Lord of the flies, p.14
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       Lord of the Flies, p.14

           William Golding
 
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  Piggy took off his glasses, deeply troubled.

  "I dunno, Ralph. We just got to go on, that's all. That's what grownups would do."

  Ralph, having begun the business of unburdening himself, continued.

  "Piggy, what's wrong?"

  Piggy looked at him in astonishment.

  "Do you mean the―?"

  "No, not it... I mean... what makes things break up like they do?"

  Piggy rubbed his glasses slowly and thought. When he understood how far Ralph had gone toward accepting him he flushed pinkly with pride.

  "I dunno, Ralph. I expect it's him."

  "Jack?"

  "Jack." A taboo was evolving round that word too.

  Ralph nodded solemnly.

  "Yes," he said, "I suppose it must be."

  The forest near them burst into uproar. Demoniac figures with faces of white and red and green rushed out howling, so that the littluns fled screaming. Out of the corner of his eye, Ralph saw Piggy running. Two figures rushed at the fire and he prepared to defend himself but they grabbed half-burnt branches and raced away along the beach. The three others stood still, watching Ralph; and he saw that the tallest of them, stark naked save for paint and a belt, was Jack.

  Ralph had his breath back and spoke.

  "Well?"

  Jack ignored him, lifted his spear and began to shout.

  "Listen all of you. Me and my hunters, we're living along the beach by a flat rock. We hunt and feast and have fun. If you want to join my tribe come and see us. Perhaps I'll let you join. Perhaps not."

  He paused and looked round. He was safe from shame or self-consciousness behind the mask of his paint and could look at each of them in turn. Ralph was kneeling by the remains of the fire like a sprinter at his mark and his face was half-hidden by hair and smut. Samneric peered together round a palm tree at the edge of the forest. A littlun howled, creased and crimson, by the bathing pool and Piggy stood on the platform, the white conch gripped in his hands.

  "Tonight we're having a feast. We've killed a pig and we've got meat. You can come and eat with us if you like."

  Up in the cloud canyons the thunder boomed again. Jack and the two anonymous savages with him swayed, looking up, and then recovered. The littlun went on howling. Jack was waiting for something. He whispered urgently to the others.

  "Go on―now!"

  The two savages murmured. Jack spoke sharply.

  "Go on!"

  The two savages looked at each other, raised their spears together and spoke in time.

  "The Chief has spoken."

  Then the three of them turned and trotted away. Presently Ralph rose to his feet, looking at the place where the savages had vanished. Samneric came, talking in an awed whisper.

  "I thought it was―"

  "―and I was―"

  "―scared."

  Piggy stood above them on the platform, still holding the conch.

  "That was Jack and Maurice and Robert," said Ralph. "Aren't they having fun?"

  "I thought I was going to have asthma."

  "Sucks to your ass-mar."

  "When I saw Jack I was sure he'd go for the conch. Can't think why."

  The group of boys looked at the white shell with affectionate respect. Piggy placed it in Ralph's hand and the littluns, seeing the familiar symbol, started to come back.

  "Not here."

  He turned toward the platform, feeling the need for ritual. First went Ralph, the white conch cradled, then Piggy very grave, then the twins, then the littluns and the others.

  "Sit down all of you. They raided us for fire. They're having fun. But the―"

  Ralph was puzzled by the shutter that flickered in his brain. There was something he wanted to say; then the shutter had come down.

  "But the―"

  They were regarding him gravely, not yet troubled by any doubts about his sufficiency. Ralph pushed the idiot hair out of his eyes and looked at Piggy.

  "But the... oh... the fire! Of course, the fire!"

  He started to laugh, then stopped and became fluent instead.

  "The fire's the most important thing. Without the fire we can't be rescued. I'd like to put on war-paint and be a savage. But we must keep the fire burning. The fire's the most important thing on the island, because, because―"

  He paused again and the silence became full of doubt and wonder.

  Piggy whispered urgently. "Rescue."

  "Oh yes. Without the fire we can't be rescued. So we must stay by the fire and make smoke."

  When he stopped no one said anything. After the many brilliant speeches that had been made on this very spot Ralph's remarks seemed lame, even to the littluns.

  At last Bill held out his hands for the conch.

  "Now we can't have the fire up there―because we can't have the fire up there―we need more people to keep it going. Let's go to this feast and tell them the fire's hard on the rest of us. And the hunting and all that, being savages I mean―it must be jolly good fun."

  Samneric took the conch.

  "That must be fun like Bill says―and as he's invited us―"

  "―to a feast―"

  "―meat―"

  "―crackling―"

  "―I could do with some meat―"

  Ralph held up his hand. "Why shouldn't we get our own meat?" The twins looked at each other. Bill answered. "We don't want to go in the jungle." Ralph grimaced. "He―you know―goes."

  "He's a hunter. They're all hunters. That's different." No one spoke for a moment, then Piggy muttered to the sand. "Meat―"

  The littluns sat, solemnly thinking of meat, and dribbling. Overhead the cannon boomed again and the dry palm fronds clattered in a sudden gust of hot wind.

  "You are a silly little boy," said the Lord of the Flies, "just an ignorant, silly little boy."

  Simon moved his swollen tongue but said nothing.

  "Don't you agree?" said the Lord of the Flies. "Aren't you just a silly little boy?"

  Simon answered him in the same silent voice.

  "Well then," said the Lord of the Flies, "you'd better run off and play with the others. They think you're batty. You don't want Ralph to think you're batty, do you? You like Ralph a lot, don't you? And Piggy, and Jack?"

  Simon's head was tilted slightly up. His eyes could not break away and the Lord of the Flies hung in space before him.

  "What are you doing out here all alone? Aren't you afraid of me?"

  Simon shook.

  "There isn't anyone to help you. Only me. And I'm the Beast."

  Simon's mouth labored, brought forth audible words.

  "Pig's head on a stick."

  "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!" said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. "You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go? Why things are what they are?"

  The laughter shivered again.

  "Come now," said the Lord of the Flies. "Get back to the others and we'll forget the whole thing."

  Simon's head wobbled. His eyes were half closed as though he were imitating the obscene thing on the stick. He knew that one of his times was coming on. The Lord of the Flies was expanding like a balloon.

  "This is ridiculous. You know perfectly well you'll only meet me down there―so don't try to escape!"

  Simon's body was arched and stiff. The Lord of the Flies spoke in the voice of a schoolmaster.

  "This has gone quite far enough. My poor, misguided child, do you think you know better than I do?"

  There was a pause.

  "I'm warning you. I'm going to get angry. D'you see? You're not wanted. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island. Understand? We are going to have fun on this island! So don't try it on, my poor misguided boy, or else―"

  Simon found he was looking into a vast mouth. There was blackness within, a blackness that spread.

  "―Or else,"
said the Lord of the Flies, "we shall do you? See? Jack and Roger and Maurice and Robert and Bill and Piggy and Ralph. Do you. See?"

  Simon was inside the mouth. He fell down and lost consciousness.

  CHAPTER NINE

  A View to a Death

  Over the island the build-up of clouds continued. A steady current of heated air rose all day from the mountain and was thrust to ten thousand feet; revolving masses of gas piled up the static until the air was ready to explode. By early evening the sun had gone and a brassy glare had taken the place of clear daylight. Even the air that pushed in from the sea was hot and held no refreshment. Colors drained from water and trees and pink surfaces of rock, and the white and brown clouds brooded. Nothing prospered but the flies who blackened their lord and made the spilt guts look like a heap of glistening coal. Even when the vessel broke in Simon's nose and the blood gushed out they left him alone, preferring the pig's high flavor.

  With the running of the blood Simon's fit passed into the weariness of sleep. He lay in the mat of creepers while the evening advanced and the cannon continued to play. At last he woke and saw dimly the dark earth close by his cheek. Still he did not move but lay there, his face sideways on the earth, his eyes looking dully before him. Then he turned over, drew his feet under him and laid hold of the creepers to pull himself up. When the creepers shook the flies exploded from the guts with a vicious note and clamped back on again. Simon got to his feet. The light was unearthly. The Lord of the Flies hung on his stick like a black ball.

  Simon spoke aloud to the clearing.

  "What else is there to do?"

  Nothing replied. Simon turned away from the open space and crawled through the creepers till he was in the dusk of the forest. He walked drearily between the trunks, his face empty of expression, and the blood was dry round his mouth and chin. Only sometimes as he lifted the ropes of creeper aside and chose his direction from the trend of the land, he mouthed words that did not reach the air.

  Presently the creepers festooned the trees less frequently and there was a scatter of pearly light from the sky down through the trees. This was the backbone of the island, the slightly higher land that lay beneath the mountain where the forest was no longer deep jungle. Here there were wide spaces interspersed with thickets and huge trees and the trend of the ground led him up as the forest opened. He pushed on, staggering sometimes with his weariness but never stopping. The usual brightness was gone from his eyes and he walked with a sort of glum determination like an old man.

  A buffet of wind made him stagger and he saw that he was out in the open, on rock, under a brassy sky. He found his legs were weak and his tongue gave him pain all the time. When the wind reached the mountain-top he could see something happen, a flicker of blue stuff against brown clouds. He pushed himself forward and the wind came again, stronger now, cuffing the forest heads till they ducked and roared. Simon saw a humped thing suddenly sit up on the top and look down at him. He hid his face, and toiled on.

  The flies had found the figure too. The life-like movement would scare them off for a moment so that they made a dark cloud round the head. Then as the blue material of the parachute collapsed the corpulent figure would bow forward, sighing, and the flies settle once more.

  Simon felt his knees smack the rock. He crawled forward and soon he understood. The tangle of lines showed him the mechanics of this parody; he examined the white nasal bones, the teeth, the colors of corruption. He saw how pitilessly the layers of rubber and canvas held together the poor body that should be rotting away. Then the wind blew again and the figure lifted, bowed, and breathed foully at him. Simon knelt on all fours and was sick till his stomach was empty. Then he took the lines in his hands; he freed them from the rocks and the figure from the wind's indignity.

  At last he turned away and looked down at the beaches. The fire by the platform appeared to be out, or at least making no smoke. Further along the beach, beyond the little river and near a great slab of rock, a thin trickle of smoke was climbing into the sky. Simon, forgetful of the flies, shaded his eyes with both hands and peered at the smoke. Even at that distance it was possible to see that most of the boys―perhaps all of the boys―were there. So they had shifted camp then, away from the beast. As Simon thought this, he turned to the poor broken thing that sat stinking by his side. The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the others as soon as possible. He started down the mountain and his legs gave beneath him. Even with great care the best he could do was a stagger.

  "Bathing," said Ralph, "that's the only thing to do." Piggy was inspecting the looming-sky through his glass. "I don't like them clouds. Remember how it rained just after we landed?"

  "Going to rain again."

  Ralph dived into the pool. A couple of littluns were playing at the edge, trying to extract comfort from a wetness warmer than blood. Piggy took off his glasses, stepped primly into the water and then put them on again. Ralph came to the surface and squirted a jet of water at him.

  "Mind my specs," said Piggy. "If I get water on the glass I got to get out and clean 'em."

  Ralph squirted again and missed. He laughed at Piggy, expecting him to retire meekly as usual and in pained silence. Instead, Piggy beat the water with his hands.

  "Stop it!" he shouted. "D'you hear?"

  Furiously he drove the water into Ralph's face.

  "All right, all right," said Ralph. "Keep your hair on."

  Piggy stopped beating the water.

  "I got a pain in my head. I wish the air was cooler."

  "I wish the rain would come."

  "I wish we could go home."

  Piggy lay back against the sloping sand side of the pool. His stomach protruded and the water dried on it. Ralph squinted up at the sky. One could guess at the movement of the sun by the progress of a light patch among the clouds. He knelt in the water and looked round.

  "Where's everybody?"

  Piggy sat up.

  "P'raps they're lying in the shelter."

  "Where's Samneric?"

  "And Bill?"

  Piggy pointed beyond the platform.

  "That's where they've gone. Jack's party."

  "Let them go," said Ralph, uneasily, "I don't care."

  "Just for some meat―"

  "And for hunting," said Ralph, wisely, "and for pretending to be a tribe, and putting on war-paint."

  Piggy stirred the sand under water and did not look at Ralph.

  "P'raps we ought to go too." Ralph looked at him quickly and Piggy blushed. "I mean―to make sure nothing happens." Ralph squirted water again.

  Long before Ralph and Piggy came up with Jack's lot, they could hear the party. There was a stretch of grass in a place where the palms left a wide band of turf between the forest and the shore. Just one step down from the edge of the turf was the white, blown sand of above high water, warm, dry, trodden. Below that again was a rock that stretched away toward the lagoon. Beyond was a short stretch of sand and then the edge of the water. A fire burned on the rock and fat dripped from the roasting pigmeat into the invisible flames. All the boys of the island, except Piggy, Ralph, Simon, and the two tending the pig, were grouped on the turf. They were laughing, singing, lying, squatting, or standing on the grass, holding food in their hands. But to judge by the greasy faces, the meat eating was almost done; and some held coconut shells in their hands and were drinking from them. Before the party had started a great log had been dragged into the center of the lawn and Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol. There were piles of meat on green leaves near him, and fruit, and coconut shells full of drink.

  Piggy and Ralph came to the edge of the grassy platform; and the boys, as they noticed them, fell silent one by one till only the boy next to Jack was talking. Then the silence intruded even there and Jack turned where he sat. For a time he looked at them and the crackle of the fire was the loudest noise over the droning of the reef. Ralph looked away; and Sam, thinking that Ralph had turned to him accusing
ly, put down his gnawed bone with a nervous giggle. Ralph took an uncertain step, pointed to a palm tree, and whispered something inaudible to Piggy; and they both giggled like Sam. Lifting his feet high out of the sand, Ralph started to stroll past. Piggy tried to whistle.

  At this moment the boys who were cooking at the fire suddenly hauled off a great chunk of meat and ran with it toward the grass. They bumped Piggy, who was burnt, and yelled and danced. Immediately, Ralph and the crowd of boys were united and relieved by a storm of laughter. Piggy once more was the center of social derision so that everyone felt cheerful and normal.

  Jack stood up and waved his spear.

  "Take them some meat."

  The boys with the spit gave Ralph and Piggy each a succulent chunk. They took the gift, dribbling. So they stood and ate beneath a sky of thunderous brass that rang with the storm-coming.

  Jack waved his spear again.

  "Has everybody eaten as much as they want?"

  There was still food left, sizzling on the wooden spits, heaped on the green platters. Betrayed by his stomach, Piggy threw a picked bone down on the beach and stooped for more.

  Jack spoke again, impatiently.

  "Has everybody eaten as much as they want?"

  His tone conveyed a warning, given out of the pride of ownership, and the boys ate faster while there was still time. Seeing there was no immediate likelihood of a pause, Jack rose from the log that was his throne and sauntered to the edge of the grass. He looked down from behind his paint at Ralph and Piggy. They moved a little farther off over the sand and Ralph watched the fire as he ate. He noticed, without understanding, how the flames were visible now against the dull light. Evening was come, not with calm beauty but with the threat of violence.

  Jack spoke.

  "Give me a drink."

  Henry brought him a shell and he drank, watching Piggy and Ralph over the jagged rim. Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape.

  "All sit down."

  The boys ranged themselves in rows on the grass before him but Ralph and Piggy stayed a foot lower, standing on the soft sand. Jack ignored them for the moment, turned his mask down to the seated boys and pointed at them with the spear.

 
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