Mr. Britling Sees It Through eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 523 pages of information about Mr. Britling Sees It Through.

For the first time it seemed to Mr. Britling he really saw the immediate horror of war, the dense cruel stupidity of the business, plain and close.  It was as if he had never perceived anything of the sort before, as if he had been dealing with stories, pictures, shows and representations that he knew to be shams.  But that this dear, absurd old creature, this thing of home, this being of familiar humours and familiar irritations, should be torn to pieces, left in torment like a smashed mouse over which an automobile has passed, brought the whole business to a raw and quivering focus.  Not a soul among all those who had been rent and torn and tortured in this agony of millions, but was to any one who understood and had been near to it, in some way lovable, in some way laughable, in some way worthy of respect and care.  Poor Aunt Wilshire was but the sample thrust in his face of all this mangled multitude, whose green-white lips had sweated in anguish, whose broken bones had thrust raggedly through red dripping flesh....  The detested features of the German Crown Prince jerked into the centre of Mr. Britling’s picture.  The young man stood in his dapper uniform and grinned under his long nose, carrying himself jauntily, proud of his extreme importance to so many lives....

And for a while Mr. Britling could do nothing but rage.

“Devils they are!” he cried to the stars.

“Devils!  Devilish fools rather.  Cruel blockheads.  Apes with all science in their hands!  My God! but we will teach them a lesson yet!...”

That was the key of his mood for an hour of aimless wandering, wandering that was only checked at last by a sentinel who turned him back towards the town....

He wandered, muttering.  He found great comfort in scheming vindictive destruction for countless Germans.  He dreamt of swift armoured aeroplanes swooping down upon the flying airship, and sending it reeling earthward, the men screaming.  He imagined a shattered Zeppelin staggering earthward in the fields behind the Dower House, and how he would himself run out with a spade and smite the Germans down.  “Quarter indeed!  Kamerad!  Take that, you foul murderer!”

In the dim light the sentinel saw the retreating figure of Mr. Britling make an extravagant gesture, and wondered what it might mean.  Signalling?  What ought an intelligent sentry to do?  Let fly at him?  Arrest him?...  Take no notice?...

Mr. Britling was at that moment killing Count Zeppelin and beating out his brains.  Count Zeppelin was killed that night and the German Emperor was assassinated; a score of lesser victims were offered up to the manes of Aunt Wilshire; there were memorable cruelties before the wrath and bitterness of Mr. Britling was appeased.  And then suddenly he had had enough of these thoughts; they were thrust aside, they vanished out of his mind.

Section 12

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Mr. Britling Sees It Through from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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