‘Jolly good thing too!’ she said. ‘Then a woman can live her own life.’ Her husband wanted children, and she didn’t.
‘How’d you like to be immunized?’ Winterslow asked her, with an ugly smile.
‘I hope I am; naturally,’ she said. ‘Anyhow the future’s going to have more sense, and a woman needn’t be dragged down by her functions.’
‘Perhaps she’ll float off into space altogether,’ said Dukes.
‘I do think sufficient civilization ought to eliminate a lot of the physical disabilities,’ said Clifford. ‘All the love-business for example, it might just as well go. I suppose it would if we could breed babies in bottles.’
‘No!’ cried Olive. ‘That might leave all the more room for fun.’
‘I suppose,’ said Lady Bennerley, contemplatively, ‘if the love-business went, something else would take its place. Morphia, perhaps. A little morphine in all the air. It would be wonderfully refreshing for everybody.’
‘The government releasing ether into the air on Saturdays, for a cheerful weekend!’ said Jack. ‘Sounds all right, but where should we be by Wednesday?’
‘So long as you can forget your body you are happy,’ said Lady Bennerley. ‘And the moment you begin to be aware of your body, you are wretched. So, if civilization is any good, it has to help us to forget our bodies, and then time passes happily without our knowing it.’
‘Help us to get rid of our bodies altogether,’ said Winterslow. ‘It’s quite time man began to improve on his own nature, especially the physical side of it.’
‘Imagine if we floated like tobacco smoke,’ said Connie.
‘It won’t happen,’ said Dukes. ‘Our old show will come flop; our civilization is going to fall. It’s going down the bottomless pit, down the chasm. And believe me, the only bridge across the chasm will be the phallus!’
‘Oh do! do be impossible, General!’ cried Olive.
‘I believe our civilization is going to collapse,’ said Aunt Eva.
‘And what will come after it?’ asked Clifford.
‘I haven’t the faintest idea, but something, I suppose,’ said the elderly lady.
‘Connie says people like wisps of smoke, and Olive says immunized women, and babies in bottles, and Dukes says the phallus is the bridge to what comes next. I wonder what it will really be?’ said Clifford.
‘Oh, don’t bother! let’s get on with today,’ said Olive. ‘Only hurry up with the breeding bottle, and let us poor women off.’
‘There might even be real men, in the next phase,’ said Tommy. ‘Real, intelligent, wholesome men, and wholesome nice women! Wouldn’t that be a change, an enormous change from us? We’re not men, and the women aren’t women. We’re only cerebrating make-shifts, mechanical and intellectual experiments. There may even come a civilization of genuine men and women, instead of our little lot of clever-jacks, all at the intelligence-age of seven. It would be even more amazing than men of smoke or babies in bottles.’
‘Oh, when people begin to talk about real women, I give up,’ said Olive.
‘Certainly nothing but the spirit in us is worth having,’ said Winterslow.
‘Spirits!’ said Jack, drinking his whisky and soda.
‘Think so? Give me the resurrection of the body!’ said Dukes.
‘But it’ll come, in time, when we’ve shoved the cerebral stone away a bit, the money and the rest. Then we’ll get a democracy of touch, instead of a democracy of pocket.’
Something echoed inside Connie: ‘Give me the democracy of touch, the resurrection of the body!’ She didn’t at all know what it meant, but it comforted her, as meaningless things may do.
Anyhow everything was terribly silly, and she was exasperatedly bored by it all, by Clifford, by Aunt Eva, by Olive and Jack, and Winterslow, and even by Dukes. Talk, talk, talk! What hell it was, the continual rattle of it!