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Such was the great plan, but an unforeseen event frustrated it. About a year before the appointed climax and the complete cessation of eating there appeared among the frail and ageing population a new and strange disease. I was never able to determine whether its source was wholly natural, wholly intrinsic to our physical cosmos, to our snowflake, or whether in some manner beyond my comprehension some obscure powers of darkness had somehow made incursion into our cosmos to stimulate or create this hideous epidemic. Its form and the time of its onset seemed nicely calculated to undermine the impending victory of the light.
He hates coming to these events and as usualis stuck for words. He's beginning to get thatsquirmy feeling. He doesn't know anyone except for hisaccountant, who's sitting at the other end of the banquethall and making everyone laugh. Suddenly the guest acrossfrom him, a young woman in a shiny blue dress who caughthis eye a few moments ago even though they hadn't spoken,tells the man on her left that she is an avid stamp collector.
The hearing of all this, and a good deal more, outlasted the banquet some time. The greater part of the guests had gone to bed as soon as the eating and drinking were over; and we, who had remained whispering and listening half-undressed, at last betook ourselves to bed, too.
"He's over!" shouted Captain Sender. "He's over! He's done it! My God, he's done it!"
'In short, you are provided for,' observed his sister; 'and will please to do your duty.'
"Only on the deal," said Bond. "You know that silver cigarette-case he has in front of him, with his lighter? He never takes cigarettes from it. Doesn't want to get fingermarks on the surface. It's plain silver and very highly polished. When he deals, it's almost concealed by the cards and his big hands. And he doesn't move his hands away from it. Deals four piles quite close to him. Every card is reflected in the top of the case. It's just as good as a mirror although it looks perfectly innocent lying there. As he's such a good businessman it would be normal for him to have a first-class memory. You remember I told you about 'Shiners'? Well, that's just a version of one. No wonder he brings off these miraculous finesses every once in a while. That double we watched was easy. He knew his partner had the guarded queen. With his two aces the double was a certainty. The rest of the time he just plays his average game. But knowing all the cards on every fourth deal is a terrific edge. It's not surprising he always shows a profit."
Were torn to pieces, mangled into hash,
And some, among the foliage of the groves.”
But the afternoon alone with Krebs was present and dreadful and her mind went back and back to the details of it like a tongue to an aching tooth.
The three peoples of Britain, the English, the Scotch, and the Welsh, had long ago ceased to count politically in the world. Enslaved first by Germany and then by Russia, they had adapted themselves to their servile condition. Nevertheless they retained a precious memory not only of their ancient national splendour but also of that humane and liberal spirit for which, in spite of heinous faults, they had once been famous. Whenever in any part of the world a stand was made for freedom and individual integrity the three British peoples, and often the Irish too, were ready to cause trouble for their masters. Rumour soon told them that the new Tibetan state was not the Gilbert and Sullivan fantasy which Russian propaganda reported. Presently the secret emissaries of Tibet were at work in London and the North-west. The gospel spread. But the British, imperfectly schooled in the life of the spirit, never clearly grasped it. Only the political aspect of it was fully intelligible to them. Politically they were still gifted with a certain tact, forbearance, and inventiveness; and they were not incapable of making a bold stand against tyranny. But this was not enough. To break the mechanized power of the foreign dictatorship they needed to have, as a whole people, that outstanding fortitude and integrity which are possible only to those who have endured a long and intelligent discipline under the light. The British rebellion failed because the spirit behind it was confused and uncertain, and therefore incapable of that fantastic and universal heroism which alone can triumph over odds that are obviously impossible. The young Russian air-police quickly obliterated the few towns which the rebels were able to seize.