Outside, in the garden, it was playtime. Naked in the warm June sunshine, six or seven hundred little boys and girls were running with shrill yells over the lawns, or playing ball games, or squatting silently in twos and threes among the flowering shrubs. The roses were in bloom, two nightingales soliloquized in the boskage, a cuckoo was just going out of tune among the lime trees. The air was drowsy with the murmur of bees and helicopters.
The Director and his students stood for a short time watching a game of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. Twenty children were grouped in a circle round a chrome-steel tower. A ball thrown up so as to land on the platform at the top of the tower rolled down into the interior, fell on a rapidly revolving disk, was hurled through one or other of the numerous apertures pierced in the cylindrical casing, and had to be caught.
Strange, mused the Director, as they turned away, strange to think that even in Our Fords day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. Its madness. Nowadays the Controllers wont approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games. He interrupted himself.
Thats a charming little group, he said, pointing.
In a little grassy bay between tall clumps of Mediterranean heather, two children, a little boy of about seven and a little girl who might have been a year older, were playing, very gravely and with all the focussed attention of scientists intent on a labour of discovery, a rudimentary sexual game.
Charming, charming! the D.H.C. repeated sentimentally.
Charming, the boys politely agreed. But their smile was rather patronizing. They had put aside similar childish amusements too recently to be able to watch them now without a touch of contempt. Charming? but it was just a pair of kids fooling about; that was all. Just kids.
I always think, the Director was continuing in the same rather maudlin tone, when he was interrupted by a loud boo-hooing,
From a neighbouring shrubbery emerged a nurse, leading by the hand a small boy, who howled as he went. An anxious-looking little girl trotted at her heels.
Whats the matter? asked the Director.
The nurse shrugged her shoulders. Nothing much, she answered. Its just that this little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play. Id noticed it once or twice before. And now again to- day. He started yelling just now
Honestly, put in the anxious-looking little girl, I didnt mean to hurt him or anything. Honestly.
Of course you didnt, dear, said the nurse reassuringly. And so, she went on, turning back to the Director, Im taking him in to see the Assistant Superintendent of Psychology. Just to see if anythings at all abnormal.
Quite right, said the Director. Take him in. You stay here, little girl, he added, as the nurse moved away with her still howling charge. Whats your name?
And a very good name too, said the Director. Run away now and see if you can find some other little boy to play with.
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