The child scampered off into the bushes and was lost to sight.

‘Exquisite little creature!’ said the Director, looking after her. Then, turning to his students, ‘What I’m going to tell you now,’ he said, ‘may sound incredible. But then, when you’re not accustomed to history, most facts about the past do sound incredible.’

He let out the amazing truth. For a very long period before the time of Our Ford, and even for some generations afterwards, erotic play between children had been regarded as abnormal (there was a roar of laughter); and not only abnormal, actually immoral (no!): and had therefore been rigorously suppressed.

A look of astonished incredulity appeared on the faces of his listeners. Poor little kids not allowed to amuse themselves? They could not believe it.

‘Even adolescents,’ the D.H.C. was saying, ‘even adolescents like yourselves…’

‘Not possible!’

‘Barring a little surreptitious auto-erotism and homosexuality—absolutely nothing.’


‘In most cases, till they were over twenty years old.’

‘Twenty years old?’ echoed the students in a chorus of loud disbelief.

‘Twenty,’ the Director repeated. ‘I told you that you’d find it incredible.’

‘But what happened?’ they asked. ‘What were the results?’

‘The results were terrible.’ A deep resonant voice broke startlingly into the dialogue.

They looked round. On the fringe of the little group stood a stranger—a man of middle height, black- haired, with a hooked nose, full red lips, eyes very piercing and dark. ‘Terrible,’ he repeated.

The D.H.C. had at that moment sat down on one of the steel and rubber benches conveniently scattered through the gardens; but at the sight of the stranger, he sprang to his feet and darted forward, his hands outstretched, smiling with all his teeth, effusive.

‘Controller! What an unexpected pleasure! Boys, what are you thinking of? This is the Controller; this is his fordship, Mustapha Mond.’

In the four thousand rooms of the Centre the four thousand electric clocks simultaneously struck four. Discarnate voices called from the trumpet mouths.

‘Main Day-shift off duty. Second Day-shift take over. Main Day-shift off…’

In the lift, on their way up to the changing-rooms, Henry Foster and the Assistant Director of Predestination rather pointedly turned their backs on Bernard Marx from the Psychology Bureau: averted themselves from that unsavoury reputation.

The faint hum and rattle of machinery still stirred the crimson air in the Embryo Store. Shifts might come and go, one lupus-coloured face give place to another; majestically and for ever the conveyors crept forward with their load of future men and women.

Lenina Crowne walked briskly towards the door.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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