished washin. his chest and arms* 'ow she turned back the bedclothes so that his left le. was uncovered* She did it in such a way that his banda.ed stum- remained under the sheets* She undid the cord of his -y9ama trousers and took them off* There was no trouble because they had cut off the ri.ht trouser le. so that it could not interfere with the banda.es* She be.an to wash his left le. and the rest of his body* This was the first time he had had a bed-bath and he was embarrassed* She laid a towel under his le. and be.an washin. his foot with the flannel* She said, AThis wretched soa- won't lather at all* 0t's the water* 0t's as hard as nails*A %e said, A'one of the soa- is very .ood now and, of course, with hard water it's ho-eless*A s he said it he remembered somethin.* %e remembered the baths which he used to take at school in 6ri.hton, in the lon. stone-floored bathroom which had four baths in a row* %e remembered how the water was so soft that you had to take a shower afterwards to .et all the soa- off your body, and he remembered how the foam used to float on the surface of the water, so that you could not see your le.s underneath* %e remembered that sometimes they were .iven calcium tablets because the school doctor used to say that soft water was bad for the teeth* A0n 6ri.hton,A he said, Athe water isn't* %e did not finish the sentence* Somethin. had occurred to himE somethin. so fantastic and absurd that for a moment he felt like tellin. the nurse about it and havin. a .ood lau.h* She looked u-* AThe water isn't whatBA she said* A'othin.,A he answered* A0 was dreamin.*A She rinsed the flannel in the basin, wi-ed the soa- off his le. and dried him with a towel* A0t's nice to be washed,A he said* A0 feel better*A %e was feelin. his face with his hand* A0 need a shave*A A+e'll do that tomorrow,A she said* A)erha-s you can do it yourself then*A That ni.ht he could not slee-* %e lay awake thinkin. of the Gunkers ==s and of the hardness of the water* %e could think of nothin. else* They were Gu-==s, he said to himself* 0 know they were* nd yet it is not -ossible, because they would not be flyin. around so low over here in broad dayli.ht* 0 know that it is true and yet 0 know that it is im-ossible* )erha-s 0 am ill* )erha-s 0 am behavin. like a fool and do not know what 0 am doin. or sayin.* )erha-s 0 am delirious* $or a lon. time he lay awake thinkin. these thin.s, and once he sat u- in bed and said aloud, A0 will -rove that 0 am not cra,y* 0 will make a little s-eech about somethin. com-licated and intellectual* 0 will talk about what to do with :ermany after the war*A 6ut before he had time to be.in, he was aslee-* %e woke 9ust as the first li.ht of day was showin. throu.h the slit in the curtains over the window* The room was still dark, but he could tell that it was already be.innin. to .et li.ht outside* %e lay lookin. at the .rey li.ht which was showin. throu.h the slit in the curtain and as he lay there he remembered the day before* %e remembered the Gunkers ==s and the hardness of the waterE he remembered the lar.e -leasant nurse and the kind doctor, and now a small .rain of doubt took root in his mind and it be.an to .row* %e looked around the room* The nurse had taken the roses out the ni.ht before* There was nothin. e7ce-t the table with a -acket of ci.arettes, a bo7 of matches and an ashtray* The room was bare* 0t was no lon.er warm or friendly* 0t was not even comfortable* 0t was cold and em-ty and very ;uiet*

Slowly the .rain of doubt .rew, and with it came fear, a li.ht, dancin. fear that warned but did not fri.htenE the kind of fear that one .ets not because one is afraid, but because one feels that there is somethin. wron.* Iuickly the doubt and the fear .rew so that he became restless and an.ry, and when he touched his forehead with his hand, he found that it was dam- with sweat* %e knew then that he must do somethin.E that he must find some way of -rovin. to himself that he was either ri.ht or wron., and he looked u- and saw a.ain the window and the .reen curtains* $rom where he lay, that window was ri.ht in front of him, but it was fully ten yards away* Somehow he must reach it and look out* The idea became an obsession with him and soon he could think of nothin. e7ce-t the window* 6ut what about his le.B %e -ut his hand underneath the bedclothes and felt the thick banda.ed stum- which was all that was left on the ri.ht hand side* 0t seemed all ri.ht* 0t didn't hurt* 6ut it would not be easy* %e sat u-* Then he -ushed the bedclothes aside and -ut his left le. on the floor* Slowly, carefully, he swun. his body over until he had both hands on the floor as wellE then he was out of bed, kneelin. on the car-et* %e looked at the stum-* 0t was very short and thick, covered with banda.es* 0t was be.innin. to hurt and he could feel it throbbin.* %e wanted to colla-se, lie down on the car-et and do nothin., but he knew that he must .o on* +ith two arms and one le., he crawled over towards the window* %e would reach forward as far as he could with his arms, then he would .ive a little 9umand slide his left le. alon. after them* "ach time he did it, it 9arred his wound so that he .ave a soft .runt of -ain, but he continued to crawl across the floor on two hands and one knee* +hen he .ot to the window he reached u-, and one at a time he -laced both hands on the sill* Slowly he raised himself u- until he was standin. on his left le.* Then ;uickly he -ushed aside the curtains and looked out* %e saw a small house with a .rey tiled roof standin. alone beside a narrow lane, and immediately behind it there was a -lou.hed field* 0n front of the house there was an untidy .arden, and there was a .reen hed.e se-aratin. the .arden from the lane* %e was lookin. at the hed.e when he saw the si.n* 0t was 9ust a -iece of board nailed to the to- of a short -ole, and because the hed.e had not been trimmed for a lon. time, the branches had .rown out around the si.n so that it seemed almost as thou.h it had been -laced in the middle of the hed.e* There was somethin. written on the board with white -aint* %e -ressed his head a.ainst the .lass of the window, tryin. to read what it said* The first letter was a :, he could see that* The second was an , and the third was an R* #ne after another he mana.ed to see what the letters were* There were three words, and slowly he s-elled the letters out aloud to himself as he mana.ed to read them* :- -R-D-" -& C%-0-$-', :arde au chien* That is what it said* %e stood there balancin. on one le. and holdin. ti.htly to the ed.es of the window sill with his hands, starin. at the si.n and at the whitewashed letterin. of the words* $or a moment he could think of nothin. at all* %e stood there lookin. at the si.n, re-eatin. the words over and over to himself* Slowly he be.an to reali,e the full meanin. of the thin.* %e looked u- at the cotta.e and at the -lou.hed field* %e looked at the small orchard on the left of the cotta.e and he looked at the .reen countryside beyond* ASo this is $rance,A he said* A0 am in $rance*A 'ow the throbbin. in his ri.ht thi.h was very .reat* 0t felt as thou.h someone was -oundin. the end of his stum- with a hammer and suddenly the -ain became so intense that it affected his head* $or a moment he thou.ht he was .oin. to fall* Iuickly he knelt down a.ain, crawled back to the bed and hoisted himself in* %e -ulled the bedclothes over himself and lay back on the -illow, e7hausted* %e could still think of nothin. at all e7ce-t the small si.n by the hed.e and the -lou.hed field and the orchard* 0t was the words on the si.n that he could not for.et* 0t was some time before the nurse came in* She came carryin. a basin of hot water and she said, A:ood mornin., how are you todayBA

%e said, A:ood mornin., nurse*A The -ain was still .reat under the banda.es, but he did not wish to tell this woman anythin.* %e looked at her as she busied herself with .ettin. the washin. thin.s ready* %e looked at her more carefully now* %er hair was very fair* She was tall and bi.-boned and her face seemed -leasant* 6ut there was somethin. a little uneasy about her eyes* They were never still* They never looked at anythin. for more than a moment and they moved too ;uickly from one -lace to another in the room* There was somethin. about her movements also* They were too shar- and nervous to .o well with the casual manner in which she s-oke* She set down the basin, took off his -y9ama to- and be.an to wash him* ADid you slee- wellBA A>es*A A:ood,A she said* She was washin. his arms and his chest* A0 believe there's someone comin. down to see you from the ir 2inistry after breakfast,A she went on* AThey want a re-ort or somethin.* 0 e7-ect you know all about it* %ow you .ot shot down and all that* 0 won't let him stay lon., so don't worry*A %e did not answer* She finished washin. him and .ave him a toothbrush and some tooth-owder* %e brushed his teeth, rinsed his mouth and s-at the water out into the basin* !ater she brou.ht him his breakfast on a tray, but he did not want to eat* %e was still feelin. weak and sick and he wished only to lie still and think about what had ha--ened* nd there was a sentence runnin. throu.h his head* 0t was a sentence which Gohnny, the 0ntelli.ence #fficer of his s;uadron, always re-eated to the -ilots every day before they went out* %e could see Gohnny now, leanin. a.ainst the wall of the dis-ersal hut with his -i-e in his hand, sayin., A nd if they .et you, don't for.et, 9ust your name, rank and number* 'othin. else* $or :od's sake, say nothin. else*' AThere you are,A she said as she -ut the tray on his la-* A0've .ot you an e..* Can you mana.e all ri.htBA A>es*A She stood beside the bed* A re you feelin. all ri.htBA A>es*A A:ood* 0f you want another e.. 0 mi.ht be able to .et you one*A AThis is all ri.ht*A A+ell, 9ust rin. the bell if you want any more*A nd she went out* %e had 9ust finished eatin., when the nurse came in a.ain* She said, A+in. Commander Roberts is here* 0've told him that he can only stay for a few minutes*A She beckoned with her hand and the +in. Commander came in* ASorry to bother you like this,A he said* %e was an ordinary R $ officer, dressed in a uniform which was a little shabby* %e wore win.s and a D$C* %e was fairly tall and thin with -lenty of black hair* %is teeth, which were irre.ular and widely s-aced, stuck out a little even when he closed his mouth* s he s-oke he took a -rinted form and a -encil from his -ocket and he -ulled u- a chair and sat down* A%ow are you feelin.BA There was no answer* ATou.h luck about your le.* 0 know how you feel* 0 hear you -ut u- a fine show before they .ot you*A The man in the bed was lyin. ;uite still, watchin. the man in the chair* The man in the chair said, A+ell, let's .et this stuff over* 0'm afraid you'll have to answer a few ;uestions so that 0 can fill in this combat re-ort* !et me see now, first of all, what was your s;uadronBA The man in the bed did not move* %e looked strai.ht at the +in. Commander and he said, A2y name is )eter +illiamson, my rank is S;uadron !eader and my number is nine seven two four five seven*A

#nly This

T% T ni.ht the frost was very heavy* 0t covered the hed.es and whitened the .rass in the fields so that it seemed almost as thou.h it had been snowin.* 6ut the ni.ht was clear and beautiful and bri.ht with stars, and the moon was nearly full* The cotta.e stood alone in a corner of the bi. field* There was a -ath from the front door which led across the field to a stile and on over the ne7t field to a .ate which o-ened on to the lane about three miles from the villa.e* There were no other houses in si.ht and the country around was o-en and flat and many of the fields were under the -lou.h because of the war* The li.ht of the moon shone u-on the cotta.e* 0t shone throu.h the o-en window into the bedroom where the woman was aslee-* She sle-t lyin. on her back, with her face u-turned to the ceilin., with her lon. hair s-read out around her on the -illow, and althou.h she was aslee-, her face was not the face of someone who is restin.* #nce she had been beautiful, but now there were thin furrows runnin. across her forehead and there was a ti.htness about the way in which her skin was stretched over the cheekbones* 6ut her mouth was still .entle, and as she sle-t, she did not close her li-s* The bedroom was small, with a low ceilin., and for furniture there was a dressin.-table and an armchair* The clothes of the woman lay over the back of the armchair where she had -ut them when she undressed* %er black shoes were on the floor beside the chair* #n the dressin.-table there was a hairbrush, a letter and a lar.e -hoto.ra-h of a youn. boy in uniform who wore a -air of win.s on the left side of his tunic* 0t was a smilin. -hoto.ra-h, the kind that one likes to send to one's mother and it had a thin, black frame made of wood* The moon shone throu.h the o-en window and the woman sle-t her restless slee-* There was no noise anywhere save for the soft, re.ular noise of her breathin. and the rustle of the bedclothes as she stirred in her slee-* Then, from far away, there came a dee-, .entle rumble which .rew and .rew and became louder and louder until soon the whole sky seemed to be filled with a .reat noise which throbbed and throbbed and ke-t on throbbin. and did not sto-* Ri.ht at the be.innin., even before it came close, the woman had heard the noise* 0n her slee- she had been waitin. for it, listenin. for the noise and dreadin. the moment when it would come* +hen she heard it, she o-ened her eyes and for a while she lay ;uite still, listenin.* Then she sat u-, -ushed the bedclothes aside and .ot out of bed* She went over to the window and -lacin. her hands on the window sill, she leaned out, lookin. u- into the skyE and her lon. hair fell down over her shoulders, over the thin cotton ni.htdress which she wore* $or many minutes she stood there in the cold, leanin. out of the window, hearin. the noise, lookin. u- and searchin. the skyE but she saw only the bri.ht moon and the stars* A:od kee- you,A she said aloud* A#h dear :od kee- you safe*A Then she turned and went ;uickly over to the bed, -ulled the blankets away and wra--ed them round her shoulders like a shawl* She sli--ed her bare feet into the black shoes and walked over to the armchair and -ushed it forward so that it was ri.ht u- in front of the window* Then she sat down* The noise and the throbbin. overhead was very .reat* $or a lon. time it continued as the hu.e -rocession of bombers moved towards the south* ll the while the woman sat huddled in her blankets, lookin. out of the window into the sky* Then it was over* #nce more the ni.ht became silent* The frost lay heavy on the field and on the hed.es and it seemed as thou.h the whole countryside was

holdin. its breath* n army was marchin. in the sky* ll alon. the route -eo-le had heard the noise and knew what it wasE they knew that soon, even before they had .one to slee-, there would be a battle* 2en drinkin. beer in the -ubs had sto--ed their talkin. in order to listen* $amilies in their houses had turned off the radio and .one out into their .ardens, where they stood lookin. u- into the sky* Soldiers ar.uin. in their tents had sto--ed their shoutin., and men and women walkin. home at ni.ht from the factories had stood still on the road, listenin. to the noise* 0t is always the same* s the bombers move south across the country at ni.ht, the -eo-le who hear them become stran.ely silent* $or those women whose men are with the -lanes, the moment is not an easy one to bear* 'ow they had .one, and the woman lay back in the armchair and closed her eyes, but she did not slee-* %er face was white and the skin seemed to have been drawn ti.htly over her cheeks and .athered u- in wrinkles around her eyes* %er li-s were -arted and it was as thou.h she were listenin. to someone talkin.* lmost she could hear the sound of his voice as he used to call to her from outside the window when he came back from workin. in the fields* She could hear him sayin. he was hun.ry and askin. what there was for su--er, and then when he came in he would -ut his arm around her shoulder and talk to her about what he had been doin. all day* She would brin. in the su--er and he would sit down and start to eat and always he would say, why don't you have some and she never knew what to answer e7ce-t that she wasn't hun.ry* She would sit and watch him and -our out his tea, and after a while she would take his -late and .o out into the kitchen to .et him some more* 0t was not easy havin. only one child* The em-tiness when he was not there and the knowin. all the time that somethin. mi.ht ha--enE the dee- conscious knowin. that there was nothin. else to live for e7ce-t thisE that if somethin. did ha--en, then you too would be dead* There would be no use in swee-in. the floor or washin. the dishes or cleanin. the houseE there would be no use in .atherin. wood for the fire or in feedin. the hensE there would be no use in livin.* 'ow, as she sat there by the o-en window she did not feel the coldE she felt only a .reat loneliness and a .reat fear* The fear took hold of her and .rew u-on her so that she could not bear it, and she .ot u- from the chair and leaned out of the window a.ain, lookin. u- into the sky* nd as she looked the ni.ht was no lon.er beautifulE it was cold and clear and immensely dan.erous* She did not see the fields or the hed.es or the car-et of frost u-on the countrysideE she saw only the de-ths of the sky and the dan.er that was there* Slowly she turned and sank down a.ain into her chair* 'ow the fear was .reat* She could think of nothin. at all e7ce-t that she must see him and be with him, that she must see him now because tomorrow would be too late* She let her head rest a.ainst the back of the chair and when she closed her eyes she saw the aircraftE she saw it clearly in the moonli.ht, movin. forward throu.h the ni.ht like a .reat, black bird* She was so close to it and she could see the way in which the nose of the machine reached out far ahead of everythin., as thou.h the bird was cranin. its neck in the ea.erness of its -assa.e* She could see the markin.s on the win.s and on the body and she knew that he was inside* Twice she called to him, but there was no answerE then the fear and the lon.in. welled uwithin her so that she could stand it no lon.er and it carried her forward throu.h the ni.ht and on and on until she was with him, beside him, so close that she could have touched him had she -ut out her hand* %e was sittin. at the controls with .loves on his hands, dressed in a .reat bulky flyin.-suit which made his body look hu.e and sha-eless and twice its normal si,e* %e was lookin. strai.ht ahead at the instruments on the -anel, concentratin. u-on what he was doin. and thinkin. of nothin. e7ce-t flyin. the machine* 'ow she called to him a.ain and he heard her* %e looked around and when he saw her, he smiled and stretched out a hand and touched her shoulder, and then all the fear and the loneliness and the lon.in. went out of her and she was ha--y* $or a lon. time she stood beside him watchin. him as he flew the machine*

"very now and then he would look around and smile at her, and once he said somethin., but she could not hear what it was because of the noise of the en.ines* Suddenly he -ointed ahead throu.h the .lass windshield of the aero-lane and she saw that the sky was full of searchli.hts* There were many hundreds of themE lon. white fin.ers of li.ht travellin. la,ily across the sky, swayin. this way and that, workin. in unison so that sometimes several of them would come to.ether and meet in the same s-ot and after a while they would se-arate and meet a.ain somewhere else, all the time searchin. the ni.ht for the bombers which were movin. in on the tar.et* 6ehind the searchli.hts she saw the flak* 0t was comin. u- from the town in a thick manycoloured curtain, and the flash of the shells as they burst in the sky lit u- the inside of the bomber* %e was lookin. strai.ht ahead now, concentratin. u-on the flyin., weavin. throu.h the searchli.hts and .oin. directly into this curtain of flak, and she watched and waited and did not dare to move or to s-eak lest she distract him from his task* She knew that they had been hit when she saw the flames from the nearest en.ine on the left side* She watched them throu.h the .lass of the side -anel, lickin. a.ainst the surface of the win. as the wind blew them backwards, and she watched them take hold of the win. and come dancin. over the black surface until they were ri.ht u- under the cock-it itself* t first she was not fri.htened* She could see him sittin. there, very cool, .lancin. continually to one side, watchin. the flames and flyin. the machine, and once he looked ;uickly around and smiled at her and she knew then that there was no dan.er* ll around she saw the searchli.hts and the flak and the e7-losions of the flak and the colours of the tracer, and the sky was not a sky but 9ust a small confined s-ace which was so full of li.hts and e7-losions that it did not seem -ossible that one could fly throu.h it* 6ut the flames were bri.hter now on the left win.* They had s-read over the whole surface* They were alive and active, feedin. on the fabric, leanin. backwards in the wind which fanned them and encoura.ed them and .ave them no chance of .oin. out* Then came the e7-losion* There was a blindin. white flash and a hollow crum-h as thou.h someone had burst a blown-u- -a-er ba.E then there was nothin. but flames and thick whitish.rey smoke* The flames were comin. u- throu.h the floor and throu.h the sides of the cock-itE the smoke was so thick that it was difficult to see and almost im-ossible to breathe* She became terrified and -anicky because he was still sittin. there at the controls, flyin. the machine, fi.htin. to kee- it on an even keel, turnin. the wheel first to one side, then to the other, and suddenly there was a blast of cold air and she had a va.ue im-ression of ur.ent crouchin. fi.ures scramblin. -ast her and throwin. themselves away from the burnin. aircraft* 'ow the whole thin. was a mass of flames and throu.h the smoke she could see him still sittin. there, fi.htin. with the wheel while the crew .ot out, and as he did so he held one arm u- over his face because the heat was so .reat* She rushed forward and took him by the shoulders and shook him and shouted, ACome on, ;uickly, you must .et out, ;uickly, ;uickly*A Then she saw that his head had fallen forward u-on his chest and that he was lim- and unconscious* $rantically she tried to -ull him out of the seat and towards the door, but he was too lim- and heavy* The smoke was fillin. her lun.s and her throat so that she be.an to retch and .as- for breath* She was hysterical now, fi.htin. a.ainst death and a.ainst everythin. and she mana.ed to .et her hands under his arms and dra. him a little way towards the door* 6ut it was im-ossible to .et him farther* %is le.s were tan.led around the wheel and there was a buckle somewhere which she could not undo* She knew then that it was im-ossible, that there was no ho-e because of the smoke and the fire and because there was no timeE and suddenly all the stren.th drained out of her body* She fell down on to- of him and be.an to cry as she had never cried before*

Then came the s-in and the fierce rushin. drive downwards and she was thrown forward into the fire so that the last she knew was the bri.ht yellow of the flames and the smell of the burnin.* %er eyes were closed and her head was restin. a.ainst the back of the chair* %er hands were clutchin. the ed.es of the blankets as thou.h she were tryin. to -ull them ti.hter around her body and her lon. hair fell down over her shoulders* #utside the moon was low in the sky* The frost lay heavier than ever on the fields and on the hed.es and there was no noise anywhere* Then from far away in the south came a dee- .entle rumble which .rew and .rew and became louder and louder until soon the whole sky was filled with the noise and the sin.in. of those who were comin. back* 6ut the woman who sat by the window never moved* She had been dead for some time*

Someone !ike >ou A6""RBA A>es, beer*A 0 .ave the order and the waiter brou.ht the bottles and two .lasses* +e -oured out our own, ti--in. the .lasses and holdin. the to-s of the bottles close to the .lass* ACheers,A 0 said* %e nodded* +e lifted our .lasses and drank* 0t was five years since 0 had seen him, and durin. that time he had been fi.htin. the war* %e had been fi.htin. it ri.ht from the be.innin. u- to now and 0 saw at once how he had chan.ed* $rom bein. a youn., bouncin. boy, he had become someone old and wise and .entle* %e had become .entle like a wounded child* %e had become old like a tired man of seventy years* %e had become so different and he had chan.ed so much that at first it was embarrassin. for both of us and it was not easy to know what to say* %e had been flyin. in $rance in the early days and he was in 6ritain durin. the 6attle* %e was in the +estern Desert when we had nothin. and he was in :reece and Crete* %e was in Syria and he was at %abbaniya durin. the rebellion* %e was at lamein* %e had been flyin. in Sicily and in 0taly and then he had .one back and flown a.ain from "n.land* 'ow he was an old man* %e was small, not more than five feet si7, and he had a -ale, wide-o-en face which did not hide anythin., and a shar- -ointed chin* %is eyes were bri.ht and dark* They were never still unless they were lookin. into your own* %is hair was black and untidy* There was a wis- of it always han.in. down over his foreheadE he ke-t -ushin. it back with his hand* $or a while we were awkward and did not s-eak* %e was sittin. o--osite me at the table, leanin. forward a little, drawin. lines on the dew of the cold beer.lass with his fin.er* %e was lookin. at the .lass, -retendin. to concentrate u-on what he was doin., and to me it seemed as thou.h he had somethin. to say, but that he did not know how to say it* 0 sat there and -icked nuts out of the -late and munched them noisily, -retendin. that 0 did not care about anythin., not even about makin. a noise while eatin.* Then without sto--in. his drawin. on the .lass and without lookin. u-, he said ;uietly and very slowly, A#h :od, 0 wish 0 was a waiter or a whore or somethin.*A %e -icked u- his .lass and drank the beer slowly and all at once, in two swallows* 0 knew now that there was somethin. on his mind and 0 knew that he was .atherin. coura.e so that he could s-eak* A!et's have another,A 0 said*

A>es, let's have a whisky*A A ll ri.ht, whisky*A 0 ordered two double Scotches and some soda, and we -oured the soda into the Scotch and drank* %e -icked u- his .lass and drank, -ut it down, -icked it ua.ain and drank some more* s he -ut down the .lass the second time, he leaned forward and ;uite suddenly he be.an to talk* A>ou know,A he said, Ayou know 0 kee- thinkin. durin. a raid, when we are runnin. over the tar.et, 9ust as we are .oin. to release our bombs, 0 keethinkin. to myself, shall 0 9ust 9ink a littleE shall 0 swerve a fraction to one side, then my bombs will fall on someone else* 0 kee- thinkin., whom shall 0 make them fall onE whom shall 0 kill toni.ht* +hich ten, twenty or a hundred -eo-le shall 0 kill toni.ht* 0t is all u- to me* nd now 0 think about this every time 0 .o out*A %e had taken a small nut and was s-littin. it into -ieces with his thumbnail as he s-oke, lookin. down at what he was doin. because he was embarrassed by his own talk* %e was s-eakin. very slowly* A0t would 9ust be a .entle -ressure with the ball of my foot u-on the rudder-barE a -ressure so sli.ht that 0 would hardly know that 0 was doin. it, and it would throw the bombs on to a different house and on to other -eo-le* 0t is all u- to me, the whole thin. is u- to me, and each time that 0 .o out 0 have to decide which ones shall be killed* 0 can do it with the .entle -ressure of the ball of my foot u-on the rudder-bar* 0 can do it so that 0 don't even notice that it is bein. done* 0 9ust lean a little to one side because 0 am shiftin. my sittin. -osition* That is all 0 am doin., and then 0 kill a different lot of -eo-le*A 'ow there was no dew left u-on the face of the .lass, but he was still runnin. the fin.ers of his ri.ht hand u- and down the smooth surface* A>es,A he said, Ait is a com-licated thou.ht* 0t is very far-reachin.E and when 0 am bombin. 0 cannot .et it out of my mind* >ou see it is such a .entle -ressure with the ball of the footE 9ust a touch on the rudder-bar and the bombaimer wouldn't even notice* "ach time 0 .o out, 0 say to myself, shall it be these or shall it be thoseB +hich ones are the worstB )erha-s if 0 make a little skid to the left 0 will .et a houseful of lousy women-shootin. :erman soldiers, or -erha-s if 0 make that little skid 0 will miss .ettin. the soldiers and .et an old man in a shelter* %ow can 0 knowB %ow can anyone know these thin.sBA %e -aused and -ushed his em-ty .lass away from him into the middle of the table* A nd so 0 never 9ink,A he added, Aat least hardly ever*A A0 9inked once,A 0 said, A.round-strafin. 0 thou.ht 0'd kill the ones on the other side of the road instead*A A"verybody 9inks,A he said* AShall we have another drinkBA A>es, let's have another*A 0 called the waiter and .ave the order, and while we were waitin., we sat lookin. around the room at the other -eo-le* The -lace was startin. to fill ubecause it was about si7 o'clock and we sat there lookin. at the -eo-le who were comin. in* They were standin. around lookin. for tables, sittin. down, lau.hin. and orderin. drinks* A!ook at that woman,A 0 said* AThe one 9ust sittin. down over there*A A+hat about herBA A+onderful fi.ure,A 0 said* A+onderful bosom* !ook at her bosom*A The waiter brou.ht the drinks* ADid 0 ever tell you about StinkerBA he said* AStinker whoBA AStinker Sullivan in 2alta*A A'o *11 A bout Stinker's do.BA A'o *11 AStinker had a do., a .reat bi. lsatian, and he loved that do. as thou.h it was his father and his mother and everythin. else he had, and the do. loved Stinker* 0t used to follow him around everywhere he went, and when he went on o-s it used to sit on the tarmac outside the han.ars waitin. for him to come

back* 0t was called Smith* Stinker really loved that do.* %e loved it like his mother and he used to talk to it all day lon.*A A!ousy whisky,A 0 said* A>es, let's have another*A +e .ot some more whisky* A+ell anyway,A he went on, Aone day the s;uadron .ot orders to fly to ".y-t* +e had to .o at onceE not in two hours or later in the day, but at once* nd Stinker couldn't find his do.* Couldn't find Smith anywhere* Started runnin. all over the aerodrome yellin. for Smith and .oin. mad yellin. at everyone askin. where he was and yellin. Smith Smith all over the aerodrome* Smith wasn't anywhere*A A+here was heBA 0 said* A%e wasn't there and we had to .o* Stinker had to .o without Smith and he was mad as a hatter* %is crew said he ke-t callin. u- over the radio askin. if they'd found him* ll the way to %elio-olis he ke-t callin. u- 2alta sayin., have you .ot Smith, and 2alta ke-t sayin. no, they hadn't*A AThis whisky is really terrible,A 0 said* A>es* +e must have some more*A +e had a waiter who was very ;uick* A0 was tellin. you about Stinker,A he said* A>es, tell me about Stinker*A A+ell, when we .ot to ".y-t he wouldn't talk about anythin. e7ce-t Smith* %e used to walk around actin. as thou.h the do. was always with him* Damn fool walked around sayin., ACome on, Smith, old boy come on,' and he ke-t lookin. down and talkin. to him as he walked alon.* /e-t reachin. down and -attin. the air and strokin. this bloody do. that wasn't there*A A+here was itBA A2alta, 0 su--ose* 2ust have been in 2alta*A A0sn't this awful whiskyBA ATerrible* +e must have some more when we've finished this*A ACheers*A ACheers*A A+aiter* #h waiter* >esE a.ain*A ASo Smith was in 2alta*A A>es,A he said* A nd this damn fool Stinker Sullivan went on like this ri.ht u- to the time he was killed*A A2ust have been mad*A A%e was* 2ad as a hatter* >ou know once he walked into the S-ortin. Club at le7andria at drinkin. time*A AThat wasn't so mad*A A%e walked into the bi. loun.e and as he went in he held the door o-en and started callin. his do.* Then when he thou.ht the do. had come in he closed the door and started walkin. ri.ht down the len.th of the room, sto--in. every now and then and lookin. round and sayin., ACome on, Smith, old boy, come on*' %e ke-t fli--in. his fin.ers* #nce he .ot down under a table where two men and two women were drinkin.* %e .ot on to his hands and knees and said, ASmith, come on out of thereE come here at once,' and he -ut out his hand and started dra..in. nothin. at all from under the table* Then he a-olo.i,ed to the -eo-le at the table* AThis is the hell of a do.,' he said to them* >ou should have seen their faces* %e went on like that all down the room and when he came to the other end he held the door o-en for the do. to .o out and then went out after it*A A2an was mad*A A2ad as a hatter* nd you should have seen their faces* 0t was full of -eo-le drinkin. and they didn't know whether it was them who were cra,y or whether it was Stinker* They ke-t lookin. u- at each other to make sure that they weren't the only ones who couldn't see the do.* #ne man dro--ed his drink*A AThat was awful*A ATerrible*A

The waiter came and went* The room was full of -eo-le now, all sittin. at little tables, talkin. and drinkin. and wearin. their uniforms* The -ilot -oked the ice down into his .lass with his fin.er* A%e used to 9ink too,A he said* A+hoBA AStinker* %e used to talk about it*A AGinkin. isn't anythin.,A 0 said* A0t's like not touchin. the cracks on the -avement when you're walkin. alon.*A A6alls* That's 9ust -ersonal* Doesn't affect anyone else*A A+ell, it's like car-waitin.*A A+hat's car-waitin.BA A0 always do it,A 0 said* A+hat is itBA AGust as you're .oin. to drive off, you sit back and count twenty, then you drive off*A A>ou're mad too,A he said* A>ou're like Stinker*A A0t's a wonderful way to avoid accidents* 0've never had one in a car yetE at least, not a bad one*A A>ou're drunk*A A'o, 0 always do it*A A+hyBA A6ecause then if someone was .oin. to have ste--ed off the kerb in front of your car, you won't hit them because you started later* >ou were delayed because you counted twenty, and the -erson who ste--ed off the kerb whom you would have hit--you missed him*A A+hyBA A%e ste--ed off the kerb lon. before you .ot there because you counted twenty*A AThat's a .ood idea*A A0 know it's a .ood idea*A A0t's a bloody marvellous idea*A A0've saved lots of lives* nd you can drive strai.ht across intersections because the car you would have hit has already .one by* 0t went by 9ust a little earlier because you delayed yourself by countin. twenty*A A2arvellous*A A0sn't itBA A6ut it's like 9inkin.,A he said* A>ou never really know what would have ha--ened*A A0 always do it,A 0 said* +e ke-t ri.ht on drinkin.* A!ook at that woman,A 0 said* AThe one with the bosomBA A>es, marvellous bosom*A %e said slowly, A0 bet 0've killed lots of women more beautiful than that one*A A'ot lots with bosoms like that*A A0'll bet 0 have* Shall we have another drinkBA A>es, one for the road*A AThere aren't any other women with bosoms like that,A 0 said* A'ot in :ermany anyway*A A#h yes there are* 0've killed lots of them*A A ll ri.ht* >ou've killed lots of women with wonderful bosoms*A %e leaned back and waved his hand around the room* ASee all the -eo-le in this room,A he said* A>es*A A+ouldn't there be a bloody row if they were all suddenly deadE if they all suddenly fell off their chairs on to the floor deadBA A+hat about itBA

A+ouldn't there be a bloody rowBA ACertainly there'd be a row*A A0f all the waiters .ot to.ether and -ut stuff in all the drinks and everyone died*A AThere'd be a .odalmi.hty row*A A+ell, 0've done that hundreds of times* 0've killed more -eo-le than there are in this room hundreds of times* So have you*A A!ots more,A 0 said* A6ut that's different*A ASame sort of -eo-le* 2en and women and waiters* ll drinkin. in a -ub*A AThat's different*A A!ike hell it is* +ouldn't there be a bloody row if it ha--ened hereBA A6loody awful row*A A6ut we've done it* !ots of times*A A%undreds of times,A 0 said* AThis is nothin.*A AThis is a lousy -lace*A A>es, it's lousy* !et's .o somewhere else*A A$inish our drinks*A +e finished our drinks and we both tried to -ay the bill, so we tossed for it and 0 won* 0t came to si7teen dollars and twenty-five cents* %e .ave the waiter a two-dollar ti-* +e .ot u- and walked around the tables and over to the door* ATa7i,A he said* A>es, must have a ta7i*A There wasn't a doorman* +e stood out on the kerb waitin. for a ta7i to come alon. and he said, AThis is a .ood town*A A+onderful town,A 0 said* 0 felt fine* 0t was dark outside, but there were a few street-lam-s, and we could see the cars .oin. by and the -eo-le walkin. on the other side of the street* There was a thin, ;uiet dri,,le fallin., and the wetness on the black street shone yellow under the li.hts of the cars arid under the street-lam-s* The tyres of the cars hissed on the wet surface* A!et's .o to a -lace which has lots of whisky,A he said* A!ots of whisky and a man with e.. on his beard servin. it*A A$ine*A ASomewhere where there are no other -eo-le but 9ust us and the man with e.. on his beard* "ither that*A A>es,A 0 said* A"ither that or whatBA A#r a -lace with a hundred thousand -eo-le in it*A A>es,A 0 said* A#/*A +e stood there waitin. and we could see the li.hts of the cars as they came round the bend over to the left, comin. towards us with the tyres swishin. on the wet surface and .oin. -ast us u- the road to the brid.e which .oes over the river* +e could see the dri,,le fallin. throu.h the beams of their headli.hts and we stood there waitin. for a ta7i*

S+0TC% 60TC%

The Visitor

'#T lon. a.o, a lar.e wooden case was de-osited at the door of my house by the

railway delivery service* 0t was an unusually stron. and well-constructed ob9ect, and made of some kind of darkred hardwood, not unlike maho.any* 0 lifted it with .reat difficulty on to a table in the .arden, and e7amined it carefully* The stencillin. on one side said that it had been shi--ed from %aifa by the rnLv +averley Star, but 0 could find no sender's name or address* 0 tried to think of somebody livin. in %aifa or thereabouts who mi.ht be wantin. to send me a ma.nificent -resent* 0 could think of no one* 0 walked slowly to the toolshed, still -onderin. the matter dee-ly, and returned with a hammer and screwdriver* Then 0 be.an .ently to -rise o-en the to- of the case* 6ehold, it was filled with booksF "7traordinary booksF #ne by one, 0 lifted them all out Cnot yet lookin. inside any of themD and stacked them in three tall -iles on the table* There were twentyei.ht volumes alto.ether, and very beautiful they were indeed* "ach of them was identically and su-erbly bound in rich .reen morocco, with the initials #* %* C* and a Roman numeral C0 to ((V000D tooled in .old u-on the s-ine* 0 took u- the nearest volume, number (V0, and o-ened it* The unlined white -a.es were filled with a neat small handwritin. in black ink* #n the title -a.e was written A1@1?'* 'othin. else* 0 took u- another volume, number ((0* 0t contained more manuscri-t in the same handwritin., but on the title -a.e it said A1@1@'* 0 -ut it down and -ulled out Volume 0, ho-in. to find a -reface of some kind there, or -erha-s the author's name* 0nstead, 0 found an envelo-e inside the cover* The envelo-e was addressed to me* 0 took out the letter it contained and .lanced ;uickly at the si.nature* #swald %endryks Cornelius, it said* 0t was &ncle #swaldF 'o member of the family had heard from &ncle #swald for over thirty years* This letter was dated 1< 2arch 1@5?, and until its arrival, we could only assume that he still e7isted* 'othin. was really known about him e7ce-t that he lived in $rance, that he travelled a .reat deal, that he was a wealthy bachelor with unsavoury but .lamorous habits who steadfastly refused to have anythin. to do with his own relatives* The rest was all rumour and hearsay, but the rumours were so s-lendid and the hearsay so e7otic that #swald had lon. since become a shinin. hero and a le.end to us all* A2y dear boy,' the letter be.an, 0 believe that you and your three sisters are my closest survivin. blood relations* >ou are therefore my ri.htful heirs, and because 0 have made no will, all that 0 leave behind me when 0 die will be yours* las, 0 have nothin. to leave* 0 used to have ;uite a lot, and the fact that 0 have recently dis-osed of it all in my own way is none of your business* s consolation, thou.h, 0 am sendin. you my -rivate diaries* These, 0 think, ou.ht to remain in the family* They cover all the best years of my life, and it will do you no harm to read them* 6ut if you show them around or lend them to stran.ers, you do so at your own .reat -eril* 0f you -ublish them, then that, 0 should ima.ine, would be the end of both you and your -ublisher simultaneously* $or you must understand that thousands of the heroines whom 0 mention in the diaries are still only half dead, and if you were foolish enou.h to s-lash their lilywhite re-utation with scarlet -rint, they would have your head on a salver in two seconds flat, and -robably roast it in the oven for .ood measure* So you'd better be careful* 0 only met you once* That was years a.o, in 1@81, when your family was livin. in that lar.e u.ly house in South +ales* 0 was your bi. uncle and you were a very small boy, about five years old* 0 don't su--ose you remember the youn. 'orwe.ian nurse-maid you had then* remarkably clean, well-built .irl she was, and e7;uisitely sha-ed even in her uniform with its ridiculous starchy white shield concealin. her lovely bosom* The afternoon 0 was there, she was takin. you for a walk in the woods to -ick bluebells, and 0 asked if 0 mi.ht come alon.* nd when we .ot well into the middle of the woods, 0 told you 0'd .ive you a bar of chocolate if you could find your own way home* nd you did Csee Vol* 000D* >ou were a sensible child* $arewell --#swald %endryks Cornelius* The sudden arrival of the diaries caused much e7citement in the family, and there was a rush to read them* +e were not disa--ointed* 0t was astonishin. stuff

hilarious, witty, e7citin., and often ;uite touchin. as well* The man's vitality was unbelievable* %e was always on the move, from city to city, from country to country, from woman to woman, and in between the women, he would be searchin. for s-iders in /ashmir or trackin. down a blue -orcelain vase in 'ankin.* 6ut the women always came first* +herever he went, he left an endless trail of females in his wake, females ruffled and ravished beyond words, but -urrin. like cats* Twenty-ei.ht volumes with e7actly three hundred -a.es to each volume takes a deal of readin., and there are -recious few writers who could hold an audience over a distance like that* 6ut #swald did it* The narrative never seemed to lose its flavour, the -ace seldom slackened, and almost without e7ce-tion, every sin.le entry, whether it was lon. or short, and whatever the sub9ect, became a marvellous little individual story that was com-lete in itself* nd at the end of it all, when the last -a.e of the volume had been read, one was left with the rather breathless feelin. that this mi.ht 9ust -ossibly be one of the ma9or autobio.ra-hical works of our time* 0f it were re.arded solely as a chronicle of a man's amorous adventures, then without a doubt there was nothin. to touch it* Casanova's 2emoirs read like a )arish 2a.a,ine in com-arison, and the famous lover himself, beside #swald, a--ears -ositively underse7ed* There was social dynamite on every -a.eE #swald was ri.ht about that* 6ut he was surely wron. in thinkin. that the e7-losions would all come from the women* +hat about their husbands, the humiliated cock-s-arrows, the cuckoldsB The cuckold, when aroused, is a very fierce bird indeed, and there would be thousands u-on thousands of them risin. u- out of the bushes if The Cornelius Diaries, unabrid.ed, saw the li.ht of day while they were still alive* )ublication, therefore, was ri.ht out of the ;uestion* -ity, this* Such a -ity, in fact, that 0 thou.ht somethin. ou.ht to be done about it* So 0 sat down and re-read the diaries from be.innin. to end in the ho-e that 0 mi.ht discover at least one com-lete -assa.e which could be -rinted and -ublished without involvin. both the -ublisher and myself in serious liti.ation* To my 9oy, 0 found no less than si7* 0 showed them to a lawyer* %e said he thou.ht they mi.ht be Asafe', but he wouldn't .uarantee it* #ne of them-The Sinai Desert "-isode--seemed Asafer' than the other five, he added* So 0 have decided to start with that one and to offer it for -ublication ri.ht away, at the end of this short -reface* 0f it is acce-ted and all .oes well, then -erha-s 0 shall release one or two more* The Sinai entry is from the last volume of all, Vol* ((V000, and is dated 8? u.ust 1@?5* 0n -oint of fact, it is the very last entry of the last volume of all, the last thin. #swald ever wrote, and we have no record of where he went or what he did after that date* #ne can only .uess* >ou shall have the entry verbatim in a moment, but first of all, and so that you may more easily understand some of the thin.s #swald says and does in his story, let me try to tell you a little about the man himself* #ut of the mass of confession and o-inion contained in those twenty-ei.ht volumes, there emer.es a fairly clear -icture of his character* t the time of the Sinai e-isode, #swald %endryks Cornelius was fifty-one years old, and he had, of course, never been married* A0 am afraid,A he was in the habit of sayin., Athat 0 have been blessed or should 0 call it burdened, with an uncommonly fastidious nature*A 0n some ways, this was true, but in others, and es-ecially in so far as marria.e was concerned, the statement was the e7act o--osite of the truth* The real reason #swald had refused to .et married was sim-ly that he had never in his life been able to confine his attentions to one -articular woman for lon.er than the time it took to con;uer her* +hen that was done, he lost interest and looked around for another victim* normal man would hardly consider this a valid reason for remainin. sin.le, but #swald was not a normal man* %e was not even a normal -oly.amous man* %e was, to be honest, such a wanton and incorri.ible -hilanderer that no bride on earth would have -ut u- with him for more than a few days, let alone for the duration of

a honeymoon althou.h heaven knows there were enou.h who would have been willin. to .ive it a try* %e was a tall, narrow -erson with a fra.ile and faintly aesthetic air* %is voice was soft, his manner was courteous, and at first si.ht he seemed more like a .entleman-in-waitin. to the ;ueen than a celebrated ra-scallion* %e never discussed his amorous affairs with other men, and a stran.er, thou.h he sit and talk with him all evenin., would be unable to observe the sli.htest si.n of deceit in #swald's clear blue eyes* %e was, in fact, -recisely the sort of man that an an7ious father would be likely to choose to escort his dau.hter safely home* 6ut sit #swald beside a woman, a woman who interested him, and instantaneously his eyes would chan.e, and as he looked at her, a small dan.erous s-ark would be.in dancin. slowly in the very centre of each -u-ilE and then he would set about her with his conversation, talkin. to her ra-idly and cleverly and almost certainly more wittily than anyone else had ever done before* This was a .ift he had, a most sin.ular talent, and when he -ut his mind to it, he could make his words coil themselves around and around the listener until they held her in some sort of a mild hy-notic s-ell* 6ut it wasn't only his fine talk and the look in his eyes that fascinated the women* 0t was also his nose* C0n Vol* (0V, #swald includes, with obvious relish, a note written to him by a certain lady in which she describes such thin.s as this in .reat detail*D 0t a--ears that when #swald was aroused, somethin. odd would be.in to ha--en around the ed.es of his nostrils, a ti.htenin. of the rims, a visible flarin. which enlar.ed the nostril holes and revealed whole areas of the bri.ht red skin inside* This created a ;ueer, wild, animalistic im-ression, and althou.h it may not sound -articularly attractive when described on -a-er, its effect u-on the ladies was electric* lmost without e7ce-tion, women were drawn towards #swald* 0n the first -lace, he was a man who refused to be owned at any -rice, and this automatically made him desirable* dd to this the unusual combination of a first-rate intellect, an abundance of charm, and a re-utation for e7cessive -romiscuity, and you have a -otent reci-e* Then a.ain, and for.ettin. for a moment the disre-utable and licentious an.le, it should be noted that there were a number of other sur-risin. facets to #swald's character that in themselves made him a rather intri.uin. -erson* There was, for e7am-le, very little that he did not know about nineteenth-century 0talian o-era, and he had written a curious little manual u-on the three com-osers Doni,etti, Verdi, and )onchielli* 0n it, he listed by name all the im-ortant mistresses that these men had had durin. their lives, and he went on to e7amine, in a most serious vein, the relationshi- between creative -assion and carnal -assion, and the influence of the one u-on the other, -articularly as it affected the works of these com-osers* Chinese -orcelain was another of #swald's interests, and he was acknowled.ed as somethin. of an international authority in this field* The blue vases of the Tchin-%oa -eriod were his s-ecial love, and he had a small but e7;uisite collection of these -ieces* %e also collected s-iders and walkin. sticks* %is collection of s-iders, or more accurately his collection of rachnida, because it included scor-ions and -edi-al-s, was -ossibly as com-rehensive as any outside a museum, and his knowled.e of the hundreds of .enera and s-ecies was im-ressive* %e maintained, incidentally Cand -robably correctlyD, that the s-ider's silk was su-erior in ;uality to the ordinary stuff s-un by silkworms, and he never wore a tie that was made of any other material* %e -ossessed about forty of these ties alto.ether, and in order to ac;uire them in the first -lace, and in order also to be able to add two new ties a year to his wardrobe, he had to keethousands and thousands of rana and "-eira diademata Cthe common "n.lish .arden s-idersD in an old conservatory in the .arden of his country house outside )aris, where they bred and multi-lied at a--ro7imately the same rate as they ate one another* $rom them, he collected the raw thread himself no one else would enter

that .hastly .lasshouse--and sent it to vi.non, where it was reeled and thrown and scoured and dyed and made into cloth* $rom vi.non, the cloth was delivered directly to Sulka, who were enchanted by the whole business, and only too .lad to fashion ties out of such a rare and wonderful material* A6ut you can't really like s-idersBA the women visitors would say to #swald as he dis-layed his collection* A#h, but 0 adore them,A he would answer* A"s-ecially the females* They remind me so much of certain human females that 0 know* They remind me of my very favourite human females*A A+hat nonsense, darlin.*A A'onsenseB 0 think not*A A0t's rather insultin.*A A#n the contrary, my dear, it is the .reatest com-liment 0 could -ay* Did you not know, for instance, that the female s-ider is so sava.e in her lovemakin. that the male is very lucky indeed if he esca-es with his life at the end of it all* #nly if he is e7ceedin.ly a.ile and marvellously in.enious will he .et away in one -iece*A A'ow, #swaldFA A nd the crab s-ider, my beloved, the teeny-weeny little crab s-ider is so dan.erously -assionate that her lover has to tie her down with intricate loo-s and knots of his own thread before he dares to embrace her* A#h, sto- it, #swald, this minuteFA the women would cry, their eyes shinin.* #swald's collection of walkin. sticks was somethin. else a.ain* "very one of them had belon.ed either to a distin.uished or a dis.ustin. -erson, and he ke-t them all in his )aris a-artment, where they were dis-layed in two lon. racks standin. a.ainst the walls of the -assa.e Cor should one call it the hi.hwayBD which led from the livin.-room to the bedroom* "ach stick had its own ivory label above it, sayin. Sibelius, 2ilton, /in. $arouk, Dickens, Robes-ierre, )uccini, #scar +ilde, $ranklin Roosevelt, :oebbels, Iueen Victoria, Toulouse-!autrec, %indenbur., Tolstoy, !aval, Sarah 6ernhardt, :oethe, Voroshiloff, Ce,anne, Toho****There must have been over a hundred of them in all, some very beautiful, some very -lain, some with .old or silver to-s, and some with curly handles* ATake down the Tolstoy,A #swald would say to a -retty visitor* A:o on, take it down***that's ri.ht***and now***now rub your own -alm .ently over the knob that has been worn to a shine by the .reat man himself* 0s it not rather wonderful, the mere contact of your skin with that s-otBA A0t is, rather, isn't it*A A nd now take the :oebbels and do the same thin.* Do it -ro-erly, thou.h* llow your -alm to fold ti.htly over the handle***.ood***and now***now lean your wei.ht on it, lean hard, e7actly as the little deformed doctor used to do there***that's it***now stay like that for a minute or so and then tell me if you do not feel a thin fin.er of ice cree-in. all the way u- your arm and into your chestBA A0t's terrifyin.FA A#f course it is* Some -eo-le -ass out com-letely* They keel ri.ht over*A 'obody ever found it dull to be in #swald's com-any, and -erha-s that, more than anythin. else, was the reason for his success* +e come now to the Sinai e-isode* #swald, durin. that month, had been amusin. himself by motorin. at a fairly leisurely -ace down from /hartoum to Cairo* %is car was a su-erlative -rewar !a.onda which had been carefully stored in Swit,erland durin. the war years, and as you can ima.ine, it was fitted with every kind of .ad.et under the sun* #n the day before Sinai C81 u.ust 1@?5D, he was in Cairo, stayin. at She-heard's %otel, and that evenin., after a series of im-udent manoeuvres, he had succeeded in .ettin. hold of a 2oorish lady of su--osedly aristocratic descent, called 0sabella* 0sabella ha--ened to be the 9ealously .uarded mistress of none other than a certain notorious and dys-e-tic Royal )ersona.e Cthere was still a monarchy in ".y-t thenD* This was a ty-ically #swaldian move*

6ut there was more to come* t midni.ht, he drove the lady out to :i,a and -ersuaded her to climb with him in the moonli.ht ri.ht to the very to- of the .reat -yramid of Cheo-s* There can be no safer -lace,' he wrote in the diary, Anor a more romantic one, than the a-e7 of a -yramid on a warm ni.ht when the moon is full* The -assions are stirred not only by the ma.nificent view but also by that curious sensation of -ower that sur.es within the body whenever one surveys the world from a .reat hei.ht* nd as for safety this -yramid is e7actly ?=1 feet hi.h, which is 114 feet hi.her than the dome of St )aul's Cathedral, and from the summit one can observe all the a--roaches with the .reatest of ease* 'o other boudoir on earth can offer this facility* 'one has so many emer.ency e7its, either, so that if some sinister fi.ure should ha--en to come clamberin. u- in -ursuit on one side of the -yramid, one has only to sli- calmly and ;uietly down the other* s it ha--ened, #swald had a very narrow s;ueak indeed that ni.ht* Somehow, the -alace must have .ot word of the little affair, for #swald, from his lofty moonlit -innacle, suddenly observed three sinister fi.ures, not one, closin. in on three different sides and startin. to climb* 6ut luckily for him, there is a fourth side to the .reat -yramid of Cheo-s, and by the time those rab thu.s had reached the to-, the two lovers were already at the bottom and .ettin. into the car* The entry for 8? u.ust takes u- the story at e7actly this -oint* 0t is re-roduced here word for word and comma for comma as #swald wrote it* 'othin. has been altered or added or taken awayH 8? u.ust 1@?5 A%e'll cho- off 0sabella's head if he catch her now,A 0sabella said* ARubbish,A 0 answered, but 0 reckoned she was -robably ri.ht* A%e'll cho- off #swald's head, too,A she said* A'ot mine, dear lady* 0 shall be a lon. way away from here when dayli.ht comes* 0'm headin. strai.ht u- the 'ile for !u7or immediately*A +e were drivin. ;uickly away from the -yramids now* 0t was about two thirty a* m* ATo !u7orBA she said* A>es*A A nd 0sabella is .oin. with you*A A'o,A 0 said* A>es,A she said* A0t is a.ainst my -rinci-les to travel with a lady,A 0 said* 0 could see some li.hts ahead of us* They came from the 2ena %ouse %otel, a -lace where tourists stay out in the desert, not far from the -yramids* 0 drove fairly close to the hotel and sto--ed the car* A0'm .oin. to dro- you here,A 0 said* A+e had a fine time*A ASo you won't take 0sabella to !u7orBA A0'm afraid not,A 0 said* ACome on, ho- it*A She started to .et out of the car, then she -aused with one foot on the road, and suddenly she swun. round and -oured out u-on me a torrent of lan.ua.e so filthy yet so fluent that 0 had heard nothin. like it from the li-s of a lady since***well, since 1@11, in 2arrakesh, when the .reedy old Duchess of :las.ow -ut her hand into a chocolate bo7 and .ot ni--ed by a scor-ion 0 ha--ened to have -laced there for safe-kee-in. CVol* (000, 4 Gune 1@11D* A>ou are dis.ustin.,A 0 said* 0sabella lea-t out and slammed the door so hard the whole car 9um-ed on its wheels* 0 drove off very fast* Thank heaven 0 was rid of her* 0 cannot abide bad manners in a -retty .irl* s 0 drove, 0 ke-t one eye on the mirror, but as yet no car seemed to be followin. me* +hen 0 came to the outskirts of Cairo, 0 be.an threadin. my way throu.h the side roads, avoidin. the centre of the city* 0 was not -articularly worried* The royal watchdo.s were unlikely to carry the matter much further* ll the same, it would have been foolhardy to .o back to She-heard's at this -oint* 0t

wasn't necessary, anyway, because all my ba..a.e, e7ce-t for a small valise, was with me in the car* 0 never leave suitcases behind me in my room when 0 .o out of an evenin. in a forei.n city* 0 like to be mobile* 0 had no intention, of course, of .oin. to !u7or* 0 wanted now to .et away from ".y-t alto.ether* 0 didn't like the country at all* Come to think of it, 0 never had* The -lace made me feel uncomfortable in my skin* 0t was the dirtiness of it all, 0 think, and the -utrid smells* 6ut then let us face it, it really is a s;ualid countryE and 0 have a -owerful sus-icion, thou.h 0 hate to say it, that the ".y-tians wash themselves less thorou.hly than any other -eo-les in the world--with the -ossible e7ce-tion of the 2on.olians* Certainly they do not wash their crockery to my taste* There was, believe it or not, a lon., crusted, coffeecoloured li-mark stam-ed u-on the rim of the cu- they -laced before me at breakfast yesterday* &.hF 0t was re-ulsiveF 0 ke-t starin. at it and wonderin. whose slobbery lower li- had done the deed* 0 was drivin. now throu.h the narrow dirty streets of the eastern suburbs of Cairo* 0 knew -recisely where 0 was .oin.* 0 had made u- my mind about that before 0 was even halfway down the -yramid with 0sabella* 0 was .oin. to Gerusalem* 0t was no distance to s-eak of, and it was a city that 0 always en9oyed* $urthermore, it was the ;uickest way out of ".y-t* 0 would -roceed as followsH 1* Cairo to 0smailia* bout three hours drivin.* Sin. an o-era on the way, as usual* rrive 0smailia 5--3 a*m* Take a room and have a two-hour slee-* Then shower, shave, and breakfast* 8* t 1< a*m*, cross over the Sue, Canal by the 0smailia brid.e and take the desert road across Sinai to the )alestine border* 2ake a search for scor-ions en route in the Sinai Desert* Time, about four hours, arrivin. )alestine border 8 -*m* 1* $rom there, continue strai.ht on to Gerusalem via 6eersheba, reachin. The /in. David %otel in time for cocktails and dinner* 0t was several years since 0 had travelled that -articular road, but 0 remembered that the Sinai Desert was an outstandin. -lace for scor-ions* 0 badly wanted another female o-istho-hthalmus, a lar.e one* 2y -resent s-ecimen had the fifth se.ment of its tail missin., and 0 was ashamed of it* 0t didn't take me lon. to find the main road to 0smailia, and as soon as 0 was on t, 0 settled the !a.onda down to a steady si7ty-five miles -er hour* The road was narrow, but it had a smooth surface, and there was no traffic* The Delta country lay bleak and dismal around me in the moonli.ht, the flat treeless fields, the ditches runnin. between, and the black black soil everywhere* 0t was ine7-ressibly dreary* 6ut it didn't worry me* 0 was no -an of it* 0 was com-letely isolated in my own lu7urious little shell, as snu. as a hermit crab and travellin. a lot faster* #h, how 0 do love to be on the move, win.in. away to new -eo-le and new -laces and leavin. the old ones far behindF 'othin. in the world e7hilarates me more than that* nd how 0 des-ise the avera.e citi,en, who settles himself down u-on one tiny s-ot of land with one asinine woman, to breed and stew and rot in that condition unto his life's end* nd always with the same womanF 0 cannot believe that any man in his senses would -ut u- with 9ust one female day after day and year after year* Some of them, of course, don't* 6ut millions -retend they do* 0 myself have never, absolutely never -ermitted an intimate relationshi- to last for more than twelve hours* That is the farthest limit* "ven ei.ht hours is stretchin. it a bit, to my mind* !ook what ha--ened, for e7am-le, with 0sabella* +hile we were u-on the summit of the -yramid, she was a lady of scintillatin. -arts, as -liant and -layful as a -u--y, and had 0 left her there to the mercy of those three rab thu.s, and ski--ed down on my own, all would have been well* 6ut 0 foolishly stuck by her and hel-ed her to descend, and as a result, the lovely lady turned into a vul.ar screechin. trollo-, dis.ustin. to behold* +hat a world we live inF #ne .ets no thanks these days for bein. chivalrous* The !a.onda moved on smoothly throu.h the ni.ht* 'ow for an o-era* +hich one should it be this timeB 0 was in the mood for a Verdi* +hat about idaB #f courseF

0t must be ida--the ".y-tian o-eraF 2ost a--ro-riate* 0 be.an to sin.* 0 was in e7ce-tionally .ood voice toni.ht* 0 let myself .o* 0t was deli.htfulE and as 0 drove throu.h the small town of 6ilbeis, 0 was ida herself, sin.in. A'umei -ietA, the beautiful concludin. -assa.e of the first scene* %alf an hour later, at Ka.a,i., 0 was monasro be..in. the /in. of ".y-t to save the "thio-ian ca-tives with A2a iv, re, iv si.nore -ossente*A )assin. throu.h "l bbasa, 0 was Rhadames, renderin. A$u..iam .il adori nos-itiA, and now 0 o-ened all the windows of the car so that this incom-arable love son. mi.ht reach the ears of the fellaheen snorin. in their hovels alon. the roadside, and -erha-s min.le with their dreams* s 0 -ulled into 0smailia, it was si7 o'clock in the mornin. and the sun was already climbin. hi.h in a milky-blue heaven, but 0 myself was in the terrible sealed-u- dun.eon with ida, sin.in. A<, terra, addioE addlo valle di -iantiFA %ow swiftly the 9ourney had .one* 0 drove to an hotel* The staff was 9ust be.innin. to stir* 0 stirred them u- some more and .ot the best room available* The sheets and blanket on the bed looked as thou.h they had been sle-t in by twenty-five unwashed ".y-tians on twenty-five consecutive ni.hts, and 0 tore them off with my own hands Cwhich 0 scrubbed immediately afterwards with antise-tic soa-D and re-laced them with my -ersonal beddin.* Then 0 set my alarm and sle-t soundly for two hours* $or breakfast 0 ordered a -oached e.. on a -iece of toast* +hen the dish arrived--and 0 tell you, it makes my stomach curdle 9ust to write about it--there was a .leamin., curly, 9et-black human hair, three inches lon., lyin. dia.onally across the yolk of my -oached e..* 0t was too much* 0 lea-ed u- from the table and rushed out of the dinin.-room* A ddioFA 0 cried, flin.in. some money at the cashier as 0 went by, Aaddio i'alle di -iantiFA nd with that 0 shook the filthy dust of the hotel from my feet* 'ow for the Sinai Desert* +hat a welcome chan.e that would be* real desert is one of the least contaminated -laces on earth, and Sinai was no e7ce-tion* The road across it was a narrow stri- of black tarmac about a hundred and forty miles lon., with only a sin.le fillin. station and a .rou- of huts at the halfway mark, at a -lace called 6'ir Rawd Salim* #therwise there was nothin. but -ure uninhabited desert all the way* 0t would be very hot at this time of the year, and it was essential to carry drinkin. water in case of breakdown* 0 therefore -ulled u- outside a kind of .eneral store in the main street of 0smailia to .et my emer.ency canister refilled* 0 went in and s-oke to the -ro-rietor* The man had a nasty case of trachoma* The .ranulation on the under surfaces of his eyelids was so acute that the lids themselves were raised ri.ht u- off the eyeballs--a beastly si.ht* 0 asked him if he would sell me a .allon of boiled water* %e thou.ht 0 was mad, and madder still when 0 insisted on followin. him back into his .rimy kitchen to make sure that he did thin.s -ro-erly* %e filled a kettle with ta--water and -laced it on a -araffin stove* The stove had a tiny little smoky yellow flame* The -ro-rietor seemed very -roud of the stove and of its -erformance* %e stood admirin. it, his head on one side* Then he su..ested that 0 mi.ht -refer to .o back and wait in the sho-* %e would brin. me the water, he said, when it was ready* 0 refused to leave* 0 stood there watchin. the kettle like a lion, waitin. for the water to boilE and while 0 was doin. this, the breakfast scene suddenly started comin. back to me in all its horror the e.., the yolk, and the hair* +hose hair was it that had lain embedded in the slimy yolk of my e.. at breakfastB &ndoubtedly it was the cook's hair* nd when, -ray, had the cook last washed his headB %e had -robably never washed his head* Very well, then* %e was almost certainly verminous* 6ut that in itself would not cause a hair to fall out* +hat did cause the cook's hair, then, to fall out on to my -oached e.. this mornin. as he transferred the e.. from the -an to the -late* There is a reason for all thin.s, and in this case the reason was obvious* The cook's scal- was infested with -urulent seborrhoeic im-eti.o* nd the hair itself, the lon. black hair that 0 mi.ht so easily have swallowed had 0 been less

alert, was therefore swarmin. with millions and millions of lovin. -atho.enic cocci whose e7act scientific name 0 have, ha--ily, for.otten* Can 0, you ask, be absolutely sure that the cook had -urulent seborrhoeic im-eti.oB 'ot absolutely sure--no* 6ut if he hadn't, then he certainly had rin.worm instead* nd what did that meanB 0 knew only too well what it meant* 0t meant that ten million micros-orons had been clin.in. and clusterin. around that awful hair, waitin. to .o into my mouth* 0 be.an to feel sick* AThe water boils,A the sho-kee-er said trium-hantly* A!et it boil,A 0 told him* A:ive it ei.ht minutes more* +hat is it you want me to .et--ty-husBA )ersonally, 0 never drink water by itself if 0 can hel- it, however -ure it may be* )lain water has no flavour at all* 0 take it, of course, as tea or as coffee, but even then 0 try to arran.e for bottled Vichy or 2alvern to be used in the -re-aration* 0 avoid ta--water* Ta--water is diabolical stuff* #ften it is nothin. more nor less than reclaimed sewa.e* ASoon this water will be boiled away in steam,A the -ro-rietor said, .rinnin. at me with .reen teeth* 0 lifted the kettle myself and -oured the contents into my canister* 6ack in the sho-, 0 bou.ht si7 oran.es, a small water-melon, and a slab of well-wra--ed "n.lish chocolate* Then 0 returned to the !a.onda* 'ow at last 0 was away* few minutes later, 0 had crossed the slidin. brid.e that went over the Sue, Canal 9ust above !ake Timsah, and ahead of me lay the flat bla,in. desert and the little tarmac road stretchin. out before me like a black ribbon all the way to the hori,on* 0 settled the !a.onda to the usual steady si7ty-five miles an hour, and 0 o-ened the windows wide* The air that came in was like the breath of an oven* The time was almost noon, and the sun was throwin. its heat directly on to the roof of the car* 2y thermometer inside re.istered 1#1* 6ut as you know, a touch of warmth never bothers me so lon. as 0 am sittin. still and am wearin. suitable clothes--in this case a -air of cream-coloured linen slacks, a white aerte7 shirt, and a s-ider's-silk tie of the loveliest rich moss-.reen* 0 felt -erfectly comfortable and at -eace with the world* $or a minute or two 0 -layed with the idea of -erformin. another o-era en route--0 was in the mood for !a :ioconda--but after sin.in. a few bars of the o-enin. chorus, 0 be.an to -ers-ire sli.htlyE so 0 ran. down the curtain, and lit a ci.arette instead* 0 was now drivin. throu.h some of the finest scor-ion country in the world, and 0 was ea.er to sto- and make a search before 0 reached the halfway fillin.station at 6'ir Rawd Salim* 0 had so far met not a sin.le vehicle or seen a livin. creature since leavin. 0smailia an hour before* This -leased me* Sinai was authentic desert* 0 -ulled u- on the side of the road and switched off the en.ine* 0 was thirsty, so 0 ate an oran.e* Then 0 -ut my white to-ee on my head, and eased myself slowly out of the car, out of my comfortable hermit-crab shell, and into the sunli.ht* $or a full minute 0 stood motionless in the middle of the road, blinkin. at the brilliance of the surroundin.s* There was a bla,in. sun, a vast hot sky, and beneath it all on every side a .reat -ale sea of yellow sand that was not ;uite of this world* There were mountains now in the distance on the south side of the road, bare, -ale-brown, tana.ra-coloured mountains faintly .la,ed with blue and -ur-le, that rose usuddenly out of the desert and faded away in a ha,e of heat a.ainst the sky* The stillness was over-owerin.* There was no sound at all, no voice of a bird or insect anywhere, and it .ave me a ;ueer .odlike feelin. to be standin. there alone in the middle of such a s-lendid, hot, inhuman landsca-e as thou.h 0 were on another -lanet alto.ether, on Gu-iter or 2ars, or in some -lace more distant and desolate still, where never would the .rass .row or the clouds turn red* 0 went to the boot of the car and took out my killin.-bo7, my net, and my trowel* Then 0 ste--ed off the road into the soft burnin. sand* 0 walked slowly

for about a hundred yards into the desert, my eyes searchin. the .round* 0 was not lookin. for scor-ions but the lairs of scor-ions* The scor-ion is a cry-to,oic and nocturnal creature that hides all throu.h the day either under a stone or in a burrow, accordin. to its ty-e* #nly after the sun has .one down does it come out to hunt for food* The one 0 wanted, o-istho-hthalmus, was a burrower, so 0 wasted no time turnin. over stones* 0 searched only for burrows* fter ten or fifteen minutes, 0 had found noneE but already the heat was .ettin. to be too much for me, and 0 decided reluctantly to return to the car* 0 walked back very slowly, still watchin. the .round, and 0 had reached the road and was in the act of ste--in. on to it when all at once, in the sand, not more than twelve inches from the ed.e of the tarmac, 0 cau.ht si.ht of a scor-ion's burrow* 0 -ut the killin.-bo7 and the net on the .round beside me* Then, with my little trowel, 0 be.an very cautiously to scra-e away the sand all around the hole* This was an o-eration that never failed to e7cite me* 0t was like a treasure hunt--a treasure hunt with 9ust the ri.ht amount of dan.er accom-anyin. it to stir the blood* 0 could feel my heart beatin. away in my chest as 0 -robed dee-er and dee-er into the sand* nd suddenly***there she wasF #h, my heavens, what a who--er* .i.antic female scor-ion, not o-istho-hthalmus, as 0 saw immediately, but -andinus, the other lar.e frican burrower* nd clin.in. to her back--this was too .ood to be trueF swarmin. all over her, were one, two, three, four, five --a total of fourteen tiny babiesF The mother was si7 inches lon. at leastF %er children were the si,e of small revolver bullets* She had seen me now, the first human she had ever seen in her life, and her -incers were wide o-en, her tail was curled hi.h above her back like a ;uestion mark, ready to strike* 0 took u- the net, and slid it swiftly underneath her, and scoo-ed her u-* She twisted and s;uirmed, strikin. wildly in all directions with the end of her tail* 0 saw a sin.le lar.e dro- of venom fall throu.h the mesh into the sand* Iuickly, 0 transferred her, to.ether with the offs-rin., to the killin.-bo7, and closed the lid* Then 0 fetched the ether from the car, and -oured it throu.h the little .au,e hole in the to- of the bo7 until the -ad inside was well soaked* %ow s-lendid she would look in my collectionF The babies would, of course, fall away from her as they died, but 0 would stick them on a.ain with .lue in more or less their correct -ositionsE and then 0 would be the -roud -ossessor of a hu.e female -andinus with her own fourteen offs-rin. on her backF 0 was e7tremely -leased* 0 lifted the killin.-bo7 C0 could feel her thrashin. about furiously insideD and -laced it in the boot, to.ether with the net and trowel* Then 0 returned to my seat in the car, lit a ci.arette, and drove on* The more contented 0 am, the slower 0 drive* 0 drove ;uite slowly now, and it must have taken me nearly an hour more to reach 6'ir Rawd Salim, the halfway station* 0t was a most unenticin. -lace* #n the left, there was a sin.le .asoline -um- and a wooden shack* #n the ri.ht, there were three more shacks, each about the si,e of a -ottin.-shed* The rest was desert* There was not a soul in si.ht* The time was twenty minutes before two in the afternoon, and the tem-erature inside the car was 1<5* +hat with the nonsense of .ettin. the water boiled before leavin. 0smailia, 0 had for.otten com-letely to fill u- with .asoline before leavin., and my .au.e was now re.isterin. sli.htly less than two .allons* 0'd cut it rather fine--but no matter* 0 -ulled in alon.side the -um-, and waited* 'obody a--eared* 0 -ressed the horn button, and the four tuned horns on the !a.onda shouted their wonderful ASon .ia mile c ireFA across the desert* 'obody a--eared* 0 -ressed a.ain* A#h-So-lo-2e-#hFA san. the horns* 2o,art's -hrase sounded ma.nificent in these surroundin.s* 6ut still nobody a--eared* The inhabitants of +it Rawd Salim didn't .ive a damn, it seemed, about my friend Don :iovanni and the 1,<<1 women he had deflowered in S-ain* t last, after 0 had -layed the horns no less than si7 times, the door of

the hut behind the .asoline -um- o-ened and a tallish man emer.ed and stood on the threshold, doin. u- his buttons with both hands* %e took his time over this, and not until he had finished did he .lance u- at the !a.onda* 0 looked back at him throu.h my o-en window* 0 saw him take the first ste- in my direction***he took it very, very slowly***Then he took a second ste-* 2y :odF 0 thou.ht at once* The s-irochetes have .ot himF %e had the slow, wobbly walk, the looselimbed, hi.h-ste--in. .ait of a man with locomotor ata7ia* +ith each ste- he took, the front foot was raised hi.h in the air before him and brou.ht down violently to the .round, as thou.h he were stam-in. on a dan.erous insect* 0 thou.htH 0 had better .et out of here* 0 had better start the motor and .et the hell out of here before he reaches me, 6ut 0 knew 0 couldn't* 0 had to have the .asoline* 0 sat in the car starin. at the awful creature as he came stam-in. laboriously over the sand* %e must have had the revoltin. disease for years and years, otherwise it wouldn't have develo-ed into ata7is* Tabes dorsalis they call it in -rofessional circles, and -atholo.ically this means that the victim is sufferin. from de.eneration of the -osterior columns of the s-inal chord* 6ut ah my foes and oh my friends, it is really a lot worse than thatE it is a slow and merciless consumin. of the actual nerve fibres of the body by sy-hilitic to7ins* The man--the rab, 0 shall call him--came ri.ht u- to the door of my side of the car and -eered in throu.h the o-en window* 0 leaned away from him, -rayin. that he would not come an inch closer* +ithout a doubt, he was one of the most bli.hted humans 0 had ever seen* %is face had the eroded, eaten-away look of an old wood-carvin. when the worm has been at it, and the si.ht of it made me wonder how many other diseases the man was sufferin. from, besides sy-hilis* ASalaam,A he mumbled* A$ill u- the tank,A 0 told him* %e didn't move* %e was ins-ectin. the interior of the !a.onda with .reat interest* terrible feculent odour came waftin. in from his direction* ACome alon.FA 0 said shar-ly* A0 want some .asolineFA %e looked at me and .rinned* 0t was more of a leer than a .rin, an insolent mockin. leer that seemed to be sayin., A0 am the kin. of the .asoline -um- at 6'ir Rawd SalimF Touch me if you dareF' fly had settled on the corner of one of his eyes* %e made no attem-t to brush it away* A>ou want .asolineBA he said, tauntin. me* 0 was about to swear at him, but 0 checked myself 9ust in time, and answered -olitely, A>es -lease, 0 would be very .rateful*A %e watched me slyly for a few moments to be sure 0 wasn't mockin. him, then he nodded as thou.h satisfied now with my behaviour* %e turned away and started slowly towards the rear of the car* 0 reached into the door--ocket for my bottle of :lenmoran.ie* 0 -oured myself a stiff one, and sat si--in. it* That man's face had been within a yard of my ownE his foetid breath had come -ourin. into the car***and who knows how many billions of airborne viruses mi.ht not have come -ourin. in with itB #n such an occasion it is a fine thin. to sterili,e the mouth and throat with a dro- of %i.hland whisky* The whisky is also a solace* 0 em-tied the .lass, and -oured myself another* Soon 0 be.an to feel less alarmed* 0 noticed the watermelon lyin. on the seat beside me* 0 decided that a slice of it at this moment would be refreshin.* 0 took my knife from its case and cut out a thick section* Then, with the -oint of the knife, 0 carefully -icked out all the black seeds, usin. the rest of the melon as a rece-tacle* 0 sat drinkin. the whisky and eatin. the melon* 6oth very delicious* A:asoline is done,A the dreadful rab said, a--earin. at the window* A0 check water now, and oil*A 0 would have -referred him to kee- his hands off the !a.onda alto.ether, but rather than risk an ar.ument, 0 said nothin.* %e went clum-in. off towards the front of the car, and his walk reminded me of a drunken %itler Stormtroo-er doin. the .ooseste- in very slow motion*

Tabes dorsalis, as 0 live and breathe* The only other disease to induce that ;ueer hi.h-ste--in. .ait is chronic beriberi* +ell he -robably had that one, too* 0 cut myself another slice of watermelon, and concentrated for a minute or so on takin. out the seeds with the knife* +hen 0 looked u- a.ain, 0 saw that the rab had raised the bonnet of the car on the ri.hthand side, and was bendin. over the en.ine* %is head and shoulders were out of si.ht, and so were his hands and arms* +hat on earth was the man doin.B The oil di-stick was on the other side* 0 ra--ed on the windshield* %e seemed not to hear me* 0 -ut my head out of the window and shouted, A%eyF Come out of thereFA Slowly, he strai.htened u-, and as he drew his ri.ht arm out of the bowels of the en.ine, 0 saw that he was holdin. in his fin.ers somethin. that was lon. and black and curly and very thin* A:ood :odFA 0 thou.ht* A%e's found a snake in thereFA %e came round to the window, .rinnin. at me and holdin. the ob9ect out for me to seeE and only then, as 0 .ot a closer look, did 0 reali,e that it was not a snake at all--it was the fan-belt of my !a.ondaF ll the awful im-lications of suddenly bein. stranded in this outlandish -lace with this dis.ustin. man came floodin. over me as 0 sat there starin. dumbly at my broken fanbelt* A>ou can see,A the rab was sayin., Ait was han.in. on by a sin.le thread* .ood thin. 0 noticed it*A 0 took it from him and e7amined it closely* A>ou cut itFA 0 cried* ACut itBA he answered softly* A+hy should 0 cut itBA To be -erfectly honest, it was im-ossible for me to 9ud.e whether he had or had not cut it* 0f he had, then he had also taken the trouble to fray the severed ends with some instrument to make it look like an ordinary break* "ven so, my .uess was that he had cut it, and if 0 was ri.ht then the im-lications were more sinister than ever* A0 su--ose you know 0 can't .o on without a fan-beltBA 0 said* %e .rinned a.ain with that awful mutilated mouth, showin. ulcerated .ums* A0f you .o now,A he said, Ayou will boil over in three minutes*A ASo what do you su..estBA A0 shall .et you another fan-belt*A A>ou willBA A#f course* There is a tele-hone here, and if you will -ay for the call, 0 will tele-hone to 0smailia* nd if they haven't .ot one in 0smailia, 0 will tele-hone to Cairo* There is no -roblem*A A'o -roblemFA 0 shouted, .ettin. out of the car* A nd when -ray, do you think the fan-belt is .oin. to arrive in this .hastly -laceBA AThere is a mail-truck comes throu.h every mornin. about ten o'clock* >ou would have it tomorrow*A The man had all the answers* %e never even had to think before re-lyin.* This bastard, 0 thou.ht, has cut Nan-belts before* 0 was very alert now, and watchin. him closely* AThey will not have a fan-belt for a machine of this make in 0smailia,A 0 said* A0t would have to come from the a.ents in Cairo* 0 will tele-hone them myself*A The fact that there was a tele-hone .ave me some comfort* The tele-hone -oles had followed the road all the way across the desert, and 0 could see the two wires leadin. into the hut from the nearest -ole* A0 will ask the a.ents in Cairo to set out immediately for this -lace in a s-ecial vehicle,A 0 said* The rab looked alon. the road towards Cairo, some two hundred miles away* A+ho is .oin. to drive si7 hours here and si7 hours back to brin. a fan-beltBA he said* AThe mail will be 9ust as ;uick*A AShow me the tele-hone,A 0 said, startin. towards the hut* Then a nasty thou.ht struck me, and 0 sto--ed* %ow could 0 -ossibly use this man's contaminated instrumentB The ear-iece would have to be -ressed a.ainst my ear, and the mouth-iece would almost certainly

touch my mouthE and 0 didn't .ive a damn what the doctors said about the im-ossibility of catchin. sy-hilis from remote contact* sy-hilitic mouth-iece was a sy-hilitic mouth-iece, and you wouldn't catch me -uttin. it anywhere near my li-s, thank you very much* 0 wouldn't even enter his hut* 0 stood there in the si,,lin. heat of the afternoon and looked at the rab with his .hastly diseased face, and the rab looked back at me, as cool and unruffled as you -lease* A>ou want the tele-honeBA he asked* A'o,A 0 said* ACan you read "n.lishBA A#h, yes*A AVery well* 0 shall write down for you the name of the a.ents and the name of this car, and also my own name* They know me there* >ou will tell them what is wanted* nd listen***tell them to dis-atch a s-ecial car immediately at my e7-ense* 0 will -ay them well* nd if they won't do that, tell them they have to .et the fan-belt to 0smailia in time to catch the mailtruck* >ou understandBA AThere is no -roblem,A the rab said* So 0 wrote down what was necessary on a -iece of -a-er and .ave it to him* %e walked away with that slow, stam-in. tread towards the hut, and disa--eared inside* 0 closed the bonnet of the car* Then 0 went back and sat in the driver's seat to think thin.s out* 0 -oured myself another whisky, and lit a ci.arette* There must be some traffic on this road* Somebody would surely come alon. before ni.htfall* 6ut would that hel- meB 'o, it wouldn't unless 0 were -re-ared to hitch a ride and leave the !a.onda and all my ba..a.e behind to the tender mercies of the rab* +as 0 -re-ared to do thatB 0 didn't know* )robably yes* 6ut if 0 were forced to stay the ni.ht, 0 would lock myself in the car and try to kee- awake as much as -ossible* #n no account would 0 enter the shack where that creature lived* 'or would 0 touch his food* 0 had whisky and water, and 0 had half a watermelon and a slab of chocolate* That was am-le* The heat was -retty bad* The thermometer in the car was still around 1#?* 0t was hotter outside in the sun* 0 was -ers-irin. freely* 2y :od, what a -lace to .et stranded inF nd what a com-anionF fter about fifteen minutes, the rab came out of the hut* 0 watched him all the way to the car* A0 talked to the .ara.e in Cairo,A he said, -ushin. his face throu.h the window* A$an-belt will arrive tomorrow by mail-truck* "verythin. arran.ed*A ADid you ask them about sendin. it at onceBA AThey said im-ossible,A he answered* A>ou're sure you asked themBA %e inclined his head to one side and .ave me that sly insolent .rin* 0 turned away and waited for him to .o* %e stayed where he was* A+e have house for visitors,A he said* A>ou can slee- there very nice* 2y wife will make food, but you will have to -ay*A A+ho else is here besides you and your wifeBA A nother man,A he said* %e waved an arm in the direction of the three shacks across the road, and 0 turned and saw a man standin. in the doorway of the middle shack, a short wide man who was dressed in dirty khaki slacks and shirt* %e was standin. absolutely motionless in the shadow of the doorway, his arms dan.lin. at his sides* %e was lookin. at me* A+ho is heBA 0 said* ASaleh*A A+hat does he doBA A%e hel-s*A A0 will slee- in the car,A 0 said* A nd it will not be necessary for your wife to -re-are food* 0 have my own*A The rab shru..ed and turned away and started back towards the shack where the tele-hone was* 0 stayed in the car* +hat else could 0 doB 0t was 9ust after two-thirty* 0n three or four hours' time it would start to .et a little cooler* Then 0 could take a stroll and maybe hunt u- a

few scor-ions* 2eanwhile, 0 must make the best of thin.s as they were* 0 reached into the back of the car where 0 ke-t my bo7 of books and, without lookin., 0 took out the first one 0 touched* The bo7 contained thirty or forty of the best books in the world, and all of them could be re-read a hundred times and would im-rove with each readin.* 0t was immaterial which one 0 .ot* 0t turned out to be The 'atural %istory of Selborne* 0 o-ened it at random* +e had in this villa.e more than twenty years a.o an idiot boy, whom 0 well remember, who, from a child, showed a stron. -ro-ensity to beesE they were his food, his amusement, his sole ob9ect* nd as -eo-le of this cast have seldom more than one -oint of view, so this lad e7erted all his few faculties on this one -ursuit* 0n winter he do,ed away his time, within his father's house, by the fireside, in a kind of tor-id state, seldom de-artin. from the chimney-cornerE but in the summer he was all alert, and in ;uest of his .ame in the fields, and on sunny banks* %oneybees, bumble-bees, was-s, were his -rey wherever he found themE he had no a--rehensions from their stin.s, but would sei,e them nudis inanibus, and at once disarm them of their wea-ons, and suck their bodies for the sake of their honey-ba.s* Sometimes he would fill his bosom, between his shirt and skin, with a number of these ca-tives, and sometimes confine them to bottles* %e was a very mero-s a-iaster, or bee-bird, and very in9urious to men that ke-t beesE for he would slide into their bee-.ardens, and, sittin. down before the stools, would ra- with his fin.ers on the hives, and so take the bees as they came out* %e has been known to overturn hives for the sake of honey, of which he is -assionately fond* +here methe.lin was makin., he would lin.er round the tubs and vessels, be..in. a drau.ht of what he called bee-wine* s he ran about, he used to make a hummin. noise with his li-s, resemblin. the bu,,in. of bees* 0 .lanced u- from the book and looked around me* The motionless man across the road had disa--eared* There was nobody in si.ht* The silence was eerie, and the stillness, the utter stillness and desolation of the -lace was -rofoundly o--ressive* 0 knew 0 was bein. watched* 0 knew that every little move 0 made, every si- of whisky and every -uff of a ci.arette, was bein. carefully noticed* 0 detest violence and 0 never carry a wea-on* 6ut 0 could have done with one now* $or a while, 0 toyed with the idea of startin. the motor and drivin. on down the road until the en.ine boiled over* 6ut how far would 0 .etB 'ot very far in this heat and without a fan* #ne mile, -erha-s, or two at the most* 'o to hell with it* 0 would stay where 0 was and read my book* 0t must have been about an hour later that 0 noticed a small dark s-eck movin. towards me alon. the road in the far distance, comin. from the Gerusalem direction* 0 laid aside my book without takin. my eyes away from the s-eck* 0 watched it .rowin. bi..er and bi..er* 0t was travellin. at a .reat s-eed, at a really ama,in. s-eed* 0 .ot out of the !a.onda and hurried to the side of the road and stood there, ready to si.nal the driver to sto-* Closer and closer it came, and when it was about a ;uarter of a mile away, it be.an to slow down* Suddenly, 0 noticed the sha-e of its radiator* 0t was a Rolls-RoyceF 0 raised an arm and ke-t it raised, and the bi. .reen car with a man at the wheel -ulled in off the road and sto--ed beside my !a.onda* 0 felt absurdly elated* %ad it been a $ord or a 2orris, 0 would have been -leased enou.h, but 0 would not have been elated* The fact that it was a Rolls--a 6entley would have done e;ually well, or an 0sotta, or another !a.onda was a virtual .uarantee that 0 would receive all the assistance 0 re;uiredE for whether you know it or not, there is a -owerful brotherhood e7istin. amon. -eo-le who own very costly automobiles* They res-ect one another automatically, and the reason they res-ect one another is sim-ly that wealth res-ects wealth* 0n -oint of fact, there is nobody in the world that a very wealthy -erson res-ects more than another very wealthy -erson, and because of this, they naturally seek each other out wherever they .o* Reco.nition si.nals of many kinds are used amon. them* +ith the female, the wearin. of massive 9ewels is -erha-s the most commonE but the costly automobile is also much favoured, and is used by both se7es* 0t is a travellin. -lacard, a -ublic declaration of affluence, and as such, it is also a card of

membershi- to that e7cellent unofficial society, the Very-+ealthy-)eo-les &nion* 0 am a member myself of lon. standin., and am deli.hted to be one* +hen 0 meet another member, as 0 was about to do now, 0 feel an immediate ra--ort* 0 res-ect him* +e s-eak the same lan.ua.e* %e is one of us* 0 had .ood reason, therefore, to be elated* The driver of the Rolls climbed out and came towards me* %e was a small dark man with olive skin, and he wore an immaculate white linen suit* )robably a Syrian, 0 thou.ht* Gust -ossibly a :reek* 0n the heat of the day he looked as cool as could be* A:ood afternoon,A he said* A re you havin. troubleBA 0 .reeted him, and then bit by bit, 0 told him everythin. that had ha--ened* A2y dear fellow,A he said in -erfect "n.lish, Abut my dear fellow, how very distressin.* +hat rotten luck* This is no -lace to .et stranded in*A A0t isn't, is itBA A nd you say that a new fan-belt has definitely been orderedBA A>es,A 0 answered, Aif 0 can rely u-on the -ro-rietor of this establishment*A The rab, who had emer.ed from his shack almost before the Rolls had come to a sto-, had now 9oined us, and the stran.er -roceeded to ;uestion him swiftly in rabic about the ste-s he had taken on my behalf* 0t seemed to me that the two knew each other -retty well, and it was clear that the rab was in .reat awe of the new arrival* %e was -ractically crawlin. alon. the .round in his -resence* A+ell that seems to be all ri.ht,A the stran.er said at last, turnin. to me* A6ut ;uite obviously you won't be able to move on from here until tomorrow mornin.* +here were you headed forBA AGerusalem,A 0 said* A nd 0 don't relish the idea of s-endin. the ni.ht in this infernal s-ot*', A0 should say not, my dear man* That would be most uncomfortable*A %e smiled at me, showin. e7ce-tionally white teeth* Then he took out a ci.arette case, and offered me a ci.arette* The case was .old, and on the outside of it there was a thin line of .reen 9ade inlaid dia.onally from corner to corner* 0t was a beautiful thin.* 0 acce-ted the ci.arette* %e lit it for me, then lit his own* The stran.er took a lon. -ull at his ci.arette, inhalin. dee-ly* Then he tilted back his head and blew the smoke u- into the sun* A+e shall both .et heatstroke if we stand around here much lon.er,A he said* A+ill you -ermit me to make a su..estionBA A6ut of course*A A0 do ho-e you won't consider it -resum-tuous, comin. from a com-lete stran.er*** A)lease*** A>ou can't -ossibly remain here, so 0 su..est you come back and stay the ni.ht in my house*A ThereF The Rolls-Royce was smilin. at the !a.onda--smilin. at it as it would never have smiled at a $ord or a 2orrisF A>ou mean in 0smailiaBA 0 said* A'o, no,A he answered, lau.hin.* A0 live 9ust around the corner, 9ust over there*A %e waved a hand in the direction he had come from* A6ut surely you were .oin. to 0smailiaB 0 wouldn't want you to chan.e your -lans on my behalf*A A0 wasn't .oin. to 0smailia at all,A he said* A0 was comin. down here to collect the mail* 2y house--and this may sur-rise you--is ;uite close to where we are standin.* >ou see that mountain* That's 2a.hara* 0'm immediately behind it*A 0 looked at the mountain* 0t lay ten miles to the north, a yellow rocky lum-, -erha-s two thousand feet hi.h* ADo you really mean that you have a house in the middle of all this***this wastelandBA 0 asked* A>ou don't believe meBA he said, smilin.* A#f course 0 believe you,A 0 answered* A'othin. sur-rises me any more* "7ce-t, -erha-s,A and here 0 smiled back at him, Ae7ce-t when 0 meet a stran.er in the middle of the desert, and he treats me like a brother* 0 am overwhelmed by your offer*A

A'onsense, my dear fellow* 2y motives are entirely selfish* Civili,ed com-any is not easy to come by in these -ans* 0 am ;uite thrilled at the thou.ht of havin. a .uest for dinner* )ermit me to introduce myself bdul ,i,*A %e made a ;uick little bow* A#swald Cornelius,A 0 said* A0t is a .reat -leasure*A +e shook hands* A0 live -artly in 6eirut,A he said* A0 live in )aris*A ACharmin.* nd now--shall we .oB re you readyBA A6ut my car,A 0 said* ACan 0 leave it here safelyBA A%ave no fear about that* #mar is a friend of mine* %e's not much to look at, -oor cha-, but he won't let you down if you're with me* nd the other one, Saleh, is a .ood mechanic* %e'll fit your new fanbelt when it arrives tomorrow* 0'll tell him now*A Saleh, the man from across the road, had walked over while we were talkin.* 2r ,i, .ave him his instructions* %e then s-oke to both men about .uardin. the !a.onda* %e was brief and incisive* #mar and Saleh stood bowin. and scra-in.* 0 went across to the !a.onda to .et a suitcase* 0 needed a chan.e of clothes badly* A#h, by the way,A 2r ,i, called over to me, A0 usually -ut on a black tie for dinner*A A#f course,A 0 murmured, ;uickly -ushin. back my first choice of suitcase and takin. another* A0 do it for the ladies mostly* They seem to like dressin. themselves u- for dinner*A 0 turned shar-ly and looked at him, but he was already .ettin. into his car* AReadyBA he said* 0 took the briefcase and -laced it in the back of the Rolls* Then 0 climbed into the front seat beside him, and we drove off* Durin. the drive, we talked casually about this and that* %e told me that his business was in car-ets* %e had offices in 6eirut and Damascus* %is forefathers, he said, had been in the trade for hundreds of years* 0 mentioned that 0 had a seventeenth-century Damascus car-et on the floor of my bedroom in )aris* A>ou don't mean itFA he cried, nearly swervin. off the road with e7citement* A0s it silk and wool, with the war- made entirely of silkB nd has it .ot a .round of .old and silver threadsBA A>es,A 0 said* A"7actly*A A6ut my dear fellowF >ou mustn't -ut a thin. like that on the floorFA A0t is touched only by bare feet,A 0 said* That -leased him* 0t seemed that he loved car-ets almost as much as 0 loved the blue vases of Tchin-%oa* Soon we turned left off the tarred road on to a hard stony track and headed strai.ht over the desert towards the mountain* AThis is my -rivate driveway,A 2r ,i, said* A0t is five miles lon.*A A>ou are even on the tele-hone,A 0 said, noticin. the -oles that branched off the main road to follow his -rivate drive* nd then suddenly a ;ueer thou.ht struck me* That rab at the fillin.-station***he also was on the tele-hone* 2i.ht not this, then, e7-lain the fortuitous arrival of 2r ,i,B +as it -ossible that my lonely host had devised a clever method of shan.haiin. travellers off the road in order to -rovide himself with what he called Acivili,ed com-any' for dinnerB %ad he, in fact, .iven the rab standin. instructions to immobili,e the cars of all likely-lookin. -ersons one after the other as they came alon.B AGust cut the fan-belt, #mar* Then -hone me u- ;uick* 6ut make sure it's a decent-lookin. fellow with a .ood car* Then 0'll -o- alon. and see if 0 think he's worth invitin. to the house* 0t was ridiculous of course* A0 think,A my com-anion was sayin., Athat you are wonderin. why in the world 0 should choose to have a house out here in a -lace like this*A

A+ell, yes, 0 am a bit*A A"veryone does,A he said* A"veryone,A 0 said* A>es,A he said* +ell, well, 0 thou.ht--everyone* A0 live here,A he said, Abecause 0 have a -eculiar affinity with the desert* 0 am drawn to it the same way as a sailor is drawn to the sea* Does that seem so very stran.e to youBA A'o,A 0 answered, Ait doesn't seem stran.e at all*A %e -aused and took a -ull at his ci.arette* Then he said, AThat is one reason* 6ut there is another* re you a family man, 2r CorneliusBA A&nfortunately not,A 0 answered cautiously* A0 am,A he said* A0 have a wife and a dau.hter* 6oth of them, in my eyes at any rate, are very beautiful* 2y dau.hter is 9ust ei.hteen* She had been to an e7cellent boardin.-school in "n.land, and she is now**** A he shru..ed**** Ashe is now 9ust sittin. around and waitin. until she is old enou.h to .et married* 6ut this waitin. -eriod--what does one do with a beautiful youn. .irl durin. that timeB 0 can't let her loose* She is far too desirable for that* +hen 0 take her to 6eirut, 0 see the men han.in. around her like wolves waitin. to -ounce* 0t drives me nearly out of my mind* 0 know all about men, 2r Cornelius* 0 know how they behave* 0t is true, of course, that 0 am not the only father who has had this -roblem* 6ut the others seem somehow able to face it and acce-t it* They let their dau.hters .o* They 9ust turn them out of the house and look the other way* 0 cannot do that* 0 sim-ly cannot brin. myself to do itF 0 refuse to allow her to be mauled by every chmed, li, and %amil that comes alon.* nd that, you see, is the other reason why 0 live in the desert--to -rotect my lovely child for a few more years from the wild beasts* Did you say that you had no family at all, 2r CorneliusBA A0'm afraid that's true*A A#h*A %e seemed disa--ointed* A>ou mean you've never been marriedBA A+ell***no,A 0 said* A'o* 0 haven't*A 0 waited for the ne7t inevitable ;uestion* 0t came about a minute later* A%ave you never wanted to .et married and have childrenBA They all asked that one* 0t was sim-ly another way of sayin., A re you, in that case, homose7ualBA A#nce,A 0 said* AGust once*A A+hat ha--enedBA AThere was only one -erson ever in my life, 2r ,i,***and after she went 0 si.hed* A>ou mean she diedBA 0 nodded, too choked u- to answer* A2y dear fellow,A he said* A#h, 0 am so sorry* $or.ive me for intrudin.*A +e drove on for a while in silence* A0t's ama,in.,A 0 murmured, Ahow one loses all interest in matters of the flesh after a thin. like that* 0 su--ose it's the shock* #ne never .ets over it*A %e nodded sym-athetically, swallowin. it all* ASo now 0 9ust travel around tryin. to for.et it* 0've been doin. it for years* +e had reached the foot of 2ount 2a.hara now and were followin. the track as it curved around the mountain towards the side that was invisible from the road the north side* A s soon as we round the ne7t bend you'll see the house,A 2r ,i, said* +e rounded the bend***and there it wasF 0 blinked and stared, and 0 tell you that for the first few seconds 0 literally could not believe my eyes* 0 saw before me a white castle--0 mean it--a tall, white castle with turrets and towers and little s-ires all over it, standin. like a fairytale in the middle of a s-lash of .reen ve.etation on the lower slo-e of the bla,in.-hot, bare, yellow mountainF 0t was fantasticF 0t was strai.ht out of %ans Christian ndersen or :rimm* 0 had seen

-lenty of romantic-lookin. Rhine and !oire valley castles in my time, but never before had 0 seen anythin. with such a slender, .raceful, fairytale ;uality as thisF The .reenery, as 0 observed when we drew closer, was a -retty .arden of lawns and date--alms, and there was a hi.h white wall .oin. all the way round to kee- out the desert* ADo you a--roveBA my host asked, smilin.* A0t's fabulousFA 0 said* A0t's like all the fairytale castles in the world made into one*A AThat's e7actly what it isFA he cried* A0t's a fairy-tale castleF 0 built it es-ecially for my dau.hter, my beautiful )rincess*A nd the beautiful )rincess is im-risoned within its walls by her strict and 9ealous father, ban. bdul ,i,, who refuses to allow her the -leasures of masculine com-any* 6ut watch out, for here comes )rince #swald Cornelius to the rescueH &nbeknownst to the ban., he is .oin. to ravish the beautiful )rincess, and make her very ha--y* A>ou have to admit it's different,A 2r ,i, said* A0t is that*A A0t is also nice and -rivate* 0 slee- very -eacefully here* So does the )rincess* 'o un-leasant youn. men are likely to come climbin. in throu.h those windows durin. the ni.ht*A AIuite so,A 0 said* A0t used to be a small oasis,A he went on* A0 bou.ht it from the .overnment* +e have am-le water for the house, the swimmin.--ool, and three acres of .arden*A +e drove throu.h the main .ates, and 0 must say it was wonderful to come suddenly into a miniature -aradise of .reen lawns and flowerbeds and -alm-trees* "verythin. was in -erfect order, and water-s-rinklers were -layin. on the lawns* +hen we sto--ed at the front door of the house, two servants in s-otless .allabiyahs and scarlet tarbooshes ran out immediately, one to each side of the car, to o-en the doors for us* Two servantsB 6ut would both of them have come out like that unless they'd been e7-ectin. two -eo-leB 0 doubted it* 2ore and more, it be.an to look as thou.h my odd little theory about bein. shan.haied as a dinner .uest was turnin. out to be correct* 0t was all very amusin.* 2y host ushered me in throu.h the front door, and at once 0 .ot that lovely shivery feelin. that comes over the skin as one walks suddenly out of intense heat into an air-conditioned room* 0 was standin. in the hall* The floor was of .reen marble* #n my ri.ht, there was a wide archway leadin. to a .arden room, and 0 received a fleetin. im-ression of cool white walls, fine -ictures, and su-erlative !ouis (V furniture* +hat a -lace to find oneself in, in the middle of the Sinai DesertF nd now a woman was comin. slowly down the stairs* 2y host had turned away to s-eak to the servants, and he didn't see her at once, so when she reached the bottom ste-, the woman -aused, and she laid her naked arm like a white anaconda alon. the rail of the banister, and there she stood, lookin. at me as thou.h she were Iueen Semiramis on the ste-s of 6abylon, and 0 was a candidate who mi.ht or mi.ht not be to her taste* %er hair was 9et-black, and she had a fi.ure that made me wet my li-s* +hen 2r ,i, turned and saw her, he said, A#h darlin., there you are* 0've brou.ht you a .uest* %is car broke down at the fillin.-station--such rotten luck-so 0 asked him to come back and stay the ni.ht* 2r Cornelius***my wife*A A%ow very nice,A she said ;uietly, comin. forward* 0 took her hand and raised it to my li-s* A0 am overcome by your kindness, madame,A 0 murmured* There was, u-on that hand of hers, a diabolical -erfume* 0t was almost e7clusively animal* The subtle, se7y secretions of the s-ermwhale, the male musk-deer, and the beaver were all there, -un.ent and obscene beyond wordsE they dominated the blend com-letely, and only faint traces of clean ve.etable oils--lemon, ca9u-ut, and ,eroli--were allowed to come throu.h* 0t was su-erbF nd another thin. 0 noticed in the flash of that first moment was thisH +hen 0 took

her hand, she did not, as other women do, let it lie lim-ly across my -alm like a fillet of raw fish* 0nstead, she -laced her thumb underneath my hand, with the fin.ers on to-E and thus she was able to--and 0 swear she did--e7ert a .entle but su..estive -ressure u-on my hand as 0 administered the conventional kiss* A+here is DianaBA asked 2r ,i,* AShe's out by the -ool,A the woman said* nd turnin. to me, A+ould you like a swim, 2r CorneliusB >ou must be roasted after han.in. around that awful fillin.station*A She had hu.e velvet eyes, so dark they were almost black, and when she smiled at me, the end of her nose moved u-wards, distendin. the nostrils* There and then, )rince #swald Cornelius decided that he cared not one whit about the beautiful )rincess who was held ca-tive in the castle by the 9ealous lan.* %e would ravish the Iueen instead* A+ell**** A 0 said* A0'm .oin. to have one,A 2r ,i, said* A!et's all have one,A his wife said* A+e'll lend you a -air of trunks*A 0 asked if 0 mi.ht .o u- to my room first and .et out a clean shirt and clean slacks to -ut on after the swim, and my hostess said, A>es, of course,A and told one of the servants to show me the way* %e took me u- two fli.hts of stairs, and we entered a lar.e white bedroom which had in it an e7ce-tionally lar.e double-bed* There was a well-e;ui--ed bathroom leadin. off to one side, with a -ale-blue bathtub and a bidet to match* "verywhere, thin.s were scru-ulously clean and very much to my likin.* +hile the servant was un-ackin. my case, 0 went over to the window and looked out, and 0 saw the .reat bla,in. desert swee-in. in like a yellow sea all the way from the hori,on until it met the white .arden wall 9ust below me, and there, within the wall, 0 could see the swimmin.--ool, and beside the -ool there was a .irl lyin. on her back in the shade of a bi. -ink -arasol* The .irl was wearin. a white swimmin. costume, and she was readin. a book* She had lon. slim le.s and black hair* She was the )rincess* +hat a set-u-, 0 thou.ht* The white castle, the comfort, the cleanliness, the air-conditionin., the two da,,lin.ly beautiful females, the watchdo. husband, and a whole evenin. to work inF The situation was so -erfectly desi.ned for my entertainment that it would have been im-ossible to im-rove u-on it* The -roblems that lay ahead a--ealed to me very much* sim-le strai.htforward seduction did not amuse me any more* There was no artistry in that sort of thin.E and 0 can assure you that had 0 been able, by wavin. a ma.ic wand, to make 2r bdul ,i,, the 9ealous watchdo., disa--ear for the ni.ht, 0 would not have done so* 0 wanted no -yrrhic victories* +hen 0 left the room, the servant accom-anied me* +e descended the first fli.ht of stairs, and then, on the landin. on the floor below my own, 0 -aused and said casually, ADoes the whole family slee- on this floorBA A#h, yes,A the servant said* AThat is the master's room thereA--indicatin. a door Aand ne7t to it is 2rs ,i,* 2iss Diana is o--osite*A Three se-arate rooms* ll very close to.ether* Virtually im-re.nable* 0 tucked the information away in my mind and went on down to the -ool* 2y host and hostess were there before me* AThis is my dau.hter, Diana,A my host said* The .irl in the white swimmin.-suit stood u- and 0 kissed her hand* A%ello, 2r Cornelius,A she said* She was usin. the same heavy animal -erfume as her mother--amber.ris, musk, and castorF +hat a smell it had bitchy, bra,en, and marvellousF 0 sniffed at it like a do.* She was, 0 thou.ht, even more beautiful than the -arent, if that were -ossible* She had the same lar.e velvety eyes, the same black hair, and the same sha-e of faceE but her le.s were un;uestionably lon.er, and there was somethin. about her body that .ave it a sli.ht ed.e over the older woman'sH it was more sinuous, more snaky, and almost certain to be a .ood deal more fle7ible* 6ut the older woman, who was -robably thirty-seven and looked no more than twenty-five, had a s-ark in her eye that the dau.hter could not -ossibly match*

"eeny, meeny, miny, mo--9ust a little while a.o, )rince #swald had sworn that he would ravish the Iueen alone, and to hell with the )rincess* 6ut now that he had seen the )rincess in the flesh, he did not know which one to -refer* 6oth of them, in their different ways, held forth a -romise of innumerable deli.hts, the one innocent and ea.er, the other e7-ert and voracious* The truth of the matter was that he would like to have them both--the )rincess as an hors d'oeuvre, and the Iueen as the main dish* A%el- yourself to a -air of trunks in the chan.in.-room, 2r Cornelius,A 2rs ,i, was sayin., so 0 went into the hut and chan.ed, and when 0 came out a.ain the three of them were already s-lashin. about in the water* 0 dived in and 9oined them* The water was so cold it made me .as-* A0 thou.ht that would sur-rise you,A 2r ,i, said, lau.hin.* A0t's cooled* 0 kee- it at si7ty-five de.rees* 0t's more refreshin. in this climate*A !ater, when the sun be.an dro--in. lower in the sky, we all sat around in our wet swimmin.clothes while a servant brou.ht us -ale, ice-cold martinis, and it was at this -oint that 0 be.an, very slowly, very cautiously, to seduce the two ladies in my own -articular fashion* 'ormally, when 0 am .iven a free hand, this is not es-ecially difficult for me to do* The curious little talent that 0 ha--en to -ossess--the ability to hy-noti,e a woman with words very seldom lets me down* 0t is not, of course, done only with words* The words themselves, the innocuous, su-erficial words, are s-oken only by the mouth, whereas the real messa.e, the im-ro-er and e7citin. -romise, comes from all the limbs and or.ans of the body, and is transmitted throu.h the eyes* 2ore than that 0 cannot honestly tell you about how it is done* The -oint is that it works* 0t works like cantharides* 0 believe that 0 could sit down o--osite the )o-e's wife, if he had one, and within fifteen minutes, were 0 to try hard enou.h, she would be leanin. towards me over the table with her li-s a-art and her eyes .la,ed with desire* 0t is a minor talent, not a .reat one, but 0 am nonetheless thankful to have had it bestowed u-on me, and 0 have done my best at all times to see that it has not been wasted* So the four of us, the two wondrous women, the little man, and myself, sat close to.ether in a semi-circle beside the swimmin.--ool, loun.in. in deck-chairs and si--in. our drinks and feelin. the warm si7 o'clock sunshine u-on our skin* 0 was in .ood form* 0 made them lau.h a .reat deal* The story about the .reedy old Duchess of :las.ow -uttin. her hand in the chocolatebo7 and .ettin. ni--ed by one of my scor-ions had the dau.hter fallin. out of her chair with mirthE and when 0 described in detail the interior of my s-ider breedin.-house in the .arden outside )aris, both ladies be.an wri..lin. with revulsion and -leasure* 0t was at this sta.e that 0 noticed the eyes of 2r bdul ,i, restin. u-on me in a .oodhumoured, twinklin. kind of way* A+ell, well,A the eyes seemed to be sayin., Awe are .lad to see that you are not ;uite so disinterested in women as you led us to believe in the car* #r is it, -erha-s, that these con.enial surroundin.s are hel-in. you to for.et that .reat sorrow of yours at last**** A 2r ,i, smiled at me, showin. his -ure white teeth* 0t was a friendly smile* 0 .ave him a friendly smile back* +hat a friendly little fellow he was* %e was .enuinely deli.hted to see me -ayin. so much attention to the ladies* So far, then, so .ood* 0 shall ski- very ;uickly over the ne7t few hours, for it was not until after midni.ht that anythin. really tremendous ha--ened to me* few brief notes will suffice to cover the intervenin. -eriodH t seven o'clock, we all left the swimmin.-ool and returned to the house to dress for dinner* t ei.ht o'clock, we assembled in the bi. livin.-room to drink another cocktail* The two ladies were both su-erbly turned out, and s-arklin. with 9ewels* 6oth of them wore lowcut, sleeveless evenin.-dresses which had come, without any doubt at all, from some .reat fashion house in )aris* 2y hostess was in black, her dau.hter in -ale blue, and the scent of that into7icatin. -erfume was everywhere about them* +hat a -air they wereF The older woman had that sli.ht forward hunch to her shoulders which one sees only in the most -assionate and -ractised femalesE for in the same way as a horsey woman will become bandy-le..ed from sittin.

constantly u-on a horse, so a woman of .reat -assion will develo- a curious roundness of the shoulders from continually embracin. men* 0t is an occu-ational deformity, and the noblest of them all* The dau.hter was not yet old enou.h to have ac;uired this sin.ular bad.e of honour, but with her it was enou.h for me sim-ly to stand back and observe the sha-e of her body and to notice the s-lendid slidin. motion of her thi.hs underneath the ti.ht silk dress as she wandered about the room* She had a line of tiny soft .olden hairs .rowin. all the way u- the e7-osed len.th of her s-ine, and when 0 stood behind her it was difficult to resist the tem-tation of runnin. my knuckles u- and down those lovely vertebrae* t ei.ht thirty, we moved into the dinin.room* The dinner that followed was a really ma.nificent affair, but 0 shall waste no time here describin. food or wine* Throu.hout the meal 0 continued to -lay most delicately and insidiously u-on the sensibilities of the women, em-loyin. every skill that 0 -ossessedE and by the time the dessert arrived, they were meltin. before my eyes like butter in the sun* fter dinner we returned to the livin.-room for coffee and brandy, and then, at my host's su..estion, we -layed a cou-le of rubbers of brid.e* 6y the end of the evenin., 0 knew for certain that 0 had done my work well* The old ma.ic had not let me down* "ither of the two ladies, should circumstances -ermit, was mine for the askin.* 0 was not deludin. myself over this* 0t was a strai.htforward, obvious fact* 0t stood out a mile* The face of my hostess was bri.ht with e7citement, and whenever she looked at me across the cardtable, those hu.e dark velvety eyes would .row bi..er and bi..er, and the nostrils would dilate, and the mouth would o-en sli.htly to reveal the ti- of a moist -ink ton.ue s;uee,in. throu.h between the teeth* 0t was a marvellously lascivious .esture, and more than once it caused me to trum- my own trick* The dau.hter was less darin. but e;ually direct* "ach time her eyes met mine, and that was often enou.h, she would raise her brows 9ust the tiniest fraction of a centimetre, as thou.h askin. a ;uestionE then she would make a ;uick sly little smile, su--lyin. the answer* A0 think it's time we all went to bed,A 2r ,i, said, e7aminin. his watch* A0t's after eleven* Come alon., my dears*A Then a ;ueer thin. ha--ened* t once, without a second's hesitation and without another .lance in my direction, both ladies rose and made for the doorF 0t was astonishin.* 0t left me stunned* 0 didn't know what to make of it* 0t was the ;uickest thin. 0'd ever seen* nd yet it wasn't as thou.h 2r ,i, had s-oken an.rily* %is voice, to me at any rate, had sounded as -leasant as ever* 6ut now he was already turnin. out the li.hts, indicatin. clearly that he wished me also to retire* +hat a blowF 0 had e7-ected at least to receive a whis-er from either the wife or the dau.hter before we se-arated for the ni.ht, 9ust a ;uick three or four words tellin. me where to .o and whenE but instead, 0 was left standin. like a fool beside the card-table while the two ladies .lided out of the room* 2y host and 0 followed them u- the stairs* #n the landin. of the first floor, the mother and dau.hter stood side by side, waitin. for me* A:ood ni.ht, 2r Cornelius,A my hostess said* A:ood ni.ht, 2r Cornelius,A the dau.hter said* A:ood ni.ht, my dear fellow,A 2r ,i, said* A0 do ho-e you have everythin. you want*A They turned away, and there was nothin. for me to do but continue slowly, reluctantly, u- the second fli.ht of stairs to my own room* 0 entered it and closed the door* The heavy brocade curtains had already been drawn by one of the servants but 0 -arted them and leaned out of the window to take a look at the ni.ht* The air was still and warm, and a brilliant moon was shinin. over the desert* 6elow me, the swimmin.--ool in the moonli.ht looked somethin. like an enormous .lass mirror lyin. flat on the lawn, and beside t 0 could see the four deck-chairs we had been sittin. in earlier* +ell, well, 0 thou.ht* +hat ha--ens nowB #ne thin. 0 knew 0 must not do in this house was to venture out of my room and .o -rowlin. around the corridors* That would be suicide* 0 had learned many

years a.o that there are three breeds of husband with whom one must never take unnecessary risks the 6ul.arian, the :reek, and the Syrian* 'one of them, for some reason, resents you flirtin. ;uite o-enly with his wife, but he will kill you at once if he catches you .ettin. into her bed* 2r ,i, was a Syrian* de.ree of -rudence was therefore essential, and if any move were .oin. to be made now, it must be made not by me but by one of the two women, for only she Cor theyD would know -recisely what was safe and what was dan.erous* >et 0 had to admit that after witnessin. the way in which my host had called them both to heel four minutes a.o, there was little ho-e of further action in the near future* The trouble was, thou.h, that 0 had .ot myself so infernally steamed u-* 0 undressed and took a lon. cold shower* That hel-ed* Then, because 0 have never been able to slee- in the moonli.ht, 0 made sure that the curtains were ti.htly drawn to.ether* 0 .ot into bed, and for the ne7t hour or so 0 lay readin. some more of :ilbert +hite's 'atural %istory of Selborne* That also hel-ed, and at last, somewhere between midni.ht and one a* m*, there came a time when 0 was able to switch out the li.ht and -re-are myself for slee- without alto.ether too many re.rets* 0 was 9ust be.innin. to do,e off when 0 heard some tiny sounds* 0 reco.ni,ed them at once* They were sounds that 0 had heard many times before in my life, and yet they were still, for me, the most thrillin. and evocative in the whole world* They consisted of a series of little soft metallic noises, of metal .ratin. .ently a.ainst metal, and they were made, they were always made by somebody who was very slowly, very cautiously, turnin. the handle of one's door from the outside* 0nstantly, 0 became wide awake* 6ut 0 did not move* 0 sim-ly o-ened my eyes and stared in the direction of the doorE and 0 can remember wishin. at that moment for a .a- in the curtain, for 9ust a small thin shaft of moonli.ht to come in from outside so that 0 could at least catch a .lim-se of the shadow of the lovely form that was about to enter* 6ut the room was as dark as a dun.eon* 0 did not hear the door o-en* 'o hin.e s;ueaked* 6ut suddenly a little .ust of air swe-t throu.h the room and rustled the curtains, and a moment later 0 heard the soft thud of wood a.ainst wood as the door was carefully closed a.ain* Then came the click of the latch as the handle was released* 'e7t, 0 heard feet ti-toein. towards me over the car-et* $or one horrible second, it occurred to me that this mi.ht 9ust -ossibly be 2r bdul ,i, cree-in. in u-on me with a lon. knife in his hand, but then all at once a warm e7tensile body was bendin. over mine, and a woman's voice was whis-erin. in my ear, ADon't make a soundFA A2y dearest beloved,A 0 said, wonderin. which one of them it was, A0 knew you'd 0nstantly her hand came over my mouth* A)leaseFA she whis-ered* A'ot another wordFA 0 didn't ar.ue* 2y li-s had better thin.s to do than that* So had hers* %ere 0 must -ause* This is not like me at all, 0 know that* 6ut 9ust for once, 0 wish to be e7cused a detailed descri-tion of the .reat scene that followed* 0 have my own reasons for this and 0 be. you to res-ect them* 0n any case, it will do you no harm to e7ercise your own ima.ination for a chan.e, and if you wish, 0 shall stimulate it a little by sayin. sim-ly and truthfully that of the many thousands and thousands of women 0 have known in my time, none has trans-orted me to .reater e7tremes of ecstasy than this lady of the Sinai Desert* %er de7terity was ama,in.* %er -assion was intense* %er ran.e was unbelievable* t every turn, she was ready with some new and intricate manoeuvre* nd to ca- it all, she -ossessed the subtlest and most recondite style 0 have ever encountered* She was a .reat artist* She was a .enius* ll this, you will -robably say, indicated clearly that my visitor must have been the older woman* >ou would be wron.* 0t indicated nothin.* True .enius is a .ift of birth* 0t has very little to do with a.eE and 0 can assure you that 0 had no way of knowin. for certain which of them it was in the darkness of that room* 0 wouldn't have bet a -enny on it either way* t one moment, after some -articularly boisterous caden,a, 0 would be convinced it was the wife* 0t must be the wifeF

Then suddenly the whole tem-o would be.in to chan.e, and the melody would become so childlike and innocent that 0 found myself swearin. it was the dau.hter* 0t must be the dau.hterF 2addenin. it was not to know the true answer* 0t tantali,ed me* 0t also humbled me, for, after all, a connoisseur, a su-reme connoisseur, should always be able to .uess the vinta.e without seein. the label on the bottle* 6ut this one really had me beat* t one -oint, 0 reached for ci.arettes, intendin. to solve the mystery in the flare of a match, but her hand was on me in a flash, and ci.arettes and matches were snatched away and flun. across the room* 2ore than once, 0 be.an to whis-er the ;uestion itself into her ear, but 0 never .ot three words out before the hand shot u- a.ain and smacked itself over my mouth* Rather violently, too* Very well, 0 thou.ht* !et it be for now* Tomorrow mornin., downstairs in the dayli.ht, 0 shall know for certain which one of you it was* 0 shall know by the .low on the face, by the way the eyes look back into mine, and by a hundred other little telltale si.ns* 0 shall also know by the marks that my teeth have made on the left side of the neck, above the dress line* rather wily move, that one, 0 thou.ht, and so -erfectly timed--my vicious bite was administered durin. the hei.ht of her -assion--that she never for one moment reali,ed the si.nificance of the act* 0t was alto.ether a most memorable ni.ht, and at least four hours must have .one by before she .ave me a final fierce embrace, and sli--ed out of the room as ;uickly as she had come in* The ne7t mornin. 0 did not awaken until after ten o'clock* 0 .ot out of bed and drew o-en the curtains* 0t was another brilliant, hot, desert day* 0 took a leisurely bath, then dressed myself as carefully as ever* 0 felt rela7ed and chi--er* 0t made me very ha--y to think that 0 could still summon a woman to my room with my eyes alone, even in middle a.e* nd what a womanF 0t would be fascinatin. to find out which one of them she was* 0 would soon know* 0 made my way slowly down the two fli.hts of stairs* A:ood mornin., my dear fellow, .ood mornin.FA 2r ,i, said, risin. from a small desk he had been writin. at in the livin.-room* ADid you have a .ood ni.htBA A"7cellent, thank you,A 0 answered, tryin. not to sound smu.* %e came and stood close to me, smilin. with his very white teeth* %is shrewd little eyes rested on my face and moved over it slowly, as thou.h searchin. for somethin.* A0 have .ood news for you,A he said* AThey called u- from 6'ir Rawd Salim five minutes a.o, and said your fan-belt had arrived by the mailtruck* Saleh is fittin. it on now* 0t'll be ready in an hour* So when you've had some breakfast, 0'll drive you over and you can be on your way*A 0 told him how .rateful 0 was* A+e'll be sorry to see you .o,A he said* A0t's been an immense -leasure for all of us havin. you dro- in like this, an immense -leasure*A 0 had my breakfast alone in the dinin.-room* fterwards, 0 returned to the livin.-room to smoke a ci.arette while my host continued writin. at his desk* ADo for.ive me,A he said* A0 9ust have a cou-le of thin.s to finish here* 0 won't be lon.* 0've arran.ed for your case to be -acked and -ut in the car, so you have nothin. to worry about* Sit down and en9oy your ci.arette* The ladies ou.ht to be down any minute now*A The wife arrived first* She came sailin. into the room lookin. more than ever like the da,,lin. Iueen Semiramis of the 'ile, and the first thin. 0 noticed about her was the -ale-.reen chiffon scarf knotted casually around her neckF Casually but carefullyF So carefully that no -an of the skin of the neck was visible* The woman went strai.ht over to her husband and kissed him on the cheek* A:ood mornin., my darlin.,A she said* >ou cunnin. beautiful bitch, 0 thou.ht* A:ood mornin., 2r Cornelius,A she said .aily, comin. over to sit in the chair o--osite mine* ADid you have a .ood ni.htB 0 do ho-e you had everythin. you

wanted*A 'ever in my life have 0 seen such a s-arkle in a woman's eyes as 0 saw in hers that mornin., nor such a .low of -leasure in a woman's face* A0 had a very .ood ni.ht indeed, thank you,A 0 answered, showin. her that 0 knew* She smiled and lit a ci.arette* 0 .lanced over at 2r ,i,, who was still writin. away busily at the desk with his back to us* %e wasn't -ayin. the sli.htest attention to his wife or to me* %e was, 0 thou.ht, e7actly like all the other -oor cuckolds that 0 ever created* 'ot one of them would believe that it could ha--en to him, not ri.ht under his own nose* A:ood mornin., everybodyFA cried the dau.hter, swee-in. into the room* A:ood mornin., daddyF :ood mornin., mummyFA She .ave them each a kiss* A:ood mornin., 2r CorneliusFA She was wearin. a -air of -ink slacks and a rust-coloured blouse, and 0'll be damned if she didn't also have a scarf tied carelessly but carefully around her neckF chiffon scarfF ADid you have a decent ni.htBA she asked, -erchin. herself like a youn. bride on the arm of my chair, arran.in. herself in such a way that one of her thi.hs rested a.ainst my forearm* 0 leaned back and looked at her closely* She looked back at me and winked* She actually winkedF %er face was .lowin. and s-arklin. every bit as much as her mother's, and if anythin., she seemed even more -leased with herself than the older woman* 0 felt -retty confused* #nly one of them had a bite mark to conceal, yet both of them had covered their necks with scarves* 0 conceded that this mi.ht be a coincidence, but on the face of it, it looked much more like a cons-iracy to me* 0t looked as thou.h they were both workin. closely to.ether to kee- me from discoverin. the truth* 6ut what an e7traordinary screwy businessF nd what was the -ur-ose of it allB nd in what other -eculiar ways, mi.ht 0 ask, did they -lot and -lan to.ether amon. themselvesB %ad they drawn lots or somethin. the ni.ht beforeB #r did they sim-ly take it in turns with visitorsB 0 must come back a.ain, 0 told myself, for another visit as soon as -ossible 9ust to see what ha--ens the ne7t time* 0n fact, 0 mi.ht motor down s-ecially from Gerusalem in a day or two* 0t would be easy, 0 reckoned, to .et myself invited a.ain* A re you ready, 2r CorneliusBA 2r ,i, said, risin. from his desk* AIuite ready,A 0 answered* The ladies, sleek and smilin., led the way outside to where the bi. .reen Rolls-Royce was waitin.* 0 kissed their hands and murmured a million thanks to each of them* Then 0 .ot into the front seat beside my host, and we drove off* The mother and dau.hter waved* 0 lowered my window and waved* Then we were out of the .arden and into the desert, followin. the stony yellow track as it skirted the base of 2ount 2a.hara, with the tele.ra-h -oles marchin. alon. beside us* Durin. the 9ourney, my host and 0 conversed -leasantly about this and that* 0 was at -ains to be as a.reeable as -ossible because my one ob9ect now was to .et myself invited to stay at the house a.ain* 0f 0 didn't succeed in .ettin. him to ask me, then 0 should have to ask him* 0 would do it at the last moment* A:oodbye, my dear friend,A 0 would say, .ri--in. him warmly by the throat* A2ay 0 have the -leasure of dro--in. in to see you a.ain if 0 ha--en to be -assin. this wayBA nd of course he would say yes* ADid you think 0 e7a..erated when 0 told you my dau.hter was beautifulBA he asked me* A>ou understated it,A 0 said* AShe's a ravin. beauty* 0 do con.ratulate you* 6ut your wife is no less lovely* 0n fact, between the two of them they almost swe-t me off my feet,A 0 added, lau.hin.* A0 noticed that,A he said, lau.hin. with me* AThey're a cou-le of very nau.hty .irls* They do so love to flirt with other men* 6ut why should 0 mind* There's no harm in flirtin.*A A'one whatsoever,A 0 said* A0 think it's .ay and fun*A A0t's charmin.,A 0 said*

0n less than half an hour we had reached the main 0smailia-Gerusalem road* 2r ,i, turned the Rolls on to the black tarmac stri- and headed for the fillin.station at seventy miles an hour* 0n a few minutes we would be there* So now 0 tried movin. a little closer to the sub9ect of another visit, fishin. .ently for an invitation* A0 can't .et over your house,A 0 said* A0 think it's sim-ly wonderful*A A0t is nice, isn't itBA A0 su--ose you're bound to .et -retty lonely out there, on and off, 9ust the three of you to.etherBA A0t's no worse than anywhere else,A he said* A)eo-le .et lonely wherever they are* desert, or a city it doesn't make much difference, really* 6ut we do have visitors, you know* >ou'd be sur-rised at the number of -eo-le who dro- in from time to time* !ike you, for instance* 0t was a .reat -leasure havin. you with us, my dear fellow*A A0 shall never for.et it,A 0 said* A0t is a rare thin. to find kindness and hos-itality of that order nowadays*A 0 waited for him to tell me that 0 must come a.ain, but he didn't* little silence s-ran. u- between us, a sli.htly uneasy little silence* To brid.e it, 0 said, A0 think yours is the most thou.htful -aternal .esture 0've ever heard of in my life*A A2ineBA A>es* 6uildin. a house ri.ht out there in the back of beyond and livin. in it 9ust for your dau.hter's sake, to -rotect her* 0 think it's remarkable*A 0 saw him smile, but he ke-t his eyes on the road and said nothin.* The fillin.-station and the .rou- of huts were now in si.ht about a mile ahead of us* The sun was hi.h and it was .ettin. hot inside the car* A'ot many fathers would -ut themselves out to that e7tent,A 0 went on* .ain he smiled, but somewhat bashfully, this time, 0 thou.ht* nd then he said, A0 don't deserve ;uite as much credit as you like to .ive me, really 0 don't* To be absolutely honest with you, that -retty dau.hter of mine isn't the only reason for my livin. in such s-lendid isolation*A A0 know that*A A>ou doBA A>ou told me* >ou said the other reason was the desert* >ou loved it, you said, as a sailor loves the sea*A ASo 0 did* nd it's ;uite true* 6ut there's still a third reason*A A#h, and what is thatBA %e didn't answer me* %e sat ;uite still with his hands on the wheel and his eyes fi7ed on the road ahead* A0'm sorry,A 0 said* A0 shouldn't have asked the ;uestion* 0t's none of my business*A A'o, no, that's ;uite all ri.ht,A he said* ADon't a-olo.i,e*A 0 stared out of the window at the desert* A0 think it's hotter than yesterday,A 0 said* A0t must be well over a hundred already*A A>es*A 0 saw him shiftin. a little in his seat, as thou.h tryin. to .et comfortable, and then he said, A0 don't really see why 0 shouldn't tell you the truth about that house* >ou don't strike me as bein. a .ossi-*A ACertainly not,A 0 said* +e were close to the fillin.-station now, and he had slowed the car down almost to walkin.s-eed to .ive himself time to say what he had to say* 0 could see the two rabs standin. beside my !a.onda, watchin. us* AThat dau.hter,A he said at len.th, Athe one you met--she isn't the only dau.hter 0 have*A A#h, reallyBA A0've .ot another who is five years older than she*A A nd 9ust as beautiful, no doubt,A 0 said* A+here does she liveB 0n 6eirutBA A'o, she's in the house*A

A0n which houseB 'ot the one we've 9ust leftBA A>es*A A6ut 0 never saw herFA A+ell,A he said, turnin. suddenly to watch my face, Amaybe not*A A6ut whyBA AShe has le-rosy*A 0 9um-ed* A>es, 0 know,A he said, Ait's a terrible thin.* She has the worst kind, too, -oor .irl* 0t's called anaesthetic le-rosy* 0t is hi.hly resistant, and almost im-ossible to cure* 0f only it were the nodular variety, it would be much easier* 6ut it isn't, and there you are* So when a visitor comes to the house, she kee-s to her own a-artment, on the third floor*** The car must have -ulled into the fillin.station about then because the ne7t thin. 0 can remember was seein. 2r bdul ,i, sittin. there lookin. at me with those small clever black eyes of his, and he was sayin., A6ut my dear fellow, you mustn't alarm yourself like this* Calm yourself down, 2r Cornelius, calm yourself downF There's absolutely nothin. in the world for you to worry about* 0t is not a very conta.ious disease* >ou have to have the most intimate contact with the -erson in order to catch it* 0 .ot out of the car very slowly and stood in the sunshine* The rab with the diseased face was .rinnin. at me and sayin., A$an-belt all fi7ed now* "verythin. fine*A 0 reached into my -ocket for ci.arettes, but my hand was shakin. so violently 0 dro--ed the -acket on the .round* 0 bent down and retrieved it* Then 0 .ot a ci.arette out and mana.ed to li.ht it* +hen 0 looked u- a.ain, 0 saw the .reen Rolls-Royce already half a mile down the road, and .oin. away fast*

The :reat Switcheroo

T%"R" were about forty -eo-le at Gerry and Samantha's cocktail--arty that evenin.* 0t was the usual crowd, the usual discomfort, the usual a--allin. noise* )eo-le had to stand very close to one another and shout to make themselves heard* 2any were .rinnin., showin. ca--ed white teeth* 2ost of them had a ci.arette in the left hand, a drink in the ri.ht* 0 moved away from my wife 2ary and her .rou-* 0 headed for the small bar in the far corner, and when 0 .ot there, 0 sat down on a barstool and faced the room* 0 did this so that 0 could look at the women* 0 settled back with my shoulders a.ainst the bar-rail, si--in. my Scotch and e7aminin. the women one by one over the rim of my .lass* 0 was studyin. not their fi.ures but their faces, and what interested me there was not so much the face itself but the bi. red mouth in the middle of it all* nd even then, it wasn't the whole mouth but only the lower li-* The lower li-, 0 had recently decided, was the .reat revealer* 0t .ave away more than the eyes* The eyes hid their secrets* The lower li- hid very little* Take, for e7am-le, the lower li- of Gacinth +inkleman, who was standin. nearest to me* 'otice the wrinkles on that li-, how some were -arallel and some radiated outward* 'o two -eo-le had the same -attern of li--wrinkles, and come to think of it, you could catch a criminal that way if you had his li---rint on file and he had taken a drink at the scene of the crime* The lower li- is what you suck and nibble when you're ruffled, and 2artha Sullivan was doin. that ri.ht now as she watched from a distance her fatuous husband slobberin. over Gudy 2artinson* >ou lick it when lecherous* 0 could see :inny !oma7 lickin. hers with the ti- of her ton.ue as she stood beside Ted Dorlin. and .a,ed u- into his face* 0t was a deliberate lick, the ton.ue comin. out slowly and makin. a slow wet wi-e alon. the entire len.th of the lower li-* 0 saw Ted Dorlin. lookin. at :inny's ton.ue, which was what she wanted

him to do* 0t really does seem to be a fact, 0 told myself, as my eyes wandered from lower li- to lower li- across the room, that all the less attractive traits of the human animal, arro.ance, ra-acity, .luttony, lasciviousness, and the rest of them, are clearly si.nalled in that little cara-ace of scarlet skin* 6ut you have to know the code* The -rotuberant or bul.in. lower li- is su--osed to si.nify sensuality* 6ut this is only half true in men and wholly untrue in women* 0n women, it is the thin line you should look for, the narrow blade with the shar-ly delineated bottom ed.e* nd in the nym-homaniac there is a tiny 9ust visible crest of skin at the to- centre of the lower li-* Samantha, my hostess, had that* +here was she now, SamanthaB h, there she was, takin. an em-ty .lass out of a .uest's hand* 'ow she was headin. my way to refill it* A%ello, Vic,A she saidH A>ou all aloneBA She's a nym-ho-bird all ri.ht, 0 told myself* 6ut a very rare e7am-le of the s-ecies, because she is entirely and utterly mono.amous* She is a married mono.amous nym-ho-bird who stays for ever in her own nest* She is also the fruitiest female 0 have ever set eyes u-on in my whole life* A!et me hel- you,A 0 said, standin. u- and takin. the .lass from her hand* A+hat's wanted in hereBA AVodka on the rocks,A she said* AThanks, Vic*A She laid a lovely lon. white arm u-on the to- of the bar and she leaned forward so that her bosom rested on the bar-rail, s;uashin. u-ward* A#o-s,A 0 said, -ourin. vodka outside the .lass* Samantha looked at me with hu.e brown eyes, but said nothin.* A0'll wi-e it u-,A 0 said* She took the refilled .lass from me and walked away* 0 watched her .o* She was wearin. black -ants* They were so ti.ht around the buttocks that the smallest mole or -im-le would have shown throu.h the cloth* 6ut Samantha Rainbow had not a blemish on her bottom* 0 cau.ht myself lickin. my own lower li-* That's ri.ht, 0 thou.ht* 0 want her* 0 lust after that woman* 6ut it's too risky to try* 0t would be suicide to make a -ass at a .irl like that* $irst of all, she lives ne7t door, which is too close* Secondly, as 0 have already said, she is mono.amous* Thirdly, she is thick as a thief with 2ary, my own wife* They e7chan.e dark female secrets* $ourthly, her husband Gerry is my very old and .ood friend, and not even 0, Victor %ammond, thou.h 0 am churnin. with lust, would dream of tryin. to seduce the wife of a man who is my very old and trusty friend* &nless*** 0t was at this -oint, as 0 sat on the barstool letchin. over Samantha Rainbow, that an interestin. idea be.an to filter ;uietly into the centre of my brain* 0 remained still, allowin. the idea to e7-and* 0 watched Samantha across the room, and be.an fittin. her into the framework of the idea* #h, Samantha, my .or.eous and 9uicy little 9ewel, 0 shall have you yet* 6ut could anybody seriously ho-e to .et away with a cra,y lark like thatB 'o, not in a million ni.hts* #ne couldn't even try it unless Gerry a.reed* So why think about itB Samantha was standin. about si7 yards away, talkin. to :ilbert 2ackesy* The fin.ers of her ri.ht hand were curled around a tall .lass* The fin.ers were lon. and almost certainly de7terous* ssumin., 9ust for the fun of it, that Gerry did a.ree, then even so, there would still be .i.antic sna.s alon. the way* There was, for e7am-le, the little matter of -hysical characteristics* 0 had seen Gerry many times at the club havin. a shower after tennis, but ri.ht now 0 couldn't for the life of me recall the necessary details* 0t wasn't the sort of thin. one noticed very much* &sually, one didn't even look* nyway, it would be madness to -ut the su..estion to Gerry -ointblank* 0 didn't know him that well* %e mi.ht be horrified* %e mi.ht even turn nasty* There could be an u.ly scene* 0 must test him out, therefore, in some subtle fashion*

A>ou know somethin.,A 0 said to Gerry about an hour later when we were sittin. to.ether on the sofa havin. a last drink* The .uests were driftin. away and Samantha was by the door sayin. .oodbye to them* 2y own wife 2ary was out on the terrace talkin. to 6ob Swain* 0 could see throu.h the o-en french windows* A>ou know somethin. funnyBA 0 said to Gerry as we sat to.ether on the sofa* A+hat's funnyBA Gerry asked me* A fellow 0 had lunch with today told me a fantastic story* Iuite unbelievable*A A+hat storyBA Gerry said* The whisky had be.un to make him slee-y* AThis man, the one 0 had lunch with, had a terrific letch after the wife of his friend who lived nearby* nd his friend had an e;ually bi. letch after the wife of the man 0 had lunch with* Do you see what 0 meanBA A>ou mean two fellers who lived close to each other both fancied each other's wives*A A)recisely,A 0 said* AThen there was no -roblem,A Gerry said* AThere was a very bi. -roblem,A 0 said* AThe wives were both very faithful and honourable women*A ASamantha's the same,A Gerry said* AShe wouldn't look at another man*A A'or would 2ary,A 0 said* AShe's a fine .irl*A Gerry em-tied his .lass and set it down carefully on the sofa-table* ASo what ha--ened in your storyBA he said* A0t sounds dirty*A A+hat ha--ened,A 0 said, Awas that these two randy sods cooked u- a -lan which made it -ossible for each of them to ravish the other's wife without the wives ever knowin. it* 0f you can believe such a thin.*A A+ith chloroformBA Gerry said* A'ot at all* They were fully conscious*A A0m-ossible,A Gerry said* ASomeone's been -ullin. your le.*A A0 don't think so,A 0 said* A$rom the way this man told it to me, with all the details and everythin., 0 don't think he was makin. it u-* 0n fact, 0'm sure he wasn't* nd listen, they didn't do it 9ust once, either* They've been doin. it every two or three weeks for monthsFA A nd the wives don't knowBA AThey haven't a clue*A A0've .ot to hear this,A Gerry said* A!et's .et another drink first*A +e crossed to the bar and refilled our .lasses, then returned to the sofa* A>ou must remember,A 0 said, Athat there had to be a tremendous lot of -re-aration and rehearsal beforehand* nd many intimate details had to be e7chan.ed to .ive the -lan a chance of workin.* 6ut the essential -art of the scheme was sim-leH AThey fi7ed a ni.ht, call it Saturday* #n that ni.ht the husbands and wives were to .o u- to bed as usual, at say eleven or eleven thirty* A$rom then on, normal routine would be -reserved* little readin., -erha-s, a little talkin. then out with the li.hts* A fter li.hts out, the husbands would at once roll over and -retend to .o to slee-* This was to discoura.e their wives from .ettin. fresh, which at this sta.e must on no account be -ermitted* So the wives went to slee-* 6ut the husbands stayed awake* So far so .ood* AThen at -recisely one a* m*, by which time the wives would be in a .ood dee- slee-, each husband would sli- ;uietly out of bed, -ut on a -air of bedroom sli--ers and cree- downstairs in his -y9amas* %e would o-en the front door and .o out into the ni.ht, takin. care not to close the door behind him* AThey lived,A 0 went on, Amore or less across the street from one another* 0t was a ;uiet suburban nei.hbourhood and there was seldom anyone about at that hour* So these two furtive -y9ama-clad fi.ures would -ass each other as they crossed the street, each one headin. for another house, another bed, another woman*A Gerry was listenin. to me carefully* %is eyes were a little .la,ed from drink, but he was listenin. to every word*

AThe ne7t -an,A 0 said, Ahad been -re-ared very thorou.hly by both men* "ach knew the inside of his friend's house almost as well as he knew his own* %e knew how to find his way in the dark downstairs and u- without knockin. over the furniture* %e knew his way to the stairs and e7actly how many ste-s there were to the to- and which of them creaked and which didn't* %e knew on which side of the bed the woman u-stairs was slee-in.* A"ach took off his sli--ers and left them in the hall, then u- the stairs he cre-t in his bare feet and -y9amas* This -art of it, accordin. to my friend, was rather e7citin.* %e was in a dark silent house that wasn't his own, and on his way to the main bedroom he had to -ass no less than three children's bedrooms where the doors were always left sli.htly o-en*A AChildrenFA Gerry cried* A2y :od, what if one of them had woken u- and said, ADaddy, is that youBA AThat was all taken care of,A 0 said* A"mer.ency -rocedure would then come into effect immediately* lso if the wife, 9ust as he was cree-in. into her room, woke u- and said, ADarlin., what's wron.B +hy are you wanderin. aboutB'E then a.ain, emer.ency -rocedure*A A+hat emer.ency -rocedureBA Gerry said* ASim-le,A 0 answered* AThe man would immediately dash downstairs and out the front door and across to his own house and rin. the bell* This was a si.nal for the other character, no matter what he was doin. at the time, also to rush downstairs at full s-eed and o-en the door and let the other fellow in while he went out* This would .et them both back ;uickly to their -ro-er houses*A A+ith e.. all over their faces,A Gerry said* A'ot at all,A 0 said* AThat doorbell would have woken the whole house,A Gerry said* A#f course,A 0 said* A nd the husband, returnin. u-stairs in his -y9amas, would merely say, A0 went to see who the hell was rin.in. the bell at this un.odly hour* Couldn't find anyone* 0t must have been a drunk*A A+hat about the other .uyBA Gerry asked* A%ow does he e7-lain why he rushed downstairs when his wife or child s-oke to himBA A%e would say, A0 heard someone -rowlin. about outside, so 0 rushed down to .et him, but he esca-ed*' ADid you actually see himB' his wife would ask an7iously* A#f course 0 saw him,' the husband would answer* A%e ran off down the street* %e was too damn fast for me*' +hereu-on the husband would be warmly con.ratulated for his bravery*A A#kay,A Gerry said* AThat's the easy -art* "verythin. so far is 9ust a matter of .ood -lannin. and .ood timin.* 6ut what ha--ens when these two horny characters actually climb into bed with each other's wivesBA AThey .o ri.ht to it,A 0 said* AThe wives are slee-in.,A Gerry said* A0 know,A 0 said* ASo they -roceed immediately with some very .entle but very skilful love-lay, and by the time these dames are fully awake, they're as randy as rattlesnakes*A A'o talkin., 0 -resume,A Gerry said* A'ot a word*A A#kay, so the wives are awake,A Gerry said* A nd their hands .et to work* So 9ust for a start, what about the sim-le ;uestion of body si,eB +hat about the difference between the new man and the husbandB +hat about tallness and shortness and fatness and thinnessB >ou're not tellin. me these men were -hysically identicalBA A'ot identical, obviously,A 0 said* A6ut they were more or less similar in build and hei.ht* That was essential* They were both cleanshaven and had rou.hly the same amount of hair on their heads* That sort of similarity is common-lace* !ook at you and me, for instance* +e're rou.hly the same hei.ht and build, aren't weBA A re weBA Gerry said* A%ow tall are youBA 0 said*

ASi7 foot e7actly*A A0'm five eleven,A 0 said* A#ne inch difference* +hat do you wei.hBA A#ne hundred and ei.hty-seven*A A0'm a hundred and ei.hty-four,A 0 said* A+hat's three -ounds amon. friendsBA There was a -ause, Gerry was lookin. out throu.h the french windows on to the terrace where my wife, 2ary, was standin.* 2ary was still talkin. to 6ob Swain and the evenin. sun was shinin. in her hair* She was a dark -retty .irl, with a bosom* 0 watched Gerry* 0 saw his ton.ue come out and .o slidin. alon. the surface of his lower li-* A0 .uess you're ri.ht,A Gerry said, still lookin. at 2ary* A0 .uess we are about the same si,e you and me*A +hen he turned back and faced me a.ain, there was a little red rose hi.h u- on each cheek* A:o on about these two men,A he said* A+hat about some of the other differencesBA A>ou mean facesBA 0 said* A'o one's .oin to see faces in the dark*A A0'm not talkin. about faces,A Gerry said* A+hat are you talkin. about, thenBA A0'm talkin. about their cocks,A Gerry said AThat's what it's all about isn't itB nd you'n not .oin. to tell me A#h, yes, 0 am,A 0 said* AGust so lon. as both the men were either circumcised or uncircumcised, then there was really no -roblem*A A re you seriously su..estin. that all men have the same si,e in cocksBA Gerry said* A6ecause they don't*A A0 know they don't,A 0 said* ASome are enormous,A Gerry said* A nd some are titchy*A AThere are always e7ce-tions,A 0 told him* A6ut you'd be sur-rised at the number of men whose measurements are virtually the same, .ive or take a centimetre* ccordin. to my friend, ninety -er cent are normal* #nly ten -er cent are notably lar.e or small*A A0 don't believe that,A Gerry said* ACheck on it sometime,A 0 said* A sk some well-travelled .irl*A Gerry took a lon. slow si- of his whisky, and his eyes over the to- of his .lass were lookin. a.ain at 2ary on the terrace* A+hat about the rest of itBA he said* A'o -roblem,A 0 said* A'o -roblem, my arse,A he said* AShall 0 tell you why this is a -hony storyBA A:o ahead*A A"verybody knows that a wife and husband who have been married for some years develo- a kind of routine* 0t's inevitable* 2y :od, a new o-erator would be s-otted instantly* >ou know damn well he would* >ou can't suddenly wade in with a totally different style and e7-ect the woman not to notice it, and 0 don't care how randy she was* She'd smell a rat in the first minuteFA A routine can be du-licated,A 0 said* AGust so lon. as every detail of that routine is described beforehand*A A bit -ersonal, that,A Gerry said* AThe whole thin.'s -ersonal,A 0 said* ASo each man tells his story* %e tells -recisely what he usually does* %e tells everythin.* The lot* The works* The whole routine from be.innin. to end*A AGesus,A Gerry said* "ach of these men,A 0 said, Ahad to learn a new -art* %e had in effect, to become an actor* %e was im-ersonatin. another character*A A'ot so easy, that,A Gerry said* A'o -roblem at all, accordin. to my friend* The only thin. one had to watch out for was not to .et carried away and start im-rovisin.* #ne had to follow the sta.e directions very carefully and stick to them*A Gerry took another -ull at his drink* %e also took another look at 2ary on the terrace* Then he leaned back a.ainst the sofa, .lass in hand*

AThese two characters,A he said* A>ou mean they actually -ulled it offBA A0'm damn sure they did,A 0 said* AThey're still doin. it* bout once every three weeks*A A$antastic storyA Gerry said* A nd a damn cra,y dan.erous thin. to do* Gust ima.ine the sort of hell that would break loose if you were cau.ht* 0nstant divorce* Two divorces, in fact* #ne on each side of the street* 'ot worth it*A ATakes a lot of .uts,A 0 said* AThe -arty's breakin. u-,A Gerry said* AThey're all .oin. home with their .oddam wives*A 0 didn't say any more after that* +e sat there for a cou-le of minutes si--in. our drinks while the .uests be.an driftin. towards the hall* ADid he say it was fun, this friend of yoursBA Gerry asked suddenly* A%e said it was a .as,A 0 answered* A%e said all the normal -leasures .ot intensified one hundred -er cent because of the risk* %e swore it was the .reatest way of doin. it in the world, im-ersonatin. the husband and the wife not knowin. it*A t that -oint, 2ary came in throu.h the french windows with 6ob Swain* She had an em-ty .lass in one hand and a flame-coloured a,alea in the other* She had -icked the a,alea on the terrace* A0've been watchin. you,A she said, -ointin. the flower at me like a -istol* A>ou've hardly sto--ed talkin. for the last ten minutes* +hat's he been tellin. you, GerryBA A dirty story,A Gerry said, .rinnin.* A%e does that when he drinks,A 2ary said* A:ood story,A Gerry said* A6ut totally im-ossible* :et him* to tell it to you sometime*A A0 don't like dirty stories,A 2ary said* ACome alon., Vic* 0t's time we went*A ADon't .o yet,A Gerry said, fi7in. his eyes u-on her s-lendid bosom, A%ave another drink*A A'o thanks,A she said* AThe children'll be screamin. for their su--er* 0've had a lovely time*A A ren't you .oin. to kiss me .ood ni.htBA Gerry said, .ettin. u- from the sofa* %e went for her mouth, but she turned her head ;uickly and he cau.ht only the ed.e of her cheek* A:o away, Gerry,A she said* A>ou're drunk*A A'ot drunk,A Gerry said* AGust lecherous*A ADon't you .et lecherous with me, my boy,A 2ary said shar-ly* A0 hate that sort of talk*A She marched away across the room, carryin. her bosom before her like a batterin.-ram* ASo lon., Gerry,A 0 said* A$ine -arty*A 2ary, full of dark looks, was waitin. for me in the hall* Samantha was there, too, sayin. .oodbye to the last .uests--Samantha with her de7terous fin.ers and her smooth skin and her smooth, dan.erous thi.hs* ACheer u-, Vic,A she said to me, her white teeth showin.* She looked like the creation, the be.innin. of the world, the first mornin.* A:ood ni.ht, Vic darlin.,A she said, stirrin. her fin.ers in my vitals* 0 followed 2ary out of the house* A>ou feelin. all ri.htBA she asked* A>es,A 0 said* A+hy notBA AThe amount you drink is enou.h to make anyone feel ill,A she said* There was a scrubby old hed.e dividin. our -lace from Gerry's and there was a .a- in it we always used* 2ary and 0 walked throu.h the .a- in silence* +e went into the house and she cooked u- a bi. -ile of scrambled e..s and bacon, and we ate it with the children* fter the meal, 0 wandered outside* The summer evenin. was clear and cool and because 0 had nothin. else to do 0 decided to mow the .rass in the front .arden* 0 .ot the mower out of the shed and started it u-* Then 0 be.an the old routine of marchin. back and forth behind t* 0 like mowin. .rass* 0t is a soothin.

o-eration, and on our front lawn 0 could always look at Samantha's house .oin. one way and think about her .oin. the other* 0 had been at it for about ten minutes when Gerry came strollin. throu.h the .a- in the hed.e* %e was smokin. a -i-e and had his hands in his -ockets and he stood on the ed.e of the .rass, watchin. me* 0 -ulled u- in front of him, but left the motor tickin. over* A%i, s-ort,A he said* A%ow's everythin.BA A0'm in the do.house,A 0 said* ASo are you*A A>our little wife,A he said, Ais 9ust too .oddam -rissy to be true*A A#h, 0 know that*A AShe rebuked me in my own house,A Gerry said* A'ot very much*A A0t was enou.h,A he said, smilin. sli.htly* A"nou.h for whatBA A"nou.h to make me want to .et a little bit of my own back on her* So what would you think if 0 su..ested you and 0 have a .o at that thin. your friend told you about at lunchBA +hen he said this, 0 felt such a sur.e of e7citement my stomach nearly 9um-ed out of my mouth* 0 .ri--ed the handles of the mower and started revvin. the en.ine* A%ave 0 said the wron. thin.BA Gerry asked* 0 didn't answer* A!isten,A he said* A0f you think it's a lousy idea, let's 9ust for.et 0 ever mentioned it* >ou're not mad at me, are youBA A0'm not mad at you, Gerry,A 0 said* A0t's 9ust that it never entered my head that we should do it*A A0t entered mine,A he said* AThe set-u- is -erfect* +e wouldn't even have to cross the street*A %is face had .one suddenly bri.ht and his eyes were shinin. like two stars* ASo what do you say, VicBA A0'm thinkin.,A 0 said* A2aybe you don't fancy Samantha*A A0 don't honestly know,A 0 said* AShe's lots of fun,A Gerry said* A0 .uarantee that*A t this -oint 0 saw 2ary come out on to the front -orch* AThere's 2ary,A 0 said* AShe's lookin. for the children* +e'll talk some more tomorrow*A AThen it's a dealBA A0t could be, Gerry* 6ut only on condition we don't rush it* 0 want to be dead sure everythin. is ri.ht before we start* Damn it all, this is a whole brandnew can of beansFA A'o, it's notFA he said* A>our friend said it was a .as* %e said it was easy*A A h, yes,A 0 said, A2y friend* #f course* 6ut each case is different*A 0 o-ened the throttle on the mower and went whinin. away across the lawn* +hen 0 .ot to the far side and turned around, Gerry was already throu.h the .a- in the hed.e and walkin. u- to his front door* The ne7t cou-le of weeks was a -eriod of hi.h cons-iracy for Gerry and me* +e held secret meetin.s in bars and restaurants to discuss strate.y, and sometimes he dro--ed into my office after work and we had a -lannin. session behind the closed door* +henever a doubtful -oint arose, Gerry would always say, A%ow did your friend do itBA nd 0 would -lay for time and say, A0'll call him u- and ask him about that one*A fter many conferences and much talk, we a.reed u-on the followin. main -ointsH 1* That D Day should be a Saturday* 8* That on D Day evenin. we should take our wives out to a .ood dinner, the four of us to.ether* 1* That Gerry and 0 should leave our houses and cross over throu.h the .ain the hed.e at -recisely one a*m* Sunday mornin.* ?* That instead of lyin. in bed in the dark until one a*m* came alon., we

should both, as soon as our wives were aslee-, .o ;uietly downstairs to the kitchen and drink coffee* 4* That we should use the front doorbell idea if an emer.ency arose* 5* That the return cross-over time was fi7ed for two a*m* 3* That while in the wron. bed, ;uestions Cif anyD from the woman must be answered by an A&h-uh' sounded with the li-s closed ti.ht* =* That 0 myself must immediately .ive u- ci.arettes and take to a -i-e so that 0 would Asmell' the same as Gerry* @* That we should at once start usin. the same brand of hair oil and aftershave lotion* 1<* That as both of us normally wore our wrist-watches in bed, and they were much the same sha-e, it was decided not to e7chan.e* 'either of us wore rin.s* 11* That each man must have somethin. unusual about him that the woman would identify -ositively with her own husband* +e therefore invented what became known as AThe Stickin. )laster )loy'* 0t worked like thisH on D Day evenin., when the cou-les arrived back in their own homes immediately after the dinner, each husband would make a -oint of .oin. to the kitchen to cut himself a -iece of cheese* t the same time, he would carefully stick a lar.e -iece of -laster over the ti- of the forefin.er of his ri.ht hand* %avin. done this, he would hold u- the fin.er and say to his wife, A0 cut myself* 0t's nothin., but it was bleedin. a bit*' Thus, later on, when the men have switched beds, each woman will be made very much aware of the -laster-covered fin.er Cthe man would see to thatD, and will associate it directly with her own husband* n im-ortant -sycholo.ical -loy, this, calculated to dissi-ate any tiny sus-icion that mi.ht enter the mind of either female* So much for the basic -lans* 'e7t came what we referred to in our notes as A$amiliari,ation with the !ayout'* Gerry schooled me first* %e .ave me three hours' trainin. in his own house one Sunday afternoon when his wife and children were out* 0 had never been into their bedroom before* #n the dressin. table were Samantha's -erfumes, her brushes, and all her other thin.s* -air of stockin.s was dra-ed over the back of a chair* %er ni.htdress, white and blue, was han.in. behind the door leadin. to the bathroom* A#kay,A Gerry said* A0t'll be -itch dark when you come in* Samantha slee-s on this side, so you must ti-toe around the end of the bed and slide in on the other side, over there* 0'm .oin. to blindfold you and let you -ractise*A t first with the blindfold on, 0 wandered all over the room like a drunk* 6ut after about an hour's work, 0 was able to ne.otiate the course -retty well* 6ut before Gerry would finally -ass me out, 0 had to .o blindfold all the way from the front door throu.h the hall, u- the stairs, -ast the children's rooms, into Samantha's room and finish u- in e7actly the ri.ht -lace* nd 0 had to do it silently, like a thief* ll this took three hours of hard work, but 0 .ot it in the end* The followin. Sunday mornin. when 2ary had taken our children to church, 0 was able to .ive Gerry the same sort of work-out in my house* %e learned the ro-es faster than me, and within an hour he had -assed the blindfold test without -lacin. a foot wron.* 0t was durin. this session that we decided to disconnect each woman's bedside lam- as we entered the bedroom* So Gerry -ractised findin. the -lu. and -ullin. it out with his blindfold on, and the followin. week-end, 0 was able to do the same in Gerry's house* 'ow came by far the most im-ortant -art of our trainin.* +e called it AS-illin. the 6eans', and it was here that both of us had to describe in every detail the -rocedure we ado-ted when makin. love to our own wives* +e a.reed not to worry ourselves with any e7otic variations that either of us mi.ht or mi.ht not occasionally -ractise* +e were concerned only with teachin. one another the most commonly used routine, the one least likely to arouse sus-icion* The session took -lace in my office at si7 o'clock on a +ednesday evenin. after the staff had .one home* t first, we were both sli.htly embarrassed, and

neither of us wanted to be.in* So 0 .ot out the bottle of whisky, and after a cou-le of stiff drinks, we loosened u- and the teach-in started* A+hile Gerry talked 0 took notes, and vice versa* t the end of it all, it turned out that the only real difference between Gerry's routine and my own was one of tem-o* 6ut what a difference it wasF %e took thin.s Cif what he said was to be believedD in such a leisurely fashion and he -rolon.ed the moments to such an e7trava.ant de.ree that 0 wondered -rivately to myself whether his -artner did not sometimes .o to sleein the middle of it all* 2y 9ob, however, was not to critici,e but to co-y and 0 said nothin.* Gerry was not so discreet* t the end of my -ersonal descri-tion he had the temerity to say, A0s that really what you doBA A+hat do you meanBA 0 asked* A0 mean is it all over and done with as ;uickly as thatBA A!ook,A 0 said* A+e aren't here to .ive each other lessons* +e're here to learn the facts*A A0 know that,A he said* A6ut 0'm .oin. to feel a bit of an ass if 0 co-y your style e7actly* 2y :od, you .o throu.h it like an e7-ress train whi,,in. throu.h a country stationFA 0 stared at him, mouth o-en* ADon't look so sur-rised,A he said* AThe way you told it to me, anyone would think* AThink whatBA 0 said* A#h, for.et it,A he said* AThank you,A 0 said* 0 was furious* There are two thin.s in this world at which 0 ha--en to know 0 e7cel* #ne is drivin. an automobile and the other is youknow-what* So to have him sit there and tell me 0 didn't know how to behave with my own wife was a monstrous -iece of effrontery* 0t was he who didn't know, not me* )oor Samantha* +hat she must have had to -ut u- with over the years* A0'm sorry 0 s-oke,A Gerry said* %e -oured more whisky into our .lasses* A%ere's to the .reat switcherooFA he said* A+hen do we .oBA AToday is +ednesday,A 0 said* A%ow about this comin. SaturdayBA AChrist,A Gerry said* A+e ou.ht to do it while everythin.'s still fresh in our minds,A 0 said* AThere's an awful lot to remember*A Gerry walked to the window and looked down at the traffic in the street below* A#kay,A he said, turnin. around* A'e7t Saturday it shall beFA Then we drove home in our se-arate cars* AGerry and 0 thou.ht we'd take you and Samantha out to dinner Saturday ni.ht,A 0 said to 2ary* +e were in the kitchen and she was cookin. hambur.ers for the children* She turned around and faced me, fryin.--an in one hand, s-oon in the other* %er blue eyes looked strai.ht into mine* A2y !ord, Vic,A she said* A%ow nice* 6ut what are we celebratin.BA 0 looked strai.ht back at her and said, A0 thou.ht it would be a chan.e to see some new faces* +e're always meetin. the same old bunch of -eo-le in the same old houses*A She took a ste- forward and kissed me on the cheek* A+hat a .ood man you are,A she said* A0 love you*A ADon't for.et to -hone the baby-sitter*A A'o, 0'll do it toni.ht,A she said* Thursday and $riday -assed very ;uickly, and suddenly it was Saturday* 0t was D Day* 0 woke u- feelin. madly e7cited* fter breakfast, 0 couldn't sit still, so 0 decided to .o out and wash the car* 0 was in the middle of this when Gerry came strollin. throu.h the .a- in the hed.e, -i-e in mouth* A%i, s-ort,A he said* AThis is the day*A A0 know that,A 0 said* 0 also had a -i-e in my mouth* 0 was forcin. myself to smoke it, but 0 had trouble kee-in. it ali.ht, and the smoke burned my ton.ue* A%ow're you feelin.BA Gerry asked*

ATerrific,A 0 said* A%ow about youBA A0'm nervous,A he said* ADon't be nervous, Gerry*A AThis is one hell of a thin. we're tryin. to do,A he said* A0 ho-e we -ull it off*A 0 went on -olishin. the windshield* 0 had never known Gerry to be nervous of anythin. before* 0t worried me a bit* A0'm damn .lad we're not the first -eo-le ever to try it,A he said* A0f no one had ever done it before, 0 don't think 0'd risk it*A A0 a.ree,A 0 said* A+hat sto-s me bein. too nervous,A he said, Ais the fact that your friend found it so fantastically easy*A A2y friend said it was a cinch,A 0 said* A6ut for Chris-sake, Gerry, don't be nervous when the time comes* That would be disastrous*A ADon't worry,A he said* A6ut Gesus, it's e7citin., isn't itBA A0t's e7citin. all ri.ht,A 0 said* A!isten,A he said* A+e'd better .o easy on the boo,e toni.ht*A A:ood idea,A 0 said* ASee you at ei.ht thirty*A t half -ast ei.ht, Samantha, Gerry, 2ary and 0 drove in Gerry's car to 6illy's Steak %ouse* The restaurant, des-ite its name, was hi.h-class and e7-ensive, and the .irls had -ut on lon. dresses for the occasion* Samantha was wearin. somethin. .reen that didn't start until it was halfway down her front, and 0 had never seen her lookin. lovelier* There were candles on our table* Samantha was seated o--osite me and whenever she leaned forward with her face close to the flame, 0 could see that tiny crest of skin at the to- centre of her lower li-* A'ow,A she said as she acce-ted a menu from the waiter, A0 wonder what 0'm .oin. to have toni.ht*A %o-ho-ho, 0 thou.ht, that's a .ood ;uestion* "verythin. went fine in the restaurant and the .irls en9oyed themselves* +hen we arrived back at Gerry's house, it was eleven forty-five, and Samantha said, ACome in and have a ni.htca-*A AThanks,A 0 said, Abut it's a bit late* nd the baby-sitter has to be driven home*A So 2ary and 0 walked across to our house, and now, 0 told myself as 0 entered the front door, from now on the count-down be.ins* 0 must kee- a clear head and for.et nothin.* +hile 2ary was -ayin. the baby-sitter, 0 went to the frid.e and found a -iece of Canadian cheddar* 0 took a knife from the drawer and a stri- of -laster from the cu-board* 0 stuck the -laster around the ti- of the forefin.er of my ri.ht hand and waited for 2ary to turn around* A0 cut myself,A 0 said holdin. u- the fin.er for her to see* A0t's nothin., but it was bleedin. a bit*A A0'd have thou.ht you'd had enou.h to eat for the evenin.,A was all she said* 6ut the -laster re.istered on her mind and my first little 9ob had been done* 0 drove the baby-sitter home and by the time 0 .ot back u- to the bedroom it was round about midni.ht and 2ary was already half aslee- with her li.ht out* 0 switched out the li.ht on my side of the bed and went into the bathroom to undress* 0 -ottered about in there for ten minutes or so and when 0 came out, 2ary, as 0 had ho-ed, was well and truly slee-in.* There seemed no -oint in .ettin. into bed beside her* So 0 sim-ly -ulled back the covers a bit on my side to make it easier for Gerry, then with my sli--ers on, 0 went downstairs to the kitchen and switched on the electric kettle* 0t was now twelve seventeen* $ortythree minutes to .o* t twelve thirty-five, 0 went u-stairs to check on 2ary and the kids* "veryone was sound alsee-* t twelve fifty-five, five minutes before ,ero hour, 0 went u- a.ain for a final check* 0 went ri.ht u- close to 2ary's bed and whis-ered her name* There was no answer* :ood* That's itF !et's .oF

0 -ut a brown raincoat over my -y9amas* 0 switched off the kitchen li.ht so that the whole house was in darkness* 0 -ut the front door lock on the latch* nd then, feelin. an enormous sense of e7hilaration, 0 ste--ed silently out into the ni.ht* There were no lam-s on our street to li.hten the darkness* There was no moon or even a star to be seen* 0t was a black black ni.ht, but the air was warm and there was a little bree,e blowin. from somewhere* 0 headed for the .a- in the hed.e* +hen 0 .ot very close, 0 was able to make out the hed.e itself and find the .a-* 0 sto--ed there, waitin.* Then 0 heard Gerry's footste-s comin. towards me* A%i, s-ort,A he whis-ered* A"verythin. okayBA A ll ready for you,A 0 whis-ered back* %e moved on* 0 heard his sli--ered feet -addin. softly over the .rass as he went towards my house* 0 went towards his* 0 o-ened Gerry's front door* 0t was even darker inside than out* 0 closed the door carefully* 0 took off my raincoat and hun. it on the door knob* 0 removed my sli--ers and -laced them a.ainst the wall by the door* 0 literally could not see my hands before my face* "verythin. had to be done by touch* 2y .oodness, 0 was .lad Gerry had made me -ractise blindfold for so lon.* 0t wasn't my feet that .uided me now but my fin.ers* The fin.ers of one hand or another were never for a moment out of contact with somethin., a wall, the banister, a -iece of furniture, a window-curtain* nd 0 knew or thou.ht 0 knew e7actly where 0 was all the time* 6ut it was an awesome eerie feelin. tres-assin. on ti-toe throu.h someone else's house in the middle of the ni.ht* s 0 fin.ered my way u- the stairs, 0 found myself thinkin. of the bur.lars who had broken into our front room last winter and stolen the television set* +hen the -olice came ne7t mornin., 0 -ointed out to them an enormous turd lyin. in the snow outside the .ara.e* AThey nearly always do that,A one of the co-s told me* AThey can't helit* They're scared*A 0 reached the to- of the stairs* 0 crossed the landin. with my ri.ht fin.erti-s touchin. the wall all the time* 0 started down the corridor, but -aused when my hand found the door of the first children's room* The door was sli.htly o-en* 0 listened* 0 could hear youn. Robert Rainbow, a.ed ei.ht, breathin. evenly inside* 0 moved on* 0 found the door to the second children's bedroom* This one belon.ed to 6illy, a.ed si7 and manda, three* 0 stood listenin.* ll was well* The main bedroom was at the end of the corridor, about four yards on* 0 reached the door* Gerry had left it o-en, as -lanned* 0 went in* 0 stood absolutely still 9ust inside the door, listenin. for any si.n that Samantha mi.ht be awake* ll was ;uiet* 0 felt my way around the wall until 0 reached Samantha's side of the bed* 0mmediately, 0 knelt on the floor and found the -lu. connectin. her bedside lam-* 0 drew it from its socket and laid it on the car-et* :ood* 2uch safer now* 0 stood u-* 0 couldn't see Samantha, and at first 0 couldn't hear anythin. either* 0 bent low over the bed* h yes, 0 could hear her breathin.* Suddenly 0 cau.ht a whiff of the heavy musky -erfume she had been usin. that evenin., and 0 felt the blood rushin. to my .roin* Iuickly 0 ti-toed around the bi. bed, kee-in. two fin.ers in .entle contact with the ed.e of the bed the whole way* ll 0 had to do now was .et in* 0 did so, but as 0 -ut my wei.ht u-on the mattress, the creakin. of the s-rin.s underneath sounded as thou.h someone was firin. a rifle in the room* 0 lay motionless, holdin. my breath* 0 could hear my heart thum-in. away like an en.ine in my throat* Samantha was facin. away from me* She didn't move* 0 -ulled the covers u- over my chest and turned towards her* female .low came out of her to me* %ere we .o, thenF 'owF 0 slid a hand over and touched her body* %er ni.htdress was warm and silky* 0 rested the hand .ently on her hi-s* Still she didn't move* 0 waited a minute or so, then 0 allowed the hand that lay u-on the hi- to steal onward and .o e7-lorin.* Slowly, deliberately, and very accurately, my fin.ers be.an the -rocess of settin. her on fire*

She stirred* She turned on her back* Then she murmured slee-ily, A#h, dear***#h, my .oodness me***:ood heavens, darlin.FA 0, of course, said nothin.* 0 9ust ke-t on with the 9ob* cou-le of minutes went by* She was lyin. ;uite still* nother minute -assed* Then another* She didn't move a muscle* 0 be.an to wonder how much lon.er it would be before she cau.ht ali.ht* 0 -ersevered* 6ut why the silenceB +hy this absolute and total immobility, this fro,en -ostureB Suddenly it came to me* 0 had for.otten com-letely about GerryF 0 was so hotted u-, 0 had for.otten all about his own -ersonal routineF 0 was doin. it my way, not hisF %is way was far more com-le7 than mine* 0t was ridiculously elaborate* 0t was ;uite unnecessary* 6ut it was what she was used to* nd now she was noticin. the difference and tryin. to fi.ure out what on earth was .oin. on* 6ut it was too late to chan.e direction now* 0 must kee- .oin.* 0 ke-t .oin.* The woman beside me was like a coiled s-rin. lyin. there* 0 could feel the tension under her skin* 0 be.an to sweat* Suddenly, she uttered a ;ueer little .roan* 2ore .hastly thou.hts rushed throu.h my mind* Could she be illB +as she havin. a heart attackB #u.ht 0 to .et the hell out ;uickB She .roaned a.ain, louder this time* Then all at once, she cried out, A>esyes-yes-yes-yesFA and like a bomb whose slow fuse had finally reached the dynamite, she e7-loded into life* She .rabbed me in her arms and went for me with such incredible ferocity, 0 felt 0 was bein. set u-on by a ti.er* #r should 0 say ti.ressB 0 never dreamed a woman could do the thin.s Samantha did to me then* She was a whirlwind, a da,,lin. fren,ied whirlwind that tore me u- by the roots and s-un me around and carried me hi.h into the heavens, to -laces 0 did not know e7isted* 0 myself did not contribute* %ow could 0B 0 was hel-less* 0 was in the -almtree s-innin. in the heavens, the lamb in the claws of the ti.er* 0t was as much as 0 could do to kee- breathin.* Thrillin. it was, all the same, to surrender to the hands of a violent woman, and for the ne7t ten, twenty, thirty minutes how would 0 knowB--the storm ra.ed on* 6ut 0 have no intention here of re.alin. the reader with bi,arre details* 0 do not a--rove of washin. 9uicy linen in -ublic* 0 am sorry, but there it is* 0 only ho-e that my reticence will not create too stron. a sense of anticlima7* Certainly, there was nothin. anti about my own clima7, and in the final searin. -aro7ysm 0 .ave a shout which should have awakened the entire nei.hbourhood* Then 0 colla-sed* 0 crum-led u- like a drained wineskin* Samantha, as thou.h she had done no more than drink a .lass of water, sim-ly turned away from me and went ri.ht back to slee-* )hewF 0 lay still, recu-eratin. slowly* 0 had been ri.ht, you see, about that little thin. on her lower li-, had 0 notB Come to think of t, 0 had been ri.ht about more or less everythin. that had to do with this incredible esca-ade* +hat a trium-hF 0 felt wonderfully rela7ed and well-s-ent* 0 wondered what time it was* 2y watch was not a luminous one* 0'd better .o* 0 cre-t out of bed* 0 felt my way, a trifle less cautiously this time, around the bed, out of the bedroom, alon. the corridor, down the stairs and into the hall of the house* 0 found my raincoat and sli--ers* 0 -ut them on* 0 had a li.hter in the -ocket of my raincoat* 0 used it and read the time* 0t was ei.ht minutes before two* !ater than 0 thou.ht* 0 o-ened the front door and ste--ed out into the black ni.ht* 2y thou.hts now be.an to concentrate u-on Gerry* +as he all ri.htB %ad he .otten away with itB 0 moved throu.h the darkness towards the .a- in the hed.e*

A%i, s-ort,A a voice whis-ered beside me* AGerryFA A"verythin. okayBA Gerry asked* A$antastic,A 0 said* A ma,in.* +hat about youBA ASame with me,A he said* 0 cau.ht the flash of his white teeth .rinnin. at me in the dark* A+e made it, VicFA he whis-ered, touchin. my arm* A>ou were ri.htF 0t workedF 0t was sensationalFA ASee you tomorrow,A 0 whis-ered* A:o home*A +e moved a-art* 0 went throu.h the hed.e and entered my house* Three minutes later, 0 was safely back in my own bed, and my own wife was slee-in. soundly alon.side me* The ne7t mornin. was Sunday* 0 was u- at ei.ht thirty and went downstairs in -y9amas and dressin.-.own, as 0 always do on a Sunday, to make breakfast for the family* 0 had left 2ary slee-in.* The two boys, Victor a.ed nine, and +ally, seven, were already down* A%i, daddy,A +ally said* A0've .ot a .reat new breakfast,A 0 announced* A+hatBA both boys said to.ether* They had been into town and fetched the Sunday -a-er and were now readin. the comics* A+e make some buttered toast and we s-read oran.e marmalade on it*A 0 said* AThen we -ut stri-s of cris- bacon on to- of the marmalade*A A6aconFA Victor said* A+ith oran.e marmaladeFA A0 know* 6ut you wait till you try it* 0t's wonderful*A 0 dished out the .ra-efruit 9uice and drank two .lasses of it myself* 0 set another on the table for 2ary when she came down* 0 switched on the electric kettle, -ut the bread in the toaster, and started to fry the bacon* t this -oint 2ary came into the kitchen* She had a flimsy -each-coloured chiffon thin. over her ni.htdress* A:ood mornin.,A 0 said, watchin. her over my shoulder as 0 mani-ulated the fryin.--an* She did not answer* She went to her chair at the kitchen table and sat down* She started to si- her 9uice* She looked neither at me nor at the boys* 0 went on fryin. the bacon* A%i, mummy,A +ally said* She didn't answer this either* The smell of the bacon fat was be.innin. to turn my stomach* A0'd like some coffee,A 2ary said, not lookin. around* %er voice was very odd* AComin. ri.ht u-,A 0 said* 0 -ushed the fryin.--an away from the heat and ;uickly made a cu- of black instant coffee* 0 -laced it before her* A6oys,A she said, addressin. the children, Awould you -lease do your readin. in the other room till breakfast is ready*A A&sBA Victor said* A+hyBA A6ecause 0 say so*A A re we doin. somethin. wron.BA +ally asked* A'o, honey, you're not* 0 9ust want to be left alone for a moment with daddy*A 0 felt myself shrink inside my skin* 0 wanted to run* 0 wanted to rush out the front door and .o runnin. down the street and hide* A:et yourself a coffee, Vic,A she said, Aand sit down*A %er voice was ;uite flat* There was no an.er in it* There was 9ust nothin.* nd she still wouldn't look at me* The boys went out, takin. the comic section with them* AShut the door,A 2ary said to them* 0 -ut a s-oonful of -owdered coffee into my cu- and -oured boilin. water over it* 0 added milk and su.ar* The silence was shatterin.* 0 crossed over and sat down in my chair o--osite her* 0t mi.ht 9ust as well have been an electric chair, the way 0 was feelin.* A!isten, Vic,A she said, lookin. into her coffee cu-, A0 want to .et this

said before 0 lose my nerve and then 0 won't be able to say it*A A$or heaven's sake, what's all the drama aboutBA 0 asked* A%as somethin. ha--enedBA A>es, Vic, it has*A A+hatBA %er face was -ale and still and distant, unconscious of the kitchen around her* ACome on, then, out with it,A 0 said bravely* A>ou're not .oin. to like this very much,A she said, and her bi. blue haunted-lookin. eyes rested a moment on my face, then travelled away* A+hat am 0 not .oin. to like very muchBA 0 said* The sheer terror of it all was be.innin. to stir my bowels* 0 felt the same way as those bur.lars the co-s had told me about* A>ou know 0 hate talkin. about love-makin. and all that sort of thin.,A she said* A0've never once talked to you about it all the time we've been married*A AThat's true,A 0 said* She took a si- of her coffee, but she wasn't tastin. it* AThe -oint is this,A she said* A0've never liked it* 0f you really want to know, 0've hated it*A A%ated whatBA 0 asked* ASe7,A she said* ADoin. it*A A:ood !ordFA 0 said* A0t's never .iven me even the sli.htest little bit of -leasure*A This was shatterin. enou.h in itself, but the real cruncher was still to come, 0 felt sure of that* A0'm sorry if that sur-rises you,A she added* 0 couldn't think of anythin. to say, so 0 ke-t ;uiet* %er eyes rose a.ain from the coffee cu- and looked into mine, watchful, as if calculatin. somethin., then fell a.ain* A0 wasn't ever .oin. to tell you,A she said* A nd 0 never would have if it hadn't been for last ni.ht*A 0 said very slowly, A+hat about last ni.htBA A!ast ni.ht,A she said, A0 suddenly found out what the whole cra,y thin. is all about*A A>ou didBA She looked full at me now, and her face was as o-en as a flower* A>es,A she said* A0 surely did*A 0 didn't move* A#h darlin.FA she cried, 9um-in. u- and rushin. over and .ivin. me an enormous kiss* AThank you so much for last ni.htF >ou were marvellousF nd 0 was marvellousF +e were both marvellousF Don't look so embarrassed, my darlin.F >ou ou.ht to be -roud of yourselfF >ou were fantasticF 0 love youF 0 doF 0 doFA 0 9ust sat there* She leaned close to me and -ut an arm around my shoulders* A nd now,A she said softly, Anow that you have***0 don't ;uite know how to say this***now that you have sort of discovered what it is 0 need, everythin. is .oin. to be marvellous from now onFA 0 sat there* She went slowly back to her chair* bi. tear was runnin. down one of her cheeks* 0 couldn't think why* A0 was ri.ht to tell you, wasn't 0BA she said, smilin. throu.h her tears* A>es,A 0 said* A#h, yes*A 0 stood u- and went over to the cooker so that 0 wouldn't be facin. her* Throu.h the kitchen window, 0 cau.ht si.ht of Gerry crossin. the .arden with the Sunday -a-er under his ann* There was a lilt in his walk, a little -rance of trium-h in each -ace he took, and when he reached the ste-s of his front -orch, he ran u- them two at a time*

The !ast

ct

'' was in the kitchen washin. a head of 6oston lettuce for the family su--er when the doorbell ran.* The bell itself was on the wall directly above the sink, and it never failed to make her 9um- if it ran. when she ha--ened to be near* $or this reason, neither her husband nor any of the children ever used it* 0t seemed to rin. e7tra loud this time, and nna 9um-ed e7tra hi.h* +hen she o-ened the door, two -olicemen were standin. outside* They looked at her out of -ale wa7en faces, and she looked back at them, waitin. for them to say somethin.* She ke-t lookin. at them, but they didn't s-eak or move* They stood so still and so ri.id that they were like two wa7 fi.ures somebody had -ut on her doorsteas a 9oke* "ach of them was holdin. his helmet in front of him in his two hands* A+hat is itBA nna asked* They were both youn., and they were wearin. leather .auntlets u- to their elbows* She could see their enormous motor-cycles -ro--ed u- alon. the ed.e of the sidewalk behind them, and dead leaves were fallin. around the motor-cycles and blowin. alon. the sidewalk and the whole of the street was brilliant in the yellow li.ht of a clear, .usty Se-tember evenin.* The taller of the two -olicemen shifted uneasily on his feet* Then he said ;uietly, A re you 2rs Coo-er, ma'amBA A>es, 0 am*A The other said, A2rs "dmund G* Coo-erBA A>es*A nd then slowly it be.an to dawn u-on her that these men, neither of whom seemed an7ious to e7-lain his -resence, would not be behavin. as they were unless they had some distasteful duty to -erform* A2rs Coo-er,A she heard one of them sayin., and from the way he said it, as .ently and softly as if he were comfortin. a sick child, she knew at once that he was .oin. to tell her somethin. terrible* .reat wave of -anic came over her, and she said, A+hat ha--enedBA A+e have to inform you, 2rs Coo-er* The -oliceman -aused, and the woman, watchin. him, felt as thou.h her whole body were shrinkin. and shrinkin. and shrinkin. inside its skin* that your husband was involved in an accident on the %udson River )arkway at a--ro7imately five forty-five this evenin., and died in the ambulance*** The -oliceman who was s-eakin. -roduced the crocodile wallet she had .iven "d on their twentieth weddin. anniversary, two years back, and as she reached out to take it, she found herself wonderin. whether it mi.ht not still be warm from havin. been close to her husband's chest only a short while a.o* A0f there's anythin. we can do,A the -oliceman was sayin., Alike callin. usomebody to come over***some friend or relative maybe**** nna heard his voice driftin. away, then fadin. out alto.ether, and it must have been about then that she be.an to scream* Soon she became hysterical, and the two -olicemen had their hands full tryin. to control her until the doctor arrived some forty minutes later and in9ected somethin. into her arm* She was no better, thou.h, when she woke u- the followin. mornin.* 'either her doctor nor her children were able to reason with her in any way at all, and had she not been ke-t under almost constant sedation for the ne7t few days, she would undoubtedly have taken her own life* 0n the brief lucid -eriods between dru.-takin.s, she acted as thou.h she were demented, callin. out her husband's name and tellin. him that she was comin. to 9oin him as soon as she -ossibly could* 0t was terrible to listen to her* 6ut in defence of her behaviour, it should be said at once that this was no ordinary husband she had lost* nna :reenwood had married "d Coo-er when they were both ei.hteen, and over the time they were to.ether, they .rew to be closer and more de-endent u-on each other than it is -ossible to describe in words* "very year that went by, their

love became more intense and overwhelmin., and toward the end, it had reached such a ridiculous -eak that it was almost im-ossible for them to endure the daily se-aration caused by "d's de-arture for the office in the mornin.s* +hen he returned at ni.ht he would rush throu.h the house to seek her out, and she, who had heard the noise of the front door slammin., would dro- everythin. and rush simultaneously in his direction, meetin. him head on, recklessly, at full s-eed, -erha-s halfway u- the stairs, or on the landin., or between the kitchen and the hallE and as they came to.ether, he would take her in his arms and hu. her and kiss her for minutes on end as thou.h she were yesterday's bride* 0t was wonderful* 0t was so utterly unbelievably wonderful that one is very nearly able to understand why she should have had no desire and no heart to continue livin. in a world where her husband did not e7ist any more* %er three children, n.ela CtwentyD, 2ary CnineteenD and 6illy Cseventeen and a halfD, stayed around her constantly ri.ht from the start of the catastro-he* They adored their mother, and they certainly had no intention of lettin. her commit suicide if they could hel- it* They worked hard and with lovin. des-eration to convince her that life could still be worth livin., and it was due entirely to them that she mana.ed in the end to come out of the ni.htmare and climb back slowly into the ordinary world* $our months after the disaster, she was -ronounced Amoderately safe' by the doctors, and she was able to return, albeit rather listlessly, to the old routine of runnin. the house and doin. the sho--in. and cookin. the meals for her .rown-uchildren* 6ut then what ha--enedB 6efore the snows of that winter had melted away, n.ela married a youn. man from Rhode 0sland and went off to live in the suburbs of )rovidence* few months later, 2ary married a fairhaired .iant from a town called Slayton, in 2innesota, and away she flew for ever and ever and ever* nd althou.h nna's heart was now be.innin. to break all over a.ain into tiny -ieces, she was -roud to think that neither of the two .irls had the sli.htest inklin. of what was ha--enin. to her* CA#h, 2ummy, isn't it wonderfulFA A>es, my darlin., 0 think it's the most beautiful weddin. there's ever beenF 0'm even more e7cited than you areFA etc*, etc*D nd then, to -ut the lid on everythin., her beloved 6illy, who had 9ust turned ei.hteen, went off to be.in his first year at >ale* So all at once, nna found herself livin. in a com-letely em-ty house* 0t is an awful feelin., after twenty-three years of boisterous, busy, ma.ical family life, to come down alone to breakfast in the mornin.s, to sit there in silence with a cu- of coffee and a -iece of toast, and to wonder what you are .oin. to do with the day that lies ahead* The room you are sittin. in, which has heard so much lau.hter, and seen so many birthdays, so many Christmas trees, so many -resents bein. o-ened, is ;uiet now and feels curiously cold* The air is heated and the tem-erature itself is normal, but the -lace still makes you shiver* The clock has sto--ed because you were never the one who wound it in the first -lace* chair stands crooked on its le.s, and you sit starin. at it, wonderin. why you hadn't noticed it before* nd when you .lance u- a.ain, you have a sudden -anicky feelin. that all the four walls of the room have be.un cree-in. in u-on you very very slowly when you weren't lookin.* 0n the be.innin., she would carry her coffee cu- over to the tele-hone and start callin. u- friends* 6ut all her friends had husbands and children, and althou.h they were always as nice and warm and cheerful as they could -ossibly be, they sim-ly could not s-are the time to sit and chat with a desolate lady from across the way first thin. in the mornin.* So then she started callin. u- her married dau.hters instead* They, also, were sweet and kind to her at all times, but nna detected, very soon, a subtle chan.e in their attitudes toward her* She was no lon.er number one in their lives* They had husbands now, and were concentratin. everythin. u-on them* :ently but firmly, they were movin. their mother into the back.round* 0t was

;uite a shock* 6ut she knew they were ri.ht* They were absolutely ri.ht* She was no lon.er entitled to im-in.e u-on their lives or to make them feel .uilty for ne.lectin. her* She saw Dr Gacobs re.ularly, but he wasn't really any hel-* %e tried to .et her to talk and she did her best, and sometimes he made little s-eeches to her full of obli;ue remarks about se7 and sublimation* nna never -ro-erly understood what he was drivin. at, but the burden of his son. a--eared to be that she should .et herself another man* She took to wanderin. around the house and fin.erin. thin.s that used to belon. to "d* She would -ick u- one of his shoes and -ut her hand into it and feel the little dents that the ball of his foot and his toes had made u-on the sole* She found a sock with a hole in it, and the -leasure it .ave her to darn that sock was indescribable* #ccasionally, she took out a shirt, a tie, and a suit, and laid them on the bed, all ready for him to wear, and once, one rainy Sunday mornin., she made an 0rish stew* 0t was ho-eless to .o on* So how many -ills would she need to make absolutely sure of it this timeB She went u-stairs to her secret store and counted them* There were only nine* +as that enou.hB She doubted that it was* #h, hell* The one thin. she was not -re-ared to face all over a.ain was failure the rush to the hos-ital, the stomach--um-, the seventh floor of the )ayne +hitney )avilion, the -sychiatrists, the humiliation, the misery of it all* 0n that case, it would have to be the ra,orblade* 6ut the trouble with the ra,or-blade was that it had to be done -ro-erly* 2any -eo-le failed miserably when they tried to use the ra,or-blade on the wrist* 0n fact, nearly all of them failed* They didn't cut dee- enou.h* There was a bi. artery down there somewhere that sim-ly had to be reached* Veins were no .ood* Veins made -lenty of mess, but they never ;uite mana.ed to do the trick* Then a.ain, the ra,or-blade was not an easy thin. to hold, not if one had to make a firm incision, -ressin. it ri.ht home all the way, dee- dee- down* 6ut she wouldn't fail* The ones who failed were the ones who actually wanted to fail* She wanted to succeed* She went to the cu-board in the bathroom, searchin. for blades* There weren't any* "d's ra,or was still there, and so was hers* 6ut there was no blade in either of them, and no little -acket lyin. alon.side* That was understandable* Such thin.s had been removed from the house on an earlier occasion* 6ut there was no -roblem* nyone could buy a -acket of ra,or-blades* She returned to the kitchen and took the calendar down from the wall* She chose Se-tember 81rd, which was "d's birthday, and wrote r-b Cfor ra,or-bladesD a.ainst the date* She did this on Se-tember @th, which .ave her e7actly two weeks' .race to -ut her affairs in order* There was much to be done--old bills to be -aid, a new will to be written, the house to be tidied u-, 6illy's colle.e fees to be taken care of for the ne7t four years, letters to the children, to her own -arents, to "d's mother, and so on and so forth* >et, busy as she was, she found that those two weeks, those fourteen lon. days, were .oin. far too slowly for her likin.* She wanted to use the blade, and ea.erly every mornin. she counted the days that were left* She was like a child countin. the days before Christmas* $or wherever it was that "d Coo-er had .one when he died, even if it were only to the .rave, she was im-atient to 9oin him* 0t was in the middle of this two-week -eriod that her friend "li,abeth )aoletti came callin. on her at ei.ht thirty one mornin.* nna was makin. coffee in the kitchen at the time, and she 9um-ed when the bell ran. and 9um-ed a.ain when it .ave a second lon. blast* !i, came swee-in. in throu.h the front door, talkin. non-sto- as usual* A nna, my darlin. woman, 0 need your hel-F "veryone's down with flu at the office* >ou've .ot to comeF Don't ar.ue with meF 0 know you can ty-e and 0 know you haven't .ot a damn thin. in the world to do all day e7ce-t mo-e* Gust .rab your hat and -urse and let's .et .oin.* %urry u-, .irl, hurry u-F 0'm late as it isFA nna said, A:o away, !i,* !eave me alone*A

AThe cab is waitin.,A !i, said* A)lease,A nna said, Adon't try to bully me now* 0'm not comin.*A A>ou are comin.,A !i, said* A)ull yourself to.ether* >our days of .lorious martyrdom are over*A nna continued to resist, but !i, wore her down, and in the end she a.reed to .o alon. 9ust for a few hours* "li,abeth )aoletti was in char.e of an ado-tion society, one of the best in the city* 'ine of the staff were down with flu* #nly two were left, e7cludin. herself* A>ou don't know a thin. about the work,A she said in the cab, Abut you're 9ust .oin. to have to hel- us all you can**** The office was bedlam* The tele-hones alone nearly drove nna mad* She ke-t runnin. from one cubicle to the ne7t, takin. messa.es that she did not understand* nd there were .irls in the waitin. room, youn. .irls with ashen stony faces, and it became -art of her duty to ty-e their answers on an official form* AThe father's nameBA ADon't know*A A>ou've no ideaBA A+hat's the father's name .ot to do with itBA A2y dear, if the father is known, then his consent has to be obtained as well as yours before the child can be offered for ado-tion*A A>ou're ;uite sure about thatBA AGesus, 0 told you, didn't 0BA t lunchtime, somebody brou.ht her a sandwich, but there was no time to eat it* t nine o'clock that ni.ht, e7hausted and famished and considerably shaken by some of the knowled.e she had ac;uired, nna sta..ered home, took a stiff drink, fried u- some e..s and bacon, and went to bed* A0'll call for you at ei.ht o'clock tomorrow mornin.,A !i, had said* A nd for :od's sake be ready*A nna was ready* nd from then on she was hooked* 0t was as sim-le as that* ll she'd needed ri.ht from the be.innin. was a .ood hard 9ob of work to do, and -lenty of -roblems to solve--other -eo-le's -roblems instead of her own* The work was arduous and often ;uite shatterin. emotionally, but nna was absorbed by every moment of it, and within about--we are ski--in. ri.ht forward now--within about a year and a half, she be.an to feel moderately ha--y once a.ain* She was findin. it more and more difficult to -icture her husband vividly, to see him -recisely as he was when he ran u- the stairs to meet her, or when he sat across from her at su--er in the evenin.s* The e7act sound of his voice was becomin. less easy to recall, and even the face itself, unless she .lanced at a -hoto.ra-h, was no lon.er shar-ly etched in the memory* She still thou.ht about him constantly, but she discovered that she could do so now without burstin. into tears, and when she looked back on the way she had