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|6. The Encounter At Stonehenge||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 3 of 3||
"Man and woman," she had amended.
But just as man on his planet taking control of life had failed altogether to remember why the ditch at Avebury was on the inside instead of the outside of the vallum, so now Miss Grammont and Sir Richmond found very great difficulty in recalling why they had built Salisbury Cathedral.
"We built temples by habit and tradition," said Sir Richmond. "But the impulse was losing its force. "
She looked up at the spire and then at him with a faintly quizzical expression.
But he had his reply ready.
"We were beginning to feel our power over matter. We were already very clever engineers. What interested us here wasn't the old religion any more. We wanted to exercise and display our power over stone. We made it into reeds and branches. We squirted it up in all these spires and pinnacles. The priest and his altar were just an excuse. Do you think people have ever feared and worshipped in this--this artist's lark--as they did in Stonehenge?"
"I certainly do not remember that I ever worshipped here," she said.
Sir Richmond was in love with his idea. "The spirit of the Gothic cathedrals," he said, "is the spirit of the skyscrapers. It is architecture in a mood of flaming ambition. The Freemasons on the building could hardly refrain from jeering at the little priest they had left down below there, performing antiquated puerile mysteries at his altar. He was just their excuse for doing it all."
"Sky-scrapers?" she conceded. "An early display of the skyscraper spirit. . . . You are doing your best to make me feel thoroughly at home."
"You are more at home here still than in that new country of ours over the Atlantic. But it seems to me now that I do begin to remember building this cathedral and all the other cathedrals we built in Europe. . . . It was the fun of building made us do it. . . "
"H'm," she said. "And my sky-scrapers?"
"Still the fun of building. That is the thing I envy most about America. It's still large enough, mentally and materially, to build all sorts of things. . . . Over here, the sites are frightfully crowded. . . . "
"And what do you think we are building now? And what do you think you are building over here?"
"What are we building now? I believe we have almost grown up. I believe it is time we began to build in earnest. For good. . . ."
"But are we building anything at all?"
"A new world."
"Show it me," she said.
"We're still only at the foundations," said Sir Richmond." Nothing shows as yet."
"I wish I could believe they were foundations."
"But can you doubt we are scrapping the old? . . ."
It was too late in the afternoon to go into the cathedral, so they strolled to and fro round and about the west end and along the path under the trees towards the river, exchanging their ideas very frankly and freely about the things that had recently happened to the world and what they thought they ought to be doing in it.
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|The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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