When Winkles had gone Bensington came and stood on the hearth-rug and looked down at Redwood.
“Her Serene Highness!” he remarked.
“Her Serene Highness!” said Redwood.
“It’s the Princess of Weser Dreiburg!”
“No further than a third cousin.”
“Redwood,” said Bensington; “it’s a curious thing to say, I know, but— do you think Winkles understands?”
“Just what it is we have made.
“Does he really understand,” said Bensington, dropping his voice and keeping his eye doorward, “that in the Family— the Family of his new patient— ”
“Go on,” said Redwood.
“Who have always been if anything a little under—under— ”
“Yes. And so very tactfully undistinguished in any way, he is going to produce a royal personage— an outsize royal personage— of that size. You know, Redwood, I’m not sure whether there is not something almost—treasonable … ”
He transferred his eyes from the door to Redwood.
Redwood flung a momentary gesture— index finger erect— at the fire. “By Jove!” he said, “he doesn’t know!”
“That man,” said Redwood, “doesn’t know anything. That was his most exasperating quality as a student. Nothing. He passed all his examinations, he had all his facts— and he had just as much knowledge— as a rotating bookshelf containing the Times Encyclopedia. And he doesn’t know anything now. He’s Winkles, and incapable of really assimilating anything not immediately and directly related to his superficial self. He is utterly void of imagination and, as a consequence, incapable of knowledge. No one could possibly pass so many examinations and be so well dressed, so well done, and so successful as a doctor without that precise incapacity. That’s it. And in spite of all he’s seen and heard and been told, there he is— he has no idea whatever of what he has set going. He has got a Boom on, he’s working it well on Boomfood, and some one has let him in to this new Royal Baby— and that’s Boomier than ever! And the fact that Weser Dreiburg will presently have to face the gigantic problem of a thirty-odd-foot Princess not only hasn’t entered his head, but couldn’t— it couldn’t!”
“There’ll be a fearful row,” said Bensington.
“In a year or so.”
“So soon as they really see she is going on growing.”
“Unless after their fashion— they hush it up.”
“It’s a lot to hush up.”
“I wonder what they’ll do?”
“They never do anything— Royal tact.”
“They’re bound to do something.”
“Perhaps she will.” “O Lord! Yes.”
“They’ll suppress her. Such things have been known.”
Redwood burst into desperate laughter. “The redundant royalty— the bouncing babe in the Iron Mask!” he said. “They’ll have to put her in the tallest tower of the old Weser Dreiburg castle and make holes in the ceilings as she grows from floor to floor! Well, I’m in the very same pickle. And Cossar and his three boys. And—Well, well.”
“There’ll be a fearful row,” Bensington repeated, not joining in the laughter. “A fearful row.”
“I suppose,” he argued, “you’ve really thought it out thoroughly, Redwood. You’re quite sure it wouldn’t be wiser to warn Winkles, wean your little boy gradually, and— and rely upon the Theoretical Triumph?”
“I wish to goodness you’d spend half an hour in my nursery when the Food’s a little late,” said Redwood, with a note of exasperation in his voice; “then you wouldn’t talk like that, Bensington. Besides— Fancy warning Winkles… No! The tide of this thing has caught us unawares, and whether we’re frightened or whether we’re not—we’ve got to swim!”
“I suppose we have,” said Bensington, staring at his toes. “Yes. We’ve got to swim. And your boy will have to swim, and Cossar’s boys— he’s given it to all three of them. Nothing partial about Cossar— all or nothing! And Her Serene Highness. And everything. We are going on making the Food. Cossar also. We’re only just in the dawn of the beginning, Redwood. It’s evident all sorts of things are to follow. Monstrous great things. But I can’t imagine them, Redwood. Except— ”
He scanned his finger nails. He looked up at Redwood with eyes bland through his glasses.
“I’ve half a mind,” he adventured, “that Caterham is right. At times. It’s going to destroy the Proportions of Things. It’s going to dislocate— What isn’t it going to dislocate?”
“Whatever it dislocates,” said Redwood, “my little boy must have the Food.”
They heard some one falling rapidly upstairs. Then Cossar put his head into the fiat. “Hullo!” he said at their expressions, and entering, “Well?”
They told him about the Princess.
“Difficult question!” he remarked. “Not a bit of it. She’ll grow. Your boy’ll grow. All the others you give it to ’ll grow. Everything. Like anything. What’s difficult about that? That’s all right. A child could tell you that. Where’s the bother?”
They tried to make it clear to him.
“Not go on with it!” he shrieked. “But—! You can’t help yourselves now. It’s what you’re for. It’s what Winkles is for. It’s all right. Often wondered what Winkles was for. Now it’s obvious. What’s the trouble?
“Disturbance? Obviously. Upset things? Upset everything. Finally— upset every human concern. Plain as a pikestaff. They’re going to try and stop it, but they’re too late. It’s their way to be too late. You go on and start as much of it as you can. Thank God He has a use for you!”
“But the conflict!” said Bensington, “the stress! I don’t know if you have imagined— ”
“You ought to have been some sort of little vegetable, Bensington,” said Cossar— “that’s what you ought to have been. Something growing over a rockery. Here you are, fearfully and wonderfully made, and all you think you’re made for is just to sit about and take your vittles. D’you think this world was made for old women to mop about in? Well, anyhow, you can’t help yourselves now— you’ve got to go on.”
“I suppose we must,” said Redwood. “Slowly— ”
“No!” said Cossar, in a huge shout. “No! Make as much as you can and as soon as you can. Spread it about!”
He was inspired to a stroke of wit. He parodied one of Redwood’s curves with a vast upward sweep of his arm.
“Redwood!” he said, to point the allusion, “make it SO!”