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3. The Departure H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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The affair of the car effectively unsealed Sir Richmond's mind. Hitherto Dr. Martineau had perceived the possibility and danger of a defensive silence or of a still more defensive irony; but now that Sir Richmond had once given himself away, he seemed prepared to give himself away to an unlimited extent. He embarked upon an apologetic discussion of the choleric temperament.

He began as they stood waiting for the relief car from the Maidenhead garage. "You were talking of the ghosts of apes and monkeys that suddenly come out from the darkness of the subconscious . . . ."

"You mean--when we first met at Harley Street?"

"That last apparition of mine seems to have been a gorilla at least."

The doctor became precise. Gorillaesque. We are not descended from gorillas."

"Queer thing a fit of rage is!"

"It's one of nature's cruder expedients. Crude, but I doubt if it is fundamental. There doesn't seem to be rage in the vegetable world, and even among the animals--? No, it is not universal." He ran his mind over classes and orders. "Wasps and bees certainly seem to rage, but if one comes to think, most of the invertebrata show very few signs of it."

"I'm not so sure," said Sir Richmond. "I've never seen a snail in a towering passion or an oyster slamming its shell behind it. But these are sluggish things. Oysters sulk, which is after all a smouldering sort of rage. And take any more active invertebrate. Take a spider. Not a smashing and swearing sort of rage perhaps, but a disciplined, cold-blooded malignity. Crabs fight. A conger eel in a boat will rage dangerously."

"A vertebrate. Yes. But even among the vertebrata; who has ever seen a furious rabbit?"

"Don't the bucks fight?" questioned Sir Richmond.

Dr. Martineau admitted the point.

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"I've always had these fits of passion. As far back as I can remember. I was a kicking, screaming child. I threw things. I once threw a fork at my elder brother and it stuck in his forehead, doing no serious damage--happily. There were whole days of wrath--days, as I remember them. Perhaps they were only hours. . . . I've never thought before what a peculiar thing all this raging is in the world. WHY do we rage? They used to say it was the devil. If it isn't the devil, then what the devil is it? "After all," he went on as the doctor was about to answer his question; "as you pointed out, it isn't the lowlier things that rage. It's the HIGHER things and US."

"The devil nowadays," the doctor reflected after a pause, "so far as man is concerned, is understood to be the ancestral ape. And more particularly the old male ape."

But Sir Richmond was away on another line of thought. "Life itself, flaring out. Brooking no contradiction." He came round suddenly to the doctor's qualification. "Why male? Don't little girls smash things just as much?"

"They don't," said Dr. Martineau. "Not nearly as much."

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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