‘Don’t think of him.’

‘I can’t help it.’

‘Take soma, then.’

‘I do.’

‘Well, go on.’

‘But in the intervals I still like him. I shall always like him.’

‘Well, if that’s the case,’ said Fanny, with decision, ‘why don’t you just go and take him. Whether he wants it or no.’

‘But if you knew how terribly queer he was!’

‘All the more reason for taking a firm line.’

‘It’s all very well to say that.’

‘Don’t stand any nonsense. Act.’ Fanny’s voice was a trumpet; she might have been a Y.W.F.A. lecturer giving an evening talk to adolescent Beta-Minuses. ‘Yes, act—at once. Do it now.’

‘I’d be scared,’ said Lenina.

‘Well, you’ve only got to take half a gramme of soma first. And now I’m going to have my bath.’ She marched off, trailing her towel.

The bell rang, and the Savage, who was impatiently hoping that Helmholtz would come that afternoon (for having at last made up his mind to talk to Helmholtz about Lenina, he could not bear to postpone his confidences a moment longer), jumped up and ran to the door.

‘I had a premonition it was you, Helmholtz,’ he shouted as he opened.

On the threshold, in a white acetate-satin sailor suit, and with a round white cap rakishly tilted over her left ear, stood Lenina.

‘Oh!’ said the Savage, as though some one had struck him a heavy blow.

Half a gramme had been enough to make Lenina forget her fears and her embarrassments. ‘Hullo, John,’ she said, smiling, and walked past him into the room. Automatically he closed the door and followed her. Lenina sat down. There was a long silence.

‘You don’t seem very glad to see me, John,’ she said at last.

‘Not glad?’ The Savage looked at her reproachfully; then suddenly fell on his knees before her and, taking Lenina’s hand, reverently kissed it. ‘Not glad? Oh, if you only knew,’ he whispered, and, venturing to raise his eyes to her face, ‘Admired Lenina,’ he went on, ‘indeed the top of admiration, worth what’s dearest in the world.’ She smiled at him with a luscious tenderness. ‘Oh, you so perfect’ (she was leaning towards him with parted lips), ‘so perfect and so peerless are created’ (nearer and nearer) ‘of every creature’s best.’ Still nearer. The Savage suddenly scrambled to his feet. ‘That’s why,’ he said, speaking with averted face, ‘I wanted to do something first … I mean, to show I was worthy of you. Not that I could ever really be that. But at any rate to show I wasn’t absolutely unworthy. I wanted to do something.’

‘Why should you think it necessary …’ Lenina began, but left the sentence unfinished. There was a note of irritation in her voice. When one has leant forward, nearer and nearer, with parted lips—only to find

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