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William John Locke
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Red Planet.

“I think,” she said, in dejected generalisation, “the working out of the whole scheme of the universe is a disappointment.”

“The High Originators of the scheme seem to bear it pretty philosophically,” I rejoined; “so why shouldn’t we?”

“They’re gods and we’re human,” said Betty.

“Precisely,” said I.  “And oughtn’t it to be our ideal to approximate to the divine attitude?”

Again Betty declared that I was odious.  From her point of view—­ No.  That is an abuse of language.  There are mental states in which a woman has no point of view at all.  She wanders over an ill-defined circular area of vision.  That is why, in such conditions, you can never pin a woman down with a shaft of logic and compel her surrender, as you can compel that of a mere man.  We went on arguing, and after a time I really did not know what I was arguing about.  I advanced and tried to support the theory that on the whole the progress of humanity as represented by the British Empire in general and the about-to-be Lieutenant Tufton in particular, was advanced by the opportune demise of an unfortunately balanced lady.  From her point—­or rather her circular area of vision—­perhaps my dear Betty was right in declaring me odious.  She hated to be reminded of the intolerable goosiness of her swan.  She longed for comforting, corroborative evidence of essential swaniness for her own justification.  In a word, the poor dear girl was sore all over with mortification, and wherever one touched her, no matter with how gentle a finger, one hurt.

“I would have trusted that woman,” she cried tragically, “with a gold-mine or a distillery.”

“We trusted her with something more valuable, my dear,” said I.  “Our guileless faith in human nature.  Anyhow we’ll keep the faith undamaged.”

She smiled.  “That’s considerably less odious.”

Nothing more could be said.  We let the unfortunate subject rest in peace for ever after.

These two episodes, the death of poor Reggie Dacre and the Tufton catastrophe, are the only incidents in my diary that are worth recording here.  Christmas came and went and we entered on the new year of 1916.  It was only at a date in the middle of February, a year since I had driven to Wellings Park to hear the tragic news of Oswald Fenimore’s death, that I find an important entry in my diary.

CHAPTER XVII

Mrs. Boyce was shown into my study, her comely Dresden china face very white and her hands shaking.  She held a telegram.  I had seen faces like that before.  Every day in England there are hundreds thus stricken.  I feared the worst.  It was a relief to read the telegram and find that Boyce was only wounded.  The message said seriously wounded, but gave consolation by adding that his life was not in immediate danger.  Mrs. Boyce was for setting out for France forthwith.  I dissuaded her from a project so embarrassing to the hospital

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