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Chapter 14 BITS

  • 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.
  • "Hey!"
  • 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.
  • Begin then.
  • 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.