Chapter 9

Lenina felt herself entitled, after this day of queerness and horror, to a complete and absolute holiday. As soon as they got back to the rest-house, she swallowed six half-gramme tablets of soma, lay down on her bed, and within ten minutes had embarked for lunar eternity. It would be eighteen hours at the least before she was in time again.

Bernard meanwhile lay pensive and wide-eyed in the dark. It was long after midnight before he fell asleep. Long after midnight; but his insomnia had not been fruitless; he had a plan.

Punctually, on the following morning, at ten o’clock, the green-uniformed octoroon stepped out of his helicopter. Bernard was waiting for him among the agaves.

‘Miss Crowne’s gone on soma-holiday,’ he explained. ‘Can hardly be back before five. Which leaves us seven hours.’

He could fly to Santa Fé, do all the business he had to do, and be in Malpais again long before she woke up.

‘She’ll be quite safe here by herself?’

‘Safe as helicopters,’ the octoroon assured him.

They climbed into the machine and started off at once. At ten thirty-four they landed on the roof of the Santa Fé Post Office; at ten thirty-seven Bernard had got through to the World Controller’s Office in Whitehall; at ten thirty-nine he was speaking to his fordship’s fourth personal secretary; at ten forty-four he was repeating his story to the first secretary, and at ten forty-seven and a half it was the deep, resonant voice of Mustapha Mond himself that sounded in his ears.

‘I ventured to think,’ stammered Bernard, ‘that your fordship might find the matter of sufficient scientific interest …’

‘Yes, I do find it of sufficient scientific interest,’ said the deep voice. ‘Bring these two individuals back to London with you.’

‘Your fordship is aware that I shall need a special permit …’

‘The necessary orders,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘are being sent to the Warden of the Reservation at this moment. You will proceed at once to the Warden’s Office. Good-morning, Mr. Marx.’

There was silence. Bernard hung up the receiver and hurried up to the roof.

‘Warden’s Office,’ he said to the Gamma-green octoroon.

At ten fifty-four Bernard was shaking hands with the Warden.

‘Delighted, Mr. Marx, delighted.’ His boom was deferential. ‘We have just received special orders …’

‘I know,’ said Bernard, interrupting him. ‘I was talking to his fordship on the phone a moment ago.’ His bored tone implied that he was in the habit of talking to his fordship every day of the week. He dropped into a chair. ‘If you’ll kindly take all the necessary steps as soon as possible. As soon as possible,’ he emphatically repeated. He was thoroughly enjoying himself.

At eleven three he had all the necessary papers in his pocket.

‘So long,’ he said patronizingly to the Warden, who had accompanied him as far as the lift gates. ‘So long.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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