Blue on red

0 comentários domingo, 31 de janeiro de 2010
O Xoni descobriu finalmente a tranquilidade que uma sala forrada de livros, uma manta confortável e música de fundo transmitem... Primeiro estranhou e depois entranhou. agora, quando não quer brincar, nos intervalos das crises de ciúmes do computador ou quando não se deita junto do aquecedor - porque de facto está muito frio - a sala é um bom dormitório.
Quando o Xoni fica preocupado franze a testa...
A arrumação de livros estava a deixá-lo algo nervoso.
Mas tudo passa...
read more “Blue on red”

Coisas do tempo da outra senhora (1)

0 comentários sábado, 30 de janeiro de 2010
Uma meia, meia feita
e outra meia por fazer.
Diga lá, minha menina,
quantas meias vêm a ser?
read more “Coisas do tempo da outra senhora (1)”

Grandes Contos: The Yellow Wallpaper

0 comentários
The Yellow Wallpaper [1892] por Charlotte Perkins Gilman (retirado daqui)

It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.

A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity but that would be asking too much of fate!

Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.

Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?

John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.

John is a physician, and -- perhaps (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.

You see he does not believe I am sick!

And what can one do?

If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression -- a slight hysterical tendency -- what is one to do?

My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing.

So I take phosphates or phospites -- whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to "work" until I am well again.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

But what is one to do?

I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal -- having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition.

I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus -- but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.

So I will let it alone and talk about the house.

The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people.

There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden large and shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them.

There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now.

There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years.

That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don't care -- there is something strange about the house -- I can feel it.

I even said so to John one moonlight evening, but he said what I felt was a draught, and shut the window.

I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.

But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself -- before him, at least, and that makes me very tired.

I don't like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! but John would not hear of it.

He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another.

He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.

I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more.

He said we came here solely on my account, that I was to have perfect rest and all the air I could get. "Your exercise depends on your strength, my dear," said he, "and your food somewhat on your appetite; but air you can absorb all the time." So we took the nursery at the top of the house.

It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.

The paint and paper look as if a boys' school had used it. It is stripped off -- the paper -- in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life.

One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide -- plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.

The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others.

No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long.

There comes John, and I must put this away, -- he hates to have me write a word.


We have been here two weeks, and I haven't felt like writing before, since that first day.

I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength.

John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious.

I am glad my case is not serious!

But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing.

John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.

Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way!

I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!

Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able, -- to dress and entertain, and order things.

It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby!

And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous.

I suppose John never was nervous in his life. He laughs at me so about this wall-paper!

At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies.

He said that after the wall-paper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on.

"You know the place is doing you good," he said, "and really, dear, I don't care to renovate the house just for a three months' rental."

"Then do let us go downstairs," I said, "there are such pretty rooms there."

Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.

But he is right enough about the beds and windows and things.

It is an airy and comfortable room as any one need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim.

I'm really getting quite fond of the big room, all but that horrid paper.

Out of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious deepshaded arbors, the riotous old fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees.

Out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf belonging to the estate. There is a beautiful shaded lane that runs down there from the house. I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to g ve way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency. So I try.

I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.

But I find I get pretty tired when I try.

It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. When I get really well, John says we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia down for a long visit; but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow case as to let me have those stimulating people about now.

I wish I could get well faster.

But I must not think about that. This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had!

There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.

I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two breaths didn't match, and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other.

I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store.

I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big, old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend

I used to feel that if any of the other thing' looked too fierce I could always hop into that chair and be safe.

The furniture in this room is no worse than inharmonious, however, for we had to bring it all from downstairs. I suppose when this was used as a playroom they had to take the nursery things out, and no wonder! I never saw such ravages as the children have made here.

The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother -- they must have had perseverance as well as hatred.

Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars.

But I don't mind it a bit -- only the paper.

There comes John's sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing.

She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick!

But I can write when she is out, and see her a long way off from these windows.

There is one that commands the road, a lovely shaded winding road, and one that just looks off over the country. A lovely country, too, full of great elms and velvet meadows.

This wall-paper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then.

But in the places where it isn't faded and where the sun is just so I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.

There's sister on the stairs!


Well, the Fourth of July is over! The people are all gone and I am tired out. John thought it might do me good to see a little company, so we just had mother and Nellie and the children down for a week.

Of course I didn't do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now.

But it tired me all the same.

John says if I don't pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.

But I don't want to go there at all. I had a friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is just like John and my brother, only more so!

Besides, it is such an undertaking to go so far.

I don't feel as if it was worth while to turn my hand over for anything, and I'm getting dreadfully fretful and querulous.

I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time.

Of course I don't when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone.

And I am alone a good deal just now. John is kept in town very often by serious cases, and Jennie is good and lets me alone when I want her to.

So I walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, and lie down up here a good deal.

I'm getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps because of the wall-paper.

It dwells in my mind so!

I lie here on this great immovable bed -- it is nailed down, I believe -- and follow that pattern about by the hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we'll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion.

I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of I radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of.

It is repeated, of course, by the breadths, but not otherwise.

Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes -- a kind of "debased Romanesque" with delirium tremens -- go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity.

But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase.

The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction.

They have used a horizontal breadth for a frieze, and that adds wonderfully to the confusion.

There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and there, when the crosslights fade and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost fancy radiation after all, -- the interminable grotesques seem to form around a common centre and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction.

It makes me tired to follow it. I will take a nap I guess.

I don't know why I should write this.

I don't want to.

I don't feel able.

And I know John would think it absurd. But must say what I feel and think in some way -- it is such a relief!

But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief.

Half the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much.

John says I mustn't lose my strength, and has me take cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat.

Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia.

But he said I wasn't able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished.

It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness I suppose.

And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head.

He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well.

He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me.

There's one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and does not have to occupy this nursery with the horrid wall-paper.

If we had not used it, that blessed child would have! What a fortunate escape! Why, I wouldn't have a child of mine, an impressionable little thing, live in such a room for worlds.

I never thought of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here after all, I can stand it so much easier than a baby, you see.

Of course I never mention it to them any more -- I am too wise, -- but I keep watch of it all the same.

There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.

Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day.

It is always the same shape, only very numerous.

And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don't like it a bit. I wonder -- I begin to think -- I wish John would take me away from here!

It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so.

But I tried it last night.

It was moonlight. The moon shines in all around just as the sun does.

I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps so slowly, and always comes in by one window or another.

John was asleep and I hated to waken him, so I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall-paper till I felt creepy.

The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out.

I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake.

"What is it, little girl?" he said. "Don't go walking about like that -- you'll get cold."

I thought it was a good time to talk, so I told him that I really was not gaining here, and that I wished he would take me away.

"Why darling!" said he, "our lease will be up in three weeks, and I can't see how to leave before.

"The repairs are not done at home, and I cannot possibly leave town just now. Of course if you were in any danger, I could and would, but you really are better, dear, whether you can see it or not. I am a doctor, dear, and I know. You are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you."

"I don't weigh a bit more," said I, "nor as much; and my appetite may be better in the evening when you are here, but it is worse in the morning when you are away!"

"Bless her little heart!" said he with a big hug, "she shall be as sick as she pleases! But now let's improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk about it in the morning!"

"And you won't go away?" I asked gloomily.

"Why, how can I, dear? It is only three weeks more and then we will take a nice little trip of a few days while Jennie is getting the house ready. Really dear you are better! "

"Better in body perhaps -- " I began, and stopped short, for he sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say another word.

"My darling," said he, "I beg of you, for my sake and for our child's sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?"

So of course I said no more on that score, and we went to sleep before long. He thought I was asleep first, but I wasn't, and lay there for hours trying to decide whether that front pattern and the back pattern really did move together or separately.


On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant irritant to a normal mind.

The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.

You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream.

The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one of a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints, an interminable string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions -- why, that is something like it.

That is, sometimes!

There is one marked peculiarity about this paper, a thing nobody seems to notice but myself and that is that it changes as the light changes.

When the sun shoots in through the east window -- I always watch for that first long, straight ray -- it changes so quickly that I never can quite believe it.

That is why I watch it always.

By moonlight -- the moon shines in all night when there is a moon -- I wouldn't know it was the same paper.

At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be.

I didn't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but l now I am quite sure it is a woman.

By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me quiet by the hour.

I lie down ever so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can.

Indeed he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after each meal.

It is a very bad habit I am convinced, for you see I don't sleep.

And that cultivates deceit, for I don't tell them I'm awake -- O no!

The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John.

He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look.

It strikes me occasionally, just as a scientific hypothesis, -- that perhaps it is the paper!

I have watched John when he did not know I was looking, and come into the room suddenly on the most innocent excuses, and I've caught him several times looking at the paper! And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her hand on it once.

She didn't know I was in the room, and when I asked her in a quiet, a very quiet voice, with the most restrained manner possible, what she was doing with the paper -- she turned around as if she had been caught stealing, and looked quite angry -- asked me why I should frighten her so!

Then she said that the paper stained everything it touched, that she had found yellow smooches on all my clothes and John's, and she wished we would be more careful!

Did not that sound innocent? But I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself!

Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was.

John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wall-paper.

I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wall-paper -- he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away.

I don't want to leave now until I have found it out. There is a week more, and I think that will be enough.


I'm feeling ever so much better! I don't sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime.

In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing.

There are always new shoots on the fungus, and new shades of yellow all over it. I cannot keep count of them, though I have tried conscientiously.

It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw -- not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.

But there is something else about that paper -- the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here.

It creeps all over the house.

I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.

It gets into my hair.

Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it -- there is that smell!

Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours in trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like.

It is not bad -- at first, and very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met.

In this damp weather it is awful, I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me.

It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house -- to reach the smell.

But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.

There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down, near the mopboard. A streak that runs round the room. It goes behind every piece of furniture, except the bed, a long, straight, even smooch, as if it had been rubbed over and over.

I wonder how it was done and who did it, and what they did it for. Round and round and round -- round and round and round -- it makes me dizzy!

I really have discovered something at last.

Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out.

The front pattern does move -- and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it!

Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.

Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard.

And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern -- it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads.

They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white!

If those heads were covered or taken off it would not be half so bad.

I think that woman gets out in the daytime!

And I'll tell you why -- privately -- I've seen her!

I can see her out of every one of my windows!

It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.

I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.

I don't blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight!

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can't do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once.

And John is so queer now, that I don't want to irritate him. I wish he would take another room! Besides, I don't want anybody to get that woman out at night but myself.

I often wonder if I could see her out of all the windows at once.

But, turn as fast as I can, I can only see out of one at one time.

And though I always see her, she may be able to creep faster than I can turn!

I have watched her sometimes away off in the open country, creeping as fast as a cloud shadow in a high wind.


If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one! I mean to try it, little by little.

I have found out another funny thing, but I shan't tell it this time! It does not do to trust people too much.

There are only two more days to get this paper off, and I believe John is beginning to notice. I don't like the look in his eyes.

And I heard him ask Jennie a lot of professional questions about me. She had a very good report to give.

She said I slept a good deal in the daytime.

John knows I don't sleep very well at night, for all I'm so quiet!

He asked me all sorts of questions, too, and pretended to be very loving and kind.

As if I couldn't see through him!

Still, I don't wonder he acts so, sleeping under this paper for three months.

It only interests me, but I feel sure John and Jennie are secretly affected by it.


Hurrah! This is the last day, but it is enough. John to stay in town over night, and won't be out until this evening.

Jennie wanted to sleep with me -- the sly thing! but I told her I should undoubtedly rest better for a night all alone.

That was clever, for really I wasn't alone a bit! As soon as it was moonlight and that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern, I got up and ran to help her.

I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper.

A strip about as high as my head and half around the room.

And then when the sun came and that awful pattern began to laugh at me, I declared I would finish it to-day!

We go away to-morrow, and they are moving all my furniture down again to leave things as they were before.

Jennie looked at the wall in amazement, but I told her merrily that I did it out of pure spite at the vicious thing.

She laughed and said she wouldn't mind doing it herself, but I must not get tired.

How she betrayed herself that time!

But I am here, and no person touches this but me, -- not alive !

She tried to get me out of the room -- it was too patent! But I said it was so quiet and empty and clean now that I believed I would lie down again and sleep all I could; and not to wake me even for dinner -- I would call when I woke.

So now she is gone, and the servants are gone, and the things are gone, and there is nothing left but that great bedstead nailed down, with the canvas mattress we found on it.

We shall sleep downstairs to-night, and take the boat home to-morrow.
I quite enjoy the room, now it is bare again.
How those children did tear about here!

This bedstead is fairly gnawed!
But I must get to work.
I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path.
I don't want to go out, and I don't want to have anybody come in, till John comes.
I want to astonish him.
I've got a rope up here that even Jennie did not find. If that woman does get out, and tries to get away, I can tie her!
But I forgot I could not reach far without anything to stand on!
This bed will not move!
I tried to lift and push it until I was lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner -- but it hurt my teeth.
Then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it! All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision!
I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try.
Besides I wouldn't do it. Of course not. I know well enough that a step like that is improper and might be misconstrued.
I don't like to look out of the windows even -- there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast.
I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did?
But I am securely fastened now by my well hidden rope -- you don't get me out in the road there!
I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard!

It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please!
I don't want to go outside. I won't, even if Jennie asks me to.
For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow.
But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way.
Why there's John at the door!
It is no use, young man, you can't open it!
How he does call and pound!
Now he's crying for an axe.
It would be a shame to break down that beautiful door!
"John dear!" said I in the gentlest voice, "the key is down by the front steps, under a plantain leaf! "
That silenced him for a few moments.
Then he said very quietly indeed, "Open the door, my darling!"
"I can't," said I. "The key is down by the front door under a plantain leaf!"
And then I said it again, several times, very gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to go and see, and he got it of course, and came in. He stopped short by the door.
"What is the matter?" he cried. "For God's sake, what are you doing!"
I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder.
"I've got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back! "

Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!
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É aproveitar menina...

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I Celebrate Myself - Bill Morgan - Penguin / Viking

Anda por aí aos pontapés nas FNACs (já o vi no Chiado, em Cascais e no Colombo), ao preço da chuva, trata-se de uma das mais notáveis biografias de Allen Ginsberg e, enquanto biografia, é uma obra extraordinária. Sobretudo porque é um poeta a redescobrir urgentemente, acho que Ginsberg diz mais ao tempo presente que ao seu tempo embora na sua leitura seja necessário esse enquandramento sócio-cultural que compreende estes tempos de revolução sem revolução..
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De novo o e-book

0 comentários segunda-feira, 25 de janeiro de 2010

O Sérgio Bastos do excelente blogue «Ebook Portugal» apanhou-me aqui a deambular sobre o futuro e presente da edição digital e fez-me uma entrevista. Caso queiram perder uns minutos do vosso tempo podem consultá-la aqui.
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Pesquisa bibliográfica

0 comentários sexta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2010

O Xoni Ringo é como o dono e gosta de se perder nas estantes, por entre filas intermináveis de títulos, convivendo com as histórias mais fantásticas ou mais cruas.
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A qualidade da informação

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Há uns dias atrás, quando Santana Lopes foi condecorado pelo Presidente da República, estava em casa e ouvi quase todos os telejornais da Sic, Sic notícias, RTP e TVI (e também alguns da rádio porque o meu gato só adormece com a TSF). Percebi que para além do Santana houve mais uns quantos condecorados. Não creio que nenhum destes serviços informativos tenha comunicado os seus nomes. Se isto não é um retrato assustador da qualidade do jornalismo em Portugal...
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Sic dixit

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"Perfeito Coração", a maior história de amor desde Romeu e Julieta...
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A literatura em formato digital

0 comentários terça-feira, 19 de janeiro de 2010
Tenho falado com muita gente que anuncia e defende a chegada próxima do digital à edição de literatura. Eu faço uma análise algo diferente. se é certo que há muitos entusiasmados com a questão, não vejo, ainda assim, uma grande maioria dos "leitores habituais" a fazer essa transição.

Há vários motivos para isso. Inerente ao facto de se ser um "leitor" está uma propensão para a desconfiança das tecnologias. Isto, claro está, no que toca a uma geração de leitores com alguns anos de prática. No que toca aos novos leitores, os quais, só esporadicamente eram incentivados a ler, poderão experimentar por curiosidade mas se não tiverem hábitos de leitura, ficarão pela curiosidade3 ou pelo lado técnico-pratico de textos disponíveis online.

Mas não ficamos por aqui: o livro é uma comodidade cultural logo, um bem prescindível: os editores que digam quanto sentem as crises económicas ou mesmo a concorrência (lembram-se de uma feira do livro que coincidiu há poucos anos com um evento desportivo futebolístico e com um rock in rio?). O livro digital, podendo ser mais barato - e nunca será muito mais - vai estar associado a leitores digitais, que são caros. Ora se pensarmos que os leitores habituais já se queixam do preço dos livros...

Mas há mais, ainda não há um modelo internacional racional e aceitável para resolver as questões de direitos e traduções e coisas que tais. Enquanto um modelo legal e comercial não for implementado e testado - e  acreditem que não vai ser Portugal a fazê-lo pela dimensão e falta de meios - será implementado no resto do mundo adequando-se às realidades de cada país.

Daí que eu defenda que a chegada do livro digital será uma realidade em Portugal mas apenas dentro de 10 a 20 anos. É preciso resolver uma questão funcional e comercial, uma questão legal e, no nosso país, uma questão geracional e cultural. E se, nos livros técnicos ainda acho que, por alto a questão poderá resolver-se com alguma celeridade, na literatura a coisa será mais complicada.
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Desesperadamente procurando...

1 comentários quinta-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2010
... trabalho (também procuro a Susana que ainda não passou em minha casa para vir buscar a prenda de Natal mas isso é outra questão).

A sério que estou mesmo a ficar desesperado. Em 3 editoras disseram que eu era "over-qualified". Todas essas e outras ainda pediram-me planos editoriais. Acho que deve ser para tirar a limpo se realmente era eu que escolhia alguma coisa na Cavalo de Ferro ou apenas o Diogo. Infelizmente eu nunca fui muito de dar a cara e as pessoas conhecem mais o Diogo. O meu trabalho era no escritório.

Os planos editoriais foram entregues. Para muitos fiz contas, para outros apenas listagens de títulos (e o meu passado aconselhava-me a que não o fizesse). Depois pelos motivos mais abstrusos não há afinal possibilidades. Percebo em muitos dos meus interlocutores que nunca tinham contado comigo, apenas estavam a confirmar se eu não tinha inventado a pólvora.

Das mais de 20 entevistas a que fui muitos dos interlocutores não voltaram a dar notícias e desapareceram para parte incerta, outros transmitiram "nãos" mais ou menos rebuscados, houve os tais que disseram que eu tinha qualificações a mais e sobraram duas hipóteses que estão ainda em aberto mas nas quais infelizmente não tenho muitas esperanças.

O que procuro explicar às pessoas é que estou à procura de emprego na área que domino e onde sei que posso ser útil mas sei que lugares de editor não crescem nas árvores. Se alguém souber de alguma posição como assistente editorial ou algo do género, avise.

Não tenho muitas ilusões. Se houvesse algo para mim, já teria surgido. Hoje tive uma furiazinha, das que, de vez em quando me acometem, e mandei e-mails para um monte de editoras, mesmo as mais improváveis. Acho que terei de fazer mais programas editoriais, irei a mais entrevistas e continuarei na mesma. Para a semana vou ao centro de emprego e aceito a primeira coisa que surgir. Tipo babysitter de animais.
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0 comentários
Hoje, o gato miou quando descobriu que não havia mais divisões para explorar... (desculpa Alexandre)
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O gato que queimou o Hot Club

1 comentários terça-feira, 12 de janeiro de 2010
Telefonaram-me a perguntar se conhecia alguém que quisesse um gato que tinha sido encontrado numa árvore muito alta no jardim de Campo de Ourique. Que quem o tinha encontrado já o tinha levado ao veterinário, que tinha feito análises, que tinha sido castrado e vacinado. Que era muito simpático, corajoso, explorador e habituado a fazer companhia. Que tinha no máximo uns 8 mesitos. Que estava magrinho.

Que quem o encontrou, telefonou para os bombeiros para que viessem salvar o gato preso na árvore, a mais de 3 metros do chão. Que os bombeiros estavam, nessa noite muito ocupados com um grande incêncio. Que a pessoa insistiu e voltou a insistir, amante de gatos que é, não dando paz aos telefonistas que, mediante a pressão, cederam e lá mandaram um piquete.

Nessa noite ardeu o Hot Club (não que o nome não indicasse de há muito esse provavel destino). Mas salvou-se o gato. E eu dei novo passo no meu regresso ao mundo editorial. Afinal o que é um editor sem um gato?

À chegada no esconderijo debaixo da mesa.

A soneca ao colo e a primeira perseguição à bola de pingue-pongue.

A captura do atacador de sapato branco.

Ainda o atacador.

A descoberta da máquina fotográfica e a incerteza do piso-cama e, claro, o olho azul.


Há sempre qualquer coisa entre gatos e livros. Lembro-me que, no começo da Cavalo de Ferro, ainda a funcionar na casa de um amigo, quando tínhamos de escolher entre 1 de 2 títulos, punhamos os livros no sofá e chamávamos o gato da casa, um persa amarelo e pachorrento, que se sentava no sofá mais perto de um que de outro livro.
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Grandes Contos: The Lady or the tiger?

0 comentários quinta-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2010
The Lady or the tiger? - por Frank R. Stockton (retirado daqui).

In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done. When every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly in its appointed course, his nature was bland and genial; but, whenever there was a little hitch, and some of his orbs got out of their orbits, he was blander and more genial still, for nothing pleased him so much as to make the crooked straight and crush down uneven places.

Among the borrowed notions by which his barbarism had become semified was that of the public arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured.

But even here the exuberant and barbaric fancy asserted itself. The arena of the king was built, not to give the people an opportunity of hearing the rhapsodies of dying gladiators, nor to enable them to view the inevitable conclusion of a conflict between religious opinions and hungry jaws, but for purposes far better adapted to widen and develop the mental energies of the people. This vast amphitheater, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance.

When a subject was accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king, public notice was given that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the king's arena, a structure which well deserved its name, for, although its form and plan were borrowed from afar, its purpose emanated solely from the brain of this man, who, every barleycorn a king, knew no tradition to which he owed more allegiance than pleased his fancy, and who ingrafted on every adopted form of human thought and action the rich growth of his barbaric idealism.

When all the people had assembled in the galleries, and the king, surrounded by his court, sat high up on his throne of royal state on one side of the arena, he gave a signal, a door beneath him opened, and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheater. Directly opposite him, on the other side of the enclosed space, were two doors, exactly alike and side by side. It was the duty and the privilege of the person on trial to walk directly to these doors and open one of them. He could open either door he pleased; he was subject to no guidance or influence but that of the aforementioned impartial and incorruptible chance. If he opened the one, there came out of it a hungry tiger, the fiercest and most cruel that could be procured, which immediately sprang upon him and tore him to pieces as a punishment for his guilt. The moment that the case of the criminal was thus decided, doleful iron bells were clanged, great wails went up from the hired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena, and the vast audience, with bowed heads and downcast hearts, wended slowly their homeward way, mourning greatly that one so young and fair, or so old and respected, should have merited so dire a fate.

But, if the accused person opened the other door, there came forth from it a lady, the most suitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects, and to this lady he was immediately married, as a reward of his innocence. It mattered not that he might already possess a wife and family, or that his affections might be engaged upon an object of his own selection; the king allowed no such subordinate arrangements to interfere with his great scheme of retribution and reward. The exercises, as in the other instance, took place immediately, and in the arena. Another door opened beneath the king, and a priest, followed by a band of choristers, and dancing maidens blowing joyous airs on golden horns and treading an epithalamic measure, advanced to where the pair stood, side by side, and the wedding was promptly and cheerily solemnized. Then the gay brass bells rang forth their merry peals, the people shouted glad hurrahs, and the innocent man, preceded by children strewing flowers on his path, led his bride to his home.

This was the king's semi-barbaric method of administering justice. Its perfect fairness is obvious. The criminal could not know out of which door would come the lady; he opened either he pleased, without having the slightest idea whether, in the next instant, he was to be devoured or married. On some occasions the tiger came out of one door, and on some out of the other. The decisions of this tribunal were not only fair, they were positively determinate: the accused person was instantly punished if he found himself guilty, and, if innocent, he was rewarded on the spot, whether he liked it or not. There was no escape from the judgments of the king's arena.

The institution was a very popular one. When the people gathered together on one of the great trial days, they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding. This element of uncertainty lent an interest to the occasion which it could not otherwise have attained. Thus, the masses were entertained and pleased, and the thinking part of the community could bring no charge of unfairness against this plan, for did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?

This semi-barbaric king had a daughter as blooming as his most florid fancies, and with a soul as fervent and imperious as his own. As is usual in such cases, she was the apple of his eye, and was loved by him above all humanity. Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of blood and lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens. This royal maiden was well satisfied with her lover, for he was handsome and brave to a degree unsurpassed in all this kingdom, and she loved him with an ardor that had enough of barbarism in it to make it exceedingly warm and strong. This love affair moved on happily for many months, until one day the king happened to discover its existence. He did not hesitate nor waver in regard to his duty in the premises. The youth was immediately cast into prison, and a day was appointed for his trial in the king's arena. This, of course, was an especially important occasion, and his majesty, as well as all the people, was greatly interested in the workings and development of this trial. Never before had such a case occurred; never before had a subject dared to love the daughter of the king. In after years such things became commonplace enough, but then they were in no slight degree novel and startling.

The tiger-cages of the kingdom were searched for the most savage and relentless beasts, from which the fiercest monster might be selected for the arena; and the ranks of maiden youth and beauty throughout the land were carefully surveyed by competent judges in order that the young man might have a fitting bride in case fate did not determine for him a different destiny. Of course, everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done. He had loved the princess, and neither he, she, nor any one else, thought of denying the fact; but the king would not think of allowing any fact of this kind to interfere with the workings of the tribunal, in which he took such great delight and satisfaction. No matter how the affair turned out, the youth would be disposed of, and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events, which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong in allowing himself to love the princess.

The appointed day arrived. From far and near the people gathered, and thronged the great galleries of the arena, and crowds, unable to gain admittance, massed themselves against its outside walls. The king and his court were in their places, opposite the twin doors, those fateful portals, so terrible in their similarity.

All was ready. The signal was given. A door beneath the royal party opened, and the lover of the princess walked into the arena. Tall, beautiful, fair, his appearance was greeted with a low hum of admiration and anxiety. Half the audience had not known so grand a youth had lived among them. No wonder the princess loved him! What a terrible thing for him to be there!

As the youth advanced into the arena he turned, as the custom was, to bow to the king, but he did not think at all of that royal personage. His eyes were fixed upon the princess, who sat to the right of her father. Had it not been for the moiety of barbarism in her nature it is probable that lady would not have been there, but her intense and fervid soul would not allow her to be absent on an occasion in which she was so terribly interested. From the moment that the decree had gone forth that her lover should decide his fate in the king's arena, she had thought of nothing, night or day, but this great event and the various subjects connected with it. Possessed of more power, influence, and force of character than any one who had ever before been interested in such a case, she had done what no other person had done - she had possessed herself of the secret of the doors. She knew in which of the two rooms, that lay behind those doors, stood the cage of the tiger, with its open front, and in which waited the lady. Through these thick doors, heavily curtained with skins on the inside, it was impossible that any noise or suggestion should come from within to the person who should approach to raise the latch of one of them. But gold, and the power of a woman's will, had brought the secret to the princess.

And not only did she know in which room stood the lady ready to emerge, all blushing and radiant, should her door be opened, but she knew who the lady was. It was one of the fairest and loveliest of the damsels of the court who had been selected as the reward of the accused youth, should he be proved innocent of the crime of aspiring to one so far above him; and the princess hated her. Often had she seen, or imagined that she had seen, this fair creature throwing glances of admiration upon the person of her lover, and sometimes she thought these glances were perceived, and even returned. Now and then she had seen them talking together; it was but for a moment or two, but much can be said in a brief space; it may have been on most unimportant topics, but how could she know that? The girl was lovely, but she had dared to raise her eyes to the loved one of the princess; and, with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door.

When her lover turned and looked at her, and his eye met hers as she sat there, paler and whiter than any one in the vast ocean of anxious faces about her, he saw, by that power of quick perception which is given to those whose souls are one, that she knew behind which door crouched the tiger, and behind which stood the lady. He had expected her to know it. He understood her nature, and his soul was assured that she would never rest until she had made plain to herself this thing, hidden to all other lookers-on, even to the king. The only hope for the youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess in discovering this mystery; and the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded, as in his soul he knew she would succeed.

Then it was that his quick and anxious glance asked the question: "Which?" It was as plain to her as if he shouted it from where he stood. There was not an instant to be lost. The question was asked in a flash; it must be answered in another.

Her right arm lay on the cushioned parapet before her. She raised her hand, and made a slight, quick movement toward the right. No one but her lover saw her. Every eye but his was fixed on the man in the arena.

He turned, and with a firm and rapid step he walked across the empty space. Every heart stopped beating, every breath was held, every eye was fixed immovably upon that man. Without the slightest hesitation, he went to the door on the right, and opened it.

Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady ?

The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer. It involves a study of the human heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion, out of which it is difficult to find our way. Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?

How often, in her waking hours and in her dreams, had she started in wild horror, and covered her face with her hands as she thought of her lover opening the door on the other side of which waited the cruel fangs of the tiger!

But how much oftener had she seen him at the other door! How in her grievous reveries had she gnashed her teeth, and torn her hair, when she saw his start of rapturous delight as he opened the door of the lady! How her soul had burned in agony when she had seen him rush to meet that woman, with her flushing cheek and sparkling eye of triumph; when she had seen him lead her forth, his whole frame kindled with the joy of recovered life; when she had heard the glad shouts from the multitude, and the wild ringing of the happy bells; when she had seen the priest, with his joyous followers, advance to the couple, and make them man and wife before her very eyes; and when she had seen them walk away together upon their path of flowers, followed by the tremendous shouts of the hilarious multitude, in which her one despairing shriek was lost and drowned!

Would it not be better for him to die at once, and go to wait for her in the blessed regions of semi-barbaric futurity?

And yet, that awful tiger, those shrieks, that blood!

Her decision had been indicated in an instant, but it had been made after days and nights of anguished deliberation. She had known she would be asked, she had decided what she would answer, and, without the slightest hesitation, she had moved her hand to the right.

The question of her decision is one not to be lightly considered, and it is not for me to presume to set myself up as the one person able to answer it. And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door - the lady, or the tiger?
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Está a chegar...

0 comentários

Consta que se chama Xoni Ringo... Tem ar de pistoleiro. Saberemos mais no Sábado, espero.
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Da distribuição nos tempos da concentração – considerações

1 comentários quarta-feira, 6 de janeiro de 2010
Hoje tive uma conversa com outras pessoas do meio sobre as realidades do sector e abordámos, ao de leve, a questão dos paradigmas da distribuição. Isto levou-me a pensar um pouco sobre a influência que a actual situação de mercado tem e virá a ter em breve na distribuição e, no prisma inverso, a influência que a actual situação da distribuição poderá ter na situação presente e futura do mercado editorial. Estas considerações partem de uma posição que tenho defendido e continuo a defender: o digital demorará mais do que se diz e ficar parado à espera da sua chegada será um erro para distribuidores e editores.

Vamos pois considerar duas realidades diferentes: as distribuidoras independentes e as distribuidoras ligadas a editoras ou grupos editoriais.

No caso das segundas a situação contemporânea comporta duas possibilidades: ou se trata de um grupo grande cujo output ocupa os recursos do sector comercial e logístico da distribuidora, ou essa distribuidora terá de procurar rentabilizar os seus recursos. Para este fim recorrerá, geralmente, à distribuição de editoras externas ao grupo, mas isso acarreta um dilema de difícil resolução.

Se o grupo está orientado para uma área específica de trabalho, dificilmente a equipa comercial conseguirá impor ou ter capacidade de trabalhar livros de áreas diferentes. Contudo, se a distribuidora distribuir editoras com afinidades temáticas e/ou genéricas, estará a criar concorrência interna e dará por si a dar preferência aos livros "da casa".

A única solução que antevejo para esta questão está na criação de equipas de comerciais independentes dentro da distribuidora. Isto acarreta custos e, obviamente, volta a colocar em questão o máximo aproveitamento de recursos... Estamos perante a velha pescadinha-de-rabo-na-boca. Mas traz tambémuma concorrência interna saudável e não autofágica, que pode rentabilizar e muito cada um dos clientes distribuidos.

No que toca às distribuidoras independentes, a situação é complicada mas resolúvel. Ainda assim, antes de entrarmos nesse assunto, convirá fazer uma pequena radiografia do mercado das distribuidoras independentes. Os seus clientes repartem-se entre os grandes grupos livreiros, que representam cerca de 60 a 70% do mercado, os livreiros independentes, que representam a percentagem remanescente quase por inteiro, e os clientes institucionais e excepcionais, que detêem uma uma percentagem mínima e variável.

No que toca aos grandes grupos não haverá questões de maior, o paradigma de funcionamento não precisa, salvo no que toca a uma natural maior profissionalização, de grandes alterações.

Quanto aos livreiros independentes, na minha opinião, ou se dá, efectivamente, a criação de uma associação de livreiros independentes que lhes permita concorrer enquanto grupo de grande dimensão, ou acabarão "esmagados" pelos grandes grupos, reduzidos ao número das livrarias alternativas essenciais - aquelas que fazem, de facto, um trabalho de excepção ou são “salvas” por factores específicos (localização, decoração, enfoque especial dos títulos apresentados, etc) - , e prevejo para um futuro breve esta calamidade. Unidas, criando uma central de compras ou pelo menos um sistema centralizado de encomendas e uma gestão financeira apoiada e realista, talvez consigam ainda ir a tempo de aparecer e impor a sua força no mercado. Claro que o problema das LI será o dinheiro para estas mudanças mas, se se apresentarem como grupo e com um projecto financeiro consciente, o seu peso terá certamente influência junto das instituições de crédito.

Quanto aos clientes excepcionais e institucionais há, na minha opinião, muito trabalho a fazer. A criação de mercados de escoamento alternativo tem de ser trabalhada de forma criativa. E aquilo que sempre me pareceu grave por parte de editoras e distribuidoras é a falta de imaginação na procura e criação destes canais alternativos que têm um enormepotencial em conjunto. Sobre esse assunto gostaria de voltar a falar no futuro mas agora ocuparia demasiado espaço.

A solução para as distribuidoras independentes passa por uma reconfiguração face à realidade de um mercado em que os clientes distribuidos dificilmente terão peso enquanto clientes individuais, quer em volume quer em espectro.

Dentro de uma evolução natural do sector iremos, creio, assistir a uma redução no número de distribuidoras independentes. Sobreviverão aquelas que se saibam adequar à nova realidade dos seus clientes, e saibam ter uma ideia formativa de catálogo de representação. Claro que isto trará, também por si, uma triagem muito mais efectiva do real âmbito da qualidade real do que é editado (ou pelo menos do que é aceite para distribuição). A distribuidora que, até agora, distribuia tudo passando despercebida no meio de muitas outras, vai começar a destacar-se pela falta de qualidade ou, pelo menos, pela irregularidade qualitativa e comercial da sua oferta e terá de combater essa situação exigindo dos seus clientes padrões que lhe permitam manter-se no mercado..

Tendo em conta esta evolução necessária e a inerente redução do número de distribuidoras independentes, o serviço destas terá de ser reconfigurado à semelhança do que acontece noutros países. O tratamento desleixado e a falta de informação para com os seus clientes editoriais vai ter de ser totalmente invertido. A distribuidora que dê reais dados concretos, mapas geográficos, de marketing e contabilísticos de vendas, terá em si uma enorme mais-valia. Mas não se pode ficar por aqui: as distribuidoras terão de, à semelhança do que acontece lá fora, assumir serviços que os seus pequenos clientes não conseguem assegurar. Serviços de marketing, publicidade e promoção. Apoio estratégico ao editor e mesmo, se calhar, apoio financeiro em casos específicos e que o justifiquem.

A criação de accounts para cada cliente é um passo incontornável para o futuro. Para um tratamento próximo do cliente e para a distribuidora ter, ela também, uma noção clara dos resultados e potencial do seu cliente. Esses accounts deverão acompanhar toda a fase promocional e de marketing e poderão mesmo entrar com sugestões no que à política estratégica da editora respeite.

Se esta evolução não tiver lugar, creio que viremos a assistir muito em breve a um processo calamitoso de ruptura no mercado editorial onde apenas as raras empresas iluminadas, capazes de alterações como estas virão a garantir elementos de diferenciação e potencial “ofensivo” contra os grandes grupos.
read more “Da distribuição nos tempos da concentração – considerações”

Grandes Contos: The man who could work miracles

1 comentários terça-feira, 5 de janeiro de 2010
The Man Who Could Work Miracles, por H. G. Wells (retirado daqui)

IT IS DOUBTFUL whether the gift was innate. For my own part, I think it came to him suddenly. Indeed, until he was thirty he was a sceptic, and did not believe in miraculous powers. And here, since it is the most convenient place, I must mention that he was a little man, and had eyes of a hot brown, very erect red hair, a moustache with ends that he twisted up, and freckles. His name was George McWhirter Fotheringay—not the sort of name by any means to lead to any expectation of miracles—and he was clerk at Gomshott’s. He was greatly addicted to assertive argument. It was while he was asserting the impossibility of miracles that he had his first intimation of his extraordinary powers. This particular argument was being held in the bar of the Long Dragon, and Toddy Beamish was conducting the opposition by a monotonous but effective “So you say,” that drove Mr. Fotheringay to the very limit of his patience.

There were present, besides these two, a very dusty cyclist, landlord Cox, and Miss Maybridge, the perfectly respectable and rather portly barmaid of the Dragon. Miss Maybridge was standing with her back to Mr. Fotheringay, washing glasses; the others were watching him, more or less amused by the present ineffectiveness of the assertive method. Goaded by the Torres Vedras tactics of Mr. Beamish, Mr. Fotheringay determined to make an unusual rhetorical effort. “Looky here, Mr. Beamish,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Let us clearly understand what a miracle is. It’s something contrariwise to the course of nature done by power of Will, something what couldn’t happen without being specially willed.”

“So you say,” said Mr. Beamish, repulsing him.

Mr. Fotheringay appealed to the cyclist, who had hitherto been a silent auditor, and received his assent—given with a hesitating cough and a glance at Mr. Beamish. The landlord would express no opinion, and Mr. Fotheringay, returning to Mr. Beamish, received the unexpected concession of a qualified assent to his definition of a miracle.

“For instance,” said Mr. Fotheringay, greatly encouraged. “Here would be a miracle. That lamp, in the natural course of nature, couldn’t burn like that upsy-down, could it, Beamish?”

“You say it couldn’t,” said Beamish.

“And you?” said Fotheringay. “You don’t mean to say—eh?”

“No,” said Beamish reluctantly. “No, it couldn’t.”

“Very well,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Then here comes someone, as it might be me, along here, and stands as it might be here, and says to that lamp, as I might do, collecting all my will—Turn upsy-down without breaking, and go on burning steady, and—Hullo!”

It was enough to make anyone say “Hullo!” The impossible, the incredible, was visible to them all. The lamp hung inverted in the air, burning quietly with its flame pointing down. It was as solid, as indisputable as ever a lamp was, the prosaic common lamp of the Long Dragon bar.

Mr. Fotheringay stood with an extended forefinger and the knitted brows of one anticipating a catastrophic smash. The cyclist, who was sitting next the lamp, ducked and jumped across the bar. Everybody jumped, more or less. Miss Maybridge turned and screamed. For nearly three seconds the lamp remained still. A faint cry of mental distress came from Mr. Fotheringay. “I can’t keep it up,” he said, “any longer.” He staggered back, and the inverted lamp suddenly flared, fell against the corner of the bar, bounced aside, smashed upon the floor, and went out.

It was lucky it had a metal receiver, or the whole place would have been in a blaze. Mr. Cox was the first to speak, and his remark, shorn of needless excrescences, was to the effect that Fotheringay was a fool. Fotheringay was beyond disputing even so fundamental a proposition as that! He was astonished beyond measure at the thing that had occurred. The subsequent conversation threw absolutely no light on the matter so far as Fotheringay was concerned; the general opinion not only followed Mr. Cox very closely but very vehemently. Everyone accused Fotheringay of a silly trick, and presented him to himself as a foolish destroyer of comfort and security. His mind was in a tornado of perplexity, he was himself inclined to agree with them, and he made a remarkably ineffectual opposition to the proposal of his departure.

He went home flushed and heated, coat-collar crumpled, eyes smarting and ears red. He watched each of the ten street lamps nervously as he passed it. lt was only when he found himself alone in his little bed-room in Church Row that he was able to grapple seriously with his memories of the occurrence, and ask, “What on earth happened?”

He had removed his coat and boots, and was sitting on the bed with his hands in his pockets repeating the text of his defence for the seventeenth time, “I didn’t want the confounded thing to upset,” when it occurred to him that at the precise moment he had said the commanding words he had inadvertently willed the thing he said, and that when he had seen the lamp in the air he had felt it depended on him to maintain it there without being clear how this was to be done. He had not a particularly complex mind, or he might have stuck for a time at that “inadvertently willed,” embracing, as it does, the abstrusest problems of voluntary action; but as it was, the idea came to him with a quite acceptable haziness. And from that, following, as I must admit, no clear logical path, he came to the test of experiment.

He pointed resolutely to his candle and collected his mind, though he felt he did a foolish thing. “Be raised up,” he said. But in a second that feeling vanished. The candle was raised, hung in the air one giddy moment, and as Mr. Fotheringay gasped, fell with a smash on his toilet-table, leaving him in darkness save for the expiring glow of its wick.

For a time Mr. Fotheringay sat in the darkness, perfectly still. “It did happen, after all,” he said. “And ’ow I’m to explain it I don’t know.” He sighed heavily, and began feeling in his pockets for a match. He could find none, and he rose and groped about the toilet-table. “I wish I had a match,” he said. He resorted to his coat, and there was none there, and then it dawned upon him that miracles were possible even with matches. He extended a hand and scowled at it in the dark. “Let there be a match in that hand,” he said. He felt some light object fall across his palm, and his fingers closed upon a match.

After several ineffectual attempts to light this, he discovered it was a safety-match. He threw it down, and then it occurred to him that he might have willed it lit. He did, and perceived it burning in the midst of his toilet-table mat. He caught it up hastily, and it went out. His perception of possibilities enlarged, and he felt for and replaced the candle in its candlestick. “Here! you be lit,” said Mr. Fotheringay, and forthwith the candle was flaring, and he saw a little black hole in the toilet-cover, with a wisp of smoke rising from it. For a time he stared from this to the little flame and back, and then looked up and met his own gaze in the looking glass. By this help he communed with himself in silence for a time.

“How about miracles now?” said Mr. Fotheringay at last, addressing his reflection.

The subsequent meditations of Mr. Fotheringay were of a severe but confused description. So far, he could see it was a case of pure willing with him. The nature of his experiences so far disinclined him for any further experiments, at least until he had reconsidered them. But he lifted a sheet of paper, and turned a glass of water pink and then green, and he created a snail, which he miraculously annihilated, and got himself a miraculous new tooth-brush. Somewhen in the small hours he had reached the fact that his will-power must be of a particularly rare and pungent quality, a fact of which he had certainly had inklings before, but no certain assurance. The scare and perplexity of his first discovery was now qualified by pride in this evidence of singularity and by vague intimations of advantage. He became aware that the church clock was striking one, and as it did not occur to him that his daily duties at Gomshott’s might be miraculously dispensed with, he resumed undressing, in order to get to bed without further delay. As he struggled to get his shirt over his head, he was struck with a brilliant idea. “Let me be in bed,” he said, and found himself so. “Undressed,” he stipulated; and, finding the sheets cold, added hastily, “and in my nightshirt—no, in a nice soft woollen nightshirt. Ah!” he said with immense enjoyment. “And now let me be comfortably asleep. . . . .”

He awoke at his usual hour and was pensive all through breakfast-time, wondering whether his overnight experience might not be a particularly vivid dream. At length his mind turned again to cautious experiments. For instance, he had three eggs for breakfast; two his landlady had supplied, good, but shoppy, and one was a delicious fresh goose-egg, laid, cooked, and served by his extraordinary will. He hurried off to Gomshott’s in a state of profound but carefully concealed excitement, and only remembered the shell of the third egg when his landlady spoke of it that night. All day he could do no work because of this astonishingly new self-knowledge, but this caused him no inconvenience, because he made up for it miraculously in his last ten minutes.

As the day wore on his state of mind passed from wonder to elation, albeit the circumstances of his dismissal from the Long Dragon were still disagreeable to recall, and a garbled account of the matter that had reached his colleagues led to some badinage. It was evident he must be careful how he lifted frangible articles, but in other ways his gift promised more and more as he turned it over in his mind.

He intended among other things to increase his personal property by unostentatious acts of creation. He called into existence a pair of very splendid diamond studs, and hastily annihilated them again as young Gomshott came across the counting-house to his desk. He was afraid young Gomshott might wonder how he had come by them. He saw quite clearly the gift required caution and watchfulness in its exercise, but so far as he could judge the difficulties attending its mastery would be no greater than those he had already faced in the study of cycling. It was that analogy, perhaps, quite as much as the feeling that he would be unwelcome in the Long Dragon, that drove him out after supper into the lane beyond the gas-works, to rehearse a few miracles in private.

There was possibly a certain want of originality in his attempts, for apart from his will-power Mr. Fotheringay was not a very exceptional man. The miracle of Moses’ rod came to his mind, but the night was dark and unfavourable to the proper control of large miraculous snakes. Then he recollected the story of “Tannhauser” that he had read on the back of the Philharmonic programme. That seemed to him singularly attractive and harmless. He stuck his walking-stick—a very nice Poona-Penang lawyer—into the turf that edged the footpath, and commanded the dry wood to blossom. The air was immediately full of the scent of roses, and by means of a match he saw for himself that this beautiful miracle was indeed accomplished. His satisfaction was ended by advancing footsteps. Afraid of a premature discovery of his powers, he addressed the blossoming stick hastily: “Go back.” What he meant was “Change back;” but of course he was confused. The stick receded at a considerable velocity, and incontinently came a cry of anger and a bad word from the approaching person. “Who are you throwing brambles at, you fool?” cried a voice. “That got me on the shin.”

“I’m sorry, old chap,” said Mr. Fotheringay, and then realising the awkward nature of the explanation, caught nervously at his moustache. He saw Winch, one of the three Immering constables, advancing.

“What d’yer mean by it?” asked the constable. “Hullo! it’s you, is it? The gent that broke the lamp at the Long Dragon!”

“I don’t mean anything by it,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Nothing at all.”

“What d’yer do it for then?”

“Oh, bother!” said Mr. Fotheringay.

“Bother indeed! D’yer know that stick hurt? What d’yer do it for, eh?”

For the moment Mr. Fotheringay could not think what he had done it for. His silence seemed to irritate Mr. Winch. “You’ve been assaulting the police, young man, this time. That’s what you done.”

“Look here, Mr. Winch,” said Mr. Fotheringay, annoyed and confused, “I’m very sorry. The fact is—”


He could think of no way but the truth. “I was working a miracle.” He tried to speak in an off-hand way, but try as he would he couldn’t.

“Working a—! ’Ere, don’t you talk rot. Working a miracle, indeed! Miracle! Well, that’s downright funny! Why, you’s the chap that don’t believe in miracles. . . . Fact is, this is another of your silly conjuring tricks—that’s what this is. Now, I tell you—”

But Mr. Fotheringay never heard what Mr. Winch was going to tell him. He realised he had given himself away, flung his valuable secret to all the winds of heaven. A violent gust of irritation swept him to action. He turned on the constable swiftly and fiercely. “Here,” he said, “I’ve had enough of this, I have! I’ll show you a silly conjuring trick, I will! Go to Hades! Go, now!”

He was alone!

Mr. Fotheringay performed no more miracles that night nor did he trouble to see what had become of his flowering stick. He returned to the town, scared and very quiet, and went to his bed-room. “Lord!” he said, “it’s a powerful gift—an extremely powerful gift. I didn’t hardly mean as much as that. Not really. . . . I wonder what Hades is like!”

He sat on the bed taking off his boots. Struck by a happy thought he transferred the constable to San Francisco, and without any more interference with normal causation went soberly to bed. In the night he dreamt of the anger of Winch.

The next day Mr. Fotheringay heard two interesting items of news. Someone had planted a most beautiful climbing rose against the elder Mr. Gomshott’s private house in the Lullaborough Road, and the river as far as Rawling’s Mill was to be dragged for Constable Winch.

Mr. Fotheringay was abstracted and thoughtful all that day, and performed no miracles except certain provisions for Winch, and the miracle of completing his day’s work with punctual perfection in spite of all the bee-swarm of thoughts that hummed through his mind. And the extraordinary abstraction and meekness of his manner was remarked by several people, and made a matter for jesting. For the most part he was thinking of Winch.

On Sunday evening he went to chapel and oddly enough, Mr. Maydig, who took a certain interest in occult matters, preached about “things that are not lawful.” Mr. Fotheringay was not a regular chapel goer, but the system of assertive scepticism, to which I have already alluded, was now very much shaken. The tenor of the sermon threw an entirely new light on these novel gifts, and he suddenly decided to consult Mr. Maydig immediately after the service. So soon as that was determined, he found himself wondering why he had not done so before.

Mr. Maydig, a lean, excitable man with quite remarkably long wrists and neck, was gratified at a request for a private conversation from a young man whose carelessness in religious matters was a subject for general remark in the town. After a few necessary delays, he conducted him to the study of the Manse, which was contiguous to the chapel, seated him comfortably, and, standing in front of a cheerful fire—his legs threw a Rhodian arch of shadow on the opposite wall—requested Mr. Fotheringay to state his business.

At first Mr. Fotheringay was a little abashed, and found some difficulty in opening the matter. “You will scarcely believe me, Mr. Maydig, I am afraid”—and so forth for some time. He tried a question at last, and asked Mr. Maydig his opinion of miracles.

Mr. Maydig was still saying “Well” in an extremely judicial tone, when Mr. Fotheringay interrupted again: “You don’t believe, I suppose, that some common sort of person—like myself, for instance—as it might be sitting here now, might have some sort of twist inside him that made him able to do things by his will.”

“It’s possible,” said Mr. Maydig. “Something of the sort, perhaps, is possible.”

“If I might make free with something here, I think I might show you by a sort of experiment,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Now, take that tobacco-jar on the table, for instance. What I want to know is whether what I am going to do with it is a miracle or not. Just half a minute, Mr. Maydig, please.”

He knitted his brows, pointed to the tobacco-jar and said: “Be a bowl of violets.”

The tobacco-jar did as it was ordered.

Mr. Maydig started violently at the change, and stood looking from the thaumaturgist to the bowl of flowers. He said nothing. Presently he ventured to lean over the table and smell the violets; they were fresh-picked and very fine ones. Then he stared at Mr. Fotheringay again.

“How did you do that?” he asked.

Mr. Fotheringay pulled his moustache. “Just told it—and there you are. Is that a miracle, or is it black art, or what is it? And what do you think’s the matter with me? That’s what I want to ask.”

“It’s a most extraordinary occurrence.”

“And this day last week I knew no more that I could do things like that than you did. It came quite sudden. It’s something odd about my will, I suppose, and that’s as far as I can see.”

“Is that—the only thing? Could you do other things besides that?”

“Lord, yes! said Mr. Fotheringay. “Just anything.” He thought, and suddenly recalled a conjuring entertainment he had seen. “Here!” He pointed. “Change into a bowl of fish—no, not that—change into a glass bowl full of water with goldfish swimming in it. That’s better! You see that, Mr. Maydig?”

“It’s astonishing. It’s incredible. You are either a most extraordinary . . . But no—”

“I could change it into anything,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Just anything. Here! be a pigeon, will you?”

In another moment a blue pigeon was fluttering round the room and making Mr. Maydig duck every time it came near him. “Stop there, will you,” said Mr. Fotheringay; and the pigeon hung motionless in the air. “I could change it back to a bowl of flowers,” he said, and after replacing the pigeon on the table worked that miracle. “I expect you will want your pipe in a bit,” he said, and restored the tobacco-jar.

Mr. Maydig had followed all these later changes in a sort of ejaculatory silence. He stared at Mr. Fotheringay and, in a very gingerly manner, picked up the tobacco-jar, examined it, replaced it on the table. “Well!” was the only expression of his feelings.

“Now, after that it’s easier to explain what I came about,” said Mr. Fotheringay; and proceeded to a lengthy and involved narrative of his strange experiences, beginning with the affair of the lamp in the Long Dragon and complicated by persistent allusions to Winch. As he went on, the transient pride Mr. Maydig’s consternation had caused passed away; he became the very ordinary Mr. Fotheringay of everyday intercourse again. Mr. Maydig listened intently, the tobacco-jar in his hand, and his bearing changed also with the course of the narrative. Presently, while Mr. Fotheringay was dealing with the miracle of the third egg, the minister interrupted with a fluttering extended hand—

“It is possible,” he said. “It is credible. It is amazing, of course, but it reconciles a number of amazing difficulties. The power to work miracles is a gift—a peculiar quality like genius or second sight—hitherto it has come very rarely and to exceptional people. But in this case . . . I have always wondered at the miracles of Mahomet, and at Yogi’s miracles, and the miracles of Madame Blavatsky. But, of course! Yes, it is simply a gift! It carries out so beautifully the arguments of that great thinker”—Mr. Maydig’s voice sank—“his Grace the Duke of Argyll. Here we plumb some profounder law—deeper than the ordinary laws of nature. Yes—yes. Go on. Go on!”

Mr. Fotheringay proceeded to tell of his misadventure with Winch, and Mr. Maydig, no longer overawed or scared, began to jerk his limbs about and interject astonishment. “It’s this what troubled me most,” proceeded Mr. Fotheringay; “it’s this I’m most mijitly in want of advice for; of course he’s at San Francisco—wherever San Francisco may be—but of course it’s awkward for both of us, as you’ll see, Mr. Maydig. I don’t see how he can understand what has happened, and I daresay he’s scared and exasperated something tremendous, and trying to get at me. I daresay he keeps on starting off to come here. I send him back, by a miracle, every few hours, when I think of it. And of course, that’s a thing he won’t be able to understand, and it’s bound to annoy him; and, of course, if he takes a ticket every time it will cost him a lot of money. I done the best I could for him, but of course it’s difficult for him to put himself in my place. I thought afterwards that his clothes might have got scorched, you know—if Hades is all it’s supposed to be—before I shifted him. In that case I suppose they’d have locked him up in San Francisco. Of course I willed him a new suit of clothes on him directly I thought of it. But, you see, I’m already in a deuce of a tangle—”

Mr. Maydig looked serious. “I see you are in a tangle. Yes, it’s a difficult position. How you are to end it . . .” He became diffuse and inconclusive.

“However, we’ll leave Winch for a little and discuss the larger question. I don’t think this is a case of the black art or anything of the sort. I don’t think there is any taint of criminality about it at all, Mr. Fotheringay—none whatever, unless you are suppressing material facts. No, it’s miracles—pure miracles—miracles, if I may say so, of the very highest class.”

He began to pace the hearthrug and gesticulate, while Mr. Fotheringay sat with his arm on the table and his head on his arm, looking worried. “I don’t see how I’m to manage about Winch,” he said.

“A gift of working miracles—apparently a very powerful gift,” said Mr. Maydig, “will find a way about Winch—never fear. My dear Sir, you are a most important man—a man of the most astonishing possibilities. As evidence, for example! And—in other ways, the things you may do . . .”

“Yes, I’ve thought of a thing or two,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “But—some of the things came a bit twisty. You saw that fish at first? Wrong sort of bowl and wrong sort of fish. And I thought I’d ask someone.”

“A proper course,” said Mr. Maydig, “a very proper course—altogether the proper course.” He stopped and looked at Mr. Fotheringay. “It’s practically an unlimited gift. Let us test your powers, for instance. If they really are . . . If they really are all they seem to be.”

And so, incredible as it may seem, in the study of the little house behind the Congregational Chapel, on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 10, 1896, Mr. Fotheringay, egged on and inspired by Mr. Maydig, began to work miracles. The reader’s attention is specially and definitely called to the date. He will object, probably has already objected, that certain points in this story are improbable, that if any things of the sort already described had indeed occurred, they would have been in all the papers a year ago. The details immediately following he will find particularly hard to accept, because among other things they involve the conclusion that he or she, the reader in question, must have been killed in a violent and unprecedented manner more than a year ago. Now a miracle is nothing if not improbable, and as a matter of fact the reader was killed in a violent and unprecedented manner a year ago. In the subsequent course of this story that will become perfectly clear and credible, as every right-minded and reasonable reader will admit. But this is not the place for the end of the story, being but little beyond the hither side of the middle. And at first the miracles worked by Mr. Fotheringay were timid little miracles—little things with the cups and parlour fitments—as feeble as the miracles of Theosophists, and, feeble as they were, they were received with awe by his collaborator. He would have preferred to settle the Winch business out of hand, but Mr. Maydig would not let him. But after they had worked a dozen of these domestic trivialities, their sense of power grew, their imagination began to show signs of stimulation, and their ambition enlarged. Their first larger enterprise was due to hunger and the negligence of Mrs. Minchin, Mr. Maydig’s housekeeper. The meal to which the minister conducted Mr. Fotheringay was certainly ill-laid and uninviting as refreshment for two industrious miracle-workers; but they were seated, and Mr. Maydig was descanting in sorrow rather than in anger upon his housekeeper’s shortcomings, before it occurred to Mr. Fotheringay that an opportunity lay before him. “Don’t you think, Mr. Maydig,” he said; “if it isn’t a liberty, I—”

“My dear Mr. Fotheringay! Of course! No—I didn’t think.”

Mr. Fotheringay waved his hand. “What shall we have?” he said, in a large, inclusive spirit, and, at Mr. Maydig’s order, revised the supper very thoroughly. “As for me,” he said, eyeing Mr. Maydig’s selection, “I am always particularly fond of a tankard of stout and a nice Welsh rarebit, and I’ll order that. I ain’t much given to Burgundy,” and forthwith stout and Welsh rarebit promptly appeared at his command. They sat long at their supper, talking like equals, as Mr. Fotheringay presently perceived, with a glow of surprise and gratification, of all the miracles they would presently do. “And, by the bye, Mr. Maydig,” said Mr. Fotheringay, “I might perhaps be able to help you—in a domestic way.”

“Don’t quite follow,” said Mr. Maydig pouring out a glass of miraculous old Burgundy.

Mr. Fotheringay helped himself to a second Welsh rarebit out of vacancy, and took a mouthful. “I was thinking,” he said, “I might be able (chum, chum) to work (chum, chum) a miracle with Mrs. Minchin (chum, chum)—make her a better woman.”

Mr. Maydig put down the glass and looked doubtful. “She’s—She strongly objects to interference, you know, Mr. Fotheringay. And—as a matter of fact—it’s well past eleven and she’s probably in bed and asleep. Do you think, on the whole—”

Mr. Fotheringay considered these objections. “I don’t see that it shouldn’t be done in her sleep.”

For a time Mr. Maydig opposed the idea, and then he yielded. Mr. Fotheringay issued his orders, and a little less at their ease, perhaps, the two gentlemen proceeded with their repast. Mr. Maydig was enlarging on the changes he might expect in his housekeeper next day, with an optimism that seemed even to Mr. Fotheringay’s supper senses a little forced and hectic, when a series of confused noises from upstairs began. Their eyes exchanged interrogations, and Mr. Maydig left the room hastily. Mr. Fotheringay heard him calling up to his housekeeper and then his footsteps going softly up to her.

In a minute or so the minister returned, his step light, his face radiant. “Wonderful!” he said, “and touching! Most touching!”

He began pacing the hearthrug. “A repentance—a most touching repentance—through the crack of the door. Poor woman! A most wonderful change! She had got up. She must have got up at once. She had got up out of her sleep to smash a private bottle of brandy in her box. And to confess it too! . . . But this gives us—it opens—a most amazing vista of possibilities. If we can work this miraculous change in her. . .”

“The thing’s unlimited seemingly,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “And about Mr. Winch—”

“Altogether unlimited.” And from the hearthrug Mr. Maydig, waving the Winch difficulty aside, unfolded a series of wonderful proposals—proposals he invented as he went along.

Now what those proposals were does not concern the essentials of this story. Suffice it that they were designed in a spirit of infinite benevolence, the sort of benevolence that used to be called post-prandial. Suffice it, too, that the problem of Winch remained unsolved. Nor is it necessary to describe how far that series got to its fulfilment. There were astonishing changes. The small hours found Mr. Maydig and Mr. Fotheringay careering across the chilly market-square under the still moon, in a sort of ecstasy of thaumaturgy, Mr. Maydig all flap and gesture, Mr. Fotheringay short and bristling, and no longer abashed at his greatness. They had reformed every drunkard in the Parliamentary division, changed all the beer and alcohol to water (Mr. Maydig had overruled Mr. Fotheringay on this point); they had, further, greatly improved the railway communication of the place, drained Flinder’s swamp, improved the soil of One Tree Hill, and cured the Vicar’s wart. And they were going to see what could be done with the injured pier at South Bridge. “The place,” gasped Mr. Maydig, “won’t be the same place to-morrow. How surprised and thankful everyone will be!” And just at that moment the church clock struck three.

“I say,” said Mr. Fotheringay, “that’s three o’clock! I must be getting back. I’ve got to be at business by eight. And besides, Mrs. Wimms—”

“We’re only beginning,” said Mr. Maydig, full of the sweetness of unlimited power. “We’re only beginning. Think of all the good we’re doing. When people wake—”

“But—,” said Mr. Fotheringay.

Mr. Maydig gripped his arm suddenly. His eyes were bright and wild. “My dear chap,” he said, “there’s no hurry. “Look”—he pointed to the moon at the zenith—“Joshua!”

“Joshua?” said Mr. Fotheringay.

“Joshua,” said Mr. Maydig. “Why not? Stop it.”

Mr. Fotheringay looked at the moon.

“That’s a bit tall,” he said after a pause.

“Why not?” said Mr. Maydig. “Of course it doesn’t stop. You stop the rotation of the earth, you know. Time stops. It isn’t as if we were doing harm.”

“H’m!” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Well.” He sighed. “I’ll try. Here—”

He buttoned up his jacket and addressed himself to the habitable globe, with as good an assumption of confidence as lay in his power. “Jest stop rotating, will you,” said Mr. Fotheringay.

Incontinently he was flying head over heels through the air at the rate of dozens of miles a minute. In spite of the innumerable circles he was describing per second, he thought; for thought is wonderful—sometimes as sluggish as flowing pitch, sometimes as instantaneous as light. He thought in a second, and willed. “Let me come down safe and sound. Whatever else happens, let me down safe and sound.”

He willed it only just in time, for his clothes, heated by his rapid flight through the air, were already beginning to singe. He came down with a forcible, but by no means injurious bump in what appeared to be a mound of fresh-turned earth. A large mass of metal and masonry, extraordinarily like the clock-tower in the middle of the market-square, hit the earth near him, ricochetted over him, and flew into stonework, bricks, and masonry, like a bursting bomb. A hurtling cow hit one of the larger blocks and smashed like an egg. There was a crash that made all the most violent crashes of his past life seem like the sound of falling dust, and this was followed by a descending series of lesser crashes. A vast wind roared throughout earth and heaven’ so that he could scarcely lift his head to look. For a while he was too breathless and astonished even to see where he was or what had happened. And his first movement was to feel his head and reassure himself that his streaming hair was still his own.

“Lord!” gasped Mr. Fotheringay, scarce able to speak for the gale, “I’ve had a squeak! What’s gone wrong? Storms and thunder. And only a minute ago a fine night. It’s Maydig set me on to this sort of thing. What a wind! If I go on fooling in this way I’m bound to have a thundering accident! . . .

“Where’s Maydig?

“What a confounded mess everything’s in!”

He looked about him so far as his flapping jacket would permit. The appearance of things was really extremely strange. “The sky’s all right anyhow,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “And that’s about all that is all right. And even there it looks like a terrific gale coming up. But there’s the moon overhead. just as it was just now. Bright as midday. But as for the rest—Where’s the village? Where’s—where’s anything? And what on earth set this wind a-blowing? I didn’t order no wind.”

Mr. Fotheringay struggled to get to his feet in vain, and after one failure, remained on all fours, holding on. He surveyed the moonlit world to leeward, with the tails of his jacket streaming over his head. “There’s something seriously wrong,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “And what it is—goodness knows.”

Far and wide nothing was visible in the white glare through the haze of dust that drove before a screaming gale but tumbled masses of earth and heaps of inchoate ruins, no trees, no houses, no familiar shapes, only a wilderness of disorder vanishing at last into the darkness beneath the whirling columns and streamers, the lightnings and thunderings of a swiftly rising storm. Near him in the livid glare was something that might once have been an elm-tree, a smashed mass of splinters, shivered from boughs to base, and further a twisted mass of iron girders—only too evidently the viaduct—rose out of the piled confusion.

You see when Mr. Fotheringay had arrested the rotation of the solid globe, he had made no stipulation concerning the trifling movables upon its surface. And the earth spins so fast that the surface at its equator is travelling at rather more than a thousand miles an hour, and in these latitudes at more than half that pace. So that the village, and Mr. Maydig, and Mr. Fotheringay, and everybody and everything had been jerked violently forward at about nine miles per second—that is to say, much more violently than if they had been fired out of a cannon. And every human being, every living creature, every house, and every tree—all the world as we know it—had been so jerked and smashed and utterly destroyed. That was all.

These things Mr. Fotheringay did not, of course, fully appreciate. But he perceived that his miracle had miscarried, and with that a great disgust of miracles came upon him. He was in darkness now, for the clouds had swept together and blotted out his momentary glimpse of the moon, and the air was full of fitful struggling tortured wraiths of hail. A great roaring of wind and waters filled earth and sky, and, peering under his hand through the dust and sleet to windward, he saw by the play of the lightnings a vast wall of water pouring towards him.

“Maydig!” screamed Mr. Fotheringay’s feeble voice amid the elemental uproar. “Here!—Maydig!”

“Stop!” cried Mr. Fotheringay to the advancing water. “Oh, for goodness’ sake, stop!”

“Just a moment,” said Mr. Fotheringay to the lightnings and thunder. “Stop jest a moment while I collect my thoughts. . . . And now what shall I do?” he said. “What shall I do? Lord! I wish Maydig was about.”

“I know,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “And for goodness’ sake let’s have it right this time.”

He remained on all fours, leaning against the wind, very intent to have everything right.

“Ah!” he said. “Let nothing what I’m going to order happen until I say ‘Off!’ . . . Lord! I wish I’d thought of that before!”

He lifted his little voice against the whirlwind, shouting louder and louder in the vain desire to hear himself speak. “Now then!—here goes! Mind about that what I said just now. In the first place, when all I’ve got to say is done, let me lose my miraculous power, let my will become just like anybody else’s will, and all these dangerous miracles be stopped. I don’t like them. I’d rather I didn’t work ’em. Ever so much. That’s the first thing. And the second is—let me be back just before the miracles begin; let everything be just as it was before that blessed lamp turned up. It’s a big job, but it’s the last. Have you got it? No more miracles, everything as it was—me back in the Long Dragon just before I drank my half-pint. That’s it! Yes.”

He dug his fingers into the mould, closed his eyes, and said “Off!”

Everything became perfectly still. He perceived that he was standing erect.

“So you say,” said a voice.

He opened his eyes. He was in the bar of the Long Dragon, arguing about miracles with Toddy Beamish. He had a vague sense of some great thing forgotten that instantaneously passed. You see, except for the loss of his miraculous powers, everything was back as it had been; his mind and memory therefore were now just as they had been at the time when this story began. So that he knew absolutely nothing of all that is told here, knows nothing of all that is told here to this day. And among other things, of course, he still did not believe in miracles.

“I tell you that miracles, properly speaking, can’t possibly happen,” he said, “whatever you like to hold. And I’m prepared to prove it up to the hilt.”

“That’s what you think,” said Toddy Beamish, and “Prove it if you can.”

“Looky here, Mr. Beamish,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “Let us clearly understand what a miracle is. It’s something contrariwise to the course of nature done by power of Will . . .”
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