Some of my favourite short stories, do you have any? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-01-2014, 09:14 PM
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Here are 3 of my most favourite short stories, they are not my stories but they relate to another thread of mine (called why I hate Cities) but I didn’t want to post them on there as they are quite long for the average thread so I decided to start a separate thread for them and just post a link here.

 

Clancy of The Overflow

A poem by Banjo Paterson.

 

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just `on spec', addressed as follows, `Clancy, of The Overflow'.

 

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
`Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are.'

 

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving `down the Cooper' where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

 

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all

 

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the 'buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

 

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

 

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of `The Overflow'.


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#2 Old 01-01-2014, 09:25 PM
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The City.

 

The city has been with us since ages long past, but regard its plight today! It is a nightmare and not a bringer of pleasure, as one might think, or else it would have been designed thusly. The city was not created for luxury, happiness or pleasure. In reality, the city is a scavenging multitude in which people find themselves out of necessity. People have not come to live in the city for the sake of enjoyment, but to make a living. One engages in greed, toil, and is beset by want… it is employment which forces one to live in the city.

 

The city is a graveyard of social connections and relations. Whoever sets foot in it will be forced to swim over its waves from one street to another, from one quarter to another, from one job to another, and from one friend to another. Because of the nature of the city, one's purpose in life there becomes self-interest and opportunism, and one's behaviour becomes hypocritical.

 

The Quran says: And of the people of Median, some are stubborn in hypocrisy. [1]. Thus, everything comes to have its own specific price in material terms, which is something required by city life. The more the city progresses and develops, the more complicated it becomes.

 

Common friendliness and social ties become increasingly remote, to the degree that people living in the same building do not know one another, especially when the building grows so large that it becomes a mere number. People are no longer referred to by their name or the tribe to which they belong, but by a number. City people do not address one another as fellow social beings or even human entities, but as 'You, who live in apartment number x on floor number x… telephone number x, license plate number on car is x' and so on.

 

Inhabitants of the same street do not know one another, since, after all, they have not chosen to live with one another. They have merely found themselves by chance living in the same street or lane, or apartment building, with no kinship or other connection between them. On the contrary, in the city the law of necessity separates relatives from one another, fathers from their sons, mothers from their children, and sometimes husbands from their wives. It gathers opposites as well as outsiders, bringing rivals together while scattering relatives.

 

Life in the city is merely a worm-like, biological existence where man lives and dies meaninglessly… with no clear vision or insight. In either case, he is inside a tomb, whether he is living or dying. There is no freedom or rest in the city, or peace of mind. Instead, there are walls upon walls, whether indoors or outdoors, in apartment buildings, in the street, or in places of work. You cannot sit the way you would like, walk in the direction you want, or stop when you want.

 

If you should stop to shake hand with a friend or relative whom you have run into by accident, a stream of pedestrians pushes you along, away from him, or may hinder physical contact between you in some way. The hand that you extend to greet him will have been pushed away by a passerby, who is unaware of what he is doing or does not appreciate the situation.

 

If you should desire to cross the street, this will not be easy either. You may lose life or limb merely by doing so, if you do not take the proper precautions. Look to your left and your right several times. You may be surrounded in the middle of the street, so stay in your place amid the city's dangerous waves of cars, trolleys, cleaning trucks, etc., circling around you.

 

It is not likely that you would have the time to engage in social conversation amid the urban crowds. If such a thing does happen, it tends to be either insufferably boring or hypocritical. In the city streets, men and cats are equal… among the traffic, roads, and sidewalks. When you hear the brakes of a car, you suddenly stop and say automatically,

'It's a person or an animal.' This is because this is what happens when either is crossing the street in front of you. You would brake in the same way to avoid hitting either one of them. Even a traffic policeman will warn you, whether verbally or in writing, about accidents that are caused by a man - or a cat - crossing the street in the city.

 

This is the city. No one says 'after you', instead, they push. Push with their shoulders and their hands, push money from your pocket, push out any type of social consideration. It is 'push' in the city, and not 'after you'. Walls respect you more than people do; at least you may gain some support from them. Walls can guide you to where you are going, after signs and instructions have been put up, while it is very difficult for a city dweller or stranger to give such information to people who are in need of it.

 

If you ask someone in the city for directions, he will say, 'I'm sorry, I don't have any time… Sorry I'm in a hurry… Excuse me, I'll miss the train… the bus… the car…' He may add: 'The wall, have a look at the wall.'

 

The wall is the only thing stationary in the city, and people certainly cannot stand as still as a wall. In the city there is smoke and filth; there is humidity, even if it is in a desert. Your collar becomes black, even if you are a white-collar worker. Your clothes would become dirty and stained, even if you are not a painter or a repairman. As a side-effect of living in the city, you are forced to accept the filthy dust and smoke; you break out in a cold sweat, perspiring even if you are not working.

 

You also find that in the city, you have picked up some superficial words, expressions, and gestures that are a necessary means of communication in the city, and a way to help yourself get by. You have also picked up some ready-made responses to likely questions, which you answer without paying attention too closely: no problem… no problem… an act of God… that's the one… no, uncle… no, brother… so they said… that was ages ago please, keep walking… let me through… stay away.

 

But whether it is you or someone else who asks you what you said just a moment ago, you would not be able to give an answer. You would not remember that you had used these expressions, because this is the nature of the city. These expressions are used automatically, to show that life in the city is ultimately meaningless, and devoid of content.

 

What is it that is 'no problem'? And who is your 'uncle', or your 'brother'? What is it that 'they said', and who are 'they'? At what time? What was it that was 'ages ago'? Which way should you take in the city? If you were surrounded by such questioning, you would drown in it, unable to give an answer. It is city walk, a way of getting by and passing the time. Truly, city life means just wasting time, until another time comes to pass… a time for work, for sleep, for sleeplessness.

 

The city is a fad, a shouting, bedazzlement, stupid imitation, damned consumerism. Making demands while not giving anything in return, a meaningless existence. What is worse is the inability to resist the life in the city. City inhabitants are unable to resist fashions, even if they do not like them. There is no ability to resist the movement toward loss or voracious consumption.

 

Even if you are an intruder, a recent arrival in the city and not one of its original inhabitants, who have become used to its ways, you will in the end become its laughing-stock. If you wish to maintain what you believe in, maintain your values and your non-urban behaviour, you will become an outcast and find no one who understands you. When you change, though, in order to become urban, you will become awkward and fatuous.

 

In the city, a son might accidentally kill his father, or a father his son, while speeding along in a truck, car, or some such vehicle. It is the speed of the city, the traffic, the selfishness. The son may curse his father without knowing it while pushing him aside on the sidewalk or blinding him with the headlights in the road. Moreover, it often happens that people who should not com into contact with each other on religious grounds do so because of the crowdedness of the city. They meet, and then part, unconcerned by it all.

 

It is not, however, the fault of the city dwellers. People are the same whether they are in the city or the village; they are practically similar in all respects, in their values and morals. This is especially so for those of the same people, or religion. Thus, it is the fault of the nature of the city itself, since it forces people to automatically and gradually accommodate themselves to live there.

 

With the passage of time, it becomes customary behaviour. People build cities out of necessity, but cities then become unavoidable nightmares to those who built them and live in them. Everything in the city has a price, and every luxury becomes a necessity, and each price has its own material or moral price. This is where the crisis of urban life begins.

 

The city is anti-agriculture; is built on arable land, and trees are uprooted for its construction. It tempts peasants to leave the land and become lazy beggars on its sidewalks. At the same time, the city devours agricultural production and demands more and more of it, although this agricultural production requires land and peasants.

 

The city is anti-production, because production requires effort and patience, and the city is anti-seriousness and effort. By its nature, it wants to take and not give, consume and not produce; it stretches out in every direction, limitlessly. It becomes a parasite to everything around it, spreading its poisonous tentacles, killing fresh air by turning oxygen into carbon dioxide, which is then turned into carbon monoxide.

 

Nature is disfigured, its clear mirror blurred. The city produces gasses, smoke, and fumes, polluting everything. The stars and the moon and even the sun become hidden. The city coos, shouts, roars and growls until the noise becomes deafening, and causes headaches, tension.

 

It spreads out and devours arable land and the surrounding villages, enveloping them under its dirty, stifling wings. Its teeth carve out roads, buildings, and public utilities from the peaceful and secure remote villages. Suburbs are formed; they start out at the edge of the city, and then become indispensable parts of it. They are ground down by the weight of the city, changing from cohesive, productive, peaceful villages into gloomy, unhealthy cells, a part of an oppressive, sick whole, which is busy but unproductive, tiring but jobless, and finally… aimless.

 

The city kills human and social feelings, creating in their stead indifferent insensitivity; this is because city people have become used to the repetition of behaviour and scenes that might grab one's attention in the village, oasis, countryside, deserts.

 

In the city, you do not ask nor are asked about people moving quickly or gathering, moving slowly or dispersing. You are used to seeing such things. They do not attract your attention or make you curious enough to ask. Things like a fight, someone crying or falling down the street, a fire breaking out - as long as it is not close to your house - or walking past tramps and the homeless lying on the sidewalk, standing against walls, or tree trunks. They might address you and put out their hands, hoping to get money from you, but this scene is so often repeated in the city that one fails to take notice.

Scenes like this become the scenes that complete your vision of the city, and do not attract your attention. And even though at first they may have caused you to pause, or try to affect the situation you were observing, life in the city does not permit this.

 

Someone who attempts to get involved in such things cannot live in the city. Such things happen regularly, and if one pauses to attend such things regularly, one will be constantly busy with them. Since city dwellers are many, and are made up of many groups and social and cultural levels, and because the ties and social relations that bind them disintegrate due to the nature of city life - because of this, one does not even know who his neighbour is.

 

People are busy, they move frequently, and no one chooses to live near anyone else. Thus, people whose pains or joys you might have a notion of sharing are in fact unconcerned with yours, so how can you be concerned with theirs?

 

For this reason, the city has delegated responsibility for treating these issues to urban associations and institutions. A fire is none of your business, but is the responsibility of the fire department. This is the justification for a city dweller to ignore fires blazing away here and their - the fire department is responsible. I'm not a fireman… I'm busy.

 

Beggars are the responsibility of social associations. If I give to every beggar whom I run across in the street, I would spend everything I have on them. So, the issue is not just the beggar in front of me, but all of them; therefore, I will not pay them any attention. But, what if he is truly in need? He might, however, just be lazy, or pretending. Do not let appearances deceive you, because the city is made up of deceptive appearances, and the inner truth remains hidden under the exterior from.

 

A fight is the police's responsibility; I am not a policeman, and will not intervene. Even when honour is at stake, city people act indifferently - 'that is the responsibility of the religious authorities or the vice squad, or a religious association.' If you stop at the scene of a fire or a brawl, or at seeing a beggar or someone crying - and these scenes are repeated every day, and in every part of the city - could you ever reach your destination or make it back home? Do you have the ability to treat such problems?

 

Thus, one gradually becomes indifferent to such scenes and convinced that one is not responsible. In any city in the world it would become silly to not behave indifferently. An employee would be fired if he were to go out of his office to give aid to someone who has been run over in the street - fired for leaving work and intervening in an area outside his area of specialization (being that of the police and the emergency medical team).

 

None of those urban associations would thank you if you were to volunteer to try to help them. They would become sensitive about what you were doing and become jealous, because you would be competing with them in the area from which they make a living.

 

This is the city: a mill that grinds down its inhabitants, a nightmare to its builders. It forces you to change your appearance and replace your values; you take on an urban personality, which has no colour or taste to it. No smell, no meaning - a worm-like existence. 'Biology' forces you to inhale the breath of others, about whom you do not care. You attempt to protect yourself from them, rather than them protecting you or you protecting them.

 

The city forces you to hear the sounds of others, whom you are not addressing. You are forced to inhale their very breaths; you hear the sounds of engines, motors, and hammers going along at full blast, but at a conscious level you are unconcerned by these sounds.

 

Children are worse off than adults. They move from darkness to darkness; from three darknesses to the fourth, as in the Quran. In the city, houses are not homes - they are holes and caves, made drafty by the movement of air from city streets and alleyways. People there are exactly like snails in their shells, protected against the waves and currents of the sea.

 

The city itself is a sea, with currents and waves, flotsam and jetsam… and snails. The snails are people and their poor children, against which everything in the city presses. Their parents press them further inside the shell, fearful of what awaits them in the current of the city streets. It is no use to cross this street, since there are other snails, caves, and petrified shells on the other side.

 

Where are you going, you young and innocent children? Those are people's homes, and you do not know them. The ones who were there have moved; these are new people. The street does not belong to you alone; it is for traffic also. The street is not for playing in, and it oppresses you as well.

 

Yesterday, a young boy was run over in that street, where he was playing. Last year, a speeding vehicle hit a little girl crossing the street, tearing her body apart. They gathered up the limbs in her mother's dress. Another child was kidnapped by professional criminals. After a few days, they released her in front of her home, after they had stolen one of her kidneys! Another boy was put into a cardboard box by the neighbourhood boys in a game, but was run over accidentally by a car.

 

Go back indoors, to the darkness, to the cold and drafty or hot and dirty holes. God help the city, so full of filth. Do not think of trying to play next to the street, where there is nothing but dirt and rubbish. When all paths become closed to children, in frightful fashion, with the threat of death by being run over, torn to pieces, kidnapped and having a limb amputated or an organ removed, the least of the dangers that wait outside are dirt and filth. This is easier to take than confinement and boredom in dark houses. But the result is still death, albeit in a different way.

 

The sea of the city is like any other sea, and has its whirlpools and dangerous creatures, so how can a child live there? But they are there. What is the solution? The solution is to oppress children, punish them, and force them to remain holed up, isolated, and broken-down. Crush their natural course of growth, deprive them of sunlight and fresh air. This is life in the city: standing in line, get in and out of your car, no one outside your door is your friend.

 

Even kindergarten means standing in line, filling out forms, going through formalities. The school, the hospital, the market… they are all a case of open, push, close, line up, hurry up. Children grow in biological terms, but in social terms, they are receptacles for all of these forms of repression and oppression, rebuke and reproof. They become a model of the human being afflicted my complexes and psychological problems, regression, depression. This is the reason for decline of human values and social ties, indifference toward others and lack of friendliness and cordiality, and jealousy.

 

The village and the countryside, however, are another world, different in both their inner and outer aspects. In these places, there is absolutely no need for pressure and oppressiveness. Natural growth and living in the sunlight are encouraged, if not glorified.

 

You do as the birds and flowers do, flying and opening up to the world.

 

There are no streets, no piles of garbage, no unfamiliar faces. People in the village and the countryside will always remain linked by social bonds, connected in all moral and material matters. Children are free to have fun and grow, they are children of the sun and moon, or breezes and winds. There is no fear of going out into the world, where there are no dangerous currents. No 'open' and 'close'. Everything is naturally open.

 

There is no need for locks in an environment in which plants and children grow; there are no restraints, and no mental disorders.

 

O wise, kind-hearted people… humanitarians: have mercy on children, and do not deceive them by making them live in the city. Do not let your children turn into mice, moving around from hole to hole, from sidewalk to sidewalk. The inhabitants of the city are truly hypocritical when they pretend to show their children love. At the same time, they create cages to keep their children's lovely voices far away from them, separate from their very parents.

 

The nature of urban life for parents forces them to devise ways of keeping their little ones distant from them. This is so that they can devote their time to withstanding the nightmare of city life; by searching for, creating, and spending money on activities which neither give nourishment or satisfy hunger: false occasions, artificial parties, insincere friendships.

 

Children are an obstacle to parents' involvement in such things. Parents take part as an effort to accommodate themselves successfully to the hell of city life. Nursery schools, child care centres, playgrounds, and even schools are ways of getting rid of children, these innocent creatures, a modern way of burying them alive! [2]

 

The city is harsh and fatuous for its poor inhabitants, forced to accept the ridiculous. They accept, swallowing and digesting these things as if they are quite reasonable. The best evidence of this are those silly interests which the city imposes upon its inhabitants. You find thousands watching a **** fight - and what about the millions who follow 22 people running around meaninglessly after a watermelon-sized sack?

 

In another silly, urban-type traditional exercise, the same crowds of people sit around a single person repeating almost inaudibly the same lines, like a parrot, accompanied by a noisy instrument, whose sound most of the audience cannot appreciate. One idiot or drunkard begins to applaud, and is then followed by the entire uncomprehending audience, as an expression of their appreciation of the exercise, which is in fact not the case, since they did not understand it to begin with. A type of affected, modern hypocrisy, which people are forced to engage in as city dwellers.

 

Millions of people sometimes watch another type of fight, this one between two mature people, in which they beat each other savagely; no one thinks to intervene, and separate them so as to stop the brutal battle, which is in fact within their power. But modern city life prevents them from doing this, because a bloody, nonsensical battle such as this is an end in itself; this barbarism is what is demanded by living conditions in the city.

 

Other examples are the abuse of animals in exhausting races and exploiting their blind instinct when setting them at each other in fights; the torture of people as well, hurting them and using their pain as a source of entertainment; betting on the result… these are all ways of false entertainment in the city. Unjustifiable battles between two wrestlers or fighters. After investigating these activities, one finds that there is no antagonism between participants; it is merely something that is required my modern urban life!

Notes:

 

[1] Holy Quran, Sura 9, verse 101. Medina in Arabic refers to the city in the Hijaz, as well as meaning 'city'.
[2] A reference to the ancient Arabian practice wa'd, of burying unwanted female babies alive, frowned upon in Sura 81, verse 8 of the Holy Quran.


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#3 Old 01-01-2014, 09:27 PM
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The Village.

 

Flee, flee the city, and get away from the smoke. Get away from the chocking carbon monoxide, from the poisonous carbon monoxide. Go far away from the sticky humidity, and away from the poison gases and inactivity. Flee from the lethargy and waste, the poison and boredom and yawning. Flee from the nightmare city.

 

Pull your bodies out from under its oppressiveness. Liberate yourselves from the walls and corridors, from the doors that are locked in your face. Rescue your hearing from the commotion and uproar, from the willy-nilly shouting, ringing of telephones and doorbells, from the roaring of engines. Leave the irritation behind, the anxious places, the sealed locations. It is a place of short-sightedness and wastefulness. Leave the rat race, and the rat holes as well. Leave the worm-like existence behind.

 

Depart the city and flee to the village, where you will see the moon for the first time in your lives. You will change from being worms and rats, exiled from social companionship and ties, and become true human beings in the village, oasis or countryside. Leave the cemetery neighbourhoods for God’s wide and wondrous land. You will see constellations in the sky that will make you despise the chandeliers made of sand that used to hang above you in the city. Artificial things, which could be broken or go to waste at any moment. Dirty things, covered with flies and spiders in the burrows of the city, which are known as apartments and homes. In the countryside, look up and see the divine lanterns suspended in the dome of the sky, and not the ceiling of a filthy tomb in the city.

 

The village is peaceful, clean and friendly; everyone knows everyone else. People there stick together through thick and through thin. There is no stealing in the village or countryside; everyone knows everyone else. One takes into account the reputation of his family, his tribe, and himself before doing anything that might cause harm. Any bad deed committed there does not end on the same day, as in the city, where crimes are often committed against people not known by the criminal, since there are so many people of different types and kinds there. It does not even end when it ends, but lingers on with its family, its group and tribes, constituting a permanent disgrace for the one who committed it.

 

This social deterrent is stronger than any civil law or city police force. Moreover, social solidarity and networks in the countryside and village take care of the needs of the needy, and prevent them from having to beg or steal. Rural life is simple, humble and satisfying, far removed from the desires and luxuries of city life. A village-dweller does not feel the need for these silly desires which city-dwellers do. The village and the countryside do not know fads and fashion; they are of calm and peaceful temperament, and are not about to change. Villagers do not suffer from tension and complexities, or lusting after wealth. Thus, their lives are calm and easy, innocent of any pains of desire.

 

These desires are, of course, enjoyable in and of themselves, but they are preceded and followed by many pains and troubles. They are the pains of wanting to obtain something unnecessary, precisely because it is desired. In fact, harvesting and plowing for the sake of one’s daily bread and planting trees and picking their fruit to eat are necessary things. At the least, the work that precedes them does not cause psychological anguish; rather, it is enjoyable labour because it is righteous and truly necessary. No regret either follows or precedes this work; instead, it is preceded by joyous hopes of achievement and satisfaction after the fact.

 

City life means panting as you chase after certain desires and unnecessary, yet necessary, luxuries. When we see these social sicknesses spread throughout the city, and laws passed to combat them, we are not surprised. We do not believe that they will end, and that we will gain victory over them, for the nature of city life is thus, and these sicknesses are inevitable.

 

The city is dizziness and nausea, madness and loss, fear of insanity, fear of confronting urban life and its urban problems. It means fleeing from these things, trying to ignore them, compensating for moral and social emptiness, and the inability to satisfy these urban desires. Entertainment becomes a means to escape life, while drunkenness, madness and suicide are possible ways of treating the diseases of urban life. Sometimes, and for some people, in fact a large percentage of them, urban life, with its aimlessness, superficiality, and lack of responsibility, is considered a treatment in and of itself.

 

Leave this hell on earth, run quickly away. In complete happiness, go to the village and the countryside, where physical labour has meaning, necessity, usefulness and is a pleasure besides. There, life is social and human; families and tribes are close. There is stability and belief. Everyone loves one another, and everyone lives on his own farm, or has livestock, or works in the village’s service sector.

 

Deviation is unacceptable, because the people in the village know one another, unlike those in the city. There, deviants know that they are not known by others; thus, a liar in the city is able to lie, without his lie requiring him, his family or his tribe to answer questioning by society. A city-dweller has no name, nickname or title; his name is his apartment number. His nickname is his telephone number, and his title is his street or neighbourhood. These he changes from time to time. Thus, who he is now is not who he is afterwards.

 

How beautiful the village and countryside are! Clean air, the horizon before you, the heavens without pillars thou canst behold [1], with their divine lanterns above. The conscience is healthy; moral example is the basis of moral action, and not fear of the police, the law, prison or fines. There is liberation from all of these imposed restrictions and terrible necessities. There are no whistles sounding in the ears of those wanted, or those not wanted. There are no one-way streets, no pushing others out of the way, no standing in line, no waiting, no looking at your watch.

 

The village and countryside, the wide sky, joyfulness, the lord’s dominion makes life peaceful and relaxing. It has none of the city’s oppressiveness or crowds. The moon has a meaning, and there is pleasure gained by looking at the sky. You can see the horizon, as well as the sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk. Look at the beautiful picture the Holy Quran draws for us of the village and countryside: It needs not therefore that I swear by the sunset redness, and by the night and its gatherings and by the moon when at her full. [2]

 

The city has no moon or sun, no dawn or dusk. Its night is mixed with its day; there is no separation between them. There is no sign of nature. We see only artificial creation and ornamentation, we feel disturbances and annoyances, we live meaninglessly and marginally. We look down beneath our feet, read posters, watch for signs, get caught up out of necessity in trivialities, or else lose our very lives. Any looking or noticing other than these petty affairs puts you outside the context of city life, and could cost your life, or urban freedom.

 

The Holy Quran says: By the sun and his noonday brightness; by the moon when she followeth him; by the day when it revealeth his glory; by the night when it enshroudest him; by the heaven and Him who built it. [3]. This beautiful verse is literally present in the village and countryside. As well as By the noon-day brightness; and by the night when it darkeneth. [4].

 

And when the dawn is invoked, we must remember that the dawn is seen only in the village and countryside. What dawn is there in a city, electrified day and night? Who sees the sky and the constellations of the zodiac? Upon the ground there are signs for those who believe. But what ground in the city? Busy sidewalks, crowded streets, bottlenecks, alleys, choke-points, limited vision. What signs can be seen in the streets of the city? What contemplation can take place in the crowdedness of the city?

 

There is no time in the city, no night and no day. What about the night and all that it enshroudest [5], the dark of the night [6], the dawn [7], and the afterglow of sunset? [8]

 

Notes: [1] Holy Quran, Sura 13, verse 12. [2] Holy Quran, Sura 84, verses 15-48. [3] Holy Quran, Sure 91, verses 1-6. In Arabic, the sun is a masculine noun, while the moon is feminine. [4] Holy Quran, Sura 93, verses 1-2. [5] Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 84, verse 17. [6] Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 17, verse 78. [7] Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 89, verse 1. [8] Implicit reference to Holy Quran, Sura 84, verse 16.

 

Novel from "Escape to Hell and Other Stories" by Muammar Al-Qathafi with foreword by Pierre Salinger.


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#4 Old 04-15-2014, 01:42 AM
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just reading these again. i was going to share them with a friend but i didn't get the chance... oh well


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#5 Old 04-15-2014, 12:32 PM
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nice thanks for sharing. 

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#6 Old 04-17-2014, 07:42 AM
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Do you mind if I copy them  Please? 

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#7 Old 04-21-2014, 05:26 AM
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I like this one :

 

 A Haunted House 

by  Virginia Woolf(  1882- 1941)




Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure--a ghostly couple.

"Here we left it," she said. And he added, "Oh, but here tool" "It's upstairs," she murmured. "And in the garden," he whispered. "Quietly," they said, "or we shall wake them."

But it wasn't that you woke us. Oh, no. "They're looking for it; they're drawing the curtain," one might say, and so read on a page or two. "Now they've found it,' one would be certain, stopping the pencil on the margin. And then, tired of reading, one might rise and see for oneself, the house all empty, the doors standing open, only the wood pigeons bubbling with content and the hum of the threshing machine sounding from the farm. "What did I come in here for? What did I want to find?" My hands were empty. "Perhaps its upstairs then?" The apples were in the loft. And so down again, the garden still as ever, only the book had slipped into the grass.

But they had found it in the drawing room. Not that one could ever see them. The windowpanes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple only turned its yellow side. Yet, the moment after, if the door was opened, spread about the floor, hung upon the walls, pendant from the ceiling--what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed the carpet; from the deepest wells of silence the wood pigeon drew its bubble of sound. "Safe, safe, safe" the pulse of the house beat softly. "The treasure buried; the room . . ." the pulse stopped short. Oh, was that the buried treasure?

A moment later the light had faded. Out in the garden then? But the trees spun darkness for a wandering beam of sun. So fine, so rare, coolly sunk beneath the surface the beam I sought always burned behind the glass. Death was the glass; death was between us, coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs. "Safe, safe, safe," the pulse of the house beat gladly. 'The Treasure yours."

The wind roars up the avenue. Trees stoop and bend this way and that. Moonbeams splash and spill wildly in the rain. But the beam of the lamp falls straight from the window. The candle burns stiff and still. Wandering through the house, opening the windows, whispering not to wake us, the ghostly couple seek their joy.

"Here we slept," she says. And he adds, "Kisses without number." "Waking in the morning--" "Silver between the trees--" "Upstairs--" 'In the garden--" "When summer came--" 'In winter snowtime--" "The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.

Nearer they come, cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken, we hear no steps beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak. His hands shield the lantern. "Look," he breathes. "Sound asleep. Love upon their lips."

Stooping, holding their silver lamp above us, long they look and deeply. Long they pause. The wind drives straightly; the flame stoops slightly. Wild beams of moonlight cross both floor and wall, and, meeting, stain the faces bent; the faces pondering; the faces that search the sleepers and seek their hidden joy.

"Safe, safe, safe," the heart of the house beats proudly. "Long years--" he sighs. "Again you found me." "Here," she murmurs, "sleeping; in the garden reading; laughing, rolling apples in the loft. Here we left our treasure--" Stooping, their light lifts the lids upon my eyes. "Safe! safe! safe!" the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry "Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart."

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#8 Old 04-21-2014, 05:31 AM
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another one I like 

 

 

Beware of the Dog.

 

Roald Dahl(1916-1990)

 

 

DOWN below there was only a vast white undulating sea of cloud. Above there was the sun, and the sun was white like the clouds, because it is never yellow when one looks at it from high in the air.

He was still flying the Spitfire. His right hand was on the stick, and he was working the rudder bar with his left leg alone. It was quite easy. The machine was flying well, and he knew what he was doing.

Everything is fine, he thought. I'm doing all right. I'm doing nicely. I know my way home. I'll be there in half an hour. When I land I shall taxi in and switch off my engine and I shall say, help me to get out, will you. I shall make my voice sound ordinary and natural and none of them will take any notice. Then I shall say, someone help me to get out. I can't do it alone because I've lost one of my legs. They'll all laugh and think that I'm joking, and I shall say, all right, come and have a look, you unbelieving *******s. Then Yorky will climb up onto the wing and look inside. He'll probably be sick because of all the blood and the mess. I shall laugh and say, for God's sake, help me out.

He glanced down again at his right leg. There was not much of it left. The cannon shell had taken him on the thigh, just above the knee, and now there was nothing but a great mess and a lot of blood. But there was no pain. When he looked down, he felt as though he were seeing something that did not belong to him. It had nothing to do with him. It was just a mess which happened to be there in the cockpit; something strange and unusual and rather interesting. It was like finding a dead cat on the sofa.

He really felt fine, and because he still felt fine, he felt excited and unafraid.

I won't even bother to call up on the radio for the blood wagon, he thought. It isn't necessary. And when I land I'll sit there quite normally and say, some of you fellows come and help me out, will you, because I've lost one of my legs. That will be funny. I'll laugh a little while I'm saying it; I'll say it calmly and slowly, and they'll think I'm joking. When Yorky comes up onto the wing and gets sick, I'll say, Yorky, you old son of a *****, have you fixed my car yet? Then when I get out I'll make my report and later I'll go up to London. I'll take that half bottle of whisky with me and I'll give it to Bluey. We'll sit in her room and drink it. I'll get the water out of the bathroom tap. I won't say much until it's time to go to bed, then Ill say, Bluey, I've got a surprise for you. I lost a leg today. But I don't mind so long as you don't. It doesn't even hurt.

We'll go everywhere in cars. I always hated walking, except when I walked down the street of the coppersmiths in Bagdad, but I could go in a rickshaw. I could go home and chop wood, but the head always flies off the ax. Hot water, that's what it needs; put it in the bath and make the handle swell. I chopped lots of wood last time I went home, and I put the ax in the bath. . . .

Then he saw the sun shining on the engine cowling of his machine. He saw the rivets in the metal, and he remembered where he was. He realized that he was no longer feeling good; that he was sick and giddy. His head kept falling forward onto his chest because his neck seemed no longer to have any strength. But he knew that he was flying the Spitfire, and he could feel the handle of the stick between the fingers of his right hand.

I'm going to pass out, he thought. Any moment now I'm going to pass out.

He looked at his altimeter. Twenty-one thousand. To test himself he tried to read the hundreds as well as the thousands. Twenty-one thousand and what? As he looked the dial became blurred, and he could not even see the needle. He knew then that he must bail out; that there was not a second to lose, otherwise he would become unconscious. Quickly, frantically, he tried to slide back the hood with his left hand, but he had not the strength. For a second he took his right hand off the stick, and with both hands he managed to push the hood back. The rush of cold air on his face seemed to help. He had a moment of great clearness, and his actions became orderly and precise. That is what happens with a good pilot. He took some quick deep breaths from his oxygen mask, and as he did so, he looked out over the side of the cockpit. Down below there was only a vast white sea of cloud, and he realized that he did not know where he was.

It'll be the Channel, he thought. I'm sure to fall in the drink.

He throttled back, pulled off his helmet, undid his straps, and pushed the stick hard over to the left. The Spitfire dripped its port wing, and turned smoothly over onto its back. The pilot fell out.

As he fell he opened his eyes, because he knew that he must not pass out before he had pulled the cord. On one side he saw the sun; on the other he saw the whiteness of the clouds, and as he fell, as he somersaulted in the air, the white clouds chased the sun and the sun chased the clouds. They chased each other in a small circle; they ran faster and faster, and there was the sun and the clouds and the clouds and the sun, and the clouds came nearer until suddenly there was no longer any sun, but only a great whiteness. The whole world was white, and there was nothing in it. It was so white that sometimes it looked black, and after a time it was either white or black, but mostly it was white. He watched it as it turned from white to black, and then back to white again, and the white stayed for a long time, but the black lasted only for a few seconds. He got into the habit of going to sleep during the white periods, and of waking up just in time to see the world when it was black. But the black was very quick. Sometimes it was only a flash, like someone switching off the light, and switching it on again at once, and so whenever it was white, he dozed off.

One day, when it was white, he put out a hand and he touched something. He took it between his fingers and crumpled it. For a time he lay there, idly letting the tips of his fingers play with the thing which they had touched. Then slowly he opened his eyes, looked down at his hand, and saw that he was holding something which was white. It was the edge of a sheet. He knew it was a sheet because he could see the texture of the material and the stitchings on the hem. He screwed up his eyes, and opened them again quickly. This time he saw the room. He saw the bed in which he was lying; he saw the grey walls and the door and the green curtains over the window. There were some roses on the table by his bed.

Then he saw the basin on the table near the roses. It was a white enamel basin, and beside it there was a small medicine glass.

This is a hospital, he thought. I am in a hospital. But he could remember nothing. He lay back on his pillow, looking at the ceiling and wondering what had happened. He was gazing at the smooth greyness of the ceiling which was so clean and gray, and then suddenly he saw a fly walking upon it. The sight of this fly, the suddenness of seeing this small black speck on a sea of gray, brushed the surface of his brain, and quickly, in that second, he remembered everything. He remembered the Spitfire and he remembered thealtimeter showing twenty-one thousand feet. He remembered the pushing back of the hood with both hands, and he remembered the bailing out. He remembered his leg.

It seemed all right now. He looked down at the end of the bed, but he could not tell. He put one hand underneath the bedclothes and felt for his knees. He found one of them, but when he felt for the other, his hand touched something which was soft and covered in bandages.

Just then the door opened and a nurse came in.

"Hello," she said. "So you've waked up at last."

She was not good-looking, but she was large and clean. She was between thirty and forty and she had fair hair. More than that he did not notice.

"Where am I?"

"You're a lucky fellow. You landed in a wood near the beach. You're in Brighton. They brought you in two days ago, and now you're all fixed up. You look fine."

"I've lost a leg," he said.

"That's nothing. We'll get you another one. Now you must go to sleep. The doctor will be coming to see you in about an hour." She picked up the basin and the medicine glass and went out.

But he did not sleep. He wanted to keep his eyes open because he was frightened that if he shut them again everything would go away. He lay looking at the ceiling. The fly was still there. It was very energetic. It would run forward very fast for a few inches, then it would stop. Then it would run forward again, stop, run forward, stop, and every now and then it would take off and buzz around viciously in small circles. It always landed back in the same place on the ceiling and started running and stopping all over again. He watched it for so long that after a while it was no longer a fly, but only a black speck upon a sea of gray, and he was still watching it when the nurse opened the door, and stood aside while the doctor came in. He was an Army doctor, a major, and he had some last war ribbons on his chest. He was bald and small, but he had a cheerful face and kind eyes.

"Well, well," he said. "So you've decided to wake up at last. How are you feeling?"

"I feel all right."

"That's the stuff. You'll be up and about in no time."

The doctor took his wrist to feel his pulse.

"By the way," he said, "some of the lads from your squadron were ringing up and asking about you. They wanted to come along and see you, but I said that they'd better wait a day or two. Told them you were all right, and that they could come and see you a little later on. Just lie quiet and take it easy for a bit. Got something to read?" He glanced at the table with the roses. "No. Well, nurse will look after you. She'll get you anything you want." With that he waved his hand and went out, followed by the large clean nurse.

When they had gone, he lay back and looked at the ceiling again. The fly was still there and as he lay watching it he heard the noise of an airplane in the distance. He lay listening to the sound of its engines. It was a long way away. I wonder what it is, he thought. Let me see if I can place it. Suddenly he jerked his head sharply to one side. Anyone who has been bombed can tell the noise of a Junkers 88. They can tell most other German bombers for that matter, but especially a Junkers 88. The engines seem to sing a duet. There is a deep vibrating bass voice and with it there is a high pitched tenor. It is the singing of the tenor which makes the sound of a JU-88 something which one cannot mistake.

He lay listening to the noise, and he felt quite certain about what it was. But where were the sirens, and where the guns? That German pilot certainly had a nerve coming near Brighton alone in daylight.

The aircraft was always far away, and soon the noise faded away into the distance. Later on there was another. This one, too, was far away, but there was the same deep undulating bass and the high singing tenor, and there was no mistaking it. He had heard that noise every day during the battle.

He was puzzled. There was a bell on the table by the bed. He reached out his hand and rang it. He heard the noise of footsteps down the corridor, and the nurse came in.

"Nurse, what were those airplanes?"

"I'm sure I don't know. I didn't hear them. Probably fighters or bombers. I expect they were returning from France. Why, what's the matter?"

"They were JU-88's. I'm sure they were JU-88's. I know the sound of the engines. There were two of them. What were they doing over here?"

The nurse came up to the side of his bed and began to straighten out the sheets and tuck them in under the mattress.

"Gracious me, what things you imagine. You mustn't worry about a thing like that. Would you like me to get you something to read?"

"No, thank you."

She patted his pillow and brushed back the hair from his forehead with her hand.

"They never come over in daylight any longer. You know that. They were probably Lancasters or Flying Fortresses."

"Nurse."

"Yes."

"Could I have a cigarette?"

"Why certainly you can."

She went out and came back almost at once with a packet of Players and some matches. She handed one to him and when he had put it in his mouth, she struck a match and lit it.

"If you want me again," she said, "just ring the bell," and she went out.

Once toward evening he heard the noise of another aircraft. It was far away, but even so he knew that it was a single-engined machine. But he could not place it. It was going fast; he could tell that. But it wasn't a Spit, and it wasn't a Hurricane Fighter Air Craft. It did not sound like an American engine either. They make more noise. He did not know what it was, and it worried him greatly. Perhaps I am very ill, he thought. Perhaps I am imagining things. Perhaps I am a little delirious. I simply do not know what to think.

That evening the nurse came in with a basin of hot water and began to wash him.

"Well," she said, "I hope you don't still think that we're being bombed."

She had taken off his pajama top and was soaping his right arm with a flannel. He did not answer.

She rinsed the flannel in the water, rubbed more soap on it, and began to wash his chest.

"You're looking fine this evening," she said. "They operated on you as soon as you came in. They did a marvelous job. You'll be all right. I've got a brother in the RAF," she added. "Flying bombers."

He said, "I went to school in Brighton."

She looked up quickly. "Well, that's fine," she said. "I expect you'll know some people in the town."

"Yes," he said, "I know quite a few."

She had finished washing his chest and arms, and now she turned back the bedclothes, so that his left leg was uncovered. She did it in such a way that his bandaged stump remained under the sheets. She undid the cord of his pajama trousers and took them off. There was no trouble because they had cut off the right trouser leg, so that it could not interfere with the bandages. She began to wash his left leg and the rest of his body. This was the first time he had had a bed bath, and he was embarrassed. She laid a towel under his leg, and she was washing his foot with the flannel. She said, "This wretched soap won't lather at all. It's the water. It's as hard as nails."

He said, "None of the soap is very good now and, of course, with hard water it's hopeless." As he said it he remembered something. He remembered the baths which he used to take at school in Brighton, in the long stone-floored bathroom which had four baths in a room. He remembered how the water was so soft that you had to take a shower afterwards to get all the soap off your body, and he remembered how the foam used to float on the surface of the water, so that you could not see your legs underneath. He remembered that sometimes they were given calcium tablets because the school doctor used to say that soft water was bad for the teeth.

"In Brighton," he said, "the water isn't . . ."

He did not finish the sentence. Something had occurred to him; something so fantastic and absurd that for a moment he felt like telling the nurse about it and having a good laugh.

She looked up. "The water isn't what?" she said.

"Nothing," he answered. "I was dreaming.

She rinsed the flannel in the basin, wiped the soap off his leg, and dried him with a towel.

"It's nice to be washed," he said. "I feel better." He was feeling his face with his hands. "I need a shave."

"We'll do that tomorrow," she said. "Perhaps you can do it yourself then."

That night he could not sleep. He lay awake thinking of the Junkers 88's and of the hardness of the water. He could think of nothing else. They were JU-88's, he said to himself. I know they were. And yet it is not possible, because they would not be flying around so low over here in broad daylight. I know that it is true, and yet I know that it is impossible. Perhaps I am ill. Perhaps I am behaving like a fool and do not know what I am doing or saying. Perhaps I am delirious. For a long time he lay awake thinking these things, and once he sat up in bed and said aloud, "I will prove that I am not crazy. I will make a little speech about something complicated and intellectual. I will talk about what to do with Germany after the war." But before he had time to begin, he was asleep.

He woke just as the first light of day was showing through the slit in the curtains over the window. The room was still dark, but he could tell that it was already beginning to get light outside. He lay looking at the grey light which was showing through the slit in the curtain, and as he lay there he remembered the day before. He remembered the Junkers 88's and the hardness of the water; he remembered the large pleasant nurse and the kind doctor, and now the small grain of doubt took root in his mind and it began to grow.

He looked around the room. The nurse had taken the roses out the night before, and there was nothing except the table with a packet of cigarettes, a box of matches and an ash tray. Otherwise, it was bare. It was no longer warm or friendly. It was not even comfortable. It was cold and empty and very quiet.

Slowly the grain of doubt grew, and with it came fear, a light, dancing fear that warned but did not frighten; the kind of fear that one gets not because one is afraid, but because one feels that there is something wrong. Quickly the doubt and the fear grew so that he became restless and angry, and when he touched his forehead with his hand, he found that it was damp with sweat. He knew then that he must do something; that he must find some way of proving to himself that he was either right or wrong, and he looked up and saw again the window and the green curtains. From where he lay, that window was right in front of him, but it was fully ten yards away. Somehow he must reach it and look out. The idea became an obsession with him, and soon he could think of nothing except the window. But what about his leg? He put his hand underneath the bedclothes and felt the thick bandaged stump which was all that was left on the right-hand side. It seemed all right. It didn't hurt. But it would not be easy.

He sat up. Then he pushed the bedclothes aside and put his left leg on the floor. Slowly, carefully, he swung his body over until he had both hands on the floor as well; and then he was out of bed, kneeling on the carpet. He looked at the stump. It was very short and thick, covered with bandages. It was beginning to hurt and he could feel it throbbing. He wanted to collapse, lie down on the carpet and do nothing, but he knew that he must go on.

With two arms and one leg, he crawled over towards the window. He would reach forward as far as he could with his arms, then he would give a little jump and slide his left leg along after them. Each time he did, it jarred his wound so that he gave a soft grunt of pain, but he continued to crawl across the floor on two hands and one knee. When he got to the window he reached up, and one at a time he placed both hands on the sill. Slowly he raised himself up until he was standing on his left leg. Then quickly he pushed aside the curtains and looked out.

He saw a small house with a gray tiled roof standing alone beside a narrow lane, and immediately behind it there was a plowed field. In front of the house there was an untidy garden, and there was a green hedge separating the garden from the lane. He was looking at the hedge when he saw the sign. It was just a piece of board nailed to the top of a short pole, and because the hedge had not been trimmed for a long time, the branches had grown out around the sign so that it seemed almost as though it had been placed in the middle of the hedge. There was something written on the board with white paint, and he pressed his head against the glass of the window, trying to read what it said. The first letter was a G, he could see that. The second was an A, and the third was an R. One after another he managed to see what the letters were. There were three words, and slowly he spelled the letters out aloud to himself as he managed to read them. G-A-R-D-E A-U C-H-I-E-N. Garde au chien. That is what it said.

He stood there balancing on one leg and holding tightly to the edges of the window sill with his hands, staring at the sign and at the whitewashed lettering of the words. For a moment he could think of nothing at all. He stood there looking at the sign, repeating the words over and over to himself, and then slowly he began to realize the full meaning of the thing. He looked up at the cottage and at the plowed field. He looked at the small orchard on the left of the cottage and he looked at the green countryside beyond. "So this is France," he said. "I am France."

Now the throbbing in his right thigh was very great. It felt as though someone was pounding the end of his stump with a hammer, and suddenly the pain became so intense that it affected his head and for a moment he thought he was going to fall. Quickly he knelt down again, crawled back to the bed and hoisted himself in. He pulled the bedclothes over himself and lay back on the pillow, exhausted. He could still think of nothing at all except the small sign by the hedge, and the plowed field and the orchard. It was the words on the sign that he could not forget.

It was some time before the nurse came in. She came carrying a basin of hot water and she said, "Good morning, how are you today?"

He said, "Good morning, nurse."

The pain was still great under the bandages, but he did not wish to tell this woman anything. He looked at her as she busied herself with getting the washing things ready. He looked at her more carefully now. Her hair was very fair. She was tall and big-boned, and her face seemed pleasant. But there was something a little uneasy about her eyes. They were never still. They never looked at anything for more than a moment and they moved too quickly from one place to another in the room. There was something about her movements also. They were too sharp and nervous to go well with the casual manner in which she spoke.

She set down the basin, took off his pajama top and began to wash him.

"Did you sleep well?"

"Yes."

"Good," she said. She was washing his arms and his chest.

"I believe there's someone coming down to see you from the Air Ministry after breakfast," she went on. "They want a report or something. I expect you know all about it. How you got shot down and all that. I won't let him stay long, so don't worry."

He did not answer. She finished washing him, and gave him a toothbrush and some tooth powder. He brushed his teeth, rinsed his mouth and spat the water out into the basin.

Later she brought him his breakfast on a tray, but he did not want to eat. He was still feeling weak and sick, and he wished only to lie still and think about what had happened. And there was a sentence running through his head. It was a sentence which Johnny, the Intelligence Officer of his squadron, always repeated to the pilots every day before they went out. He could see Johnny now, leaning against the wall of the dispersal hut with his pipe in his hand, saying, "And if they get you, don't forget, just your name, rank and number. Nothing else. For God's sake, say nothing else."

"There you are," she said as she put the tray on his lap. "I've got you an egg. Can you manage all right?"

"Yes."

She stood beside the bed. "Are you feeling all right?"

"Yes."

"Good. If you want another egg I might be able to get you one."

"This is all right."

"Well, just ring the bell if you want any more." And she went out.

He had just finished eating, when the nurse came in again.

She said, "Wing Commander Roberts is here. I've told him that he can only stay for a few minutes."

She beckoned with her hand and the Wing Commander came in.

"Sorry to bother you like this," he said.

He was an ordinary RAF officer, dressed in a uniform which was a little shabby, and he wore wings and aDFC. He was fairly tall and thin with plenty of black hair. His teeth, which were irregular and widely spaced, stuck out a little even when he closed his mouth. As he spoke he took a printed form and a pencil from his pocket, and he pulled up a chair and sat down.

"How are you feeling?"

There was no answer.

"Tough luck about your leg. I know how you feel. I hear you put up a fine show before they got you."

The man in the bed was lying quite still, watching the man in the chair.

The man in the chair said, "Well, let's get this stuff over. I'm afraid you'll have to answer a few questions so that I can fill in this combat report. Let me see now, first of all, what was your squadron?"

The man in the bed did not move. He looked straight at the Wing Commander and he said, "My name is Peter Williamson. My rank is Squadron Leader and my number is nine seven two four five seven."

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