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thought of persecution left him undismayed, was rather tonic than depressing. He
felt strong enough to meet and overcome amiction, strong enough to face even
Iceland. And this confidence was the greater for his not for a moment really
believing that he would be called upon to face anything at all. People simply weren't
transferred for things like that. Iceland was just a threat. A most stimulating and
life-giving threat. Walking along the corridor, he actually whistled.
Heroic was the account he gave that evening of his interview with the D.H.C.
"Whereupon," it concluded, "I simply told him to go to the Bottomless Past and
marched out of the room. And that was that." He looked at Helmholtz Watson
expectantly, awaiting his due reward of sympathy, encouragement, admiration. But
no word came. Helmholtz sat silent, staring at the floor.
He liked Bernard; he was grateful to him for being the only man of his acquaintance
with whom he could talk about the subjects he felt to be important. Nevertheless,
there were things in Bernard which he hated. This boasting, for example. And the
outbursts of an abject self-pity with which it alternated. And his deplorable habit of
being bold after the event, and full, in absence, of the most extraordinary presence
of mind. He hated these things just because he liked Bernard. The seconds
passed. Helmholtz continued to stare at the floor. And suddenly Bernard blushed
and turned away.
3
THE journey was quite uneventful. The Blue Pacific Rocket was two and a half
minutes early at New Orleans, lost four minutes in a tornado over Texas, but flew
into a favourable air current at Longitude 95 West, and was able to land at Santa F
less than forty seconds behind schedule time.
"Forty seconds on a six and a half hour flight. Not so bad," Lenina conceded.
They slept that night at Santa F. The hotel was excellent incomparably better, for
example, than that horrible Aurora Bora Palace in which Lenina had suffered so
much the previous summer. Liquid air, television, vibro-vacuum massage, radio,
boiling caffeine solution, hot contraceptives, and eight different kinds of scent were
laid on in every bedroom. The synthetic music plant was working as they entered
the hall and left nothing to be desired. A notice in the lift announced that there were
sixty Escalator-Squash-Racket Courts in the hotel, and that Obstacle and
Electro-magnetic Golf could both be played in the park.
"But it sounds simply too lovely," cried Lenina. "I almost wish we could stay here.
Sixty Escalator-Squash Courts & "
"There won't be any in the Reservation," Bernard warned her. "And no scent, no
television, no hot water even. If you feel you can't stand it, stay here till I come
back."
Lenina was quite offended. "Of course I can stand it. I only said it was lovely here
because & well, because progress is lovely, isn't it?"
"Five hundred repetitions once a week from thirteen to seventeen," said Bernard
wearily, as though to himself.
"What did you say?"
"I said that progress was lovely. That's why you mustn't come to the Reservation
unless you really want to."
"But I do want to."
"Very well, then," said Bernard; and it was almost a threat.
Their permit required the signature of the Warden of the Reservation, at whose
office next morning they duly presented themselves. An Epsilon-Plus negro porter
took in Bernard's card, and they were admitted almost imrnediately.
The Warden was a blond and brachycephalic Alpha-Minus, short, red, moon-faced,
and broad-shouldered, with a loud booming voice, very well adapted to the
utterance of hypnopdic wisdom. He was a mine of irrelevant information and
unasked-for good advice. Once started, he went on and on boomingly.
"& five hundred and sixty thousand square kilometres, divided into four distinct
Sub-Reservations, each surrounded by a high-tension wire fence."
At this moment, and for no apparent reason, Bernard suddenly remembered that he
had left the Eau de Cologne tap in his bathroom wide open and running.
"& supplied with current from the Grand Canyon hydro-electric station."
"Cost me a fortune by the time I get back." With his mind's eye, Bernard saw the
needle on the scent meter creeping round and round, antlike, indefatigable.
"Quickly telephone to Helmholtz Watson."
"& upwards of five thousand kilometres of fencing at sixty thousand volts."
"You don't say so," said Lenina politely, not knowing in the least what the Warden
had said, but taking her cue from his dramatic pause. When the Warden started
booming, she had inconspicuously swallowed half a gramme of soma, with the result
that she could now sit, serenely not listening, thinking of nothing at all, but with her
large blue eyes fixed on the Warden's face in an expression of rapt attention.
"To touch the fence is instant death," pronounced the Warden solemnly. "There is
no escape from a Savage Reservation."
The word "escape" was suggestive. "Perhaps," said Bernard, half rising, "we ought to
think of going." The little black needle was scurrying, an insect, nibbling through
time, eating into his money.
"No escape," repeated the Warden, waving him back into his chair; and as the
permit was not yet countersigned Bernard had no choice but to obey. "Those who
are born in the Reservation and remember, my dear young lady," he added,
leering obscenely at Lenina, and speaking in an improper whisper, "remember that,
in the Reservation, children still are born, yes, actually born, revolting as that may
seem & " (He hoped that this reference to a shameful subject would make Lenina
blush; but she only smiled with simulated intelligence and said, "You don't say so!"
Disappointed, the Warden began again. ) "Those, I repeat who are born in the
Reservation are destined to die there."
Destined to die & A decilitre of Eau de Cologne every minute. Six litres an hour.
"Perhaps," Bernard tried again, "we ought & "
Leaning forward, the Warden tapped the table with his forefinger. "You ask me how
many people live in the Reservation. And I reply" triumphantly "I reply that we do
not know. We can only guess."
"You don't say so."
"My dear young lady, I do say so."
Six times twenty-four no, it would be nearer six times thirty-six. Bernard was pale
and trembling with impatience. But inexorably the booming continued.
"& about sixty thousand Indians and half-breeds & absolute savages & our
inspectors occasionally visit & otherwise, no communication whatever with the
civilized world & still preserve their repulsive habits and customs & marriage, if you
know what that is, my dear young lady; families & no conditioning & monstrous
superstitions & Christianity and totemism and ancestor worship & extinct languages,
such as Zui and Spanish and Athapascan & pumas, porcupines and other ferocious
animals & infectious diseases & priests & venomous lizards & "
"You don't say so?"
They got away at last. Bernard dashed to the telephone. Quick, quick; but it took [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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