The following day Somers felt savage with himself again. "Fool that I am, fool!" he said, mentally kicking himself. And he looked at the big pink sprea_f his Sydney Bulletin viciously. The Bulletin was the only periodical in th_orld that really amused him. The horrible stuffiness of English newspapers h_ould not stand: they had the same effect on him as fish-balls in _estaurant, loathsome stuffy fare. English magazines were too piffling, to_mbecile. But the "Bully", even if it was made up all of bits, and had neithe_ead nor tail nor feet nor wings, was still a lively creature. He liked it_traightforwardness and the kick in some of its tantrums. It beat no solem_rums. It had no deadly earnestness. It was just stoical, and spitefull_umorous. Yes, at the moment he liked the Bulletin better than any paper h_new, though even the Bulletin tried a dowdy bit of swagger sometimes, especially on the pink page. But then the pink page was just "literary", an_ho cares?
Who cares, anyhow? Perhaps a bit sad, after all. But more fool you for bein_ad.
So he rushed to read the "bits". They would make Bishop Latimer forget himsel_nd his martyrdom at the stake.
1805: The casual Digger of war-days has carried it into civvies. Sighted on_f the original Tenth at the Outer Harbour (Adelaide) wharf last week fishing.
His sinker was his 1914 Star.
Yes, couldn't Somers just see that forlorn Outer Harbour at Adelaide, and th_igger, like some rag of sea-weed dripping over the edge of the wharf fishing, and using his medal for a weight?
Wilfrido: A recent advertisement for the Wellington (New Zealand) Art Galler_ttracted 72 applicants. Among them were two solicitors (One an Oxford M.A.); five sheepfarmers, on whose lands the mortgagee had foreclosed; and _ultitude of clerks. The post is not exactly a sinecure, either; it demand_ttendance on seven days a week at 150 pounds per annum.
Then a little cartoon of Ivan, the Russian workman, going for a tram-drive, and taking huge bundles of money with him, sackfuls of roubles, to pay th_are. The "Bully" was sardonic about Bolshevism.
Ned Kelly: Hearing the deuce of a racket in the abo (aborigines) camp near ou_lace, we strolled over to see what was wrong, and saw a young Binghi givin_is gin a father of a hiding for making eyes at another buck. Ever_espectable Binghi has the right to wallop his missis, but this one laid it o_o much that he knocked her senseless. This enraged her relatives, and the_ent for him en masse, while two or three gins applied restoratives to th_attered wife. She soon came round, and, seeing how things were, grabbed _addy and went to the assistance of her lord and master. In the end the twai_outed the phalanxed relations. Same old woman, whatever her line.
Bits about bullock drivers and the biggest loads on record, about the bigges_iece of land ploughed by a man in a day, recipes for mange in horses, twins, turnips, accidents to reverend clergymen, and so on.
Pick: In the arid parts out back the wild birds infallibly indicate to th_ayfarer when the water in his bag must be vigorously conserved. If in th_arly morning they descend in flocks to the plain, and there collect th_lobules of dew among the dry stalks of grass, it means that every tank, gilgal and puddle-hole within a bird's drinking flight has gone dry.
Cellu Lloyd: Before you close down on mangey horses here's a cure I've neve_nown to fail. To one bullock's gall add kerosene to make up a full pint. Hea_ufficiently to enable it to mix well, not forgetting, of course, that half o_t is kerosene. When well mixed add one teaspoonful of chrysophanic acid.
Bottle and shake well. Before applying take a hard scrubbing brush an_horoughly scrub the part with carbolic soap and hot water, and when applyin_he mixture use the brush again. In one case I struck a pair of buggie ponie_hat had actually bitten pieces from each other, and rubbed down a hundre_ards or so of fence in trying to allay the burning itch. Two month_fterwards they were growing hair and gaining condition, and not a trace o_ange remained. It is wonderful, however, how lightly some horse-owners trea_he matter. When a horse works hard all day, and spends the night rubbing _ence flat in his itch frenzy, he at once loses condition and usefulness; bu_n most cases the owner builds the fence stronger instead of giving th_nfortunate animal the necessary attention.
This recipe brought many biting comments in later issues.
Somers liked the concise, laconic style. It seemed to him manly and withou_rimmings. Put ship-shape in the office, no doubt. Sometimes the drawings wer_ood, and sometimes they weren't.
Lady (who has just opened door to country girl carrying suitcase): "I a_uited. A country girl has been engaged, and I'm getting her to-morrow."
Girl: "I'm her; and you're not. The 'ouse is too big."
There, thought Somers, you have the whole spirit of Australian labour.
K. Sped: A week or two back a Mildura (Victoria) motor-cyclist ran over _iger-snake while travelling at 35 m.p.h. Ten minutes later the leg becam_tchy, and shortly afterwards, feeling giddy, he started back to the loca_ospital. He made a wobbly passage and collapsed at the hospital gates. He wa_ad for a week, and was told that if the reptile had not struck him on th_one he would never have reached the ward. The snake must have doubled up whe_he wheel struck it, and by the merest fluke struck the rider's leg in mid- air.
Fraoch: I knew another case of a white girl marrying an aboriginal about a_ears ago on the Northern Rivers (New South Wales). She was rather pretty, _escendant of an English family. Binghi was a landed proprietor, havin_cquired a very decent estate on the death of a former spinster employer.
(Binghi must have had "a way wid 'im"). He owned a large, well-furnishe_ouse, did himself well, and had a fair education, and was a good rough-rider.
But every year the "call of the wild" came to him, and he would leave his wif_nd kids (they had three) and take himself to an old tumble-down hut in th_ush, and there for a month or two live in solitude on his natural tucker.
Under the will of the aforesaid spinster, upon Binghi's demise the estate wa_o revert to her relatives. With an optimism that was not without a pathos o_ts own, they used to trot out every outlaw in the district for their dusk_riend to ride; but his neck was still intact when I left.
Sucre: Peering through her drawing-room window shortly before lunch, th_enevolent old suburban lady saw a shivering man in a ruined overcoat. Not al_he members of the capitalist classes are iron-souled creatures bent o_rinding the faces of the afflicted, yet virtuous poor. Taking a ten shillin_ote from a heavily-beaded bag, she scribbled on a piece of paper the words:
"Cheer Up", put both in an envelope, and told the maid to give it to th_utcast from her. While the family was at dinner that evening a ring sounde_t the front door. Argument followed in the hall between a hoarse male voic_nd that of the maid. "You can't come in. They're at dinner." "I'd RATHER com_n miss. Always like for to fix these things up in person." "You can't come."
Another moment and the needy wayfarer was in the diningroom. He carefully lai_ive filthy 1 pound notes on the table before his benefactress. "There yo_re, mum," he said, with a rough salute. "Cheer Up won all right. I'm mostl_n the corner, race days, as your cook will tell you; an' I'd like to say tha_f any uv your FRIENDS—."
Bits, bits, bits. Yet Richard Lovat read on. It was not mere anecdotage. I_as the sheer momentaneous life of the continent. There was no consecutiv_hread. Only the laconic courage of experience.
All the better. He could have kicked himself for wanting to help mankind, joi_n revolutions or reforms or any of that stuff. And he kicked himself stil_arder thinking of his frantic struggles with the "soul" and the "dark god"
and the "listener" and the "answerer". Blarney—blarney—blarney! He was _reacher and a blatherer, and he hated himself for it. Damn the "soul", dam_he "dark god", damn the "listener" and the "answerer", and above all, dam_is own interfering, nosy self.
What right had he to go nosing round Kangaroo, and making up to Jaz or t_ack? Why couldn't he keep off it all? Let the whole show go its own ga_ourse to hell, without Mr. Richard Lovat Somers trying to show it the way i_hould go.
A very strong wind had got up from the west. It blew down from the dark hill_n a fury, and was cold as flat ice. It blew the sea back until the grea_ater looked like dark, ruffled mole-fur. It blew it back till the waves go_ittler and littler, and could hardly uncurl the least swish of a rat-tail o_oam.
On such a day his restlessness had driven them on a trip along the coast t_olloona. They got to the lost little town just before mid-day, and looked a_he shops. The sales were on, and prices were "smashed to bits", "Price_mashed to Bits", in big labels. Harriet, of course, fascinated in the Mai_treet, that ran towards the sea, with the steep hills at the back. "Hitc_our motor to a star—Star Motor Company." "Your piano is the most importan_rticle of furniture in your drawing-room. You will not be proud of you_rawing-room unless your piano has a HANDSOME APPEARANCE and a BEAUTIFUL TONE.
Both these requisites—."
It was a wonderful Main Street, and, thank heaven, out of the wind. There wer_everal large but rather scaring brown hotels; with balconies all round: ther_as a yellow stucco church with a red-painted tin steeple, like a weird toy: there were high roofs and low roofs, all corrugated iron: and you came to a_pening, and there, behold, were one or two forlorn bungalows inside thei_ooden palings, and then the void. The naked bush, sinking in a hollow to _ort of marsh, and then down the coast some sort of "works", brick-works o_omething, smoking. All as if it had tumbled haphazard off the pantechnicon o_ivilisation as it dragged round the edges of this wild land, and there lay, busy but not rooted in. As if none of the houses had any foundations.
Bright the sun, the air of marvellous clarity, tall stalks of cabbage palm_ising in the hollow, and far off, tufted gum trees against a perfectly ne_ky, the tufts at the end of wire branches. And farther off, blue, blue hills.
In the Main Street, large and expensive motor-cars and women in fuzzy fu_oats; long, quiescent Australian men in tired-out-looking navy blue suit_rotting on brown ponies, with a carpet-bag in one hand, doing the shopping; girls in very much-made hats, also flirtily shopping; three boys with big, magnificent bare legs, lying in a sunny corner in the dust; a lonely whit_ony hitched as if forever to a post at a street-corner.
"I like it," said Harriet. "It doesn't feel FINISHED."
"Not even begun," he laughed.
But he liked it too: even the slummyness of some of the bungalows inside thei_ooden palings, drab-wood, decrepit houses, old tins, broken pots, a greeny- white pony reminding one of a mildewed old shoe, two half-naked babies sittin_ike bits of live refuse in the dirt, but with bonny, healthy bare legs: th_wful place called "The Travellers' Rest—Mrs. Coddy's Boarding Home"—a sort o_lind, squalid, corner building made of wood and tin, with flat pieces of ol_ace curtain nailed inside the windows, and the green blinds hermeticall_rawn. What must it have been like inside? Then an open space, and coral-tree_ristling with red crest-flowers on their bare, cold boughs: and the hollo_pace of the open country, and the marvellous blue hills of the distance.
The wind was cold enough to make you die. Harriet was disgusted at having bee_ragged away from home. They trailed to the sea to try and get out of it, fo_t blew from the land, and the sun was hot. On the bay one lone man flinging _ine into the water, on the edge of the conch-shaped, sloping sands. Dark-blu_ater, ruffled like mole-fur, and flicked all over with froth as with bits o_eather-fluff. And many white gannets turning in the air like a snow-storm an_lunging down into the water like bombs. And fish leaped in the furry water, as if the wind had turned them upside-down. And the gannets dropping an_xploding into the wave, and disappearing. On the sea's horizon, so perfectl_lear, a steamer like a beetle walking slowly along. Clear, with a non-earthl_larity.
Harriet and Somers sat and ate sandwiches with a little sand, she dazed bu_till expostulating. Then they went to walk on the sea's edge, where the sand_ight be firm. But the beach sloped too much, and they were not firm. Th_onely fisherman held up his thin silvery line for them to pass under.
"Don't bother," said Somers.
"Right O!" said he.
He had a sad, beery moustache, a very cold-looking face, and, of course, _ittle boy, his son, no doubt, for a satellite.
There were little, exquisite pink shells, like Venetian pink glass with whit_eins or black veins round their sharp little steeples. Harriet loved them, among her grumbles, and they began to gather them: "for trimmings", sai_arriet. So, in the flat-icy wind, that no life had ever softened and no go_ver tempered, they crouched on the sea's edge picking these marvellous littl_hells.
Suddenly, with a cry, to find the water rushing round their ankles and surgin_p their legs, they dragged their way wildly forward with the wave, and ou_nd up the sand. Where immediately a stronger blast seized Lovat's hat an_ent it spinning to the sea again, and he after it like a bird. He caught i_s the water lifted it, and then the waste of waters enveloped him. Above hi_nees swirled the green flood, there was water all around him swaying, h_ooked down at it in amazement, reeling and clutching his hat.
Then once more he clambered out. Harriet had fallen on her knees on the san_n a paroxysm of laughter, and there she was doubled up like a sack, shriekin_etween her gasps:
"His hat! His hat! He wouldn't let it go"—shrieks, and her head like a sand- bag flops to the sand—"no—not if he had to swim"—shrieks—"swim to Samoa."
He was looking at his wet legs and chuckling with his inward laughter. Vivid, the blue sky: intensely clear, the dark sea, the yellow sands, the swoop o_he bay, the low headlands: clear like a miracle. And the water bubbling i_is shoes as he walked rolling up the sands.
At last she recovered enough to crawl after him. They sat in a sand-hollo_nder a big bush with odd red berries, and he wrung out his socks, and all h_ould of his underpants and trousers. Then he put on his socks and shoe_gain, and they set off for the station.
"The Pacific water," he said, "is so very seaey, it is almost warm."
At which, looking at his wet legs and wet hat, she went off into shriek_gain. But she made him be quick, because there was a train they could catch.
However in the Main Street they thought they would buy another pair of socks.
So he bought them, and changed in the shop. And they missed the train, an_arriet expostulated louder.
They went home in a motor-bus and a cloud of dust, with the heaven bluer tha_lue above, the hills dark and fascinating, and the land so remote seeming.
Everything so clear, so very distinct, and yet so marvellously aloof.
All the miles alongside the road tin bungalows in their paling fences: and _an on a pony, in a long black overcoat and a cold nose, driving three happy, fleecy cows, long men in jerseys and white kerchiefs round their necks, a l_uffalo Bill, riding nice slim horses; a woman riding astride top speed on th_oadside grass. A motor-car at the palings of one of the bungalows. A fe_arts coming.
And the occupants of the bus bouncing and bobbing like a circus, because o_he very bumpy road.
"Shakes your dinner down," said the old woman with the terribly home-mad_at—oh, such difficult, awful hats.
"It does, if you've had any," laughed Harriet.
"Why, you've 'ad your dinner, "aven't you?"
As concerned as if Harriet was her own stomach, such a nice old woman. And _ovely little boy with the bright, wide, gentle eyes of these Australians. S_lert and alive and with that lovableness that almost hurts one. Absolut_rust in the "niceness" of the world. A tall, stalky, ginger man with the sam_right eyes and a turned-up nose and long stalky legs. An elderly man wit_right, friendly, elderly eyes and careless hair and careless clothing. He wa_oe, and the other was Alf. Real careless Australians, careless of thei_ppearance, careless of their speech, of their money, of everything—except o_heir happy-go-lucky, democratic friendliness. Really nice, with bright, quick, willing eyes. Then a young man, perhaps a commercial traveller, with _uit-case. He was quite smartly dressed, and had fancy socks. He was one o_hose with the big, heavy legs, heavy thighs and calves that showed even i_is trousers. And he was physically very self-conscious, very self-consciou_f Lovat and Harriet. The driver's face was long and deep red. He wa_bsolutely laconic. And yet, absolutely willing, as if life held no othe_ossibility than that of being an absolutely willing citizen. A fat man with _at little girl waiting at one of the corners.
"Up she goes!" he said as he lifted her in.
A perpetual, unchanging willingness, and an absolute equality. The same good- humoured, right-you-are approach from everybody to everybody. "Right-you-are!
Right-O!" Somers had been told so many hundreds of times, Right-he-was, Right-O!, that he almost had dropped into the way of it. It was like sleepin_etween blankets—so cosy. So cosy.
They were really awfully nice. There was a winsome charm about them. They non_f them seemed mean, or tight, or petty.
The young man with the fine suit and the great legs put down his money, gentl_nd shyly as a girl, beside the driver on the little window-ledge. Then he go_ut and strode off, shy and quick, with his suit-case.
The young man turned at the driver's summons, and came back.
"Did yer pay me?"
The question was put briskly, good-humouredly, with a touch even o_enderness. The young man pointed to the money. The driver glanced round an_aw it.
"Oh! Right you are! Right-O!"
A faint little smile of almost tender understanding, and the young man turne_gain. And the driver bustled to carry out some goods. The way he stooped t_ick up the heavy wooden box in his arms; so WILLING to stoop to burdens. S_ong, of course, as his Rights of Man were fully recognised. You mustn't tr_ny superior tricks with him.
Well, it was really awfully nice. It was touching. And it made life so easy, so easy.
Of course these were not government servants. Government servants have anothe_ort of feeling. They feel their office, even in New South Wales—even _ailway-clerk. Oh, yes.
So nice, so nice, so gentle. The strange, bright-eyed gentleness. Of course, really rub him the wrong way, and you've got a Tartar. But not before you'v_sked for one. Gentle as a Kangaroo, or a wallaby, with that wide-eyed, bright-eyed alert, RESPONSIBLE gentleness Somers had never known in Europe. I_ad a great beauty. And at the same time it made his spirits sink.
It made him feel so sad underneath, or uneasy, like an impending disaster.
Such a charm. He was so tempted to commit himself to this strange continen_nd its strange people. It was so fascinating. It seemed so free, an absenc_f any form of stress whatsoever. No strain in any way, once you could accep_t.
He was so tempted, save for a sense of impending disaster at the bottom of hi_oul. And there a voice kept saying: "No, no. No, no. It won't do. You've go_o have a reversion. You can't carry this mode any further. You've got to hav_ recognition of the innate, sacred separateness."
So when they were walking home in a whirl of the coldest, most flat-edged win_hey had ever known, he stopped in front of her to remark:
"Of course you can't go on with a soft, oh-so-friendly life like this here.
You've got to have an awakening of the old recognition of the aristocrati_rinciple, the INNATE difference between people."
"Aristocratic principle!" she shrieked on the wind. "You should have see_ourself, flying like a feather into the sea after your hat. Aristocrati_RINCIPLE!" She shrieked with laughter.
"There you are, you see," he said to himself. "I'm at it again". And h_aughed too.
The wind blew them home. He made a big fire, and changed, and they dran_offee made with milk, and ate buns.
"Thank heaven for a home," he said, as they sat in the dark, big rooms at Coo- ee, and ate their buns, and looked out of the windows and saw here as well _hirl of gannets like a snowstorm, and a dark sea littered with white fluffs.
The wind roared in the chimney, and for the first time the sea was inaudible.
"You see," she said, "how thankful you are for a home."
"Chilled to the bone!" he said. "I'm chilled to the bone with my day'_leasure-outing."
So they drew up the couch before the fire, and he piled rugs on her and jarra_hunks on the fire, and at last it was toastingly warm. He sat on a littl_arrel which he had discovered in the shed, and in which he kept the coal fo_he fire. He had been at a loss for a lid to this barrel, till he had found _ig tin-lid thrown out on the waste lot. And now the wee barrel with th_lightly rusty tin lid was his perch when he wanted to get quite near th_ire. Harriet hated it, and had moments when she even carried the lid to th_liff to throw it in the sea. But she brought it back, because she knew h_ould be so indignant. She reviled him, however.
"Shameful! Hideous! Old tin lids! How can you SIT on it? How you can brin_ourself to sit on such a thing, and not feel humiliated. Is that you_ristocratic principle?"
"I put a cushion on it," he said.
As he squatted on his tub this evening in the fire-corner, she suddenly turne_rom her book and cried:
"There he is, on his throne! Sitting on his aristocratic principle!" And agai_he roared with laughter.
He, however, shook some coal out of the little tub on to the fire, replace_he tin lid and the cushion, and resumed his thoughts. The fire was very warm.
She lay stretched in front of it on the sofa, covered with an eiderdown, an_eading a Nat Gould novel, to get the real tang of Australia.
"Of course," he said, "this land always gives me the feeling that it doesn'_ANT to be touched, it doesn't WANT men to get hold of it."
She looked up from her Nat Gould.
"Yes," she admitted slowly. "And my ideal has always been a farm. But I kno_ow. The farms don't really belong to the land. They only scratch it an_rritate it, and are never at one with it."
Whereupon she returned to her Nat Gould, and there was silence save for th_ollow of the wind. When she had finished her paper-backed book she said:
"It's just like them—just like they THINK they are."
"Yes," he said vaguely.
"But, bah!" she added, "they make me sick. So absolutely dull—worse than an
'At Home' in the middle classes."
And after a silence, another shriek of laughter suddenly.
"Like a flying-fish! Like a flying-fish dashing into the waves! Dashing int_he waves after his hat—."
He giggled on his tub.
"Fancy, that I'm here in Coo-ee after my day's outing! I can't believe it. _hall call you the flying-fish. It's hard to believe that one was so man_hings in one day. Suddenly the water! Won't you go now and do the tailor?
Twenty to eight! The bold buccaneer!"
The tailor was a fish that had cost a shilling, and which he was to prepar_or supper.
Globe: There can't be much telepathy about bullocks, anyhow. In Gippsland (Victoria) last season a score of them were put into a strange paddock, an_he whole 20 were found drowned in a hole next morning. Tracks showed tha_hey had gone each on his own along a path, overbalanced one after the other, and were unable to clamber up the rocky banks.
That, thought Richard at the close of the day, is a sufficient comment o_erd-unity, equality, domestication, and civilisation. He felt he would hav_iked to climb down into that hole in which the bullocks were drowning an_eat them all hard before they expired, for being such mechanical logs o_ife.
Telepathy! Think of the marvellous vivid communication of the huge sper_hales. Huge, grand, phallic beasts! Bullocks! Geldings! Men! R.L. wished h_ould take to the sea and be a whale, a great surge of living blood: away fro_hese all-too-white people, who ought ALL to be called Cellu Lloyd, not onl_he horse-mange man.
Man is a thought-adventurer. Man is more, he is a life-adventurer. Which mean_e is a thought-adventurer, an emotion-adventurer, and a discoverer of himsel_nd of the outer universe. A discoverer.
"I am a fool," said Richard Lovat, which was the most frequent discovery h_ade. It came, moreover, every time with a new shock of surprise and chagrin.
Every time he climbed a new mountain range and looked over, he saw, not only _ew world, but a big anticipatory fool on this side of it, namely, himself.
Now a novel is supposed to be a mere record of emotion-adventures, flounderings in feelings. We insist that a novel is, or should be, also _hought-adventure, if it is to be anything at all complete.
"I am a fool," thought Richard to himself, "to imagine that I can flounder i_ sympathetic universe like a fly in the ointment." We think of ourselves, w_hink of the ointment, but we do not consider the fly. It fell into th_intment, crying: "Ah, here is a pure and balmy element in which all i_nalloyed goodness. Here is attar of roses without a thorn." Hence the fly i_he ointment: embalmed in balm. And our repugnance.
"I am a fool," said Richard to himself, "to be floundering round in this easy, cosy, all-so-friendly world. I feel like a fly in the ointment. For heaven'_ake let me get out. I suffocate."
Where to? If you're going to get out you must have something to get out on to.
Stifling in unctuous sympathy of a harmless humanity.
"Oh," cried the stifling R. "Where is my Rock of Ages?"
He knew well enough. It was where it always has been: in the middle of him.
"Let me get back to my own self," he panted, "hard and central in the centr_f myself. I am drowning in this merge of harmlessness, this sympatheti_umanity. Oh, for heaven's sake let me crawl out of the sympathetic smear, an_et myself clean again."
Back to his own centre—back—back. The inevitable recoil.
"Everything," said R. to himself, in one of those endless conversations wit_imself which were his chief delight, "everything is relative."
And flop he went into the pot of spikenard.
"Not quite," he gasped, as he crawled out. "Let me drag my isolate an_bsolute individual self out of this mess."
Which is the history of relativity in man. All is relative as we go flop int_he ointment: or the treacle or the flame. But as we crawl out, or flutter ou_ith a smell of burning, the ABSOLUTE holds us spellbound. Oh to be isolat_nd absolute, and breathe clear.
So that even relativity is only relative. Relative to the absolute.
I am sorry to have to stand, a sorry sight, preening my wings on the brink o_he ointment-pot, thought Richard. But from this vantage ground let me preac_o myself. He preached, and the record was taken down for this gramophone of _ovel.
No, the self is absolute. It may be relative to everything else in th_niverse. But to itself it is an absolute.
Back to the central self, the isolate, absolute self.
"Now," thought Richard to himself, waving his front paws with gratification:
"I must sound the muezzin and summon all men back to their central, isolat_elves."
So he drew himself up, when—urch!! He was sluthering over the brim of th_intment pot into the balm of humanity once more.
"Oh, Lord, I nearly did it again," he thought as he clambered out with a sic_eart. "I shall do it once too often. The bulk of mankind haven't got an_entral selves: haven't got any. They're all bits."
Nothing but his fright would have struck this truth out of him. So he crouche_till, like a fly very tired with crawling out of the ointment, to think abou_t.
"The bulk of people haven't got any central selves. They're all bits."
He knew it was true, and he felt rather sick of the sweet odour of the balm o_uman beatitudes, in which he had been so nearly lost.
"It takes how many thousand facets to make the eye of a fly—or a spider?" h_sked himself, being rather hazy scientifically. "Well, all these people ar_ust facets: just bits, that fitted together make a whole. But you can fit th_its together time after time, yet it won't bring the bug to life."
The people of this terrestrial sphere are all bits. Isolate one of them, an_e is still only a bit. Isolate your man in the street, and he is just _udimentary fragment. Supposing you have the misfortune to have your littl_oe cut off. That little toe won't at once rear on its hind legs and begin t_nnounce: "I'm an isolated individual with an immortal soul." It won't. Bu_our man in the street will. And he is a liar. He's only a bit, and he's onl_ot a minute share of the collective soul. Soul of his own he has none: an_ever will have. Just a share in the collective soul, no more. Never a thin_y himself.
Damn the man in the street, said Richard to himself. Damn the collective soul, it's a dead rat in a hole. Let humanity scratch its own lice.
Now I'll sound my muezzin again. THE MAN BY HIMSELF. 'Allah bismallah! God i_od and man is man and has a soul of his own. Each man to himself! Each ma_ack to his own soul! Alone, alone, with his own soul alone. God is God an_an is man and the man in the street is a louse."
Whatever your relativity, that's the starting point and the finishing point: _an alone with his own soul: and the dark God beyond him.
A man by himself.
Let the men in the street—ugh, horrid millions, crawl the face of the eart_ike lice or ants or some other ignominy.
The man by himself.
That was one of the names of Erasmus of Rotterdam.
The man by himself.
That is the beginning and end, the alpha and the omega, the one absolute: th_an alone by himself, alone with his own soul, alone with his eyes on th_arkness which is the dark god of life. Alone like a pythoness on her tripod, like the oracle alone above the fissure into the unknown. The oracle, th_issure down into the unknown, the strange exhalations from the dark, th_trange words that the oracle must utter. Strange, cruel, pregnant words: th_ew term of consciousness.
This is the innermost symbol of man: alone in the darkness of the cavern o_imself, listening to soundlessness of inflowing fate. Inflowing fate, inflowing doom, what does it matter? The man by himself—that is th_bsolute—listening—that is the relativity—for the influx of his fate, or doom.
The man by himself. The listener.
But most men can't listen any more. The fissure is closed up. There is n_oundless voice. They are deaf and dumb, ants, scurrying ants.
That is their doom. It is a new kind of absolute. Like riffraff, which ha_allen out of living relativity, on to the teeming absolute of the dust-heap, or the ant-heap. Sometimes the dust-heap becomes huge, huge, huge, and cover_early all the world. Then it turns into a volcano, and all starts again.
"It has nothing to do with me," said Richard to himself. I hope, dear reader, you like plenty of CONVERSATION in a novel: it makes it so much lighter an_risker.
"It has nothing to do with me," said Richard to himself. "They do as the_ike. But since, after all, I AM a kind-hearted dear creature, I will jus_limb the minaret of myself and sound my muezzin."
So behold the poor dear on his pinnacle lifting his hands.
"God is God and man is man; and every man by himself. Every man by himself, alone with his own soul. Alone as if he were dead. Dead to himself. He is dea_nd alone. He is dead; alone. His soul is alone. Alone with God, with the dar_od. God is God."
But if he likes to shout muezzins, instead of hawking fried fish or newspaper_r lottery tickets, let him.
Poor dear, it was rather an anomalous call: "Listen to me, and be alone." Ye_e felt called upon to call it.
To be alone, to be alone, and to rest on the unknown God alone.
The God must be unknown. Once you have defined him or described him, he is th_ost chummy of pals, as you'll know if you listen to preachers. And onc_ou've chummed up with your God, you'll never be alone again, poor you. Fo_hat's the end of you. You and your God chumming it through time and eternity.
Poor Richard saw himself in funny situations.
"My dear young lady, let me entreat you, be alone, only be alone."
"Oh, Mr. Somers, I should love to, if you'd hold my hand."
"There is a gulf," growing sterner, "surrounds each solitary soul. A gul_urrounds you—a gulf surrounds me—."
"I'M FALLING!" shrieks and flings her arms around his neck. Or Kangaroo.
"Why am I so beastly to Kangaroo?" said Richard to himself. "For beastly I am.
I am a detestable little brat to them all round."
A detestable little brat he felt.
But Kangaroo wanted to be a queen-bee of another hive, with all the other bee_lustering on him like some huge mulberry. Sickening! Why couldn't he b_lone? At least for ONCE. For once withdraw entirely.
And a queen bee buzzing with beatitudes. Beatitudes, beatitudes. Bee attitude_r any other attitudes, it made Richard feel tired. More benevolence, mor_auseating benevolence. "Charity suffereth long."
Yet one cannot live a life of entire loneliness, like a monkey on a stick, u_nd down one's own obstacle. There's got to be meeting: even communion. Well, then, let us have the other communion. "This is thy body which I take fro_hee and eat" as the priest, also the God, says in the ritual of bloo_acrifice. The ritual of supreme responsibility, and offering. Sacrifice t_he dark God, and to the men in whom the dark God is manifest. Sacrifice t_he strong, not to the weak. In awe, not in dribbling love. The communion i_ower, the assumption into glory. La gloire.