Page:HG Wells--secret places of the heart.djvu/17

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5
THE CONSULTATION

He was fairly launched. “It’s the blind folly of it! In the days before the war it was different. Then there was abundance. A little grabbing or cornering was all to the good. All to the good. It prevented things being used up too fast. And the world was running by habit; the inertia was tremendous. You could take all sorts of liberties. But all this is altered. We’re living in a different world. The public won’t stand things it used to stand. It’s a new public. It’s—wild. It’ll smash up the show if they go too far. Everything short and running shorter—food, fuel, material. But these people go on. They go on as though nothing had changed.... Strikes, Russia, nothing will warn them. There are men on that Commission who would steal the brakes off a mountain railway just before they went down in it.... It’s a struggle with suicidal imbeciles. It’s——! But I’m talking! I didn’t come here to talk Fuel.”

“You think there may be a smash-up?”

“I lie awake at night, thinking of it.”

“A social smash-up.”

“Economic. Social. Yes. Don’t you?”

“A social smash-up seems to me altogether a possibility. All sorts of people I find think that,” said the doctor. “All sorts of people lie awake thinking of it.”

“I wish some of my damned Committee would!”

The doctor turned his eyes to the window. “I lie awake too,” he said and seemed to reflect. But he