Chapter 4

§ I

The lift was crowded with men from the Alpha Changing Rooms, and Lenina’s entry was greeted by many friendly nods and smiles. She was a popular girl and, at one time or another, had spent a night with almost all of them.

They were dear boys, she thought, as she returned their salutations. Charming boys! Still, she did wish that George Edzel’s ears weren’t quite so big (perhaps he’d been given just a spot too much parathyroid at metre 328?). And looking at Benito Hoover, she couldn’t help remembering that he was really too hairy when he took his clothes off.

Turning, with eyes a little saddened by the recollection of Benito’s curly blackness, she saw in a corner the small thin body, the melancholy face of Bernard Marx.

‘Bernard!’ she stepped up to him. ‘I was looking for you.’ Her voice rang clear above the hum of the mounting lift. The others looked round curiously. ‘I wanted to talk to you about our New Mexico plan.’ Out of the tail of her eye she could see Benito Hoover gaping with astonishment. The gape annoyed her. ‘Surprised I shouldn’t be begging to go with him again!’ she said to herself. Then aloud, and more warmly than ever, ‘I’d simply love to come with you for a week in July,’ she went on. (Anyhow, she was publicly proving her unfaithfulness to Henry. Fanny ought to be pleased, even though it was Bernard.) ‘That is,’ Lenina gave him her most deliciously significant smile, ‘if you still want to have me.’

Bernard’s pale face flushed. ‘What on earth for?’ she wondered, astonished, but at the same time touched by this strange tribute to her power.

‘Hadn’t we better talk about it somewhere else?’ he stammered, looking horribly uncomfortable.

‘As though I’d been saying something shocking, thought Lenina. ‘He couldn’t look more upset if I’d made a dirty joke—asked him who his mother was, or something like that.’

‘I mean, with all these people about…’ He was choked with confusion.

Lenina’s laugh was frank and wholly unmalicious. ‘How funny you are!’ she said; and she quite genuinely did think him funny. ‘You’ll give me at least a week’s warning, won’t you,’ she went on in another tone. ‘I suppose we take the Blue Pacific Rocket? Does it start from the Charing-T Tower? Or is it from Hampstead?’

Before Bernard could answer, the lift came to a standstill.

‘Roof!’ called a creaking voice.

The liftman was a small simian creature, dressed in the black tunic of an Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron.


He flung open the gates. The warm glory of afternoon sunlight made him start and blink his eyes. ‘Oh, roof!’ he repeated in a voice of rapture. He was as though suddenly and joyfully awakened from a dark annihilating stupor. ‘Roof!’

He smiled up with a kind of doggily expectant adoration into the faces of his passengers. Talking and laughing together, they stepped out into the light. The liftman looked after them.

‘Roof?’ he said once more, questioningly.

Then a bell rang, and from the ceiling of the lift a loud-speaker began, very softly and yet very imperiously, to issue its commands.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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