Page:HG Wells--secret places of the heart.djvu/18

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was observing his patient acutely—with his ears.

“But you see how important it is,” said Sir Richmond, and left his sentence unfinished.

“I’ll do what I can for you,” said the doctor, and considered swiftly what line of talk he had best follow.

§ 2

“This sense of a coming smash is epidemic,” said the doctor. “It’s at the back of all sorts of mental trouble. It is a new state of mind. Before the war it was abnormal—a phase of neurasthenia. Now it is almost the normal state with whole classes of intelligent people. Intelligent, I say. The others always have been casual and adventurous and always will be. A loss of confidence in the general background of life. So that we seem to float over abysses.”

“We do,” said Sir Richmond.

“And we have nothing but the old habits and ideas acquired in the days of our assurance. There is a discord, a jarring.”

The doctor pursued his train of thought. “A new, raw and dreadful sense of responsibility for the universe. Accompanied by a realization that the job is overwhelmingly too big for us.”

“We’ve got to stand up to the job,” said Sir Richmond. “Anyhow, what else is there to do?