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Political Future Fiction - Sample of 'the Inheritors' + Notes

Political Future Fiction - Sample of 'the Inheritors' + Notes

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Sample pages from 'The Inheritors' by Joseph Conrad and Ford Maddx Hueffer (Ford) from Political Future Fiction, published by Pickering & Chatto
Sample pages from 'The Inheritors' by Joseph Conrad and Ford Maddx Hueffer (Ford) from Political Future Fiction, published by Pickering & Chatto

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Published by: Pickering and Chatto on Feb 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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– 3 –
“IDEAS,” she said. “Oh, as or ideas –”“Well?” I hazarded, “as or ideas –?” We went through the old gateway and I cast a glance over my shoulder. Tenoon sun was shining over the masonry, over the little saints’ e gies, over thelittle retted canopies, the grime and the white streaks o bird-dropping.“Tere,” I said, pointing toward it, “doesn’t that suggest something to you?”She made a motion with her head – hal negative, hal contemptuous.“But,” I stuttered, “the associations – the ideas – the historical ideas –”She said nothing.“You Americans,” I began, but her smile stopped me. It was as i she wereamused at the utterances o an old lady shocked by the habits o the daughters o the day. It was the smile o a person who is condent o superseding one atally.In conversations o any length one o the parties assumes the superiority –superiority o rank, intellectual or social. In this conversation she, i she did notattain to tacitly acknowledged temperamental superiority, seemed at least toclaim it, to have no doubt as to its ultimate according. I was unused to this. I wasa talker, proud o my conversational powers.I had looked at her beore; now I cast a sideways, critical glance at her. I cameout o my moodiness to wonder what type this was. She had good hair, goodeyes, and some charm. Yes. And something besides – a something – a something that was not an attribute o her beauty. Te modeling o her ace was so perectand so delicate as to produce an efect o transparency, yet there was no sugges-tion o railness; her glance had an extraordinary strength o lie. Her hair wasair and gleaming, her cheeks coloured as i a warm light had allen on themrom somewhere. She was amiliar till it occurred to you that she was strange.“Which way are you going?” she asked.“I am going to walk to Dover,” I answered.“And I may come with you?”
 Political Future Fiction, Volume 3
I looked at her – intent on divining her in that one glance. It was o courseimpossible. “Tere will be time or analysis,” I thought.“Te roads are ree to all,” I said. “You are not an American?”She shook her head. No. She was not an Australian either, she came romnone o the British colonies.“You are not English,” I a rmed. “You speak too well.” I was piqued. She didnot answer. She smiled again and I grew angry. In the cathedral she had smiledat the vergers commendation o particularly abominable restorations,
and thatsmile had drawn me toward her, had emboldened me to ofer deerential andcondemnatory remarks as to the plaster-o-Paris mouldings. You know how oneaddresses a young lady who is obviously capable o taking care o hersel. Tat was how I had come across her. She had smiled at the gabble o the cathedralguide as he showed the obsessed troop, o which we had ormed units, the placeo martyrdom o Blessed Tomas,
and her smile had had just that quality o superseder’s contempt. It had pleased me then; but, now that she smiled thus past me – it was not quite at me – in the crooked highways o the town, I wasirritated. Aer all, I was somebody; I was not a cathedral verger. I had a ancy ormysel in those days – a ancy that solitude and brooding had crystallised into ahabit o mind. I was a writer with high – with the highest – ideals. I had with-drawn mysel rom the world, lived isolated, hidden in the country-side, lived ashermits do, on the hope o one day doing something – o putting greatness on paper. She suddenly athomed my thoughts: “You write,” she a rmed. I askedhow she knew, wondered what she had read o mine – there was so little.Are you a popular author?” she asked.“Alas, no!” I answered. “You must know that.”“You would like to be?”“We should all o us like,” I answered; “though it is true some o us protestthat we aim or higher things.”“I see,” she said, musingly. As ar as I could tell she was coming to some deci-sion. With an instinctive dislike to any such proceeding as regarded mysel, Itried to cut across her unknown thoughts.“But, really –” I said, “I am quite a commonplace topic. Let us talk about yoursel. Where do you come rom?”It occurred to me again that I was intensely unacquainted with her type.Here was the same smile – as ar as I could see, exactly the same smile. Tere arene shades in smiles as in laughs, as in tones o voice. I seemed unable to holdmy tongue.“Where do you come rom?” I asked. “You must belong to one o the new nations. You are a oreigner, I’ll swear, because you have such a ne contempt orus. You irritate me so that you might almost be a Prussian.
But it is obvious that you are o a new nation that is beginning to nd itsel.
Conrad and Huefer, Te Inheritors
“Oh, we are to inherit the earth,
i that is what you mean,” she said.“Te phrase is comprehensive,” I said. I was determined not to give mysel away. “Where in the world do you come rom?” I repeated. Te question, I wasquite conscious, would have su ced, but in the hope, I suppose, o establishing my intellectual superiority, I continued:“You know, air play’s a jewel.
Now I’m quite willing to give you inormationas to mysel. I have already told you the essentials – you ought to tell me some-thing. It would only be air play.“Why should there be any air play?” she asked.“What have you to say against that?” I said. “Do you not number it among  your national characteristics?”“You really wish to know where I come rom?”I expressed light-hearted acquiescence.“Listen,” she said, and uttered some sounds. I elt a kind o unholy emotion.It had come like a sudden, suddenly hushed, intense gust o wind through abreathless day. “What – what!” I cried.“I said I inhabit the Fourth Dimension.”
I recovered my equanimity with the thought that I had been visited by somestroke o an obscure and unimportant physical kind.“I think we must have been climbing the hill too ast or me,” I said, “I havenot been very well. I missed what you said.” I was certainly out o breath.“I said I inhabit the Fourth Dimension,” she repeated with admirable gravity.“Oh, come,” I expostulated, “this is playing it rather low down. You walk aconvalescent out o breath and then propound riddles to him.”I was recovering my breath, and, with it, my inclination to expand. Instead,I looked at her. I was beginning to understand. It was obvious enough that she was a oreigner in a strange land,
in a land that brought out her national char-acteristics. She must be o some race, perhaps Semitic, perhaps Sclav – o someincomprehensible race.
I had never seen a Circassian, and there used to be atradition that Circassian women were beautiul, were air-skinned, and so on.
  What was repelling in her was accounted or by this diference in national pointo view. One is, aer all, not so very remote rom the horse. What one does notunderstand one shies at – nds sinister, in act. And she struck me as sinister.“You won’t tell me who you are?” I said.“I have done so,” she answered.“I you expect me to believe that you inhabit a mathematical monstrosity, you are mistaken. You are, really.She turned round and pointed at the city.“Look!” she said. We had climbed the western hill. Below our eet, beneath a sky that the windhad swept clean o clouds, was the valley; a broad bowl, shallow, lled with the

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