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Thump! whata twinge through the forehead! A chorus of ow's and aie's went up from
the audience.
The concussion knocked all the negro's conditionimg into a cocked hat. He
developed for the Beta blonde an exclusive and maniacal passion. She protested.
He persisted. There were struggles, pursuits, an assault on a rival, finally a
sensational kidnapping. The Beta blond was ravished away into the sky and kept
there, hovering, for three weeks in a wildly anti-social tte--tte with the black
madman. Finally, after a whole series of adventures and much aerial acrobacy three
handsome young Alphas succeeded in rescuing her. The negro was packed off to an
Adult Re-conditioning Centre and the film ended happily and decorously, with the
Beta blonde becoming the mistress of all her three rescuers. They interrupted
themselves for a moment to sing a synthetic quartet, with full super-orchestral
accompaniment and gardenias on the scent organ. Then the bearskin made a final
appearance and, amid a blare of saxophones, the last stereoscopic kiss faded into
darkness, the last electric titillation died on the lips like a dying moth that quivers,
quivers, ever more feebly, ever more faintly, and at last is quiet, quite still.
But for Lenina the moth did not completely die. Even after the lights had gone up,
while they were shuffling slowly along with the crowd towards the lifts, its ghost still
fluttered against her lips, still traced fine shuddering roads of anxiety and pleasure
across her skin. Her cheeks were flushed. She caught hold of the Savage's arm and
pressed it, limp, against her side. He looked down at her for a moment, pale,
pained, desiring, and ashamed of his desire. He was not worthy, not & Their eyes
for a moment met. What treasures hers promised! A queen's ransom of
temperament. Hastily he looked away, disengaged his imprisoned arm. He was
obscurely terrified lest she should cease to be something he could feel himself
unworthy of.
"I don't think you ought to see things like that," he said, making haste to transfer
from Lenina herself to the surrounding circumstances the blame for any past or
possible future lapse from perfection.
"Things like what, John?"
"Like this horrible film."
"Horrible?" Lenina was genuinely astonished. "But I thought it was lovely."
"It was base," he said indignantly, "it was ignoble."
She shook her head. "I don't know what you mean." Why was he so queer? Why did
he go out of his way to spoil things?
In the taxicopter he hardly even looked at her. Bound by strong vows that had
never been pronounced, obedient to laws that had long since ceased to run, he sat
averted and in silence. Sometimes, as though a finger had plucked at some taut,
almost breaking string, his whole body would shake with a sudden nervous start.
The taxicopter landed on the roof of Lenina's apartment house. "At last," she
thought exultantly as she stepped out of the cab. At last even though he had been
so queer just now. Standing under a lamp, she peered into her hand mirror. At last.
Yes, her nose was a bit shiny. She shook the loose powder from her puff. While he
was paying off the taxi there would just be time. She rubbed at the shininess,
thinking: "He's terribly good-looking. No need for him to be shy like Bernard. And
yet & Any other man would have done it long ago. Well, now at last." That fragment
of a face in the little round mirror suddenly smiled at her.
"Good-night," said a strangled voice behind her. Lenina wheeled round. He was
standing in the doorway of the cab, his eyes fixed, staring; had evidently been
staring all this time while she was powdering her nose, waiting but what for? or
hesitating, trying to make up his mind, and all the time thinking, thinking she
could not imagine what extraordinary thoughts. "Good-night, Lenina," he repeated,
and made a strange grimacing attempt to smile.
"But, John & I thought you were & I mean, aren't you? & "
He shut the door and bent forward to say something to the driver. The cab shot up
into the air.
Looking down through the window in the fioor, the Savage could see Lenina's
upturned face, pale in the bluish light of the lamps. The mouth was open, she was
calling. Her foreshortened figure rushed away from him; the diminishing square of
the roof seemed to be falling through the darkness.
Five minutes later he was back in his room. From its hiding-place he took out his
mouse-nibbled volume, turned with religious care its stained and crumbled pages,
and began to read Othello. Othello, he remembered, was like the hero of Three
Weeks in a Helicopter a black man.
Drying her eyes, Lenina walked across the roof to the lift. On her way down to the
twenty-seventh floor she pulled out her soma bottle. One gramme, she decided,
would not be enough; hers had been more than a one-gramme affliction. But if she
took two grammes, she ran the risk of not waking up in time to-morrow morning.
She compromised and, into her cupped left palm, shook out three half-gramme
Chapter Twelve
BERNARD had to shout through the locked door; the Savage would not open.
"But everybody's there, waiting for you."
"Let them wait," came back the muffled voice through the door.
"But you know quite well, John" (how difficult it is to sound persuasive at the top of
one's voice!) "I asked them on purpose to meet you."
"You ought to have asked me first whether I wanted to meet them."
"But you always came before, John."
"That's precisely why I don't want to come again."
"Just to please me," Bernard bellowingly wheedled. "Won't you come to please me?"
"Do you seriously mean it?"
Despairingly, "But what shall I do?" Bernard wailed.
"Go to hell!" bawled the exasperated voice from within.
"But the Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury is there to-night." Bernard was
almost in tears.
"Ai yaa tkwa!" It was only in Zui that the Savage could adequately express what he
felt about the Arch-Community-Songster. "Hni!" he added as an after-thought; and
then (with what derisive ferocity!): "Sons so tse-n." And he spat on the ground, as
Pop might have done.
In the end Bernard had to slink back, diminished, to his rooms and inform the
impatient assembly that the Savage would not be appearing that evening. The news
was received with indignation. The men were furious at having been tricked into
behaving politely to this insignificant fellow with the unsavoury reputation and the
heretical opinions. The higher their position in the hierarchy, the deeper their
"To play such a joke on me," the Arch-Songster kept repeating, "on me!"
As for the women, they indignantly felt that they had been had on false
pretences had by a wretched little man who had had alcohol poured into his bottle
by mistake by a creature with a Gamma-Minus physique. It was an outrage, and
they said so, more and more loudly. The Head Mistress of Eton was particularly
Lenina alone said nothing. Pale, her blue eyes clouded with an unwonted [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]