Open main menu

Page:Tono-Bungay.djvu/369

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
361
SOARING

used you as a sort of lay figure—when I've told myself stories. But you've always been rather stiff and difficult in my stories—in ready-made clothes—a Labour Member or a Bradlaugh, or something like that. You're not like that a bit. And yet you are!"

She looked at me. "Was it much of a fight? They make out it is. I don't know why?"

"I was shot up here by an accident," I said. "There was no fight at all. Except to keep honest perhaps—and I made no great figure in that. I and my uncle mixed a medicine and it blew us up. No merit in that! But you've been here all the time. Tell me what you have done first."

"One thing we didn't do." She meditated for a moment.

"What?" said I.

"Produce a little half-brother for Bladesover. So it went to the Phillbrick gang. And they let it! And I and my step-mother—we let too. And live in a little house."

She nodded her head vaguely over her shoulder, and turned to me again. "Well, suppose it was an accident. Here you are! Now you're here, what are you going to do? You're young. Is it to be Parliament? I heard some men the other day talking about you. Before I knew you were you. They said that was what you ought to do." . . .

She put me through my intentions with a close and vital curiosity. It was just as she had tried to imagine me a soldier and place me years ago. She made me feel more planless and incidental than ever. "You want to make a flying-machine," she pursued. "And when you fly? What then? Would it be for fighting?" . . .