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MARION

He regarded me for my opinion very earnestly, with his pipe in the corner of his mouth.

"You're the remotest cousin he ever had," I said. . . .

I reflected. "Look here, Ewart," I asked, "how would you have things different?"

He wrinkled up his queer face, regarded the water and made his pipe gurgle for a space, thinking deeply.

"There are complications, I admit. We've grown up under the terror of Grundy and that innocent—but docile and—yes—formidable lady, his wife. I don't know how far the complications aren't a disease, a sort of bleaching under the Grundy shadow. . . . It is possible there are things I have still to learn about women. . . . Man has eaten of the Tree of Knowledge. His innocence is gone. You can't have your cake and eat it. We're in for knowledge; let's have it plain and straight. I should begin, I think, by abolishing the ideas of decency and indecency. . . ."

"Grundy would have fits!" I injected.

"Grundy, Ponderevo, would have cold douches—publicly—if the sight was not too painful—three times a day. . . . But I don't think, mind you, that I should let the sexes run about together. No. The fact behind the sexes—is sex. It's no good humbugging. It trails about—even in the best mixed company. Tugs at your ankle. The men get showing off and quarrelling—and the women. Or they're bored. I suppose the ancestral males have competed for the ancestral females ever since they were both some sort of grubby little reptile. You aren't going to alter that in a thousand years or so. . . . Never should you have a mixed company, never—except with only one man or only one woman. How would that be? . . .