In framing an ideal we may assume what we wish, but should avoid
by Aldous Huxley
"Attention," a voice began to call, and it was as though an oboe had
suddenly become articulate. "Attention," it repeated in the same high, nasal
Lying there like a corpse in the dead leaves, his hair matted, his face
grotesquely smudged and bruised, his clothes in rags and muddy, Will
Farnaby awoke with a start. Molly had called him. Time to get up. Time to
get dressed. Mustn't be late at the office.
"Thank you, darling," he said and sat up. A sharp pain stabbed at his
right knee and there were other kinds of pain in his back, his arms, his
"Attention," the voice insisted without the slightest change of tone.
Leaning on one elbow, Will looked about him and saw with bewilderment,
not the gray wallpaper and yellow curtains of his London bedroom, but a
glade among trees and the long shadows and slanting lights of early
morning in a forest.
Why did she say, "Attention"?
"Attention. Attention," the voice insisted—how strangely, how
"Molly?" he questioned. "Molly?"
The name seemed to open a window inside his head. Suddenly, with
that horribly familiar sense of guilt at the pit of the stomach, he smelt
formaldehyde, he saw the small brisk nurse hurrying ahead of him along
the green corridor, heard the dry creaking of her starched clothes. "Number
fifty-five," she was saying, and then halted, opened a white door. He
entered and there, on a high white bed, was Molly. Molly with bandages
covering half her face and the mouth hanging cavernously open. "Molly,"
he had called, "Molly ..." His voice had broken, and he was crying, was
imploring now, "My darling!" There was no answer. Through the gaping
mouth the quick shallow breaths came noisily, again, again. "My darling,
my darling . . ." And then suddenly the hand he was holding came to life for
a moment. Then was still again.
"It's me," he said, "it's Will."
Once more the fingers stirred. S