Romani Aldousa Huxleya - 2. god (2023)

No eyes in Gaza

First published by Chatto & Windus in 1936, Eyeless in Gaza is one of Huxley's longest and most complex novels, attempting to answer fundamental questions about politics, sexuality and religion. The events in the novel are told episodically, not chronologically, and the author often jumps from one time period to another, forcing the reader to mentally reorganize the timeline. Huxley uses this unconventional method and narrative structure to emphasize and highlight his innovative ideas.

The novel's title was inspired by a phrase from John Milton's next play, Samson Agonistes. Drama appeared in 1671 with Milton's poem Paradise Regained; it tells about Samson after the Philistines captured him, cut off his hair and gouged out his eyes. Huxley also reportedly drew from the life of his biographer and neighbor, Sybilla Bedford, who claimed that the character of Mary Amberley was partly based on her morphine-addicted mother. At the heart of the novel is upper-class sociologist Anthony Beavis, who is desperately searching for meaning and a path in life.

first edition


  • FIRST CHAPTER. August 30, 1933

  • CHAPTER TWO. April 4, 1934

  • CHAPTER THREE. August 30, 1933

  • CHAPTER FOUR. November 6, 1902

  • CHAPTER FIVE. December 8, 1926

  • CHAPTER SIX. November 6, 1902

  • CHAPTER SEVEN. April 8, 1934

  • CHAPTER EIGHT. August 30, 1933

  • CHAPTER NINE. April 2, 1903

  • CHAPTER TEN. June 16, 1912

  • CHAPTER ELEVEN. December 8, 1926

  • CHAPTER TWELVE. August 30, 1933

  • CHAPTER THIRTEEN. May 20, 1934

  • CHAPTER FOURTEEN. December 8, 1926

  • CHAPTER FIFTEEN. June 1903 – January 1904

  • CHAPTER SIXTEEN. June 17, 1912

  • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN. May 26, 1934

  • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN. December 8, 1926

  • CHAPTER NINETEEN. July 7, 1912

  • CHAPTER TWENTY. December 8, 1926

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-FIRST. August 31, 1933

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-SECOND. December 8, 1926

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE. June 1, 1934

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR. June 23 and July 5, 1927

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE. May 20, 1931

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX. September 5, 1933

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN. May 27, 1914

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT. June 25, 1934

  • CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE. May 24, 1931

  • CHAPTER THIRTY. July 2, 1914

  • CHAPTER THIRTY ONE. September 6, 1933

  • CHAPTER THIRTY-SECOND. July 29, 1934

  • CHAPTER THIRTY THREE. July 18, 1914

  • CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR. March 3, 1928

  • CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE. August 4, 1934

  • CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX. July 19, 1914


  • CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT. August 10, 1934

  • CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE. March 25, 1928

  • CHAPTER FORTY. September 11, 1934

  • CHAPTER FORTY ONE. December 1933

  • CHAPTER FORTY-SECOND. September 15, 1934

  • CHAPTER FORTY THREE. July 20 and 21, 1914

  • CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR. September 21, 1934

  • CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE. April 14, 1928

  • CHAPTER FORTY-SIX. October 30, 1934

  • CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN. January 10 and 11, 1934

  • CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT. July 23, 1914

  • CHAPTER FORTY-NINE. January 12 and 14, 1934

  • CHAPTER FIFTY. Christmas 1934

  • CHAPTER FIFTY ONE. February 7, 1934

  • CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO. July 24, 1914

  • CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE. February 23, 1934

  • CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR. February 23, 1935

The famous seventeenth century poet John Milton

First chapter. August 30, 1933

The footage became blurry almost like a memory. This young woman standing in the garden at the turn of the century was like a ghost when the rooster crowed. His mother, Anthony Beavis, recognized. A year or two, maybe just a month or two before she died. But fashion, as he saw the brown ghost, fashion is the art of cutting hair. Those swan loins! That long diagonal waterfall of the bust - with no apparent connection to the bare body below! And all that hair, like a decorative deformation of the skull! In 1933, it seemed unusually disgusting and repulsive. And yet, when he closed his eyes (which he could not resist), he could see his mother, lazily beautiful on the deckchair; or nimble, playing tennis; or diving like a bird over the ice of a distant winter.

It was the same with those photos of Mary Amberley taken ten years later. The skirt was as long as ever, and in its narrower bell-shaped drapery the woman still glided without feet, as if on wheels. True, the breasts are slightly raised, and the excess butt is tucked in. But the overall shape of the clothed body was still strangely amazing. Shell cancer in whale bone. And that huge feather hat from 1911 was just a first class French funeral. How could any man in his right mind be attracted to such a profoundly anti-aphrodisiac appearance? And yet, despite the memories, he remembered her as the embodiment of desire. The sight of the feathered crayfish on wheels made his heart beat faster and his breath catch.

Twenty years, thirty years after the event, the recordings revealed only distant and unknown things. But what is unknown (dismal automatism!) is always absurd. On the contrary, he remembered the emotions he felt when the unknown was still known, when the absurd, taken for granted, had nothing absurd in it. The dramas of memory are always Hamlet in modern guise.

How beautiful his mother was - beautiful beneath the tangled strands of hair and despite her bulging ass, her long, sloping breasts. And Mary, how insanely desirable she is even in armor, even under funeral feathers! And in his little tawny cloak and crimson tam-o'-shanter; as Bubbles, in grass green velvet and frills; at school in his Norfolk suit with breeches ending below the knee in two narrow boxes of boxer cloth; in his starched collar and top hat if it was Sunday, in his red and black school cap on other days - and he, in his own memory, always wore fashionable clothes, never the absurdly ridiculous character these photographs revealed. Nothing is worse for inner feelings than a little boy thirty years later in T-shirts and shorts. Evidence, Anthony thought impersonally as he looked at the picture of himself in a top hat and tailcoat at Eton, proof that progress can only be noted, never experienced. He reached for his notebook, opened it and wrote: “Progress can be seen by historians; it can never be felt by those who are really involved in the supposed progress. The young are born in developmental circumstances, the old take them for granted in a few months or years. Progress doesn't feel like progress. There is no gratitude - only anger if, for whatever reason, the newly invented convenience breaks down. Men don't spend their time thanking God for cars; they only swear when the carburetor is clogged.

He closed the book and returned to the 1907 cylinder.

* * *

There was the sound of footsteps, and looking up he saw Helen Ledwidge coming across the terrace with long, springy steps. Beneath her wide-brimmed hat, her face shone with the glare of her flaming beach pajamas. It was like she was in hell. And indeed, he began to think, she was there. The mind has its place; she wore hell. The hell of her grotesque marriage; maybe other hells too. But he always refrained from delving too deeply into their nature, always pretending not to notice when she herself offered him a guide to their intricacies. Investigations and research will skyrocket, you know what a swamp of emotions, what a sense of responsibility. And he had neither time nor energy for emotions and obligations. His work came first. Suppressing his curiosity, he stubbornly continued to play the role he had assigned himself long ago - the role of the detached philosopher, the self-absorbed scientist who fails to see the obvious. He acted as if all he could see in her face was the outward beauty of form and texture. since flesh is never completely opaque; the soul emerges through the walls of its container. Those light gray eyes of hers, those lips with the slightly raised upper lip, were hard and almost ugly from hurt sadness.

The infernal blow faded as she stepped out of the sunlight into the shadow of the house; but the sudden pallor of her face only added to the bitter melancholy of her expression. Antoni looked at her, but did not stand up, did not shout in greeting. There was an agreement between them that there should never be any confusion; without any rush to say good morning. No noise. When Helen entered the room through the open glass door, he returned to studying his photographs.

"Well, I am," she said without a smile. She took off her hat and tossed the reddish-brown locks of her hair with a beautiful, impatient movement of her head. "Terribly hot!" She threw her hat on the sofa and crossed the room to where Anthony sat at his desk. - Does not work? - she asked in surprise. It was so rare to see him except immersed in books and newspapers.

He shook his head. "There is no sociology today."

- What are you staring at? Standing next to his chair, she bent over the scattered photographs.

— At my old corpse. He gave her the ghost of a dead Etonian.

After studying him in silence for a while, "You looked nice then," she commented.

- Merci, mon vieux! Ironically, he gently patted her thigh. "In my private school, they called me Benger. Between his fingertips and the rounded suppleness of her body, the silk lay in a dry, sliding smoothness that was oddly unpleasant to the touch. "Abbreviation for Benger's Food." Because I looked so childish.

"Sweetie," she continued, ignoring his interruption, "you looked really cute then." Movement.'

"But I still am," Anthony protested, smiling at her.

She stared at him in silence for a moment. Beneath his thick dark hair, his forehead was beautifully smooth and serene, like the forehead of a child in thought. He was childish, in a more comical way, and had a short, slightly upturned nose. Beneath closed lids, his eyes quivered with inner laughter, and a smile hovered at the corners of his lips—a faint ironic smile that somehow contradicted what the lips seemed to express by their shape. It was a full mouth, finely cut; sensual but serious, sad, almost tremblingly sensitive. A mouth as naked in its unfolding sensuality; without self-defense and left helpless with a small, non-aggressive beard.

“The worst part,” Helen said finally, “is that you're right. You are sweet, you are touching. God only knows why. Because you shouldn't. It's all actually a scam, a trick to get people to like you under false pretenses.

- Come! he rebelled.

"You make them give you something for nothing."

“But at least I'm always completely honest that it's nothing. I never pretend it's a Great Passion. He dropped the R and grotesquely opened the A. "Not even Wahlverwandschaft," he added, switching to German to make the whole romantic affair with kinship ties and violent emotions sound extra funny. "Just a little fun."

- Just a little fun - Helena repeated ironically, thinking, speaking, of that period at the beginning of the relationship, when she stood, so to speak, on the verge of falling in love with him - on the doorstep, waiting for him to be invited. But how firmly (with all his taciturnity and studied gentleness), how firmly and resolutely did he close the door behind her! He didn't want to be loved. For a time she was on the verge of rebellion; then, in that spirit of bitter and sarcastic resignation with which she had learned to face the world, she accepted his terms. They were all the more acceptable because there was no better alternative in sight; for he was, after all, a remarkable man, and yet she liked him very much; because he also knew how to give her at least physical pleasure. - Just a little fun - she repeated and burst out laughing.

Anthony looked at her, uneasily wondering if she was going to break their tacit agreement and bring up some forbidden subject. But his fears were unfounded.

“Yes, I admit it,” she continued after a moment of silence, “you're fine. But that doesn't change the fact that you always get something for nothing. Call it unintentional cheating. I guess your face is your happiness. Handsome equals handsome in your case. She bent over the photos again. 'Who is that?'

He hesitated for a moment before answering; then, smiling, but feeling a little uneasy at the same time, he replied: "One of the not so great passions." “Her name was Gladys.

- That would! Helena wrinkled her nose contemptuously. "Why did you kick her?"

"I didn't do it. She loved someone else more. Not that I mind too much," he added when she interrupted him.

"Perhaps the other man sometimes spoke to her while they were in bed."

Anthony blushed. 'What do you think?'

"Some women, strangely enough, like to talk in bed. And seeing that no. . . After all, you never work. She tossed Gladys aside and picked up the woman in 1900's clothing. "Is that your mother?"

Anthony nodded. "And this is yours," he said, running his finger over a picture of Mary Amberley in her mourning robes. Then, in a tone of disgust: "All this burden of past experiences is carried with it!" - he added. “There should be some way to get rid of unnecessary memories. How I hate old Proust! I really hate him." And with the most comical eloquence he began to conjure up a vision of that asthmatic seeker for lost time, crouching, horribly white and pendulous, breasts almost feminine, but covered with long black hair, crouching perpetually in the summer bath of his remembered past. And all musty soap scum from countless previous washes floated around him, all the grime accumulated over the years dried on the sides of the tub or hung in a dark slurry in the water. And so he sat, a pale, hideous invalid, stirring his own thick soup with a sponge and squeezing it onto his face, grabbing cups and appreciatively swirled the gray grain alcohol around his mouth, rinsing his nostrils and rinsing them. like a devout Hindu in the Ganges. . . .

"You speak of him," said Helen, "as if he were your personal enemy."

Anthony just laughed.

In the silence that followed, Helen picked up the faded photograph of her mother and studied it carefully, as if it were some mysterious hieroglyph that, if interpreted, might provide a clue, unravel a mystery.

Anthony watched her for a moment; then, rousing himself to action, he delved into a stack of photographs and brought out his uncle James in a 1906 tennis outfit. He is dead now—of cancer, poor old wretch, and with all the consolations of the Catholic faith. He dropped this photo and picked up another one. It showed the group against the blurred backdrop of the Swiss mountains - his father, stepmother and two half-sisters. On the back, in Mr. Beavis' neat handwriting, was written "Grindelwald, 1912." He noticed that all four were holding alpine poles.

"And I would," he said aloud, laying down the picture, "that my days might be parted with unnatural impiety."

Helen looked up from the illegible hieroglyph. "Then why are you spending your time looking through old photos?"

"I was cleaning out the closet," he exclaimed. "They came out. Like Tutankhamun. I couldn't resist the temptation to look at them. Besides, it's my birthday,' he added.

'Your birthday?'

“Forty-two today. Anthony shook his head. “Too depressing! And because he always likes to deepen the darkness. . . He picked up a handful of photos and dropped them again. “The hull appeared very conveniently. The finger of Providence is felt. A hoof box, if you will.

"You really liked her, didn't you?" Helen asked after another silence, showing him a ghostly picture of her mother.

He nodded and, to divert attention from the conversation, explained, "She civilized me." - I was half savage when she took me in her arms. He didn't want to discuss his feelings for Mary Amberley—especially (though it was no doubt a stupid relic of barbarism) with Helen. "The weight of a white woman," he added with a laugh. Then, picking up the alpenstock group again, "And that's one of the things he saved me from," he said. "The darkest Switzerland. I will never be grateful enough.

"I wish she could have been born," Helena said as she looked at the Alpine herds.

"By the way, how is she?"

Helena shrugged. “She was better when she got out of the nursing home this spring. But, of course, she started again. Same old deal. Morphine; and drink during breaks. I saw her in Paris on the way here. That was awful! She shivered.

Ironically, the hand that was still pressing against her thigh suddenly felt extremely out of place. He let it fall.

"I don't know what's worse," Helen continued after a moment of silence. "Dirt - you have no idea what country she lives in!" — or this malice, this terrible lie. She sighed deeply.

In a gesture that was not at all ironic, Anthony took her hand and squeezed it. – Poor Helena!

She stood for several seconds, motionless and speechless, turned to the side; then she suddenly shook herself, as if she had woken up from a dream. He felt her limp hand tighten around his; and when she turned towards him, her face showed a thoughtless and deliberate gaiety. “Poor Anthony, on the contrary! she said, and from the depths of her throat came an unusual, unexpected soft sound of swallowed laughter. "Talk about fake looks!"

He protested that they were correct in her case as she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his with a kind of angry violence.

The second chapter. April 4, 1934


Five words sum up every biography. Meliora video proboque; aggravated sequel. Like all other people, I know what I should do, but I still do what I know I shouldn't do. For example, this afternoon I went to see poor Bepp, who was recovering miserably from the "flu". I knew I should have sat down with him and let him pour out his grievances about the ingratitude and cruelty of youth, his fear of old age and loneliness, his terrible suspicion that people were beginning to think he was boring and not à la page anymore. The Bolinskis threw a party without inviting him, Hagworm hadn't invited him to a weekend since November. . . . I knew that I should have listened to him kindly, given him good advice, and asked him not to worry about the inevitable and the little things. The advice would no doubt be accepted, as usual; but you never know, so you must never give. Instead, I contritely bought him a pound of expensive grapes and lied about some committee I had to run to almost immediately. The truth was, I just couldn't face the repetition of poor B's self-pity. I justified my behavior, and also with five bob, the right thoughts: a man in his fifties should know better than to continue to prioritize jobs, dinner invitations and meeting the right people. People. You shouldn't be such an asshole; therefore (flawless logic) it was not my duty to do what I knew I ought to do. So I hurried off after only a quarter of an hour with him—leaving the poor wretch to solitude and festering self-pity. Tomorrow she will go to him for at least two hours.

“Hindering sin”—can we still use that term? NOT. There are too many unsatisfactory undertones and implications - the blood of the lamb, the terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God, hellfire, obsession with sex, insults, purity instead of love. (Note that poor old Beppo is upside down = Comstock or St. Paul). Also, "atonement for sin" generally meant the constant, selfish thinking that corrupts so much godliness. See in this context the diary of Prince, that zealous evangelical who later founded the House of Love - under the leadership, as the Buchmanists would say; for his long-suppressed desire for promiscuous intercourse finally entered consciousness as a command from the Holy Spirit (with whom he eventually identified) to "reconcile the flesh to God." And he began to match it - apparently in public and on the sofa in the living room.

No, you cannot use this term or think in the terms it implies. But this, of course, does not mean that permanent tendencies to bad behavior do not exist or that they should not be objectively investigated and something done about them. This remark of old Miller, when we went to visit one of his Indian patients in the mountains: “In fact and by nature, every man is one; but you have artificially turned the unity into a trinity. One smart and two idiots - you created that yourself. An admirable manipulator of ideas, associated with a person who is simply a moron in terms of self-knowledge and feelings; and your mate bound to the semi-sentient body. A body that is hopelessly unaware of everything it does and feels, that has no accomplishments, that doesn't know how to use itself or anything else." Two imbeciles and an intellectual. But man is a democracy where the majority rules. Something must be done about this majority. This journaling is the first step. Self-awareness is a necessary prelude to self-change. (Pure science, then applied.) What bothers me is indifference. I don't care about people. Or rather I don't. Because I carefully avoid every opportunity to bother. An essential part of healing is to accept whatever oppressive opportunities you get, doing your best to create them. Indifference is a form of laziness. Because you can work as hard as ever and still be lazy; be diligent in your work, but outrageously lazy in everything that is not work. Because , of course, work is fun. While idleness - in my case, personal relationships - is unpleasant and tiring. All the more unpleasant, because over time the habit of avoiding personal contact takes root. Indifference is a form of laziness, and laziness is one of the symptoms of a lack of love. You can't be lazy about what you love. Problem: how to love? (Again, that word is tricky - greasy for the Stiggins generation.) There should be some way to dry clean and sanitize the word. Love, purity, kindness, spirit - a pile of dirty laundry is waiting for the washerwoman. How, then, can one not "love" if it is an unwashed handkerchief, to feel, so to speak, a constant, affectionate interest in people? How to approach them anthropologically, what would old Miller say? It is not easy to answer.

April 5

He worked all morning. It would be foolish not to form your own materials. Of course, in a new form. My original concept was a large Bouvard et Pécuchet, built from historical facts. An image of futility, seemingly objective, scientific, but composed, as far as I understand, to justify one's own way of life. If people always behaved either half-crazy or baboonish, if they couldn't do otherwise, then I had the right to sit comfortably in the audience with opera glasses. And if something could be done, if behavior could be changed. . . In the meantime, a description of the behavior and a description of how to modify it will be valuable. Although not valuable enough to justify the complete abandonment of all other forms of action.

In the afternoon to Miller, where I found a pastor who takes Christianity seriously and has founded a pacifist organization. He buys in the name. Middle age. A bit muscular-playful Christian way. (How hard it is to admit that a man can use stereotypes and still be intelligent!) But a very decent type of man. More than decent, really. Pretty impressive.

The goal is to leverage and expand the Purchas organization. An individual small group, such as an early Christian agape or a communist cell. (Note that all successful moves are made in rowing eights or soccer penalties.) Purchasa groups precede their encounters with Christian piety. It has been empirically established that a religious atmosphere increases efficiency, strengthens the spirit of cooperation and commitment. But piety in the Christian sense will be largely unacceptable. Miller believes that a non-theological meditation practice is possible. Which, of course, he would like to combine with training, following the example of F. M. Alexander, using himself, starting with physical control and achieving (because mind and body are one) control over impulses and feelings. But that is impractical. Necessary teachers do not exist. "We have to be satisfied with doing what we can do mentally. Physicality will, of course, fail us. The body is weak in many more ways than we think.

I agreed to donate money, prepare literature and speak to groups. The latter is the most difficult because I have always refused to speak publicly. When Purchas left, he asked Miller if I should take speech lessons.

Answer. "If you take lessons before you are well and physically coordinated, you will only learn to abuse yourself again. Get well, achieve coordination, use yourself properly; you can speak however you like. There will be no more difficulties, from stage fright to voice production.

Miller then taught me how to use myself. Learning to sit on a chair, get up from it, lean forward and back. He warned me that it might seem a little pointless at first. But this interest and understanding will grow with your achievements. And that I consider it a solution video meliora proboque; the deteriora sequor problem: a technique for translating good intentions into action, into the confidence to do what you know you should do.

I spent the evening with Beppa. After listening to the catalogs of troubles, he said that there is no cure, only prevention. Avoid the cause. His reaction was passionate anger: I was robbing his life of meaning by condemning him to suicide. I suggested in the answer that there is more than one point. He said he would rather die than give up his point of view; then he changed his mood and wished he could stop. But why? I suggested pacifism. But he was already a pacifist, always had been. Yes, I knew that; but passive pacifist, negative. There was such a thing as active and positive pacifism. He listened, said he would think about it, thought this might be a way out.

The third chapter. August 30, 1933

From the flat roof of the house, the view was directed first to the west, where the pines sloped diagonally down to the sea, the blue Mediterranean bay framed by pale bony rocks and tucked between high hills, green on the lower slopes, covered with vines. gray with olive trees, then dark pine, earthy red, stone white or pinkish brown with dried heath. Through a gap between the nearer hills, the long, flat ridge of Sainte-Baume was visible, metallic clear, but blue because of the distance. On the north and south the garden was surrounded by pines; but to the east rose vineyards and olive groves on terraces of red earth up to the ridge; and the last trees stood against the sky, sometimes dark and dreary, sometimes animated with quivering silver.

There were sunbeds on the roof; and on one of them they lay, their heads in the narrow shadow of the south parapet. It was almost noon; the sun was falling steeply from the pristine sky; but a light breeze started up, died down, and started up again. Bathed in this restless heat, her skin seemed to become more sensitive, almost independent. It was as if he drank new life from the sun. And this strange, violent, fiery life from space seemed to pierce the skin, permeate and transform the body beneath until the whole body became something of alien solar material, and the soul itself felt as if it were melting away from its true identity and becoming something else. , something other than man.

There are so few possible grimaces, such a scarcity in relation to all thoughts, feelings and sensations, such a humiliating poverty of reflexes, even conscious expressive gestures! Still conscious of his estrangement, Anthony observed the symptoms of this deathbed in which he too had his part as murderer and co-victim. She turned her head restlessly on the pillows, here and there, as if she was looking, but always in vain, for some relief, even a little, some respite, even for a moment, from the unbearable suffering. Sometimes, with the movement of a man desperately begging for the cup to be pushed away, she would cross her arms and bring them to her mouth, biting her clenched knuckles or clenching her wrist between her gaping teeth, as if she wanted to stifle her own crying. The disfigured face was a mask of extreme sadness. It was the face, he saw suddenly, bent over those tortured lips, of one of Van der Weyden's holy women at the foot of the Cross.

And then, from moment to moment, there was silence. The victim no longer rolled his tortured head on the pillow. The pleading hands fell limply. The tortured expression of pain gave way to a superhuman and awe-filled peace. The mouth became serious like the mouth of a saint. What blissful vision appeared behind the closed lids?

They lay for a long time in the golden numbness of the sun and fulfilled desires. Anthony was the first to go. Touched by the quiet, thoughtless gratitude and tenderness of the contented body, he extended a caressing hand. Her skin was hot to the touch, like fruit in the sun. He raised himself on his elbow and opened his eyes.

"You look like Gauguin," he said after a moment. Brown as Gauguin, and unusually, hit him straight as Gauguin; the sunburn was muted by the pearly flashes of lipstick, blue and green that gave the untanned white body a special glow of relief.

The sound of his voice suddenly burst into a warm, wonderful trance of Helen's unconsciousness. She almost winced from the pain. Why couldn't he leave her alone? She was so happy in this other world of her transformed body; and now he was calling her back—back to this world, back to her usual hell of emptiness, dryness, and discontent. She left his words unanswered and, closing her eyes even tighter to the threat of reality, tried to force herself back into the paradise from which she had been dragged.

Brown like Gauguin and flat. . . . But the first Gauguin he ever met (and pretended, as he recalls, to like him much more than he actually did) was with Mary Amberley in Paris at the time—an exciting and, for a boy in his twenties, extraordinary and apocalyptic time.

He frowned; this past of his was becoming intrusive! But when, to avoid it, he stooped to kiss Helen's shoulder, he found that his sun-warmed skin was scented with a faint but penetrating odor, salty and smoky, an odor that immediately led him to the great chalk pit on the hillside. from the Chilterns, where he spent an inexplicably pleasant hour in the company of Brian Foxe, striking two flints together and smelling sensually where the spark had left its characteristic aftertaste of burning sea.

"P-like sm-smoke under a p-sea," was Brian's stammering comment when he was allowed to smell the flint.

Even the most seemingly solid fragments of current reality are full of pitfalls. What can be more uncompromising in the present than a woman's body in the sun? It betrayed him after all. The hard ground of her sensual immediacy and his own physical tenderness opened beneath his feet and transported him to another time and place. Nothing was certain. Even this skin stank of smoke from under the sea. This living skin, this present skin; but almost twenty years have passed since Brian's death.

A chasm of chalk, a picture gallery, a brown figure in the sun, here skin smelling of salt and smoke, here (like Maryna, he remembered) wildly musky. Somewhere in his mind, some madman had shuffled the stack of photos and distributed them at random, shuffled them again and distributed them in a different order, over and over again, ad infinitum. There was no chronology. The idiot couldn't remember the difference between before and after. The abyss was as real and alive as the gallery. That ten years separated the flint from the Gauguins was a fact, unspoken, but discoverable only by the reflection of a calculated intellect. Thirty-five years of his conscious life became instant chaos for him - a pile of photographs in the hands of a madman. And who decided which photos to keep and which to throw away? A fearful or lustful animal, according to the Freudians. But the Freudians were victims of a miserable delusion, incorrigible rationalizers, who were always looking for sufficient reasons, comprehensible motives. Fear and lust are the easiest topics to understand. That's the reason why. . . But psychology had no more right to be anthropomorphic, or even purely zoomorphic, than any other science. Besides reason and animal, man was also a collection of particles subject to the laws of chance. Some things were remembered because of their utility or appeal to the higher mental faculties; some, by the presiding animal, are remembered (or deliberately forgotten) because of their emotional content. But what about the countless rote things with no particular emotional content, no utility, no beauty, no rational meaning? Memory seemed to be a matter of luck in these cases. During the event, some particles were in a favorable position. click! the event is captured, permanently recorded. For no reason. Except, as he uneasily thought now, unless, of course, the cause was not before the event, but after it, in the future. What if this gallery of images had been captured and stored in the vaults of his mind for the sole purpose of bringing her to consciousness right now? Raised today when he was forty-two years old and safe, forty-two years old and stable, still alone, growing up with those critical years of growing up with a woman who was his teacher, his first lover, and now a barely human creature festering until I'm dead in a dirty lair? And what if this absurd childish game with flints had some meaning, a deep purpose that simply needed to be reminded here on this burning roof now that his lips touched Helen's sun-warmed body? That he might be forced, in the midst of this act of double and irresponsible sensuality, to think of Brian and the things for which Brian lived; yes, and he died for—he died, another picture suddenly came to his mind, at the foot of a cliff just like the one under which they had played as children in the chalk pit. Yes, even Brian's suicide, he realized now with horror, even the poor crumpled body on the rocks was mysteriously hidden in that hot skin.

One, two, three, four - counting each movement of his hand, he began to caress her. The gesture was magical, repeated often enough to take him beyond past and future, beyond good and evil, into a discrete, self-sufficient, atomic present. Particles of thoughts, desires and feelings move randomly among the particles of time, come into random contact and separate just as freely. Casino, asylum, zoo; but also, in the corner, a library and someone thinking. Someone very much at the mercy of dealers, at the mercy of idiots and animals; but still unrestrained and tireless. Another two or three years and the elements of sociology will be ready. In spite of everything; yes, after all, he thought with some rebellious glee and counted thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five. . .

The fourth chapter. November 6, 1902

HORNS With a tuft of orange hair between; the pink snout lowered questioningly towards the tiny cup and saucer; eyes that express more than human wonder. "THE OX," published in six-inch letters, "THE OX IN THE CUP." That thing should have been the reason to buy the beef extract - there was a reason.

An ox in a cup. Those words, a crudely comic picture, attacked the home counties that summer and fall like a skin disease. One of many nasty and discrediting infections. The train that took Anthony Beavis to Surrey rolled through a mile long eczema of profanity. Pills, soaps, cough drops and - hotter and worse than everything else - beef essence, an ox folded into bowls.

'Thirty one . . . thirty-two, the boy said to himself and wished he had started counting when the train started. There must have been hundreds of oxen between Waterloo and Clapham Junction. millions.

Opposite, leaning in his corner, sat Anthony's father. He shielded his eyes with his left hand. His lips moved under his drooping brown mustache.

"Stay there for me," John Beavis said to the person who, under closed lids, was sometimes still alive and sometimes the cold, still thing of his last memories:

stay there for me; I won't let you down

To meet you in this empty valley.

Of course, there was no immortality. After Darwin, after the Fox sisters, after Father John Beavis, the surgeon, how is that possible? There was nothing beyond this hollow valley. But still, oh, in spite of everything, stay for me, stay for me, stay, stay!


Anthony turned away from the busy landscape and saw the sight of that hand over his eyes, that moving mouth. The fact that he even thought of counting the oxen seemed to him at the same time shameful, a betrayal. And Uncle James, at the other end of the seat, with his Times, his face twitching every few seconds in sudden spasms of nervousness as he read. He could at least have the decency not to read it now - now that he will... . . Anthony refused to say the words; words would make everything so clear, and he didn't want to know too clearly. Reading The Times can be embarrassing; but the other thing was horrible, too horrible to think about, and yet so horrible that you couldn't stop thinking about it.

Anthony looked out the window again through tears. The green-gold glow of Martin's summer floated in a vague iris. And suddenly the wheels of the train began to sing loudly. "Dead-for-dead-for-dead" they shouted "dead-for-dead-for-dead". . .' Forever. Tears flowed in streams, warm on his cheeks for a moment, then icy cold. He took out a handkerchief and wiped them, wiped the mist from his eyes. The world before him, shining in the sun, was like one great and intricate jewel. The elms have dried to a pale golden color. Vast above the fields and motionless, they seemed to meditate in the crystal light of the morning, they seemed to recollect, they seemed to look back on the brink of dissolution, and in the final rapture of memory revived, concentrated in this brilliant moment of autumn, all the long triumph of spring and summer.

"DEAD-AND-DEAD," the wheels roared in sudden fury as the train crossed the bridge, "DEAD-AND-DEAD!"

Anthony tried not to listen—in vain; then i tried to make the wheels say something else. Why not say: To stop the train, pull the chain down? That's what they usually said. With a great effort of concentration, he got them to change the chorus.

"To stop the train, pull the chain. To stop the train, pull dead-dead-dead." . It wasn't good.

Mr. Beavis opened his eyes for a moment and looked out the window. How bright the autumn trees are! They would seem cruelly dazzling, offensive, if there were not something desperate in their immobility, a certain glassy fragility which, oh! it summoned catastrophes that prophetically heralded the coming darkness and black branches moved in agony among the stars, sleet like arrows along the howling wind.

Uncle James turned the page of his Times. He saw that the ritualists and Kenzites were falling for it again; and he was delighted. Let dog eat dog. "THE MASTER CHAMBER AT THE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL". What is the old devil up to now? The unveiling of the plaque to the Elders who died in the war. "More than a hundred young men went to the front, and twelve of them gave their lives for the country in South Africa (well done). Deluded idiots, thought Uncle James, who had always been a strong supporter of the Boers.

He painted among the real cows in the pasture huge horns, triangular chestnut hair, questionable nostrils, a cup of tea. Anthony closed his eyes at the vision.

"No, I won't," he said with all the determination with which he fought the wheels. He refused to know the horror; refused to recognize the ox. But what is the use of rejection? The wheels were still screeching. And how could he hide the fact that the ox was thirty-fourths to the right of Clapham Junction? A number is always a number, even on the way to . . . But the counting was shameful, the counting was like the Times of Uncle James. Counting was evasion, betrayal. And then the other thing, the thing they should think about, was really too scary. Too unnatural, somehow.

“Whatever we may have thought or still think of the causes, necessity, and justice of a war which has happily ended, I think we must all feel a deep satisfaction that when a country called its children to arms, the manhood of the nation sprang up in response. . . His face contorted with irritation, Uncle James put down the Times and looked at his watch.

"He's two and a half minutes late," he said angrily.

If only he was a hundred years too late, his brother thought. "Or ten years earlier—no, twelve, thirteen." Our first year of marriage.

James Beavis looked out the window. "And we're still at least a mile from Lollingdon," he continued.

As if on an aching tooth, his fingers returned to the chronometer in his vest pocket. Time for yourself. Always imperative time, categorical time - time to look at the clock and see the time. . . .

The wheels spoke slower and slower, until finally they became inarticulate. The brakes squealed.

"Lollingdon, Lollingdon," cried the porter.

But Uncle James was already on the platform. - Quick! - he shouted, walking with long legs next to the train that was still moving. His hand once again moved towards that mystical ulcer that was forever eating away at his consciousness. 'Quickly!'

Resentment suddenly appeared in his brother's mind. "Why does he want me to hurry?" as if they were in danger of something - some pleasure, some dangerously brief amusement.

Anthony followed his father. They walked towards the door along the wall of words and pictures. Guinea BOX AND BLESSING FOR MEN PICKWICK OWL AND MOTH KILLER BEET BULLS CABINET CABINET AND BRANSON CAMP OX COFFEE W . . . And suddenly there appeared the horns, the expressive eyes, the cup—the thirty-fifth cup—"No, I won't, I won't"—but still the thirty-fifth, the thirty-fifth with Clapham Crossing on the right.

The cabin smelled of straw and leather. Straw and leather, '88, right? yes, eighty-eight; that Christmas when they went to the dance at Champernowne, he and she and her mother, in that cold, with a sheepskin rug on their wings. And as if by chance (he didn't dare to do it consciously yet) the back of his hand brushed against hers; brushed himself casually, casually rested. Her mother spoke of the difficulty of finding servants - and when you got them, they didn't know anything, they were lazy. She didn't move her hand! Did that mean she didn't mind? He took a risk; his fingers closed around hers. They were disrespectful, her mother continued, they were… so. . . He felt the pressure suit him, and looking up, he saw in the darkness that she was smiling at him.

"Really," her mother was saying, "I don't know where it's going these days." And he saw, in the form of a silent comment, the mischievous flash of Maisie's teeth; and that little handshake was wonderfully conspiratorial, secret and illegal.

Slowly, hoof by hoof, the old horse pulled them; slowly through the alleys, to the heart of the great autumn jewel of gold and crystal; and stopped at the very core. The church tower was amber-gray in the sunlight. The clock, noted James Beavis irritably, was ticking slowly. They went through the big door. Surprisingly and horrifyingly, four black men were walking down the path in front of them. Two huge women (they all seemed giants to Anthony) rose from the stone slabs in great cones of inky drapery. With them, even bigger because of their top hats, walked two huge men.

"Champernowns," said James Beavis; and the syllables of the famous name were like a sword, another sword, in the very fast pace of his brother's existence. "Champernowns and… let's see… what's the name of the young man their daughter married?" Anstey? Annerley? He looked questioningly at John; but John stared straight ahead and made no reply.

Amersham? Atherton? James Beavis frowned in irritation. Meticulous, he paid great attention to names, dates and numbers; he prided himself on his power to reproduce them correctly. His memory loss enraged him. "Atherton? Anderson?" And what infuriated him even more was that the young man was so beautiful, how well he carried himself - not as stupid, stiff, military like his father-in-law, the general, but gracefully, easily. . . I won't know what to call it, he said to himself; and his right cheek began to twitch, as if some living thing were trapped under his skin and was struggling violently to escape.

They went further. It seemed to Anthony that he had swallowed his heart—he had swallowed it whole, without chewing. He felt quite ill, as if he expected a whipping.

The black giants stopped, turned and came back to meet them. Hats were raised, hands were shaken.

– And dear little Anthony! cried Lady Champernowne, when at last it was his turn. Instinctively, she leaned in and kissed him.

She was fat. Her lips left a disgusting wet stain on his cheek. Anthony hated her.

Maybe I should kiss him too, Mary Amberley thought as she watched her mother. Such strange things were expected from marriage. Six months ago, when Mary Champernowne was still fresh out of school, this would have been unthinkable. But now. . . you never know. In the end, she still decided that she would not kiss the boy, it would be really too funny. She squeezed his hand without a word, smiling only at the distant security of her secret happiness. She had been nearly five months pregnant, and for the last two or three weeks she had been living in a sort of dream-like trance of bliss, indescribably wonderful. Bliss in a world that has become beautiful, rich and kind beyond recognition. The land they were driving through that morning in the gently rocking landau was like paradise; and that little patch of green between the golden trees and the tower was Eden itself. Poor Mrs. Beavis is dead, it is true; so beautiful, so young. How sad! But the sadness somehow did not touch her secret bliss, it remained deeply disconnected from her, as if it were someone's sadness from another planet.

Anthony looked for a moment at the smiling face, so resplendent in its black frame, so radiant with inner peace and happiness, and then shame came over him and he looked down.

Meanwhile, a fascinated Roger Amberley watched his father-in-law and wondered how anyone could live so reliably in character; how can you pretend to be a real general while still looking and sounding just like a general in a musical comedy scene. Even at the funeral, even as he spoke a few well-chosen words to his bereaved husband—pure Grossmith! The lips under his beautiful brown mustache twitched uncontrollably.

"She looks badly wounded," thought the general, speaking to John Beavis; and he felt sorry for the poor man, though he still disliked him. Because, of course, the man was an affected bore and simpleton, too smart, but also a fool. Worst of all, it's not masculine. Always surrounded by petticoats. Mom's petticoats, aunt's petticoats, wife's petticoats. He could use a few years in the army. He looked awfully scarred, though. And Maisie was a sweet baby. Too good for him, of course. . . .

They stood for a moment, and then they all walked slowly together towards the church. Among them was Anthony, a dwarf among giants. Their blackness enveloped him, covered the sky, darkened the amber tower and the trees. He walked on the bottom of the moving well. His black walls rustled around him. He started to cry.

He didn't want to know—he did his best not to know, except superficially, as we know, for example, that thirty-five comes after thirty-four. But that black well was dark with the concentrated horror of death. There was no escape. His sobs broke out uncontrollably.

Mary Amberley, lost in ecstatic contemplation of the golden leaves in the pale sky, stared for a moment at the small creature crying on another planet, then turned away again.

"Poor child!" the father said to himself; and then, as if overestimating himself, "Poor child without a mother!" he added deliberately and rejoiced (because he wanted to suffer) that it cost him so much pain to say those words. He looked down at his son, saw a face contorted with regret, a full and sensitive mouth that ached so painfully, and above that tear-stained deformity a broad, high forehead, seemingly indifferent in its smooth purity; he saw and felt his heart tighten from the additional pain.

- Dear boy! he said out loud, thinking that this sadness would surely bring them closer together. It was so difficult with the child - so difficult to be natural, to make contact. But surely, surely, that sadness and their shared memories. . . He squeezed a small hand in his.

They were in front of the church door. The well fell apart.

There might be someone in Tibet, thought Uncle James as he took off his hat. "Why don't you have shoes too?"

Inside the church was an ancient darkness that smelled of a century of rural piety. Anthony took two breaths of that sweet, stale air and felt his stomach rise in disgust. Fear and misery had already consumed his heart; and now this smell, this horrible smell that meant this place was full of bacteria. . . . - It smells like germs! He heard her voice—her voice, which always changed when she talked about germs, became different, as if someone else were speaking. At normal times, when she wasn't angry, it sounded so quiet and kind of lazy - lazy with laughter or lazy with tiredness. The bacteria suddenly made him almost fierce, but scared at the same time. "Always spit when there's a bad smell nearby," she told him. - There may be typhus germs in the air. His mouth watered at the memory of her words. But how could he spit here in the church? He had no choice but to swallow. He shuddered in fear and disgust. And suppose he should really feel bad in this stinking place? Worry made him even more sick. What was to be done during the service? He had never been to a funeral before.

James Beavis looked at his watch. The hocus pocus was supposed to start in three minutes. Why didn't John insist on a civilian funeral? Poor Maisie never cared much for such things. Silly little woman; but never religiously stupid. Hers was pure worldly folly of pure feminine frivolity. The stupidity of reading novels on couches, alternating with the stupidity of teas, picnics and dancing. It was amazing that John could put up with such nonsense – he even seemed to enjoy it! Women cluck like hens around the tea table. James Beavis scowled with furious disdain. He hated women - they disgusted him. All those soft bumps on their bodies. Frightening. And stupidity, recklessness. In any case, poor Maisie was never a parson-breeder. It's because of her bad relationships. There were deans in the family - deans and deans. John didn't want to offend them. He has a weak mind. In principle, you should be offended.

The organ was playing. A small procession of surplices entered through the open door. Some of the men brought what looked like a large bunch of flowers. There was singing. Then silence. And then in an unusual voice: "Now Christ is risen from the dead," began the priest; and on and on, all about God, death, animals in Ephesus, and the flesh. But Anthony barely heard because he could think of nothing but the germs that were still there, despite the smell of the flowers and the saliva filling his mouth and swallowing despite the typhoid and flu. and that terrible nausea in the stomach. How long would it take?

Like a goat, James Beavis said to himself, listening to the intonations on the payphone. He looked again at Champernown's son-in-law. Anderton, Abdy. . . ? What a beautiful, classic profile!

His brother sat with his head down and his hand over his eyes, thinking about the ashes in the coffin under the flowers, the ashes that were her body.

The service is finally over. "Thank God!" thought Anthony, surreptitiously spitting into his handkerchief and pocketing the sprouts. "Thank God!" He wasn't sick. He followed his father to the door and gasped in delight as he emerged from the darkness into clear air. The sun was still shining. He looked around and up at the pale sky. Above the church steeple there was a sudden cry of jackdaws, like the clatter of a stone that had fallen on a frozen pond and came off with a repeated glassy crunch of ice.

"But, Anthony, you mustn't throw stones in the ice," his mother urged him. "They freeze, and then the skaters. . ".

He remembered how she had turned towards him with one foot—diving, he thought, like a seagull; all in white: beautiful. And now . . . Tears came to his eyes again. But, oh, why did she insist on trying skating?

"I don't want to," he said; and when she asked why, it was impossible to explain. Of course he was afraid that they wouldn't laugh at him. People have made fools of themselves. But how could he tell her? In the end, he burst into tears, in front of everyone. It can't be worse. He almost hated her this morning. And now she was dead, and up in the tower the jackdaws were throwing stones into the ice last winter.

Now they were at the grave. Mr. Beavis shook his son's hand once more. He tried to prevent those last, most painful moments from affecting the child's mind.

"Be brave," he whispered. The advice was addressed to both him and the boy.

Leaning forward, Anthony peered into the hole. It seemed extremely deep. He shuddered, closed his eyes; and there she was in an instant, swooping down on him, white as a seagull and white again in her satin evening dress when she came to bid him good night before she went to dinner, with that scent on her as she bent over him in bed and the freshness of her bare shoulders. "You're like a cat," she would say as he rubbed his cheek against her shoulder. "Why don't you purr when you talk about it?"

Anyway, Uncle James thought with satisfaction, he was adamant about cremation. Resurrection of the body, indeed! In 1902!

When his time came, John Beavis thought, he would be buried there. Right in this grave. His ashes next to hers.

The priest spoke again in that unusual voice. "You know, Lord, the secrets of our hearts. . Anthony opened his eyes. Two men were placing a small terracotta box, not much bigger than a biscuit tin, into the hole. The box hit rock bottom; the rope is pulled.

"Earth to earth," bleated the goat's voice, "from ashes to ashes."

My ashes for her ashes, thought John Beavis. 'Mixed.'

And suddenly he remembered that time in Rome, a year after the wedding; those June nights and the fireflies under the trees in the gardens of Doria like crazy stars.

"Who will transform our poor body to be like His glorious body. . ".

- Wicked, miserable? his soul protested.

Earth was falling, one shovel, then another. The box was almost covered. He was so small, so terribly and unexpectedly small. . . the image of that huge ox, that tiny cup, flashed in Anthony's mind. He rudely stood up and refused the exorcism. The jackdaws cried again in the tower. Like a seagull pounced on him, handsome. But the ox was still there, still in his teacup, still mean and hideous; and he himself is even more contemptible, even more hateful.

John Beavis let go of the hand he was holding and, wrapping an arm around the boy's shoulders, pressed the thin body against his - close, close, until he felt sobs against his body that shook him.

'Poor child! Poor motherless child!

The fifth chapter. December 8, 1926

"WON'T LAUGH," Joyce said.

'I would.'

- No, it wouldn't.

"I tell you I do," Helen Amberley persisted with more emphasis.

Crazy sensible: "If you were caught, you'd go to jail," continued the older sister. "No, not to jail," she corrected herself. 'You are too young. They would send you to a reformatory.

Blood rushed to Helena's face. "You and your correctional facilities!" she said in a tone that was intended to be contemptuous, but trembled with unbridled anger. This reformatory was a personal affront. The prison was terrible; so terrible that there was something beautiful about it. (Visited Chillon, crossed the Bridge of Sighs.) But juvie - no! it was completely unworthy. The reformatory was on the same level as the public toilet or the District Railway Station. "Reformers!" she repeated. It was typical of Joyce to think about correctional institutions. She always dragged everything that was fun and adventurous into the mud. And what's worse, she was mostly right about this: facts are mud, common sense is mud. "You think I wouldn't dare do that because you wouldn't," Helen continued. - Well, I will. Just to show you. I will steal something from every store we go to. All. So there.

Joyce started to worry a lot. She looked questioningly at her sister. Helen only allowed her to see the profile, now pale and stiff, chin raised defiantly. "Look now," she began sternly.

"I'm not listening," Helen said, speaking directly into impersonal space.

- Don't be a fool!

There was no answer. The profile may have depicted the young queen on the coin. They turned onto Gloucester Road and headed for the shops.

But suppose that poor girl really meant what she said? Joyce changed her strategy. - Of course I know you dare - she said conciliatoryly. There was no answer. I don't doubt that for a moment. She turned back to Helena; but the profile continued to look straight ahead, its eyes unwaveringly averted. The grocery store was on the next corner, less than twenty meters away. There was no time to waste. Joyce swallowed what was left of her pride. "Well, look, Helena," she pleaded, throwing herself into her sister's generosity. "I wish you wouldn't." She imagined the whole sad scene. Helen caught in the act; the embittered merchant, who speaks louder and louder; her own attempts to explain and justify failed because of the intolerable behavior of the other person. Because, of course, Helen would just stand there, silent, not uttering a single word of self-justification or regret, still and smiling scornfully, as if she were more of a being and everyone else just dirt. Which would enrage the merchant even more. Until he finally sent for the policeman. And then . . . But what would Colin think if he heard about it? His future sister-in-law arrested for theft! Maybe break off the engagement. Oh, please don't do it, she begged; "I pray!" She might as well have begged King George's whale on the half-crown to turn and wink at her. A pale, determined, young queen forged in silver, Helena continued. - Please! repeated Joyce, almost in tears. The thought of losing Colin was torture. "I pray!" But the smell of shopping was already in her nostrils; they were on the doorstep. She grabbed her sister by the sleeve; but Helena shook him off and marched straight inside. Out of breath, Joyce followed her as if to execution. When they entered, the young man behind the cheese and bacon counter smiled warmly. Trying to ward off suspicion and preemptively quell her inevitable anger, Joyce smiled back at him with exuberant kindness. No, that was excessive. She straightened her face. Composure; easy; perfectly ladylike, but at the same time decent; polite and (what was that word?), oh! yes, gracious - like Queen Alexandra. She politely followed Helen through the store. But why, she thought, why bring up the subject of crime at all? Why, knowing Helen, was she crazy enough to claim that someone, if raised properly, simply couldn't be a criminal? It was obvious what Helen's reaction would be to this. She was just asking for it.

My younger sister's mother gave me the shopping list. "Because she's almost as scatterbrained as I am," Mrs. Amberley explained with that touch of smugness that always annoyed Joyce so much. People had no right to brag about their shortcomings. "This will teach her to be a good housewife—God help her!" she added, snorting with laughter.

Helena, standing at the counter, unrolled the newspaper, read it, and then very haughtily and without a smile, as if ordering the slave: "First coffee," she said to the assistant. "Two pounds - a mixture of two and fourpence."

It was obvious that the girl felt offended by Helena's tone and feudal behavior. Joyce felt it her duty to smile at her with a double compensating cuteness.

"Try to be a little more polite," she whispered as the girl left to get her coffee.

Helen was silent, but with an effort. Civil, exactly! That hideous little creature that squints its eyes and doesn't wash its armpits enough? Oh, how she hated all ugliness, monstrosity and impurity! Hated and hated. . .

“And for God's sake,” continued Joyce, “don't do anything stupid. I absolutely forbid. . ".

But as she spoke these words, Helen reached out and, without any attempt to conceal herself, seized the top of the intricate structure of chocolate bars that stood on the counter like part of a spiral column, took it, and then with the same slow deliberation of movement, carefully returned it to your basket.

But before the crime was fully committed, Joyce turned and walked away.

I can say I've never seen her before, she thought. But of course that won't do anything. Everyone knew they were sisters. “Oh, Colin,” she cried softly, “Colin!

A pyramid of canned lobster rose before her. She paused. Calm down, she told herself. "I have to be calm." Her heart pounded in terror, and the dark purple lobsters on the can labels swayed before her eyes. She was afraid to look around; but over the noise of her heartbeat she listened anxiously to the inevitable cry.

"I don't know if you're interested in lobsters, miss," a confidential voice almost whispered in her left ear.

Joyce shuddered violently; then she barely managed to smile and shake her head.

"We can wholeheartedly recommend this line, miss. I'm sure you've tried a can…. ".

"Now," said Helen very calmly, and in the same savage feudal tone, "I need ten pounds of sugar." But you have to send it.

They left the store. The young man at the cheese and bacon counter smiled in parting; they were beautiful girls and regular visitors. With great effort, Joyce managed to be polite once again. But as soon as they passed the door, her face fell apart as if in a chaos of violent emotions.

- Helena! she screamed furiously. "Helen!"

But Helen was still the young queen on her silver florin, wordless in profile.

- Helen! Joyce found an inch of her sister's bare skin between her glove and sleeve and pinched hard.

Helen yanked her hand away and continued profiling without looking back. "If you keep bothering me," she said quietly, "I'll push you into the gutter."

Joyce opened her mouth to say something, then changed her mind and closed it absurdly. She knew Helen would no doubt push her into the gutter if she said anything more. She had to settle for a shrug and a dignified look.

The supermarket was crowded. While waiting her turn, Helen bagged a few oranges with ease.

- You have? Joyce suggested insultingly as they left the store.

It was Joyce's turn to present the profile on the coin.

Unfortunately, there were no other customers in the paper shop to disturb the people behind the counter. But Helen adapted to the situation. A handful of change suddenly rolled across the floor; and while the assistants searched for the scattered coins, she took an eraser and three very good pencils.

The problems started in the butcher shop. Usually Helen didn't want to go to the store at all; the sight, the disgusting smell of those pale corpses disgusted her. But this morning she came right in. Despite the disgust. It was a matter of honor. She said in every store and she didn't want to give Joyce an excuse to say she was cheating. For the first half minute, while her lungs were still full of the unpolluted air she had breathed in the street, everything was fine. But, oh God, when she finally had to take a breath. . . God! She put a handkerchief to her nose. But the sharp, screeching smell of the corpse broke through the perfume barrier, overlapping the sweetness, so that the breath that began Quelques Fleurs ended horribly in dead sheep or, opening in stagnant blood, imperceptibly modulated into jasmine and ambergris.

The client left; the butcher turned to her. He was an old man, very large, with a square, massive face that illuminated her with paternal kindness.

"Like Mr. Baldwin," she said to herself, and then loudly but indistinctly through her handkerchief, "A full and a half ramsteak, please."

The butcher returned a moment later with a mass of bloody meat. "That's a lovely piece of meat there, madam!" He touched the moist red lump with the loving enthusiasm of an artist. "A truly beautiful piece." It was Mr. Baldwin who fingered his Virgil and thumbed his dog-eared Webb.

"I'll never eat meat again," she said to herself as Mr. Baldwin turned and began to cut the meat. "But what shall I take?" She looked around. "What the hell. . . ? Ah! Along one wall of the shop stretched a marble shelf that reached the height of the table. On it, in trays, pink or purple-brown, lay selections of disgusting offal. And between the insides of the hips, a large steel S, still stained at one curved end with the blood of something that had been drawn and hacked off. She looked around. It seemed like a good time - the butcher was weighing his steak, his assistant was talking to this obnoxious old lady like a bulldog, the girl at the till was deep in her bills. Detached and withdrawn in the doorway, Joyce deftly exaggerates the role of someone who examines the sky and wonders if this drizzle will turn into something serious. Helen took three quick steps, seized the hook, and was about to throw it into the basket when, anxiously, "Be careful, Miss," said the butcher's voice, "you will soil yourself if you touch those hooks." '

This surprise start was the steepest downhill scenic cable car ride - disgusting! A well in the cheeks, eyes, forehead, blood welling up from guilt! She tried to laugh.

“I was just watching. The hook hit the marble.

“I don't want you to ruin your clothes, miss. His smile was paternal. More like Mr. Baldwin than ever.

Nervous, with nothing better to say or do, Helen laughed again and took another deep deathly breath as she did so. Phew! She re-enhanced the nose with Quelques Fleurs.

“One pound and eleven ounces, miss.

She nodded in agreement. But what could she take? And how could she find the opportunity?

"Anything else this morning?"

Yes, that's the only thing you could do - order more. It will give her time to think, an opportunity to act. "You have a little. . she hesitated. . . some sweets?

Yes, Mr. Baldwin had cookies and they were on the shelf with the other offal. Near the hook. - Oh, I don't know - she said when he asked her how much she needed. “Just the usual amount, you know.

She looked around while he was busy with sweets, desperately. There was nothing in that filthy store but a hook for her to take. And now that he saw her with him in his hands, the hook was out of the question. Nothing, nothing. Only if . . . That was it! A shudder went through her. But she frowned, gritted her teeth. She was determined to get through it.

"And now," when he packed up the candy, "now," she said, "I must have some!" She pointed to packages of bright sausages stacked on a shelf across the street from the store.

I'll do it with his back turned, she thought. But the checkout girl got out of her receipts and looked around the store. — Oh, damn it, damn it! Helena almost screamed in her mind, then "Thank God!" the girl turned around. Hand bullet; but the averted gaze returned: "Damn her!" The hand fell. And now it was too late. Mr. Baldwin took the sausages, turned and walked back to her.

"Is that all, Miss?"

- I wonder? Helen frowned uncertainly, stalling. "I can't shake the feeling that there is something else." . . something else . . Seconds passed; it was terrifying; She was making a fool of herself, an absolute fool. But she didn't want to give up. She didn't want to admit defeat.

"We've got some lovely Welsh mutton this morning," said the butcher in his artistic voice, as if speaking of the Georgians.

Helen shook her head: she really can't start buying mutton now.

Suddenly the girl behind the cashier started typing again. The moment has come. "No," she said firmly, "I'll take another pound of sausages."

- One more? Mr. Baldwin looked surprised.

Nothing out of the ordinary! she thought. They would be surprised at home too.

"Yes, just one more thing," she said and smiled sweetly, as if asking for a favor. He went back to the shelf. The girl behind the counter was still typing, the old lady who looked like a bulldog was talking to her assistant. Quickly—there was not a moment to waste—Helen turned to the marble shelf beside her. She decided on one of these kidneys. The creature slid cheekily between her gloved fingers—a snail, a squid. Finally she had to grab him with her whole hand. Thank God, she thought, for gloves! As she threw it into the basket, the thought occurred to her that for some reason she might have to take the horrible creature into her mouth, even though it was raw and oozing some unspeakable slime, take it in her mouth, bite it, taste it, swallow it . Another shudder of disgust ran through her, this time so violent that it felt like something was ripping the center of her body.

Tired of being a forecaster, Joyce stood under an umbrella and stared at the chrysanthemums in the window of the flower shop next door. She had prepared something particularly offensive to say to Helen when she left. But at the sight of her sister's pale, unhappy face, she forgot even her justified complaints.

"Why, Helena, what is it?"

In response, Helen suddenly began to cry.

'What is that?'

She shook her head and, turning away, raised her hand to her face to wipe away the tears.

'Tell me . . ".

- Oh! Helen started and screamed as if stung by a wasp. There was a look of painful disgust on her face. "Oh, too dirty, too dirty," she repeated, looking down at her fingers. Placing the basket on the pavement, she unbuttoned her glove, took it off her hand and threw it violently into the gutter.

The sixth chapter. November 6, 1902

The guard blew his whistle, and the train moved obediently on—creeping alongside Keating; next to Branson; with Pickwick, Owl and Waverley; next to Beecham, Owbridge, Carter, Pears, in quick succession; by Humphrey's Iron Buildings, by Lollingdon for Choate; past Eno at nearly twenty miles an hour; with Pears, Pears, Pears, Pears, Pears - and suddenly the platform and its fences collapsed and disappeared, swallowed by the green earth. Anthony leaned back in his corner and sighed gratefully. It was finally an escape; he got out of that black well they pushed him into and was free again. The wheels sang merrily in his ears. 'To stop a train remove the chain, fine for misuse five pounds five pounds five pounds five pounds. . But how awful was the dinner at grandma's!

"Business," James Beavis was saying. - That's the only thing at this moment.

His brother nodded. "Just," he agreed. And then, after a moment's hesitation, "There was a knock," he added sheepishly in what he thought was normal English. John Beavis' colloquialism came mostly from books. This "bad punch" was a metaphor taken from a boxing match he had never witnessed. “Fortunately,” he continued, “we have a lot of work to do now. He thought about his lectures. He reflected on his contribution to the Oxford Dictionary. Mountains of books, pages, his huge map index, letters from fellow philologists. And a lengthy essay on Jacobean slang. - Not that anyone wants to "evade" anything - he added, inserting a colloquial word between the sound equivalents of quotation marks. James can't think he can drown his sorrows in work. He was looking for a phrase. 'His . . . this is sacred music! he finally pulled out.

James nodded with quick head movements as if he knew in advance everything his brother was going to say or might say. His face contorted with sudden involuntary tics. He was exhausted with nervous impatience, as if from consumption, eaten to the bone. "Quite," he said. - Quite. And he nodded one last time. A long silence followed.

Tomorrow, Anthony thought, would be algebra with old Jimbug. The prospect was unpleasant; he wasn't good at math, and even at his best, even when he was joking, Mr. Jameson was a wonderful teacher. "If Jimbug gets baited with me like last week... Remembering the scene, Anthony frowned; blood rushed to his cheeks. Jimbug made sarcastic remarks and pulled his hair. He began to babble. (Who wouldn't burp? ) A tear fell on the equation he was trying to calculate and made a great circular stain. That beast, Staithes, tormented him later. Fortunately, Foxe came to his aid. One laughed at Foxe because he stuttered; but he was very polite indeed.

In Waterloo, Anthony and his father took a taxi. Uncle James preferred to walk. "I can get to the club in eleven minutes," he told them. His hand went to his waistcoat pocket. He looked at his watch; then he turned and walked down the hill without a word.

– Euston! John Beavis called the cab driver.

Stepping cautiously up the smooth slope, the horse moved forward; the taxi waved like a ship. Anthony hummed silently to the Washington Post. Riding a horse-drawn carriage always gave him great joy. At the foot of the hill, the taxi driver was forcing his horse into a trot. They passed the smell of beer, the smell of fried fish; he took the Farewell Dolly Gray horn and turned onto Waterloo Road. Traffic rumbled and shuddered around them. If his father wasn't there, Anthony would sing loudly.

The end of the afternoon was still as clear as the smoke above the roofs. And suddenly the river appeared, shining, with black barges and tug, and St Paul like a balloon in the sky, and the mysterious Shooting Tower.

On the bridge, a man threw bread to the seagulls. Weak, almost invisible, he flew through the air; they turned, bending their gray wings, resisting their speed, and suddenly shone like snow on the dark edges of the sky; then he rode out of the light again, into invisibility. Anthony looked and stopped humming. Facing you on the ice, the skater will lean like this.

And suddenly, as if worried, he too understood the inner meaning of those passing birds. "My dear boy," began Mr. Beavis, breaking the long silence. He squeezed Anthony's shoulder. 'Dear boy!'

With a heavy heart, Anthony waited for what he would say next.

"We must stick together now," said Mr. Beavis.

The boy made a vague noise of agreement.

'Close together. Because both. . he hesitated.. We both loved her.

Another silence followed. - Oh, if only it would stop! Anthony begged. In vain. His father moved on.

"We will always be faithful to her," he said. 'Never. . . he never let her down? - shall we?'

Anthony nodded.

- Never! repeated John Beavis firmly. "Never!" And he recited to himself those sentences that haunted him all these days:

Until old age, sadness or illness

Marry my body with this dust

He loves so much; and fill the room

My heart remains empty in your grave.

Stay there for me!

Then in a loud and almost rebellious tone, "She will never be dead to us," he said. - We will keep her in our hearts, right?

She lives for us - the father continued - so that we live for her - we live beautifully, nobly, as she would want us to live. He stopped at the edge of a colloquialism—the kind of colloquialism he intended. be understood and appreciated by students. 'Live . . . well, like a pair of ordinary "bricks" - he pulled out unnaturally. “And bricks,” he continued, improvising a build-up to the speech, “bricks that are also 'friends'. Real 'friends.' We're going to be 'friends' now, Anthony, aren't we?

Anthony nodded again. He was in agony of shame and shame. "Friends". It was a school story. Fifth grade in St. Dominica. You laughed as you read, roared mockingly. friends! And with my father! He felt himself blushing. Looking out the side window to hide his embarrassment, he saw one of the gray birds flying from the sky towards the bridge; closer, closer; then he leaned over, turned left, flashed for a moment, transformed and disappeared.

* * *

At school, everyone was terribly tidy. Pretty decent, really. The boys were so tactful not to invade his emotional intimacy, not to offend him by showing their own good mood, that after a few forced and unnatural expressions of kindness, they left him alone. Anthony felt it was almost like being sent to Coventry. He could hardly make matters worse if he was caught stealing or sneaking. Never, since the first days of the first semester, had he felt so hopelessly out of it all as he did that night.

"It is a pity you missed the game this afternoon," said Thompson, when they sat down to dinner; he spoke in the tone he would use when visiting his uncle.

- Was it a good match? Anthony asked with the same unnatural politeness.

"Oh nice. They won after all. three-two. The conversation stopped. Thompson wondered uneasily what he should say next. That Butterworth line about the young lady from Ealing? No, he couldn't repeat it; not today when Beavis's mother. . . So what? A loud diversion from the other side of the table apparently solved his problem. He had an excuse to turn around. "What's that?" he shouted with unnecessary fervor. "What's that?" Soon they were all talking and laughing together. S on the other side of the invisible abyss Anthony listened and watched.

- Agnes! someone called the maid. 'Agnes!'

“Aganeezer Lemon Squeezer,” said Mark Staithes, “but keep it quiet so he doesn't hear; rudeness to servants was a crime in Bulstrode, and was therefore held in even greater esteem, even sotto voce. This lemon squeezer made me laugh out loud. Staithes himself, however, remained clean. Sitting unsmiling amid the laughter he caused gave him an unusual sense of power and superiority. Besides, it was in the family tradition. No Staithes ever smiled at his own joke, epigram, or line.

Looking around the table, Mark Staithes noticed that poor baby-faced Benger Beavis wasn't laughing at all, and for a moment he was filled with burning indignation at anyone who dared not be amused by his joke. What made the insult even more unbearable was the fact that Benger was so utterly insignificant. Bad at football, not so good at cricket. The only thing he was good at was work. Work! And did such a creature dare to sit without a smile while he... . . Then suddenly he remembered that the poor fellow had lost his mother, and, relaxing his hard face, he gave him a small smile of respect and sympathy across the space between them. Anthony smiled back, then looked away, blushing with vague discomfort, as if he'd been caught doing something wrong. The consciousness of his own magnanimity and the sight of Benger's shame restored Staithes to good spirits.

- Agnes! he shouted. 'Agnes!'

Finally, the great, chronically evil Agnes has arrived.

“More jam, Agnes, please.

- Jore, mother - called Thompson. Everyone laughed again, not because the joke wasn't funny at all, but simply because everyone wanted to laugh.

- And bread.

Yes, more bread.

“More bread, please, Agnes.

- Indeed, bread! said Agnes indignantly, taking the empty plate of bread and butter. "Why can't you speak your mind?"

The laughter doubled. They couldn't say what they were thinking - they absolutely couldn't, because saying "bread" or "breadney" instead of bread was a Bulstrode tradition and a symbol of their community, a seal of their superiority over all other uninitiated. . world.

– More Pepin le Bref! Staithes shouted.

„Pepin le Breadney, le Breadney!”

The laughter became almost hysterical. Everyone remembered the occasion last semester when they came to Pepin le Bref as part of European history. Pepin le Bref - le Bref! First Butterworth broke, then Pembroke-Jones, then Thompson - and finally the whole Second League, Staithes and the rest, uncontrollably. Old Jimbug took the most terrible bait. Which made it even more fun now.

"Just a bunch of stupid kids!" said Agnes; and seeing them still laughing when she returned after a while with more bread, "Only children!" she repeated firmly, trying to be insulting. But her blow did not touch them. They were out of it, in an ecstasy of reasonless laughter.

Antoni would have liked to laugh with them, but somehow he didn't dare do more than smile, withdrawn and polite, like someone in a foreign country who doesn't understand the joke, but wants to show that he doesn't mind other people having a little fun. And a moment later, feeling hungry, he suddenly became speechless over an empty plate. To ask for more bread or another piece of bread would be obscenity and an intrusion for the saintly pariah as he has now become - indecency, because a person who has been consecrated by his mother's death, of course, should not speak in slang, but an intrusion, because a stranger has no right to use a special language reserved for the chosen ones. He hesitated indecisively. At last he said, "Give me bread, please," he whispered; and blushed (the words sounded so terribly stupid and unnatural) to the roots of his hair.

Leaning toward his neighbor on the other side, Thompson continued to recite the lines in a whisper. '. . . all over the ceiling,” he concluded; and they laughed uproariously.

Thank God Thompson didn't hear. Anthony felt a deep sense of relief. Despite his hunger, he asked no more.

There was a commotion at the high table; old Jimbug stood up. The hideous sound of chair legs scraping against the boards seemed to fill the room; then evaporated into a void of complete silence. "For everything we got. . The conversation flares up again, and the boys rush to the door.

In the hallway, Anthony felt a hand on his shoulder. "Hi, B-banger."

"Hello, Fox." He didn't say Hello, Horse-Face because of what happened this morning. Horse Face would be as inappropriate in the current circumstances as Bread.

"I have to p-show you something," Brian Foxe said, his wistful, rather ugly face suddenly lighting up as he smiled at Anthony. People laughed at Foxe because he stuttered and looked like a horse. But he liked almost all of them. Even if he was a bit of a geek and not very good at games. And he was quite a pi when it came to debauchery; and he never seemed to get into trouble with the masters. But you must have liked him anyway, because he was so terribly polite. Even too polite; because it really wasn't right to treat the New Bugs the way he did—as if they were equals. Animal little ticks of nine-year-olds equal to eleven- and twelve-year-old boys; imagine! No, Foxe was wrong about the New Bugs; there could be no doubt about that. Still, people liked the old Horseface.

"What do you have?" asked Anthony; and he was so grateful to Horseface for treating him in a normal, natural way that he spoke rather harshly, for fear that Horseface might notice how he felt.

Come and see, Brian wanted to say; but he did not go further than "C-c-c-c". . The protracted agony of clicks continued. Another moment, Anthony might laugh, maybe shout, "Listen to old Ponyface trying to get seasick!" But today he said nothing; I just thought how bad luck it is for this poor guy. Eventually Brian Foxe gave up on trying to say "Come and see" and walked away instead. "It's in my p-play box."

They ran down the stairs to the dark hallway where the toy boxes were kept.

- T-there! Brian said lifting the lid of his box.

Anthony looked up, and seeing that elegant little ship, square rigged, with three masts, with paper sails, "I say," he exclaimed, "that's beautiful! Did you make it yourself?

Brian nodded. That afternoon he had the carpentry workshop to himself - all the tools he needed. That's why she looked so professional. He would like to clear everything up, to share the joy of his achievement with Anthony; but he knew his stammer all too well. The pleasure will evaporate as he struggles to express it. Besides, "carpenter" is a terrible word. "We'll try tonight," he had to settle for an excuse. But the smile that followed these words seemed to immediately apologize for their inadequacy and compensate. Anthony smiled back. They understood each other.

Carefully, gently, Brian removed the three masts from the matches and slipped them, along with the sails, into the inside pocket of his jacket; his torso dug into his pants. The bell rang. It was time to sleep. Brian dutifully closed his box. They started up the stairs again.

“Today I won p-f-five g-games in a row with my old c-c-c. . . my cheesecake," he corrected him, finding "conker" too difficult.

- Five! Anthony exclaimed. — Good for the old horse's mouth!

Forgetting that he was an outcast, a pariah saint, he laughed loudly. He was also warm at home. He only remembered when he was undressing in his cabin - because of the tooth powder.

"Twice a day," he heard her say as he dipped a wet brush into the pink, carbolic acid-scented dust. - And if you can, also after lunch. Because of germs.

"But Mom, you can't expect me to go wash them after dinner!"

The wound inflicted on his vanity (she thought his teeth were so dirty?) made him rough. He found a retrospective excuse in thinking that it was against the school rules to go to the dormitory during the day.

On the other side of the wooden partition that separated his cabin from Anthony's, Brian Foxe was changing into his pajamas. First the left leg, then the right. But just as he was about to pick them up, a sudden thought struck him, so terrible that he almost screamed at the top of his voice. "Suppose my mother dies!" And she could die. Of course, if Beavis' mother died. And immediately he saw her, lying in her bed at home. Extremely pale. And the mortal knight, that mortal knight you always read about in books, heard him clearly; and it was like the sound of one of those big wooden rattles you use to scare birds. Loud and constant, as if it was made by a machine. A human could not make such a sound. But it came out of her mouth anyway. It was the death knell. she was dying.

With his pants still halfway up his thighs, Brian stood there, perfectly still, staring at the brown lacquer partition in front of him with tear filled eyes. It was too scary. Coffin; and then an empty house; and when he went to bed no one came to wish him good night.

Suddenly snapping out of his immobility, he pulled up his trousers and, with some ferocity, tied the string.

- But she didn't die! he said to himself. "She doesn't!"

Two cubicles away, Thompson let out one of those loud and exceptionally long farts for which he had such a reputation at Bulstrode. There were screams, collective laughter. Even Brian laughed—Brian, who generally didn't want to see anything funny in that kind of noise. But presently he was filled with such a sense of joyous relief that any excuse for laughter was sufficient. She was still alive! And while she wouldn't want him to laugh at something so vulgar, he just had to let his gratitude explode. He laughed out loud; then suddenly hung up. He was thinking about Beavis. His mother was really dead. What must he think? Brian was ashamed that he had laughed for that reason as well.

Later, when the lights went out, he climbed the rail at the head of his bed and, peering through the partition into Anthony's cabin, whispered: new b-b-b. . . new sh-ship sails?

Antoni jumped out of bed and, as the night was cold, put on a cloak and slippers; then he climbed quietly into his chair and from the chair (pushing aside the long grosgrain curtain) to the windowsill. The curtain moved behind him, trapping him in an alcove.

It was a tall, narrow window, divided into two parts by a wooden shutter. The lower and larger part consisted of a pair of belts; a small upper window was hinged at the top and opened outwards. When the sashes were closed, the lower one formed a narrow projection halfway up the window. While standing on this shelf, the boy could comfortably fit his head and arms through the small square opening above. Each window - or rather each pair of windows - was set in the gable, so that when you leaned out you saw that the slope of the tiles dropped steeply on either side, and immediately ahead, at the level of the transom, was a long gutter which was draining the water from the roof.

Gutter! It was Brian who saw his potential. A piece of grass secretly brought to the bed in a bulging pocket, a few pebbles - and there you have the mother. When it was built, you collected all the water jugs in the dormitory, picked them up one by one and poured their contents into the gutter. There will be no laundry the next morning; so what? The long, narrow sea stretched into the night. The wrecked ship floated on the water, and fifty feet of endless water fired the imagination. Rain was always a danger. If it rained heavily, someone had to somehow, regardless of the risk, sneak up and break through the dam. Otherwise, the gutters would overflow, and overflow meant unpleasant investigations and unpleasant punishments.

Perched high between the cold glass and the rough, shaggy fabric of the curtains, Brian and Anthony leaned out of the two windows into the darkness. Only a brick pillar separated them, they could only whisper.

"Now, Horsesnout," Anthony ordered. 'Striker!'

And like the allegorical marshmallow in the picture, the Horse's Mouth blew. Under the pressure of the paper sail, the ship slid along the narrow waterway.

"Wonderfully!" said Anthony in ecstasy; and, stooping so that his cheek almost touched the water, he stared with half-closed and deliberately unfocused eyes, until the approaching toy miraculously changed itself into a huge three-mast, seen from a distance like a ghost, and sprang upon him, silently, through dark. A large ship - a ship of the line - a hundred and ten guns - under a cloud of canvas - the North-East trade blows steadily - turning at the rate of ten knots - eight bells have just rung from the ... . . He shuddered violently as the foremast touched his nose. Reality snapped back into place.

"Looks like a real boat," he told Brian as he turned the boat around in the gutter. - Put your head down and call. I smoke.

Slowly the magnificent ship with three masts returned.

"It's like Fighting T-t-t . . . You know that p-photo.

Anthony nodded; he never liked to admit ignorance.

"T-Temeraire," said the other at last.

"Yes, yes," Anthony said rather impatiently, as if he had known this all along. Leaning back again, he tried to recreate the vision of a huge hundred and ten bowlers outside the North-East Trades; but without success; the boat would not turn. Still, it was a wonderful ship. "Beauties," he said aloud.

"It's just a little crooked," Brian said modestly, downplaying his work.

"But I like it better," Anthony assured him. "It looks like it's flipping with the wind." He had never said that before - he had only read about it in books. Beautiful words! And looking for an excuse to repeat them, "Look!" he said, "how it falls when it blows hard."

It blew and the boat almost overturned. A hurricane, he told himself. . . he hit her completely in the right side. . . they stole the bow topsails and spinnakers. . . stove in our only boat. . . tilted until the side touches the water. . . . But it was tiring to blow so hard. He looked up from the gutter; his eyes roamed the sky; he listened carefully to the silence. The air was unusually still; an almost cloudless night. And what stars! Orion was there with his legs tangled in the oak branches. And Sirius. And all the others whose names he did not know. Thousands and millions of them.

- Oh my! he finally whispered.

"W-why do you think they're b-for what?" Brian said after a long silence.

"What... stars?"

Brian nodded.

Remembering the things his uncle James had said, "They're rubbish," Anthony replied.

"But s-they have to be," Brian protested.


"Because e-everything is for a reason."

"I don't believe that".

"W-well, think about the b-b-bees," Brian said with difficulty.

Anthony was shocked; they took botany lessons on old Bumface drawing sticks and the like. bees - yes; they were clearly on to something. He wishes he could remember exactly what Uncle James said. Iron elements of nature. But what iron?

"And m-mountains," Brian continued diligently. "It wouldn't rain properly if there were no m-mountains."

"What do you think they're for?" Anthony asked, pointing his chin at the stars.

"P-maybe there are p-people."

- Only on Mars. Anthony's certainty was dogmatic.

There was silence. And then decisively, as if he had finally decided that he wanted to let it out at any cost. He looked worriedly at his companion: would Benger laugh? But Anthony, who was looking up at the stars, made no sound or mocking motion; he just nodded seriously. Brian's shy, vulnerable little secret was safe, not hurt. He felt deep gratitude; and suddenly it seemed to him that a great wave was rising and flowing through his body. He was almost suffocated by this rush of love and ("Ah, suppose it was my mother!") heart-wrenching sympathy for poor Benger. His throat constricted; tears came to his eyes. He would like to reach out and touch Benger's hand; except, of course, such things were not done.

Meanwhile, Anthony was still staring at Sirius. He's alive, he repeated to himself. "He's alive". It was like a heart in the sky that pulsated with light. He suddenly remembered the young bird he had found last Easter. He was on the ground and could not fly. His mother laughed at him because he didn't want to come get him. He loved large animals, but for some reason was terrified to touch anything small and alive. Finally, after making an effort, he caught the bird. And in his hand, the little creature seemed like nothing more than a feathered heart throbbing on his hand and fingers, a fistful of hot, throbbing blood. Up there, beyond the edge of the trees, Sirius was simply a different heart. Alive. But, of course, Uncle James would just laugh.

Stung by this contrived taunt and ashamed to be betrayed into such childishness, "But how can they live?" he asked angrily, turning away from the stars.

Brian winced. "Why are you angry?" he wondered. Then aloud: "Well," he began, "if b-god lives . . ."

"But my father doesn't go to church," Anthony protested.

"N-no, b-b-but. . How he wanted to argue a little now!

Anthony couldn't wait. "He does not believe in such things.

“But b-god is what counts; n-there's no ch-church." Oh, if only he didn't have that terrible stammer! He could explain it all so well; he could say everything his mother said. But somehow, right now, even what she said didn't made sense. It wasn't about saying; it was about caring for people, caring to the point of pain.

"My uncle," said Anthony, "he doesn't even believe in God." Neither am I," he added provocatively.

But Brian did not accept the challenge. "I-I'm talking," he snapped impulsively. "I-I say, B-b-b-." . The very ferocity of his vehemence made him stammer even more. "B-banger," he finally said. It was agony to feel the current of his love so curbed and diverted. Held behind a grotesquely insignificant obstacle in its course, the stream rose, seemed to gain strength, and finally grew so strong within him that Brian, completely forgetting that it was not yet over, laid a hand on Anthony's shoulder. The fingers traveled down the sleeve and then closed around the bare wrist; and then every time a stutter came between his feeling and his object, his grip tightened almost into a spasm of despair.

“I'm so sorry about your m-mother,” he continued. "I didn't want to say it would be earlier. N-not in front of others. You know, I was you-you-you. . He gripped Anthony's wrist tighter; as if he were trying to supplement his stifled words with the direct eloquence of touch, trying to convince the other of the continued existence of the current in him, of its strength, undiminished despite the momentary interruption of the current. He started his sentence again and gained enough momentum to get through the barrier. "I just thought," he said, "that s-could be my mother." Oh, B-b-beavis, this m-must be too awful!

Anthony looked at him in the first moment of surprise, a look of doubt, almost fear, on his face. But as the man continued to stutter, that first sharp resistance gave way, and now, unashamed of what he was doing, he began to cry.

Balancing precariously in the high recesses of the window, the two children stood there in silence for a long time. Both cheeks were cold with tears; but on Anthony's wrist the grip of that comforting hand was stubbornly violent, like that of a drowned man.

Suddenly, with a soft rustle of dead leaves, a gust of wind appeared from the darkness. The little tri-master shuddered, as if awakened from a dream, and quietly, with an air of deliberate haste, began to slide headfirst over the gutter.

* * *

The servants lay down; the whole house was quiet. Slowly, in the dark, John Beavis left the office and climbed the stairs to the second floor, passing the landing next to the living room. Outside, in the empty street, the sound of hooves grew closer and died away again. Silence reigned again – the silence of his solitude, the silence (shudder) of her grave.

He stood still, listening to his heartbeat for long seconds; then he resolutely climbed the last two steps, crossed the dark landing, and, opening the door, turned on the light. In front of him stood his picture, gazing palely out of the cosmetic mirror. The silver brushes were in place, the little trays and pincushions, a row of glass bottles. He looked away. One corner of the wide pink quilt was upside down; he saw two pillows lying cheek by cheek, and above them on the wall was a photogravure of the Sistine Madonna they had bought together in a shop near the British Museum. Turning, he saw himself again, full size, funeral black, in the closet window. Dressing room . . . He crossed the room and turned the key in the lock. The heavy glass door swung open of its own accord and he suddenly breathed in the very air of her presence, that faint scent of iris root, secretly enlivened by a sharper, warmer perfume. Grey, white, green, mustard pink, black - dress after dress. It was as if she had died ten times and hung ten times, limp, eerily headless, but ironically still surrounded by the halo of the sweet, breathing symbol of her life. He reached out and touched the smooth silk, the cloth, the muslin, the velvet; all those different textures. Displaced hanging folds spread their fragrance more strongly; he closed his eyes and breathed in her true presence. But what was left of her was burnt, and her ashes were at the bottom of a pit in Lollingdon churchyard.

"Stay there for me," John Beavis whispered eloquently into the silence.

His throat constricted painfully; tears flowed between his closed lids. Closing the closet door, he turned and began to undress.

He suddenly became aware of extreme fatigue. It took a lot of effort to wash it off. When he got into bed, he fell asleep almost immediately.

In the morning, as the light of a new day and the sounds of the street began to break through the surrounding layers of his inner darkness, John Beavis dreamed that he was walking down the corridor leading to his lecture hall at King's College. . No, I'm not walking: I'm running. Because the corridor had become incredibly long, and there was some terrible, urgent reason to get to its end quickly, to get there in time. Over time for what? He didn't know; but as he ran, he felt a hideous restlessness rising within him, which grew and grew every moment. And when at last he opened the door of the lecture-room, it was not a lecture-room at all, but their bedroom at home, with Maisie lying panting, her face flushed with fever, dark with the awful approach of suffocation, and across it like two pimples, blue and blue , parted lips. The sight was so terrible that he started to wake up. Daylight was pale between the curtains; the quilt was pink; it flashed in the cupboard mirror: outside the milkman was calling, "Mu-ilk, Mui-uilk!", going round. Everything was reassuringly familiar, in its place. It was just a bad dream. Then, turning his head, John Beavis saw that the other half of the wide bed was empty.

* * *

The bell came closer and closer, ripping through the deep, warm layers of sleep, until it slammed mercilessly into his naked and trembling consciousness. Anthony opened his eyes. What a nasty mess! But he doesn't have to think about getting up for at least another five minutes. The warmth under the sheets was heavenly. Then - and this ruined everything - he remembered that early school was algebra with Jimbug. His heart jumped into his throat. Those awful squares! Jimbug would start yelling at him again. It wasn't fair. And he would blaspheme. But then it occurred to him that Jimbug probably wouldn't be yelling at him today for what he suddenly remembered had happened yesterday. Horseface had been very polite last night, he thought.

But I had to get up. One, two, three and, ugh, how cold it was! He had just dived into his shirt when someone knocked very gently on his cabin door. The last movement popped out of his head. He went and opened it. Staithes stood in the passage. Staithes - laughs, it is true, with apparent kindness; but still. . . Anthony was worried. Incredulously, but with a hypocritical smile of greeting, "What's up?" he began; but the other put his finger to his lips.

"Come and see," he whispered. "It's wonderful!"

Anthony was flattered by the call from someone who, as captain of the football team, had every right to be and was generally completely insulting to him. He feared and disliked Staithes, which made him especially pleased that Staithes had made the effort to come to him like this, of his own free will. . . .

Staithes' cabin was already full. The conspiratorial silence seethed and seethed with repressed excitement. Thompson had to stuff a handkerchief into his mouth to keep from laughing, and Pembroke-Jones curled up in paroxysms of silent mirth. Squeezed into the narrow space between the foot of the bed and the Partridge sink, she stood with her cheek pressed against the partition wall. Staithes touched his shoulder. Partridge turned and walked to the middle of the cabin; his freckled face was contorted with joy, and he twitched and fidgeted as if his bladder were bursting. Staithes pointed to the spot he had left, and Anthony cowered. A knot in the wood of the partition wall had been torn out, and through the hole one could see everything that was happening in the neighboring barn. Goggler Ledwidge was lying on the bed, wearing nothing but a woolen waistcoat and suspenders. His eyes were closed behind thick glasses; his mouth was parted. He looked calm, happy and serene, as if he was in church.

"Is he still there?" Staithes whispered.

Anthony turned his smiling face and nodded; then he pressed his eyes closer to the viewfinder. What made him especially funny was that it should be the Goggler - the Goggler, the school clown, the general victim, doomed by weakness and timidity to inevitable persecution. That would be something new to entice him with.

"Let's scare him," suggested Staithes, climbing the rail at the head of the bed.

Partridge, who played as a centre-forward in the starting eleven, followed suit. But Staithes turned to Anthony unexpectedly. "Come on, Beavis," he whispered. "Come here with me." He wanted to be especially kind to the poor man because of his mother. Besides, he was glad to ignore that simpleton, Partridge.

Anthony accepted the flattering invitation with almost extraordinary eagerness and stood up beside him. The others crouched precariously at the foot of the bed. At Staithe's signal, they all stood up and, bending their heads over the bulkhead, gave a mocking exclamation.

So brutally summoned from his poor little Eden of enemas and beatings (there were no women yet), the Goggler uttered a cry of terror; his eyes opened wide, mad with terror; he turned pale for a moment and then turned red. He took off his waistcoat with both hands; but it was too short to cover his nakedness and even his knitting. Absurdly short, like a child's vest. ('We'll make sure they last another term,' said his mother. 'Those woolen things are awfully expensive'. She sacrificed herself to send him to Bulstrode.)

- Pull, pull! Staithes shouted, soothing him sarcastically.

"Why didn't Henry VIII let Anne Boleyn into his hen house?" Thompson asked. Of course, everyone knew the answer. There were bursts of laughter.

Staithes lifted one foot from his post, took off a leather-soled slipper, took aim and threw. He hit the Goggler in the side of the face. He let out a cry of pain, jumped out of bed, and stood with his shoulders hunched and one skinny arm raised to cover his head, looking at the mocking faces with eyes that began to fill with tears.

- Clink too! Staithes shouted to the others. Then, seeing the newcomer standing in the open door of his cabin, "Hello, Ponyface," he said as he took off the other slipper; - Come and have a drink. He raised his hand; but before he could throw, Ponymouth jumped on the bed and grabbed him by the wrist.

- No, stop! - He said. "Stop". And he also grabbed Thompson's hand. Leaning over Staithes' shoulder, Anthony threw as hard as he could. The bespectacled man bent down. The slipper clicked against the wooden partition behind him.

- B-beavis! cried Horsesnout, so reproachfully that Anthony felt a sudden pang of shame.

"It didn't hit him," he apologized; and for some strange reason he remembered that awful deep hole in the churchyard at Lollingdon.

Staithes found his tongue again. "I don't know what you think you're doing, Horseface," he said angrily, yanking the slipper from Brian's hand. "Why can't you mind your own business?"

"That's not p-fer," Brian replied.

'Yes it is.'

"F-five against one".

"But you don't know what he did."

– N-no c-c-c. . . Do not worry.

"You would care to know," said Staithes; and proceeded to tell him what the Goggler had been doing—as dirty as he could.

Brian looked down, his cheeks suddenly turning very red. Listening to the filth always made him unhappy—unhappy and embarrassed at the same time.

"Look how old Horseface is blushing!" cried Partridge; and they all laughed—none more derisively than Anthony. For Anthony had time to be ashamed; it's time to stop thinking about that hole in the Lollingdon graveyard; also the time he suddenly realizes that he almost hates old Ponyface. "Because pi is so disgusting," he would say when asked to explain his hatred. But the real reason was deeper, more obscure. If he hated Ponyface, it was because Ponyface was so unusually polite; for Ponyface had the courage to express what Anthony thought his beliefs should be too—what his beliefs really would be, if only he had the courage. Just because he liked Horseface so much, now he hated him. Or rather, because there were so many reasons why he should like him - on the contrary, so few reasons why he should like Horseface. The horse's face was rich with all kinds of wonderful features that he himself either completely lacked, or worse, possessed but somehow couldn't reveal. This sudden, mocking outburst of laughter was the expression of a kind of jealous indignation at the superiority he loved and admired. Indeed, love and admiration did in a way provoke resentment and jealousy—they did, but they usually kept them under the surface in an unconscious limbo from which a crisis like this would suddenly stir them up.

"You should have seen him," Staithes concluded. Now that he was in a better mood, he laughed - you could have let her laugh.

"In his cage," Anthony added in a tone of sick contempt. Shooting the Goggler was an aggravation of the offense.

"Yes, in that nasty old grate of yours!" confirmed Staithes approvingly. There was no doubt about it; Combined with glasses and shyness, this ligament made throwing away slippers not only inevitable, but a moral obligation.

"It's disgusting," Anthony continued, pleasantly excited by his righteous anger.

For the first time since Staithes began describing the Goggler's actions, Brian looked up. "B-but w-why is he more disgusting than anyone else?" he asked quietly. "F-finally," he continued, blood running down his cheeks as he spoke, "he didn't..." . o-the only one.

A moment of awkward silence followed. Of course, he was not the only one. But he was the only one, everyone thought, who had a brace and glasses and a waistcoat that was too short for him; the only one who did it in broad daylight and got caught for it. There was a difference.

Staithes launched a counterattack on another front. "Reverend Horseface's Sermon!" he said mockingly and immediately retook the initiative, his position of superiority. - God! he added in a different tone. - It's late. We have to pull ourselves together.

The seventh chapter. April 8, 1934


Conditioned reflex. How much pleasure I got from old Pavlov when I read it for the first time. The final demolition of all human pretensions. We were all dogs and bitches together. Wow, smell the lantern, lift your leg, bury the bone. No kidding about free will, goodness, truth and all the rest. Every epoch has its psychological revolutionaries. La Mettrie, Hume, Condillac, and finally the Marquis de Sade, the last and most radical of the eighteenth-century whistleblowers. Perhaps indeed, the ultimate and absolute revolutionary. But few have the courage to follow the revolutionary argument to Sade's conclusions. Meanwhile, science did not stand still. The exposure of Dix-huitième, with the exception of Sade, proved insufficient. The 19th century had to start anew. Marx and Darwinists. Who are still with us - Marx works obsessively. Meanwhile, the twentieth century gave birth to another group of deconstructors - Freud, and as it began to wane, Pavlov and the behaviorists. Conditional reflex: - I thought I was shutting everything down. While in reality, of course, he was just repeating the doctrine of free will. Because if reflexes can be conditioned, then of course they can be conditioned again. Learning to use yourself correctly when you used it wrong - what is it if not reflex recovery?

Lunch with father. More cheerful than the last time I saw him, but old, and surprisingly, he quite likes it. Struggling to get up from a chair, climbing stairs very slowly. I guess a way to increase his sense of importance. Maybe a way to get sympathy whenever he wants. The child cries, so the mother will come and make him angry. It lasts from the cradle to the grave. Miller says old age is mostly a bad habit. Use the condition function. Walk as if you were a martyr to rheumatism, and you will impose such a strong tension on your muscles that you will really be a martyr to rheumatism. Act like an old man and your body will function like an old man, you will think and feel like an old man. Thin pants in slippers - literally a role being played. If you refuse to play this game and learn how to deal with rejection, you will not become a pantaloon. I doubt that is largely true. In any case, my father plays his current role with gusto. One of the great things about being old, provided your economy is relatively secure and your health isn't too bad, is that you can afford peace of mind. The grave is near, man is used to feeling nothing strongly; therefore, it is easy to see things through God's eyes. His father took him as a roommate, for example. Yes, people were crazy, he agreed; another war will break out soon – around 1940, he thought. (Significantly, the date he was pretty sure he was dead!) Much worse than the last war, yes; and would probably destroy Western European civilization. But was it really that important? Civilization would continue on other continents, rebuilding on devastated lands. Our timeline was wrong. We should not think of ourselves as living in the 1930s, but as a point between two ice ages. At the end he quoted Goethe – alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis. All of this is undoubtedly true, but not the whole truth. Question: How do you reconcile the belief that the world is largely illusory with the belief that the illusion still needs to be improved? How to be indifferent and not indifferent at the same time, cheerful as an old man and active as a young man?

The eighth chapter. August 30, 1933

– THESE DISGUSTING FLIES! Helena rubbed the red spot on her arm. Anthony did not comment. She stared at him in silence for a moment. - How many ribs do you have! she said finally.

"Schizotic physique," he answered behind his hand, shielding his face from the light. 'This is why I'm here. Predestined by the angle of my ribs.

"Fate to what?"

"Sociology; and in between. He raised his hand, made a small circular motion and dropped it back onto the mattress.

"But what is 'it'?" she insisted.

- This? Anthony repeated. 'Okay. . He hesitated. But it would take too long to talk about this split in temperament between passion and intellect, about this separate sensuality, about these sterilized ideas. "So you," he finally said.


"Oh, I admit it could have been someone else," he said and laughed, genuinely amused by his own cynicism.

Helen laughed too, but with surprising bitterness. "I'm someone else."

- What does that mean? he asked, revealing his face to look at her.

"He means what I say. You think I should be here - the real me?

"The real me!" he scoffed. “You sound like a theosophist.

"And you talk like a fool," she said. 'Deliberately. Because of course you're not. A long silence followed. Me, the real me? But where, but how, but at what price? Yes, first of all, at what price? You Cavells and Florence Nightingales. But it was impossible, such things; it was mostly funny. She frowned and shook her head; then, opening her eyes, which had been closed, she looked for something in the outer world to distract her from these useless and intrusive internal thoughts. Anthony himself was in the foreground. She stared at him for a moment; then, reaching out with a kind of fascination and revulsion, as for some irresistibly strange but unpalatable animal, she touched the pink, wrinkled skin of a large scar that ran diagonally across his thigh, an inch or two above the knee. "Does it still hurt?" she asked.

"When I'm exhausted. And sometimes in rainy weather. He lifted his head slightly from the mattress and, bending his right knee, examined the scar. "A touch of renaissance," he said thoughtfully. "Cut trunks".

Helena shivered. "That must have been awful!" and then with sudden vehemence, "How I hate pain!" she cried, her tone expressing passionate, deeply personal resentment. "I hate it," she repeated so that all Cavelli and Nightingales could hear her.

She took him back in time. That autumn day in Tidworth eighteen years ago. Bombing Manual. The imbecile recruit failed. Screams, panic, impact. Now it all seemed strangely distant and insignificant, like something seen through the back of a telescope. Even the pain, all those months of pain, was reduced to almost nothing. Physically, it was the worst thing that had ever happened to him - and the madman responsible for his memory had practically forgotten about it.

"You don't remember the pain," he said aloud.

'I can.'

"No, you can't. You only remember the occasion, its accompaniment.

His event at the midwife's in the rue de la Tombe-Issoire, the misery and humiliation that followed it. Her face hardened as she listened to his words.

"You never remember his real quality," he continued. “No more than you remember the quality of physical pleasure. Today, for example, half an hour ago — you don't remember. Nothing beats recreating an event. Fortunately. He was smiling now. "Consider whether it is possible to fully remember perfumes or kisses. How boring their reality would be! And what woman with memory could have more than one child?

Helen shifted uneasily. “I can't imagine any woman doing that,” she said quietly.

“That's right,” he continued, “pains and pleasures are new every time you experience them. Brand new. Every gardenia is the first gardenia you've ever smelled. And every prison. . ".

- You're talking like a fool again - she cut him off angrily. "Confused Problem".

"I thought I was explaining," he protested. "What is this all about?"

"The problem is me, you, real life, happiness. And you talk about things in the air. How stupid!'

- And you? - He asked. "Are you that smart in real life? A happiness expert?

In the minds of each of them, his words conjured up the image of a frightened figure behind the glasses.

This marriage! What on earth could have motivated her? Old Hugh was of course sentimentally in love. But was that reason enough? And then what disappointments? He assumed it was mostly physiological. Funny when you think of them compared to old Hugh. The corners of Anthony's lips twitched slightly. But of course, the joke could only end in disaster for Helen. He'd like to know the details—but second-hand, provided he doesn't have to ask for her trust or offer it to him. Confidentialities were dangerous, confidentialities as intricate as a flytrap; like a fly trap. . . .

Helena sighed; then, straightening her shoulders in a firm tone, "Two blacks don't make a white man," she said. "Besides, it's my business."

Which was for the best, he thought. There was silence.

"How long were you in the hospital with that wound?" she asked in a different tone.

"Almost ten months. It was disgustingly infested. In total, they had to operate six times.

'How horrible!'

Anthony shrugged. At least it kept him out of those trenches. But by the grace of God. . . "Strange," he added, "what incredible forms God's grace sometimes assumes!" A semi-conscious beggar with a hand grenade. But for him I should have been sent to France and slaughtered, almost certainly. He saved my life." After a moment he added, "As well as my freedom." "I could tire of this intoxication at the beginning of the war. "Honour returned like a king to earth." But I suppose you are too young to ever hear for poor Rupert. Back then, in 1914, it made sense. "Honor was restored. . . ." But he didn't mention that stupidity is back. In the hospital I had all the leisure to think of this second royal advancement on earth. Stupidity is back as king - no; as an emperor, as the divine Führer of all Arians. It was a sobering thought. Sobering and deeply liberating. And I owed it to the bully. He was one of the great Führer's most loyal subjects." There was silence. "Sometimes I am a little nervous - like Polycrates - because I have been so lucky in my life. It seems that all the circumstances have conspired for me. Even on this occasion. He touched the scar .” “Perhaps I should do something to appease the gods' jealousy—throw the ring into the sea next time I bathe.” He laughed softly. The problem is, I don't have a ring.

The ninth chapter. April 2, 1903

At PADDINGTON, Mr. Beavis and Anthony entered an empty third-class carriage and waited for the train to start. For Antonio, traveling by train was still very important, it was still a kind of sacrament. The male soul in immaturity is naturaliter ferrovialis. For example, that huge, god-like green monster that now snorted into the station and stopped on platform 1 - if it hadn't been for Watt and Stephenson, it would never have entered its metropolitan cathedral of sooty glass so majestically. But the intensity of delight Anthony felt as he watched the divine creature approach, inhaling its stench of coal smoke and hot oil, hearing and almost unconsciously imitating the ch-ff, ch-ff, ch-ff of its steaming pant, was proof enough that that the boy's heart must have been prepared in some mysterious way for the appearance of Puffing Billy and the rocket, that the actual locomotive, when it appeared, must have corresponded (so satisfactorily!) to the prophetic image of the locomotive which had existed in children's minds since the beginning of the Paleolithic. ch-ff, ch-ff; then silence; then the terrible, soul-destroying howl of escaping steam. excellent! Beautiful!

Wearing black hats like Queen Victoria's pair, the two fat and petite old women passed slowly, looking for a compartment where they wouldn't have their throats slit or be forced to listen to swear words. Mr. Beavis looked very decent indeed. They stopped and held a council; but as he leaned out of the window, Anthony gave them a grimace that made them step back again. He smiled triumphantly. To keep the compartment to myself was one of the purposes of the sacred game of travel—it was about equal to the royal marriage at Bezique; you got, so to speak, forty points every time you left the station without a stranger in the car. Dinner in the dining car counted as much as the Sequence - two hundred and fifty. And Double Bezique - but Anthony never scored - was in a taxi.

The guard blew his whistle and the train started.

– Hura! Anthony said.

The game started well: a royal marriage already in the first round. But a few minutes later he felt sorry for the two old women. For, suddenly roused from abstraction, John Beavis leaned forward and touched his son's knee: "Do you remember what day of the month it is?" he asked in a low and to Anthony inexplicably significant voice.

Anthony looked at him suspiciously; then he began to exaggerate the part of the Calculator, frowning at the difficult problem. There was something about his father that made such excessive behavior inevitable.

- Let me see - he said unnaturally - did we break the thirty-first, or maybe the thirtieth? That was Saturday, today is Monday. . ".

"Today is the second," said the father in the same slow voice.

Anthony felt uneasy. If his father knew the date, why did he ask?

"It's exactly five months today," Mr. Beavis continued.

Five months? And then, with a sudden, sickening drop in his heart, Anthony realized what his father was talking about. November 2, April 2. Five months have passed since her death.

"Every second of the month he tried to keep himself holy."

Anthony nodded and looked away guiltily.

"For anyone bound by natural piety," said Mr. Beavis.

What was he talking about now? And, oh why, why did he have to say those things? so awful; so rude – yes, rude; I didn't know where to look. Like when grandma's stomach made that horrible gurgling sound after eating. . .

Looking at his son's upturned face, Mr. Beavis saw signs of resistance and felt hurt, sad, and felt the sadness turn into a vague resentment that Anthony should not suffer as badly as he did. Of course, the child was still very young and was not yet able to grasp the full extent of his loss; but anyway, anyway. .

To Anthony's immense relief, the train slowed at the first stop. The suburbs of Slough moved slowly and slowly before his eyes. Against all the rules of the sacred game, he prayed that someone would enter their compartment. And, thank God, someone walked in—a hideous, purple-faced man whom Anthony would have hated in any other situation. He loved him today.

Shielding his eyes with his hand, Mr. Beavis retreated back into a private world of silence.

In the carriage, on the way from Twyford station, his father added insult to injury.

"You always have to be on your best behavior," he advised.

"Sure," Anthony replied shortly.

"And always be punctual," continued Mr. Beavis. "And don't be greedy at mealtime." He hesitated, smiled in anticipation of what he was going to say, then began colloquially saying "what kind of food is that." There was a short silence. "And be kind to Abigail," he added.

They turned off the road and onto a driveway that wound through tall rhododendron bushes. Then a Georgian stucco facade appeared behind the grassy area dotted with trees. The house was not big, but solid, comfortable and elegant at the same time. It was built by, you guessed it, someone who could accurately quote Horace at every opportunity. Rachel Foxe's father, Beavis thought as he watched this, must have left a lot of money behind. Naval architecture - and didn't the old man come up with something that the Admiralty picked up? And Foxe was good: he had something with coal. (How pretty those daffodils looked in the grass under the tree!) But a morose, silent humorless man who did not understand, Mr. Beavis remembered, his little philological joke about the word "pen." Although if he had known then that the poor man had a duodenal ulcer, he certainly would not have risked it.

When the carriage stopped, Mrs. Foxe and Brian came out to meet them. The boys left together. Mr. Beavis followed his housekeeper into the parlor. She was a tall woman, slender and very erect, with something so majestic in her bearing, so nobly stern in features and expression, that Mr. Beavis always felt a little intimidated and uneasy in her presence.

"It's very good that you invited us," he said. "And I can't tell you how much this will mean..." He hesitated for a moment; then (as it was the second day of the month), with a slight shake of his head and a low tone, "so that my poor motherless child," he continued, "may spend his rest here with you."

Her light brown eyes darkened as he spoke with sympathetic concern. Always firm, always serious, the combination of her full, almost flowery lips conveyed more than just seriousness. "But I'm so glad I have it," she said, her voice warm and musically lively. "Selfishly pleased - for Brian's sake." She smiled, and he noticed that even when she smiled, her mouth seemed somehow to retain, for all its sensitivity, that deep capacity for suffering and joy, that earnestness, that resolute purity that characterized them when they were still. "Yes, selfish," she repeated. Because when he is happy, I am.

Mr. Beavis nodded; then, with a sigh, "A man is thankful," he said, "that he has so much left that is a reflection of one's happiness." He generously gave Anthony the right not to suffer - although, of course, when the boy was a little older, he could understand more fully. . .

Mrs. Foxe did not continue the conversation. There was something distasteful about his words and behavior, something that jarred her sensibilities. But she hastened to dispel the unpleasant impression. After all, the important, important fact was that the poor man suffered, that he is still suffering. The false tone, if it was false, was after the fact - in the usual expression of suffering.

She suggested a walk before tea, so they crossed the garden and emerged into the tame wilderness of grass and trees. In the clearing of the small grove that bordered the property from the north, three crippled children were picking primroses. With terrific agility, they hopped on their crutches from cluster to cluster of pale gold flowers, shrieking as they walked in a piercing, discordant rapture.

Mrs. Foxe explained that they were staying at one of her cottages. "My three cripples", she called them.

At the sound of her voice, the children looked up and immediately ran across the open space to her.

— Look, miss, look what I found!

— Look here, miss!

- What is his name, miss?

She answered their questions, in turn asked others questions, promised to come in the evening to see them.

Feeling that he too should do something for the cripples, Mr. Beavis began to tell them about the etymology of the word "primrose." "Primerole in Middle English," he explained. "Rose" got in by mistake. They stared at him without understanding. "A common folk mistake," he continued; then, flashing, "howls," he added. "Like our old friend," he smiled at them meaningfully, "our old friend 'the embankment.'

There was silence. Mrs. Foxe changed the subject.

— Poor little mites! she cried when they finally let her go. - They are so happy that I want to cry. And then, after a week, they need to be packed again. Back to your slums. It seems too cruel. But what can you do? There are so many of them. You cannot maintain one plot at the expense of others.

They walked in silence for a while, and Mrs. Foxe suddenly thought that there were spiritual cripples. People with such weak and shaky emotions that they did not know how to feel properly; people with some premonition or expression force the deformation. John Beavis may have been one of them. But how unfair it was! And what's more, conceited! Judge not lest you be judged. Besides, if it were true, it would be just one more reason for her to feel sorry for him.

"I think it's time for tea," she said aloud; and in order not to make further judgments, she began to tell him about those schools for the disabled which she had helped to organize in Notting Dale and St Pancras. She described the life of a cripple at home - parents at work; not a hint of a human face from morning to evening; lack of adequate food; no toys, no books, nothing to do but lie still and wait for what? Then she told him about the ambulance that was now going to pick up the children at school, about special tables, classes, preparations for a decent lunch.

"And our reward," she said as she opened the door to the house, "is the same heartbreaking happiness I was just talking about." I can't help but understand it as a kind of reproach, accusation. Every time I see that happiness, I wonder what right I can give it so easily, spending a little money and putting in a little pleasant effort. Yes, right? Her warm, clear voice trembled slightly as she said the question. She raised her hands questioningly, then lowered them again and quickly went into the living room.

Mr. Beavis followed her in silence. As he listened to her last words, a kind of tingle spread through him. It was the feeling he had when he read the last scene of Measure for Measure or listened to Joachim in the Beethoven concerto.

Mr. Beavis could only stay two nights. An important meeting of the Philological Society was held. And then, of course, his work on the Dictionary. "The old, familiar grind," explained Mrs. Foxe, in a tone of feigned self-pity, and with a sigh that should not have expressed conviction. The truth was that he loved his job, without it he would feel lost. "And you're really sure," he added, "that Anthony won't be too much of a burden?"

'Weight? But look!” And she pointed out the window where two boys were playing bicycle polo on the lawn. "And not only that," she continued. "I really got very attached to Anthony in those two days. There is something so deeply moving about it. Somehow he seems so vulnerable. With all his smarts, common sense and determination. A part of him seems terribly at the mercy of the world." Yes, at his mercy, she said to herself, thinking of that broad and fair forehead, that almost quivering, sensitive mouth, that delicate, fuzzy chin. He can be easy to hurt, easy to seduce.Every time he looked at her, he almost made her feel guilty for him.

"And yet," said Mr. Beavis, "there are times when he seems strangely indifferent." The memory of that episode on the train never stopped hurting. For though he clearly wanted the child to be happy, though he had decided that the only happiness he could henceforth come from thinking about the child's happiness, the old resentment still smouldered vaguely: he felt sad that Anthony suffered no more because he seemed to resist and rejects suffering when it is inflicted on him. "Extraordinarily indifferent," he repeated.

Mrs. Foxe nodded. “Yes,” she said, “she's wearing some kind of armor. It hides its vulnerability in the most exposed place, and at the same time reveals it elsewhere, so that minor wounds act as a kind of distraction, as an anti-anxiety. It's self-defense. And yet (her voice deepened, excitingly) "and yet I believe that in the long run he would be better off and spiritually healthier, yes, and happier, if he could bring himself to do the opposite... if... Arm yourself with the little wounds that distract attention, the small wounds of pleasure as well as the small wounds of pain, and expose your vulnerability only to large and piercing blows.

"How true!" said Mr. Beavis, who declared that her words referred to him.

There was silence. Then, back to his original question: "No, no," said Mrs. Foxe firmly, "far from feeling like a burden, I'm really delighted that she's here." Not just because of who he is, but who he is to Brian—and who Brian is to him, by the way. It's great to see them. I wish they were together every holiday. Mrs. Foxe paused for a moment; then, "Seriously," she continued, "if you don't have plans for the summer, why don't you think about it?" We have rented a small cottage in Tenby for August. Why don't you and Anthony find a place there?

Mr. Beavis thought the idea excellent; and the boys, when told this, were delighted.

"Good-bye till August, then," said Mrs. Foxe, as she saw him off. "Though, of course," she added with a warmth made all the greater by a deliberate effort at cordiality, "of course we shall meet before."

The carriage rattled in the driveway; and about a hundred yards Anthony ran beside him, calling him "Good-bye," and waving his handkerchief with the vehemence of Mr. In reality, however, it was only a manifestation of energy and good humor. Circumstances filled him, body and mind, with the deep joy of a happy life. That joy required physical expression, and his father's departure gave him an excuse to run around waving his arms. Mr. Beavis was very moved. But if only, he thought sadly, if only there was a way to direct that love, and his own for the boy, to the dryness of their daily relationship! Women understood these things much better. It was touching to see how the poor child responded to Mrs. Foxe's feelings. And perhaps, he began to speculate, perhaps it was because there was no woman to guide his feelings that Anthony seemed so indifferent. Perhaps a child could never properly mourn his mother because he had no mother. It was a vicious circle. Mrs. Foxe's influence would be good not only in this case, but in a thousand other ways. Mr. Beavis sighed. If only it were possible for a man and a woman to have sex; not in marriage, but for a common purpose, for the benefit of children without mothers and fathers! A good woman - admirable, even outstanding. But despite that (almost thanks to that) it can only be an association for a common goal. Never marriage. Anyway, Maisie was there waiting for him; would not disappoint. . . But the association is for the sake of children - that would not be treason.

Anthony came home whistling "Honeysuckle and the Bee." He liked his father — he loved him, admittedly, out of habit, as one likes his homeland or his traditional cuisine — but he still loved him sincerely. But that didn't lessen the discomfort he always felt around Mr. Beavis.

"Brian!" he shouted as he approached the house, he shouted somewhat self-consciously; because it seemed odd to call him Brian instead of Fox or Horseface. Quite unmanly, even a bit discrediting.

Brian's whistle came from the school hallway.

"I vote we take the bikes," Anthony called.

At school, people used to make fun of old Horseface because of his mania for birds. "I tell you, fellows," Staithes would say, taking Horsesnout by the hand, "guess what I saw to-day! Two spitters and a warden." There was a loud laugh, a roar with which Anthony always joined. But here, where there was no one to embarrass him. because of his interest in spring walkers, nesting houses and herons, he took to bird watching with delight. As he walked in, wet and muddy from the afternoon's walk, "Do you know what we heard, Mrs. Foxe?" he asked triumphantly before poor Brian managed a stammering word. "First Whitethroat!" or "First Willow Wren!" and Rachel Foxe said, "How wonderful!" in such a way that he was filled with pride and happiness. As if those chirps had never there was none.

After tea, when the curtains were drawn and the lamps brought in, Mrs. Foxe read to them. Anthony, who had always been bored to death by Scott, began to follow "The Nigel's Life" with the greatest passion.

Easter was approaching and "Nigel" was put aside for now. Mrs. Foxe read them the New Testament instead. "And he said to them: My soul is sad to death; stay here and watch. And he went forward a little, fell to the ground and prayed that, if possible, he would pass by. And he said: Abba, Father, all things are possible for you; take this glass from me: after all, not what I want, but what you want." The light of the lamp was a round island in the darkness of the room, and from the fire projected a dim bright red spot towards it. Anthony was lying on the floor, and the words came to him from the high Italian chair by the lamp, transfigured as it were in that warm, melodious voice, charged with meanings he had never before heard or seen in them. "It was the third hour and they crucified him." In the ten heartbeats that followed he thought he heard hammers hitting nails. Touch, touch, touch. . . He ran the fingers of one hand over the smooth palm of the other; his body went rigid with fear, and a violent spasm of trembling ran through his stiff muscles.

"And when the sixth hour comes, darkness covers the whole earth until the ninth hour." Mrs. Foxe left the book. "It's one of those additions I told you about," she said, "one of the links in the story." One should think about the age in which the Gospel writers lived. They believed that such things could happen; moreover, they believed that they should appear on important occasions. They wanted to worship Jesus; they wanted his story to be grander. But for us these days, these things make it seem less wonderful; and we do not feel that he is being honored. The wonderful thing for us," she continued, her voice quivering with a deep note of fervor, "is that Jesus was a man no more able to work miracles, nor more willing to have them done for him, than the rest of mankind. our. Only a man – and yet he could do what he did, he could be what he was. It's a miracle.

A long silence followed; only the clock ticked and the flame rustled silkily on the grate. Anthony was lying on his back staring at the ceiling. Everything suddenly became clear. Uncle James was right; but the others were also right. She showed how it is possible that both were right. Only a man - and yet. . . Oh, and he, too, would do and be!

Mrs. Foxe picked up the book again. The thin pages creaked as she turned them.

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb carrying the spices they had prepared and some other things. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

Stone. . . But there was land in Lollingdon; and just ashes in this little box—this little box no bigger than a biscuit tin. Anthony closed his eyes, hoping to banish the hideous vision; but against the crimson darkness the horns stood out more clearly, the triangular curly chestnut curls. He brought his hand to his mouth and, to punish himself, began to bite his index finger, harder and harder until the pain became almost unbearable.

That night when she came to say goodnight, Mrs. Foxe sat on the edge of Anthony's bed and took his hand. “You know, Anthony,” she said after a moment of silence, “you can't be afraid to think of her.

- Are you afraid? He was mumbling as if he didn't understand. But he understood—perhaps he understood more than she thought. The blood of guilt rushed to his cheeks. He was terrified, as if she had somehow trapped him, found him - frightened, and therefore indignant.

"You must not be afraid of suffering," she continued. "You will think about her: it is inevitable. And that's right. Grief is sometimes necessary – like surgery; you cannot be healthy without it. Thinking about her, Anthony, will hurt you. But if you don't think of her, you condemn her to a second death. The spirit of the dead lives in God. But it also lives in the minds of the living - helping them, making them better and stronger. The dead can only have this kind of immortality if the living are willing to give it to them. Will you give it to her, Anthony?

Silently and in tears, he nodded his head. It wasn't so much the words that soothed him as the fact that they were her words and they were spoken in that stunning voice. His fears were gone, his suspicious resentment was gone. He felt safe with her. Surely he gave in to the sobs that now rose irresistibly into his throat.

"Poor little Anthony!" She stroked his hair. "Poor little Anthony! Nothing can be done; it will always hurt - always. You will never be able to think of her without pain. Not even time can take away all suffering, Anthony.

She stopped and sat in silence for a long time, thinking of her father, thinking of her husband. An old man, so massive, so majestic, like a prophet - then in his wheelchair, paralyzed and strangely shriveled, his head tilted to one side, falling down his gray beard, barely speaking. . . And the man she married out of admiration for his strength, out of respect for his integrity; she got married and then discovered that she could not, could not love. For she discovered that strength was cold and devoid of generosity; justice, harsh and cruel justice. And the pain of a long illness hardened and embittered him. He died inexorably, resisting her tenderness to the end.

"Yes, there will always be pain and sadness," she continued finally. "And yet," there was a warm note of pride in her voice, almost rebellion, "how could you wish it otherwise?" You wouldn't want to forget your mother, would you, Anthony? Or do you not care anymore? Just to escape the suffering for a bit. Wouldn't you like it?

Sobbing, he shook his head. And it was true. He didn't want to run away now. Enduring this extreme grief was a relief in a way. And he loved her because she knew how to make him suffer.

Mrs. Foxe leaned down and kissed him. "Poor little Anthony!" she repeated. "Poor little Anthony!"

It rained on Good Friday; but on Saturday the weather changed and the day of Easter was symbolically golden, as if on purpose, as in the parable. The resurrection of Christ and the rebirth of nature - two aspects of the same mystery. The sun and the clouds, like fragments of marble sculpture against the pale blue sky, seemed to confirm in some profound and ineffable way all that Mrs. Foxe had said.

They did not go to church; but, sitting on the lawn, she read aloud, first a passage from the Easter service, then some passages from Renan's Life of Jesus. Tears came to his eyes as he listened and he felt an inexpressible longing to be good, to do something good and noble.

On Monday, a group of children from the slums were brought to spend the day in the garden and grove. In Bulstrode you could call them scavengers and insultingly ignore their existence. Beastly little scavengers; and when they grew old they grew into rascals and rascals. But here it was different. Mrs. Foxe has turned scavengers into poor children who will probably never see the earth again in a year.

- Poor children! Anthony told her when they arrived. But in spite of the sympathy he tried to feel, in spite of his determined benevolence, he secretly feared, feared and therefore disliked these stunted but terribly mature little boys with whom he proposed to play. They seemed extremely alien. Their tattered, stained clothes, their shapeless shoes were like leather of different colors; their Cockney may have been Chinese. Their very appearance made him shudder with guilt. And there was the way they looked at him, with mocking hatred for his new suit and his alien manners; was the way the braver of them whispered and laughed together. When they laughed at Brian for his stammer, he laughed with them; and after a while they stopped laughing or just laughed in a friendly and almost sympathetic way. Antoni, on the contrary, pretended not to notice their mockery. Gentleman, he has always been explicitly taught, and by the constant implication and example of his elders, the gentleman does not pay attention to such things. It is beneath his honor. He acted as if their laughter did not exist. They continued to laugh.

He hated the manhunt and the game of hide and seek that morning. But it was even worse following him at lunchtime. He offered to help serve the table. The work itself was not noticed. But the smell of misery as twenty children gathered in the dining room was so insidiously repulsive—like Lollingdon church, only much worse—that he had to sneak away two or three times during the meal to spit into the toilet bowl. swimming pool. - It smells like germs! he heard his mother's angry, terrified voice repeating itself over and over again. "It smells like germs!" And when Mrs. Foxe asked him a question, he could only nod and make an inarticulate noise with his mouth closed; if he spoke, he would have to swallow. swallow what? The very thought of it was disgusting.

— Poor children! he repeated again, standing with Mrs. Foxe and Brian, watching them drive away. "Poor children!" and he was still more ashamed of his hypocrisy when Mrs. Foxe thanked him for taking so much pains to amuse them.

And when Anthony entered the classroom, "Thanks to you too, dear," she said to Brian. - You were really wonderful.

Blushing with pleasure, Brian shook his head. "It's all because of you," he said; and suddenly, because he loved her so much, because she was so good, so wonderful, his eyes filled with tears.

They went out into the garden together. Her hand rested on his shoulder. She smelled faintly of cologne and suddenly (and I guess that was part of her beauty too) the sun came out from behind the clouds.

"Look at those heavenly daffodils!" she called out in a voice that made everything she said to Brian seem strangely truer than the truth itself. ' "And now my heart is filled with joy. . ". Do you remember Brian?

Flushed and bright-eyed, he nodded. ' "And d-dances. . ". '

"Dance with Daffodils". She squeezed him closer to her. He was filled with unspeakable happiness. They walked on in silence. Her skirts rustled with every step—like the sea, Brian thought; the sea at Ventnor, this time last year when he couldn't sleep at night because of the waves on the beach. Lying in the darkness, listening to the distant breath of the sea, he felt fear, and most of all sadness, terrible sadness. But in relation to the mother, the memories of that fear, of that deep and reasonless sadness, became beautiful; and at the same time, in some obscure way, they seemed to reflect their new beauty in her, making her even more magnificent in his eyes. Rustling back and forth across the sunny lawn, it took on a mysterious meaning of windy darkness and relentlessly returning waves.

"Poor little Anthony!" said Mrs. Foxe, breaking the long silence. - It's hard, really hard. Too bad for poor Maisie, she thought. This lovely creature, with its reverie, its silence, its dreamy abstractions, and then its sudden outbursts of laughter—what had it to do with death? Or with birth, for that matter? Maisie with a child to raise - it made no more sense than Maisie's death.

"It must be t-t-t." . but “terrible” didn’t come, “it must be o-terrible,” Brian said, struggling to overcome the obstacle as his emotions rushed forward in an imaginary rush of unspoken and unspoken words, “n-not having a m-mother.

Mrs. Foxe smiled gently and, leaning forward, pressed her cheek to his hair for a moment. "It's also terrible not to have a son," she said, and realized that those words were even truer than she'd intended—that they were true on a deeper, more essential level of existence than the one she was now navigating. She spoke at that moment; but if it would be terrible not to have him now, how much more terrible it would be then, after my father's stroke and during the years of my husband's illness! In that time of pain and complete spiritual deprivation, her love for Brian was all she had left. Ah, it's terrible, really terrible, not to have a son!

The tenth chapter. June 16, 1912

BOOKS. THE TABLE in Anthony's room was full of them. Bayle's five folio volumes in the English edition of 1738. Rickaby's translation of the Summa contra Gentiles. De Gourmont's stylistic problem. The path of perfection. Dostoyevsky's Underground Notes. Three volumes of Byron's letters. Acts of St. John of the Cross in Spanish. The Art of Wycherley. Lee History of priestly celibacy.

If only, Anthony thought as he returned from his walk, if only one had two pairs of eyes! Janus could read Candide and Imitation at the same time. Life was so short and books so countless. He looked lewdly around the table, opening one volume at random, then another. "You wouldn't go to bed," he read; "then his neck was too big for the opening, and the priest had to stifle his cries with even louder persuasions." The head was cut off before the eye could follow the blow; but on attempting to withdraw the head, though the hair held it forward, the first head was cut off near the ears; the other two were taken off more cleanly. From the first I was hot and thirsty until I was shaking so badly I could barely hold my opera glasses. . . "Happiness, as a special good of the rational nature, must join the intelligent nature on the side of something that is its own. But appetite is not peculiar to the rational nature, but is found in all things, though differently in different beings. The will, being a desire, is not a peculiar quality of a rational nature, unless it depends on the intelligence; but intelligence itself is a characteristic of an intelligent nature. Happiness, therefore, consists primarily and mainly in the act of reason rather than in the act of will. . . "Even in my deepest soul I could never imagine love except as a struggle that begins with hatred and ends with moral submission. . . '' 'I won't be a cuckold, I say; cuckolding me is dangerous. "Why, have you recovered from the last clap?" . . "La primera noche o purgación es amarga y terrible para el sentido, como ahora diremos. La segunda no tiene compración, porque es horrenda y espantable para el espiritu. . . "I think I read somewhere that precision went so far that the ladies did not would say J'ai mangé des confitures than des fitures." At this rate, more than half the words in the Dictionary of the French Academy should be deleted. . . ".

Finally, Antoni settled on the Path of Perfection of St. Teresa. When Brian came in an hour later, he had already reached the prayer of silence.

– B-busy? Brian asked.

Anthony shook his head.

The other sat down. "I came to p-see if there's anything else to do tomorrow." Mrs. Foxe and Joan Thursley, Mr. and Mrs. Beavis, were coming to Oxford for the day. Brian and Anthony agreed to entertain them together.

Hock or Sauterne cup? Lobster mayonnaise or cold salmon? And if it rained, what's the best thing to do in the afternoon?

"Are you coming to F-fabians tonight?" Brian asked when the discussion of plans for the next day ended.

"Sure," Anthony said. The next presidential election was scheduled to take place that evening. “It's going to be a close fight between you and Mark Staithes. You will need all the votes you can get. . ".

Interrupting him, I-I-become, Brian said.

'Did he give in? But why?'

"V-Different Reasons".

Anthony looked at him and shook his head. "Not that I ever dreamed of being hanged," he said. "I can't think of anything more boring than being the chairman of any organization." Even belonging to an organization was bad enough. Why should someone be forced to make decisions when they don't want to choose; to be bound by a set of rules when freedom was so essential; in obliging to socialize with other people when no one wants to be alone; promise in advance to be in certain places at certain times? With great difficulty, Brian persuaded him to join Fabian; for the rest he was free. "Incredibly boring," he insisted. "But even when he's on the run, why give in?"

“Mark will be a b-better president than me.

"He'll be ruder, if that's what you mean."

"P-and besides, he was so p-horrible that p-he was chosen," Brian began; then he paused, suddenly overcome with remorse. Anthony may have thought that criticizing Mark Staithes was implying that he had a right to patronize him. "I mean, he knows he's going to do such a good job," he continued quickly. 'W-while I. . . So I really didn't see why. . ".

"Actually, you thought you might as well make him laugh."

- No, n-no! Brian called out in a worried tone. "Not t-that."

"Dungeon cock," Anthony continued, ignoring the other's protest. "It must be a rooster—even if it's only from the smallest of Fabian's dung piles." He was laughing. "Poor old Mark! What a pain when he can't reach the top of his mud! Lucky prefers books. He gently patted Saint Teresa. "Anyway, I'd rather you didn't back down." I would have laughed if I saw Mark trying to pretend he didn't mind that you defeated him. You read the paper, don't you, he continued, after the vote?

Relieved to change the subject, Brian nodded. "About the son. . .' he started.

'Is it here?'


They both laughed.

“Strange, when you think about it,” Anthony said when their laughter died down, “that the very idea of ​​talking to socialists about sin could seem so . . . . Well, really outrageous. a sin. . . socialism. He shook his head. - It's like mating a duck and a zebra.

"You could m-talk about sin if you went the other way."

- Which end?

"S-social end." O-organized s-society so well that I-individual simply could not commit any sin.

"But do you really think such a society could exist?"

"P-perhaps," Brian said doubtfully, but he thought that social change could hardly bear these wicked desires of his, could not even justify these desires except within certain conventional limits. He shook his head. "N-no, I don't know," he finished.

“I see no possibility of doing more than merely transferring human sins from one level to another. But we already are. Take, for example, envy and ambition. They expressed themselves at the level of physical violence. We have now reorganized society in such a way that it must express itself mainly in terms of economic competition."

"Wh-we're going to p-t-t-endure."

"So let's go back to physical violence mode, huh?"

"You-you-you hope so, don't you?" Brian said; and laughing: "You're terrible!" he added.

There was silence. Brian absentmindedly picked up The Way of Perfection and, turning the pages, read a line here, a paragraph there. Then he closed the book with a sigh, put it back in place, and, shaking his head, said, "I don't understand," he said, "why you're reading this crap." When I see you n-you don't believe it.

"But I do," Anthony insisted. "Not in orthodox explanations, of course. They're obviously idiots. But in facts. And in the fundamental metaphysical theory of mysticism.

"W-w-what do you mean you can g-get to the t-truth through some t-kind of t-direct connection with her?"

Anthony nodded. "And the most precious and important truth only in this way."

Brian sat in silence for a moment, elbows on knees, long face buried in hands, staring at the floor. Then, without looking up, "I think," he said finally, "that you're p-running with the h-rabbit and h-h-h . . . and h-h . . ."

"Hunting with dogs," Anthony added.

The other nodded. "To use skepticism against r-religion, indeed, against any sort of s-idealism, really," he added, referring to the fierce taunts Anthony liked to overpower any enthusiasm that seemed excessive to him. "And using this-that something," he pointed to the "Way of Perfection," "a-against s-scientific arguments when it suits you t-t-b-t." . The "book" refused to come: "when it suits you".

Anthony lit his pipe again before answering. "Well, why not get the best of both worlds?" he asked, tossing the used match into the grate. "From all the worlds. Why not?'

“N-no, c-consequence, p-unanimity. . ".

"But I don't value unanimity. I appreciate the completeness. I think it is man's duty to develop all his potentials - everything. It's not stupid to stick to just one. Unanimity! he repeated. "But oysters are determined. Ants are determined.

"S-such are the p-saints."

"Well, that just confirms my resolve not to become a saint."

“B-But how can you d-do anything if you're not z-unanimous? It is the first condition for any achievement.

"Who told you that I want to achieve something?" Anthony asked. 'Not me. I want to be, completely. And I want to know. And when it comes to knowledge, I resolutely accept its conditions. He pointed the pipe at the books on the table.

"You nth don't accept the terms of the nth kind of knowledge," Brian retorted, pointing to the Path of Perfection again. "P-prayer and P-fast and that's it."

“Because it is not knowledge; it's a special kind of experience. There is a big difference in the world between knowledge and experience. For example, between studying algebra and going to bed with a woman.

Brian wasn't smiling. Still staring at the floor, "B-but you-think," he said, "that m-mystical experiences b-put you in touch with t-truth?"

- Just like going to bed.

"Y-are you doing this?" Brian forced himself to ask. He didn't like such conversations, he didn't like them more than ever, now that he was in love with Joan—in love, and yet (he hated himself for it) he wanted her meanly, inappropriately. . . .

"If it's the right woman," replied the other with clear knowledge, as if he were experimenting with every type of woman. In fact, though he would be ashamed to admit it, he was a virgin.

"W-So you don't need to g-bother with s-posting," Brian said suddenly with irony.

Anthony smiled. "I'm quite content with just knowing the way to perfection," he said.

"I think I should experience it too," Brian said after a moment of silence.

Anthony shook his head. "It's not worth the price," he said. “This is the problem of any unanimous action; it costs you your freedom. You're cornered. You are a prisoner.

"But if you want to be b-free, you must be a b-prisoner. This is the c-condition of freedom—t-true freedom.

- Real freedom! repeated Anthony in a parody of the priest's voice. "I always love these kinds of discussions. The opposite of things is not the opposite; Oh my dear, no! This is a thing in itself, but as it really is. Ask a tough guy what conservatism is; they will tell you that this is real socialism. And trade papers of brewers; are full of articles on the beauty of True Temperance. Common abstinence is simply a flagrant refusal to drink; but true moderation, true moderation is much more refined. True abstinence is a bottle of claret with every meal and three double whiskeys after dinner. Personally, I'm in favor of real moderation because I hate moderation. But I like to be free. So I want nothing to do with real freedom.

"Which doesn't stop it from being t-true freedom," another insisted.

"What's the name?" Anthony continued. "The answer is: Almost everything if the name is right. Freedom is a wonderful name. That's why you want to use it so much. You think that if you call prison real freedom, people will be attracted to prison. And the worst thing is that you are absolutely right. For most people, the name is more important than the subject. They will follow the man who repeats it most often and loudest. And of course, "True freedom" is actually a better name than freedom tout court. Truth is one of the magic words. Combine this with the magic of "freedom" and the effect is incredible. After a moment of silence. "It's interesting," he continued digressively and in a different tone, "that people don't talk about the real truth." I guess it sounds too bizarre. Real truth; the real truth, he repeated experimentally. "No, of course that's not enough. It's like beriberi or Wagga-Wagga. Black people talk. You couldn't take it seriously. If you want the opposite of truth to be acceptable, you have to call it spiritual truth, inner truth, higher truth or even…. ".

"But a moment ago you m-said there was a m-kind of more truth." C-something you can only get m-mystical. you are contradicting yourself.

Anthony laughed. "This is one of the privileges of freedom. Besides," he added more seriously, "there is a difference between knowledge and experience. Known truth is not the same as experienced truth. There should be two different words.

"You managed to wriggle out of e-everything.

"Not all," Anthony insisted. - It always will be. He pointed to the books again. “Always knowing. The prison of knowledge - because of course knowledge is also a prison. But I will always be ready to stay in this prison.

- All the time? Brian asked.

'Why not?'

“Too much l-luxury.

'Contrary. It is a matter of scorning pleasures and experiencing hard days.

"Which are luminous in themselves."

'Of course. But can't you enjoy your work?

Brian nodded. "It's not like that," he said. - No one wants to use their privileges.

"Mine's just a little one," Anthony said. "About six pounds a week," he added, detailing the income he received from his mother.

"P-plus all other r".

"What vacation?"

"Lucky you like that kind of thing." He reached out and touched Bayle's folio. "And all your g-gifts."

"But I can't artificially make a fool of myself," Anthony protested. Neither can you.

“No, but we can use what we have for something else.

"Something we're not cut out for," another suggested sarcastically.

Ignoring the mocking "Like s-thanks", Brian continued with even more passion and seriousness.


"For everything that was given to us. For starters, M-money. And then knowledge-knowledge, t-taste, power on c-c. . He wanted to say "create" but had to settle for "doing things". “B-being a scholar or an artist is like striving for p-personal salvation. But there is also the k-kingdom of G-god. C-waiting for realization.

"By the Fabians?" Anthony asked in a tone of feigned naivety.

- Among others. A long, half-minute silence followed. Shall I say that? Brian wondered. "Should I tell him?" And suddenly, as if a dam had burst, his indecision was swept away. "I have decided," he said aloud, and the feeling with which he uttered the words was so strong that it lifted him to his feet almost without his knowledge and sent him restless across the room, "I have decided to pursue philosophy, literature. , and history until you're thirty." Then it'll be time to do something else. S-something more direct.

- Directly? Anthony repeated. 'How?'

“In reaching the p-people. In the r-realization of G-god's k-kingdom. . The sheer intensity of his desire to communicate what he felt left him stunned.

Listening to Brian's words, looking at his grave and serious face, Anthony felt deeply moved by his speed. . . he felt moved, and precisely because of this he was seized by a kind of compulsion, as if in self-defense, to respond to his and his friend's emotions with a sneer. "Like washing the feet of the poor," he suggested. - And you dry them in your hair. It will be inconvenient if you go bald prematurely.

Later, when Brian was gone, he was ashamed of his shameful obscenity—and humiliated by the thoughtless automaticity with which he revealed it. Like those pithy frogs that twitch when you put a drop of acid on their skin. A thoughtless answer.

- Shit! he said loudly and then took the book.

He was back on the Path of Perfection when someone knocked on the door and a voice, deliberately rough to sound like a drill sergeant, shouted his name.

"Those damn stairs of yours!" said Gerry Watchett entering. "Why the hell do you live in such a dirty place?"

Gerry Watchett had a fair complexion, small, indistinct features and wavy golden brown hair. A handsome young man, but conspicuous, despite his height and strong build, almost to the point of girlish beauty. To the casual observer, there was an aura of Arcadian freshness and innocence about him, but upon closer inspection, it was oddly at odds with the hard insolence in his blue eyes, the faint smile of mockery and contempt that kept returning to his face. by the astonishing roughness of those hands with thick fingers and short nails.

Anthony pointed to the chair. But the other shook his head. - I'm not in a hurry. I just came to say that you must come to dinner tonight.

"But I can not".

Gerry frowned. 'Why not?'

"I have a meeting with the Fabians.

"And that's what you call the reason you didn't come to dinner with me?"

- Since I promised... . ".

"Then can I expect you at eight?"

'But really . . ".

"Don't be a fool! What is the difference at Mother's meeting?

"But what excuse can I make?"

"Any damn thing you like." Tell them you just gave birth to twins.

"Okay," Anthony finally agreed. 'I will come.'

"Thank you very much," said Gerry with feigned politeness. - I would break your neck if you didn't. Well, for now. He stopped at the door. “I have Bimbo Abinger, Ted, Willie Monmouth and Scroope. I also wanted to get old Gorčakov; but the fool left and got sick at the last minute. That's why I had to ask you," he added in a low, matter-of-fact tone that was far more insulting than any pressure; then he turned and disappeared.

"You like it?" Brian asked one day when Gerry's name came up between them. And since the question had an unsettling resonance in his own consciousness, Anthony replied, with quite unnecessary harshness, that he liked Gerry, of course. "What makes you think I should go out with him?" he concluded, looking at Brian with exasperation and suspicion. Brian didn't answer; and the question came back to the questioner like a boomerang. Yeah, why was he dating Gerry? Because of course he didn't like that man; Gerry had hurt and humiliated him, he was ready, he knew it, to hurt and humiliate him again at the slightest provocation. Or rather, without any provocation – just for fun, because he enjoyed humiliating people, because he had a natural talent for inflicting pain. So why, why?

Pure snobbery, Anthony had to admit to himself, was part of this shameful secret. It was absurd and ridiculous; nevertheless, the fact was that he enjoyed the company of Gerry and his friends. To be on intimate terms with these young aristocrats and plutocrats, and at the same time to know that he surpassed them in intelligence, taste, judgment in all the things that really mattered, satisfied his vanity.

Recognizing his intellectual superiority, the young barbarians expected him to repay their admiration with entertainment. He was close to them, yes; but like Voltaire he was a close friend of Frederick the Great, and like Diderot of Empress Catherine. It is not easy to distinguish a domestic philosopher from a court fool.

With sincere appreciation, but at the same time condescending, insulting: "Hooray for the professor!" Gerry said after one of his outings. Or "One more drink for the old professor" - as if he were an Italian organist playing for a pittance.

The sting of the remembered humiliation was as sharp as the sting of a bug. With sudden ferocity, Anthony rose from his chair and began pacing up and down the room with furrowed brows.

A middle-class snob who is tolerated because of his artistic abilities. The thought was hateful, painful. "Why do I put up with it?" he wondered. "Why am I such a bloody fool? I'll text Gerry that I can't come." But time passed; the note remained unwritten. After all, he thought, there are uses, there are pleasures. The evening spent with Gerry and his friends was exciting, meaningful. Joyful and enlightening, not because of what they said or thought—because they were all stupid, all ignorant beyond measure; but because of who they were, because of the circumstances that made them. Because with their money and position they could actually live in the freedom that Anthony only imagined or read about. For them the greater number of restrictions which had always surrounded him did not even exist. They allowed themselves as a matter of course licenses which they accepted only in theory, and which even then they felt compelled to justify by all means carefully distorted metaphysics, skillfully falsified mystical theology. By force of social and economic conditions, these ignorant barbarians behaved quite naturally, because he did not dare even after reading all that Nietzsche said about Superman and Casanova about women. Nor did they have to study Patanjali or Jacob Boehme to find an excuse for wine intoxication and sensuality: they just got drunk and had girlfriends as if they were in the Garden of Eden. They faced life, not with shyness and apology, as Anthony faced it, not wistfully, behind invisible bars, but with the calm, bold confidence of those who know that God willed them to have fun and ordained the infallible consent of their fellows in all their wishes.

True, they also had their limiting prejudices; and they were sometimes ready like poor old Brian to be locked up in a coded prison. But the code and prejudices belonged to their caste; therefore, as far as Anthony is concerned, non-binding. Their example freed him from the shackles that his upbringing imposed on him, but he could not bind him to other chains in which they themselves walked through life. In their society, the compulsion of respect, the paralyzing fear of public opinion, the constraining maxims of bourgeois prudence, fell away from him; but when Bimbo Abinger indignantly refused even to listen to the suggestion that he should sell that monstrous old house which ate up three-quarters of his income, when Scroope complained that he would have to enter Parliament because the eldest sons of his family always sat in the House of Commons before winning the title, Anthony could only feel the amused wonder of a researcher observing the religious antics of a tribe of black doves. A rational being is not converted into a cult of Mumbo Jumbo; but he won't mind acting like a native now and then. Worshiping Mumbo Jumbo means accepting the taboo; being native means freedom. "True freedom!" Anthony smiled to himself; his good mood and peace of mind returned. A snob, a middle-class snob. No doubt. But there was a reason for his snobbery, a justification. And if the dignified young barbarians saw him as some kind of upper-class lark, well, that was the price he had to pay for their gift of freedom. There was no price to be paid for associating with the Fabians; but on the other hand, how little they had to give him! Socialist doctrines can theoretically liberate the intellect to some extent; but the example of the young barbarians was liberation in the sphere of practice.

"I'm terribly sorry," he wrote in a letter to Brian. "I suddenly remembered I made dinner reservations for tonight." ("Reserved" was one of his father's words, a word he usually hated because of his affection. As he wrote the lie, he said it came spontaneously from his pen.) "Unfortunately. (it was also his father's favorite line), "I can't listen to you about sin! I wish I could get out of this, but I don't know how. Your.

* * *

By the time the fruit was on the table, everyone was pretty drunk. Gerry Watchett told Scroope about a German baroness he had on board on the way to Egypt. Abinger had no audience, but he recited the lines: The Young Lady of Wick, The Old Man of Devizes, The Young Man Called Maclean - a complete dictionary of national biography. Ted and Willie had a heated argument about the best way to hunt ptarmigan. Anthony was the only one in the group to remain silent. To speak would endanger the delicate happiness he was then enjoying. That last glass of champagne made him an inhabitant of a new world that was unusually beautiful, precious and significant. The apples and oranges in the silver bowl were like huge jewels. Each glass under the candles did not contain wine but a large yellow beryl, solid and transparent. The roses had the lustrous texture of satin and the brilliant hardness and clarity of form that belong to metal or glass. Even the sound was frozen and crystalline. The young lady of Kew was to his ears like a piece of carved jade, and this violently futile discussion of grouse seemed like a waterfall in winter. Le transparent glacier des vols qui n'ont pas fui, he thought with increasing satisfaction. Everything was supernaturally clear and distinct, but at the same time how far, how strangely insignificant! Illuminated against the background of the outer half-darkness of the room, the faces gathered around the table could be objects seen on the other side of a glass panel in a lighted aquarium. The aquarium was not only from the outside, but also mysteriously inside. Looking through the glass at those sea flowers and underwater jewels, he was a fish himself - but a fish of genius, a fish that was also a god. Ichthus - Iesous Christos theou huios soter. His divine fish soul hung there, motionless in its alien element, staring, staring through huge eyes that saw all, understood all, but had no part in what they saw. Even his own hands on the table in front of him no longer, in any sense, belonged to him. From his aquarium he looked at them with the same indifferent and joyful admiration that he felt for fruits and flowers, or other transformed fragments of still life, the faces of his friends. Beautiful hands! imaginary - how wonderful! — for their innumerable functions — aiming double-barrels at birds in flight, caressing the thighs of German baronesses in linings, playing imaginary scales on tablecloths, etc. Enchanted, he watched his fingers move, the smooth gliding of tendons under the skin. Excellent hands! But it's not really a part of himself, the essential soul of the fish in its timeless aquarium, but Abinger's hands that peel that banana, Scroope's hands that carry the cigar match. I am not my body, I am not my senses, I am not even my mind; I am who I am. I am om yes I am om. The holy word OM represents Him. God is not limited by time. For the One is not absent from anything, but is nevertheless separated from all things. . . .

- Hi, professor! A piece of orange peel hit him on the cheek. He started and turned around. "What the hell are you thinking?" asked Gerry Watchett in a deliberately gruff voice that amused him for putting it on like a hideous mask.

The temporarily agitated waters in the aquarium have now returned to a calm state. A fish again, a divine and somewhat happy Fish, Anthony smiled at him with cheerful indulgence.

"I was thinking of Plotinus," he said.

"Why Plotinus?"

"Why Plotinus? But, dear sir, isn't it obvious? Science is reason, and there are many reasons. The fish found a tongue; eloquence flowed freely from the aquarium. “But if one happens to feel extremely low—well, what else can one think of but Plotinus? Unless you prefer pseudo-Dionysius, Eckhart or St. Teresa. From lonely to lonely flight. Even St. Thomas is forced to admit that no mind can see the divine substance unless it is separated from the bodily senses, either by death or some rapture. Some pleasure, mind you! But delight is always delight, no matter where it comes from. Whether it's champagne, saying "OM", squinting, looking at a crucifix or making love - preferably in a boat, Gerry; I'm the first to admit it; preferably in a boat. What do wild waves say? enthusiasm! Ecstasy! Enough screaming. Until, observe, the breath of this bodily frame, and even the movement of our human blood, has almost ceased, we shall lie asleep in the body, and become a living soul while the eye is asleep. . ".

"There was a young man from Burma," Abinger suddenly recited.

"Silenced," Anthony repeated louder, "by the power of harmony." . ".

"Whose fiancée had good reason to grumble."

“And the deep power of joy,” exclaimed Anthony, “we see... . ".

"But now that they're married, he is."

- I took cantharides. . ".

"We see the life of things. The life of things, I tell you. The life of things. And to hell with all the Fabians! - he added.

* * *

Anthony returned to his apartment about fifteen to midnight, and when he entered the living room he was unpleasantly surprised to see someone rising from his chair with the furious impatience of a doll in a box.

"God, what fear. . . !”

- Finally! said Mark Staithes. His expressive face betrayed angry impatience. - I've been waiting for almost an hour. Then he added dismissively, "You're drunk."

- It's like you've never been drunk! Anthony replied. 'I remember . . ".

"Me too," Mark Staithes interrupted. - But that was in my first year. In his first year, when he felt it necessary to show himself manly - more manly than all the hardest, loudest and fiercest drunkards. "Now I have a smarter job."

"Then imagine," said Anthony.

Another looked at his watch. "I have about seven minutes," he said. "Are you sober enough to listen?"

Anthony sat down with dignity and silence.

Short, but broad-shouldered and strong, Mark stood over him almost menacingly. "It's about Brian," he said.

"About Brian?" and then with a telling smile, "That reminds me," Anthony added, "I should have congratulated you on being our next president."

- Fool! Mark said angrily. — Do you think I will take alms? When he retired, I retired too.

"And let that dreary little mama in to work?"

"What the hell do I care about mom?"

"What do any of us care?" Anthony said sentimentally. - Nothing, thank God. Absolutely nothing. . ".

- What does he mean when he insults me like this?

'WHO? Mala mamica?

'NOT; Brian, of course.

- He thinks he is good to you.

"I don't want his bloody goodness," Mark said. "Why can't he behave himself?"

"Because he enjoys acting like a Christian."

"Then tell him, for God's sake, to try it on someone else in the future." I don't like Christian jokes about me.

"Actually, you want a cock for a fight."

'What do you think?'

“Otherwise, it's no fun being on top of shit. While Brian wants us all to be happy little capons together. Well, when it comes to slurry, I'm all for Brian. When it comes to chicks, I'm starting to have second thoughts.

Mark looked at his watch again. - I have to go. He turned around at the door. "Don't forget to tell him what I told you." I like Brian and I don't want to fight with him. But if he tries again to be charitable and Christian. . ".

"The poor boy will lose your respect forever," said Anthony.

- Lacunate! said Staithes, and, slamming the door behind him, ran down the stairs.

Left alone, Anthony picked up the fifth volume of the Historical Dictionary and began to read what Bayle had to say about Spinoza.

The eleventh chapter. December 8, 1926

"CONDAR INTRA MEUM latus! It is the only refuge we have left." Anthony rolled up a sheet of paper from the typewriter, added it to the other sheets on the table in front of him, stapled them together, and began to read what he had written. Chapter XI of his Elements of Sociology dealt with the individual and his concept of personality. He spent the day jotting down some initial thoughts in an unconventional way.

Cogito ergo sum, he read. "But why not caco ergo sum?" Eructo ergo sum? Or avoiding solipsism, why not futuo ergo sumus? Ribaldian questions. But what is "personality"?

“MacTaggart knows his personality through direct acquaintance; others as described. Hume and Bradley do not know theirs at all and do not believe that it really exists. I'm just sharing, all of it, the hair of an imaginary bald man. It is important that "personality" is a common word with a generally accepted meaning.

“People discuss my 'personality'. What are they talking about? Neither homo cacans nor homo eructans, not even superficially, homo futuens. No, they speak of homo sentiens (impossible Latin) and homo cogitans. And when I talk about "myself" in public, I'm talking about the same two homines. My "personality" in the present conventional sense of the word is what I think and feel—or rather, what I confess to think and feel. Caco, eructo, futuo - I never admit that the first person singular of such verbs is really me. Only when, for whatever reason, do they tangibly affect my feelings and thinking, are the processes behind them within the bounds of my "personality." (This censorship makes all literature utter nonsense. Dramas and novels are simply not true.)

Therefore, what is commendable is personal, or better said, what is commendable. He is not morally undifferentiated.

"It is also persistence. Very brief experiences are even less personal than compromising or purely vegetative experiences. They become personal only when they are accompanied by feelings and thoughts, or when they resonate with memory.

"The matter being analyzed consists of empty space and electric charges. Take the wife and the basin. Different kind. But their constituent electrical charges are similar. What's even stranger is that each of these components of electrical charges is different in kind from a whole woman or a kitchen sink. Quantitative changes, if large enough, cause qualitative changes. Human experience is analogous to matter. Analyze it - and you will find yourself in the presence of psychological atoms. Many of these atoms make up normal experience, and the selection from normal experience is "personality". Each individual atom differs from normal experience, and even more so from personality. Conversely, each atom in one experiment resembles the corresponding atom in another. Under the microscope, a woman's body is like a sink, and Napoleon's experience is like Wellington. Why do we imagine that solid matter exists? Because of the thick skin of our sense organs. And why do we imagine that we have consistent experiences and personalities? Because our mind works slowly and has a very weak ability to analyze. Our world and we who live in it are creations of stupidity and poor eyesight.

“Recently, however, thinking and vision have improved. We have instruments that will break matter down into very small parts and a mathematical technique that allows us to think about even smaller parts.

"Psychologists do not have new tools, only new thinking techniques. All their inventions are purely mental - techniques of analysis and observation, working hypotheses. Thanks to novelists and professional psychologists, we can think of our experience in terms of atoms and moments, as well as in terms of solids and hours. In the past, only brilliant people could be relatively good psychologists. Compare Chaucer's psychology with Gower's, even Boccaccio's. Compare Shakespeare with Ben Jonson. The difference is not only in quality, but also in quantity. Men of genius knew more than their mere intelligent peers.

"Today there is a set of knowledge, techniques, working hypothesis. The amount of knowledge that only an intelligent person can know is vast - more than an uneducated genius who relies solely on intuition.

Were the Gowers and Jonsons self-conscious of their ignorance? Not at all. Their ignorance was the standard knowledge of their time. A few monsters with intuition may know more than they do; but most knew even less.

"And there is a digression - sociologically speaking, more important than the topic from which the digression started. There are personality modifications. Fashions that change over time - like crinolines and flouncy skirts - and fashions that change through space - like Gold Coast thigh-high robes and Lombard Street tailcoats. In primitive societies, everyone carries and wants to carry the same personality. But every society has a different psychological costume. Among the Red Indians of the Pacific Northwest, the ideal personality was a slightly mad egotist who competed with his rivals in terms of wealth and conspicuous consumption. Among the plains Indians he was an egoist who competed with others in the sphere of military endeavors. Among the Pueblo Indians, the ideal personality was neither a selfish, flashy consumer nor a warrior, but a perfectly social person who tries never to stand out, who knows traditional rites, gestures and tries to be just like everyone else.

"European societies are large and heterogeneous racially, economically and professionally; thus it is difficult to impose orthodoxy, and there are few modern ideals of personality. (Note that fascists and communists are trying to create a "real" ideal - in other words, trying to make industrialized Europeans behave as if they were Dayaks or Eskimos. In the long run, that attempt is doomed; but in the meantime, how will they be fun to intimidate heretics!)

"What fashion is prevalent in our world? There are, of course, the usual clerical and commercial ways - tied by small seamstresses around the corner. And then haute couture. Ravissante personnalité d'intérieur de chez Proust, Maison Nietzsche et Kipling: personnalité de sport. Personnalité de nuit, Lawrence's creation. Personnalité de bain, couple Joyce. Note the interesting fact that of all of them the personnalité de sport is the only one that can really be considered a personality in the accepted sense of the word. Others are more or less impersonal because they are more or less atomic. And that brings us back to Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. The pragmatist wants us to say that Jonson's psychology is "truer" than Shakespeare's. Most of his contemporaries actually perceived themselves as humorists. It took Shakespeare to see how much was beyond the bounds of humor, behind the conventional mask. But Shakespeare was in the minority of one—or, if you put Montaigne next to him, two. The humor "worked"; Shakespeare's complex, partially atomized personalities do not.

"In the story about the emperor's new clothes, the child notices that the man is naked. Shakespeare reversed the process. His contemporaries thought it was just plain humor; he saw that they were covered with a whole wardrobe of psychological disguises.

"Let's take Hamlet. Hamlet lived in a world whose best psychologist was Polonius. If he knew as little as Polonius, he would be happy. But he knew too much; and that is his tragedy. Read his comparison of musical instruments. Polonius and others took it as an axiom that a man is a whistle with only half a dozen stops. Hamlet knew that he was, at least potentially, the entire symphony orchestra.

An angry Ofelia lets the cat out of the bag. "We know who we are, but we don't know what we can be." Polonius knows very well who he and other people are within the prevailing conventions. Hamlet knows this, but he also knows what they can be, apart from the local system of masks and humor.

“To be the only man of his age who knows what people can be and what they conventionally are! Shakespeare had to live through a disturbing quarter of an hour.

“It was left to Blake to rationalize psychological atomism into a philosophical system. According to Blake (and after him also according to Proust according to Lawrence) man is simply a series of states. Good and evil can only be determined according to states, not individuals, which do not really exist except where these states appear. This is the end of personality in the old sense of the word. (By the way - because this is completely outside the domain of sociology - is this the beginning of a new type of personality? A total man, inflexible, unselected, unanalyzed, to change the metaphor, down a certain Weltanschauung groove - in a word, a man who actually is as he is, such is a man the opposite of all variants of the fundamental Christian man of our history. And yet, in a certain sense, he is also the embodiment of the ideal personality that Jesus imagined in the Gospels. That is, he is not interested in conventions and social position, he is not puffed up with pride that he is better than other people; (2) humble in self-acceptance, in refusing to rise above his human level; (3) poor in spirit because "he" - his ego has no permanent claim to anything, he is content with what would appear to the personality of the old type to be psychological and philosophic misery; (4) like a little child, in accepting the point of immediate experience for himself, in refusing to think of tomorrow, in being willing to let the dead bury their dead; (5) He is not a hypocrite or a liar because there is no definite model according to which individuals must pretend.)

"Question: Did the old personality ever really exist? In year m, men feel x in the context of z. In year n, they feel the same x in a completely different context, p. But x is the main emotion - extremely important for personality. And yet, x is felt in contexts that change with the changing conventions of fashion. "Rather death than shame." But honor is like women's skirts. Worn short, worn long, worn full, worn tight, worn with petticoats, worn without drawers. Up until the 1750s, you were expected to feel mortified if you saw a man pinch your sister's bottom. Your anger was so strong that you had to try to kill him. Today, our tributes have moved from the fleshy parts of the anatomy of our female relatives to other places. And soon, indefinitely.

"So what is personality? What isn't?

“This is not our full experience. It is not a psychological atom or moment. They are not sense impressions as such, nor are they vegetative life as such.

"It is an experience in pieces and hours. It is a feeling and a thought.

"And who makes this choice from a complete experience and on what basis? Sometimes we succeed - whoever we are. But how often it is created for us - the collective madness of the class, of the whole society. To a large extent, "personality" is not even our personal property.

Vaguely, but increasingly, this fact is now beginning to materialize. At the same time, more and more people are using modern techniques to see themselves and others under a microscope, instantly, piece by piece, and hour by hour. Moreover, with the working hypothesis of the unconscious, more and more people are becoming aware of their hidden motives and thus recognizing the great role that compromising and vegetative elements of experience play in their lives. With what results? That the old concept of personality began to fall apart. And not only a concept, but also a fact. "Strong personalities" and even "definite personalities" are becoming rarer. Fascists must do everything to produce them deliberately, through the appropriate process of education. Education, which is simplification, Eskimization; this entails the suppression of psychological knowledge and the inculcation of respect for psychological ignorance. Repulsive politics - but, I suspect, inevitable and, sociologically speaking, correct. Because our mental acumen is probably harmful to society. Society needs simple Jonsonian humor, not shapeless collections of self-conscious states. Another example of the downfall of too much knowledge and too much scientific technology.

“Once again, Hamlet sheds light. Polonius is a much more obvious and definite person than the prince. Indeed, Hamlet's personality is so undefined that critics have devoted thousands of pages debating what she really was. In reality, of course, Hamlet had no personality—he knew too much to have one. He was aware of his total experience, atom by atom and moment by moment, and he adopted no guiding principle that would make him choose one set of patterned atoms to represent his personality rather than another. For himself and for others, he was only the consequence of more or less incompatible conditions. Hence the embarrassment at Elsinore and among Shakespeare critics ever since. Honor, religion, prejudice, love - all the conventional props that sustain ordinary personality are chewed up in this case. Hamlet is a termite himself and has eaten himself to a pile of sawdust from the tower. Only one thing prevents Polonius and the others from immediately seeing this fact: regardless of the state of his mind, Hamlet's body is still intact, unatomized, macroscopically present to the senses. And perhaps, after all, this is the real reason for our belief in personality: the existence and permanence of the body. And perhaps whatever reality exists in the notion of coherent individual continuity is only a function of that physical permanence. "What hair, such a wonderful figure! I think Mrs. Jones has a wonderful venom. When I heard that on the bus on Fifth Avenue, I laughed. Whereas I probably should have listened like Spinoza. Because what is the most personal thing about a person? Not his mind - his body. Hearst, Rothermere, they can shape my feelings, make me think. But no amount of propaganda can make my digestion or metabolism identical to theirs. Cogito, ergo Rothermere est. But well, ergo sum.

"And here, I suppose, lies the reason for this emphasis on bodily rights in recent years. From scouts to fashionable sodomists, from Elizabeth Arden to D.H. Lawrence (one of the most powerful personality breakers, by the way: there are no "characters" in his books). Anytime, anywhere body. Now the body has one great merit; undoubtedly exists. Whereas personality, as a mental structure, can be all in pieces - gnawed away by Hamlet like a pile of sawdust. Nowadays only people who are quite stupid and ignorant have strong and sharply defined personalities. Only the barbarians among us "know who they are". The civilized are aware of "what they can be" and therefore cannot know what they really are for practical, social purposes - they have forgotten how to select a personality from their total atomic experience. In the mud and confusion of this uncertainty, the body stands firm as a rock of ages.

They are, pro me perforatus,

Keep him on your side.

Even faith longs for warm caves with pierced flesh. How much more urgent must be the demands of skepticism, which has ceased to believe even in its own personality! Condar intra MEUM latus! It is the only refuge we have left.

Anthony put down the typewriter and, leaning back, rocked unsteadily on the back legs of the chair. Not so bad, he thought. But of course there were omissions, there were obviously unjustified generalizations. He wrote about the world in general as if the world was like him at all - out of a desire, of course, that it would be so. Because how easy it would be if it was! How pleasant! Every man is a consequence of the conditions locked in the body of his own side. And if any other principle of consistency was needed, there was always some absorbing and wonderful intellectual interest, such as sociology, to supplement the permanent body. Condar intra meum laborem. instead of which. . . he sighed. Despite Hamlet, despite the Prophets, despite Swann's Du côté de chez and Women in Love, the world was still full of Jonsonian humor. Full of melodramatic villains, equally miserable movie heroes, full of Poincaré, Mussolini, Northcliffe, full of ambitious and greedy pranksters of all shapes and sizes.

An idea came to him. He lowered the leaning chair forward and picked up the fountain pen.

"The last defect of a noble mind, the original, perhaps the only source of sin," he scribbled. "Noble mind = evil mind. A tree known for its fruits. What are the fruits of the quest for fame, ambition, desire for perfection? Among other things, war, nationalism, economic competition, snobbery, class hatred, color prejudice. Comus rightly preached sensuality; and how foolish of Satan to tempt, by definition, the Messiah who practices ahimsa with glory, dominance, ambition—things that inevitably result in violence and coercion! Compared to the pursuit of fame, pure sensuality is almost harmless. If Freud was right and sex was the most important thing, we would almost be living in Eden. Unfortunately, only half. Adler is also half right. Hincillae lac.”

He looked at his watch. Twenty-seven—and he had to be in Kensington by eight! In the bathtub, he wondered what the evening would be like. It had been twelve years since he had fallen out with Mary Amberley. Twelve years in which he had seen her only from a distance—in the galleries, once or twice; and through a mutual friend's living room. "I never want to talk to you again," he wrote to her in his last letter. And yet, a few days after her conciliatory invitation appeared unexpectedly on his breakfast-table with other letters, he readily accepted; accepted in the same tone as the invitation itself - casually, matter-of-factly, with no more explicit reference to the past than "Yes, I haven't had dinner at 17 for a long time." after all, why not? What was the point of making things definitive and irrevocable? What right did the man of 1914 have to commit the man of 1926? The man of 1914 was an embodied state of anger, shame, anxiety, embarrassment. His state today was serene, calm, mixed, in Mary Amberley's case, with not a little curiosity. What would she be like now - at forty-three, right? And was she really as fun as he remembered her to be? Or was his admiration just one of the fruits - the absurd, delicious fruits - of youthful inexperience? Will his swan turn out to be a goose? Or perhaps still a swan - but molting, but (poor Mary!) middle-aged? Still thinking, he ran downstairs and out into the street.

The twelfth chapter. August 30, 1933

WEAK BROAD caressed the half-conscious edges of their numbness, puffing up gradually, as if a shell were getting closer to the ear, until it became a raspy howl that brutally demanded attention. Anthony opened his eyes long enough to see the plane almost instantly overhead, then closed them again, blinded by the intense blue of the sky.

"Those damn machines!" - He said. Then, with a light laugh, he added, "Here they will have a beautiful sight in God's eyes."

Helena did not answer; but behind closed eyelids she was smiling. With stiff eyes and rude, joyful indignation! The vision of this heavenly visitor was irresistibly comical.

"David and Bathsheba," he continued. “Unfortunately, at a hundred miles an hour. . ".

A strange whine interrupted the roar of the machine. Anthony opened his eyes again to see a dark shape rushing towards him. He let out a cry, made a quick and automatic movement to shield his face. With a violent but dull and muddy thud, something hit the flat roof a meter or two from where they lay. The drops of sharp splashing liquid were warm on their skin for a moment, then turned surprisingly cold as the wind picked up from the west. A long second of silence followed. - Christ! Anthony finally whispered. They were both covered in blood from head to toe. In a red puddle at their feet lay the almost shapeless corpse of a fox terrier. The rumble of the receding plane died down to a hoarse hum and suddenly the ear became aware again of the sharp screeching of the cicadas.

Anthony took a deep breath; then he laughed with an effort and still rather hesitantly. "Another reason you don't like dogs," he said and jumped to his feet, looking down at his bloody body, his face contorted in disgust. "What about a bath?" he asked turning to Helen.

She sat completely still, staring wide-eyed at the horribly mangled corpse. Her face was very pale, and the gushing blood left a long red streak running diagonally from the right side of her chin, through her mouth, to the corner of her left eye.

"You look like Lady Macbeth," he said with another effort to joke. - Allons. He touched her hand. "Get out, poor place. This beast is drying up on me. Like seccotine.

In response, Helen covered her face with her hands and began to sob.

Anthony stood perfectly still for a moment, watching her cower in the hopeless humiliation of her bloody nakedness, listening to the painful sound of her cries. "Like a seccotine": his own words echoed shamefully in his ears. Pity coursed through him, and then an almost violent wave of love for this wounded and suffering person, this person, yes, this person, whom he deliberately ignored, as if she did not exist outside the context of pleasure. Now, as she knelt and sobbed, all the tenderness he had ever felt for her body, all the love contained in their sensuality and never expressed, seemed to suddenly empty itself onto this person, like a flash of pent-up emotion. this embodied spirit, crying alone behind her hidden hands.

He knelt down next to her on the mattress and, with a gesture meant to express everything he was feeling now, he embraced her.

But she flinched under his touch, as if she would be defiled. She shook her head with a violent, trembling movement.

"But, Helena. . he protested in the foolish belief that this must be some mistake, that it was impossible for her not to feel what he felt. She just wanted to understand what happened to him. He put his hand on her shoulder once more. “But I care, I really like it. . Even now he refused to let go of the word love.

"Don't touch me," she called almost indistinctly, pulling away from him.

He withdrew his hand, but remained there, kneeling beside her in embarrassed and pitiful silence. He remembered the times when she had wanted to be allowed to love and how he had avoided her, refusing to take more of the person she was or give more than the occasional and intermittent loving caresses of their bodies. In the end she accepted his terms - she accepted them so completely that now... . .

"Helen," he ventured again. You have to make her understand.

Helena shook her head again. "Leave me alone," she said; then, when he didn't move, she uncovered the face, now grotesquely stained with blood, and looked at him. "Why can't you go yourself?" she asked, trying to convey her cold, indifferent resentment at his intrusion on her. Then suddenly her tears came again. "Oh please go away!" she begged. Her voice broke, she turned and hid her face in her hands again.

Anthony hesitated for a moment; then, realizing that staying would only make things worse, he got up and left her. Give her time, he told himself, give her time.

He bathed, dressed and went down to the living room. The photos lay as they had left them, scattered on the table. He sat down and began methodically sorting them, topic by topic, into small piles. Mary in headgear; Maria in a veil, climbs into a pre-war Renault; Marija is bathing in Dieppe, wearing a corset with half sleeves and panties covered by a knee-length skirt. His mother in the garden; feeding pigeons in Piazza San Marco; and then her grave in Lollingdon Churchyard. His father with an alpine tree; tied with a rope to a guide on a snowy slope; with Paulina and two children. Uncle James on his bicycle; Uncle James wears a spotted straw hat; rowing on the Serpentine; he spoke ten years later to convalescents in the hospital garden. Then Brian; Brian with his former Bulstrode incarnation of Anthony; Brian in the boat with Joan and Mrs. Foxe; Brian climbs by the lakes. The girl he had an affair with in New York in 1927, right? His grandmother. his aunts. Half a dozen pictures of Gladys. . .

Half an hour later he heard Helen's footsteps, cautious and slow at first on the steep stairs leading down from the roof, then quick along the corridor. The water was splashing in the tub.

Time, must have time. He decided to treat her as if nothing had happened. So he greeted her almost cheerfully when she entered the room.

"So?" he asked cheerfully, looking up from the photo. But the sight of that pale and stony face filled him with fear.

- I'm going - she said.

'Now? Before lunch?'

She nodded her head.

'But why?'

"I prefer that," was all she replied.

Anthony was silent for a moment, wondering if he should protest, insist, tell her what he had tried to tell her on the roof. But her stony composure sensed that the attempt would be futile. Later, when she had recovered from the initial shock of being given time. . . "Okay," he said loudly. "I'll take you to the hotel."

Helena shook her head. - No, I'll take a walk.

- Not in this heat!

- I will go on foot - she resolutely repeated.

"Well, if you'd rather get drunk too..." He tried to smile, but without much success.

She went out through the glass door onto the terrace, and suddenly that pale, stony face seemed to be flushed by the fire in her pyjamas. Back to hell, he told himself as he followed her.

"Why are you leaving?" she asked.

"I'll take you to the gate."

"No need."

"I prefer her."

She did not smile back at him, but continued walking without saying a word.

Two small bushy buddleia bushes grew on either side of the steps leading from the terrace. In the hot air, the scent of the flowers (it seemed to be naturally hot itself) had an intense and fierce sweetness.

"Delicious," Anthony said loudly as they entered the scented aura of the flowers. “Almost delicious. But look! he called in another voice and grabbed her sleeve. "Look!"

New from the chrysalis, shiny and still unmarked, the swallowtail settled on one of the clusters of purple flowers. Pale yellow wings with black markings and blue and crimson eyes were fully spread in the sun. Their leading edges had the curvature of a saber, and from the tips a line descended elegantly backwards towards the two protruding tails of the lower wings. The entire butterfly seemed to be a symbol, a hieroglyph of cheerful and breezy speed. Their spread wings trembled as if from an uncontrollable excess of vital, passionate energy. Swiftly, voraciously, but with the utmost precision of purposeful movement, the creature plunged its spreading proboscis into the tiny trumpet-shaped flowers that formed the cluster. With a quick movement of head and body, the probe slid into the target, only to withdraw a moment later and plunge just as quickly and unerringly between the lips of the next flower and the next until all the flowers in striking range had been inspected and it was time to rush to the raw area cluster. Again, again, to the very swift flowers that wait, deep to the sheltered and hidden springs of that hot, intoxicating sweetness! Again, again, with what tireless longing, with what intense passion directed and precise greed!

They watched in silence for a long time. Suddenly, Helen reached out and broke the cluster on which the butterfly was sitting. But before her finger touched the flowers, the bright, bright creature was gone. A quick flap of wings, then a long flight; another burst of fluttering motion, another long web of diagonal flights up and down, and he was out of sight behind the house.

- Why did you do that? - He asked.

Pretending not to hear his question, Helen ran down the stairs and down the gravel path. She stopped at the garden gate and turned around.

- Goodbye, Anthony.

"When will you come again?" - He asked.

Helen stared at him for a few seconds without speaking, then shook her head. "I'm not coming," she finally said.

- Won't you come again? he repeated. 'What do you think?'

But she had already slammed the door behind her and was running with long, springy steps down the dusty road under the pines.

Anthony watched him go and knew it wasn't worth trying to do anything now. Following her would only make things worse. Maybe later; that evening when she had time. . . But as he walked back down the garden path, amid the now unnoticed perfume of the buddleia, he wondered uneasily if it would be any good, even later. He knew Helen's stubbornness. And what right did he have now, after all these months of renunciation, active denial of any rights?

"But I'm a fool," he said aloud as he opened the kitchen door, "I'm crazy." And he tried to come back to his senses by discrediting and downplaying the whole incident. Awkward, I must admit. But not unpleasant enough to justify Helen's behavior as if she were playing Ibsen. He's making a little doll's house, he said to himself—trying to reduce everything to a convenient, funny expression—when there was no doll and no house; for indeed she could not complain that old Hugh had ever silenced her, or that he himself had any design against her liberty. On the contrary, he insisted that she be free. Her freedom was his too; if she became his slave, he would necessarily become hers.

As for his own emotions up there on the roof—that rush of tenderness, that longing to know and love the person suffering in this simultaneously unwelcome body—they were, of course, genuine; they were facts of immediate experience. But in the end it was explicable, explicable, as a mere exaggeration in a distressing moment of his very natural sympathy with her despair. The most important thing was the weather. After a while, he'll listen again to what she had to say, and he won't want to say any more of what she just refused to hear.

He opened the refrigerator and saw that Mrs. Cayol had prepared cold veal and a cucumber and tomato salad. Madame Cayol had a vicarious fondness for cold veal, and kept adding it. It happened that Anthony didn't like it very much, but he would rather eat it than discuss the bill with Mrs. Cayol. Whole weeks sometimes passed without needing to say more than Bon jour and À demain, Madame Cayol, and Il fait beau aujourd d'hui, or Quel vent!, whatever it was. She came every morning for two hours, cleaned, prepared food, set the table and left again. He was served, but almost without the consciousness of a servant. He believed that the arrangement was as close to perfection as any earthly arrangement could be. Cold veal was a small price to pay for such service.

At a table in the shade of a large fig tree on the terrace, Anthony set about his meal with determination, turning the pages of his latest notebook as he ate. There is nothing, he assured himself, like work—nothing to make you forget a particular and personal feeling so effectively as a good generalization. The word "freedom" caught his attention, and remembering the pleasure he had felt months earlier when he had safely put these ideas to paper, he began to read.

Acton wanted to write a History of Man in terms of a History of the Idea of ​​Freedom. But you cannot write a History of the Idea of ​​Freedom without writing a History of the Fact of Slavery.

"The fact of slavery. Or rather, slavery. Man, in his successive attempts to realize the Idea of ​​freedom, constantly replaces one form of slavery with another.

"The original slavery is the slavery of an empty stomach and an unfavorable season. In a word, slavery to nature. Escape from nature is social organization and technical inventions. In the modern city you can forget that there is such a thing as nature - especially nature in its more inhumane and hostile aspects. Half of Europe's population lives in a universe entirely created by hosts.

"Abolish slavery to nature. Another form of slavery immediately appears. Slavery to institutions: religious, legal, military, economic, educational, artistic, scientific.

"All modern history is the history of the idea of ​​freedom from institutions. It is also the History of Enslaving Institutions.

"Nature is meaningless. Institutions, being the work of people, have meaning and purpose. Circumstances change faster than institutions. What was once meaningful no longer is. An outdated institution is like a person applying logical reasoning to a non-existent situation created by idée fixe or hallucination. It is similar when institutions apply the letter of the law to individual cases. The institution would have acted rationally if the circumstances it had foreseen existed. But they don't really exist. Slavery to institutions is like the slavery of a paranoid who suffers from delusions but retains all his intellectual faculties. Enslaving nature is like enslaving an idiot who is not smart enough to suffer from delusions.

"Rebellion against institutions temporarily leads to anarchy. But anarchy is slavery to nature, and to a civilized man slavery to nature is even less tolerable than slavery to institutions. Escape from anarchy is the creation of new institutions. Sometimes there is no period of anarchy – no temporary servitude to nature; people go directly from one institution to another.

"Institutions are changing in order to realize the Idea of ​​freedom. It takes some time to grasp the fact of the new slavery. What happens is that in all rebellions against institutions there is a kind of happy honeymoon when people believe that freedom has finally been achieved. - It was bliss to live at dawn. And not only at the dawn of the French Revolution. What impeccable happiness, for example, at the dawn of the Franciscan movement, at the dawn of the Reformation, at the dawn of Christianity and Islam! Even at the dawn of the Great War. A honeymoon can last twenty or thirty years. Then the fact of new slavery is imposed on people's consciousness. It is believed that the idea of ​​freedom has not been realized by recent change, that the new institutions are as convincing as the old ones. What should I do? Change new institutions into even newer ones. And when will this honeymoon end? Change even newer to even newer. And so indefinitely, no doubt.

"In every society, the fact of freedom exists only for a very small number of individuals. Favorable economic conditions are a prerequisite for at least partial freedom. But for freedom to be closer to completeness, there must also be favorable intellectual, psychological and biographical circumstances. Individuals who are favored by all these circumstances are not slaves to institutions. For them, institutions exist as a kind of solid frame on which any gymnastics is done. The rigidity of society as a whole allows this privileged few to transcend intellectual and common moral boundaries without endangering themselves or the community as a whole. All special liberties—and there is no freedom that is not special—can be exercised subject to some form of universal slavery."

Anthony closed the book, feeling unable to read another line. Not that his words seem any less true now than when he wrote them. They were true in their own way and on their own level. So why did everything seem completely fake and wrong? Not wishing to discuss the subject with himself, he entered the house and sat down to read Usher's History of Mechanical Inventions.

At three thirty he suddenly remembered the dead dog. Another hour in this heat. . . He ran to the tool room. The soil in the neglected garden was parched almost to the consistency of brick; he sweated before digging the hole. Then, shovel in hand, he climbed onto the roof. There was a dog there. The bloodstains on his fur, on the windowsill, on the mattresses rusted. After several unsuccessful attempts, he managed to pick up the corpse with a shovel and throw it, along with the flies - because the flies didn't want to bother - over the threshold. He went downstairs and went out into the garden; there, as if obstinately competing in some hideous egg-and-spoon race, he picked up the thing again and carried it to the grave, dangling horribly on an iron spade. When he came home, he was so sick that he had to drink brandy. Then he went down to the sea and had a long bath.

At six o'clock, when he got dressed, he took his car and drove to the hotel to talk to Helen. By then, he reckoned, she would have recovered from the first shock and be ready to listen to him. Forgetting about the Doll's House and the sanity he was supposed to keep, he felt an unusual elation as he drove. He would see her again in a few minutes. He would tell her about the revelations he had suddenly made that morning: he had discovered that he cared for her, he had discovered that she was a fool, and worse, immeasurably worse than a fool. . . . It would be difficult, almost impossible, to say these things about myself; but that's why the thought of saying it filled him with deep joy.

He stopped in front of the hotel door and hurried into the lobby.

"Is Mrs. Ledwidge in her room, miss?"

"No, sir, Madame has just left."

'She just left?'

"Madame went to Toulon rapids."

Anthony looked at his watch. The train has already left. In a wretched little car like his, there was no hope of reaching Marseilles before setting off again for Paris.

"Merci, mademoiselle, merci," he would say, falling out of habit into the exaggerated politeness that protected him from the disturbing world of the lower classes.

“Nothing, sir.

He drove home again, wistfully wondering if he should not be grateful for his deliverance. The postman rang in his absence. There was a letter from his stockbroker advising him to sell at least some of the gold mine stock he had inherited from Uncle James. There seemed no chance of further appreciation; therefore the wisest solution would be to take advantage of current prices and reinvest in solid English industries such as . . . He put the letter aside. Circumstances, as usual, conspired for him - maliciously forcing his luck. Now, depressed, he was better than ever. It's better when others have it worse. Slower when they were hopelessly enslaved. Ring of Polycrates. . . It looked like the gods had already begun their revenge.

He went to bed early and at two o'clock he was awakened by that terribly familiar dream that haunted him as a child and tormented him from time to time even as an adult. In fact, it was always the same. Nothing was ever seen; but it was common knowledge that he was in company, surrounded by obscure characters. He took a mouthful of some unsightly food, which immediately spread between his teeth, becoming rubbery and stickier at the same time, until it was like a rag smeared with some kind of chewing gum that dries on his teeth in a thick layer. tongue, palate. The unspeakably disgusting process of suffocating expansion, sticky thickening and clogging went on and on. He tried to swallow, tried, despite the vague but unpleasant presence of strangers, to spit it out. No effect. In the end he was reduced to tearing things off with his finger - nugget after sticky nugget. But always in vain. As the gag continues to unfold, the film thickens and hardens. Until he finally broke free by coming out of the dream. That night the spreading bite had some obscure but terrible relationship with the dog. He woke up shivering. After waking up, he could no longer fall asleep. A huge accumulation of neglected memories broke into his consciousness, as it were. These recordings. His mother and Mary Amberley. Brian in the chalk pit, provoked by the salty smell of sun-warmed flesh, and dead again at the foot of the cliff, among the flies, like that dog. . .

Chapter thirteen. May 20, 1934

I made a SECOND one last night. No serious upset. It's pretty easy when you decide it doesn't matter if you make a fool of yourself. But it's depressing. In a way, five hundred people in a room is not specific. We are talking about a collective noun, an abstraction, not a set of entities. Only those who are already partially or completely convinced of what you are saying want to understand you. The rest is absolute ignorance. In a private conversation, you can be sure that you will make your man at least reluctantly make an effort to understand you. The fact that there is an audience confirms the incomprehensible in his lack of understanding. Especially if he knows how to ask questions by address. Some reasons for this are obvious. Just to stand up and be watched is a pleasure - in many cases piercing to the point of pain. Tearing orgasms of confidence. Pleasure increases if the question is hostile. Enmity is a statement of personal independence. At the same time, he explains that the fact that the questioner is not on the platform is a mere coincidence - a coincidence or, of course, a deliberate conspiracy by thugs who want to prevent him. Interruptions and questions are generally completely irrelevant, of course. Hackers (like the rest of us) live in their own private world, they don't try to invade other people's worlds. Most public disputes are conducted for conflicting purposes and in different languages ​​- without translators.

Marek was at a meeting and then he gladly deepened my depression in my rooms.

"I could go and talk to the cows in the field." The temptation to agree with him was strong. All my old habits of thinking, living, feeling push me towards the agreement. A senseless world where nothing can be done - what a pleasure! You can go out and (seeing you have nothing else to do) compose your treatise on sociology - the science of the meaninglessness of man. Last night with Mark I took great pleasure in commenting on the stupidity of my audience and people in general. I caught it myself and checked it out. Since the seed has been sown, if only one sprouts, it would be worthwhile to organize a meeting. It's worth it, even if nothing comes of it - for myself, as an exercise, training to be better next time.

I haven't said everything. He just stopped talking and I think his expression changed. Mark, who notices everything, started to laugh. He predicted a time when every mention of a person or group would be preceded by the adjective "dear". "Dear communists", "dear gunsmiths", "dear General Goering".

I laughed - he was comical in his craziest way. But even so, if you have enough love and kindness, you could be sure to elicit some measure of love and kindness from almost anyone you come in contact with - whoever he or she may be. And in that case, almost everyone would be truly "loved". Nowadays most people look more or less stupid or disgusting; the flaw is at least as much in them as in them.

May 24, 1934, b

Take four hours this morning to review my notes. An extraordinary pleasure! How easy it was to get back to continuous learning and stimulating ideas! To that "higher life" which is only death without tears. Peace, no responsibility - all the pleasures of death here and now. In the past, you had to enter a monastery to find them. You paid for the pleasure of death with obedience, poverty, chastity. Now you can have them for free in the real world. Death without tears. Death with a smile, death with the pleasures of a bed and a bottle, death alone without anyone to harass you. Scholars, philosophers, scientists - conventionally considered impractical. But what other class of men has been able to make the world accept it, and (what is more incredible) to accept it at their own estimation? Kings have lost their divine right, plutocrats look like they will. But persons with a higher life are still called superior. It is the fruit of perseverance. Constant complimenting of oneself, persistent belittling of other people. Year after year, for the last sixty centuries. We are high, you are low; we are of the Spirit, you are of the world. Again and again, like pear soap. This is now accepted as an axiom. But in reality, the higher life is just a better substitute for death. A fuller escape from life's obligations than addiction to alcohol, morphine, sex or property. Alcohol and drugs destroy health. Sooner or later sex addicts get involved in affairs. Real estate addicts will never get all the brands, china vases, houses, types of lilies, or anything else they want. Their escape is Tantalus' ordeal. On the other hand, the Higher Life escapes to a world where there is no threat to health and a minimum of duties and torture. The world, moreover, which tradition considers actually superior to the world of responsible living - higher. A higher Shirker can wallow in his clear conscience quite a bit. Because how easy it is to find equivalents for all moral virtues in scientific and research life! Some, of course, are not equivalent, but identical: perseverance, patience, self-forgetfulness and the like. Good means for goals that can be bad. You can work hard and wholeheartedly on anything from atomic physics to counterfeiting and white slavery. The rest are ethical virtues transferred to a mental key. Purity of artistic and mathematical form. Purity of scientific research. Courage of thought. Bold hypotheses. Logical integrity. Restraint of gaze. Intellectual humility before the facts. All the main virtues in disguise. The higher lives begin to regard themselves as saints—saints of art, science, and science. Purely symbolic and metaphorical sanctity taken au pied de la lettre.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit". Higher life expectancy even has the equivalent of spiritual poverty. As a man of science, he tries to be impartial to his interests and prejudices. But that is not all. Ethical poverty of spirit means not caring about tomorrow, letting the dead bury their dead, losing life in order to gain it. A Higher Living can parody these strictures. I know; because I created them and actually took credit for their creation. You live continuously and responsibly only in another, Higher World. In this way, you cut yourself off from your past; you refuse to commit to the future; you have no beliefs, but you live moment by moment; you give up your own identity except to be Higher Life, and simply become a consequence of your conditions. More than Franciscan misery. However, this can be linked to more than just the Napoleonic enthusiasm for imperialism. I used to think that I had no will to power. Now I see that I cast it on thoughts, not on people. Conquering the unknown province of knowledge. Overcoming problems. Forcing ideas to join or separate. Scary wayward words to download a particular pattern. All the fun of being a dictator without any risk or responsibility.

Chapter Fourteen. December 8, 1926

AT DINNER TIME it was a story, the latest addition to Mary Amberley's repertoire. The latest and just as good, it seemed to Anthony's critical ear, as the best classics of the collection. He realized now that since he had received her invitation, his curiosity had been tinged with some vengeful hope that it would change for the worse, either relatively in his eyes or entirely because of the passing of twelve long years. years; she would degenerate from what she was or how he imagined her at the time he loved her. Rather embarrassingly, he admitted to himself now, he was somewhat disappointed to find that she was almost indistinguishable from the Mary Amberley of his memories. She was forty-three years old. But her body was almost as thin as ever, and she moved with her old quick agility. Indeed, with more than the old agility; for he noticed that she was now deliberately nimble, that she was playing the part of a person carried away by a youthful impulse to move quickly and violently—acting, moreover, under circumstances in which the impulse, if natural, could not possibly be felt. Before dinner she took him upstairs to her bedroom to look at those Pascino nudes she had just bought. She did the first half of the flight at a normal pace, talking along the way; then, as if suddenly remembering that slowness on the stairs was a sign of middle age, she suddenly began to run—no, run, corrected Anthony, recalling the incident; running was the right word. And when they returned to the living room, no sixteen-year-old girl would have jumped on the couch more recklessly or folded her legs more cat-like. Maria from 1914 never seemed so youthful. She couldn't even if she wanted to, he thought, with all those skirts and petticoats. But now in kilts. . . It was absurd, of course; but not yet, the court decided, painfully absurd. Because Mary could still say he looked youthful. Only slightly worn, her face still shone, despite faint signs of weariness, with its former smiling vitality. As for her achievements - well, that improvisation (and it must be an improvisation, since the event only happened this morning), that improvisation about Helen's stolen kidney was a little masterpiece.

"I'll have the object embalmed," she finished, feigning a serious tone, pregnant with suppressed laughter. Embalmed and... ".

But as in a suddenly opened bottle of ginger ale, gurgling, "I'll give you the address of the embalming," Beppo Bowles interjected. He smiled, blinked, fidgeted. His whole plump and ruddy person seemed to participate in what he said; he talked to every organ of his body. - From the diary of the funeral home. He waved his hand and declaimed: "Embalmers!" do your results have that nasty look? If it's like that. . ".

Mrs. Amberley laughed, perhaps a little perfunctorily; since she didn't like being interrupted in the middle of a story, Beppo was clearly the favorite. So boyish, despite the belly and the bald head. (Sometimes even so girlish.) But still... . . . She cut him off, "Too perfect." Then, turning to the rest of the table, "Well, as I said," she continued, "I'm going to have him embalmed and put him under one of those glass domes... ."

"Like life," Beppo couldn't help but interject cautiously. But no one understood the mention of Adonais and laughed to himself.

“These domes,” Mrs. Amberley repeated, not looking at the man who had intervened, “are in boarding houses. With birds below them. Stuffed birds. She paused over the monosyllabic expression as if she were a German expanding the modified o; and the birds, the Teutonic bö-öds, became, for some obscure reason, extremely amusing.

The voice, Anthony concluded, was better than ever. A slight hoarseness was felt now, like a flower on a fruit, like a fog through which St. is seen on a summer day. Paul from Waterloo Bridge. The insertion of this coarse gauze curtain seemed to deepen and enrich the beauty of the vocal landscape that lay behind it. Listening more carefully than ever, he tried to remember the cadences of her speech, to analyze them into their constituent sounds. His projected Elements of Sociology should have included a chapter on mass suggestion and propaganda. One of the chapters would be dedicated to Fascinating Noises. Fascinating exciting exciting sound like Savonarola or Lloyd George. The fascinatingly soothing noise of chanting priests; the fascinatingly funny noise of Robey and little Tich; the fascinating aphrodisiac noise of some actors and actresses, some singers, some sirens and the Don Juan of private life. He concluded that Mary's gift was to make noise, which was both aphrodisiac and comical. She could make sounds that touched the wellsprings of laughter and lust, but never sadness, pity, or resentment. In moments of emotional stress (he remembered the horrible scenes she had made) her voice would get out of control and turn into a chaos of hoarse squeaks. The sound of her words of complaint, reproach or regret only caused physical discomfort in the listeners. Whereas in the case of Mrs. Foxe, he now began to think, the mere sound of her words was enough to compel your assent and sympathy. Her gift was the mysterious gift which brought Robespierre to power, which enabled Whitefield, by merely repeating some pious exclamation two or three times, to reduce the most inveterate skeptic to tears. There are fascinating sounds that can convince the listener of the existence of God.

You bö-öds! Everyone was laughing, everyone just had to laugh at them. Even Colin Egerton, even Hugh Ledwidge. Still, ever since this man, Beavis, had walked into the living room, Hugh had been uneasy. Beavis, whom he always tried to avoid. . . Why didn't Mary tell him? For a moment he thought it was a conspiracy. Mary invited Beavis on purpose to embarrass him - because she knew the man had witnessed his humiliation at Bulstrode. There were to be two: Staithes (for Staithes, he knew, was expected after dinner) and Beavis. Hugh was used to seeing Staithes in his house and did not mind meeting him. No doubt Staithes had forgotten. But Beavis - whenever he met Beavis, Hugh always thought the man looked at him strangely. And now Mary called him on purpose that he might remind Staithes; and then these two tortured him with their memories - memories of how he functioned in football; about how he cried when it was his turn to go on an abseil drill; how he crept up to Jimbug and was then forced to walk between their lines, armed with wet towels rolled into sticks; about how they looked through the septum. . . He shivered. But of course, second, more reasonable thoughts, it cannot be a conspiracy. Unthinkable. Still, he was glad when they came to dinner and discovered he was separated from Beavis. On the other hand, Helen, the conversation would be difficult. And after dinner, he'll try to stay away. . .

As for Colin, he sat through the whole meal in a stupor which, as he felt more and more hopelessly withdrawn from everything, became more and more mixed with irritation and disapproval, until at last he began to talk to himself (what he was going to say out loud Joyce on the first occasion), he would say, "Perhaps I am stupid and all," a confession uttered by his inner voice in a tone of determined contempt, as if it were a confession of strength rather than weakness. .. "Maybe I'm stupid and all, but at least... well, at least I know what's in the shadows and what's out there." He would say to Joyce all this and more; and Joyce (he looked at her in the middle of one of Bepp's outrageous stories and met a look full of humility, concern, pleading apology), Joyce would agree with his every word. Because that poor child was like some kind of misfit - a county misfit who was left by an inexplicable mistake in the arms of a crazy, impossible mother who forced her, against her true nature, to associate with them. . . these. . . (He couldn't find the right word for Bepp.) And he, Colin Egerton, was the Saint George who would save her. The fact that she, like some chaste young girl who had fallen into the hands of white slavers, needed to be rescued was one of the reasons why she was so attracted to him. He loved her partly because he hated that hideous degenerate (that was the word) Bepp Bowles so fiercely; and his approval of everything Joyce was and did was proportionate to his disapproval (a disapproval heightened by some horror) of Joyce's mother. And yet now, despite his disapproval, despite his fear of her sharp tongue, those piercingly ironic looks, he couldn't help but laugh along with the others. It was impossible to resist these oblong bö-öd under the glass domes.

To Mrs. Amberley, laughter was like champagne—it warmed, it stimulated. "And I will have an inscription engraved on the base," she continued, raising her voice to drown out the din, "This kidney was stolen by Helen Amberley at the risk of her life, and . . ." '

"Oh, shut up, mom!" Helen blushed with a mixture of pleasure and anger. "I pray!" It was certainly nice to be the heroine of the story that everyone was listening to - but then again, the heroine was also a bit of an asshole. She was angry with her mother for taking advantage of her stupidity.

'. . . and despite lifelong and conscientious objection to the slaughter. Mrs. Amberley continued. Then, "Poor dear," she added in a different tone. "Smells have always been her weak point. Butcher shops, fish shops - and will I ever forget the time I took her to church!

("Just once," thought Colin. "No wonder he goes around doing things like that!")

"Oh, I admit," exclaimed Mrs. Amberley, "that a village meeting on a rainy Sunday morning—well, frankly, it stinks." Stunning! But still. . ".

“It smells holy,” added Anthony Beavis, and Helen turned, “I've suffered from it myself. And did your mother make you spit when the surroundings smelled bad? my yes. This made life in the church very difficult."

"She didn't spit," Mrs. Amberley answered for her daughter. 'She was sick. All in old Lady Worplesdon's Astrakhan cloak. I was never again allowed to appear in respectable society. Thank God! she added.

Beppo sizzled in protest at the supposed imputations. After the kidneys were turned off, the conversation went in a different direction.

Helen sat unnoticed, in silence. Her face suddenly lost all luster; I will never touch meat again, she said. And there she was, with a bite of that creepy red cow lump impaled on her fork. I'm terrible, she thought. Pas sérieuse, said old Madame Delécluze. And while it was hard to expect the old beast as a professional finisher to say otherwise, it was true; in fact, it was quite true. I'm not serious. I'm not . . But suddenly she realized that a voice was speaking to her that sounded inarticulate and as if from a great distance in her right ear.

'. . . Proust," she heard a voice, and realized that he had said the same syllable at least twice before. She looked around guiltily to see Hugh Ledwidge's face, red with shame, turned towards her, hesitating and uncertain. He smiled foolishly; his glasses flashed. ; he turned. She felt doubly confused and embarrassed.

- I'm afraid I didn't quite understand. . she managed to mumble.

"Oh, never mind," he muttered. "It really doesn't matter." It does not matter; but it took him almost five minutes to think about this Proust trick. I have to tell her something, he decided, seeing Beavis safe in intimate conversation with Mary Amberley and Beppa. - I have to say something. But what? What was said to young girls at the age of eighteen? He would like to say something personal, something even a little gallant. For example, about her dress. "How beautiful!" No, it was a bit vague and vague. "How does it look with your complexion, eyes!" (By the way, what colors were they?) Or maybe ask her about the parties. Did she go to many people? With (very archaic) boys? But he knew it was too difficult for him. Besides, he didn't like to think about her with boys - he preferred her virginity: du bist wie eine Blume. . . Or seriously, but with a smile, "Tell me," he might say, "Tell me, Helen, what are today's youth really like? What do they think and feel about different things?" And Helena would lean her elbows on the table, turn aside and tell him exactly what she wanted to know about that mysterious world, a world where people danced and went to parties and always had a personal relationship with each other; he would tell him everything , everything - or, more likely, nothing, and he would just feel like an insolent fool. NO? NO; it wouldn't work, it wouldn't work at all. It was just a fancy, just a wish come true. Then a question occurred to him about Proust. What did she think of Proust? It was a comforting, impersonal question, one he could ask without feeling awkward or unnatural. But its impersonality could easily lead to a long discussion—always abstract, always test-tube—about the most intimate emotions , and even (no, no; but you never know; it was disgusting, and yet...) even physiological questions. When it comes to Proust, one could say anything - everything, but always in a strictly literary critical sense. Perfect!He turned to Helena.

"I suppose you love Proust as much as anyone else." No replies. Mrs. Amberley's conversations with Anthony and Beppa could be heard from the end of the table: they were talking about their friends' habits. Colin Egerton was tiger hunting in the Central Provinces. He coughed, then said, "You're a Proustist, I take it? Like the rest of us," he repeated. But the drooping and melancholy profile gave no sign of life. Feeling embarrassed like a fool, Hugh Ledwidge tried again.

"I'd like you to tell me," he said louder, which sounded, he thought, particularly unnatural, "what you think of Proust."

Helen was still staring at some invisible object on the table in front of her plate. Serial belt. She thought about all the frivolous things she had done in her life, all the stupid, mean, horrible things. A kind of panic and embarrassment came over Hugh Ledwidge. He felt as he might feel if his trousers started to fall down in Piccadilly - lost. Anyone else, of course, would have tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Pennies for your thoughts, Helen!" How simple, how reasonable! Everything would immediately turn into a joke—a joke on her, anyway. It will establish a position of irritating supremacy once and for all. Daydreaming in the middle of dinner! About what? about whom? Very competent and cunning. And she blushed, giggled - at his command, in response to his command. Like a gifted matador, he waved the red flag, and she dashed hither and thither, making an absurd and exciting swagger until at last she raised her sword. . . Although everything was simple, reasonable and strategically advantageous, Hugh Ledwidge found the first step quite impossible. There was her bare arm, thin as a little girl; but somehow he couldn't bring himself to reach out and touch him. And the joking offer of that coin could not be made; his vocal cords wouldn't be able to do that. Thirty seconds passed—seconds of growing discomfort and uncertainty. Suddenly, as if waking from a dream, she looked at him. What did he say? But it was impossible to repeat the question again.

- It does not matter. It does not matter." He turned around. But why, oh why was he such a fool, so absurdly incompetent? At thirty-five. Nell mezzo del cammin. Imagine Dante under these circumstances! Dante with his steel profile rushes forward like a spiritual warship. Meanwhile, what on earth was he supposed to say to her instead of that now-impossible remark about Proust? What on earth. . . ?

She finally touched his hand. "I'm sorry," she said with genuine remorse. She tried to atone for her horridness in so frivolously eating Mr. Baldwin's well-slaughtered cow. Besides, she liked old Hugh. He was nice. He went out of his way to show her the Mexican things in the museum. "I have a meeting with Mr. Ledwidge," she said. And all the assistants were wonderfully respectful. They took her to his private room - the private room of the deputy director of the department - as if she were a person. One prominent archaeologist visiting another. It was really very interesting. Except, of course—and this was another symptom of her terrible frivolity—she forgot most of the things he told her. "I am very sorry," she repeated; and that was the real truth. She knew what he must have felt. "You see," she explained, "grandma is deaf. I know how awful it is to repeat something. It sounds so idiotic. Like Mr. Shandy and the Clock, sort of, if you know what I mean. Forgive me." She pressed his hand imploringly, then leaned her elbows on the table and turned sideways to face him in the confidential position he imagined. "Look, Hugh," she said, "you're serious, aren't you? You know, series.

- Well, I guess - he stammered. He had just seen, rather late, what she meant by Mr. Shandy, and the realization came as a shock to him.

“What I'm trying to say,” she continued, “is that you couldn't be in a museum if you weren't serious.

"No," he admitted, "I probably couldn't." But still, still absorbed in Mr. Shandy, he thought there was such a thing as theoretical knowledge. (Didn't he know that? Too good.) Theoretical knowledge that does not correspond to any real experience, unrealized, unlived. - Oh my God! he mentally groaned.

"Well, I'm not serious," said Helen. She felt a great need to relieve herself, to seek help. There were times—and they recurred whenever she doubted herself for some reason—times when everything around her seemed terribly vague and improbable. Everything - but in practice, of course, it all came down to the mother's unreliability. Helena liked her mother very much, but at the same time she had to admit to herself that she was useless. "Mom is like a very bad joke," Joyce once said. “You think you're going to sit on him; but the chair is pushed back and you fall with a horrible lump on your bum." But all Joyce said was, "Helen, you just can't use those words." Shit, girl! Although, of course, you had to admit that Joyce was a chair on to sit in. But the wrong chair, a chair only for unimportant occasions—so what? Joyce was too young; and even if she were much older she wouldn't understand anything at all. And now that she was engaged to Colin, she seemed to understand less and less. God, what a fool this man was! But still, there was a chair, if you will. A chair like the stone of ages. But, unfortunately, so shaped as to force you to sit in the most grotesquely uncomfortable position. But since Joyce did not mind discomfort, it was all right. Sitting without a chair in the exhausting world, Helen almost envied her. Meanwhile, there was old Hugh. She sat down with difficulty.

“What's wrong with me,” she continued, “is that I'm so hopelessly frivolous.

"I really can't believe it," he said; though he couldn't imagine why he said that. Because, of course, he should encourage her to confess, not convince her that there is no sin to confess. It was as if he was secretly afraid of what he wanted.

“I don't think you are. . ".

But alas, nothing he said could dissuade her. She insisted on using it as a chair.

"No, no, it's true," she said. "You can't imagine how frivolous I am. I will tell you . . ".

Half an hour later, in the back parlor, he was writing her a list of books she should read. Burnet's Early Greek Philosophers; Phaedrus, Timaeus, Apology and Symposium translated by Jowett; Nicomachus Ethios; a small anthology of Greek moralists by Cornford; Marcus Aurelius; Lucretius in every good translation; Plotinus Inge. When he spoke, he was relaxed, confident, definitely masterful. He was like a creature suddenly restored to its true element.

"This will give you some idea of ​​how the ancients thought about things."

She nodded her head. Her face was serious and determined as she looked at the penciled list. She decided to put on her glasses and set up a table in her bedroom so she could sit quietly, with books and stationery stacked in front of her. Notebooks - or better index cards. It would be a new life - a life with some meaning, some purpose. In the living room, someone turned on the record player. As if on its own initiative, her foot began to beat a rhythm. One two three, one two three - it was a waltz. But what was she thinking? She frowned and stopped her foot.

"As for modern thought," said Hugh, "well, the two essential books with which any modern culture must begin are," his pen darted across the page, "the Essays of Montaigne and the Thoughts of Pascal." Necessarily, these. He underlined the names. — Then you'd better look at the Discourse on Method.

"By what method?" Helen asked.

But Hugh didn't hear her question. "And look at Hobbes, if you have time," he continued with increasing vigor and confidence. - And then Newton. It is absolutely necessary. Because if you don't know Newton's philosophy, you don't know why science developed the way it did. You'll find everything you need in Burt's Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science." There was a short silence as he wrote. Tom, Eileen and Sybil had arrived. Helen heard them talking in the other room. But she was staring determinedly at the paper. "And there so is Hume," he continued. "You had better begin with the Essays. They are wonderful. What sense, such immense prudence!

"Prudence," Helena repeated, smiling smugly to herself. Yes, that was exactly the word she was looking for—exactly what she wanted to be: smart, like an elephant, like an old sheepdog, like Hume, if you will. But at the same time, of course, and myself. Smart but young; bright, but lively and attractive; prudent but impetuous and . . .

"I won't impose Kant on you," said Hugh indulgently. "But I think" (he started playing with the pen again) "I think you'll have to read a modern Kantian. For example, Vaihinger's Philosophy of Species and von Uexküll's Theoretical Biology. You see, Kant is behind all our twentieth-century science. Just as Newton was behind all science in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. . ".

"Why, Helena!"

They shuddered and looked up—at the smiling, impudently handsome face of Gerry Watchett. Bright blue eyes against tanned skin looked at each other with a kind of mockery. He took a step closer and placed a familiar hand on Helen's shoulder. "What kind of party is this? crosswords? He patted him two or three times on the shoulder.

As if she was his horse, Hugh said bitterly to himself. And actually, this is what this man looked like, the groom. That sharp, wavy golden-brown hair, that sharp-featured face that was boyish and strong at the same time—they were straight out of the stables, straight out of Epsom Downs.

Helen smiled a smile that was meant to be contemptuously superior, an intellectual smile. - One would think they were crossword puzzles! - she said. And then, "By the way," she added in a different tone, "you know each other, don't you?" She looked quizzically from Gerry to Hugh.

"Yes," replied Gerry, his right hand still on Helen's shoulder, his left raised in a mocking caricature of a soldier's salute. - Good evening, Mr. Colonel.

Hugh timidly returned the greeting. All his power and self-confidence disappeared with the forced return from the world of books to personal life; he felt like an albatross on dry land – helplessly clumsy, barren, ugly. And yet, how easy it would be to put on a conspiratorial smile and say meaningfully, "Yes, I know Mr. Watchett very well"—to know him would be the tone that he is: a gentleman, a shareholder cheat, a professional gambler, and a professional lover. He was believed to be the current lover of Mary Amberley. - Really, you know him very well! It would be so easy to say. But he didn't say that: he just smiled and rather stupidly raised his hand to his forehead.

Gerry, meanwhile, sat on the arm of the sofa and stared at Helen through the smoke of his cigarette with a calm and easy impudence, assessing her point by point, it seemed - hock, withers, quarters, barrel. . "You know, Helen," he said finally, "you're getting prettier every day."

Helena, blushing, threw back her head and burst into laughter; then suddenly her face stiffened into an unnatural stiffness. She was angry—angry at Gerry for his damned insolence, angry most of all at herself for enjoying the damned insolence, for reacting with such humiliating, automatic accuracy to this insulting flattery. She's red in the face and giggles like a schoolgirl! And this kind of philosophy, those glasses with horn frames, and a new life, and a file. . . ? One man said, "You're beautiful," and it was as if they were never thought of. She turned to Hugh; he was looking for protection, support. But as soon as her eyes met his, he looked away. His face assumed an expression of pensive absence; he seemed to be thinking of something else. Was he mad at her, she wondered? Was he offended because she liked Gerry's compliment? But it was like blinking at the sound of a gunshot - something you couldn't do. He should understand, he should understand that she wanted a new life, she just wanted to be reasonable. Instead, he just disappeared and wanted nothing to do with her. Oh, that wasn't fair!

Behind his cold, uncaring mask, Hugh felt more like Baudelaire's albatross than ever before.

This winged traveler, how clumsy and spineless he is!

He, once so handsome that it is comical and ugly!

Ah, those powerful and magnificent leaps in neo-Kantian blue!

From the next room the gramophone blared, "Yes, sir, that's my baby." Gerry whistled a few bars; then "How about a foxtrotting spot, Helen?" he suggested. "Unless, of course, you're done with the Colonel." He looked mockingly at Hugh's upturned face. "I do not want to disturb. . ".

It was Helen's turn to look at Hugh. 'Alright . . she began hesitantly.

But without looking up, "Oh, not at all," said Hugh hastily; and he wondered, even as he did, what on earth had prompted him to declare his own defeat before the battle had broken out. Leave her to this groom! Stupid, coward! Still, he told himself cynically, she probably prefers her groom. He stood up, mumbled something about needing to talk to someone about some problem that had come up, and headed for the door leading to the landing and stairs.

Well, if he doesn't want me to stay, Helen thought bitterly, if he thinks I'm not worth keeping. She was hurt.

"Get out of the Colonel," Gerry said. Then, "What about this place to dance?" He stood up, walked over to her and held out his hand. Helen took it and got up from the low chair. "No, sir, don't say maybe," he sang, wrapping his arm around her. They entered the undulating stream of music. Winding between chairs and tables, he headed for the door leading to another room.

Chapter fifteen. June 1903 – January 1904

It became a ritual, a sacrament (as John Beavis described it to himself): the sacrament of communion. First, opening the closet door, arranging her dresses. Closing his eyes, he breathed in the scent they exhaled, the faint sweet essence of her body from the widening abyss of time. Then there were the drawers. In the three on the left was her underwear. The lavender bags were tied with a pale blue ribbon. This lace of the nightgown that he now unrolled touched... . . Even in his mind, John Beavis avoided saying the words "her breasts," picturing only a curvaceous body slightly swelling and sinking under a tangle of colorful threads; then he remembered those Roman nights; and at last he thought of Lollingdon and the empty valley, of the land, of the terrible dark silence. The nightgown was folded up again and put away, and next came the two small drawers on the right - the gloves that covered her hands, the straps that wrapped around her body, which he now wrapped around her wrists or tightened like a phylactery. around his temple. And the ceremony ended with the reading of her letters—those touchingly childish letters she had written during their engagement. This ended his agony; the ritual was over and he could go to bed with another sword in his heart.

But recently the sword seemed dull. It was as if her death, until then so shocking, had begun to die itself. The ritual seemed to have lost its magic: fulfillment became increasingly difficult to achieve, and once achieved it was less painful and therefore less satisfying. Because what made life worth living all these months was the pain of loss. Desire and tenderness suddenly lost their aim. It was an amputation - a painful one. And now that pain—and all that was left of it—that precious anguish was slipping out of him, dying as Maisie herself had died.

That night it seemed to disappear completely. He buried his face in the fragrant folds of her dresses, spread the lace and grass she wore against her skin, blew into one of her gloves and watched that image of her hand gradually fall from the air - die, die, die. until the skin again hung limp and devoid of any semblance of life. But the decrees were of no avail; John Beavis remained motionless. He knew she was dead and that his grief was terrible. But I felt none of that grief—nothing but a sort of dusty emptiness of spirit.

He went to bed unfulfilled, somewhat humiliated. Magical rituals are justified by success; when they don't produce the right emotional results, the performer feels betrayed and made a fool of themselves.

Withered like a mummy, in the dusty emptiness of his own grave, John Beavis lay unable to sleep for a long time. Twelve; one; two; and then, when he completely doubted himself, a dream came and he realized that she was next to him; and it was Maisie, just as she had been in their first year of marriage, her round body swelling and collapsing beneath the lace, her lips parted and oh, innocent consent. He took her in his arms.

For the first time after her death, he dreamed of her after her death.

John Beavis was awakened by a sense of shame; and when, later that day, he saw Miss Gannett apparently waiting for him as usual in the corridor outside the lecture hall, he pretended not to notice her, but hurried past with downcast eyes, scowling as if preoccupied with some intricate, intractable problem in higher education.

But the next afternoon he found it in Aunt Edith's Home Weekly. And of course—though he expressed perhaps exaggerated surprise at seeing her—of course Miss Gannett was there, as he knew she would be; because she never missed Aunt Edith's Thursday.

"You were in such a rush yesterday," she said when his surprise had subsided.

'I? When? He pretended not to know what she was thinking.

- At the college, after your lecture.

"But were you there?" I didn't see you.

"Now he thinks I avoided his lecture," she complained to some non-existent third party. Ever since she first met him in Aunt Edith's parlor two months ago, Miss Gannett had faithfully attended all his public lectures. "To advance my mind," she explained. "That's why," with a playfulness that was at the same time rather wistful, "this really needs to be improved!"

protested Mr. Beavis. - But I didn't say anything like that.

I'll show you the notes I made.

"No, please don't do that!" It was his turn to have fun. "If you only knew how boring I am with my own lectures!"

"Well, you almost ran over me in the hallway after the lecture.

"Oh, then!"

- I have never seen someone walk so fast.

He nodded his head. “Yes, I was in a hurry; that is absolutely true. I had a commission. Pretty unique,” ​​he added impressively.

Her eyes widened into his, her tone and expression changing from playful to very serious. "It must be pretty boring sometimes," she said, "being such an important person—isn't it?"

Mr. Beavis smiled gravely and the astonished child in front of him—an innocent child who was also a rather plump and inverted beautiful young woman of twenty-seven—smiled contentedly and stroked his moustache. "Oh, it's not that important," he protested. "Not really like that. . he hesitated for a moment; his lips twitched, his eyes sparkled; then came the colloquialism: "he's not quite the 'howling guy' you'd imagine."

There was only one letter this morning. Mr. Beavis saw Anthony as he opened the envelope.

Bulstrode, June 26

Dear father - thank you for your letter. I thought we were going to Tenby on holiday. Didn't you check this with Mrs. Foxe? Foxe says he's expecting us, so maybe we shouldn't go to Switzerland instead, as you say. Yesterday we played two games, the first eleven against Sunny Bank, the second against Mumbridge, we won both, which was quite exciting. I played in the second eleven and the six did not come out. We started writing a book called Lettres de mon Moulin in French, I think it's broken. No more news, so with lots of love. - your beloved son,


PS - Don't forget to write to Mrs Foxe as Foxe says she knows she thinks we are going to Tenby.

Mr. Beavis frowned as he read the letter, and when his breakfast was over he immediately sat down to write a reply.

Plac Earl's Court

Dearest Anthony, I am disappointed that you received what I hoped was very exciting news with so little enthusiasm. At your age, I would certainly welcome the possibility of "going abroad", especially to Switzerland, with boundless joy. The affairs with Mrs. Foxe were always very obscure. It is needless to say, however, that I wrote to her as soon as a wonderful opportunity arose to explore the Bernese Oberland in pleasant company, as had happened but a few days before, and she induced me to postpone the execution of our vague Tenby plans. If you want to see exactly where we are going, get a map of Switzerland, find Interlaken and Lake Brienz, head east from the end of the lake to Meiringen, and from there south to Grindelwald. We will stop at the foot of the Scheideck pass, in Rosenlaui, almost in the shadow of giants such as the Jungfrau, Weisshorn and other heavenly ones.

Glad to hear you did so well in the match. You must go on, dear boy, from strength to strength. I hope to see you next year in First Eleven Colors glory.

I cannot agree with you regarding Daudet as "corrupt". I suspect his rot lies mainly in the difficulties created by the tyro. Once you have fully mastered the language, you will appreciate the delicate charm of its style and the sharpness of its wit.

I hope you are trying to fix your sad weakness in "math". I'll admit that I've never excelled at math, so I can sympathize with your struggles. But hard work will do wonders and I'm sure if you really "go for it" in Algebra and Geometry you could easily reach scholarship standards next year this time. "Always your most beloved father,


"That's too disgusting!" Anthony said when he finished reading his father's letter. Tears came to his eyes; a feeling of unbearable sadness filled him.

"W-what is he m-saying?" Brian asked.

"Everything is arranged. He texted your mum that instead of Tenby we were going to some stinky hole in Switzerland. Oh, I'm really sick of this! He crumpled up the letter and threw it on the ground in a rage, then turned and tried to relieve himself by kicking the box. "Too sick, too sick!" he repeated.

Brian was sick too. They will have a great time in Tenby; it was conceived in the imagination, built to the most exuberant detail; now crack! the future good time was in pieces.

"S-nevertheless," he finally said after a long silence, "I hope you have fun in S-Switzerland." And moved by a sudden impulse which he could hardly explain, he picked up Mr. Beavis's letter, straightened the crumpled pages, and handed it to Anthony. "Here is your letter on l," he said.

Anthony stared at him for a moment, opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it again, then took the letter and put it in his pocket.

When they arrived at Rosenlaui, the pleasant company in which they were to explore the Bernese Oberland consisted of Miss Gannett and her old school friend, Miss Louie Piper. Mr. Beavis always called them 'little girls' or, with that philological playfulness disguised as heroism that he loved so much, 'little girls' - dominicellae, a double diminutive of domino. Little ladies! He smiled to himself every time he said the word. To Anthony, the girls seemed like a pair of tired and already aged women. Piper, the skinny one, was like a governess. He liked fat old Gannett better, despite her horrible shrill laugh, despite how she panted and sweated in the hills. At least Gannett had good intentions. Fortunately, there were two other Englishmen in the hotel. True, they were from Manchester and they talked a lot of funny things, but they were decent guys and they knew a lot of dirty stories. In addition, in the forest behind the hotel, they discovered a cave where they kept cigarettes. When he returned to Bulstrode, Anthony proudly announced that he smoked almost every day in the lobby.

One Saturday in November Mr. Beavis came to Bulstrode for an afternoon. They watched football for a while and then went on a depressing walk that ended up at the King's Arms. Mr. Beavis ordered scones "and eggs in butter for that brave young man" (with a conspiratorial look at the waitress as if she knew the word meant "worth the stock"), "and cherry jam—aren't cherries a favorite?" ?

Anthony nodded. Cherry was a favorite. But worrying so much made him feel rather suspicious. What could all this be for? Will he say something about his work? About going on a scholarship next summer? Oh. . . ? he blushed. But his father could not know anything about it. Impossible. At last he resigned; he couldn't imagine what it was.

But when, after an unusually long silence, his father leaned forward and said, "I have some interesting news for you, dear boy," Anthony knew exactly what was coming in a sudden flash of insight.

He would marry a Gannett woman, he told himself.

And so it was. Mid December.

"A companion for you," said Mr. Beavis. This youth, this fresh and girlish humor! "Friend and other mother".

Anthony nodded. But "buddy" - what did he mean? He thought of old fat Gannett, climbing up the hill behind Rosenlaui, red-faced, reeking of sweat and stinking... . . And suddenly his mother's voice rang in his ears.

"Pauline wants you to call her Christian," Mr. Beavis continued. 'It will be . . . well, merrier, right?

Anthony said yes, apparently having nothing else to say, and helped himself to cherry jam.

* * *

– Aorist third person singular τίθημί? Anthony asked.

Horse-Face was wrong. It was Staithes who answered correctly.

"The second plural is taken from ἔρχομαι?"

Brian's hesitation was due to something more serious than his stuttering.

"You're disgusting today, Ponymouth," Anthony said, pointing a finger at Staithes, who again gave the correct answer. - Well done, Staith. And repeating Jimbug's funniest joke, "Mud sinks to the bottom, Ponymouth," he rumbled, parodying Jimbug's deep voice.

"Poor old Ponyface!" Staithes said, patting the other on the back. Now that the Horse's Mouth had given him the satisfaction of knowing less Greek grammar than he had, Staithes almost loved him.

It was almost eleven o'clock, long after lights out, and the three of them were crammed into the lavatory, Anthony sitting majestically on the seat as an examiner, the other two squatting on their heels below him on the floor. The May night was quiet and warm; in less than six weeks they were due to take their scholarship exams, Brian and Anthony at Eton, Mark Staithes at Rugby. After the previous Christmas, Staithes returned to Bulstrode and announced that he intended to apply for a scholarship. Amazing news and terrifying for his courtiers and supporters! It was an axiom among them that the work was idiotic and those who worked were contemptible. And now Staithes went to school with other nerds - Benger Beavis, old Horseface and that horrible little tick, Goggler Ledwidge. It seemed like a betrayal of all that is sacred.

Staithes convinced them first by his words and then, even more effectively, by his actions. The idea for the scholarship was his father. Not for the money, he hastily added. His father didn't care a bit about money. But for honor and glory, because that was the tradition in the Family. His father himself, and his uncles, his brothers, all had schools. You can't let your family down. Which didn't change the fact that drugs were a stinking bore and all drug addicts who took drugs for the love of it, like Ponyface and Beavis did, or for the money, like that poor Goggler, were absolute worms. . And to prove it, he berated old Ponyface for his stuttering and violin playing, campaigned against the Gogglers for his football funk, spiked Beavis's ass during prep; and although he worked very hard himself, he made up for it by playing harder than ever and never missing an opportunity to tell everyone how atrocious it was to get high and that he had no chance of getting into school.

When he had saved enough face, he changed his tactics towards Beavis and Horseface, and after showing himself increasingly friendly to them for a while, he finally proposed the formation of a mutual training society. At the beginning of the summer term, it was he who proposed the night sessions in the WC. Brian wanted to include Goggler in these readings; but the other two protested; anyway, w.c. it was clearly too small to hold a fourth. He had to settle for helping the Goggler every now and then for half an hour during the day. The night and the toilet were reserved for the triumvirate.

To explain tonight's failure in Greek verbs: "I'd rather t-t-t." . Brian started; then, forced into obvious affectation, "quite tired that night," he concluded.

His pallor and the blue transparency under his eyes testified to the truth of his words; but for Mark Staithes they were clearly an excuse by which Horsemouth hoped to ease the pain of defeat by someone who had not won for years like his rivals, but only for a few months. It was an implicit admission of inferiority. Triumphant, Staithes felt he could be generous. - Bad luck! he said thoughtfully. - Let's have a little rest.

From the pocket of his robe, Anthony produced three ginger nuts, a little soft for their age, but still welcome.

For the thousandth time since deciding he should apply for a scholarship, "I'd like to have at least the tiniest chance," Staithes said.

"You're b-very good."

"I don't. It's just my father's crazy idea. Crazy!" he repeated, shaking his head. But actually, with a tingling, warm feeling of pride and elation, he remembered his father's words. "We Staithesi. . . When one is Staithes. . . You have just as good a brain as the rest of us and just as much determination. . He let out a forced sigh and said loudly, "No way," he insisted.

- Yes, you have, honestly.

"Rottenness!" He didn't allow that either. Then, if he failed, he could laughingly say, "I told you so"; and if he succeeded, as he believed in his heart that he would, the glory would be even greater. Besides, the more obstinately he denied his chances, the more often they repeated sweet assurances of his possible, probable success. Success, moreover, in its own line; success, despite his consistent refusal until the beginning of last semester to ever take this ridiculous rant seriously.

It was Benger who brought another tribute. "Jimbug thinks you have a chance," he said. “I heard him talking to old Jack about it yesterday.

"What does that old fool Jimbug know about that?" Staithes frowned scornfully; but beneath the mask of contempt his brown eyes shone with pleasure. - What about Jack? . ".

The sudden clang of the doorknob made everyone jump. "I tell you, men," came a pleading whisper through the keyhole, "pull yourself together!" I have terrible stomach pains.

Brian hurriedly got up from the floor. "We have to let him in," he began.

But Staithes pulled him back again. "Don't be a fool!" He said; then, turning to the door, "Go to one of the back downstairs," he said, "we are busy."

"But I'm in such a hurry."

"Then the faster you go, the better."

"You are a pig!" he protested in a whisper. Then he added, "Christ!" and heard the sound of feet in slippers running down the stairs.

Staith smiled. "That will teach him," he said. "How about another Greek grammar lesson?"

* * *

Already resentful, James Beavis felt his resentment grow with every minute he spent under his brother's roof. The house even smelled of marriage. It was suffocating! And there sat John, thoroughly basking in those invisible rays of dark feminine warmth, inhaling suffocation through quivering nostrils, deeply contented, disgustingly happy! Like a groundhog, it suddenly occurred to James Beavis, a groundhog with his mate, huddled fur to fur in their underground den. Yes, the house was just a hole—a hole, with John like a skinny groundhog on one side of the table and that soft, bulging female groundhog on the other, and between them, on either side, himself, bitter and sick, and poor little Anthony, like a maladjusted world of fresh air, trapped, lured and imprisoned in a marmot hole. The indignation produced an equally violent pity and love for that unfortunate child, and at the same time it produced a retrospective feeling of sympathy for poor Maisie. Throughout her life he had always thought Maisie was stupid - hopelessly stupid and frivolous. Now John's marriage and the immense cohabitation that befell the happy couple made him forget the condemnation of the living Maisie and think of her as the tallest woman (at least she had the grace to be thin), posthumously tormenting her husband for her this disgustingly fleshy female groundhog. Frightening. He did well to be angry.

Meanwhile, Pauline refused the second portion of the chocolate souffle.

"But you must, my dear," insisted John Beavis.

Pauline let out a self-conscious sigh of contentment. "I could not".

"Even your favorite chocolate?" Mr. Beavis always spoke of chocolate in the original Aztec language.

Pauline jokingly looked sideways at the dish. "I shouldn't," she said, implicitly admitting that saturation was not complete.

"Yes, you should," he encouraged.

"Now he wants to get fat on me!" she wailed with mock reproach. "He tempts me!"

"Well, let yourself be led."

This time, Paulina's sigh was a martyr's. "Okay," she said humbly. The maid, who was indifferently waiting for the outcome of the dispute, served the dish again. Pauline helped herself.

"He's a good kid," said Mr. Beavis, with a tone and a twinkle in his eye that sported false paternity. "Now, James, I hope you will follow a good example."

James's disgust and anger were so strong that he could not speak for fear of saying something outrageous. He contented himself with a short shake of his head.

"No chocolate for you?" Mr. Beavis turned to Anthony. "But I'm sure you'll pity the pudding!" And when Anthony did it. - Ah, that's good! - He said. 'This is the way. . He hesitated for a fraction of a second... . way to hide!

Chapter Sixteen. June 17, 1912

ANTHONY's fluidity as they walked to the station was a symptom of his inner guilt. By the abundance of his speech, the clarity of his attention, he made amends to Brian for what he had done the night before. It wasn't as if Brian offered any reprimands; on the contrary, he seemed to be trying very hard not to mention yesterday's misdeed. His silence gave Anthony an excuse to postpone any mention of the unpleasant subject of Mark Staithes. One day, of course, he will have to tell the whole unfortunate affair (what boring people with their complicated arguments!); but for now, he assured himself, it would be best to wait. . . wait until Brian mentions it himself. Meanwhile, his nagging conscience urged him to show Brian more than simple kindness, to make a special effort to be interesting and show interest. They were interested in the poetry of Edward Thomas as they walked along Beaumont Street; at Bergson's opposite Worcester; the crossing of Hythe Bridge as part of the nationalization of the coal mines; and finally, under the viaduct and the long station approach, at Joan Thursley's.

“It's odd,” Brian said, breaking, apparently with effort, a rather long preparatory silence, “that you should never have met her.

"Dis aliter visum," Anthony replied in his father's best classic style. Although, of course, he thought if he accepted Mrs. Foxe's invitation to stay at Twyford, the gods would change their minds.

"I want you two to like each other," Brian was saying.

- I am sure we will succeed.

"She's not exactly c-c-c." . He patiently began again, “very c-clever. N-not on the s-plane. One would think that he was only about-interested c-c-c. . But "country life" was unspoken; Brian was forced into an obviously affected discussion: "Rural m-things," he finally managed. "D-dogs and f-birds and so on."

Anthony nodded and, suddenly remembering the spitting teats and chirps of Bulstrode's days, smiled imperceptibly.

"But as you get to know her better," Brian continued laboriously, "n-you'll find there's a lot more to her than you thought." He has an extraordinary sense of p-p-p. . . for verse. For example, W-wordsworth and M-meredith. I'm always surprised at how b-good judgment he makes.

Anthony smiled sarcastically to himself. Yes, that would be Meredith!

The other was silent, wondering how to explain it, if he should even try to explain it. Everything conspired against him—his own physical handicap, the difficulty in expressing what he had to say, the possibility that Anthony might not understand what he was saying at all, that he would present his alibis of cynicism and simply pretend not to understand. to be at all.

Brian remembered their first meeting. The unpleasant discovery of two strangers in the living room when he came to tea flushed and his hair wet from the rain. His mother pronounced the name "Mrs Thursley". The pastor's new wife, he realized as he shook hands with the thin, unkempt woman. Her manners were so lovely that she rustled as she spoke; her smile was deliberately bright.

- And this is Joanna.

The girl held out her hand, and when he took it, her slender body moved away from his alien presence in a timid yet wonderfully graceful movement, like the bending of a young tree in the wind. That movement was the most beautiful and at the same time the most touching thing he had ever seen.

"We heard you like birds," said Mrs. Thursley with irresistible politeness, intensifying her too-bright, professionally Christian smile. - Just like Joanna. An ordinary ornithologist.

The flushed girl muttered a protest.

“She will be glad to have someone to talk to about her precious birds. Is that right, Joanie?

Joan's embarrassment was so great that she simply could not speak.

Looking at her flushed, twisted face, Brian was filled with compassionate tenderness. His heart started pounding. With a mixture of fear and joy, he realized that something unusual had happened, something irreversible.

And then, he thought, there was the time, about four or five months later, when they were staying together at her uncle's house in East Sussex. Away from her parents, she seemed transformed—not a different person; into her core self, into the happy, expansive girl who can't be her home. Because at home she lived under duress. Her father's chronic nagging and occasional outbursts filled her with fear. And although she loved her, she felt herself a prisoner of her mother's love, vaguely aware that she was taking advantage of her in some way. And finally, there was the cold, numbing atmosphere of genteel squalor in which they lived, the constant tension of the struggle to keep up appearances, to maintain social superiority. At home, Joan couldn't quite be herself; but there, in that spacious house in Eden, among its quiet, carefree inhabitants, she was released into a transformative happiness. Stunned, Brian fell in love with her all over again.

He thought of the day they had walked on the moors of Winchelsea. Bloomed hawthorn; scattered here and there on the wide, flat grass, the sheep and their lambs looked like white stars; overhead the sky was full of white clouds gliding in the wind. Unspeakably beautiful! And suddenly it seems to him that they are passing through the image of their love. The world was their love and their love was the world; and the world was meaningful, charged with a depth beyond the depth of mysterious meaning. The proofs of God's goodness hovered in those clouds, crept in those sheep that grazed, shone from every burning bush a bright flower—and he and Joan walked hand in hand on the grass and manifested their happiness. It seemed to him that in that apocalyptic moment his love was more than just his; it was somehow the equivalent of this wind and sun, those white flashes against the greens and blues of spring. His love for Joan was somehow hidden in the world, it had a divine and universal meaning. He loved her infinitely, and therefore he could love everyone in the world as he loved her.

The memory of that experience was precious to him, especially now that the quality of his feelings had changed. That endless love of his, transparent and seemingly pure as spring water, turned over time into specific desires.

And his hand and his leg, his thigh and his thigh,

Polished like oil, wavy like a swan,

Passed before my clairvoyant and serene eyes,

And her belly and breasts, those clusters of my vine.

From the first time Anthony made him read the poem, those lines had haunted his imagination; impersonal at first; but later they began to be definitely associated with the image of Joanna. Polis comme de l'huile, onduleux comme un cygne. There was no forgetting. Those words remained indelible in him, like remorse, like the memory of a crime.

They entered the station and it turned out that they had been waiting for almost five minutes. Two young men walked slowly along the platform.

Trying to piece together the embarrassing appearance of those breasts, that oil-smooth stomach, "My mom really likes it," Brian finally continued.

"It is very satisfactory," said Anthony; but he felt, even as he uttered the words, that he was rather exaggerating his approval. If he had fallen in love, he certainly wouldn't have taken the girl to her father and Pauline. On approval! But it's not their business to approve - or disapprove, for that matter. Mrs. Foxe, of course, was different; she could be taken more seriously than Pauline or his father. But after all, no one would want even Mrs. Foxe to interfere—in fact, he thought, he probably wouldn't like the interference any more than other people, just because of the superiority. Because superiority was a kind of claim for one, it gave him certain rights. Her opinion would not be so easily ignored as, for example, Pauline's. He loved Mrs. Foxe very much, respected and admired her; but for this very reason he considered her a potential threat to his freedom. Because she could - indeed, if she knew it, she certainly would - go against his way of looking at things. And though her criticism were based on the principles of her liberal Christianity, and though, of course, such modernism was as absurd and, despite its pretensions to be "scientific," as hopelessly beyond the bounds of rationality as the most extravagant fetishism - still, her words, in order for her to have weight, must be taken into account. Therefore, he did his best not to get into a situation where he had to listen to them. It had been more than a year since he had accepted one of her invitations to come and stay with them in the country. Dis aliter visum. But he was quite nervously waiting to meet her soon.

The train came roaring by; and there, a minute later, they were all at the other end of the platform—Mr. Beavis in a gray suit, and next to him Pauline, very large in purple, her face apoplectically flushed with the shadow of a purple umbrella, and behind them Mrs. Foxe, simple and regal and tall a girl in a big hat and a flowery dress.

Mr. Beavis adopted a jocular, mock-heroic greeting that Anthony found particularly irritating. "Six precious souls," he quoted, patting his son on the shoulder, "actually, only four precious souls, but they all want to cut through good and evil." And what a hot line - what a hot line! he corrected him, blinking.

- Well, Anthony. Mrs. Foxe's voice was musically full of feeling. — A century has passed since I saw you.

- Yes, age. He laughed rather awkwardly, trying to think of the fantastic reasons why he hadn't accepted her invitation. He must not contradict himself at any cost. Did Easter or Christmas prevent him from working at the British Museum in London? He felt a tap on his shoulder and grateful for any excuse to end this awkward conversation, he quickly turned away.

"J-joan," Brian was speaking to the girl in the floral dress, "h-this is A-anthony."

"I'm so glad," he murmured. “I've heard so much about you from... Beautiful hair, he thought; and the hazel eyes were beautifully bright and eager. But the profile was too solid; and although the mouth was well cut, the mouth was too wide. He realized it was a little milky; and her clothes were too homey. He himself preferred something more urban.

"Go ahead, Macduff," said Mr. Beavis.

They left the station and walked slowly along the shady side of the street towards the center of the city. Still looking jovial like the Gilpines, as if today's journey (and this particularly annoyed Anthony) was his first holiday trip in twenty years, Mr Beavis was blathering on with the cheesy Oxford colloquialisms of his undergraduate days. Foxe listened, smiled at the right moments, asked the right questions. Pauline complained from time to time about the heat. Her face was shining; Walking past her in sullen silence, Anthony noted with disgust the rather unpleasant enhancement of her natural scent. He heard snippets of the conversation between Brian and Joan behind him. '. . . a big, big falcon," she said. Her speech was eager and rapid. "Must have been a harrier." . . . on the tail? - That's all. Dark stripes on a light gray background. "Then it was a p-female" , Brian said.“Females have tail stripes.” Anthony smiled sarcastically to himself.

They were passing the Ashmolean when a woman who was coming out of the museum very slowly and disconsolately suddenly waved her hand at them and, first shouting the name of Mr. their page.

"But she is Mary Champernowne," said Mrs. Foxe. "I should have told Mary Amberley." Or maybe, she thought, she shouldn't be talking now that the Amberleys are divorced.

The name, the familiar face, caused nothing but pleasant surprise in Mr. Beavis. Raising his hat in a self-aware comic parody of old-world flourishes, "Welcome," he said to the newcomer. - Hello, dear lady.

Mary Amberley took Mrs. Foxe's hand. "What luck," she exclaimed breathlessly. Mrs. Foxe was surprised by such cordiality. Maria's mother was her friend; but Mary always kept to herself. In any case, since her marriage she had moved in a world that Mrs. Foxe did not know and did not accept on principle. "What wonderful luck!" repeated the other, turning to Mr. Beavis.

"Luck belongs to us," he said gallantly. "You know my wife, don't you?" And the brave young man? His eyes flashed; the corners of the lips under the mustache twitched playfully. He put his hand on Anthony's shoulder. "Young foundation worthy?"

She smiled at Antonio. He noticed an unusual smile; a crooked smile with an open mouth that seemed secretly meaningful. "I haven't seen you in years," she said. "Not since then." . Not since Mrs. Beavis's first funeral, actually. But it was hard to say. "Not since you were that high!" And raising her gloved hand to eye level, she measured about an inch between thumb and forefinger.

Anthony laughed nervously, intimidated even by the admiration of so much beauty, freedom and intelligence.

Mrs. Amberley shook hands with Joan and Brian; then addressing Mrs. Foxe, "I felt like Robinson Crusoe," she said, explaining this abnormal cordiality. - Captured. She broke off the long syllable with a comic accent. “Absolutely lost. The monarch of all I have studied. And as they walked slowly through St Giles, she began an elaborate tale of how she had been in the Cotswolds; of meeting friends on his way home to Oxford on the eighteenth; of her journey with Chipping Campden; of her punctual arrival at the meeting place, her anticipation, her growing impatience, her anger, and finally her discovery that she had arrived a day early: it was the seventeenth. "Too typical for me."

Everyone laughed a lot. Since the story was full of unexpected fantasy and extravagance; and it was told by a voice that modulated with extraordinary subtlety to match the words—a voice that knew when to rush breathlessly, when to stretch, and when to fade into a silence rich with unspeakable implications.

Even Mrs. Foxe, who didn't really want to be entertained - because of the divorce - couldn't resist the story.

To Mary Amberley their laughter was like champagne; it warmed her, her body tingled with joy. They were boring, of course; they were philistines. But the applause of even dullards and philistines is still applause and intoxicating; Her eyes sparkled, her cheeks burned. "That's too hopelessly typical of me!" she lamented when their laughter died; but the gesture of desperate self-discredit was a caricature; she was really proud of her inability, she considered it part of her feminine charm. "Well, anyway," she concluded, "there I was - a shipwreck. I'm completely on a desert island.

They walked in silence for a while. They all thought they would have to invite her to lunch, a thought met with indignation in Mrs. Fox and embarrassed desire in Anthony. Lunch was served in his rooms; as the host you should ask her. And he wanted to ask her about it—he wanted to desperately. But what would others say? Shouldn't you consult with them first? Mr. Beavis solved his problem by making a suggestion on his own account.

"I think," he hesitated; then, blinking, "I think our Christmas 'spread'," he continued, "is going to move on to another guest, isn't it, Anthony?"

"But I can't impose myself," she protested, turning from father to son. He seemed like a nice guy, she thought, sensitive and intelligent. It also looks nice.

— But I assure you. . Anthony repeated fervently and chaotically: “I assure you. . ".

“Well, if you're really fine. . She thanked him with a smile of sudden intimacy, almost complicity, as if they had some kind of connection, as if they were the only two in the company who understood what was happening.

After lunch, Joan got to see the sights of Oxford; and Mr. Beavis had a meeting with a fellow philologist in Woodstock Road; and Paulina thought she would rather do things quietly until tea-time. Anthony remained to entertain Mary Amberley. The responsibility was wonderfully unnerving.

In the taxi that was taking them to Magdalena Bridge, Mrs. Amberley turned to him, her face alight with sudden playfulness.

"Free at last," she said.

Anthony nodded at her and gave her an understanding, conspiratorial smile. "They were pretty tough," he said. "Maybe I should apologize."

"I have often thought about starting a family abolition league," she continued. Parents should never be allowed to get close to their children.

"Plato thought so too," he said rather pedantically.

- Yes, but he wanted children to be scared by the state, not fathers and mothers. I don't want anyone to mistreat them.

He risked a personal question. - Were you mistreated? - He asked.

Mary Amberley nodded. 'Terribly. Few children are more loved than me. They beat me gently with a pestle. He crippled me mentally. It took me years to get rid of the deformity. There was silence. Then, giving him an uncomfortably appraising look as if he were for sale, she said, "You know," she said, "the last time I saw you was at your mother's funeral."

The subterranean connection between that remark and what had happened earlier made him blush with guilt, as if he had misbehaved in mixed company. "Yes, I remember," he muttered, and he was angry with himself for being so embarrassed, but also a little embarrassed that he'd let even that seemingly implied remark about his mother pass without protest, that they felt so little desire to protest.

"You were a terrible, miserable boy then," she continued, still looking at him with judgment. "How awful boys always are!" It seems improbable that they will ever turn into representative human beings. And of course, she added, there aren't many of them. Grim, don't you see? — how most people are so disgusting and stupid, so completely and utterly boring!

By a mighty effort of will, Anthony extricated himself from the embarrassment with an admirable leap. - I hope I'm not the majority? he said, looking up at her.

Mrs. Amberley shook her head, and with serious, real seriousness. "No," she replied. "I was wondering how successfully you managed to escape the horrors of your childhood."

He blushed again, this time with pleasure.

"Let's see how old you are now?" she asked.

"Twenty... almost twenty one."

- And I will turn thirty this winter. Strange," she added, "how these things change their meaning. The last time I saw you, there was a big gap between us in those nine years. At the time it seemed insurmountable. We were different species. And yet we sit here on the same side of the bay as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Which is actually now. She turned and smiled at him with that mysterious and meaningful smile of her unopened mouth. Her dark eyes were full of dancing light. "Ah, there's Magdalena," she continued, giving him time (to his great relief, for in his excited discomfort he knew not what to say) to comment on her words. "How gloomy this late Gothic can be! So cheeky! No wonder Gibbon disliked the Middle Ages! She paused suddenly, remembering when her husband had made that remark about Gibbon. Just a month or two after the wedding. She was shocked and amazed at his brazen criticism of things she had been brought up to hold sacred and unjudgmental—shocked, but also delighted, also delighted. What a joy it is to see holy things overturned! And in those days, Roger was still cute. she sighed; then, with a touch of anger, he shook off his sentimental mood and began to talk about abominable architecture.

The taxi stopped on the bridge; they dismounted and went down to the boathouse. Mary Amberley, lying on the cushions of the boat, was silent. Anthony moved upstream very slowly. The green world slid past her half-closed eyes. The green darkness of the trees rising above the shadows of the olives and the tawny glittering lights of the water; and between the dark expanses of green vaults endless golden-green meadows dotted with elms. And always the faint, weedy smell of the river; and the air so soft and warm on her face that she seemed scarcely aware of the boundary between self and non-self, but lay there, separated by indivisible surfaces, melting, drowsily blending into the surrounding summer.

Standing at the stern, Anthony could look down on her, as if from an observation deck. She lay at his feet, limp and abandoned. Using his long pole with an ease he was proud of, he felt joyfully strong and better looking at her. There was no gap between them now. She was a woman, he was a man. He raised the pole to the boat and swung it forward gracefully, unhurriedly and with full force. He pushed him into the mud, strained his muscles against his resistance; the boat rushed forward, the end of the pole raised from the bottom of the river, dragged it for a moment, then gracefully, again, easily, masterfully, leaned forward. Suddenly she opened her eyes and gave him that impassive, assessing look that had embarrassed him so much in the taxi. His manly confidence vanished instantly.

"My poor Anthony," she said at last, her face drawing closer as if suddenly smiling. "Just looking at you makes me hot."

When the boat was secured, he came over and sat down in the place she had made, pushing her skirts aside, on the cushion beside her.

"I don't think your father mistreats you often," she said, returning to the topic of their conversation in the taxi.

He shook his head.

"The anime is blackmailing you with too much affection, I guess."

Anthony felt unexpectedly loyal to his father. - I think he always liked me very much.

"Oh, of course," said Mrs. Amberley impatiently. "I had no idea he hit you."

Anthony couldn't help but laugh. The vision of his father running after him with a club was irresistibly comical. Then, more seriously, he said, "He never got close enough to knock me down." "The great chasm was always mending."

“Yes, I feel it makes sense to mend the chasms. And yet your stepmother seems to get on well with him. I guess your mother knows too. She shook her head. “But then marriage is so strange and inexplicable. The most obviously incompatible couples stay together, and the most compatible couples break up. They like boring, tiresome people and hate charming ones. Why? God knows. But I guess it's actually what Milton calls a Bed of Genius. She paused, funny, on the first syllable of the word "genius"; but Anthony tried so hard not to look surprised at the casual mention of something he had always considered unspeakable in front of a lady that he didn't laugh—for a laugh might be interpreted as the student's automatic reaction to obscenity—it wasn't even a smile; but gravely, as if acknowledging the truth of the theorems of geometry, he nodded, and said in a very grave and condemning tone, "Yes, I suppose it is generally so."

"Poor Mrs. Foxe," continued Mary Amberley. "I suppose there was least mirth there."

"Did you know her husband?" - He asked.

"Just like a child. Then one adult seems just as boring as the other. But my mother often told me about him. Absolutely beastly. And completely virtuous. God save me from the virtuous beast! The cruel ones are bad enough; but at least in principle they are never bestial. They are inconsistent: so sometimes they are good by mistake. While the virtuous never forget; they are constantly bestial. poor woman! I'm afraid she's had a dog's life. However, it seems that everything is back to normal for the son.

"But she loves Brian," he protested. "And Brian loves her."

— That's what I said. All the love she never got from her husband, all the love she never gave him, pours out on that poor boy.

- He is not unhappy.

"Maybe he doesn't know that. Not yet. But wait!" After a short pause she added, "You're lucky," continued Mrs. Amberley. "Much luckier than you think."

Seventeenth chapter. May 26, 1934

LITERATURE FOR PEACE — WHAT? You can focus on the economy: trade barriers, unorganized currency, barriers to migration, private interests focused on profit at all costs. And so on. You can concentrate on politics: the danger of the concept of the sovereign state as a completely immoral being whose interests are incompatible with those of other sovereign states. Political and economic countermeasures can be proposed - trade agreements, international arbitration, collective security. Reasonable prescriptions after a solid diagnosis. But has the diagnosis gone far enough and will the patient adhere to the prescribed treatment?

This question was asked during today's conversation with Miller. Negative answer. The patient cannot take the prescribed treatment for a valid reason: there is no patient. States and nations do not exist as such. There are only people. Collections of people living in certain areas with certain loyalties. Nations will not change their national policies until people change their private policies. All governments, even Hitler's, even Stalin's, even Mussolini's are representative. Today's national behavior - a large projection of today's individual behavior. Or, more precisely, a grand projection of an individual's secret desires and intentions. Because we all like to behave much worse than our conscience and respect for public opinion allow. One of the greatest appeals of patriotism - it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation, we are able to indirectly abuse and deceive. Abuse and cheat, moreover, with the feeling that we are profoundly virtuous. Sweet and polite towards murder, lies, torture for the homeland. Good international politics is a projection of individual good intentions and benevolent desires and must be of the same kind as good interpersonal politics. Pacifist propaganda must target both the people and their governments; it must begin at the periphery and at the center at the same time.

Empirical facts:

One. We are all capable of loving another human being.

Two. We have limited that love.

Three. We can transcend all these limitations - if we choose to. (It is a matter of observation that anyone who wants to can overcome personal aversion, class feelings, national hatred, prejudices about skin color. It is not easy, but it can be done if we have the will and know how to realize our good intentions.)

four. Love expressed by good behavior begets love. Hatred expressed in bad treatment breeds hatred.

In the light of these facts it is obvious what interpersonal, interclass and international politics should be. But again, knowledge cuts some ice. We all know; almost all of us fail. As usual, it's all about the best methods to achieve your goals. The promotion of peace must be, among other things, a set of instructions in the art of changing character.

i see

Lost are such, and their whip to be,

As I am mine, their sweaty self; but worse.

Hell is the inability to be anything other than what we usually pretend to be.

On my way home from Miller's I ducked into the Marble Arch public toilet and there I ran into Bepp Bowles deep in conversation with one of those hatless young men in flannel trousers who look like students and are, I believe, very junior clerks or shop assistants. On B's face, what a mixture of elation and anxiety. Happy, drunk with the excitement of anticipation, and at the same time terribly anxious and terrified. It can be refused - an unspeakable humiliation! It cannot be dismissed — terrifying dangers! The frustration of desire if it did not succeed, a cruel blow to pride, wounding the very root of the personality. And if it succeeds, the fear (with all the triumph) of blackmail and the police court. Poor poor thing! He was terribly embarrassed to see me. I just nodded and hurried past. Hell B. An underground toilet with endless rows of urinals in every direction, one boy in each. Beppo walks back and forth between the rows, endlessly - sweaty but worse.

Eighteenth chapter. December 8, 1926

MORE VISITORS ARRIVED - mostly young people, friends of Joyce and Helen. They dutifully crossed the sitting-room to a far corner, where Mrs. Amberley sat down between Bepp Bowles and Anthony, said good-bye, and then ran off to dance.

"Well, they put you in the middle-aged place," said Anthony, but either Mrs. Amberley preferred not to hear the remark, or she was really absorbed in what Beppo was saying with such loud and seething enthusiasm about Berlin—the most amusing place in today's Europe! Where else can you find these special masochist cakes, for example? In high boots; yes, original boots! And the Museum of Sexology: such photographs and wax models - too trompe-l'oeil - such amazing horn objects from Japan, such a strange and ingenious cut for exhibitionists! And all those cute little lesbian bars, all those cabarets where the boys dressed up as women. . .

"There's Mark Staithes," Mrs. Amberley interrupted, waving to a short, broad-shouldered man who had just entered the living room. "I forgot," she said to Anthony, "do you know him?"

"Just in the last thirty years," he replied, again finding a certain wicked pleasure in insisting, to the point of exaggeration, on his past youth. If he was no longer young, Mary stopped being young nine years ago.

"But by wide margins," he qualified. "During the war and after, he was in Mexico all the time. And since he came back, I hardly saw him. I am glad to have this opportunity. . ".

"He's a strange fish," said Mary Amberley, thinking back to the time just after his return from Mexico, some eighteen months earlier, when he first appeared at her house. His appearance, his behavior, as a wild and fanatic hermit, attracted her violently. She tried all her temptations on him—to no avail. He ignored them - but so completely and absolutely that she didn't blame him for refusing, convinced that there really wasn't a refusal but only a symptom, she diagnosed the judiciary with impotence or less likely (although of course you never know, you never know) homosexuality. . Strange fish, she repeated and decided that next time she would ask Bepp about homosexuality. He would surely know. They always knew about each other. Then she waved again, "Come and sit with us, Mark," she called over the hum of the record player.

Staithes crossed the room, pulled up a chair and sat down. His hair stayed away from his forehead, and there were gray spots above his ears. The brown face—the face of the fanatic hermit that Mary Amberley found so strangely attractive—was deeply wrinkled. No smooth, hazy layer of fat obscured its inner structure. Beneath the skin, every strip of cheek and jaw muscle seemed to stand out and separate, like the muscles on linden statues of skinned human beings made for Renaissance anatomy rooms. When he smiled—and every time it was as if the flayed statue came to life and expressed its agony—you could trace the whole mechanism of the heart-wrenching grimace; pulling up and out of the zygomaticus major, pulling the risorius to the side, contraction of the large sphincters around the eyelids.

- Do I interrupt? he asked, looking from one to the other with sharp, inquisitorial movements.

"Beppo told us about Berlin," said Mrs. Amberley.

"I stopped by to avoid a general strike," Beppo explained.

"Of course," Staithes said, his face contorted in amused disdain.

"Such a heavenly place!" Beppo exploded uncontrollably.

"Does that make you feel like Lord Haldane?" your spiritual home?

"Physically," Anthony corrected him.

All too happy to plead guilty, Beppo laughed. - Yes, you transvestites! he had to enthusiastically admit.

"I've been there this winter," Staithes said. "Business. But of course, you have to pay tribute to pleasure as well. It's nightlife. .".

"Don't you think that's funny?"

"Oh, passionate."

- You see! Beppo triumphed.

“One of the creatures came and sat at my table,” Staithes continued. "I danced with it. It looked like a woman.

"You just can't tell them apart," Beppo exclaimed excitedly, as if he took this fact personally.

"When we finished dancing, he smeared his face and we drank beer. He then showed me some indecent pictures. Quite the surgical, anti-aphrodisiac kind, you know. Damping. Maybe that's why the conversation stopped. In any case, there was an awkward silence. Neither he nor I seemed to know what to say next. We were disillusioned. He stretched out two thin and gnarled hands horizontally, as if he were crossing an absolutely flat surface with them. “Completely quiet. Then suddenly the creature did something unusual. No doubt one of his usual gambits; but having never played before, I was impressed. "Do you want to see something?" - He said. I said yes, and he immediately started poking and pulling something under his shirt. — Well, look! he said finally. I looked. He smiled triumphantly, like a man playing an ace of trumps—or rather, two trumps; because what they threw on the table was money. A pair of beautiful pink sponge rubber fake breasts.

"But how disgusting!" cried Mrs. Amberley, while Anthony laughed, and Bepp's round face assumed an expression of painful despair. "How disgusting!" she repeated.

- Yes, but how satisfying! Staithes persisted, making that twisted, pained grimace that looked like a smile. "It's so good when things happen the way they should - artistically, symbolically. Two rubber breasts between beer mugs - that's what vice should be. And when it really was - well, something seemed to fall into place. Unmissable, beautiful. Yes, beautiful, he repeated. "Beautifully disgusting."

“After all,” Beppo persisted, “you've got to admit there's a lot to be said for a town where such things can happen. In public," he solemnly added, "remember, in public. It is the most tolerant German government in the world. You have to admit.

"Oh, yes," said Staithes. "He tolerates everything. Not only girls in boiled shirts and guys with rubber breasts, but also monarchists, fascists, junkers, croups. And the communists, I'm glad to say that. All his enemies of all colors.

"I think that's pretty good," said Mrs. Amberley.

“Very well, until his enemies rise up and destroy him. I just hope the communists get in first.

"But if they are tolerated, why would enemies want to destroy them?"

'Why not? They don't believe in tolerance. Exactly," he added.

"You're a barbarian," Beppo said.

"As it should be if you live in the Middle Ages." You people survived the age of Antonine. He looked from one to the other, smiling his thin smile, and shook his head. “I suppose you are still in the first volume of Gibbon. While we are well on our way in the third.

Do you want to say. . . ? But, by God," Mrs. Amberley broke off, "there's Gerry!

At her words, seeing Gerry Watchett himself foxtrot from the back parlor with Helen, Anthony took out his wallet and quickly scanned its contents. - Thank God! - He said. "Only two pounds." Gerry caught him with ten last month and, based on the most incredible disturbing story, borrowed them all. He shouldn't have believed the story, of course, he should have kept the credit. Ten pounds was more than he could afford. He said this, but he did not have the firmness to persist in his refusal. It took more than two weeks of strict savings to make up for the lost money. Saving was an awkward process; but to refuse and continue in the face of Gerry's obsessions and reproaches would be even more unpleasant. He was always ready to sacrifice his rights for comfort. People thought he was selfless, and he did his best to accept their diagnosis of his character. But the awareness of the true state of affairs was still breaking through. When that happened, he accepted the self-realization with a laugh. He was laughing now. "Just two," he repeated. "Fortunately, I can afford it. . ".

abort. Behind Mary Beppo clapped him on the shoulder, grimacing. Anthony turned to see that she was still looking intently and frowning at the newcomers.

"He told me he wouldn't come tonight," she said, as if talking to herself. Then, through the music, she called sharply, "Gerry!" in a voice that had suddenly lost all charm—a voice that reminded Anthony too plainly of the hideous scenes in which he had played a part long ago. So that's it, he said to himself, and pitied poor Mary.

Gerry Watchett turned and, with the air of someone invoking some perfectly common joke, gave her a quick smile, even a wink, before looking down again to continue his conversation with his partner.

Mrs. Amberley flushed with sudden anger. Smile at her like that! It was unbearable. Also unbearable - but how typical! — to appear like this, unannounced, out of nowhere — to dance freely with another woman as if it were the most natural thing in the world. This time it was true that the woman was only Helen; but that's only because he couldn't find anyone else to dance with, anyone worse. "Beast!" she thought as she looked around the room. Then she looked away with an effort, forcing herself to pay attention to what was happening around her.

'. . . a country like this, said Mark Staithes, a country where a quarter of the population is truly bourgeois and another quarter passionately wants to be.

"You're exaggerating," protested Anthony.

'Not at all. What polls does Labor run during elections? One third of the vote. I generously assume that one day he might examine half of them. The rest is bourgeois. Either naturally bourgeois out of interest and fear, or artificially through snobbery and imagination. It is childish to think that you can get what you want through constitutional means.

"What about unconstitutional?"

"There is a chance".

"There's no way," Anthony said. "Not against new weapons."

"Oh, I know," said Mark Staithes, "I know." If they use their power, the middle class can clearly win. They could win, most likely, even without tanks and planes - just because they are potentially better soldiers than the proletariat."

Better soldiers? protested Beppo, thinking of those guard friends of his.

"Because of his education. A bourgeois goes through ten to sixteen years of training, mostly in a boarding school; i.e. in the barracks. While the worker's child lives at home and does not attend day school for more than six or seven years. Sixteen years of obedience and esprit de corps. No wonder Waterloo won at Eton. If they use only half their resources - use them ruthlessly - the game will be theirs.

"Do you think they won't use their resources?"

Mark shrugged. “It certainly seems that the German Republicans are not ready to use theirs. And think about what happened here during the strike. Even most industrialists were ready to compromise.

“For the simple reason,” said Anthony, “that you cannot succeed in the industry if you are not in the habit of compromising. The company is not run by faith; bargaining is ruled.

“In any case,” continued Mark, “the fact remains that the available resources have not been used. This gives hope that the revolution can succeed. Provided that they are implemented very quickly. Because, of course, when they realize that they are in serious danger, they will forget their scruples. But I think they can hesitate long enough to enable a revolution. Even a few hours of scruples would be enough. Yes, despite the tanks, there is still a chance of success. But you have to be willing to take risks. Not like the imbeciles from the T.U.C. Not ordinary union members, for that matter. Full of scruples like the bourgeoisie. It is the remnant of evangelical Christianity. You have no idea how much preaching and singing of hymns there was during the General Strike. I was stunned. But it's good to know the worst. Maybe the younger generation. . .' He shook his head. "But I'm not sure even about them." Methodism can fail. But look at those spiritualist shrines springing up in industrial areas! Like toadstools.

* * *

The next time he passed, Gerry called her by name; but Mary Amberley refused to accept his welcome. Coldly turning away, she pretended to be interested only in what Anthony was saying.

"Woman's ass!" thought Gerry, looking at her upturned face. Then he said aloud, “How about we play this record another time?” he asked his partner.

Helena nodded ecstatically.

Music of the spheres, blissful vision. . . But why should heaven be the monopoly of the ear or the eye? Muscles move, and they have their own heaven. Heaven is not only enlightenment and harmony; it is also a dance.

"Half a tick," Gerry said as they faced the record player.

Helen stood there as he wound the machine, perfectly still, her arms hanging limply by her body. Her eyes were closed; she cut herself off from the world, she cut herself off from existence. In this motionless void between the two heavens of motion there was no meaning of existence.

The music stopped for a moment; then it started again in the middle of the bar. Behind closed eyelids she was aware that Gerry had moved, that he was standing above her, very close; then his arm wrapped around her body.

"Forward, Christian soldiers!" He said; and once again they went out to the music, to the sky of harmoniously moving muscles.

* * *

There was silence. Determined to ignore the beast, Mrs. Amberley turned to Staithes. "And your scents?" she asked, feigning lively, amused interest.

"Flowers," he answered. – I had to order three new stills and hire more people.

Mrs. Amberley smiled at him and shook her head. "You of all people!" she said. "It seems especially funny that you should be a fragrance maker."


"The most relaxed of men," she continued, "the least gallant, the most unyielding misogynist!" (Either impotent or gay—there could be no doubt; and after his story about Berlin, almost certainly impotent, she thought.)

With a heart-wrenching sneer, "But has it not occurred to you," asked Staithes, "that these might be reasons for becoming a perfumer?"


"A way of expressing a lack of courage". In fact, he got into fragrances quite by accident. His attention was drawn to an advertisement in The Times in which a small factory was for sale very cheaply. . . . Just good luck. But now, after the incident, his confidence has grown as he says he chose this profession on purpose to express his contempt for the women he cares about. The lie he wanted and which he had half believed to be the truth, placed him in a position of supremacy over all women in general, and at this moment over Mary Amberley in particular. Leaning forward, he took Mary's hand, raised it as if to kiss it, but instead he merely smelled her skin—and then lowered it again. "For example," he said, "there is civet in what you yourself smelled."

'Why not?'

"Oh, there's no reason at all," said Staithes, "no reason at all, if you happen to crave chicken poo."

Mrs. Amberley made a face of disgust.

“In Abyssinia,” he continued, “they have civet farms. Twice a week you take a stick and go poke the cats until they go completely crazy and scared. Then they excrete their stuff. Like children who wet their panties when they are scared. They are then grasped with pincers to prevent bites, and the contents of the small pouch attached to the genital area are scraped off. You do it with an egg spoon, and it's a kind of yellow grease, something like earwax. Stinks like hell when undiluted. We get it in London packed in buffalo horns. Huge cornucopias full of dark brown smelly earwax. Moreover, one hundred and seventeen shillings an ounce. This is one of the reasons why your fragrance costs you so much. Poor people can't afford to get dirty with cat mess. They have to settle for ordinary isoeugenol and phenylacetaldehyde."

* * *

Colin and Joyce had stopped dancing and were sitting on the landing outside the saloon door. alone. It was an opportunity for Colin to release some of the righteous anger that had been building up in him since dinner.

"I must say, Joyce," he began, "that some of your mother's guests are—" ".

Joyce looked at him with eyes that were both anxious and adoring. - Yes, I know - she apologized. "I know," and I hastened to agree with him about Bepp's degeneracy and Anthony Beavis' cynicism. Then, seeing that she was enjoying the indignation and that she was gaining rather than suffering from it, she even voluntarily revealed that the man who had come in last and sat with her mother was a Bolshevik. Yes, Mark Staithes was a Bolshevik.

The phrase that Colin had been thinking about all evening came to the fore. "I can be stupid and all," he said, with a veiled humility that hid an arrogant satisfaction at what he considered a rather unusual feature of his ordinariness; “Perhaps I am ignorant and ill-educated; but at least - (his tone of voice changed, he proudly admitted that he was extremely average) - at least I know... well, I know what happened. That is, if you're a gentleman. He underlined the words to make them sound a bit comical, thus proving that he has a sense of humor. Being serious about what was taken seriously was one of the things you didn't do. That little bit of humor proved more convincingly than any pressure, any emotional tremor in his voice, that he really took these things as seriously as an extremely average gentleman should. And of course, Joyce understood that it was. She looked at him adoringly and shook his hand.

* * *

Dance, dance. . . If only, thought Helena, he could dance forever! If only you didn't have to spend all your time doing other things! Wrong things, mostly stupid things, things you regret after doing them. While dancing, she lost her life to save him; she lost her identity and became something bigger than herself; lost shame and self-hatred in a clear, harmonious certainty; she lost her bad character and perfected herself; he lost the regrettable past, the predicted future and gained the timeless present of perfect happiness. He who did not know how to paint, write, or even sing, became an artist in dance; no, more than an artist; he became a god, the creator of a new heaven and a new earth, a creator who enjoys his creation and considers it good.

“Yes, sir, she is my child. No sir. . ". Gerry stopped humming. "I won sixty pounds at poker last night," he said. "Pretty good, huh?"

She smiled at him and nodded in delighted silence. Good, good - everything was wonderful.

* * *

"And I can't tell you," Staithes was saying, "how much I like these ads. The muscles in his face worked like an anatomical demonstration. - The ones with bad breath and body odor.

- Disgusting! Mrs. Amberley shuddered. 'Disgusting! There is only one Victorian convention that I appreciate, and that is the convention of not talking about these things.

"That's why they're so much fun to talk about," Staithes said, giving her a bright smile between his clenched sphincters. "Forcing people to be fully verbally aware of their own and other people's nastiness. That's the beauty of this type of advertising. It wakes them up.

"And buy," said Anthony. "You forget about profit."

Staith shrugged. "They are random," he said; and it was obvious, thought Anthony as he watched him, that it was obvious that this man was telling the truth. For him, the gains were accidental. Violating the protection convention," he continued, turning to Mary, "is real fun. Leaving you vulnerable to the complete realization that you cannot live without your loved ones and that you feel sick when you are with them.

Nineteenth chapter. July 7, 1912

MRS FOXE leafed through her engagement book. A series of board meetings, district visits, afternoons in the crippled playhouse darkened the pages. And in between there were phone calls, afternoon tea in the rectory and dinners in London. And yet (she knew this in advance) the overall effect of the coming summer would be emptiness. As busy as it was, time always seemed strangely empty when Brian was away. In other years, every summer there was a wedge of well-filled time. But in July of this year, after only a week or two at home, Brian left for Germany. To learn the language. It was important. She knew she had to go; she really wanted to leave. Yet when it came time for him to leave, it was painful. She wished she could be truly selfish and keep him at home.

“Tomorrow at this time,” she said as Brian entered the room, “you'll be driving across London to Liverpool Street.

He nodded wordlessly, put his hand on her shoulder, leaned in and kissed her.

Mrs. Foxe looked at him and smiled. Then, forgetting for a moment that she had promised not to tell him of her feelings, "I fear this will be a sad empty summer," she said; and she immediately reproached herself for causing this look of despair on his face; she reproached herself, although she was partly glad that he was so responsible, so loving, so sensitively interested in her feelings. "Unless you fill them in with your own letters," she added as a warning. "You're going to write, aren't you?"

"C-c-c. . . N-of course I'll write.

Mrs. Foxe suggested a walk; or how about a little dog ride? Embarrassed, Brian looked at his watch.

"But I'm having lunch with the Th-Thursleys," he replied awkwardly. - It wouldn't be much t-t-t. . . plenty of free time” (how he just hated those ridiculous discussions!) “for driving”.

- How stupid of me! Mrs. Foxe exclaimed. "I completely forgot about your dinner." True, she forgot; and that sudden, fresh realization that she would have to be without him for hours on this last day was like a wound. She tried not to let any signs of the pain she felt appear on her face or in the sound of her voice. "But at least there will be time for a walk in the garden, right?"

They climbed through the French window and walked along the long green avenue between the grass beds. It was a sunless day, but warm, almost sultry. Under the gray sky, the flowers took on a glow that seemed almost unnatural. Still silent, they turned at the end of the alley and turned back.

"I'm glad it's Joan," said Mrs. Foxe at last; And I'm glad you care so much. Although, in a way, it's a shame you met her. Because I'm afraid it will be a very long time before you can get married.

Brian nodded wordlessly.

"It will be a trying time," she continued. 'Heavy; maybe not entirely happy. Anyway” (her voice vibrated touchingly) “I'm glad it happened, I'm glad,” she repeated. - Because I believe in love. She believed in it as the poor believe in a paradise of posthumous comfort and glory, because she had never known it. She respected her husband, admired him for his achievements, liked what was endearing about him, and motherly pitied him for his weaknesses. But there was no transforming passion in her, and his physical approach always bothered her, it was hard to bear. She never loved him. That is why her faith in the reality of love was so strong. Love had to exist in order to at least partially correct the unfavorable balance of her personal experiences. In addition, there were also the testimonies of poets; it was and was a wonderful, holy, revelation. "It is a special grace," she continued, "which God sent us to help us, to make us stronger and better, to free us from evil." It's easy to say no to the worst when you say yes to the best.

Take it easy, Brian thought in the silence that fell, even if you don't say yes to the best. It wasn't hard to resist the woman who had come and sat at their table at the Café-Concert when he and Anthony had studied French in Grenoble two years earlier.

"You look rather mean," she said to him in the first act; and to Anthony, "He must be terrible with women, huh?" She then suggested that they go home with her. “You both have a girlfriend. We'll have a good time. We'll show you the fun stuff. You who are so naughty - this will amuse you.

No, it certainly wasn't hard for him to resist, even though he had never seen Joan at that time. The real trials were not the worst, but the best. In Grenoble, she was the best in literature. Et son ventre, et ses seins, ces grapes de ma vigne. . . . Elle se coula à mon côté, m'appela des noms les plus tendres et des noms les plus effroyablement grossiers, qui glissaient sur ses lèvres en suaves purrs. Puis elle se tût et commencia à me donner ces baisers qu'elle savait. . . . The creations of the best stylists proved to be much more dangerously attractive, much more difficult to resist than the gloomy reality of Café-Koncertu. And now that he had said 'yes' to the best possible reality, the appeal to the worst was even less effective, no longer alluring. Such a temptation came again from the best. The low, vulgar, half-animal creature from the Café-Concert was unwelcome. But Joan was beautiful, Joan was sophisticated, Joan shared his interests, and for those very reasons she was desirable. Just because she was the best (and it was a paradox for him that it was so painful and dizzying to experience) he wanted her in the wrong way, physically. . . .

"Remember those lines from Meredith?" Miss Foxe broke the silence. Meredith was one of her favorite authors. "From the woods," she elaborated, gently shortening the song's title almost to a nickname. And she quoted:

"Love, a great volcano, flies

Fires of the lower earth to heaven.

Love is a kind of philosopher's stone, she continued. “It not only frees us; also transforms. Slag for gold. Earth to heaven.

Brian nodded his head. And yet, he thought, those voluptuous and impersonal bodies created by the stylists actually took on Joan's features. Despite the love, or maybe because of it, the succubi now had a name and a personality.

The clock in the barn struck twelve; and at the first stroke there was a noiseless explosion of pigeons, like snowflakes swirling in the thickened darkness of the elms in the distance.

"What a beauty!" said Mrs. Foxe with suppressed intensity.

But suppose, Brian thought suddenly, that she suddenly had no money? What if Joan is as poor as that poor woman in Grenoble, just as hopelessly bereft of alternative means?

Slowly the last bell rang and one by one the pigeons swirled back down to their tower above the clock.

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Foxe, "you should get going now if you want to be on time."

Brian knew how reluctantly his mother had let him go; and this show of generosity made him feel guilty, and with it (for he did not want to feel guilty) some resentment. "B-but it doesn't take me an hour," he said almost angrily, "to ride two miles on a bicycle."

A moment later, he was ashamed of the note of irritation in his voice, and the rest of the time he spent with her was more tender than usual.

At half past eleven he took his bicycle and rode to the Thursleys. The maid opened the nineteenth-century Gothic front door and he walked in to the faint smell of cooked cabbage pudding. As usual. The Vicarage always smelled of boiled pudding and cabbage. He found it was a symptom of poverty and as such gave him a sense of moral uneasiness, as if he had done something wrong and had a troubled conscience.

They led him into the living room. Acting like a very respectable old lady, Mrs. Thursley rose from her desk and went to meet him. "Ah, dear Brian! She called. Her professional Christian smile was pearly with the shine of false teeth. - I'm glad to see you! She took him and held his hand. "And your dear mother—how is she?" I'm sad because you're going to Germany, for sure. We are all saddened by this. You have an amazing gift for making people miss you," she continued in the same flattering tone as Brian blushed and writhed in agony of discomfort. Mrs. Thursley had a habit of saying nice things to people's faces, especially the rich, the powerful, the potentially useful. She would call it was a Christian habit that she was asked to explain. love your neighbor; see the good in everyone; create an atmosphere of sympathy and trust. But below the level of recognition, almost below the level of consciousness, she knew that most people are greedy for flattery, however outrageous it may be, and that they will pay for it one way or another.

"Ah, there's Joan!" she exclaimed, pausing in her praise, and adding in a tone full of joyful eloquence, "You won't want to talk to her dull old mother again, will you, Joanie?" ?

The two young men looked at each other with embarrassment that left them speechless.

The door suddenly opened and Mr. Thursley ran into the room. - Look at! he shouted in a voice shaking with anger and took out a glass inkwell. "How can you expect me to do my job with one-eighth of an inch of sediment? Diving, diving, diving all morning. Can never type more than two words at a time. . . ."

"Here's Brian, Dad," Joan said, hoping he knew in advance that he was vain, that the stranger's presence might shame him into silence.

With his pointed nose still white with rage, Mr. Thursley looked at Brian, shook his hand, and, turning away, at once resumed his angry complaint. - It's always like that in this house. How can you expect serious work from someone?

Oh God, Joan prayed softly, make him stop, make him shut up.

- As if he couldn't fill the pot by himself! Brian thought. - Why doesn't he tell him that?

But Mrs. Thursley could not say or even think such a thing. He had his sermons, articles in the Guardian, studies on Neoplatonism. How could you expect me to fill my own inkwell? It was obvious to her and to him, after twenty-five years of wickedly gifted and thoughtlessly accepted service, that he could not do such a thing. Besides, if she in any way hinted that he wasn't completely right, his rage would become even more violent. God knows what he couldn't do or say - in Brian's presence! That would be terrible. She began to justify the empty inkwell. Wicked apologies on behalf of her, on behalf of Joanna, on behalf of her servants. Her tone was both judgmental and reassuring; she spoke as if she was dealing with a mixture of Jehovah and a very wild dog that might bite at any moment.

The gong—the Thursleys had a gong that could be heard from one end of the Duke's mansion to the other—rang out with a thunderous fortissimo that silenced even the vicar. But when the sound died down, it started again.

"Not that I'm asking for much," he said.

He'll be calmer after he's eaten, thought Mrs. Thursley, and led him into the dining room, followed by Joan. Brian wanted the vicar in front of him; but even in his righteous anger Mr. Thursley remembered his good manners. Placing a hand on Brian's shoulder, he pushed him towards the door, all the while bombarding his wife from a distance.

"Just a bit of silence, just the simplest material conditions to do my job. The barest minimum. But I don't understand it. The house is as noisy as a railway station, and my inkstand is so neglected that I have nothing but black mud to write with.

Under the bombardment, Mrs. Thursley walked as if crouched and with her head down. Brian, however, noticed that Joan had stiffened; her body was stiff and flawless from excessive tension.

In the dining room they found two boys, Joan's younger brothers, already standing behind their chairs. Seeing them, Mr. Thursley turned from his inkstand towards the noise of the house. "Like a train station," he repeated, righteous anger burning within him with renewed vigor. “George and Arthur ran up and down the stairs and in the garden all morning. Why can't you sort them out?

Everyone was already in their places; Mrs. Thursley on one side of the table, her husband on the other; two boys on the left; Joan and Brian to her right. They stood there waiting for the pastor to say the prayer.

"Like hooligans," said Mr. Thursley; the flame of wrath flowed through it; it was filled with sensual warmth, terribly delicious. — Like savages.

With an effort, he lowered his long chin to his chest and remained silent. His nose was still deathly pale with anger; like sea animals in an aquarium, the nostrils contracted and expanded in regular but fluttering movements. He still held the inkwell in his right hand.

"Bless the blessed through Jesus Christ our Lord," he said at last in a prayerful voice, deep, suspiciously trembling and charged with transcendental meaning.

When the noise of muffled movement suddenly died away, they all sat down.

"Screaming and howling," said Mr. Thursley, changing from his pious tone to his original shrill rudeness. "How should I do my job?" Indignantly, he placed the inkstand on the table in front of him, then unfolded the napkin.

On the other side of the table, Mrs. Thursley was cutting an imitation duck with unusual speed.

"Take this to your father," she said to the nearest boy. It was important that he start eating as soon as possible.

A second or two later the maid handed Mr. Thursley the vegetables. Her apron and hat were starched, and she was dressed as a guard. The vegetable dishes were awful but expensive; the spoons were heavy Victorian silver. The pastor served them first with boiled potatoes, then with cabbage, crushed and shaped into moist green bricks.

Still indulging in the luxury of anger, "Women just don't understand what serious business is," Thursley continued; then he started eating.

Mrs. Thursley, helping others with their successful duck, ventured to say something. "Brian is on his way to Germany right now," she said.

Mr. Thursley looked up, chewing his food very quickly with his front teeth, like a rabbit. – Which part of Germany? he asked, giving Brian a sharp, inquisitorial look. His nose reddened back to its normal color.


"Where is the university?"

Brian nodded.

Strangely, Mr. Thursley burst out laughing with a sound like coke being poured down the drain. "Don't go out for a beer with the students," he said.

The storm has passed. Partly out of gratitude, partly to make her husband feel that his joke was irresistible, Mrs Thursley laughed too. "Oh no," she called. Don't take it personally!

Brian smiled and shook his head.

"Water or soda water?" - the maid asked confidentially, crackling with starch and whalebone as she bent over him.

"W-water please."

After dinner, when the vicar returned to his office, Mrs. Thursley suggested in her clever, unpleasantly significant tone that the two young people should go for a walk. The ogival front door slammed shut behind them. Like a prisoner finally freed, Joan took a deep breath.

The sky was still overcast, and beneath the low ceiling of gray clouds the air was soft and limp with fatigue, as if weary from the weight of too many summers. In the forest they turned off the main road, the silence was oppressive, like the deliberate silence of living beings burdened with unspoken thoughts and hidden feelings. The invisible creeper began to sing; but it was as if the clear, bright sound came from another time and place. They walked hand in hand; and between them was the silence of the forest, and at the same time the deeper, denser, more secretive silence of their own unspoken emotions. The silence of the grievances she was too devoted to utter, and the regret that it would have been insulting to him to express them in words if she had not complained; her longing for comfort in his arms and desires he didn't want to feel.

The path led them among great hiding places of rhododendrons, and suddenly they found themselves in a narrow ravine, surrounded by high walls of impenetrable black-green leaves. It was a solitude within a solitude, an image of their own silence clearly etched into the greater silence of the forest.

"Almost p-scary," he whispered as they stood there, listening—listening (for they had nothing else to hear) to their own heartbeats and the other's breathing and all the unspoken words that hung between them.

Suddenly she couldn't stand it anymore: "When I think about how it will be at home. . The complaint fell by itself, against her will. – Oh, too bad you're not going, Brian!

Brian looked at her, and at the sight of those quivering lips, those eyes that glistened with tears, he felt himself overcome with tenderness and pity. Stammering her name, he hugged her. Joan stood perfectly still for a moment, her head bowed, her forehead resting on his shoulder. The touch of her hair was electric on his lips, breathing in their scent. Suddenly, as if she woke up from a dream, she stirred and, moving a little away from him, looked into his face. Her gaze had a desperate, almost inhuman steadfastness.

"Honey," he whispered.

Joan's only response was a shake of her head.

But why? What was she denying, what implications of his tenderness was she denying? – But J-joan…. . There was concern in his voice.

She still didn't answer; she just looked at him and slowly shook her head again. How many contradictions are expressed in this one movement! Refusal to file a complaint; deny yourself the possibility of happiness; the sad insistence that all her love and all his love do nothing against the pain of absence; the decision not to take advantage of his pity, not to provoke, however much she wanted, another, more passionate confession. . . .

He suddenly took her face in his hands and, bending down, kissed her on the lips.

But that was what she chose not to force from him, it was a gesture that could do nothing against her impending misfortune! She froze in resistance for a second or two, tried to shake her head again, tried to move away. Then, overcome by a desire stronger than herself, she relaxed in his arms; closed, reluctant lips open and soft under his kisses; her eyelids closed and there was nothing left in the world but his mouth and his lean, hard body pressed against hers.

Fingers moved the hair at the nape of her neck, slid around her neck and fell to her chest. Her strength was leaving her, she felt herself sinking deeper and deeper into that mysterious other world, behind her eyelids, into the invisible universe of touch.

Then, without warning, as if suddenly obeying some silent command, he moved away from her. For a moment she thought she was going to fall; but the strength returned to her knees, just in time. She swayed unsteadily, then regained her balance, and with it the awareness of the insult he had caused her. She leaned on him with her whole body, soul and body, and he let her fall, pulled her mouth and arms and chest and left her suddenly cold and terribly exposed, helpless and as if naked. She opened her insulted, reproachful eyes, and saw him standing pale and strangely furtive; He met her gaze for a moment, then turned his face away.

Her feelings of anger gave way to anxiety. "What is it, Brian?"

He stared at her for a moment, then turned away again. "Maybe we'd better go home," he said quietly.

* * *

It was a late September day. Under the light blue sky the distances were mournful, wonderfully soft with a slight mist. The world seemed distant and unreal, like a memory or an ideal.

The train stopped. Brian waved to the lone porter, but he came out with the heaviest suitcase. By flexing his muscles, he found that he was able to relieve his conscience of some of the burden of purchasing the favors of the poor as he grew older.

A porter ran over and nearly grabbed Brian's bag. He had a conscience too. "Leave it to me, sir," he said, almost indignantly.

– T-two more in c-c-c. . . in,” he corrected him, long after the porter had entered the unspeakable compartment to collect the remaining pieces. - Help? he suggested. The man was old—forty years older than he was, Brian reckoned; gray and wrinkled, but addressed him as "Sir," but carried his bags, and would appreciate a shilling. "I should. . . ?

The old porter didn't even answer, just took the trunks off the shelf, obviously proud of his well-directed strength.

A touch on his shoulder made Brian turn sharply. The person who touched him was Joan.

— In the name of the king! she said; but the laugh behind her words was forced, and there was concern in her eyes—the cumulative concern of weeks of confused speculation. All the bizarre, unhappy letters he had written from Germany made her painfully unsure of what to think, how to feel, what to expect from him when he returned. It is true that in his letters he reproached only himself - with a ferocity whose intensity she could not explain. But as much as she was responsible for what happened in the forest (and of course she was partially responsible; why not? what's wrong with a simple kiss?), she felt that she was also being blamed. And if he reproached her, could he still love her? How did he really feel about her, about himself, about their relationship? Precisely because she simply could not unnecessarily wait even a minute for an answer, she secretly came to meet him at the station.

Brian stood speechless; he had not expected to see her so soon, and was almost terrified to find himself unprepared in her presence. He automatically held out his hand. Joan took him and pressed him into her, hard, hard, as if she hoped to force upon him the reality of her love; but even as she did so, she recoiled from him in fear, embarrassed by the uncertainty of what he might become, she drew back as she would before a stranger.

The grace of that timid, restless movement moved him as movingly as it had on their first meeting. It was the grace, despite the awkwardness of movement, of a young tree in the wind. That's what he thought then. And now it happened again; the beauty of that gesture was a revelation again, but more touching than the first time, because it implied that he was an alien again; but a stranger against whose renewed strangeness he protested by pressing his hand, almost violently.

Her face seemed to hesitate as she looked at him; and suddenly that artificial light went out in deep anguish.

"Aren't you glad to see me, Brian?" she asked.

Her words broke the spell; he could smile again, he could speak. "M-joy?" he repeated; and kissed her hand in response. "But I didn't think you'd be here." It almost scared me.

His expression soothed her. In those first seconds of silence, his motionless, petrified face seemed like the face of an enemy. Now, with that smile, he was transformed, back into the old Brian she loved; so sensitive, so kind and good; and so beautiful in her goodness, beautiful in spite of that long, unusual face, that thin body, those drooping, untidy limbs.

The train rumbled, sped up and left. The old porter went to get the cart. They were alone at the end of a long platform.

"I thought you didn't love me," she said after a long silence.

- But, J-joan! he rebelled. They smiled at each other; he looked away after a moment. Don't love her? he thought. But the problem was that he loved her too much, he loved her in the wrong way even though she was the best.

"I thought you were mad at me."

"But why should I be?" His face was still turned away.

'You know why.'

“I wasn't mad at you.

"But that was my fault."

Brian shook his head. "It's not."

"It was," she insisted.

Thinking about how he felt holding her in the dark crevice between the sheltering rhododendrons, he shook his head a second time, more decisively.

The old porter was there again with his cart and commentary on the weather, news clippings and gossip. They followed him, playing supporting roles in local dramas for his benefit.

When they were almost to the door, Joan put her hand on Brian's shoulder. "Everything is fine, isn't it?" Their eyes met. "May I be happy?"

He smiled wordlessly and nodded.

In the carriage on the way home, he could still remember the sudden lightening of her face in response to that soundless gesture of his. And all he could do to repay her for so much love was... . He thought again of the rhododendron shelters and was overcome with shame.

When she learned from Brian that Joan had been at the station, Mrs. Foxe felt a sharp pang of anger. With what right? In front of his own mother. . . And besides, what bad faith! Joan accepted her invitation to lunch the day after Brian's return. Which meant that Mrs. Foxe tacitly gave him the exclusive rights that very day. But here she was, sneaking into the station to catch him as he got off the train. It was almost unfair.

Mrs. Foxe's passionate jealousy lasted but a few seconds; his very intensity made her recognize his wrongness, his unworthiness. There was no sign of what she was feeling on her face, and she listened to Brian's vague stuttering account of the meeting with an indulgent smile. Then, with a strong effort of will, she not only excluded the expression of her emotions, but even excluded the emotion itself from her consciousness. All this seemingly impersonal consideration of doing the right thing gave her an excuse for still feeling it, a certain regretful disapproval of Joanna—how should I put it? - dishonesty. Having her girlfriend steal her march wasn't quite right.

Not exactly; but still very understandable, she thought now, very forgivable. When someone is in love. . . And Joan was an impulsive, emotional character. There is a bright side to this, thought Mrs Foxe. The urges were as strong for good as for evil. If we could direct that deep and strong current of life in her, if we could rightly appeal to the best in her, if we could reaffirm her in her beautiful, generous aspirations, she would be a wonderful person. Great, Mrs. Foxe persisted silently.

"Well," she said the next day when Joan came to lunch, "I heard you caught our migrant on the wing before he could settle down." The tone was playful, a charming smile appeared on Mrs. Fox's face. But Joan blushed with guilt.

"You didn't mind, did you?" she asked.

- Do you think? repeated Mrs. Foxe. "But, my dear, why should I do that?" I thought we just agreed today. But of course, if you feel that you absolutely cannot wait. . ".

"I'm sorry," Joanna said. But something that was almost hatred was growing in her.

Mrs. Foxe gently laid her hand on the girl's shoulder. "Let's go for a walk in the garden," she suggested, "and see if Brian is around."

The twentieth chapter. December 8, 1926

Tiptoeing out of the back parlor, Hugh Ledwidge hoped to find refreshment in a little solitude; but on landing he was caught by Joyce and Colin. Colin seemed very interested in the natives and always wanted to talk to a professional ethnologist about his shikar experience. He had to listen for almost half an hour as the young man spouted his illiterate nonsense about India and Uganda. He was overcome with great fatigue. His only desire was to escape, to escape from this parrot chatter, to return to the wonderful silence and the book.

They left him, thank God, at last, and taking a deep breath, he prepared for the last ordeal of parting. This goodbye at the end of the evening was one of the things Hugh disliked the most. To have to strip naked again, to be forced, tired and thirsty for solitude, to smile again, to chatter, and to make another attempt at hypocrisy - how disgusting it can be! Especially with Mary Amberley. There were nights when your wife simply wouldn't let you say goodbye, instead desperately clinging to you as if she were drowning. Questions, confessions, crude discussions about human romance - all to keep you a few minutes longer. He seemed to regard each subsequent departure of the visitor as the death of a part of his own being. His heart sank as he walked across the room towards her. — Damned woman! he thought and hated her sincerely; he hated her, and for all other reasons, because Helena was still dancing with the bridegroom; and now with a fresh surge of hostility for, he suddenly saw through the haze of his blurred vision, Staithes and that Beavis were sitting with her. All his crazy conspiratorial thoughts came back to him. They talked about him, about him and the fire escape, about him on the football field, about him when they threw their slippers over the partition of his cabin. For a moment he thought of turning around and sneaking out of the house without saying a word. But they saw him coming, they will suspect the reason for his escape, they will laugh even louder. His sanity returned, it was all nonsense, there was no plot. How can there be a conspiracy? Even if Beavis remembered, what reason did he have for talking? But anyway, whatever. . . Straightening his narrow shoulders, Hugh Ledwidge strode decisively towards the expected ambush.

Much to his relief, Mary Amberley let him go almost without protest. "Do you have to go now, Hugh?" As soon as possible? That's all. She seemed absent-minded, thinking about something else.

Beppo hissed politely; Staithes only nodded; And now it's Beavis' turn. Was that smile of his what it seemed - just vague and usually friendly? Or did it have a hidden meaning, secretly implying a mocking reminder of past shames? Hugh turned and hurried away. Why the hell does anyone even go to these idiotic parties, he wondered? He continued, moreover, over and over when you knew it was all completely pointless and boring. . . .

Mark Staithes turned to Anthony. "Do you realize who that is?" - He asked.

'Who? Ledwidge? Is he someone special?

Staithes explained.

- Glasses! Anthony laughed. "Why, of course. Poor Goggler! How mean we were to him!

"That's why I always pretended I didn't know who he was," said Staithes, and smiled an anatomical smile of pity and contempt. "I think it would be merciful," he added, "if you would do the same." He really enjoyed protecting Hugh Ledwidge.

Totally pointless and boring - yes, and humiliating, thought Hugh, humiliating too. Because there was always some humiliation. Smiling Beavis; Gerry Watchett, as the cheeky groom. . .

Footsteps pounded on the stairs behind him. "Hugh! Hugh! He shuddered almost guiltily and turned. "Why did you sneak away without saying goodbye to me?

Cracking a joke, "You looked so busy," he began, winking at Helen through his glasses; then he fell silent in sudden astonishment, almost in fear.

She stood there, three paces above him, with one hand on the railing, the fingers of the other spread on the opposite wall, leaning forward as if on the verge of escape. But what happened to her, what a miracle? The flushed face that hovered over him seemed to glow with an inner light. It was not Helena, but some supernatural being. In the presence of such an unearthly beauty, he blushed at the shameful insignificance of his playfulness, his telling look.

- Occupied? - she echoed. 'But I was just dancing.' And it seemed as if some naive and ignorant Moses had said to his bewildered Israelites: 'I have spoken only to Jehovah.' 'You had no excuse,' she continued. And then quickly, as if suddenly, a new and interesting idea came to her mind: "Perhaps you were angry with me for some reason?", she added in a different tone.

He started shaking his head; but when I thought about it, I felt prompted to try to explain a little. "Not a cross," he pointed out, "just . . . just a little unsociable.

The light behind her face seemed to jump in a trembling burst of more intense flame. Antisocial! It was really great fun! The dance made her perfect, turned the earth into heaven. The thought that it was possible to be (funny word!) unsociable, to feel anything but overflowing love for everyone and everything, she could only laugh.

"You're funny, Hugh!"

- I'm glad you think so. His tone was offended. He turned his head.

The silk of her dress rustled sharply; a light whiff of perfume was cold on his cheek—and she was only a step above him, very close. "You're not offended because I said you're funny?" she asked.

He looked up again to find her face level with his own. Reassured by this expression of genuine concern, he shook his head.

"I didn't want to be funny in a horrible way," she explained. 'I think . . . you know: pretty funny. Funny, but nice.

In threatening personal circumstances, timely stupidity is a sure defense. Smiling, Hugh raised his right hand to his heart. "Je suis pénétré de reconnaissance", he wanted to say in gratitude for this "sweetheart". A court joke, a feigned heroic gesture, was his immediate and automatic response to her words. "Je suis pénétré. . ".

But Helena didn't give him time to hide behind his dix-huitième trick. Because she finished her words by placing both hands on his shoulders and kissing him on the lips.

For a moment he was almost destroyed by surprise and embarrassment and a kind of suffocating chaotic joy.

Helen stepped back a little and looked at him. He was very pale, he looked as if he had seen a ghost. She smiled—he was funnier than ever—then leaned in and kissed him again.

The first time she kissed him, it was because of the fullness of life that was in her, because she was perfected in a perfect world. But his horrified face was so absurdly comic that the sight of him somehow turned the fullness of a perfect life into a kind of mischievous licentiousness. The second time she kissed him, it was for fun; for fun and curiosity at the same time. It was an experiment carried out in the spirit of hilarious scientific research. It was vivisection—licensed by excellence, justified by luck. Besides, Hugh had a particularly beautiful mouth. She had never kissed such full, soft lips before; the experience was surprisingly pleasant. She didn't just want to scientifically see what this absurd creature would do next; she also wanted to feel that cool spring on her lips again, to experience that strange creeping pleasure that tingled in her mouth and darted quickly and almost unbearably, like butterflies, over the surface of her body.

"You were so cute that you worked so hard," she said to justify a second kiss. The moths crawled again, deliciously, landing with an electric flutter of vibrating wings on her chest. "All this fuss about my education.

But "Helen!" was all he could whisper; and before he could think, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.

His mouth for the third time; and those moths that run across the skin. . . But, oh, how quickly he retreated!

- Helena! he repeated.

They looked at each other; and now that he had time to think, Hugh was suddenly terribly ashamed. His hands stealthily slipped from her body. He didn't know what to say to her - or rather, he knew, but he couldn't bring himself to say it. His heart was beating painfully fast. "I love you, I want you," he cried, definitely shouting behind the embarrassed silence. But there were no words. He gave her a rather stupid smile and lowered his eyes—eyes, he thought now, that must look hideous like fish eyes through the thick lenses of his glasses.

How funny he is, thought Helen. But her scientific laughter died down. His shyness was contagious. To put an end to this unpleasant situation, "I'm going to read all these books," she said. "And that reminds me you have to give me the list."

Thanking her for giving him something to talk about, he looked at her again—just for a moment, because of those frozen fish eyes. "I'll fill in the blanks and send it to you," he said. Then after a second or two he realized that in his improvisation he had exhausted the precious impersonal subject of the books in one sentence. An uneasy silence continued; and at last, desperate because he had nothing else to say, he decided to say good night. Trying to fill his voice with the endless meaning of love, "Good night, Helen," he said. The words had to be as eloquent as the entire speech. But will they hear the eloquence, will they understand the depth of meaning hidden in it? He leaned down and kissed her again, quickly, very lightly, a respectful kiss.

But he didn't care about Helen. The shame that had temporarily overshadowed her mindless perfection vanished at the touch of his lips; again it was vivisection that laughed.

"Kiss me again, Hugh," she said. And when he obeyed, she did not let him go; but he kept his lips pressed against hers, second by second. . .

The din of voices and music suddenly grew louder; someone opened the door to the living room.

"Good night, Hugh," she whispered into his mouth; then she loosened her grip and ran up the stairs two at a time.

* * *

Watching her as she ran out of the room to say goodbye to old Ledwidge, Gerry smiled with satisfaction. blushing on the face; with shining eyes. It's like drinking a bottle of champagne. Absolutely delighted with the dance. It was funny when they lost their heads like that; he lost them so enthusiastically, so mercilessly, so completely. Not hiding anything, but throwing everything out the window, so to speak. Most girls were so damn greedy and calculating. They would only lose half their heads and carefully keep the other half for playing with the indignant maiden. Evil little dogs! But with Helen, you felt the engine go out. She hit the gas and didn't care what was in her way. He loved such things, and not only because he hoped to cash in on the loss of his head, but also selflessly because he couldn't help but admire the people who let it go and didn't care about the consequences. There was something beautiful, generous and inspiring about such people. He was like that when he could afford it. Balls: that's what she had. And because of his temper, he thought with inward satisfaction when a touch on the shoulder from behind made him start suddenly. His surprise turned to anger almost immediately. There was nothing he hated more than surprise, confusion. He turned and, seeing that the person touching him was Mary Amberley, tried to fix his expression. in vain; hard, resentful eyes hid his smile.

But Mary was too furious to notice the signs of his annoyance. "I want to talk to you, Gerry," she said in a low voice, trying to remain calm and emotionless, but he was shaking despite her best efforts.

"Christ!" - he thought; "stage" and I felt even more furious with this annoying woman. "Speak," he said aloud; and with an insulting expression on his face took out the snuff box, opened it and handed it over.

"Not here," she said.

Gerry pretended not to understand her. 'I'm sorry. I thought you didn't mind people smoking here.

- Fool! Her anger flared with sudden violence. Then, grabbing his sleeve, "Come on!" she commanded him and almost dragged him to the door.

Running up the stairs, Helen saw her mother and Gerry climbing from the living room to the upper floors of the tall house. I'll have to find someone else to dance with, she only thought; and a moment later she found little Peter Quinn and flew off to heaven again.

Let's talk about swimmers! Anthony said as their housekeeper left the room with Gerry Watchett. “I didn't know Gerry was a current official. . . ".

Bepo nodded. - Poor Mary! he sighed.

“On the contrary,” said Staithes, “rich Mary! She will be poor later.

"And there's nothing you can do about it?" Anthony asked.

"She would hate you if you tried."

Antony shook her head. "Those dreary compulsions! Like cowards in August. Like deer in October.

"She was showing signs of coercion towards me," Staithes said. “Right after I met her for the first time, it was. But I quickly healed her. And then that scoundrel Watchett appeared.

"Fascinating how these aristocrats can behave!" There was scientific enthusiasm in Anthony's tone.

Staithe's skinned face twisted into a grimace of disdain. "Just a vulgar, vulgar gangster," he said. "I just can't imagine how you ever put up with him at Oxford." Actually, of course, he was busy imagining that Anthony had done it out of pure wickedness.

"Just snobbery," Anthony said, taking away the other half of the pleasure of the easy admission. “But then I insist that people like Gerry are an essential part of any liberal education. When he was rich, there was something really great about him. A certain detached and selfless recklessness. Now. . He raised his hand and lowered it again. "Just a gangster - you're right. But that's what's fascinating - the ease with which aristocrats turn into gangsters. Very understandable if you think about it. Here, man is raised in the belief that he has a divine right to all the best. And while it has its own laws, everything is noble duty, honorable and everything else. Inextricably mixed with insolence, of course; but really there. Now take his income; the strangest things can happen. Providence wanted you to have the best of everything; therefore he wished you to have the means of getting the best of everything; therefore, when the funds do not come to you legally, it is justified that you obtained them illegally. In the past, our Gerry may have gone after banditry or simony. He would have been an admirable condottiere, an almost perfect cardinal. But now the church and the army are too respectable, too professional. There is no place for amateurs in them. An impoverished nobleman is forced to go to work. Car sale. Advertising stocks and shares. Promotion of dubious companies. Accompanied, of course, if he is handsome, by reasonable prostitution of his body. If they are lucky enough to be born with the gift of speech, they can live off decent forms of blackmail and flattery - like gossip. Noblesse obliges; but also poverty. And when both pledge at the same time - well, we middle-class people better start counting the silver. instead of which. . He spread his arms. – Poor Mary!

* * *

Upstairs in the bedroom Maria's reproaches and insults flowed constantly. Gerry didn't even look at her. Turning, he seemed to be absorbed in the thought of Pascino, who was hanging over the fireplace. The picture shows two women lying on a bed, in a wide view, naked.

"I like this picture," he said with deliberate insignificance when Mrs. Amberley paused to catch her breath. “You can see that the man who painted this had just finished making love to these girls. Both. At the same time he added.

Mary Amberley grew very pale; her lips trembled, her nostrils flared as if they were leading an uncontrollable life of their own.

"You didn't even listen to me," she cried. - Oh, you're awful, you're awful! The stream began to flow again, more violently than ever.

Still with his back to her, Gerry continued to watch Pascino's actions; finally, blowing out the last puff of tobacco smoke, he threw the cigarette into the fireplace and turned away.

"When you're done," he said wearily, "we could go to bed." And after a short pause, when she, unable to speak, looked furiously in his face: you really are, he added and, smiling ironically, walked across the room towards her. When he was quite close to her, he stopped and held out his hands invitingly. They were large hands, impeccably groomed, but rough, callous, brutal. Disgusting hands, thought Mary looking at them, disgusting hands! Even more disgusting now that their ugliness and brutality had first attracted her, even now, shamefully for all the reasons she hated him. - So aren't you going? he asked in the same boring, mocking tone.

In response, she slapped his face. But he was too quick for her, he caught a flying hand in the air, and when she tried to bring the other one into play, it caught her too. She was helpless in his embrace.

Still smiling at her, he wordlessly pushed her back, step by step, towards the bed.

"Beast!" she repeated "Beast!" and she struggled in vain, finding vague satisfaction in her impotence. He pushed her to the end of the low sofa, further and further, inexorably, until she lost her balance and fell on the bedspread - (she fell, and he, with one knee on the edge of the bed, bent over her, still smiling the same sneer ). "Beast, Beast!" But the truth was, she secretly admitted to herself—and her consciousness reveled in its shame—that she really wanted to be treated as he had treated her—as a prostitute, as an animal; moreover, all the guests were waiting for her in her own house, the door was open, and her daughters were wondering where she was, maybe at that very moment she was climbing the stairs to look for her. Yes, she really wanted it. Still struggling, she surrendered to the realization, to a direct physical intuition, that this unbearable degradation is the fulfillment of an old desire, that the revelation is both wonderful and terrible, that the Apocalypse, the Apocalypse and the angel and the beast, the plague, the lamb and the whore are rolled into one divine, a disgusting, overwhelming experience. . . .

* * *

“Civilization and sexuality,” said Anthony, “there's a clear correlation. The higher it is, the more intense the second one is.

'Upon my word,' said Beppo, hissing with delight, 'we must be civilized!

“Civilization means food and literature everywhere. Steaks and steaks for everyone. First-rate proteins for the body, fourth-rate love stories for the spirit. And that in a safe urban world where there is no risk, no physical fatigue. For example, you can live in such a city for years without realizing that there is such a thing as nature. Everything is man-made, accurate and convenient. But people can have too much comfort; they want excitement, they want risk and surprises. Where will they find them under our dispensation? In making money, in politics, in occasional wars, in sports and finally in sex. But most people cannot be speculators or active politicians; and war becomes too good a thing; and more sophisticated and dangerous sports are only for the rich. So this sex is all that's left. With the development of material civilization, sexuality also grows in intensity and importance. It must appear, inevitably. And because at the same time food and literature increased the amount of available appetite. . He spread his arms. — So you see!

Beppo was delighted. "You explain everything," he called. "Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner." He was glad that Anthony's argument was not just forgiveness, but complete indulgence—for everyone (for Beppo unselfishly wanted everyone to be as happy as he was) and for everyone, everything from the excitable bartenders of Toulon to those tartlets in high shoes (so definitely not for him) on the Kurfürstendamm.

Staithes said nothing. If social progress, he thought, simply meant more mud for more people, then why—then what?

"Remember that remark Dr. Johnson made?" Anthony began again, a note of elation in his voice. There came to him a sudden, unexpected gift of his memory to his discursive reason—it came to enrich his pattern of thought, complete his argument, and widen its scope. His voice reflected the sudden triumphant satisfaction he felt. 'How was it? "A man is seldom so innocently employed as when he earns." Something like that. Excellent! He laughed out loud. "The innocence of those who crush the faces of the poor, but refrain from pinching the asses of their neighbors' wives! Ford's innocence, Rockefeller's innocence! The nineteenth century was an age of innocence—that kind of innocence. As a result, we are now almost ready to say that a man is rarely more innocently engaged than during intercourse.

There was silence. Staithes looked at his watch. "You had to leave here the first time," he said. "But the problem," he added, turning in his chair to look around the room, "is the housekeeper."

They got up and while Beppo hurried to greet a couple of young friends across the room, Staithes and Anthony headed for the door.

"The problem," Staithes repeated, "the problem… ".

However, on the landing they met Mrs. Amberley and Gerry coming down the stairs.

(Video) Aldous Huxley Revealing the Agenda - 1963

"We've been looking for you," Anthony said. - To say good night.

- As soon as possible? exclaimed Mary, with a sudden burst of anxiety.

But they were firm. A few minutes later the three of them, Staithes, Gerry Watchett and Anthony, were walking down the street together.

Gerry broke the silence. "Those old hags," he said in a tone of brooding indignation and shook his head. Then happily. How about a game of poker? he suggested. But Anthony didn't know how, and Mark Staithes didn't feel like playing poker; he had to go on his own in search of more pleasant company.

"Good night," Mark said. "How about you come to my rooms for an hour?"

* * *

It was the most important thing that Hugh Ledwidge felt as he walked home, the most important thing, and also the strangest, most amazing thing that had ever happened to him. So beautiful, so young. "So slim" (If only she had thrown herself into the Thames and he had saved her! "Helen! My poor child!" And "Hugh!" she would murmur gratefully. "Hugh...") But even without suicide, it was enough astonishing. Her lips against his. Oh, why didn't he show more courage, more composure? All the things he could have said to her, the gestures he should have made! And yet, in a way, it was better that he acted that way - stupid, timid, unskilled. Better, because it showed more clearly that she cared about him; for it added more value to her act, so young, so pure—and yet spontaneously, without his compulsion, in fact almost against his resistance, she yielded, put her hands on his shoulders, kissed him. Kiss him all the same, he said to himself, with a certain astonished triumph which strangely mingled with his sense of shame, his sense of weakness and futility; in spite of everything. Non più andraï, he hummed to himself as he walked; then, as if the wet London night were a spring morning, it burst into unmistakable song.

Beauties that disturb rest,

Narcissetto, Adoncino d'amor. . . .

At home, he immediately sat down at his desk and started writing to her.

Helen, Helen. . . . If I repeat the syllables too often, they lose their meaning, become just noise in my quiet room - terrifying in their meaninglessness. But if I say this name only two or three times, very quietly, how rich it becomes, how full it becomes! Full of echoes and reminders. Not so much for me, from the original Greek Helen. I do not feel that she was ever anything but a mature woman—never anything but the wife of Menelaus and the elopement with Paris. Never quite as young as you - perfect, wonderful, like a flower. No, it's more Helena Poe, whom I recognize by name. The beauty that takes the traveler back to his native coast - takes him home. Not to the obvious, mundane house of passion. NOT; that further, rarer, more beautiful home, behind and above them. beyond and above; and yet it implies, but contains, even transcends, the passions. . .

It was a long letter; but he arrived on time because he was running to catch the midnight post. The sense of triumph with which he returned for the second time was almost undiminished. For a moment he forgot his timidity, his humiliating cowardice; all she remembered was the consciousness of a sublime power filling him as he wrote the letter. Exalted above mediocrity, he forgot to put a grate in the dresser when he undressed so that Mrs. Brinton wouldn't see it when she came with his early morning tea. For a long time he lay in bed, thinking tenderly, fatherly, poetically, thinking at the same time with longing, but with a desire so obstinately gentle that lewdness took on the quality of prayer, thinking of Helen's glorious youth, so slender, and her innocence, her slender innocence and those unexpected, those unusual kisses.

Chapter twenty one. August 31, 1933

HELEN CALLED, then listened. Nothing moved in the silence behind the closed door. She had come straight from the station after a night on the train; it was not yet ten o'clock; her mother was still sleeping. She called again; then, after a break, again. She slept soundly - if she didn't stay up all night, of course. Where? And with whom? Thinking of that horrible Russian she had met in her mother's apartment the last time she was in Paris, Helen frowned. She called the fourth, fifth time. Suddenly, some movement was heard from the apartment. Helen sighed, partly relieved that her mother was just sleeping, partly dreading what the coming minutes or hours would bring. The door finally opened, into a half-darkness that smelled of cats and ether and stale food; and there, in dirty pink pajamas, her orange-dyed hair tousled, still blinking, still unusually swollen from sleep, stood her mother. For a moment the face was a mask, swollen and middle-aged, stunned incomprehension; then in the twinkling of an eye he revived, almost returned to his youth, with a sudden smile of genuine delight.

"What fun!" exclaimed Mrs. Amberley. "Honey, I'm so glad."

If she didn't know - what a bitter experience! - that this mood of joy and tenderness would inevitably be followed by malignant despondency at best, a fit of insanely violent rage at worst, Helena would be touched by her mother's warm welcome. As it happened, she just let the kisses and stony faces walk through the door into the horribly familiar nightmare of her mother's life.

She discovered that this time the nightmare had a comedic element.

"It's all because of that beastly old femme de ménage," Mrs. Amberley explained as they stood in the small, smelly hallway. "She stole my socks. When I left, I had to close the bedroom door. And then somehow I lost the key. You know who I am," she added with satisfaction, bragging about the habit of absent-mindedness she had always been so proud of. - I'm afraid it's hopeless. She shook her head and smiled that crooked, conspiratorial smile of hers. – When I came home, I had to break this record. She pointed to the oblong hole in the lower half of the neck. "You should have seen me hit the iron!" Her voice vibrated with laughter. "Fortunately, it was like matches. Cheap and nasty to an extent. Like everything in this haunted place.

"You crawled too?" Helen asked.

"Oh yeah." And, on all fours, Mrs. Amberley stuck her head through the hole, turned on her side to let her arm and shoulder in, and with surprising agility pulled and pushed, extending her hand and foot this side of the door until only her feet remained in the hall. .First one, then the other, the legs withdrew, and a moment later, as if from a kennel, Mrs. Amberley's slightly ruddy face appeared through the opening.

"You see," she said. "It's as simple as the blink of an eye. And the best thing about it is that old Madame Roger is way too fat. There's no way it's going to pass. I don't have to worry about my socks anymore.

"You mean she never comes into your bedroom?"

Mrs. Amberley shook her head. – Not since I lost the key; and that was at least three weeks ago. Her tone was triumphant.

"But who makes the bed and cleans?"

'Alright . . A moment of hesitation followed. - Of course it is - he answered a little annoyed.


- Why not? Mrs. Amberley looked from the kennel door at her daughter's almost defiant face. A long silence followed; then they both burst out laughing at the same time.

Still smiling, "Let's see," Helen said and got down on all fours. The stony face brightened; she felt an inner warmth. Her mother was so funny as she watched from the kennel, so childishly funny, that suddenly she could love her again. That he loved her when she laughed at her, just because she could laugh at her.

Mrs. Amberley drew back her head. "Of course it's a bit of a mess in here," she admitted uneasily as Helen slipped through the hole in the door. Still kneeling, she stuffed some dirty sheets and leftovers from yesterday's dinner under the bed.

Standing up again in the bedroom, Helen looked around. It was even dirtier than she expected—much dirtier. She tried to keep smiling; but the muscles in her face refused to obey.

* * *

Three days later Helen was returning to London. Opening the English newspaper she bought at the Gare du Nord, she read with equal disinterest about the crisis, the test match, the Nazis, the New Deal. Sighing, she turned the page. The words "Outstanding first novel" in very large letters caught her eye. And below, in small letters, "Invisible Lover". Author: Hugh Ledwidge. He reviewed Catesby Rudge.” Helen folded the page for ease of reference and read with intense and steady concentration.

Just another book, I thought, like all the others. I was just about to throw it away unread. But, fortunately, something - some mystical intuition, I guess - made me change my mind. I opened the book. I turned the pages, glancing at a sentence here and there. And the sentences, I discovered, were jewels—hammered crystal jewels. I decided to read the book. It was at nine o'clock in the evening. Even at midnight I was still reading, enraptured. It was nearly two hours before I went to bed, my mind swirling with enthusiasm for the masterpiece I had just read.

How can I describe the book? I can call it a fantasy. And for that matter, that description is a good one. The Invisible Lover is fiction. But a fantasy that is both touching and breezy; deep, intriguing and light; full of tears and smiles; at once subtly witty and high on Galahad spirituality. It's full of a kind of heartbreaking fun, and its laughter is wet with tears. And through him flows a breath of naive and childlike purity, endlessly refreshing in a world full of Freud, sexual novelists and all their tiresome ilk. This fantasy of an invisible but ever-present, ever-watchful, ever-adored lover and his beloved child has an almost heavenly innocence about it. If I had to describe the book in one sentence, I would say that it is the story of Dante and Beatrice told by Hans Andersen. . . .

Intruding on her memories of Hugh's several shameful attempts to make love to her, the words set off something like a violent chemical reaction in Helen's mind. She burst out laughing; and as the meaningless phrases echoed, as the grotesque memories rose to the surface with increasing intensity and fuller and fuller, painfully miserable details, the laughter continued without interruption. The story of Dante and Beatrice told by Hans Andersen! Tears of hysterical joy streamed down her cheeks; She was out of breath, and the muscles in her throat clenched into a kind of painful spasm. But she laughed still—she could not stop; as if possessed by a demon. Fortunately, she was alone in the compartment. People would think she was crazy.

In the taxi, on the way to Hugh's flat - hers too, despite Dante, Beatrice and Hans Andersen - she wondered if he'd gone to bed yet and how upset he'd be when he saw her. She did not warn him of her arrival; he would be unprepared for her, unprepared for the shock of her apparently physical presence. Poor old Hugh! she thought with mock sympathy. Enjoy a private and invisible party like Dante with your phantom, then you have to withstand the trampling invasion of Signore Alighieri! But tonight, when she finally reached the door of her apartment and realized that she was looking in her purse for the key to the lock, his invisible solitude had already been violated. Someone was playing the piano; laughter and voices were heard. Hugh has to throw a party. And suddenly Helena saw him enter dramatically like Banquo's ghost and was thrilled at the vision. Reading this article, for a moment, her whole being changed into a tone of laughter. It was all a huge, extravagant, wild joke - and if it wasn't already, it should be. With a tingle of excited anticipation, she opened the door and slipped silently into the hallway. A variety of strange hats hung on pegs, lay on chairs—she noticed that some were rich hats, very new and shaped, and others misshapen and old; you could see the hats of the intellectual poor. Several letters lay on the marble table; out of habit she stooped to look at them, and found that one was addressed to her—from Anthony, she recognized; and that was a joke too. Did he really imagine reading his letters? huge ass! She put the unopened envelope in her bag, then tiptoed down the hall to her room. What a turn it was! How dead! Like a family treasure under the sheets. She took off her coat and hat, washed herself, combed her hair, put on her make-up, then, quietly as she had come, crept back into the hall and stood at the door of the parlor, trying to guess the sound of their voices, who were guests. Beppo Bowles, for example; that chuckling, that screeching and hissing, were unmistakable. And Mark Staithes. And then a voice she wasn't sure of, and another very quiet and confiding one that must have belonged to old Croyland. And who was that funny stranger who spoke so slowly and languidly, all in one note? She stood at the door for a long minute, then very gently turned the handle, opened the door and quietly entered the room. No one noticed her. Mark Staithes sat at the piano with Beppo, Beppo fatter than ever, she noticed, balding and more nervous, and yes, bearded and all! of old Croyland, standing on either side of him, leaning on the instrument and looking down at him as he spoke. Hugh was sitting on the sofa by the fireplace with the owner of a voice she didn't recognize, but who turned out to be Caldwell, the publisher—the publisher of The Invisible Lover, of course, she thought, and had great difficulty. in preventing another tide of merriment. With them was a young man whom she had never seen before, a young man with very fair, brown hair and a ruddy, open face, which at that moment had an expression of almost childlike seriousness. It was obvious he had a foreign accent—German, she guessed.

But now the moment has come.

"Good evening," she called and stepped forward.

Everyone was surprised; but as for poor Hugh, he jumped as if a cannon had shot his ear. And after the first fear, what an expression of fear! Irresistibly comical!

"Well, Hugh," she said.

He looked at her smiling face, unable to speak. Ever since the first praises of his book began to appear, he had felt so strong, so blissfully secure. And there was Helena - she came to humiliate him, she came to testify against him shamefully.

"I didn't expect that," he managed to mumble indistinctly. "I mean, why did you do that?" . . ?

But Caldwell, who had a reputation for talking after dinner to keep up, cut him off. Raising the glass he was holding, "For the muse," he cried. "The muse, and also—I don't think it's an indiscretion, if I may say so—and the heroine of our masterpiece." Charmed by the accuracy of his own expression, he smiled at Helen; then, addressing Hugh with the gesture of a gentle owner, patted him on the shoulder. “You have to drink too, man. That's not a compliment to you - not this time. And he laughed out loud.

Hugh did as he was told and, looking away, took a swig of whiskey and soda.

- Thank you, thank you - cried Helena. Laughter boiled in her like water in a cauldron. She offered one hand to Caldwell and the other to Hugh. "I can't describe how thrilled I was," she continued. "Dante and Beatrice by Hans Andersen - that sounds too delicious."

A flushed Hugh tried to protest. “This terrible article. . ".

Cutting him off, "But why did you keep that up your sleeve?" she asked.

Yes, why, why? Hugh thought; and that he was crazy to publish the book without first showing it to Helen. He had always wanted to show her this - and had always found the task too difficult, too awkward, at the last minute. But the desire to publish remained with him, growing stronger, until finally, senselessly, he took the manuscript to Caldwell, and, having accepted it, agreed with him to publish it while Helen was out of the country. As if that would stop her from learning anything about it! Madness, madness! And the proof that he was crazy was her presence tonight, with that strange, wild smile on her face, that sparkle in her eyes. Uncalculating frivolity was one of the most characteristic and endearing qualities of the beloved child; she was heaven's enfant terrible. But in the real Helena this recklessness seemed almost diabolical. She was capable of everything, absolutely everything.

- Why did you do that? she insisted.

He made a vague apologetic sound.

“You should have told me your name is Dante Andersen. I would try to match you. Beatrice and the match girl in one. Good evening, Bepo! and Marek!' They came from the piano to greet her. "And Mr. Croyland, how are you?"

Mr. Croyland was perfect as the elderly gentleman who greets the lovely young woman - kindly but with a hint of playfulness, a muted echo of gallantry.

"What an unexpected spell," he whispered in the low, deliberately ecstatic voice he usually reserved for describing quattrocento paintings or addressing the famous or the very rich. Then, with a gesture that beautifully expressed an impulsive outpouring of love, Mr. Croyland pressed her hand between his. They were very pale, soft hands, almost eerily small and delicate. By comparison, Helen's brown hand resembled that of a peasant. Mr. Croyland's silvery and prophetic chin opened in a smile which should have been a kindly confirmation of his words and gestures, but which, in its mismatched width and the sudden ferocity of all his large and yellowed teeth, seemed to deny all reality. refined manners of an old gentleman. That smile belonged to Mr. Croyland, who traded in old masters at such a profit; the little white hands and their gentle gestures, the soft, ecstatic voice and sincere words were the property of this other, this ethereal Croyland who cared only for art.

Helena let go of her hand. "Did you ever see those china cups, Mr. Croyland," she asked, "you who know Italy so well?" The ones they sell in Montecatini for drinking laxative water? White, with an inscription in gold letters: Io son Beatrice che ti faccio andare.

— But what an insult! exclaimed Mr. Croyland, throwing up his little hands in horror.

“But that's the kind of joke I really like. Especially now that Beatrice is really me. . Realizing that the blond young man was standing still a meter or so to the west of her, clearly seeking her attention, Helena paused and turned to face him, holding out her hand.

The young man took it, bowed stiffly to the waist and, saying "Giesebrecht," squeezed it tightly.

Laughing (it was another joke), Helen replied, "Ledwidge"; then, come to think of it, "geboren Amberley."

Confused by this unexpected move, the young man bowed silently again.

Staithes intervened to explain that Giesebrecht was his discovery. A refugee from Germany. Not because of the nose, he added, as (taking pity on poor old Hugh) he drew her stealthily from the group gathered around the sofa; not because of his nose - because of his politics. An Aryan, but a communist - fervently and to the end.

He believes that people will stop being cruel as soon as all incomes are equalized. Also that all power will automatically fall into the hands of the best people. And he is absolutely convinced that no one who gets power will be able or want to abuse it. Staith shook his head. "I don't know whether to admire and envy or to thank God for not making man such an ass. And to complicate matters, he's such a damn good ass. A donkey with the moral qualities of a saint. That is why he is an admirable propagandist. Holiness is almost as good as sexiness." He pulled out a chair for Helen as he sat down again at the piano and began to play the first few bars of Beethoven's Für Elise; then he paused and, addressing her, "The problem," he continued, "is that nothing works. Neither faith, nor intelligence, nor holiness, nor even wickedness - nothing. Faith is just organized and directed stupidity. It can clear a tip or two with a simple stubborn kick; but his eyes are dim, he doesn't see that if you move mountains, you don't destroy them, you just move them from place to place. It takes intelligence to see that; but intelligence is not very good because men cannot be delighted with it; he is at the mercy of the first Hitler or Mussolini who comes along - anyone who can inspire enthusiasm; and enthusiasm can be awakened for any cause, however idiotic and criminal.

Helena looked around the room. "I assume his hair is naturally that color?" she said more to herself than to her companion. Then, turning to Staithes, "What about holiness?" she asked.

"Well, look at history," he replied.

"I don't know any".

'Of course not. But I suppose you've heard of someone named Jesus? And from time to time, no doubt, you read the newspaper? Well, put two and two together, the morning news and the saint, and make up your own mind.

Helena nodded. - I drew them.

“If holiness was enough to save the world,” he continued, “then the world would, of course, have been saved a long time ago. Dozens of times. But holiness can exist without intelligence. And while that's attractive, it's no more attractive than many other things - good food, comfort, going to bed with people, being bullied, feeling superior, for example."

Laughing (for that was funny too), "It seems," said Helen, "as if there was nothing to do but throw everything away and become an invisible lover." drawer.

The group on the other side of the room dispersed, and Beppo and Mr. Croyland returned to the piano. Staithes smiled at them and, taking up the argument that Helen's arrival had interrupted, "Alternatively," he said, "you can become an aesthete."

"You use that word as if it were an insult," Beppo protested with obvious irritation that had built up in him over the years. Life has treated him badly - he's bald, he's shameful, which makes young men increasingly unwilling to treat him as their peer, which makes it increasingly difficult for him to achieve sexual success, which makes this young German from Staithes almost rude to him. — Why should you be ashamed of living for beauty?

The thought of Beppo living for beauty—living for it in his puffy waistcoat, tight baggy plaid trousers, bald head, and Florentine page curls—made Helen almost choke on wine.

From the depths of his chair, "Thank God for the colors," muttered Mr. Croyland. “Recently I have been re-reading Father Hopkins. So touching! Like a dagger. "What wonderful behavior of silk-bag clouds!" He sighed and shook his head thoughtfully. "These are things that hurt with their charm. Wounds, though sustaining, make life bearable.

A cathedral silence reigned.

Then, trying to stifle a laugh, "Be an angel, Beppo," said Helen, "and give me some more of that ankle."

Mr. Croyland sat far away, his eyes half closed, an inhabitant of a higher universe.

When the clinking of glasses died down, he quoted, "Maturity is everything." 'This sober certainty of awakening bliss. Waking up, he insisted. "Pervadingly aware. And of course there are paintings - Watteau in Dresden, Bellini's Transfiguration and those portraits of Raphael at Pitta. Supports that strengthen the soul. And also some philosophy. Zarathustra, symposium. He waved his hand. "Without them, man would be lost—lost!"

"And with them, I understand, are you saved?" said Marek from his seat at the piano; and without waiting for an answer, "I wish I had," he continued. “But there seems to be so little substance to it all. Even in a small way, which is significant in itself. Because, of course, most thinking has never been anything more than nonsense. As for art, literature, look at museums and libraries. Look at them! Ninety-nine percent nonsense and just plain nonsense.

"But the Greeks," protested Mr. Croyland, "the Florentines, the Chinese..." He traced an oddly graceful gesture in the air, as if running his fingers over the sides of a Sung jug, around the cupped navel of a late Renaissance water nymph. Subtly, with a Luini Madonna expression, he smiled; but always through his parted coat his great yellow teeth showed rapaciously, rapaciously—even when he spoke of Schifanoi's frescoes, even when he whispered, as if it were an Orphic secret, the name of Vermeer of Delft.

But nonsense, Staithes insisted, was almost always nonsense and bullshit. And most of what wasn't crap or crap was just good. "Like what you or I could do with a little practice," he explained. "And if you know yourself—poor, clumsy little me who can still perform such feats—well, really, you can't be bothered to take feats very seriously."

Mr. Croyland, it was evident from his frown, did not think of himself in such a spirit.

"Not just something you can enjoy for various irrelevant reasons," Staithes admitted. - Let's say, for ingenuity, if someone is a technician or a translator in any way. For example, constant progressions in the bass, while the right hand modulates seemingly at random. Consistently wonderful! But also carpentry. NOT; ultimately not interesting, usually good things. No matter how great the achievement or talent. Ultimately, it is worthless; it differs from evil only in degree. For example, to compose like Brahms - after all, what is that if not a much more sophisticated and intellectual way of composing like Meyerbeer? While the best Beethoven is as far from the best Brahms as from the worst Meyerbeer. There is a difference in kind. One is in another world.

"Another world," repeated Croyland in a religious whisper. "But that's what I was trying to convince you of." With the highest art, you enter another world.

Beppo clearly expressed his agreement.

'World,'? Lord Croyland insisted, "gods and angels."

"Don't forget the invisible lovers," said Helen as she sipped her white wine, making things more fun.

Mr. Croyland ignored the interruption. "The next world," he continued. "Great artists take you to heaven."

"But they never let you stay there," Mark Staithes objected. “They just give you a taste of the next world and then let you fall, plummet into the mud. Great while it lasts. But time is so short. Even if they have me in heaven, I wonder if that's all? Is there nothing more, nothing further? The other world is not different enough. Even Macbeth, even the Mass in D, even El Greco's Assumption. He shook his head. "They used to please me. They were once a refuge and support. But now. . . now I find myself wanting something more, something heavenly, something less human. Yes, less human, he repeated. Then the wrinkled face twisted into a sick smile. "I feel like Sister Cavell in that respect," he added. "Painting, music, literature, thought - that's not enough."

"So what is enough?" Beppo asked. 'Policy? Science? Making money?'

Staithes shook his head at each suggestion.

"But what else is there?" Beppo asked.

Still smiling anatomically, Mark watched him silently for a moment, then said, "Nothing, absolutely nothing."

"You speak for yourself," said Mr. Croyland. - They are enough for me. He lowered his eyelids once more and retreated to his spiritual strongholds.

Staring at him, Staithes was seized with a sudden, angry desire to shatter the old gentleman's complacency—to blow a hole in that great bag of cultured gas with which Mr. Croyland had managed to lift his poor shop high into the sky. rarefied air of pure aesthetics. "What about death? Do you think they are enough against death? he insisted in a tone that suddenly became brutally inquisitorial. He paused, and for a moment the old man fell into a terrifyingly significant silence—the silence of those who, in the presence of the victim or the incurable, tactfully ignore impending doom. "Against life, for that matter," continued Mark Staithes, yielding; "against life in any of its more disagreeable or dangerous aspects."

"Like dogs falling on one of the planes!" Helen burst out laughing.

- But what are you talking about? cried Bepo.

"Father Hopkins doesn't scare dogs," she continued breathlessly. “I agree with you, Mark. A good umbrella for every day. . ".

Mr. Croyland rose. "I have to go to bed," he said. "You should too, my dear." The small white hand on her shoulder was benevolent, almost apostolic. "You are tired after the journey."

"You mean you think I'm drunk," Helen replied, wiping her eyes. “Well, maybe you're right. God," she added, "how nice to laugh for a change!

When Mr. Croyland was gone, and Beppo with him, Staithes turned to her. “You're in a strange state, Helen.

"I'm amused," she explained.


"Everybody. But it started with Dante; Dante and Hans Andersen. If you were Hugh's wife, you'd know why it was so much fun. Imagine Europe if the bull turned out to be Narcissus!

"I don't think you'd better speak so loudly," said Staithes, looking across the room where Hugh, with an air of hopeless misery, pretended to listen to the animated discussion between Caldwell and the young German. .

Helena also looked around for a moment; then turned away with a casual shrug. "If he says he's invisible, why shouldn't I say I'm silent?" Her eyes flashed with laughter again. “I'm going to write a book called The Unheard Lover. A woman who says exactly what she thinks about her lovers when they make love to her. But I can't hear her. Speechless. She drained the glass and refilled it.

"What does she say about them?"

"True, of course." Nothing but the truth. That the romantic Don Juan is just a fraud. I'm just afraid she won't find out until later. However, a little poetic freedom can be allowed - let the esprit d'escalier happen at the same time as the romantic affair. Moonlight and "Honey" and "I adore you" and those unusual sensations - and at the same time "You're just a thief, just a miserable scoundrel." And then there would be a spiritual lover, actually Hans Dante. She shook her head. "Talk about Krafft-Ebing!"

"But what does she tell him?"

- What indeed! Helen took a sip of wine. - Fortunately, it is silent. We'd better skip this chapter and go straight to the Epicurean Sage. With sages, it doesn't have to be so vague. "You think you're a man because you don't happen to be impotent." That's what she tells him. "But you're not really a man. You are subhuman. Despite your prudence – or even because of it. In some ways, it's worse than a cheater. And then, boom, like a sign from heaven, the dog came down!

"But what kind of dog?"

"It is from a dog that Father Hopkins will not protect you from." The kind of dog that explodes like a bomb when you throw it out of a plane. Boom! The excitement of laughter seethed and flared within her, seeking expression, seeking an outlet; and the only possible consolation was some indignation, some public violence against her and other people's feelings. "It almost fell on Anthony and me," she continued, finding unusual relief in speaking so openly and hilariously about this unspeakable event. "It was on the roof of his house. And we had no clothes. Like the Garden of Eden. And then suddenly this dog appeared – and it exploded, I tell you, it literally exploded. She spread her arms in a violent motion. “Dog's blood from head to toe. We were wet - but wet! Nevertheless, this imbecile goes and writes me a letter. She opened the bag and took it out. "I guess I'll read it." As if nothing had happened, as if we were still in the Garden of Eden. I always told him he was a fool. You have! She handed the letter to Staithes. "Open it and see what this idiot has to say." No doubt something witty; something airy and casual; jokingly wondering why it occurred to me to leave." Then he noticed that Mark was still holding the unopened letter. "But why aren't you reading it?" she asked.

"Do you really want me to do that?"

'Of course. Read it out loud. Read it with an expression. She turned mockingly.

- Alright. He tore open the envelope and unfolded the thin pages. - I went to look for you at the hotel - he read slowly, frowning at the small and busy handwriting. "You left—and it was like a kind of death." '

"Donkey!" Helen commented.

' "It is probably too late, probably useless; but I feel that I must try to tell you in this letter some of the things that I wanted to say to you last night in words. In a way, it is easier—for I am unskilled when it comes to making purely personal contact with another human being. But on the other hand, it is much more difficult; for these written words will be just words and will not come to you floating in the void, without support, without living in my physical presence." '

Helen laughed scornfully. - As if it were a recommendation! She drank more wine.

“Well, what I wanted to tell you,” Staithes continued, “it was sudden (it was like a conversion, like an inspiration) when you were kneeling there on the roof yesterday after this horrible thing happened. has become . . ". '

"He means the dog," explained Helen. - Why can't he say that?

'. . . I suddenly understood. . Mark Staithes cut him off. "Listen," he said, "I really can't go on."

'Why not? I insist you continue, she cried excitedly.

He shook his head. - I have no right!

"But I gave you the right to do it."

'To know. But it is not.

What does he have to do with it? Now that I received the letter. . ".

But it's a love letter.

- Love letter? Helen repeated incredulously, then burst out laughing. “This is too good!” she exclaimed. “It's really sublime! Here, give me that. She grabbed the letter from his hand. 'Where do we meet? Ah, here! ". . . kneeling on the roof after this terrible thing had happened, I suddenly realized that I was living some kind of outrageous lie to you! She recited the words rhetorically and to the accompaniment of flowery gestures. "I realized that, despite my elaborate pretense that it's just a kind of dispassionate, irresponsible fun, I really do." He really loved me," she repeated, drawing the word into a grotesque caricature. Isn't it wonderful? He really loved me." Then, turning in her chair, she said, "Hugh!" she shouted across the room.

– Helena, shut up!

But the desire, the need to consume that anger pressed on her.

She shook off the restraining hand Staithes had placed on her shoulder, shouted Hugh's name again and as everyone turned to face her, "I just wanted to tell you that she really loves me," she said waving the letter.

- Oh, for God's sake, shut up!

"I definitely won't shut up," she replied, turning back to Mark. "Why don't I tell Hugh the good news?" He will be delighted to see how much he loves me. And you, Hughie? She turned again, her face flushed and radiant with excitement. - And you? Hugh didn't answer, just sat there, pale and speechless, staring at the floor.

"Of course it is," she answered for him. "Contrary to everything it seems. Or rather, she corrected herself, laughing a little, despite all the disappearances, seeing that your love was always invisible. Oh yes, dear Hughie, definitely invisible. But still. . . yet, in spite of all disappearances to the contrary, you love me, don't you? Is it? she insisted, trying to get him to answer her, "right?"

Hugh stood up and almost ran out of the room without saying a word.

- Hugh! Caldwell shouted after him. - Hugh! There was no answer. Caldwell looked at the others. "I think we may have to see if it's good," he said with motherly concern to a publisher who sees that a first-rate literary asset may be headed for suicide. "You never know". And jumping up, he hastened after Hugh. The door slammed shut.

There was a moment of silence. Suddenly Helen burst out laughing. "Don't worry, Herr Giesebrecht," she said to the young German. "It is only a small part of the English family. The family in the living room while we were studying at school. What does mother do? Mother plays the piano. And what does the father do? The father sits in an armchair and smokes a pipe. That's all, Herr Giesebrecht, nothing more. Just a typical bourgeois family.

"Bourgeois", repeated the young man and solemnly nodded his head. - You speak better than you know.


"You are a victim," he continued very slowly, separating the words from the words, "a victim of capitalist society." It's full of flaws. . ".

Helena threw back her head and laughed even louder than before; then she struggled to control herself. "Don't think I'm laughing at you," she panted. "I think you are good to me—extremely polite." And you are probably right about a capitalist society. It's just that somehow at that moment - I don't know why - it seemed quite ... . . rather. . He burst out laughing again. 'I'm sorry.'

"We have to go," Mark said and got up from his chair. The young German also got up and crossed the room towards them. - Good night, Helena.

"Good night, Mark. Good night, Mr. Giesebrecht. Come back to me, okay? I'll behave better next time.

He returned her smile and bowed. - I will come whenever you want - he said.

Chapter twenty two. December 8, 1926

MARK LIVED in a dirty house on Fulham Road. Dark brown brick with terra cotta details; and inside patterned linoleum; red carpet pieces in Axminster; ocher wallpaper sprinkled with bouquets of cornflowers, green, with crimson roses; oak chairs and tables; grosgrain curtains; bamboo stands carrying glazed blue vessels. The horror, Anthony thought, was so complete, so completely unrelieved, that it could only be intentional. Mark must have deliberately chosen the ugliest environment he could find. No doubt he would punish himself - but to what end, for what offense?

'Some beer?'

Anthony nodded.

Another opened the bottle, filled one glass; but he didn't drink himself.

"I see you're still playing," Anthony said, gesturing toward the piano.

"A little," Mark had to admit. - That's a consolation.

The fact that the Matthew Passion, like the Hammerklavier Sonata, had human authors was a source of hope. It was simply conceivable that one day humanity would become a little more like John-Sebastian. If there was no well-tempered clavichord, why even bother with the desire for revolutionary change?

"Exchanging one kind of common humanity for a slightly different kind of common humanity—well, if that's all a revolution can do, the game isn't worth a candle."

Anthony protested. For a sociologist, it was the most fascinating of all games.

"Watch or play?"

- To watch, of course.

The spectacle is boundlessly comic in its grotesqueness, infinitely varied. But looking closer, you might see the homogeneities beneath the diversity, the fixed rules of an endlessly changing game.

“A revolution that transforms ordinary humanity into ordinary humanity of a different kind. It will be terrible for you. But that's what I'd like to live long enough to see. Theory on test with practice. To find, after your disastrous reform of everything, that the same old uniforms function in a slightly different way - I can't think of anything that would please me more. It's like logically concluding the existence of a new planet and then discovering it with a telescope. As for producing more John Sebastian. . He spread his arms. "You can imagine that a revolution would increase the number of conjoined twins."

This was the main difference between literature and life. In books, the ratio of extraordinary to ordinary people is high; actually very low.

"Books are opium," said Mark.

'Exactly. It is therefore doubtful that there will ever be such a thing as proletarian literature. Even proletarian books will deal with exceptional proletarians. And exceptional proletarians are no more proletarians than exceptional bourgeois are not bourgeois. Life is so ordinary that literature must deal with the extraordinary. Exceptional talent, power, social position, wealth. Hence these fictional geniuses, these leaders, princes and millionaires. People who are completely conditioned by circumstances - they can be desperately pitied; but their lives cannot be considered very dramatic. The drama begins where there is freedom of choice. And freedom of choice begins when social or psychological conditions are exceptional. That is why the inhabitants of fantasy literature have always been recruited from Who's Who cards.

"But do you really think that people with money or power are free?"

More free than poor anyway. Less completely conditioned by matter and the will of other people.

Mark shook his head. "You don't know my father," he said. “Or my hideous brothers.

Anthony recalled that at Bulstrode it was always, "My father says...". . or "My brother in Cambridge. . .".

"The whole hideous Staithes tribe," Mark continued.

He described Staithes, who was now Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. Juraj and permanent undersecretary. As pleased as Punch about everything, and serenely aware of his extraordinary merits, praising himself for being so great a man.

"It's like it's very difficult to get to where it is! Anything at least commendable about such small conquests! Mark made a face of contempt and disgust. - He thinks it's a miracle.

And the other Staithes, the younger Staithes, also thought they were miracles. There was one in Delhi, heroically busy terrorizing Indians who could not defend themselves. And the second was on the Stock Exchange and was very successful. Success like what? As a cunning exploiter of the ignorance and greed and madness of gamblers and misers. And above all, the man prided himself on being an amorist, a professional don Juan.

(Why the poor guy shouldn't have a little fun, Anthony couldn't imagine as he sipped his beer.)

One of the guys! One of the dogs! A dog among bitches - what a triumph!

"And you call them free," concluded Mark. “But how can a climber be free? He is tied to his ladder.

"But social ladders," Anthony countered, "do get wider as you go up." Down below, you can only step on them with your foot. At the top are crossbars twenty yards in diameter.

"Well, maybe it's a broader position than a bank clerk," Mark admitted. But it's not wide enough for me. And not high enough; first of all not clean enough.

How furious they were when he enlisted in the war as a soldier! The feeling that he has failed his family. The creatures failed to see that if you had a choice, it was more polite to become a soldier than a staff lieutenant.

"Shit to the bone," he said. “So I can't think about anything but stupid thoughts. And above all, I can't imagine anyone else thinking otherwise. Shit calls shit; and when he answers no-dung, he is completely lost.

And when the war ended, his father struggled so much to find him a job in the City - with Lazarus and Coit! — it was just waiting for him to enter the moment he was demobilized. A job with almost unlimited prospects for a young man of brains and energy—in a word, for Staithes. "A five-figure income by the time you're 50," his father insisted almost lyrically, and he was genuinely hurt and sad, and mortally offended, furiously angry when Mark replied that he had no intention of taking it.

"But why not?" asked the poor old bastard. "Why not?" And I just couldn't understand that just because he was so good I couldn't take his job. So unfairly good! So obscenely good! He just couldn't see it. According to his ideas, I should have blindly attacked him, like all the Gadarina pigs in one piece. Instead, I gave him back the cow and went to Mexico to look after the finca for coffee.

"But did you know anything about coffee?"

'Of course not. This was one of the highlights of this job. He smiled. - When I found out about it, I came back to see if anything was happening here.

"Something going on?"

The other shrugged. Only God knew. One joined a party, one distributed literature, one funded pressure groups with earnings from synthetic cloves, one spoke at meetings and wrote articles. Or maybe it was all completely useless. Perhaps, on the contrary, one day a favorable moment may come. . .

- What then? Anthony asked.

- Ah, that's a question. In the beginning, everything will be fine. The revolution is exciting in its initial phase. As for dealing with the people upstairs. But then, if the case succeeds - then what? More radio, more chocolates, more beauty salons, more girls with better contraception. He shook his head. "The moment you give people a chance to be pigs, they take it - luckily. That freedom you just talked about, freedom at the top of the social scale, is just a license for a pig; or alternatively, a chump, a smug Pharisee like my father. Or both, like my beloved brother. A pig and a pig at the same time. In Russia, they haven't had the chance to be pigs yet. Circumstances forced them to be ascetics. But suppose their economic experiment succeeds; suppose there comes a time when they all advance—what prevents them from turning into Babbitts? Millions of soft, pig-like Babbitts, ruled by a tiny minority of ambitious Staithe.

Anthony smiled. "A new phase of the game played by the old, unchanging rules."

"I'm terribly afraid you're right," said another. "This is, of course, orthodox Marxism. Behavior and way of thinking are the result of economic circumstances. Recreate Babbitt's circumstances and you won't be able to help but recreate his mannerisms and habits. Christ!" He rose, went to the piano, and, pulling up a chair, sat down before it: "Let us try to get this taste out of our mouths." His great bony hands hung over the keyboard for a moment; then he began to play Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D. Bila were in another universe, a world where Babbitts and Staithes did not exist, were unimaginable.

Mark had only been playing for a minute or two when the door opened and into the room came an elderly woman, slender and pony-like, in a brown silk dress and a sickly old brown fur thrown around her neck. She walked on tiptoe, performing an elaborate pantomime that was the epitome of silence, but in doing so she produced an unusual volume and a variety of unsettling sounds - the squeak of shoes, the rustling of silk, the clinking of glass in beaded necklaces, the clinking of silver objects hung from small chains around her waist. Mark continued to play without turning his head. Embarrassed, Anthony stood up and bowed. The horse-faced creature beckoned him back to his seat and carefully, in one last, lingering burst of noise, sat down on the sofa.

- Excellent! she called as the last chord sounded. “Play us some more, Mark.

But Mark stood up, shaking his head. "I want to introduce you to Miss Pendle," he said to Anthony; and the old woman, "Anthony Beavis was with me at Bulstrode," he explained.

Anthony took her hand. She sent him a smile. The teeth, which were false and misplaced, were incredibly too white and pale. "So you were at Bulstrode with Mark!" She called. "Isn't it amazing!"

"Is it amazing that we still talk to each other?" Mark said.

"No, no," said Miss Pendle, and with a playfulness that was almost creepy to Anthony, patted him lightly on the shoulder. “You know exactly what I mean. He was always like that, Mr. Beavis, even when he was a boy - remember?

Anthony nodded neatly.

"So sharp and sarcastic! Even before you met him at Bulstrode. Shocking! She flashed her false teeth at Mark in a flash of love, feigning condemnation. "You know, he was my first student," she continued confidentially. - And I was his first teacher.

Anthony bravely rose to the occasion. "I would like to congratulate Mark," he said, "and express my condolences."

Miss Pendle looked at Mark. "You think I need his sympathy?" - she asked, almost cheekily, like a young girl flirtatiously asking for compliments.

Mark didn't answer, just smiled and shrugged. "I'm going to make some tea," he said. "You're going to have some tea, aren't you, Penny?" Miss Pendle nodded and he got up and left the room.

Anthony was wondering rather uneasily what he should say to this disturbingly human old hag when Miss Pendle turned to him. “He's wonderful, Mark is; really wonderful. False teeth flashed, words gushed out with the indecent violence of a horse. Anthony felt himself squirm in embarrassed disgust. "No one knows how dear he is," she continued. “He does not like to be spoken to; but I don't mind - I want people to know about it. She nodded so decisively that the beads on her necklace jingled. "I was sick last year," she continued. Her savings disappeared, she couldn't find another job. In desperation, she wrote to several of her former employers, including Sir Michael Staithes. "Sir Michael sent me five pounds," she said. “He kept me alive for a while. Then I had to write again. He said there was nothing more he could do. But he mentioned it to Mark. And what do you think Mark did? She stared silently at Anthony, the transformed horse, with an expression of tenderness and triumph at the same time, her brown lids filled with tears.

- What did he do? Anthony asked.

“He came to my place where I lived – I had a room in Camberwell at the time – he came and took me with him. Immediately, the moment I managed to pack my things and he brought me here. Since then I have been his host. What do you think, Mr. Beavis? she asked. Her voice trembled and she had to wipe her eyes; but she still triumphed. 'What do you think of that?'

Anthony really didn't know what to think; but in the meantime he said it was wonderful.

"Wonderful," repeated the horse approvingly. "That's what it's all about. But you can't tell him I told you. He would be furious with me. He is like that text in the Gospel about your left hand not knowing what your right hand is doing. It is what it is. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose. "I hear him coming," she said, and before Anthony could intervene she was up, running across the room in a storm of rustling and clanging, and opened the door. Mark entered carrying a tray of tea sets and a plate of mixed biscuits.

Miss Pendle poured, said she shouldn't be eating anything at this time, but took a round biscuit with pink sugar icing anyway.

"Now tell me what kind of boy young Lord Mark was at Bulstrode," she said in that playful tone of hers. "For any mischief I will be bound!" She took another bite of the cookie.

"He bullied me a lot," Anthony said.

Miss Pendle quickly stopped plucking and burst into loud laughter. "You naughty boy!" she said to Mark; then the jaws started working again.

"Because he's so good at football, he had the right to intimidate me."

"Yeah, you were the captain of the eleven, weren't you?"

"I forgot," Mark said.

- He forgets! repeated Miss Pendle, looking triumphantly at Anthony. - That's typical for him. He forgets!" She reached for another biscuit, pushed the plain one aside to select another with frosting, and began nibbling again with the intense and concentrated passion of those whose only sensual pleasures are the pleasures of the palate. .

When she went to bed, the two men sat down by the fireplace again. A long silence followed.

"It's quite touching," Anthony said finally.

Marek didn't answer for a while. Then he added, "A little too touching."

Anthony looked at his face and saw in it a demonstration of the anatomy of sardonic irony. Another silence followed. The clock, supported by two draped gilt-bronze nymphs, ticked from its place among the imitation Dresden figurines that crowded the shelves of the ornate fireplace. Deliberately gross, Anthony told himself as his eye took in the details of every attempt at good taste. And the poor old horse—was he just the biggest, most monstrous trinket? "I'm surprised," he said aloud, "that you're not wearing a smock." Or maybe you? - he added.

Chapter twenty-three. June 1, 1934

TONIGHT, AT DINNER with Marko, I saw Helena for the first time after returning from America.

Consider the meaning of the face. The face may be a symbol, denoting matter, which would require the volumes to be set forth in subsequent detail. A huge amount, for the person on whom it acts as a symbol, of feelings and thoughts, remembered impressions, impressions, judgments, experiences - all this synthetically and simultaneously, in one view. When she entered the restaurant, it was like a momentary vision of a drowning life. A wasted, bad, unsatisfactory life; and a vision charged with regret. All those wrong choices, all those chances irretrievably lost! And that sad face was not only a symbol, which indirectly expressed my story; it was also her directly expressive emblem. A story whose sad and bitter quality I am at least partially responsible for. If I would accept the love she wanted to give me, if I would accept love (because I could love) in return. . . But I preferred to be free for my work - in other words, to remain enslaved in a world where there can be no freedom for my entertainment. I insisted on irresponsible sensuality instead of love. In other words, he insisted that she become the means to the end of my separate, physical pleasure, and conversely, of course, that I become the means to hers.

Interesting how insignificant the fact that you are technically "lovers" seems! This does not qualify her indifference or my feelings. There is La Rochefoucauld's maxim that women forget the favors they have done to former lovers. I used to love him for being cynical; but really it's just a bald statement of the fact that something that should be unimportant, namely sensuality, is unimportant. I believe that physical desire almost does not enter into my current set of thoughts, feelings and memories. Despite the fact that my memories are intense and full of pleasure. It's surprising how erotica is a matter of choice and focus. I don't think too much in erotic terms at the moment; but I could very easily if I wanted to. Decide to consider individuals as potential givers and receivers of pleasure, focus on sensual pleasures: eroticism will become extremely important and large amounts of energy will be channeled through erotic channels. Choose a different unit concept, a different range of focal lengths: the energy will flow elsewhere, and the eroticism will seem relatively unimportant.

I spent most of the evening discussing peace and social justice. Mark, as sarcastically mean as he could be to Miller and what he called my neo-Jesus avatar. "If pigs want to tear each other apart, let them; you can't stop them anyway. A pig will remain a pig. But he can become human, I insisted. Homo non nascitur, he answers. Or rather, it is created from ready-made elements and human abilities with which it was born.

Helena was a typical communist argument - there is no peace or social justice without the initial "liquidation" of capitalists, liberals and so on. As if one could use violence, unjust means and achieve peace and justice! The means determine the ends; and must be as suggested ends. Means that are inherently different from the proposed ends achieve the same ends, rather than the ends they were intended to achieve. Violence and war will create peace and social organization with the potential for more violence and war. The war that should have ended the war ended, as usual, in a peace that was essentially a war; a revolution to achieve communism, in a hierarchical state where the minority rules with police methods à la Metternich-Hitler-Mussolini and where the power of oppression due to wealth is replaced by the power of oppression due to belonging to the oligarchy. Peace and social justice that can only be achieved through just and peaceful means. And people will behave justly and peacefully only if they are trained to do so as individuals, even in circumstances where it would be easier to behave violently and unjustly. And the training must be both physical and mental at the same time. Know how to use it and what it should be used for. Neo-Ignatius and neo-Sandow was Mark's verdict.

They put Mark in a taxi and walked because it was a beautiful night, all the way from Soho to Chelsea. Theaters were closing. Helen suddenly glowed in a mood of sinister glee. Commenting in the ringing voice of a passerby. It's like we're in a zoo. Embarrassing, but funny and sharp, like when she showed rich young men in top hats trying to look like De Reszka aristocrats or opening and closing tobacconists in the style of Gerald du Maurier; women trying to look like Vogue or expensive advertisements (from winter cruises or furs), heads held high, eyelids haughtily lowered - or hunched over like vampires from the screen, bulging bellies as if expecting twins. Sad patterns people follow! Once it was Imitation of Christ, now Hollywood.

We were silent as we left the crowd. Then Helen asked if I was happy. I said yes - although I didn't know if happy was the right word. More significant, fuller, more interested, more aware. If not exactly happy, then at least more likely to be happy. Another silence. Then, "I thought I'd never see you again because of that dog." Then Ekki came, and the dog was completely unimportant. And now he's gone, it still doesn't matter. For another reason. As far as this is concerned, everything is unimportant. Except Communism." But it was an afterthought—an expression of piety, uttered by force of habit. I said our ends were the same, but the means used were different. To her a just end means; to me it is over. Perhaps, I said, one day see the importance of means.

June 3, 1934

In today's lesson with Miller, I suddenly took a step forward in understanding the theory and practice of this technique. In order to learn proper use, all self-abuse must first be stopped. Do not be led to your goals by the equivalent (in a personal, psychophysiological sense) of a violent revolution; to stop this tendency, to focus on the means by which the goal is to be achieved; then act. This process involves knowing good and bad usage—discerning between them. After "feeling". Increased awareness and increased power of control outcomes. Awareness and control: little things take on new meaning. Indeed, nothing is trivial or unimportant anymore. Brushing teeth, putting on shoes, such processes have been reduced to a kind of tiresome non-existence by habits of abuse. Become aware, slow down, stop being a greedy seeker of the goal, focus on the means: tiresome non-existence turns into an absorbingly interesting reality. In Evans-Wentz's recently published book on Tibet, among the Guru's commandments, I find the recommendation: "Always be careful while walking, sitting, eating and sleeping." as to the proper way to do it. In this case, the regulations are accompanied by practical instructions; learning how to become aware. And not only that. Also how to properly and not badly perform the actions that you are aware of. It's not all. Awareness and power of control are negotiable. Skills gained in exploring the muscular aspect of the mind-body relationship can be transferred to exploring other aspects. The ability to recognize the motives of certain behavior, accurately assess the quality of feelings, and the real meaning of thoughts increases. He also becomes more clearly and consistently aware of what is going on in the external world, and the judgment associated with this increased awareness improves. The control was passed. Master the art of stopping abusing your muscles and you'll learn the art of stopping more complex behavior patterns. And not only that: there is also prevention and treatment. With the right correlation, many opportunities for undesirable behavior simply do not arise. For example, neurotic fears and depressions are gone - regardless of the past. Attention; most stories from childhood and adolescence are catastrophic: however, only some people develop a serious neurosis. Precisely those for whom self-use is particularly bad. They succumb because the immunity is weak. In practice, neurosis always involves some abuse. (Note the typical bad posture of neurotics and lunatics. Back stooped, tense muscles, sunken head.) Reeducate. Restore proper physical use. You remove the keystone of the arch of the neurotic personality. The neurotic personality breaks down. And in its place, a personality is built in which all habits related to physical use are correct. But right use implies, since mind and body are indivisible apart from thought, right mental use. Most of us are a bit neurotic. Even mild neurosis provides endless opportunities for bad behavior. Learning to use it correctly gets rid of neurosis, and thus many opportunities for bad behavior. So far, preventive ethics has been considered external to individuals. Socio-economic reforms implemented to remove opportunities for misconduct. It is important. But not enough. The belief that this is enough renders the social reform concept of progress meaningless. I was always glad to know it was nonsense. Sticking needles into big, well-inflated balloons is one of the greatest fun. But a bit childish; and disappears after a while. What a pleasure then to discover that there seems to be a way to make sense of this nonsense. A method for achieving progress both internally and externally. Progress, not only as a citizen, guardian and machine user, but also as a human being.

Prevention is good; but it cannot remove the need for treatment. The power to heal bad behavior appears to be essentially similar to the power to heal poor coordination. We learn the latter by learning to use it properly. There is a transmission. Braking power and control. It is easier to prevent unwanted impulses. The easier it is to track, see and approve, the better. It is easier to put good intentions into action and be patient, cheerful, kind, unwelcome, clean.

Twenty-fourth chapter. June 23 and July 5, 1927

SHE COULDN'T AFFORD IT; but it didn't matter. Mrs. Amberley was used to doing things she couldn't afford. It was really that simple; you just sold some war loan and there you are. Here you are with your car tour of Italy, your Pascina files, your Fortnum and Mason account. And at last you were in Berkshire, in the most charming little old house, smelling of pot-pourri, with tall lindens on the lawn, and the hills outside your back door stretching mile after mile in smooth green bareness to the sky. She couldn't afford it; but it was so beautiful, so perfect. And besides, what is a hundred and fifty pounds war loan? How much did they bring? About five pounds a year, after tax. And how much was five pounds a year? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Besides, Gerry was going to reinvest her money. Her capital may have diminished; but her income will soon start to increase. They will be able to afford it next year; so in anticipation of this happy time, she sat under the linden trees on the lawn, surrounded by guests.

Helen was leaning on her elbow on the rug behind her mother's chair. She didn't pay attention to what was said. The country was so wondrously beautiful that you really couldn't listen to old Anthony talk about the place of machines in history; no, the only thing that could be done in such heavenly circumstances was to play with the cat. She found that the kitten liked playing with the carpet the most. You pushed the twig under the corner of the mat, very slowly, until the end reappeared on the other side, like the head of an animal cautiously peeking out of its burrow. A little expensive, very suspicious; and then you jerked it back. The animal got scared and ran to hide. Then, plucking up his courage, he went out again, sniffed left and right among the blades of grass, and then retired to finish his meal in the safety of the rug. Long seconds passed; and suddenly he sprang like a devil out of the box, as if trying to catch the approaching danger unconsciously, and returned in the twinkling of an eye. Then once more, very hesitatingly and reluctantly—acted only by crude necessity and against his better judgment—he emerged, aware, as it felt, that he was a destined victim, knowing his terrible fate. And all the while, the tabby kit followed his entrances and exits with a cheerful, expressionless ferocity. Every time a twig hid under the rug, he would, with an infinite number of precautions, sneak a few inches closer. Closer, closer, and now it's time to crouch for the last, decisive spring. Green eyes stared with absurd malice; the tiny body was so overwhelmed by the tiger-like intensity of the target that not only the tail but the entire rear shook under the emotional pressure. Meanwhile, overhead, linden trees rustled in the gentle breeze, and round patches of golden light moved noiselessly across the grass. On the other side of the lawn, the plant beds burned in the sun as if on fire, and behind them the karst lay like great animals in a deep sleep, the shadows of indigo clouds crawling over their slopes. Everything was so beautiful, so heavenly, that now and then Helenka simply couldn't stand it any longer and had to drop the twig and grab the kitten, rub her cheek against the silky fur and whisper meaningless words to him in a child's language and hold him with ridiculously dangling paws in front of her face so that their noses were almost touching, and stared into those empty, bright green eyes, until at last the helpless beast began to meow so piteously that she let him go again. - Poor dear! she murmured repentantly. "Did I torture him?" But the torture served the purpose; the painful excess of her happiness spilled over, as it were, and left her alone, the heavenly beauty bearable again. She picked up a twig. Forgiving, because he had already forgotten everything, the kitten started the game again.

The jingling of the bicycle bell made her look up. It was the postman driving up the driveway with the afternoon delivery. Helenka jumped to her feet and, taking the kitten with her, quickly, but hopefully, imperceptibly headed towards the house. At the door she met a maid who was coming out with letters. There were two for her. The first one she opened was from Joyce of Aldershot. (She must have been smiling as she read the address in the newspaper headline. "Joyce now lives in A-aldershot," her mother would say, pausing on the first syllable of the name with a kind of hollow accent and a tone of slightly shaken disbelief, as if it were really inconceivable that she whatever her daughter ended up in such a place."In A-a-aldershot, my dear." And she managed to give this military suburb the fabulous uniqueness of Tibet, the horror and desolation darkest Liberia."Life in A-a-aldershot - like mem-sahib."

Just one line [Helena read, still smiling] to thank you for your sweet letter. I'm more concerned about what you say about Mom taking so many sleeping pills. They can't be good for her. Colin thinks she should exercise more healthily. Perhaps you would suggest horse riding. I've been taking riding lessons lately and it's really wonderful once you get used to it. We are now quite settled and you have no idea how cute our little house looks now. Colin and I worked like black men to fix everything and I have to say the results are worth all the effort. I had to make many annoying phone calls; but everyone was very good to me and now I feel at home. Colin sends his regards. - Yours,


The second letter - the one she went to the postman for - was from Hugh Ledwidge. That the letters were carried to Mrs. Amberley on the lawn; if she solved them publicly. . . Helen blushed with imaginary shame and anger at what her mother might have said about Hugh's letter. Despite all the people sitting around; but thanks to them. When they were alone, Helen usually ended with a joke. But when other people were present, Ms. Amberley felt inspired by her audience to engage in detailed descriptions and comments. "Hugh and Helen," she explained, "are a mixture of Socrates and Alcibiades, Don Quixote and Dulcinea." There were times when she hated her mother. "It's an accident," said a remembered voice.

She opened the envelope.

Midsummer's Day, Helena. But I guess you are too young to think about the meaning of special days. After all, you are only in the world for seven thousand days; and you have to live at least ten thousand to begin to understand that they are not unlimited and that you cannot do with them exactly what you want. I have been here for over thirteen thousand days and the end is in sight, the limitless possibilities have been narrowed. You have to tailor to your own clothes; and one's clothes are not only raw; there is also one special type - and generally of poor quality. When you're young, you think you can devote your time to all kinds of beautiful and fantastical garments - shakos, chasubles and doctorates. dresses; Nijinsky's tights, Rimbaud's dark blue trousers and Garibaldi's red shirt. But as you live for ten thousand days, you begin to realize that you'll be happy if you can squeeze one decent suit out of the time you have at your disposal. It is a depressing realization; and Midsummer is one of the days that brings him home. The longest day. One of the sixty or seventy longest days of twenty-five thousand. And what did I do with this longest day—the longest of so few, so uniform, so bad? A catalog of my occupations would be humiliatingly absurd and meaningless. The only creditable and, in every deep sense of the word, sensible thing I have done is to think a little of you, Helen, and write this letter. . . .

Any interesting letters? Mrs. Amberley asked as her daughter left the house again.

"Just a letter from Joyce."

"From our mem-sahib?"

Helena nodded.

"She lives in Aldershot, you know," Mary Amberley told the company. "A-a-aldershot," she insisted, stretching out the first syllable until the place became absurdly unreal, and the fact that Joyce lived there became a fantastic and slightly obscene myth.

"You can thank your stars you don't live in Aldershot," said Anthony. "You should be though." The general's daughter.

At first Mary was confused by his interruption; she couldn't wait to develop her fantastic variations on Aldershot. But her good mood returned when she saw the better opportunity he had given her. "Yes, I know," she exclaimed eagerly. "The general's daughter. And do you realize that I could be the colonel's wife now if it weren't for God's grace? I was close to marrying a soldier. Within ace, I tell you. The most ravishing most beautiful creature. But ivory," she patted her forehead, "solid ivory. He was lucky to be so boring. If he had been any smarter, I would have gone with him to India. And then what? That is unimaginable.

- Unthinkable! repeated Beppo, bursting into laughter.

“On the contrary,” said Anthony, “I can imagine it. Club every evening between six and eight; government house parties; adultery in hot weather, playing polo in cold weather; constantly bothers the Indian servants; persistent financial difficulties and domestic scenes; occasional bouts of malaria and dysentery; a monthly package of used novels from The Times Book Club; and still the inexorable advance of old age - twice as fast as in England. If you've ever been to India, nothing is easier to imagine."

"And you think all this would happen to me?" asked Mary.

What else could have happened? You don't think you'd go buy Pascins in Quetta, do you?

Mary laughed.

"Or read Max Jacob in Rawalpindi?" You would be a mem-sahib like all other mem-sahibs. Maybe a little more bored and disaffected than most of them. But still mem-sahib.

"I guess so," she agreed. "But is man so hopelessly at the mercy of circumstances?"

He nodded his head.

"You don't think I would run away, do you?"

"I do not understand why".

- But that means that I don't really exist. Me," she repeated, putting her hand on her chest. "I really don't exist.

- No, of course not. Not in an absolute sense. You are a chemical compound, not an element.

"But if it really doesn't exist, one wonders why. . she hesitated.

"Why is he making such a fuss?" Anthony suggested. “All that howling and screaming and gnashing of teeth. About the adventures of a self that is not really me - just the result of many accidents. And of course," he continued, "once you start thinking about it, you'll immediately see that there's no reason to make such a fuss. And then you don't make a fuss - that is, if you are reasonable. Me too," he added with a smile.

There was silence. "Don't make a fuss," repeated Mrs. Amberley to herself, and thought of Gerry Watchet. "Don't make a fuss." But how was it possible not to make a fuss when he was so stupid, so selfish, so brutal, and yet so unearthly desirable - like water in the desert, like sleep after insomnia? She hated him; but the thought of being there in a few days and staying at home sent a shiver of warmth through her. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Still holding the kitten in her arms like a fur baby, Helen walked away across the lawn. She wanted to be alone, away from that laughter, those irritating, unimportant voices. "Seven thousand days," she repeated over and over. And it wasn't just the setting sun that made everything look so festive and richly beautiful; it was also a thought about the passing days, about human limitations, about the final, inevitable dissolution. "Seven thousand days," she said aloud, "seven thousand days." Tears came to her eyes; She hugged the sleeping kitten tighter to her chest.

* * *

Savernake, The White Horse, Oxford; and between them the rumble and screech of Gerry's Bugatti, the gust of wind, the bends and potholes, the hideous but delicious fear of speeding. And now they are back again. It seemed after centuries; and at the same time it seemed that they never existed. The car stopped; but Helena made no move to leave.

- What happened? Gerry asked. "Why don't you go out?"

"It seems so terribly final," she said with a sigh. "Like breaking a spell." Like getting out of a magic circle.

- Magic? he repeated questioningly. 'What kind? White or black?'

Helena laughed. 'Piečelav. Absolutely heavenly and absolutely horrible. You know, Gerry, you should go to jail for the way you drive. Or to a mental institution. Crazy and criminal. But I liked it,” she added as she opened the door and left.

"Alright!" was all he answered, while at the same time giving her a smile that was studied, as loveless as could be. He put the car in gear and, reeking of burnt castor oil, sped around the house and towards the garage.

cute! he thought. And how wise he was to take with him that happy, God-glorified thing with his big brother! Bait. Get used to the game. Soon they will be eating out of his hand. The real problem, of course, was Mary. Tired female! he thought with a sudden passion of disgust. Jealous, suspicious, mixed. She acts like it's her private property. And greedy, insatiable. Constantly pressing him - pressing her aging body against him. As he maneuvered the car around the garage, his face was contorted in wrinkles of disgust. But thank God, he began to wonder, had her liver trembled or what had happened. That should shut her up for a while, get her out of the way.

Without bothering to take off her coat and completely forgetting about her mother's illness and for a moment her existence, Helena crossed the corridor and almost ran into the kitchen.

"Where's Tompy, Mrs. Weeks?" she asked the cook. The sun, the landscape and Gerry's Bugatti impressed her so much that now it was absolutely necessary to take the kitten in her hands. Immediately. "I have to have Tommy," she insisted. And as an apology and explanation, "I didn't have time to see him this morning," she added; - We started in such a hurry.

“Tompy seems to be unwell, Miss Helen. Mrs. Weeks put her sewing aside.

'Not good?'

"I put it in here," Mrs. Weeks continued, rising from her Windsor chair and leading her to the dishwasher. "It's colder. It was so warm. It was like he had a fever. I'm sure I don't know what's wrong with him," she finished in a tone that was half complaint, half sympathy. She felt sorry for Tommy. But she also felt sorry for herself because Tommy had caused her so much trouble.

The kitten was lying in the shade under the sink. Crouching beside the basket, Helena reached out to take it; then, with a low cry of horror, he drew it back, as if from contact with something repulsive.

"But what happened to him?" She called.

The little cat's fur had lost all its smoothness, all its silky luster, and gathered in wet, uneven tufts. The eyes were closed and sticky with a yellow discharge. The diarrhea on the nose covered the beautiful colorful facial fur. The absurd, cute, little Tompy with whom she was playing yesterday, the comical and wonderful Tompy that she held in one hand, pitifully helpless, brushed her face, looked into his eyes and disappeared, and in his place lay a limp, unclean rag of trash life. Like those kidneys, she thought suddenly with disgust; and she was immediately ashamed that she had come to that thought, that in that first gesture of refusal she had automatically acted on that thought even before she had consciously had it.

- What a beast I am! she thought. "Absolutely beastly!"

Tompy was sick, unhappy, maybe dying. And she was too sensitive to even touch him. Trying to control her disgust, she reached out again, picked up the kitten, and stroked (with what disgusting reluctance!) the wet, soaked fur with the fingers of her free hand. Tears welled up, welled up, flowed down her cheeks.

"It's too terrible, too terrible," she repeated, her voice breaking. Poor little Tom! Beautiful, cute, funny little Tompy! Killed - no; worse than the slain: reduced to a wretched clod of earth; no reason, just pointless; and on this day of all days, this heavenly day with the clouds over the White Horse, the sun between the leaves in the forest of Savernake. And now, to make matters worse, she was disgusted with the poor animal, she couldn't bear to touch him as if he were one of those dirty kidneys - she who pretended to love him, who loved him, she who loved him insisted on me. But it was not good for her to hold and caress him like that; it didn't matter what she really felt. She could make a gesture of overcoming disgust; but the taste remained. Despite the love.

She raised her tear-stained face to Mrs. Weeks. 'What do we do?'

Mrs. Weeks shook her head. "I never found you could do much," she said. "Not for cats."

"But there must be something."

"Nothing but leave them alone," Mrs. Weeks insisted, her pessimism evidently heightened by her determination not to bother. Then, touched by Helen's misfortune, she added consolingly, "Everything will be all right, dear." "There's no need to cry. Just let him sleep.

Footsteps were heard on the flagstones of the stable yard, and through the open window came the notes of "Yes, sir, that's my child," whistling softly behind the rune. Helen rose from her crouched position and, leaning out, said, "Gerry!" she exclaimed; then added in response to his surprised sympathy, "Something terrible has happened."

In his big, massive hands, Tompy looked pitifully small than ever. But how gentle and how effective! Watching him wipe the little cat's eyes, wipe mucus from the nostrils, Helena was amazed by the delicate precision of his movements. She herself, she thought with a heightened sense of her own shameful incompetence, could do nothing but stroke Tompy's fur and feel disgusted. Hopeless, absolutely hopeless! And when he asked her for help getting Tommy to swallow half an aspirin tablet crushed in milk, she screwed up and spilled the medicine.

"Maybe I can do it better myself," he said and took the spoon from her. The glass of her humiliation was full. . . .

* * *

Mary Amberley was outraged. There she is, with fever and pain, more worried about the fever, more pain, thinking about Gerry's dangerous driving. Here was Helen, walking casually into her room after being at home more than two hours—more than two hours without the decency to come and see how she was, more than two hours while her mother—her mother remembers! he lay there in an agony of despair, thinking that they must have had an accident.

"But Tompy was dying," Helen explained. "He's dead now." Her face was very pale, her eyes red with tears.

"Well, if you love the poor cat more than your mother..." ".

"Besides, you were asleep." If you were awake, you would hear the car coming back.

"And now you regret my sleeping," said Mrs. Amberley indignantly. Don't I deserve some respite from the pain? Besides," she added, "I didn't sleep. I was delirious. I had delirium several times today. Of course, I didn't hear the car. Her eyes fell on the bottle of Somnifaine on the bedside table, and the suspicion that Helen might have noticed it made her angrier. "I always knew you were selfish," she continued. "But I have to admit I didn't think you'd be this angry."

On other occasions, Helena would explode in self-defense, or, convicted of guilt, burst into tears. But today she felt too miserable to shed any more tears, too overwhelmed with shame and misery to blame even the most obvious injustice. Her silence irritated Mrs. Amberley even more.

"I always thought," she continued, "that you were selfish only out of thoughtlessness." But now I see that it is heartless. Pure callousness. Here I am - I dedicate the best years of my life to you; and what do I get in return? Her voice trembled as she asked the question. She was convinced of the reality of this sacrifice, deeply moved by the thought of its extent, of her martyrdom. "The most cynical indifference. I may die in a ditch; but you wouldn't care. You would be much more angry with your cat. Now go away, she almost screamed, go away! I know my temperature has risen. Go away.'

* * *

After dinner in seclusion—for Helen had kept her room on the pretense of having a headache—Gerry went to sit with Mrs. Amberley. He was extremely charming that evening and so caring that Mary forgot all the accusations she had accumulated and fell in love with him all over again, and for a different reason - not because he was so handsome, so easy and so brazenly dominant. such a ruthless and fulfilling lover, but because he was kind, caring and gentle, he was everything, in a word, she knew in advance that he was not.

It was half past eleven. He got up from the chair. "It's time for your place to turn a blind eye."

Maria protested; he was firm—for her sake.

Thirty drops is a normal dose of Somnifaine; but he measured forty-five to make sure she was asleep, drank, then tucked her in ("like an old nanny," she exclaimed with a satisfied laugh as he rolled around the bed) and kissed her good night with an almost material tenderness, light and left .

The village church clock struck eleven—how sad, thought Helen as she listened to the tolling of the distant bell, how lonely! It was as if she was listening to the voice of her own spirit that somehow mysteriously bounced off the walls of the night around her. One two three four . . . Each sweet, ragged note seemed hopelessly sadder, seeming to spring from depths of more extreme loneliness than the last. Tompy died, and she couldn't even give him a spoonful of milk and crushed aspirin, she didn't have the strength to overcome her disgust.

Selfish and callous: her mother was absolutely right. But lonely and selfish, alone in the senseless antics that killed poor little Tompy; and her heartlessness spoke with the desperate voice of that bell; the night was empty and vast all around.


She shuddered and turned her head. The room was pitch black.

"It's me," Gerry continued. 'I was worried about you. Are you feeling better?'

Her initial surprise and discomfort gave way to anger that he had invaded the privacy of her misfortune. "You shouldn't have bothered," she said coldly. "I feel fine".

Surrounded by a faint aura of Turkish tobacco, mint toothpaste, and bay rum, he approached unseen. A hand touched her shin through the blanket; then the springs creaked and bent under his weight as he sat on the edge of the bed.

"I felt a bit responsible," he continued. "All those loops loops!" The tone of his voice suggested an invisible smile, suggested a whimsical and gentle twinkling of hidden eyes.

She did not comment; A long silence followed. Bad start, thought Gerry, frowning in the darkness; then started again on the second beat.

"I can't stop thinking about that poor little Tommy," he said in a different voice. "It's unbelievable how distressing it is when an animal gets sick like this. It seems terribly unfair.

After a few minutes she started crying and he had an excuse to comfort her.

Gently, as he had done with Tommy, with all the tenderness that had so touched Mrs. Amberley, he stroked her hair, and then, as the sobs began to subside, ran the fingers of his other hand over her bare shoulder. Again and again, with the patient regularity of a nurse putting her ward to sleep; again and again. . . At least three hundred times, he thought before risking any gesture that could be interpreted as love. three hundred times; and even then the caresses would have to recede by imperceptible degrees, as a series of coincidences, until gradually, involuntarily, the hand which now rested on her shoulder would at last brush, with the same maternal insistence, her breast, while the fingers would move methodically between curls, wandered to the ear, then from the ear to the cheek to the mouth, and there they would stop lightly, modestly, but charged with the theme of kisses, replacements and predecessors of the lips that would eventually land on her lips, through the darkness, as a reward for long patience .

Chapter twenty-five. May 20, 1931

IT WAS ANOTHER "knock". Fitzimmons, Jefferies, Jack Johnson, Carpentier, Dempsey, Gene Tunney - masters came and went; but the metaphor by which Mr. Beavis described his subsequent mourning as unchanged.

Yes, hit hard. Yet it seemed to Anthony that there was an almost triumphant note about Uncle James as a schoolboy in his father's recollections over the table.

“Poor James. . . what curly hair he had then. . . nose et mutamur". Compassion and sadness mingled with a certain satisfaction - the satisfaction of an old man who is still alive and can still go to the funerals of his younger peers.

"Two years," he insisted. "It was between me and James for the best part of those two years. I was Beavis' major at school.

He shook his head mournfully; but the old, tired eyes shone with unbridled brilliance. - Poor James! he sighed. "We haven't seen each other often in recent years. Not since his conversion. How did he do it? They beat me. Catholic - he of all people. . ".

Anthony said nothing. But still, he thought, that's not so surprising. The poor guy grew up to be an atheist Bradlaugh. He should be blissfully happy parading his cosmic rebellion, his relentless despair. But he had the misfortune of being gay at a time when you couldn't even admit it to yourself. Growing pederasty - poisoned his whole life. He turned this metaphysical and delightfully Pickwickian despair into real, commonplace or garden misery. Misery and neurasthenia; the old man was half mad, really. (Which didn't stop him from becoming a first-rate actuary.) Then, during the war, the clouds lifted. It was possible to be kind to wounded soldiers—to be kind pro patria and with an unblemished conscience. Anthony remembered Uncle James' visit to the hospital. He came almost every day. Full of gifts for a dozen adopted nephews and one real one. Then an eternal smile appeared on his thin, melancholic face. But happiness never lasts forever. A truce came; and after those four years in paradise, hell seemed blacker than ever. In 1923 he became a papist. It was to be expected.

But Mr. Beavis just couldn't understand it. The thought of James surrounded by Jesuits, of James jumping up and down during mass, of James going to Lourdes with an inoperable tumor, of James dying with all the comforts of religion, filled him with terrible astonishment.

“Still,” said Anthony, “I admire the way they get you out of life. Dying can be an animal process. More purely animal than marine sickness. He was silent for a moment, thinking of poor Uncle James' last and most physiological hour. Heavy, hoarse breathing, mouth wide open, hand scratching.

"How wise the Church was in turning this into a ceremonial!"

"Charades," said Mr. Beavis dismissively.

"But good charades," Anthony insisted. 'Work of art. The event itself is like going through a difficult sewer - only worse. But they manage to turn it into something quite beautiful and meaningful. Mainly for the viewer, of course. But perhaps also significant for the actor.

There was silence. The maid changed the plates and brought sweets. "Is there any apple cake?" asked Pauline, cutting the bark.

"Apple pie, dear." Mr. Beavis's tone was serious. "When will you know that the cake is open? Something with a roof is a pie.

They helped themselves with cream and sugar.

"By the way," said Pauline suddenly, "have you heard of Mrs. Foxe?" Anthony and Mr. Beavis shook their heads. “Maggie Clark told me yesterday. She had a stroke.

"Honey, honey," said Mr. Beavis. Then he added thoughtfully, "It's interesting how people disappear from life." "After how much I put myself into it." I can't believe I've seen Mrs. Foxe six times in the last twenty years. And even before that. . ".

"She had no sense of humor," Pauline explained by way of explanation.

Mr. Beavis turned to Anthony. "I suppose you..." . well, he "kept up" with her very carefully, not since her poor boy died.

Anthony shook his head wordlessly. It was embarrassing to remind him of everything he had done to keep up with Mrs. Foxe. Those long, tender letters she wrote to him in the first years of the war - letters to which he answered shorter and shorter, casually, conventionally; and at last he did not answer at all; he didn't even read. He did not even read it, and yet, driven by some superstitious remorse, he never threw it away. At least a dozen blue envelopes, addressed in large, clear, flowing handwriting, still lay unopened in one of his desk drawers. Their presence was in some vague, inexplicable way a balm on his conscience. Not a very effective ointment. His father's question made him uncomfortable; he hastily changed the subject.

- And what have you been doing lately? he asked jokingly in the archaic language his father himself might have used.

Mr. Beavis laughed and began to describe his research into modern American slang. Such spicy words! What an Elizabethan wealth of new coins and original metaphors! Horse feathers, put drugs, attach a face - delicious! "And how would you like to be called fever frau?" he asked his younger daughter, Diana, who sat silently with grave detachment throughout the meal. "Or worse, pushing, dear?" Or I could say you had a woman complex, Anthony. Or regret your habit of kissing during sex. He blinked in satisfaction.

"It's like Chinese," said Pauline from across the table. On her round, placid face, mirth radiated in concentric waves of soft pink flesh; the beards still trembled like jelly. "He thinks he's the cat in his pajamas, just like your father." Reaching out, she grabbed some chocolate spreads from the silver bowl on the table in front of her and popped one into her mouth. - Cat's pajamas - she repeated indistinctly and burst out laughing.

Mr. Beavis, having worked himself up to the necessary level of rudeness, leaned forward and asked Anthony in a confidential whisper, "What would you do if the fever frau had the misfortune to become a stork?"

They were loved, Diana thought; it was obvious. But how stupid they can be, how unspeakably stupid! Yet Anthony had no right to criticize them; and beneath his excessive kindness he was evidently criticizing them, the wretch! She felt quite bitter. No one had the right to criticize them except herself and maybe her sister. She tried to think of something embarrassing to say to Anthony; but he gave her no chance, and she had no gift of epigram. She had to settle for a silent frown. Anyway, time to get back to the lab.

Getting up, "I have to go," she said in her terse, abrupt tone. "I absolutely forbid you to eat all those sweets," she added, leaning in to kiss her mother. "Doctor's Recommendations".

“You're not a doctor yet, honey.

"No, but I will next year."

Pauline calmly put the second chocolate cream in her mouth. "And next year I might stop eating sweets," she said.

Anthony left after a few minutes. As he walked through South Kensington, his thoughts returned to Mrs. Foxe. Was the stroke dangerous, he wondered? Was she paralyzed? He wanted so badly to stop his father from talking about her that Pauline didn't have time to say anything. He imagined her lying helplessly, half dead, and he was horrified to discover that, in addition to his sympathy, he also felt a certain satisfaction, a certain sense of relief. After all, she was the prosecution's main witness, the person who could testify against him in the most incriminating way. Dead, or only half dead, she was out of court; and in her absence there was no longer a case against him. Part of his being was glad to hear Pauline. Uncomfortably pleased. He tried to think of something else, and in the meantime got on the bus to get to the London Library pier as soon as possible.

He spent nearly three hours there looking for references to Anabaptist history and then went home to his rooms in Bloomsbury. He was expecting Gladys that evening before dinner. The girl has been a bit boring lately; but still. . . He smiled to himself with expected satisfaction.

She was due at six; but in a quarter of an hour she still hasn't arrived. It's not even half past two. Not yet at seven. Not even half past seven. At the age of eight he looked at those blue envelopes, stamped 1914 and 1915 and addressed in Mrs. Foxe's handwriting—he looked at them and wondered, in the self-examining despondency that followed his first impatience and rage, whether he should open them. He was still wondering when the phone rang and Mark Staithes asked if he had time for dinner. At the last moment, a small group was formed. Pitchley, his psychologist wife and that Indian politician, Sen, and Helen Ledwidge will be there. . . Anthony put the letters back in the drawer and rushed out of the house.

Chapter twenty six. September 5, 1933

TWO HOURS HAD PASSED. Anthony lay on his back, staring into the darkness. It seemed that sleep was deliberately refusing to come, being held back by someone else, some malevolent alien inhabiting his own body. Out in the pines the crickets chirped incessantly about their existence; and at long intervals out of the darkness came the cock's cry, louder and nearer, until all the birds in the surrounding gardens shouted defiantly back and forth, cluck after cluck. And then, for no apparent reason, first one, then the other, fell silent, and the explosion grew fainter and fainter in the distance - on the other side of France, he imagined, straining his ears at the receding sound, in a surge of ragged crowing. Maybe hundreds of miles. And then somewhere the tide would turn and recede just as quickly as it had come. Perhaps back from the North Sea; over the battlefields; on the outskirts of Paris and from bird to distant bird through the forest; then across the plains of Beauce; up and down the hills of Burgundy and, like another aerial river of sound, straight down the Rhône valley; beyond Valence, beyond Orange and Avignon, beyond Arles and Aix, and over the desolate hills of Provence; until it reappeared an hour after its previous passage, rattling and squealing through the loud, unmitigated equivalent of cricket silence.

Suddenly he remembered a passage from Lawrence's The Man Who Died, and grateful for an excuse to interrupt his futile pursuit of sleep for a moment, he turned on the light and went downstairs in search of a book. Yes, it was here. "When he was leaving, a young rooster crowed. It was a muffled, pinching cry, but there was something stronger than bitterness in the bird's voice. It was necessary to live, even to cheer the triumph of life. The man who died stood and watched as the escaped and captured rooster pecked, stood on his toes, raised his head and opened his beak in another life-to-death challenge. Loud sounds were heard, and although they were weakened by the rope around the bird's leg, they were not cut off. The man who died looked naked at life and saw an all-encompassing determination leaping everywhere in stormy or subtle crests of waves, peaks of foam rising from the invisible blue, a black and orange cock, or green tongues of fire issuing from the limbs of fig trees. Those things and creatures of spring came out, radiating desire and confidence. They came like crests of foam, from the blue torrent of invisible desire, from the vast invisible sea of ​​power, and they came colored and tangible, fleeting but immortal in their arrival. The man who died watched the great rise of things that did not die, but he no longer saw their trembling desire to exist and exist. He heard them ringing instead, ringing, a rebellious challenge to all other things in existence. . . ".

Anthony read until he had finished the story of a man who died and came back to life, a man who was himself a runaway rooster; then he put the book down and went back to bed. Foam on the waves of this invisible sea of ​​desire and power. But life, life as such, he mentally protested, is not enough. How can one be satisfied with nameless energy itself, less than the individuality of a power which, for all its mysterious divinity, was nevertheless unconscious, beneath good and evil? The crickets echoed constantly, and at about four o'clock a wave of roosters swept over the country and crossed out of earshot towards Italy.

A life lived irrevocably. There were emblems, he thought, more impressive than the crowing of a cock, or the young leaves springing from the bone-white skeleton of a winter fig. He remembered a video he had watched showing the fertilization of a rabbit's egg. Sperm, full range across the screen, fiercely fight for their goal - the moon sphere of eggs. Countless, pointed from all sides, their flags vibrate wildly. And now the best have reached their goal, buried themselves in it, breaking through the outer wall of living matter, tearing out in their violent haste entire cells that have flown away and been lost. And finally one of the attackers penetrated the testicle, the act of fertilization was complete; and suddenly the hitherto passive sphere moved. There was a sharp contraction; its smooth, rounded surface became undulating and somehow impervious to the other sperm that vainly rushed at it. And then the egg began to divide, folding its walls until they met in the middle and were two cells instead of one; then when two cells repeated the process, four cells; then eight, then sixteen. And in the cells the granules of protoplasm were in constant motion, like peas in a pot, but they activated themselves, moving with their own energy.

Compared to these tiny bits of living matter, the crowing rooster, the crickets endlessly announcing their existence, were barely alive. Life under the microscope seemed much more violent and unrestrained than in the wider world. Comforting, and at the same time terrifyingly overwhelming. Because yes, that too was the terrifying, horrible ignorance of that invincible, creeping desire! And, oh, the horror of this manifestation of submental passion, violent and impersonal egoism! Intolerable, unless you think of it only as a raw material and available energy.

Yes, the flow of raw materials and energy. Impressive due to their quantity, duration. But qualitatively, they were only potentially valuable: they would become valuable only if they were transformed into something else, only if they were used for a hidden purpose. To Lawrence, the animal purpose seemed sufficient and satisfying. Rooster, crowing, fighting, mating - anonymous; and the man as anonymous as a rooster. He insisted that such mindless anonymity was better than the miserable relations between human beings halfway to consciousness, still only semi-civilized.

But Lawrence never looked through a microscope, never saw biological energy in its basic, undifferentiated state. He didn't want to look, disapproving of the way microscopes worked, afraid of what they might reveal; and he was right to be afraid. Those depths beneath the nameless depths, crawling unrestrained, would terrify him. He insisted that the raw material be treated - but only to a certain extent and no further; the primordial crawling energy should be used for the relatively higher purposes of animal existence, but not for non-animal existence. Arbitrary, illogical. On the other hand, there were hidden goals and organizations that could not be ignored. Moving in time and space, the human animal discovered them on its way, unequivocally present and real.

Thinking and the pursuit of knowledge - these were the goals for which he himself used the energy that crawled under the microscope, that crowed defiantly in the darkness. Thinking as a goal, knowledge as a goal. And now it suddenly became obvious that they were only means - materials as raw as life. Raw material - and it was guessed, it was known what the finished product would be; and part of his being rebelled against knowledge. What, to try to turn his life's raw material, thoughts, knowledge into it - at his age, and he is a civilized human being! The very idea was ridiculous. One of those absurd remnants of Christianity - like a father's terror of the more shameful realities of existence, like the singing of hymns by workers during a general strike. Headaches, hiccups of yesterday's religion. But in another part of his mind he sadly thought that he would never be able to turn his raw material into a finished product; that he did not know how and where to begin; that he was afraid to make a fool of himself; that he lacked the necessary courage, patience, strength of spirit.

About seven o'clock, when the sun was high above the horizon behind his eyelids, he fell into a heavy sleep, and awoke three hours later to find Mark Staithes standing by his bed, looking at him with an amused smile. and the curious gargoyle through the mosquito net.

– Mark? - he asked in surprise. "What the hell. . . ?

- The bride! said Mark, poking at the muslin netting. "Positive premiere togetherness! I watched you sleep.

'For a long time?'

"Oh, don't worry," he said, not answering a spoken question, but an unspoken one that was indicated by Anthony's irritated tone. "You don't betray yourself in your sleep. On the contrary, you accept other people. I've never seen anyone look so innocent under that veil as you do. Like little Samuel. Too cute!'

Remembering how Helen had used the same word on the morning of the disaster, Anthony frowned. After a moment of silence, he asked, "What have you come for?"

"To stay with you."

"They didn't ask you."

"That remains to be seen," Mark said.

'What do you think?'

“I mean, you can find out after the event.

"Discover what?"

- That's what you wanted to ask me. Not knowing you want it.

'Why do you think that?'

Mark pulled up a chair and sat down before answering. – I saw Helen the night she returned to London.

- And you? Anthony's tone was as deadpan as could be. - Where? - he added.

“At Hugh's. Hugh was throwing a party. There were awkward moments.


“Well, because she wanted them to feel uncomfortable. You know, she was in a strange state.

"Did she tell you why?"

Mark nodded. “She even made me read your letter. At least its beginning. I wouldn't go any further.

"Helen told you to read my letter?"

'Loud. She insisted. But, as I said, she was in a very strange state. A long silence followed. "That's why I came here," he added at the end.

"You think I'd like to see you?" another asked sarcastically.

"I thought you'd be glad to see me," Mark replied gravely.

After another silence, "Well, maybe you're not entirely wrong," Anthony said. "In a way, I just hate the sight of you." He smiled at Mark. Nothing personal, mind you. I should hate the sight of anyone equally. But for another reason, I'm glad you came. And it's personal. Because I think you probably... well, you probably have some idea of ​​what's what," he finished casually vague. "If there's someone who can . . . He wanted to say 'help,' but the thought of help was so repulsive to him, so grotesquely reminiscent of the pastor's well-chosen words after a death in the family, of the landlady's honest, friendly conversation about sexual matters. temptations he cut off awkwardly. "If anyone can find meaning in all this," he began again, on another level of expression, " I think it's you."

The other nodded without saying anything and thought how typical of this man to make sensible remarks—even now!

“I feel,” Anthony continued slowly, overcoming his inner resistance to speak, “I feel like I'd like to be done with this, done with this. On another basis - he extracted as if under torture. "Right now . . ." He shook his head. "I am a little bored. Then, noting with shame the absurd inconsistency and worse than the ridiculous lie of understatement, 'It is not enough,' he added firmly. 'It is a foundation that cannot bear more than the weight of the spirit. And that I would used, I turned into a ghost." After a moment of silence, “For the last few days,” he continued slowly, “I've had this strange feeling that I'm really gone, that I've been gone for years. From . . . I don't know when, probably before the war. He couldn't bring himself to talk about Brian. "Not there," he repeated.

"There aren't many people there," Mark said. “Not as humans, anyway. Only as animals and embodied functions.

"Animals and embodied functions," repeated another. — You said it right. But in most cases they have no choice; nothingness is imposed on them by circumstances. While I had a free choice - at least while everyone has a free choice. If I wasn't there, it was on purpose.

"And you're saying you just discovered the fact that you've never been there?"

Anthony shook his head. "No, no, of course I knew that. All the time. But theoretically. In the same way as you know. . . so, for example, that there are birds that live in symbiosis with wasps. An interesting and interesting fact, but nothing more. I didn't allow it anymore. And then I had my excuses. Work: Too much personal life would interfere with my work. And the need for freedom: freedom of thought, freedom to satisfy the passion of exploring the world. And freedom for yourself. I wanted to be free because it was unbearable not to be free.

“I can understand that,” said Mark, “provided there's someone out there who can enjoy the freedom. And on the condition, he added, that someone realizes that he is free by overcoming the obstacles on the way to freedom. But how can you be free if there is no "you"?

"I've always said it the other way around," Anthony said. How can you be free - or rather (because you have to think about it impersonally) how can there be freedom - as long as the "you" lasts? "You" must be consistent and responsible, you must make decisions and engage. But if we get rid of "you," we get rid of responsibility and the need for consistency. Man is free as a sequence of unconditioned, non-binding states without past and future, unless he can voluntarily free himself from memory and anticipation. After a moment of silence: "The astonishing stupidity of old Socrates!" . "To imagine that knowing the right line is enough to follow it. This is almost always known - and most often it is not noticed. Or maybe you're not like that", he added in a different tone, looking at Marko through the mosquito net. "You tend to attribute your own shortcomings to everyone else. A weakness in my case. Not to speak of timidity,' he added, with a laugh that came automatically, so deeply ingrained was the habit of retreating as soon as something of personal confidence was said, as to make the hearer suspect the seriousness of his intentions in speaking; "timidity and open cowardice and indolence towards everything that is not my business." He laughed again, as if it was all absurd, not worth mentioning. "He forgets that other people can be different. Strong mind, strong goal. I dare say you always do what you know is right.

"I always do," Mark replied. "Is that good or bad." He demonstrated the anatomy of a smile.

Anthony was lying on the pillows, hands clasped behind his head, eyes half closed. Then, after a long silence, he turned to Staithes and said suddenly, "Haven't you ever felt like you just didn't feel like doing what you had decided? For example, now I suddenly began to wonder why on earth I was talking to you - why was I thinking about these things before you showed up - why was I trying to decide to do something. I wonder and feel like I just can't be bothered. Thinking it would be better to just avoid it all and go back to the familiar routine . A peaceful life. Even if a peaceful life would be fatal. Deadly, deadly, but still all for it. He shook his head. "Probably, if you hadn't come to embarrass me and decide, I would have done that—run away from it all and come back peaceful life." He laughed. "Or maybe," he added, "I'll do it even now. In spite of you. He sat down, pulled up the mosquito net, and got out of bed. "I'm going to take a bath."

Chapter twenty seven. May 27, 1914

ANTHONY He went to breakfast and found his father explaining to the children the etymology of what they were eating. '. . . just another form of "frosting". You say "porridge" like you say - or rather ... (he winked at them) "I hope you won't say ... "shurup" instead of "shut up."

The two girls ate quietly.

- Ah, Anthony! continued Mr. Beavis. 'Better ever than never. What, no frosting this morning? But I hope you eat the Aberdeen chop.

Anthony helped himself to the haddock and took his seat.

"This is a letter for you," said Mr. Beavis, and held it out. "Don't I recognize Brian's handwriting?" Anthony nodded. "Does he still like his job in Manchester?"

"I think so," Anthony replied. “Besides, of course, he works too much. It's in the paper until one or two in the morning. And then from lunch to dinner he works on his thesis.

"Well, it's good to see a young man with the energy of his ambition," said Mr. Beavis. "Because, of course, he doesn't have to work that much. It's not like his mother didn't have the means.

This infuriated Anthony so much that, although he found Brian's behavior absurd, he responded to his father with sharp sharpness. "He doesn't take his mother's money," he said very coldly. - It is a matter of principle.

A diversion ensued as the children put down plates of porridge and were given Aberdeen chops. Anthony took the opportunity to read his letter.

Long time no hear. Here, everything is going on as usual, or it would be that I felt a little more energy. But the sleep wasn't very good, and the inner workings weren't what they could be. Consequently, I'm slowing down on my thesis, just like I can't slow down on paper. All of which makes me look forward to our anticipated fortnight in Langdale. Don't let me down, for God's sake. How dull is one's corpse when even the slightest thing goes wrong! Even if it is doing well in that respect. So many outdated inconveniences. Sometimes I bitterly resent this physical predestination for scatology and obscenity. Write soon and let me know how you are, what you're reading, whether you've met someone interesting. And will you do me a favor? Joan is now in town, staying with her aunt and working for charity people. Her father, of course, didn't want her to go - he preferred to have her at home so he could bully her. There was a long battle that he eventually lost; he has been in town for almost a month. For which I am extremely grateful - but at the same time, for various reasons, I am a little worried. If I could go on weekends, I would come alone; But I can not. And maybe, in a way, everything is for the best. In my present musty state, I'd rather be a skeleton at a feast; plus there are some complications. I cannot explain them in a letter; but when you come up north in july i'll give it a try. I should have asked your advice earlier. You are heavier than me. This is ultimately why I haven't talked to you about it - for fear of making you look like a fool! Such is stupidity. But we will talk about everything later. In the meantime, are you going to contact her, take her out to dinner, get her talking, and then write to me and tell me how you think she's reacting to London, what she thinks about life in general, and so on. It was a sudden transition - from remote country life to London, from poverty to a wealthy home, from subjection to her father's cruel tyranny to independence. Fast transition; and while I'm happy about it, I'm a little nervous about its effects. But you will see. - Yours,


Antoni saw the same day. The old shyness he'd noticed when they'd shaken hands in the restaurant lobby was still there—the same embarrassed smile, the same wobbly retreating movement. She was more feminine in face and body than the last time he had seen her, a year ago, and more beautiful, no doubt because she was better dressed.

They entered the restaurant and sat down. Anthony ordered some food and a bottle of Vouvray, then began exploring the area.

London - how did she like London?

I liked it.

Even a job?

Maybe not the office part. But three times a week she helped in the kindergarten. 'I love children.'

"Even those awful little stinkers?"

Joanna was outraged. "They are too sweet. I love working with them. Plus, it allows me to enjoy the rest of London with a clear conscience. I feel that I have paid for my theaters and dances.

Shyness interrupted her speech as if plunging her into alternating light and shadow. At one point she spoke with difficulty, barely opening her mouth, her voice low and indistinct, her face turned away; in the next, her timidity gave way to a sudden surge of strong emotion—rapture, despair, or unbridled joy—and she looked at him with eyes that had suddenly become surprisingly daring; her voice became clear from almost inaudible; strong white teeth flashed between lips parted in sincere love. She suddenly felt afraid of her own courage; she realized that she was a potential critic. What was he thinking? Did she make a fool of herself? Her voice broke, blood rushed to her cheeks, she looked at her plate; and for the next few minutes he received nothing but curt muttered answers to his questions, nothing but the shallowest nervous laugh in response to all his efforts to amuse her. But the food and wine did their work, and as the meal drew near, she felt more and more relaxed. They started talking about Brian.

"You should stop him from working so hard," he said.

"You think I'm not trying?" Then, with something like anger in her voice, "It's his nature," she continued. - He is so conscientious.

"Your job is to make him unconscious." He smiled at her, expecting a return. But instead she frowned; her face took on an expression of exasperated misery. "Easy for you to say," she murmured. There was silence as she sat with her eyes downcast and sipped her wine.

They could get married, he thought for the first time, if Brian agreed to live with his mother. So why on earth, when we see how much he was in love with the girl. . . ?

With the peach-melba, everything worked. "It's hard to talk about," she said. "I hardly mentioned it to anyone. But it's different with you. You've known Brian for so long; you are his oldest friend. you will understand. I feel like I can tell you about it.

Curious, but a little worried at the same time, he muttered something vaguely polite.

She saw no sign of his embarrassment; at this moment Anthony was only a heaven-sent opportunity to release in her speech a wave of disturbing feelings that she had been unable to express for too long.

That is his conscientiousness. If only you knew. . . ! Why did he get the idea that there was something wrong with love? I mean simple, happy love. He thinks it's wrong; he believes he should not have such feelings.

She pushed the plate away and, leaning forward with her elbows on the table, spoke in a quieter, more intimate tone about the kisses Brian was ashamed of and the other kisses he refused to give as penance.

Anthony listened in amazement. Brian wrote "Some Complications" in his letter; to say the least. It was madness. Tragic - but also grotesque, absurd. It occurred to him that Mary would find the story particularly funny.

"He said he wanted to be worthy of me," she continued. 'Worthy of love. But everything that happened made me feel unworthy. Unworthy of everything, in every way. Guilt - The feeling that I have done something wrong. And dirty, if you know what I mean, like I fell in the mud. But, Anthony, that's not bad, is it? she asked. “I mean, we never did anything that wasn't. . . you know: quite innocent. Why does he say he is unworthy and makes me unworthy? Why him? she insisted. Tears appeared in her eyes.

"He's always been that way," Anthony said. Maybe his upbringing. . . His mother is a wonderful person," he added, crossing over, he suddenly realized as he said the words, in Mrs. Fox's own language. "But perhaps a little crushing, just because of that."

Joan nodded decisively but said nothing.

"Maybe she made him aim a little too high," he continued. “Too high all the way, if you know what I mean—even if he doesn't follow her lead directly. Like this thing that he doesn't want to take money from her. . ".

Joan took up the subject with fiery fervor: “Yes, why does he want to be different from everyone else? After all, there are still good people in the world and they don't need it. Remember," she added, looking sharply into Anthony's face as if trying to catch and suppress an expression of disapproval or, worse, condescending amusement, "I think it's great that he did. Beautiful! she repeated with some defiance. Then, back to the critical tone she wouldn't let Anthony use, but felt her own feelings for Brian justified her. it would hurt him to take the money. I think it's mostly because of his mother.

Surprised: "But he told me Mrs. Foxe tried to insist on taking it."

Oh, she sounded like she wanted him to take it. We were there over the weekend in May to talk about it. She kept telling him that there was nothing wrong with taking the money and that he should think about me and the marriage. But when Brian and I told her that we agreed not to take it, she... ".

Anthony interrupted her. - But did you agree?

Joanna looked down. "In a way," she said grimly. Then, looking up again with sudden anger, "How could I disagree with him? Seeing that this is what he wants to do and will do even more, even if I disagree. And besides, I told you , there was something lovely and wonderful about it. Of course I agreed. But agreeing didn't mean I really wanted him to turn down the money. And that's where her fakery came in—she pretended to think I wanted him to say no, and congratulated me and him on what we did. Saying we were heroes and all that. And thus encouraging him to pursue this idea. That's her doing, I tell you. Much more than you think.

She remained silent, and Anthony decided it would be best if he left the subject alone. God knows what she would have said if he had let her talk about Mrs. Foxe. "Poor Brian," he said aloud, then added in cliches, "Better is the enemy of good."

- Yes, that's the point! She called. "The enemy of good. He wants to be perfect - but look at the result! He tortures himself and hurts me. Why should I feel dirty and criminal? Because that's what he does. When I did nothing wrong. Neither is he for that matter. And yet he wants me to feel the same way about him. Dirty and criminal. Why is it so hard for me? The more difficult. Her voice trembled, tears flowed in streams. She took out a handkerchief and quickly wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. I'm making a fool of myself. But if you only knew how hard it was for me! I loved him so much that I still want to love him. But I don't think he wants to let me. It should be so beautiful; but he does his best to make it look nasty and horrible." Then, after a while, in a voice that almost dropped to a whisper: "Sometimes I wonder if I can stand it any longer."

Did that mean, he wondered, that she had already decided to break up—had already met someone else who was willing to love and be loved less tragically, more normally than Brian? NOT; probably not, he decided. But there was a good chance he would soon. In a way (not exactly the way he liked) she was attractive. There will be no shortage of candidates; and if a satisfactory candidate presented itself, could she, whatever she consciously wanted, refuse?

Joanna broke the silence. "I dream so often about the house we will live in," she said. “Going from room to room; and it all looks so nice. Beautiful curtains and chair covers. And vases full of flowers. she sighed; then after a while: "Do you understand that he does not want to take his mother's money?"

Anthony hesitated for a moment; then he casually replied; 'I understand that it is; but I don't think I should do it alone.

She sighed again. - I feel the same way. She looked at her watch; then she gathered her gloves. "I'll have to go." With that return from intimacy to the mundane world of time, people and encounters, she suddenly reawakened in painful self-consciousness. Is he tired of it? Did he think she was stupid? She looked at his face, trying to read his mind; then she looked down. "I'm afraid I've talked too much about myself," she muttered. "I don't know why I should charge you." . ".

He protested. "I just want to help."

Joan looked up again and gave him a quick smile of gratitude. - You have done a lot just by listening.

They left the restaurant, and after walking her to the bus, he headed for the British Museum, wondering on the way what letter to write to Brian. Should she wash her hands of the whole thing and just write a note that Joan seems healthy and happy? Or should he discover that she told him everything, so that he should continue with apologies, warnings, and advice? He passed between the huge pillars of the portico and entered the murky coolness inside. An ordinary sermon, he thought with disgust. If the problem could be approached as it should be approached - as a Rabelaisian joke. But poor Brian could hardly be expected to see it in that light. Although he would benefit from thinking about the change in Rabelaisian terms. Anthony showed his business card to the staff member and walked down the hall to the reading room. That was always the problem, he thought; no one can ever be influenced to be other than himself or in any way affect a validity which he has not already accepted. He pushed open the door and found himself under the dome, inhaling the faint, pungent smell of books. Millions of books. And all those hundreds of thousands of authors, century after century, each one was convinced that they were right, convinced that they knew the biggest secret, convinced that they could convince the rest of the world by putting it in black and white. Whereas, in fact, the only people who were ever convinced were those whose nature and circumstances had already actually or potentially convinced them. And they weren't entirely reliable either. Circumstances have changed. What convinced in January will not necessarily convince in August. The assistant handed him the book that had been reserved for him, and he went to his seat. Mountains of spirit in endless labors; and the result was - what? Well, you are ridiculum murem requiris, the periphery. Satisfied with his invention, he looked around at his fellow readers—walrus-like men, dark women, Indians, gaunt or overgrown, sideburns patriarchs, bespectacled youths. Heirs of all ages. Depressing if taken seriously; but also irresistibly comical. He sat down and opened the book - De Lancre's Tableau de l'Inconstance des mauvais anges - where he had stopped reading the day before. "Le Diable estoit en forme de bouc, ayant une queue et au dessoubs un visage d'homme noir, où elle fut contrainte le baiser . . . He laughed silently to himself. Another one for Mary, he thought.

He got up at five, left his books on the table and took the tube from Holborn to Gloucester Road. A few minutes later he was outside Mary Amberley's front door. The maid opened; he smiled familiarly at her and, taking advantage of the privilege of being an intimate member of the household, ran upstairs to the living room unannounced.

"I have a story for you," he announced as he crossed the room.

"I hope it's a big story," said Mary Amberley from the sofa.

Anthony kissed his hand in that artificial style he had recently adopted and sat down. "To thick-skinned people", he said, "everything is primitive".

"Yes, good luck!" And with that crooked smile of hers, that dark glow between her closed lids, "A dirty mind," she added, "is an eternal treat." The joke was old and not hers; but she enjoyed Anthony's laugh all the same. It was a genuine laugh, loud and long, louder and longer than the joke warranted. But it wasn't a joke he was actually laughing at. The joke was no more than an excuse; that laughter was not his response to a single stimulus but to a whole unusual and exciting situation. Feel free to talk about anything (remember, anything) with a woman, a lady, a real "loaf kneader", as Mr. The English bread-kneader, who was also a lover, read Mallarmé, was also a friend of Guillaume Apollinaire; and to listen to the bread-kneader preaching about what she practised, and casually mentioning the beds, the toilets, the physiology of what (for the Saxon words were still unpronounceable) they had to call love—it was still an experience for Anthony, after two year and despite Maria's occasional infidelities, an intoxicating mixture of liberation and forbidden fruit, relief and excitement. In his father's universe, in the world of Pauline and his aunt, such things simply did not exist - but they did not exist with a painfully, glaringly conspicuous absence. Like a hypnotized patient instructed to see the five of clubs as a piece of virgin cardboard, they were willfully blind to undesirable things, conspiratorially silent about everything they were blind to. The natural functions of even lower animals had to be neglected; even the pets were silent. The incident with the goat, for example, was now the subject of one of Anthony's greatest anecdotes. Brilliantly comic - but how much more comical now than then, almost two years before he first met Mary, when it actually happened! At a picnic on that dreadful Scheideck Pass, with the Weisshorn hanging over them like an obsession, and a group of lynx which Mr. Beavis had been carefully searching for in the grass at their feet, the family had been visited by a half-grown child greedy for the salts for his trouble—boiled eggs. Crouched and a little disgusted by their delight, his two little half-sisters reached out to lick them while Pauline posed for pictures, and Mr. Beavis, whose interest in goats was mostly philological, quoted Theocritus. pastoral scene! But suddenly the little creature sat up and, still staring blankly at the Beavis family with the elongated pupils of its large yellow eyes, began to pour water over the gentian.

"They're not very generous with the butter" and "How jolly old Weisshorn looks to-day," said Pauline and Mr. Beavis almost simultaneously—the one looking at her sandwich in a tone of complaint, the other staring off into the distance with a note of delight in her voice, after all a worthy word indeed. , because it was expressed in terms of gentlemanly and all-English playfulness.

In haste and guilt, the two children swallowed their initial cry of surprised glee and turned their frozen faces away from each other and the outrageous goat. Temporarily discredited the world of Mr. Beavis and Pauline, and the aunts calmed down again.

"What about your story?" Mrs. Amberley asked when his laughter died down.

"You'll hear," Anthony said and paused for a moment, lighting a cigarette, thinking about what he was going to say and how he was going to say it. He was ambitious in his story, he wanted it to be good and at the same time funny and psychologically deep; the story of the smoking room, which should also be the history of the library, the history of the laboratory. Mary must be made to pay the double tribute of laughter and admiration.

"Do you know Brian Foxe?" he started.

'Of course.'

"Poor old Brian!" With his tone, to use a condescending adjective, Anthony asserted his position of supremacy, asserted his right, the right of an enlightened and scientific vivisector, to anatomize and study. Yes, poor old Brian! It's his maniacal preoccupation with cleanliness! Chastity - the most unnatural of all sexual perversions, he added in passing, with Rémy de Gourmont. Maria's respectful smile encouraged him to new efforts. New efforts, of course at Brian's expense. But that didn't cross his mind at the moment.

"But what can you expect," added Mrs. Amberley, "from such a mother?" One of those ghost vampires. Ordinary St. Monica.

Ary Scheffer's Saint Monica, he thought he had gone too far. Not that Mrs. Foxe had any trace of Saint Scheffer's morbid insincerity. But the end of his story, which should have caused Maria's laughter and admiration, was sufficient justification for all the means. Scheffer was the perfect joke, too good to ignore even if off topic. And when Mary uttered what was now her favorite phrase and began to speak of Mrs. Foxe's "maternal reactions," he seized on the words and began to apply them not only to Mrs. Foxe, but to Joan, and even (taking more one joke about the physical absurdity of things) to Brian. Brian's gut reactions to purity conflicted with his and Joan's gut reactions to their shared desires - it was drama. Drama, he explained, the existence of which he had so far only suspected and guessed. Now it was no longer necessary to guess; he knew. Straight from the horse's mouth. Or rather straight from the mare. Poor Joanna! Vivisection placed another specimen on the operating table.

"Like the early Christians," commented Mrs. Amberley when he had finished.

The sharp contempt in her voice made him suddenly remember, for the first time since the beginning of his story, that Brian was his friend, that Joan was truly unhappy. Too late he wanted to explain that, against all odds, there was no one he liked, admired and respected more than Brian. "You can't get me wrong," Mary said in retrospect and thoughtfully. - I am completely dedicated to him. He became eloquent on the subject in his head. But no amount of that inner eloquence could change the fact that he betrayed trust and was mean without apology or qualifying explanation. At the time, of course, this malice seemed to him a manifestation of his own psychological acumen; those betrayed trusts, indispensable facts without which wisdom would be impossible. But now. . .

He immediately felt confused and self-conscious.

"I was so sorry Joan," he stammered, trying to make up for it. “I promised to do everything in my power to help the poor girl. But what? That is the question. What? He exaggerated the note of embarrassment. Embarrassed, he had a right to betray Joanna's confidence; he told the story (now he began to convince himself) solely to ask Maria for advice - the advice of an experienced worldly woman.

But the experienced woman of the world looked at him in a way that disturbed him the most. Mrs. Amberley's brows narrowed in a mocking flash; the left corner of her mouth turned up ironically. “The most beautiful thing about you,” she said in a judgmental tone, “is your innocence.

Her words were so painful that for a moment he forgot about Joan, Brian, his shameful behavior and could only think of his pierced vanity.

"Thank you," he said, trying to give her a smile of genuine amusement. Innocent—she thought he was innocent? After their stay in Paris. After those jokes about uterine reactions?

"So wonderfully youthful, so touching."

"I'm glad you think so." The smile was completely gone; he felt the blood rush to his cheeks.

“You have a girl coming,” continued Mrs. Amberley, “complaining that she is not loved enough. And here you are, seriously asking what you should do to help her! And now you're blushing like a beet. Honey, I absolutely adore you!" Laying a hand on his shoulder, "Kneel here on the floor," she commanded. He listened rather timidly. Mary Amberley stared at him for a moment in silence, with the same bright, mocking expression in her eyes. Then, quietly asked, “Shall I show you what you can do to help her?” “Shall I show you?”

He nodded wordlessly; but still, within arm's reach, she smiled questioningly straight into his face.

"Or am I a fool for showing you this?" she asked. "Aren't you going to learn this lesson too well? Maybe I'll be jealous? She shook her head and smiled, a bright, "civilized" smile. "No, I don't believe in jealousy." She cupped his face in both hands and whispered, "This is how you can help her," and pulled him close.

Anthony felt humiliated by her almost contemptuous acceptance of the dominant role; but no shame, no anger could nullify his body's awareness of familiar crawling pleasures and desires. He was giving her kisses.

The clock ticked and immediately squealing children's voices were heard from upstairs. Mrs. Amberley stepped back and, covering his mouth with her hand, pushed him away from her. - You must be a housewife - she said with a laugh. "It's six o'clock. I become a loving mother at the age of six.

Anthony jumped to his feet and, intending to invent some convincing evidence, walked over to the fireplace and stood there, leaning his elbows on the mantelpiece, staring at Conder's watercolor.

The door slammed open and with a scream like the whistle of an express train, a small round child of five years ran into the room and almost threw herself at her mother. Another girl, three or four years older than the first, hurried after her.

- Helen! she cried, her expression of worried disapproval an absurd parody of the governess's. "Helen! You are not allowed. Tell her she can't scream like that, Mom, she said to Mrs. Amberley.

But Mrs. Amberley just laughed and ran her fingers through the baby's thick yellow hair. "Joyce believes in the Ten Commandments," she told Anthony. "I was born believing in them. right baby? She hugged Joyce and kissed her. "While Helen and I are . She shook her head. - Stiff necks and uncircumcised hearts and ears.

"Nanny says her neck is stiff from the draft," reported Joyce, and she resented it when her mother and Anthony, and even, by some incomprehensible plague, little Helen, burst out laughing. - But it's true! she cried; and tears of indignant virtue were in her eyes. "Nanny said so."

Chapter twenty eight. June 25, 1934

It's EASY to become Stiggins in modern clothes! A much more subtle and therefore more obnoxious, more dangerous Stiggins. Because, of course, Stiggins himself was too stupid to be inherently very evil or capable of harming other people. But if I decide to do so, God knows what I would not achieve by lying to my soul. Even if I hadn't prepared for it, I could have gone far, as I discovered to my horror, today when I talked to Purchase and three or four of his young men. Speaking of Miller's "anthropological approach"; speaking of peace as a way of life and international politics - a way of life is a prerequisite for any policy that had the slightest hope of lasting success. Speaking so clearly, so deeply, so persuasively. (The poor ladies listened with tongues hanging out.) Far more persuasively than Purchas himself could; this muscular, playfully Christian style starts out effective, but soon makes listeners feel like he's talking to them. They like the speaker to be completely serious, but understandable. This is a trick I happen to have. Here I was debating the spiritual life in a truly masterly manner and enjoying that mastery immensely, secretly congratulating myself not only on being so clever but on being so good—when I suddenly realized who I was: Stiggins. To talk about the theory of courage, dedication, patience, without knowing the practice. Moreover, speaking in the presence of men who practiced what I preached—preaching so effectively that the proper rules were reversed: they listened to me, not I to them. The discovery of what I was doing came suddenly. Shame took hold of me. And yet, even more shamefully, he continued. However, not for long. A minute or two and I simply had to stop, apologize, insist that it was not my job to talk.

This shows how easy it is to be Stiggins by mistake and unknowingly. But also that ignorance is not an excuse and that a mistake bears responsibility, which of course comes from the pleasure of being more talented than others and dominating them with those talents. Why is someone unconscious? Because no one ever bothered to investigate their motives; and the motives are not investigated because the motives are mostly compromising. Alternatively, of course, one examines one's motives, but lies to one's self about them until one is convinced that they are good. That's the belief of the self-aware Stiggins. I had always condemned ostentatiousness and the desire to dominate as vulgar, and imagined myself entirely free from such vulgarities. But how free he is at all, free I see now only by the indifference that kept me away from other people, by external economic circumstances and internal intellectual circumstances that made me a sociologist, not a banker, administrator, engineer, working in direct contact with my colleagues . I realized that not socializing is wrong; but the moment I do, I catch myself showing off and trying to dominate. Showing it would be worse, as Stiggins would do, trying to dominate through a purely verbal display of virtues that I don't put into practice. It's humiliating to say that the supposedly good qualities are mostly the result of circumstances and a bad habit of indifference that has caused me to avoid opportunities for bad behavior - or good for that matter, since it's very difficult to be good or bad unless you're dealing with other people.. What is even more humiliating is that, when good will creates the necessary opportunities, they are immediately reacted to with bad behavior. Note: Meditate on virtues that are opposite to vanity, lust for power, hypocrisy.

Twenty-ninth chapter. May 24, 1931

THE EYELIDS WERE LIFT; the sunlight was shining brightly on the dressing table. Helen was still in bed as usual. The days were so long. Lying in the soft, intoxicating warmth of her own body under the covers, she kept him awake with sleep, vague, incoherent thoughts, reading dreams. The book that morning was Shelley's Poems. “A warm fragrance,” she read, the words whispering audibly, “seemed to waft from her light dress. . (She saw a long-legged figure in white muslin, with slumped shoulders and high breasts.)

. . . from her bright dress

And her loose hair; and where is some heavy braid

The air of her own speed dissipated. . . .

(The character was now running around in square-toed loafers tied with a black ribbon over white cotton socks.)

The sweetness seems to be saturated with a light wind;

And there is a wild fragrance in the soul

Beyond the senses, like fiery dew melting

In the bowels of the frozen bud. . . .

The half-open rose gave way to the strangely contorted face of Mark Staithes. The things he said to her the night before about the perfume. musk, amber. . . And Henri Quatre with bromidosis of the feet. Bien vous en prend d'être roi; sans cela he ne vous pourrait souffrir. Vous puez comme charogne. She made a face. Hugh smelled like sour milk.

The clock ticked. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Twelve! She felt guilty; then she defiantly decided to stay in bed for lunch. The voice she remembered—it was Cynthia's—taught her memory. - She should go out more often, meet people. But the people, Cynthia's people, were so boring. Behind closed lids she saw her mother tapping the top of her skull: "Solid ivory, my dear!" Hopelessly stupid, ignorant, tasteless, slow. "I'm elevated above my mental state," she told Anthony the night before. "So if I ever have to be around people as stupid and uneducated as I am, it will be torture, absolute torture!"

Cynthia was sweet, of course; it's always been like that since they went to school together. But Cynthia's husband - that retriever! And her young men, and young men's girls! 'My boyfriend. My friend. How she hated those words, and even more the awful way in which they were spoken! So timid, so daring the implications of co-sleeping! While in fact most of them were completely respectable. In the rare cases where they were not worthy of respect, it seemed even worse – double hypocrisy. They really sleep together and pretend they are just pretending to do it. Dark English from the upper class of it all! And then they always played games. "Ga-ames," Ms. Amberley drew from her premorph past. "Dear old school in every home." See more of these people, do more of what they did. . . She shook her head.

Husband! Sister! Angel! Pilot of destiny

Whose ride was so starless. . .

Was it all nonsense? Or did it mean something - something wonderful that she had never experienced? But yes, she lived.

Because on the fields of immortality

My spirit must first worship Yours,

A divine presence in a divine place. . . .

It was humiliating to admit it now; but the fact was that in Gerry's case she knew exactly what those sentences meant. A divine presence in a divine place. And it was the presence in bed of a cheater who was also a virtuoso in the art of making love. With perverse delight she insisted, as brutally as she could, on the grotesque discrepancy between the facts and her feelings at the time.

I love you; yes i feel it

Yes on the well of my heart seal

It is set up to keep its waters clean and clear

for you. . .

Helen laughed softly. The sound of the quarter hour made her think of Cynthia's advice again. There were other people there, people they had met when Hugh and she had dined at the Museum or at the University. "Those God-fearing people" (her mother spoke again) "who still fear God though they cast him into the sea." The fear of God in committees. Fearing him in the W.E.A. lecture halls. Fearing him through the endless debates about the planned society. But Gerry's good looks, Gerry's technique as a lover - how come they didn't exist? Or a fetus that inexorably grows and grows in its mother's womb? – Coordinated housing program for the entire country. She remembered Frank Ditchling's grave, persuasive voice. His nose was turned up, and his large nostrils stared at him like a second pair of eyes. "Relocation of the population. . . Satellite cities. . . Green stripes. . . Elevators even in working-class apartments. . She obeyed, fell under the spell of his hypnotizing nostrils, and for a moment it seemed wonderful, worth dying for. But later. . . Well, the elevators were very convenient - she wished she had one in her apartment. The parks were nice for a walk. But how would Frank Ditchling's crusade affect any of the major issues? A coordinated apartment will not make her mother any less dirty, any less hopelessly at the mercy of her drunken body. And Hugh - would Hugh be any different in a satellite city and with an elevator than he was now climbing four flights of stairs in London? Hugh! She thought mockingly of his letters—of all the tender, beautiful things he had written—and then of the man he was in everyday reality as a husband. "Show me how I can help you, Hugh." Organizing his papers, copying notes, looking up references for him in the library. But he always, glassy-eyed behind the glass, shook his head: either he didn't need help or she couldn't provide it. "I want to be a good wife, Hugh." With her mother's loud laughter echoing in her mind, words were hard to say. But she thought of them; she wanted to be a good wife. Patching socks, boiling hot milk before going to bed, reading his subject, being sérieuse, in a word, for the first time and deeply. But Hugh didn't want her to be a good wife, he didn't want her to be anything. A divine presence in a divine place. But the place was his letters; it was present, as far as he was concerned, only at the other end of the postal system. He didn't even want her in bed—not too much, anyway, not in the usual way. Green stripes, really!

All that didn't matter. It was the silence into which Hugh closed himself during the meal. It was about that martyred face he wore whenever she walked into his office while he was working. It was the veiled misery of those close-ups in the dark, the hideous detachment and tenderness of the sensuality in which the role assigned to her was purely ideal. It was that look of horror, almost horror and disgust, that she had felt in the first few weeks of their marriage when she got the flu. He was considerate; and at first she was touched, she felt gratitude. But when she discovered the heroic effort it had cost him to nurse her sick body, the gratitude faded. No doubt the effort alone was admirable. What she hated, what she couldn't forgive, was the fact that she had to make an effort. She wanted to be accepted as she was, even in a fever, even in a state of vomiting bile. In that mysticism book she was reading was the story of Mrs. Guyon picking up a terrible spittle and spittle from the floor and putting it in her mouth as a test of will. Sick, she was a test of Hugh's will; and every month since then renewed his secret fear of her body. It was an intolerable insult—and would have been just as intolerable in one of Ditchling's satellite towns in the planned world these devout atheists were always talking about.

But there was also Fanny Carling. "Mouse" Helen called her - she was so small, so gray, so quietly swift. But the mystical mouse. A mouse with huge blue eyes who seemed constantly amazed at what he was seeing beyond the appearance of things. Amazed, yet radiant with an inexplicable happiness—a happiness that Helen found almost obscene, but which she envied. "How can you believe in things that are obviously false?" she asked, half maliciously, half sincerely wanting to know a precious secret. - Living - answered the mouse. "If you live the right way, everything turns out to be an obvious truth." She continued to say incomprehensible things about love for God, about love for things and people for God's sake. "I don't know what you mean". "Only because you don't want to, Helen." Stupid, angry answer! "How do you know what I want?" Sighing, Helen returned to her book.

I was never attached to this sect

Whose doctrine is that everyone should choose

From a crowd of lovers or friends,

("One of my boys...")

And all the others, although just and wise, praise

To cold oblivion, even though it is a code

About modern morality and beaten paths

Where these poor slaves tread with weary steps,

Who travel to their home among the dead

The broad road of the world and so on

With one chained friend, perhaps a jealous enemy,

The scariest and longest journey.

The saddest and longest, she told herself. But it might be just as long, she thought, and just as dark with a few of them as with one—Bob, Cecil, and Quentin—as with Hugh.

True love is different from gold and clay,

That sharing does not mean taking.

"I don't believe it," she said aloud; and besides, there wasn't much love to share. For poor little Cecil, she never pretended to be sorry. And with Quentin it was just... well, just hygiene. As for Bob, he really cared about her, and she, for her part, did everything in her power to take care of him. But beneath his charming manner, beneath his heroic appearance, there was really nothing. And as a lover he was hopelessly clumsy, barbaric and incomprehensible! She broke up with him after only a few weeks. And maybe, she thought, that was her destiny - to lose her heart only to men like Gerry, to be loved only by men like Hugh, Bob and Cecil. Worship cruelty and meanness, be worshiped by want.

The phone rang; Helen picked up the phone.


Anthony Beavis' voice answered. He wanted her to have dinner with him tomorrow.

"I'd love to," she said, though she had promised Quentin an evening.

A smile spread across her face as she sank back into the pillows. Smart man, she thought. It's worth fifty of those poor little Cecils and Quentins. And funny, charming and even quite handsome. How good he was to her that evening at Mark's dinner! He did everything to be nice. While that pretentious asshole Pitchley did his best to be rude and disrespectful. Then she wondered if she was attracted to Anthony. I wondered and hoped more. Now that invitation gave her a reason not only to hope, but also to think so. She hummed to herself; then suddenly energized, he threw off the sheets. She decided to get up for dinner.

The thirtieth chapter. July 2, 1914

As for Mary Amberley, this spring and early summer had been particularly dull. Anthony was no doubt a wonderful boy. But two years is a long time; lost its novelty. And then he was really too much in love. Of course, it was nice that people fell in love with each other, but not too violently and not if it lasted too long. In this case they became a nuisance; they began to imagine that they have rights and you have responsibilities. Which was unbearable. All the fuss Anthony made last winter about that art critic in Paris! Flattering, in a way. Mary had rarely seen anyone so desperately upset. Seeing that on closer acquaintance the art critic turned out to be a bit blunt, she quite enjoyed the blackmailing process with Anthony's stupid mishaps and tears. But the rule was wrong. She didn't want to be loved in this blackmailing way. Especially if it was long-term blackmail. She liked to keep things short, sharp and exciting. Any other time, and with anyone who wasn't an art critic, she wouldn't let Anthony blackmail her. The problem, however, was that besides Sidney Gattick—and she wasn't quite sure she could tolerate Sidney's voice and behavior—there was no one else in sight. The world was a place where all the fun and exciting things suddenly stopped happening. There was nothing left but to realize them. So she talked to Anthony about what she called "Joan's treatment," with a stubbornness disproportionate to the interest she had in Joan, Brian Foxe, or even Anthony—simply hoping to create some fun out of the boring nothingness of time. .

"How's the treatment going?" she asked again that July afternoon.

Anthony replied with a long, carefully rehearsed story about his position as Fat Uncle; and how he gradually established himself, on a more intimate basis, as Big Brother; how he proposed from Big Brother to develop, almost imperceptibly, into Sentimental Cousin; and from Sentimental Cousin to . . .

“The truth is,” interrupted Mrs. Amberley, “that you're not doing anything at all.

Anthony protested. "I walk slowly. Using strategy.

– Strategy! she repeated dismissively. - It's just funk.

He denied it, but with an unbridled blush. Because of course she was half right. The funk was there. Despite being Maria's lover for two years, he still suffered from shyness, still lacking confidence in the presence of women. But his shyness was not the only restraining force in action. There was also remorse, affection and loyalty. But between them, a conversation with Maria would be almost impossible. She'd say he's just hiding his fear under all sorts of laudably fancy clothes, she'd just refuse to believe his other feelings were real. And the problem was that she would have some justification for refusing. After all, there wasn't much sign of remorse, affection or loyalty when he told her this story. How often since then, in futile outbursts of retrospective anger, has he cursed himself for having done it! And in an attempt to make sure that the responsibility was not only his, he also cursed Maria. Blaming her for not telling him that she had betrayed her confessions of sheer licentiousness and vanity; because I did not refuse to obey him.

- The fact is - Mary continued inexorably - that you dare not kiss a woman. All you can do is put on one of your irresistibly tender and melancholy faces and silently beg to be seduced.

- What nonsense! But he blushed more than ever.

Ignoring the interruption, "She won't seduce you, of course," Mary continued. "She's too young. Perhaps not too young to succumb to temptation. Because what you are striving for is a mother's instinct, and a three-year-old child has it too. Even a three-year-old child would feel her little heart beating for you. Completely broken. She twisted her lips mockingly, "But seduction." . Mrs. Amberley shook her head. "You can't expect that much later." Certainly not from a twenty-year-old girl.

“To tell you the truth,” Anthony said, trying to distract her from the painful part of his character, “I've never found Joan particularly attractive. A little too rustic. He emphasized the word Mary-style. "Besides, she's really childish," he added, and immediately regretted his words; because Mary was again on him like a falcon.

- Childish! she repeated. 'I like this. And you? Let's talk pots and kettles! A feeding bottle that calls diapers childish. Although, of course," she continued, returning to the attack where she had earlier made her way, "it's natural for you to complain about her. She's too childish for you. Too childish to argue with. Childish enough to expect to be robbed. Poor girl! went to the wrong address. She won't get any more kisses from you than she did from that backslidden early Christian of hers. Even if you claim to be civilized. . . ".

She was interrupted by the opening of the door.

"Mr. Gattick," said the maid.

Big, ruddy, almost clearly radiating an inner glow of self-satisfaction and self-confidence, Sidney Gattick entered. His voice rang as he greeted, asked about her health. A deep, masculine voice, only the voice of an actor-manager in the role of a strong man can be so masculine. And his profile, Anthony suddenly noticed, was also that of an actor: too noble to be entirely true. And yet, he thought with a contempt born of envy and a certain envy of the worldly success of others, what are these lawyers if not actors? Clever actors, but clever with the cunning of subjects; able to raid a case and forget it as soon as it's over, like someone raiding formal logic or Acts for mod passes or Divvers. No real intelligence, no coherent thinking. The subject's mind is simply stuck in the actor's body and expressed in the actor's booming voice. And for this the company paid the creature five to six thousand pounds a year. And the creature was considered an important, wise, noteworthy man; the creature felt in a patronizing position. Not that it mattered, Anthony assured himself, since he was being protected by this hollow, growing impostor. You can laugh - it was so absurd! But despite the absurdity, and even with the laughs, the patronage was painfully humiliating. For example, the way he was now acting like a respectable old soldier, bluffing peasant, and patting him on the shoulder, he said, "Hey, Anthony, my boy!" It was absolutely unbearable. However, this time, according to Anthony, it was worth enduring the unbearable. This man can be a dull and deceitful fool; but at least his arrival freed him from Maria's attacks. She couldn't tell him about Joan in Gatick's presence.

But that was without Mary and her boredom, her urgent need to do something fun and exciting. There are few things more exciting than conscious bad taste, more entertaining than the sight of someone's shame. Before Gattick could finish her opening remarks, she returned to an old, sore subject.

"When you were Anthony's age," she began, "were you always waiting for a woman to seduce you?"


She nodded her head.

After recovering from his astonishment, Gattick smiled the signature smile of a seasoned don Juan and said in his most manly young prime minister voice, "Of course not." He laughed with satisfaction. "On the contrary, I fear that I have run where angels fear to tread. Sometimes I got punched in the face. But more often than not. He blinked suddenly.

"Anthony prefers to sit still," said Mrs. Amberley; "to sit still and wait for the woman to progress".

"Oh, that's bad, Anthony, that's very bad," said Gattick; and his voice again suggested the soldier's moustache, the Harris tweed of the country gentleman.

"Here's a poor girl who wants to be kissed," continued Mrs. Amberley, "and he just doesn't have the courage to put his arm around her waist and do it."

"You have nothing to say in your defense, Anthony?" Gatick asked.

Trying, rather unsuccessfully, to pretend he didn't care, Anthony shrugged. - Except it's not true.

- What is not true? asked Mary.

— I don't dare.

- But the truth is that you didn't kiss. Is it? she insisted. "Is not it?" And when he had to admit it was true, "I'm just drawing the obvious conclusion from the facts," she said. “You're a lawyer, Sidney. Tell me if this is a legitimate request.

"Absolutely justified," said Gattick, and the Lord Chancellor himself could not have been more significant. He was surrounded by an aura of a robe and a wig full of holes. He was the embodiment of justice.

Anthony opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again. How could he stubbornly try to be "civilized" in the presence of Gattick and Mary? And if he really did, why (the question came up again), why did he tell her that story? And he told it in a special way - as if he were a comedian performing vivisection? Vanity, licentiousness; and then, of course, the fact that he was in love with her and wanted to please her at any cost, even at the cost of what he really felt. (And at the time of the story, he was forced to admit that he really felt nothing but the desire to be funny.) But again, there was no way to put it into words. Gattick didn't know about their affair, he couldn't have known. Even if Gattic hadn't been there, it would have been difficult, almost impossible to explain that to Mary. She would laugh at him for being romantic—romantic to Brian, to Joan, even to himself; he would have found it funny and ridiculous to have made tragic mountains out of a simple mole in love.

“People will insist,” she used to say, “that Mons Veneris be treated as if it were Mount Everest. Too stupid!

When he finally spoke, "I'm not doing it," he limited himself to saying "because I don't want to do it."

- Because you won't dare - cried Mary.


- NO! Her dark eyes sparkled. She had a great time.

Roaring, but with a hint of laughter in his weight, the Lord Chancellor exhaled again. "That's a huge case against you," he said.

"I'll bet," said Mary. "Five to one." If you do it within a month, I'll give you five pounds.

"But I'm telling you I don't want to," he insisted.

“No, you can't get out of it like that. A bet is a bet. Five pounds for you if you bring it within a month from today. And if not, you'll pay me a pound.

"You are too generous," Gattick said.

"Just a pound," she repeated. "But I'll never talk to you again."

They stared at each other in silence for a few seconds. Anthony turned very pale. Mary smiled pursed and crooked; her eyes sparkled with mischievous laughter between her half-closed lids.

Why did she have to be so awful to him, he wondered, so absolutely bestial? He hated her, he hated her even more for wanting her, for the memory of waiting for those pleasures, for her liberating intelligence and knowledge, for everything that inevitably made him do exactly what she wanted. Even though he knew it was stupid and wrong.

Watching him, Mary saw the rebellious hatred in his eyes, and when he finally lowered them, a sign of her own victory.

- Never again - she repeated. "I mean it."

* * *

At home, while Anthony was hanging his hat in the hall, his father called him.

"Come and look here, dear boy."

Damn it, said Anthony indignantly; with a sad expression on his face that Mr. Beavis was too busy to notice, he entered his father's study.

"I'm just playing with the map a bit," said Mr. Beavis, who was sitting at his desk with a sheet of the Swiss Ordnance Survey spread out in front of him. He had a passion for maps, partly because of his love of walking and partly because of his professional interest in place names. "Comballas," he muttered to himself, never taking his eyes off the map. "Chamossaire. Wonderful, wonderful!" Then, addressing Anthony, "I am a thousand sorry," he said, "that your conscience does not allow you to take leave and come with us."

Anthony, who found his research grant work an excuse to stay in England with Mary, nodded solemnly. "You can't really do serious reading at high altitude," he said.

"For all I know," said Mr. Beavis, returning to his map, "we should have the jolliest walks and rides round les Diablerets." What a delicious name! he added parenthetically. "For example, along the Col du Pillon. He ran his finger along the curves of the road. — By the way, you see! Anthony casually leaned a little closer. "No, you can't," continued Mr. Beavis. "I cover it all with my hand. He straightened up and reached first into one pocket, then into the other. "Where the hell," he said, frowning; suddenly, as he thought of his boldest philological joke, the frown turned into a sly smile. “Where the hell is my little dick. Or, to be precise, my teeny teeny. . ".

Anthony was so awestruck that he could only return a blank, embarrassed look at the brilliant flash his father happily sent his way.

"My pen," Mr. Beavis had to explain. "Penecillus: diminutive of peniculus: double diminutive of penis; what do you know," he continued, finally pulling a tiny teddy bear from his inside left breast pocket, "it originally meant tail. Now let's attack Pillon again. Lowering the tip of the pencil to the map, he drew zigzags. "And when we're at the top of the pass," he continued, "we'll skirt the slope of Mont Fornettaz to the north-northwest until—" ".

Anthony thought this was the first time his father had made any allusion to the physiology of sex in front of him.

Chapter thirty-one. September 6, 1933

"DEATH," said MARK Staithes. "That's the only thing we haven't been able to completely vulgarize. Of course, not for lack of it. We are like dogs on the acropolis. He whirled around with inexhaustible bladders and was too eager to lift his leg for each statue. And mostly we succeed. Art, faith, heroism, love - we left our mark on everyone. But death - death is out of reach. We failed to desecrate this statue. Not yet, anyway. But progress still goes on." He demonstrated the anatomy of a smile. "Higher hopes, multiplying futures…. Bony hands stretched out in a lavish gesture. in the center of the statue's face. But fortunately, progress is not that far off. Death still remains.

"It stays," Anthony repeated. “But the smoke screen is quite thick. Most of the time we manage to forget about it.

“But not all the time. It remains, inexorably. Untouched. Indeed, Mark qualified, more than intact. We have bigger and better smokescreens than our fathers. But behind the smoke, the enemy is more powerful. I would say death is ripe now that my comforts and hopes have been taken away. It has grown to almost the same size as when people seriously believed in hell. Because if you are busy going to the cinema, reading the newspaper, watching football, eating chocolate, then death is hell. Every time the smoke screen parted a little, people saw it and got scared. I find that a very comforting thought. He smiled again. “It makes up for a lot. Even for those busy dogs on the acropolis. There was silence. Then, in a different tone, "It is comforting," he continued, "to think that death remains faithful." Everything else might disappear; but death remains faithful, he repeated. "If we choose to risk our lives, we can risk them as we always have." He got up, turned twice around the room; then, stopping in front of Anthony's chair, he said, "That's why I came to see you."

"Was it?"

- About that life-threatening thing. I felt like I was stuck. They are up to their necks in civilized humanity. He made the grimace of a man encountering a foul smell. “There seemed to be only one way out. Risk again. It would be like a breath of fresh air. I thought you might too. . He didn't finish the sentence.

"I never took any chances," Anthony said after a moment of silence. - I only got it once - he added, remembering the simpleton with the hand grenade.

"Isn't that the reason to begin with?"

“The problem,” Anthony said, frowning, “is that I've always been a coward. Morally, of course. Maybe physically too - I don't know. I never really had a chance to find out.

"I should have thought there was a more compelling reason."

'Could be.'

"When it comes to changing the foundation of life, wouldn't it be best to change it with a bang?"

"Invade a corpse?"

'NOT? NOT. Risk only; not suicide. I think it's just a dangerous job. Never again. He sat down again. "One day I received a letter," he began. “From my old friend from Mexico. The man I used to work with in the cafe. Jorge Fuentes, full name. An unusual creature in its own way.

He outlined the story of Don Jorge. Besieged by revolutionaries on his estate in the Valley of Oaxaca. Most of the other landowners fled. He was one of the few people who resisted. In the beginning, his two brothers helped him. But they were killed, one from a long distance, the other with machetes in an ambush among the cacti. He fought alone. One day, while he was riding his horse in the field, ten of them managed to break into the house. He returned home to find the mutilated bodies of his wife and two sons lying in the yard. After this place, it seemed that it was no longer worth defending. He stayed long enough to kill three assassins and then left his fortune to work for other people. Mark knew him at the time. Now he had his house and some land again; acted as agent for most of the planters on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca; he recruited labor for them in the mountain villages and was the only man the Indians trusted, the only one who did not try to deceive them. However, trouble has recently arisen. Don Jorge entered politics, became the leader of the party, made enemies and no less dangerous friends. Now he was in opposition; the governor of the state persecuted him and his allies. A bad man, according to Don Jorge; corrupt, unfair - also unpopular. It shouldn't be hard to get rid of it. Some of the soldiers would surely show up. But before he began, Don Jorge wanted to know if there was any chance that Mark would be in Oaxaca in the near future.

"Poor old Jorge! He has an incredibly touching faith in my judgment. Mark laughed. So diminishing don Jorge's faith in him, concealing the reason for that faith, made his body glow with pleasure. He could tell Anthony about how the old donkey had gone and been caught by robbers and how he had been saved. A good story deserves its own praise. But he enjoyed not saying it more than saying it. "True, that's better than his judgment," Mark continued. - But that doesn't say much. Don Jorge is brave—brave as a lion; but foolish. No sense of reality. He will make a mess of his coup d'état.

"Unless you're there to help him, I understand." And will you be there?

Mark nodded. "I wrote to him that I would start as soon as I had settled my affairs in England. It occurred to me that you . Again he didn't finish the sentence and looked at Anthony questioningly.

"You think that's right?" Anthony finally asked.

The other laughed. "As good as the case of any other Mexican politician," he replied.

"Is that enough?"

“For my purpose. What is a good reason anyway? Tyranny for the commissars, tyranny for the Gauleiter, it doesn't seem to make much difference. A drill sergeant is always a drill sergeant, regardless of the color of his shirt.

"So, revolution for revolution's sake?"

"It's not for me. For the benefit of everyone involved. Because everyone can enjoy it as much as I do.

"I expect it would be good for me," Anthony said after a while.

- I'm sure it is.

"Though I'm scared as hell—even from this distance."

"That will make it even more interesting."

Anthony took a deep breath. "Okay," he said finally. "I will go with you". Then he said fiercely, "That's the stupidest, preposterous idea I've ever heard of," he concluded. "Well because I've always been so smart and sensible." . He paused and, laughing, reached for a pipe and a tin of tobacco.

Chapter thirty two. July 29, 1934

WITH HELEN TODAY to hear Miller speak in Tower Hill, at dinner time. big crowd. He spoke well - the right mix of arguments, jokes, emotional appeal. Subject, calm. Everywhere peace or no peace. International peace cannot be achieved without translating it into a policy of relations between individuals. Militarists at home, in the factory and in the office, towards subordinates and rivals, cannot logically expect the governments that represent them to act as pacifists. The hypocrisy and stupidity of those who advocate peace between countries, wage private wars at work or in the family. In the meantime, a great cry of communists was heard from the crowd. How can anything be achieved without a revolution? Without removing individuals and classes that stand in the way of social progress? And so on. The answer (always with unusual humor and wit): means setting goals. Violence and coercion create a post-revolutionary society, not communist but (like Russia's) hierarchical, ruled by an oligarchy using secret police methods. And everything else.

After about a quarter of an hour, the enraged young screamer climbed the wall where Miller was standing and threatened to knock him down if he didn't stop. “Come on, Archibald. The crowd laughed; the young man became increasingly angry, moved forward, tensed, straightened. “Get lost, you old bastard, or—” Miller stood quite still, smiling, holding hands, saying, “All right; he didn't mind knocking it down. The attacker was sparring, bringing his fist within inches of Miller's nose. The old man didn't move, he didn't show fear or anger. The other pulled his hand back, but instead of bringing it closer to Miller's face, he punched him in the chest. Quite difficult. Miller staggered, lost his balance, and fell off the wall into the crowd. He apologized to the people he attacked, laughed, and stood up against the wall again. Replay performance. The young man again threatened him in the face, but Miller again, without raising his hands, without showing fear and anger, hit him in the chest. Miller went down and went up again. I got another hit. He appeared again. This time the man surrendered to the slap, but only with a flat hand. Miller straightened his head and continued to smile. “Three shots for a penny, Archibald. The man pounced on the body and knocked it off the wall. Again. Miller looked at his watch. “Ten more minutes before you have to get back to work, Archibald. Come. But this time the man only managed to shake his fist and call Miller an old reactionary bloodsucker. Then he turned and walked away against the wall, followed by the jeers, jeers and whistles of the crowd. Miller continued his speech.

Helena's reaction was interesting. Concern over the brutality of the young man towards the old man. But at the same time, anger at Miller for allowing himself to be pushed around without resistance. The reason for this anger? vaguely; but I don't think she liked Miller's success. He didn't like the fact that the young man was mentally weakened. He did not like the demonstration that there is an alternative to terrorism and a peaceful way to fight it. "It's just a trick," she said. Not exactly an easy trick, I insisted; and that I certainly couldn't do it. "Anyone could learn it if they tried." "Possible; wouldn't it be good if we all tried? I think that's stupid.' Why? It was difficult for her to answer. "Because it's unnatural," was the reason she finally managed to articulate, and went on to develop it in terms of a kind of egalitarian philosophy. "I want to be like other people. Have the same feelings and interests. I don't want to stand out. Just a common man; not someone who prides himself on learning a difficult trick. Like that old Miller of yours." I note that we've all learned hard tricks like driving a car, working in an office, reading and writing, crossing the road. Why don't we all learn this other tricky trick? A trick, potentially, much more useful. If we everyone learned this, it would be possible to be like other people, to safely share all feelings, knowing that something good is being shared, not bad. But Helena was not persuaded. And when I suggested that we go to the old man's place for a late lunch, she refused . She said she did not want to meet him. That the young man was quite right; Miller was a reactionary. Disguising himself in the cloth of talking about economic justice; but underneath only a Tory agent. His insistence that changes in social organization were not enough, but that they must follow, it must come from a change in personal relations—what was that if not a plea for conservatism? "I think it's disastrous," she said. "And I think you're disastrous." But she agreed to have lunch with me. Which showed how little she relied on my powers to shake her convictions! Arguments - can have many good arguments; for whom it was impenetrable. But Miller's action got between the joints of her armor. He acted in accordance with his doctrine, he was not content with pronouncing it. Her belief that I wouldn't get between the knuckles like he did was extremely insulting. Especially since I knew it was justified.

Persistence, courage, perseverance. Everything, fruits of love. You love kindness enough, and indifference and laziness are unimaginable. Courage comes when a mother defends her child; and at the same time there is no fear of an opponent who is loved, whatever he does, because of the potential for good in him. As for pain, weariness, disapproval, they bear it joyfully because it seems insignificant compared to the goodness they love and aspire to. A big gap between me and this country! The fact that Helena was not afraid of my fatality (as purely theoretical), while Miller's (because his life was the same as his argument) was a painful reminder of that precipice.

Chapter thirty-three. July 18, 1914

THE CURTAIN WAS RAISED, and before them was Venice, green in the moonlight, with Iago and Roderigo talking in a deserted street.

"Light, I say! Light! Brabantio called from his window. And in an instant the street was crowded, the clanking of weapons and armour, torches and lamps glowing yellow in the green darkness. . . .

"I'm afraid it's a very vulgar scene," said Anthony when the curtain closed after the first scene.

Joanna looked at him in surprise. "Was?" Then, "Yes, I suppose," she added, hypocritically paying homage to philistinism to taste. In fact, she found him adorable. - You know - she admitted - I was only in the theater for the fifth time.

- Only the fifth time? he repeated incredulously.

But here was another street and more armed men, Iago bluffing and hearty again, and Othello himself, dignified as a king, commanding every word and gesture; and when Brabantio entered with all his men, and the light of the torches flickered on the spears and halberds, how heroically cheerful! "Hold your bright swords or the dew will rust them." A kind of anxiety ran down her spine as she listened, as she saw the dark hand rise and the sword blades fall, under its irresistible force, towards the Earth.

"He's a good lyricist," Anthony admitted.

The hall was rich in tapestries; senators in red robes came and went. And here is Othello again. Still regal, but with a regalness that this time was not expressed in commands, not in the raising of a hand, but on a higher plane than the real world—in the calm, majestic music of his courtship record.

where from the ants of vast and idle deserts,

Raw quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch the sky,

That was my cue to talk. . . .

Her lips moved as she repeated familiar words after him—familiar, but altered by the voice, the posture of the speaker, the surroundings, so that, although she knew them by heart, they seemed entirely new to her. And here is Desdemona, so young, so beautiful, her neck and bare shoulders sticking out slender and slender from the heavy splendor of her dress. A sumptuous glitter, and beneath it the charming insignificance of a girl's body; under the wonderful words of a girl's voice.

You are the Lord of duty

I'm still your daughter; but here is my husband

She felt that creeping anxiety down her spine again. And now they were all gone, Othello, Desdemona, senators, soldiers, all the beauty, all the nobility - only Iago and Roderigo remained whispering in the empty room. "When he has had enough of his flesh, he will discover the error of his choice." And then that terrible monologue. Evil, purposeful and self-aware. . . .

The applause, the intermission lights were sacrilegious insignificance; and when Anthony offered to buy her a box of chocolates, she refused almost indignantly.

"Do you think people like Jago really exist?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Men don't tell themselves that what they are doing is wrong. Or they do it without thinking. Or they make up reasons to believe it is right. Iago is a bad person who imposes other people's judgments on himself.

The lights went out again. They were in Cyprus. Desdemona arrives in the blazing sun; then Othello—and oh, the protecting tenderness of his love!

the sun has set. In the bottomless half-darkness, between the stone walls, drinking, fighting, scraping sword against sword, and again Otello, royal and powerful, imposes silence, calls everyone to obedience. Royally and powerfully for the last time. In the scenes that followed, how terrible it was to watch the great soldier, a high-ranking civilized Venetian, disintegrate under Iago's devastating touch, disintegrate into an African, savage, uncontrolled and primal. beast! "Handkerchief - recognition - handkerchief! . . . Noses, ears and mouths! Is it possible?" And then a determination to kill herself. "Do not poison her, smother her in a bed, even a bed she has defiled." And then a terrible outpouring of his rage on Desdemona, a public blow; and in the humiliating privacy of a locked room, this conversation between the kneeling girl and Othello, temporarily sane again, but the sane, wicked sanity of Iago, who cynically knows only the worst, believes in the possibility of the existence of only evil.

Then I cry out for mercy;

I replaced you with that cunning bitch from Venice

If he had married Othello.

There was a disgusting sneer in his voice, a horrible, obscene laugh. She started shaking uncontrollably.

"I can't take it," she whispered to Anthony between scenes. “Knowing what was going to happen. It's too awful. I just can't stand it.

Her face was pale, she spoke with a violent intensity of emotion.

"Then let's go," he suggested. 'Immediately.'

She shook her head. 'NOT? NOT. I have to see the end. I have to.'

— But if you can't stand it. . . ?

- You must not ask me for an explanation. Not now.'

The curtain rose again.

My mother had a maid named Barbara;

She was in love, and he, whom she loved, went crazy

And he left; she had the song "willow".

Her heart was beating strongly; she was sick with impatience. In an almost childlike voice, sweet but thin and untrained, Desdemona began to sing.

The poor soul sat and sighed under the sycamore tree,

Sing all the willow green.

The vision swayed before Joan's eyes, became dim; tears ran down her cheeks.

At last it was all over; they went out into the street again.

Joan took a deep breath. "I'd like to go for a long walk," she said. "Miles and miles without stopping."

- Well, you can't - he said shortly. “Not in these clothes.

Joan looked at him with an expression of painful surprise. "You're mad at me," she said.

Blushing, he tried to hide it with a smile. 'Bad? Why on earth would I be mad?’ But of course she was right. He was angry - angry at everything and everyone who found himself in this unbearable situation: at Maria for pushing him into it; alone with himself for allowing her to push him in; with Joan because she was the subject of this monstrous wager; with Brian because he was ultimately responsible for the whole thing; even with Shakespeare and actors and that milling crowd. . . .

"Don't be angry," she pleaded. It was such a beautiful evening. If you only knew how great I feel! But I have to be very careful with wonderful. It's like carrying a cup full to the brim. The slightest impact - and it falls. Let me bring him home safely.

Her words made him feel very ashamed, almost guilty. He laughed nervously. "Don't you think it's safe to take him home in a taxi?" - He asked.

Her face lit up with pleasure at that suggestion. He waved his hand; the taxi stopped in front of them. They went inside and closed the door behind them. The driver jerked the reins. The old horse took a few steps and then reluctantly started at a very slow trot with the whip cracking. Down Coventry Street, through the glitter of the Circus, to Piccadilly. Above the tower of St. James's sky was a thinned black with a coppery sheen. Reflected in the refined darkness of the pavement, the long retreat of the lamps seemed inexpressibly mournful, like a reminder of death. But here were the trees of Green Park, glittering wherever the lamplight fell on leaves with an earthy, more than spring freshness. There was life and death.

Joanna sat silently, tightly holding the fragile glass of that unusual happiness that was also the deepest sadness. Desdemona was dead, Othello was dead, and the lamps receding forever down their narrowing horizons were symbols of the same fate. And yet the melancholy of these converging parallels and the pain of tragedy were essential components of her present joy as was her delight in the opulence of poetry, as well as her pleasure in the significant and almost allegorical beauty of these illuminated leaves. Because this joy of hers was not one special feeling that excluded all others; it was all emotion—a state, so to speak, of general and undifferentiated agitation. Overtones and echoes of horror, wonder, pity, and laughter were harmonious in her mind. She sat there, behind the slowly trotting horse, calm, but with a calmness that contained the potential of every passion. Sadness, delight, fear, joy, everything came together, impossibly combined in her mind. She loved the uncertain miracle.

The taxi, he thought, was a classic opportunity. They were already at Hyde Park Corner; until then he should at least hold her hand. But she sat there like a statue, staring into nothingness in another world. She would be outraged if he brutally brought her back to reality.

I'll have to make up a story for Mary, he decided. But it wouldn't be easy; Mary had an extraordinary talent for spotting lies.

Taking the reins, the old horse cautiously halted and halted. They are here. Oh, too soon, thought Joan, too soon. She would like to ride like this forever, silently cherishing her indescribable joy. With a sigh, she stepped onto the pavement.

"Aunt Fanny said you'd come and say goodnight to her if she wasn't asleep yet."

That means the last chance to do so is gone, he thought as he followed her up the stairs to the dimly lit hallway.

"Aunt Fanny," Joan called softly as she opened the parlor door. But there was no answer; the room was dark.

"Did you go to bed?"

She turned to him and nodded her head. They stood there for a moment in silence.

"I'll have to go," he said finally.

“It was a wonderful evening, Anthony. Simply wonderful.'

"I'm glad you enjoyed it". Behind his smile, he thought with fear that this last opportunity had not yet passed.

"It was more than a pleasure," she said. 'It was . . . I don't know how to say it." She smiled at him, added "Good night" and held out her hand.

Anthony took it, and bade him good-night in return; then, suddenly deciding that it was now or never, he came closer, embraced her and kissed her.

The suddenness of his decision and confusion gave his movements a clumsy vehemence, indistinguishable from that which would result from the violent impulse of an unstoppable tearing of restraints. His lips first touched her cheek and then found her mouth. She made a movement as if to retreat, to turn her face; but the move was checked almost before the start. Her lips returned to his, irresistibly drawn. All the diffuse and indefinable emotions that had accumulated in her that evening suddenly seemed to crystallize around her astonishment and the evidence of his desire and that almost unbearable pleasure that from her mouth took over her whole body and possessed her. mind. The astonishment and anger of the first second was swallowed up by the apocalypse of new sensations. It was as if the quiet darkness had been violently illuminated, as if the relaxed, silent strings of the instrument had coiled and vibrated higher and higher, until finally the brightness and tension were canceled out in their own excess. She felt herself becoming empty; huge spaces, abysses of darkness opened up in it.

Anthony felt her body fall limp and heavy in his arms. So heavy indeed and with such unexpected weight that he almost lost his balance. He swayed, then gathered his strength and gripped her tighter.

"What is it, Joanna?"

She didn't answer, she just rested her forehead on his shoulder. He felt that he would fall if he let her go now. Maybe she was sick. He'll have to call for help - wake up his aunt - explain what happened. . . . Desperately wondering what to do, he looked around. A lamp in the hall cast a beam of light through the open door of the living room, revealing the end of the sofa covered in yellow chintz. Still holding her with one hand on her shoulders, he bent down and slipped his other hand behind her knee; then with an effort (for she was heavier than he had imagined) he lifted her from her feet, carried her down the narrow path of light that led into the darkness, and set her down on the sofa as gently as her weight would permit.

Kneeling on the floor beside her, "Are you feeling better yet?" he asked.

Joan took a deep breath, passed her hand over her forehead, then opened her eyes and looked at him, but only for a moment; Seized by a fit of timidity and shame, she covered her face with her hands. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. I don't know what happened. I suddenly felt so weak." She was silent for a moment; the lamps burned again, the taut wires vibrated—but tolerably, without exaggeration. She spread her arms once more and turned to him, smiling shyly.

Eyes that had gotten used to the dim light stared anxiously at her face. Thank God she seemed fine. He wouldn't have to call his aunt. His relief was so deep that he took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"You're not mad at me, Anthony?"

"Why would I be?"

“Well, you have every right. This is how to pass out. . Her face seemed bare and exposed; pulling her hand out of his grip, she once again hid her embarrassment. This is how to pass out. . . The memory humbled her. Thinking of that sudden, silent, violent gesture of his, He loves me, she told herself. And Brian? But Brian's absence seems to have been elevated to a higher rank. He was absent with an unprecedented intensity, absent to the extent that he was never there. All that was really there was that living presence beside her - the presence of desire, the presence of hands and mouth, the presence, the potential but waiting, waiting to be realized again, of those kisses. She felt her chest rise, although she wasn't aware that she had taken a deep breath; as if someone else had drawn it. He loves me, she repeated; that was an excuse. She dropped her hands from her face, stared at him for a moment, then reached out and whispered his name, pulling his head to hers.

* * *

– And what came of that? Mary called from the sofa as he entered. From Antonio's sullen expression, she concluded that she had won the bet; and that annoyed her. She suddenly felt very angry with him—double and triple anger; because he was so soulless; for he did not care enough for her to win the bet in spite of callousness; because he was forcing a gesture on her that she didn't want to do. After riding with him all day in the countryside, she decided that Sidney Gattick was absolutely unbearable. In contrast, Anthony seemed the most charming man. She didn't want to drive him away, not even temporarily. But her threat was serious and clear; if she did not do so, at least in part, she lost all her authority. And now the poor man was forcing her to keep her word. With an angry rebuke, "You were a coward and lost yourself," she said. 'I can see.'

He shook his head. "No, I won."

Mary looked at him suspiciously. - I think you're lying.

- I'm not. He sat down next to her on the sofa.

"Then why do you look so gloomy?" It's not very flattering to me.

"Why on earth did you make me do this?" he burst out. - It was idiotic. And that was wrong; but Mary would only laugh when he said that. “I always knew it was idiotic. But you insisted. His voice was high with grunts of displeasure. - And now God knows where I've ended up. Where did he end up, Joan and Brian, for that matter. 'God knows.'

"But explain," cried Mary Amberley, "explain!" Don't speak like a little prophet. Her eyes sparkled with smiling curiosity. She hit on a wonderfully complicated and fantastic situation. "Explain," she repeated.

"Well, I did as you told me," he replied grimly.


- There is nothing funny about it.

'What! did you get punched in the face?

Anthony frowned angrily and shook his head.

"So how did she take it?"

– That's the problem: she took it seriously.

- Seriously? asked Mary. "You think she threatened to tell her dad?"

- I mean, she thought I fell in love with her. She wants to break up with Brian.

Mrs. Amberley threw her head back and laughed out loud.

Anthony felt outraged. 'This is not a joke'.

- And that's where you're wrong. Mary wiped her eyes and took a deep breath. “That's one of the best jokes I've ever heard. But what are you going to do?

"I'll have to tell her it's all a mistake.

"It will be an admirable sight!"

He shook his head. "I will write a letter".

- Brave, as always! She patted his knee. "But now I want to know the details." How did you let her get this far? So much so that you thought you were in love with her. So much so that I wanted to break up with Brian. Couldn't you nip it in the bud?

"It was hard," he muttered, avoiding her questioning gaze. 'The situation. . . Well, it got a little out of control.

"Are you saying you've gone crazy?"

- If you want to say so - he reluctantly admitted, thinking what a fool she was, who was just a fool. Of course he should have backed off when she turned to him in the darkness; he should have refused her kisses, made it clear that his kisses were lighthearted and meaningless. But he accepted them instead: out of laziness and cowardice, because it required too much effort to make a necessary and necessarily difficult explanation; out of some weak and misplaced kindness of heart, for if he had refused, he would have hurt and humiliated her - and the infliction of suffering he could witness was deeply distasteful to him. And having accepted, he relished her kisses, returning them with an ardor that he knew was only dispassionate, momentary sensuality, but Joan, it was obvious now (and he knew it even then), would inevitably be excited by her he has it as his special and irreplaceable object. An impartial observer would say that he did his best, did everything to create as many disagreements as possible in the shortest possible time.

"How are you going to get out of this?" asked Mary.

He hated her because of the question that was bothering him. "I'll write her a letter," he said. As if that was the answer!

"What will Brian say to that?"

"I'll stay with him tomorrow," he replied without mentioning it. "In the lakes".

"Like Wö-ödsworth," said Mary. "How much fun it will be! And what exactly are you going to tell him about Joan? she continued implacably.

“Oh, I'll explain.

"But suppose Joan explains first—in a different way?"

He shook his head. "I told her I didn't want her texting Brian before I talked to him."

"And you think he'll do what you ask?"

"Why not?"

Mary shrugged and looked at him, smiling crookedly, her eyes twinkling between closed lids. "Why would she do that, for that matter?"

Chapter thirty-four. March 3, 1928

REORGANIZE. . . "Re-adjustment . . ." "A reduction in the value of capital in the light of existing commercial conditions. . Anthony looked up from the printed page. Mary Amberley, propped against the cushions, stared at him with an uncomfortable intensity.

- Yes? she asked leaning forward. Henna to an impossibly orange strand of tousled hair fell drunkenly over her forehead. Her sheet opened as she moved; beneath the dirty lace, her breasts swayed heavily towards him. 'What does that mean?'

"That means they'll kindly go bankrupt for you."

- Are you going to go bankrupt?

"They pay you six and eight pence in the pound."

"But Gerry told me they were doing so well," she protested in a tone of angry complaint.

"Gerry doesn't know everything," he explained mercifully.

But, of course, the robber knew everything very well; he knew, he acted on his knowledge, he was duly paid by people who wanted to sell their shares before the crash. "Why don't you ask him?" he said aloud, in a tone that hinted at the indignation he felt at being drawn into Mary's terrible tragedy the very night after his return from New York. . He assumed that everyone else had run away from her since she started taking morphine; the only one of all friends, since he had been out of England for half a year, he had not yet had an opportunity or a reason to escape. Because of the absence, their friendship remained in the refrigerator, as it were, as it had been before he left. When she urgently asked him to come see him, he had no excuse to refuse her. Besides, people were exaggerating; she couldn't be as bad as they made her out to be.

"Why don't you ask him?" he repeated irritably.

- He went to Canada.

“Oh, he went to Canada.

There was silence. He put the newspaper on the sheet. Mrs. Amberley took it up and read it again, for the hundredth time, in the absurd and desperate hope that perhaps for the hundredth time there would be something new, something different.

Anthony looked at her. The lamp on the bedside table illuminated the profile she presented to him with a mercilessly revealing glow. How swollen the cheeks were! And those wrinkles around the mouth, those colored bags under the eyes! Remembering how she had looked the last time he had seen her, in Berkshire last summer, Anthony was horrified. The drug aged her twenty years in two months. And not only was her body destroyed; morphine also changed her character, turned her into someone else, someone (no exaggeration) much worse. For example, that distracting vagueness that had always been so irritatingly empty as just another feminine charm had now turned into an almost idiotic indifference. She forgot, she was not aware; more than anything, she didn't care, she couldn't care anymore. Dyed grotesquely (in the hope, he supposed, of regaining some of the allure she couldn't help but notice she'd lost), her hair was greasy and unkempt. A smudge of red paint, clumsily applied, enlarged her lower lip into an asymmetrical shapelessness. The cigarette butt made a round hole in the down, and the feathers fluttered like snowflakes with every movement she made. The pillows were smeared with pink paint and egg yolk. There was a brown coffee stain on the turned sheet. Between her body and the wall, the tray on which her dinner was brought was tilted dangerously. Still smeared with sauce, the knife slid onto the bedspread.

With a sudden movement, Mrs. Amberley crumpled the paper and threw it away. - This beast! she shouted, her voice shaking with anger. "That beast! He absolutely made me want to put my money on it. Now look what happened! Tears flowed in streams, carrying the blackness of her painted eyelashes in long, sooty streaks down her cheeks.

"He did it on purpose," she continued through sobs of rage. "Just to hurt me." He's a sadist, really. He likes to hurt people. He does it for fun.

"For profit," Anthony almost said; but he checked himself. She seemed somewhat consoled by the thought that she had been deceived, not from vulgar commercial motives, but quite gratuitously, because of a satanic ally and amorous passion. It would be rude to deprive her of that illusion. Let the poor woman think what she finds least humiliating. Besides, the less she provoked and disturbed, the sooner one could hope that she would stop. Judicious and judicious, he contented himself with a casual nod.

- When I think about everything I did for that man! Mrs. Amberley burst out. But as she recited her incoherent catalog of generosity and kindness, Anthony could not stop thinking of what the man had done for her; above all, the terms Gerry used to describe what he did. Vulgar, extravagantly cynical expressions. Incredible blackmail conditions. One was surprised, the other suddenly burst out laughing; and ashamed that such intolerable brutalities contain any element of liberating truth. However, they were true.

"All the smartest people in London," sobbed Mrs. Amberley. - He met them all in my house.

"Those old hags!" Gerry Watchett's voice rang clear in Anthony's memory. "They will do anything to get him, absolutely anything."

"Not that he ever appreciated them," she continued. “He was too stupid, too barbaric for that.

"A real good old female if that's enough to keep her quiet." The problem is to give her enough. I can tell you it's a boring job.

The tone changed from anger to self-pity. "But what should I do?" she lamented. 'What can I do? No money. A life full of mercy.

He tried to calm her down. There was still something. A decent sum indeed. She would never starve. That she lived prudently, that she saved. . .

- But I will have to give up this house - she interrupted him, and when he agreed that of course he would have to give up, she burst into a new, louder lament. Giving up her home was worse than being penniless and living on handouts—worse because it was more likely, a possibility closer to the reality of her real life. Without her pictures, without her furniture, how could she live? She was physically ill because of the ugliness. And then small rooms – she developed claustrophobia in small rooms. And how could she do without her books? How could he expect her to work when she was poor? Because of course she was going to work; he was already planning to write a critical study of the modern French novel. Yes, how could he expect that when he deprived her of books?

Anthony shifted impatiently in his chair. "I don't expect you to do anything," he said. "I'm just telling you what to do."

A long silence followed. Then, with a slight smile that she tried to make cute and inviting, she said, "Now you're mad at me," she said.

'Not at all. I'm just asking you to face the facts. He stood up and, feeling that he was in danger of becoming inextricably entangled in Maria's misfortune, symbolically asserted his right to freedom by restlessly pacing the room. I should talk to her about the morphine, he thought; "The attempt is to convince her to go home and heal. For her sake. For poor Helena. But he knew Mary. She started protesting, screaming, raging. It would be like a bar fight. Or worse, much worse, he thought with a shudder, he will regret, he will promise, he will cry. He will be her only friend, lifelong moral support. In the end he didn't say anything. "It wouldn't be good," he assured himself. "It's never good with these cases of morphine." "You have to accept reality," he said aloud. Meaningless phrases - but what else could be said?

Unexpectedly, with a submissive eagerness that he found extremely disturbing, she agreed with him. Oh I absolutely agree! There was no point crying over spilled milk. There is no point in building castles in the air. What was needed was a plan - lots of plans - serious, practical, sensible plans for a new life. She smiled indulgently at him, as if they were conspirators.

Reluctantly and cautiously, he accepted her invitation to sit on the edge of the bed. Plans developed on their own - somewhat serious. A small flat in Hampstead. Or a cottage in one of those slums on King's Road in Chelsea. She could also throw a party, very cheaply. True friends will come, despite the cheapness - right? she insisted with rather pathetic anxiety to calm down.

"Of course," he had to say; although they were not frightened by cheapness; it was dirt, misery, morphine, that disgusting smell of ether on the breath.

"You can have bottle parties," she said. - That will be fun! Her face brightened. "Which bottle will you bring, Anthony?" And before he could answer, "With these mixed drinks, we'll be infinitely close," she continued. "Endless. . A moment later she began to tell him about the advances George Wyvern had thought of making her these days. Rather embarrassing under the circumstances—considering that Sally Wyvern was also . . . All right! She smiled her own with an enigmatic smile, closed mouth, and half-down lids. And what is truly remarkable, even old Hugh Ledwidge has made a recent appearance. . . .

Anthony listened in amazement. Those poor few true friends were transformed, as if by magic, into a bunch of passionate lovers. Did she really believe in her own inventions? But anyway, he thought, it doesn't matter if he believes in them or not. Even to nonbelievers, these concoctions clearly had the power to lift her spirits, to return her, at least temporarily, to a state of exhilarating confidence.

"This time in Paris," she said famously. 'Do you remember?'

But it was awful!

– Hotel des Saints-Pères. Her voice deepened and vibrated with underground laughter.

Anthony nodded without looking up. She evidently wished to repeat to her a note of considerable gaiety, to catch a crude reference to their old joke about the holy fathers and their own entertainments under such high ecclesiastical patronage. In their private language, to ignore the Holy Father, or even idiomatically, to celebrate the holy things, was to make love. He frowned, suddenly feeling very angry. How dare he. . . ?

Seconds passed. In a desperate effort to fill the icy abyss of his silence. "We had a great time," Mary said in a tone of sentimental reminiscence.

"A lot," he repeated as indistinctly as possible.

Suddenly she grabbed his hand. "Dear Anthony!"

Oh God, he thought and tried, as politely as possible, to step aside. But the tangle of those hot, dry fingers never relaxed.

"We were fools to fight," she continued. - Or rather, I was a fool.

"Not at all," he said politely.

"That stupid bet," she shook her head. - And Sidney. . ".

"You did what you wanted."

"I did what I didn't want to do," she answered quickly. "Man always does things he doesn't want to do - stupidly, out of pure perversion. It only gets worse because it is worse. Hyperion satires - and therefore also satires.

"But for some purposes," he could not help saying, "satire might be satisfactory."

Ignoring his words, Mary sighed and closed her eyes.

"Do what you don't want to do," she repeated as if to herself. "Always do what you don't want to do." She let go of his hand and, placing hers behind her head, leaned back against the cushions in a posture familiar and familiar, the posture used at the Hôtel des Saints-Pères, so wonderful in its graceful laziness, so wildly exciting because of that white round neck stretched back like a victim, and protruding breasts, raised and strained under the lace. But today the lace was dirty and torn, the breasts hung wearily under their own weight, the victim's throat was no longer a smooth column of white flesh, but a withered, wrinkled hole between the initial sinews.

She opened her eyes, and he was surprised when he recognized in her gaze the same, identical look, at once sluggish and cynical, playful and lazily abandoned, which fifteen years later irresistibly called him back to Paris. Few years ago. It was a 1913 look at a 1928 face - painfully out of context. He stared at her for a second or two, terrified; then the silence was broken.

"I'll have to go."

But before he could get up, Mrs. Amberley quickly leaned forward and put her hands on his shoulders.

"No, don't go. You are not allowed to go. She tried to repeat the smiling, broken call, but she couldn't help the deep concern that appeared in her eyes.

Anthony shook his head, and despite the foul smell of ether, tried to smile as he lied about the dinner he promised to be at at eleven. Gently, but firmly, he lifted her hands and stood next to the bed.

- Good night, dear Mary! His tone was warm; now he could afford tenderness. - Voucher for courage! he squeezed her hands; then, bending down, he kissed first one, then the other. Now that he was back on his feet and the way to freedom was open to him, he felt that he could indulge in almost any emotional extravagance. But instead of taking the hint, Mary Amberley gave him a look that was now stiff and petrified with unwavering misery. The mask he had set up to radiate whimsical tenderness suddenly seemed horribly incongruous with the real situation. He could feel his insignificance, physically, in the muscles of his face. Fool, hypocrite, coward! But he almost ran to the door and ran down the stairs.

“If a woman,” Helena read in the Encyclopedia, “injects herself with any poison or other harmful thing, or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means of abortion, she is guilty ... . Her ears caught the sound of Anthony's footsteps on the stairs. She got up, quickly went to the door and stepped out onto the landing.

- Yes? The face she raised was tragically stripped of all conventional grimaces like her mother's.

"But what is it, Helena?" - he exclaimed in surprise. She stared at him for a few seconds in silence, then shook her head and started questioning him about stocks, the whole financial situation.

He obviously thought, in answering her questions, that you would expect her to find the whole thing very disturbing. But irritating to this point.” He looked at her again: no—no one would expect that. It wasn't as if the girl had ever had a wild attachment to her mother. Faced with Mary's fierce egotism, how could she? After all, it's been almost a year since that poor woman started taking morphine. One would think that the horror had lost some of its intensity by then. And yet he never saw an unhappy face. So young, so fresh - it's not right to associate them with an expression of such deep despair. Looking at her made him feel somehow guilty - guilty and responsible. But when he made another gesture of questioning sympathy, she just shook her head again and turned away.

- You better go now - she said.

Anthony hesitated for a moment, then left. After all, she wanted to leave. Still feeling guilty, but deeply relieved, he closed the front door behind him and, taking a deep breath, headed for the subway station.

Helena turned back to the volume of her Encyclopedia. . . to cause her own abortion, she is guilty of a crime. This offense is punishable by life imprisonment, not shorter than 3 years, or imprisonment not longer than 2 years. If the baby is born alive. . But they did not say which poisons are correct, nor which tools to use and how. Just that stupid criminal slavery shit. Another escape hatch opened in front of her. It's as if the whole world has conspired to keep her locked away from her own incredibly terrifying secret.

The clock in the back parlor melodiously struck eleven. Helen stood up, returned the heavy volume to its place, and went upstairs to her mother's room.

Mrs. Amberley was filling a hypodermic syringe with great precision from a small glass ampoule as her daughter entered. She shuddered when the door opened, looked up, moved as if to hide the syringe and ampoule under the covers, and then, afraid of spilling the precious drink, controlled herself.

- Go away! - she angrily exclaimed. "Why do you come in without knocking? I won't let you into my room without knocking," she repeated even more shrill, satisfied with the excuse she had found for her anger.

Helen stood at the door for a second or two, quite still, as if she could not believe her eyes; then he ran across the room.

"Give me those things," she said, holding out her hand.

Mrs. Amberley stepped back toward the wall. - Go away! she shouted.

“But you promised. . ".

"I didn't do it".

- Yes, mother.

'Not me. Anyway, I'll do what I want.

Without a word, Helen reached out and grabbed her mother's wrist. Mrs. Amberley screamed so loudly that Helen, fearing the servants would come down to see what had happened, loosened her grip.

Mrs. Amberley stopped screaming; but the look Helen gave was terrifying in its hostility. "If you make me spill any of this," she said, her voice shaking with anger, "I'll kill you." I will kill you, she repeated.

They stared at each other for a moment without saying a word. Helen broke the silence. "You would like to kill me," she said slowly, "because I will not let you kill me." She shrugged. “Well, I guess if you really want to kill yourself…” She didn't finish the sentence.

Mrs. Amberley stared at her in silence. "If you really want to. . She remembered the words she had said to Anthony just a few minutes ago and suddenly tears streamed down her cheeks. Self-pity overwhelmed her. "You think I want to do this?" she said in a broken voice. 'I hate this. I absolutely hate him. But I can't help it.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Helen hugged her mother. "Mommy, baby!" she begged. "Don't cry. Everything will be all right. She was deeply moved.

"It's all Gerry's fault," cried Mrs. Amberley; and not noticing Helena's trembling tremors—it's all his fault—she continued. 'All. I always knew it was a beast. Even when I cared about him the most.

As if her mother had suddenly become a stranger for touching her so closely, Helena withdrew her hand. "You care about him?" she whispered in disbelief. 'On this way?'

Answering a completely different question, refuting a claim that was never made. "I can't help it," said Mrs. Amberley. - It was like that. She made a small movement with the hand holding the syringe.

"You mean," Helen said very slowly and as if overcoming an almost invisible reluctance, "you mean he was... .was your lover?

The strangeness of the tone roused Mrs. Amberley, for the first time since their conversation had begun, into something like a consciousness of her daughter's real personal existence. Turning, she looked at Helena with an expression of astonishment. - You didn't know? In front of that extreme pallor, in front of that uncontrollably trembling mouth, the old woman suddenly felt remorse. “But honey, I'm sorry. I couldn't imagine. . . You are still so young; I do not understand. you can not. . . But where are you going? come back! Helen!

The door slammed shut. Mrs. Amberley followed her daughter, but changed her mind and instead returned to her interrupted task of filling the syringe.

Chapter thirty-five. August 4, 1934

I came back dejected from dinner with Helen and six of her young political friends. What a passion for "liquidating" those who disagree with them! And such a sincere belief that liquidation is necessary!

Repulsive – but only predictable. Treat the problem of reform solely as a political and economic question, and you must approve and practice liquidation.

Consider recent history. Industrialism developed together with the population. Now that markets are expanding, two problems that plague all industrialized societies are solving themselves. New inventions can cause technological unemployment; but emerging markets treat it as it is made. Any person may have insufficient purchasing power; but the total number of individuals is constantly increasing. Many small purchasing powers do as much as less large ones.

Our population is immobile now, it will decrease soon. Contraction instead of market expansion. So, there is no more automatic solution to economic problems. Birth control requires the use of coordinated political intelligence. There must be a comprehensive plan. Otherwise, the machine will not work. In other words, politicians will have to be twenty times smarter than before. Will the supply of intelligence match the demand?

And of course, intelligence, as Miller always points out, is not alone. The act of intelligent planning changes the planner's emotions. Consider English politics. We have implemented many reforms - never accepting the fundamental principles. (Compare the king's titles with his present position. Compare our assurances that we will never have anything to do with socialism, with the reality of state control.) There are no grand plans in English politics, and almost no thinking in terms of first principles. With what results? Among other things, that English policy was generally very benevolent. The reason is simple. Solve practical problems as they arise and without reference to basic principles; politics is a matter of conversation. Now the circadians lose their tempers, but they usually don't treat each other like devils in human form. But this is what principled people and systematic planners cannot stop. The principle is correct by definition; plan for the welfare of the people. Axioms from which it logically follows that the enemies of good and humanity are those who do not agree with you and do not want to help you achieve your plan. No longer men and women, but personifications of evil, devils incarnate. Killing men and women is wrong; but killing monsters is a duty. From there the Holy Office, from there Robespierre and Ogpu. Men of strong religious and revolutionary faith, men with well-thought-out plans to improve the lot of their fellows, whether in this world or the next, were more systematically and cold-bloodedly cruel than anyone else. Thinking in terms of first principles implies working with machine tools. A government with a comprehensive plan to improve society is a government of torture. On the contrary, if you never consider the rules and have no plan, but deal with situations as they arise, piece by piece, you can afford unarmed policemen, free speech, and habeas corpus. Delicious. But what happens when an industrial society learns (a) how to advance technologically at an ever-increasing rate and (b) prevent conception? Answer: It must either plan according to general political and economic principles or fail. But governments driven by rules and agendas were generally tyrannies that used police spies and terrorism. Must we submit to slavery and torture in the name of coordination?

On the one hand the collapse, on the other the reign of the Inquisition and the OGPU. A real dilemma if the plan is mainly economic and political. But think of individual men, women and children, not of states, religions, economic systems and similar abstractions: then there is hope of passing between the horns. For if you begin to consider concrete people, you will immediately see that freedom from coercion is a necessary condition for their development into adult human beings; that the form of economic prosperity based on the possession of superfluous things does not serve the well-being of the individual; that leisure filled with passive pastimes is not a blessing; that the comfort of city life is bought at a high physiological and mental price; that an education which enables the abuse of itself is almost worthless; that the social organization by which individuals are forced to go out and kill others every few years must be wrong. And so on. But if you start from the state, religion, economic system, there will be a complete revaluation of values. Individuals must kill each other because the interests of the nation demand it; he must be educated to think of the ends and ignore the means, because the teachers are there and do not know other methods; they must live in cities, they must have time to read newspapers and go to the cinema, they must be encouraged to buy things they do not need because the industrial system exists and must be maintained; they must be forced and enslaved, otherwise they might think for themselves and cause trouble for their masters.

The Sabbath was made for man. But man now behaves like a Pharisee and insists that he was made for all the things—science, industry, nation, money, religion, schools—that were really made for him. Why? Because he is so little aware of his own interests as a human being that he feels an irresistible temptation to sacrifice himself to these idols. There is no other remedy than to become aware of your interests as a human being and, having become aware of them, learn to behave in accordance with them. Which means learning to use yourself and learning to manage your mind. It's almost exhausting how you keep coming back to the same point. Wouldn't it be nice, for a change, if there was another way out of our difficulties! Abbreviation. A method that requires no more personal effort than monitoring the vote or ordering the shooting of some "enemy of society". Salvation from the outside, like a dose of calomel.

Chapter thirty-six. July 19, 1914

ON THE TRAIN heading north, Anthony thought about what lay ahead. In the next two days, or at least three, Brian would have to be informed of what had happened, and Joan would have to write a letter. In what words? What excuses should he come up with? Should he tell the whole truth about his bet with Mary? For him the truth had some advantages; if he had said that, he could have put most of the blame for what had happened on Mary—but he risked, he thought, sounding terribly weak. And that wasn't the only flaw; for Joan, the truth would be unbearably humiliating. No matter how much he blamed Mary, the insult to Joan would remain. If only he could tell the truth to Brian and something else to Joan!

But it was not possible. They would have to tell the same story, and for Joan's sake, a story that wasn't true. But what story? Which explanation of the facts would be the least embarrassing for him and the least humiliating for Joanna? All in all, he decided it was best to say that he had lost his head—he had been carried away by a sudden impulse, an impulse which he later saw as madness and which he regretted. Someone else kissed her: that's what Joan wrote. Someone else - but not that much. She wouldn't like him to feel like a temporary baboon acting like this in a dimly lit living room. The person who kissed her had to be partly herself. So much so that he liked her all the time, that he pitied her deeply; but someone else, so much so that the circumstances of the evening turned love and compassion into - what? Love? Desire? No, he would have to avoid saying something so specific; he would have to talk about the confusion, the momentary madness that spoils such a good relationship and so on. Meanwhile, all he could say was that he was sorry and ashamed; that now she feels stronger than ever, that Brian is the only man worthy of her, that the difficulties that arose between her and Brian are only temporary and soon... . And everything else.

Yes, the letter should be pretty simple. The trouble was that interviews and explanations were expected of him; that he will have to endure reproaches, listen to confessions, he can defend himself from confessions of passion. And at halftime it was with Brian to talk to - and with Brian it all started with those interviews; and the more he thought about these interviews, the harder it was to predict Brian's role in them. Anthony imagined him trying to explain that he wasn't in love, that Joan had just lost her mind for a moment like he had lost his, that nothing had changed and all Brian had to do was walk up and kiss her personally. But can he get Brian to believe him? Because he was, it seemed likely—it seemed more likely the more he thought about it—that he would fail. Brian was the type of man who could imagine that you couldn't kiss a woman under duress less urgent than the deepest, deepest love. She will tell him that Joan kissed and kissed back; and no tale of lost heads would convince him that it was not a serious matter of love at its most ardent. And then, Anthony wondered, what would a man do then? Of course he'd feel hurt, he'd feel betrayed, but chances were there wouldn't be any charges. No, something much worse could happen. Brian would probably take all the blame; he would renounce all his rights, refused to believe when Anthony swore that he was not in love and that it was all a bad joke; she would have insisted, if only because it would have been such a painful sacrifice, that Joan should go to the man she truly loved and who truly loved her. And then suppose that, for her part, Joanna agreed! And it probably was, Anthony thought with horror, remembering her reaction to his kisses, almost sure she would. A terrifying prospect! He couldn't face it. And why would he finally face it? He could borrow his securities—enough to leave the country and stay away; six months, if necessary a year. And while the center floated past the window, he sat back with closed eyes, imagining himself in Italy, or, if Italy was not far enough from England, in Greece, Egypt, even India, Malaya, Java. with Mary; because of course Mary would have to come too, at least for a while. She could have left the children with a relative; and Egypt, he thought, practically in his dreams, Egypt was quite cheap in the off-season, and this fear of war was, of course, nothing. Was the Luxor as impressive as it looked in the photos? And the Parthenon? And Paestum? What about the tropics? In his imagination he sailed from island to island in the Aegean Sea; smoked hashish in the slums of Cairo, ate bhang in Benares; in the East Indies he did a bit of Joseph Conrad, even a bit of Loti, in spite of the chromolithography style, among the copper maidens and gardenias, and although he still could not like the man as much as Mary, a bit of Gauguin in the South Seas. Those future and hypothetical escapes were also escapes here and now, so that for a long time in his corner of the compartment he completely forgot the reason for the planned escape to the exotic. The memory of what had happened, the anxious anticipation of what was about to happen, came back to him only when he realized that the train was passing through Shap Fell and that in less than an hour he would be talking to Brian on Ambleside platform. All the old questions came with even more desperation. What should you say? How? On what occasion? And what would Brian's response be? What was Joan like when she got his letter? Terrible questions! But why did he put himself in the position of having to give or receive answers? What a fool he was not to run away immediately! Then he could already be in Venice, in Calabria, on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. No letters. Safe and happy in complete ignorance of the consequences of his actions. And for free. Instead, he foolishly stayed where he was and agreed to become a slave to the circumstances that created his madness. But even now, at eleven o'clock, it was not too late. He could get off at the next stop, go back to London, pick up some money and be on his way in twenty-four hours. But when the train stopped at Kendal, it didn't move. He shuddered from making such a sudden and important decision. He hated suffering and dreaded what the next few days and weeks would bring. But his fear of suffering was less than his fear of action. It was easier for him to passively accept what happened than to make a decisive choice and act accordingly.

When the train started moving again, he thought about all the reasons why he was right not to make that decision. Brian was counting on him, he would be so worried about his absence that he would easily run to London to find out what happened, he would see Joan and find out everything at once. And how will he explain everything to his father? Besides, there was no reason to believe that Maria would go with him; she prepared for the summer and didn't want to, or maybe couldn't, change them. And when he disappears, God alone knows what kind of rivals will appear. Besides, it would be cowardice to run away, he assured himself, and then he thought that he could probably escape the hardships just as well if he stayed in England. A little tact, a little passive resistance. . .

Brian was waiting on the platform when the train arrived, and Anthony felt a sudden pang of pity and despair when he looked at him. For there was a surprising and painful inconsistency between the man and his clothes. A raw homemade jacket and pants, socks, shoes with nails, a loaded backpack were symbols of energy and rural health. But Brian, who wore those emblems, vehemently denied their meaning. The long face was thin and pale. His nose seemed larger than before, his eye sockets deeper, his cheekbones more prominent. And when he spoke, he stammered uncontrollably more than ever.

- But what about you? - shouted Antoni, putting his hand on his friend's shoulder. "You look miserable."

Half moved by this expression of genuine concern (it was amazing, he thought, how unexpectedly charming Anthony could be), half annoyed that he felt he'd found out, Brian shook his head and mumbled something about being a little tired. and needs rest.

But it turned out that his idea of ​​a vacation was to walk twenty miles a day up and down the steepest hills he could find.

Anthony gave him a disapproving look. "You should sit down on the chaise longue," he said, but he saw that his advice was not welcome. In Brian's case, there was a kind of dogma that performing violent exercises in a mountain environment was inherently good. Well, for Wordsworth's sake; for in the mother's version of Christianity the landscape took the place of apparitions.

"I like to walk," Brian persisted. “I-I saw the d-car yesterday. The p-place is full of beautiful p-birds.

Worried that his friend was so ill, Anthony completely forgot about Joan and the events of the last few days; but those birds (those bö-öd, those songbirds) sharply reminded him of what had happened. Suddenly embarrassed, as if caught in some outrageous hypocrisy, Anthony pulled his hand from Brian's shoulder. They walked quietly along the platform and went out into the street. They stopped there for discussion. Brian wanted to ship his luggage on the carrier and walk to their cottage in Langdale. Anthony suggested they take the car.

"You have no reason to go any further to-day," said he; then, when the other protested that he wasn't getting enough exercise, he changed seats and insisted that he was the one who was tired from the journey and couldn't walk anyway because he was wearing the wrong clothes and shoes. After a final request for permission to return to Langdale alone, Brian was refused and placed in a car. they are gone.

Breaking the long silence, "Have you seen J-joan lately?" Brian asked.

The other nodded wordlessly.

- What was she like?

"Pretty good," Anthony found himself replying in the vaguely vague tone a man would use when answering questions about the health of those he didn't care about. The lie - because it was a lie by omission - came to him by itself. Thanks to him, his mind fended off Brian's question as automatically and quickly as his body, blinking, raising an arm, recoiling, would fend off an approaching fist. But as soon as the words were spoken, he regretted the brevity and carelessness with which they had been spoken, and felt that he should immediately supplement them with additional information in a different, more serious tone. He should step in immediately and clear things up without further delay. But time passed; he could not bring himself to speak; and in a few seconds he had already begun to call his cowardice the name of concern, he had already convinced himself that it would be wrong, in view of Brian's health, to immediately say that the real friendly thing was to wait and take a chance, perhaps tomorrow or the day after tomorrow when Brian was in better shape and could receive a message.

"You don't think she was worried?" Brian continued. "I mean all the postponements of our wedding?"

"Well, of course," Anthony admitted. - She is not happy about that.

Brian shook his head. "Neither do I. But I think it's uh-okay; and I think in the d-long p-run he will see that it is r-correct. After a moment of silence, he added, "If only one thing were absolutely certain," he said. "I-sometimes I wonder if this isn't some b-kind of selfishness."

'What is it?'

Sticking to p-rules, regardless of p-people. P-people - o-other p-people, I think - p-may be m-more important e-even than what r-is known to be the r-real p-rule. But if you d-don't stick to your p-rules. . He hesitated, turned a confused and unhappy face towards Anthony, then looked away again, "So, where are you?" he finished desperately.

"The Sabbath was made for man," said Anthony; and he thought bitterly what a fool Brian had been not to take the money he could get and marry on the spot. If Joan had been in a secure marriage, there would have been no confessions, no bets, no kisses, and no terrifying consequences of a kiss. And then, of course, there was poor Joan. He began to feel an almost justified anger toward Brian for failing to understand the fundamental Christian principle that the Sabbath is for man, not man for the Sabbath. But was it made for man, a pushy voice suddenly began to ask, does a man have the right to make a bet, to upset the balance of another man's feelings, to break a long-standing relationship, to betray a friend?

Meanwhile, Brian was thinking about the situation from a few months ago when he and Joan had discussed this with their mother.

"You still think," she asked, "that you shouldn't take the money?" and when he told her he hadn't changed his mind, he gave all the good reasons why he was taking it. The system may be unfair and it may be your duty to change it; but in the meantime one can use one's financial advantages to help individual victims of the system advance the goal of desired reform.

- That's what I always thought about it - his mother concluded.

And he was right, he insisted; and that he never dreamed of criticizing what she had done, or even thought that it deserved criticism. But that was because her situation was so different from his. As a man, he had opportunities to earn a living that she never had. In addition, she has other obligations; while he. . .

"But what about Joan?" she paused, placing a loving hand on Joan's shoulder. Isn't she responsible?

He lowered his eyes and, feeling that it was not his place to answer the question, said nothing.

There were long seconds of awkwardly expected silence as he wondered if Joan would speak, and if not, what he should say and do.

Then, to his relief, “After all,” Joan finally said in an unusually flat and subdued voice, “Brian was a baby then. But I'm an adult, I'm responsible for myself. And I can understand his reasons.

He raised his head and looked at her with a grateful smile. But her face was cold and distant; She met his gaze for a moment, then looked away.

"Do you understand his reasons?" my mother asked.

Joanna nodded.

"And you approve of them?"

She hesitated for a moment, then nodded again. "If Brian thinks that's okay," she began and stopped.

His mother looked from one to the other. "I think you two are quite heroic young people," she said, the tone of her voice, so beautiful, so rich with emotion, giving these words great weight. He felt that he was vindicated in his judgment.

But later, he remembered with painful discomfort, later, when he and Joan were alone and he tried to thank her for what she had done, she turned on him in bitter anger.

"You love your ideas more than I do. Many more.'

Brian sighed and, shaking off his long distraction, looked at the trees along the road, the mountains so wonderfully shaded and lit by the late afternoon sun, the marble island of clouds in the sky—he looked at them, saw them beautiful, and decided their beauty was hopelessly irrelevant.

"I wish b-god," he said, "I knew what to d-do."

So did Anthony, though he didn't say so.

Chapter thirty seven. Autumn 1933

It took LONGER than Mark expected to get out of work, and every now and then, during the long weeks leading up to their departure, he was tempted to give up on the whole ridiculous venture and escape back to the beautiful other world of Mediterranean sunshine and abstraction. the ideas became: almost overwhelming for Anthony.

"What exactly are you up to?" - he asked indignantly.

"Fun" was the only answer Mark deigned to give.

"And your Don Jorge," Anthony insisted. "What does he hope to achieve with this little revolution of his?"

"His own greater glory."

— And the peasants, the Indians?

"They will be exactly where they were before, where they always will be: below."

"And yet you think it's worth going and helping that Jorge of yours?"

"It's worth it to me. Mark smiled anatomically. - And it's worth it to you. It's worth it to you, he insisted.

"But not for the workers, I understand.

It never did. What did the French peons take away from their revolution? Or our Russian friends, for that matter? A few years of pleasant intoxication. Then the same old treadmill. Perhaps gilded; repainted. But basically an old machine.

"And you expect me to go with you for fun?" The thought of the Mediterranean and its books increased Anthony's resentment. - It's crazy, disgusting.

“In other words,” Mark said, “you're scared. Why not? But if so, for God's sake, tell me. Have the courage of your cowardice.

How he hated Marko for telling him home truths that he knew so well! If it hadn't been for Mr. Beavis, that interview with Helen, and finally Bepp Bowles, he might have had the courage of cowardice. But they prevented him from retreating. First of all, there was his father, still deep in the matrimonial lair, among petticoats and etymology and the scent of red-haired women—but upset as Anthony had never seen him before, hurt, bitter, bitterly bitter. The presidency of the Philological Society, which no doubt should have gone to him, went instead to Jenkins. Jenkins, please! A mere ignorant popularizer, the exact opposite of a true scholar. A charlatan, a philological fraudster, even (to use an American colloquialism) a "fraudster".

Jenkins' choice took Mr. Beavis on a long road to death. From a man much younger than his years, he suddenly looked his age. Old man; and tired in work, destroyed inside.

"I'm worried," Pauline confided to Anthony. “He will get sick. And for something so childish, really. I can't show him that it doesn't matter. Or rather, I can't make him feel. Because he sees everything well, but still worries.

Even in the deepest sensual hole, Anthony thought as he returned to his chambers, even in the most remote intellectual afterlife, fate could find one. And suddenly he realized that after spending his life trying to deviate from the standards of his father's universe, he had only succeeded in becoming exactly what his father had been - a man in a hole. Except that in his case the den happened occasionally because of adultery, not all the time because of marriage; and that ideas were about societies, not words. He came out of his lair for a moment - they chased him away, like skunks. But it would be easy, and it was already tempting to go back. To come back and be comfortable, be safe. No, it's not safe; that was it. At any moment, Jenkins might be elected to one presidency or another, and then, helpless in his den of thought and sensuality, he would be at the mercy of any childish passion that might arise. Maybe someone out there could learn to defend themselves against such contingencies. He decided to go with Mark.

But in the days that followed, the temptation returned. Despite the spectacle of Mr. Beavis's self-destructive childishness, the quiet life seemed extremely attractive. Mark is crazy, he convinced himself. "We are doing something stupid and wrong. And yet my sociology is important. It will help people think clearly." Wasn't it (funny word!) a "duty" to go on? But then, more than six weeks after returning to London, he saw Helen and Bepp Bowles—he saw them at one in the afternoon. Meeting with Helena was accidental. It was in the French Room at the National Gallery. Anthony was leaning in to get a closer look at Cézanne's Mont Sainte Victoire when he became aware that two other visitors had stopped just behind him. He moved slightly to the side so they could see picture and continued to carefully observe the brush.

A few seconds passed; then a man's voice spoke very slowly and with a foreign accent: "Look now how the petty bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century tried to escape industrialism. Why does he have to paint such landscapes, so romantic? Because they will forget about new methods of production. Because they will not think of the proletariat. That's the reason why.'

"Yeah, I guess that's the reason," said another voice.

Anthony was surprised to recognize that it was Helen's. "What should I do?" he wondered when the voice spoke again.

"But it's Anthony!" Someone's hand touched his shoulder.

He straightened up and turned to face her, making gestures and sounds befitting rapturous wonder. That face which he had last seen alternately stony and bright with mockery, then in the ecstatic agony of pleasure, then bloody and miserably decaying in utter unspeakable sorrow, finally hard as before, harder, stiffer than stone—this face was now marvelously alive and tender. , lit up from the inside with some certain joy. She looked at him without an ounce of shame. It is as if the past has been completely abolished, as if only the present exists and is real for her.

"This is Ekki Giesebrecht", she introduced herself.

The blond youth next to her leaned forward stiffly as they shook hands.

"He had to escape from Germany," she explained. - They would kill him because of his politics.

It wasn't envy he felt as he looked from one delighted face to another—not envy, but unhappiness so severe it felt like physical pain. A pain that continued, and which was not lessened by the solemn absurdity of the short lecture that Helena was now giving on the subject of art as a manifestation of class interests. As he listened, he could laugh to himself, amused himself by thinking about the fantastic by-products of love in terms of taste, political views, religious beliefs. But behind the laughter, under the ironic thoughts, the pain of the accident remained.

He declined her invitation to tea with them.

"I promised to go see Bepp," he exclaimed.

"Say hello to him," she said, and asked if he had seen Hugh since he returned.

Anthony shook his head.

"We're breaking up, you know.

Trying to smile, "Happy birthday to your divorce," he said and stormed off.

As he walked through the smoky half-darkness of the afternoon, he thought of that tender radiant face of hers, and with the pain of misfortune he felt the renewal of that other, deeper pain of dissatisfaction with himself. Since his arrival in London he had led the usual London life—dinners with men of science and business, dinners where the women held gossipy and amusing conversations—and the easy, senseless successes which his talent and a certain natural charm always achieved followed him. it enabled him to score points in such encounters, made him almost forget his displeasure, masked his pain as medicine masks neuralgia or toothache. This meeting with Helena instantly neutralized the sedative and left him defenseless against the pain, which the temporary anesthesia did not reduce - in fact, it increased it. The realization that he had allowed himself to be sedated by opium of such poor quality was a new source of discontent added to the old. And then to think that he was seriously considering returning to his old, peaceful life! So secretly miserable, so secretly inhuman, and for all the cost of thought it entailed, so secretly insane. Mark's undertaking may have been foolish, even shameful; but still it was better than the quiet work and occasional detached sensuality of the Mediterranean.

As he stood at the door of Bepp's apartment, he heard the voices of Bepp and another man. He rang the bell. Time is up. The door remained unopened. The voices continued, indistinctly, but from Bepp's side there was a shrill squeal, and from the stranger a crescendo of harsh barking that indicated they were arguing. He called again. There were a few more screeches and screams; then the sound of running feet. The door swung open and Beppo was standing there. His face was ruddy, his bald head glistened with sweat. Behind him, very upright and military in his carriage, appeared a rather rough-looking young man with a small mustache and carefully oiled wavy brown hair, dressed in a blue serge suit, extremely elegant and somehow incredibly elegant.

"Come in," Beppo said rather breathlessly.

'Boring you?'

'NOT? NOT. A friend of mine was just on his way—this is Mr. Simpson, by the way—he was on his way.

- Was? asked the young man in a significant voice with a Nottinghamshire accent. - I didn't know it was.

"Maybe I'd better go," suggested Anthony.

- No, please, no, please, no. Bepp's voice sounded almost desperate.

The young man laughed. "He wants protection - that's it. He thinks he's been blackmailed. And I could if I wanted to. He looked at Anthony with knowing, cheeky eyes. - But I don't want to. "I wouldn't do it for a thousand pounds." It's a ferret's game, that's what I'm saying. From a lofty generality, moral indignation came down to earth and focused on Bepp. "But a man should not be evil," he continued. "It's also a ferret game." He pointed an accusing finger. "Evil, dirty pig. This is you. I've said it before and I'll say it again. And I don't care who hears me. Because I can prove it. Yes, you know I can. Evil dirty pig.

- Good, good - shouted Beppo, in the tone of someone who gives up unconditionally. Grabbing Anthony's hand, "Go to the living room, okay," he pleaded.

Anthony did as he was told. Outside in the lobby, a few almost whispered words were exchanged. Then, after a moment of silence, the front door slammed shut and Beppo entered the room, pale and confused. He was wiping his forehead with one hand; but it wasn't until he sat down that he noticed what he was holding in the other. Fat white fingers gripped his wallet. Embarrassed, he hid the compromising item in his breast pocket. He then explosively hissed in misery as he hissed in glee, "They just want the money," he exploded like an open bottle of ginger ale. - Did you see that? Why would I try to hide it? Only money." And he plowed on, snapping, whining, hissing in almost incoherent condemnation of "them" and self-pity. Yes, he should have been doubly sorry for what he had to suffer because of "their" mercenary attitude, when what he what he sought was love for love's sake and adventure for adventure's sake; he also lamented his increasing inability to find the slightest pleasure in any love experience that was not entirely new. Repetition was increasingly the enemy. Repetition killed what he called frisson. An indescribable tragedy. He, who longed so much for tenderness, for understanding, for companionship, could never get what he wanted. An affair with someone in his own class, someone you could talk to, was out of the question. But how can there be true tenderness without sensual connections? With "them," connection was possible, wildly desired. But tenderness could not flourish without communication, just as it could not flourish without sensuality. And sensuality, completely divorced from communication and tenderness, now seemed possible only under the influence of constant change subject. There had to be another each time. For this he was to be pitied; But there was a romantic side to the situation. Or at least he can have it - one day he will have it. Today, complained Beppo, "they" have changed, become mercenaries, frankly predatory, ordinary prostitutes.

"You have just seen," he said, "what filth, wickedness!" His misery swelled as if under the internal pressure of carbonic acid. Excitedly he got up from his chair and started pacing the room, revealing to Antonio's eyes the padded waistcoat, Sulka's gorgeous cravat, the face with the pendant of the beard, the bald and shiny crown, the now wide seat of the pale plaid trousers, the black jacket that rose pear-shaped to his narrow shoulders, and below the central bald point, that feather of pale brown hair, like a Florentine dovetail, above the collar. - And I'm not evil. God knows, I still have a lot of flaws, but not this one. Why can't I understand that it's not malice, but desire... . . to . . he hesitated."Well, keep it at human level?" At least the basis of romance, adventure. Instead, they make these horrible, humiliating scenes. A refusal to understand, an absolute refusal.

He continued walking around the room in silence. Anthony didn't comment on it, but he wondered to himself how much poor old Beppo knew the truth or didn't want to understand - didn't want to understand that "to them" his aged and tasteless person could It didn't seem romantic, that the only charm he had left was but a little good taste and easy intelligence that "they" could not appreciate, was his money. Did he know all this? Yes of course; it was inevitable. He knew it well and did not want to understand it. Just like me, Anthony said to himself.

That evening he called Marko to explain that he could book their rides.

Chapter thirty-eight. August 10, 1934

TODAY HELENKA TALKED ABOUT Miller again. He spoke with resentful vehemence. (Certain memories, certain trains of thought are like a sore tooth that always has to be touched to make sure it still hurts.) Nonviolence: This time it wasn't just a trick, irrelevant; it was also bad. If you are convinced that people are evil, you have no right not to try to make them behave decently. We agree: but what are your best chances of success? Violence? But violence can force people to accept forms of good behavior for a time; it will not create real and sustainable behavior. She accused me of avoiding real problems by resorting to vague idealism. In the end, it all came down to her vengeful hatred of the Nazis. Peace all around, except for the Nazis and the plague of fascists. Such people should be punished, exterminated painfully - like rats. (Note that we are all ninety-nine percent pacifists. The Sermon on the Mount, provided we are allowed to play Tamburlane or Napoleon in our 1 percent select cases. Peace, perfect peace, as long as we can have a war that suits us. Result : everyone is a predestined victim of someone else's uniquely permissible war. Ninety-nine percent pacifism is just another name for militarism. If there is to be peace, there must be one hundred percent pacifism.)

We exchanged many arguments; then he didn't say anything for a while. Finally she started talking about Giesebrecht. Executed by God knows what torture. "Would you be surprised if I mean that about the Nazis?" He is not at all surprised - no more than the Nazis themselves. Tolerance on their part, forgiveness on her part would be surprising. "But the person who could forgive disappeared with Ekki's disappearance. I felt good when he was with me. I'm angry now. If he was still here, maybe I could forgive them for taking him. But this is an impossible condition. I can never forgive." (Of course there was an answer to that. But I didn't feel I had any right to be who I was, to act the way I still do.) to describe who he was to her. Someone she wouldn't be ashamed of. to love, as she must have been ashamed to love Gerry. Someone she could love with her whole being—"not just now and then with a part of me, on the roof; or just for fun, in the studio, before dinner." And she returned to the same point - that Ekki had made her good, true, selfless and also happy. "When I was with him, I was someone else. Or maybe it was me—for the first time." Then, "Do you remember how you laughed at me on the roof when I was talking about myself?" Didn't I! At that moment I wasn't real enough to even see my distance from reality Then, when I saw her crying, when I knew that I was deliberately refusing to love her, I understood.

After a moment of silence, "At first I thought I could have loved you almost as much as I loved Ekki."

And of course, I did everything in my power to prevent her from doing so.

Her voice brightened with a wicked sneer. Like her mother. "It's amazing how funny tragedy is when you look at it from the wrong side!" Then, still smiling, "Do you imagine you care for me now? You love me, in a word?

Not just imagined; Really.

She raised her hand like a policewoman. “There are no movies here. I would have to kick you out if you started this game. Which I don't want to do. Because, strangely enough, I really like you. In spite of everything. I never thought I should. Not after this dog. But I do. That painful glow returned to her face. “All the things I thought I should never do again! For example, eating a healthy meal; but i did it after three days. And the desire to make love. It seemed unimaginably sacrilegious. And yet, within three or four months it started to occur to me. I dreamed about it. And I guess one day I will. They do this "without obligation", as they say, by sending the vacuum cleaner for approval. Exactly as before. She laughed again. “Most likely with you, Anthony. Until the next dog comes down. Would you be willing to start over?

Not on the old terms. I want to give more, receive more.

"It takes two to give and receive." She then transferred the call to another line; Who am I currently having an affair with? and when I answered: with no one, he asked if it wasn't difficult and embarrassing to be restrained and why I would want to imitate Mark Staithes. I tried to explain that I was not imitating Marek, that Marek's asceticism was undertaken for himself, and above all for him, so that he would feel more detached, more himself, in a better position to look down on other people. I, on the other hand, tried to avoid the opportunity to emphasize individuality through sensuality. Hate, anger, ambition clearly deny human unity; lust and greed do the same implicitly and implicitly - by emphasizing only certain individual experiences, and in the case of lust, using other people only as a means to obtain such experiences. Less dangerous than hostility and the desire for superiority, prestige, social position, the desire is nevertheless incompatible with pacifism; it can only be made compatible when it ceases to be an end in itself and becomes a means of uniting two separate persons through love. Such a special relationship, a paradigm of relationships in general.

Chapter thirty nine. March 25, 1928

WHEN HELEN didn't close her eyes, the red darkness behind her eyelids came to wild and chaotic life. It looked like a railway station, full of people in a hurry, loud voices; and the colors sparkled, the shapes stood out clearly, bejeweled, with more than real definition of shape and color in the center of attention. It was as if a fever gathered a crowd in her head, turned on the lamps and turned on the gramophone. On the unnaturally bright stage, images appeared and disappeared on their own initiative and cruelly disregarding Helen's wishes. They came and went, talking, gesticulating, acting out their elaborate, mad dramas, all the while, without mercy for her weariness, regardless of her longing for rest and solitude. Sometimes, hoping that the outside world would overshadow this inner madness, she would open her eyes. But the light hurt her; and despite the bunches of roses on the wallpaper, despite the white bedspread and the doorknobs at the end of the bed, despite the mirror, the hairbrushes, the bottle of cologne, the images on the other side of her eyes continued to live their private lives, undisturbed. Violent and crazy life - once completely irrelevant, like a story someone else made up, and then suddenly painful to the point, painful for her.

For example, this morning, this afternoon (what was it? Time was infinite and non-existent: at any rate, it was just after Madame Bonifay had visited her - smelly, smelling of garlic and dirty linen), there was a huge hall with statues. Gilded statues. She recognized Voltaire, fifty feet tall, and there was one of those Chinese camels, but huge. People stood in groups, beautifully arranged, like people on a stage. Indeed, they were on stage. A game of intrigue, a play with love scenes and revolvers. How bright the headlights were! how clearly and decisively they expressed these points! Every word a bell, every sign a lamp.

'Hands up. . . I love you . . . If he falls into a trap. . And yet, who were they, what did they say? And now, for some strange reason, they were talking about arithmetic. Sixty-six yards of linoleum by three and eleven yards. And the woman with the revolver suddenly became Miss Cosmas. There was no Voltaire and no gilded camel. Just a board. Miss Cosmas always hated her because she was so bad at math, she was always disgusting and unfair. "At three past eleven," cried Miss Kosmas, "at three past eleven." But Madame Bonifay was number eleven, and Helena walked again along the rue Tombe-Issoire, fainting with fear at every step. I'm going slower and slower, hoping I'll never get there. But the houses raced toward her, like the walls of a subway escalator. He ran to her side, then stopped quietly as the number eleven evened out. - Miss Bonifaya. Sage Femme de Ière Classe." She stood staring at the words as she had actually stood two days before; then she walked on as she had walked then. Just a minute more, she begged herself, until she got over her nervousness and felt agony. She walked down the street again and found herself in a garden with Grandma and Hugh Ledwidge. It was a walled garden with a pine forest at one end. And out of the woods ran a man, a man with some terrible skin disease on his face. Red spots, scabs and scratches. Terrifying! But her grandmother just said, "God spat in his face," and they all laughed. But in the middle of the forest, as she walked, there was a bed, and immediately, somehow, she lay on it, looking many more people in another play, perhaps the same play. Shining in the spotlight, with voices like bells in her ears; but incomprehensible, unrecognizable. And Gerry was there, sitting on the edge of her bed, kissing her, caressing her hands, her breasts. " But, Gerry, you must not ! " All these people, they see us. Gerry, no ! But when she tried to push him away, he was like a block of granite, motionless; and all the while his hands, his mouth dropped soft moths of quick and fluttering pleasure beneath her skin; and the shame, the horror at the sight of all these people, at the same time provoked a special bodily torment - the feeling of softer, wild fluttering feet that were no longer a moth but some big bug, repulsive to the touch and disgustingly delicious at the same time. "Don't, Gerry, don't!" And suddenly she remembered everything - the night after the kitten's death and all the other nights, then the first signs, the growing anxiety and the day she called him. and they told me that he went to Canada, finally the money and that evening her mother... . . "I hate you!" she cried, but when she managed to push him away with one last violent effort, she felt such an excruciating stab of pain that she momentarily forgot her delirium and was completely at the mercy of immediate physical reality. . Slowly the pain subsided; another world of fever closed her again. And it wasn't Gerry anymore, it was Mrs. Bonifay. Mme Bonifay with this thing in her hand. Je vous ferai un peu mal. And it wasn't a bed or a pine forest, but a couch in Mrs. Bonifay's living room. She gritted her teeth, as she did then. Only this time it was worse because she knew what was going to happen. And in the spotlight, the people were still there, playing their show. Lying on the couch herself was part of the outdoor fun, and finally it wasn't her anymore, it was someone else, someone in a bathing suit with huge breasts like Lady Knipe. And what was stopping her breasts from becoming like that? Clearly, but incomprehensibly, the actors discussed the nightmarish possibility. The possibility of a Helen with huge breasts, a Helen with thick folds of fat around her hips, a Helen with folds on her thighs, a Helen with rows and rows of children - who are constantly bawling; and that disgusting smell of curdled milk; and their diapers. And suddenly Joyce was wheeling a pram through the streets of Aldershot. Removing the baby. Feeding him. Half terrified, half fascinated, she watched him snuggle and suck. The small frog's face pressed against his chest wore an expression of determined greed that gradually diminished as his stomach filled to an expression of drowsy, stupid ecstasy. But the hands - they were completely human, they were small miracles of the most delicate elegance. Beautiful, wonderful little hands! Irresistible little hands! She took the child from Joyce, pressed it tightly against her body, bent her head so that she could kiss those sweet little fingers. But what she held in her hands was a dying kitten, it was those kidneys in the butcher's, it was terrible that she opened her eyes and saw Mrs. Bonifay nonchalantly picking it up and carrying it in a tin bowl to the kitchen.

* * *

The surgeon was called in time and now Helen was out of danger. Reassured, Mrs. Bonifay returned to the motherly and Rabelian good mood that was natural to her.

Now she was almost speechless because of the operation that saved Helena's life. "Ton petit curetage," she would say with a kind of cheerful haughtiness, as if speaking of some illicit pleasure. To Helen, every tone of that thick, cheerful voice was another insult, another humiliation. The fever left her; her current weakness was clear; back to the real world. Turning her head, she saw her reflection in the wardrobe mirror. It pleased her to see how thin, pale she was, how blue, transparent shadows were under her eyes, how lifeless, lifeless her eyes were. Now she could powder herself, put some lipstick, rouge on her cheeks, smooth her dull, disheveled hair; but, perversely, she preferred her sick pallor and neglect. Like a kitten, she thought. Reduced to a dirty little patch of inert flesh, transformed from a shining living creature into something repulsive, like a kidney, into the unspeakable that Mrs. Bonifay has. . . She shivered. And now the tone petit curetage - in the same tone as the tone petit amoureux. It was a terrible, ultimate humiliation. She hated the beast, but at the same time she was glad that it was so scary. That cheerful, vulgar profanity was somehow appropriate - in line with everything else. But when Mrs. Bonifay left the room, she began to weep softly in an agony of self-pity.

Mrs. Bonifay, who returned unexpectedly, found her the second morning after a little curettage, with tears streaming down her face. Really worried, she offered comfort. But the comfort smelled, as usual, of onions. Physically disgusted and outraged at the invasion of her misfortune's privacy, Helena turned away, and when Mrs. Bonifay tried to console her, she shook her head and told her to go away. Mrs. Bonifay hesitated for a moment, and then submitted, but with Parthian insult to a gently suggestive remark about the letter she had brought, which she now placed on Helen's pillow. From him, no doubt. Anyway, good heart. . .

The letter turned out to be from Hugh. "Vacation in Paris!" - he wrote. "From my dirty shack among the garbage, how I envy you, Helenka! Paris in the middle of summer. Joyfully beautiful as this place with misty distances can never be. London is always sad, even in the sun. He longs for the pure, unmistakable glow of the Parisian summer. How I wish I was there! Selfishly, mostly for the pleasure of being with you outside of London and the Museum. And for free, for your own good - because the thought of you being alone in Paris worries me. Theoretically, I know off the top of my head that nothing will happen to you. But still - I wish I was there, caring but invisible, that you didn't notice me, that you never felt my loyalty as urgent, but that you always had the security that comes from being two instead of one. No, unfortunately, I should be a very good second in the tight corner. (How I sometimes hate myself for my shameful inadequacy!) But perhaps better than no one. And I would never impose, impose or push myself. I would be non-existent; except when you needed me. My reward would be simply to be in your neighborhood, to see and hear you—the reward of one who steps out of a dusty place into a garden, looks at blossoming trees, and listens to fountains.

I never told you this (I was afraid you would laugh - and you might laugh; I don't mind: it's your laugh), but the truth is that sometimes I sit and tell myself stories - stories where I'm always with you, like what I told you, I would like to be with you now in Paris. They watch over you, protect you from evil, and in return are refreshed by your beauty, warmed by your fire and dazzled by your bright purity. . ".

Angrily, as if the irony in it was intentional, Helen threw the letter away. But an hour later she picked it up again and read it from the beginning. It was good to know there was someone who cared.

The fortieth chapter. September 11, 1934

WITH MILLER for the screening of a science film. Development of the sea urchin. Fertilization, cell division, growth. A revival of last year's almost nightmarish vision of a life force larger than Bergson, the ultimate Dark God far darker, stranger and more brutal than anyone Lawrence ever imagined. A raw material that, on its inhuman level, is already a perfectly finished product. Then a picture of an earthworm appeared. A week of hermaphrodite love making, worm to worm, in a tube of slime. Then an incredibly beautiful film showing the life story of the blower. eggs. Stains on a piece of decaying flesh. Snow-white, like a flock of sheep in a meadow. Rushing from the light. Then, after five days of growth, it descends to the ground, buries itself, forms a cocoon. After another twelve days, a fly appears. A fantastic resurrection process! The organ in the head is inflated like a balloon. Blasted so much that the walls of the pod cracked. Fly free. Now positively, instead of negatively phototropic as it was with semolina. (A small and accidental miracle!) Digging upwards towards the light. On the surface, you can see him literally pumping his soft, wet body with air, smoothing his crumpled wings, pumping blood into his veins. An amazing and touching spectacle.

I asked Miller a question: What will be the effect of spreading such knowledge? Knowledge of a world incomparably more incredible and beautiful than the imagination of any mythmaker. A world that only a few years ago was completely unknown to all but a few people. What are the effects of his universal discovery? Miller laughed. “It will have exactly the same effect that people want. Those who prefer to think about sex and money will think about sex and money. No matter how loudly the movies praise God. The persistence of the naïve attitude that a reaction to favorable circumstances is inevitably and automatically good. Raw material, once again for processing. You still believe in automatic progress because you want to nurture that stupidity: it's so comforting. It's comforting because it puts all the responsibility for everything you do or don't do on someone or something other than yourself.

Chapter forty one. December 1933

IN COLON In the evening they rode in a cab along the promenade. Whitish, like a huge fish eye, the sea lay dead. Against the backdrop of a postcard sunset, the excessively tall, thin arms were a symbol of resigned hopelessness, and the hot air in his nostrils was like woolly steam. They swam for a while in the warm fish eye and then returned through the deepening night to the city.

For the rich, after dinner there were cabarets with expensive drinks and real white prostitutes for ten dollars. For the poor, in the side streets, the mulattoes sat by the doors that led straight into the lighted bedrooms.

"If someone was really worth it," Anthony said as they walked back to the hotel late at night, "I imagine he'd get syphilis."

The smell of sweat, the smell of alcohol, the smell of sewage, rot and cheap perfume; then, next morning, the canal, the great locks, the ship climbing from one ocean to another. It was a more than human achievement that made it possible, Mark explained with an anatomical smile, to transport whores and whiskey by water, not land, from Colon to Panama.

Their ship headed north. Every few days they stopped at a small harbor to pick up cargo. Among the bananas in San José, a spider, the size of a fist and woolly, made its way to their cabin. Near Champeric, where lighters with bags of coffee were landed, an Indian fell into the sea and was drowned.

At night, it was not the ship that seemed to be moving, but the stars. They rose slowly, diagonally, hovered at the top of their trajectory, then flew down, wandered precariously to the right and back to the left, then, starting again, climbed again towards the zenith.

"Pretty hideous," was Anthony's verdict, "but beautiful."

Improvement to regular sky mechanics. I could lay there and look at them forever.

There was a note of wistful satisfaction in Staithes' voice as he replied that he would be in Puerto San Felipe in two days.

Puerto San Felipe was a village of huts with a few wooden sheds near the water to store the coffee. Don Jorge's agent at the port helped them clear customs. A pure Spaniard, half dead from tropical diseases, but still extremely polite. "My home is yours," he assured them as they climbed the steep path towards his bungalow, "my home is yours."

Orchids hung from the porch, among them cages full of green parrots that screamed incessantly.

A drunken woman, prematurely old and tired, hopelessly tired, out of strength, ran out of the house to greet them, to apologize in advance for their hospitality. Puerto San Felipe was a small town, lacking in goods; and besides, she explained, the child is not well, not well at all. Mark asked her what happened. She looked at him with eyes without an expression of fatigue and answered vaguely that it was a fever; fever and headache.

They entered the house with her and a little girl appeared to them lying on the bed, restlessly turning her head from one side to the other, as if they were looking, but always in vain, for some cold place to rest her cheek on, some position. where she could find pain relief. The room was full of flies, and the smell of baked fish came from the kitchen. Staring at the baby, Anthony suddenly remembered Helen, that day on the roof—tossing and turning her head in the agony of pleasure.

"I guess it's the mastoid process," Mark was saying. “Or maybe meningitis.

As he spoke, the child drew out its thin arms from under the sheet, and, grasping its head in its hands, began to roll still more violently from side to side, until it burst into a paroxysm of screaming.

In immediate response, the noise of the parrots on the porch increased, scream after scream, reaching a deafening maximum intensity.

"Shut up, shut up," the mother repeated, first begging, then more persistently, begging, admonishing, ordering the child to stop crying, so that it would hurt less. The screaming continued, the head continued to turn from side to side.

Tortured with pleasure, tortured with pain. At the mercy of your own skin and mucus, at the mercy of those fine threads of nerves.

- Quietly, quietly - the woman repeated almost angrily. She bent over the bed and forcibly pulled the child's raised arms; then, holding both skinny wrists with one hand, he put the other over his head, trying to keep her still on the pillows. Still screaming, the girl struggled against the compulsion. The woman's bony hand clasped her wrists and rested more firmly on her forehead. If she could force the symptoms of pain to stop, maybe the pain itself would stop, maybe the baby would stop screaming, maybe she would sit up smiling and recover.

- Quietly, quietly - she ordered through clenched teeth.

With a violent effort the child freed his hands from those clawed fingers; the hands flew to the head again. Before the woman could pull them out again, Mark touched her arm. She looked around him.

- It is better to leave her - he said.

She obediently stood up and walked towards the door that led to the porch. They followed her. There was nothing they could do.

"My house is yours."

Thank God it wasn't. The child's screams stopped; but roasted fish, parrots among orchids. . . Mark politely declined an invitation to an early dinner. They went out again into the sun that was pressing down on him. The men loaded their baggage onto the pack mules, and the horses stood saddled in the shade of the tree. They fastened the huge spurs and mounted.

The path led up and up from the coast, through jungle that was silver and brown-pink from the drought. Sitting upright in his high-backed saddle, Mark was reading Timon the Athenian from the Tragedy pocketbook. Every time he turned a page, he spurred his mule; and she climbed a little faster for a few yards, then went back to her old slow pace.

In the hotel in Tapatlan, where they spent the night, Antonio was bitten by bedbugs for the first time in his life, and the next morning he had an attack of dysentery. . . . On the fourth day he felt well enough to go out and see the sights. The last earthquake almost destroyed the church. From the beam hung the fat black fruit of the bat like ripe plums; an Indian boy, ragged and barefoot, was cleaning up excrement; baroque saints fluttered from the altar and gesticulated in a frozen paroxysm of piety. They returned to the square, where, secretly and in ambush under dark shawls, dark Indian women crouched in the dust in front of small piles of wilting fruits and vegetables. The meat at the butcher's stand was covered in fly crust. Rhythmically shaking their long ears, the donkeys walked noiselessly on the dust with their small, fast hooves. Women came and went in silence, carrying cans of water on their heads. Beneath the brims of their hats, dark eyes stared at the strangers with an impenetrable reptilian glow that seemed devoid of all curiosity, interest, or even awareness of their presence.

"I'm tired," Anthony said. They did not go far; but in Tapatlan even life and consciousness were a great fatigue. "When I die," he continued after a moment of silence, "this is the part of hell I will be sent to." I recognize him immediately.

The hotel bar was in a dark, crypt-like room with a vaulted ceiling supported in the middle by a masonry pillar, unusually thick for its height to withstand the tremors of an earthquake. "The Saxon Mortuary," Marcus called it; and here, when he had gone to their room for a handkerchief, he left Anthony sitting on a cane chair.

Leaning against the bar, a smartly dressed young Mexican in riding breeches and a huge felt hat was bragging to the owner of the alligators he had shot in the swamps at the mouth of the Coppality and the strength of his relations with the Indians who came to his estate for coffee, about the money he expected to make by selling his crops.

A little cramped, thought Anthony, listening and watching from his chair; and he was enjoying the spectacle when the young man turned and, bowing with the solemn formality of one who is so drunk that he must do everything on purpose, asked the foreign bachelor if he would bring a glass of tequila with him.

Anthony spoke more Spanish than usual due to his fatigue. His attempts to explain that he was not feeling well, that drinking alcohol would not be good for him, very quickly led to inconsistencies. The young man listened, all the while staring at him with dark eyes, bright like the Indians, but unlike them, understandably expressive - European eyes in which one could read an intense and passionate interest, a focused consciousness. Anthony continued muttering, and suddenly those eyes took on a new, dangerous glow; a look of rage twisted his handsome face, the knuckles of his strong, rapacious hands turning white under the sudden pressure. The young man took a menacing step forward.

"You despise me," he shouted.

His movement, the suddenness of his tone, surprised Anthony and sent him into a sort of panic. He jumped to his feet and, moving behind the chair, began to explain in a voice that wanted to be calmly conciliatory, but which, in spite of his efforts to remain serious and calm, trembled in a colorless squeak that he had never dreamed of. to despise anyone, that it was only a question - he looked for a medical explanation and could not find anything better than a stomach ache - only a question un dolara en miestómago.

For some reason, the word estámoga struck the young man as the ultimate, most outrageous insult. He roared something unintelligible but clearly offensive; his hand returned to his hip pocket, and when the owner called for help, he stepped forward again, holding the revolver.

- No no! cried Anthony, not knowing what he was saying; then, with incredible agility, he sprang from his corner to take cover behind a massive pillar in the center of the room.

For a second, the young man disappeared from sight. But suppose he would be on his toes. Anthony imagined a revolver suddenly circling the column straight into his face; or from behind - he would feel the barrel pressed against his back, he would hear a ghostly explosion, and then... . . A fear so intense that it was like the most unbearable physical pain completely overwhelmed him; his heart was beating faster than ever, he felt like he was going to throw up. Overcoming his horror with more horror, he tilted his head to the left. The young man was standing only two meters away, staring savagely at the pillar. Anthony saw him stagger in motion, and with a desperate cry for help, sprang to the right, looked out again, and sprang back to the left; then right again.

"I can't," he thought. - I can't hold out much longer. The thought of the gun unexpectedly circling the post made him look again.

The young man stirred and violently threw himself to the left.

He was most afraid of the thunder of a revolver shot. A terrible noise, sudden and devastating like the noise of that other explosion many years ago. His eyelids stiffened and trembled uncontrollably, ready to blink in anticipation of the terrifying event. His eyelashes fluttered in front of his eyes, and through a kind of mist as he looked out, he saw the door open and Mark moving quickly across the room, grabbing the young man's wrist. . . The gun went off; bouncing off the walls and ceiling, the report was catastrophically loud. Anthony gave a loud cry as if he had been wounded, closed his eyes, and slumped against the pillar. Aware only of the nausea and pain in his genitals, those intestinal spasms, he waited, reduced to a mere quivering embodiment of the terrifying anticipation of the next explosion. I waited for what seemed like hours. Muffled voices negotiated indistinctly. Then a touch on his shoulder made him flinch. He shouted, "No, no!" and lifting his eyelids, which still trembled in the desired blinks, he saw Mark Staithes showing muscle by muscle a smile of friendly amusement.

"Everything is clean," he said, "you can leave."

Feeling deeply ashamed and humiliated, Anthony followed him into the open. The young Mexican was at the bar again and already drinking. When they got close, he turned and started to meet them with open arms. "Hombre," he said to Anthony, taking him gently by the hand, "hombre!"

Anthony felt more humiliated than ever.

Chapter forty two. September 15, 1934

For the past few days I have been meditating on a phrase by William Penn. “Strength may subdue, but love conquers; and whoever forgives first wins the laurel.

"Strength can conquer." I visualize men using force. First hand in hand. With fists, knives, clubs, whips. Blisters, red or blue, all over the body. Lacerations, bruises, broken bones digging into the skin, horribly swollen and bleeding faces. Then try to imagine in your own body the pain of a crushed finger, a blow to the face with a stick or a whip, the sting of the touch of a red-hot iron. All short range brutality and torture. Then use the force from a distance. Machine gun bullets, explosives, gases, suffocating or burning flames.

Power, finally, in the form of economic coercion. Starving children, pot-bellied, with arms and legs like poles. Women in their thirties. And the living dead, standing quietly on street corners in Durham or South Wales, walk silently through the mud.

Yes, strength can conquer. To be conquered by death, to be conquered by wounds, to be conquered by hunger and terror. A vision of terrified faces, vile gestures of servility. The manager at his desk, worried. The official is appalled at the threat of dismissal. Force – an act of brutal denial of the ultimate unity of man with man.

"Strength may conquer, but love will conquer." I tell the story of Penn himself among the redskins. Recall how Miller softened the suspected hostility of the Indians in the mountain villages. Consider Pennell on the North West border; Quakers during the Russian Famine; Elizabeth Fry and Damien.

Then I think about the translations of love into political languages. Campbell-Bannerman's insistence that redress should be made in South Africa - amid protests, Cassandra's prophecies from such "sensible and practical men" as Arthur Balfour. Love wins even in the clumsy, distorted form of a good political constitution. "Whoever forgives first wins the laurel." In South Africa the English forgave those they had wronged—which is only less difficult than forgiving the wronged—and thus secured a reward which they could not obtain by constant coercion. No prize has been won since the last war, because no fighter has yet forgiven those who wronged him or those he wronged.

Applied consistently in every situation, love always wins. This is an empirically established fact. Love is the best policy. The best not only for loved ones, but also for the one who loves. Because love energizes itself. It produces the means by which it implements its policy. It takes patience, courage, perseverance to continue loving. But the process of love creates these resources for its own continuation. Love wins because the lover is patient and courageous for the sake of the loved one.

And what is dear? Goodness and the possibilities of goodness in all human beings - even those who are most busy refusing to realize those possibilities of goodness for the lover himself. If it is great enough, love can banish fear even from sinister enemies.

I finish holding the thought of kindness as if it were still in my mind. Good, immanent in its possibilities, transcendent as a realized ideal; imaginable in its perfections, but also subject to actualization in practice, to be embodied at least partially in every situation in which we may find ourselves. "Think kindness" is a misnomer. Because in reality it is a whole system of thoughts and feelings. It is the whole system that I hold, quite still, I perceive at the same time as a whole - I hold it without words, without images, without discourse, as a unique, simple whole. Endure - then he must finally retreat, back to words, back (but refreshed, but more aware, but as if completed) to ordinary life.

September 17, 1934

She was invited by Helen to host her sister and brother-in-law who had returned from India on leave. He had to wear evening clothes - for the first time this year - because Colin couldn't afford to go to the theater or the Savoy Grill in just white tie. Depressing evening. Joyce sickly and prematurely thin. Colin is secretly interested in fuller, fresher bodies. She is jealous and nagging; he resents his attachment to her and the children, blaming her for the strictness of his own code that prevents him from being the lecher he would like to be. Each chronically impatient with the other. Here and there an outburst of bad humor, an exchange of angry or mischievous words. Colin had other complaints. England did not seem to show enough respect for the officer and the gentleman. The taxi drivers were rude, the lower classes pushed him around the streets. "They call it the white man's land." (This is after another "quick" in the theater bar, between acts.) "No. Give me Poona every time.

Think we all have our Poons, screw holes from unpleasant reality. Clink, as Miller always points out, meditation becomes such a hole. Quitism can be mere self-indulgence. Charisma like masturbation. Masturbation, however, worthy of dealing with amateur mystics, with all the most sacred names of religion and philosophy. "Contemplative Life". It can turn into a kind of subtle stand-in for Marlene Dietrich: the subject of erotic twilight musings. Meditation - valuable, not a pleasant goal; only as a means to achieve the desired changes in personality and lifestyle. The contemplative life does not mean living in a wonderfully sensual or flattering fullness; is to live in London, but to live there without Cockney.

Chapter forty-three. July 20 and 21, 1914

The RIGHT, opportune time to tell Brian the truth - or at least as much of the truth as was appropriate for him - never came. That first evening was ruled out in advance - as Anthony felt he needed a break, as poor Brian looked very sick and tired. During and after dinner, Anthony carried on the conversation as amusingly, impersonally as he could. He was talking about Sorel's Réflexions sur la violence – unpleasant reading for the Fabians! And did Brian see how effectively Julien Benda outshone his beloved Bergson? What about Lascelles Abercrombie's blank verse? And the latest Gilbert Cannan? The next morning they went for a walk around the Langdale Pikes. Both were out of practice; but despite his shortness of breath and racing heart, Brian continued with a Spartan determination that Anthony found at first absurd and then irritating. When they returned home late in the afternoon, they were both very tired; but Anthony was also offended. Rest and food changed his mood; but he still felt that he could treat Brian in nothing but a manly manner, sincerely forgiving, but still retaining his dignity; and dignity was, of course, entirely incompatible with the publication of this particular truth. They spent the evening in silence, Anthony reading while the other paced the room restlessly as if looking for an opportunity to speak, an opportunity Anthony's aura of intense preoccupation deliberately refused to give him.

The next morning, lying in bed, Anthony was wide awake with the unpleasant thought that time was passing not only for him, but for Joan and Brian as well. Joan's impatience may prevail over her promise not to write to Brian; besides, the longer he delayed the inevitable explanation to Brian, the worse Brian would think of him.

Inventing a blistered heel for the occasion, he allowed Brian to go out alone, and, watching him walk steadily up the steep slope behind the cabin, sat down to write a letter to Joan. Rather try to write it; since each of the sketches he made contained one or the other of two errors, and each of them exposed him to a particular danger: the danger that, if he insisted too much on respect and love, he would lose his head this cursed evening, she would reply that it was so respect and love, accompanied by the loss of his head, equals love and that his excuse (for love should have justified everything) for betraying Brian; and the other danger that she would be offended if he insisted too much on losing his head and temporarily going mad, complaining to Brian, Mrs. Foxe, his kinsman, raising his normal voice, and howling at him as a bastard, a seducer, and God knows what else. After spending three hours and a dozen sheets of paper, his efforts seemed too unsatisfactory to send back. He angrily put it aside and, in his irritable mood, wrote Mary a letter of bitter abuse. Damned woman! She was responsible for everything. "Intentional malice. . "Shameless use of my love for you. . "Treating me like some kind of animal that needs to be tortured for your own pleasure. . Sentences flowed from his pen. - That's goodbye - he concluded, half-consciously dramatically believing in what he was writing. »I don't want to see you again. Never." But an argument, the other half of his mind thought, could always be invented: he would teach her a lesson: then she could, if she behaved well, if she felt that he simply could not live without her. . . . He sealed the letter and immediately rushed to the village to send him off. This act of decision somehow restored his self-respect. On the way home he decided, quite firmly this time, to talk to Brian in the evening, and then, in the light of his knowledge of Brian's attitude, he would write the letter to Joan again the next morning .

Brian returned at the age of six, triumphant because he had gone further and climbed more mountains than he had ever done before in his life, but despite his elation he looked completely exhausted. At the sight of that face he had known so long, that face now so tragically scarred and consumed under the metamorphosis of a smile, Anthony felt the emotions of the first evening intensify again—an uneasy concern for an old friend, a painful sympathy with human suffering—and with her and painful guilt towards a friend, responsibility for a person. An instant confession might ease his pain, might enable him to express his feelings at the same time; but he hesitated; be quiet; and within seconds, through an almost instantaneous process of psychological chemistry, compassion and concern merged with guilt, creating something like anger. Yes, he was definitely mad at Brian because he looked so tired, because he was already so unhappy, because he was so much more unhappy the moment he was told the truth.

- You're crazy for going through so much - he said roughly and drove him home to rest before dinner.

After the meal they went out onto the terraced lawn in front of the cottage and, spreading the mat, lay down and looked up at the sky, green when they arrived with the last hint of summer twilight, then gradually a deeper blue.

Time, Anthony thought with a broken heart, was irreversible; and in long silence he prepared to begin, mentally trying out one debut gambit after another; vacillating between a sudden and hasty "clearing everything from the chest" and a more cunning strategy that would prepare the victim for the final shock.

But before he could decide which approach to confession would be best, the other suddenly started stuttering. It was evident that he too had been waiting for an opportunity to calm down, and instead of acting contrite as he had intended, Anthony found himself (to the relief of a part of his mind, to the horror and embarrassment of a resident of a deeper layer of consciousness) suddenly called upon to play the role of confessor and administrator conscience; invited to rehearse the story that Joan had already told him—the story that the bejeweled Saint Monica and womb reactions had told Mary Amberley so cheerfully. He had to hear how humiliating, how painful it was for his friend not to be able to control his body, to banish all the base desires of the unworthy love he had for Joan. Or perhaps Brian qualified by quoting Meredith's great volcano that hurled earthly fires into the sky, perhaps unworthy when circumstances should have allowed them to take their place in the complex whole of a perfect marriage; but unworthy at that moment when it was not yet possible for them to find their legitimate expression, unworthy if they defy the authority of the conscious mind.

“I had to r-run,” he explained, “I had to remove my b-body to a safe d-distance. B-because I couldn't b-b-c. . .'; "control" will not come; he had to settle for another, less expressive word; I-I rule my will. It's a shame to be so weak," Brian concluded.

Anthony nodded. Weak in making a decision about a kiss, and no less weak in interrupting a momentarily pleasurable experience—though there was more than weakness there, something positive, a perverse delight in an act known to be stupid, dangerous, evil.

“But if one knows they can't get over it,” Brian was saying, “I guess it's b-best to b-run. B-better than me-let you b-g-get into inevitable trouble.

"Yeah, I agree," Anthony said, wondering why he didn't act impulsively and turned to Kendal.

And not only yourself, but also other people. G-b-get them into trouble. »There was a long silence; then he slowly and painstakingly began to explain that Joan's wonderful, wonderful quality was her naturalness. She had the strength of natural things and their spontaneity; she was warm, like nature, generous and deeply innocent. It had the features of a summer landscape, a blossoming tree, a water bird flying among the reeds with shining eyes. It was this naturalness that he loved the most in her, because it was the complete opposite of his own pedantry and intellectualism. But it was this same naturalness that made Joan almost unable to understand why he found her presence so dangerous, why he felt it necessary to keep away from her. She was hurt by his attitude towards her, she thought it was because he didn't love her; while the truth was. . .

The truth was, Anthony told himself, finding some comfort in the mocking cynicism of his thoughts, the renewed sense of superiority, the truth was that she was hungry for kisses, that she had revealed her whole body at his first caress. she herself was a trembling and burning protest against the abstinence imposed on her.

"The truth," Brian struggled, "is that I love her m-more than ever. Indescribably more. He was silent again for a moment; then, looking at Anthony, he asked, "What am I doing?'

Still in a critical mood, Anthony vulgarized his unspoken reply to another private triumph, as short as it was easy; for his first thought was almost immediately replaced by the unsettling realization that he was faced with a choice: either tell Brian what had happened between him and Joan; or give some neutral and noncommittal answer to his question and postpone telling the truth until later. By omitting the anode, the answer would be a monstrous falsehood; and when he finally came to tell the truth, that lie and all the other lies contained in more than two days of silence or inconsequential conversation would inevitably be remembered against him. But telling the truth immediately in this particular context would be particularly painful—and painful, he thought, not only for himself, but also, most importantly, for Brian. After what Brian had said that night, it would be pure cruelty and intentional insult to clearly describe what happened.

"What s-should I do?" Brian insisted.

"I think," Anthony replied quietly, "that you should face reality."

He had made the decision—or, as he preferred to say, as he later reflected on the events of that evening in the privacy of his bedroom, the decision had been made. Looking back, he felt he had nothing to do with this case.

Chapter forty-four. September 21, 1934

COMMENTS OF ST. TERESA. "Let's look at our mistakes, not other people's. We should not insist that everyone follow us or take it upon ourselves to give direction in spirituality when we may not even know what it is. Zeal for the good of souls, although given to us by God, can often lead us astray. Add this to that. “It is a great grace of God to practice self-control, but as they say, too much is as bad as not enough; trust me, with God's help, we will achieve more by contemplating the divinity than by staring at ourselves." God may or may not exist. But there is an empirical fact that the contemplation of divinity - goodness in its most unconditional form - is a method of realizing that goodness in some small way in one's life, and often results in the experience of some kind of help in this realization of goodness, help from someone other than the mere self and the impossibly superior Christian God and the Original Buddhist Mind - interpretations of specific experiences, the Buddhist is a rationalization of a state that is further from the normal than the Christian. Christians, of course, often experienced this condition and had great difficulty explaining it in orthodox terms. Both concepts are legitimate, just as the macroscopic and microscopic views of matter are legitimate. We view the universe through a kind of physical-mental apparatus. This apparatus it can respond only to certain stimuli. It is regulated within relatively narrow limits. The nature of the facts that each of us perceives as basic and default depends on the nature of the particular instrument and the adaptation to which we have been brought up or deliberately selected. Conclusions can be drawn from this data. Which may or may not be logical. Any philosophy is intellectually legitimate if, first, it starts from the facts given to the philosopher, and second, if the logical construction based on these facts is reasonable. But intellectual philosophy is not the same as morally legitimate philosophy. We can tune our instrument intentionally, by an act of will. This means that we can modify the personal experiences on which our philosophy is based, the data on which we argue. The problem: to build really solid logical bridges between given facts and philosophical conclusions. All but insoluble. There are no impenetrable arguments in favor of any major cosmological theory. What will we do then? Stick to empirical facts as much as possible - always keeping in mind that anyone who chooses to modify the mechanism of perception can modify it. So that one sees, for example, either irreversible nonsense and filth, or realizable potentials for good - whichever one likes; it's a matter of choice.

Chapter forty-five. April 14, 1928

INDEPENDENT HAPPINESS - that was what her letter was supposed to bring him. But Hugh's face as he walked—he walked instead of lunching—through the long gallery of the Ethnographic Collection was a mask of confusion and anxiety. The words from Helen's letter echoed in his memory. - Nobody cares if I'm alive or dead.

From a Mexican display case, a death symbol in crystal and another turquoise-encrusted skull watched him pass. 'No one cares. . This should be his chance. He dreamed of her misfortune, in an agony of compassion, but also with hope. Unhappy, she turned to him. 'No one cares. . ".

- No one but you. His joyous pride and satisfaction at these words was tempered as he read on, by the realization that she didn't really understand how much he cared, that she didn't appreciate the exact quality of his feelings. "My mother?" she wrote. “But in the end, since she started taking those horrible things, she's someone else – she's always been someone else, even when she's healthy (though not otherwise, of course). Just like I've always been someone else when it comes to this. Her daughter was waiting; but I was always selfish and irresponsible. Like her. Someone else. How could she care? You're not selfish, Hugh. You are . . But it was not just a matter of selfishness or selflessness, he began to protest, and all the painted faces of the Peruvian vases stared from the right with the unblinking ferocity of frozen life. It was about something else, something deeper and more spiritual. To his left hung the trophies of Papuan bounty hunters, wrinkled but fantastically painted, like the heads of decapitated clowns. Torres Strait skulls were given round, mother-of-pearl eyes. Yes, more spiritual, Hugh insisted, thinking of what he had written about her—lyrical, lyrical! — and this subtle analysis of one's own emotions. Selflessness was there, but it seemed to melt away in contemplation, refined into something aesthetic. Selflessness in photography. Watteau's selflessness, Cima da Conegliano. And she herself, the object of his contemplative and aesthetic disinterest, she too, in his imagination, in the accumulated pages of his manuscript, had the quality of a picture or a piece of music; something that just watching and listening to endlessly would be happiness enough; he can touch from time to time like a statue, caress with an almost imperceptible tenderness. And sometimes in those pictures she was cold, unhappy - no one cared - and asked to be comforted and warmed, she slipped into his arms, into his selfless, contemplative, intangible arms and lay there safe, but naked, he lay there is a picture, untouched, perfect, but melting, melting. . . Feathered like an ambassador in full uniform, with a bird's beak and shark's teeth, this wooden mask made its wearer feel more than human, like a god as he danced. You said you always wanted to be with me. Well, I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and I think I'd like that too. Dear Hugh, I am not in love with you; but i like you more than anyone else. I think you are kinder, kinder, gentler, less selfish. And that's certainly a good enough foundation to build on. The words he read for the first time filled him with a kind of panic; with the same protesting excitement with which he now walked between New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. In the bowels of a wooden bonito, a Melanesian widow opened a small door, and there lay her husband's skull like a potty. But he always wanted to be with her spiritually and aesthetically. Could she not understand? Did you make it clear enough? "If you still want him, go ahead - I do too." It was horrible, he thought, horrible! She forced the decision on him, making it impossible for him to say no, assuming he had already said yes. He felt cornered, cornered. Marriage? But he will have to change his whole life. The apartment would not be big enough. She would like to eat meat at night. Mrs. Barton would give notice. Some of the spears on his left were tipped with obsidian, others with stingray points, and a third with human bone. “You must think I am a fool, thoughtless and irresponsible; and it's true, I was so far away. I'm hopeless. But I wasn't born without hope - the life I led made me. Now I want to be someone else and I know that I can be someone else. series. Good wife and all that, no matter how funny and awkward it sounds when you put it on paper. But I don't want to be ashamed of kindness anymore. I absolutely refuse. This irresponsibility, he thought, was one of her most beautiful and touching qualities. He separated her from the ordinary world, improved her from vulgar humanity. He didn't want her to be a responsible and good wife. He wanted her to be like Ariel, like a delicate being from his own script, a second-rate being, beyond good and evil. Meanwhile, he entered Africa. The image of a black woman holding long, pointed breasts with both hands shimmered darkly through the confining glass. Her belly was tattooed, her navel protruded in the shape of a small cone. The spears in the next case were tipped with iron. Like Ariel, he told himself, like those Watteaus in Dresden, like Debussy. As a resonator, this xylophone had no ordinary gourd, but a human skull, and the skulls were decorated with fetish ivory horns and thigh bones around the Ashanti sacrificial drum. She ruins everything, he told himself bitterly. And suddenly, looking up, he saw that she was there, hurrying down the narrow passage between the crates to meet him.

- You? he managed to whisper.

But Helena was too worried to see the startle, the pallor, then the rush of guilt, too deep in her thoughts to hear the note of surprise in his voice.

"I'm sorry," she said breathlessly, taking his hand. “I didn't mean to come here and bother you. But you don't know how it was at home this morning. She shook her head; her lips trembled. "My mother behaved like a crazy woman. I can not tell you. . . . You're the only one, Hugh. . ".

He clumsily tried to comfort her. But the reality was far different from his idea of ​​her misfortune. Imagination was always his main opportunity; the reality was the threat of imminent destruction. He was desperately trying to change the subject. This thing from Benin was quite interesting. Ivory leopard, studded with copper inlaid discs. Black warriors of bronze, with spears and leaf-shaped swords, with the heads of enemies hanging from their belts. Europeans, bearded and eagle-eyed, in high sixteenth-century morions and baggy pantyhose, with fuses in their hands and a cross around their necks. It was ridiculous, he remarked in passing, that the only thing these Blackamoors should have learned from Christianity was the art of crucifying men. A punitive expedition in 1897 found the place full of crosses. And this beautiful head of a young girl in a tapered Phrygian cap of coral beads. . .

"Look at this," interrupted Helen suddenly; and, pulling back her sleeve, she showed him two red semicircular marks on the skin of her forearm, a few inches above the wrist. “She bit me when I tried to put her back in bed.

Hugh went into a pitiful rage. - But that's awful! he cried. - It's too awful. He took her hand. "My poor baby!" They stood in silence for a moment. Then suddenly his pity was pierced by the realization that this had happened. There was no escape now. He found himself thinking about Mrs. Barton again. What would he do if she filed a warning?

Chapter forty-six. October 30, 1934

AT DINNER, MARK said he was re-reading Anna Karenina. I thought it was good, like in the novels. But he complained about the deep untruthfulness of even the best fantasy literature. And he began cataloging his failings. Almost complete neglect of those minor physiological events that determine whether everyday life will have a pleasant or unpleasant tone. For example, excretion, which has the power to make or break your day. Digestion. And for the heroines of novels and dramas, menstruation. Then minor illnesses - runny nose, rheumatism, headache, eye strain. Chronic physical incapacity - branching out (as in deformity or impotence) into exuberant madness. Conversely, the sudden arrival, from unknown visceral and muscular sources, of above-average health. Not a word about the role that the senses themselves play in creating happiness. A hot bath, for example, the taste of bacon, the touch of fur, the smell of freesia. In life, an empty snuffbox can cause more suffering than the absence of a lover; never in books. An almost equally complete omission of the petty amusements which fill the greater part of human life. reading newspapers; shopping tour; exchange of gossip; with all kinds of dreams, from lying in bed imagining what would happen if you had a real lover, income, face, social status, to sitting in a picture palace and passively accepting ready-made Hollywood dreams.

A lie by omission inevitably turns into a positive lie. The implication of the literature is that human beings are controlled, if not by reason, then at least by intelligible, well-organized, and confessable feelings. Meanwhile, the facts are completely different. Sometimes there are feelings, sometimes not. All for love or a well lost world; but love may be the name of nobility given to an excessive fondness for the smell or texture of a certain person, a mad desire to repeat the impression produced by some special skill. Or consider these cases (rarely published, but as numerous as anyone who knows can tell!), these cases of eminent statesmen, clergymen, lawyers, captains of industry—apparently so sensible, demonstrably so intelligent, publicly so highly important; but in private, under an irresistible compulsion for brandy, for young men, for girls in trains, for exhibitionism, for gambling or hoarding, for intimidation, for beatings, for all the countless crazy perversions of the desire for money and power and position on one hand, for sexual pleasure on the other side. Ordinary tics and tropisms, crazy and undiscovered desires - play the same role in human life as organized and recognized feelings. And imaginary literature is silent about that fact. It propagates a big lie about the nature of men and women.

“Exactly, without a doubt. Because if people were shown what they really are, they would either kill themselves like vermin or hang themselves. But in the meantime, I really don't feel like reading more beautiful literature. I'm not interested in lies. No matter how poetically it can be expressed. They're just boring.

He agreed with Mark that imaginative literature is not doing its job. This knowledge about everything is necessary - and not only from science textbooks, but also in a form that has the power to bring the facts closer to the whole mind, not just the intellect. Full expression (in terms of imaginative literature) leading to full knowledge (with the whole mind) of complete truth: a necessary prerequisite for any corrective action, any serious attempt to build a real man. Building from the inside, by training to use it properly - by training, physically and mentally. At the same time, construction from the outside, through social and economic arrangements, developed in the light of full knowledge of the individual and the way in which the individual can be modified.

Mark just laughed and said I reminded him of people going door to door selling electric washing machines.

November 4, 1934

Very good meeting in Newcastle with Miller and Purchase. Large and enthusiastic crowds - mostly dispossessed. Note the significant fact that pacifism is generally inversely proportional to prosperity. The greater the poverty, the longer the unemployment, the sincere determination not to fight anymore, and the skepticism towards conventional idols, the Empire, National Honor and the like, the more complete. Negative mood was closely related to poor economic conditions. Therefore, you should not rely on it. Such pacifism is devoid of autonomous life. At the mercy of whoever comes first with the money - and the threat of war would lead to a huge increase in employment. Second, at the mercy of anyone who comes up with an enticing positive doctrine—however insane and criminal its positivity may be. The mind abhors a vacuum. Negative pacifism and skepticism towards existing institutions are just holes in the mind, a void waiting to be filled. Fascism or communism have enough positive content to act as fillers. Suddenly someone with Hitler's talent can appear. A negative void will inflate quickly. These disillusioned pacifist skeptics will turn overnight into trained fanatics of nationalism, class warfare, or whatever. Question: do we have time to fill the void with positive pacifism? Or given the time, do we have the options?

Chapter forty seven. January 10 and 11, 1934

Allegedly, Don Jorge's telegram was an order for the immediate sale of six hundred bags of coffee. Rather, he said that the moment had come and that he was eagerly awaiting them.

Mark looked at his companion with a truly hostile expression. — That damned belly of yours! - He said.

Anthony protested that he was fine again.

"You are unfit for this journey."

'Yes I am.'

"You didn't," Mark repeated with concern that was also burning resentment. “Three days on a mule through those damned mountains. That's too much for someone in your condition.

Annoyed by the latter's words, and fearing that if he agreed with Mark he would be unwilling to face the difficulties and dangers that awaited him, Anthony stubbornly asserted that he was capable of anything. Wanting to believe it, Marko was soon convinced. An answer was sent to Don Jorge - six hundred bags were immediately sold; he could expect further particulars on Friday, and after lunch, in the terrible heat of the early afternoon, they started for a finca high in the mountains above Tapatlan, where one of Don Jorge's friends had put them up to spend the night. Mark took out his pocket Shakespeare again, and for four hours they drove their stubborn beasts, up and up through the dusty corn stubble and across the fields through the dry, leafless thicket, which at last gave way to green darkness and the golden light of coffee. plantation under their tall shadows.trees. Up and up as Marcus read the whole of Hamlet and two acts of Troilus and Cressida, and Anthony sat wondering in the fumes of exhaustion how much longer he could last. But finally, when night fell, they reached their destination.

The next morning at four o'clock they were back in the saddle. Under the trees was a double night of starless shadow; but the mules made their way through the winding paths with reassuring certainty. From time to time they passed under invisible lemon trees, and in the darkness the fragrance of the flowers was like a brief and indescribable revelation of something more earthly—a moment of ecstasy, then, as the mules moved forward, hoof by hoof, as the mules moved forward, hoof hoof by hoof, it was coming to him. up. the rocky path, the disappearance of the supernatural presence, the return to ordinary life symbolically represented by the smell of skin and sweat.

The sun rose and a little later they emerged from the cultivated forests of the coffee plantations into the highlands of bare rock and pine forests. The almost flat road wound and led along the stronghold and the jagged side of the mountain. To the left, the land dropped steeply into valleys still dark with shadow. Far away, in the air clouded with dry season dust and forest fire smoke, high in the sky was the pale white Pacific.

Marko continued reading Troilus and Cressida.

The descent was so steep that they had to dismount and lead their animals, and after another hour they reached the river bank. They ran over him and started up the slope in the blazing sun. There was no shade, and the huge bald hills were the color of dust and burnt grass. Nothing moved, not even a lizard among the stones. There were no sounds of life. Hopelessly empty, the chaos of collapsed mountains seems to stretch forever. It was as if they had crossed the border of the world into nothingness, into the endless space of hot and dusty negation.

At eleven o'clock they stopped for lunch, and an hour later, when the sun was almost vertical above them, they started again. The trail climbed, dropped fifteen hundred feet into the gorge, and climbed again. By three o'clock Anthony was so tired he could barely think or even see. The landscape seemed to move and recede before his eyes, sometimes turning black and disappearing altogether. He heard voices, and in his mind thoughts began to take on a life of their own—a life that was autonomous in its maddening and maddening insignificance. Image followed image in a phantasmagoria whose exorcisms were beyond his ability. It was as if he was possessed, as if he was forced to lead someone else's life and think with someone else's mind. But the sweat pouring down his face like water and seeping through his shirt and cotton riding pants, the excruciating pain in his loins and thighs, were his. Own and painful, unbearable. He was tempted to groan, even to burst into tears. But through the delirium of another person, he remembered the assurance he had given Mark, the sure promise that he would not be tired. He shook his head and rode on—riding through the illusory world of alien fantasy and the half-imperceptible disappearing landscape, riding through the awful reality of his pain and weariness.

Mark's voice jolted him out of his stupor.

'Is everything all right?'

Looking up and struggling to focus his eyes, he saw that Mark had stopped and waited at the bend in the path directly above him. Fifty yards further along the mozo followed the mule with the baggage.

- Mula-a-a! A long cry was heard, and with it a dull thump of a stick against the skin of a mule.

"I'm sorry," Anthony muttered. "I had to stay.

Are you sure everything is okay?

He nodded his head.

"Less than an hour left," Mark said. - Turn it off if you can. In the shadow of the huge straw hat, his haggard face twisted into a smile of encouragement.

Touched, Anthony smiled back at him and, trying to reassure him, tried to joke about the hardness of the wooden saddles they rode on.

Mark laughed. "If we get through unscathed," he said, "we'll dedicate a pair of silver buttocks to St. James of Compostela."

He pulled on the reins and bucked his mule. The animal started up the slope; then, sliding over the rolling stones, he tripped and fell to his knees.

Anthony closed his eyes to take a moment to rest from the glare. Hearing the noise, he opened them again to see Marko lying face down and the mule rising to its feet in a series of violent convulsions. The landscape returned to its state of focus, moving images became still. Forgetting about the pain in his back and legs, Anthony jumped off the saddle and ran along the trail. As he approached, Mark rolled over and pushed himself into a sitting position.

- Does it hurt? Anthony asked.

The other shook his head but said nothing.

- You're bleeding.

His pants were torn on the left knee, and a red stain was crawling down his leg. Anthony shouted to Moza to come back with the baggage mule; then, kneeling, he opened the penknife, thrust the blade into the gash, and saw a long, jagged slit in the hard material.

"You're ruining my bags," Mark said, speaking for the first time.

Anthony didn't answer, just tore off a wide slab of the stuff.

The entire knee cap and the upper part of the skin is red flesh without skin, gray without bleeding, with dust and sand. There was a deep cut on the inside of the knee that was bleeding profusely.

Anthony frowned and, as if in pain, bit his lower lip with his teeth. A sense of physical revulsion mingled with his horrified compassion. He shivered.

Mark leaned forward to look at his damaged knee. Dirty, was his comment.

Anthony nodded quietly, unscrewed the cap of the water bottle and, wetting a handkerchief, began to wash the dirt from his wounds. His feelings were gone; he was completely absorbed in his immediate task. Nothing was more important than washing away the dirt without hurting Mark.

By this time the mozo had returned with the baggage mule and stood silently beside them, staring blankly at what was happening with his black eyes.

"He probably thinks we're making an unnecessary fuss," Mark said and tried to smile.

Anthony got up, had the man unhook the mule and took a first aid kit from one of the bundles.

Under the influence of the disinfectant, Mark burst into explosive laughter. "There is no humanitarian crap about iodine," he said. "Good old fashioned idea to hurt you for your own good." Like Jehovah. Christ! He laughed again as Anthony wiped away another piece of raw meat. Then, when the knee was bandaged, he said, "Help me," he continued. Anthony helped him up and he took a few steps up the path and back. - Everything seems to be fine. He bent down to look at his mule's front paws. They were barely scratched. "There is nothing stopping us from moving forward immediately," he concluded.

They helped him to his feet, and he briskly kicked his uninjured leg up the hill. The rest of the way was mostly straight and stiff back toward Anthony, but sometimes also, in a zigzag path, a profile, marble in its unchanging pallor—a stoic statue, flayed but still alive and silently sustaining his agony.

In less than an hour—because Mark decided to keep up the pace that made the mules puff and sweat in the afternoon heat—they entered San Cristobal el Alto. The thirty or forty Indian ranches that made up this village were built on a narrow ridge between deep bays, beyond which on either side the mountains stretched chaotically, belt after belt, into the mist.

Seeing the distinguished travelers, the village merchant hurried to the square to offer them a place to stay. Mark listened, nodded and motioned for them to dismount; then, wincing, he let himself fall back into the saddle.

Without turning his head, "You've got to get me off that damn mule," he shouted in a loud, angry voice.

Anthony and the mozo helped him down; but once on earth, he refused further help.

"I can go alone," he said shortly, frowning as if offering his hand, Anthony wanted to insult him.

Their sleeping quarters turned out to be a wooden shed, half filled with coffee bags and leather. After surveying the place, Mark limped off again to look at the thatched hut that was meant to be a mule barn; then he suggested a walk in the countryside "to see the sights", he explained.

It was obvious that walking hurt him so much that he couldn't afford to talk. In silence they crossed the square, in silence they visited the church, the school, the cabildo, the prison in the village. In silence, one by one. Because if they were walking side by side, Anthony thought, maybe he would have seen Mark's face and Mark would have felt that someone was spying on him. If he went forward, it would be an insult to Mark, a challenge to speed up his pace. Anthony deliberately remained, silent, like an Indian woman following her husband in the dust.

It was almost half an hour before Mark felt he had struggled enough.

"So much for views," he said grimly. "Let's go eat something".

The night was piercingly cold, and the bed was just a wooden board. From a restless and unrefreshing sleep Anthony awoke the next morning.

- Wake up! Mark shouted at him. 'Wake!'

Anthony sat up stunned to see Mark in the other wooden bed, leaning on his elbow and staring at him with angry eyes.

"It's time to escape," the gruff voice continued. - It's past six.

Suddenly remembering yesterday's accident, "How's the knee?" Anthony asked.


'Did you sleep?'

"No, of course not," Mark replied irritably. Then he looked away. "I can't get out of bed," he added. "Something froze me.

Anthony pulled on his boots and, opening the shed door to let in the light, walked over and sat on the edge of Mark's bed.

"We'd better put on a clean bandage," he said and began to unroll the bandage.

The fibers stuck to the raw meat. Anthony pulled it back carefully, then released it. "I'll see if the store can get me some hot water," he said.

Mark snorted and, grabbing a corner of the hair between his thumb and forefinger, gave it a hard tug. A square of pink fabric fell from his hand.

- NO! Anthony cried out, wincing as if in pain. The other just gave him a scornful smile. - You made him bleed again - he added in a different tone, finding a medical justification for his outburst. But really, that fresh-blooded kid wasn't what bothered him the most as he bent down to look at what Mark had discovered. The whole knee was horribly swollen and almost black with bruises, and the skin around the edges of the newly opened wound was yellow with pus.

"You can't walk with your knee in this condition," he said.

"I decide," Mark replied, then added after a moment. "You finally did it the day before yesterday."

The words implied contemptuous disparagement. "If a poor creature like you can overcome pain, surely I can..." That's what they wanted to say. But the insult, Anthony realized, was unintentional. It was born from a depth of arrogance that was almost childish in its direct intensity. There was something touching and absurd in such naivety. Besides, the poor guy had a knee. This was no time for offense.

"I was practically fine," he claimed conciliatoryly. "You have a leg that could go into sepsis at any moment."

Mark furrowed his brows. "Once I get on the mule, everything will be all right," he insisted. “She's just a little stiff and bruised; that's all. In addition," he added, contrary to what he had said before, "there will be a doctor in Miajutla. The sooner I get this in his hands the better.

"You'll make things ten times worse along the way." If you would wait here a day or two. . ".

"Don Jorge would think I was leaving him to his fate."

"Damned Don Jorge! Send him a telegram.

"The line doesn't go through here. I asked.'

"Then send the mozo."

Mark shook his head. - I wouldn't believe him.

'Why not?'

- He will get drunk at the first opportunity.

"In other words, you don't want to send it."

"Besides, it would be too late," Mark continued. “Don Jorge will be moving in a day or two.

"And you think you'll be able to move in with him?"

"I'll be there," Mark said.

"You can not".

- I'm telling you, I'll come. I won't let him down. His voice was cold and harsh with suppressed anger. "Now help me up," he ordered.

"I won't do it".

The two men looked at each other in silence. Then, trying to control himself, Mark shrugged.

"Okay," he said, "I'll call the mozo." And if you are afraid to go to Miajutla," he continued in a tone of wild contempt, "you can go back to Tapatlan. I will go alone. Then, turning to the open door, he shouted, "Juan." "Yuan!"

Anthony gave up. "Do it your way. If you really want to be angry. . He didn't finish the sentence. "But I take no responsibility."

"It wasn't asked of you," Mark replied. Anthony got up and went to get the first aid kit. In silence he wiped the wounds and applied a new bandage; then when he tried to bandage, "Suppose we stop arguing," he said. Wouldn't that make things easier?

For a few seconds, Mark remained hostile and turned; then he looked up and twisted his face into a conciliatory, friendly smile. "Peace," he said, nodding his head. — We will make up.

But he counted without pain. It started to hurt as he worked on getting out of bed. It turned out that even with Antonio's help, he could not get out of bed without bending his injured knee; and bending was torture. When he finally got to his feet next to the bed, he was pale and his expression turned into a kind of ferocity.

- Alright? Anthony asked.

Mark nodded and, as if the other had become his worst enemy, limped out of the shed without even looking at him.

The torture began anew when it was time to mount the horse, and was renewed with every step of the mule. As the day before, Marko took the lead. At the head of the cavalcade, he proved his supremacy and at the same time kept himself out of the reach of prying eyes. The air was still cold; but Anthony noticed that every now and then he took out his handkerchief and wiped his face as if he had perspired. Each time he lowered his handkerchief, he gave the mule a particularly brutal kick with his only available spur.

The trail went down, up again, down through the pine forest, down, down. An hour passed, two hours, three; the sun was high in the sky, it was unbearably hot. Three hours, three and a half; and now there were clearings in the forest, steep fields, stubble of Indian corn, a group of huts and an old woman carrying water, brown children playing quietly in the dust. They were on the outskirts of another village.

"Shall we stop here for something to eat?" Anthony called and urged the animal into a trot. "Perhaps we can get some fresh eggs," he continued as he approached the other mule.

Mark's face turned to him, white as paper, and when he parted his clenched teeth to speak, his lower jaw quivered uncontrollably. "I think we should continue," he began in an almost silent voice. "We still have a long way to go. . His eyebrows trembled before his eyes, his head drooped, his body seemed to collapse; he fell on his mule's neck, slipped to one side, and would have fallen to the ground if Anthony had not caught him by the arm and lifted him up.

Chapter forty eight. July 23, 1914

ANTHONY dozed off again after the call and missed breakfast. Entering the small living room, Brian looked up in surprise and guiltily pocketed the letter he was reading, but it was only then that Anthony recognized the distinctive features of Joan's rather heavy body from across the room. and intricate looping handwriting. Bringing a particularly casual note of cheerfulness to his good morning, he sat down and began intricately pouring the coffee, as if it were an intricate scientific process that required his full attention.

Should I tell him?, he wondered. - Yes, I should tell him. It should come from me, even though he already knows that. damn girl! Why couldn't she keep her promise? He was rightly resentful of Joan. He breaks his word! And what the hell did she say to Brian? What if his own story is different from hers? Besides, how stupid would he look if he admitted it now, when it was too late. She took away the chance, the very possibility, to tell Brian what had happened. The woman changed her tone; and as his rage turned to self-pity, he saw himself as a man of good intentions who had been maliciously prevented at the eleventh hour from carrying them into action. She covered his mouth just as he was about to say the words that would explain and fix everything; in doing so, she made his situation absolutely unbearable. How the hell did she expect him to treat Brian when Brian already knew? Basically, he answered that question in the next few moments by retiring from the Manchester Guardian. He secretly pretended, while eating scrambled eggs, that he was keenly interested in all things concerning Russia, Austria and Germany. But the silence, as it continued, became unbearable.

“This case of war is looking pretty bad,” he said finally, not leaving the barricade.

From across the table, Brian gave a low grunt of agreement. Seconds passed. Then there was the sound of a chair being pushed. There sat Anthony, a man so engrossed in the Russian mobilization that he was unaware of what was happening in his immediate vicinity. It wasn't until Brian actually opened the door that he began to ostentatiously come to his senses.

"Is he out yet?" he asked, half turning, but not enough to see the man's face.

- I don't think I will go out this morning.

Anthony nodded approvingly, like a general practitioner. "That's good," he said, adding that he personally suggests hiring a bike in the village and going to Ambleside. There were a few things he had to buy. "I'll see you at lunchtime," he concluded.

Brian didn't say anything. The door closed behind him.

At fifteen to one, Anthony returned his borrowed bicycle and walked up the hill to the cabin. This time the matter is settled, definitely, once and for all. He would tell Brian everything - almost everything - as soon as he showed up.

- Brian! he called from the doorway.

There was no answer.


The kitchen door opened and old Mrs. Benson, who had been cooking and cleaning, stepped out into the narrow hallway. She explained that Mr. Foxe had gone for a walk some half an hour before; he said he wouldn't come back for lunch, but wanted (can you believe it?) to leave without eating; she told him to get some sandwiches and a hard-boiled egg.

Anthony sat down to lunch alone with inner discomfort. Brian deliberately avoided him; therefore he must be angry—or worse, he thought, hurt—too deeply to bear his presence. The thought made him wince; hurting people was so awful, so painful even for the one doing the hurting. And if Brian came back from his walk generously forgiving—and knowing him, Anthony was sure he would—then what? Receiving forgiveness was also painful; especially painful in the case of an unrecognized crime. "If I could tell him," he repeated to himself, "if I could tell him"; and almost convinced himself that he had been interrupted.

After dinner he went into the wilderness behind the cabin, hoping (for now there was such an urgent need to talk) and at the same time (for talking would be such a painful process) deeply dreading meeting Brian. But he didn't meet anyone. Resting on top of the hill, he managed to forget his problems for a moment in sarcasm at the expense of the view. Such typical and shameful English, he thought, wishing Mary had been there to hear his comments. Mountains, valleys, lakes, but on the smallest scale. Miserably small and full of holes, like the architecture of an English cottage - all individual corners and charming elements; nothing beautiful or wonderful. Not a trace of thirteenth-century megalomania or baroque gesticulation. A pleasant, self-satisfied little exaltation. Almost willingly, he began to descend.

No, said old Mrs. Benson, Mr. Foxe is not back yet.

He drank tea alone, then sat down on a deckchair on the lawn and read de Gourmont in style. At six o'clock Mrs. Benson came out, and after explaining at length that she had a table, and that there was cold mutton in the pantry, bade him good evening, and went away down the road to her cabin.

Soon after, the flies started biting and he went home. The bird on the Swiss clock opened the door, knocked seven times and fell silent again. Anthony continued to read about style. Half an hour later, the bird jumped out with one cry. It was dinner time. Anthony got up and went to the back door. Behind the cabin, the hill shone with an almost supernatural glow. There was no sign of Brian. He went back to the living room and read some Santayana for a change. The cuckoo let out eight sharp hiccups. The evening planet was already visible above the orange patch of the setting sun. He turned on the lamp and drew the curtains. Then he sat down again and tried to read Santayana again; but those carefully polished stones of wisdom rolled over the surface of his mind without leaving the slightest impression. Finally he closed the book. The coward announced that it was half past eight.

An accident, he wondered, could this guy have had an accident? But at the end of the day, people don't have accidents - not when they're casually strolling. Suddenly a new thought occurred to him and the very possibility of spraining his ankles or breaking his legs immediately disappeared. This walk, he was now quite sure, led to the station. Brian was on the train, on his way to London, on his way to see Joan. When you thought about it, it was obvious; it simply could not be otherwise.

- Christ! Anthony said loudly in the privacy of the small room. Then, cynically and indifferent to the very hopelessness of the situation, he shrugged his shoulders and, lighting a candle, went to the pantry to get some cold mutton.

This time, he decided as he ate, he would really escape. Just stay hidden until things get better. He had no remorse. Brian's journey to London relieved him, in his estimation, of any further responsibility in the matter; he felt that he could now do whatever suited him best.

Preparing for the flight, after dinner he went upstairs and started packing. The memory of borrowing Sir Isaac Harman's The Wife of Brian to read in bed made him pass the landing with a candle in hand. On the dresser in Brian's room were three envelopes, clearly leaning against the wall. The two he saw from the door were branded and the other was unbranded. He crossed the room to get a closer look. The unmarked envelope was addressed to him and the others to Mrs. Foxe and Joan. He put down the candle, took the envelope addressed to himself and tore it open. A vague but intense restlessness filled his mind, a fear of something unknown, something he dared not know. He stood there for a long moment, holding the open envelope in his hand, listening to the strong beating of his own blood. Then, finally making up his mind, he pulled out the folded sheets. There were two, one in Brian's handwriting, the other in Joan's handwriting. At the top of the letter, Joan Brian wrote, "Read it for yourself." He read:

Dearest Brian, "Until then, Anthony will tell you what happened." And you know, it just happened - from the outside, if you know what I mean, like an accident, like being hit by a train. I certainly hadn't thought of that before, and I don't think Anthony—not really; the discovery that we had made love simply hit us, flew over us. There was no way we were doing it on purpose. That's why I don't feel guilty. I am sorry, yes - more than words can say - for the pain I know I will cause you. Ready to do everything in my power to make it less. Asking for forgiveness for hurting you. But without guilt, without the feeling that I treated you dishonorably. I would only feel it if I did it on purpose; but i didn't. I'm telling you, it just happened to me - to both of us. Dear Brian, I am incredibly sorry for hurting you. You of all people. If it was on purpose, I couldn't have done it. No more than you can hurt me on purpose. But this just happened, like you accidentally hurt me because of that fear you always had of love. You didn't mean to hurt me, but you did; there was nothing you could do about it. The impulse that caused you to hurt me hit you, passed through you like that impulse of love that hit me and Anthony. I don't think it's anyone's fault, Brian. We were unlucky. Everything was supposed to be so good and beautiful. And then it happened to us - first you, then you had to hurt me; then me. Maybe we'll be friends later. I hope. That's why I'm not saying goodbye to you, dear Brian. No matter what happens, I'm always your loving friend,


Trying to maintain his self-respect and calm his deep anxiety, Anthony forced himself to reflect with disgust on the truly disgusting style in which such letters were generally written. A branch of the pulpit, he concluded and tried to smile to himself. But it wasn't good. His face refused to do as he asked. He dropped Joan's letter and reluctantly picked up another page written in Brian's handwriting.

Dear A. - I have enclosed the letter I received this morning from Joan. Read; it will save me explaining. How could he do that? I have been asking myself this question since morning; and now I'm putting it down for you. How could you? Circumstances may have run over her - like a train, she says. And that, I know, was my mistake. But they couldn't run you over. You have told me enough about yourself and Mary Amberley to make it clear that there is no doubt about your train case poor Joan. Why did you do that? And why did you come here and act like nothing happened? How could you sit there and let me talk about my difficulties with Joan and pretend to sympathize when you kissed her a few nights earlier when I couldn't? God knows that in my life I have done many bad and stupid things, told all kinds of lies; but honestly, I don't think I can do what you do. I didn't think anyone could do that. I guess I've been living in some kind of fool's paradise all these years, thinking that the world is a place where such things simply cannot happen. A year ago I might have known how to deal with the discovery that this could happen. Not now. I know I'd go crazy if I tried. This past year has stigmatized me more than I thought. Now I realize that inside I am all broken to pieces and that I am held together by a constant effort of will. It was as if the broken statue somehow managed to hold on. And now it's over. I can't take it anymore. I know that if I saw you now, and not because I feel you did something you shouldn't; it would be the same with anyone, including my mother - yes, if I saw someone who had ever meant something to me, I would break down and fall into pieces. One moment a statue, the next a pile of dust and shapeless fragments. I can't face it. Maybe I should; but i just can't. I was angry with you when I started writing that letter, I hated you; but now I see that I don't hate you anymore. God bless you,


Anthony put the two letters and the torn envelope in his pocket and, taking the two stamped envelopes and the candle, went down into the living room. Half an hour later he went into the kitchen and in the stove, which was still smoldering, he set fire to all the papers Brian had left behind. Two unopened envelopes with tightly folded contents burned slowly, it was necessary to keep burning; but finally it worked. He crushed the charred paper to dust with the poker, stoked the fire to the last flame, and replaced the round lid. Then he went out into the garden and down the steps to the road. On the way to the village, it suddenly dawned on him that he would never see Maria again. She would interrogate him, extract the truth from him, and when she extracted it, she would announce it to the world. Besides, would he even want to see her again now that Brian... . He couldn't bring himself to say those words, not even to himself. - Christ! he said loudly. At the entrance to the village he paused for a few moments to consider what he should say when he knocked on the constable's door. "My friend has disappeared. . . My friend was out all day and... . I'm worried about my friend. . Anything would do; he hurried on, just wanting it to be over.

Chapter forty nine. January 12 and 14, 1934

The little ranch was dark and stuffy from noon to sunset; then cold all night. A partition divided the hut into two compartments; in the center of the first compartment was a hearth of rough stones, and when the fire was lit for cooking, smoke slowly seeped through cracks in the windowless wooden walls. The furniture consisted of a chair, two kerosene bottles for water, several clay pots and a stone mortar for grinding corn. On the other side of the partition were several wooden beds. They put Mark on exactly one of them.

The next morning he was delirious with fever, the infection creeping downward from the knee until the leg was swollen almost to the ankle.

For Anthony, as he sat there in the hot twilight, listening to the mumbling and sudden screams of this stranger on the bed, there was only one thing to decide at this moment. Should a mozo be sent to fetch a doctor and the necessary medicines from Miajutli? Or should I go alone?

It was a bad choice. He thought of poor Marko, abandoned and alone in the hands of these incompetent and ill-intentioned savages. But even if he were there himself, what could he do with the resources at his disposal? Suppose the mozos were sent and failed to get the doctor to come immediately, failed to bring the necessary supplies, perhaps never returned at all. Miajutla, said Marek, was in the land of the pulque; there would be oceans of cheap alcohol. With a strong drive, he could be back at Mark's bedside in less than thirty hours. A white man with money in his pocket could intimidate and bribe a doctor to arouse him. Last but not least, he would know what supplies to take with him. He decided. He got up and, approaching the door, called the mozo to saddle his mule.

He had been driving for less than two hours when a miracle happened. Rounding a bend in the path, he saw a white man approaching him, not more than fifty yards off, followed by two Indians, one on horseback, the other on foot, with a pair of loaded mules. As they approached, the white man raised his hat politely. His hair was light brown underneath, gray above his ears, and his blue eyes were surprisingly pale against a heavily tanned face.

"Good morning, sir," he said.

There was no mistake in accent. "Good morning," Anthony replied.

They held their beasts together and began to talk.

"That's the first word of English I've heard in seven and a half months," said the stranger. He was an older, short man, short and slender, but with a nice, upright posture that gave him a certain dignity. The face was of unusual proportions, with a short nose and an unusually long upper lip above a wide, tightly closed mouth. Mouth like an inquisitor. But the inquisitor forgot himself and learned to smile; there was the potential for laughter in the deep folds of skin that separated the quiveringly sensitive corners of the lips from the cheeks. And around the bright, inquiring eyes, those intricate lines seemed to be traces and hieroglyphic symbols of an endlessly repeating movement of jocular benevolence. Strange face, thought Anthony, but lovely.

"My name is James Miller," said the stranger. "What's yours?" And when they said to him, "Are you traveling alone, Anthony Beavis?" he asked, addressing the other in the Quaker fashion by both names.

Anthony told him where he was going and on what business. "I don't suppose you know anything about doctors in Miauta," he concluded.

With a sudden deepening of the hieroglyphs around the eyes, a sudden realization of the possibility of laughter around the mouth, the little man smiled. "I know the doctors here," he said and patted his chest. "MD, Edinburgh. Plus a good supply of Med Materia for those mules. Then in a different tone, "Come on," he said briskly. "Let's get back to that poor friend of yours as soon as possible.

Anthony turned his beast around and the two men walked hand in hand down the path.

“Well, Anthony Beavis,” said the doctor, “you've come to the right place.

Anthony nodded. - Fortunately - he said - I did not pray, otherwise I would have had to believe in special providence and miraculous operations.

"And that would never work," agreed the doctor. "Of course, it's not something that happened by chance. You take a card which the magician forces upon someone else - a card which he himself has made inevitable that he should force. It's a matter of cause and effect." Then without interrupting he asked, "What's your occupation?"

“I guess you'd say I'm a sociologist. There was one after all.

'Actually! Or so? The doctor seemed surprised and pleased. "My anthropology," he continued. - For the last few months, I have been living with the Lacandons in Chiapas. Nice people when you meet them. And I collected a lot of material. By the way, are you married?


'He was never married?'


dr. Miller shook his head. "Too bad, Anthony Beavis," he said. "You should have."

"What made you say that?"

- I can see it on your face. Here and here. He touched his lips, his forehead. 'I was married. Fourteen years. Then my wife died. It was black water fever. At that time we were working in West Africa. She also qualified. In a way, he knew her work better than I did. he sighed. "You'd make a good husband, you know." Maybe you will do it now. How old are you?'


- And look younger. Although I don't like your pale complexion," he protested with sudden vehemence. "Are you constipated often?"

"Well no," Anthony replied with a smile and wondered if it would be nice for everyone to talk to one like that. It can be a little tiresome to treat everyone you meet as human beings, each of whom has a right to know everything about you; but more interesting than treating them as objects, as ordinary pieces of meat thrown next to you on the bus, pushing you on the pavements. "Not much," he qualified.

"You mean not obvious," said the doctor. "Some eczema?"

"Casual touches."

And the hair tends to be coarse. dr. Miller confirmed the statement with a nod. "And you have headaches, don't you?"

Anthony had to admit that sometimes he did.

"And, of course, stiff necks and lumbago attacks. I know. I know. A few more years and it will be resolved as sciatica or arthritis. The doctor was silent for a moment, looking questioningly at Anthony's face. "Yes, that yellowish skin," he repeated, shaking his head. And irony, skepticism, attitude "everything is good"! Really negative. Everything you think about is negative.

Anthony laughed; but he laughed to hide some discomfort. It can be a bit awkward to be in human relationships with everyone you meet.

"Oh, don't think I'm criticizing! cried the doctor, with a note of sincere remorse in his voice.

Anthony continued to laugh unconvincingly.

"Don't get it into your head that I blame you in any way.

Reaching out, he patted Anthony gently on the shoulder. “We are all who we are; and as for transforming into what we should be, well, it's not easy. No, it's not easy, Anthony Beavis. How can you expect to think anything but negative when you have chronic intestinal poisoning? Probably from birth. I inherited it. And at the same time bend down, just like you. To fall on your mule like that - that's terrible. It presses on the vertebrae like a ton of bricks. You can almost hear the poor guys grinding together. And when the spine is in this state, what happens to the rest of the machine? It's scary to think about.

"And yet," said Anthony, feeling a little hurt by this relentless enumeration of his physical faults, "I am still alive." I'm here to tell a story.

"Someone's here to tell a story," the doctor replied. "But is he what you want him to be?"

Anthony didn't answer, just smiled uncertainly.

"And even that no one else will tell the story if you're not careful." I'm serious, he insisted. “Totally serious. You have to change if you want to continue to exist. As for change, well, you need all the help you can get, from God to the doctor. I'm telling you this because I like you," he explained. "I think you're worth a change."

"Thank you," Anthony said, this time smiling with satisfaction.

"As a doctor, I would suggest a course of colonic lavage to begin with."

"And speaking in the name of God," said Anthony, letting the good-natured mocking wash over him with pleasure, "prayer and fasting."

"No, don't fast," protested the doctor very seriously, "don't fast." Only proper nutrition. No meat meat; as far as you are concerned, it is poison. And there is no milk; the wind just blows you away. Take it in the form of cheese and butter; never liquid. And a minimum of eggs. And of course, only one large meal a day. You don't need half the things you eat. As for prayer. . He sighed and furrowed his brow thoughtfully. “I never liked it, you know. Not what prayer usually means anyway. All this asking for special favors, guidance and forgiveness - I've always thought it leads to selfishness, a preoccupation with one's own ridiculous, self-righteous personality. When you pray in the usual way, you are just rubbing yourself. Go back to your vomit, if you know what I mean. While what we are all looking for is some way to overcome our own vomit.

Somehow, thought Anthony, to get beyond the books, beyond the perfumed and supple women's bodies, beyond fear and laziness, beyond the painful but secretly flattering vision of the world as a menagerie and sanctuary.

"Except for that two-and-a-half penny-pincher personality," said the doctor, "with all his wretched virtues and faults, all his foolish desires and foolish pretensions. But if you are not careful, prayer only strengthens a bad habit of personality. I tell you, I have seen it clinically, and it seems to have the same effect on people as butcher's meat. Prayer makes you more alone, more detached. Just like ramsteak. Look at the correlation between religion and diet. Christians eat meat, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco; and Christianity elevates the personality, emphasizes the value of prayer, teaches that God is wrathful, and approves of the persecution of heretics. The same with Jews and Muslims. Kosher and an angry Jehovah. Mutton and beef - and personal survival among the Hurrians, Allah's vengeance and holy wars. Now look at the Buddhists. Vegetables and water . And what is their philosophy? They do not exalt personality; they try to transcend it. They cannot imagine that God could be angry; when they are unenlightened they think it is compassionate, and when they are enlightened they think it does not exist except the impersonal mind of the universe. Therefore they do not make supplications; they are meditating – or in other words, trying to connect their own minds with the universal mind. Finally, they do not believe in special provisions for individuals; they believe in a moral order where every event has a cause and effect - where the wizard imposes a card on you, but only because your previous actions caused the wizard to impose it on you. What worlds are moving away from Jehovah and God the Father and eternal individual souls! The fact is, of course, that we drink while we eat. I eat like a Buddhist because I believe it makes me feel good and happy; as a result, I drink like a Buddhist—and in drinking like a Buddhist, I reaffirm my determination to eat like a Buddhist.”

- And now you advise me to eat like her.

'More or less.'

- Do you want me to think like him?

"You can't avoid it in the long run. But of course, it is better to do it consciously.

"Well, basically," said Anthony, "I already think like a Buddhist." Maybe not in every way, but in many aspects certainly. Despite the roast beef.

"You think you think like a Buddhist," said the doctor. "But you don't. Negative thinking is not Buddhist thinking; it's thinking like a Christian who eats more meat than his intestines can handle."

Anthony laughed.

"Oh, I know it sounds funny," said the doctor. “But that's only because you're a dualist.

'I'm not.'

“Maybe not in theory. But in practice, how can you be anything but a dualist? Who are you, Anthony Beavis? A wise man, of course. But it is equally obvious that you have an unconscious body. An efficient thinking apparatus and a hopelessly stupid set of muscles, bones and guts. Of course you are a dualist. You live your duality. And one of the reasons why you live like that is because you are poisoning yourself with too much animal protein. Of course, like millions of other people! What is the greatest enemy of today's Christianity? Frozen meat. In the past, only members of the upper classes were skeptical, desperate, negative. Why? Among other things, because they were the only ones who could afford to eat too much meat. Now there's cheap Canterbury lamb and Argentinian chilled beef. Even the poor can allow themselves to be poisoned by extreme skepticism and despair. And only the most violent incentives will move them to deliberate action, and worse, the only action they will take will be diabolical. They can only be disturbed by hysterical calls to persecute Jews, kill socialists or go to war. You personally are too intelligent to be a fascist or a nationalist; but again, this is a matter of theory, not life. Trust me, Anthony Beavis, your bowels are ripe for fascism and nationalism. They make you yearn to break free from the horrible negativity they have placed you in—the shaking of violence upon violence.

“Actually,” Anthony said, “that's one of the reasons I'm here. He waved his hand towards the chaos of the mountains. “Just shake off the negativity. We were on our way to the revolution when poor Staithes was wounded.

The doctor nodded. - You see - he said - you see! And you think you'd be here if you had a healthy gut?

"Well, I really don't know," Anthony replied with a laugh.

- You know you won't - said the doctor almost sternly. “Not in such a frenzy, anyway. Because of course, here you can be an anthropologist, say, a teacher, a healer, whatever you want, as long as it means understanding people and helping them.

Anthony nodded slowly but did not speak; and they rode a long way in silence.

* * *

It was bright outside and the sky was clearer than a small ranch. dr. Miller chose a small clearing in the woods outside the village for his operating theater.

"I hope she's out of range," he said, but he didn't look too sure of himself.

His two maids had built a hearth, and there was a cauldron of boiling water on the fire. They borrowed a table and several chairs, bowls for disinfection and a cotton sheet to cover the bed from the teacher.

dr. Miller gave him a dose of Nembutal, and when the time came, Mark was carried unconscious to a clearing among the pines. All the boys in the village escorted the stretcher and stood around in careful silence as the patient was carried to bed. Dressed in trousers, with broad hats, with blankets slung over their shoulders, they did not look like children, but absurd and mocking parodies of grown men.

Anthony, who was holding the bloody leg, straightened up and looked around, saw a circle of brown faces and the glare of all those black, empty eyes. At the sight, his growing anxiety suddenly turned into uncontrollable rage.

- Go away! he shouted in English and walked towards them, waving his arms. "Go away, little beasts, away!"

The children backed away, but slowly, reluctantly, with the express intention of returning as soon as he turned.

Anthony quickly lunged and grabbed one of the boys by the arm.

"Little beast!"

He shook the child violently, and then, driven by an overwhelming desire to hurt him, hit him on the head so that the big hat flew through the trees.

Without letting out a cry, the child ran after his friends. Anthony made one last threatening gesture towards them, then turned and walked towards the center of the clearing. He had not taken more than a few steps when a well-aimed stone hit him between the shoulders. He whirled around furiously, bursting into curses he hadn't uttered since he was at school.

dr. Miller, who was washing his hands at the table, looked up. - What happened? - He asked.

"Devils throw stones".

"Right," said the doctor without sympathy. "Leave them alone and come and do your duty."

The unknown words of the priest and the soldier surprised him and he realized with uneasiness that he had behaved like a fool. It's worse than a fool. With the realization of his shameful stupidity came the impulse to justify it. He spoke in a tone of painful anger. "You're not going to let them watch, are you?"

"How can I stop them from seeing if they want to?" asked the doctor as he spoke, wiping his hands. "Now, Anthony Beavis," he continued sternly, "pull yourself together." It will be hard enough without your hysteria.

Silenced and embarrassed, furious with Miller, Anthony washed his hands and put on a clean shirt, which as a whole had to do its job.

"Now," said the doctor, stepping forward. “We have to start bleeding the leg.

"A leg," not "his" leg, Anthony thought as he stood beside the doctor and looked down at the man sleeping on the bed. Something impersonal, belonging to no one in particular. Foot. But Mark's face, Mark's sleeping face, now so incredibly calm, so smooth despite his gauntness, as if that deadly numbness had drawn a new skin over skinned and shriveled muscles—it could never have been just a "face." She was "his", his, in spite of all the difference from that contemptible, suffering mask through which Marek saw the world in ordinary time. Maybe all the more his, precisely because of this difference. He suddenly remembered what Mark had said to him on the Mediterranean just four months ago, when he'd woken up to see those eyes now closed, then wide open and sparkling with scorn, watching him sadistically through the mosquito net. Maybe you really are what you appear to be in your dream. Innocence and serenity are the essence of the mind, and everything else is mere coincidence.

"Grab his foot," Dr. Miller ordered, "and lift the leg as close to vertical as you can."

Anthony did as he was told. Raised in this grotesque way, the horribly swollen and disfigured leg seemed more impersonal, more ordinary than ever. The stench of dead flesh lingered in his nostrils. Behind them, among the trees, an unintelligible voice spoke; there was a laugh.

"Now leave the moz's leg and stand here." Anthony obeyed and smelled the forest pitch again. "Hold that bottle for me."

There was a surprised murmur of "Amarillo!" while the doctor painted the flavin on the thigh. Anthony looked at his friend's face again; he remained undisturbed in his peace. Mostly calm and clean. A leg with a black dead body; there she saw knives and pliers in a container with permanganate solution; fascinated children peeking out of the forest, all somehow irrelevant to the essential Mark.

"And now the chloroform," said Dr. Miller. - And watt. I'll show you how to use it. Then you'll have to go on alone.

He opened the bottle and the smell of pines in the sun was overshadowed by a hoarse and sickening sweetness.

"See what the trick is?" asked the doctor. 'That. keep it up. I'll tell you when to stop. I have to wear a tourniquet.

There were no birds in the trees, hardly any insects. The forest was dead. This sunny glade was a small island of speech and movement in an ocean of silence. And in the center of that island lay another silence, more intense, fuller than the silence of the forest.

The corset was in place. dr. Miller ordered Moz to lower his grotesquely raised leg. He pulled a chair up to the bed, sat down, then stood up and, washing his hands one last time, explained to Anthony that he would have to operate sitting down. The bed was too low to stand up. He sat back in his seat and dipped into the container of permanganate for the scalpel.

At the sight of those broad patches of skin twisted like the peel of a giant banana, but red and bloody, Anthony felt terribly sick. Saliva flooded his mouth and he had to swallow and swallow to get it out. He involuntarily gave into a retching cough.

"Relax," the doctor said without looking up. He secured the end of the blood vessel with arterial tweezers.

"Think about it scientifically." He made another wide cut through the red flesh. "And if you must be ill," he went on with sudden sharpness, "for God's sake, go and do it quickly!" Then in another tone - the tone of a professor demonstrating something interesting to his students: "It's one thing to shorten the nerves considerably," he said. “There is a lot of regression as the tissues heal. Either way, he added, he would likely have to undergo a second amputation at home. I'm afraid it won't be a nice stump.

Calm and composed, freed from all desires, all anger, all ambitions, it was the face of one who had set himself free, one for whom there were no more shackles and chains, no more graves under a stone, and over which there was no more glue for birds. The face of one who has freed himself. . . But really, Anthony thought, it was actually those stinking fumes that had forced him free. Can you be your own liberator? There were pitfalls; but there was also a way out of them. close; but they could be opened. And if torture chambers can never be abolished, perhaps torture would seem insignificant. Equally unimportant to Mark is the sound of sawing, the horrible screeching and screeching of steel teeth gnawing at bone, the scraping of a steel blade back and forth in an ever-deepening slot. Mark lay still, almost smiling.

The fiftieth chapter. Christmas 1934

GOD — a person or not a person? Quien Sabe? Only revelation can resolve such metaphysical questions. And exposing is not a game - it is equivalent to drawing three aces from the sleeve.

The practical question is more important. What gives a person greater power to do good - faith in a personal or impersonal God? Answer: it depends. Some minds work one way, others another. Mine happens to have no need, even finds it impossible, to think about the world in terms of personality. Patanjali says that one can believe in a personal God or not according to one's own taste. The psychological results will be the same in both cases.

What is the right policy for those whose nature requires personality as a source of energy, but who cannot believe that the universe is ruled by a person in any sense of the word that we can understand? In most cases, they reject any practice that could be called religious. But that's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The desired relationship to personality may be historical rather than ontological. Contact not with someone who currently exists as a ruler of the universe, but with someone who is known to have existed once in the past. Imitating Christ (or any other historical figure) is just as effective if the model is believed to exist then as if the model is believed to exist here and now. And meditation on the good, communion with the good, contemplation of the good are obviously effective means for the realization of the good in life, even when what is meditated on, communicated and contemplated is not a person, but the general mind, and even the supposed ideal exists only in human minds. The basic problem is practical - to develop systems of psychological training for all types of men and women. Catholicism has many systems of mental prayer - Ignatian, Franciscan, Liguoran, Carmelite, etc. Hinduism, Northern Buddhism, Southern Buddhism and Zen also have different practices. There is a lot of work to be done here. Collecting and comparing information from all these sources. Consult books and, more importantly, people who have actually practiced what is in the books have experience teaching beginners. In time it may be possible to establish a complete and definitive Ars Contemplativa. A series of techniques adapted to every type of mind. Techniques of meditation, communication and thinking about the good. A purpose in itself and at the same time a means to realize part of that good in practice.

January 1, 1935

Machines and good organization - modern inventions; and, as with all blessings, there is a price to be paid. In many ways. One element is the general belief, driven by mechanical and social force, that progress is automatic and can be imposed from without. We as individuals do not have to do anything about it. Eliminate the undesirables, give enough money and goods, everything will be fine. It is a return to magic, succumbing to the natural laziness of man. Pay attention to the striking way in which this trend extends through modern life, appearing at every turn. There seems to be no obvious connection between the Webbs and the Soviets on the one hand and modern Catholicism on the other. But what deep subterranean similarities? The recent Catholic renewal is essentially a renewal of the sacraments. From the Catholic point of view, this is the "sacramental age". The magical power of the sacraments is considered sufficient for salvation. Noticeably absent is mental prayer. Webbs exact analogy - the Soviet idea of ​​progress from the outside, through machines and efficient organization. For English Catholics, the sacraments are the psychological equivalent of tractors in Russia.

Chapter fifty one. February 7, 1934

DR. MILLER dismounted with the door open, left his mozo beast, and entered the cabin.

Leaning on the bed, Mark watched him enter, a small, upright figure walking briskly, blue eyes sparkling with quizzical kindness, the corners of his lips alive with the potential for laughter.

"And how are all the little patients tonight?" Mark twisted his pale and still thin face into a cruelly sardonic smile.

From the chair where he sat next to the bed, Anthony looked at him and remembered the calmness of that face three weeks ago, in the morning sun among the pines. Calm and peaceful. But now that life had returned to him, now that he was surely on the mend, his composure had vanished, leaving him the fierce enemy of the whole world. Hatred was visible in his eyes even before he was strong enough to speak. Hatred of anyone who came near him - especially old Miller.

"I can't stand his constant glare," he later told Anthony. "No one has the right to look like a commercial for constipation medicine."

But the real reason for Mark's reluctance was different. He hated old Miller for relying on him, for the man's unwavering vigilance and efficient care. Poor Mark! How painfully he suffered that he had to accept the service, and even more because of his own physical weakness, which forced him to seek it! How indignantly he refused even affection if it was offered to him by one over whom he could not feel superior! The revulsion towards the doctor lasted from the first moment he regained consciousness, growing with each day the old man delayed his departure to attend to him.

"But why don't you continue your journey?" he asked; and when the doctor replied that he was in no hurry and that he would certainly take him to the shore, and even, since he was leaving home alone across the Channel to England, he strongly protested that his leg was now practically healed, that it would not be difficult that he would return to Puerto San Felipe that he would probably take the ship north to Los Angeles himself.

But the doctor stayed to take care of Marek, and in between he went to the neighboring villages to treat the sick. It was an additional source of annoyance for the convalescent - though Anthony couldn't quite figure out why it would bother him. Perhaps he did not like that the benefactor of the Indians was not himself. Be that as it may, it was; he never tired of baiting old Miller with his "little patients."

Then, two weeks after the operation, news came of the ignominious failure of Don Jorge's attempt to insurrection. Surprised by the insufficient number of guards, he was captured alive, summarily tried and shot with his chief lieutenant. The report added that the two men told each other jokes as they walked among the soldiers towards the cemetery, where their graves had already been dug.

"And he died," commented Mark, "believing that I got scared at the last minute and let him down."

That thought was like another wound to him.

"If only I hadn't had that damn accident. . he repeated. “If I was there to advise him. . . His crazy recklessness! That's why he asked me to come. He didn't trust his own judgment. And here I was lying in that stinking pigpen while the poor man was marched off to the cemetery. . . Throwing jokes, breathing in the cold morning air. "Huele al cimintero, Don Jaime". And he would crack his joke. instead of which. . . It was bad luck, of course, a typical example of providential idiocy; but providence did not allow him to expel his sorrow. Only Anthony and the doctor were there. His behavior towards them, after the news of Don Jorge's death, became more and more bitter. It was as if he held them personally responsible for what had happened. Both, especially the doctor.

"Like delicious bed manners?" Mark continued in the same mocking tone he used to ask about small patients.

- I'm afraid it's a waste - answered Dr. Miller cheerfully, taking off his hat and sitting down. "Or they don't have a bed for me next to me - just a blanket on the floor. Or they don't speak Spanish and I don't speak their Indian dialect. How are you? - He asked.

"I," said Marek, returning the doctor's expression in a tone of clear disdain, as if it were some verbal insult, "I feel very well, thank you."

"But to make an easy bishop of Berkeley," added Anthony. "I feel pain in my knee that isn't there."

Marek stared at him for a moment with an expression of stony hatred; then he turned and gazed at the bright evening landscape that could be seen through the open door of the hut. "Not pains," he said coldly, though he had described them to Anthony only half an hour earlier as pains. "Just the feeling that the knee is still there."

- I'm afraid it can't be avoided. The doctor shook his head.

"I didn't think you could," said Mark, as if responding with dignity to the insult to his honor.

dr. Miller broke the awkward silence, noting that there was a lot of goiter in the upper valleys.

"It has its charms," ​​Mark said, stroking an imaginary lump in his throat. "How sorry I am for those morons they saw in Switzerland when I was a child! I'm afraid they've already eliminated them from existence. The world is too hygienic lately. He shook his head and gave an anatomical smile. "What are they doing up there in the high valleys?" - He asked.

Grow corn, said the doctor. "And kill each other in between. There is a vast web of revenge scattered across these mountains. Everyone is included. I talked to the people in charge trying to convince them to close all the old accounts and start over.

- He will die of boredom.

“No, I teach them football instead. Matches between villages. He smiled. "I have a lot of experience with revenge," he added. 'Around the world. Everyone hates them, they really do. They are too grateful for football when they are used to it.


"Why "Christ"?

"These games! Can't we get away from them?

But they are England's greatest contribution to civilization, the doctor said. “Far more important than parliamentary governments, steam engines or Newton's Principia. Even more important than English poetry. Poetry will never replace war and murder. While games can be. A complete and authentic replacement.

- Replacements! repeated Mark dismissively. "You are all happy with the replacements. Anthony finds his in bed or in the reading room of the British Museum. Look for yours on the football field. May God help you! Why are you so afraid of the original?

For a moment no one spoke. dr. Miller looked at Anthony and, seeing that he would not answer, turned to face him. "It's not about fear, Mark Staithes," he said very gently. "It's a matter of choosing something good over something bad. . . ".

"I am suspicious of the right choices, which require less courage than the wrong ones."

"Is danger your measure of goodness?"

Mark shrugged. "What is kindness? Hard to say in most cases. But at least you can be sure that it is good to brave the dangers.

"And because of that, you are exempt from deliberately creating dangerous situations - to the detriment of other people?" dr. Miller shook his head. “It's not enough, Mark Staithes. If you want to use courage, why not use it for a good cause.

"It's like teaching black Amorites to play football," Mark sneers.

"Which is not so easy, it often seems."

“I guess they don't understand the offside rule.

"They do not want to understand any principle at all, except the principle of killing people from the neighboring village. And when you are between two penalty kicks armed to the teeth and yawning carnage among themselves. . .' He paused; his wide mouth curved into a smile; the almost invisible hieroglyphs around his eyes deepened as he squinted at the obvious symbols of inner amusement. “Well, like I said, it's not as easy as it sounds. Have you ever met many angry people who wanted to kill you?

Mark nodded, a look of rather sinister satisfaction on his face. "Several times," he replied. "When I ran a cafe a little further up the coast in Chiapas."

"And you faced them unarmed?"

"Without weapons," Marek repeated, and as an explanation, "politicians," he added, "back then were still talking about revolution." A land for people - and everything else. One fine morning, the peasants came to occupy the property.

"Which, according to your rules," said Anthony, "you ought to have approved."

And of course he approved. But it was hard for me to admit it—not under these circumstances.

'Why not?'

"Well, it sure is pretty obvious, isn't it?" Here they marched against me. Should I have told them I sympathized with their politics and then donated a fortune? No, really, that would be too easy!

'What did you do then?'

"The first time there were about a hundred of them," Mark explained. “Hanged with rifles and bullet belts like Christmas trees, all with machetes. But kind, gentle. They didn't argue with me, and the revolutionary idea was strange; they didn't feel very safe. Not that they ever make a lot of noise,” he added. "I saw them kill in silence. Like a fish. This aquarium, this country.

"Looks like an aquarium," Dr. Miller corrected him. "But when he learns how fish think..." ".

I always thought it was more important to learn how to drink, Mark said. "Tequila is the real enemy. Luckily, mine were sober. Otherwise. . . Well, who knows what would happen? After a moment of silence, "They were standing in the cement kiln," he continued, "and I was sitting in the office door a few paces above them. The Superior seemed to be holding a durbar of his faithful subjects. he laughed; his cheeks flushed and he spoke with some eagerness, as if the words had a pleasant taste in his mouth. "A hundred vicious coffee-eaters staring at one of them with those pearly turtle eyes—that was not reassuring. But I managed to keep my face and voice from giving anything away. I found it helped a lot to think of these creatures as poor insects. Cockroaches, dung beetles. Just a hundred big staring worms. It helped, I say. But still my heart was pounding a bit. Sebi - you know that feeling, don't you? It's like having a live bird under your ribs. A bird with its own bird consciousness. Suffering from your own private fears. It's a strange feeling, but exciting. I don't think I've ever been happier in my life than that day. The fact that you are one against a hundred. A hundred armed to the teeth. But mistakes, just mistakes. While this one was a man. It was a wonderful feeling. He paused for a moment, smiling to himself.

"So what happened?" Anthony asked.

'Nothing. I just gave them a short speech from the throne. I told them that the finca is not mine to give. That in the meantime I was responsible for this place. And if I caught someone trespassing or disorderly - fine. I should know what to do. Firm, dignified, a real Durbar touch. Then I got up, told them I could go and started down the path towards home. I guess I was in their line of sight for about a minute. The whole minute came back at them. And there were at least a hundred creatures; no one could ever find out who did the shooting. That bird under the ribs! He raised his hand and flapped his fingers in the air. "And a new sensation appeared - ants running up and down the spine. Terrors - but only bodies; autonomous if you know what I mean. I knew in my mind that he wouldn't shoot, that I couldn't shoot. A hundred poor worms - morally impossible for them to do that. A bird under the ribs, ants along the spine; but inside the skull was a man; and he was confident, despite the doubts of his body, he knew that the match was won. It was a long minute, but a good one. Very good. Then there were more minutes like that. They only shot at me in the evening, behind the bushes. I was within their reach, but they were beyond mine. Beyond the reach of my consciousness and will. That's why they had the courage to shoot. When humans are not around, bed bugs will play. Fortunately, no amount of bravery taught the Indian to shoot straight. In time, of course, I might be caught by accident; but in the meantime the revolution had gone out of fashion. It never cut much ice on the Pacific coast. He lit a cigarette. A long silence followed.

"Well," Dr. Miller said at last, "that's one way of dealing with a hostile crowd." And since you're here to tell us, apparently that's how it works sometimes. But that's not my way. You see, I'm an anthropologist.

"What is the difference?"

"Pretty much," Dr. Miller replied. "An anthropologist is a person who studies people. But you prefer to deal with mistakes. I would call you an entomologist, Mark Staithes. There was no sign of kindness in his smile. Mark's face was stony as he looked into the doctor's eyes and looked away again.

– Entomologist! he repeated contemptuously. - That's just stupid. Why are you playing with words?

"Because words express thoughts, Mark Staithes; and thoughts determine actions. If you call a man a bug, it means you intend to treat him like a bug. But if you call him a man, that means you will treat him like a man. My job is to study men. Which means I always have to address people by their first name; always think of them as men; yes, and always treat them like men. Because if you don't treat men like men, they don't act like men. But I am an anthropologist, I repeat. I want human material. Not insect material.

Mark laughed explosively. "Someone might need human material," he said. But that doesn't mean anyone will get it. What you actually get. . He laughed again. "Well, it's mostly the usual undiluted bug."

“Well,” said Dr. Miller, “you're wrong. If a man is looking for men, he finds them. Very decent, in most cases. For example, walking among suspicious, harassed, wild people; Go unarmed, with open arms. He held out his big square hands in a sacrificial gesture. "Go with a steadfast and persistent intention to do them some good - like healing their sick." I don't care how bitter their grudge against the whites may be; after all, if you have enough time to clarify your intentions, you will be accepted as a friend, there will be people who will treat you as a human being. Of course," he added, symbols of inner laughter reappearing in his eyes, "sometimes they don't give you the time you need. They stab you before you go. But it doesn't happen often - as you can see, it never happened to me - and when it does, well, there's always hope that the next man who comes along will be more successful. Anthropologists can die; but anthropology goes further; and in the long run it can't go wrong. While your entomological approach. . .' He shook his head. “It might work at first; you can generally scare and intimidate people into giving up. This means that if you treat them like insects, you can generally make them behave like bugs - crawling and running away to hide. But as soon as they get the chance, they'll turn on you. An anthropologist may die while making the first contacts; but then he is safe; he is a man among men. The entomologist can begin by being sure; but he is a worm hunter among worms—more, among worms that hate to be treated as bugs, who know they are not bugs. His bad quarter comes later. It's an old story; with bayonets you can do anything but sit on them.

"You don't have to sit on them," Mark said. “Other people's asses get pierced, not yours. If you used bayonets with any intelligence, I see no reason why you should not rule indefinitely. The real problem, of course, is that he doesn't have the necessary intelligence. Most worm hunters are indistinguishable from worms.

"Exactly," agreed Dr. Miller. "And the only remedy is for the bug hunter to lay down his bayonets and treat the bugs as if they were human beings."

"But we're talking about intelligence," Mark said. His tone of scornful tolerance suggested he was doing his best not to get mad at the old fool for his inability to think. "Being sentimental has nothing to do with being smart."

"On the contrary," insisted the doctor, "it has to do with everything." You cannot be intelligent with people if you are not first sentimental about them. Sentimental in a good way, of course. In terms of caring for them. This is the first necessary condition for their understanding. If you don't care about them, you probably can't understand them; all your cleverness will be just another form of stupidity.

“And if you care about them,” Mark said, “you'll get carried away with sooty emotions and you won't be able to see them for what they are. See the grotesque, humiliating things that happen when people care too much. Young men who fall in love and imagine that ugly, stupid girls are paragons of beauty and intellect. Dedicated to women who stubbornly think that their poor little husband is the most charming, noble, wise, profound.

"They're probably right," Dr. Miller said. "Indifference and hatred are blind, not love."

- It's not love! Mark repeated mockingly. - Maybe now we sing the national anthem.

"With pleasure," Dr. Miller smiled. “Christian hymn, Buddhist hymn or Confucian hymn, whichever you prefer. I am an anthropologist; and finally, what is anthropology? Just applied scientific religion.

Anthony broke the long silence. "Why do you only apply it to black cupids?" - He asked. "How about starting at home, like a charity?"

"You're right," said the doctor, "it should have started at home." If it actually started abroad, it is just a historical coincidence. It started there because we were imperialists and therefore encountered people whose customs were different from ours and therefore seemed stranger than ours. An accident, I repeat. But in a way quite a happy accident. Because thanks to him we learned a lot of facts and a valuable technique that we probably shouldn't have learned at home. For two reasons. Because it is difficult to think about yourself impartially, and even more difficult to think correctly about something that is very complicated. Home is both of these things - an extended civilization that is our own. Savage societies are only civilized societies on a small scale and without cover. We can learn to understand them very easily. And as we learned to understand the savages, we learned, we find, to understand the civilized. And that's not all. Savages are usually hostile and suspicious. The anthropologist must learn to overcome this hostility and suspicion. And when he learned this, he learned all the secrets of politics.

'Which is . . . ?

"That if you treat other people well, they will treat you well."

- You are a bit of an optimist, aren't you?

'NOT. They will always treat you well in the long run.

"In the long run," Mark said impatiently, "we're all going to be dead." What about the short term?

- You have to take risks.

“But Europeans are not like Sunday school savages. It will be a big risk.

'Probably. But always less than the risk you take by harassing people and provoking them to war. Besides, they are no worse than savages. They just mishandled them - a little anthropology would do, that's all.

- Who will give them anthropology?

"Well, among other things," replied Dr. Miller, "I am." And I hope so, Mark Staithes.

Mark frowned, naked, and shook his head. "Let them cut their throats," he said. "They'll do it anyway, no matter what you tell them." Leave them alone to wage their idiotic wars. Besides,” he gestured toward the basket that kept the sheets from coming in contact with his wound, “what can I do now? Look, that's all. Much better for all of us to watch. It won't last long anyway. Just a few years; and then . . He paused, looked down and frowned. "What are those Rochester lines?" That. He raised his head again and recited:

"Then age and experience hand in hand,

Take him to his death and make him understand

After such a painful and long search,

That he was wrong all his life.

Huddled in the mud lies the engine of reason,

Who was so proud, so funny and so smart.

"Huddled in the ground," he repeated. That is really admirable. Huddled in the dirt. And you don't have to wait for death to be one. We'll find a nice little patch of land and curl up together, okay? He turned to Anthony. “Hit the cows together and watch the doctor try his best anthropological manners at General Goering's bedside. There will be some hearty laughs.

"Nevertheless," said Anthony, "I think I'll go make fun of Miller."

Chapter fifty-two. July 24, 1914

There were four of them on the hunt: Constable Anthony, an old shepherd with gray sideburns and the majestic profile of a Victorian statesman, and a fair-haired, ruddy boy of seventeen, the son of a baker. The boy was supposed to carry the cloth part of the stretcher, and the shepherd and the policeman used long poles as poles.

They started behind the cabin, following them in a line—like clubbers, Anthony thought—up the hill. It was a beautiful day, without clouds or wind. Through the curtains, distant hills could be seen, darkened by much sun and almost colorless. The grass and heather under their feet were dusty from the long drought. Anthony took off his jacket and then, as an afterthought, his hat. A little sunshine can simplify things; there would be no need to explain or answer questions. Still, he felt pretty bad, and his gut felt tight. But that was not enough. How many difficulties would be removed if he could really be sick! Now and then, as they climbed slowly, he put his hand on his head, and each time his hair felt hot to the touch, like the fur of a cat sitting in front of the fireplace. Too bad, he thought, her hair is so thick.

Three hours later they found what they were looking for. Brian's body lay face down in some sort of rocky cove at the base of the cliff above the pond. A fern grew between the stones, its sweet, suffocating smell almost suffocating in the hot air. The place was noisy with flies. When the officer turned the body over, the disfigured face was almost unrecognizable. Anthony stared for a moment, then turned away. His whole body began to tremble uncontrollably; he had to lean on a rock to keep from falling.

"Come on boy." The old shepherd took him by the arm and, leading him, set him down on the grass, out of sight of the body. Anthony was waiting. The dentist turned slowly in the sky, tracking the passage of time on an invisible clock face. Then they finally came out from behind the prop and into his line of sight. The shepherd and the boy went in front, each holding a stretcher pole, while the policeman behind them had to carry the weight on both poles. They took off Brian's torn jacket and spread his face open. One supported arm stuck out irresistibly, and with each step of the carrier it swayed and trembled in the air. There were blood stains on the shirt. Anthony stood up and, despite protests, insisted on taking half of the policeman's load. They descended very slowly towards the valley. It was past three when they finally reached the cabin.

Later, the officer searched his coat and pants pockets. A bag of tobacco, a pipe, a packet of sandwiches for Mrs. Benson, six or seven shillings in money, and a notebook half filled with notes on the economic history of the Roman Empire. Not the slightest hint that what happened was not an accident.

Mrs. Foxe arrived the next evening. Stiff and composed at first, she listened dumbly, stone-faced, to Anthony's story; then suddenly he broke down, as if he had broken to pieces in the passion of tears. Anthony stood unsteadily for a moment; then he slipped out of the room.

The next morning, when he saw her again, Mrs. Foxe had regained her composure—but a different kind of composure. The stillness of a living, sentient being, not the mechanical and frozen immobility of a statue. There were dark wrinkles under her eyes, and her face was that of an old and suffering woman; but there was sweetness and peace in the suffering, an expression of dignity, almost majesty. Looking at her, Anthony felt ashamed, as if he were in the presence of something he was not worthy of, something he had no right to approach. Ashamed and guilty, even more so than he had felt the night before when her grief had gotten out of hand.

He would like to escape again; but she kept her by her side all morning, sometimes sitting in silence, sometimes speaking in her slow, beautifully modulated voice. For Antun, silence and speech were also torture. It was agony to sit there and say nothing, listening to the ticking of the clock and wondering, worrying about the future—how to get away from Joan, what to tell her about that cursed letter; and now and then furtively glancing at Mrs. Foxe, and wondering what was going on in her mind, and whether she knew or even suspected what had really happened. Yes, her silence was painful; but her speech was just as painful.

"I see," she began slowly and thoughtfully, "now I see that I loved him in the wrong way—too possessive."

What was he supposed to say? That it is true? Of course it was true. She was like a vampire, bound to poor Brian's ghost. Sucking the blood of your life. (Saint Monica, he remembered, written by Ary Scheffer). Yes, a vampire. If anyone is responsible for Brian's death, it's her. But his self-righteous anger towards her vanished when she spoke again.

- Maybe that was one of the reasons why it happened, so I could learn that love can't be like that. Then, after a pause, "I guess," she continued, "Brian had learned enough. He didn't have to learn much, really. He knew so much where to start. Like Mozart, only his genius wasn't in music; it was for love. Maybe that's why he managed to leave so quickly. while I...' She shook her head. "I had to take this lesson. After so many years of study, still so willfully stupid and ignorant! She sighed and fell silent again.

A vampire - but she knew it; acknowledged her share of responsibility. The rest is still unknown. I should tell her, he told himself and thought of all that had come of not telling Brian the truth. But when he hesitated, Mrs. Foxe began again.

"You should love everyone as your only son," she continued. "And my own only son as one of them. It is impossible not to love your son more than others, because you have more opportunities to love him. But love would differ only in quantity, not in kind. You must love him as you love any other individual - for God's sake, not for yourself.

The richly vibrating voice continued, and with each word he spoke, Anthony felt more guilty—more guilty, but more completely and hopelessly committed to his guilt. The longer he lingered and the more she spoke in this strained resignation, the harder it would be to talk her out of the truth.

"Listen, Anthony," she continued after another long pause. "You know how I've always liked you." Since then, right after your mother died, remember? — when you first came to us. You were such a helpless little boy. And that's how I always see you, ever since. Defenseless under your armor. Because of course you had armor. you still have To protect myself from myself and other dangers. She smiled at him. Anthony lowered his eyes, blushed and mumbled some incomprehensible sentence. "It doesn't matter why you wanted to protect yourself," she continued. "I don't want to know unless you want to tell me." And you may feel that you want to protect yourself even more now. Because I will say that I would like you to take Brian's place. A place, she qualified, that Brian should have had if I had loved him the right way. Among all other individuals, the one who can be loved more than the others. That's what I want you to be, Anthony. But, of course, I won't force you. The decision is yours.

He sat silently, his face turned away from her, his head down. Let it out, a voice within him cried. — Anyway, certainly! But if it was difficult before, now it was impossible. She said she wanted him to take Brian's place! She made it impossible. A wave of futile rage shook him. If only she would leave him alone, let him go and be alone! Suddenly his throat tightened, tears welled up in his eyes, the muscles of his chest clenched in spasms after a violent contraction; he sobbed. Mrs. Foxe crossed the room and, bending over him, laid her hand on his shoulder.

"Poor Anthony," she whispered.

He was irrevocably chained to his lie.

That evening he wrote to Joan. That terrible accident. So unnecessary. So stupid in his tragedy. In fact, this happened before he had a chance to tell Brian about the events in London. By the way, did she write to Brian? The envelope, addressed to her, was delivered at noon, after the poor fellow had already left. He was keeping it for her and he would personally return it when he saw her. In the meantime Mrs. Foxe bore it splendidly; and all must be brave; and he was always good to her.

Chapter fifty three. February 23, 1934

Helena entered the salon, holding a pan of bacon in her hand that was still bubbling from the fire.

- Breakfast! She called.

Komme gleich came back from the bedroom, and a moment later Ekki appeared at the open door in a sleeveless shirt, razor in hand, bright, ruddy face covered with soap.

"I'm almost done," he said in English and disappeared again.

Helen smiled to herself as she sat down. Loving him as she loved him, she felt great pleasure in this close and constant physical intimacy with him, an intimacy which poverty necessarily forced upon them. Why do people want big houses, separate rooms, all the private hideaways that the rich need? She couldn't imagine now. Humming to herself, Helen poured her tea, helped herself to some bacon, and began sorting through the morning's letters. Helena Amberley. Not your communist honesty and informality. She opened the envelope. The letter was from Newcastle. Would it be possible for her or Giesebrecht to talk to a group of young comrades in March about conditions in Germany? Well, you would have to see. Mr. E. Giesebrecht. From Switzerland; and surely that thin, pointed note was Holtzmann's. Eki would be pleased.

"Something from Holtzmann," she said when he entered. "I wonder what news they'll have this time?"

Ekki took the letter and, with the methodical deliberation that characterized all his actions, opened it; then he placed it next to his plate and cut off a piece of bacon. He put the bacon in his mouth, took the letter again, chewed it slowly and began to read. There was an expression of concentration and concentrated seriousness on his face; he could never do anything but thoroughly and wholeheartedly. When he finished, he returned to the first page and started reading again.

Helen's impatience finally took over. - Something interesting? she asked. Holtzmann was the best informed about the exiled journalists; he always had something to say. "Tell me what he says."

Ekki did not answer immediately, but read silently for a few seconds, then folded the letter and put it in his pocket. "Mach is in Basel," he finally answered, looking up at her.

- Mach? she repeated. "You mean Ludwig Mach?"

During these last months, the name of this resourceful and bravest of all German comrades, who was involved in spreading communist propaganda and censored news, became familiar and at the same time mythical to Helena, like the name of a personage from literature or mythology. That Ludwig Mach should be in Basel seemed almost as improbable as the presence of Odysseus or Odin or the Crimson Flower. – Ludwig Mach from Stuttgart? she insisted incredulously.

Eki nodded. “I'll have to see him. Tomorrow.'

Words spoken in that slow, empathetic, alien way of his had a strange quality of absolute irrevocability. Even his most casual statements in English always sounded like they were under oath.

"I'll have to go," he repeated.

Carefully, conscientiously spoken, every syllable had the same value. Two heavy spondees and the first half of the third. While an Englishman, however irrevocably he had made his decision, would pronounce the sentence as something like a swallowed anapest—I must go. From another man, this way of speaking - so heavy, so Jehovah's, as she jokingly called it - would have seemed unbearably grotesque to Helen. But in Ekki it was an additional attraction. Somehow it seemed right and fitting that this man, whom she (besides her love) admired and respected more than anyone she had ever known, was so touchingly absurd.

"If I couldn't laugh at him sometimes," she told herself, "everything could go wrong." A pool of stale adoration. Like a religion. Like one of Landseer's dogs. Laughter keeps him on the air and drives him."

As she listened, looking at his face (so absurdly naive in its fresh and sincere seriousness, yet so heroically determined), Helena, as she had so many times before, felt the urge to burst out laughing and then fall to her knees. and kiss his hands.

- I will have to go too - she said loudly, imitating his way of speaking. At first he thought he was joking; then, realizing that he was serious, he grew serious and began to make objections. Tiredness – because they were supposed to travel in third class. expenses. But Helen suddenly became like her mother - a spoiled woman whose whims she had to indulge.

"This is going to be fun," she exclaimed excitedly. "What an adventure!" And when he insisted on a negative reason, she got angry. "But I'll go with you," she repeated stubbornly. 'I will be.'

Holtzmann met them at the station, and instead of the tall, stiff, elegant man Helena had dreamed of, he turned out to be short and stocky, with folds of fat on the back of his neck and between his little pig eyes. a soft, shapeless nose like a potato. His hand, when he squeezed it, was so coldly sweaty that it seemed dirty; secretly, when he wasn't looking, she wiped it on her skirt. But worse than his looks and sweaty hands was the man's behavior. She could see that his presence had surprised him.

I didn't expect it. . he stammered as Ekki introduced her; and his face seemed to disappear for a moment in agitation. Then, recovering, he became extremely kind and cordial. It was gnädige Frau, lieber Ekki, unbeschreiblich froh all the way to the platform. It was like meeting them on stage, Helen thought. And he behaved badly, moreover, like someone in third-class traveling company. And how disgusting was that nervousness! A man should not giggle, gesticulate and make faces like that. Sweeping and mowing, she said under her breath. Walking alongside him, she felt surrounded by an aura of anger that bristled at her. This terrible creature suddenly spoiled all the fun of the trip. She almost wished she had come.

"What a disgusting man!" she managed to whisper to Ekka while Holtzmann was busy acting extravagantly as someone telling the doorman to mind the typewriter.

— Do you think so? asked Ekki in genuine surprise. I didn't think so. . He didn't finish the sentence and shook his head. A slight grimace of shame creased his smooth forehead. But a moment later, interrupting Holtzmann's repeated expressions of sympathy and admiration, he asked Mach what he thought of the present situation in Germany; and when Holtzmann answered, he listened intently.

Half angry with him for his unfeeling dullness, half admiring his ability to ignore everything that didn't matter to him, Helen walked silently by his side.

Men are extraordinary, she thought. - After all, I should be like that too.

Instead, she allowed herself to be distracted by faces, giggles, and gestures; she wasted her feelings on pig's eyes and rolls of lard. And all that time, millions of men, women and children suffered from cold and hunger, were exploited, overworked, treated as if they were less than human, only as beasts of burden, mere cogs and levers; millions were forced to live in chronic fear, misery and despair, dragged and beaten, driven mad with lies, intimidated with threats and blows, driven back and forth like mindless animals on their way to the market to the last slaughterhouse. And here she was, hating Holtzmann for his sweaty hands instead of respecting him as she should have done for what he dared, for what he suffered for the sake of those unfortunate millions. His hands may sweat; but he lived precariously in exile, he was persecuted for his principles, he was a fighter for justice and truth. She was ashamed of herself, but at the same time she couldn't shake the thought that life, if you are like Ekki, must be unusually narrow and limited, unimaginably colorless. Black and white life, she thought, heavy, bright and clear, like a Dürer print. While her-hers was vaguely clear Turner, Monet, wild Gauguin. But "you look like Gauguin," Anthony had said that morning on the burning roof, and here in the cold half-light of the Basel station she suddenly winced as if in physical pain.

Oh, how awful, she said to herself, how awful!

"And the labor camps," Ekki asked carefully, "what does Mach say about the feelings in the labor camps?"

They stopped in front of the station.

"Why don't we start by taking things to the hotel?" suggested Eki.

But Holtzmann would not hear of it. "No, no, you must come now," he insisted with breathtaking persistence. "Right by my house." Mach is waiting there. Mach wouldn't have understood if there had been a delay.” But when Ekki agreed, he still stood hesitantly and nervously at the edge of the pavement, like a swimmer afraid to jump.

"What about this man?" Helen wondered impatiently; then loudly: "Then why don't we take a taxi?" she asked, momentarily forgetting that taxi time was long past. Some now traveled by trams, others by buses. But Gauguin precipitated it into the past; the thought of taxis seemed natural.

Holtzmann did not answer her; but suddenly, with the quick, agitated movements of one forced by circumstances to make an unpleasant decision, he seized Ekki by the arm, and, drawing him aside, began to speak to him in a hurried whisper. Helen noticed the surprise and irritation on Ekka's face as he listened. His lips moved, clearly disagreeing. The other replied with a disapproving smile and began stroking his sleeve, as if hoping to caress him indulgently.

Finally, Ekki nodded and turned to Helen, "Holtzmann just wants you to join us for lunch," he said in his suddenly heavy voice. "He says Mac wouldn't like it if someone was next to me.

"Does he think I'm going to hand him over to the Nazis?" Helen asked indignantly.

"It's not you," Ekki explained. "He doesn't know you. If it was, it would be different. But he is afraid. He is afraid of everyone he doesn't know. And he is rightly afraid," he added in a tone of dogmatic finality that meant the dispute was closed.

Trying her best to swallow her anger and disappointment, Helen nodded. "Okay, I'll see you at lunch." Even though I was here at all, she couldn't help but add, "I really can't imagine."

"Dear Miss Amberley, chère consœur, gnädige Frau, comrade. . . Holtzmann was full of bourgeois and communist niceties in every language at his disposal. "Es tut mir so leid." I'm sorry. But here was his home address. At twelve-thirty. And if you could give her some advice on how best to spend a morning in Basel . . .

She slipped the business card into her bag and, without waiting for his suggestions, turned her back on the two men and quickly walked away.

- Helen! - called Eki after her. But she paid no attention to it. He didn't answer anymore.

It was cold; but the sky was bright blue, the sun was shining. And suddenly, emerging from behind tall buildings, she found herself on the Rhine. Leaning on the threshold, she watched the green water flowing quietly, but quickly and thoughtfully, like a living being, like life itself, like a force behind the world, flowing eternally, irresistibly; she watched her until she felt as if she herself was flowing with the great river, one with it, a participant in its power. "And will Trelawney die?" She found herself singing. "And will Trelawney die?" Twenty thousand Cornish people ought to know why." And suddenly it was certain that he would win, that the revolution was at the door—there, beyond the first bend of the river. The flood was moving inexorably towards him. Meanwhile, what a fool she had been to be angry with Ekki , what an absolute beast! After a while, remorse gave way to ecstatic anticipation of their reconciliation. "Honey," she was telling him, "my dear, you must forgive me. I really was too stupid and disgusting." He hugged her with one arm and brushed her hair away from her forehead with the other, then leaned in and kissed her. . . .

As she walked on, Ren still hummed within her, and unencumbered by her resentment of Ekka, she felt immaterially light, almost as if she were floating on air—floating in a thin, intoxicating air of happiness. Starving millions plunged back into distant abstraction. How good everything was, how beautiful, exactly how it should be! Even the fat old ladies were perfect, even the nineteenth-century Gothic houses. And that cup of hot chocolate in the cafe - how indescribably delicious it is! And the old waiter, so kind and fatherly. Friendly and fatherly, moreover, in a delightful Swiss-German that would make you want to laugh, as if everything he said, from comments about the weather to complaining about the time, was one big, continuous joke. What gutters, such waste! Like the Houyhnhnm tongue, she thought, and with tireless pleasure in the performance, she made him roar and snarl once more.

From the cafe she finally headed to the picture gallery; and the photo gallery turned out to be extremely comical in its own way, like a German waiter. Those Boeclins! All those unusual pictures that could only be seen on postcards or hung in color reproductions on the walls of a guesthouse in Dresden. Sirens and newts caught on camera; centaurs in the stiff, awkward positions of racehorses in a journalist's photo. Painted in good faith and with a laborious lack of talent that was positively touching. And there - indescribable joy! was the Toteninsel. Funerary cypresses, white tomb-like temples, figures in long robes, a lonely barge sailing a sea as dark as wine. . . The joke was perfect. Helena laughed out loud. After all, she was still her mother's daughter.

In the room of the primitives, on her way out, she stopped for a moment in front of the picture of the martyrdom of St. Erasmus. The executioner, in fifteenth-century garb, with pale pink cod, methodically turned the handle of the winch - like Mister Mantalini on the handle - twisting the saint's guts, meter by meter, from the wound in his emaciated flesh. abdomen while the victim was lying on her back, as if on a sofa, reclining comfortably and looking at the sky with an expression of indifferent calm. The joke here was less subtle than in Toteninsel, and frankly, it was stunning; but perfect, nevertheless, in its own simple way. She was still smiling as she walked out into the street.

It turns out that Holtzmann lives only a few hundred meters from the gallery, in a beautiful early nineteenth-century house (too beautiful for a man with sweaty hands!), set back from the road behind a small gravel square. A large car was parked in front of the door. Holtzmann? she wondered. He must be rich, old pig! It took her so little time to leave the gallery that it was only a quarter past twelve when she climbed the stairs. "Never mind," she told herself. - They will have to put up with me. I don't want to wait another second. Her heart beat faster at the thought of seeing Ekki again. "What a fool I am! What an absolute fool! But how wonderful it is to be a fool! She called.

Holtzmann himself opened it - she was surprised to see that he was wearing a coat, as if he had just left. The expression with which he had greeted her at the station reappeared on his face when he saw her.

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"You're so early," he said, trying to smile; but his nervousness and confusion amounted almost to terror. - We weren't waiting for you until half past two.

Helena laughed. "I didn't wait for myself," she explained. But I got there faster than I thought.

She made a movement to cross the threshold; but Holtzmann held out his hand. "We're not ready yet," he said. His face was red and sweaty with shame. - If you come back in a quarter of an hour - he almost begged. — Only a quarter of an hour.

"Nur ein viertel Stündchen," laughed Helena, thinking of the embroidered cushions on the couches where the Geheimrats slept from the effects of the afternoon's food. "But why don't I wait inside?" She pushed past him into a dark little hallway that smelled of cooking and musty air. - Where is Eki? she asked suddenly overcome by the desire to see him, to see him immediately, without any delay, to tell him what kind of beast he was, but how much she loved him, how she adored him. despite the bestiality and how happy he is, how willing he is to share his happiness with him! At the other end of the hall, the door was ajar. Calling his name, Helen ran towards him.

- Stop! Holtzmann shouted after her.

But she has already crossed the threshold.

The room she found herself in was a bedroom. On the narrow iron bed, Ekki lay fully clothed, his head tilted to one side, his mouth open. His breathing was a slow, drawn-out snore; he was asleep—but he was sleeping in a way she had never seen him sleep.

- Eki! she managed to shout as the door slammed shut, Holtzmann's voice was joined by another voice, and the lobby suddenly shifted. 'Honey. . ".

Suddenly, someone's hand gripped her shoulder from behind. She turned, saw the stranger's face a few centimeters from her own, heard Holtzmann's "Schnell, Willi, schnell" somewhere in the background, and the stranger almost whispered through clenched teeth "Schmutziges Frauenzimmer"; then, as she opened her mouth to scream, she received a terrible blow to the chin that snapped her teeth violently, and she felt herself sinking into blackness.

When she came to, she was lying in a bed in the hospital ward. Some villagers found her unconscious in a grove five or six miles from town. An ambulance brought her back to Basel. It was not until the next morning that the effects of the barbitone wore off and she remembered what had happened. But by then Ekki had been abroad in Germany for almost twenty hours.

Chapter fifty-four. February 23, 1935

ANTHONY He spent the morning in the organization's offices, dictating letters. It was mainly about dealing with the intellectual difficulties of potential pacifists. "What would you do if you saw a foreign soldier attacking your sister?" Well, whatever happened, you certainly wouldn't send your son to kill your second cousin. Tiresome work! But it had to be done. He dictated twenty-seven letters; then it was time to have lunch with Helena.

"There's practically nothing to eat," she said when he entered. "I just didn't feel like cooking. The unspeakable boredom of preparing food! Her voice took on a note of almost hostile resentment.

They turned to canned salmon and lettuce. Antoni tried to speak; but his words seemed to be reflected on the impenetrable surface of her dreary and melancholy silence. In the end, he also sat speechless.

"It's only been a year today," she finally managed to say.

'What is it?'

"It has just been a year since those devils in Basel. . She shook her head and fell silent again.

Anthony said nothing. He felt that whatever he said would be insignificant, almost an insult.

"I often wish they'd killed me too," she continued slowly. “Instead of leaving me here to rot like a piece of soil in a dumpster. Like a dead kitten, she added afterwards. - So many carcasses. The words were spoken with violent loathing.

"Why are you saying that?" - He asked.

"Because it's true. I'm carrion.

No need.

I can not help myself. I'm a carrion by nature.

"No, you're not," he insisted. — You said it yourself. When Ekki was there. . ".

"No, I wasn't a carrion back then.

"Who you were once, you can be again."

- Not without him.

He nodded his head. - Yes, if you want, you can. It's a matter of choice. Selecting and then setting it to work the right way.

Helena shook her head. - They should have killed me. If only she knew how nasty I am to myself! She twisted her face into a grimace. 'Do not feel well. Worse than no good. Just a pile of dirt." After a moment, she added, "I'm not even interested in Ekka's work," she continued. "I don't like his friends. Communists. But they're just beastly little people like everyone else. Stupid, vulgar, jealous, pushy. You could have a good time wearing a chinchilla coat and lunching at Claridge's. I'll probably sell myself to a rich man. That is, if I can find one. She laughed again. Then, in a tone of bitter self-loathing, "It's only a year today," she continued, "and I've had enough of everything. I've had enough of it and long to get out of it. I'm disgusting.'

"But are you completely guilty?"

'Of course I did.'

Anthony shook his head. - Maybe work is also to blame.

'What do you think?'

"Organized hatred is not very attractive. It's not what most people really want to live for.

"Ekki lived for it. Many people make a living from it.

"But who are these people?" he asked. - There are three types. Idealists with a unique gift of self-deception. Either they do not know that it is organized hatred, or they really believe that the end justifies the means, they really imagine that the means do not condition the end. Eki was one of them. They are the majority. And then there are two minorities. The minority of people who know this thing is organized hate and enjoy it. And the minority who are ambitious, who simply use movement as a convenient machine to realize their ambitions. You, Helen, are neither ambitious nor self-deluding. And despite what happened on that day last year, I don't really want to liquidate people - not even Nazis. And that's why chinchillas and orchids seem so attractive. Not because you actively miss them. Only because this particular alternative is so unsatisfying.

There was silence. Helen got up, changed the plates and put a bowl of fruit on the table. - What is a satisfactory alternative? she asked, helping herself to an apple.

"It begins," he replied, "by trying to cultivate the difficult art of loving people."

"But most people are disgusting."

“They are disgusting because we hate them. If we liked them, they would be good.

- Do you think that is true?

I'm sure that's true.

"So what are you doing?"

"No later," he answered. "Because, of course, it's a job for life. Every process of change is a life's work. Every time you reach the top, you see another peak in front of you - a peak that you didn't see from below. Take, for example, the body-mind mechanism. You start learning how to use it better; you give an advance; from the position to which you have been promoted, you discover how you can use it even better and so on indefinitely. Perfect ends recede as you approach them; they are perceived as different and more unusual than they seemed before progress began. It's the same when you try to change your relationships with other people. Each step forward reveals the necessity of new steps forward—unexpected steps toward a goal that was not in sight when you started. Yes, it lasts a lifetime, he repeated. "It cannot be "after". As time passes, one can only try to transfer what has been discovered on a personal level to the level of politics and economics. One of the first discoveries, he added, one of the first is that organized hatred and violence are not the best means of ensuring justice and peace. All people are capable of loving all other people. But we artificially limited our love. With conventions of hatred and violence. He limited it to families and clans, to classes and nations. Your friends want to remove these restrictions by using more hatred and violence - that is, by using exactly the same means as the original causes of the restrictions. He smiled. "Would you be surprised if you find this job somewhat dissatisfying?"

Helen stared at him in silence for a moment, then shook her head. "I prefer my chinchillas."

"No no".

'That. I'd rather be a pile of dirt. It's easier that way. She got up. "Can I have coffee?" In the small kitchen, while they were waiting for the water to boil, she suddenly started telling him about the young man from the ad. She met him a few weeks ago. What a funny and intelligent creature! And he fell deeply in love with her. Her face lit up with some reckless, smiling malice. "Blue eyes," she said, enumerating the young man's auctioneer-like merits, "curly hair, heavy shoulders, narrow hips, a first-class amateur boxer—more than you ever were, my poor Anthony." she added parenthetically and in a tone of contemptuous sympathy. “Actually, totally bed-worthy. At least that's how it looks. Because you really never know until you try, right? She laughed. "I want to try it tonight," she continued. "To celebrate this anniversary. Don't you think that's a good idea, Anthony? And when he didn't say, "No?", she insisted. "Is it?" She looked into his face, trying to detect any signs of anger, jealousy or disgust.

Anthony smiled at her. "It's not so easy to be a pile of dirt," he said. "Actually, I should say it was very, very hard work."

The brightness had gone from her face. "Tough work," she repeated. "Maybe that's one of the reasons we keep trying." After a moment of silence as she poured water into the espresso machine, "Did you say you had a meeting tonight?"

„W Battersea”.

"Perhaps I will come and listen to you. Unless," she added, trying to laugh, "unless, of course, I decided to celebrate this anniversary in a different way.

After they finished their coffee, Anthony returned to his rooms to work on the new pamphlet he had promised to write for Purchas. Two letters arrived at noon. One was from Miller and described the wonderful meetings he had in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The other, without an address, was typed.

Sir, we have been watching you for some time and have decided that you cannot be allowed to continue on your current disloyal and treacherous course. We sincerely warn you. If you keep giving your dirty pacifist speeches, we will treat you the way you deserve. Calling the police won't help. Sooner or later we will catch you and you will not be comfortable. You are announced to be speaking in Battersea tonight. We'll be there. So we advise if you value your yellow skin to stay away. You don't deserve this warning, but we want to be fair even with a ferret like you. - Greetings,

A group of patriotic Englishmen.

A joke, Anthony thought? No, I'm serious. He smiled. "How virtuous they must feel!" he said to himself. "And how heroic! They are giving a blow to England.

But the blow, he thought as he sat down in front of the fire, would come to him—if he spoke, that is, if he was not prevented from attacking. And of course there was no silence. There is no question of calling the police for protection. He had nothing to do but practice what he preached.

But will he have the strength of mind to see through it? Suppose they pounce on him, start tearing him down? Would he be able to handle it?

He tried to work on a pamphlet; but personal problems persisted, pushing aside the more distant and impersonal problems of colonies and prestige, markets, investments, migration. He imagined the terrible look of rage on the men's contorted faces, heard their brutal, insulting words in his mind, saw their hands rise and fall. Would he be able to stop himself from flinching? And the pain from the blows - sharp, tearing the face and causing nausea in the body - how much will he be able to endure and for how long? If only Miller were here to give advice and encouragement! But Miller was in Glasgow.

Self-doubt grew in him. To stand there and let him get hit, not fighting back, not giving in, he could never do that.

"I won't dare," he repeated, and he was overcome with fear. Remembering the way he had behaved in Tapatlan, he blushed with shame. And this time the shame would be public. Everyone would know - Helen and the others.

And this time, he thought, this time there would be no excuse for a surprise. They gave him a warning - "even a skunk like you." And besides, he'd been training for the past few months on how to handle a case like this. The scene was rehearsed. He knew every sign and gesture by heart. But when the time actually comes when the pain is no longer fictional but real, will he remember his role? What was the guarantee that it would not collapse hopelessly? Before Helena - when Helena stood precariously on the threshold of her own life, and maybe his. Besides, if he broke down, he would discredit not only himself. To break would be to contradict his beliefs, to invalidate his philosophy, to betray his friends. "But why are you such a fool?" a low voice began to ask; "Why do you go and burden yourself with beliefs and philosophies? And why are you putting yourself in a position where you can betray anyone? Why not go back to doing what nature made you do - watch from your private inbox and comment? After all, what does it all mean? Even if it is important, what can you do? Why not quietly surrender to the inevitable and take a break to do the work you do best?

A voice spoke from the clouds of fatigue. For a moment he was just a dead, dry shell surrounding black weariness and negation. "Call them," the voice continued. "Tell them you have the flu. Stay in bed for a few days. Then let the doctor refer you to the south of France. . ".

He suddenly laughed out loud. From ominous, from deceptively convincing, that quiet voice became absurd. Done in such a tone, so skillfully expressed, the meanness was almost comical.

"Unity," he said in an eloquent whisper.

He was loyal to them like hand to hand. Loyal to his friends, loyal to those who declared themselves his enemies. He could do nothing but influence them all, friend and foe—for good if what he did was good, for evil if it was bad. Unity, he repeated. Unity.

The unity of humanity, the unity of all life, everything is equal.

First of all, physical unity. Unity even in diversity, even in separation. Separate patterns, but everywhere the same. Everywhere the same constellation of ultimate energy units. The same on the surface of the sun as in a living body warmed by its radiance; in a fragrant cluster of buddleia flowers as in the blue sea and clouds on the horizon; in the drunken Mexican's gun, as in the dark dried blood on the distorted face between the rocks, fresh blood splashed crimson on Helen's naked body, and drops dripped from the wound on Mark's knee.

Identical patterns and identical pattern design. He carried the thought of them in his mind, and with it the thought of a life constantly moving among patterns, choosing and discarding for its own purposes. Life becomes simpler in more complex patterns – identically complex in the vast ranges of living things.

The sperm enters the egg, and the cell divides and divides to finally become this human, this rat, or this horse. The cow's pituitary gland causes frogs to breed out of season. A pregnant woman's urine puts a mouse in estrus. The ovine thyroid transforms the axolotl from a larva with gills into an air-breathing salamander, from a moronic dwarf into an adult and intelligent human. Patterns are interchangeable between one form of animal life and another. Also interchangeable between animals and plants, plants and non-living world. Patterns in seeds, leaves and roots, patterns built up from simpler patterns in air and soil, can be assimilated and transformed by insects, reptiles, mammals, fish.

The unity of life. Unity was even manifested in the destruction of one life by another. Life and all beings are one. Otherwise, no living being would be able to obtain food from another or from the inanimate substances surrounding it. One even in destruction, one despite separation. Every organism is unique. Unique, yet united with all other organisms in the sameness of its end parts; unique based on physical identity.

Minds too - minds are also unique, but unique beyond the foundation of mental identity. The identity and interchangeability of love, trust, courage. Fearless love restores reason to a madman, turns an enemy savage into a friend, tames a wild beast. A mental pattern of love can be transferred from one mind to another and still retain its value, just as a physical pattern of hormones can be transferred, with all its effectiveness, from one body to another.

And not only love, but also hate; not only trust but also doubt; not only kindness, generosity, courage, but also hostility, greed and fear.

Sharing emotions; but the fact that they can be exchanged, transferred from mind to mind, and retain all their original passion, is a demonstration of the fundamental unity of minds.

A reality of unity, but a coordinated reality of division - indeed a greater reality of division. No need to think about breaking up. You are constantly aware of it. Constantly aware that he is unique and separate; only sometimes, and then most often only intellectually, only as a result of the process of discursive thinking, aware that one is with other minds, other lives and all beings. Sometimes an intuition of unity, an intuition that comes by chance or is sought, step by step, in meditation.

One, one, one, he repeated; but one broken; united yet separate.

It is evil to emphasize division; well, anything that creates unity with other lives and other beings. Pride, hatred, anger - basically bad feelings; and fundamentally wrong, because they are all intensifications given to the reality of separation, because they insist on division and uniqueness, because they reject and deny other lives and beings. Lust and greed are also pressures on uniqueness, but pressures that do not involve any negative awareness of others from whom this unique being is divided. Desire only says, "I must have pleasure," not "You must feel pain." Pure greed is only a demand for my pleasure, not your exclusion from pleasure. They are wrong to emphasize the separate self; but less evil than pride, hatred or anger, because their self-emphasis is not accompanied by the denial of others.

But why the division at all? Why inevitably, even in the most complete love and at the other end of the scale of existence, even in what is or seems to be below good and evil, the evil of separation must exist? Separating even the saint from the saint and separating even the ordinary physical specimen from the ordinary physical specimen. One man cannot eat instead of another. The best must think, enjoy and suffer, must touch, see, smell, hear, taste in isolation. A good man is only a less completely closed universe than a bad man; but still closed even as the atom is closed.

And of course, if there is existence - existence as we know it - existence must be organized into closed universes. Minds like ours can only perceive undifferentiated unity as nothingness. The inevitable paradox is that we want n to be equal to one, but in fact we should always say that one is equal to zero.

Separation, diversity - the conditions of our existence. Conditions in which we have life and consciousness, know good and evil and have the power to choose between them, recognize truth, experience beauty. But separation is evil. Evil is therefore a condition of life, a condition of awareness, of knowing what is good and beautiful.

What is sought, what men ultimately demand of each other, is the realization of a unity between beings that would be nothing if they were not separate; it is the actualization of good by creatures which, were it not for evil, would not exist. Impossible - but still necessary.

"Born under one law, subject to another."

He himself, Anthony thought, considered the whole process pointless or a joke. Yes, selected. Because it was an act of will. If all this were nonsense or a joke, he would be free to read his books and exercise his talent for sarcastic comment; there was no reason why he shouldn't sleep with any representative woman who was willing to sleep with him. If it wasn't nonsense, if it was important, he wouldn't be able to live irresponsibly anymore. There were duties towards oneself and others, and the nature of things. Duties that would interfere with sleep and uncritical reading, and a habit of indifferent irony. He decided to think of it as nonsense, and for more than twenty years it seemed to him to be nonsense—nonsense, despite the occasional inconvenient hint that there might be some sense in it, and that the sense was precisely in what he chose to believe. as a senseless joke. And now it finally became clear, now he knew through some direct experience that the crux of the paradox was that unity was the beginning and unity the end, while the state of life and all existence was separation, which was synonymous with evil. Yes, the point is, he insisted, that man demands the impossible to achieve. The point is that even with the best will, one's separate evil universe or physical pattern can never fully merge with other lives and beings or the totality of life and existence. Even for the highest goodness there is no end of struggle; for never in the nature of present things can that which is closed become fully open; good can never be completely freed from evil. It is a test, an education - exploratory, difficult, lifelong, perhaps a long series of incarnations. Whole lives are spent trying to open more and more a closed universe that constantly tends to close the moment the effort gives way. It passed in overcoming the separated passions of hatred, malice and pride. He passed in the creation of still self-emphasized desires. He went through constant efforts to achieve unity with other lives and other ways of being. Experience it in an act of love and compassion. Experience it on another plane through meditation, in the insight of direct intuition. Unity above the noise of separation and division. Good beyond the possibility of evil. But the fact of separation always exists, evil always remains a condition of life and existence. The opening pressure must not be released. But even for the best of us, fulfillment is still a long way off.

Meanwhile, there is love and compassion. Constantly distracted. But, oh, let them become tireless, relentless in overcoming all obstacles, inner unhappiness, disgust, intellectual contempt; and externally the resentment and suspicion of others. Affection, compassion - and in the meantime this contemplative approach, this effort to understand the unity of life and being with the intellect, and finally, perhaps intuitively, in an act of full understanding. From one argument to another, step by step, towards fulfillment where there is no more discourse, only experience, only unmediated knowledge, like a color, a smell, a musical sound. Step by step towards the experience that we are no longer completely separate, but deeply united with other lives, with the rest of existence. United in peace. In the room, he repeated, in the room, in the room. Peace in the depths of every mind. The same peace for all, continuous between mind and mind. On the surface separate waves, eddies, haze; but below them the continuous and undifferentiated expanse of the sea grows calmer as it deepens, until at last there is absolute silence. Dark peace deep inside. A dark room that is the same for everyone who can enter it. The room which, by a strange paradox, is the substance and source of the storm on the surface. However, born of peace, waves destroy peace; to destroy, but they are necessary; for without the storm on the surface there would be no existence, no knowledge of good, no attempt to calm the raging madness of evil, no rediscovery of the hidden peace, no understanding that the essence of madness is the same as the substance of peace.

The rage of evil and separation. There is unity in the room. Oneness with other lives. Oneness with all existence. Because beneath all being, beneath countless identical but separate patterns, beneath attraction and repulsion, lies peace. The same peace that underlies the madness of the mind. Dark peace, immeasurably deep. Peace from pride, hatred and anger, peace from desire and aversion, peace from all separationist craziness. Peace through liberation, because peace is achieved freedom. Freedom and truth at the same time. The truth of actually experienced unity. Calm in the deep, under the storm, far down under the crashing waves, the breeze flying madly. Peace in this deep undersea night, peace in this silence, in this motionless void, where there is no more time, where there are no more pictures, no more words. Nothing but the experience of peace; peace as a dark void beyond all personal life, and yet that form of life itself is more intense, with all its distraction, with all its lack of purpose or desire, richer and better than ordinary life. A room outside of a room, first focused, collected, then opening into a kind of endless space. Calmly at the end of a narrowing cone of concentration and elimination, a cone whose base is the distraction of the undulating surface of life, and whose apex is darkness. And in the darkness the tip of one cone touches the tip of another; and from one focus the room expands and expands towards a base immeasurably far and so wide that its circle is the foundation and source of all life, all being. An inverted cone of refracted and displaced surface light; the cone inverted and descends to a point of concentrated darkness; thence in another cone, spreading and spreading through the darkness to, yes! some other light, steady, undisturbed, calm like the darkness from which it emerges. Inverted cone to upright cone. The transition from a wide turbulent light to a calm focal point of darkness; and from there, out of focus, through the darkness that spreads into another light. From the storm to the calm and beyond, through an even deeper and more intense peace, to the final end, the final light, which is the source and substance of all things; the source of darkness, the void, the underwater night of peaceful life; finally the source of the waves and splashes of madness - now forgotten. For now there is only darkness that expands and deepens, deepens into light; there is only this ultimate peace, this awareness that we are no longer separate, this enlightenment. . .

The clock struck seven. Slowly and cautiously, he allowed himself to fade from the light, back through the darkness into the broken lights and shadows of everyday existence. Finally he got up and went to the kitchen to prepare something to eat. There wasn't much time; the meeting was at eight, and it would take him a good half hour to get to the lobby. He boiled a few eggs, and in the meantime sat down to bread and cheese. He thought impartially and with clear clarity about what lay ahead. Whatever it was, he knew now that it would be all right.

After many years

In 1937, Huxley emigrated with his wife Maria and son Matthew to California, where he remained until his death in November 1963. Shortly after the author's move, he befriended the president of a liberal arts college, Remsen's Bird. Huxley often visited the school, and it was the main inspiration for the fictional Tarzan College in his next novel. After Many a Summer was first published in the UK in 1939 by Chatto & Windus and in the US under the title After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Harper & Row. The author also based some of his characters on real-life acquaintances, including unflattering portrayals of newspaper baron and politician William Randolph Hearst and his longtime partner, actress Marion Davies. The novel was adapted into a 1948 NBC radio production starring Paul Henreid and a 1967 British television production directed by Douglas Camfield and starring Stubby Kaye.

After Many a Summer deals with a group of characters connected to the unscrupulous millionaire businessman Jo Stoyte. The entire cast of characters adheres to different philosophies of the best way to live, and Huxley explains that he shares a viewpoint similar to that of Professor William Propter. The novel's title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous 1859 poem Tithonus. It tells about the Greek myth of Tithon's suffering after he was given immortality but not eternal youth. He continues to age while his companion, Eos, the goddess of the dawn, never ages. In time, Tithonus begs permission to escape and die. The novel has a similar theme to the poem insofar as Huxley explores Stoyte's refusal to accept the inevitability of death or the purpose of life as anything more than an extension of it.

first edition






























Marion Davies actress

Forests rot, forests rot and decay

Coins fall to the ground with their own weight,

A man came, tilled the field and lay down under it,

And after many years, the swan dies.


First part

First chapter

EVERYTHING was agreed by telegram; Jeremy Pordage was to look out for a colorful chauffeur in a gray uniform with a carnation in the hole; and a black chauffeur would look out for a middle-aged Englishman carrying Wordsworth's Poetry. Despite the crowd at the station, they found each other easily.

'Mr. Stoyte's chauffeur?

"Mr. Porridge, huh?

Jeremy nodded, and with Wordsworth in one hand and an umbrella in the other, he half spread his arms in the gesture of a self-deprecating mannequin showing, with a full and witty awareness of his faults, a miserable figure, accentuated by the most absurd clothes. . Poor guy, he seemed to imply, but me. Defensive and, so to speak, prophylactic disparagement has become his habit. He resorted to it at every opportunity. Suddenly a new idea popped into his head. He wondered uneasily if in their democratic Far West they shook hands with the chauffeur—especially if he was a black man—just to show that he was no pukka sahib, even if his country bore the white man's burden. In the end, he decided to do nothing. Or, rather, the decision was forced upon him, as usual, he told himself, feeling an oddly ironic satisfaction in recognizing his own flaws. At a loss as to what to do, the chauffeur took off his cap and, with a slightly exaggerated imitation of an old-world negro, bowed, grinned, and said, "Welcome to Los Angeles, Mr. Pordage, sah!" Then, changing his tone from dramatic to confidential, he said, "I should have recognized you by your voice, Mr. Pordage," he continued, "even without the book."

Jeremy gave a slightly awkward laugh. A week in America made him uncomfortable with his voice. A product of Trinity College, Cambridge, ten years before the war, it was a low, phlegmatic voice, like evensong in an English cathedral. At home, when he used it, no one paid much attention to it. He never had to make fun of himself as in self-defense, for example about his appearance or his age. Here in America things were different. All he had to do was order a cup of coffee or ask for directions to the toilet (which, by the way, was not called a toilet in this disturbing country) and people would look at him with amused and attentive curiosity, as if he were a freak. a show in an amusement park. It was not pleasant at all.

"Where's my porter?" he asked nervously to change the subject.

A few minutes later they were on their way. Sitting in the back seat of the car, outside of what he hoped was a conversation with the driver, Jeremy Pordage indulged in the pleasure of simply watching. Southern California passed the window; all he had to do was keep his eyes open.

The first to emerge were the slums of Africans and Filipinos, Japanese and Mexicans. And what permutations and combinations of black, yellow and brown! What complicated bastards! And the girls - how beautiful they are in the district! "And black ladies in white muslin dresses." His favorite line in the Prelude. He smiled to himself. Meanwhile, the slums have given way to the high-rises of the business district.

The population took on a more Caucasian tone. There was a pharmacy on every corner. The newspaper guys were selling headlines about Franco's trip to Barcelona. Most of the girls walking seemed to be silently begging; but when he thought about it, he guessed they had been chewing gum the whole time. Rubber, not God. Suddenly the car entered the tunnel and appeared in another world, a vast, untidy suburb, gas stations and billboards, low garden houses, empty lots and scrap paper, occasional shops, office buildings and churches. “Surprisingly, Primitive Methodist churches were built in the Carthusian style of Granada, Catholic churches like Canterbury Cathedral, synagogues disguised as Hagia Sophia, Christian Science churches with pillars and gables like banks. It was a winter's day and early morning; but the sun was shining brightly, the sky was cloudless. The car started towards the west, and the sun, while they were following them, fell obliquely, illuminating every building, every sign of the sky and billboard, as if with a spotlight, as if it deliberately wanted to show the newcomer all the sights.





The car sped on, and in the middle of the empty lot was a bulldog restaurant sitting, entrance between its front legs, eyes shining.

"Zoomorph," Jeremy Pordage muttered to himself, and "zoomorph" again. He had a scientific love for words. Bulldog has gone back in time.


GET THE NUTBERGERS - whatever they are. He decided to have it at the first opportunity. Nutberger and jumbo malt.


Strange that the driver stopped. "Ten gallons of Super-Super," he ordered; then, turning to Jeremy, he added, "This is our company." 'MR. Stoyt, he's the president. He pointed to a billboard across the street. CASH LOANS IN FIFTEEN MINUTES, read Jeremy; CONSULT YOUR FINANCIAL COMPUNITY SERVICES CORPORATION. - Here's another one of ours - said the chauffeur proudly.

They drove on. The face of a beautiful young woman, contorted like Magdalena's with grief, looked out from the huge panel. ROMANCE BREAK, read the headline. SCIENCE PROVES THAT 73 PERCENT OF ALL ADULTS HAVE A GREAT WORLD.




Next to the beauty shop was a Western Union branch. That telegram to his mother... God, he almost forgot! Jeremy leaned forward and, in the apologetic tone he always used when talking to the servants, asked the chauffeur to stop for a moment. The car stopped. With a look of concern on his gentle face, Jeremy got out and hurried across the sidewalk to his office.

'Your. Pordage, The Araucarias, Woking, England," he wrote with a slight smile. The sheer absurdity of this speech was a constant source of amusement. "The Araucarias, Woking." His mother, when she bought the house, wanted to change the name because it was too cleverly middle-class. class, it was too reminiscent of a Hilaire Belloc joke. "But that's the beauty," he protested. "That's the charm. "And he was trying to make her see how it would be right for them to live at that address. The wonderfully comic dissonance between the names of the house and the character of its inhabitants! And what a beautiful, perverse accuracy there is in the fact that Oscar Wilde's old friend, the witty and cultured Mrs. Pordage, should write her brilliant letters from Araucaria, and that from that same Araucaria, this Araucaria, you will notice, at Woking, the deeds were to come combining knowledge and the exceedingly rare wit which had won her son's reputation. Mrs. Pordage knew almost at once what she was getting at. No need, thank God, for your business as far as she was concerned. You could only speak on occasion and anacolutima; her understanding could be relied upon. Araucaria remained Araucaria.

After writing the address, Jeremy paused, frowned thoughtfully, and made the familiar pen-chewing gesture - only to be alarmed to discover that this particular pen was brass-tipped and attached to a chain. 'Your. Pordage, The Araucarias, Woking, England, he read aloud, hoping that the worlds would inspire him to write the right, perfect message—the message his mother expected of him, at once tender and witty, charged with sincere devotion, she said wryly, acknowledging her maternal dominance, but at the same time ridicule so that the old woman could ease her conscience by pretending that her son is completely free and that she herself is the least tyrannical mother. It wasn't easy — especially with that pen on the chain. After several unsuccessful essays, he settled, albeit clearly unsatisfactorily, on: "A subtropical climate will break the oath that underwear will cease to exist. It's a shame you're not here for me because you wouldn't like this unfinished Bournemouth's endlessly extended viewpoint."

- Unfinished what? - asked the young woman from the other side of the counter.

"B-o-u-r-n-e-m-o-u-t-h," Jeremy spelled. He smiled; his blue eyes flashed behind his bifocals, and with a gesture he wasn't aware of, but one he always made automatically when he was about to tell one of his little jokes, he caressed the smooth bald patch on the top of his head. "You know," he said in a particularly phlegmatic tone, "the places where no traveler goes if he can."

The girl looked at him blankly; then, judging by his expression that he had said something amusing and remembering that friendly service was the slogan of Western Union, he flashed the bright smile that the poor old bugger was obviously looking for and began to read: "I hope you enjoy the station in Grasse Tendresses Jeremy.

It was expensive news; but luckily, he thought as he took out his wallet, luckily Mr. Stoyte was overpaying him handsomely. Three months of work, six thousand dollars. Such a damn expense.

He got back in the car and they drove on. They walked mile after mile, and houses in the suburbs, gas stations, vacant lots, churches, shops went with them into infinity. To the right and to the left, between palm trees, peppers and acacias, the streets of a huge residential area receded into the void.




However, the traffic light turned red again. The newspaper delivery man walks up to the window. "Franco seeks gains in Catalonia". Jeremy read it and turned. The terrifying world had reached a point where he simply became bored. Two old women, both with long gray hair and crimson trousers, got out of the car in front of them, each carrying a Yorkshire terrier. The dogs were planted at the foot of the traffic lights. Before the animals could decide to take advantage of this benefit, the lights changed. Black put in first and the cart moved forward into the future. Jeremy thought about his mother. Worryingly, she also had a Yorkshire terrier.





Another zoomorph presented itself, this time a real estate agent's office in the shape of an Egyptian sphinx.




With a victorious Puss in Boots counting the properties of the Marquis of Carabas, the black man looked over his shoulder at Jeremy, waved his hand at the notice board and said, "And that's ours."

"You mean the Beverly Pantheon?"

The man nodded. "Probably the most beautiful cemetery in the world", he said and after a moment of silence added: "Maybe you would like to see it". We're almost out of the way.

"That would be very nice," Jeremy said with high-class English grace. Then, feeling that he should express his approval more warmly and democratically, he cleared his throat and, consciously trying to reproduce the local speech, added that it would be great. It sounded so unnatural in his Trinity-College-Cambridge voice that he blushed with embarrassment. Fortunately, the driver was too busy with traffic to notice.

They turned right, passed the Rosicrucian Temple, two dog and cat hospitals, the Drum-Majorette School, and two more advertisements for the Beverly Pantheon. As they turned left onto Sunset Boulevard, Jeremy saw a young woman shopping in a hydrangea blue strapless swimsuit, platinum curls, and a black fur jacket. Then she too was pulled back into the past.

The present was a road at the base of a series of steep hills, a road lined with small, expensive shops, restaurants, sunny nightclubs, offices and apartment buildings. Then they also took their places irrevocably. The sign said they were crossing the Beverly Hills city limits. The environment has changed. The road was surrounded by the gardens of a rich residential area. Through the trees Jeremy could see the fronts of houses, all new, almost all in good taste—the elegant and witty patterns of Lutyens' palaces, Little Trianons, Monticellos; cheerful parodies of Le Corbusier's solemn living machines; fantastic Mexican adaptations of Mexican haciendas and New England farms.

They turned right. Huge palm trees lined the road. In the sun, the mesembryonic masses burned with an intense purple glow. The houses were lined up one after the other, like pavilions at some endless international exhibition. Gloucestershire followed Andalusia and gave way to Touraine and Oaxaca, Düsseldorf and Massachusetts.

"This is Harold Lloyd's flat," said the chauffeur, pointing to something like a Bobola. "And this is Charlie Chaplin. And this is Pickfair.

The road began to climb, dizzyingly. The chauffeur pointed through the chasm of shadow that cut him off to what looked like a Tibetan monastery on the opposite hill. “Ginger Rogers lives here. Yes, sir.” He nodded triumphantly as he turned the wheel.

Another five or six turns took the car to the top of the hill. Below and behind lay the plain, and the city was like a map stretching endlessly into a pink haze.

Mountains stretched before and on each side, ridge after ridge as far as the eye could see, dry Scotland, bare beneath the blue desert sky.

The car swerved to the edge of the orange rock and suddenly on the top of the previously invisible peak appeared a huge celestial sign that read BEVERLY PANTHEON, CEMETERY OF PERSONALITIES in two-meter neon lights, and above it, on the crown itself, a reproduction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in full size - except that it was not inclined.

"See?" - the black man was surprised. "It's the Resurrection Tower. Two hundred thousand dollars, that's how much it cost. Yes sir. He spoke with empathic seriousness. He had the impression that all the money came from his own pocket.

The second chapter

AN HOUR LATER they were on the road again, they saw everything. All. Sloping lawns, like a green oasis in the mountain wasteland. Forests of trees. Tombstones in the grass. Landseer's "Dignity and Courage" marble cluster pet cemetery. The Poet's Tiny Church - a miniature reproduction of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-on-Avon complete with Shakespeare's tomb and 24-hour organ music played automatically by a Perpetual Wurlitzer and played through hidden speakers throughout the cemetery.

Then, leaving the sacristy, the bride's suite (because one was married in the Little Church and was buried there) - the bride's suite, which has just been renovated, said the chauffeur, in the style of Norma Shearer's Marie Antoinette boudoir. And next to the Bride's suite, a beautiful black marble ash vestibule leading to the crematorium, where three state-of-the-art oil-fired burial ovens were always hot and ready for all occasions.

Wherever they went, accompanied by a Perpetual Wurlitzer tremolo, they rode side by side to look at the Tower of the Resurrection - only from the outside; since it housed the executive offices of the West Coast Cemeteries Corporation. Then the Children's Corner with figurines of Peter Pan and baby Jesus, groups of alabaster children playing with brown rabbits, a pool with lilies and an apparatus called the Rainbow Music Fountain, from which water, colored lights and the inevitable sounds of the Perpetual Wurlitzer simultaneously gushed out. Then, in quick succession, the Garden of Silence, the Little Taj Mahal, the ossuary of the Old World. And booked by the chauffeur until the end, as the last and crowning proof of the glory of his employer, the Pantheon itself.

Is it possible, Jeremy wondered, that such an object exists? That was certainly not likely. The Beverly Pantheon was by no means believable, it was something completely beyond his imagination. The fact that the idea now occurred to him was therefore proof that he must have seen it. He closed his eyes in front of the landscape and remembered the details of this incredible reality. Exterior architecture modeled after Boecklin's "Toteninsel". Round lobby. A replica of Rodin's "Le Baiser", illuminated by hidden pink spotlights. With black marble steps. Columbarium on seven floors, endless galleries, its levels on the levels of slab-sealed tombs. Bronze and silver cremation urns, like sports trophies. Stained glass by Burne-Jones. Texts written on marble scrolls. The eternal Wurlitzer hums on every floor. Sculpture...

That was the hardest to believe, Jeremy thought with his eyes closed. Sculptures almost as ubiquitous as the Wurlitzer. Statues everywhere you look. Hundreds, bought in bulk, as you might guess, from some monumental stonemason's house in Carrara or Pietrasanta. All naked, all women, all lushly ripe. Statues like this would be expected at the reception of a luxury brothel in Rio de Janeiro. "Oh death," demanded the marble scroll at the entrance to each gallery, "where is your sting?" Silent but eloquent, the statues gave a soothing answer. Statues of young ladies in only very tight belts embedded, with Bernini's realism, in the body of a pariah. Statues of young crouching ladies; young ladies use both hands to be modest; young ladies stretch, twist, bend to tie their sandals, bend over. Young ladies with doves, with panthers, with other girls, with raised eyes expressing the awakening of the soul. "I am Resurrection and Life," said the scrolls. 'The Lord is my shepherd; so I don't miss anything." Nothing, not even a Wurlitzer, not even a girl in a tight belt. "Death has swallowed up the victory" - a victory no longer of the spirit, but of the body, the nourished body, eternally young, immortally athletic, tirelessly sexy. Muslim Paradise she had pairings that lasted six centuries.In this new Christian heaven, progress would no doubt hasten the millennium and add to the joys of eternal tennis, eternal golf and swimming.

Suddenly the cart started to descend. Jeremy opened his eyes again to see that they had reached the far edge of the hill where the Pantheon was built.

Below was a great tawny plain, dotted with patches of green and white houses. On the other side, fifteen or twenty miles away, ranges of pink mountains loomed on the horizon.

- What is that? Jeremy asked.

"San Fernando Valley," said the driver. He pointed to the middle distance. "Groucho Marx has a place here," he said. 'Yes sir.'

At the bottom of the hill, the car turned left along a wide road that stretched across the plain, a ribbon of concrete and suburban buildings. The driver sped up; the figure followed the figure at breakneck speed. MALTS CABIN FOOD & DANCING AT THE CHATEAU HONOLUL SPIRITUAL HEALING & HYDRATION Colon BLOCKLONG HOT DOGS BUY YOUR DREAM HOME NOW. And behind the signs fluttered mathematically planted rows of apricot and walnut trees, a series of flashes of perspective, each time preceded and followed by fan-like approaches and retreats.

Dark green and gold, huge orange orchards maneuvered, each a square mile thick, shimmering in the sun. The distant mountains drew their incomprehensible ups and downs.

"Tarzan," said the surprised chauffeur; there must have been a name written across the street in white letters. "There's the College of Tarzan over there," the man continued, pointing to a group of Spanish colonial palaces clustered around a Romanesque basilica. 'MR. Stoyte had just given them an auditorium.

They turned right onto a minor road. The orange groves gave way a few miles away to vast fields of alfalfa and stiff grass, and then returned more luxuriant than ever. In the meantime, the mountains on the northern edge of the valley were approaching, and on the left side, leaning from the west, another range emerged. They drove on. The road took a sharp turn, heading towards where the two lanes must meet. Suddenly, through a gap between two orchards, Jeremy Pordage saw the most incredible sight. About half a mile from the foot of the mountains, like an island on the shore of a cliff, a rocky hill rose abruptly, almost precipitously in places, from the plain. On the top of the cliff, as if it had sprung up in some bloom, stood a castle. But what a castle! The fortress was like a skyscraper, the bastions were collapsing with the slight movement of the concrete dams. The thing was Gothic, medieval, baronial—double baronial, Gothic with Gothic raised, so to speak, to a higher level, more medieval than any building of the thirteenth century. Because this... object, as Jeremy called it, was medieval, not out of vulgar historical necessity like, say, Coucy or Alnwick, but out of pure fun and playfulness, platonic so to speak. It was medieval, the kind only a witty and irresponsible modern architect would want to be medieval, for which only the most capable modern engineers are technically capable.

Jeremy was surprised when he started to speak. "What the hell is that?" he asked pointing to the nightmare on top of the hill.

"Well, this is Mr. Stoyte's apartment," said the servant; and, smiling again with the pride of substitute ownership, added, "It seems to be a pretty good house."

The orange groves closed again; Leaning back in his armchair, Jeremy Pordage uneasily wondered what he had gotten himself into by accepting Mr. Stoyte's offer. The salary was princely; a work cataloging the now almost legendary Hauberk documents would be wonderful. But this cemetery, this... Facility... Jeremy shook his head. He knew, of course, that Mr. Stoyte was rich, that he collected pictures, that he owned a showroom in California. But no one had ever told him to expect it. The jocular puritanism of his good taste was shaken; he was horrified at the prospect of meeting a person capable of such a terrible act. What contact, what community of thought or feeling could there be between that person and us? Why did he send for one? Because it was obvious that he couldn't like other people's books. But did he even read anyone's books? Did he have the slightest idea what it was like? Could you understand, for example, why it was insisted that the name Araucarias remain unchanged? Would appreciate someone's point of view on...?

These unpleasant questions were interrupted by the sound of the horn, which the driver blew loudly and offensively. Jeremy looked up. About fifty meters away, the old Ford crawled shakily along the road. He was carrying a wretched load of household goods strapped precariously to the roof, stairs, and trunk—rolls of bedclothes, an old iron stove, a chest of pots and pans, a folded tent, a tin tub. As they flew past, Jeremy saw three anemic, dull-eyed children, a woman with a piece of burlap wrapped around her shoulders, and an emaciated, unshaven man.

- Transitional - explained the chauffeur contemptuously.

- What is that? Jeremy asked.

"What passers-by," repeated the black man, as if the explanation had been underlined. "I suppose it's from the dustpan." Kansas license plates. Come and poke our navels.

"Are you here to pick your belly buttons?" Jeremy repeated incredulously.

"Navel oranges," said the driver. "It's the season. Pretty good year for navels, I guess.

They stepped out into the open again and the Object reappeared, larger than ever. Jeremy had time to study the details of its construction. The foot of the hill was surrounded by a wall of towers, and half way up there was a second line of defence, very approving after the Crusades. At the top was a square donjon, surrounded by auxiliary buildings.

Below the fort, Jeremy's eyes wandered to a cluster of buildings on the plain near the base of the hill. Across the front of the largest of these were the words "Stoyte Home for Sick Children" in gilt letters. Two flags, one with the stars and stripes, the other a white pennant with a scarlet S, fluttered in the wind. Then a grove of bare walnut trees obscured the view again. Almost at the same time, the driver turned off the engine and braked. The car came to a light stop next to a man walking briskly along the grassy side of the road.

"Would you like a ride, Mr. Propter?" cried the black man.

The stranger turned his head, smiled at the man in recognition and approached the car window. He was a large man, broad-shouldered but rather stooped, with graying brown hair and a face, Jeremy thought, like the face of one of those statues which the Gothic sculptors carved for a place high on the west front—a face of sudden prominence and deeply shadowed folds and hollows., clearly carved so that they are expressive even from a distance. But he noticed that that particular face was not only expressive, not only from a distance; it was a face for both close-up and intimacy, a subtle face in which there were signs of sensitivity and intelligence as well as strength, a gentle and playful calm no less than energy and strength.

"Hello, George," said the stranger, addressing the chauffeur; "Nice of you to stop by for me."

"Well, I'm very glad to see you, Mr. Propter," said the negro heartily. Then he half turned in his chair, waved to Jeremy, and said in a flowery tone and manner, 'I would like you to meet Mr. Pordage of England. Mr. Pordage, this is Mr. Propter.

The two men shook hands, and after exchanging pleasantries, Mr. Propter got into the car.

"Does Mr. Stoyte visit you?" he asked as the chauffeur drove on.

Jeremy shook his head. He was here on business; he came to see some manuscripts - the Hauberk papers, to be precise.

Mr. Propter listened intently, nodding occasionally, and when Jeremy had finished he sat in silence for a while.

"Take the corrupt Christian," he said at last thoughtfully, "and the remains of the Stoic; mix well with good manners, a little money, and an old-fashioned education; cook for several years at university. The result: a scholar and a gentleman. Well, there were worse kinds of human beings. He laughed lightly. "I could almost say that I was one myself, a long time ago.

Jeremy looked at him questioningly. "You're not William Propter, are you?" - He asked. "Isn't that a Short Study of the Counter-Reformation?"

The other nodded.

Jeremy looked at him in amazement and delight. Was it possible? he wondered. These short studies were one of his favorite books - he always considered them examples of their kind.

- Well, I pissed off! he said loudly, deliberately using the language of a schoolboy as if in quotation marks. He found that in both writing and conversation, judicious use, in a ceremonial or cultural context, of slang, an extract from childish vulgarity or obscenity, produces excellent results. — I'm cursed! he snapped again, the realization of the intended stupidity of those words making him stroke his bald head and cough.

Another moment of silence followed. Then, instead of talking about short studies as Jeremy had expected, Mr. Propter just shook his head and said, "Most of us are."

“Mostly what?” Jeremy asked.

"Crazy," replied Mr. Propter. “Damn it. In the psychological sense of the word, he added.

The nuts were finished and the Object reappeared on the starboard bow. Mr. Propter pointed in his direction. "Poor Jo Stoyte!" - He said. “Think about having that millstone around your neck. Not to mention all the other millstones that accompany it, of course. How lucky we were, right? — we who were never destined to become much less than scholars and gentlemen! »After another moment of silence. “Poor Jo,” he continued, smiling, “he's not one of them. You will see that it gets a little old. Because of course they will want to bully you, just because tradition says your type is better than their type. Not to mention the fact," he added, looking Jeremy in the face with a look of amusement and sympathy, "that you're probably one of those people who incites abuse. A bit of a murderer, I'm afraid, but also a scholar and a gentleman.

Feeling both annoyed by the man's indiscretion and touched by his kindness, Jeremy smiled rather nervously and nodded.

'Perhaps,' continued Mr Propter, 'it might help you to be less murderous towards Jo Stoyte if you knew what prompted his original impulse to be condemned in this way. . “We went to school together, Jo and I - only nobody called him Jo back then. We called him Slob, which is Jelly-Belly. You see, poor Jo was the local fat man, the only fat man in school in those years. He paused for a moment; then continued in a different tone: “I've often wondered why people always make fun of being fat. Maybe there's something wrong with the fat. Let's say, there isn't a single fat saint - except, of course, old Thomas Aquinas; and I see no reason to assume that he was a real saint, a saint in the popular sense of the word, which is the true meaning. If Thomas is a saint, Vincent de Paul is not. And if Vincent is a saint, and of course he is, then Thomas is not. And maybe his huge belly had something to do with it. Who knows? But anyway, that's by the way. We're talking about Jo Stoyte. And poor Jo, as I said, was a fat man, and being fat was fair game for the rest of us. God, how we punished him for his lack of glands! And how badly he reacted to this punishment! Too much compensation... But I'm home,' he added, looking out the window as the car slowed to a stop in front of a small white bungalow nestled among clumps of eucalyptus trees. - We will deal with that another time. But remember, if poor Jo gets too abusive, think about who was at school and feel sorry for him - don't feel sorry for yourself... He got out of the car, closed the door behind him and waved his hand. to the driver, quickly started down the path and entered the small house.

The car started again. Immediately dazed and soothed by his encounter with the author of Short Studies, Jeremy sat languidly and stared out the window. They were now very close to the Subject; and suddenly he noticed for the first time that the hill of the castle was surrounded by a moat. A few hundred meters from the shore, the car passed between two pillars crowned with lion arms. It was evident that his passage had been interrupted by a beam of invisible light directed at the photo-electric cell; for they had hardly passed the lions when the drawbridge began to descend. Five seconds before they reached the moat, she was already in place; the car rolled smoothly and stopped in front of the main gate of the castle's outer walls. The chauffeur got out and, speaking into a telephone receiver hidden in a convenient hatch, announced his presence. The chrome grille rose noiselessly, the stainless steel double doors swung open. They drove up. The car started to climb. Another line of walls was crossed by another door that opened automatically when they approached. A reinforced concrete bridge, large enough to accommodate a tennis court, was built between the interior of this second wall and the side of the hill. In the shadowy space below, Jeremy saw something familiar. A moment later he recognized it as a replica of the Lourdes Grotto.

"Miss Maunciple, she's a Catholic," remarked the chauffeur, pointing his thumb toward the cave. "That's why he had it done for her." We are Presbyterians in our family.

"And who is Miss Maunciple?"

The driver hesitated for a moment. "Well, she is a young lady with whom Mr. Stoyte is friends," he finally explained; then he changed the subject.

The car was climbing. Behind the cave, the entire hillside was a cactus garden. Then the road turned towards the northern side of the cliff, and the cacti gave way to grass and bushes. On a small terrace, overly elegant like a fashion plate from some mythological Vogue for goddesses, the brown nymph Giambologne let out two jets of water from her deliciously polished breasts. A little further on, behind a wire net, a group of baboons crouched between rocks or displayed the obscenity of their bare behinds.

Still climbing, the car turned again and finally came to rest on a circular concrete platform raised on supports above the precipice. Once more, the old-fashioned servant, the chauffeur who takes off his hats, did his final impersonation, welcoming the young master to the plantation, then set to work unloading the luggage.

Jeremy Pordage walked over to the fence and looked around. The ground descended almost vertically for about a hundred feet, and then descended steeply to the inner circle of walls, and below them to the outer fortifications. Behind it was a moat, and on the other side of the moat were orange orchards. "Im dunklen Laub die goldn' Orangen glühen," he muttered to himself; and then: "It hangs in shades of bright orange." Like golden lamps in a green night." He concluded that Marvell's interpretation was better than Goethe's. Meanwhile, the oranges seemed brighter and more significant. Direct, unmediated experience was always difficult for Jeremy to accept, always more or less unsettling. Life became secure. , things only made sense when they were put into words and locked between the covers of the book. The oranges were nicely scrubbed; but what about the lock? He turned and, leaning back against the threshold, looked up. The facility is in danger, brazenly huge. No one took it poetically. Not Childe Roland, not King Thule, not Marmion, not the Lady of Shalott, not Sir Leoline. Sir Leoline, the connoisseur of romantic absurdities, repeated gratefully, Sir Leoline, the rich baron who had—what? A Toothless Mastiff Bitch But Mr. Stoyte had baboons and a sacred cave, Mr. Stoyte had a chrome grille and postal papers, Mr. Stoyte had a graveyard like a carnival and a tower like...

Suddenly there was a roar; the great, nailed doors of the early English front porch swung open, and between them, as if driven by a hurricane, a short, stocky man with a red face and a mass of snow-white hair burst out onto the terrace and rushed at Jeremy. His expression did not change as he approached. His face wore that closed, unsmiling mask that American workers usually put on when dealing with outsiders—to prove, without sycophantic politeness, that their country is free and that you won't run over them.

Jeremy, who didn't grow up in a free country, automatically began to smile as the person he believed to be his host and employer rushed towards him. Faced with the other's unwavering grim face, he suddenly became aware of that smile—aware that it was out of place, that it must look foolish. Deeply embarrassed, he tried to fix his expression.

'MR. Defeats? - asked the stranger in a sharp, barking voice. 'I'm glad. My name is Stoyte. As they shook hands, he looked Jeremy in the face, still not smiling. "You're older than I thought," he added.

For the second time that morning, Jeremy made a mock gesture of apology.

"A gray and withered leaf," he said. "Man is getting old. One…

said Mr. Stoyte. - How old are you? he asked in a loud, firm tone, like a police sergeant interrogating a caught thief.

'Fifty four.'

"Only fifty-four?" Mr. Stoyte shook his head. “You should be full of strength at fifty-four. How is your sex life? he added alarmingly.

Jeremy tried to laugh out of embarrassment. flickered; patted his bald head. "My beautiful spring and my summer have gone out the window," he quoted.

- What is that? asked Mr. Stoyte with a frown. "There is no point in talking to me in foreign languages. I never had any education. He suddenly burst into a roar of laughter. "I'm the head of the oil company here," he said. "We have two thousand gas stations in California alone. And there is no person at any of these pumps who does not have a university degree! he roared in victory again. "Go and speak to them in tongues." He was silent for a moment; then, following a vague thought association, "My agent in London," he continued, "the man who collects my things there—gave me your name. He told me you were the man for them—what do you call them? You know, those newspapers which I bought this summer.

"Hauberk," Jeremy said and saw with dark satisfaction that he was right. This man has never read anyone's book, never even heard of its existence. However, it should be remembered that in his youth he was called Jelly-Belly.

"Hauberk," repeated Mr. Stoyte with contemptuous impatience. “Anyway, he said you were in charge. And then, without pause or transition, "What were you talking about about your sex life when you started this unnecessary thing with me?"

Jeremy laughed awkwardly. "One said it was normal at his age."

"What do you know about what's normal at your age?" said Mr. Stoyte. “Go and talk to Dr. Obispo about it. It is free. Obispo is on the payroll. He's the family doctor." Abruptly changing the subject, "Do you want to see the castle?" he asked. "I'll show you around.

"Oh, that's very kind of you," Jeremy said cheerfully. And to start a polite conversation, he added: "I saw your cemetery."

"Have you seen my grave site?" repeated Mr. Stoyte in a tone of doubt: doubt suddenly turned to anger. "What the hell do you mean?" he shouted.

Shaking with rage, Jeremy blurted out something about the Beverly Pantheon and that he had learned from the chauffeur that Mr. Stoyte had a financial interest in the company.

"Understood," said the other, a little mollified, but still frowning. "I thought you meant…" Stoyte stopped mid-sentence, leaving Jeremy stunned to guess what he meant. "Come on," he growled; and, moving, hurries towards the entrance of the house.

The third chapter

There was silence in Ward 16 of the Stoyte Children's Home; silence and the luminous semi-darkness of the lowered blinds. It was morning break. Three of the five little convalescents were sleeping. The fourth was lying staring at the ceiling, picking his nose thoughtfully. Peta, a little girl, whispered to a doll curly and Aryan like her. A young nurse, sitting by one of the windows, was engrossed in the latest edition of True Confessions.

"His heart beat harder," she read. With a muffled cry, he squeezed me closer. This is what we have been fighting for months; but the magnet of our passion was too strong for us. The noisy pressure of his mouth elicited a response from my melting body.

"Germaine," he whispered. "Don't keep me waiting. Won't you be good to me now, baby?

"He was so gentle, but also ruthless - as a girl in love wants a man to be ruthless." I felt the rising tide take me away...

There was a noise in the corridor. The door to the ward opened like a hurricane and someone ran into the room.

The nurse looked up in wonder as her complete absorption in the "Cost of Excitement" made it extremely painful. Her almost immediate reaction to the shock was anger.

"What's the idea?" she began indignantly; then she recognized the intruder and her expression changed. "Why, Mr. Stoyte!"

Alarmed by the noise, the young eater looked up from the ceiling, and the little girl turned away from her doll.

"Uncle Jo!" they shouted at the same time. "Uncle Jo!"

Waking up from their sleep, the others took up the cry.

"Uncle Jo! Uncle Jo!

Mr. Stoyte was touched by the warm welcome. The face that Jeremy had found so disturbingly sullen relaxed into a smile. He covered his ears with his hands in mock protest. - Because of you, I will go deaf - he cried. Then, turning to the nurse, he murmured, "Poor children!" - It makes me cry. His voice was hoarse with emotion. "And when you think how sick they were..." He shook his head, not finishing the sentence; then, in a different tone, he added, waving a large square hand towards Jeremy Pordage, who had followed him into the ward, and stood by the door with an expression of perplexity and bewilderment. is Lord… Lord… Hell! I forgot your name.

"Pordage," said Jeremy, remembering that Mr. Stoyte had once been called Slob.

Oatmeal, that's all. Ask him about history and literature, he added mockingly to the nurse. "He knows everything".

Jeremy modestly protested that his period lasted only from the invention of Ossian to the death of Keats, when Mr. Stoyte turned again to the children, and, in a voice which drowned the slightly etched reticence of the other, shouted, "Guess what Uncle Jo brought you." !

They were guessing. Candies, chewing gum, balloons, guinea pigs. Mr. Stoyte continued to shake his head in triumph. Finally, when the child's imagination was exhausted, he reached into the pocket of his old tweed jacket and took out first a whistle, then lips, then a small music box, then a trumpet and finally a wooden rattle. then an automatic pistol. But he hastily put her down.

"Now play," he said as he handed out the instruments. 'All together. One two three." And, tapping the rhythm with both hands, he began to sing, "Way down on the Swanee River."

The latest in a long line of shocks and surprises, Jeremy's gentle face took on an even more confused expression.

What a morning! Arrival at dawn. negro servant. Endless suburbia. Beverly Pantheon. The subject among the orange trees and his encounter with William Propter and that really awful Stoyt. Then in the castle, Rubens and the great El Greco in the lobby, Vermeer in the elevator, Rembrandt's etchings in the corridors, a winter halter in the butler's pantry.

Then the boudoir of Miss Maunciple of Louis XV. with Watteau and two lancretes and a fully stocked soda fountain in a rococo shooting gallery, while Miss Maunciple herself, in an orange kimono, sips raspberry and mint juice at her own bar. They met him, refused the ice cream dessert and rushed off again, always at top speed, always as if on the wings of a tornado, to see the other sights of the castle. The Rumpus Room, for example, with Sert's elephant frescoes. A library with Grinling Gibbons' joinery, but no books, as Mr. Stoyte has not yet bought them. Small dining room with Fra Angelico and Brighton Pavilion furniture. A large dining room, modeled after the interior of the mosque in Fatehpur Sikri. Ballroom with mirrors and coffered ceiling. 13th century stained glass windows in 11th floor WC Living room with Boucher's "La Petite Morphil" from bottom to top on pink satin sofa. A chapel, imported in fragments from Goa, with a walnut confessional used by St. Francis of Sales in Annecy. Functional room for billiards. Closed pool. The second strip of Empire with Ingres files. Two gyms. Christian Science Reading Room, dedicated to the memory of the late Mrs. Stoyte. Dentist's office. Turkish bath. Then he and Vermeer went down the hill to see the cellar where Hauberk's papers were stored. Down again, even deeper, to vaults, power plants, air conditioners, wells and pumping stations. Then he went back downstairs and into the kitchen, where the Chinese cook showed Mr. Stoyte a shipment of turtles that had just arrived from the Caribbean. Back to the fourteenth, to the bedroom where Jeremy was supposed to stay during his stay. Then another six flights of stairs to the trading office, where Mr. Stoyte was instructing his secretary, dictating some letters, and having a long telephone conversation with his brokers in Amsterdam. And when it was over, it was time to go to the hospital.

Meanwhile, a group of nurses gathered in Ward 16 and watched Uncle Jo, his white hair flowing like Stokowski, feverishly spurring his orchestra into an even louder crescendo of cacophony.

"He's like a big, big kid himself," one of them said in a tone of almost gentle amusement.

Another, obviously literary inclination, said it was something like Dickens. "Is it?" she insisted to Jeremy.

He smiled nervously and nodded in vague and noncommittal acknowledgment.

More practically, the third wished she had a Kodak with her. “Hidden camera portrait of CEO of Consol Oil, California Land and Minerals Corporation. Bank of the Pacific, West Coast Cemeteries, etc., etc. . "The papers would pay you well for a picture like that," she insisted. To prove that it was true, she explained that she has a boyfriend who works in an advertising agency, so he should know, and only a week earlier he had told her this...

Mr. Stoyte's bumpy face still shone with kindness and happiness as he left the hospital.

"You feel kind of good playing with those poor kids," he would tell Jeremy.

A wide staircase led down from the hospital entrance to the road. Mr. Stoyte's blue Cadillac was waiting at the foot of these steps. Behind him was another, smaller car that wasn't there when they arrived. Mr. Stoyte's beaming face betrayed suspicion when he saw him. Kidnappers, blackmailers - you never know. His hand went to his coat pocket. - Who's there? he shouted in a rage so loud that Jeremy thought for a moment that the man must have suddenly gone mad.

A large, upturned face like the moon appeared in the car window, smiling from behind a chewed cigar butt.

"Ah, it's you, Clancy," said Mr. Stoyte. "Why didn't they tell me you were here?" he continued on. His face flushed; he frowned, and a muscle in his cheek began to twitch. "I don't like to have strange cars around me. Can you hear me, Peter? he almost shouted at his chauffeur—not because it was his business, of course; simply because it was there, available. "Can you hear me speak?" He suddenly remembered what Dr. Obispo had told him when he lost control of the guy. "Do you really wish to shorten your life, Mr. Stoyte?" There was cold mirth in the doctor's tone; he smiled with an expression of polite, sarcastic indulgence. "Are you determined to have a stroke? Second strike, remember; and next time you won't get off so easily. Well, if so, then act like you are now. keep talking. With a great effort of will, Mr. Stoyte swallowed his anger. "God is love," he said to himself. "There is no death." The late Prudence McGladdery Stoyte was a Christian Scientist. "God is love," he kept saying, thinking that if only people would stop being so irritating, he would never have to lose his temper. "God is love". It's all their fault.

Clancy, meanwhile, got out of the car and, grotesquely pot-bellied on spindly legs, climbed the stairs, smiling mysteriously and blinking as he approached.

- What is that? asked Mr. Stoyte, wishing the man made such faces. “By the way,” he added, “this is Mr.. Mr.

"Crushed porridge", said Jeremy.

Clancy was glad to meet him. The hand he held out to Jeremy was uncomfortably sweaty.

"I have news for you," said Clancy in a hoarse, conspiratorial whisper; and speaking behind his hand so that his words and cigar would smell only for Mr. Stoyte, "Remember Tittelbaum?" he added.

"A guy from the Utilities Engineering Department?"

Clancy nodded. - One of the boys - he confirmed cryptically and winked again.

"What about him?" asked Mr. Stoyte; and though God is love, there was a note of renewed irritation in his voice.

Clancy glanced at Jeremy Pordage; then, to the elaborate accompaniment of Guy Fawkes talking to Catesby on the stage of the Provincial Theatre, he took Mr. Stoyte by the hand and led him a few yards up the stairs. "Do you know what Tittelbaum told me today?" he asked rhetorically.

"How the hell am I supposed to know?" (But no, God is love. There is no death.)

Undaunted by Mr. Stoyte's signs of irritation, Clancy continued his performance. “He told me what they decided—” he lowered his voice even more, “about the San Felipe Valley.

"So what did they decide?" Once again, Mr. Stoyte had reached the end of his patience.

Before he could answer, Clancy took the butt from his mouth, threw it away, took another cigar from his vest pocket, tore off the cellophane wrapper, and replaced the unlit one with the old one.

"They decided," he said very slowly, so that every word could get its full drama, "they decided to let water into her."

Mr. Stoyte's expression of irritation finally gave way to an interesting one. "Enough to irrigate the whole valley?" - He asked.

"Enough to irrigate the whole valley," repeated Clancy solemnly.

Mr. Stoyte was silent for a moment. - How much time do we have? he asked finally.

"Tittelbaum thought this news wouldn't arrive for six weeks."

"Six weeks?" Mr. Stoyte hesitated for a moment; then he made a decision. 'Alright. Get to work at once," he said in the commanding tone of one accustomed to taking orders. "Go down by yourself and take some of the other boys with you." Individual buyers - interested in ranching; want to start a dude ranch. Buy all you can. By the way , what is the price?

“Average twelve dollars an acre.

"Twelve," repeated Mr. Stoyte, and thought that as soon as they began to stack the pipe it would be a hundred. "How many acres do you think you can get?" - He asked.

“Maybe thirty thousand.

Mr. Stoyte's face lit up with pleasure. "Okay," he said quickly. 'Very good. Without mentioning my name, of course," he added, then without pause or transition, "How much will it cost Tittelbaum?"

Clancy smiled scornfully. "Oh, I'll give him four or five hundred dollars."

'That's all?'

The other nodded. "Tittelbaum is in the bargain basement," he said. "I can't afford expensive prices. He needs money - he needs it badly.

"Why?" asked Mr. Stoyte, who had a professional interest in human nature. 'Gambling? Women?'

Clancy shook his head. "Doctors," he explained. - She has a paralyzed child.

- Paralyzed? repeated Mr. Stoyte, in a tone of sincere sympathy. - Too bad. He hesitated for a moment; then in a sudden burst of magnanimity, "Tell him to send the kid over here," he continued, gesturing grandly toward the hospital. »The best place in the country for polio and it won't cost him anything. Not a cent.

"Damn, that's nice of you, Mr. Stoyte," Clancy said admiringly. "It's really nice".

"Oh, it's nothing," said Mr. Stoyte as he walked to his car. “I'm happy to be able to do this. Remember what the Bible says about children. You know," he added, "I enjoy being with those poor children. Makes you feel a little warmer inside. He patted his chest. “Tell Tittelbaum to send in a request for a child. Send it to me personally. I'll make sure it goes right through. He got into the car and closed the door behind him; then, seeing Jeremy, he opened them again without a word. Muttering an apology, Jeremy climbed inside. Mr. Stoyte slammed the door again, rolled down the window, and looked out. "See you," he said. “And don't waste time on this San Felipe thing. Do it well, Clancy, and I'll give you ten percent of twenty thousand acres. He raised the window and signaled the driver to move on. The car turned off the driveway and headed towards the castle. Leaning back in his armchair, Mr. Stoyte thought about those poor children and the money they would make from the San Felipe business. "God is love," he said again, with instant conviction and a whisper his companion could hear. "God is love". Jeremy felt more uneasy than ever.

The drawbridge fell as the blue Cadillac approached, the chrome grille raised, the inner rampart doors opened to let him through. On the concrete tennis court, the seven children of the Chinese chef were rolling. Below, in the sacred cave, a group of masons worked. Seeing them, Mr. Stoyte shouted to the driver to stop.

"They're building a tomb for the nuns," he told Jeremy as they got out of the car.

"Are there any nuns?" Jeremy repeated in surprise.

Mr. Stoyte nodded and explained that his Spanish agents had purchased some carvings and metal objects from the chapel of the monastery, which had been destroyed by anarchists at the beginning of the civil war. "They also sent some nuns," he added. "I think it's embalmed." Or maybe just dried in the sun: I don't know. They are anyway. Luckily, I had something nice to wear. He pointed to the statue that the masons were fixing on the southern wall of the cave. On a marble shelf above a large Roman sarcophagus stood the statues of some unnamed Jacobin stonemason, depicting a gentleman and a lady kneeling in ruffs, and behind them, in three rows of three, nine daughters of adolescence and childhood. "Hic jacket Carolus Franciscus Beals, Armiger..." Jeremy began to read.

"I bought it in England two years ago," interrupted Mr. Stoyte. Then, addressing the workers, he asked, "When will the boys be finished?"

"Tomorrow at noon. Maybe tonight.

"That's all I wanted to know," said Mr. Stoyte, and turned away. "I have to get these nuns out of storage," he said as they walked back to the car.

They drove on. Floating on the almost invisible flap of its wings, the hummingbird drank the stream that gushed from the left nipple of the nymph Giambologna. From the baboon pen came the shrill sounds of fighting and mating. Mr. Stoyte closed his eyes. "God is love," he repeated, deliberately trying to prolong the wonderful euphoric state that those poor children and Clancy's good news had left in him. 'God is love. There is no death. He waited until he felt that inner warmth, like the whiskey that came after his last words. Instead, as if some immanent devil were playing a joke on him, he thought of the contorted, leathery corpses of those nuns, of his own corpses, of judgment and flames. Prudence McGladdery Stoyte was a Christian Scientist; but Joseph Budge Stoyte, his father, was a Sandman; and Letitia Morgan, his maternal grandmother, lived and died as Plymouth's sister. Above his bed in the loft of a small log cabin in Nashville, Tennessee, hung a bright orange text on a black background: "IT IS FEARFUL TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD." "God is love". said Mr. Stoyte desperately. "There is no death." But for sinners like him only the worm never dies.

"If you are always afraid of death," said Obispo, "you will surely die." Fear is poison; and not so slow poison.

Making another tremendous effort, Mr. Stoyte suddenly began to whistle. The song was, "I'm making hay in the moonlight in my baby's hands," but the face Jeremy Pordage saw, and as if from some terrible and obscene secret he immediately turned his eyes away from, was the face of the man in the convict cell.

"Rotten old cat," the chauffeur muttered to himself as he watched his employer get out of the car and drive away.

Mr. Stoyte, followed by Jeremy, ran quietly through the Gothic portal, past a colonnaded Romanesque hall like Our Lady's Chapel at Durham, and, hat still over his eyes, entered the cathedral gloom of the great hall.

A hundred feet above us, the footsteps of two men echoed off the ceiling. Like iron ghosts, the armor stood still around the walls. Above them, richly tinted tapestries from the fifteenth century opened windows to a green world of imagination. At one end of the cavernous room, lit by a hidden spotlight, El Greco's "Crucifixion of St. Peter" glowed in the darkness like a wonderful discovery of something unfathomable and deeply sinister. On another, no less brilliantly lit, hung a full-size portrait of Hélène Fourment, clad only in a bearskin cloak. Jeremy looked from one to the other, from the ectoplasm of an inverted saint to the unmistakable skin, fat, and muscle that Rubens loved to see and touch; from unearthly flesh tones of green-white ocher and carmine, shaded with transparent black, to creamy and warm pinks, pearly blues and green Flemish nudes. Two shining symbols, incomparably strong and expressive - but of what, of what? Of course there was a question.

Mr. Stoyte paid no attention to any of his treasures, but walked down the hall, silently cursing his buried wife for making him think of death by pretending that it did not exist.

The elevator door was in the recess between the pillars. Mr. Stoyte opened it and the light came on, revealing a Dutch lady in blue satin sitting at the harpsichord—sitting, Jeremy thought, at the heart of the equation, in a world where beauty and logic, painting and analytical geometry, became one. With what intention? To express it symbolically, what truths about the nature of things? Again, that was the question. When it comes to art, Jeremy told himself, that's always the question.

"Close the door," ordered Mr. Stoyte; and when it was done, "Let's go swimming before lunch," he added, pressing the top of a long row of buttons.

The fourth chapter

More than a dozen displaced families were already working in an orange grove when a man from Kansas with his wife, three children and a yellow dog ran along the row toward the trees assigned to him by the supervisor. They walked in silence, because they had nothing to say to each other and no energy to waste on words.

Only half a day, thought the man; only four hours to finish the job. They would be happy if they made seventy-five cents. Seventy-five cents. seventy five cents; and that right front tire won't last much longer. If they went to Fresno and then Salinas, they would just have to find a better one. But even the most worn-out old used tire costs money. And money was food. And did they eat! he thought with sudden reluctance. If he was alone, if he didn't have to drag the kids and Minnie with him, he could rent a small house somewhere. Close to the highway so that he could make extra money selling eggs, fruit and other things to people who would drive by, much cheaper than at the markets, and still make good money. And then maybe he could buy a cow and a few pigs; and then he would find a girl - a fat one, he liked them quite fat: fat and young with...

His wife began to cough again; the dream is interrupted. Did they eat! More than they were worth. Three children without strength. And Minnie made you sick half the time, so you had to do her work as well as yours!

The dog stopped to sniff the post. With sudden and surprising agility, the Kansas man took two quick steps forward and struck the animal square in the ribs. "You bloody dog!" he shouted. "Get out of the way!" He ran away screaming. The Kansas man turned his head, hoping to see a look of disapproval or sympathy on his children's faces. But the children have learned that it is better not to give him an excuse to switch from the dog to himself. Beneath the disheveled hair, the three pale little faces were completely blank and absent. The disappointed man turned away, muttering indistinctly that he was going to screw them if they weren't careful. The mother didn't even turn her head. She felt too sick and tired to do anything but walk straight. The family fell silent again.

Suddenly, the youngest of the three children let out a shrill cry. - Look over there! She showed. In front of them was a castle. From the top of the tallest tower rose a spider-like metal structure, raising a series of platforms twenty or thirty feet above the parapet. On the highest of these platforms, black against the glittering sky, stood a tiny human figure. As they watched, the figure spread its arms and hid its head behind the walls. The children's shrill screams of astonishment gave the Kansas man the apology he had just been denied. He turned furiously on them. "Stop screaming," he cried; then he pounced on them, giving each one a blow to the head. With a great effort the woman rose from the abyss of fatigue into which she had fallen; she stopped, turned around, screamed in protest, grabbed her husband's hand. He pushed her away so violently that she almost fell over.

- You are as bad as children - he shouted at her. "I just lay there and eat." Worthless. I'm telling you, I'm sick of you all. Sick and tired, he repeated. - So, keep your mouth shut, you see! He turned and, feeling much better after his outburst, walked briskly, at a pace his wife would have found exhausting, through the rows of crowded orange trees.

The view from this pool at the top of the fort was incredible. As he floated in the transparent water, one had only to turn his head to see successive vistas of plain and mountain, green and tan, purple and pale blue between the ridges. One swam, one looked and one thought, that is, that Jeremy Pordage, of that tower in the Epipsychidion, that tower with its chambers

Looking towards the golden eastern air

And equally with the living winds.

Not so if one is Miss Virginia Maunciple. Virginia didn't swim, or look, or think of Epipsychidion, but took another sip of whiskey and soda, climbed to the top platform of the diving tower, spread her arms, dived, slid under the water, and emerged right under the unsuspecting Pordage. grabbed him by the waistband of his swimming trunks and pulled him under him.

"You asked for it," she said as he resurfaced, panting and spitting, "lying motionless, like a silly old Buddha." She smiled at him with perfectly good-natured disdain.

Uncle Jo used to bring these people to the castle. An Englishman with a monocle to inspect armour; a man who stutters cleans pictures; a man who spoke nothing but German to look at some silly old pots and plates; and today this other funny Englishman with a face like a rabbit and a voice like Songs without words on the saxophone.

Jeremy Pordage blinked to clear the water from his eyes and vaguely, for he was farsighted and without glasses, he saw a smiling young face very close to his own, the body in perspective shortened and swaying precariously in the water. It wasn't often that he was so close to such a being. He swallowed his irritation and smiled at her.

Miss Maunciple reached out and stroked the bald spot on top of Jeremy's head. "Boy," she said, "does it shine?" Speaking of pool balls. I know what I will call you: Ivory. Goodbye, Ivory.” She turned, swam to the ladder, got out, walked over to the table of bottles and glasses, drank the rest of the whiskey and juice, then sat on the edge of the couch where Mr. Stoyte was sunning himself in black glasses and a dressing gown.

"Well, Uncle Jo," she said in a tone of hearty playfulness. - Are you OK?

"I'm fine, honey," he replied. It was true; the sun dispelled his gloomy forebodings; he lived again in the present, that wonderful present in which happiness is brought to sick children; in which the former Tittelbaums were willing to pay five hundred dollars for one piece of information worth at least a million; where the sky was blue and the sun warmly caressed his belly; where at last one could wake from a delightful slumber and see little Virginia smiling at her as if she really cared for her old Uncle Jo, and cared for him, and not only as an old uncle—no, sir; because when everything is added up, a man is only as old as he feels and acts; and as for his Child, did he feel young? seemed young? Yes sir. Mr. Stoyte smiled to himself, a smile of victorious complacency.

"Well, dear," he said loudly, and laid his square, thick-fingered hand on the young woman's bare knee.

Miss Maunciple gave him a mysterious and somewhat obscene look, full of understanding and complicity, through her half-lowered eyelids; then she laughed lightly and held out her hands. "Isn't it a good sun!" she said; and closing her eyes completely, she lowered her raised arms, clasped her hands behind her neck and threw her arms back. It was a position that raised the breasts, accentuated the inward curve of the loins and the opposite protrusion of the buttocks, the kind of posture that eunuchs taught newcomers to the seraglio to adopt when first meeting the sultan; Jeremy recognized the pose itself when he glanced in her direction, that very inappropriate statue on the third floor of the Pantheon in Beverly.

Through dark glasses, Mr. Stoyte looked at her with an expression of possessiveness that was both ravenous and paternal. Virginia was his child, not only figuratively and colloquially, but also literally. His feelings were at the same time feelings of the purest paternal love and the fiercest eroticism.

He looked at her. In contrast to the shiny white satin of her beachwear and bra, her tanned skin looked more brown. The surfaces of the young body flowed in smooth, continuous curves, effortlessly solid, three-dimensional, without accents or abrupt transitions. Mr. Stoyte's greetings reached his auburn hair and descended over his rounded forehead, his wide eyes, and his small, flat, insolent nose towards his mouth. Those lips were her most striking feature. For it was to her short upper lip that Virginia owed her characteristic look of childlike innocence, an expression that ran through all her moods, which was noticeable whether she was doing something, talking dirty stories or talking to the bishop. . drinking tea in Pasadena, or hanging out with the boys, enjoying what she called "a little yum-yum," or attending mass. Chronologically, Miss Maunciple was a young woman of twenty-two; but that shortened upper lip gave the impression of being barely adolescent, below the age of consent under any circumstances. For sixty-year-old Mr. Stoyte, the strangely perverse contrast between childhood and maturity, between the appearance of innocence and the fact of experience, was intoxicatingly appealing. Not only did he think that Virginia was a child of both kinds; objectively, she herself was a child of both types.

Delicious creature! The hand that lay limply on her knee slowly shrunk. Between the broad spatula-like thumb and the firm fingers, what smoothness, what wonderful and firm elasticity!

"Jinny," he said. 'My child!'

The child opened his big blue eyes and dropped his hands to his sides. The tense back relaxed, the raised breasts moved downward and forward like soft living things drowning in repose. She smiled at him.

"Why are you pinching me, Uncle Jo?"

"I'd like to eat you," replied Uncle Jo in a tone of cannibalistic sentimentality.

'I'm tough.'

Mr. Stoyte gave a timid laugh. "Tough little kid!" - He said.

The tough kid bent down and kissed him.

Jeremy Pordage, who had been staring calmly at the horizon and continuing to silently recite the Epipsychidion, happened to turn back towards the couch at that moment, and was so embarrassed by what he saw that he began to sink and kick hard with his arms and legs to keep from collapsing on the floor. Earth. Turning around in the water, he swam to the ladder, got out and, without waiting for them to dry, ran to the elevator.

"Really!" he said to himself as he looked at Vermeer. 'Really!'

"I ran some errands this morning," said Mr. Stoyte as the Child straightened up again.

"Which job?"

"Good job," he replied. "He can make a lot of money. Real money, he insisted.


"Maybe half a million," he said cautiously, underestimating his hopes; “perhaps a million; maybe even more.

"Uncle Jo," she said, "I think you're wonderful." There was complete sincerity in her voice. She really thought it was great. In the world she lived in, it was obvious that a man who could make a million dollars had to be big. Parents, friends, teachers, newspapers, radio, advertisements - explicitly or implicitly - all unanimously proclaimed his greatness. Besides, Virginia was very fond of her Uncle Jo. He gave her a wonderful time and she was grateful. Besides, she liked to like people whenever she could; she liked to please them. She felt good about giving them pleasure—even when they were older, like Uncle Jo, and some of the ways she was asked to please them weren't very appetizing. "I think you're wonderful," she repeated.

Her admiration gave him great pleasure. "Oh, it's quite simple," he said with hypocritical modesty, wanting more.

Virginia gave it to him. - Take it easy, it's okay! she said firmly. » I say you are great. So keep your mouth shut.

Charmed, Mr. Stoyte took another handful of firm flesh and squeezed it gently. "I'll give you a gift if the deal works," he said. "What would you like, honey?"

- What would I like? she repeated. - But I don't want anything.

Her disinterest was not assumed. Because it was true; she never meant it like that, in cold blood. At that moment, there were cravings, such as soda ice cream, a piece of yum-yum, a mink fur coat seen in the window - at moments like these she wanted something, and badly, she couldn't help but wait to have it. But when it came to far-reaching needs, needs that had to be thought about in advance, no, she never wanted that. The greater part of Virginia's life was spent enjoying the successive moments of present pleasure of which it consisted; and if ever circumstances thrust her out of that mindless eternity into the world of time, it was a small, narrow universe in which she was, a world whose farthest limits were only a week or two in the future. Even as a dancer making eighteen dollars a week, it was hard for her to worry about money and safety and what would happen if you had an accident and couldn't show your legs anymore. Then Uncle Jo came along and everything was there like it grew on trees - the pool tree, the cocktail tree, the Schiaparelli tree. It was enough to reach out and it was like an apple in an orchard at home in Oregon. Then where do the gifts come from? Why would she want anything? Besides, it was obvious that Uncle Jo enjoyed the fact that he wanted for nothing; and being able to kick Uncle Jo always made her feel good. "I tell you, Uncle Jo, I don't want anything."

- Is it? said a strange voice, surprisingly right behind them. "Well, I want to."

Dark-haired and elegant, a shining Levantine, Dr. Sigmund Obispo walked briskly to the edge of the couch.

“To be precise,” he continued, “I want to inject one for every five cubic centimeters of testosterone into the big man's gluteal muscle. Then go, my angel, he told Virginia in a mocking tone, but with a smile of unbridled lust. - Whoop! He gave her a friendly pat on the shoulder, and when she stood up to make room for him, he patted her back again.

Virginia turned sharply, wanting to tell him not to be so fresh; then, as her gaze wandered from the vat of hairy meat that was Mr. Stoyte to the handsome face of the other, so insultingly sarcastic and yet so flatteringly lustful, she changed her mind, and instead of telling him aloud where he had got off, she grimaced and flashed him language. What began as a reprimand ended before she knew it as a license for insolence, an act of complicity and disloyalty to Uncle Joe. Poor Uncle Jo! she thought with a surge of genuine pity for the old gentleman. She was embarrassed for a moment. The problem, of course, was that Dr. Obispo was so handsome; that he made her laugh; that she liked his admiration; It was fun to drive and see how it handled. She even liked to get mad at him when he was mean, which he always was.

"I suppose you think you're Douglas Fairbanks Jr.," she said, trying to be sharp; then she moved away with as much dignity as the two little strips of white satin would permit, and, leaning against the walls, looked down upon the plain below. Ant-like figures moved among the orange trees. She idly wondered what they were doing; then her thoughts wandered to other, more interesting and personal things. Because of Sig, and because of the fact that she couldn't help but feel excited when he was around, even when he was acting the way he was just now. Maybe one day - one day to see how it was and see if it got a little dull here in the castle... Poor Uncle Jo! she thought. But then what could he expect, at his age and hers? What was unexpected was that she had given him no reason to be jealous all these months—except, of course, counting Enid and Mary Lou; what she didn't do; because actually it wasn't like that at all; and when it happened, it was only a sort of little accident; nice but not important. Whereas in Sig's case, if that had ever happened, things would have been different; although it was not too serious; what wouldn't - with Walt, say, and even little Buster in Portland. That would be different than what happened with Enid and Mary Lou, because with a man these things mattered a lot, even if you didn't want them to matter. That was the only reason I didn't make them, apart from the fact that they were sins, of course; but somehow it didn't matter when the guy was really hot (which Sig had to give, although it was more of an Adolphe Menjou style; but come to think of it, he always gave the dark ones with oil in their hair her biggest kick!). And when you drank maybe a glass and felt a little excitement, it didn't even occur to you then that it was a sin; and then one thing led to another, and before you knew what happened, well, it happened; and she really just couldn't believe it was as bad as Father O'Reilly said; in any case, the Mother of God would be much more lenient and forgiving than him; what about the way Father O'Reilly ate his food whenever he came to dinner? - like a pig, there was no other word; and was not gluttony as bad as other things? So who is he to say that?

"And how is the patient?" - Dr. Obispo asked in a parody of the bed, taking Virginia's place on the couch. He was in a great mood. His lab work was going surprisingly well; this new bile salt preparation worked wonders on his liver; the arms boom increased its aircraft stock by another three points; and it was evident that Virginia could not hold out much longer. "How is the little invalid this morning?" he continued, heightening his parody with a caricature of an English accent; he completed a year of postgraduate studies at Oxford.

Mr. Stoyte growled indistinctly. There was something about Dr. Obispo's playfulness that always irritated him. In some indefinable way, it was a deliberate insult. Mr. Stoyte always gave the impression that the Bishop's seemingly good-natured jest was actually an expression of calculated and malicious contempt. The thought of it made Mr. Stoyte's blood boil. But he knew that when his blood boils, his blood pressure rises, his life shortens. He couldn't allow himself to be as angry with Obispo as he would have liked. Moreover, he could not afford to get rid of the man. Obispo was inevitably evil. 'God is love; there is no death." But Mr. Stoyte remembered with horror that he had had a stroke, that he was getting old. Obispo got him back on his feet when he was about to die, promised him another ten years of life, even if the tests didn't go as he hoped; and if it worked, more, much more. Twenty, thirty, forty. Or maybe even that nasty little half-breed would still find a way to prove Mrs. Eddy right. Maybe there really, really wouldn't be any death—at least not for Uncle Jo. A great prospect! Meanwhile... Mr. Stoyte sighed deeply, resignedly. "We all have our cross to bear," he said to himself, repeating for years the words his grandmother had said when she told him to take the castor oil .

Meanwhile, Dr. Obispo sterilized his needle, filed off the top of the glass ampoule, and primed the syringe. His movements, while he worked, had a certain refinement, flowery and deliberate precision. It was as if this man was both his own ballet and his own audience - a sophisticated and very critical audience, true; but what a ballet! Nijinsky, Karsavina, Pavlova, Massine - all on one stage. As wonderful as the applause was, it was always deserved.

"Done," he finally called.

Obedient and quiet, like a trained elephant, Mr. Stoyte turned onto his stomach.

The fifth chapter

JEREMY got dressed again and sat down in the underground warehouse that was supposed to be his office. The dry, acrid dust of old documents hit his head like intoxicating snuff. His face was flushed as he prepared folders and sharpened pencils; his bald head glistened with sweat; behind his bifocals, his eyes shone with excitement.

There! Everything was ready. He turned in his swivel chair and sat quite still for a moment, sensually enjoying his anticipation. Packed in countless brown paper packages, Hauberk's papers awaited their first reader. Twenty-seven chests of still unfettered brides of peace. He smiled to himself at the thought that he should be their Bluebeard. Thousands of brides of peace that have gathered successive generations of tireless dressers for centuries. Armor after armor; barony after knighthood; county after barony; and then Earl of Gonister after Earl of Gonister until the last, the eighth. And after eight hours only the duty of death, an old house and two spinsters, sinking deeper and deeper into loneliness and eccentricity, into poverty and family pride, but in the end, poor animals! deeper into poverty than into pride. They swore never to sell; but in the end they accepted Mr. Stoyte's offer. The documents were sent to California. They could buy themselves really lavish funerals right now. And that would be the end of the Hauberks. A beautiful piece of English history! Maybe a warning, or more likely, just nonsense, just a story told by an idiot. A story of butchers and conspirators, patrons of science and dubious profiteers, bishops and royal catamites and lowly poets, admirals and pimps, saints, heroines and nymphomaniacs, imbeciles and prime ministers, art collectors and sadists. And here is all that is left of them, in twenty-seven boxes, folded, never cataloged, never even looked at, completely innocent. Enjoying his treasure, Jeremy forgot the hardships of the journey, he forgot Los Angeles and the chauffeur, he forgot the cemetery and the castle, he even forgot Mr. Stoyte. He had Hauberk's papers, he had them all to himself. Like a child diving headlong into a bran cake for a gift he knows will be exciting, Jeremy picked up one of the brown packets that filled the first chest and cut the rope. What a great confusion awaited him inside! Book of household accounts for 1576 and 1577; a certain cadet Hauberk's story of Sir Kenelm Digby's expedition to Scanderoon; eleven letters in Spanish from Miguel de Molinos to Lady Ann Hauberk, who scandalized her family by becoming a Papist; a manuscript collection of prescriptions for patients from the beginning of the 18th century; a copy of Drelincourt On Death; and the unusual volume of Félicia, ou Mes Fredaines by André de Nerciat. He had just cut the ribbon of the second bundle and was wondering whose lock of pale brown hair was preserved between the pages of the Third Earl's hologram, Reflections on the Late Popish Plots, when there was a knock at the door. He looked up to see a short, dark-haired man in white overalls approaching him. The stranger smiled, said, "Don't let me disturb you," but it still bothered him. “My name is Obispo,” he continued, “Dr. Sigmund Obispo: First Physician to His Majesty King Stoyte - and hopefully the last.

Clearly delighted with his own wit, he burst into a surprisingly loud, metallic laugh. Then, with the elegant, scrupulous gesture of an aristocrat on a container, he took one of Molinos's letters and began slowly and aloud to decipher the first line of seventeenth-century liquid calligraphy that caught his eye. "Ame a Dios como es en si y no como se lo dice y forma su imaginación". He looked at Jeremy with an amused smile. "I think it's easier said than done." After all, you cannot even love a woman as she is; yet there is some objective physical basis for the phenomenon we call woman. In some cases, a pretty good base. Meanwhile, poor old Dios is just a ghost - in other words, pure imagination. And here is this idiot, whoever he is, telling some other idiot that people must not love God as they imagine Him to be. Once again, the embarrassed aristocrat threw the letter away with a dismissive flick of his wrist. - What nonsense is this! he continued on. A string of words called religion. Another string of words called philosophy. Half a dozen other sequences called political ideals. And all words are either ambiguous or meaningless. And people are so excited about them that they kill their neighbors for using a word they just don't like. A word that probably doesn't mean as much as a good burp. Just noise, not even the excuse of flatulence. "Ame a Dios come es en sí," he repeated mockingly. "That's about as reasonable as saying hiccups, hiccups, como es en hiccups." I don't know how you litterae humaniores guys put up with it. Don't you sometimes lack a little common sense?

Jeremy smiled with a nervous apology. "He doesn't care much for meanings," he said. Then, anticipating further criticism, discrediting himself and the things he loved most, "You know, the man's having a good time," he continued, "just picking at the piles of dust."

dr. Obispo laughed and patted Jeremy encouragingly on the shoulder. - Good for you! - He said. "You are honest. I like this. Most PhDs you meet are such bloody snots. I'm trying to introduce you to this high moral culture! You know: wisdom rather than knowledge; Sophocles instead of science. "Funny," I always tell them when they try it on me, "it's funny that what you live on is going to save humanity." As long as you don't try to glorify your little fuss. you are honest You admit that you're only in this for fun. Well, that's why I'm in my little rocket. Just for fun. Although, of course, if you had given me some of that Sophocles, I would have given you my article on science and progress, science and happiness, even science and ultimate truth, if you were stubborn. He showed his white teeth happily mocking everyone.

His fun was contagious. Jeremy smiled as well. "I'm glad I wasn't stubborn," he said in a tone whose insolent modesty suggested how much he opposed any discussion of ultimate truth.

“Remember,” continued Dr. Obispo, “that I am not entirely blind to the charms of your rocket. Of course, I would limit myself to Sophocles. And I would be bored to death by such things." He nodded toward the twenty-seven crates. "But I have to admit", he finished nicely, "in my time I had a lot of fun with old books." Really great fun.

Jeremy coughed and stroked his head; his eyes twinkled in anticipation of the delicious dry joke he was about to tell. But, unfortunately, Dr. Obispo did not give him time. Oblivious to Jeremy's preparations, he looked at his watch; then he stood up. "I'd like to show you my lab," he said. "There's plenty of time until lunch."

"Instead of asking if I wanted to see his damn lab." Jeremy protested mentally, swallowing his joke; and it was so good! Of course he would like to continue unpacking the training papers; but not having the courage to say so, he obediently got up and followed Doctor Obispo to the door.

Longevity, the doctor explained as they left the room. That was his topic. He had been since he graduated from medical school. But, of course, while he was in practice, he couldn't seriously work on it. The practice was deadly to serious work, he added parenthetically. How could you do anything meaningful when you had to spend all your time taking care of patients? The patients were divided into three categories: those who imagined they were ill, but were not; those who were sick but would still get well; those who were sick and would have been better off dead. For someone capable of serious work, wasting time on patients was idiotic. And of course, nothing but economic pressure would make him do it. And he could go on in this rhythm forever. He wasted himself on jerks. But then, quite suddenly, his luck turned. Jo Stoyte came to consult him. It was definitely providential.

"A terrible gift of God," murmured Jeremy, quoting his favorite line from Coleridge.

Jo Stoyte, Dr. Obispo repeated, Jo Stoyte on the verge of breaking down completely. Forty extra pounds and a stroke. Not bad, thankfully; but enough to make the old bastard sweat. Talk about the fear of death! (Dr. Obispo's white teeth flashed again in a wolfish mood.) In Jo's case, it was panic. Out of this panic came the release of Dr. Obispo from his patients; came his income, his laboratory for working on the problems of longevity, his perfect helper; funding also came for that pharmaceutical job at Berkeley, those experiments on monkeys in Brazil, that trip to study tortoises in the Galápagos Islands. Everything an explorer could ask for, with old Joe as the perfect guinea pig - willing to undergo almost anything short of vivisection without anesthesia, as long as it gives him the hope of keeping him afloat for a few more years.

Not that he was doing anything spectacular with the old buzzard just now. Just keep your weight low; and taking care of his kidneys; and strengthening with periodic injections of synthetic sex hormone; and watch those arteries. Common sense treatment of a man of Jo Stoyte's age and medical history. But in the meantime he was on the trail of something new, something that promised to be something important. In a few months, maybe a few weeks, he will be able to make a final statement.

"That's very interesting," Jeremy said with hypocritical politeness.

They walked down a narrow corridor painted and dimly lit by a string of light bulbs. From time to time Jeremy glanced through the open doors of the vast cellars filled with totems and armour, stuffed orangutans and Thorwaldsen marble groups, gilded bodhisattvas and the first steam engines, lingams and stagecoaches and Peruvian pottery, with crucifixes and mineralogical specimens.

Meanwhile, Dr. Obispo started talking about longevity again. He insisted that the subject was still in a pre-scientific stage. Many observations without explaining the hypothesis. Pure chaos of facts. And what strange, what fundamentally eccentric facts! For example, what makes a cicada live as long as a bull? or a canary survives three generations of sheep? Why should dogs be old at fourteen and parrots lively at one hundred? Why would human females become sterile in the 1940s while female crocodiles lay eggs until the third century? Why on earth would a pike live to be two hundred years old without showing any signs of age? While poor old Jo Stoyte...

Two men suddenly emerged from a side passage carrying two mummified nuns on a stretcher. There was a collision.

— Damned fools! Dr. Obispo shouted angrily.

— Damn it, fool yourself!

"Don't you see where you're going?"

"Don't open your face!"

dr. Obispo turned scornfully and continued on.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" they called after him.

Meanwhile, Jeremy watched the mummies with great curiosity. "Barefoot Carmelites," he said to no one in particular; and enjoying this unusual combination of syllables, he repeated them with a certain evident pleasure. "Barefoot Carmelites".

"Expose your ass," said the first of the two men, turning sharply on his new opponent.

Jeremy glanced at that red and angry face, then ran with shameful haste after his guide.

dr. Obispo finally stopped. "We're here," he said, opening the door. The hallway reeked of mice and absolute alcohol. "Come in," he said warmly.

Jeremy entered. The mice were fine, cage after cage, rows along the wall, right in front of him. To the left, three windows carved into the rock looked out onto the tennis court and a distant panorama of orange trees and mountains. A man sitting at a table in front of one of these windows was looking through a microscope. As they approached, he raised his fair, tousled head and turned to face them with an almost childlike frankness and openness. "Hello, doctor," he said with a charming smile.

"My assistant," Dr. Obispo explained. "Peter Boone. Pete, this is Mr. Pordage. Pete was up and the young giant was ready.

"Call me Pete," he said when Jeremy called him Mr. Boone. - Everyone calls me Pete.

Jeremy wondered if he should ask the young man to call him Jeremy—but he wondered, as usual, for so long that the moment had irretrievably passed.

"Pete's a smart guy," Dr. Obispo began again, his tone gentle in intent but slightly condescending in reality. "He knows his physiology. And the hands are good. The best mouse surgeon I've ever seen. He patted the young man on the shoulder.

Pete smiled - Jeremy was a bit embarrassed by this, as if he had a hard time responding appropriately to someone else's kindness.

"He takes his politics a little too seriously," Dr. Obispo continued. - That is his only flaw. I'm trying to cure him of it. I'm afraid not very successful for now. And Pete?

The young man smiled again, with more confidence; this time he knew exactly where he stood and what he had to do.

"Not very effective," he repeated. Then, turning to Jeremy, "Did you see the Spanish news this morning?" he asked. The expression on his large, bright, open face changed to one of concern.

Jeremy shook his head.

"It's a terrible thing," said Pete gloomily. "When I think of those poor fellows without planes, artillery or . . ."

"Well, don't think about them," advised Dr. Obispo cheerfully. 'You'll feel better.'

The young man looked at him, then looked away again, saying nothing. After a moment of silence, he took out his watch. "I think I'll go swimming before lunch," he said and headed for the door.

dr. Obispo picked up the mouse cage and held it inches from Jeremy's nose. "They're sex hormone guys," he said with a playfulness that the other found oddly offensive. The animals whined as the cage shook. "Live enough while the effect lasts. The problem is that the effects are only temporary.

Not that the temporary effects were negligible, he added, lowering the cage. It was always better to feel temporarily good than temporarily bad. That's why he was giving old Jo a shot of that testosterone. Not that the old bastard needed that with that Maunciple around him...

Doctor Obispo suddenly covered his mouth with his hand and looked out the window. “Thank God,” he said, “he left the room. Poor old Pete! A sneer appeared on his face. "Is he in love!" he patted his forehead. 'He thinks it's like something out of Tennyson's works. You know, chemically clean. Last month he almost killed a man because he suggested that she and her ex-boyfriend... you know. God knows what he thinks the girl is doing here. I guess I'm telling Uncle Joe about spiral nebulae. Well, if thinking like that makes him happy, then I won't spoil his fun. Doctor Obispo gave an indulgent laugh. "But back to what I was saying about Uncle Joe . . ."

Just having this girl in the house was tantamount to hormone therapy. But it wouldn't last. It never was. Brown-Séquard, Voronoff and everyone else were on the wrong track. They believed that the cause of old age is the decline of sexual power. Actually, that was just one of the symptoms. Aging began elsewhere and involved the sex mechanism along with the rest of the body. Hormonal treatments were only palliative and stimulating measures. It helped you for a while, but it didn't stop the aging.

Jeremy stifled a yawn.

For example, Dr. Obispo continued, why do some animals live much longer than humans and yet show no signs of aging? Somehow, somewhere, we made a biological mistake. Crocodiles avoided this mistake; it was the same with the turtles. The same was true for some types of fish.

"Look at this," he said; and, crossing the room, pulled back the rubber curtain, revealing the glass front of a large aquarium recessed into the wall. Jeremy walked over and looked inside.

In the green shadowy translucency hung two huge fish, their mouths almost touching, motionless except for the occasional curl of their fins and the rhythmic blowing of their gills. Centimeters from their fixed eyes, a rosary of bubbles drifted mercilessly towards the light, the water around them turning violently silver with the darting of smaller fish. The monsters, lost in mindless rapture, paid no attention.

Carp, Dr. Obispo explained; carp from a castle pond in Franconia - forgot the name; but it was somewhere around Bamberg. The family was impoverished; but the fish were souvenirs, not for purchase. Jo Stoyte must have spent a lot of money to steal these two and smuggle them out of the country in a specially made car with a tank under the back seats. They weighed sixty pounds; over four feet in length; and these rings in their tails are dated 1761.

"Starting period," Jeremy muttered in a sudden burst of interest. 1761 was the year of Fingal. He smiled to himself; the confrontation between the carp and Ossian, the carp and Napoleon's favorite poet, the carp and the first premonitions of the Celtic twilight gave him special pleasure. What a great topic for one of his little essays! Twenty pages of erudition and absurdity - lavender-colored sacrilege - a delicate channel of disrespect for eminent and notorious dead scientists.

But Dr. Obispo didn't let him think calmly. Tirelessly riding his own hobby, he started again. There they are, he said, pointing to a huge fish; almost two hundred years; perfectly healthy; no signs of age; there is no clear reason why it should not continue for another three or four centuries. there they were; and there you were. He turned to Jeremy accusingly. you were here; not more than middle-aged, but already bald, already far-sighted and short-sighted; already more or less toothless; incapable of prolonged physical exertion; chronic constipation (can you deny it?); your memory is not as good as it used to be; your digestion is erratic; Your potency wanes - otherwise it's gone forever.

Jeremy forced a smile and nodded at each new product, which was supposed to be a fun deal. He was writhing inwardly with a mixture of despair at this all-too-true diagnosis and anger at the diagnostician for the ruthlessness of his scientific impartiality. To be talked about with joking self-deprecation about your own advanced age was very different from being told about it honestly by someone who had no interest in you other than an animal that happened to not resemble a fish. Still, he continued to nod and smile.

You were here, repeated Dr. Obispo at the end of the diagnosis, and there were carp. How come you haven't worked out your physiology as well as they have? But where, how and why did you make a mistake that has already exposed your teeth and hair and will take you to the grave in a few years?

Old Mečnikov asked these questions and bravely tried to answer them. Everything he said turned out to be wrong: phagocytosis did not occur; intestinal autointoxication was not the only cause of old age; neuronophages were mythological monsters; drinking sour milk did not significantly prolong life; while the removal of the large intestine shortened it considerably. Smile, he remembered those operations that were so fashionable just before the war! Old ladies and gentlemen who have had their intestines cut out and thus forced to evacuate every few minutes, like canaries! All aimless, needless to say; of course because of the operation that was supposed to make a hundred of them and kill them all in a year or two. dr. Obispo threw back his splendid head and burst into one of those impudent laughs which were his regular reaction to any story of human folly leading to misfortune. Poor old Mechnikov, he continued, wiping tears of joy from his eyes. Consistently wrong. Still, it's almost certainly not as bad as people thought. Wrong, yes, to believe that everything is a matter of intestinal obstruction and auto-intoxication. But he was probably right in thinking that the secret was somewhere in the gut. Somewhere in the gut, repeated Dr. Obispo; more than that, he believed he was on his trail.

He stopped and stood silently for a moment, drumming his fingers on the glass of the aquarium. Floating between the mud and the air, two fat and old carp hung in the greenish twilight, serenely oblivious to his presence. Doctor Obispo shook his head. The worst experimental animals in the world, he said in a tone of indignation mixed with a bit of gloomy pride. No one had the right to talk about technical difficulties who did not try to work with fish. Perform the simplest operation; it was a nightmare. Have you ever tried to properly lubricate his gills while he was under anesthesia on the operating table? Or, alternatively, perform the operation underwater? Have you ever tried to determine the basal metabolic rate of a fish, record an electrocardiogram of the heartbeat or measure blood pressure? Have you ever wanted to analyze his poop? And if so, did you know how difficult it was to collect them; Have you ever tried to study the chemistry of fish digestion and assimilation? Determine his blood pressure in different conditions? Measure the speed of his nervous reactions?

No, you didn't despise Dr. Obispo. And until you had, you had no right to complain about anything.

He pulled the curtain over his fish, took Jeremy's hand and led him back to the mouse.

"Look at this," he said, pointing to a group of cages on the top shelf.

Jeremy looked. The mice in question were the same as all other mice. "What's wrong with them?" - He asked.

dr. Obispo laughed. "If these animals were human beings," he said dramatically, "they would all be over a hundred years old."

And he began, very quickly and excitedly, to talk about fatty alcohols and the intestinal flora of carp. Because therein was the secret, the key to the entire problem of old age and longevity. There, between sterols and the specific intestinal flora of carp.

Those sterols! (Dr. Obispo frowned and shook his head at them.) It was always associated with old age. The most obvious case was, of course, cholesterol. A senile animal can be defined as an animal with cholesterol accumulation in the walls of the arteries. Potassium thiocyanate seems to dissolve these deposits. Old rabbits would show signs of rejuvenation after treatment with potassium thiocyanate. So do old people. But again not for long. Cholesterol in the arteries was apparently only one of the problems. But then cholesterol was just one of the sterols. It was a close-knit group, those fatty alcohols. It didn't take long for one to turn into the other. But if you read old Schneeglock's work and the stuff they published in Uppsala, you'd know that some sterols are definitely toxic - much more so than cholesterol, even in large concentrations. Longbotham even suggested a link between fatty alcohols and cancer. In other words, cancer can ultimately be considered a symptom of sterol poisoning. He himself would go even further and say that such sterol poisoning is responsible for the entire process of degenerative aging in humans and other mammals. What no one has done so far is look at the role that fatty alcohols play in the lives of animals such as carp. He has been doing this for the last year. Research has convinced him of two or three things: first, that fatty alcohols in carp do not accumulate in excessive amounts; second, that they are not converted into more toxic sterols; and thirdly, that both of these resistances are due to the special nature of the intestinal flora of carp. What flora! exclaimed Dr. Obispo enthusiastically. So rich, so wonderfully diverse! He has not yet succeeded in isolating the organism responsible for the carp's resistance to old age, nor has he fully understood the nature of the chemical mechanisms involved. However, the main fact was certain. In one way or another, in combination or alone, these organisms have managed to prevent fish sterols from turning into poisons. Therefore, a carp could live for several hundred years and not show signs of old age.

Can the intestinal flora of carp be transferred to the intestine of a mammal? And if it could be moved, would it achieve the same chemical and biological results? That's what he's been trying to figure out for the past few months. At first without success. Recently, however, they experimented with a new technique - a technique that protected the flora from the digestive process, giving it time to adapt to the unknown conditions. It took root. The effect on the mice was immediate and significant. Aging is stopped and even reversed. Physiologically, the animals were younger than they had been for at least eighteen months - a hundred years younger than the equivalent of sixty years.

An electric bell started ringing in the hallway. It was lunch time. Two men left the room and went to the elevator. Dr. Obispo continued. Mice, he said, tend to be somewhat deceptive. Now he began to try this thing on larger animals. If it worked well on dogs and baboons, it should work on Uncle Joe.

The sixth chapter

In the SMALL dining room, most of the furniture was from the Brighton Pavilion. Four gilded dragons held the red lacquered table, and two more served as caryatids on either side of the fireplace frame of the same material. It was the regent's dream of the magnificent East. Something, Jeremy thought as he sat down in his crimson and gold chair, something that the word "Cathay" would have evoked in the mind of Keats, Shelley, Lord Byron, for example - as well as Etty's lovely "Leda", next to Fraa. Angelico's "Annunciation" was a fitting embodiment of their fancies of heathen mythology; it was a true illustration (he laughed to himself at the thought) of the Ode to Psyche and the Grecian Urn, of Endymion and Prometheus Unleashed. The habits of thinking, feeling and imagining of an epoch are common to all who live and work in that epoch, from the journeyman to the genius. Regency is always Regency, whether you sample from the top of the basket or the bottom. In 1820, a man who closed his eyes and tried to imagine magical wings opening on the foam of fairy seas would see - what? Brighton Pavilion Towers. Jeremy smiled to himself at the thought. Etty and Keats, Brighton and Percy Bysshe Shelley - what a wonderful subject! Much better than Carp and Osjan; better because Nash and Prince Regent were funnier than even the oldest fish. But for the purposes of conversation and at the dinner table, even the best topics are worthless if you have no one to talk about them with. And who was there, Jeremy wondered, who was in the room willing or able to talk to him about such a subject? No mr. Stoyte; certainly not Miss Maunciple or the two young women who had come from Hollywood to lunch; no dr. Obispo, who cared more for mice than for books; or Peter Boone, who probably didn't even know there were books to worry about. The only person who could be expected to be interested in the later Georgian zeitgeist was the person to whom he was introduced as Dr. Herbert Mulge, Principal of Tarzan College. But now Dr. Mulge spoke at length, in what sounded almost like pulpit eloquence, about the new hall which Mr. Stoyte had just presented to the Faculty and which would soon be officially opened. dr. Mulge was a large and handsome man with the same voice, a voice that was both ringing and kind, thick and ringing. The fluency of his tongue was slow but steady and clearly unyielding. In phrases full of sonorous capitals, he now assured Mr. Stoyte and anyone who would listen that the association of the beautiful new building would be a true inspiration to the boys and girls of Tarzan in their social activities. For example, in the case of non-denominational worship; for the joy of the best dramas and music. Yes, what an inspiration! Stoyte's name will be remembered with love and respect by a generation of former pupils and alumni—he will be remembered, one might say, forever; Because the auditorium was a monumentum aere perennius, a trace in the sands of time - definitely a trace. And now, Dr. continued. Mulge, between bites of cream chicken, now Tarzan's Weeping Need was after a new art school. After all, art, as we now discover, was one of the most powerful educational forces. Art was the aspect in which the religious spirit manifested itself most clearly in our twentieth century. Art was the means by which Personalities could best achieve creative self-expression and...

"Cripes!" Jeremy said to himself; and then, "Oh my god!" He smiled sadly as he hoped to talk to the imbecile about the relationship between Keats and Brighton Pavilion.

Peter Boone was separated from Virginia by the blond hair of her two young Hollywood friends, so that he could see her only through the lens of blush and eyelashes, golden curls, and the thick, almost detectable scent of gardenia. To someone else, this foreground might seem a bit distracting; but to Pete it meant no more than an equivalent amount of mud. He was only interested in what was outside the foreground - that perfectly defined upper lip, that little nose that made you cry, it was so elegant and cheeky, so funny and angelic; in this long Florentine bob of shiny auburn hair; in those wide-set, wide-open eyes with a sparkling surface of humor and a deep blue depth of what must have been infinite tenderness, a clumsy feminine wisdom. He loved her so much that where his heart should have been, he felt only a painful lack of breath, an emptiness that only she could fill.

In the meantime, she was talking to the blonde in the foreground about the new job he got at the Cosmopolitan-Perlmutter studio. The picture was called "Say It in Stockings," and she was supposed to play a rich debutante who runs away from home to make her own career, becomes a stripper in a western mining camp and ends up marrying a cow. a thug who turns out to be the son of a millionaire.

"Sounds like a great story," Virginia said. "You don't think so, Pete?"

Pete thought so; he was willing to think of almost anything if she wanted it.

"It reminds me of Spain," said Virginia. And while Jeremy, eavesdropping on the conversation, frantically tried to imagine what kind of chain of associations had led her from Saying in Socks to the Civil War - was it Cosmopolitan-Perlmutter, anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Franco; or the debutante, class war, Moscow, Negrin; or striptease, modern, radical, republican—while he speculated in vain, Virginia asked the young man to tell them what he had been doing in Spain; and when he objected, he insisted - because it was so exciting, because Preplan had never heard of it, because she still wanted him to do it.

Pete obeyed. Only half an article, with a vocabulary of slang and clichés, embellished with curse words and grunts—a vocabulary, thought Jeremy, secretly listening amid Dr. Mulge's thundering eloquence, the characteristically wretched and wretched vocabulary which most young Englishmen and Americans condemn for fear of being thought unsocially different, undemocratically better or unsportingly arrogant, he began to describe his experiences as a volunteer in the International Brigade during the heroic days of 1937. It was a touching story. By the hopelessly inadequate language, Jeremy could guess the young man's enthusiasm for freedom and justice; his courage; his love for his comrades; his nostalgia, even near that short upper lip, even in the middle of a busy scientific article, for the lives of men united in devotion to a cause united in the face of hardship and common danger and imminent death.

"Wow," he kept saying, "they were great guys."

They were all wonderful - Knud, who saved his life one day there in Aragon; Anton and Mack and poor little Dino who was killed; André, who lost his leg; Ivan, who had a wife and two children; Fritz, who spent six months in a Nazi concentration camp; and everyone else - the biggest group of boys in the world. And what did he do, just go and get rheumatic fever, then myocarditis - which meant the end of active service; nothing more than sitting. That's why he was here, he explained apologetically. But man, it was good while it lasted! For example, when he and Knud went out at night, they climbed a precipice in the dark and surprised a whole platoon of Moors, killed half a dozen of them and came back with a machine gun and three prisoners. …

"And what do you think of creative work, Mr. Pordage?"

Surprised by the apparent carelessness, Jeremy began to feel guilty. – Creative work? he muttered trying to buy some time. 'Creative work? Well, of course one is for it. Definitely, he insisted.

"I'm glad you say that," said Dr. Mulge. “Because that's what I want in Tarzan. Creative work - more and more creative. Shall I tell you what my greatest ambition is? Neither Mr. Stoyte nor Jeremy answered. Nevertheless, Dr. Mulge began to speak to them. "The intention is to make Tarzan the living center of the New Civilization that will flourish here in the West." He raised a large, fleshy hand in solemn acknowledgment. “The Athens of the 20th century is about to emerge here in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. I want Tarzan to be his Parthenon and Academy, Stoa and Temple of the Muses. Religion, art, philosophy, science - I want them all to find a home in Tarzana, to radiate their influence from our campus, to...

Halfway through his story about the Moors and the Abyss, Pete realized that only the First Plan was listening. Virginia's attention wandered, first secretly, then openly and undisguisedly—she wandered to where, on her left, the less blond of her two friends was almost whispering something from Dr. Obispo.

- What is that? Virginia asked.

dr. Obispo leaned towards her and started over. The three heads, smooth as oil, black, intricately curled and brilliantly auburn, were almost touching. Pete could tell from their expressions that the doctor was telling one of his dirty stories. Temporarily soothed by the smile she gave him when she asked him to tell them about Spain, the anguish in that panting void where his heart was to be returned with a vengeance. It was the compound pain of jealousy and the desperate sense of loss and personal unworthiness, the fear that his angel was corrupt, and another, deeper fear that his conscious mind refused to articulate, the fear that there wasn't much corruption yet. be it done, that the angel was not such an angel as his love led him to believe. The current of his narration suddenly dried up. He was quiet.

"So what happened then?" asked the First Plan with a fervor and an expression of admiration for the heroes that any other young man would find delightfully flattering.

He shook his head. "No big deal."

"Ali ti Mauri..."

- Go to hell! he said impatiently. - Anyway, what does it matter?

His words were drowned out by a violent burst of laughter that caused the three heads of the conspirators, a black one, a brown one, and a lovely auburn one, to fly away from each other. He looked at Virginia and saw her face contorted with amusement. wherein? he asked himself in agony, trying to gauge her depravity; and he was suddenly seized with a pleasant, far-sighted and synthetic memory of all the school stories, all the jokes and verses he had ever heard.

Was she laughing at that? Or in this? Or, God, maybe in this? He hoped and prayed that this would not be the case; and the more he hoped and prayed, the madder he became convinced that this was it.

"...first of all," said dr. Mulge, "creative work in art. Hence the urgent need for a new art school, an art school worthy of Tarzan, worthy of the highest traditions…”

The shrill laughter of the girls exploded with a force of joy commensurate with the force of the social taboos that surrounded them. Mr. Stoyte turned sharply in the direction from which the noise had come.

"What's the joke?" - he asked suspiciously. He did not want his child to listen to pornography. He disapproved of debauchery in mixed company almost as fervently as his grandmother, Sister Plymouth. "What's all the fuss about?"

Doctor Obispo picked up. He told them a funny story he heard on the radio, he explained it with that polite politeness that sounded like sarcasm. Something wonderfully fun. Perhaps Mr. Stoyte would like to repeat it.

Mr. Stoyte grunted angrily and turned away.

A look at the gloomy face of the host convinced Dr. Mulge that it would be better to postpone the discussion of the Art School for another, more favorable opportunity. It was disappointing; because it seemed to him that he was making good progress. But there! such things would happen. dr. Mulge was the president of the college, constantly asking for scholarships; he knew everything about the rich. I knew, for example, that like gorillas, they are creatures that are difficult to tame, deeply suspicious, alternating with boredom and anger. They had to be approached carefully, handled delicately and with boundless cunning. And even then they can suddenly become furious with you and show their teeth. Half a lifetime of experience with bankers, steel magnates and retired meat processors has taught Dr. Mulge to bear such minor setbacks as today with true philosophical patience. Vedar, with a big Imperial-Roman smile on his face, turned to Jeremy. "What do you think of the weather in California, Mr. Pordage?" - He asked.

Meanwhile, Virginia noticed the expression on Pete's face and immediately guessed the cause of his unhappiness. poor Pete! But really, if he thought there was nothing better than to go on listening to him talk about that stupid old war in Spain—and if it wasn't Spain, it was a laboratory; and there they did a vivisection, which was just awful; for, after all, in the hunt the animals had a chance to escape, especially if you were a bad shot like her; besides, the hunt was full of excitement, and so it was in the open mountains; while Pete was cutting them underground in that basement... No, if he thought there was nothing better than that, he made a big mistake. After all, he was a nice boy; and talk about falling in love! It was nice to have people around who felt that way about you; made you feel a little better. Although it can be quite tiring at times. Because they felt they had a right to you; They felt they had the right to tell you things and interfere. Pete didn't say it in so many words; but he had a way of looking at you - like a dog suddenly scolding you for having another cocktail. Talking with her eyes, like Hedy Lamarr - only it wasn't the same as Hedy talking with her eyes; quite the opposite actually. Now it was the exact opposite—and what did she do? I was sick of that stupid old war and I was listening to what Sig was saying to Mary Lou. Well, all she could say was that no one was going to interfere with the way she chose to live her life. It was her job. He was almost as angry at the way he looked at her as Uncle Jo or her mother or Father O'Reilly. Except, of course, they weren't just watching; they said different things. Not that he meant badly, of course, poor Pete; he was just a kid, just uncomplicated, and in love like a kid - like the high school boy in Deanna Durbin's last picture. Poor Pete, she thought again. He was unlucky; but the fact was that she was never attracted to that big blond guy like Cary Grant. She just didn't like them; that was all. She liked him; and she was glad that he was in love with her. But that's all.

She caught his eye from the other side of the corner of the table, smiled brightly at him and invited him, if he had half an hour after lunch, to come and teach her and the girl how to throw horseshoes.

The seventh chapter

The meal was finally over; the party broke up. dr. Mulge had an appointment in Pasadena to meet with the widow of a rubber manufacturer who could pay $30,000 for a new dormitory for girls. Mr. Stoyte traveled to Los Angeles for regular board meetings on Friday afternoons and business consultations. dr. Obispo was about to operate on some rabbits and went to the laboratory to prepare his instruments. Pete had a lot of science journals to go through, but in the meantime he allowed himself a few minutes of happiness with Virginia. And for Jeremy, of course, there were the Hauberk documents. With almost physical relief, with the feeling that he was back home where he belonged, he returned to his basement. The afternoon flew by - how beautiful, how useful! Within three hours, another series of letters from Molinos appeared in accounts and business correspondence. It was the same with the third and fourth volumes of Félicia. As well as the illustrated edition of Le Portier des Carmes; and bound like a prayer book, he also had a copy of the rarest of all the works of the divine Marquis, Les Cent-Vingt Jours de Sodome. What a treasure! What unexpected luck! Or maybe, Jeremy thought, it wasn't so unexpected after all, given the history of the Hauberk family. For the dates of the books showed that they belonged to the Fifth Earl, one who had held the title for more than half a century, and who died at the age of more than ninety under William IV., entirely unregenerate. Given the nature of this old gentleman, there was no reason to be surprised by the discovery of the porn shop - there was reason to hope for more.

Jeremy's spirit grew with each new discovery. Always by his side, a sure sign of happiness, he began humming songs that were popular in his childhood. Molinos called out "Tara-rara Boom-de-ay!" Felicia and Portier des Carmes shared the romantic tune "Honeysuckle and the Bee." As for Cent-Vingt Jours, who had never read or even seen a copy, he was so delighted by the discovery that when he picked up his church cover as part of his bibliographic routine, expecting Anglican ritual, he found instead cool, elegant prose. ​the Marquise de Sade burst into that rhyme from The Rose and the Ring, the rhyme that his mother taught him to repeat when he was only three years old, and which remained for him a symbol of childish wonder and delight, as the only perfectly appropriate response to any sudden blessing, every happy surprise of providence.

Oh how nice it is to have a plum roll!

How I wish it had never happened!

And fortunately it was not done, it was not even started; the book was still unread, he still had hours of fun and learning ahead of him. Remembering the pang of jealousy he felt up there in the pool, he smiled indulgently. Let Mr. Stoyte have all the girls he wants; well-written eighteenth-century pornography was better than any Maunciple. He closed the book he was holding. The tooled morocco was austerely elegant; on the back, the words "Universal Prayer Book" were stamped in gold, barely darkened by age. He placed it together with another specialty on the corner of the table. When he finished his afternoon work, he would take the entire collection to his bedroom.

"Oh, how nice it is to eat plum pastry!" he hummed to himself as he opened another sheaf of paper, and then, "On a summer afternoon when the honeysuckle blooms and all nature seems to rest." Nature always gave him special pleasure. The new batch of papers turned out to be correspondence between the Fifth Earl and several prominent Whigs regarding the enclosure of three thousand acres of common land in Nottinghamshire for him. Jeremy put them in the briefcase, wrote a brief introductory description of the contents on the business card, put the briefcase in the cabinet and the card in the cabinet, then dipped it into the bran cake again and reached for another packet. He cut the wire. "You are my honey, honey, honeysuckle, I am a bee." What would Dr. Freud think of this, he wondered? Anonymous anti-deism pamphlets were boring; he threw them aside. But here was a copy of Law's Earnest Call with Edward Gibbon's manuscripts; and here are some accounts drawn up for the fifth earl by Mr. Rogers of Liverpool: accounts of the expenses and profits of the three slave-trading expeditions which the earl helped to finance. The second trip seemed to be particularly successful; less than a fifth of the cargo was lost en route, and the prices achieved at Savannah were acceptably high. Mr. Rogers asked for a bill of exchange for seventeen thousand two hundred and twenty-four pounds eleven shillings and four pence. Written from Venice, in Italian, another letter informed the same fifth Count Titian of a two-foot-tall "Mary Magdalene" on the market, at a price which the Italian correspondent described as ridiculous. Other offers have already been made; but out of respect for no less a learned but distinguished English expert, the salesman waited for an answer from his lordship. And yet his lordship should not delay too long; or another…

It was five; the sun was low in the sky. Dressed in white shoes and socks, white shorts, a navy hat and a pink silk sweater, Virginia came to see the baboons being fed.

Her engine had died, and her pink moped was parked on the side of the road thirty, forty feet above the cage. Accompanied by Dr. Obispo and Pete, she went downstairs to take a closer look at the animals.

Directly opposite where they were, a mother baboon sat on the edge of an artificial rock, holding in her arms the shriveled and decaying body of a child she refused to let go of, even though it had been dead for two weeks. Now and then, with an intense, automatic feeling, she licked the little corpse. Strands of greenish fur and even bits of skin peeled off under the forceful movements of her tongue. She gently plucked the hair from her mouth with her black fingers and started over. Above her, at the entrance to a small cave, two young men suddenly fought. Screams, barking and gnashing of teeth filled the air. Then one of the two fighters ran away, and the other one forgot about the fight after a while and started looking for dandruff on his chest. To the right, on another ledge, a large old man with a leathery face and close-cropped gray hair, like a seventeenth-century Anglican priest, watched over his obedient wife. It was a watchful watch; for if she dared to move without his permission, he would turn and bite her; meanwhile, small black eyes, bulging nostrils at the end of a cut muzzle, looked on all sides with sleepless suspicion. From the basket he was carrying Pete threw a potato at him, then a carrot and another potato. With a bright flash of crimson rump, the old baboon sprang from his seat on the artificial mountain, seized a carrot, and, having eaten it, stuffed one potato into his left cheek and the other into his right; then, still nibbling on the carrot, he walked over to the wire and looked up to see more. The coast was clean. A young man looking for dandruff suddenly saw his chance. Trembling with excitement, he sprang to the ledge where, too terrified to follow his master, the tiny female was still crouching. Within ten seconds they started mating.

Virginia clapped her hands in pleasure. "Aren't they adorable!" She called. "Aren't they human!"

Another series of screams and barks almost drowned out her words.

Pete stopped handing out food, saying he hadn't seen Mr. Propter in a long time. Why not all come down the hill and visit him.

“From the monkey cage to the Propter pen,” said Dr. Obispo, “and from the Propter pen back to Stoyt House and the Maunciple kennel. What do you say, angel?

Virginia was throwing potatoes at the old male—throwing them in such a way that she made him turn, back toward the shelf where he had left his female. She hoped that if he got her to go back far enough, she would see how her friend was spending time when he wasn't around. "Yeah, let's go see old Proppy," she said without turning around. She threw another potato into the farm. A baboon pounced on him, fluttering his close-cropped gray hair; but instead of looking up and catching Mrs. B in connection with the glacier, the irritating animal immediately turned to the wire, begging for more. "Stupid old fool!" - shouted Virginia and this time threw a potato straight at him, which hit him in the nose. She laughed and turned to the others. "I like old Proppy," she said. “It scares me a little; but i like him.

"Okay," said Dr. Obispo. "Let's go bust Mr. Pordage while we're on the subject."

"Yeah, let's get old Ivory," Virginia agreed, stroking her auburn curls, alluding to Jeremy's baldness. "He's kind of cute, isn't he?"

Leaving Pete to feed the baboons, they returned to the road and climbed the stairs on the other side, which led directly to the windows of Jeremy's room carved into the rock. Virginia pushed open the glass door.

"Ivory," she called, "we've come to disturb you."

Jeremy began to deliver something playfully gallant; then he stopped mid-sentence. He suddenly remembered that pile of strange literature on the corner of the table. To get up and put the books back in the closet would be to pay attention to them; he had no newspaper to cover them, no other books to mix them with. There was nothing to do. Nothing but hope for the best. He was seriously counting on it; and almost immediately the worst happened. Lazily, in need of some muscular movement, however pointless, Virginia picked up Nerciato's volume, opened it to one of his meticulously detailed engravings, looked, then widened her eyes again and let out a cry of surprise and excitement. Doctor Obispo glanced and shouted in turn; then they both burst out laughing.

Jeremy sat immersed in misery and embarrassment, smiling morbidly as he was asked if this was how he spent his time, if this was what he was studying. If only people weren't so tiresome, he thought, so woefully unsubtle!

Virginia flipped through the pages until she found another illustration. Again there was an exclamation of delight, amazement and this time disbelief. Was it possible? Could it really be done? She wrote the inscription below the engraving: "La volupté frappait à toutes les portes"; then she shook her head irritably. It was not good; she couldn't understand it. Those French classes in high school - really bad; that was all that could be said about them. They taught her nothing but a bunch of nonsense about le crayon de mon oncle and alliance-vous planter le chou. She always said that studying was mostly a waste of time; it proved that. And why did they even have to print these things in French? Virginia's eyes filled with tears at the thought that the flaws in Oregon's education system might prevent her from reading André de Nerciat forever. It was very bad!

Jeremy had a brilliant idea. Why not offer her a translation of the book, viva voce, sentence by sentence, like a translator at a meeting of the Council of the League of Nations? Yes, why not? The more he thought about it, the better the idea seemed to him. He had made up his mind, and was beginning to consider the most fortunate text of his offer, when Dr. Obispo calmly took the volume which Virginia held, lifted the three companion volumes from the table, together with Le Portier des Carmes and Cent-Vingt Jours de Sodome, and pushed the whole collection into a side shelf. in the jacket pocket.

"Don't worry," he told Virginia. "I'll translate them for you." Now let's go back to the baboons. Pete will wonder what happened to us. Come on, Mr. Pordage.

Silently, but seething with remorse at his own incompetence and anger at the doctor's audacity, Jeremy followed them through the glass window and down the stairs.

Pete emptied his basket and leaned against the wire, carefully watching the movements of the animals inside. As they approached, he turned to face them. His kind, young face shone with excitement.

"You know, doctor," he said, "I believe it works."

- What is he doing? Virginia asked.

Pete's smile was beautiful with happiness. Because oh how happy he was! Doubly and thrice happy. Virginia's cuteness more than made up for the pain she caused by turning to listen to this sordid story. After all, it probably wasn't a raunchy story; he slandered her, thinking her unreasonably evil. No, it certainly wasn't a dirty story—not dirty, because when she turned to him, her face looked like that child in the Bible pictures in the house, that child who looked so innocent and sweet when Jesus said, "He is one from them." kingdom of heaven." And that wasn't the only reason for his happiness. He was happy, too, because those carp gut flora cultures really seemed to have an effect on the baboons they were testing them on.

"I think they're more lively," he explained. - And their fur is a little shinier.

This fact gave him almost as much pleasure as Virginia's presence in the transforming richness of the evening sun, and the memory of her sweetness, the uplifting conviction of her essential innocence. Indeed, in some obscure way, it seemed to him that the rejuvenation of the baboon and the charming Virginia had a deep connection—a connection not only with each other, but also simultaneously with loyalist Spain and anti-fascism. Three different things, and one... At school they told him to study poetry - how did it go?

I couldn't love you more baby

I loved nothing else (he couldn't remember what at the moment) more.

He loved nothing more than Virginia. But the fact that he cared so much about science and justice, about that research and the boy in Spain, did something that made his love for her deeper and, paradoxically, more sincere.

"Can we continue like this?" he suggested finally.

dr. Obispo looked at his watch. "I forgot," he said. "I have some letters to write before dinner." I guess I'll have to see Mr. Propter some other time.

- Too bad! Pete did his best to give his tone and expression a warmth of regret that he didn't feel. In fact, he was delighted. He admired Dr. Obispo, considered him a brilliant researcher, but not the kind of man a young, innocent girl like Virginia should associate with. He was afraid of the influence of so much cynicism and hardness on her. Besides, when it came to his relationship with Virginia, Dr. Obispo always stood in the way. "That's not good!" he repeated, and the intensity of his pleasure was such that he almost ran up the steps that led from the baboon to the driveway—running so fast that his heart began to pound and lose its rhythm. Damn that rheumatic fever!

dr. Obispo stepped back to let Virginia pass, patting the pocket containing Les Cent-Vingt Jours de Sodome and winking at her. Virginia winked at him and followed Pete up the stairs.

A few moments later, Dr. Obispo was walking down the driveway and the others were coming down. Specifically, Pete and Jeremy walked while Virginia, for whom the idea of ​​using her legs to get from place to place was practically unthinkable, sat on her strawberries and cream scooter and lovingly placed one hand on Pete's shoulder and allowed herself to be swept away by the force. gravity.

The noise of the baboons died away behind them, and at the next bend in the road appeared the nymph Giambologna, still gushing tirelessly from her polished breast. Virginia abruptly stopped talking about Clark Gable and said in a tone of justified vice-crusader rage, "I just can't understand why Uncle Jo would let that creature stand there." This is disgusting!'

- Disgusting? Jeremy repeated in wonder.

- Disgusting! she repeated firmly.

"Do you mind if he doesn't wear clothes?" he asked, remembering the two satin asymptotes of nudity she herself had worn there in the pool.

She shook her head impatiently. - This is how water flows out. She made the face of someone who had tasted something disgusting. - I think it's terrible.

- But why? Jeremy insisted.

"Because it's awful," was the only explanation she could come up with. As a child at her age, which in this context was the age of bottle-feeding and contraception, she resented the monstrous indelicacy of earlier times. It was just awful; that was all that could be said about him. Turning to Pete, she continued talking about Clark Gable.

Across from the entrance to the Grotto, Virginia parked her scooter. The masons finished their work on the tomb and left; the place was empty. Virginia adjusted her cocked sailor cap in deference; then she ran up the stairs, stopped at the threshold to cross herself, and when she entered, she knelt for a few moments before the picture. The others waited in silence on the road.

"Our Lady was wonderful to me when I had sinus problems last summer," Virginia explained to Jeremy when she reappeared. "That's why I asked Uncle Jo to build her this cave." Wasn't it wonderful when the archbishop came for the consecration? she added turning to Pete.

Pete nodded.

"I haven't even caught a cold since she's been here," Virginia continued, sitting on the scooter. Her face shone with triumph; every victory for the Queen of Heaven was also a personal success for Virginia Maunciple. Then suddenly and without warning, as if doing a test screen and being instructed to register tiredness and self-pity, she passed her hand over her forehead, sighed deeply, and in a tone of utter despondency and despondency said, "I'm feeling rather tired tonight, after all." I must have been in the sun too much right after lunch. Maybe I'd better go lie down for a bit." And gently but very firmly refusing Pete's offer to return to the castle with her, she turned the scooter so that it was facing upwards and gave the young man one last, especially charming, almost loving smile and look , said, "Good-bye, Pete "honey," and opening the throttle, gathering and accelerating a series of explosions, sped up the steep, winding road, out of sight. Five minutes later, she was in her boudoir, preparing a chocolate banana sandwich by the soda fountain. Seated in a chair of gilt satin couleur fesse de nymphe, Dr. Obispo read aloud and translated the first volume of Les Cent-Vingt Jours.

The eighth chapter

SM. PROPTER was sitting on a bench under the largest of his eucalyptus trees. To the west, the mountains were already flat against the evening sky, but ahead, to the north, the upper slopes still pulsed with light and shadow, rose gold and deep indigo. In the foreground, the castle was dressed in an outfit of incredible splendor and romance. Mr. Propter looked at it, at the hills and the pale sky, through the motionless leaves of the eucalyptus; then he closed his eyes and silently repeated Cardinal Bérulle's answer to the question, "What is man?" More than thirty years ago, when he was writing his study of the cardinal, he read these words for the first time. Even then they impressed him with the magnificence and precision of their eloquence. As time passed and his experiences grew, they began to seem more than eloquent, taking on richer connotations, deeper meanings. "What is a man?" he whispered to himself. "C'est un néant environné de Dieu, indigent de Dieu, capable de Dieu, et rempli de Dieu, s'il veut." "Nothingness surrounded by God, poor and capable of God, filled with God if it wants. And what kind of God is it that people are capable of? Mr. Propter answered with the definition given by John Tauler in the first paragraph of his book Imitation of Christ: "God is a being apart from creatures, free power, pure action." wretched, a being apart from creation, a nothingness capable of free power, filled with pure action if it so chooses. If he so chooses, Mr. Propter was lost in thought in a sudden, rather bitter, sadness. But how few people ever want or want to know what to desire or how to get it! Correct knowledge is no less rare than the steadfast good will to act on it. Of those few who seek God, most of them, due to ignorance, find only reflections of their own will, such as the God of battles, the God of the chosen people, the Hearer of prayers, the Savior.

Having sunk so deeply into negativity, Mr. Propter, by constant inattention, fell into an even less profitable preoccupation with the particular and certain misfortunes of the day. He remembered the conversation he had had that morning with Hansen, the agent for Jo Stoyte's estate in the valley. Hansen's attitude towards the migrants who came to pick the fruits was even worse than average. He took advantage of their numbers and desperate need for a pay cut. In the groves he managed, small children were made to work in the sun all day for two or three cents an hour. And when the day's work was done, the houses they returned to were a row of infected pigsties in the wasteland along the river bed. Hansen charged these pigs ten dollars a month. Ten dollars a month for the privilege of freezing or suffocating; sleeping in filthy promiscuity; it is eaten by bugs and lice; eye inflammation and possibly hookworm and amoebic dysentery. And yet Hansen was a very decent, kind man: one who would be shocked and enraged to see you hurt a dog; the one who will run to care for an abused woman or a crying child. When Mr. Propter pointed this out to him, Hansen turned red with anger.

"It's different," he said.

Mr. Propter tried to find out why.

That was his duty, Hansen said.

But how could it be his duty to treat children worse than slaves and inoculate them with hookworm?

It was his duty to the estate. He did nothing for himself.

But why should harming someone else be any different from harming yourself; The results were exactly the same in both cases. The victims suffered no less when you were doing what you called your duty than when you were acting in your own interest.

This time the anger exploded into brutal abuse. It was anger, observed Mr. Propter, a well-meaning but foolish man forced against his will to ask himself indiscreet questions about what he was doing as a matter of course. He does not want to ask these questions because he knows that if he does, he will be forced either to continue what he is doing, but with the cynical knowledge that he is doing wrong, or, if he does not want to be cynical, to change his whole pattern of life so that his desire to do well be consistent with the true facts discovered during self-examination. For most people, any radical change is even more repugnant than cynicism. The only way between the corners of the dilemma is to persevere at all costs in the ignorance that allows you to do evil with the comforting belief that you are doing your duty - your duty to the company, the shareholders, the family, the city, the state, the country, the church. Of course, poor Hansen's case was not unique; on a smaller scale, and thus with less power to do evil, he acted like all those civil servants, statesmen and prelates who go through life spreading misery and destruction in the name of their ideals and under the orders of the categorical imperative.

Well, he didn't get far with Hansen, Mr. Propter sadly concluded. I'll have to try Jo Stoyte again. In the past, Jo had always refused to listen, claiming that the estates were Hansen's business. He predicted that the alibi was so convenient that it would be difficult to disprove it.

From Hansen and Jo Stoyte, his mind wandered to a newly arrived family from Kansas, to whom he had given one of his cottages. Three malnourished children whose teeth were already rotting in their mouths; a thin woman, God knows what complications of the disease, already immersed in apathy and weakness; husband, alternately bitter and self-pitying, violent and grumpy.

He went with a man to get vegetables from the garden and a rabbit for the family dinner. Sitting there skinning the rabbit, he must have listened to the outbursts of chaotic complaining and exasperation. Objection and indignation at the wheat market, which collapsed every time it started to improve. Against the banks from which he borrowed money and could not pay it back. From droughts and winds that reduced his farm to one hundred and sixty acres of dust and wilderness. Against luck, which was always against him. Against the people who treated him so meanly, everywhere, all his life.

A terribly famous story! With minor differences, he had heard it thousands of times before. Sometimes these were southern farmers who were dispossessed by landowners in a desperate attempt to make farming profitable. Sometimes, like this man, they had their own place and were dispossessed by the financiers, but by the forces of nature - forces of nature that they themselves made destructive by pulling up the grass and planting only wheat. Sometimes they were mercenaries, displaced by tractors. They all came to California as the promised land; and California had already reduced them to a wandering peonate and quickly turned them into Untouchables. Only a saint, thought Mr. Propter, only a saint, can be a pariah with impunity, and a pariah at that, because only a saint would gladly accept that position and as if he had chosen it of his own free will. Poverty and suffering are ennobling only when they are voluntary. Involuntary poverty and suffering make a person worse. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a poor man to inadvertently enter the kingdom of heaven. Here, for example, was this poor guy from Kansas. How did he react to involuntary poverty and suffering? As far as Mr. Propter could tell, he compensated for his misfortunes by brutalizing those weaker than himself. The way he yelled at the kids... It was all too familiar.

When the rabbit was skinned and gutted, Mr. Propter interrupted his companion's monologue.

"Do you know which text in the Bible is the stupidest?" he suddenly asked.

Stunned and obviously a bit shocked, the man from Kansas shook his head.

"That's it," said Mr. Propter, standing up and handing him the carcass of a rabbit. - They hated me for no reason.

Beneath the eucalyptus tree, Mr. Propter sighed wearily. Pointing out to the unfortunate that they are partly responsible for their misfortunes anyway; explaining to them that ignorance and stupidity in the nature of things are punished no less severely than willful malice have never been pleasant tasks. It was never pleasant, but as far as he could tell, it was always necessary. What hope, he wondered, what is the tiniest glimmer of hope for a man who truly believes that he was "hated for no reason" and that he had no part in his own misfortune? Of course, without hope. We brutally see that disasters and hatred are never without reason; we also see that at least some of these causes are generally under the control of people who suffer disasters or are objects of hatred. They are directly or indirectly responsible to some extent. Directly, by doing stupid or malicious actions. Indirectly, by failing to be as intelligent and compassionate as they could be. And if they leave it out, it is mostly because they mindlessly submit to local standards and the current way of life. Propter's thoughts returned to the poor man from Kansas. Self-indulgent, probably unpleasant to neighbors, incompetent farmer; but that was not the whole story. His biggest flaw was accepting the world he found himself in as normal, rational and correct. Like everyone else, he allowed advertisers to multiply his needs; he learned to equate happiness with possessions and prosperity with money to spend in the store. Like everyone else, he abandoned all ideas of subsistence farming to think only of revenue crops; and he continued to think in those terms even when his crops no longer paid him. Then, like everyone else, he borrowed money from banks. And in the end, like everyone else, he became convinced that what experts had been saying for generations was absolutely correct: in a semi-arid country, it was the grass that held the ground; pull the grass, the earth will go away. In due course he disappeared.

The Kansas man was now a pariah and pariah; and the experience made him a worse man.

St. Piotr Klawer was another historical figure to whom Mr. Propter devoted his study. When the slave ships entered the port of Cartagena, Peter Claver was the only white man who dared enter the warehouse. There, in the indescribable stench and heat, in the fumes of manure and excrement, he cared for the sick, bandaged the sores of the wounded with fetters, held in his arms people who had surrendered to despair and spoke words of comfort and tenderness to them - and at intervals they told them about their sins. Their sins! A modern humanist would laugh if he were not shocked. And yet Mr. Propter gradually and reluctantly came to this conclusion, and yet St. Peter Klawer was probably right. Not exactly, of course; for, acting on erroneous knowledge, no man, however well-intentioned, can be more than partially right. But at least as true as a good man who adheres to Catholic Counter-Reformation philosophy can expect. Rightly asserting that no matter what circumstances a person finds himself in, there are always mistakes that need to be corrected, orders whose consequences must, if possible, be neutralized. Rightly believing that it is good for even the most brutal sinners to be reminded of their own shortcomings.

Piotr Klawer's world concept had the disadvantage of being wrong, but it had the advantage of being simple and dramatic. With regard to the personal God, the minister of forgiveness, with regard to heaven and hell and the absolute reality of human personalities, with regard to the merits of pure good intentions and unquestionable faith in the collection of wrong opinions, with regard to the only true Church, the effectiveness of priestly mediation, the magic of the sacraments - all things considered, it was really easy to convince even a newly imported slave of his sinfulness and explain to him exactly what to do about it. But if there is no inspired book, no supremely holy church, no mediating priesthood, no sacramental magic, no personal God to be forgiven in the forgiveness of offenses, even if in the moral world there are only causes and effects, and an immense complexity of relationships - it is obvious that the task of telling people what to do about their shortcomings is much more difficult. Because each individual is called to show not only undying goodwill, but also undying intelligence. And that's not all. Because if individuality is not absolute, if personalities are illusory products of arbitrariness, catastrophically blind to the reality of superpersonal consciousness, whose limit is the denial, then all the efforts of every human being must be directed, ultimately resorting to the knowledge of this superpersonal consciousness. Therefore, intelligence is not enough along with good will; there must also be a focus that seeks to transform and transcend intelligence. Many are called, but few are chosen - because few even know what salvation is. Let's take another look at this man from Kansas... Mr. Propter shook his head sadly. Everything conspired against the poor fellow - his fundamentalist orthodoxy, his wounded and inflamed egoism, his nervous irritability, his low intelligence. Perhaps the first three flaws could be removed. But can anything be done about the fourth? The nature of things is inexorable towards weakness. "Whoever doesn't have, what he has will be taken from him." What were Spinoza's words? "A man can be justified and yet tortured in many ways. The horse excuses himself for not being a man; nevertheless, he must be a horse, not a man." Nevertheless, surely there is something that people like the Kansas man can do—something that does not involve telling harmful untruths about the nature of things. Untruths, for example, that there is a person at the top, or some other more modern falsehood, that human values ​​are absolute and that God is the nation, the party, or the human race as a whole. Surely, Mr. Propter insisted, something must be done for such people. The Kansas man began to resent what he had said about the chain of causes and consequences, to a network of connections, considering it a personal insult. But then, when he saw that he was not to blame, that he was not outdone, he became interested, to see that there was something in it. Gradually he could make him think more realistically, at least about the world of everyday life, to the external world of appearances. And when he does, perhaps it won't be so difficult for him to think about himself a little more realistically - to imagine that his most important ego as a fiction, a kind of nightmare, a feverishly agitated nothingness capable, when his madness is silenced, filled with God, God understood and experienced as more than personal consciousness, as free power, pure action, seclusion... Suddenly, while thus returning from where he started, Mr. Propter realized the long, roundabout, unprofitable road he had taken to get there. He came to this bench under the eucalyptus to gather his thoughts, to become momentarily aware of that other consciousness beyond his personal thoughts and feelings, this free, pure power greater than his own. He came for this; but memories came flooding back when he was careless; speculation began, cloud after cloud, like seabirds rising from their nests to darken and dim the sun. Enslavement is the life of the personality, and we will fight against the enslavement of the personal self with tireless resourcefulness and the most stubborn cunning. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance; and he was not alert. It was no accident, he thought sadly, a willing spirit and a weak body. It was the complete wrong opposite. Spirit is always willing; but a person who is both mind and body is always unwilling - and that person, by the way, is not weak, but extremely strong.

He looked again at the mountains, at the pale sky between the leaves, at the delicate rusted roses and the purple and gray eucalyptus trunks; then he closed his eyes again.

Nothingness surrounded by God, poor in God, capable of God and filled with God if man wants it. And what is God? Being separate from creatures, free power, pure action. His caution gradually ceased to be an act of will, a deliberate suppression of unimportant personal thoughts, desires and feelings. Because gradually these thoughts, desires and feelings settled like cloudy sediment in a jug of water, and as they subsided, his wakefulness could freely transform into a kind of free, unbound consciousness, at once intense and calm, awake and passive, a consciousness whose the object was the words that he spoke, and at the same time the one that surrounded them. But what surrounded the words was consciousness itself; for that alertness which was now effortless awareness—what was it but an aspect, a partial expression, of that impersonal and motionless awareness into which the words entered and slowly sank? And as they sank, they took on a new meaning for the consciousness that accompanied them within—a new meaning not in terms of the entities mentioned in words, but rather in the way they were understood, which went from intellectual to intuitive and direct, so that nature man in his potentiality and God in reality realized by the equivalent of sensory experience, a kind of unmediated participation.

The occupied nothingness of his being was experienced as transcended in the sensory capacity for peace and purity, for withdrawal from disgust and desire, for blissful freedom from personality...

The sound of approaching footsteps made him open his eyes. Peter Boone and the Englishman with whom he was sitting in the car walked along the path towards his place under the eucalyptus trees. Mr. Propter raised his hand in greeting and smiled. He liked young Pete. There was innate intelligence and innate kindness; there was sensitivity, generosity, spontaneous politeness of impulse and reaction. Charming and beautiful features! It is a pity that alone, and unguided by a correct knowledge of the nature of things, they were so powerless for good, so unfit for anything that a reasonable man could call salvation. Pure gold, but still in ore, unmelted, unprocessed. Maybe one day the boy will learn to use his gold. First he would have to be willing to learn - and also willing to unlearn many things he now took for granted and right. It will be hard for him - just as hard, but for different reasons, than that poor man from Kansas.

"Well, Pete," he called, "come and sit here with me." And you brought Mr. Pordage; That's good. He moved to the middle of the bench so they could sit on either side of him. "Have you met the Ogre?" he turned to Jeremy, pointing in the direction of the castle.

Jeremy grimaced and nodded. "I remembered what you called him at school," he said. "That made things a little easier."

"Poor Jo," said Mr. Propter. "Fat people should always be this happy. But who ever liked to be mocked? The cheerful manners they sometimes have and the jokes they make about themselves are just an alibi and a prophylaxis. They inoculate themselves with their own mockery so as not to react too violently to others.

Jeremy smiled. He knew all about it. "It's a good way out of an unpleasant situation," he said.

Mr. Propter nodded. "But unfortunately," he said, "Jo didn't go her own way by chance." Jo was a bluffing fat guy. The one who fights. Those who are bullying or condescending. One who brags and flaunts. The one who gets popular by giving girls ice cream, even if he has to steal a coin from grandma's purse. The one who steals, even if he finds out and gets beaten, and believes it when told he is going to hell. Poor Jo, he's been so fat all his life. He pointed again towards the castle. "It is his monument to the damaged pituitary gland. Speaking of the pituitary gland, he continued to Pete, how's work going?

Pete thought grimly of Virginia - wondering for the hundredth time why she had left them, if he had done something to offend her, if she was really tired or for some other reason. When Mr. Propter mentioned work, he looked up and his face brightened. "Everything is going well," he replied, and in short, enthusiastic phrases unusually composed of jargon and technical terms, he told Mr. Propter about the results they had already achieved with their mice and were beginning to achieve. , with baboons and dogs.

"And if you succeed," asked Mr. Propter, "what will become of your dogs?"

"But their lifespans have increased," Pete replied triumphantly.

- Yes, yes, I know that - said the elder. - I wanted to ask something else. A dog is a wolf that has not fully developed. It looks more like a wolf fetus than an adult wolf; is not it?

Pete nodded.

“In other words,” continued Mr. Propter, “it is a gentle, docile animal, because it is never wild. Shouldn't that be one of the mechanisms of evolutionary development?

Pete nodded again. "There's a kind of glandular balance," he explained. “Then a mutation comes along and throws it out of balance. You get a new balance that slows down the pace of development. you will grow up; but you do it so slowly that you are dead before you cease to be like the fetus of your great-great-grandfather.

"Exactly," said Mr. Propter. "What happens if you extend the life of an animal that has evolved this way?"

Pete laughed and shrugged. "I guess we'll have to wait and see," he said.

"It would be a bit worrying," said Mr. Propter, "for your dogs to grow again in the process of growing up."

Pete laughed again in delight. "Imagine widows being chased by their Pekingese," he said.

Mr. Propter looked at him curiously and was silent for a moment, as if waiting for Pete's comment. The comment did not appear. I'm glad you're enjoying it so much, he said. Then, addressing Jeremy, "If I remember rightly, Mr. Pordage," he continued, "it does not grow as a great tree makes a man better."

"Or a long-lived oak, three hundred years old," said Jeremy, smiling with the satisfaction he always derived from an apt quotation.

"What will we all be doing at three hundred?" Mr. Propter speculated. — Do you think he would still be a scholar and a gentleman?

Jeremy coughed and patted his bald head. "One would certainly cease to be a gentleman," he replied. - One of them has started to stop now, thank heavens.

"But the scholar will stick with it?"

– There are many books in the British Museum.

"And you, Pete?" asked Mr. Propter. "Do you think you will continue to investigate?"

'Why not? What prevents you from continuing this indefinitely? answered the young man firmly.

- Forever? repeated Mr. Propter. "Don't you think you'll be a little bored?" One experiment after another. Or one book after another,” he added to Jeremy in passing. “Generally, one damn thing after another. Don't you think that would bother you a bit?

"I don't understand why," Pete said.

- So the weather doesn't bother you?

Pete shook his head. "Why would that be?"

"Why wouldn't it be?" said Mr. Propter, smiling at him with a sense of amusement. “You know, time is quite a troublesome thing.

"Not if you don't fear death or aging."

"Yes, it is," insisted Mr. Propter; "Even if you're not afraid. It's a nightmare in itself - an internal nightmare, if you know what I mean.

- Internally? Pete looked at him in astonishment. "I don't understand," he said. "Inside the nightmare...?"

"A nightmare in the present tense, of course," Jeremy added. “But if you consider it a fossil state—in the form of the Hauberk Papers, for example—” He didn't finish the sentence.

"Oh, very pleasant," said Mr. Propter, agreeing with his assumed conclusion. "But in the end, the story is not true. The past tense is only remotely bad; and of course, the study of the past tense is only a process in time. Cataloging the crumbs of petrified evil will never be more than a substitute for the experience of eternity. He looked at Pete curiously, wondering how the boy would react to what he was telling him. To get to the heart of things in this way, to start from the heart and center of the mystery, was risky; there was a danger that it would arouse only astonishment or only angry derision. He could see that Pete's reaction was almost the first reaction; but it was a confusion which seemed to be subdued by interest; He looked like he wanted to know what it was all about.

Meanwhile, Jeremy began to sense that this conversation was taking a very unwanted turn. "What exactly should we be talking about?" he asked sharply. "New Jerusalem?"

Mr. Propter gave him a cheerful smile. "Everything is fine," he said. "I will not say a word about harps and wings.

"Well that's something," Jeremy said.

"I have never been satisfied with meaningless discourse," continued Mr. Propter. "I like that the words I use have something to do with the facts. That's why I'm interested in eternity - psychological eternity. Because that's a fact.

"Maybe for you," Jeremy said, in a tone that suggested more civilized people didn't suffer from these hallucinations.

"For anyone who chooses to meet the conditions under which it can be experienced."

"And why should anyone fill them?"

"Why would anyone go to Athens to see the Parthenon" Because it's worth the effort. And the same goes for eternity. The experience of timeless good is worth all the trouble it brings.

"Eternally good," Jeremy repeated in disgust. - I don't know what those words mean.

"Why would you?" said Mr. Propter. "You don't know the full meaning of the word 'Parthenon' until you see it."

– Yes, but at least I saw pictures of the Parthenon; I read the descriptions.

"You have read the descriptions of the timeless good," replied Mr. Propter. - Dozens of them. In all philosophical and religious literature. you read them; but you never bought a ticket to Athens.

In resentful silence, Jeremy had to admit to himself that it was true. The fact that it was true made him condemn the conversation even more than before.

"As for the time," mr. Propter was saying to Pete, "what is it in this particular context if not the medium in which evil spreads, the element in which evil lives and outside of which it dies?" Indeed, it is more than the element of evil, more than its medium. If you go far enough in your analysis, you will find that time is evil. One aspect of its essential content.

Jeremy listened with increasing discomfort and increasing irritation. His fears were justified; the old boy began to practice the worst theology. Eternity, timeless experience of good, time as a being of evil - God knew that there was enough bad in the books; but to be shot at like that, up close, by someone who really took it seriously, was really scary. Why on earth couldn't people live in a rational, civilized way? Why couldn't they take things as they are? Breakfast at nine, lunch at one thirty, tea at five. And the conversation. And a daily walk with Yorkshire terrier Mr. Gladstone. and library; Voltaire's works in eighty-three volumes; Horace Walpole's Inexhaustible Treasure; and, for a change, the Divine Comedy; and then, if you want to take the Middle Ages too seriously, Salimbene's autobiography and Mlinare's story. And sometimes in the afternoon - the vicar, Lady Fredegond with the trumpet in her ears, Mr. Veal. And political debates – except in the last few months, since the Anschluss and Munich, political debate has turned out to be one of the unpleasant things to avoid. And a weekly trip to London with lunch at the Reforma and always dinner with old Thripp from the British Museum; and talking to his poor brother Tom at the Foreign Office (only that, too, quickly became one of the things to avoid). And then, of course, the London Library; and Vespers in Westminster Cathedral when they sang Palestrina; and every other week, between five and six thirty, an hour and a half with Mae or Doris at their flat in Maida Vale. Endless misery in the little room, as he liked to call it; incredibly wonderful. These were the things that came; why couldn't they take them, quietly and sensibly? But no, they had to babble about eternity and everything. It was things like this that made Jeremy always want to blaspheme—to ask if God had a rectal boy, to protest, like that Japanese anecdote, that he was completely confused and embarrassed by the position of the venerable bird. But, unfortunately, the present was one of those particularly irritating cases where such reactions were out of place. Because old Propter wrote Short Studies; what he said could not simply be dismissed as the fumes of an undeveloped mind. Besides, he wasn't talking about Christianity, so jokes about anthropomorphism made no sense. It was really too irritating! He had an air of haughty detachment and even started humming Honeysuckle and the Bee. He wanted to look like a superior being who really couldn't be expected to waste his time listening to such things.

A comic spectacle, thought Mr. Propter, looking at him; except of course it was so depressing.

The ninth chapter

“TIME AND DESIRE,” said Mr. Propter, “thirst and time—two aspects of the same thing; and this thing is the raw material of evil. So you see, Pete," he added in a different tone, "you see what a strange gift you will give us if you succeed in your business. Another century of time and wishes. A few more incarnations of potential evil.

"And potentially good," persisted the young man, a hint of protest in his voice.

"And potentially good," agreed Mr. Propter. "But far from the extra time you're giving us."

"Why are you saying that?" Pete asked.

“For potential evil is in time; potentially good is not. The longer you live, the more evil you automatically encounter. No one automatically comes into contact with the good. People cannot find more goods by simply living longer. It is interesting, he continued thoughtfully, that people should always focus on the problem of evil. Only. As if the nature of good is something obvious. But it's not obvious. The problem of good is at least as difficult as the problem of evil.

- And what is the solution? Pete asked.

"The solution is very simple and deeply unacceptable. True good is beyond time.

"Out of time?. But how…?

"I said it was unacceptable," Mr Propter said.

"But if it's not in time, then . . ."

"... then nothing in time can be really good. Time is potential evil, and desire turns potential into actual evil. Whereas a temporal act can never be more than a potential good, with a possibility, moreover, that cannot be realized except outside of time.

"But within time, here—you know, just doing ordinary things—hell! sometimes we do well. What actions are good?

"None, to be exact," replied Mr. Propter. "But in practice, I think it is legitimate to apply that word to certain acts. Any act that contributes to the liberation of those concerned, I would call a good deed."

- Liberation? repeated the young man suspiciously. In his mind, those words had only economic and revolutionary connotations. But it was obvious that Mr. Propter was not talking about liberation from capitalism. "Freedom from what?"

Mr. Propter hesitated before answering. Should I continue? he wondered. The Englishman was hostile; short time; the boy himself was completely ignorant. But this ignorance was apparently tempered by good will and a touching yearning for perfection. He decided to take a risk and move on.

"Freedom from time," he said. "Freedom from desires and aversions. Freedom from personality.

"But hell," said Pete, "you're always talking about democracy." Doesn't that mean respect for personality?

"Of course," agreed Mr. Propter. "Respecting her so that she could surpass herself. Slavery and fanaticism increase the obsession with time, evil and self. Hence the value of democratic institutions and a skeptical way of thinking. The more you respect personality, the more likely you are to discover that every personality is a prison. Anything that helps you get out of jail is potentially good. Realized good lies outside the prison, in timelessness, in a state of pure, selfless consciousness.

"I'm not good at abstractions," said the young man. "Let's take some concrete examples. What about learning, for example, Is it good?'

"Good, bad and indifferent, depending on how it is hunted and what it is used for. Good, bad and indifferent, above all, to the scientists themselves - just as art and science can be good, bad or indifferent to artists and scientists. It is good if it facilitates release; indifferent if it neither helps nor bothers; wrong if it prevents liberation by increasing the obsession with the personality. And remember, the apparent selflessness of a scientist or artist is not necessarily true freedom from the slavery of personality. Human scientists and artists are dedicated to what we vaguely call the ideal. But what is the ideal? The ideal is only a projection, on a significantly increased scale, of some aspect of the personality.

"Say that again," Pete demanded, as even Jeremy had by now forgotten his overwhelming detachment to get the most attention.

Mr. Propter repeated it. "And that is true," he continued, "of every ideal but the highest, which is that of liberation—liberation from personality, liberation from time and desire, liberation to union with God, if you don't resist the words, Mr. Pordage." A lot of people do that," he added. It is one of the words that the intelligent Ms. Grundy finds particularly shocking. I always try to spare their vulnerability whenever I can. Well, back to our idealist," he continued, pleased that Jeremy had to smile in spite of himself. "If he serves any but the highest ideal—whether it be the artist's ideal of beauty, the scientist's ideal of truth, or the humanitarian ideal of what is now considered good— he does not serve God; he serves an expanded aspect of himself. He may be completely devoted; but ultimately his devotion turns out to be directed toward an aspect of his own personality. His apparent selflessness is not actually liberation from the ego, but merely another form of slavery. This means that science can to be bad for scientists, even if it seems to be savior.The same goes for art, science, humanitarianism.

Jeremy reflected nostalgically on his library at The Araucarias. Why couldn't this old madman be content to accept things as they were?

- What about other people? Pete asked. “People who are not scientists. Didn't letting them go help?

Mr. Propter nodded. “It also helped them bond. Moreover, I should suppose that it has increased the attachment more than it has decreased it — and will tend to a gradual increase.

"How do you figure that out?"

"Through the apps," replied Mr. Propter. - Primarily war applications. Better planes, better explosives, better weapons and gases - each improvement increases the sum of fear and hatred, increases the scope of nationalist hysteria. In other words, every weapon upgrade makes it harder for people to escape from their egos, harder to forget those horrible projections of themselves that they call ideals of patriotism, heroism, glory and everything else. And even the less destructive uses of science are not much more satisfying. What do such applications lead to? Duplication of owned items; the invention of new instruments of stimulation; spreading new needs through propaganda to equate possession with well-being and constant stimulation with happiness.

“But constant external stimulation is the source of slavery; so is preoccupation with possession. And now you threaten to prolong our lives so that we may continue to be full of energy, continue to desire possessions, continue to wave flags and hate our enemies and fear air raids - go on, generation after generation, sinking deeper and deeper into the stinking quagmire of our personality. " He shook his head. "No, I don't quite share your optimism about science."

There was a silence during which Pete debated whether he should ask Mr. Propter about love. In the end he decided not to. Virginia was too holy. (But why, why had she returned to the Grotto? What could he have said or done to offend her? And to divert his mind from those questions, and because he wanted the old man's opinion on the last of the three things he considered extremely important, he looked at Mr. Proptera and asked: "What about social justice? I mean, let's take the French Revolution. Or Russia. What about this Spanish business - the fight for freedom and democracy against fascist aggression?" and a scientific attitude to the whole thing, but his voice trembled a little as he uttered his last words.Despite their familiarity (perhaps precisely because of their familiarity), phrases like "fascist aggression" still had the power to take him to the depths.

"Napoleon came out of the French Revolution," Mr. Propter said after a moment of silence. "German nationalism came from Napoleon. The war of 1870 arose out of German nationalism. The war of 1914 came out of the war of 1870. Hitler came out of the war of 1914. These are the bad effects of the French Revolution. The good results were the suffrage of the French peasants and the spread of political democracy. Put the good scores on one rung of your scale and the bad scores on the other and try to see which set is harder. Then do the same operation with Russia. Put the abolition of tsarism and capitalism on the same scale; and in the second put Stalin, put the secret police, put hunger, put twenty years of misery for one hundred and fifty million people, put the liquidation of intellectuals, kulaks and old Bolsheviks, put hordes of slaves in prison camps; conscripted everyone, men and women, from childhood to old age, introduced revolutionary propaganda that encouraged the bourgeoisie to invent fascism." Mr. Propter shook his head. "Or fight for democracy in Spain," he continued. "Not so long ago there was a struggle for democracy all over Europe. Rational predictions can only be based on past experience. Look at the results in 1914 and then ask yourself what chance the Loyalists even had of establishing a liberal regime after the end of the long war. Others win; so we will never have an opportunity to see what circumstances and their own passions led these well-intentioned liberals to stay.

"But hell! Pete snapped, "what do you expect people to do when attacked by fascists?" Sit back and let them cut your throat?

"Of course not," said Mr. Propter. - I expect them to fight. And the expectation is based on my prior knowledge of human behavior. But the fact that people generally react to these situations in this way does not prove that it is the best way to react. My experience tells me that I expect them to behave that way. But experience also leads me to expect that if they do, the results will be disastrous.

"So, how do you want us to behave?" You want us to sit and do nothing?

"Nothing," said Mr. Propter. "Just something appropriate."

"But what is right?"

It's not war anyway. Not a violent revolution. Not yet politics, I suppose, to any extent.

"So what?"

"That's what we have to find out." The main lines are clear enough. But there is still work to be done in terms of practical details.

Pete wasn't listening. He remembered that time in Aragon when his life had seemed so important. "But those guys over there in Spain," he bursts out. “You didn't know them, Mr. Propter. They were wonderful, really. He was never mean to you, or brave, or loyal, or anything. He struggled with the imperfection of his vocabulary, with the fear of making an exhibition by saying something big, like an aristocrat. “They didn't live for themselves, I can tell you that, Mr. Propter. He looked at the old man's face almost pleadingly, as if begging him to believe. “They lived for something much bigger than themselves – like what you just talked about; you know, more than just personally.

"What about Hitler's boys?" asked Mr. Propter. "What about Mussolini's boys?" What about Stalin's boys? Do you think they are not equally brave, equally kind to each other, equally devoted to their cause, and equally firmly convinced that it is about justice, truth, liberty, law, and honor?" He looked quizzically at Pete; but Pete said nothing. “The fact that men have many virtues,” continued Mr. Propter, “proves nothing of the goodness of their actions. You can have all the virtues—that is, all but the two that really matter, understanding and compassion—you can have all the others, I say, and be a thoroughly bad person. Indeed, you cannot be truly evil unless you have most of the virtues. Look, for example, at Satan Milton. Brave, strong, generous, loyal, prudent, moderate, self-sacrificing. And let's give dictators the credit they deserve; some of them are almost as virtuous as Satan. Not really, I admit, but almost. That's why they can do so much evil.

With his elbows on his knees, Pete sat silently, frowning. "But this feeling," he said finally. This feeling was between us. You know - friendship; only it was more than just friendship. And the feeling that we are there together - that we are fighting for the same thing - and that it is worth it - and then the danger, and the rain, and that terrible cold at night, and the summer heat, and the thirst, and even the lice and the dirt, participate in for all the good and bad - and knowing that tomorrow it might be your turn, or one of the other boys - your turn for the field hospital (and chances are they don't have enough anesthetic, except maybe for an amputation or something), or your time for the funeral party. All those feelings, Mr. Propter, I just can't believe they meant nothing.

"They were thinking of themselves," Mr. Propter said.

Jeremy saw an opportunity for a counterattack, which he immediately took advantage of with exceptional speed. "Doesn't the same apply to your feelings about eternity or whatever he asked about."

"Of course I do," said Mr. Propter.

"Then how can you say it's important? A feeling means something by itself and that's it.

"It means the same thing," agreed Mr. Propter. "But what exactly is 'same'? In other words, what is the nature of that feeling?

"Don't ask me," Jeremy said, shaking his head and raising his eyebrows comically. - I really do not know.

Mr. Propter smiled. "I know you don't want to know," he said. - And I won't ask you. I'm just stating the facts. The feeling in question is an impersonal experience of timeless peace. Therefore, it means without personality, timelessness and peace. Now think about the feeling Pete was talking about. These are all personal feelings, triggered by current situations and characterized by a sense of excitement. Intensification of the ego in the world of time and desires - that's what these feelings meant.

"But sacrifice can't be called an ego boost," Pete said.

"I can and I will," insisted Mr. Propter. "With good reason why." Commitment to anything but the highest goal is to sacrifice the ideal, which is simply a projection of the ego. What is commonly called sacrifice is the sacrificing of one part of the ego for another part, one set of personal feelings and passions for another set—as when one sacrifices feelings about money or sex so that the ego can have feelings of superiority, solidarity, and hatred associated with patriotism or any political or religious fanaticism."

Pete shook his head. "Sometimes," he said with a smile of sad embarrassment, "sometimes you sound almost like Dr. Obispo." You know... cynical.

Mr. Propter laughed. "It's OK to be cynical," he said. "That is, if you know when to stop." Most of the things we are all taught to respect and revere deserve nothing but cynicism. Take your case. You are taught to worship ideals such as patriotism, social justice, science, romantic love. You are told that the virtues of loyalty, temperance, courage, and prudence are good in themselves, under all circumstances. You have convinced yourself that commitment is always great and that good feelings are always good. And it's all nonsense, a whole bunch of lies invented by people to justify their continued denial of God and wallowing in their own selfishness. If you are not constantly and tirelessly cynical about the solemn chatter of bishops, bankers, professors, politicians and everyone else, you have failed. Totally lost. Condemned to be forever trapped in his ego – condemned to be a personality in a world of personalities; and the world of personality is this world, the world of greed, fear and hatred, the world of war, capitalism, dictatorship and slavery. Yeah, you must be cynical, Pete. Especially cynical towards all actions and feelings that they were taught to consider good. Most of them are not good. It is only an evil that happens to be considered praiseworthy. But, unfortunately, glorious evil is just as bad as discreditable evil. Ultimately, scribes and Pharisees are no better than publicans and sinners. In fact, they are often much worse. For several reasons. Because they are well regarded by others, they think well of themselves; and nothing confirms egoism like a good opinion of oneself. Second, tax collectors and sinners are generally just human animals, without enough energy or self-control to do much harm. Whereas the Scribes and Pharisees have all but the two virtues that count, and intelligence enough to understand all but the true nature of the world. Tax collectors and sinners only commit adultery, overeat and get drunk. People who make wars, people who lead their brothers into slavery, people who kill, torture and lie in the name of their holy things, really evil people, in a word, are never publicans and sinners. No, they are honest, respectable people who have the greatest feelings, the best minds, the noblest ideals.

“So it comes down to this,” Pete concluded in a tone of furious desperation, “there's just nothing you can do. Is that?'

"Yes and no," said Mr. Propter in his calm, judicial tone. "On a strictly human level, on the level of time and desire, I would say that it is quite true: in the end, nothing can be done."

- But that's just defeatism! protested Pete.

"Why should defeatism be realistic?"

"Something must be done!"

"I don't see any 'obligation' in that.

"What about the reformers and all these people?" If you're right, they're just wasting time.

"It depends on what they think they're doing," said Mr. Propter. "If they think that they are only temporarily alleviating certain sufferings, if they see themselves as people who painstakingly redirect evil from old channels to new and slightly different channels, then they can rightly claim that they are successful. But if they think they are making good appear where evil used to be, then why is the whole story so clear that they are wasting their time.

"But why can't I make good appear where evil used to be?"

"Why do we fall when we jump out of a window on the tenth floor? Because the nature of things is that we fall. And the nature of things is such that on the strictly human level of time and desire nothing but evil can be achieved. If you choose to work exclusively on this level and exclusively for the ideals and goals inherent in it, then you are crazy to expect to turn evil into good. You are crazy because experience should show you that there is nothing good at this level. There are only different degrees and different kinds of evil.

"So what do you want people to do?"

"Please don't talk like it's all my fault," Mr. Propter said. "I didn't invent the universe."

"Then what should we do?"

"Well, if they want new efforts of evil, let them continue what they are doing now. But if they mean well, they will have to change their tactics. And the encouraging thing," added Mr. Propter in a different tone, "the encouraging thing is that there are good tactics. We have seen that on the purely human level there is nothing to be done - or rather, there are millions of things to be done, but none of them will do any good. But there is something effective to be done on those levels where good actually exists. So, you see, Pete, I'm not a defeatist. I'm a strategist. I believe that if a battle is to be fought, it's better to fight it under conditions where there is at least some chance of victory. I believe that if you want the golden fleece, it's better to go where it's at than to run across the land where all the fleeces are black as coal.

"Then where will we fight for good?"

— Where it's good.

"But where is he?"

"On the level below human and on the level above. On the animal level and on the level of... well, you can choose the names: the level of eternity; level if God doesn't mind; spirit level - except that it happens to be the most ambiguous word in the language. At a lower level, good exists as the proper functioning of the organism in accordance with the laws of its own existence. At a higher level it exists in the form of knowing the world without desire or aversion; it exists as an experience of eternity, as a transcendence of personality, an expansion of consciousness beyond the limits imposed by the ego. Strictly human actions are actions that prevent the manifestation of good on the other two levels. Because we, as humans, are obsessed with time, we care passionately about our personalities and those magnified projections of our personalities that we call our politics, our ideals, our religions. And what are the results? Obsessed with time and our ego, we constantly yearn and worry. But nothing disturbs the normal functioning of the body more than desire and disgust, greed, fear and worry. Directly or indirectly, most of our physical ailments and deficiencies stem from worries and desires. We worry and drive ourselves into high blood pressure, heart disease, tuberculosis, peptic ulcer, low resistance to infections, neurasthenia, sexual aberrations, insanity, suicide. Not to mention everything else. Mr. Propter waved his hand comprehensively. "Lust prevents us from even seeing well," he continued. "The more we try to see, the more serious our error of accommodation. It's the same with body posture: the more we worry about whether we'll do what's in front of us on time, the more we hinder proper body posture, and thus the functioning of the entire organism. In a word, to the extent that we are human beings, we prevent ourselves from realizing the physiological and instinctive goodness of which we are capable as animals. And, mutatis mutandis, the same applies to the sphere above. To the extent that we are human beings, we prevent ourselves from realizing the spiritual and timeless good for which we are capable as potential inhabitants of eternity, as potential joyful beneficiaries of the blessed vision. We worry and long for the very possibility of transcending personality and knowledge, first intellectually and then through direct experience, of the true nature of the world.

Mr. Propter was silent for a moment; then, with a sudden smile, he added, "Fortunately," he continued, "most of us fail to act like human beings all the time." We forget about our unfortunate little egos and those awful, big projections of our ego in an ideal world - we forget about them, and for a moment we return to harmless animality. The body gets a chance to function according to its own laws; in other words, he has the opportunity to do as much good as he can. That is why we are healthy and sane as we are. Even in big cities, as many as four out of five people manage to survive without needing to be treated in a mental institution. If we were consistently human, the percentage of mental cases would increase from twenty to one hundred. But, fortunately, most of us are not capable of consistency - the animal always regains its rights. And some people quite often, perhaps all of us, get little flashes of enlightenment from time to time - momentary glimpses of the nature of the world as it is for consciousness without appetite and time, the world as it might be if we hadn't chosen to deny God by being our personal selves. . Those flashes haunt us when we let our guard down; then desire and care return, and the light is again dimmed by our personality and its crazy ideals, its criminal policies and plans.

There was silence. The sun is gone. Beyond the mountains to the west, a pale yellow light faded from green to blue that deepened as it rose. The whole night was at its zenith.

Pete sat quite still, staring at the dark but still clear sky above the northern peaks. That voice, so calm at the beginning and so resonant at the end, those words, now mercilessly critical of everything he was faithful to, now charged with a half-understood promise of disproportionately loyal things, left him deeply moved and at the same time confused and lost. He found that everything would have to be rethought - science, politics, maybe even love, even Virginia. He was horrified at the prospect, yet another part of his being attracted him; he resented Mr. Propter, but at the same time loved the troublesome old man; he loved him for what he did, and most of all for what he was so admirable and, in Pete's own experience, unique - selflessly friendly yet serene yet powerful, tender and strong, humble yet intensely present, more present, so to speak, it radiates more life than anyone else.

Jeremy Pordage, too, was interested in what the old man had to say, and even, like Pete, felt some discomfort—an discomfort no less disturbing because he had already awakened to it. What Mr. Propter said was familiar to him. Because, of course, he read all the significant books on the subject - he would be considered barbarically uneducated if he didn't - he read Sankara and Eckhart, the Pali texts of John of the Cross, Charles de Condran and the Bard and Patanjali and Pseudo-Dionysius. He read them, and they prompted him to wonder if he ought not to do something with them; and being moved, he took the most elaborate care to ridicule them, not only to other people, but also, above all, to himself. “You never bought a ticket to Athens,” said the man, “a curse in his eyes! Why did he want to put these things on one card? All they asked was to be left alone, to take things as they are. Things as they were - someone's books, someone's little articles, Lady Fredegond's trumpet, Palestrina, steak and pudding at the Reform, and Mae and Doris. Which reminded him that today was Friday; if he was in England, it would be his afternoon in the flat in Maida Vale. He deliberately turned his attention away from Mr. Propter and thought instead of these alternate Friday afternoons; pink lampshades; the smell of talc and sweat; Trojan women, as he called them because they worked so hard, in kimonos from Marx and Spencer; framed reproductions of paintings by Poynter and Alma Tadem (a beautiful irony that works that the Victorians considered the art of generations later would be used as pornography in a troll's bedroom!); and finally the erotic routine, so really dirty, so conscientiously and professionally low, with a lowliness and filth that made their greatest appeal to Jeremy, which he valued more than any amount of moonlight and romance, any number of texts and Liebestods. Endless misery in a small room! It was the apotheosis of sophistication, the logical conclusion of good taste.

The tenth chapter

THIS FRIDAY, Mr. STOYTE's afternoon in town was unusually quiet. Nothing alarming happened last week. In his various meetings and interviews, no one said or did anything to upset him. Reports on business conditions were very satisfactory. The Japanese bought another hundred thousand barrels of oil. Copper went up two cents. The demand for bentonite was definitely growing. True, the applications for bank loans were quite disappointing; but the flu epidemic pushed Pantheon's weekly traffic well above average.

Things went so smoothly that Mr. Stoyte got all his business done more than an hour earlier than expected. After some free time on the way home, he stopped by his agent to find out what was going on at the property. The conversation lasted only a few minutes—long enough to send Stoyte into a frenzy to run after his car.

"Go to Mr. Propter," he ordered with overpowering fury, slamming the door.

What the hell did Bill Propter