Conversation on Immortality

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Conversation on Immortality

Page 3

S. I must confess that I am unable to draw comfort from such comparisons. They also seem to me to be insulting to the nation that has, at least, given us refuge. You cannot measure a civilized people by the standards of a murderous or lunatic people and then say that this one is 'better'. My measure is the standard of a decent humanity, which is recognized here, and by that standard, it is miserable. Besides, I must tell you quite frankly that I feel no moral obligation whatsoever to be courageous. I doubt whether courage in war deserves the glorification that it always gets. Perhaps it is one of the main causes of anarchy in the social order of mankind, perhaps it would be better if men were to fear more for their precious lives.

D. Stop. Stop. Let me tell you bluntly, that is downright dishonesty in these times...

B. Quiet, lads, quiet...

D. Be glad that there are brave men in this world, willing to go up in a night fighter and do the job for you.

L. Stop quarrelling.. Courage is very largely a physical quality.

D. No, no, it is not - it depends on your will and on your discipline - your mental training; and every coward...

B. Take it easy. Don't get nervous. We will not remain here very long. That much can, I think, be understood from the welcoming speech of the Commander. He said that this was a transit camp. That does not alter the fact that I, for one, don't know how to get a night's rest on these wooden bunks for the time that we are here. Do you think one of the younger fellows who may be a better sleeper might exchange his straw mattress for this instrument of torture? I was not quick enough to get one yesterday.

K. I'll ask that giant youth, Meyer, who seems to be overjoyed with the internment. He is longing for inconveniences of all kinds because they give him a feeling of adventure. He's over there, next to a bunch of other like-minded youngsters.

K. Amazing folk, these hobbledehoys. Everything is fun for them.

K. Hobbledehoyhood is a very useful institution of Nature. Wars would hardly be possible without it, or at least much more difficult. Anyhow, I'll ask Meyer.

K. gets us and goes to the opposite corner.

S. Listen.

K. turns. At that moment the sirens are heard sounding an air raid warning. The light immediately goes out. The noise of talking dies down to a whisper and stops. It must be realized that the average mental attitude of people to air warfare is still pre-Blitz, without any experience. A sense of proportion has not yet developed.

B. (to K.) Stay here.

Voice of Dr W. Everybody to his bed, please. And leave all the gangways, especially those to the door, free.

Murmur of conversation, interrupted by occasional demonstrative jokes and laughter followed by angry demands for silence from other quarters in the hall. Sounds of guns preceded by flashes visible through the huge, unscreened windows.

L. What's the time?

K. A quarter to ten.