“Yes, if you enter into conversation, you have—”
“Bah, then I didn’t enter into conversation.—The only thing is, I agree in the rough with Argyle. You’ve got to have a sort of slavery again. People are not MEN: they are insects and instruments, and their destiny is slavery. They are too many for me, and so what I think is ineffectual. But ultimately they will be brought to agree— after sufficient extermination—and then they will elect for themselves a proper and healthy and energetic slavery.”
“I should like to know what you mean by slavery. Because to me it is impossible that slavery should be healthy and energetic. You seem to have some other idea in your mind, and you merely use the word slavery out of exasperation—”
“I mean it none the less. I mean a real committal of the life-issue of inferior beings to the responsibility of a superior being.”
“It’ll take a bit of knowing, who are the inferior and which is the superior,” said Levison sarcastically.
“Not a bit. It is written between a man’s brows, which he is.”
“I’m afraid we shall all read differently.”
“So long as we’re liars.”
“And putting that question aside: I presume that you mean that this committal of the life-issue of inferior beings to someone higher shall be made voluntarily—a sort of voluntary self-gift of the inferiors—”
“Yes—more or less—and a voluntary acceptance. For it’s no pretty gift, after all.—But once made it must be held fast by genuine power. Oh yes—no playing and fooling about with it. Permanent and very efficacious power.”
“You mean military power?”
“I do, of course.”
Here Levison smiled a long, slow, subtle smile of ridicule. It all seemed to him the preposterous pretentiousness of a megalomaniac—one whom, after a while, humanity would probably have the satisfaction of putting into prison, or into a lunatic asylum. And Levison felt strong, overwhelmingly strong, in the huge social power with which he, insignificant as he was, was armed against such criminal-imbecile pretensions as those above set forth. Prison or the lunatic asylum. The face of the fellow gloated in these two inevitable engines of his disapproval.
“It will take you some time before you’ll get your doctrines accepted,” he said.
“Accepted! I’d be sorry. I don’t want a lot of swine snouting and sniffing at me with their acceptance.—Bah, Levison—one can easily make a fool of you. Do you take this as my gospel?”
“I take it you are speaking seriously.”
Here Lilly broke into that peculiar, gay, whimsical smile.
“But I should say the blank opposite with just as much fervour,” he declared.
“Do you mean to say you don’t MEAN what you’ve been saying?” said Levison, now really looking angry.
“Why, I’ll tell you the real truth,” said Lilly. “I think every man is a sacred and holy individual, NEVER to be violated; I think there is only one thing I hate to the verge of madness, and that is BULLYING. To see any living creature BULLIED, in any way, almost makes a murderer of me. That is true. Do you believe it—?”