in inappropriate places. I signaled to Coker to stop, and called to her as I drew up. Her mouth moved,
but not a word penetrated the clatter of the engine. I switched off.
"This is Tynsham Manor?" I asked.
She was not giving that, or anything else, away. "Where are you from? And how many of you?" she
I could have wished that she did not fiddle about with her gun in just the way she did. Briefly, and
keeping an eye on her uneasy fingers, I explained who we were, why we came, roughly what we carried,
and guaranteed that there were no more of us hidden in the trucks. I doubted whether she was taking it
in. Her eyes were fixed on mine with a mournfully speculative expression more common in bloodhounds,
but not reassuring even there. My words did little to disperse that random suspicion which makes the
highly conscientious so wearing. As she emerged to glance into the backs of the trucks, and verify my
statements, I hoped for her sake that she would not chance to encounter a party of whom her suspicions
were justified. Admission that she was satisfied would have weakened her role of reliability, but she did
eventually consent, still with reserve, to allow us in.
"Take the right fork," she called up to me as I passed, and turned back at once to attend to the security
of the gates. Beyond a short avenue of elms lay a park landscaped in the manner of the late eighteenth
century, and dotted with trees which had had space to expand into full magnificence. The house, when it
came into view, was not a stately home in the architectural sense, but there was a lot of it. It rambled
over a considerable ground area and through a variety of building styles, as though none of its previous
owners had been able to resist the temptation to leave his personal mark upon it. Each, while respecting
the work of his forefathers, had apparently felt it incumbent upon him to express the spirit of his own age.
A confident disregard of previous levels had resulted in a sturdy waywardness. It was inescapably a
funny house, yet friendly and reliable-looking.
The right fork led us to a wide courtyard where several trucks stood already. Coach houses and stables
extended around it, seemingly over several acres. Coker drew up alongside me, and we climbed down.
There was no one in sight.
We made our way through the open rear door of the main building and down a long corridor. At the end
of it was a kitchen of baronial capacity where the warmth and smell of cooking lingered. From beyond a
door on the far side came a murmur of voices and a clatter of plates, but we had to negotiate a further
dark passage and another door before we reached them.
The place we entered had, I imagine, been the servants' hall in the days when staffs were large enough
for the term to be no misnomer. It was spacious enough to hold a hundred or more at tables without
crowding. The present occupants, seated on benches at two long trestles, I guessed to between fifty and
sixty, and it was clear at a glance that they were blind. While they sat patiently a few sighted persons
were very busy. Over at a side table three girls were industriously caning chickens. I went up to one of
"we've just come," I said. "What do we do?"
She paused, still clutching her fork, and pushed back a lock of hair with the crook of her wrist.
"It'll help if one of you takes charge of the veg and the other helps with the plates," she said.
I took command of two large tubs of potato and cabbage. In the intervals of doling them out I looked
over the occupants of the halls. Josella was not among them-nor could I see any of the more notable
characters among the group that had put forward its proposals at the University Building- though I
fancied I had seen the faces of some of the women before.
The proportion of men was far higher than in the former group, and they were curiously assorted. A few
of them might have been Londoners, or at least town dwellers, but the majority wore a countryman's
working clothes. An exception to either kind was a middle-aged clergyman, but what every one of the
men had in common was blindness.
The women were more diversified. Some were in town clothes quite unsuited to their surroundings;
others were probably local. Among the latter only one girl was sighted, but the former group comprised
half a dozen or so who could see and a number who, though blind, were not clumsy.
Coker, too, had been taking stock of the place.
"Rum sort of setup, this," he remarked sotto voce to me. "Have you seen her yet?"
I shook my head, desolately aware that I had pinned more on the expectation of finding Josella there
than I had admitted to myself.
"Funny thing," he went on, "there's practically none of the lot I took along with you-except that girl that's
carrying, up at the end there."
"Has she recognized you?" I asked.
"I think so. I got a sort of dirty look from her."
When the carrying and serving had been completed we took our own plates and found places at the
table. There was nothing to complain of in the cooking or the food, and living out of cold cans for a week
sharpens the appreciation, anyway. At the end of the meal there was a knocking on the table. The
clergyman rose; he waited for silence before he spoke:
"My friends, it is fitting that at the end of another day we should renew our thanks to God for His great
mercy in preserving us in the midst of such disaster. I will ask you all to pray that He may look with
compassion upon those who still wander alone in darkness, and that it may please Him to guide their feet
hither that we may succor them. Let us all beseech Him that we may survive the trials and tribulations that
lie ahead in order that in His time and with His aid we may succeed in playing our part in the rebuilding of
a better world to His greater glory."
He bowed his head.
"Almighty and most merciful God ..
After the "Amen" he led a hymn. When that was finished the gathering sorted itself out into parties, each
keeping touch with his neighbor, and four of the sighted girls led them out.
I lit a cigarette. Coker took one from me absent-mindedly, without making any comment. A girl came
across to us.
"Will you help to clear up?" she asked. "Miss Durrant will be back soon, I expect."
"Miss Durrant?" I repeated.
"She does the organizing," she explained. "You'll be able to fix things up with her."
It was an hour later and almost dark when we heard that Miss Durrant had returned. We found her in a
small, study-like room lit only by the light of two candles on the desk. I recognized her at once as the
dark, thin-lipped woman who had spoken for the opposition at the meeting. For the moment all her
attention was concentrated on Coker. Her expression was no more amiable than upon the former
"I am told," she said coldly, regarding Coker as though he were some kind of silt, "I am told that you are
the man who organized the raid on the University Building?"
Coker agreed, and waited.
'Then I may as well tell you, once and for all, that in our community here we have no use for brutal
methods, and no intention of tolerating them."
Coker smiled slightly. He answered her in his best middle-class speech:
"It is a matter of viewpoint. Who is to judge who were the more brutal? Those who saw an immediate
responsibility, and stayed-or those who saw a further responsibility, and cleared out?"
She continued to look hard at him. Her expression remained unchanged, but she was evidently forming a
different judgment of the type of man she had to deal with. Neither his reply nor his manner had been
quite what she had expected. She shelved that aspect for a time and turned to me.
"Were you in that too?" she asked.
I explained my somewhat negative part in the affair and put my own question:
"What happened to Michael Beadley, the Colonel, and the rest?"
It was not well received.
"They have gone elsewhere," she said sharply. "This is a clean, decent community with
-and we intend to uphold them. We have no place here for people of loose views. Decadence,
immorality, and lack of faith were responsible for mast of the world's ills. It is the duty of those of us who
have been spared to see that we build a society where that does not happen again. The cynical and the
clever-clever will find they are not wanted here, no matter what brilliant theories they may put forward to
disguise their licentiousness and their materialism. We are a Christian community, and we intend to remain
so." She looked at me challengingly.
"So you split, did you?" I said. "Where did they go?"
She replied stonily;
"They moved on, and we stayed here. That is what matters. So long as they keep their influence away
from here, they may work out their own damnation as they please. And since they choose to consider
themselves superior to both the laws of God and civilized custom, II have no doubt that they will."
She ended this declaration with a snap of the jaw which suggested that I should be wasting my time if I
tried to pursue the question further, and turned back to Coker.
"What can you do?" she inquired.
"A number of things," he said calmly. "I suggest that I make myself generally useful until I see where I am
She hesitated, a little taken aback. It had clearly been her intention to make the decision and issue the
instruction, but she changed her mind.
"All right. Look round, and come and talk it over tomorrow evening," she said.
But Coker was not to be dismissed quite so easily. He wanted particulars of the size of the estate, the
number of persons at present in the house, the proportion of sighted to blind, along with a number of
other matters, and he got them.
Before we left 12 put in a question about Josella. Miss Durrant frowned.
"I seem to know that name. Now where- Oh, did she stand in the Conservative interest in the last
"I don't think so. She-er-she did write a book once," I admitted.
"She-" she began. Then I saw recollection dawn. "Oh, oh, that Well, really, Mr. Masen, I can scarcely
think she would be the kind of person to care far the kind of community we are building here."
In the corridor outside Coker turned to me. There was just enough of the twilight left for me to see his
"A somewhat oppressive orthodoxy around these parts," he remarked. The grin disappeared as he
added: "Rum type, you know. Pride and prejudice. She's wanting help. She knows she needs it badly,
but nothing's going to make her admit it."
He paused opposite an open door. It was almost too dark now to make out anything in the room, but
when we had passed it before there had been enough light to reveal it as a men's dormitory.
"I'm going in to have a word with these chaps. See you later."
I watched him stroll into the room and greet it collectively with a cheerful "Worcher, mates! 'Ow's it
goin7" and then made my own way back to the dining hail.
The only light there came from three candles set close together on one table. Beside them a girl peered
exasperatedly at same mending.
"Hullo," she said. "Awful, isn't it? How on earth did they manage to do anything after dark in the old
"Not such old days, either," I told her. "This is the future as well as the past-provided there's somebody
to show us how to make candles."
"I suppose so." She raised her head and regarded me. "You Came from London today?"
"Yes," I admitted.
"It's bad there now?"
"It's finished," I said.
Of Josella, the girl could tell me nothing. Clearly she had never heard the name before, and my attempts
at description roused no recollections.
While we were talking, the electric lights in the room suddenly went on. The girl looked up at them with
the awed expression of one receiving a revelation. She blew out the candies, and as she went on with her
mending she looked up at the bulbs occasionally as if to make certain they were still there.
A few minutes later Coker strolled in.
"That was you, I suppose?" I said, nodding at the lights.
"Yes," he admitted. "They've got their own plant here. We might as well use up the Las as let it
"Do you mean to say we could have had lights all the time we've been here?" asked the girl.
"If you had just taken the trouble to start the engine," Coker said, looking at her. "II you wanted light,
why didn't you try to start it?"
"I didn't know it was there; besides, I don't know anything about engines or electricity."
Coker continued to look at her, thoughtfully.
"So you just went on sitting in the dark," he remarked. "And how long do you think you are likely to
survive if you just go on sitting in the dark when things need doing?"
She was stung by his tone.
"it's not my fault if I'm not any good at things like that."
"I'll differ there," Coker told her. "It's not only your fault- it's a self-created fault. Moreover, it's an
affectation to consider yourself too spiritual to understand anything mechanical. It is a petty and a very
silly form of vanity. Everyone starts by knowing nothing about anything, but God gives him-and even
her-brains to find out with. Failure to use them is not a virtue to be praised; even in women it is a gap to
She looked understandably annoyed. Coker himself had been annoyed from the time he came in. She
"I don't see why you need to pour all your contempt for women onto me-just because of one dirty old
Coker raised his eyes.
"Great God! And here have I been explaining that women have as many brains as anyone else, if they'd
only take the trouble to use them."
"You said we were all petty and vain. That wasn't at all a nice thing to say."
"I'm not trying to say nice things. And what I meant was that in the world that has vanished women had a
vested interest in acting the part of parasites."
"And all that just because I don't happen to know anything about a smelly, noisy engine."
"Hell!" said Coker. "Just drop that engine a minute, will you."
"Listen," said Coker patiently. "If you have a baby, do you want him to grow up to be a savage or a
"A civilized man, of course."
"Well, then, you have to see to it that he has civilized surroundings to do it in. The standards he'll learn,
he'll learn from us. We've all got to understand as much as we can, and live as intelligently as we can, in
order to give him the most we can. It's going to mean hard work and more thinking for all of us. Changed
conditions must mean changed outlooks."
The girl gathered up her mending. She regarded Cokes critically for a few moments.
"With views like yours I should think you'd find Mr. Bead-ley's party more congenial," she said. "Here
we have no intention of changing our outlook-or of giving up our principles. That's why we separated
from the other party. So if the ways of decent, respectable people are not good enough for you, I should
think you'd better go somewhere else." And with a sound very like a sniff, she walked away.
Coker watched her leave. When the door closed he expressed his feelings with a fish porter's fluency. I
"What did you expect?" I said. "You prance in and address the girl as if she were a reactionary debating
society-and responsible for the whole western social system as well. And then you're surprised when
"You'd think she'd be reasonable," he muttered.
"Most people aren't, even though they'd protest that they are. They prefer to be coaxed or wheedled, or
even driven. That way they never make a mistake: if there is one, it's at' ways due to something or
somebody else. This going headlong for things is a mechanistic view, and people in general aren't
machines. They have minds of their own-mostly peasant minds, at their easiest when they are in the
"That doesn't sound as if you'd give Beadley much chance of making a go of it. He's all plan."
"He'll have his troubles. But his party did choose,. This lot is negative," I pointed out. "It is simply here
on account of its resistance to any kind of plan." I paused. Then I added:
"That girl was right about one thing, you know. You would k better off with his lot. Her reaction is a
sample of what you'd get all round if you were to try to handle this lot your way. You can't drive a flock
of sheep to market in a dead straight line, but there are ways of getting 'em there."
"You're being unusually cynical, as well as very metaphorical, this evening," Coker observed.
I objected to that.
"It isn't cynical to have noticed how a shepherd handles his
"To regard human beings as sheep might be thought so by some."
"But less cynical and much more rewarding than regarding
them as a lot of chassis fitted for remote-thought control."
"H'm," said Coker, "I'll have to consider the implications
-AND FARTHER ON
My next morning was desultory. I looked around, I lent a hand here and there, and asked a lot of
It had been a wretched night. Until I lay down I had not fully realized the extent to which 21 had counted
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