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-- Discussion Of Chapter 5

"I like the bit about the shooting", said Michael, "but I don't think it was fair to make David first."
"Somebody had to be first", said I. "I note that you don't complain that it was the same David who had his tooth drilled."
"That", said Jean, "was funny, but when you tell a story why do you bring in things that couldn't happen?"
"What sort of things?"
"That bit about when we went after the dogs. You said we rode on horses and you stayed behind, and then you came swinging like Tarzan on the branches and saved us."
"Why not?" I asked.
"'Cos Saxmundham is about five miles away, and you couldn't get there without a horse in time."
"Yes", said Gordon, "that was an impossible bit in the story."
"I of course came by motor-bike", I said.
"But you said the roads were blocked by cars."
"That was true, but where a horse can get through a motor-bike can get through. Simple enough."
"We could of beat them without you", said Evelyn, "and another thing, how could we dig a trench round that German town in a month?"
"Pyecraft, Fritz, and I worked overtime", said I.
"But you said in the story that Pyecraft was always sleeping."
"Got him there, Evelyn", said Jean.
"Most companies", said I, "have sleeping partners. You are too critical, that's what's wrong with you."
"I wish you hadn't brought in the gangsters", said Evelyn. "They'll maybe kill us yet."
"Shouldn't be surprised", said I.
"I'm glad you brought them in", said Robert, "for there's no fun in a story if you can't use revolvers and machine-guns. I think you should make them steal the airship."
"That", said Michael, "would be topping. But we'd get it back of course and kill them all."
"But not Pirrolo", put in Betty. "He's nice and he wouldn't let them steal the airship."
"He may look nice", said Jean, "but if a man wants to bump off a thousand men you can't exactly call him very nice, can you, Neill?"
"They say that Napoleon was quite a nice chap to talk to", I said, "and he bumped off more than a thousand."
"Is that history or psychology?" asked David suspiciously.
"Both", said I. "I know that the whole crowd of you are hoping that in the story it will come to a show-down with the gangsters, and I know that David and Co. have one ambition -- to put Steve and Co. on the spot. In fact, you are no better than Pirrolo."
"We'll have to kill them", said Bunny thoughtfully. "I'm frightened of that chap Steve. Humph! To think that he thought himself such a crack shot! He wasn't much good, was he, Michael?"
"Why didn't you take part in the shooting competition, Neill?" asked Michael.
"I am one of those effective shots who do not require to show off", I said, and they laughed scornfully.
"You couldn't hit the end of a house with a sawn-off shotgun", said Jean.
"Maybe later in the story my marksmanship will save your lives, as it did in the case of the dogs", I said with some dignity, but they laughed more than ever, and I smiled grimly.
"Wait", said I, "and you may have to eat your words."
"But you haven't had your revenge for me burning the White Horse yet", said Betty.
"Wait", said I patiently, "only wait."

On to Chapter 6

Discussion of chapter 5 of 'The Last Man Alive' by A. S. Neill. This page is copyrighted.