“Isn't that reality?” says the botanist, almost triumphantly, and leaves me aghast at his triumph.
“That!” I say belatedly. “It's a thing in a nightmare!”
He shakes his head and smiles—exasperatingly.
I perceive quite abruptly that the botanist and I have reached the limits of our intercourse.
“The world dreams things like that,” I say, “because it suffers from an indigestion of such people as you.”
His low-toned self-complacency, like the faded banner of an obstinate fort, still flies unconquered. And you know, he's not even a happy man with it all!
For ten seconds or more I am furiously seeking in my mind for a word, for a term of abuse, for one compendious verbal missile that shall smash this man for ever. It has to express total inadequacy of imagination and will, spiritual anæmia, dull respectability, gross sentimentality, a cultivated pettiness of heart… .
That word will not come. But no other word will do. Indeed the word does not exist. There is nothing with sufficient vituperative concentration for this moral and intellectual stupidity of educated people… .
“Er―” he begins.
No! I can't endure him.
With a passionate rapidity of movement, I leave his side, dart between a carriage and a van, duck under the head of a cab-horse, and board a 'bus going westward somewhere—but anyhow, going in exactly the reverse direction to the botanist. I clamber up the steps and thread my swaying way to the seat immediately behind the driver.
“There!” I say, as I whack myself down on the seat and pant.
When I look round the botanist is out of sight.