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The South Pacific Sailing Directory







From: Greener Than You Think

67. I cannot say the world greeted the end of the North American
continent with either rejoicing or regret. Relief, yes. When the news of
the last demolition was given and it was clear the Grass was unable to
bridge the gap, the imaginative could almost hear mankind emit a vast
sigh. The world was saved, they could go about their business now,
having written off a sixth of themselves.

I was reminded of Miss Francis' remark that if you cut off a man's leg
you bestow upon him a crippled mentality. For approximately two
centuries the United States had been a leg of the global body, a limb so
constantly inflicted with growingpains it caused the other parts to
writhe in sympathy. Now the member was cut off and everyone thought that
with the troublesome appendage gone life would be pleasanter and
simpler. Debtor nations expanded their chests when they remembered Uncle
Shylock was no more. Industrial countries looked eagerly to enlarge
their markets in those places where Americans formerly sold goods. Small
states whose inhabitants were occasionally addicted to carrying off
tourists and holding them for ransom now felt they could dispense with
those foreign undersecretaries whose sole business it had been to write
diplomatic notes of apology.

But it was a crippled world and the lost leg still twitched spectrally.
I don't think I speak now as a native of the United States, for with my
international interests I believe I have become completely a
cosmopolitan, but for everyone, Englishman, Italian, Afrikander or
citizen of Liberia. The disappearance of America created a revolution in
their lives, a change perhaps not immediately apparent, but eventually
to be recognized by all.

It was the trivial things we Americans had taken for granted as part of
our daily lives and taught the rest of the world to appreciate which
were most quickly missed. The substitution of English, Turkish, Egyptian
or Russian cigarettes for good old Camels or Luckies; the impossibility
of buying a bottle of cocacola at any price; the disappearance of the
solacing wad of chewinggum; the pulsing downbeat of a hot band--these
were the first things whose loss was noticed.

For a long time I had been too busy to attend movingpictures, except
rarely, but a man--especially a man with much on his mind--needs
relaxation and I would not choose the foreign movies with their morbid
emphasis on problems and crime and sex in preference to the cleancut
American product which always satisfied the nobler feelings by showing
the reward of the honest, the downfall of evildoers and the purity of
love and motherhood. Art is all very well, but need it be sordid?

As I told George Thario, I am no philistine; I think the Parthenon and
the Taj Mahal are lovely buildings, but I would not care to have an
office in either of them--give me Radio City. I don't mind the highbrow
programs the British Broadcasting Corporation put on; I myself am quite
capable of understanding and enjoying them, but I imagine there are
thousands of housewives who would prefer a good serial to bring romance
into their lives. I don't object to a commercial world in which
competitors go through the formality of pretending to be scrupulously
fair in talking about each others' products, but I must admit I missed
the good old American slapdash advertising which yelled, Buy my
deodorant or youll stink; wash your mouth with my antiseptic or youll
lose your job; brush your teeth with my dentifrice or no one will kiss
you; powder your face with my leadarsenate or youll keep your
maidenhead. I would give a lot of money to hear a singing commercial
once more or watch the neon lights north of Times Square urge me to buy
something for which I have no possible use. Living within your income is
fine, but the world lacks the goods youd have bought on the
installmentplan; getting what you need is sound policy, but how many
lives were lightened by the young men working their way through college,
or the fullerbrushman?

I think there was a subconscious realization of this which came
gradually to the top. In the beginning the almost universal opinion was
that the loss of the aching limb was for the better. I have heard
socalled cultured foreigners discuss the matter in my presence,
doubtless unaware I was an American. No more tourists, they gloated, to
stand with their backs to the Temple of Heaven in Pekin and explain the
superior construction of the Masonic Hall at Cedar Rapids; no more
visitors to the champagne caves at Rheims to inquire where they could
get a shot of real bourbon; no more music lovers at Salzburg or
Glyndebourne to regret audibly the lack of a peppy swingtune; no more
gourmets in Vienna demanding thick steaks, rare and smothered in onions.

But this period of smug selfcongratulation was soon succeeded by a
strange nostalgia which took the form of romanticizing the lost land.
American books were reprinted in vast quantities in the Englishspeaking
nations and translated anew in other countries. American movies were
revived and imitated. Fashionable speech was powdered with what were
conceived to be Yankee expressions and a southern drawl was assiduously
cultivated.

Bestselling historical novels were laid in the United States and popular
operas were written about Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Kit Carson.
Men told their growing sons to work hard, for now there was left no land
of opportunity to which they could emigrate, no country where they could
become rich overnight with little effort. Instead of fairytales children
demanded stories of fortyniners and the Wedding of the Rails; and on the
streets of Bombay and Cairo urchins, probably quite unaware of the
memorial gesture, could be heard whistling Casey Jones.

But handinhand with this newfound romantic love went a completely
practical attitude toward those Americans still existing in the flesh.
The earliest expatriates, being generally men of substance, were well
received. The thousands who had crossed by small boats from Canada to
Greenland and from Greenland to Iceland to Europe were by definition in
a different category and found the quota system their fathers and
grandfathers had devised used to deny their own entrance.

They were as bewildered and hurt as children that any nation could be at
once so shortsighted and so heartless as to bar homeless wanderers. We
bring you knowledge and skills and our own need, they said in effect, we
will be an asset to your country if you admit us. The Americans could
not understand; they themselves had been fair to all and only kept out
undesirable immigrants.

Gradually the world geared itself to a slower tempo. The gogetter
followed the brontosaurus to extinction, and we Americans with the
foresight to carry on our businesses from new bases profited by the
unAmerican backwardness of our competitors. At this time I daresay I was
among the hundred most important figures of the world. In the marketing
and packaging of our original products I had been forced to acquire
papermills and large interests in aluminum and steel; from there the
progression to tinmines and rollingmills, to coalfields and railroads,
to shippinglines and machineshops was not far. Consolidated Pemmican,
once the center of my business existence, was now but a minor point on
its periphery. I expanded horizontally and vertically, delighted to show
my competitors that Americans, even when deprived of America, were not
robbed of the traditional American enterprise.


68. It was at this time, many months after we had given up all hope of
hearing from Joe again, that General Thario received a longdelayed
package from his son. It contained the third movement of the symphony
and a covering letter:

"Dear Father--Stuart Thario--General-- I shall not finish this letter
tonight; it will be sent with as much of the First Symphony as makes a
worthy essence when it goes. The whole is greater than the sum of its
parts, but there is a place (perhaps not in life, but somewhere) for the
imperfect, for the incomplete. The great and small alike achieve
fulfillment, satisfaction--must this be a ruthless denial of all
between?

"I have always despised musicologists, makers of programnotes, little
men who tell you the opening chords of Opus 67 describe Fate Knocking at
the Door or the call of the yellowhammer. A child draws a picture and
writes on it, 'This is a donkey,' and when grown proves it to be a
selfportrait by translating the Jupiter Symphony into words. Having said
this, let me stultify myself--but for private ears alone--as a bit of
personal history, not an explanation to be appended to the score.

"I started out to express in terms of strings and winds the emotions
roused in me by the sight and thoughts of the Grass, much as LvB took a
mistaken idealization of his youth as a startingpoint for Opus 55; but
just as no man is an island, so no theme stands alone. There is a cord
binding the lesser to the greater; a mystic union between all things.
The Grass is not an entity, but an aspect. I thought I was writing about
my country, conceived of myself in a reversed snobbishness, a haughty
humility, a proud abasement, as a sort of superior Smetana. (Did you
know that as a boy I dreamed of the day when I should receive my
commission as second lieutenant?)

Boston, Massachusetts

"I interrupted this letter to sketch some of the middle section of the
fourth movement and I have wasted a precious week following a false
trail. And of course the thought persists that it may not have been a
false trail at all, but the right one; the business of saying something
is a perpetual wrestle with doubts.

"We leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination--Portsmouth probably
and then somewhere in Maine, hoping to wrench from fate the time to
finish the score. It seems more than a little pompous to continue my
explanation. The Grass, the United States, humanity, God--whatever we
write about we write about the same things.

"Still there is a limit to individual perception and it seems to me my
concern--at least my musical concern--is enclosed by Canada and Mexico,
the Pacific and Atlantic. So, rightly or wrongly, even if the miracle
occur and I do finish in time, I cannot leave. A short distance, such a
short distance from where I scribble these words, Vanzetti died. No more
childish thought than atonement was ever conceived. It is a base and
baseless gratification. Evil is not recalled. So I do not sentence
myself for the murder of Vanzetti or for my manifold crimes; who am I to
pass judgment, even on me? But all of us, accusers and accused,
condemners and condemned, will remain--forever indistinguishable. If the
requiem for our faults and our virtues, if the celebration of our past
and the prayer for our resurrection can be orchestrated, then the fourth
movement will be finished. If not--

Aroostook, Maine

"By the best calculations we have about three more days. I do not think
the symphony can be finished, but the thought no longer disturbs me. It
would be a good thing to complete it, just as it would be a good thing
to sit on fleecy clouds and enjoy eternal, nevermelting, nevercloying
icecreamcones, celestially flavored.

"The man who is to carry this letter waits impatiently. I must finish
quickly before his conviction of my insanity outweighs the promises I
have made of reward from you and causes him to run from me. My love to
Mama, the siblings and yourself and kindly regards to the great magnate.

Joe"


69. About the same time I also received a letter which somehow got
through the protective screening of my secretaries:

"Albert Weener,
Savoy Hotel,
Thames Embankment, WC1.

"Sir:
You may recall making an offer I considered premature. It is now no
longer so. I am at home afternoons from 1 until 6 at 14, Little Bow
Street, EC3 (3rd floor, rear).
Josephine Spencer Francis"

In spite of her rudeness at our last meeting, my good nature caused me
to send a cab for her. She wore the identical gray suit of years before
and her face was still unlined and dubiously clean.

"How do you do, Miss Francis? I'm glad to find you among the lucky ones.
Nowadays if we don't hear from old friends we automatically assume their
loss."

She looked at me as one scans an acquaintance whose name has been
embarrassingly forgotten. "There is no profit for you in this
politeness, Weener," she said abruptly. "I am here to beg a favor."

"Anything I can do for you, Miss Francis, will be a pleasure," I assured
her.

She began using a toothpick, but it was not the oldfashioned gold
one--just an ordinary wooden splinter. "Hum. You remember asking me to
superintend gathering specimens of Cynodon dactylon?"

"Circumstances have greatly altered since then," I answered.

"They have a habit of doing so. I merely mentioned your offer because
you coupled it with a chance to advance my own research as an
inducement. I am on the way to develop the counteragent, but to advance
further I need to make tests upon the living grass itself. The World
Control Congress has refused me permission to use specimens. I have no
private means of evading their fiat."

"An excellent thing. The decrees of the congress are issued for the
protection of all."

"Hypocrisy as well as unctuousness."

"What do you expect me to do?"

"You have a hundred hireling chemists, all of them with a string of
degrees, at your service. I want to borrow two of them and be landed on
some American mountain, above the snowline, where I can continue to
work."

"Besides being illegal--to mention such a thing is apparently
hypocritical--such a hazardous and absurd venture is hardly in the
nature of a business proposition, Miss Francis."

"Philanthropic, then."

"I have given fifty thousand pounds to set up nurseryschools right here
in London--"

"So the mothers of the little brats will be free to work in your
factories."

"I have donated ten thousand pounds to Indian famine relief--"

"So that you might cut the wages of your Hindu workers."

"I have subscribed five thousand pounds for sanitation in Szechwan--"

"Thereby lessening absenteeism from sickness among your coolies."

"I will not stoop to answer your insinuations," I said. "I merely
mentioned my gifts to show that my charities are on a worldwide scale
and there is little room in them for the relief of individuals."

"Do you think I come to you for a personal sinecure? I don't ask if you
have no concern outside selfish interest, for the answer is immediate
and obvious; but isnt it to that same selfish interest to protect what
remains of the world? If the other continents go as North America has
gone, will you alone be divinely translated to some extraterrestrial
sphere? And if so, will you take your wealth and power with you?"

"I am supporting three laboratories devoted exclusively to
antigraminous research and anyway the rest of the world is amply
protected by the oceans."

She removed the toothpick in order to laugh unpleasantly. "Once a
salesman always a salesman, Weener. Lie to yourself, deny facts, brazen
it out. The world was safe behind the saltband too, in the days when
Josephine Francis was a quack and charlatan."

"Admitting your great attainments, Miss Francis, the fact remains that
you are a woman and the adventure you propose is hardly one for a lady
to undertake."

"Weener, you are ineffable. I'm not a lady--I'm a chemist."

The conversation deadlocked as I waited for her to go. Oddly enough, in
spite of her sex and the illegality of her proposal, I was inclined to
help her, if she had approached me in a reasonable manner and not with
the uncouth bearing of a superior toward an inferior. If she could
find a counteragent, I thought ... if she could find a weapon, then the
possibility of utilizing the Grass as a raw material for food
concentrates, a design still tantalizingly just beyond the reach of our
researchworkers, might be realized. Labor costs would be cut to a
minimum....

I could not let the woman be her own worst enemy; I was big enough to
overlook her unfortunate attitudes and see through the cranky exterior
to the worthy idealist and true woman beneath. I was interrupted in my
thoughts by Miss Francis speaking again.

"North American landtitles have no value right now, but a man with money
who knew ahead of time the Grass could be destroyed ..."

How clumsy, I thought, trying to appeal to a cupidity I don't possess;
as if I would cheat people by buying up their very homes for sordid
speculation. "Miss Francis," I said, "purely out of generosity and in
remembrance of old times I am inclined to consider helping you. I
suppose you have the details of the equipment you will need, the
qualifications of your assistants, and a rough idea of what mountain you
might prefer as a location?"

"Of course," and she began rattling off a catalogue of items, stabbing
the air with her toothpick as a sort of running punctuation.

I stopped her with a raised hand. "Please. Reduce your list to writing
and leave it with my secretary. I will see what can be done."

As soon as she had gone I picked up the phone and cabled Tony Preblesham
to report to me immediately. The decision to send him with Miss Francis
had been instantaneous, but had I thought about it for hours no happier
design could have been conceived. Outside of General Thario there was
not another man in my organization I could trust so implicitly. The
expedition required double, no, triple secrecy and Preblesham could not
only guard against any ulterior and selfish aims Miss Francis might
entertain--to say nothing of the erratic or purely feminine impulses
which could possibly operate to the disadvantage of all concerned--but
take the opportunity to give the continent a general survey, both to
keep in view the utilization of the weed, whether or not it could be
conquered; and whatever possibilities a lay observer might see as to the
Grass perishing of itself.


70.

"Mr. Albert Weener,
Queen Elizabeth Hotel,
Perth, Western Australia, A.C.

"Dear Sir:--
According to yr. instructions our party left Paramaribo on the 9th
inst. for Medellin, giving out that we were going to see possible
tin deposits near there. At Medellin I checked with our men & was
told that work gangs with the stuff needed to make landing fields
together with caches of gas & oil, enough for 3 times the flying
required had been dropped both at Mt. Whitney & on Banks Island. A.
W., I tell you the boys down there are on their toes. Of course I
did not tell them this, but gave them a real old fashioned Pep Talk,
& told them if they really made good they might be moved up to Rio
or Copenhagen or may be even London.

"Every thing being O.K. in Medellin, we left on the 12th inst.,
heading at first South to fool any nosey cops & then straight West
so as to be out of range of the patrol boats. It was quite late
before we could head North and the navigator was flying by
instruments so it was not until dawn that we saw land. You can sneer
all you like at Bro. Paul (& of course he has not had the benefits
of an Education like you, A. W.) but I want to tell you that when I
looked out of the port & saw nothing but green grass where houses &
trees & mtns. ought to have been, I remembered that I was a
backslider & sinful man. However, this is beside the point.

"The lady professor, Miss Francis I mean, & Mr. White & Mr. Black
were both so excited they could hardly eat, but kept making funny
remarks in some foreign language which I do not understand. However
I do not think there was any thing wrong or disloyal to you in their
conversation.

"You would have thought that flying over so much green would have
got tiresome after some time, but you would have been wrong. I am
sorry I cannot describe it to you, but I can only say again that it
made me think of my Account with my Maker.

"While I think of it, altho it does not belong here, in Paramaribo I
had to fire our local man as he had got into trouble with the Police
there & was giving Cons. Pem. a bad name. He said it was on the
Firm's account, but I told him you did not approve of breaking the
Law at all.

"We had no trouble sighting the party at Mt. Whitney & I want to
tell you, A. W., it was a great relief to get rid of the Scientists
altho they are no doubt all right in their way. Some of the work
gang kicked at being left behind altho that was in our agreement.
They said they were sick of the snow & the sight of the Grass
beyond. I said we only had room in the transport for the Banks Is.
gang & anyway they would have company now. I promised them we would
pick them up on our next trip.

"Miss Francis & the 2 others acted like crazy. They kept shaking
each other's hands & saying We are here, we are here, altho any body
but a Nut would have thought saying it was a waste of time as even a
small child could have seen that they were. And any way, why any
body should want to be there is some thing beyond me.

"We took off from Whitney on the 14th inst., flying back S. West.
There were no land marks, but the navigator told me when we were
over the Site of L. A. I have to report that the Grass looked no
different in this Area, where it is the oldest. Then we flew North
E., looking for the Gt. Salt Lake according to yr. instructions. I
am sorry to say that we could not find it altho we flew back & forth
for some time, searching while the instruments were checked. The
Lake has disappeared in the Grass.

"We headed North E. by E., finding no land marks except a few peaks
above the snow on the Rocky Mtns. I am very glad to say that the Gt.
Lakes are still there, altho much smaller & L. Erie & L. Ontario so
shrunk I might have missed them if the pilot had not pointed them
out. The St. Lawrence River is of course gone.

"We followed the line of the big Canadian Lakes N., but except for
Depressions (which may be Swamps) in the latitudes of the Gt. Bear &
Gt. Slave Lakes, there is nothing but Grass. We stayed over night at
Banks Is. & it was very cold & miserable, but we were happy to
remember that there was no Grass underneath the Snow below us. Next
morning (the 16th) after fueling up we took off (with the ground
crew) for the Homeward trip.

"Stopping at Whitney, every thing was O.K. except that I did not see
the lady professor (Miss Francis, I mean) as Mr. White and Mr. Black
said she was too busy.

"I will be in London to meet you on the 1st as arranged & give you
any further news you want. Until then, I remain,
Yrs. Truly,
A. Preblesham, Vice-Pres. in Chge of Field Operations,
Cons. Pem."

I cannot say Preblesham's report was particularly enlightening, but it
at least squelched any notion the Grass might be dying of itself. I did
not expect any great results from the scientists' expedition, but I felt
it worth a gamble. In the meantime I dismissed the lost continent from
my mind and turned to more immediate concerns.


71. The disappearance of American foundries and the withdrawal of the
Russian products from export after their second revolution had forced a
boom in European steel. English, French, and German manufacturers of
automobiles, rails, and locomotives, anticipating tremendously enlarged
outlets for their output--even if those new markets still fell short of
the demand formerly drawing upon the American factories--had earmarked
the entire world supply for a long time to come.

Since I owned large blocks of stock, not only in the industries, but in
the rollingmills as well, this boom was profitable to me. I had long
since passed the point where it was necessary, no matter how great my
expenses or philanthropies, for me to exert myself further; but as I
have always felt anyone who gains wealth without effort is no better
than a parasite, I was contracting for new plants in Bohemia, Poland,
Northern Italy and France. I did not neglect buying heavily into the
Briey Basin and into the Swedish oremines to ensure the future supply of
these mills. In spite of the able assistance of Stuart Thario and the
excellent spadework of Preblesham, I was so busy at this time--for in
addition to everything else the sale of concentrates diagrammed an
everascending spiral--that food and sleep seemed to be only irritating
curtailments of the workingday.

It was the fashion when I was a youth for novelists to sneer at
businessmen and proclaim that the conduct of industry was a simple
affair, such as any halfwit could attend to with but a portion of his
mind. I wish these cynics could have come to know the delicate workings
and balances of my intricate empire. We in responsible positions, and
myself most of all, were on a constant alert, ready for instant decision
or personal attention to a mass of new detail at any moment.


72. On one of the occasions when I had to fly to Copenhagen it was
Winifred and not General Thario who met me at the airport. "General T is
so upset," she explained in her vivacious way, "that I had to come
instead. But perhaps I should have sent Pauline?"

I assured her I was pleased to see her and hastened to express concern
for her father.

"Oh, it's not him at all, really," she said. "It's Mama. She's all
bothered about Joe."

I lowered my voice respectfully and said I was sure Mrs Thario was
overcome with grief and perhaps I had better not intrude at such a time.

"Poo!" dissented Winifred. "Mama doesnt know what grief is. She's simply
delighted at Joe's doing a Custer, but she's awfully bothered about his
music."

"In what way?" I asked. "Do you mean getting it performed?"

"Getting it performed, nothing. Getting it suppressed. That a long line
of generals and admirals should wind up in a composer is to her a
disgrace which will need a great deal of living down. It preys on her
mind. Poor old Stuart is home now reading her choice passages from the
Winning of the West by Theodore Roosevelt to soothe her nerves."

I had been more than a little apprehensive of meeting Mama again, but
Winifred's report seemed to reassure me that she would be confined, if
not to bed, at least to her own apartments. I was sadly disillusioned to
find her ensconced in a comfortable armchair beside a brightly burning
fire, the general with a book held open by his thumb. He greeted me with
his usual affection. "Albert, I'm sorry I wasnt able to get to the
airport."

I shook his hand and turned to his wife. "I regret to hear you are
indisposed, Mrs Thario."

"Spare me your damned crocodile tears. Where is my son?"

"In his last letter he suggested he would remain in our country as long
as it existed; however it is possible--even probable he escaped. Let us
hope so, Mrs Thario."

"That's the sort of damned hogwash you feed to green troops, not to
veterans. My son is dead. In action. My grandfather went the same way at
Chancellorsville. Do you think me some whimpering broompusher to weep at
the loss of a son on the battlefield?"

Stuart Thario put his hand on her arm. "Easy ... bloodpressure ... no
excitement."

"Not in regimentals," said Mama, and relapsed into silence.

We had a very uneasy dinner, during which we were unable to discuss
business owing to the presence of the ladies. Afterward the general and
I withdrew with our coffee--he did not drink at home, so I missed the
clarity which always accompanied his indulgence--and were deep in
figures and calculations when Winifred summoned us hastily.

"General, Mr Weener, come quickly! Mama ..."

We hurried into the living room, I for one anticipating Mama if not in
the throes of a stroke at least in a faint. But she was standing upright
before the open fire, an unsheathed cavalry saber in her hand. It was
clearly a family relic, for from its guard dangled the golden tassel of
the United States Army and on its naked blade were little spots of rust,
but it looked dangerous enough as she warned us off with a sweep of it.
In her other hand I recognized the bulky manuscript of George Thario's
First Symphony which she was burning, page by page.

"Some damned impostor," she said. "Some damned impostor."

"Harriet," protested the general, "Harriet, please ... the boy's work
... only copy ..."

She fed another leaf to the fire. "... impostor ..."

"Harriet--" he advanced toward her, but she waved him away with the
sharp blade--"can't burn George's work this way ... gave his life ..."

I had not thought highly of Joe's talents as a musician, believing them
byandlarge to be but reflections of his unfortunate affectations. I
think I can say I appreciate good music and Ive often taken a great deal
of pleasure from hearing a hotelband play Rubinstein's Melody in F, or
like classical numbers, during mealtimes. But even if Joe's symphony was
but a series of harsh and disjointed sounds, I thought its destruction a
dreadful thing for Mama to do and the more shocking, aside from any
question of artistic taste, because of its reversal of all we associate
with the attitude of true motherhood.

"Mrs Thario," I protested, "as your son's friend I beg you to
consider--"

"Impudence," declared Mama, pointing the sword at me so that I
involuntarily backed up although already at a respectful distance.

"Damned impudence," she repeated, feeding another page to the fire.
"Came into my house, bold as brass and said, 'Cream if you please.' Ha!
I'll cream him, I will!" And she made a violent gesture with the saber
as though skewering me upon its length.

I whispered to Constance, who was standing closest, that her mother had
undoubtedly lost her reason and should be forcibly restrained. Unhappily
the old lady's keen ears caught my suggestion.

"Oho. 'Deranged,' am I? I spend my life making more money than I can
spend, do I? I push my way against all decency into the company of my
betters, boring them and myself for no earthly reason, do I? I live on
crackers and milk because Ive spent my nervous energy piling up the
means to buy an endless supply of steaks and chops my doctor forbids me
to eat? I starve my employees half to death in order to give the money I
steal from them to some charity which hands a small part of it back, ay?
I hire lobbyists or bribe officials to pass laws and then employ others
to break them? I foster nationalist organizations with one hand and
build up international cartels with the other, do I? I'm crazy, am I?"

Excited by her own rhetoric she put several pages at once into the
flames. Constance pleaded, "Mama, this is all we have left of Joe.
Please, Mama."

"Sundays the church banner is raised above the Flag. I never heard a
post chaplain say immortality was contained on pieces of paper."

"Comfort, then, Mama," suggested Winifred.

"Creative work," muttered the general.

"Is it some trivial thing to endure the pangs of childbed that the
creations of men are so exalted? I have offered my life on a battlefield
no less and no more than my grandfather fought on at Chancellorsville.
Little minds do not judge, but I judge. I bore a son; he was my
extension as this weapon is my extension."

She thrust the sword forward to emphasize her utterance. "I will not
hesitate to judge my son. If he did not die in proper uniform at least I
shall not have him go down as a maker of piano notes instead of
buglecalls." She threw the balance of the score into the fire and
stirred it into a blaze with the steel's point.

The ringing of the telephonebell put a period to the scene. Constance,
who spoke several languages, answered it. She carried on an
incomprehensible conversation for a minute and then motioned to me with
her head. "It's for you, Mr Weener. Rio. I'll wait till they get the
connection through." She turned to the mouthpiece again and encouraged
the operator with a soothing flow of words.

I was vastly relieved at the interruption. It was undoubtedly Preblesham
calling me on some routine matter, but it served to distract attention
from the still muttering old lady and give her a chance to subside.

Preblesham's voice came in a bodiless waver over the miles. "A W? Can
you hear me? I can give you a tip. Just about three hours ahead of the
radio and newspapers. Can you understand me? Our big competitor has
bought the adjoining property. Do you get me, A W?"

I nodded at the receiver as though he could see me, my thoughts racing
furiously ahead. I had understood him all right: the Grass had somehow
jumped the saltwater gap and was loose upon another continent.


73. I had about three hours in which to dispose of all my South
American holdings before their value vanished. Telephone facilities in
the Thario house, though adequate for the transaction of the general's
daily business, were completely unequal to the emergency. Even if they
had not been, Mama's occasional sallies from her fireplace fort, saber
waving threateningly, frequently endangered half our communications and
we suffered all the while from the idiosyncrasies of the continental
operators who seem unable ever to make a clear connection, varying this
annoyance by a habit of either dropping dead or visiting the nearest
cafe at those crucial moments when they did not interrupt a tense
interchange by polite inquiries as to whether msieu had been connected.

I must say that in this crisis Stuart Thario displayed all his soldierly
qualities to the full. Sweeping aside his domestic concerns as he would
at the order of mobilization, he became swift, decisive, vigorous. The
first call he put through was to the Kristian IV Hotel, engaging every
available empty room so that we might preempt as much of the switchboard
as possible. Pressing Constance and Winifred into service as secretaries
until his own officestaff could be summoned and leaving Pauline to deal
with Mama, he had us established in the hotel less than threequarters of
an hour from the time Preblesham phoned.

Even as the earliest calls were being put through a barely perceptible
signal passed from the general to Winifred and presently large parts of
the Kristian IV bar were being arranged on a long table at the general's
elbow. I had little time for observation since I had to exert all my
powers of salesmanship on unseen financiers to persuade them by
indirection that I was facing a financial crisis and they had a chance
to snap up my South American holdings at fractions of their values; but
out of the corner of my eye I admired the way Stuart Thario continuously
sipped from his constantly refilled glass without hesitating in his
duplicating endeavors.

I expected the news to break and end our efforts at any moment, but the
quickness with which I had seized upon Preblesham's information
confirmed the proverb about the early bird; the threehour reprieve
stretched to five and by the time Havas flashed the news I had liquefied
almost all of my now worthless assets--and to potential financial
rivals. Needless to say I had not trusted solely to the honor of the men
with whom I had conversed, but had the sale confirmed in each case by an
agent on the spot who accepted a check, draft, or cash from the buyer.
Only on paper did I suffer the slightest loss; in actuality my position
became three times as strong as before.


74. The world took the extension of the Grass to South America with a
philosophic calm which can only be described as amazing. Even the Latins
themselves seemed more concerned with how the Grass had jumped the gap
than with the impending fate of their continent. The generally accepted
theory was that it had somehow mysteriously come by way of the West
Indies, although as yet the Grass had not appeared on any of those
islands, and even Cuba, within sight of the submerged Florida Keys, was
apparently safe behind her protective supercyclone fans. But the fact
the Grass had appeared first at Medellin in Colombia rather than in the
tiny bit of Panama remaining seemed to show it had not come directly
from the daggerpointed mass poised above the continent.

La Prensa of Buenos Aires said in a long editorial entitled "Does
Humanity Betray Itself?": "When the Colossus of the North was evilly
enchanted, many Americans (except possibly our friends across the River
Plate) breathed more easily. Now it would seem their rejoicing was
premature and the doom of the Yankee is also to be the doom of our older
civilization. How did this verdant disease spread from one continent to
another? That is the question which tortures every human heart from the
Antarctic to the Caribbean.

"It is believed the cordon around North America has not been generally
respected. Scientists with the noblest motives, and adventurers urged on
by the basest, are alike believed to have visited the forbidden
continent. It may well be that on one of these trips the seeds of the
gigantic Cynodon dactylon were brought back. It is well known that the
agents of a certain Yankee capitalist have been accustomed to taking off
on mysterious journeys near the very spot now afflicted by the emerald
plague."

It was a dastardly hint and the sort of thing I had long come to look
upon as inseparable from my position. Of all peoples the Latinamericans
have long been known as the most notoriously ungrateful for the work we
did in developing their countries. Why, in some backward parts, the
natives had been content to live by hunting and fishing till we
furnished them with employment and paid them enough so they could buy
salt fish and canned meats. Fortunately La Prensa's innuendo, so
obviously inspired by envy, was not taken up, and attention soon turned
from the insoluble problem of the bridging of the gap to the southward
progress of the weed itself.

From the very first, everyone took for granted the victory of the Grass.
No concerted efforts were made either to confine or to destroy it. The
World Congress to Combat the Grass, far from being inactive, worked
heroically, but it got little cooperation from the peoples most closely
affected. When at one time it seemed as though the congress had got hold
of a possible weapon, the Venezuelans refused them the necessary sites
and Brazil would not allow passage of foreign soldiers over its soil.
Nationalism suddenly became rampant. "We will die as Ecuadorians,
descendants of the Incas," exclaimed the leading newspaper of Quito.
El Gaucho of Lima pointed out caustically that most of Ecuador's area
really belonged to Peru and the Peruvians were the true descendants of
the Incas anyway. "We shall all die as unashamed Peruvians!" thundered
El Gaucho.

In vain the Church pointed out the difference between Christian
resignation and sinful suicide. The reply of most South Americans, when
they bothered to reply at all, was either that the coming of the Grass
expressed God's will toward them or else to scorn the Church entirely.
Imitations of Brother Paul's movement flourished, with additions and
refinements suited to the Latin temperament.

So the efforts of the World Congress were almost entirely limited to
searching each ship, plane, and individual leaving the doomed continent
to be sure none of the fatal seeds were transported. Even this
precaution was resented as an infringement on national sovereignty, but
the resentment was limited to bellicose pronouncements in the
newspapers; the republics looked on sullenly while their honor was
systematically violated by phlegmatic inspectors.


75. The Grass grew to unheardof heights in the tropical valley of the
Amazon. It washed the slopes of the Andes as it had the Cordilleras and
the Rockies, leaving only the highest peaks free of its presence. It
raced across the llanos, the savannas and the pampas and covered the
high plateaus in a slow relentless growth.

The people ran from the Grass, not in a straight line from north to
south, but by indirection, seeking first the seacoasts and then escape
from the afflicted land. Those North Americans who had eluded the Grass
once did not satisfy themselves with halfmeasures when their sanctuary
was lost, but bought passage on any bottom capable, however dubiously,
of keeping out the sea and embarked for the farthest regions.


76. In point of time, I am now about halfway through my narrative. It
is hard to believe that only eleven years have passed since the Grass
conquered South America; indeed, it is extraordinarily difficult for me
to reconstruct these middle years at all. Not because they were hard or
unpleasant--on the contrary, they carried me from one success to
another--but because they have, in memory, the dreamlike quality of
unreality, elusive, vague and tantalizing.

Like a dream, too, was the actual progress of the Grass. We were all, I
think, impressed by the sense of repetition, of a scene enacted over and
over again. It was this quality which gives my story, now that I look
back upon it, a certain distortion, for no one, hearing it for the first
time, and not as any reader of these words must be, thoroughly familiar
with the events, could believe in the efforts made to combat the Grass.
These efforts existed; we did not yield without struggles; we fought for
South America as we had fought for North America. But it was a nightmare
fight; our endeavors seem retrospectively those of the paralyzed....

The Grass gripped the continent's great northern bulge, squeezed it into
submission and worked its way southward to the slender tip, driving the
inhabitants before it, duplicating previous acts by sending an influx
from sparsely to thickly settled areas, creating despair, terror,
disruption and confusion; pestilence, hysteria and famine.

The drama was not played through in one act, but many; to a world
waiting the conclusion it dragged on through interminable months and
years, offering no change, no sudden twists of fortune, no elusive
hopes. At last, mercifully, the tragedy ended; the green curtain came
down and covered the continent to the Strait of Magellan. The Grass
looked wistfully across at Tierra del Fuego, the land of ice and fire,
but even its voracity balked, momentarily at any rate, at the
inhospitable island and left it to whatever refugees chose its shores as
a slower but still certain death.

South America finally gone, the rest of the globe breathed easier. It
would be a slander on humanity to say there was actual rejoicing when
the World Congress sealed off this continent too, but whatever sorrow
was felt for its loss was balanced by the feeling that at long last the
peril of the Grass was finally ended. No longer would speculative
Germans, thoughtful Chinese or wakeful Englishmen wonder if the
supercyclone fans were indeed an effective barrier; no longer would
Cubans, Colombians or Venezuelans look northward apprehensively. Oceanic
barriers now confined the peril and though the world was shrunken and
hurt it was yet alive. More, it was free from fear for the first time
since the mutated seeds had blown over the saltband.

I must not give the impression that a wiping off of the Grass from the
accountbooks of humanity was universal and complete. The World Congress
periodically considered proposals for countermeasures. On the top of
Mount Whitney Miss Francis still labored. New assistants were flown to
her as the old ones wandered down the great rockslide from the old stone
weatherhouse off into the Grass during fits of despondency, went mad
from the realization that, except for problematical survivors on the
polar caps, they were alone in an abandoned hemisphere, or died of
simple homesickness. In the researchlaboratories of Consolidated
Pemmican formulas for utilizing the Grass were still tinkered with, and
the death of almost every publicspirited man of fortune revealed a will
containing bequests to aid those seeking means of controlling the weed.


77. It is not, afterall, a detached history of the past twentyone
years I am writing. Contemporaries are only too well aware of the facts
and posterity will find them dehydrated in textbooks. I started out to
tell of my own personal part in the coming of the Grass, not to take an
Olympian and aloof view of the passion of man.

The very mention of a personal part brings to mind a subject which might
be painful were I of a petty nature. There were people who, willfully
blind to the facts, held me responsible, in the face of all reason, for
the Grass itself. Although it is difficult to believe, there have been
many occasions when I have been denounced by demagogues and my blood
called for by vicious mobs.

But enough of morbid retrospection. I think I can say at this time there
was, with the exception of certain Indian nabobs, hardly a wealthy man
left in the world who did not owe in some way the retention of his
riches to me. I controlled more than half the steel industry; I owned
outright the majority stocks of the world oil cartel; coal, iron,
copper, tin and other mines either belonged directly to me or to
tributary companies in which I held large interests.

Along with the demagoguery of attributing the Grass to Albert Weener
there was the agitation for socialism and the expropriation of all
private property, the attempt to deprive men of the fruit of their
endeavor and reduce everyone to a regimented, miserable level. It is
hardly necessary to say that I spared no effort to combat the insidious
agents of the Fourth International. Fortunately for the preservation of
the free enterprise system, I had tools ready to hand.

The overrunning of the United States wiped out the gangs which operated
so freely there, but remnants made their escape, taking with them to the
older continents their philosophy of life and property. Gathering native
recruits, they began following the familiar patterns and would in time
no doubt have divided the world into countless minute baronies.

However, I was able to subsidize and reason with enough of their leaders
to persuade them that their livelihood and very existence rested on a
basis of private property and that their great danger came not from each
other, but from the advocates of socialism. They saw the point, and
though they did not cease from warring on each other, or mulcting the
general public, they were ruthless in exterminating the socialists and
they left the goods and adjuncts of Consolidated Pemmican and Allied
Industries scrupulously unmolested.

Strange as it sounds, it was not my part in protecting the world from
the philosophy of equality, nor my ramified properties, which gave me
my unique position. Unbelievably, because the change had occurred so
gradually, industry, though still a vital factor, no longer played the
dominant role in the world, but had given the position back to an
earlier occupant. Food was once more paramount in global economy. Loss
of the Americas had cut the supply in half without reducing the
population correspondingly. The Socialist Union remained selfsufficient
and uninterested, while Australia, New Zealand and the cultivated
portions of Africa strove to feed the millions of Europeans and Asiatics
whose lands could not grow enough for their own use. The slightest
falling off of the harvest produced famine.

At this point Consolidated Pemmican practically took over the entire
business of agriculture. Utilizing byproducts, and crops otherwise not
worth gathering, waste materials, and growths inedible without
processing, with plants strung out all over the four continents and with
tremendously reduced shipping costs because of the small compass in
which so much food could be contained, we were able to let our customers
earn their daily concentrates by gathering the raw materials which went
into them. I was not only the wealthiest, most powerful man in the
world, but its savior and providence as well.

With the new feeling of security bathing the world, tension dissolved
into somnolence and the tempo of daily life slackened until it scarcely
seemed to move at all. The waves of anxiety, suspicion and distrust of
an earlier decade calmed into peaceful ripples, hardly noticeable in a
pondlike existence.

No longer beset by thoughts or fears of wars, nations relaxed their
pride, armies were reduced to little more than palaceguards, brassbands
and parade units; while navies were kept up--if periodic painting and
retaining in commission a few obsolete cruisers and destroyers be so
termed--only to patrol the Atlantic and Pacific shores of the lost
hemisphere.

The struggle for existence almost disappeared; the wagescales set by
Consolidated Pemmican were enough to sustain life, and in a world of
limited horizons men became content with that. The bickering
characteristic of industrial dispute vanished; along with it went the
outmoded weapon of the tradesunion. It was a halcyon world and if, as
cranks complained, illiteracy increased rapidly, it could only be
because with everyman's livelihood assured his natural indolence took
the upper hand and he not only lost refinements superficially acquired,
but was uninterested in teaching them to his children.


78. I don't know how I can express the golden, sunlit quality of this
period. It was not an heroic age, no great deeds were performed, no
conflicts resolved, no fundamentshaking ideas broached. Quiet, peace,
content--these were the keywords of the era. Preoccupation with politics
and panaceas gave place to healthier interests: sports and pageants and
giant fairs. Men became satisfied with their lot and if they to a great
extent discarded speculation and disquieting philosophies they found a
useful substitute in quiet meditation.

Until now I had never had the time to live in a manner befitting my
station; but with my affairs running so smoothly that even Stuart Thario
and Tony Preblesham found idle time, I began to turn my attention to the
easier side of life. Of course I never considered making my permanent
home anywhere but in England; for all its parochialism and oddities it
was the nearest I could come to approximating my own country.

I bought a gentleman's park in Hampshire and had the outmoded house torn
down. It had been built in Elizabethan times and was cold, drafty and
uncomfortable, with not one modern convenience. For a time I considered
preserving it intact as a sort of museumpiece and building another home
for myself on the grounds, but when I was assured by experts that Tudor
architecture was not considered to be of surpassing merit and I could
find in addition no other advantageous site, I ordered its removal.

I called in the best architects for consultation, but my own artistic
and practical sense, as they themselves were quick to acknowledge,
furnished the basis for the beautiful mansion I put up. Moved by
nostalgic memories of my lost Southland I built a great and ample
bungalow of some sixty rooms--stucco, topped with asbestos tile. Since
the Spanish motif natural to this form would have been out of place in
England and therefore in bad taste, I had timbers set in the stucco,
although of course they performed no function but that of decoration,
the supports being framework which was not visible.

It was delightful and satisfying to come into the spacious and cozy
livingroom, filled with overstuffed easychairs and comfortable couches,
warmed by the most efficient of centralheating systems or to use one of
the perfectly appointed bathrooms whose every fixture was the best money
could buy and recall the dank stone floors and walls leading up to a
mammoth and--from a thermal point of view--perfectly useless fireplace
flanked by the coatsofarms of deadandgone gentry who were content to
shuffle out on inclement mornings to answer nature's calls in chilly
outhouses.

So large and commodious an establishment required an enormous staff of
servants, which in turn called for a housekeeper and a steward to
supervise their activities, for as I have observed many times, the
farther down one goes on the wagescale the more it is necessary to hire
a highsalaried executive to see that the wage is earned.

I cannot say in general that I ever learned to distinguish between one
retainer and another, except of course my personal manservant and
Burlet, the headbutler whom I hired right from under the nose of the
Marquis of Arpers--his lordship being unable to match my offer. But in
spite of the confusion caused by such a multiplicity of menials, I one
day noticed an undergardener whose face was tantalizingly familiar. He
touched his cap respectfully as I approached, but I had the curious
feeling that it was a taught gesture and not one which came naturally to
him.

"Have you been here long, my good man?" I asked, still trying to place
him.

"No, sir," he answered, "about two weeks."

"Funny. I'm almost certain Ive noticed you before."

He shook his head and made a tentative gesture with the hoe or rake or
whatever the tool was in his hand, as though he would now, with my
permission, resume his labors.

"What is your name?" I inquired, not believing it would jog my memory,
but out of a natural politeness toward inferiors who always feel
flattered by such attention.

"Dinkman," he muttered. "Adam Dinkman."

... That incredibly dilapidated frontlawn, overrun with sickly
devilgrass and spotted with bald patches. Mrs Dinkman's mean bargaining
with a tired man who was doing no more than trying to make a living and
her later domineering harshness toward someone who was in no way
responsible for the misfortune which overcame her. I wondered if she
were still alive or had lost her life in the Grass while an indigent on
public charity. It is indeed a small world, I thought, and how far we
have both come since I humbled myself in order to put food in my stomach
and keep a roof over my head.

"Thank you, Dinkman," I said, turning away.

A warm feeling for a fellow American caused me to call in my steward and
bid him give Dinkman L100, a small fortune to an undergardener, and let
him go. Though he might not realize it immediately, I was doing him a
tremendous favor, for an American with L100 in England was bound to do
better for himself in some small business than he could hope to do as a
mere servant.

Looking back upon this too brief time of tranquillity and satisfaction I
cannot help but sigh for its passing. Preceded and followed by periods
of turbulence and stress, it stands out in my life as an incredible
moment, a soothing dream. Perhaps a faint defect, so small as to be
almost unnoticed, was a feeling of solitariness--an inevitable
concomitant of my position--but this was so slight that I could not even
define it as loneliness and like many another defect it merely
heightened the charm of the whole.

I had wealth, power, the respect of the world. The unavoidable
detachment from the mob was mitigated by simple pleasures. My estate
was a constant delight; the quaint survivals of feudalism among the
tenantry amused me; and though I could not bring myself to pretend an
interest in the absurd affectation of foxhunting, I was well received by
the county people, whose insularity and aloofness I found greatly
exaggerated, perhaps by outsiders not as cosmopolitan as myself.

Excursions to London and other cities where my presence was demanded or
could be helpful afforded me a frequent change of scene and visits by
important people as well as more intimate ones by Preblesham and the
Tharios prevented The Ivies--for so my place was called--from ever
becoming dull to me.

The general fell in love with a certain ale which was brewed on the
premises and declared, in spite of his lifelong rule to the contrary,
that it could be mixed with Irish whisky to make a drink so agreeable
that no sane man would want a better. The girls, particularly Winifred,
were enchanted with my private woods, the gardens and the deerpark; but
Mama, throughout their visits, remained almost entirely silent and aloof
except for the rare remarks which seemed to burst from her as though by
an inescapable inward compulsion. These were always insulting and always
directed at me, but I overlooked them, knowing her to be deranged.


79. Perhaps one of the things I most enjoyed about The Ivies was
wandering through its acres, breathing through my pores, as it were, the
sense of possession. I was walking through the cowslips and violets
punctuating the meadow bordering one of the many little streams, when I
came upon a fellow roughly dressed, the pockets of his shootingjacket
bulging and a fishingline in his hand. For a moment I thought him one of
the gamekeepers and nodded, but his quick look and furtive gestures
instantly revealed him as a poacher.

"Youre trespassing, you know," I said with some severity.

"I know, guvner," he admitted readily, "but I wasnt doing no harm; just
looking at this bit of water here and listening to the birds."

"With a fishingline in your hands?"

"Well, now, guvner, that's by way of being a precaution. You see, when I
go out on a little expedition like this, to inspect the beauties of
nature--which I admit I have no right to do, they being on someone
else's land--I always say to myself, 'Suppose you run into some gent
looking at a lovely fat trout in a brook and he hasnt got no fishline
with him? What could be more philanthropic than I produce my bit of
string and help him out?' Aint that a proper Christian attitude,
guvner?"

"Possibly; but what, may I ask, makes your pockets bulge so
suspiciously? Is that another philanthropy?"

"Accident, guvner, sheer accident. Walking along like this with my head
down I always seem to come upon two or three dead hares or now and then
a partridge or grouse. Natural mortality, you understand. Well, what
could be more humane than to stuff them in my pockets and take them home
for proper burial?"

"You know in spite of all the Labour Governments and strange doings in
Parliament, there are still pretty strict laws against poaching."

"Poaching, guvner? I wouldnt poach. I respect what's yours, just as I
respect what's my own. Trespassing maybe. I likes to look at a little
bit of sky or hear a meadowlark or smell a flower or two, but
poaching--! Really, guvner, you hadnt ought to take away a man's
character."

I thought it a shame so sturdy and amusing a fellow should have to eke
out his living so precariously. "I'll tell you what I'll do," I said.
"I'll give you a note right now to my head gamekeeper and have him put
you on as an assistant. Thirty shillings a week I think it pays."

"Well, now, thank you, guvner, but really, I don't want it. Thirty bob a
week! What should I do with it? Nothing but go down to the Holly Tree
and get drunk every night. I'm much better off as I am--total
abstinence, in a manner of speaking. No, no, guvner, I appreciate your
big heart, but I'm happy with my little bit of fish and a rabbit in the
pot--why should I set up to be an honest workingman and get dissatisfied
with my life?"

His refusal of my wellintentioned offer did not irk me. In a large and
tolerant view you could almost say we were both parasites upon The Ivies
and it would not hurt me if he stole a little of my game to keep himself
alive. I gave him a note to protect him against any of the keepers who
might come upon him as I had, and we parted with mutual liking; I
remembering for my part that I was an American and all men, poacher and
landlord alike, were created equal, no matter how far each had come from
his beginnings.


80. Shortly after, Miss Francis ended her long sojourn at Mount
Whitney and returned to England. The ordeal of living surrounded by the
Grass, which had destroyed her assistants, seemed to have made no other
change in her than the fading of her hair, which was now completely
white, and a loss of weight, giving her a deceptive appearance of
fragility at variance with the forthrightness of her manner.

I put down her immunity to agoraphobia as just another evidence that she
was already mad. Her refusal to accept the limitations of her sex and
her complete indifference to our respective stations were mere
confirmations. With her usual disregard of realities she assumed I would
go on financing her indefinitely in spite of the hundreds of thousands
of pounds I had paid out without visible result.

"Ive really got it now, Weener," she assured me in a tone hardly
befitting a suppliant for funds. "In spite of the incompetents you kept
sending, in spite of mistakes and blind alleys, the work on Whitney is
done--and successfully. The rest is routine laboratory work--a matter of
quantities and methods of application."

"I don't know that I can spare you any more money, Miss Francis."

She laughed. "What the devil's the matter with you, Weener? Are your
millions melting away? Or do you think any of the spies you set on me
capable of carrying on--or are you just trying to crack the whip?"

"I set no spies and I have no whip. I merely feel it may not be
profitable to waste any more money on fruitless experiments."

She snorted. "Time has streamlined and inflated your platitudes. When I
am too old to work and ready for euthanasia I shall have you come and
talk me to death. To hear you one would almost think you had no interest
in finding a method to counter the Grass."

Her egomania and impertinence were really insufferable; her notion of
her own importance was ludicrous.

"Interested or not, I have no reason to believe you alone are capable of
scientific discovery. Anyway, the world seems pretty well off as it is."

She tugged at her hair as if it were false and would come off if she
jerked hard enough. "Of course it's well enough off from your
pointofview. It offers you more food than you could eat if you had a
million bellies, more clothes than you could wear out in a million
years, more houses than you could live in if the million contradictions
which go to make up any single human were suddenly made corporeal. Of
course youre satisfied; why shouldnt you be? If the Grass were to be
pushed back and the world once more enlarged, if hope and
dissatisfaction were again to replace despair and content, you might not
find yourself such a big toad in a small puddle--and you wouldnt like
that, would you?"

I had intended all along to give her a small pension to keep her from
want and allow her to putter around, but her irrational accusations and
insults only showed her to be the kind from whom no gratitude could be
expected.

"I'm afraid we can be of no further use to each other."

"Look here, Weener, you can't do this. The life of civilization depends
on countering the Grass. Don't tell me the world can go on only half
alive. Look around you and notice the recession every day. Outside of
your own subservient laboratories what scientific work is being done?
Since Palomar and Mount Wilson and Flagstaff went what has happened in
astronomy? If you pick up the shrunken pages of your Times or
Tatler, do you wonder at the reason for their shrinkage or do you
realize there are fewer literates in the world than there were ten years
ago?

"The Americas were upstart continents, werent they? I am not speaking
sarcastically, my point is not a chauvinistic one, not even
hemispherically prideful. And the Old World the womb of culture? But how
much culture has that womb borne since the Americas disappeared? Without
a doubt there are exactly the same number of composers and painters,
writers and sculptors alive on the four continents today as there were
when there were six, but in this drowsy halfworld how many books of
importance are being produced?"

"There are plenty of books already in existence; besides, those things
go by cycles."

"God give me patience; this is the man who has humanity prostrate."

"Humanity seems quite content in the position you ascribe to it."

"Of course, of course--that's the tragedy. It's content the same way a
man who has just had his legs cut off is content; suffering from shock
and loss of blood he enters a merciful coma from which he may never
emerge. The legs do not write the books or think the thoughts, whether
these activities wait for the cyclical momen





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