ROBOT
RIVISTA DI FANTASCIENZA

NarrativaArticoli

John Wyndham
Consider Her Ways
(da Robot n. 27, 1978, con il titolo "Considera le sue vie")

Quarta parte

The Council appears to have felt that this advice, suitably modified, could be expected to lead to a state of affairs which would provide most of the requisite characteristics.
A four-class system was chosen as the basis, and strong differentiations were gradually introduced. These, now that they have become well established, greatly help to ensure stability -- there is scope for ambition within oneís class, but none for passing from one class to another. Thus, we have the Doctorate -- the educated ruling-class, fifty per cent of whom are actually of the medical profession. The Mothers, whose title is self-explanatory. The Servitors who are numerous and, for psychological reasons, small. The Workers, who are physically and muscularly strong, to do the heavier work. All the three lower classes respect the authority of the Doctorate. Both the employed classes revere the Mothers. The Servitors consider themselves more favoured in their tasks than the Workers, and the Workers tend to regard the puniness of the Servitors with a semi-affectionate contempt.
So you see a balance has been struck, and though it works somewhat crudely as yet, no doubt it will improve. It seems likely, for instance, that it would be advantageous to introduce sub-divisions into the Servitor class before long, and the police are thought by some to be put at a disadvantage by having no more than a little education to distinguish them from the ordinary Worker. . . ."
She went on explaining with increasing detail while the enormity of the whole process gradually grew upon me.
"Ants!" I broke in, suddenly. "The ant-nest! Youíve taken that for your model?"
She looked surprised, either at my tone, or the fact that what she was saying had taken so long to register.
"And why not?" she asked. "Surely it is one of the most enduring social patterns that nature has evolved-though of course some adaptation."
"Youíre -- are you telling me that only the Mothers have children?" I demanded.
"Oh, members of the Doctorate do, too, when they wish," she assured me.
"But -- but"
"The Council decides the ratios," she went on to explain. "The doctors at the clinic examine the babies and allocate them suitably to the different classes. After that, of course, it is just a matter of seeing to their specialised feeding, glandular control, and proper training."
"But," I objected wildly, "whatís it for? Whereís the sense in it? Whatís the good of being alive, like that?"
"Well, what is the sense in being alive? You tell me," she suggested.
"But weíre meant to love and be loved, to have babies we love by people we love."
"Thereís your conditioning again, glorifying and romanticising primitive animalism.
Surely you consider that we are superior to the animals?"
"Of course I do, but --"
"Love, you say, but what can you know of the love there can be between mother and daughter when there are no men to introduce jealousy? Do you know of any purer sentiment than the love of a girl for her little sisters?"
"But you donít understand," I protested again. "How should you understand a love that colours the whole world? How it centres in your heart and reaches out from there to pervade your whole being, how it can affect everything you are, everything you touch, everything you hear. . . . It can hurt dreadfully, I know, oh, I know, but it can run like sunlight in your veins.... It can make you a garden out of a slum, brocade out of rags, music out of a speaking voice. It can show you a whole universe in someone elseís eyes. Oh, you donít understand ... you donít know ... you canít.... Oh, Donald, darling, how can I show her what sheís never even guessed at ... ?"
There was an uncertain pause, but presently she said. "Naturally, in your form of society it was necessary for you to be given such a conditioned reaction, but you can scarcely expect us to surrender our freedom, to connive at our own re-subjection, by calling our oppressors into existence again."
"Oh, you wonít understand. It was only the more stupid men and women who were continually at war with one another. Lots of us were complementary. We were pairs who formed units."
She smiled.
"My dear, either you are surprisingly ill-informed on your own period, or else the stupidity you speak of was astonishingly dominant. Neither as myself, nor as an historian, can I consider that we should be justified in resurrecting such a state of affairs. A primitive stage of our development has now given way to a civilised era. Woman, who is the vessel of life, had the misfortune to find man necessary for a time, but now she does no longer. Are you suggesting that such a useless and dangerous encumbrance ought to be preserved, out of sheer sentimentality? I will admit that we have lost some minor conveniences -- you will have noticed, I expect, that we are less inventive mechanically, and tend to copy the patterns we have inherited, but that troubles us very little, our interests lie not in the inorganic, but in the organic and the sentient. Perhaps men could show us how to travel twice as fast, or how to fly to the moon, or how to kill more people more quickly, but it does not seem to us that such kinds of knowledge would be good payment for re-enslaving ourselves. No, our kind of world suits us better -- all of us except a few Reactionists. You have seen our Servitors. They are a little timid in manner, perhaps, but are they oppressed, or sad? Donít they chatter among themselves as brightly and perkily as sparrows? And the Workers -- those you called the Amazons -- donít they look strong, healthy, and cheerful?"
"But youíre robbing them all -- robbing them of their birthright."
"You mustnít give me cant, my dear. Did not the old system conspire to rob a woman of her "birthright" by getting married? You not only let her know it, but you socially rubbed it in, here, our Servitors and Workers do not know it and they are not worried by a sense of inadequacy. Motherhood is the function of the Mothers, and understood as such."
I shook my head. "Nevertheless, they are being robbed. A woman has a right to love."
For once she was a little impatient as she cut me short. "You keep repeating to me the propaganda of your age. The love you talk about, my dear, existed in your little sheltered part of the world by polite and profitable convention. You were scarcely ever allowed to see its other face, unglamorised by Romance. You were never openly bought and sold, like livestock, you never had to sell yourself to the first-comer in order to live, you did not happen to be one of the women who through the centuries have screamed in agony and suffered and died under invaders in a sacked city -- nor were you ever flung into a pit of fire to be saved from them, you were never compelled to suttee upon your dead husbandís pyre, you did not have to spend your whole life imprisoned in a harem, you were never part of the cargo of a slave-ship, you never retained your own life only at the pleasure of your lord and master....That is the other side -- the age-long side. There is going to be no more of such things. They are finished at last. Dare you suggest that we should call them back, to suffer them all again?"
"But most of these things had already gone," I protested. "The world was getting better."
"Was it?" she said. "I wonder if the women of Berlin thought so when it fell? Was it, indeed? -- Or was it on the edge of a new barbarism?"
"But if you can only get rid of evil by throwing out the good too, what is there left?"
"There is a great deal. Man was only a means to an end. We needed him in order to have babies. The rest of his vitality accounted for all the misery in the world.
We are a great deal better off without him."
"So you really consider that youíve improved on nature?" I suggested.
"Tcha!" she said, impatient with my tone. "Civilisation is improvement on nature. Would you want to live in a cave, and have most of your babies die in infancy?"
"There are some things, some fundamental things" I began, but she checked me, holding up her hand for silence.
Outside, the long shadows had crept across the lawns. In the evening quiet I could hear a choir of womenís voices singing, a little distance away. We listened for some minutes until the song was finished.
"Beautiful!" said the old lady. "Could angels themselves sing more sweetly! They sound happy enough, donít they? Our own lovely children -- two of my granddaughters are there among them. They are happy, and theyíve reason to be happy. Theyíre not growing up into a world where they must gamble on the goodwill of some man to keep them, theyíll never need to be servile before a lord and master, theyíll never stand in danger of rape and butchery, either. Listen to them!"
Another song had started and came lifting lightly to us out of the dusk.
"Why are you crying?" the old lady asked me as it ended. "I know itís stupid -- I donít really believe any of this is what it seems to be -- so I suppose Iím crying for all you would have lost if it were true," I told her. "There should be lovers out there under the trees, they should be listening hand in hand to that song while they watch the moon rise. But there are no lovers now, there wonít be any more. . . ." I looked back at her.
"Did you ever read the lines. "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air?" Canít you feel the forlornness of this world youíve made? Do you really not understand?" I asked.
"I know youíve only seen a little of us, but do you not begin to understand what it can be like when women are no longer forced to fight one another for the favours of men?" she countered.
We talked on while the dusk gave way to darkness and the lights of other houses started to twinkle through the trees. Her reading had been wide. It had given her even an affection for some periods of the past, but her approval of her own era was unshaken. She felt no aridity in it. Always it was my Ďconditioningí which prevented me from seeing that the golden age of woman had begun at last.
"You cling to too many myths," she told me. "You speak of a full life, and your instance is some unfortunate woman hugging her chains in a suburban villa. Full life, fiddlesticks! But it was convenient for the traders that she could be made to think so. A truly full life would be an exceedingly short one, in any form of society."
And so on ... At length, the little parlour maid reappeared to say that my attendants were ready to leave when it should be convenient. But there was one thing I very much wanted to know before I left. I put the question to the old lady.
"Please tell me. How did it -- how could it -- happen?"
"Simply by accident, my dear -- though it was the kind of accident that was entirely the product of its time. A piece of research which showed unexpected, secondary results, thatís all."
"But how?"
"Rather curiously -- almost irrelevantly, you might say. Did you ever hear of a man called Perrigan?"
"Perrigan?" I repeated. "I donít think so, itís an uncommon name."
"It became very commonly known indeed," she assured me. "Doctor Perrigan was a biologist, and his concern was the extermination of rats -- particularly the brown rat, which used to do a great deal of expensive damage. His approach to the problem was to find a disease which would attack them fatally. In order to produce it he took as his basis a virus infection often fatal to rabbits -- or, rather, a group of virus infections that were highly selective, and also unstable since they were highly liable to mutation.
Indeed, there was so much variation in the strains that when infection of rabbits in Australia was tried, it was only at the sixth attempt that it was successful, all the earlier strains died out as the rabbits developed immunity. It was tried in other places, too, though with indifferent success until a still more effective strain was started in France, and ran through the rabbit population of Europe. Well, taking some of these viruses as a basis, Perrigan induced new mutations by irradiation and other means, succeeded in producing a variant, that would attack rats. That was not enough, however, and he continued until he had a strain that had enough of its ancestral selectivity to attack only the brown rat, and with great virulence
In that way he settled the question of a long-stand pest for there are no brown rats now. But something went amiss, It is still an open question whether the successful virus mutated again, or whether one of his earlier experimental viruses was accidentally liberated by escaped "carrier" rats but thatís academic. The important thing is that somehow capable of attacking human beings got loose, and that it was already widely disseminated before it was traced -- a once it was free, it spread with devastating speed, too fast for any effective steps to be taken to cheek it. The majority of women were found to be immune, of the ten per cent or so whom it attacked, over eighty percent recovered. Among men, however, there was almost no immunity, and the few recoveries were only partial. A few men were preserved by the most elaborate precautions, but they could not be kept confined for ever, and in the end the virus which had a remarkable capacity for dormancy, got them too."
Inevitably several questions of professional interest occurred to me, but for an answer she shook her head. "Iím afraid I canít help you there. Possibly the medical people will be willing to explain," she said, but her expression was doubtful.
I manoeuvred myself into a sitting position on the side of the couch.
"I see," I said. "Just an accident -- yes, I suppose one could scarcely think of it happening any other way."
"Unless," she remarked, "unless one were to look up divine intervention."
"Isnít that a little impious?"
"I was thinking of the Death of the Firstborn," she said, reflectively. There did not seem to be an immediate answer to that. Instead, I asked.
"Can you honestly tell me that you never have the feeling that you are living in a dreary kind of nightmare?"
"Never," she said. "There was a nightmare -- but itís over now. Listen!"
The voices of the choir, reinforced now by an orchestra, reached us distantly out of the darkened garden. No, they were not dreary, they even sounded almost exultant -- but then, poor things, how were they to understand ... ?
My attendants arrived and helped me to my feet. I thanked the old lady for her patience with me and her kindness. But she shook her head.
"My dear, it is I who am indebted to you. In a short time I have learnt more about the conditioning of women in a mixed society than all my books were able to tell me in the rest of my long life. I hope, my dear, that the doctors will find some way of enabling you to forget it, and live happily here with us."
At the door I paused and turned, still helpfully shored up by my attendants.
"Laura," I said, using her name for the first time. "So many of your arguments are right -- yet, over all, youíre, oh, so wrong. Did you never read of lovers? Did you never, as a girl, sigh for a Romeo who would say. " It is the east, and Laura is the sun!"?"
"I think not. Though I have read the play. A pretty, idealised tale -- I wonder how much heartbreak it has given to how many would-be Juliets? But I would set a question against yours, my dear Jane. Did you ever see Goyaís cycle of pictures called "The Horrors of War"?"
The pink car did not return me to the ĎHomeí. Our destination turned out to be a more austere and hospital-like building where I was fussed into bed in a room alone. In the morning, after my massive breakfast, three new doctors visited me. Their manner was more social than professional, and we chatted amiably for half an hour. They had evidently been fully informed on my conversation with the old lady, and they were not averse to answering my questions. Indeed, they found some amusement in many of them, though I found none, for there was nothing consolingly vague in what they told me -- it all sounded too disturbingly practicable, once the technique had been worked out. At the end of that time, however, their mood changed. One of them, with an air of getting down to business, said.
"You will understand that you present us with a problem. Your fellow Mothers, of course, are scarcely susceptible to Reactionist disaffection -- though you have in quite a short time managed to disgust and bewilder them considerably -- but on others less stable your influence might be more serious. It is not just a matter of what you may say, your difference from the rest is implicit in your whole attitude. You cannot help that, and, frankly, we do not see how you, as a woman of education, could possibly adapt yourself to the placid, unthinking acceptance that is expected of a Mother. You would quickly feel frustrated beyond endurance. Furthermore, it is clear that the conditioning you have had under your system prevents you from feeling any goodwill towards ours."
I took that straight, simply as a judgement without bias. Moreover, I could not dispute it. The prospect of spending the rest of my life in pink, scented, soft-musicked illiteracy, interrupted, one gathered, only by the production of quadruplet daughters at regular intervals, would certainly have me violently unhinged in a very short time.
"And so-what?" I asked. "Can you reduce this great carcass to normal shape and size?"
She shook her head. "I imagine not -- though I donít know that it has ever been attempted. But even if it were possible, you would be just as much of a misfit in the Doctorate -- and far more of a liability as a Reactionist influence."
I could understand that, too.
"What, then?" I inquired.
She hesitated, then she said gently.
"The only practicable proposal we can make is that you should agree to a hypnotic treatment which will remove your memory."
As the meaning of that came home to me I had to fight off a rush of panic. After all, I told myself, they were being reasonable with me. I must do my best to respond sensibly. Nevertheless, some minutes must have passed before I answered, unsteadily.
"You are asking me to commit suicide. My mind is my memories. They are me. If I lose them I shall die, just as surely as if you were to kill my -- this body."
They did not dispute that. How could they?
There is just one thing that makes my life worth living -- knowing that you loved me, my sweet, sweet Donald. It is only in my memory that you live now. If you ever leave there you will die again -- and for ever.
"No !" I told them. "No! No !"
At intervals during the day small servitors staggered in under the weight of my meals. Between their visits I had only my thoughts to occupy me, and they were not good company.
"Frankly," one of the doctors had put it to me, not unsympathetically, "we can see no alternative. For years after it happened the annual figures of mental breakdowns were our greatest worry -- even though the women then could keep themselves fully occupied with the tremendous amount of work that had to be done, so many of them could not adjust. And we canít even offer you work."
I knew that it was a fair warning she was giving me -- and I knew that, unless the hallucination which seemed to grow more real all the time could soon be induced to dissolve, I was trapped.
During the long day and the following night I tried my hardest to get back to the objectivity I had managed earlier, but I failed. The whole dialectic was too strong for me now, my senses too consciously aware of my surroundings, the air of consequence and coherence too convincingly persistent....
When they had let me have twenty-four hours to think it over, the same trio visited me again.
"I think," I told them, "that I understand better now. What you are offering me is painless oblivion, in place of a breakdown followed by oblivion -- and you see no other choice."
"We donít," admitted the spokeswoman, and the other two nodded. "But, of course, for the hypnosis we shall need your co-operation."
"I realise that," I told her, "and I also see now that in the circumstances it would be obstinately futile to withhold it. So I -- I -- yes, Iím willing to give it -- but on one condition."
They looked at me questioningly.
"It is this," I explained, "that you will try one other course first. I want you to give me an injection of chuinjuatin. I want it in precisely the same strength as I had it before -- I can tell you the dose. You see, whether this is an intense hallucination, or whether it is some kind of projection which makes it seem very similar, it must have something to do with that drug. Iím sure it must -- nothing remotely like this has ever happened to me before. So, I thought that if I could repeat the condition -- or, would you say believe myself to be repeating the condition? -- there may be just a chance ... I donít know. It may be simply silly . . . but even if nothing comes of it, it canít make things worse in any way now, can it? So, will you let me try it...?"
The three of them considered for some moments.
"I can see no reason why not. . ."said one.
The spokeswoman nodded.
"I shouldnít think thereíll be any difficulty with authorisation in the circumstances," she agreed. "If you want to try, well, itís fair to let you, but -- Iíd not count on it too much. . . ."
In the afternoon half a dozen small servitors arrived, bustling round, making me and the room ready, with anxious industry. Presently there came one more, scarcely tall enough to see over the trolley of bottles, trays and phials which she pushed to my bedside.
The three doctors entered together. One of the little servitors began rolling up my sleeve. The doctor who had done most of the talking looked at me, kindly, but seriously.
"This is a sheer gamble, you know that?" she said.
"I know. But itís my only chance. Iím willing to take it." She nodded, picked up the syringe, and charged it while the little servitor swabbed my monstrous arm. She approached the bedside, and hesitated.
"Go on," I told her. "What is there for me here, anyway?" She nodded, and pressed in the needle....
Now, I have written the foregoing for a purpose. I shall deposit it with my bank, where it will remain unread unless it should be needed.
I have spoken of it to no one. The report on the effect of chuinjuatin -- the one that I made to Dr. Hellyer where I described my sensation as simply one of floating in space -- was false. The foregoing was my true experience.
I concealed it because after I came round, when I found that I was back in my own body in my normal world, the experience haunted me as vividly as if it had been actuality. The details were too sharp, too vivid, for me to get them out of my mind. It overhung me all the time, like a threat. It would not leave me alone....
I did not dare to tell Dr Hellyer how it -- worried me -- he would have put me under treatment. If my other friends did not take it seriously enough to recommend treatment, too, then they would have laughed over it, and amused themselves at my expense interpreting the symbolism. So I kept it to myself.
As I went over parts of it again and again in detail, I grew angry with myself for not asking the old lady for more facts, things like dates, and details that could be verified. If, for instance, the thing should, by her account, have started two or three years ago, then the whole sense of threat would fall to pieces. It would all be discredited. But it had not occurred to me to ask that crucial question. . . . And then, as I went on thinking about it, I remembered that there was one, just one, piece of information that I could check, and I made inquiries. I wish now that I had not, but I felt forced to....
So I have discovered that. There is a Dr Perrigan, he is a biologist, he does work with rabbits and rats.... He is quite well known in his field. He has published papers on pest-control in a number of journals. It is no secret that he is evolving new strains of myxomatosis intended to attack rats, indeed, he has already developed a group of them and calls them mucosimorbus, though he has not yet succeeded in making them either stable or selective enough for general use. . . .
But I had never heard of this man or his work until his name was mentioned by the old lady in my "hallucination". . . .
I have given a great deal of thought to this whole matter. What sort of experience is it that I have recorded above? If it should he a kind of provision of an inevitable, predestined future, then nothing anyone could do would change it. But that does not seem to me to make sense, it is what has happened, and is happening now, that determines the future. Therefore, there must be a great number of possible futures, each a possible consequence of what is being done now. It seems to me that under chuinjuatin I saw one of those futures....
It was, I think, a warning of what may happen -- unless it is prevented. . . . The whole idea is so repulsive, so misconceived, it amounts to such a monstrous aberration of the normal course, that failure to heed the warning would be neglect of duty to oneís kind. I shall, therefore, on my own responsibility and without taking any other person into my confidence, do my best to ensure that such a state as I have described cannot come about.
Should it happen that any other person is unjustly accused of doing, or of assisting me to do, what I intend to do, this document must stand in his defence.
That is why I have written it.
It is my own unaided decision that Dr. Pelrrigan must not be permitted to continue his work.
(Signed) JANE WATERLEIGH.
The solicitor stared at the signature for some moments, then he nodded.
"And so, "he said," she then took her car and drove over to Perrigan"s -- with this tragic result.
"From the little I do know of her, Iíd say that she probably did her best to persuade him to give up his work -- though she can scarcely have expected any success with that. It is difficult to imagine a man who would be willing to give up the work of years on account of what must sound to him like a sort of gypsyís warning. So, clearly, she went there prepared to fall back on direct action, if necessary. It looks as if the police are quite right when they suppose her to have shot him deliberately, but not so right when they suppose that she burnt the place down to hide evidence of the crime. The statement makes it pretty obvious that her main intention in doing that was to wipe out Perriganís work."
He shook his head. "Poor girl! Thereís a clear conviction of duty in her last page or two, the sort of simplified clarity that drives martyrs on, regardless of consequences. She has never denied that she did it. What she wouldnít tell the police is why she did it."
He paused again, before he added. "Anyway, thank goodness for this document. It ought at least to save her life. I should be very surprised indeed if a plea of insanity could fail, backed up by this." He tapped the pile of manuscript with his finger. "Itís a lucky thing she put off her intention of taking it to her bank."
Dr. Hellyerís face was lined and worried. "I blame myself most bitterly for the whole thing," he said. "I ought never to have let her try the damned drug in the first place, but I thought she was over the shock of her husbandís death. She was trying to keep her time fully occupied, and she was anxious to volunteer. Youíve met her enough to know how purposeful she can be. She saw it as a chance to contribute something to medical knowledge -- which it was, of course. But I ought to have been more careful, and I ought to have seen afterwards that there was something wrong. The real responsibility for this thing runs right back to me."
"Hím," said the solicitor. "Putting that forward as a main line of defence isnít going to do you a lot of good professionally, you know, Hellyer."
"Possibly not. I can look after that when we come to it. The point is that I hold a responsibility for her as a member of my staff, if for no other reason. It canít be denied that if I had refused her offer to take part in the experiment, this would not have happened. Therefore it seems to me that we ought to be able to argue a state of temporary insanity, that the balance of her mind was disturbed by the effects of the drug which I administered. And if we can get that as a verdict it will result in detention at a mental hospital for observation and treatment -- perhaps quite a short spell of treatment."
"I canít say. We can certainly put it up to counsel and see what he thinks of it."
"Itís valid, too," Hellyer persisted. "People like Jane donít do murder if they are in their right minds, not unless theyíre really in a corner, then they do it more cleverly. Certainly they donít murder perfect strangers. Clearly, the drug caused an hallucination sufficiently vivid to confuse her to a point where she was unable to make a proper distinction between the actual and the hypothetical. She got into a state where she believed the mirage was real, and acted accordingly."
"Yes. Yes, I suppose one might put it that way," agreed the solicitor. He looked down again at the pile of paper before him. "The whole account is, of course, unreasonable," he said," and yet it is pervaded throughout with such an air of reasonableness. I wonder. . . ." He paused pensively, and went on. "This expendability of the male, Hellyer. She doesnít seem to find it so much incredible, as undesirable. That seems odd in itself to a layman who takes the natural order for granted, but would you, as a medical scientist, say it was -- well, not impossible, in theory?"
Dr. Hellyer frowned. "Thatís very much the kind of question one wants more notice of. It would be very rash to proclaim it impossible. Considering it purely as an abstract problem, I can see two or three lines of approach. . . . Of course, if an utterly improbable situation were to arise calling for intensive research -- research, that is, on the sort of scale they tackled the atom -- well, who can tell...?" He shrugged.
The solicitor nodded again.
"Thatís just what I was getting at," he observed. "Basically it is only just such a little way off the beam, quite near enough to possibility to be faintly disturbing. Mind you, as far as the defence is concerned, her air of thorough conviction, taken in conjunction with the near-plausibility of the thing will probably help. But, for my part, it is just that nearness that is enough to make me a trifle uneasy."
The doctor looked at him rather sharply.
"Oh, come! Really now! A hardboiled solicitor, too! Donít tell me youíre going in for fantasy-building. Anyway, if you are, youíll have to conjure up another one. If Jane, poor girl, has settled one thing, it is that thereís no future in this particular fantasy. Perriganís finished with, and all his workís gone up in smoke and fire."
"H'm," said the solicitor, again. "All the same, it would be more satisfactory if we knew of some way other than this" -- he tapped the pile of papers Ė "some other way in which she is likely to have acquired some knowledge of Perrigan and his work. There is, as far as one knows, no other way in which he can have come into her orbit at all -- unless, perhaps, she takes an interest in veterinary subjects?"
"She doesnít. Iím sure of that," Hellyer told him, shaking his head.
"Well that, then, remains one slightly disturbing aspect. And there is another. Youíll think it foolish of me, Iím sure -- and no doubt time will prove you right to do so -- but I have to admit Iíd be feeling just a bit easier in my mind if Jane had been just a bit more thorough in her inquiries before she went into action."
"Meaning -?" asked Dr. Hellyer, looking puzzled.
"Only that she does not seem to have found out that there is a son. But there is, you see he appears to have taken quite a close interest in his fatherís work, and is determined that it shanít be wasted. In fact he has already announced that he will do his best to carry it on with the very few specimens that were saved from the fire...."
"Laudably filial, no doubt. All the same it does disturb me a little to find that he, also, happens to be a D.Se., a bio-chemist, and that, very naturally, his name, too, is Perrigan. . . ."


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