Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 8 VOLCANIC EVIDENCE

  • Richard Lovat Somers registered a new vow: not to take things with to_verwhelming an amount of emotional seriousness, but to accept everything tha_ame along with a certain sang froid, and not to sit frenziedly in judgmen_efore he had heard the case. He had come to the end of his own tether, so wh_hould he go off into tantrums if other folks strayed about with the broke_its of their tethers trailing from their ankles? Is it better to be savagel_ugging at the end of your rope, or to wander at random tetherless? Matter o_hoice!
  • But the day of the absolute is over, and we're in for the strange gods onc_ore. "But when you get to the end of your tether you've nothing to do bu_ie"—so sings an out-of-date vulgar song. But is it so? Why not all? When yo_ome to the end of your tether you break the rope. When you come to the end o_he lane you straggle on into the bush and beat about till you find a new wa_hrough, and no matter if you raise vipers or goannas or wallabies, or eve_nly a stink. And if you see a man beating about for a new track you don'_mmediately shout, "Perverted wretch!" or "Villain!" or "Vicious creature!" o_ven merely "The fool," or mildly: "Poor dear!" You have to let him try.
  • Anything is better than stewing in your own juice, or grinding at the end o_our tether, or tread-milling away at a career. Better a "wicked creature" an_ay, than a mechanical tread-miller of a careerist. Better anything on eart_han the millions of human ants.
  • In this way Mr. Somers had to take himself to task, for his Pommy stupidit_nd his pommigrant superiority, and kick himself rather severely, looking a_he ends of the tether he presumed he had just broken. Why should people wh_re tethered to a post be so God-Almighty puffed up about their posts? I_eems queer. Yet there they are, going round and round at the ends of thei_ethers, and being immensely sniffy about the people who stray loose trailin_he broken end of their old rope, and looking for a new way through the bush.
  • Yet so men are. They will set up inquisitions and every manner of tortur_hamber to COMPEL people to refrain from breaking their tethers. But once ma_as broken any old particular hobble-line, not God Himself can safely knot i_ogether again.
  • Somers now left off standing on his head in front of the word love, an_ooking at it calmly, decided he didn't care vastly either way. Harriet had o_er dressing-table tray a painted wooden heart, painted red with dots roun_t, a Black Forest trifle which she had bought in Baden-Baden for a penny. O_t was the motto:
  • Dem Mutigen gehort die Welt.
  • That was the motto to have on one's red heart: not Love or Hope or any o_hose aspiring emotions: "The world belongs to the courageous." To be sure, i_as a rather two-edged motto just now for Germany. And Somers was not quit_ure that it was the "world" that he wanted.
  • Yes it was. Not the tuppenny social world of present mankind: but the genuin_orld, full of life and eternal creative surprises, including of cours_estructive surprises: since destruction is part of creation. Somers did wan_he world. He did want to take it away from all the teeming human ants, huma_laves, and all the successful, empty careerists. He wanted little that th_resent society can give. But the lovely other world that is in spite of th_ocial man of to-day: that he wanted, to clear it, to free it.—Freedom! No_or this subnormal slavish humanity of democratic antics. But for the worl_tself, and the Mutigen.
  • Mut! Muth! A good word. Better even than "courage". Virtue, virtus, manliness.
  • Mut—manliness. Not braggaccio or insolence. De l'audace, at de l'audace, a_ncore de l'audace! Danton's word. But it was more than daring. It was Mut, profound manliness, that is not afraid of anything except of being cowardly o_arren.
  • Dem Mutigen gehort die Welt. To the manly brave belongs the world.
  • Somers wrote to Kangaroo, and enclosed the red wooden heart, which had _ittle loop of ribbon so that it could be hung on the wall.
  • "Dear Kangaroo—I send you my red heart (never mind that it is wood, the woo_nce lived and was the tree of life) with its motto. I hope you will accep_t, after all my annoying behaviour. It is not the love, but the Mut that _elieve in, and join you in. Love may be an ingredient in Mut, so you have i_ll your own way. Anyhow, I send you my red motto-heart, and if you don't wan_t you can send it back—I will be your follower, in reverence for you_irtue—Virtus. And you may command me."
  • The following day came the answer, in Kangaroo's difficult scrawl:
  • "Dear Lovat—Love is in your name, notwithstanding. I accept the red hear_ladly, and when I win, I will wear it for my Order of Merit, pinned on m_welling chest.
  • "But you are the one person in the world I can never command. I knew it woul_e so. Yet I am unspeakably glad to have your approval, and perhaps you_llegiance.
  • "Come and see me as soon as it is your wish to do so: I won't invite you, les_orse befall me. For you are either a terrible disappointment to me, or _reat blessing in store. I wait for you."
  • Somers also wrote to Jack, to ask him to come down with Victoria for the week- end. But Jack replied that he couldn't get away this week-end, there was s_uch doing. Somers then invited him for the following one.
  • The newspapers were at this time full of the pending strike of coal-miners an_hearers: that is, the Australian papers. The European papers were in _errific stew about finance, and the German debt, and the more imposing Allie_ebt to America. Bolshevism, Communism, Labour, had all sunk into a sort o_nsignificance. The voice of mankind was against them for the time being, no_ow in hate and fear, as previously, but in a kind of bitter contempt: th_ind of feeling one has when one has accepted a glib individual as a seriou_nd remarkable man, only to find that he is a stupid vulgarian. Communism wa_ bubble that would never even float free and iridescent from the nasty pip_f the theorist.
  • What then? Nothing evident. There came dreary and fatuous letters from friend_n England, refined young men of the upper middle-class writing with a guarde_ind of friendliness, gentle and sweet, of course, but as dozy as ripe pear_n their laisser aller heaviness. That was what it amounted to: they wer_ver-ripe, they had been in the sun of prosperity too long, and all thei_issues were soft and sweetish. How could they react with any sharpness to an_ppeal on earth? They wanted just to hang against the warmest wall they coul_ind, as long as ever they could, till some last wind of death or disturbanc_hook them down into earth, mushy and overripe. A sardonic letter from _ewish friend in London, amusing but a bit dreadful. Letters from women i_ondon, friendly but irritable. "I have decided I am a comfort-lovin_onventional person, with just a dash of the other thing to keep m_idgety"—then accounts of buying old furniture, and gossip about everybody:
  • "Verden Grenfel in a restaurant with TWO bottles of champagne, so he must b_ffluent just now." A girl taking her honeymoon trip to Naples by one of th_rient boats, third class: "There are 800 people on board, but room fo_nother 400, so that on account of the missing 400 we have a six-berth cabi_o ourselves. It is a bit noisy and not luxurious, but clean and comfortable, and you can imagine what it is to me, to be on the glorious sea, and to g_shore at wonderful Gibraltar, and to see the blue hills of Spain in th_istance. Frederick is struggling with a mass of Italian irregular verbs a_he moment." And in spite of all Somers' love of the Mediterranean, th_hought of sitting on a third class deck with eight hundred emigrants, including babies, made him almost sick. "The glorious sea—wonderfu_ibraltar." It takes quite a good eyesight even to SEE the sea from the dec_f a liner, let alone out of the piled mass of humanity on the third-clas_eck. A letter from Germany, about a wedding and a pending journey int_ustria and friends, written with a touch of philosophy that comes to a ma_hen he's fallen down and bumped himself, and strokes the bruise. A cheque fo_ifteen pounds seventeen shillings and fourpence, from a publisher: "Kindl_cknowledge." A letter from a farming friend who had changed places: "A Majo_shworth has got the farm, and has spent about 600 pounds putting it in order.
  • He has started as a poultry-farm, but has had bad luck in losing 400 chick_traight away, with the cold weather. I hope our spell of bad luck doesn'_till hang over the place. I wish you would come back to England for th_ummer. Viv talks of getting a caravan, and then we might get two. Cold an_et weather for weeks. All work and no play, not good enough." A letter fro_aris, artist friends: "I have sold one of the three pictures that are in th_ast Salon." A letter from Somers' sister: "Louis has been looking roun_verywhere to buy a little farm, but there doesn't seem to be a bit of land t_e got anywhere. What do you think of our coming to Australia? I wish yo_ould look for something for us, for we are terribly fed up with this place, nothing doing at all." A letter from Sicily: "I have had my father an_tepmother over from New York. I had got them rooms here, but when I said so, the face of Anna, my stepmother, was a sight. She took me aside and told m_hat father was spoiling the trip entirely by his economies, and that she ha_et her heart on the Villa Igeia. Then Dad took me aside and said that h_idn't wish to be reckless, but he didn't want to thwart Anna's wishe_ntirely, and was there nothing in the way of compromise? It ended by thei_taying two days here, and Anna said she thought it was very nice FOR ME. The_hey went to the Palmes, which is entirely up to Anna's ideas of luxury, an_he is delighted."
  • Somers had fourteen letters by this mail. He read them with a sort o_oathing, one after the other, piling them up on his left hand for Harriet, and throwing the envelopes in the fire. By the time he had done he wished tha_very mail-boat would go down that was bringing any letter to him, that _lood would rise and cover Europe entirely, that he could have a littl_peration performed that would remove from him for ever his memory of Europ_nd everything in it—and so on. Then he went out and looked at the Pacific. H_adn't even the heart to bathe, and he felt so trite, with all those letters; he felt quite capable of saying "Good dog" to the sea: to quote one of th_uips from the Bulletin. The sea that had been so full of potency, before th_ostman rode up on his pony and whistled with his policeman's whistle fo_omers to come to the gate for that mass of letters. Never had Richard Lova_omers felt so filled with spite against everybody he had ever known in th_ld life, as now.
  • "And there was I, knave, fool, and ninny, whining to go back to Europe, an_busing Australia for not being like it. That horrible, horrible staleness o_urope, and all their trite consciousness, and their dreariness. Th_reariness? The sterility of their feelings? And here was I carping a_angaroo and at Jack Callcott, who are golden wonders compared with anything _ave known in the old world. Australia has got some real, positiv_ndifference to "questions", but Europe is one big wriggling question an_othing else. A tangle of quibbles. I'd rather be shot here next week, tha_uibble the rest of my life away in over-upholstered Europe."
  • He left off kicking himself, and went down to the shore to get away fro_imself. After all, he knew the endless water would soon make him forget. I_ad a language which spoke utterly without concern of him, and this utte_nconcern gradually soothed him of himself and his world. He began to forget.
  • There had been a squall in the night. At the tip of the rock-shelves above th_aves men and youths, with bare, reddish legs, were fishing with lines fo_lackfish. They looked like animal creatures perching there, and lik_reatures they were passive or darting in their movements. A big albatros_wung slowly down the surf: albatross or mollyhawk, with wide, waving wings.
  • The sea had thrown up, all along the surf-line, queer glittery creatures tha_ooked like thin blown glass. They were bright transparent bladders of th_ost delicate ink-blue, with a long crest of deeper blue, and blind ends o_ranslucent purple. And they had bunches of blue, blue strings, and one lon_lue string that trailed almost a yard across the sand, straight and blue an_ranslucent. They must have been some sort of little octopus, with the brigh_lass bladder, big as smallish narrow pears, with a blue frill along the to_o float them, and the strings to feel with—and perhaps the long string t_nchor by. Who knows? Yet there they were, soft, brilliant, like pouches o_railest sea-glass. It reminded Somers of the glass they blow at Butano, a_enice. But there they never get the lovely soft texture and the colour.
  • The sky was tufted with cloud, and in the afternoon veils of rain swept her_nd there across the sea, in a changing wind. But then it cleared again, an_omers and Harriet walked along the sands, watching the blue sky mirror purpl_nd the white clouds mirror warm on the wet sand. The sea talked and talke_ll the time, in its disintegrative, elemental language. And at last it talke_ts way into Somers' soul, and he forgot the world again, the babel. Th_implicity came back, and with it the inward peace. The world had left hi_gain. He had been thinking, in his anger of the morning, that he would ge_ack to teach him to shoot with a rifle and a revolver, so that he might tak_is part. He had never shot with a gun in his life, so he had thought it wa_igh time to begin. But now he went back on his thoughts. What did he wan_ith guns or revolvers? Nothing. He had nothing to do with them, as he ha_othing to do with so much that is in the world of man. When he was trul_imself he had a quiet stillness in his soul, an inward trust. Faith, undefined and undefinable. Then he was at peace with himself. Not content, bu_eace like a river, something flowing and full. A stillness at the very core.
  • But faith in what? In himself, in mankind, in the destiny of mankind? No, no.
  • In Providence, in Almighty God? No, not even that. He tried to think of th_ark God he declared he served. But he didn't want to. He shrank away from th_ffort. The fair morning seaward world, full of bubbles of life.
  • So again came back to him the ever-recurring warning that SOME men must o_heir own choice and will listen only to the living life that is a rising tid_n their own being, and listen, listen, listen for the injunctions, and giv_eed and know and speak and obey all they can. Some men must live by thi_nremitting inwardness, no matter what the rest of the world does. They mus_ot let the rush of the world's "outwardness" sweep them away: or if they ar_wept away, they must struggle back. Somers realised that he had had a frigh_gainst being swept away, because he half wanted to be swept away: but tha_ow, thank God, he was flowing back. Not like the poor, weird "ink-bubbles", left high and dry on the sands.
  • Now he could remember the frenzied outward rushing of the vast masses o_eople, away from themselves, without being driven mad by it. But it seeme_trange to him that they should rush like this in their vast herds, outwards, outwards, always frenziedly outwards, like souls with hydrophobia rushing awa_rom the pool of water. He himself, when he was caught up in the rush, fel_ortured and maddened, it was an agony of irritation to him till he could fee_imself drifting back again like a creature into the sea. The sea of his ow_nward soul, his own unconscious faith, over which his will had no exercise.
  • Why did the mass of people not want this stillness and this peace with thei_wn being? Why did they want cinemas and excitements? Excitements are a_auseous as sea-sickness. Why does the world want them?
  • It is their problem. They must go their way. But some men, some women mus_tay by their own inmost being, in peace, and without envy. And there in th_tillness listen, listen, and try to know, and try to obey. From th_nnermost, not from the outside. It is so lovely, the peace. But poor dea_ichard, he was only resting and basking in the old sunshine just now, afte_is fray. The fight would come again, and only in the fight would his sou_urn its way once more to the knowledge, the intense knowledge of his "dar_od". The other was so much sweeter and easier, while it lasted.
  • At tea-time it began to rain again. Somers sat on the verandah looking at th_ark green sea, with its films of floating yellow light between the ruffle_aves. Far back, in the east, was a cloud that was a rainbow. It was a piec_f rainbow, but not sharp, in a band; it was a tall fume far back among th_louds of the sea-wall.
  • "Who is there that you feel you are with, besides me—or who feel themselve_ith you?" Harriet was asking.
  • "No one," he replied. And at the same moment he looked up and saw the rainbo_ume beyond the sea. But it was on a dark back ground, like a coloure_arkness. The rainbow was always a symbol to him—a good symbol: of this peace.
  • A pledge of unbroken faith, between the universe and the innermost. And th_ery moment he said "No one," he saw the rainbow for an answer.
  • Many times in his life he had seen a rainbow. The last had been on his arriva_n Sydney. For some reason he felt absolutely wretched and dismal on tha_aturday morning when the ship came into Sydney harbour. He had an unspeakabl_esire not to get out of the ship, not to go down on to the quay and into tha_own. The having to do it was a violation of himself. When he came on dec_fter breakfast and the ship had stopped, it was pouring with rain, the P. an_. wharf looked black and dismal, empty. It might almost have been a_bandoned city. He walked round to the starboard side, to look towards th_nimposing hillock of the city and the Circular Quay. Black, all black an_nutterably dismal in the pouring rain, even the green grass of the Botanica_ardens, and the bits of battlement of the Conservatorium. Unspeakabl_orlorn. Yet over it all, spanning the harbour, the most magnificent grea_ainbow. His mood was so miserable he didn't want to see it. But it wa_navoidable. A huge, brilliant, supernatural rainbow, spanning all Sydney.
  • He was thinking of this, and still watching the dark-green, yellow-reflectin_ea, that was like a northern sea, a Whitby sea, and watching the far-off fum_f a dark rainbow apparition, when Harriet heard somebody at the door. It wa_illiam James, who had an hour to wait for his train, and thought the_ouldn't mind if he looked in. They were pleased, and Harriet brought him _up and plate.
  • Thank goodness he, too, came in a certain stillness of spirit, saying ver_ittle, but being a quiet, grateful presence. When the tea was finished he an_omers sat back on the verandah out of the wind, and watched the yellow, cloudy evening sink. They hardly spoke, but lay lying back in the deckchairs.
  • "I was wondering," said Somers, "whom Kangaroo depends on mostly for hi_ollowing."
  • William James looked back at him, with quiet, steady eyes.
  • "On the diggers—the returned soldiers chiefly: and the sailors."
  • "Of what class?"
  • "Of any class. But there aren't many rich ones. Mostly like me and Jack, no_uite simple working men. A few doctors and architects and that sort."
  • "And do you think it means much to them?"
  • Jaz shifted his thick body uneasily in his chair.
  • You never can tell," he said.
  • "That's true," said Somers. "I don't really know how much Jack Callcott cares.
  • I really can't make out."
  • "He cares as much as about anything," said Jaz. "Perhaps a bit more. It's mor_xciting."
  • "Do you think it IS the excitement they care about chiefly?"
  • "I should say so. You can die in Australia if you don't get a bit o_xcitement." There was silence for a minute or two.
  • "In my opinion," said Somers, "it has to go deeper than excitement." Again Ja_hifted uneasily in his chair.
  • "Oh, well—they don't set much store on deepness over here. It's easy come, easy go, as a rule. Yet they're staunch chaps while the job lasts, you know.
  • They are true to their mates, as a rule."
  • "I believe they are. It's the afterwards."
  • "Oh, well—afterwards is afterwards, as Jack always says." Again the two me_ere silent.
  • "If they cared deeply—" Somers began slowly—but he did not continue, it seeme_atuous. Jaz did not answer for some time.
  • "You see, it hasn't come to that with them," he said. "It might, perhaps, onc_hey'd actually done the thing. It might come home to them then; they migh_AVE to care. It might be a force-put. THEN they'd need a man."
  • "They've got Kangaroo," said Somers.
  • "You think Kangaroo would get them over the fence?" said Jaz carefully, looking up at Somers.
  • "He seems as if he would. He's a wonderful person. And there seems n_lternative to him."
  • "Oh yes, he's a wonderful person. Perhaps a bit too much of a wonder. _atchet doesn't look anything like so spanking as a lawn-mower, does it now, but it'll make a sight bigger clearing."
  • "That's true," said Somers, laughing. "But Kangaroo isn't a lawn-mower."
  • "Oh, I don't say so," smiled Jaz fidgeting on his chair. "I should like t_ear your rock-bottom opinion of him though."
  • "I should like to hear yours," said Somers, "You know him much better than _o. I haven't got a rock-bottom opinion of him yet."
  • "It's not a matter of the time you've known him," said Jaz. He was manifestl_edging, and trying to get at something. "You know I belong to his gang, don'_ou?"
  • "Yes," said Somers, wondering at the word "gang".
  • "And for that reason I oughtn't to criticize him, ought I?"
  • Somers reflected for some moments.
  • "There's no oughts, if you FEEL critical," he answered.
  • "I think you feel critical of him yourself at times," said Jaz, looking u_ith a slow, subtle smile of cunning: like a woman's disconcerting intuitiv_nowledge. It laid Somers' soul bare for the moment. He reflected. He ha_ledged no allegiance to Kangaroo.
  • "Yet," he said aloud to Jaz, "if I HAD joined him I wouldn't want to hinde_im."
  • "No, we don't want to hinder him. But we need to know where we are. Supposin_ou were in my position—and you DIDN'T feel sure of things! A man has to loo_hings in the face. You yourself, now—you're holding back, aren't you?"
  • "I suppose I am," said Richard, "But then I hold back from everything."
  • Jaz looked at him searchingly.
  • You don't like to commit yourself?" he said, with a sly smile.
  • "Not altogether that. I'd commit myself, if I could. It's just somethin_nside me shakes its head and holds back."
  • Jaz studied his knuckles for some time.
  • "Yes," he said slowly. "Perhaps you can afford to stand out. You've got you_ife in other things. Some of us feel we haven't got any life if we're not—i_e're not mixed up in something." He paused, and Richard waited. "But th_oint is this—" Jaz looked up again with his light-grey, serpent's eyes. "D_ou yourself see Kangaroo pulling it off?" There was a subtle mockery in th_uestion.
  • "What?"
  • "Why—you know. This revolution, and this new Australia. Do you see hi_iguring on the Australian postage stamps—and running the country like a ne_erusalem?"
  • "The eyes watched Richard fixedly.
  • "If he's got a proper backing, why not?" Somers answered.
  • "I don't say why not. I ask you, WILL HE? Won't you say how you feel?"
  • Richard sat quite still, not even thinking, but suspending himself. And in th_uspense his heart went sad, oh so empty, inside him. He looked at Jaz, an_he two men read the meaning in each other's eyes.
  • "You think he won't?" said Jaz, triumphing.
  • "No, I think he won't," said Richard. "There now. I knew you felt like that."
  • "And yet," said Richard, "if men were men still—if they had any of that belie_n love they pretend to have—if they were FIT to follow Kangaroo," he adde_iercely, feeling grief in his heart.
  • Jaz dropped his head and studied his knuckles, a queer, blank smile settin_ound his mouth.
  • "You have to take things as they are," he said in a small voice.
  • Richard sat silent, his heart for the moment broken again.
  • "And," added Jaz, looking up with a slow, subtle smile, "if men aren't wha_angaroo wants them to be, why should they be? If they don't want a ne_erusalem, why should they have it? It's another catch. They like to hea_angaroo's sweet talk—and they'll probably follow him if he'll bring off _ood big row, and they think he can make it all pretty afterwards." Again h_miled, but bitterly, mockingly. "I don't know why I say these things to you, I'm sure. But it's as well for a man to get to the bottom of what he thinks, isn't it? And I feel, you know, that you and me think alike, if we allo_urselves to think."
  • Richard looked at him, but never answered. He felt somehow treacherous.
  • "Kangaroo's clever," resumed Jaz. "He's a Jew, and he's damn clever. Mayb_e's the cleverest. I'll tell you why. You're not offended now at what I say, are you?"
  • "What's the good of being offended by anything, if it's a genuine opinion?"
  • "Well now, that's what I mean. And I say Kangaroo is cleverer than the Re_eople, because he can make it look as if it would be all rosy afterwards, yo_now, everything as good as apple pie. I tell you what. All these Reds an_.W.W.'s and all, why don't they make their revolution? Because they'r_rightened of it when they've made it. They're not frightened of hanging al_he capitalists and such. But they're frightened to death of having to kee_hings going afterwards. They're frightened to death." Jaz smiled to himsel_ith a chuckle. "Nothing frightens them so much as the thought of having t_ook after things when their revolution is made. It frightens them to death.
  • And that's why they won't make their grand revolution. Never. Unless somebod_hoves them into it. That's why they've got this new cry: Make the revolutio_y degrees, through winning in politics. But that's no revolution, you know.
  • It's the same old thing with a bit of difference, such a small bit o_ifference that you'd never notice it if you weren't made to."
  • "I think that's true," said Richard. "Nobody's more frightened of a Re_evolution than the Reds themselves. They just absolutely funk it."
  • "There now—that's the word—they funk it. Yet, you know, they're all ready fo_t. And if you got them started, if you could, they'd make a clearance, lik_hey did in Russia. And we could do with that, don't you think?"
  • "I do," said Richard, sighing savagely.
  • "Well now, my idea's this. Couldn't we get Kangaroo—to join the Reds—th_.W.W.'s and all? Couldn't we get him to use all his men to back Red Labour i_his country, and blow a cleavage through the old system. Because, you kno_e's got the trump cards in his hands. These Diggers' Clubs, they've got al_he army men, dying for another scrap. And then a sort of secret organisatio_as ten times the hold over men than just a Labour Party, or a Trades Union.
  • He's damned clever, he's got a wonderful scheme ready. But he'll spoil it, because he'll want it all to happen without hurting anybody. Won't he now?"
  • "Except a few."
  • "Oh yes—maybe four of his enemies. But he wants to blow the house up withou_reaking the windows. He thinks he can turn the country upside-down withou_pilling milk, let alone blood. Now the Reds, let them loose, would make _ole in things. Only they'll never move on their own responsibility. The_aven't got the guts, the stomach, the backbone."
  • "You're so clever, Jaz. I wonder you're not a leader yourself."
  • "Me?" A slow ironical smile wreathed his face. "You're being sarcastic wit_e, Mr. Somers." "Not at all. I think you're amazing."
  • Jaz only smiled sceptically still.
  • "You take what I mean, though, do you?"
  • "I do."
  • "And what do you think of it?"
  • "Very clever."
  • "But isn't it feasible? You get Kangaroo, with his Diggers—the cleverest ide_n the country, really—to quietly come in with the Reds, and explode _evolution over here. You could soon do it, in the cities: and the countr_ouldn't help itself. You let the Reds appear in the front, and take all th_hine. You keep a bit of a brake on them. You let them call a Soviet, o_hatever they want, and get into a real mess over it. And then Kangaroo step_n with the balm of Gilead and the New Jerusalem. But let them play Old Tomm_enkins first with Capital and State Industries and the free press an_eligious sects. And then Kangaroo steps in like a redeeming angel, an_eminds us that it's God's Own Country, so we're God's Own People, and make_s feel good again. Like Solomon, when David has done the dirty work."
  • "The only point," said Somers smiling, "is that an Australian Lenin and a_ustralian Trotsky might pop up in the scrimmage, and then Kangaroo could tak_o the bush again.
  • Jaz shook his head.
  • "They wouldn't," he said. "There's nobody with any grip. And you'd see, i_his country, people would soon want to be good again, because it costs the_east effort."
  • "Perhaps Kangaroo is right, and they don't want to be anything BUT good."
  • Jaz shook his head.
  • "It's not goodness they're after just now," he said. "They want to rip thing_p, or they want nothing. They aren't ready to come under Kangaroo's lovin_ing just yet. They'd as leave be under King George's thumb, they can peep ou_asier. It seems to me, it's SPITE that's at the bottom, with most men. An_hey've got to let it out before anything's any good."
  • Somers began to feel tired now.
  • "But after all, Jaz," he said, "what have I got to do with it?"
  • "You can put it to Kangaroo. You can make him see it. And you can keep him t_t, if you promise him you'll stick to him."
  • "Me a power behind the throne?" protested the truly sceptical Richard.
  • "I take it you don't want to sit on the throne yourself," smiled Jaz. "An_angaroo's got more the figure. But what do you think of it?"
  • Somers was silent. He now was smiling subtly and ironically, and Jaz wa_atching him sharply, like a man who wants something. Jaz waited.
  • "I'm afraid, Jaz," said Somers, "that, like Nietzsche, I no longer believe i_reat events. The war was a great event—and it made everything more pretty. _oubt if I care about the mass of mankind, Jaz. You make them more than eve_istasteful to me.
  • "Oh, you know, you needn't commit yourself. You've only to be friendly wit_angaroo, and work him into it. You know you said yourself you'd give anythin_o have a clearance made, in the world."
  • "I know. Sometimes I feel I'd give anything, soul and body, for a smash up i_his social-industrial world we're in. And I would. And then when I realis_eople—just people—the same people after it as before—why, Jaz, then I don'_are any more, and feel it's time to turn to the gods."
  • "You feel there's any gods to turn to, do you?" asked Jaz, with the sarcasm o_isappointment.
  • "I feel it would probably be like Messina before and after the earthquake.
  • Before the earthquake it was what is called a fine town, but commercial, low, and hateful. You felt you'd be glad if it was wiped out. After the earthquak_t was horrible heaps of mortar and rubble, and now it's rows and rows of woo_nd tin shanties, streets of them, and more commercial, lower than ever, an_nfinitely more ugly. That would probably be the world after your revolution.
  • No, Jaz, I leave mankind to its own contrivances, and turn to the gods."
  • "But you'll say a word to Kangaroo?" said Jaz, persistent.
  • "Yes, if I feel like it," said Richard.
  • Darkness had almost fallen, and Somers shivered as he rose to go indoors.
  • Next morning, when Somers had made the coffee, he and Harriet sat on th_oggia at breakfast. It rained in the night, and the sea was whitish, sluggish, with soft, furry waves that had no plunge. The last thin flush o_oam behaved queerly, running along with a straight, swift splash, just a_hen a steel rope rips out of water, as a tug hauls suddenly, jerking up _hite splash that runs along its length.
  • "What had William James so much to say about?" asked Harriet, on the warpath.
  • "Why don't you have the strength of mind not to ask?" he replied. "You kno_t's better you left it alone: that I'm not supposed to blab."
  • She gave him one fierce look, then went pale with anger. She was silent fo_ome time. Then she burst out:
  • "Pah, as if I cared to know! What is all their revolution bosh to me! Ther_ave been revolutions enough, in my opinion, and each one more foolish tha_he last. And this will be the most foolish of the lot. And what have YOU go_o do with revolutions, you petty and conceited creature? You and revolutions!
  • You're not big enough, not grateful enough to do anything real. I give you m_nergy and my life, and you want to put me aside as if I was a charwoman.
  • Acknowledge ME first, before you can be any good." With which she swallowe_er coffee and rose from the table.
  • He finished too, and got up to carry in the cups and do the few chores tha_emained for his share. He always got up in the morning, made the fire, swep_he room, and tidied roughly. Then he brought in coal and wood, made th_reakfast, and did any little out-door job. After breakfast he helped to was_p, and settled the fire. Then he considered himself free to his own devices.
  • Harriet could see to the rest.
  • His devices were not very many. He tried to write, that being his job. Bu_sually, nowadays, when he tapped his unconscious, he found himself in _eethe of steady fury, general rage. He didn't hate anybody in particular, no_ven any class or body of men. He loathed politicians, and the well-bre_arling young men of the well-to-do middle classes made his bile stir. But h_idn't fret himself about them specially. The off-hand self-assertive workin_eople of Australia made him feel diabolic on their score sometimes. But as _ule the particulars were not in evidence, all the rocks were submerged, an_is bile swirled diabolically for no particular reason at all. He just fel_enerally diabolical, and tried merely to keep enough good sense not to tur_is temper in any particular direction.
  • "You think that nothing but goodness and virtue and wonderfulness comes out o_ou," was one of Harriet's accusations against him. "You don't know how smal_nd mean and ugly you are to other people."
  • "Which means I am small and ugly and mean in her eyes," he thought to himself.
  • "All because of this precious gratitude which I am supposed to feel toward_er, I suppose. Damn her and her gratitude. When she thwarts me and puts me i_ temper I DON'T feel anything but spite. Damn her impudent gratitude."
  • But Harriet was not going to be ignored: no, she was not. She was not going t_ink herself to the level of a convenience. She didn't really wan_rotestations of gratitude or love. They only puzzled her and confused her.
  • But she wanted him INWARDLY to keep a connection with her. Silently, he mus_aintain the flow between him and her, and safeguard it carefully. It is _hing which a man cannot do with his head: it isn't REMEMBERING. And it is _hing which a woman cannot explain or understand, because it is quit_rrational. But it is one of the deepest realities in life. When a man an_oman truly come together, when there is a marriage, then an unconscious, vital connection is established between them, like a throbbing blood-circuit.
  • A man may forget a woman entirely with his head, and fling himself with energ_nd fervour into whatever job he is tackling, and all is well, all is good, i_e does not break that inner vital connection which is the mystery o_arriage. But let him once get out of unison, out of conjunction, let hi_nwardly break loose and come apart, let him fall into that worst of mal_ices, the vice of abstraction and mechanisation, and have a concert o_orking ALONE and of himself, then he commits the breach. He hurts the woma_nd he hurts himself, though neither may know why. The greatest hero that eve_xisted was heroic only whilst he kept the throbbing inner union wit_omething, God, or Fatherland, or woman. The most immediate is woman, th_ife. But the most grovelling wife-worshippers are the foulest of traitors an_enegades to the inner unison. A man must strive onward, but from the root o_arriage, marriage with God, with wife, with mankind. Like a tree that i_ooted, always growing and flowering away from its root, so is a vitall_ctive man. But let him take some false direction, and there is tortur_hrough the whole organism, roots and all. The woman suffers blindly from th_an's mistaken direction, and reacts blindly.
  • Now in this revolution stunt, and his insistence on "male" activity, Somer_ad upturned the root flow, and Harriet was a devil to him—quite rightly—fo_e knew that inside himself he was devilish. She tried to keep her kindnes_nd happiness. But no, it was false when the inner connection was betrayed. S_er silent rage accumulated, and it was no good playing mental tricks o_uppression with it. As for him, he was forced to recognize the devil in hi_wn belly. He just felt devilish. While Harriet went about trying to be fai_nd happy, he realised that it was awful for him to be there, as black insid_s an ink-bottle; however, he practised being nice. Theoretically he wa_rateful to her, and all that. But nothing conjured away that bellyful o_lack devilishness with which he was enceinte. He really felt like a woman wh_s with child by a corrosive fiend. In his lower man, just girning an_emoniacal. No good pretending otherwise. No good playing tricks of bein_ice. Seven-thousand devils!
  • When he saw a motor-car parked in the waste lot next to Coo-ee, and saw tw_omen in twelve-guinea black coats and skirts hobbling across the grass to th_ungalow farther down, perhaps wanting to hire it: then the devil came and sa_lack and naked in his eyes. They hobbled along the uneven place so commonly, they looked so crassly common in spite of their tailors' bills, so LOW, i_pite of their motor-car, that the devil in him fairly lashed its tail like _at. And yet, he knew, they were probably just two nice, kindly women, as th_orld goes. And truly, even the devil in him did not want to do them an_ERSONAL harm. If they had fallen, or got into difficulty, he would have gon_ut at once to help them all he could. And yet, at the sight of their backs i_heir tailored "costumes" hobbling past the bushes, the devil in him lashe_ts tail till he writhed.
  • So there you are. Or rather, there was Richard Lovat Somers. He tried t_quare accounts with himself. Surely, he said to himself, I am not just merel_ sort of human bomb, all black inside, waiting to explode I don't know whe_r how or where. That's what I seem like to myself, nowadays. Yet surely it i_ot the only truth about me. When I feel at peace with myself, and, as i_ere, so quietly at the CENTRE of things—like last evening, for example—surel_hat is also me. Harriet seems fairly to detest me for having this nic_eeling all to myself. Well, it wasn't my fault if I had it. I did have it.
  • What does she want? She won't leave a fellow alone. I felt fairly beatifi_ast evening—I felt I could swim Australia into a future, and that Jaz wa_onderful, and I was a sort of central angel. So now I must admit I a_labbergasted at finding my devil coiled up exultant like a black cat in m_elly this morning, purring all the more loudly because of my "goodness" o_ast evening, and lashing his tail so venomously at the sight of the two wome_n the black "costumes". Is this devil after all my god? Do I stand with th_ebbil-debbil worshippers, in spite of all my efforts and protestations?
  • This morning I do, and I admit it. I can't help it: it is so, then let it b_o. I shall change again, I know. I shall feel white again, and like a pearl, suave and quiet within the oyster of time. I shall feel again that, given bu_he ANSWER, the black poisonous bud will burst into a lovely new, unknow_lower in me. The bud is deadly poison: the flower will be the flower of th_ree of life. If Harriet let me alone, and people like Jaz really believed i_e! Because they have a right to believe in me when I am at my best. O_erhaps he believes in me when I am my worst, and Kangaroo likes me when I a_ood. Yet I don't really like Kangaroo. The devil in me fairly hates him. Hi_nd everybody. Well, all right then, if I AM finally a sort of human bomb, black inside, and primed; I hope the hour and the place will come for my goin_ff: for my exploding with the maximum amount of havoc. SOME men have to b_ombs, to explode and make breaches in the walls that shut life in. Blind, havoc-working bombs too. Then so be it.
  • That morning as luck would have it Somers read an article by A. Meston in a_ld Sydney Daily Telegraph, headed:
  • EARTHQUAKES.
  • IS AUSTRALIA SAFE?
  • SLEEPING VOLCANOES.
  • The fact that Australia so far has had no trouble with volcanoes o_arthquakes, and appears to be the most immune country in the world, account_or our entire indifference to the whole subject. But here are phases of thi_roblem entitled to some serious consideration by those in whom the thinkin_nd observant faculties are not altogether dormant, and who have not a calm, cool disregard of very ominous inexorable facts. Australia is a very peacefu_eposeful area, with the serious volcanoes of New Zealand on one side, and th_till more serious volcanoes of Java on the other. We live in a soft flower_eadow between two jungles, a lion in one and a tiger in the other, but a_either animal has chased or bitten us, up to the present time, we go calml_o sleep quite satisfied they are harmless.
  • Now the line of volcanic action on the east coast of Australia is very clearl_efined, from the basalt of Illawarra, north to the basalt within three mile_f Cape York. The chief areas over all that distance are the Big Scrub on th_ichmond River, the Darling Downs, and the Atherton Tableland, behind Cairns.
  • These are the largest basalt areas in Australia, the Darling Downs an_therton containing each about 2,000,000 acres of basalt, the one chiefl_lack, and the other all red. The other conspicuous areas are the red basal_sis and Woongarra scrubs, and north of Atherton the next basalt area is o_he McIvor and Morgan Rivers, 40 miles north of Cooktown. From there I saw n_asalt on the coast of the Peninsula, until somewhat surprised to find grea_iles of black basaltic stone, like artificial quarry heaps, in the dens_eaforthia palm scrubs ten miles west of Somerset.
  • VOLCANIC EVIDENCE.
  • Here, then, is a clearly defined but very intermittent line of volcanic actio_long our entire east coast for over two thousand miles. Yet to-day there i_ot only not one active volcano on the whole of that area, but not even on_learly authentic dead one. There is nothing to show whence came the basalt o_he Darling Downs, the Big Scrub, or the Atherton Tableland, unless in th_ast case the two deep freshwater lakes, Barrine and Eacham, the Barrang an_eetcham of the aboriginals, represent the craters of extinct volcanoes.
  • Whence, then, came the basalt spread along a narrow line of our east coast fo_wo thousand miles, and all of it east of the Dividing Range? There is a lo_f room for theories…
  • When the late Captain Audley Coote was laying the cable from New Caledonia t_andy Cape, at the north end of Fraser Island, on the South Queensland coast, he passed a submerged mountain 6,000 feet in height, and found a tremendou_hasm, so deep that they could find no bottom, and had to work the cable roun_he edge. When he reached the coast of Fraser Island he got the same sounding_s Cook and Flinders and the Admiralty survey in the 'sixties, six to eigh_athoms, but there came a break in the cable in after years, located in tha_ix and eight fathom area, and they found the broken cable hanging over _ubmarine precipice of eight hundred feet.
  • That I read in Captain Coote's own manuscript journal, and it was confirmed b_aptain John Mackay, the Brisbane harbourmaster, who assured me that an 80_eet chasm had suddenly formed there in the bottom of the ocean!
  • On the coast of Japan, the ocean bottoms sank in one place suddenly from fou_r five fathoms to 4,000 feet.
  • The old Fraser Island aboriginals told me that the deep blue lake, two mile_rom the White Cliffs, was once a level plateau, on which their fathers hel_ights and corroborees, and that it sank in one night. On the North Queenslan_oast, there is fairly shallow water from the seashore out to the edge of th_arrier, and then the ocean goes down to depths up to two and three thousan_eet, so if the sea were removed you would look down from the outer Barrie_nto a tremendous valley with a wall of granite cliffs.
  • When the town of Port Royal in Jamaica was destroyed by an earthquake on Jun_, 1692, the houses all disappeared into an ocean chasm 300 feet in depth; an_n the terrible earthquake at Lisbon, 1755, destroying 2,000 houses and 5,00_eople, the wharves and piers, and even the vessels lying beside them, disappeared into some tremendous gulf, leaving no trace whatever.
  • It is a singular fact that the heights of the loftiest mountains correspon_ith the depths of the deepest seas, and that the 29,000 feet of Mount Everes_s equal with what is known as the "Tuscarora Deep", fathomed by the U.S.A.
  • vessel Tuscarora.
  • ISLANDS THAT VANISHED.
  • From the days of Seneca there are records of islands suddenly appearing befor_stonished mariners, and others disappearing suddenly before mariners equall_stonished. In the dreadful volcanic explosion of Krakatoa in August, 1883, one mountain peak was blown to pieces, while others were thrown up from th_cean. The tidal wave created by Krakatoa destroyed 40,000 people, and the ai_ave from the concussion pulsated three times round the world. And Krakato_nd the Javanese volcanoes are only a short distance from the coast o_ustralia!
  • Doubtless many of the ships that have mysteriously disappeared, leaving n_race, have gone down in the vortex of a submarine earthquake, or a chas_reated by a sudden shrinkage in the bottom of the ocean. From the facts abov_vailable it is reasonable to believe that the present continent of Australi_s only a portion of the original, and that in some remote period it extende_undreds or thousands of miles to the eastward, probably including Lord How_nd Norfolk Islands and New Zealand, possibly New Caledonia. How came th_ncient Cretaceous Ocean, which once covered all Central Australia, from th_ulf to the Bight, to withdraw from the land, leaving nothing but marin_ossils in the desert sandstone?
  • Was the Cretaceous Ocean shallow all round this continent, and did it suddenl_ubside to fill some tremendous chasm caused by a sudden submarine shrinkag_f the earth's crust, followed by the inland sea which naturally rushed ou_nto the vacancy?
  • What seems the only real danger to Australia lies not in the eruptions of som_uddenly created new volcano, or any ordinary earthquake, but in just suc_hrinkages in the sea bottom as occurred on the coast of Japan, off Frase_sland, and many other localities, including Lisbon and Port Royal.
  • If such a subsidence were to come under Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide o_risbane, it might be of such a magnitude that the whole city would disappea_nto the gulf.
  • We know nothing whatever of the awful forces at work beneath the crust of th_arth, and nothing of the internal fires, or that awful subterranean abod_here Shelley said "the old earthquake Demon nurses her young Ruin". Th_istory of volcanoes and earthquakes is an appalling record of lost countles_illions of lives and awful destruction.
  • One Peking earthquake destroyed 300,000 people, one in Naples 70,000, anothe_t Naples 40,000; and we are not far from July, 1902, when the volcano o_ount Pelee, in the island of Martinique, wiped out the town of St. Pierre an_0,000 inhabitants.
  • Still nearer is that 18th April, 1906, when the San Francisco earthquak_illed over a thousand people, and did damage to the extent of sixty millions.
  • And so far in Australian history we have not had an earthquake that woul_apsize a tumbler of hot punch.
  • Why hot punch, thought Somers, why not hot bitters or ice-cream soda, whic_re much more Austral and to the point? But he had read this almost thrillin_it of journalism with satisfaction. If the mother earth herself is s_nstable, and upsets the applecart without caring a straw, why, what can a ma_ay to himself if he DOES happen to have a devil in his belly!
  • And he looked at the ocean uneasily moving, and wondered when next it woul_hrust an angry shoulder out of the watery bed-covering, to give things _ittle jog. Or when his own devil would get a leg up into affairs.