17 July 2011

FIFTY-FOURTH

A. "Philip was—is—not a type. He is a most curious and complicated person. We said he was wet and held him in contempt; but he was far more dangerous than any of us. I was a prince and Johnny was a prince. We had rival gangs and the issue of battle always hung in doubt between us. I think with rueful amusement of those two barbaric chieftains, so innocent and simple, who dismissed Philip as a wet. Philip is a living example of natural selection. He was as fitted to survive in this modern world as a tapeworm in an intestine. I was a prince and so was Johnny. Philip debated with himself and chose me. I thought he had become my henchman but really he was my Machiavelli. With infinite care and a hysterical providence for his own safety, Philip became my shadow. Living near the toughest of the lot he was protected. Since he was so close, I could not run after him and my hunting reflexes were not triggered off. Timorous, cruel, needing company yet fearing it, weak of flesh yet fleet of fear, clever, complex, never a child—he was my burden, my ape, my flatterer. He was, perhaps, to me, something of what I had been to Evie. He listened and pretended to believe. I was not quite the fantasist that Evie was; my stories were excess of life, not compensation. Secret societies, exploration, detectives, Sexton Blake—"with a roar the huge car lept forward"—he pretended to believe them all and wove himself nearer and round me. The fists and the glory were mine; but I was his fool, his clay. He might be bad at fighting but he knew something that none of the rest of us knew. He knew about people." — Golding, Free Fall, pp.48-49 in my edition

B. This is actually the Fifty-Third entry, since through an oversight I never wrote a Fiftieth. This is, of course, simply how these things work. No attempt at a correction will be made.