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CHOCKY by John Wyndham


    John  Wyndham  is   by   right   considered   a   leading   British
science-fiction  writer  of  our  day.  Born  in  1903, he tried various
careers including farming, law, commercial art, and advertising, and  he
first  started writing short stories in 1925. From !930 to I939 he wrote
stories of various kinds under different names, published mostly in  the
USA.  He also wrote detective novels. During the war he was in thc Civil
Service and afterwards in the Army. In 1946  he  went  back  to  writing
stories  and  decided to try a modified form of what is known as science
fiction. He wrote The Day of Truffids, translated into  many  languages,
including   Russian.  It  is  a  fantastic,  frightening,  but  entirely
plausable story of the future when thc world is dominated  by  triffids,
grotesque  and  dangerous plants over seven feet tall. This was followed
by The Kraken Waves, a book telling of the awakening and rise  to  power
of  forces of cruelly terrifying consequence from beneath the surface of
the sea. Next came The Crysalids, a thrilling and realistic  account  of
the world beset by genetic mutations, The seeds of Time, a collection of
short stories acknowledged by their author as `experiments  in  adapting
the SF motif to various styles of short story', and The Midwich Cuckoos,
believed to be Wyndham's most disturbing story set  in  a  quiet  little
English village. Then appeared The Trouble with Lichen.
    Chocky is the last book written by J. Wyndham, who died in 1969. It
was also translated into Russian a few years ago. Here the author is not
concerned with the panoramic  views  of  world  destruction,  like,  for
instance,  in  The Day of the Triffids. The stage is small, the cast are
few, the setting is familiar - yet, into the most uneventual lives,  the
unexpected can disquietingly intrude.
    Once you begin reading this book you start living with the Gores  -
a plain middle class English family of our days. But then the unexpected
happens: a new and seemingly fantastic element appears within the Gores.
Now  you  see  adults'  rear  and  hostility  towards  things  not fully
understood and difficult to cope with. The situation  goes  out  of  thc
Gores'  control  and  a  group  of people intrudes whose basic motive is
their own profit,

    This book is  intended  for  the  students  of  Teachers'  Training
Colleges. The language is fairly simple yet idiomatic, and one will find
here quite a few phrases and terms important for the future teachers  of
    Chocky has been slightly abridged and commented so as  to  fit  the
knowledge  of  the  first-year student. In the book the reader will also
find a list of names which pronunciation may present some difficulty.


    It was in the spring of the year that Matthew reached twelve that I
first  became  aware  of  Chocky.  Late April, I think, or possibly May;
anyway I am sure it was the spring because on that Saturday afternoon  I
was  out  in  the  garden  shed  unenthusiastically oiling the mower for
labours to come (*) when I heard Matthew's voice outside  the window. It
surprised me; I had no idea he was anywhere about until I heard him say,
on a note of distinct irritation, and, apparently, of nothing:
    `I don't know why It's just the way things are.'
    I assumed that he had brought one of his friends into the garden to
play, and that the question which prompted his remark had been asked out
of earshot. I listened for the reply, but  there  was  none.  Presently,
after a pause, Matthew went on, rather more patiently:
    `Well, the time the world takes to turn round is a day, and  that's
twenty-four hours, and...'
    He broke off, as if at  some  interruption,  though  it  was  quite
inaudible to me. Then he repeated:
    `I don't know why. And I don't see why thirty-two  hours  would  be
more sensible. Anyway,  twenty-four  hours  do make a day, (*) everybody
knows that, and seven days make a week...' Again he appeared to  be  cut
short. (*) Once more  he  protested.  `I don't see why seven is a sillier
number than eight...'
    Evidently  there  was  another inaudible interruption, then he went
on: `Well who wants to divide a week into halves and  quarters,  anyway?
What would be the point of it? A week just is seven days. and four weeks
ought to make a month, only  usually  it's  thirty  days  or  thirty-one
days...'  -  `No, it's never thirty-two days...' - `Yes, I can see that,
but we don't want a week of eight days. Besides, the  world  goes  round
the sun in three hundred and sixty-five days, and nobody can do anything
that will make that turn into proper halves and quarters.'
    At  that  point  the  peculiarity  of  this  one-sided conversation
aroused my curiosity so much that I put my head cautiously  out  of  the
open  window.  The  garden  was  sunny,  and  that  side of the shed was
she1tered and warm. Matthew was seated on an upturned seed-tray, 1eaning
back against the brick wall of the shed just under the window, so that I
was looking down on the top of his fair-haired head.  He  seemed  to  be
gazing straight across the lawn and into the bushes beyond. There was no
sign of a companion, nor of any place one could be hidden.
    Matthew, however, went on:
    `There are twelve of these months in a year, so...'  He  broke  off
again, his head a little ti1ted as though he were listening. I listened,
too, but there was not a whisper of any other voice to be heard.
    `It's  not  just  stupid,'  he objected. `It's like that because no
kind of same-sized months would fit into a year properly, even if...'
    He   broke  off  once  more,  but  this  time  the  source  of  the
interruption was far from inaudible. Colin,  the  neighbour's  boy,  had
shouted  from  the  next  garden.  Matthew  jumped  up  with  a friendly
answering whoop, and ran off across the lawn  towards  the  gap  in  the
dividing hedge.
    I turned back to my oiling, puzzled, but reassured by the sound  of
normal boyish voices next door.
    I  put  the  incident  out  of  my  mind for the time being, but it
recurred to me that evening when the children had both gone upstairs  to
bed,  and  I  found  myself  vaguely  troubled by it. Not so much by the
conversation - for, after all, there is nothing  unusual  in  any  child
talking  to lim, or her, self - as by the form of it: the consistency of
its assumption that a second party was involved, (*) and the  improbable
subject for argument. I was prompted after a time to ask:
    `Darling, have you noticed anything odd - no, I don't exactly  mean
odd - anything unusual, about Matthew lately?'
    Mary lowered her knitting, and looked at me over it.
    `Oh,  so you have, have you? Though I agree "odd" isn't exactly the
word. Was he listening to nothing or talking to himself?'
    `Talking  -  well,  both,  really,' I said. `How long has this been
going on?'
    She considered.
    `The first time I noticed it would be - oh  I suppose about two  or
three  weeks  ago. It didn't seem worth bothering about. Just another of
those crazes children get  you know. Like the time when he was  being  a
car   and  had to steer himself round corners  and change gear on hills 
and put on the brake whenever he stopped. Fortunately  it wore off quite
soon. Probably this will   too.  
    There was more hope than conviction in her tone.
    `You  re not worried about him?  I asked.
    She smiled.
    `Oh,  good  gracious,  no.  He s  perfectly well. What I am worried
about is us.'
    `Well, it begins to look to me rather as if we may have got another
Piff, or something like her   in the family.'
    I felt, and probably looked, dismayed. I shook my head.
    `Oh, no! Don't say it. Not another Piff!' I protested.


    Piff was a small, or supposedly small  invisible friend that Polly.
Our daughter, had acquired when she was about five. And while she lasted
she was a great nuisance.
    When  one  tried  to  sit  down  upon a conveniently empty chair he
would often be stopped by a cry  of anguish from Polly; (*) one had,  it
seemed,  been  about  to  sit  on  Piff  who  would then be embraced and
comforted by a lot of  sympathetic mutterings about careless and  brutal
    Frequently, and more likely than not when the television  play  was
really  thrilling,  there would come an urgent call from Polly's bedroom
above; the cause had to be investigated although  one  could  be  almost
sure that it would concern Piff's need of a drink of water. We would sit
down at a table for four in a cafe, and Polly would  ask  the  mystified
waitress for an extra chair for Piff. I could be starting the car when a
yell would inform me that Piff was not yet with us, and the car door had
to be opened to let her aboard. Once I testily refused to wa it for her.
It was not worth it; my heart1essness had clouded our whole day.
    Piff must have been with us the best part of a year - and it seemed
a great deal longer - but in the end she somehow got mis1aid during  our
summer  holidays.  Polly,  so much taken up by several more substantial,
and much more audible, new friends, dropped Piff with great callousmess.
Her  absence  came  as  a  great  relief - even, one suspected, to Polly
herself. The idea that we might now have acquired another such was by no
means welcome.
    `A grim thought,' I said, `but, fortunately improbable, I think.  A
Piff  can  provide  useful  bossing material for a member of the younger
female age-groups, but an elevenyear-old boy who wants to boss seems  to
me more likely to take it out on other, and smaller, boys.' (*)
    `I'm sure I hope you are right,' (*) Mary said, but dubious1y. `One
Piff was more than enough.'
    `There's quite a different quality here,' I pointed out.
If you remember, Piff spent about eighty per cent of her
time being scolded for something or other, and having to take  it.  This
one  appeared  to  be  criticizing, and coming back with opinions of its
    Mary looked startled.
    `What do you mean? I don't see how...'
    I repeated, as nearly as I could recall, the one-sided conversation
I had overheard.
    Mary frowned as she considered it.
    `I don't understand that at all,' she said.
    `Oh, it's simple enough. After all the arrangement of a calendar is
just a convention...'
    `But  that's  just  what  it  isn't  - not to a child, David. To an
eleven-year-old it seems like a natural law - just as much  as  day  and
night,  or the seasons... A week is a week, and it has seven days - it's
unquestionable, it just is so.'
    `Well,  that's more or less what Matthew was saying, but apparently
he was being argued with - or he was arguing  with  himself.  In  either
case it isn't easy to explain.'
    `He must have been arguing with what someone's told him at school -
one of his teachers, most likely.'
    `I suppose so,' I conceded. `All the same, it's a new  one  on  me.
I've   heard   of  calendar  reformers  who  want  all  months  to  have
twenty-eight days, but never of anyone advocating an  eight-day  week  -
or, come to that. a thirtytwo day month.' I pondered a moment. `Besides,
then you'd need nineteen more days  in  a  year...'  I  shook  my  head.
`Anyway,' I went on, `I didn't mean to make heavy weather of it. It just
strikes me as  odd. (*) I  wondered if you  had noticed anything  of the
sort, too.'
    Mary  lowered  her  knitting  again,  and   studied   its   pattern
    `No - well, not exactly. I have  heard  him  muttering  to  himself
occasionally,  but  nearly  all  children do that at times. I'm afraid I
didn't pay any attention - actually I was anxious  not  to  do  anything
which  might  encourage  another  Piff.  But  there  is  one  thing: the
questions he's been asking lately -'
    `Lately!' I repeated. `Was there ever a time when he didn't?'
    `I know. But these are a bit different. I mean - well, usually  his
questions have been average-boy questions.'
    `I hadn't noticed they'd changed.'
    `Oh, the old kind of questions keep on, but there's a new kind, too
- with a different sort of slant.'
    `Such as ...?'
    `Well, one of them was about why are there two sexes?  He  said  he
didn't  see  why  it was necessary to have two people to produce one, so
how had it got arranged that way, and why? That's a difficult  one,  you
know, on  the spur  of the  moment (*)  - well,  it's difficult  anyway,
isn't it?'
    I frowned not knowing what to say. `And there was another one, too,
a bout ``where is Earth?" Now, I ask you - where is Earth? - in relation
to  what? Oh, yes, he knows it goes round the sun, but where, please, is
the sun? And there were some others - simply not his kind of questions.'
    I saw what she meant. Matthew's questions were plentiful, and quite
varied, but they usually kept a more  homely  orbit:  things  like  `Why
can't we live on grass if horses can?'
    `A new phase?' I suggested. `He's reached a stage where things  are
beginning to widen out for him.'
    Mary shook her head, giving me a look of reproach.
    `That,  darling, is what I've been telling you. What I want to know
is why they should widen, and his interests apparently change, quite  so
suddenly. This doesn't seem to me like just development. It's more as if
he'd switched to a different track It's a sudden  change  in  quality  -
quality  and  approach.'  She  went on frowning for the pause before she
added: `I do wish we knew a little more about his  parents.  That  might
help. In Polly I can see bits you and bits of me. It gives one a feeling
of something to go on. But with  Matthew  there's  no  guide  at  all...
There's nothing to give me any idea what to expect...'
    I could see what when we lost all hopes to have a baby of our  own.
He  was  a  month  old  when  he  entered  our family bringing peace and
consolation to Mary. A year later there had come the first signs that  a
new  baby  was  on  the way, and so, Matthew was about two, he had a new
baby sister - little Polly. I could also see where we were  heading.  In
about  three  more  moves  we'd be back at the old unprofitable contest:
heredity versus environment. To sidestep I said:
    `It  looks  to me as if the best thing we can do for the present is
simply to listen and watch carefully - though not obviously -  until  we
get a firmer impression. no good worrying ourselves over what may easily
be an insignificant passing phase.'
    And there we decided to leave it for the time being.
    It  was  about  ten  days after that we about Chocky. It might well
have been longer had Matthew not picked  up  the  flu  at  school  which
caused  him  to  run quite a temperature for a while. When it was at its
height he rambled a bit, with all defences down. There times when he did
not seem to know whether he was talking to his mother, or his father, or
to some mysterious character he called  Chocky.  Moreover,  this  Chocky
appeared to worry him, for he protested several times.
    On the second evening his temperature ran high. Mary called down to
me  to  come  up.  Poor  Matthew looked in a sorry state. His colour was
high, his brow damp, and he was very restless. He kept rolling his  head
from side to side on the pillow, almost as if he were trying to shake it
free of something. In a tone of weary exasperation  he  said:  `No,  no,
Chocky. Not now. I can't understand. I want to go to sleep... No ... Oh,
do shut up and go away... No, I can't tell you now... He rolled his head
again,  and pulled his arms from under the bedclothes to press his hands
over his ears. `Oh, do stop it, Chocky. Do shut up!'
    Mary reached across and put her hand on his forehead. He opened his
eyes and became aware of her.
    `Oh,  Mummy,  I'  m so tired. Do tell chocky to go away She doesn't
understand. She won't leave me alone...' (*)
    Mary  glanced  questioningly at me. I could only shrug and shake my
head. Then  she rose  to the  occasion (*)  Turning back,  she addressed
herself  to  a  point  slightly  above  Matthew's head. I recognized the
technique she had sometimes  used with Piff. In  a kindly but firm  tone
she said:
    `Chocky, you really must let Matthew he quiet and rest. He isn't at
all well, Chocky, and he needs to go to sleep. So  please  go  away  and
leave him alone now. Perhaps, if he's better tomorrow, you can come back
    `See?'  said  Matthew.  `You've got to clear out, Chocky, so that I
can get better.' He seemed to listen. `Yes,' he said decisively.
    It appeared to work. In fact, it did work.
    He lay back again, and visibly relaxed.
    `She's gone,' he announced.
    `That's fine. Now you can settle down,' said Mary.
    And  he did. He wriggled into a comfortable position and lay quiet.
Presently his eyes closed. In a very few minutes  he  was  fast  asleep.
Mary  and I looked at one another. She tucked his bedclothes closer, and
put the bell-push handy. We tiptoed to the door,  turned  off  the  room
light, and went downstairs.
    `Well,' I said, `what do you think of that?'
    `Aren't  they astonishing?' said Mary. `Dear, oh dear, it does very
much look as if this family is landed with another Piff'.
    I poured us some sherry, handed Mary hers, and raised mime.
    `Here's to (*) hoping  it turns out to  be less of a  pest than the
    last one,'  I said.  I set  down the  glass, and  looked at  it You
know,'  I  told  her,  `I  can't  help  feeling there's  something wrong
about this.  As I said  before, Piffs aren't unusual with little  girls,
but I don't remember hearing of an eleven-year-old boy inventing  one...
It seems out of order, somehow... I must ask someone about it...'
    Mary nodded agreement.
    `Yes,' she said, `but what strikes me as even odder is  -  did  you
notice? - he doesn't seem to be clear in his own mind whether his Chocky
is a him or a her. Children are usually very positive about  that.  They
feel it's important...'
    `I wouldn't say the feeling of importance is entirely restricted to
children,'  I  told  her,  but I see what you mean, and you're perfectly
right, of course. It is odd... The whole thing's odd...'
    Matthew's  temperature  was  down  the  next  morning. He picked up
quickly. In a few days he was fully recovered. So too,  apparently,  was
his invisible friend, undiscouraged by the temporary banishment.
    Now that Chocky's existence was out of the bag (*) - and largely, I
was  inclined  to  think,  because  neither  Mary  nor  I  had displayed
incredulity - Matthew gained enough confidence to  talk  a  little  more
freely about him/her.
    To  begin  with,  at  any  rate,  he/she  seemed   a   considerable
improvement  on the original Piff. There was none of that business of hi
m/her invisibly occupying one's chair, or feeling sick  in  teashops  to
which  Piff  had  been  so  prone.  Indeed, Chocky quite markedly lacked
physical  attributes.  He/she  appeared  to  be  scarcely  more  than  a
presence, having perhaps something  in common with Wordsworth's  cuckoo,
(*)  but  with  the  added  limitation  that his/her wandering voice was
audible to Matthew alone. There were days when Matthew seemed to  forget
him/her altogether.   Unlike Piff,  he/she was  not prone  to  appearing
any - and everywhere, nor did  he/she  show  any  of Piff's  talent  for
embarrassment such as a determined insistence  on  being  taken  to  the
lavatory in the middle of the sermon. On the whole, if one had to choose
between the two, my preference was decided1y in favour of Chocky.
    Mary was less certain.
    `Are we,' she suddenly demanded one evening, staring into the loops
of  her knitting with a slight squint, `are we I wonder, doing the right
thing in playing up to this nonsense?  I  know  you  shouldn't  crush  a
child's  imagination, and all that, but what nobody tells you is how far
is enough. There comes a  stage  when  it  begins  to  get  a  bit  like
conspiracy.  I  mean,  if  everyone goes around pretending to believe in
things that aren't there, how on earth is a  child  going  to  learn  to
distinguish what really is, from what really isn't.'
    'Careful, darling,' I told her. 'You're steering close to dangerous
waters.  (*) It chiefly depends on who, and how many, believe what isn't
really is.'
    She nodded. Then she went on:
    `It'd be a most unfortunate thing if we found  out  on  that  we're
helping  to  stabilize  a  fantasy-system  that we ought to be trying to
dispel. Hadn't we better consult a psychiatrist about it?  He  could  at
least tell us whether it's one of the expectable things, or not.'
    `I'm rather against making too much fuss about  it,'  I  told  her.
`More  inclined to leave it for a bit. After all we managed to lose Piff
in the end, and no harm done.'
    `I  didn't  mean  send  him  to  a  psychiatrist. I thought just an
enquiry on general lines to find out whether it is  unusual,  or  simply
nothing to bother about. I'd feel easier if we knew.'
    `I'll ask around if you  like,'  I  said.  `I  don't  think  it  is
serious.  It  seems  to  me  a  bit  like  fiction - we read our kind of
fiction, children often make up their own, and live it. The  thing  that
does  trouble  me  a  bit  about  it  is that th is Chocky seems to have
entered the wrong age-group. I think we'll find it will fade away  after
a bit. If it doesn't we can consult someone about it.'
    I wasn't, I admit, being quite honest when I  said  that.  Some  of
Matthew's  questions  were  puzzling me considerably - not only by their
un-Matthew-like character but because, now that Chocky's  existence  was
acknowledged,  Matthew  did not always present the questions as his own.
Quite frequently he would preface them with: `Chocky says he doesn't see
how  ...  or  `Chocky  wants  to  ,know  ... or `Chocky says she doesn't
understand why...
    One thing I felt could be cleared up.
    `Look here,' I told him, `I get all confused with  this  he-and-she
business. On grounds of grammar alone it would be easier if I knew which
Chocky is.'
    Matthew quite agreed.
    `Yes, it would,' he said. `I thought  so,  too.  So  I  asked.  But
Chocky doesn't seem to know.'
    `Oh,' I said. `That's rather unusual. I mean,  it's  one  of  those
things people are generally pretty sure about.'
    Matthew agreed about that, too. .
    `But Chocky's sort of (*) different,' he told me earnestly.
    I explained  all the  differences between  hims and  hers, but  she
couldn't  seem  to  get  it,  somehow.  That's funny because he's really
frightfully  clever  I  think,  but  all  he  said was that it sounded a
pretty silly arrangement, and wanted to know why it's like that.'
    I recalled that Mary had encountered a question along those  lines.
Matthew went on:
    `I couldn't tell her why. And nobody I've asked has been much help.
Do you know why, ,Daddy.?'
    `Well - er - not exactly why, I confessed. `It's just - um - how it
is. One of Nature's ways of managing things.'
    Matthew nodded.
    `That's  what  I  tried to tell Chocky - well, sort of. But I don't
think I can have been very good at it because she said that  even  if  I
had  got it right, and it was as silly as it sounded, there still had to
be a why behind it.' He paused reflectively, and then added, with a nice
blend  of  pique  and  regret:  `Chocky  keeps  on finding such a lot of
things, quite ordinary things, silly. It gets a bit boring.'
    We  talked on for a while. I was interested and showed it, but from
what I learned, however, I found myself feeling  a  little  less  kindly
towards  Chocky.  He/she  gave  an impression of being quite aggressive.
Afterwards when  I  recollected  the  entirely  serious  nature  of  our
conversation  I  felt  some increase in uneasiness. Going back over it I
realized that not once in the course of it had Matthew even hinted by  a
single  word,  or  slip,  that  Chocky  was not just as real a person as
ourselves, and I began to wonder whether Mary had not been  right  about
consulting a psychiatrist
    However, we did get one thing more or less tidied up:  the  him/her
question. Matthew explained:
    `Chocky does talk rather like a boy, but a lot of the time it's not
about  the  sort  of thing boys talk about - if you see what I mean. And
sometimes there is a bit of - well, you know  the  sort  of  snooty  way
chaps' older sisters often get ...?'
    I said I did, and after we had discussed  these  and  a  few  other
characteristics  we  decided that Chocky's balance did on the whole lean
more to the F than the M, (*) and  agreed that in  future  it  would  be
convenient to class Chocky as feminine.
    Mary gave me a thoughtful look when I  reported  to  her  that,  at
least, was settled. .
    `The point it is gives more personification if Chocky is one or the
other  -  not  just  an it,, I explained. `Puts a sort of picture in the
mind which must be easier for him  to  cope  with  than  just  a  vague,
undifferentiated,  disembodied  something. And as Matthew feels there,is
not much similarity to any of the boys he knows ...
    `You  decide  she's  feminine  because you fee it will help you and
Matthew to attack her, , Mary declared. She spent then a few moments  in
reflective silence, and emerged from it to say, a little wistfully.
    `I do think being a parent must have been a  lot  more  fun  before
Freud was invented. (*)  As it is, if  this fantasy ga me  doesn't clear
up  in  a  week  or  two  we  shall  feel  a  moral, social, and medical
obligation to do something about it ... And it's such nonsense really  I
sometimes wonder  if we  aren't all  of us  a bit  morbid about children
nowadays I'm sure there are more delinquents than there used to be...'
    `I'm for keeping him clear of psychiatrists and suchlike if we can,
I told her. `Once you let a child get the idea he's an interesting case,
you turn loose a whole new boxful of troubles.' (*)
    She  was  silent  for  some  seconds.  Running  over in her mind, I
guessed, a number of the children we knew. Then she nodded.
    So  there we let it rest: once more waiting a bit longer to see how
it would go.
    In point of fact it went rather differently from anything we had in


    `Shut up!' I snapped suddenly. `Shut  up,  both  of  you.'  Matthew
regarded  me with unbelieving astonishment. Polly's eyes went wide, too.
Then both of them  turned  to  look  at  their  mother.  Mary  kept  her
expression  carefully  non-counmittal.  Her lips tightened slightly, and
she shook her head at them without speaking. Matthew  silently  finished
the  pudding  still  on  his  plate,  and then got up and left the room,
carrying himself stiffly, with the hurt of injustice.  Polly  choked  on
her final mouthful, and burst into tears. I was not feeling sympathetic.
    `What have you to cry about?' I asked her. `You started  it  again,
as usual.'
    `Come here, darling,'  said  Mary.  She  produced  a  handkerchief,
dabbed at the wet cheeks, and then kissed her
    `There, that's better,' she said. `Darling, Daddy didn't mean to be
unkind  I'm  sure, but he has told you lots of times not to quarrel with
Matthew - particularly at meals - you know he  has,  don't  you?'  Polly
replied  only  with  a  sniff. She looked down at her fingers twisting a
button on her dress. Mary went on: `You really must try not  to  quarrel
so much. Matthew doesn't want to quarrel with you, he hates it. It makes
things very uncomfortable for us - and, I  believe  you  hate  it,  too,
really. So do try, it's so much nicer for everyone if you don't.'
    Polly looked up from the button.
    `But  I  do  try, Mummy - only I can't help it. `Her tears began to
rise again. Mary gave her a hug.
    `Well,  you'll  just  have  to  try a little harder, darling, won't
you?' she said.
    Polly  stood passive1y for a moment, then she broke away across the
room, and fumb1ed with the door-knob.
    I got up, and closed the door behind her.
    `I'm sorry about that,' I said as I came back. `In fact I'm ashamed
of  myself  -  but really ! I don't believe we've had a meal in the last
two weeks without  th  is  infernal  quarrelling.  And  it's  Polly  who
provokes it every time. She keeps on nagging and picking at him until he
has to retaliate. I don't know what's come over her: they've always  got
on so well together ...'
    `Certainly they have,' Mary agreed `- Until  quite  recently,'  she
    `Another phase, I suppose, I said. `Children seem to  be  just  one
phase after another.'
    `I suppose you could call this a phase - I hope it is,'  Mary  said
thoughtfully. `But it's not one confined to children.'
    Her tone caused me to look at her inquiringly. She asked:
My dear, don't you see what Polly's trouble is?'
    I went on looking at her blankly. She explained.
    `It  is just plain, ordinary jealousy - only jealousy, of course is
never ordinary to the sufferer.'
    `Jealousy... ?' I repeated.
    `Yes, jealousy .
    `But of whom, of what? I don't get it.'
    `Surely that should be obvious enough. Of this Chocky, of course.
    I stared at her.
    `But that's absurd. Chocky is only - well, I don't  know  what  he,
she, or it is, but it' s not even real - doesn't even exist, I mean.'
    `Whatever does that matter? Chocky's real enough to Matthew -  and,
consequently,.to  Polly. Polly and Matthew have always got on very well,
as you said.  She  admires  him  tremendously.  She's  always  been  his
confidante,  and  his aide, and it's meant a lot to her But now he has a
new confidante. This Chocky has displaced her. She's on the outside  now
. I'm not in the least surprised she's jealous.'
    I felt bewildered.
    `Now you're beginning to talk as if Chocky were real.'
    Mary reached for a cigarette, and lit it.
    `Reality  is  relative.  Devils,  evil  spirits,  witches and so on
became real enough to the people who believed in them. Just as God is to
people who believe in Him. When people live their lives by their beliefs
objective reality is almost irrelevant.
    `That's why I wonder if we are doing the right thing. By playing up
to Matthew we are strengthening his belief, we are helping to  establish
the  existence  of  this  Chocky  more  firmly - until now we have Polly
believing in her, too - to the point  of  a  wretched  jealousy...  It's
somehow  getting  beyond a game of make-believe - and I don't like it. I
think we ought to get advice on it before it goes further.'
    I could see that this time she meant it seriously.
All right,' I agreed. `Perhaps it would be -' I was
beginning when I was cut off by the sound of the door bell.
    I went to answer it, and opened the door to find  myself  facing  a
man  I  knew  I should have recognized. I was just beginning to remember
him - that is, I had got as far as  connecting  him  with  the  Parents'
Association meeting - when he introduced himself.
    `Good  evening,  Mr  Gore.  I  don't  expect  you'll  remember  me.
Trimble's my name. I take your Matthew for maths.' (*)
    I led him into the sitting-room. Mary joined us, and  greeted  him,
by name.
    `Good evening, Mr  Trimble.  Matthew's  just  upstaIrs,  doinG  his
homework, I think. Shall I call him?'
    Trimble shook his head.
    `Oh, no, Mrs  Gore.  In fact, I'd rather you didn't.(*) It's really
yourselves I wanted to see - about Matthew, of course.'
    We  sat  him  down. I produced a bottle of whisky. Trimble accepted
his drink Gratefully.
    `Well,  now,  what's the trouble?' I asked. Trimble shook his head.
He said reassurinGly..
    `Oh,  no trouble. NothinG of that kind.' He paused, and went on: `I
do hope you don't mind my callinG on you like this. It's unofficial.  To
be  honest,  it's  chiefly  curiosity on my part - well, a bit more than
that really. I'm puzzled.' He paused once more, and looked  from  me  to
Mary and back aGain. `Is it you who is the mathematician of the family?'
he asked.
    I denied it.
    `I'm just an accountant. Arithmetic, not mathematics.'
    He turned to Mary.
    `Then it must be you, Mrs Gore.'
    She shook her head.
    `Indeed not, Mr Trimble. I can't even get arithmetic right.'
    Trimble looked surprised, and a little disappointed.
    `That's funny,' he said. `I was sure - perhaps you have a relative,
or some friend, who is?'
    We both shook our heads. Mr Trimble continued to look surprised.
    `Well,' he said, `Somebody has been helping - no perhaps that's not
the riGht word - shall we say, GivinG your son ideas about his  maths  -
not  that I mind that,' he hurried to explain. `Indeed, in a general way
I'm all for anything that gets children along.  But  that's  really  the
point.  When a child is trying to cope simultaneously with two different
methods it's more likely to confuse him than get him along...
    `I'll  be  frank. I won't pretend that your Matthew is one of those
boys you sometimes find, with a natural quick  grasp  of  figures.  He's
about  average,  perhaps  a  shade  above, and he's been doing quite all
right - until lately . But it has seemed to me recently that someone has
been trying towell, I suppose the idea was to push him on, but the stuff
he's been given isn't doing that; it's getting him mixed up.' He  paused
again,  and added apologically: `With a boy with a real gIft for figures
It might not fact he'd probably enjoy it. But, frankly, I think too much
for   your   Matthew   to   grasp  at  the  moment.  muddling  him,  and
that's,holding him back.
    `Well,  just  as  frankly,  I told him, `I'm at a loss. Do you mean
that he's trying to get ahead fast - missing out some of the steps?'
    Trimble shook his head.
    `Oh, no, not that. It's more like - well, something like trying  to
think  In two languages at the same time. At first I couldn't understand
what had got out of gear. (*)  Then I managed to get some sheets  of his
rough work. I'll show you.
    And, with pencil and paper, he did, for an hour. As an audience  we
disappointed  him, but I managed to understand some of it, and ceased to
be surprised that Matthew appeared muddled. Trimble went off into realms
quite  belongs  me, and when we eventually saw him off, it was with some
relief. Still, we appreciated the concern that had brought hIm along  to
see  us  In his own time, and promised to do our best to find the source
of Matthew' s confusion.
    `I  don't  know  who  it  can  be,' Mary said as we returned to the
sitting-room. `I can't think of anyone he sees often enough.'
    `It  must  be one of the other boys at school who's a natural whizz
at maths, and got him interested although it's  a  bit  beyond  him,'  I
said.  `It's  certainly  no  one I can thInk of. Anyway I'll try to fInd
    I  left  it until the following Saturday afternoon. Then, when Mary
had taken away the tea things, and Polly, too, Matthew  and  I  had  the
verandah to ourselves. I picked up a pencil and scribbled on a newspaper


    `What do you reckon that means, Matthew?' I asked.  He  glanced  at
    `A hundred and seventy-nine,' he said.
    `It  seems  complicated  when you can just write 179,' I said. `How
does it work?'
    Matthew explained the binary code (*) to me, much as Trimble had.
    `But do you find that way easier.?' I asked.
    `Only  sometimes  -  and  it does make division difficult,' Matthew
told me.
    `It seems such a long way round. Wouldn't it be simpler to stick to
the ordinary way?' I suggested.
    `Well,  you  see,  that's the way I have to use with Chocky because
that's the way she counts, 'Matthew explained.
She doesn't understand the ordinary way, and she thinks
it's silly to have to bother with ten  different  figures  just  because
you've ten fingers, when all you really need is two fingers.'
    I continued to look at the paper while I thought how to go  on.  So
Chocky was in on this - I might have known...
    `You mean when Chocky counts she just talks Ys and Ns,' I enquired.
    `Sort of - only not actually What I mean is, I just call them Y and
N for Yes and. No, because it's easier.'
    I  was  still  wondering  how  best to handle this new intrusion of
Chocky, but apparently I looked merely baffled, for Matthew went  on  to
explain, patiently.
    `See, Daddy. A hundred is YYNNYNN an d because each one  is  double
the  one on its right that means, if you start from the right hand end 1
- No, 2 - No, 4 - yes, 8 - No, 16 - No, 32 - yes, 64 - yes. You just add
the  Yesses  together,  and  it's a hundred. You can get any number that
way. .
    I nodded.
    `Yes. I see, Matthew But, tell me, where did you first come  across
this way of doing it?'
    `I, just told you, Daddy. It's the way Chocky always uses.
    Once  more  I  was  tempted to call the Chocky bluff, but I checked
myself. I said, reasonably:
    `But  she  must  have  got  it from somewhere. Did she find it in a
book, or something?'
    `I  don't  know.  I  expect  somebody taught her,' Matthew told me,
    I  recalled  one or two other mathematical queries that Trimble had
raised, and put them, as far as I  understood  the  m.  I  was  scarcely
surprised  to  learn  that  they,  too,  were  devices  that  Chocky was
accustomed to use.
    So  there  we  were,  at  a dead end. I was just about to close the
rather fruitless  session  when  Matthew  stopped  me,  disturbingly  He
emerged  from  silent  reflection,  as  if  he  had  made up his mind to
something. With a somewhat troubled expression, and his  eyes  fixed  on
mine he asked:
    `Daddy, you don't think I'm mad, do you?'
    I was taken aback. I think I managed not to show it.
    `Good heavens, no. What next? What on earth put such an  idea  into
your head?'
    `Well, it was Colin, really.'
    `You  haven't  told  him about Chocky.?' I asked, with a quickening
    Matthew shook his head.
    `Oh, no. I haven't told anyone but you, and Mummy - and Polly ,  he
added a little sadly.
    `Good,' I approved. `If I were you I'd keep it that way.  But  what
about Colin?'
    `I only asked him if he knew anyone who could hear someone  talking
inside  himself. I wanted to know,' he explained seriously. `And he said
no, because hearing voices was a well known first sign of  madness,  and
people  who  did  hear  them  either got put in asylums or, burnt at the
stake, like Joan of Arc. (*) So I sort of wondered...'
    `Oh, that,' I said, with more conviction than I was feeling.
    `That's  something  quite  different.'  I  searched  hurriedly  and
desperately for a valid-sounding difference. `He must have been thinking
of the kind of voices that prophesy, tell of disasters to come, and  try
to  persuade  people  to do foolish things so that they get muddled over
what's right and what's wrong,  and  what's  sensible  and  what  isn't.
You've no need to worry about that - no need at all.'
    I must have sounded more convincing than I felt.  Matthew  relaxed,
and nodded.
    `Good,' he said, with satisfaction. `I think I'd hate  to  go  mad.
You see, I don't feel at all mad.'
    When I reported on our session to Mary I suppressed  any  reference
to  the  last  part  of  it.  I  felt it would simply add to her anxiety
without getting Us any further, so I concentrated on my enquiries into Y
an d N business.
    `This Chocky affair seems to get more baffling,' I confessed.  `One
expects  children  to  keep  on  making  discoveries-well, that's what's
education's all about - but one also expects them to be  pretty  pleased
with  themselves  for  making  them.  There  seems to me to be something
psychologically unsound when all progress is attributed  to  a  sort  of
friend  instead  of to self. It just isn't normal yet we've got to admit
that his interests have widened. He's taking more notice of more  things
than  he  used  to.  And  lately  he's been gaining a - a sort of air of
responsibility. had you noticed that?...'
    `Oh,  that  reminds me,' Mary put in, `I had a note today from Miss
Toach who takes him for geography It's a bit confused, but I think it is
meant  to  thank us for helping to stimulate his interest in the subject
while at the same time suggesting tactfully that  we  shouldn't  try  to
push him too much.'
    `Oh,' I said. `More Chocky?'
    `I  don't  know, but I rather suspect he's been asking her the sort
of awkward questions he asked me - about where Earth is, and so on.
    I thought it over for some moments.
    `Suppose we were to change our strategy  -  hit  out  at  Chocky  a
bit... ?' I suggested.
    `No,' she told me. `I  don't  think  that's  the  way.  probaby  go
underground  -  I  mean, he'd lose confidence in us, and turn secretive.
And that'd be worse really, wouldn't it?'
    I rubbed my forehead.
    `It's a very difficult. It doesn't seem wise to go  on  encouraging
him; and it seems unwise to discourage him. So what do we do?'


    We were still trying to make up our minds the next Tuesday.
    That was the day I stopped on the way home to take the new car.  It
was  a station-wagon (*) that I'd bee dreaming of for some time. Lots of
room for everyone, and for a load of baggage i the back as well. We  all
piled  in,  ad took it out for a short experimental run before supper. I
was pleased with the way it handled and thought I'd get to like it.  The
others  were  enthusiastic, and by the time we returned it was generally
voted that the Gore family was entitled to tilt its chins  a  degree  or
two higher. (*)
    I left the car parked in front of the garage ready to take Mary and
me  to  a friend's house later on, and went to write a letter while Mary
got the supper.
    About a quarter of an hour later came the sound of Matthew's raised
voice. I  couldn't  catch  what  he  was  saying;  it  was  a  noise  of
half-choked,  inarticulate  protest. Looking out of the window I noticed
that several passers-by had paused and were looking over the  gate  with
expression  of  uncertain  amusement.  I  went  out investigate. I found
Matthew standing a few feet from the car, very  red  in  the  face,  and
shouting incoherently. I walked towards him.
    `What's the trouble, Matthew?' I inquired.
    He  turned.  There  were  tears  of  childish rage running down his
flushed cheeks. He tried to speak, but choked the words, and grabbed  my
hand  with both of his. I looked at the car which seemed to be the focus
of the trouble. It did not appear damaged, nor to have anything  visibly
a  miss  with  it.  Then, conscious of the spectators at the gate, I led
Matthew round to the other side of the house, out of their sight.  There
I sat down on one of the verandah chairs, and took him on my knee. I had
never seen him so upset. He was shaking with  anger,  half-strangled  by
it, and still with tears heavily streaming. I put an arm round him.
    `There now, old man. Take it easy. (*) Take it easy,' I told him.
    Gradually  the  shaking and the tears began to subside. He breathed
more easily. By degrees the tension in him relaxed, and he grew  quieter
After  a  time  he  gave  a  great  exhausted  sigh.  I  handed  him  my
handkerchief. He plied it a bit, and then he blew.
    `Sorry, Daddy,' he apologized through it, still chokily.
    `That's all right, old man. Just take your time.' (*)
    Presently  he  lowered  the  handkerchief  and plucked at it, still
breathing  jerkily.  A  few  more  tears,  but  of  a  different   kind,
overflowed.  He cleaned up once more, sighed again, and began to be more
l like his normal self.
    `Sorry, Daddy,' he said again. `All right now - I think.'
    `Good,' I told him. `But dear, oh dear, what was all that about?'
    Matthew hesitated, then he said.
    `It was the car.'
    I blinked.
    `The car! For heaven's sake. It seems to be all  right.  What's  it
done to you?'
    `Well, not the car, exactly,' Matthew corrected himself.
    `You  see, it's a jolly nice car. I think it's super, and I thought
chocky would be interested in it, so I started showing it  to  her,  and
telling her how it works, and things.'
    I became aware of a slight sinking, here-we-go-again feeling. (*)
    `But  Chocky  wasn't  interested?'  I inquired. Something seemed to
rise in Matthew's throat, but he took himself in  hand,  swallowed  hard
and continued bravely:
    `She said it was silly, and ugly, and clumsy. She - she laughed  at
    At the recollection of this enormity his indignation  swelled  once
more, and all but overwhelmed him. (*) He tried to fight it down.
    I was beginning to feel seriously worried.  That  the  hypothetical
Chocky  could  provoke  such  a  near-hysterical  condition of anger and
outrage was alarming.  I  wished  I  knew  more  about  the  nature  and
manifestations  of schizophrenia. However, one thing was clear, this was
not the for debunking Chocky, on the other hand it was necessary to  say
something. I asked:
    `What does she find so a musing about it?' Matthew sniffed, paused,
and sniffed again.
    `Pretty nearly everything,' he told me, gloomily.
She said the engine is funny, and old-fashioned, and waste-
ful, and that an engine that needed gears  was  ridiculous  anyway.  And
that  a  car  that  didn't  use an engine to stop itself as well as make
itself go was stupid. And how it was terribly funny to think  of  anyone
making  a  car  that  to  have  springs because it just bumped along the
ground on wheels that had to have things like  sausages  fastened  round
    `So I told her that's how cars are, anyway and ours is a  new  car,
and  a jolly good one. And she said that was nonsense because our car is
just silly, and nobody with any brains would make anything so clumsy and
dangerous,  and  nobody with any sense would ride in one. And then well,
it's a bit muddled after that because I got angry. But, anyway, I  don't
care what she thinks: I like our new car.'
    It was difficult. His indignation was authentic: a  stranger  would
not  have  doubted  for  a  moment that he had been engaged in a dispute
which was not only genuine, but impassioned. Any doubt I may have had as
to  whether  we  really needed advice about Matthew was swept away then.
However, rather than risk a wrong step now, I kept up the front. (*)
    `What does she think cars ought to be like, then?' I asked.
    `That's what I asked  her  when  she  started  on  our  car,'  said
Matthew.  `And  she  said  that where she comes from the cars don't have
wheels at all. They go along a bit above the ground, and they don't make
any  noise,  either  She said that our kind of cars that have to keep to
roads are bound to run into one another pretty often, and that,  anyway,
properly made cars are made so that they can't run into one another.'
    `There's quite a lot to be said for that - if you can manage it,' I
admitted. `But, tell me, where does Chocky come from?'
    Matthew frowned.
    `That's one of the things we can't find out,' he said.
It's too difficult. You see, if you don't know where any-
thing else is, how can you find out where you are?'
    `You mean no reference points?' I suggested.
    `I expect that's it,' Matthew said, a little vaguely.
But I think where Chocky lives must be a very, very, long
way away. Everything seems to be different there.'
    `H'm,' I said. I tried another tack. `How old is Chocky?' I asked.
    `Oh,  pretty  old,' Matthew told me. `Her time doesn't go like ours
though. But we worked it out that if it did she'd be  at  least  twenty.
Only she says she'll go on living until she's about two hundred, so that
sort of makes twenty seem less. She  thinks  only  living  until  you're
seventy or eighty like we do, is silly and wasteful.'
    `Chocky, I suggested, `appears to think a great many things silly.'
    Matthew nodded emphatically.
    `Oh, she does,' he agreed. `Nearly everything, really, he added, in
    `Rather depressing,' I commented.
    `It does get a bit boring pretty often,' Matthew conceded.
    Then Mary called us to supper.
    I found myself at a loss to know what to do about it.  Matthew  had
evidently  had  enough  sense  of self-protection not to tell any of his
friends or  school-fellows  about  Chocky.  He  had  confided  in  Polly
possibly,  I thought with some idea of sharing Chocky with her, but that
had certainly been a failure. Yet, quite clearly, he found it  a  relief
to  talk  about  her  -  and  after  the  car incident I had undoubtedly
provided a very sorely needed safety-valve. (*)
    Mary,  when  I  told  her  about the car incident that evening, was
inclined to favour the straight  forward  line  of  asking  our  regular
doctor,  Dr Aycott, to recommend a consultant. I was not. Not that I had
anything against old Aycott. I wouldn't deny that the  old  boy  was  an
adequate  enough  pill-pusher,  (*) but I couldn't help feeling that the
Matthew  problem  was  not  in  his  line.  (*) Moreover, I pointed out,
Matthew did not like him so  it was improbable that he would  confide in
him. It seemed much  probable that he would  consider we had abused  his
confidence  by  mentioning  the  matter  to  Aycott at al; in which case
there was a risk that he would go silent altogether.
    Mary, upon reflection, admitted the validity of that.
    `But,' she said, `It's getting to the point where we can't just  go
on  letting it drift. We must do something... An d you can't simply pick
a psychiatrist out of a list with a pin. You  want  the  right  kind  of
psychiatrist, proper recommendations, and all the rest of it...'
    `I think I may have a line on that,' (*) I told her. `You  remember
Alan,  a  friend  of  mine?  He was my best man at our wedding. So I was
telling him about it the other day, and he mentioned a  man  I  used  to
know  slightly  at  Cambridge; a fellow called Landis - Roy Landis. Alan
knew him rather better, aud he's kept in touch with him. It appears that
after  Landis  graduated he went in for mental disorders. He's got a job
at a well-reputed clinic now, so he  must  be  some  good  at  it.  Alan
suggested  it  might  be  worth having a try at him - informally just to
give us a lead. If he were wiling to have a look at Matthew he'd be  abe
to  tel  us whether we ought to consult somebody professionally, and who
would be the best man for the job. Or, possibly it might be  in  his,own
line, and he'd take it on himself.
    `Good,' Mary approved. 'You tackle him, then, and see  if  you  can
get  him  to  come  down.  At  least  we  shall  feel  that  we're doing

    Time,  and  professional  look  can  work wonders. I could scarcely
recognize the rather untidy  undergraduate  I  remembered  in  the  well
brushed, neatly bearded, elegantly suited Roy Landis who joined Alan and
me at the club for dinner.
    I  started  and at once stressed that our immediate need was advice
upon the best steps to take, and told  him  something  of  Matthew.  His
professional  caution  relaxed  as he listened, and his interest plainly
grew. The episode with the new car particularly seemed to intrigue  him.
He  asked  a  number  of  questions  which  I  answered as best I could,
beginning to feel hopeful. In  the  end  he  agreed  to  drive  down  to
Hindmere  the  following  Sunday.  He  also gave me some instructions on
preparing the ground for the visit, so that I was able to return home to
report  to  Mary  with  a feeling of relief that, at last, we had things
under way. (*)

    The next evening I told Matthew:
    `I had dinner with an old friend of mine last night.  I  think  you
might like to meet him.'
    `Oh,' said Matthew, not much interested in my old friends.
    `The  thing was,' I went on, 'we were talking cars, and he seems to
have some of the same ideas as you told me Chocky  has  about  them.  He
thinks our present cars are rather crude.'
    `Oh,' said Matthew again. Then, with a steady look, he asked:
    `Did you tell him about Chocky?'
    `Well, I had to - a bit. You see, I could scarcely pretend that her
ideas  are  yours,  because they certainly aren't. He seemed interested,
but not much surprised. Not nearly so surprised as I was when you  first
told  me  about  Chocky.  I  rather  got the idea he may have run across
someone a bit like her before.'
    Matthew showed signs of interest, but he was still cautious.
    `Someone who talks to him the same way?' he inquired.
    `No,'  I  admitted, `Not to him, but to someone - or it may be more
than one person - that he knows. Anyway, as I said, he didn't seem  very
surprised.  I'm  afraid we didn't go into it a great deal, but I thought
you might like to know.'
    That  turned  out  to be a promising start. Matthew returned to the
subject of his Own  accord (*) a couple  of times. Clearly, he  was more
than  a  little  fascinated  by  the  idea  of  someone who found Chocky
    It  was  that,  as  well as the prospect of reassurance it held for
him, I thought, that prompted him to admit he might like to have a  talk
with Roy Landis, someday.
    During  the  following  week I felt even more g1a d that Landis was
coming down the next  Sunday, particularly when Matthew's  school report
(*)  arrived.   While,  on  the  whole,  it  was  not  unsatisfactory, I
detected a slightly puzzled air about parts of it.
    Mr Trimble acknowledged that Matthew had made progress - of a kind,
but felt that he was capable of doing much better if  he  could  confine
his attention to the orthodox forms of nathematics.
    Miss Toach, while she was g1a d to record that his inter -  est  in
her  subject  had  sharpened considerably, thought he would do better to
concentrate on geography at present, and let cosmography cone later.
    Mr  Caffer, the physics master, WaS not entirely pleased. He wrote:
`There has been a marked difference in his approach  this  term.  If  it
showed  itself  less in a capacity to ask questions, and more in ability
to absorb information, his work would improve.'
    `What have you been doing to Mr Caffer?' I asked.
    `He gets annoyed,' said Matthew. `There was one time when I  wanted
to  know about the pressure of light, and another time when I told him I
can see what gravity does, but I don't see why it does it. I don't think
he  knows  why, and there were some other things, too. He wanted to know
where I was getting the questions from. I couldn't very  well  tell  him
they  came  out of things Chocky had told me. So he got a bit angry. But
it's all right now. I mean, it's not much good asking him things,  so  I
haven't any more.'
    `And there's Miss Blayde, biology. She seems to be  a  bit  sniffy,
too,' I said.
    `Oh, I expect that's because I asked her how people  who  had  only
one  sex  managed  to  reproduce. She said, well, everybody had only one
sex, and I said what I meant was one kind  of  person,  all  alike,  not
different like men and women. She said that could be in some plants, but
not in people. And I said not always and she said nonsense. But  I  said
it wasn't nonsense because I happened to know someone like that. And she
said what did I mean - in that kind of voice. Then I  saw  it  had  been
stupid of me to ask at all, because I couldn't tell her about Chocky, so
I shut up although she kept on wanting to know what I  meant.  And  ever
since then she sometimes looks at me very hard. That's really all .'
    Miss Blayde was not the only one to feel  baffled.  A  little  time
before,  trying  to  get  some  idea what type of mental protection this
Chocky was, I had asked:
    `Doesn't  Chocky  have  a homeS Doesn't she even tell you about her
mother and father, and where she lies - that kind of thingS'
    `Not  much,'  said  Matthew.  `I can't make out what it's like. You
see, such a lot of things she says don't meant anything.'
    I  said  I  was  afraid  I didn't quite see. Matthew had frowned in
    `Well,'  he said, `suppose I was quite, quite deaf and you tried to
tell me about a tune - I wouldn't be able to know what you were  talking
about,  would  .  I?  It's a bit like that sort of - I think .. She does
sometimes talk about her father, or her mother - but the hims  and  hers
get mixed up, as if they were both the same.'


    On  Sunday, just before lunch, Landis's car slid into our drive. He
arrived, as becomes a with-it medical man,  in  a  large,  well-groommed
Jaguar. (*)
    I ma de the introductions. Mary appeared  a  little  reserved,  but
Matthew, I was glad to see, seemed to take to him easily. After lunch we
all adjourned to the verandah for a quarter of an hour or so,  then,  by
arrangement,  Mary took Polly off with her, I mentioned some work I must
do, and Matthew and Landis were left alone together.
    Tea time came, and I looked out to find Matthew still talking hard.
Landis caught my eye, and decisively frowned me away. (*)
    The three of us decided not to wait, which was just as well, for it
was nearly six o'clock before the other two  broke  up  their  talk  and
joined  us.  They  appeared  to be on excellent terms. Matthew in rather
better spirits, I thought, than he had been lately; Landis  inclined  to
be quietly reflective.
    We  let the children have their supper first, and get along to bed.
Then, when we sat down to our meal there was  a  chance  to  talk.  Mary
opened up with:
    `Well, you two certainly did have a  session.  I  do  hope  Matthew
wasn't too tedious.'
    Landis regarded her for a moment, and shook his head.
    `Tedious!'  he  repeated. `Oh, no. I assure you he wasn't that.' He
turned to me. `You know, you didn't tell me the half of  it,'  he  said,
with a touch of reproof.
    `I don't suppose I know half of it,' I replied. `I told you most of
what I do know, but to find out more I'd have had to press him for it. I
thought that might be unwise - I'm not so old as to have  forgotten  how
intrusive  one's  parents'  interest can seem. That's why I asked you to
come. Quite apart from your professional experience, I hoped  he'd  feel
freer to talk to you. Apparently he did.'
    `He did indeed,' Landis nodded. `Yes, I  think  you  probably  were
wise  not to push him - though it meant that I felt a bit ill-briefed to
start with. I found him more puzzled and more in need of someone to talk
about  it  than  you had led me to expect. However, he's got a lot of it
off his  chest (*)  now, and  I think  he'll be  feeling the  better for
that, at least.'
    He paused a moment, and then turned to Mary
    `Tell  me,  Mrs  Gore, normally - that is to say before this Chocky
business set in - would you have called him a highly imaginative boy?'
    Mary considered.
    `I don't think so,' she  said.  `As  a  little  boy,  he  was  very
suggestible. I mean, he was always afraid of dark rooms - but that's not
quite the same thing, is it? No, I'd not say he was highly imaginative -
just ordinarily.
    Landis nodded.
    `An  open mind is a difficult thing to keep. I must admit that from
what David told me I rather suspected he might be an  imaginative  child
who had been rea ding too much fantastic stuff - to a point where he was
having difficulty in distinguishing it from reality. That set me on  the
wrong track...'
    `He must have read some. They all do,' I put in, `but his taste  in
fiction really runs more to simple adventure stories.'
    `Yes, I got on to that fairly soon. So I changed my line of thought
... and then had to change it again.'
    For quite a long pause he toyed with the  cold  meat  on  his  pate
until Mary became impatient.
    `But what do you think it is now?' she asked.
    Landis  delayed  another moment or two before he looked up. When he
did so, he stared at  the  opposite  wall  with  a  curiously  far  away
    `After all,' he said, `you are not consulting me professionally. If
you  were,  I  would  say it is a complex case needing more than a short
examination can reveal: I would try to escape a direct and clear answer.
But  I  a  nm  going  to be unprofessional. I am goIng to confess that I
don't know...
    He  broke  off,  and fiddled with his knife Mary's eyes met mine We
said nothing.
    `I  don't  understand  it,' Landis repeated. ,`I know what it looks
like - but that's sheer nonsense...'
    He broke off again.
    `What does it look like?' I prompted, a little sharply.
    He hesitated, and then drew a breath.
    `More than anything I've ever come across  it  resembles  what  our
unscientific  ancestors  used  to  consider  a case of "possession" They
would have claimed quite simply that this Chocky is a  wandering  spirit
which has invaded Matthew.'
    There was a silence. I broke it.'
    `But being, as you said, nonsense...?'
    `I don't know... One must be careful not to be as dogmatic  in  our
way  as  our ancestors were in theirs. It's easy to over-simplify - that
is just what Matthew himself is doing when he says he "talks to", or "is
talked  to",  by this Chocky. The ancestors would say he "hears voices"'
but that is only a manner  of  speaking.  Matthew  only  uses  the  word
"talks"  because  he  has  no  word  for  what  he  really means When he
"listens" to Chocky there are no words: he is not really hearing  sounds
at  all.  When  he  replies  he doesn't need to use words - he sometimes
does, particularly when he is feeling worked up, but he does it  because
it  is  his  natural  way  of expressing his emotions, not because it is
necessary. Therefore his "hearing" a voice is a metaphorical  expression
-  but  the  conversations  he  holds  with  this imagined voice are not
metaphorical. They are quite real.'
    Mary was frowning.
    `You'll have to explain that more,' she said.
    `Well,  for  one thing, it is quite indisputable that there is some
kind of second intelligence somehow involved,' Landis said. `Just  think
back  to some of the questions he has been asking, and the things he has
said to you and David. We're satisfied he did not invent  them  himself;
that's why I am here at all, but wasn't it characteristic of all of them
that they were naively, sometimes childishly expressed?'
    `After all, he's not quite twelve,' Mary pointed out.
    `Exactly, and in fact he has an unusually good  vocabulary,  for  a
child  of  his  age  -  but  it  isn't  adequate  to express clearly the
questions he wants to ask. He knows what he  wants  to  ask,  and  often
understands  quite well what he wants to tell His chief difficulty is in
finding the words to make the ideas clear.
    `Now if he were passing on questions he had heard, he wouldn't have
that particular difficulty. He'd simply repeat the words, whether he had
understood  them,  or  not. or if he'd read the questions in a book he'd
know the words. In either case he'd be using the words he needs  instead
of having this trouble with the limits of his vocabulary.
    `It follows, therefore, that he did not,  in  the  ordinary  sense,
hear  these  questions,  nor  rea  d  them; yet he understand what he is
trying to ask. So - how did the quest ions get into his head without the
words  necessary  to  carry  them  there?  -  And that really is quite a
    `But is it - any more than it always is?' Mary said.
Words are only names for ideas. Everybody gets ideas.
They  have  to  come  into minds from somewhere before they can be given
    I  knew  the  pitch of her voice. Something - possibly, I suspected
Landis's use of the word `possession' - bad made her antagonistic.
    Landis went on:
    `Take his use of the binary code. If anyone ha d shown him,  or  if
he  had seen it in a book, the odds are that the symbols used would have
been ought and one, or plus and minus, or possibly x and y, and he would
naturally  have  used  the same symbols himself. But the way he got them
appeared  to  him  simply  as  an  affirmative  and  negative,   so   he
conveniently abbreviated them to Y and N.'
    `But,' Mary objected, `if, as you say, there aren't  any  words  so
that  he  isn't listening when he seems to be, what is going on? I mean,
why this idea of this Chocky who "talks" at all?'
    `Oh, Chocky exists all right. Naturally, I looked at first for some
personification of his subconscious, however I was sure quite soon  that
it  wasn't  that.  But  where  Chocky  exists, and what she is, beats me
completely at present - and it beats Matthew, too.'
    That was not what Mary had hoped to hear. She said:
    `I can understand that for him she exists. She's quite real to him:
that's why we've been playing up to it, but...' Land is cut her short:
    `Oh, Chocky has a much more definite  existence  than  that.  I  am
quite  sure  that  whatever  she is, she is more than his own invention.
Consider the car incident. Now, no boy of Matthew's age would dream  for
a  moment of calling a brand new model of a modern car old_fashioned.,He
thinks it's wonderful. Matthew himself was proud and anxious to show  it
off.  But,  according  to  your  account, what happened was exactly what
would have happened if another child - or anyone else, for that matter -
had  been  scornful  of  it  -  except  that  no  other  child,  nor his
subconscious, would have able to explain how it ought  to  be  radically
    `And here's another thing he told  me  this  afternoon,  though  he
couldn't quite get the concept. It was a kind of power. It seemed to him
something like electricity,  but  he  knew  that  it  was  really  quite
different...  Anyway,  with this source of energy which can be picked up
from space radiations and converted  to  operate  motors,  there  is  no
question of running out of power - but there Matthew lost the idea among
ideas that were quite beyond his grasp As he put it to nne: "She kept on
going  on,  but  it  didn't  mean anything. It wouldn't turn into proper
words". (*)
    Landis paused. Then he added:
    `Now, that again, I'm quite satisfied, did not come out  of  books.
It could have done, but it didn't.'
    `Why?' Mary demanded.
    `Because  If there had been some slips caused by misunderstandIngs,
or by Inventions of hIs own which did not fit  wIth  the  rest,  there'd
stIll  be the chance that be's reconstructed it out of things he's read.
As it is, he freely admits he couldn't understand a lot of  it,  and  it
appears that for the rest he's doing an honest job of reporting.'
    `Very well,' I saId. `And - what's to be done about all it?'
    Landis shook his head again.
    `At present I've, quite frankly, no idea. At the moment I can't see
- quIte unscientIfically can't see - I don't know what's got into him. I
wIsh I did. Something has.'
    Mary  got  up  from the table abruptly and decisIvely We loaded the
dishes on to the trolley, and she pushed it out. A few minutes later she
came back with coffee. As she poured it out she said to Landis:
    `So what It amounts to is that all you have to tell us is that  you
can't see any way of helping Matthew, is that it?'
    Landis's brow furrowed.
    `Helping  him?'  he repeated. 'I don't know. I'm not even sure that
he needs help. His chief need at the moment seems to be for  someone  he
can  talk to about this Chocky. He doesn't particularly like her in fact
she frequently irritates hIm, but she does supply him with a great  deal
that  Interests  hIm.  In  fact,  it doesn't seem to be so much Chocky's
existence that troubles him, as his own selfdefensive instinct  to  keep
her  exIstence  hidden  -  and in that he's wise. UntIl now you two have
been his any safety-valves. His sister might have been another, but  she
appears to have et him down.' (*)
    Mary stirred her coffee,  gazing  at  it  with  abstraction.  Then,
makIng up her mind, she said forthrighty:
    `Now you're talking as if this Chocky really exists. Let's get this
straight. (*) Chocky is an invention  of Matthew's. It is simply a  name
for an imagined companion - just as Polly's Piff was, isn't it?'
    Landis considered her for a moment before he replied:
    `I'm afraid I have not made myself clear,' he said.
Any resemblance between Chocky and Piff is quite super-
ficial. I would like to believe what you wish to believe - and  what  my
training tells me I should believe - that the whole thing is subjective.
That Chocky is  a  child's  invention,  like  Piff  -  an  invention  of
Matthew's own which  has  got out of hand. (*) But I can only do that by
ignoring the facts to suit what I have been taught; Chocky is,  in  some
way  I  don't  understand,  objective - she comes from outside, not from
inside. On the other hand I'm not credulous enough  to  accept  the  old
idea  of  "possession",  although  it fits the evidence much better , He
broke off in thought for some seconds, and then shook his head:
    `No.  That's  not  so,  either  "possession"  meant  what  it said:
domination. This is not. It is much more like a working arrangement...'
    `What on earth do you mean by that?' Mary demanded.
    The sharpness of her voice told me that any confidence she may have
had  in  Landis  had  disappeared entirely. Landis himself seemed not to
notice it. His reply was unruffled:
    `You  will  remember that when he was ill he told Chocky to shut up
and go away - which, with your added persuasion she apparently did.  She
seems  to  have  done  the  same after she had reduced him to speechless
anger over the car. He rejected her. She does not dominate...
    `I  asked him about that. He told me that when she first started to
"talk" to him she would do it any time. It  might  be  when  he  was  in
class, or doing his homework, or at mealtimes, or, quite often at night.
    `So, he tells me, he simply refused to co-operate unless she  would
come only at times when he could give her his full attention.
    `And notice, too, how practical this was. No element of fantasy  at
all. Simply a boy laying it down . that hiS friend should visit him only
at convenient times. And the friend apparently  willing  to  accept  the
conditions he offered.'
    Mary  was  not  impressed.  Indeed,  I  was  doubtful  whether  she
listened. She said impatiently..
    `I don't understand this. When the Chocky business began David  and
I  thought  it would be unwise to try to suppress it. We assumed that it
would soon pass. We were wrong: it seemed  to  take  a  firmer  hold.  I
became  uneasy. One doesn't have to be a psychologist to know the result
of a fantasy gaining the same validity as reality.  I  agreed  to  David
asking  you  to  come because I thought you would suggest some course we
could take which would rid Matthew of his fantasy Without  harming  him.
Instead,  you  seem to have spent the day encouraging him in it - and to
have become infected with it yourself. I am not able to feel  that  this
is doing much good to Matthew, or to anyone.'
    Landis looked as if he were about to make a  sharp  answer  but  he
checked the impulse.
    `The first requirement,' he said, `is to understand the  condition.
In order to do that it is necessary to gain his confidence.'
    `That is quite obvious,' Mary told him, `and I understand perfectly
well  that  while you were with Matthew it was necessary for you to seem
to accept the reality of this Chocky - we've been  doing  the  same  for
weeks. What I do not understand is why you keep it up when Matthew is no
longer here.'
    Landis asked patiently:
    `But Mrs Gore, consider the questions he has been putting  and  the
things  he  has  been saying. Don't they seem to you odd - intelligently
odd - but quite out of his usual key?' (*)
    `Of  course they do,' she replied sharply. `But boys read all kinds
of things: one expects it. And it's no surprise that what they  pick  up
makes them ask questions. What is disturbing us is the way he twists all
hiS natural curiosity into support for this Chocky  fantasy.  Can't  you
see,  I'm  afraid  of  it becoming a permanent obsession? What I want to
know is simply the best way of stopping that from happening.'
    Landis attempted once more to explain why in. His view Chocky could
not be considered as a simple fantasy, but Mary had now  worked  herself
into a mood where she obstinate1y refused to accept any of his points. I
wished  very  strongly  that  he  had  not  made   that   reference   to
"posssesion". It seemed to me an error of a kind one did not expect from
a psychologist - and once it had been made the damage was done.
    There  was  nothing  for  me  to  do  but  sit  by  and  watch them
consolidate their opposition.
    It was a relief to all of us when Landis at last decided to give it
up, and leave.


    I  found the situation awkward. I could follow Landis's reasoning -
though I would be hanged if I could see where it was leading him - but I
also   had   some   sympathy  for  Mary's  impatience.  Landis,  however
unseriously he may have intended it, had, for a psychiatrist, made a bad
psychological  error.  It would have been better, in my opinion, for him
not to have referred to ancient beliefs at all; particularly, he  should
not  have  used the word `possession' Moreover, as much as what he said,
his unhurried,  detached,  analytical  attitude  to  the  problem  ha  d
irritated her. Her concern was immediate. There was something wrong with
Matthew, and she wanted to put it right without delay She had looked  to
Landis for advice on how that could best be done: what she had got was a
dissertation on an interesting case, the more disquieting because of his
admission  that  it baffled him. By the time he left she had been giving
an impression of regarding him as little better  than  a  charlatan.  An
unfortunate, and unfruitful occasion.
    When I got home the following evening she had  an  abstracted  air.
After  we  had  cleared  the  table and packed the children off upstairs
there was an  atmosphere  that  I  recognized.  Some  kind  of  prepared
statement, a little uncertain of its reception, was on its way. Mary sat
down, a little more upright than usual, and  addressed  herself  to  the
empty  grate  rather  than to me. With a slightly challenging manner she
    `I went to see Dr Aycott today ,
    `Oh,' I said. `Something wrong?'
    `About Matthew', she added.
    I looked at her.
    `You didn't take Matthew to him?'
    `No.' She shook her head. `I thought of  doing  that,  but  decided
against it.'
    `I'm glad,' I told her. `I rather think Matthew had  regarded  that
as a breach of confidence. It might be better if he doesn't . know ,
    `Yes,' she agreed, rather definitely
    `As  I've said before,' I remarked, `I've nothing against Aycott as
a cut-stitcher and meases-spotter, but I don't fee this kind of thing is
up his street.' (*)
    `You're right. It certainly isn't,' Mary agreed. She went on: `Mind
you,  I  didn't  really  expect  that  be. I did my best to tell him how
things are. He not very patiently and seemed a bit piqued  that  brought
Matthew  himself  along.  I  tried  to explain to old fool that I wasn't
asking for an opinion then and all I wanted was a  recommendation  to  a
suitable specialist.'
    `From which I gather that what you got was an opinion?'
    She nodded, with a wry expression.
    `Oh, yes indeed. All Matthew needs is plenty of  exercise,  a  cold
bath in the morning, plenty of good plain seasoned food, lots of salads,
and the window open at night,' she told me gloomily
    `And no specialists?'
    `No. No need for that. Growing is often more than we realize, but a
healthy  life,  and  Nature,  the  great  healer,  will soon correct any
temporary imbalances.'
    `I'm sorry, I said.
    There was a pause. It was Mary who broke it:
    `David we must help him somehow.'
    `Darling, I know you didn't take to Landis,  but  he  quite  highly
thought  of,  you  know.  He  wouldn't say he's doubtful whether Matthew
really needs help if he didn't mean it. We're both worried,  but  simply
because  we  don't understand: we're really no reason to think that this
thing is unusual it is therefore harmful. I  feel  quite  sure  that  if
Landis had seen cause for alarm he'd have told us so.'
    `I don't suppose he felt any. Matthew isn't his boy  He's  just  an
unusual,  rather  puzzling case: quite interesting now, but if he became
normal again he'd no longer be interesting.'
    `Darling,  that's  a  dreadful  thing  to imply. Besides, you knOW,
Matthew isn't abnormal: he's perfectly  normal,  but  plus  something  -
which is quite different.'
    Mary gave me the look she keeps  for  hair-splitting, (*) and  some
other forms of tiresomeness.
    `But  it  is  different,'  I  insisted.  `There  is  an   essential
distInctIon ...'
    She cut that short ruthlessly.
    `I  don't  care about that,' she saId. `All I want Is for hIm to be
normally normal, not plus or minus anything.  I  just  want  hIm  to  be
    I decIded to leave It there, for the time  being.  Except  for  hIs
occasional  fIts  of frustratIon - ad what child doesn't have those, one
way or another? - Matthew did not seem to me to be unhappy.
    The question of what was to be done remained, however. For my part,
I favoured further contact with Landis: Matthew  clearly  felt  able  to
confide  In  him, aud he was undoubtedly Interested by Matthew But, with
Mary turned agaInst Landis, such a course would be in dIrect  oppositIon
to  her wIshes - only a highly critical situation could juStify that And
crisis and urgency were qualitIes that the  Chocky  affair  appeared  to
    So, for the  present,  as  on  several.  We  attempted  to  console
ourselves   previous   occasions   we  attempted  to  console  ourselves
recollectIons of the way In whIch Polly had suddenly expelled PIff  from
the family.
    In the meantime, however, I did suggest to Matthew  that  as  Mummy
dId  not  seem  to  care a lot for Chocky, it might not be a bad idea to
keep her rather in the background for. a bit...
    We heard very lIttle of Chocky for about a  fortnight  after  that.
Indeed,  I  began  to  have hopes that she was leaving us. But they were
only slender hopes, and soon to be nipped. (*)
    One  evenIng  as  I  was  reaching  for  the televisIon switch Mary
stopped me. `Just a minute,' she saId. She got up and went across to her
bureau.  When  she  came  back she was hold several sheets of paper, the
largest about sixteen inches by twelve. She handed them to me without  a
word, and went back to her chair.
    I looked at the papers.  Some  of  the  smaller  ones  were  pencil
sketches,  the  larger  ones  were  paintings in watercolour. Rather odd
paintings. The first two were lardscapes, with a few figures. The scenes
were  undoubtedly  local,  and  vaguely  familiar,  though  I  could not
positively identify the viewpoints. The first thing that struck  me  was
the  figures,  they were treated with an individuality of style that was
quite constant: cows, and sheep, too, had a rectangular and  lean  look;
human  beings  appeared  as a half-way compromise between the real thing
and stickmen, noticeably lacking in bulk and surprisingly  angular.  But
despite that there was life and movement in them.
    The drawing was firm and confident, the colouring somewhat  sobmre;
it  gave  an  impression  of  being much concerned with subtle shades of
green. I know next to nothing of painting, but they gave  me  a  feeling
that  the sureness of line, and the economy with which effects ha d been
achieved showed considerable accomplishment.
    The  next  two  were  still-lifes: a vase of flowers, not seen as a
botanist would see them, but, nevertheless, recognizably  roses;  and  a
bowl of red things, which were undoubtedly strawberries.
    Following these ca me a view through a win dow. Th is I was able to
recognize.  It  showed a corner of a school playground, with a number of
figures there that were active, but, again, long-legged.
    Then  there  were  a  couple of portraits. One of a man with a long
rather severely-planed face. I - well, I cannot say I recognized it, but
there  was  something  about the ha irline which seemed to imply that it
was intended for myselfthough to my mind my eyes do  not  in  the  least
resemble  traffic go-lights. The other portrait was of a woman; not Mary
nor anyone I could identify.
    After  I had studied the pictures I laid them down on my knees, and
looked across at Mary. She simply nodded.
    `You understand this kind of thing better than I do. Would you call
them good?' I asked.
    `I  think  so.  They're odd, but there's life and movement in them,
perception, a feeling of confidence...' She stopped and then added:  `It
was  accidental. I was clearing his room. They'd fallen behind the chest
of drawers ...'
    `Perhaps one of the children in his class - or his artteacher?' (*)
I ventured.
    Mary shook her head.
    `Those aren't hers. I've seen  some  of  Miss  Soames'  stuff:  her
style's a bit on the niggly side. (*) Besides, the last one is her - not
very flattering, either.
    I looked through the pictures once more, reconsidering the mn. They
grew on one, once the first strangeness ha d worn off. (*)
    `You could put them back there tomorrow, and just say  nothing,'  I
    Mary smoothed her knitting, and pulled it to get the rows straight.
    `I  could  ...  but they'd go on worrying me. I'd rather he told us
about them ...'
    I  looked  at  the  second  landscape,  and suddenly recognized the
scene, knew the exact bend in the river which gave it.
    `Darling,' I said. `I'm afraid you won't like it.'
    `I've not liked any of it. I didn't like it even before that friend
of yours started talking about ``possession" But I'd rather know than be
left guessing. After all, it is just possible that someone did give them
to him.'
    Her expression told me that she meant what  she  said.  I  did  not
object  further,  but it was with a feeling that the whole thing was now
entering upon a new phase that I agreed. I took her  hand,  and  pressed
    `All right,' I said. `He'll scarcely be in bed yet.' And I  put  my
head  into the hall, and called upstairs. Then I spread the pictures out
on the floor.
    Matthew arrived in his dressing-gown, pink, tousleheaded, and fresh
from the bath. He stopped abruptly at the sight of  the  pictures.  Then
his eyes went to Mary's face, uneasily.
    `I say, Matthew, I said, as chattily as I could, `Mummy happened to
come  across  these when she was clearing your room. They'd slipped down
behind the chest of drawers.'
    `Oh,' said Matthew. `That's where they went.'
    `They're very interesting, and we think they're  rather  good.  Are
they yours?'
    Matthew hesitated, then:
    `Yes,' he said, a little too defiantly.
    `What I mean is,' I explained, `did you paint them?' This time  his
`yes' had a defensive touch.
    `H'm... They aren't much like your usual style, are they? I  should
have  thought  you'd  got  higher marks for these than you usually do in
Art,' I suggested.
    Matthew shuffled a little.
    `These ones aren't Art. They're private,' he told me.
    I looked at one of the landscapes again.
    `You seem to  be  seeing  things  in  quite  a  different  way.'  I
    `Yes,' Matthew agreed. Hopefully he added: `I expect it's something
to do with growing up.
    His eyes pleaded with me. After all, it was I who had  advised  him
to be discreet.
    `It's quite all right, Matthew. We're only interested to  know  who
really did them.'
    Matthew hesitated. He darted an unhappy glance at Mary, hooked down
at the carpet in front of him, aud traced one of the patterns there with
his toe.
    `I did,' he told us, but then his resolution appeared to weaken. He
qualified: `I mean - sort of - well, I did do them ...'
    He  looked  so miserable and confused that I was reluctant to press
him further. It was Mary who came to his rescue. She put  an  arm  round
    `It doesn't really matter a bit, darling. It's just, that  we  were
so interested in them, we wanted to know. She reached down and picked up
a painting. `This view. Ht's very clever. I think it's very good -  bunt
it's rather strange. Did it really look like that to you?'
    Matthew stayed dumb for some seconds,  then  halfblurting  he  told
    `I did do them, Mummy, really I did. Why they look sort of funny is
because that's how Chocky sees things.'
    He turned an anxious look on  her,  but  Mary's  face  showed  only
    `Tell us about it, darling,' she encouraged him.
    Matthew looked relieved. He sighed.
    `It happened one day after Art,' he explained. `I don't seer to  be
much good at Art,' he added, regretfully
Miss Soames said what I had done was hopeless. And
Chocky  thought it was pretty bad, too. So I said I did try but it never
seemed to come out at all right, and Chocky  said  that  was  because  I
didn't  look at things properly. So I said I didn't see what `"properly"
meant; yoU either see things, or you don"t. And she said no,  it  wasn't
like  that  because  your can look at things without seeing them, if you
don't do it properly. And we argued a bit about that because  it  didn't
seem sensible,
    `So in the end she said what about trying an experiment - me  doing
the drawing, and her doing the seeing? I didn't see how that could work,
but she said she thought it was worth trying. So we did
    `I couldn't do it at first because I couldn't think of nothing. The
first time you try it's awfully hard to think of  nothing  you  sort  of
keep on thinking of rot thinking of anything, but that isn't the same at
all, so it doesn't work. But that's what Chocky said: just sit and  hold
a  pencil and think of nothing. I got pretty fed up with trying, but she
kept on wanting to have another try. And, well about the fourth time  we
tried  I  half managed it for a minute or two. After that it got easier,
and then when we'd practised a bit more it got quite easy. So  now  I've
only  got to sit down with the paints and - well, sort of switch-off me,
and the picture comes - only the way it comes is the way Chocky sees it,
not the way I do.'
    I could see Mary's fingers fidgeting, but her  mask  of  impersonal
interest remained unaltered. I said:
    `I think I understand what you mean, Matthew. You sort of hand over
to Chocky, But I should think that feels a bit funny, doesn't it?'
    `Only the first time or two. Them I felt a  bit  like  -  well,  no
brakes.  But  after  that  it gets more like. He paused for some moments
searching with furrowed  brOW  for  a  simile.  His  expression  cleared
shightly. `... it gets more like riding a bicycle, no hands.' He frowned
again, and amended: `Only not  quite,  because  it's  Chocky  doing  the
steering,   not   me   -   sort  of  difficult  to  explain,'  he  added
    I  could appreciate that it would be. To give Mary some reassurance
I asked:
    `I  suppose  it  doesn't  ever happen when you don't want it to? By
accident, I mean?'
    Matthew shook his head emphatically
    `Oh no. I have to make it happen by thinking of nothing. Only now I
don't  have  to keep on thinking of nothing all the time it's happening.
The last few times I could watch my bands doing the pictures  -  so  ahh
the  real  doing  them  is  mine.  It's just the seeing wwhat to do that
    `Yes,  dear,'  Mary  said.  `We  understand  thmat,  but  ...'  she
hesitated, searching for a gentle way to make her point,
... but do you think it is a good thing to do?'
    Matthew glanced at the pictures.
    `I  think  so,  Mummy.  They're much better pictures than I do when
they're all mine - even if they  do  look  a  bit  funny,'  he  admitted
    `That wasn't quite what I, Mary began. Then she changed  her  mind,
and looked.at the clock.
    `It's getting late,' she said, with a glance at me.
    `That's  right.  It  is,' I backed her up. `But just before you go,
Matthew, have you shown these to anyone else?'
    `Well,  not  really  shown,'  he said. `Miss Soames came in one day
just after I'd done that one.' He pointed to the view of the play-ground
through  the  window.  `She  said  whose was it, which was a bit awkward
because I couldn't pretend it was anyone else's, so I had to say it  was
mine,  and  she  looked at me, the way people do when they don't believe
you. Then she looked at the picture, and then back  again  at  me.  "All
right," she said, "let's see you do a - a racing car, at speed." So then
I had to explain that I couldn't do things that I couldn't see - I meant
that  Chocky  couldn't  see for me, but I couldn't tel her that. And she
looked at me hard again, and said:  "Very  well,  what  about  the  view
through the other window?"
    `So I turned the easel round, and did that.  She.took  it  off  the
board  and  stared  at  it  for  a kong time, then she looked at me very
queerly, and said did I mind if she kept it? I couldn't very well say  I
did, so I said no, and, please, could I go now? And she nodded, and went
on staring at it.'
    `It's funny she said nothing about it in your report,' I told him.
    `Oh, it was right at the end of term; after reports,' he explained.
    I  felt a premonitory twinge of misgiving, but there was nothing to
be done about it. Besides, it was, as Mary had said, getting late.
    `Well,  time you were off to bed now, (*) Matthew,' I said. `Thanks
for telling us about the pictures. May we keep them down here a  bit  so
that we can look at them again?'
    `All right, but please don't lose them,' he agreed. His eye fell on
the famine-victim portrait. `That isn't a bit like you, Daddy. It really
isn't,' he assured me. Then  he  said  his  good-nights,  and  ran  away
    We sat and looked at one another
    Mary's eyes slowly brimmed with tears.
    `Oh, David. He was such a lovely little boy ...'
    Later when she was calmer she said:
    `I'm afraid for him, David. This - this whatever it is, is  getting
more  real  to him. He's beginning to let it take control of him ... I'm
afraid for him ...'
    I shook my head.
    `I'm sure you've got it wrong. It Isn't like that, you know. He was
pretty emphatic that he is the one who decides when and whether it shall
happen at all,' I pointed out
    `Naturally he'd think that,' she said..
    I looked in on him on my way to bed. He was asleep, with the  light
still  on.  A  book  he  had been reading lay as it had dropped from his
hands, face down on his chest. I read the  title,  then  bent  a  little
closer to make sure I had read aright. It was my copy of Lewis Mumford's
Living in cities. (*) I picked it up, and in doing so woke Matthew.
    `I  don't wonder you fell asleep. A bit heavy for bed time reading,
isn't it?'
    `Pretty   boring,'   he   acknowledged.  `But  Chocky  thinks  it's
interesting - the parts of it I can understand for her.'
    `Oh,'  I  said. `Well ... well, time to go to sleep now. Goodnight,
old man.'
    `Goodnight, Daddy.'


    For our holiday that summer we took a cottage jointly with Alan and
Phyl Froome. They had married a couple of years after we  did,  and  had
two children, Emma and Paul, much of an age with our own. (*) It was  an
arrangement, we thought,  which would give  the adults opportunities  to
go off duty for a bit, and have some holiday themselves.
    The place was Bontgoch, a village on an  estuary  in  North  Wales,
where  I  bad  enjoyed  several  holidays in my own childhood. It was an
ideal place for boating, and now it even had a painted-up  shed  with  a
bar at one end the Yacht Club.
    We did not have a boat, but we still enjoyed the place.  The  sands
are  still  there for children to dabble around On at low tide and catch
shrimps and flat fish. So, too, on both sides of  the  estuary  are  the
not-too-steep  mountains on which one can climb and explore the pockings
of old workings that are known to have been gold mines. It was  good  to
be  able  to  go  off  in the car for the day and leave Phyl and Alan in
charge of the children - and quite good, too, to take charge when it was
their  turn  for freedom. Everything was, in fact, a great success until
the Monday of the second week ...
    On  that  day  it was Mary and I who were free. We drove almost off
the map (*) by very minor  roads, heft the car, walked along  a hillside
amd picnicked by a stream with the whole Irish Sea spread out below  us.
In the  evening we  had a  good dinner  at a  roadside hotel and dawdled
back to Bontgoch about  ten o'clock. We paused  a moment by thc  gate to
admire the serenity of a superb sunset, and then went up the path.
    One  had  only  to set foot on the threshold of the cottage to know
that something had gone wrong. Mary sensed it at  once.  She  stared  at
    `What is it?' she said. `What's happened?'
    `Its all right, Mary. It's quite all right,' Phyl said.
    `They're perfectly safe  and  sound.  Both  upstairs  in  bed  now.
Nothing to worry about.'
    `What happened?' Mary said again.
    `They fell in the river. But they're quite all right.'
    She and Mary went upstairs. Alan reached for a bottle and poured  a
couple of whiskies.
    `What's been going on?' I said as he held a glass towards me.
    `It's quite all right now, as Phyl said,' he assured me.
    Near thing,  (*) though.  Shook us  to our  foundations, I can tell
you.  Not stopped sweating yet.'  He pressed a handkerchief to his  brow
as if in evidence, said `Cheers', * and downed half is glass.
    I  looked  at  him, and looked at the bottle. It bad been untouched
that morning, now it was three-quarters empty.
    `But what happened?' I insisted.
    He put down lis glass, shook his head, and expolained:
    `Pure  accident, old man. They were all four of them playing around
on that rickety landing stage. The tide was a bit past the turn, (*) and
running  out  fast.  That hulking motor-boat of Bill Weston's was moored
about fifty yards up-stream. According to old Evans who  saw  the  whole
thing  its mooring line must have broken. The boat hit the landing-stage
at full speed, and the far end of the damned  thIng  collapsed.  My  two
happened  to be standIng back a bit, so they were only knocked down, but
your two went straight into the water...'
    He paused, exasperatingly.  But  for the repeated assur - ances (*)
that they were quite all right I could have shaken him. He took  another
swig at his glass.
    `Well, you know how fast water runs  at  the  ebb-time.  They  were
yards  away  in a few seconds. At first Evans thought they were done for
then he saw Matthew strike out towards Polly  He  didn't  see  any  more
because he started running off to. the Yacht Club to give the alarm.
    `It was Colonel Summers who went after them, but eve with that fast
motor-boat of his they were well over a mi 1e downstream before he could
find them. Matthew was still supporting Polly.
    `The  Colonel  was  tremendously impressed. He says that if he ever
saw anything that deserved a medal, that did; and  he's  going  to  make
sure Matthew gets one. (*)
    `We were i here when it happened. My two never thought to  tell  us
until  they  ha d seen the Colonel's boat chase off after them. Not that
we could have done anything. But lord-oh-lord, waiting for him  to  come
back ... I hope I never have to spend an hour like that again ...'
    `Anyway, it came out all right, thank God -  and  thanks  to  young
Matthew.  There's  no  doubt at all your Polly'd have been done for, but
for him. Damn good show, and if the Colonel needs any backing  for  that
medal idea, he'll certainly get mine. Matthew deserves it.'
    Alan finished off his drink at a gulp, and reached for  the  bottle
    I finished nine, too. I felt I needed it.
    Everybody  ought to be able to swim. It had worried me at times for
the last year or two that Matthew could never succeed in  swimming  more
than three consecutive strokes ...
    I was shushed away from the room Polly was sharing with young Emma.
    `She's fast asleep,' Mary told me. `She's got a nasty bruise on her
right  shoulder.  We  think  she  must  have  hit  the boot os she fell.
Otherwise she seems only tired out. Oh, David...'
    `It's all right, darling. It's over now.'
    `Yes, thank God. Phyl told me all about it.  But,  David,  how  did
Matthew do it ...?'
    I looked in on Matthew. The light was still on. He was lying on his
back storing at the lamp. I had time to catch his worried look before he
turned his head and saw me.
    `Hullo, Daddy,' he said.
    Momentarily he  looked  pleased,  and  relieved,  but  the  anxious
expression soon came back.
    `Hullo, Matthew. How are you feeling?' I asked.
    `All  right,'  he told me. `We got jolly cold, but Auntie Phyl made
us have a hot bath.'
    I nodded. He certainly looked all right now.
    `I've been hearing great things about you, Matthew,' I told him.
    He looked more worried now. His eyes dropped, and his fingers began
twisting at the sheet.
    `It's not true, Daddy,' he said, with great earnestness.
    `It did rather make me wonder,' I admitted. `A  few  days  ago  you
couldn't swim.'
    `I know, Daddy, but ...' Again he twisted at the sheet.
... but Chocky can ...' he finished, looking up at me un-
    I tried to show nothing but sympathetic interest.
    `Tell me about it,' I suggested.
    Matthew looked a little relieved.
    `Well, it all happened terribly quickly. I saw the boat just  going
to  hit,  and  then I was in the water. tried to swim, but I was awfully
frightened because I knew it would be no good, and I thought I was going
to  be  drowned. Then Chocky told me not to be a fool, and not to panic.
She was sort of fierce. She sounded rather like Mr Caffer when  he  gets
angry  in  class,  only more. I've never known her get like that before,
and I was so surprised that I stopped panicking.  Then  she  said:  "Now
think of nothing, like you do witk painting." So I tried. And tlen I was
swimmming ...' He frowned. `I don't know how, but somehow she showed  my
arms and legs the way to swim, just like she makes my hands go the right
way to draw. So, you see, it was really her, not me, that did it, Daddy.
    'I see,'  I said.  It was  a memorable  overstatement. (*)  Matthew
went on.
    `You,  and  lots of other people, have shown me how to swim, Daddy,
and I tried, but it kept on not happening until Chocky did it.'
    'I  see,'  I lied again. I reflected for some moments while Matthew
watched my face attentively.
    'I  see,'  I  said  once  more, and nodded. `So, of course once you
found you could swim, you struck out for the shore?'
    Matthew's attentive look turned to an incredulous stare. (*)
    'But I couldn't do that. There was Polly. She'd fallen in, too.'
    I nodded again.
    'Yes,' I said. `There was Polly, too - that does rather seem to  me
to be the point...'
    Matthew considered. I think he went back to those first  frightened
moments  in  the  water, for he shuddered slightly. Then his face took a
look of determination.
    'But it was Chocky who did it,' he asserted, obstinately.

    The next morning Alan and I sat in the sun, waiting for the call to
    'What surprises me,' Alan said presently, `is how did  he  do  it?"
According  to the Colonel he was still supporting her when the boat came
up with them. Nearly a mile and a half, he reckons, in  that  fast  ebb.
Matthew was tired, he says, but not exhausted. And only a couple of days
ago he was telling me, as if  he  were  ashamed  of  it,  too,  that  he
couldn't swim ... I tried to teach him, but he didn't have the knack. '
    'It's quite true. He couldn't,' I told him, and then, since he knew
already  about  the  Chocky  problem  and  been responsible for bringing
Landis into it, I gave him Matthew's version of the affair. He looked at
me incredulously.
    'But - well, and no disrespect to Matthew  -  but  do  you  believe
    'I believe that Matthew believes it - and how else can one  explain
it?  Besides  ...' I told him about the pictures. He'd not heard of them
before. `They, somehow, make it not quite as  difficult  to  accept,  or
half-accept,' I said.
    Alan, became thoughtful. He  lit  a  cigarette,  and  sat  silently
smoking it, gazing out across the estuary. At last he said:
    'If this is what it seems to be-and I can see that  it's  difficult
to  explain  it  any  other  way.  it opens up a whole new phase of this
Chocky business.'
    'That's  what  we thought,' I acknowledged. `And poor Mary's not at
all happy about it. She's afraid for him.'
    Alan shook his head.
    'I can't see that she needs to be. After all, whether Chocky exists
or  not, it is because Matthew believes she does that your two are alive
today. Does Mary realize that? It ought to help her a bit.'
    'It  ought,'  I  agreed.  `But  -  oh, I don't know - why do people
always find it easier to believe in evil spirits than in good ones?'

    Matthew  was late for lunch. I went in search of him, and found him
sitting on the remains of the wrecked jetty, talking to a  good-looking,
fair.haired  young  man I did not remember seeing before. Matthew looked
up as I approached.
    'Hullo, Daddy - oh, is it late?'
    'It is,' I told him.
    The young man got up, politely.
    'I'm sorry, sir. I'm afraid it's my fault f@r keeping him. I should
have  thought.  I was just asking him about his feat: he's quite a local
hero, you know, after yesterday.'
    'Maybe,' I said, 'but he still has to eat. Come along now, Matthew.
    'Goodbye,' Matthew said to the young man, and we turned back to the
    `Who was that?' I asked.
    'Just a man,' said Matthew. 'He wanted to know how Polly  is  after
yesterday.  He  said  he's  got  a  little girl just like her, so he was
    It  did  just cross my mind that the stranger looked a little young
to be a family man with ten or eleven year old child, but then you never
know  nowadays, and by the time lunch was finished I had forgotten about
the incident.
    During  the  next  few  days  Matthew  developed such a passion for
swimming that he could scarcely be kept away from the water.
    Then  the  holiday was over. Colonel Summers dropped in on the last
evening for a drink, and to assure me that he had already written to The
Royal Swimming Society commending Matthew.
    'Plucky youngster of yours. Good reason to be proud of  him.  Could
just  as  easily have looked after himself only: many would. Funny thing
his pretending he couldn't swim; unaccountable things, boys. Never mind.
Damned good show! And good luck to him.'

    The following Monday evening I got home late and tired after a busy
day  catching  up  with  the  accumulation  of work at the office. I was
vaguely aware that Mary was a little distrait, but she had the  tact  to
keep the cause to herself until I had eaten my supper. Then she produced
a newspaper, much folded for post, and handed it to me.
    'Came  this  afternoon,'  she said. `Front page.' Her expression as
she watched me unfold it and read MERIONETH MERCURY across the  top  was
    'Further down,' she said.
    I  looked  at  the  lower  half of the page and saw a photograph of
Matthew looking back at me. Not at all a bad photograph either. I looked
at  the  headline  to  the  story  beside it. It said: BOY-HERO TELLS OF
'GUARDIAN ANGEL' RESCUE. (*) My heart sank a little. I read on:
    'Matthew  Gore (12) of Hindmere, Surrey, on holiday at Bontgoch has
been nominated to receive a medal for his bravery in saving  his  sister
Polly (10) from drowning in the estuary at Bontgoch last Monday.
    'Matthew and his sister were playing on a light  wooden  jetty  not
far  from  the  Bontgoch Yacht Club when a motor-cruiser belonging to Mr
William Weston, a local resident, was torn  from  its  moorings  by  the
force  of the ebb tide, and crashed into the jetty, demolishing ten feet
of it, and hurling both children into the swirling current.
    'Matthew immediately struck out, and, seizing his sister, supported
her head above water as the flood bore them away. The alarm was given by
Mr Evan Evans, a familiar figure in Bontgoch, whereupon Colonel Summers,
a well-known local resident, hastened to the scene and lost no  time  in
giving chase in his motor-cruiser.
    'Colonel Summers was compelled to pursue the  two  children  nearly
two  miles down the treacherous waters of the estuary before he was able
to manoeuvre his boat alongside  them  so  that  they  could  be  safely
grappled aboard.
    'Said the Colonel: "Matthew undoubtedly saved his sister's life  at
the risk of his own. England could do with more boys like him."'(*)
    'Most astounding fact of all: Matthew did not known he could swim.
    'Interviewed  by  our  reporter  he  modestly  denied any claims to
heroism. "Polly could not swim, and when I found I  could,  the  obvious
thing  was  to  help  her,"  he said. Questioned about this, he told our
reporter that he had taken swimming lessons, but had never been able  to
learn  to  swim.  "When  I  was  suddenly  throw  into  the  water I was
terrified," he acknowledged, "but then I heard a  voice  telling  me  to
keep  calm,  and  how to move my arms and legs. So I did as it said, and
found I could swim."
    'There  seems to be no doubt that Matthew is telling the truth. Our
reporter was unable to find anyone who  had  seen  him  swimming  before
that, and it was generally thought that he could not swim.
    'Asked if he was not astonished to hear a voice speaking to him, he
replied  that  he had often heard it before, and so did not find it very
    'When  our  reporter  suggested  that  it could be the voice of his
Guardian Angel, he admitted that it might be that.'
    I looked up at Mary. She shook her head slowly. I shrugged,
    'Shall we ...?' I began to suggest.
    Mary shook her head again.
    'He'll be fast asleep by now. Besides, what's the point? It's  done
    'It's only a local paper,' I said. `But how on  earth...?'  Then  I
remembered the young man who had been talking to Matthew on the shore...
    'They know we live in Hindmere,' Mary painted  out.  'They've  only
got to look in the telephone directory.'
    I was determined to be hopeful.
    'Why  should  they  bother? It reads like a pretty phoney sensation
worked up by a local reporter, anyway.'
    il  don't  think  either  of us was quite certain just then whom we
meant by this `they', but it did not take long for me to discover that I
was underestimating the abilities of press-reporters.
    I have fallen into the bad habit of switching  on  the  radio  when
shaving  -  bad  because  untroubled  shaving is itself a serious enough
affair - however, that's modern life, and the next morning I turned on
Today' (*) as usual, and Jack de Manio (*) said: `The time is exactly
twenty-five - and a half minutes past eight - no, hang it,  (*)  I  mean
past  seven.  Now the news from our local reporters. lt was become known
that young Matthew Gore while on holiday  from  his  home  at  Hindmere,
recently,  and  gallantly, saved his still younger sister from drowning,
and the peculiar thing is that young  Matthew  had  never  swum  before.
Dennis Clutterbuck reports:'
    The quality of the transmission changed. A voice said:
    'I am told that when an accident flung you and your sister into the
fast-flowing river you immediately went to her rescue and supported  her
in  the  water until you were picked up more than a mile down-stream. is
that so?'
    'Well, yes,' said Matthew's voice. He sounded a little doubtful.
    'And they also tell me you had never swum before?' 'Yes -  I  mean,
no,' said Matthew, in some confusion. 'You hadn't ever swum before?'
    'No,' said Matthew, definitely now. `]'d  tried,  but  it  wouldn't
happen ...' he added.
    'But this time it did?'
    'Yes,' said Matthew.
    'I am told you heard a voice telling you what to do?'
    Matthew  hesitated.  `Well - sort of ...' he agreed. 'And you think
this must have been the voice of your Guardian Angel?'
    'No,' said Matthew indignantly. `That's a lot of rot.'
    'But you told the news reporter ...' Matthew interrupted him.
    'I  didn't.  He  said  it,  and  I  didn't  know he was a reporter,
    'But you did hear a voice?'
    Matthew hesitated again. Once more he could manage no better than:
    '... Sort of.'
    'And after you had heard it, you found you were able to swim?'
    A grunt from Matthew.
    'But now you don't think it was your Guardian Angel that  told  you
how to do it?'
    '[ never said anything about Guardian Angels - it was him.' Matthew
sounded  exasperated.  `All that happened was that I got into panic, and
Chock... ' He stopped abruptly. I could almost hear him bite his tongue.
`I just found I could swim,' he ended lamely.
    The interviewer started to speak again  but  was  cut  off  in  the
middle of the first syllable.
    Jack de Manio said.
    'Swimming  in  one  easy lesson. Well, whether there was a Guardian
Angel involved, or not, congratulations to Matthew on the way he put the
lesson to use.'
    Matthew came down to his breakfast as I was finishing mine.
    'I've just been listening to you on the wireless,' I told him.
    'Oh,' said Matthew. He did not seem disposed to follow that up, and
attended to his cornflakes, rather apprehensively.
    'When did it happen?' I inquired.
    'A  man  rang  up, when Mummy was out. He said was I Matthew, and I
said I was, and he said he was BBC, and could he come round and see  me.
I  said  I supposed it be all right, because it seemed rude to say no to
the BBC. So he came; and he showed me a bit about me in the paper.  Then
he  turned  on  his  recorder, and asked me questions. And after that he
went away again.'
    'And you didn't tell Mummy, or anyone else, that he'd been?'
    He dabbled his cornflakes.
    'Well,  you  see, I thought she'd be afraid that I'd told him about
Chocky - though I didn't. And I didn't think  it  would  be  interesting
enough to get broadcasted, anyway.'
    Not very valid reason, I thought. Probably he  was  feeling  guilty
over letting the man into the house at all.
    'H'm. - It can't be helped now,' I said. 'But if there are any more
interviewers,  I  think  you'd better refer them to Mummy, or me, before
you talk to them. Will you do that?'
    'Okay, Daddy,' he agreed, and then added, with a frown. 'It's a bit
difficult though. You see, I didn't know  the  man  at  Bontgoch  was  a
reporter  and  the  BBC  one  -  well,  it didn't seem like an interview
    `Perhaps  the  simplest  way  would  be  to treat any stranger as a
suspected interpreter,' I suggested. `You might easily make a slip,  and
we don't want them getting on to Chocky, do we?'
    Matthew's mouth was now too full of cornflakes to  let  him  speak,
but he nodded very decisively.


    A young man representing, as he put it, The Hindmere  and  District
Courier  turned up that afternoon. Mary dealt with him briskly. Yes, she
had seen that rubbish about a guardian angel, and was surprised  that  a
paper  had  printed such nonsense. Matthew had swimming lessons, but had
lacked the confidence to trust himself to the water. What  had  happened
was  that  in the emergency he had known that he ought to do to swim; he
had made the motions he had been taught to make, and discovered that  he
could  swim.  He  had  been  very  brave  in going to the rescuee of his
sister, and very fortunate, but there was nothing miraculous  about  it.
No,  she  was  sorry  he couldn't see - Matthew; he was out for the day.
And, in any case, she preferred not to have him troubled about it. After
considerable persuasion the reporter went away, ill-satisfied.
    The same day Land!s rang me up at the office. He had, he said, been
thinking  about  Matthew, and a number of questions had occurred to him.
He suggested that I should have dinner with him one evening. It  crossed
my  mind to ask him if he had heard Matthew on `Today' that morning, but
I had no wish to get involved in a lot of explanation in the middle of a
busy day, so I did not mention it. In the circumstances I could scarcely
refuse his invitation, and it also occurred to me  that  he  might  have
thought  of  a  suitable  consultant.  We agreed to meet at his Club the
following Thursday.
    I  got back to find Mary preparing our dinner with grim resolve and
a heavy hand, as she does where she is annoyed. I inquired why.
    `Matthew's  been  talking  to reporters again,' she said, punishing
the saucepan.
    `But I told him...'
    '] know,' she said bitterly. `Oh, it isn't his fault, poor boy, but
it does make me so wild.'
    I inquired further.
    Reporters, it seemed, was a manner of speaking. There had been only
one reporter. Matthew, on his way home, had encountered him at  the  end
of  the  road.  He  had  asked  if  he was speaking to Matthew Gore, and
introduced himself as the representative of The  Hindmere  and  District
Courier.  Matthew  told  him  he  must speak to his mother first. Oh, of
course, agreed the young man, that was only  proper,  naturally  he  had
called  on  Mrs Gore to ask her permission. He had been hoping to have a
talk with Matthew there at the house, only he had not been at home.  But
it  was very fortunate that they had met like this. They couldn't really
talk, standing here on the corner, though. What about some tea and cakes
in the cafe over there? So they had gone to the cafe.
    'You must write to the editor at once. It's disgusting,'  she  told
    I wrote a suitably indignant letter, without the least hope that it
would be paid attention to, but it helped to reduce Mary's feelings to a
mere simmer. father there risk raising the temperature  again  I  didn't
mention Landis's call.
    Wednesday passed without incident, but Thursday made up for it. (*)
    I  was reading The Times in a full railway compartment, when my eye
was caught by a photograph in the copy of The Daily  Telegraph  held  by
the  man  in  the opposite seat. Even at a glance it had a quality which
triggered my curiosity. I leant forward to take a closer look.  Habitual
travellers  develop  an  instinct which warns them of such liberties. My
vis-a-vis (*) immediately lowered his paper to glare at me as if I  were
committing  trespass  and  probably  worse, and refolded it to present a
different page.
    The  glimpse I had had, brief though it was, disturbed me enough to
send me to the Waterloo Station (*) bookstall in search of a Telegraph I
could  rightfully,  read.  They  had,  of course, sold out. This somehow
helped to convince me that my  suspicions  were  we]l  founded,  and  on
arriving  in  Bloomsbury  Square (*) I lost no time in sending a message
round the office asking for a copy of today's Telegraph. Eventually  one
was  found, and brought to me. I unfolded it with a sense of misgiving -
and I was right to feel it...
    Half a page was devoted to photographs of pictures on display at an
exhibition entitled `Art and the Schoolchild'. The one that  had  caught
my eye on the train caught it again. It was a scene from an upper window
showing half a dozen boys laden with satchels jostling their way towards
an  open  gate in a wall. The boys had an angular, spindly look; curious
to some no doubt, but familiar to me. I had no need to  read  the  print
beneath the photograph, but I did:
    '"Homeward" by  Matthew  Gore  (12)  of  Hinton  School,  Hindmere,
reveals  a  talent and power .of observation quite outstanding in one of
his age.'
    I  was  still  looking at it when Tommy Percell, one of my partners
came in, and glanced over me shoulder.
    'Ah,  yes,'  he  to]d me. `Spotted that on the way up this morning.
Congratulations. Thought it must be your youngster. Didn't know  he'd  a
gift  for  that  kind  of  thing. Very clever - but a bit queer, though,
isn't it?'
    'Yes,' I said, with a feeling that the thing was slipping out of my
hands. `Yes, it is a bit queer ...'

    Landis drank half his sherry at a gulp.
    'Seen the papers?' he inquired.
    I did not pretend to misunderstand him.
    :Yes, I saw today's Telegraph.' 1 admitted.
    'But not the Standard? They've got it, too - with a paragraph about
a child-artist of genius. You didn't tell me about this,' he added, with
    'I didn't know about it when I last saw you.'
    'Nor about the swimming?'
    'It hadn't happened then.'
    'Both Chocky, of course?'
    'Apparently,' I said.
    I told him what Matthew had told Mary and me about the pictures. It
did not appear to surprise him, but he was lost in thought again...
    Over  the  meal he inquired in detail into the swimming incident. I
told him as much as could, and he clearly found it no  less  significant
than  the  painting. What astonished me most of the time, and still more
on later reflection, was his lack of surprise. It was so marked  that  I
almost  had  a  suspicion  for  a  time  that he might be humouring me -
leading me on to see how far I would go in my claims for Matthew, but  I
had  to abandon that. I could detect no trace of scepticism; he appeared
to accept the fantastic without prejudice.
    After dinner, over coffee and brandy, Landis said:
    'As I expect you'll have gathered, (*) I've been giving the problem
considerable  thought, and in my opinion Thorbe is your man. Sir William
Thorbe. He's a very  sound  fellow  with  great  experience  -  and  not
bigoted,  which  is  something in our profession. He treats his cases on
their merits - if he decides analysis will help, then he'll use  it;  if
he thinks it calls for one of the new drugs, then he'll use that. He has
a large number of quite remarkable successes  to  his  credit.  I  don't
think  you could do better than to get his opinion, he's willing to take
Matthew on. I'm certain that if anyone can help it's Thorbe.'
    I  did  not  greatly  care for that `if anyone', but let it pass. I
    'I  seem  to  remember  that the last time we met you were doubtful
whether Matthew needed help. '
    'My  dear fellow, I still am. But your wife does, you know. And you
yourself could do with (*) some definite assurance, couldn't you?'
    And,  of  course,  he was right. Mary and I were a lot more worried
about Matthew than Matthew was about himself. Just the knowledge that we
were doing our best for him by taking competent advice would relieve our
    In  the  end  I  agreed that, on Mary's consent, I would be glad to
have Sir William Thorbe's opinion.
    And on that, we parted.
    I arrived home to find Mary bursting with indignation.  I  gathered
she had seen The Evening Standard.
    'It's outrageous!' she announced. `What right had she to  send  the
thing  in  without even consulting us? The least she could have done was
to ask us. To enter it like that without your even knowing! Really,  the
kind  of people these Teachers' Training Colleges turn out these days...
No manners at all...  How  can  you  expect  a  child  to  learn  decent
behaviour  when  he's  taught by people who don't know how to behave...?
It's quite disgraceful.'
    'She  was  doing  her job,' I cut in. `One of her pupils produced a
picture that she thought good enough to submit for this exhibition.  She
wanted  him  to  have  the credit for it. Naturally, she thought we'd be
delighted, and so we should have been - but for this Chocky business.'
    'She ought to have asked our consent...'
    'So that you could explain to her about Chocky, and tell her why we
didn't  want it shown? And, anyway, it was right at the end of the term.
She probably had just time to  send  it  in  before  she  went  away.  I
wouldn't  mind  betting  that  at  this  very  moment she's expecting to
receive a letter of thanks and congratulations from is.'
    Mary made an angry sound.
    'All right,' I told her. 'You go ahead and write the  headmaster  a
letter  demanding  an  apology. And you won't get your apology. What are
you going to do then, make a row? Local  newspapers  love  rows  between
parents  and  schoolteachers.  So do the national ones. If you want more
publicity  for  the  picture  than  they  have  already  printed  you'll
certainly  get  it.  And  somebody's going to point out that the Matthew
Gore who painted the picture is the same one who is the  guardian  angel
hero.  -  Someone's going to do that anyway, but do we want it done on a
national scale? How long will it take before Chocky is right out of  the
    Mary's look of dismay made me sorry for the way  I'd  put  it.  She
went  on  staring  at  me  for  several  seconds, then her face suddenly
crumpled. I picked her up and carried her over to the armchair.,.
    After  a  time she pulled the handkerchief out of my breast-pocket.
Gradually I felt her relax. One hand sought, and found, mine.
    'I'm sorry to be so silly,' she said.
    I hugged her.
    'It's  all right, darling. You're not silly, you're anxious - and I
don't wonder.'
    'But  I  was  silly. I didn't see what making a row might lead to.'
She paused, kneading the handkerchief in her clenched right hand.
I'm so afraid for Matthew,' she said unsteadily. She raised herself a
little, and looked into my face. `David, tell me  something  honestly...
They - they won't think he - he's mad, will they, David ...?'
    'Of course not, darling. How could they possibly? You couldn't find
a saner boy anywhere than Matthew, you know that.'
    'But if they find out about Chocky? If they get  to  know  that  he
thinks  he hears her speaking...? I mean, hearing voices in your head...
that's ...' She let it tail away.
    'Darling,' I told her. `You're being afraid of the wrong thing. Put
that right away. There is nothing - nothing at all - wrong with  Matthew
himself.  He's  as  sane  and  sensible a boy as one could wish to meet.
Please, please let it into your head  quite  firmly  that  this  Chocky,
whatever  it is, is not subjective - it is objective. It does not - come
from Matthew, it is something outside that comes to  him.  I  know  it's
hard  to  believe, because one doesn't understand how it can happen. But
you must believe that.'
    'I  do  try,  but  ... I don't understand. What is Chocky...? - The
swimming ... the painting ... all the questions...?'
    'That's  what we don't know - yet. My own idea is that Matthew is -
well, sort of haunted. I know that's an  unfortunate  word,  it  carries
ideas  of  fear and malevolence, but I don't mean that at all. It's just
that there isn't another word for it. What I am thinking of is a  kindly
sort  of  haunting  ...  It quite clearly doesn't mean Matthew any harm.
It's only alarming to us because we  don't  understand  it.  After  all,
remember,  Matthew thinks it saved both their lives... And if it didn't,
we don't know what, did.
    'Whatever it is, I think we'd be wrong to regard it as a threat. It
seems  intrusive  and  inquisitive,  but  basically  well   disposed   -
essentially a benign kind of - er - presence.
    'Oh, I see,' said Mary. `In fact you're trying to tell me it  is  a
guardian angel?'
    'No - er - well, I suppose I mean - er. yes, in a way...' I said.


    AIan rang up in the morning and suggested lunch, so I joined him.
    'Saw the photograph of Matthew's picture in the  paper  yesterday,'
he said. `What are you going to do about it now?'
    I shrugged. `About it what can I do except try to deal with  things
as  they  crop  up?  About  Matthew,  though,  Landis has come up with a
recommendation.' I told him @Jhat Landis had said.
    'Thorbe, Thorbe,' Alan muttered, frowning. `I heard something about
him just the other  day  -  Oh,  yes.  I  know.  He's  recent]y  got  an
appointment  as a sort of advisory industrial psychologist to one of the
big groups. (*) Can't remember which, but one of the really big boy's.'
    'Oh,' I said. `Very high fees?'
    Alan shook his head.
    'Can't  tell you about that, but he won't be cheap. I should have a
word with Landis about it before you commit yourself.'
    'Thanks, I will. One hears such things. I don't want to pay lots of
money for months and months, if it can be helped.'
    'Of  course,'  Alan  agreed.  `After al], nobody has suggested that
there's anything wrong with Matthew, nothing that needs  treatment.  All
you really want is an explanation to set your minds at rest - and advice
on the best way to cope with things, isn't it?'
    'I  don't  know,' I told him. `I admit that this Chocky hasn't done
him any harm ...'
    'And has, in fact, saved his and Polly's lives, don't forget.'
    'Yes. But it's Mary I'm worried about now. She's not  going  to  be
easy  in  her  mind  until  she's satisfied that. Chocky has been driven
right away, abolished, exorcised, or somehow finished with ... '

    I arrived home to find the atmosphere a trifle gloomy, perhaps, but
certainly not critical. My spirits lifted. I asked @ary about the day.
    'My sister Janet has just rung up,' she told me.
    'Oh, no ...!'
    'Yes.  She was thrilled about Matthew's success with the picture...'
    'And wants to come over tomorrow to discuss it?'
    'Well, actually, she said Sunday. It's Patience who rang up in  the
afternoon and said could she come tomorrow.'
    'I hope,'I told her, without much hope, `that  you  put  them  both
off, firmly.'
    She hesitated. `Well, Janet's always so difficult and insistent...'
    'Oh,' I said, and picked up the telephone.
    'No, wait a minute,' she protested.
    'I'm damned if we're going to sit here all the  week-end  listening
to your sisters taking Matthew to pieces. You know just the line they'll
take - gushing, inquisitive, self-congratulatory,  phoney  commiseration
for  their  unfortunate  sister  who  would  have the ill-luck to have a
peculiar child. To hell with it! 'I put my finger on the dial.
    'No,' said Mary. `I'd better do it.'
    'All right,' I agreed. 'Tell them they can't come. That I've  fixed
up  for  us  to  go  out  with  friends  tomorrow  and Sunday - and next
week-end, too, or they'll switch  it  to  that  if  you  give  them  the
chance.' (*)
    She did, quite efficiently, and looked at me, as she put the  phone
down, with an air of relief that cheered me immensely.
    'Thank you, David ...' she began. Then the phone rang. I picked  it
up and listened.
    'No,' I said. `He's in bed and asleep now ... No, he'll be out  all
day tomorrow,' and put it down again.
    'Who was that?' Mary asked.
    'The  Sunday Dawn, wanting an interview with Matthew.' I thought it
over for a moment. `At a guess I'd say they've just tied up Matthew  the
life-saver with Matthew the artist. There'll probably be more of them.'
    There were. The Sunday Voice followed by The Report.
    'That settles it,' I told Mary. `We'll have to go out tomorrow. And
we'll have to start early, before they come camping in the front garden:
I tell you what, we'll stay away over night. Let's go and pack.'
    We started upstairs, and the phone went again. I hesitated.
    'Oh, leave the thing,' said Mary.
    So we did - and the next time.

    We managed to get away by seven o'clock, unimpeded by interviewers,
and set course for the coast.
    'I  hope  they won't break in while we're away,' said Mary. `I feel
like a refugee.'
    We  ali  began  to feel like refugees a couple of hours later as we
neared the sea. The roads grew thick with ears,  our  speed  was  little
better   than   a   crawl.  Mysterious  holdups  occurred,  immobilizing
everything for miles.
    Presently  we  arrived at a vast car park charging five shillings a
time, collected our things and went in search of  the  sea.  The  pebbly
beach  near  the  park was crowded and we made our way further along and
down the pebbles, until ali that separated us from  the  shining  summer
sea was a band of oil and dirt about six feet wide.
    'Oh, God,' said Mary. `You're not going to bathe in that,' she told
Matthew who was beginning to unbutton his shirt.
    Matthew looked at the mess more closely; even he  seemed  a  little
    'But I do want to swim now I can,' he protested.
    'Not  here,' said Mary. 'Oh, dear. It was a lovely beach only a few
years ago. Now it's ...'
    'Just the edge of the Cloaca Britannica?' I suggested.
    'Let's go somewhere else. Come along, we're moving,'
    I  called  rio  Matthew who was still staring down at the mess in a
fascinated, dreamy way. I waited for him while Polly and Mary  began  to
pick their way up the beach.
    'Chocky's back, is she?' I asked as he cave up.
    'How did you know?' he inquired, with surprise.
    'I recognized the signs. Look, do me a favour, will you? Just  keep
her  under  cover  if  you  can. We don't want to spoil Mummy's day - at
least,' I added, `not more than this place has already.'
    'Okay,' he agreed.
    We nt a little inland and found a village nestled in a cleft at the
foot  of the Downs. (*) It was peaceful. And there was An inn which gave
us quite a passable lunch. I asked if we could stay the night, and found
that  by  the  good  luck  they  had rooms to spare. Mary and I lazed on
deck-chairs in the garden. Matthew disappeared, saying vaguely  that  he
was going to look round. Polly lay on the lawn under a tree, and started
reading. After, an hour or so I suggested a stroll before tea.
    We  found  a path which followed the contour across the side of the
hill and walked it in a leisurely fashion. After about half  a  mile  we
came  in  sight  of  a  figure  working  intently  on a large sketch-pad
supported by his knees. I stopped. Mary said:
    'It's Matthew.'
    'Yes,' I agreed, and turned to go back.
    'No,' she said, `Let's go on. I'd like to see.'
    Rather reluctantly I went forward with her.  Matthew  seemed  quite
unaware  of  us. Even when we drew close he remained utterly absorbed in
his work. From a box of crayons on the grass beside him he would  select
what he wanted, with decision, and apply it to the paper with a deftness
I could not recognize in him. Then, with a curious mixture  of  delicacy
and  firmness  he  smudged,  blurred,  and  softened  the line using his
fingers, or his thumb, or a part of a dirty  handkerchief  on  which  he
wiped his hands before adding the next stroke.
    The painting of a picture seems to me at any time a marvel, but  to
watch  the  Sussex  landscape  taking  form on !he paper from such crude
materials  under  such  an  unfamiliar  technique  held  me   completely
fascinated,  and Mary, too. We must have stood there almost unmoving for
more than half an hour before Matthew relaxed. Then he lifted his  head,
sighed  heavily,  and lifted the finished picture to study it. Presently
he became aware of us standing behind him, and turned his head.
    'Oh, hullo,' he said, looking at Mary a little uncertainly.
    'Oh, Matthew, that's beautiful,' she exclaimed.
    Matthew looked relieved. He studied the picture again.
    'I think Chocky's seeing things  more  properly  now,  though  it's
still a bit funny,' he said judicially.
    Mary asked tentatively:
    'Will you give it to me. Matthew? I promise to keep it very safely,
if you will.'
    Matthew  looked  pp  at  her  with  a  smile. He recognized a peace
    'Yes,  if  you like Mummy,' he said, and then added on a cautionary
note. `Only you'll have to be careful. This kind smudges  if  you  don't
spray them with something or other. '
    'I'll be most careful. It's  much  too  beautiful  to  spoil,'  she
assured him.
    'Yes, it is rather beautiful,' Matthew agreed. `Chocky thinks that,
except where we've spoilt it, this is a very beautiful planet.'
    We arrived home on Sunday evening feeling much the better  for  our
week-end. (*) Mary, however, was not looking forward to Monday.
    'These newspaper men are so pushing.  Foot  in  the  door  and  all
that,' she complained.
    'I doubt  if they'll trouble you much - not the Sundays, (*) anyway.
It'll  have gone stale by next week-end. I think the best thing would be
to get Matthew out of the way. It's only one day; he starts school again
on  Tuesday.  Make  him  up  some  sandwiches  and  send  him  off  with
instructions to keep clear until -six o'clock. See that  he  has  enough
money to go to the pictures if he gets bored. He'll be all right.'
    'It seems a bit hard on him to be turned out.'
    'I know^ but I think he'd prefer that to intervlewers.'
    So next morning Mary shooed him out of the  place  -  and  just  as
well.  Six  callers  inquired for Matthew in the course of the day. They
were, our own vicar, another clergyman, a middle-aged lady who  confided
with  some  intensity  that  she  was  a  spiritualist,  a member of the
regional Arts-Group which she was  sure  Matthew  would  want  to  join,
another  lady  who  considered  the  dream-life  of  children  to  be  a
disgracefully neglected field of study, and an instructor at  the  local
baths  who  hoped that Matthew would give a demonstration of life-saving
at the next swimming gala.
    I  arrived  home  and  found Mary quite exhausted. Apart from that,
however, Monday was uneventful. Matthew appeared to have enjoyed his day
out.  He  came  back  with  two  pictures, both landscapes from the same
viewpoint. One was unmistakably Chocky-directed, the  other  less  good,
but Matthew was proud of it.
    'I did it all myself,' he told us. `Chocky's been telling me how to
look at things, and I'm sort of beginning to see what sh means.'
    On Tuesday morning Matthew went off to  school  to  start  his  new
term. On Tuesday afternoon he returned home, with a black eye.
    Mary regarded it with dismay.
    'Oh, Matthew. You've been fighting,' she exclaimed.
    'I haven't,' Matthew told her, indignantly. `I was fought at.'
    According  to  his  account  he  had  been  simply  standing in the
playground during break when a slightly older boy  called  Simon  Ledder
had  come  up to him, accompanied by three or four henchmen, and started
jeering about guardian angels. Somehow a situation had been  reached  in
which  Simon proclaimed that if Matthew's guardian angel could guard him
from him, Simon's, lists he was willing to believe in  guardian  angels,
if  not  it  proved  that  Matthew  was  a  liar. Simon had then put his
postulate to a practical test by landing Matthew a  punch  in  the  face
which  had  knocked him down. Matthew was not quite clear about the next
minute or two. He admitted he might have been dazed. AI]  he  remembered
was  that  he was on his feet again, and instead of facing Simon and his
companion he found himself looking at Mr Slatson, the headmaster.
    Mr   Slatson   very  decently  took  the  trouble  to  ring  up  at
dinner-time, and inquire about Matthew. I was able to tell him  that  he
seemed quite himself, though he did not look pretty.
    After he rang off 'I gave Mary  my  news  of the  day.  Landis  had
phoned  in  the  morning. He had, he told me, managed to see Sir William
who seemed quite hopefully interested by his  account  of  Matthew,  Sir
William's  time  was,  of  course,  rather  closely  booked,  but he had
suggested that I ring up his secretary, and see if an appointment  could
be arranged.
    So I did that. Sir  William's  secretary  also  told  me  that  Sir
William was very much booked-up, but she would see. There was a sound of
rifling papers, then, on a gracious note, she informed  me  that  I  was
fortunate;  there  had been a cancellation, two o'clock Friday afternoon
if I cared to take it, otherwise it might be a matter of weeks.
    Mary  hesitated.  She seemed, during the last two or three days, to
have lost her antipathy to Chocky; also, I fancy, she had an instinctive
reluctance  to  entrusting  Matthew  in  other  hands,  as  if, like the
beginning of schooldays, it marked the end of a phase.  But  her  common
sense  asserted  itself.  We  arranged  that  Matthew  should come up on
Friday, and I would escort him to Sir William.
    On Friday I met Matthew off the train at Waterloo. We had lunch and
arrived in Sir William's office with five minutes to spare.
    Sir William Thorbe turned out to be a tall, clean-shaved man with a
rather high-bridged nose, fine hair just greying, and a  pair  of  dark,
perceptive  eyes  under  thick eyebrows, In other circumstances I should
have thought him  a  barrister  rather  than  a  medical  man,  h:  air,
appearance,   and   carriage  gave  a  first  misleading  impression  of
familiarity which I later ascribed to his resemblance  to  the  Duke  of
Wellington. (*)
    I introduced Matthew, exchanged a few words, and was then shown out
to wait.
    'How long?' I asked the secretary.
    'Two  hours  is  the  minimum  with a new patient,' she told me. `I
suggest you come back at half-past four. We'll look after  your  boy  if
he's through before that,'
    I went back to the office, and returned on time. It was after  five
before Matthew emerged. He looked at the clock.
    'Gosh,' he said. `I thought it was only about half an hour.'
    The secretary bustled up.
    `Sir William asks me to make his apologies for not seeing you  now.
He  has an urgent consultation to attend. He will He writing to you in a
day or two,' she said, and we were shown out.
    'What happened?' I asked Matthew when we were in the train.
    'He asked me some questions. He didn't seem at all surprised  about
Chocky,' he said, and added: `Then we listened $0 records.'
    'Oh. Pop music?' I inquired.
    'Not  that  sort of record. It was all soft and quiet - musical and
of music. It just went on while he asked the questions. And then when it
stopped  he  took another record out of a cupboard and asked me if I had
ever seen one like that. I said no,  because  it  was  a  funny  looking
record  with  black  and white patterns all over it, So he moved a chair
and said: "Sit here where you  can  see  it,"  and  he  put  it  on  the
    'It made a queer humming noise, not real music at  all,  though  it
went  up and down a bit. Then there was another humming noise, a sort of
sharper one. It came in on top of the other humming,  and  went  up  and
down,  too. I watched the record going round, and all the pattern seemd
to be running into the middle - a bit like bath-water running out of the
plug-hole,  only  not  quite because it didn't go down, it just ran into
itself and disappeared to nowhere, and kept on doing it.  It  was  funny
watching  it  because  I  began to feel as if the whole room was turning
round, and I was falling off the chair, Then, quite suddenly it was  all
right  again and there was an ordinary record with ordinary music coming
out of it.
    'Well,  then  Sir  William  gave me an orange drink, and asked some
more questions, and after a bit he said that'd be  all  for  today,  and
goodbye, and I came out.'
    I duly reported to Mary.
    'Oh,' she said. `Hypnosis. I don't think I like that very much.'
    'No,' I agreed. `But I suppose  he'd  use  whatever  method  seemed
appropriate.  Matthew can be pretty cagey about Chocky. I know he opened
up with Landis, but that was exceptional. If Sir William was  having  to
fight for every answer he may well have felt that hypnosis would make it
easier for both of them.'
    'M'm,'  said  Mary,  `well,  all  we  can do now is to wait for his
    The  next morning, Saturday, Matthew came down to breakfast looking
tired. He was  low-spirited,  too,  and  listless.  He  refused  Polly's
invitation to dispute with such gloomy distaste that Mary dropped on her
heavily, and shut her up.
    'Are you not feeling well?' she demanded of Matthew, who was toying
uninterestedly with his cornflakes.
    'I'm all right,' he said.
    Mary regarded him, and tried again.
    'It's  not anything to do with yesterday? Did that man do something
that upset you?'
    'No,'  Matthew  shook  his  head. `I'm all tight,' he repeated, and
attacked his cornflakes as if in demonstration. He got them down  as  if
every leaf were threatening to choke him.
    I watched him closely, and had a strong impression was on the verge
of tears.
    'Look, old man. I've-got to go down to London  again  today.  Would
you like to come along?' I suggested.
    He shook his head again.
    'No,  thank  you,  Daddy.  I'd  rather. Mummy, can T just have some
sandwiches, please?'
    Mary looked at me in question, I nodded.
    'All right, darling. I'm cut you some after breakfast,' she said.
    Matthew ate a little more, and then disappeared upstairs.
    When we were alone Mary said:
    'I'm sure it's something that man told him yesterday.'
    'Could be,' I admitted. `But I don't think so.  He  wasn't  at  all
upset  yesterday  evening. Anyway, if he wants to get away by himself, I
think we ought to let him.'
    When  I  went  out  to  get  the  car  I  found Matthew strapping a
sketching-block, his paint-box, and a packet of  sandwiches  on  to  the
carrier of his bicycle I hoped the sandwiches would survive it.
    'Go carefully. Remember it's Saturday,' I told him. 'Yes,' he said,
and rode off.
    He did not come back until six o'clock, and went straight up to his
room. At dinner he was still up there. I inquired.
    'He says he doesn't want any,' Mary told me. `He's  just  lying  on
his  bed  staring  at  the  ceiling.,  I'm sure he must be sickening for
    I  went up to see. Matthew was, as Mary had said, lying on his bed,
He looked very tired.
    'Feeling  worn out, old man?' I asked him. `Why don't you get right
into bed? I'm bring you something on a tray.'
    He shook his head.
    'No thanks, Daddy. I don't want anything.'
    'You ought to have something, you know.'
    He shook his head again.
    I  looked  round  the room. There were four pictures I had not seen
before. All landscapes. Two propped up on the mantel shelf, two  on  the
chest of drawers.
    'Did you do these today? May I look?' I asked.
    I moved closer to them. One I recognized immediately, a view across
Docksham Great Pond, another included a part of the pond in one  corner,
the third was taken from a higher po-int looking across a village to the
Downs beyond, the fourth was like nothing I had ever seen.
    It  was  a  view across a plain. As a background a line of rounded,
ancient-looking hills, topped here and there by domed towers, was set  -
against  a cloudless blue sky. In the middle-ground, to the right of the
centre, stood something like a very large stone structure.  It  had  the
shape,  though  not  the  regularity  of  a pyramid, nor were the stones
fitted together; rather they seemed, as far as one could tell  from  the
drawing,  to  be boulders piled up. It could scarcely have been called a
building, yet it quite certainly was not a  natural  formation.  In  the
foreground  were rows of things precisely spaced and arranged in curving
lines - I say `things' because it was impossible to make out  what  they
were;  they could have been plants, or haycocks, or, perhaps even, huts,
there-was no  telling,  and  to  make  their  shape  more  difficult  to
determine,  each  appeared  to  throw  two shadows. From the left of the
picture a wide, cleared strip ran straight as a ruler's edge to the foot
of the pyramid, where it changed direction towards the mountains. It was
a depressing view with the feeling of intolerable heat.
    I was still looking at the thing, bewildered, when there was a gulp
from the bed behind me. Matthew said, with difficulty:
    'They're the last pictures, Daddy.'
    I turned round. His eyes were screwed up, but tears were  trickling
out of them. I sat down on the bed beside him and took his hand.
    'Matthew, boy, tell me. Tell  me  what  the  trouble  is.'  Matthew
sniffed,  choked,  and  then  stammered  out: 'It's Chocky, Daddy. She's
going away - for ever :..'

    I heard Mary's feet on the stairs, crossed swiftly to the door, and
closed it behind me.
    'What is it? Is he ill?' she asked.
    I took her arm and moved away from the door.
    'No.  He'll  be  all  right,'  I  told her, leading her back to the
    'But what is the matter?' she insisted.
    I shook my head. When we were down  in  the  hail,  safely  out  of
earshot of Matthew's room -T told her.
    'It's Chocky. Apparently she's  leaving  -  clearing  out.'  'Well,
thank goodness for that,' Mary said.
    'Maybe, but don't let him see you think that.'
    She looked at me uncertainly, with a puzzled frown.
    'But, David, you're talking as if - I mean, Chocky isn't real.'
    'To Matthew she is. And he's taking it hard.'
    'All the same, I think he ought to have some food.'
    'Later on, perhaps,' I said. `But not now.'
    Throughout, the meal Polly chattered  constantly  and  boringly  of
ponies. When we had got rid of her Mary asked:
    'I've been thinking. Do you think it's something that man did?'
    'What man?'
    'That Sir William Something, (*).f course,' she said,  impatiently.
`After  all he did hypnotize Matthew. People can be made to do all kinds
of things through hypnotic suggestion. Suppose he said to Matthew, where
he  was  in  a trance: "Tomorrow your friend Chocky is going to tell you
she is going away. You are going to be very sorry to say goodbye to her,
but you will. Then she will leave you, and gradually you will forget all
about her" - something like that. I don't know much about it, but  isn't
it  possible that a suggestion of that kind might cure him, and clear up
the whole thing?'
    `"Cure him"?' I said.
    'Well, I mean ...'
    You mean you've gone back to thinking Chocky is an illusion?'
    'Not exactly an illusion ...'
    'Really,  darling  -  after the swimming, after watching him at his
painting last week-end, you can still think that ...?'
    'I  can still hope that. At least it's less alarming than what your
friend Landis talked about - possession.'
    I had to admit that she had a point (*) there. I wished I knew more
about hypnosis in general , and Matthew's in )articular. -1 also  wished
very much that, if Sir William would manage to expel Chocky by hypnosis,
he could have managed to do it  in  some  way  that  would  have  caused
Matthew less distress.
    In fact, I found myself displeased with Sir William.  It  began  to
look  as if I had taken Matthew to him for a diagnosis - which I had not
yet got - and possibly been given instead a treatment, which I had  not,
at   this   stage,  requested.  The  more  I  considered  it,  the  more
unsatisfactory it seemed.
    On  our  way  to  bed we looked into Matthew's room in case he were
feeling hungry now. There was no sound except his regular breathing,  so
we shut the door quietly and went away.
    The next morning, Sunday, we let him sleep on. He emerged about ten
o'clock  looking  dazed  with  sleep,  his eyes pink about the rims, his
manner distrait, but with his appetite hugely restored.
    About  half-past  eleven  a  large American car with a front like a
juke-box turned into the drive. Matthew came thundering down the stairs.
    'It's Auntie Janet, Daddy. I'm off,' he said breathlessly, and shot
down the passage to the back door.
    We  had  a  trying  day.  Matthew had been wise. There was a lot of
discussion,  mostly  one-sided,  on  guardian   angels,   and   on   the
characteristics  of  an  artist  in the family, presenting almost all of
them a sun desirable, if not actually disruptive.
    I do not know when Matthew returned, He just have come in and crept
upstairs while we were talking. After they had gone I  went  up  to  his
room. He was sitting looking out of the open window at the sinking sun.
    'You'll have to face her sooner or later,' I told him. 'Bi!t I must
say today was not the day. They were most disappointed not to see you.'
    Matthew managed a grin.
    I  looked  round.  The  four  paintings  were  propped  up again on
display. I commented favourably on the view's of a pond. When I came  to
the  last picture I hesitated, wondering whether to ignore it. I decided
not to.
    'Wherever  is  that supposed to be?' I inquired. Matthew turned his
head to look at it.
    'That's  where  Chocky  lives,' he said, and paused. Then he added.
`It's a horrid place, isn't it? That's why she thinks this world  is  so
    'Not at all an attractive spot,' I agreed. `It looks  terribly  hot
    `Oh, it is in the daytime. That fuzzy bit at  the  back  is  vapour
coming off a lake.'
    I pointed to the stone pyramid,
    'What is that thing?'
    I don't know, really,' Matthew admitted. `Sometimes  she  seems  to
mean  a  building,  and sometimes it comes like a lot of buildings, more
like a town. It's  a  bit  difficult  without  words  when  there  isn't
anything the same here.'
    'And these lumps?' I pointed to the rows  of  symmetrically  spaced
    'Things that grow there,' was all he could tell me.
    'Where is it?' I asked.
    Matthew shook his head.
    'We  still  couldn't  find out - or where our world is, either,' he
said. '
    I noted his use of the past tense, and looked at the picture again,
The harsh monotony of the colouring, and the feeling of heat  struck  me
once more.
    'You know, if I were you I'd keep it out of sight when  you're  not
here. I don't think Mummy would like it much.'
    Matthew nodded. `That's what I thought. So I put it away today.'
    There  was  a  pause. We looked out of the window at the red arc of
sun fretted by the treetops as it set. I asked him:
    'Has she gone, Matthew?'
    'Yes, Daddy.'
    We  were  silent  while  the  last  rim  of  the  sun sank down and
disappeared. Matthew sniffed. His eyes filled with tears.
    'Oh, Daddy ... lt', like losing part of me ...'

    Matthew was subdued, and perhaps a little pale  the  next  morning,
but he went off resolutely enough to school. He came back looking tired,
but as the week went by he improved daily. By the end of  it  he  seemed
more like his normal self again. We were relieved; for the same reasons,
but on different grounds.
    'Well,  thank  goodness  that's  over,'  Mary  said to me on Friday
evening. `It looks as if Sir William thing was right after all.'
    'Thorbe,' I said.
    'Well, Thing or Thorbe. The point is that he told you that  it  was
just  a  phase,  that  Matthew had built up an elaborate fantasy system,
that it was nothing very unusual at his age, and there was  nothing  for
us  to  worry about unless it were to become persistent. (*) the thought
that unlikely. In his opinion the fantasy would break up of itself,  and
disperse - probably quite soon. And that's exactly what's happened.'
    'Yes,' I agreed. It was the simplest way, and, after all, what  did
it matter now  if Thorbe had been right off the beam? (*) Chocky was, in
one way or another, gone.
    Nevertheless  when  I had received his letter on the Tuesday, I had
found it exceedingly hard  to  take.  The  swimming  he  dealt  with  by
explaining  that  Matthew  had in fact learned to swim some time before,
but a deep-seated fear of the water  had  caused  him  to  suppress  the
ability. This fear had persisted until the shock of the emergency caused
b his sudden immersion had broken down the mental block. Naturally,  his
conscious  mind  remained  ignorant of the block, and had attributed the
ability to an outside influence.
    Rather  similarly with the pictures. Undoubtedly Matthew had in his
subconscious  mind  a  strong  desire  to  paint.  This   had   remained
suppressed,  quite possibly as a result of terror inspired in him by the
sight of horrifylng pictures at an early  age.  Only  when  4is  present
fantasy  had  grown  potent  enough to affect both his conscious and his
subconscious minds, forming a bridge between them, had the urge to paint
become liberated and capable of expressing itself in action.
    There were explanations of the  far  incident,  and  others,  along
roughly  the  same lines. And though much of what I considered worthy of
attention had been ignored I had little doubt he  could  have  explained
that away, too, upon request.
    It was not only one of the most disappointing letters I  have  ever
waited   for;   it  was  insulting  in  the  native  smoothness  of  its
explanations, and patronizing in its reassurances. I  was  furious  that
Mary  could  take  it  at face value; (*) still more furious that events
appeared to justify her in doing so. I realized that I  had  expected  a
lot  from  Thorbe:  1  felt  that  all  I had got was a brush-off, and a
let-down. (*)
    And  yet  the  fellow  had  been right ... The Chocky-presence /7ad
dispersed, as he put it. The Chocky-trauma seemed to be mending - though
I felt less sure of that ...
    So I contented myself with a simple  `yes',  and  let  Mary  go  on
telling  me  in as sympathetic a way as possible how wrong I had been to
perceive subtle complexities which had, after al], turned out to be just
a  rather  more  developed,  and  certainly more troublesome, version of
Piff. ii lt did her quite a lot of good. So, fair enough.
    The  parcel  from  the Royal Swimming Society arrived by registered
post on the Monday morning addressed to Mr Matthew Gore. Unfortunately I
was  unable  to intercept it. Mary signed for it, and when Matthew and I
arrived in the dining-room together it was lying beside his plate.
    Matthew  glanced  at  the  envelope,  stiffened and sat quite still
looking at it for some moments. Then he  turned  to  his  cornflakes.  I
tried to catch Mary's eye, but in vain. She leant forward.
    'Aren't you going to open it?' she asked, encouragingly.
    Matthew looked at it again. His eyes roved round the table, looking
for an escape. They encountered his mother's expectant expression.  Very
reluctantly  he  picked up his knife and slit the envelope. A small red,
leather-covered box slid out. He hesitated again. Slowly  he  picked  it
up,  and  opened  it.  For some seconds he was motionless, gazing at the
golden disc gleaming in its bed of blue velvet. Then:
    'I don't want it,' he blurted.
    This time I did manage to catch Mary's eye, and gave a slight shake
of ny head.
    Matthew's low.er lip came out a little. It shook slightly.
    'It's  not  fair,'  he  said.  `It's  Chocky's  -  she saved me and
Polly... It's not true, Daddy ...'
    He  went on looking at the medal, head down. The discovery that one
lived in a world which could pay honour where honour was  not  due,  was
one of the shocks of growing up...
    Matthew got up, and ran blindly out of the room. The medal, gaudily
shining in its case, lay on the table.
    I picked it up. The Society's name in full ran round the edge, then
there  was  a  band of ornament, in the centre a boy and a girl standing
hand in hand looking at half a sun which radiated vigorously  presumably
in the act of rising.
    I turned it over. The reverse was plainer.  Simply  an  inscription
within a circular wreath of laurel leaves. Above:

                             AWARDED TO

then, engraved in a different type-face:

                            MATTHEW GORE

and, finally, the all-purpose laudation:

                         FOR A VALOROUS DEED

    I handed it to Mary.
    She examined it thoughtfully for some moments, and then put it back
in its case.
    'It's a shame he's taken it like that,' she said.
    I picked up the case, and slipped it into my pocket.
    'It's unfortunate it arrived just now,' I agreed, `I'm keep it  for
him until later on,'
    Mary looked as if she  might  object,  but  at  that  moment  Polly
arrived babbling, and anxious not to be late for school.
    I looked upstairs before I left, but Matthew had already gone - and
left his books of homework lying on the table...
    He turned up again about half-past six, just after I had got home.
    'Oh,' I said, `and where have you bee all day?'
    'Walking,' he told me.
    I shook my head.
    'It won't do, Matthew, you know. You can't just cutting school  (*)
like that.'
    'I know,' he agreed.
    The  rest  of  our  conversation  was  unspoken.  We understood one
another well enough.


    The rest of the week went uneventfully, until Friday. I had to work
late that evening, and had dinner in London, At  almost  ten  o'clock  I
arrived  home  to find Mary on the telephone, She finished her call just
as I carne into the room, and  pressed  the  rest  without  putting  the
receiver on it.
    'Matthew's not back,' she said. `I'm ringing the hospitals.'
    She  consulted  a  list and began to dial again. After two or three
more calls she came to the end of her list, and laid the receiver in its
rest. I had got out the whisky.
    'Drink this. It'll do you good,' I told her.
    She took it, gratefully.
    'You've tried the police?'
    'Yes.  I  called  the school first. He left there at the usual time
all right. So then I  tried  the  police,  and  gave  them  particulars.
They've  promised to ring us if they have any news.' She took a drink of
whisky. `Oh, David. Thank goodness you're Lack. I'd got to imagining all
sorts  of  things...  I  hoped  everything  would be all right once that
Chocky business was over ... He doesn't say anything - not to me ... And
then going off like he did on Monday ... You didn't think ..,?'
    I sat down beside her, and took her hand.
    'Of course I don't. And you mustn't either.'
    'He's kept everything so bottled up (*) ...'
    'lt  did come as a shock to him. Whatever Chocky w;as he'd got used
to having her around. Suddenly losing her upset him - knocked the bottom
out  of  things  for him. It needed some adjustment - but he's making it
all right ...'
    'You really thing that? You're not just saying it ...?'
    'Of course I do, darling. I'm perfectly certain  that  if  he  were
going  to  do  anything  silly he'd have done it a fortnight ago, and he
wasn't near that even then - he was distressed and pretty wretched, poor
boy. But nothing of that kind ever entered his head. I'm sure of it.'
    Mary sighed.
    'I hope you're right - yes, I'm sure you are. But that makes me all
the  more  mysterious.  He  must  know  how  we'll  feel.  He's  not  an
insensitive boy ...'
    'Yes,' I agreed. `That's what's worrying me most...'
    Neither of us slept much that night.
    I rang the police the next morning. They  were  sympathetic,  doing
all they could, but had no news.
    Time gloominess of the  breakfast  table  subdued  even  Polly.  We
questioned  her  though without much hope. Matthew no longer confided in
her, but there  was  just  the  chance  that  he  might  have  told  her
something.  Apparently  he  had  not - at least nothing that Polly could
remember. We relapsed into our gloomy silence. Pol]y, emerged from  hers
to say:
    'I expect Matthew's been kidnapped. You'll  probably:  get  a  note
wanting an enormous ransom.'
    'Not very likely,' 1 told her. `We don't keep enormous ransom round
    'What  about  the  Sunday  papers?  They  were  anxious  enough  to
interview him beFore,' Mary suggested.
    'You know what that means. "Child Artist Vanishes." "Guardian Angel
Hero Missing", et cetera.'
    'What's that matter if it helps to find him?'
    'All right,' 1 told her. `I'll try.'
    There was no news that day.
    At ten o'clock on Sunday morning the phone rang, I grabbed it.
    'Mr Gore?'
    'My name is Bollot. You don't know me, but my boy goes to the  same
school  as  yours.  We've  just  been  reading  il]  the paper about it.
Shocking business. Very sorry to hear it. No news yet, 1 suppose?'
    'Well, look here, th point is my Lawrence says he saw your  Matthew
on Friday'. He noticed him talking to a man with a big car - a Mercedes,
he thinks - a little way down the road from school. He has an idea  they
were  arguing  about  something. Then your Matthew got into the car with
the man, and it drove off.'
    'Thanks,  Mr  Bollot. Thanks very much. I'll let the police know at
    'Oh,  is  that  really  - ? Yes, I suppose it is. Well, I hope they
find him quickly for you. '
    But they did not.
    The @onday papers took it up. (*) The  BBC  included  it  in  their
local  news  bulletin. Telephone seemed scarcely to stop ringing. But it
brought no news of Matthew ,..
    That  was  a  dreadful  week.  What can one do in the face of utter
blankness? There was no corroboration of the Bollot boy's story, but  he
stuck to it with unshakeable conviction. An enquiry at the school failed
to discover any other boy who had accented  a  lift  that  evening.  So,
apparently, it had been Matthew ...
    But why? What possible reason? Even threats, a  demand  for  ransom
would  have  been  more  bearable  than this silent vanishing into utter
nothingness. I could feel the tension in Mary growing tighter every day,
and dreaded the moment when it should @reak ...
    The week seemed endless. The  week-end  that  followed  it'  longer
still, but then:
    At about half-past eight o'clock on the following Tuesday morning a
small  boy paused on the pavement edge of a busy crossing in Birmingham,
and watched the policeman directing the traffic, When the cars ahead  of
him were held up he crossed to the middle of the road, stationed himself
alongside the policeman, waiting patiently to be attended to. Presently,
his traffic safely on course for the moment, the policeman bent down.
    'Hullo, Sonny, and what's your trouble?' he inquired.
    'Please, sir,' said the boy, `I'm afraid I'm sort of lost. And it's
difficult because I haven't any money to get home with.'
    The policeman shook his head.
    'That's bad,' he said, sympathetically. 'And where would home be?'
    'Hindmere,' the boy told him.
    The policeman stiffened, and looked at him with sudden interest.
    'And what's your name?' he asked, carefully.
    'Matthew,' said Matthew. `Matthew Gore.'
    'Is  it, by God!' said the policeman. `Now you stand just where you
are, Matthew. Don't you move an inch.'
    He  took  a  microphone out of his breast-pocket, pressed a switch,
and spoke into it.
    A squad car drew up beside them a couple of minutes later.
    'That's service for you. Come to take you home. Hop  in  now,'  thc
policeman told him.
    'Thank you very  much,  sir,'  said  Matthew,  with  his  customary
respect for the police.

    They brought him home about six o'clock that evening. Mary had rung
me up, and I was there to greet him, so, by request, was Dr Aycott.
    Matthew seemed to be, on  very  good  terms  with  his  escort.  He
invited  them  in,  but  they  spoke  of  duty. Matthew thanked them, we
thanked them, and they drove off narrowly missing a car that was turning
in.  Its  driver  introduced himself as Dr Prost, police surgeon, and we
all went inside.
    We.  had drinks, and after ten minutes or so Dr Prost spoke quietly
to Mary. She took Matthew off in spite of his protests that  the  police
had already given him a high tea. (*)
    'Well, first of all,' said Dr Prost as the door closed behind them,
`you can put your mind at rest. The boy come to no harm at all as far as
we can tell. Furthermore, he has not even been frightened. It  is  quite
the  most  considerate  kidnapping  that  I have ever heard of. I see no
reason at all for you  to  fear  any  ill-effects  either  physical,  or
dental. He seems to me to be in perfect condition.
    'But, having said that, there are one or two things I think [ ought
to  mention, which is why I wanted you, Dr Aycott, lo come along. In the
first place, he has had a number of injections, A dozen or more, in both
arms.  We  have  no  idea  at all what was injected. Whatever it was, it
appears to have had no after effects.  He  makes  no  complains  of  any
abnormal  condition.  In  fact  he  appears  to  be  excellent  spirits.
Nevertheless, since there have been these injections  we  feel  that  it
would be wise to keep a careful eye on him for any delayed reactions. We
have no reason to expect them, but we thought it as well,  Doctor,  that
you should be informed of the possibility.'
    Dr Aycott nodded. Dr Prost went on:
    'The  second  thing  is  rather curious. Matthew is quite convinced
that he has been in a car accident, and that his leg was  fractured.  He
says  that it was in plaster, and that the people "at the hospital" gave
him a new treatment which made  it  mend  very  quickly.  Naturally,  we
X-rayed. There was no sign of a break.'
    He paused, frowned into his whisky. and tossed it off. He went on:
    'He  seems  to  have  been  treated  very  well. Everybody at "the.
hospital"  was  friendly  and  reassuring.  The  whole  thing  has   the
appearance  of  an  elaborate  hoax  deliberately  contrived  to  be  as
unalarming to him as possibly. In fact it seems never to  have  occurred
to  him  that  he had been kidnapped. The only two elements that puzzled
him were, first, why you and his mother did not go to see him, or answer
when he wrote to you, and, second, the way he was dumped in Birmingham.'
    'lt looks to us very much as if somebody wanted him out of the  way
for  ten days, or so.' He turned a penetrating look on me. `If you know,
or suspect, anybody who could have an interest in doing  that,  I  think
you'd be well advised to tell the police.'
    I shook my head.
    'I  can't  think of any conceivable reason for anyone to want to do
such a thing. There's no sense in it,' I said.
    He shrugged.
    'Well, if you can think of any other explanation -'  he  said,  and
left it in the air, not looking entirely convinced.
    He and Dr Aycott conferred briefly, and left together a few minutes
later, Dr Aycott promising to look in the next day.
    I found Matthew, Mary, and Polly in the kitchen.  The  police  high
tea  had  left  him  with  some  appetite  still.  I  sat down and lit a
    'Well,  now:  suppose  you  tell  us  all  about  it,  Matthew,'  I
    'Oh dear. Again?' said Matthew.
    'You haven't told us yet,' I pointed out.
    Matthew took a deep breath.
    'Well, I was just coming home from school, and this car  passed  me
and  stopped  a little way in front. And a man got out and looked up and
down the road in a lost sort of way,' he began.
    The  man  looked  at  Matthew,  appeared  to he about to speak, but
hesitated, then just as Matthew was passing him he said:
    'Excuse  me,  but  I wonder if you could help us. We're looking for
Densham Road, but none of the roads here seem to have any names.'
    'Yes,'  said  Matthew. `You turn right at the next corner, then the
second on the left.  That's  Old  Lane,  only  when  you  get  over  the
crossroads it's called Densham Road.'
    'Thank you. That's very clear,' said the man,  and  turned  to  the
car. Then, on an afterthought, he turned back.
    '1 suppose you couldn't tell us which side of  it  lo  look  for  a
house Mr Gore lives in?'
    Il was as easy as that. Of course Matthew accepted the offer  of  a
lift  home.  He  did  not  know  anything  else until he woke up in `the
    'What made you think it was a hospital?' Mary asked.
    'It looked like one - well, the way I think hospitals  look,'  said
Matthew.  `I was in a while bed, and the room was all white and bare and
terribly clean. And there was a nurse; she was frightfully clean, too.'
    He had discovered that he couldn't move his leg. The nurse told him
not to try because it had been broken, and asked him if it hurt. He told
her  it  didn't  a bit. She had said `good', and that was because he had
been injected with a new `anti-something' drug that  stopped  the  pain,
and  not  to worry because they were using a wonderful new process which
healed bones, particularly young ones, very quickly.
    There  had  been two or three doctors - well, they wore white coats
like doctors  on  television,  anyway  -  and  they  were  friendly  and
cheerful.  There  was rather a lot of injecting. He hadn't liked that at
first, but didn't mind it much after  the  first  two  or  three  times,
Anyway, it was worth it because the leg hadn't hurt at all.
    Sometimes it had been a bit boring, but they gave him  some  books.
They hadn't a radio to spare, they told him, but they had let him have a
record-player with lots of records. The food was jolly good.
    His chief disappointment was that we had not come to see him.
    'Of course we'd have come if we could, but we'd no idea w:here  you
were,' Mary told him.
    'They said they'd told you. And I wrote you two  letters  with  the
address at thc top,' (*) Matthew protested.
    'I'll afraid nobody did tell us. And we  never  got  your  letters,
either,' I said. `What was the address?'
    'Aptford House, Wonersh, near Guildford,' (*) he told me promptly.
    'You've told the police that?'
    He  went  on.  Apparently he'd seen nothing of the place except thc
room  he  had  @een  kept  in.  The  view  from  its  window  had   been
undistinguished,  a  meadow  in  the foreground, bounded by a hedge with
tall trees in it. Sometime the day before yesterday they had  taken  off
the  cast, examined his leg, told him it had mended perfectly, and would
be as good as ever, and that he'd be able to go home the next day.
    Actually  they  had  started ln the dark - he did not know the time
because there was no clock in the room,  He  had  said  goodbye  to  the
nurse.  One  of the doctors - not in a white coat this time -- had taken
him downstairs to where there was a big car  waiting  in  front  of  the
house.  When they got in the back the doctor said they'd leave the light
on, but had better have the blinds down so as not to dazzle the  driver.
After  they'd  started  the doctor produced a pack of cards and did some
tricks with them. Then the doctor brought out a couple of vacuum flasks,
coffee  in  one  for  himself,  cocoa in the. other for Matthew. Shortly
after that Matthew had fallen asleep.
    He  had  woken  up  feeling  rather cold. The car hall stopped, and
there was dayllght outside. When he sat up he discovered that  not  only
was  he  all alone, but he was in a different car which was parked in an
utterly unfamiliar street. It was very bewildering. He got  out  of  the
car.  There  were  few  people walking along the street, but they looked
busily on their way somewhere, and took no notice of him. At the end  of
the  street  he  saw  its  name  on  the wall of the building. He didn't
remember what it was, but above it he read `City of  Birmingham',  which
puzzled  him  greatly. He was now facing a bigger, busier street, with a
small cafe just opposite. He became aware that he was hungry,  but  when
he felt in his pocket he found he'd no money. After that, the only thing
to do had seemed to be to find a policeman, and put his problems to him.
    'A very sensible thing to do, too,' I told him.
    'Yes ...' said Matthew, doubtfully. `But they  kept  on  asking  so
many questions.'
    'And they brought you all the way home in a squad car, free?' Polly
    'Well, three cars,' Matthew  told  her.  `There  was  one  to  the,
Birmingham  police station where they asked a lot of questions, then one
to the Hindmere police station, where they gave me that  high  tea,  and
asked all the same questions over again. And then one here.'
    'Gosh, you are lucky,' said Polly enviously.  `I  have  never  been
kidnapped in my life.'
    'Kidnapped ...' Matthew repeated,  `But  ...'  He  broke  off,  and
became very thoughtful. He turned to me. 'Was I kidnapped, Daddy?'
    'It looks very much like it.' I told him.
    'But  - but ... But they were kind people, nice people. They got me
better. They weren't a bit like kidnappers ...' He lapsed  into  thought
again,  and  emerged from it to ask: 'Do you mean it was all phoney - my
leg wasn't broken at all?'
    I nodded.
    'I don't believe it. It  had  plaster  on  -  and  everything,'  he
protested.  `Anyway,  why?  Why  should  anybody  want to kidnap me?' He
checked, and then asked: `Did you have to pay a lot of money, Daddy?'
    I shook my head again.
    `No. Nothing at all,' 1 assured him.
    'Then it can't have been kidnapped,' asserted Matthew'.
    'You must be tired out,' Mary put in. `Give me  a  kiss.  Then  run
along  upstairs,  both of you. Daddy and I will come up and see you when
you're in bed, Matthew.'
    The  door  closed behind him. Mary looked at me, her eyes brimming.
Then she laid her head on her arms on the table and - for the first time
since Matthew had disappeared - she let herself cry ...


    That was Tuesday.
    On  Wednesday  Dr  Aycott  looked  in  as  he had promised. He gave
Matthew a very thorough examination with so satisfactory a  result  that
he saw no reason why Matthew should not go to school the following day.
    On Wednesday, also, Mary felt it to be her  duty  to  ring  up  her
sister  Janet  and  inform  her  that  Matthew was now restored to us in
perfect health, and then had to spend  some  time  explaining  that  his
health  was  not  perhaps  quite  perfect  enough  to withstand a family
invasion the next week-end.
    On Thursday Matthew went to school and returned a bit above himself
on discovering that he had been a figure of national interest  while  at
the  same time feeling somewhat inadequate in not having a more exciting
tale to tell.
    By Friday everything was back to normal.
    That evening Mary, feeling tired, went upstairs to bed  soon  after
ten.  I  stayed  down. I had brought home some week, and thought I would
clear it off to leave the weekend free.
    About  half-past eleven there was a tap on the door. Matthew's head
appeared, and looked cautiously round.
    `Has Mummy gone to bed?' he inquired.
    I nodded.
    `Some time ago. It's where you ought to be,' I told him.
    `Good.' he said, and came in, carefully  closing  the  door  behind
him. He was wearing his dressing-gown and bedroom slippers, and his hair
was all on end. (*) I wondered if he had been having a nightmare.
    `What's the matter?' I asked.
    He glanced back at the door as if to make sure it was closed.
    'It's Chocky,' he told me.
    My spirits sank a little.
    'I thought she'd come away - for good,' I said.
    Matthew nodded.
    'She  did.  But  she's come back now. She says she wants me to tell
you some things.'
    I  sighed.  It had been a relief to think that we had finished with
all that, but Matthew was looking very earnest and somewhat troubled.  I
took a cigarette, lit it, and leaned back.
    `All right,' I said. `I'm all attention. What things?'
    But  Matthew  had  become abstracted. He did not appear to hear. He
noticed my expression though.
    `Sorry, Daddy. Just a minute,' he said, and reverted to his look of
abstraction. His changes of expression and the small  movements  of  his
head   gave  one  a  sensation  of  seeing  one  side  of  a  television
conversation, with the sound cut off. It  ended  with  him  nodding  and
saying  aloud: 'Okay. I'll try,' though rather doubtfully. Looking at me
again he explained:
    'Chocky  says  it'll  take an awful long time if she has to tell me
and then I have to tell you because sometimes I can't think of the right
words  for what she means; and sometimes they don't quite mean it when I
can; if you see what I mean.'
    'I  think I do,' I told him. `Lots of other people have. difficulty
over that at the best of times. And when it's  a  kind  of  translation,
too, it must be quite hard work.'
    'Yes, it is, ' Matthew agreed,  decidedly.  `So  Chocky  thinks  it
would be better if she talks to you herself.'
    'Oh,' I said. `Well - tell her to go ahead. What do I do?'
    'No,  not  the way she talks to me, I don't understand why, but she
says that only words with some people. It doesn't with you, so she wants
to try and see if we can do it another way.'
    'What other way?' I inquired.
    'Well,  me talking, but sort of letting her do it ... Like my hands
and the painting,' he explained, not very adequately.
    'Oh,' I said again, this time doubtfully, I was feeling at sea, (*)
unclear what was implied, uncertain whether it ought to  be  encouraged,
`I don't know. Do you think ...?'
    'I don't know,' he said. `But Chocky's pretty sure she can work  it
okay, so I expect she can. She's usually right about things like that.'
    I was uneasy, with a feeling that 1 was being forced to  take  part
in something suspiciously like a seance. (*) I stalled.
    'Look here,' I said. 'If this is going to take some time, don't you
think it would be better if you were in bed, You'd keep warmer there.'
    'All right,' agreed Matthew.
    So  we went up to his room. He got back to bed, and I sat down in a
chair. I still had misgivings, a feeling that I ought not to be allowing
this  to  go  on  -  and  a  conviction that if Mary were here she would
disapprove strongly and 1 only hoped that once Matthew was back in  bell
again he would fall asleep.
    Matthew leant his head back on the pillow, and closed his eyes.
    '1 am going to think of nothing,' he said.
    I hesitated. Then:
    'Look here, Matthew. Don't you ...?' I began, and then broke off as
his eyes reopened, They were not looking at me now, nor, seemingly,,  at
anything else. His lips parted, came together two or three times without
a sound, parted again, and his voice said:
    'It is Chocky talking.'

    There was no air of seance about it, nothing of  the  medium  about
Matthew:  no  pale  face, no change in his rate of breathing. Except for
the unfocussed look in his eyes he was  apparently  quite  himself.  The
voice went on:
    'I want to explain some things to you. It is not easy because I can
use  only  Matthew's  understanding,  and only his' - there was a slight
pause - 'vocabulary, which is  simple,  and  not  large,  and  has  some
meanings not clear in his mind.'
    The voice was characteristically Matthew's, but thc flatness of its
delivery  was  certainly  not.  There  was  an  impression  of  intended
decisiveness blurred, and frustrated; an athlete condemned to take  part
in a sack-race. (*) Unwillingly fascinated I said:
    'Very well, I'll do my best to follow you.'
    'I  want  to  talk to you because I shall not come back again after
this. You will be glad to hear this: the other part  of  his  parent,  I
mean  Matthew, I mean your wife, will be gladder because it is afraid of
me and thinks I am bad for Matthew, which is a pity because  I  did  not
mean me, I mean you, I mean Matthew, any harm. Do you understand?'
    '1 think so,' I said, cautiously. `But wouldn't it be best to  tell
me first who you are, what you are, why you are here at al?'
    `I am an explorer, I mean scout, I mean missionary  -  no,  I  mean
teacher. I am here to teach things.'
    `Oh, are you? What sort of things?'
    There was a pause, then
    `Matthew hasn't words for them - he doesn't understand them.'
    `Not, perhaps, a very successful teacher?'
    `Not yet. Matthew is too young. He can only  think  in  too  simple
words  for  difficult  ideas.  If I think in maths, or physic, we do not
meet. Even numbers are difficult. This is a good thing, I mean, lucky.'
    I  have  quoted the above exchanges as closely as I can remember in
order to give some idea of what I was up  against,  and  to  justify  my
corrections  and  simplifications  from  now  on. A word-for-word record
would be impossible. The usual words and usages came easily enough,  but
less familiar words brought hold-ups.
    Add to that thc necessity to  wade  through  a  mess  of  Matthew's
favourite,  and  not  very  specific,  adjectives: sort-of, kind-of, and
I-mean, and the conversation  became  so  intricate  that  it  is  quite
necessary  for me to edit ruth-lessly in order to extract and attempt to
convey Chocky's intended meaning - in so far as I could grasp it,  which
was not always.
    I could see from the beginning that it was not going  to  be  easy.
The  sight of Matthew lying there, quite expressionless as he spoke, his
eyes with that unfocussed stare was too disturbing for rlle to give  the
words the fuli attention they needed.
    I turned otlt the light  as  an  aid  to  concentration  -  and  in
sneaking hope that without it he might fall asleep.
    'AII right. Go ahead,'  I  said  into  the  darkness.  `You  are  a
missionary - or a teacher - or an explorer. Where from?'
    'Far away.'
    'Far? How far?'
    'I do not know, Many, many parsecs.' (*)
    'Oh,' I said.
    'I was sent here to find out what kind of a planet this is.'
    'Were you indeed. Why?'
    'To see, in the first place, whether it would be useful to us.  You
see,  we  are  a very old people compared with you, on a very old planet
compared with yours. It has long been clear to us that  if  we  want  to
survive  we must colonize. But that is difficult. A ship that can travei
only at the speed of light takes a very long time to get  anywhere.  One
cannot send out ships on time chance of their finding a suitable planet.
There are innumerable millions of planets. It is extrernely hard to find
a suitable one.
    'So a scout - an explorer - is sent out in this way.  Because  mind
has  no  mass it takes no time to travel. The scout makes his report. If
he reports that it would be a suitable planet for a colony, other scouts
are  sent  to check. lf their reports are favourable, the astronomers go
to work to locate the planet. If it is found to  be  within  practicable
range  they  may send a ship of colonists. But this is very rare. It has
happened only four times in a thousand  of  your  years.  And  only  two
colonies have been established.'
    'I see. And when are we to expect a ship here?'
    'Oh,  this planet is not any use to us. Your planet is exceptional,
and very beautifu], but it is much too cold for us, and there is a great
deal  too  much  water.  There  are  plenty  of reasons wily it is quite
impossible fot us. I could tell that at once.'
    'Then why stay hete? Why not go and find a more suitable planet?'
    Chocky went on, patiently:
    `We  are  explorers. We are at present, as far as we know, the only
explorers of the universe. For a long time we thought that ours was  the
only planet that could support life. Then we found others that could - a
few. For still longer we thought we are unique -  the  only  intelligent
form  of life - utterly lonely in the horrid wastes of space... Again we
discovered we were mistaken...'
    'But  intelligent  life  is  rare... very rare indeed... the rarest
thing in creation...'
    'But the most precious...'
    'For intelligent life is the only thing that gives meaning  to  the
universe. It is a holy thing, to be fostered and treasured.'
    'Therefore, the support of all intelligent forms is a sacred  duty.
Even  the  merest spark of reason must be fanned in the hope of a flame.
Frustrated intelligence must have its  bonds  broken.  Narrow-channelled
intelligence  must  be  given  the power to widen out. High intelligence
must be learned from. That is why I have stayed here.'
    `And  into  which  of these categories do you think the Intelligent
life of this planet falls?' I asked.
    The Chocky-Matthew voice answered that without hesitation.
    'Narrow-channelled. It has recently managed to  over-come  some  of
its  frustrations  by its own efforts - which is hopefully good progress
at your age. It is now in a groove of primitive technology.'
    'But it seems to us that we are making progress pretty fast.'
    'Yes. You have not done badly with electricity in a hundred  years.
And  you  did  well with steam in quite a short time. But all that is so
inefficient. And your oil engines are dirty, noisy, poisonous,  and  the
cars you drive with them are barbarous, dangerous ...'
    'Yes,' I interrupted. `You mentioned that before, to  Matthew.  But
we do have atomic power now.'
    'Very crudely, yes. You are learning, slowly. But you still live in
a finite, sun-based economy.'
    'Yes. Everything you are, and have, you owe to tile radiations from
your sun. Direct radiations you must have to keep your bodies alive, and
to  grow  your food, and provide fresh-water; and they could continue to
support you for millions of years. But to grow and  expand  intelligence
needs power.
    'It is true you have an elementary form of atomic power  which  you
will  no doubt improve. But that is almost your only investment for your
future. Most of your power is being used to build  machines  to  consume
power  faster  and  faster,  while  your sources of power remain finite.
There can be only one end to that.'
    'You  have  a point there,' I agreed. `What, in your opinion, ought
we to be doing?'
    'You should be employing your resources, while you still have them,
to develop the use of a source of power which is not  finite.  Once  you
have  an infinite supply of power you will have broken out of the closed
circle of your  solar-economy.  You  will  no  longer  be  isolated  and
condemned  to  eventual  degeneration  upon  wasted  resources. You will
become a part of the larger creation, for a source of infinite power  is
a source of infinite possibilities.'
    'I see,' I said. `At least, I think I see -  dimly.  What  is  this
source of infinite power?'
    'It is radiation - throughout the cosmos.  It  can  be  tapped  and
    I thought. Then I said:
    'It is a funny thing that in a world crowded with scientists nobody
has suspected the existence of this source of power.'
    'It  is  an  equally funny thing that two hundred of your years ago
nobody understood, nor suspected, the  potentials  of  electricity.  But
they were there to be discovered. So is xxxxx.'
    'So is - what?'
    'Matthew has no word for it. It is a concept he cannot grasp.'
    After a pause I asked:
    'So you are here to sell us a new form of power. Why?'
    'I have told you that. Intelligent forms are  rare.  In  each  form
they  owe  a  duty  to  all other forms. Today we can help you over some
obstacles; it may be you will so develop that in some  future  time  you
will  be  able  to help us, or others, over obstacles. The employment of
xxxxx is only the first thing we can teach you. lt  will  liberate  your
world  from  a  great  deal  of  hard  work,  and  clear the your future
    'So we are, in fact, a kind of investment for you?'
    'You could also say that if a teacher does not teach his pupils  to
overtake him there can be no advance.'
    There was quite a lot more along these lines. I found  it  somewhat
tedious.  It  was difficult to drag thc conversation from the general to
the particular, Chocky seemed to have her mission so much at heart.  But
I managed it at last.
    Why, I wanted to know, out  of  millions  of  possible  hosts,  had
Chocky chosen to come here and `haunt' Matthew.
    Chocky  explained  that  `millions'  was  a  gross   overstatement.
Conditions varied with the type of intelligent life-form, of course, but
here there was a number of qualifications  that  had  to  be  fulfilled.
First,  the subject had to have the type of mind that was susceptible to
her communications. This was by no means common. Second, it l@ad to bc a
young  mind.  Third, it must be a mind with a potential of development -
which, according to her, a surprising proportion have not.  Fourth,  its
owner   must  inhabit  a  technologically  advanced  country  where  the
educational opportunities are good.
    These  requirements  narrowed  the field remarkably, but eventually
her search had brought her to Matthew who fulfilled all of them.
    I  said  that  I  still  did  not  see her purpose. She said, and I
thought I could detect a note of sadness even through  the  flatness  of
her speech:
    'I would have interested Matthew in physics. He would have taken it
up,  and  with me to help him he would have done remarkably well. As his
knowledge of physics increased we should have had the basis of a  common
language.  He would begin to understand some of the concepts I wanted to
communicate to him. Gradually, as he learned, communication  would  grow
still  better.  I  should  convince him that xxxxx existed, and he would
begin to search for it. I would still be able  to  communicate  only  in
terms  that  he could understand. It still would l)e like' - there was a
pause - `something  like  trying  to  teach  a  steam-engineer  with  no
knowledge  of  electricity  how  to  build a radio transmitter - without
names for any of the parts, or word for their functions. Difficult,  but
with time, patience, and intelligence, not impossible.
    'If he had succeeded in demonstrating the existence of xxxxx -  let
us  call  it  cosmic-power - he would have become the most famous man in
your world. Greater than your Newton, or your Einstein.'
    There was a pause while she let that sink in. It did. I said:
    'Do you know, I don't think that would  have  suited  Matthew  very
well.  He hated taking the credit for saving Polly's life. He would have
hated this unearned fame even more.'
    'It would have been hard-earned. Very hard-earned indeed.'
    'Perhaps, but all the same - Oh, well, it doesn't matter now.  Tell
me, why have you decided to give it up? Why arc you going away?'
    'Because I made mistakes. I  have  failed  here.  It  is  my  first
assignment. I was warned of the difficulties and dangers. I did not take
enough notice of the warnings. The failure is my own fault.'
    A  scout,  a missionary, she explained, should preserve detachment.
She was advised not  to  let  her  sympathies  become  engaged,  not  to
identify with her host, and, above all, to be discreet.
    Chocky had understood this well enough in theory before  she  came,
hut  once  she  had  made  contact  with  Matthew it had seemed that the
preservation of  detachment  was  not  one  of  her  gifts.  The  proper
missionary temperament would not have let itself get into arguments with
Matthew; nor have made disparaging remarks about the local  inhabitants.
It would simply have noted that Matthew was incompetent with his paints;
it would not have tried to help  him  do  better.  It  would  have  been
careful  to  keep  its influence down to the minimum. Quite certainly it
would not have permitted itself to develop an affection for Matthew that
could  lead  to  an  interference  with the natural course of events. It
would regretfully, but quite properly, have let Matthew drown ...
    'Well,  thank  God  for your lack of discretion that time,' 1 said.
`But are these indiscretions as serious as all that? I can see that they
have  aroused  a  certain  amount of unwelcome attention, indeed we have
suffered from it ourselves, but it doesn't see!n to me that  even  ta@en
all together they can amount to failure.'
    Chocky insisted that they did. She i@ad  had  her  first  suspicion
that failure might lie ahead when Matthew had talked to Landis.
    'He told him too much,' she said. `It was not  until  then  that  I
realized how much I had talked to Matthew. I could only hope that Landis
would be unintelligent enough to dismiss it as a child's fantasy.'
    But  Landis was not. On the contrary, he had found it a fascinating
problem. He had mentioned it to Sir William Thorbe, who  also  found  it
    Chocky went on:
    'When  Sir  William  hypnotized Matthew, he did not hypnotize me. I
could hear what Matthew heard, I could also watch through  his  eyes.  1
saw  Sir  William  turn  on  his  tape-recorder  and  heard  him ask his
questions. At first he was merely interested by Matthew's answers.  Then
he  paid  closer attention. He tried several trick questions. He tempted
lack of understanding in attempts to catch Matthew out. He pretended  to
assume  that  Matthew  had said things which he might have said, but had
not. He tempted Matthew to invent, or to lie, with misleading questions.
When  none  of  these  traps  worked,  he stopped the tape-recorder, and
looked at Matthew very thoughtfullly for some minutes. I could  see  him
becoming  excited.  He  poured himself a drink, and his hand was shaking
slightly. While he drink it  he  continued  to  stare  at  Matthew  with
half-incredulous wonderment of a man who has struck gold. (*)
    'Presently, with a decisive gesture he put down his glass. He  took
himself  in  hand  and  became  coolly  methodical.  He  re-started  thc
tape-recorder, tested it with care, picked up a note pad and pencil, and
closed his eyes for a few moments in concentration. Then the questioning
really began ...'
    The Matthew-Chocky voice paused for a little.
    'That was when I knew I had failed ... To attempt to go on  further
with  Matthew  would  be  a waste of time - and dangerous, too. I knew I
would have to leave him - and would have to make the parting painful for
him,  too.  I  was sorry about that - but it was necessary for him to be
utterly convinced that I was going for good - never to return. Nor shall
I, after this.'
    'I don't quite see ...'
    'It  was  quite  clear that Sir William, having made his discovery,
had his plans for making use of it; or handing on his  news  to  someone
else - and once that happened there would be no end to it ...'
    'It dill happen, and very quickly. Matthew was  kidnapped.  He  was
injected with hypnotic, and other, drugs. And he talked ...'
    'They wrung him dry. (*) Every detail, every word I had  ever  told
him went into their tape-recorders ... And their recordings included his
distress at my leaving him ... That was painful enough to convince  them
that it was true, and under drugs it could not leave been otherwise ...'
    'They were not bad people. They certainly wished him  no  harm.  On
the  contrary, until they learnt that I had left him, he was potentially
a very valuable property indeed. They realized that  he  was  a  channel
through  which  I  could, when he should have more background knowledge,
and understanding, communicate information that would change  the  power
sources of the whole world.'
    'When they had to accept the fact that I had left him, they decided
the  wisest course would be to let him go - and keep an eye on him. They
could always pick him up again  if  there  were  any  sign  that  I  had
returned; and they will go on watching for that sign ...'
    'I don't know whether they have bugged this room yet, but  if  they
haven't,  they  will.  It  doesn't much matter now whether they have, or
not, because I really am going, after this.'
    I broke in.
    'I don't think I altogether understand this,' I  said.  'From  your
point  of  view,  I mean. They, whoever "they" may be, had Matthew. They
could have seen to it that he should have the best possible coaching  in
physics  and  maths and whatever is necessary for him to understand you.
That was what you wanted: your channel of communication - with  all  the
help  they  could make available to him. If your purpose is, as you say,
to tell us how to develop the use of a source of "cosmic power" you  had
the  whole thing on a plate. (*) They want to know what you want to tell
them. And yet, instead of seizing the opportunity, you withdraw  ...  It
does not make sense ...'
    There was a pause.
    'I  don't  think  you  altogether  understand  your own world,' was
Chocky's reply. `There are power-empires: oil interests, gas  interests,
coal  interests,  electrical interests, atomic interests. How much would
they be willing to pay for information of a threat to their existence? A
million  pounds...  two  million... three million... even more? Somebody
would take the chance...'
    'And  then  what  would  a  little  boy's life matter? What would a
hundred lives matter, if necessary? There would be plenty  of  effective
ways of taking action ... '
    I had not thought of that ...
    Chocky went on.
    'I tell you this because Matthew  will  be  watched,  and  you  may
become aware of it. It does not matter, but do not tell him unless it is
necessary. It is unpleasant to know that one is watched.'
    `If  you  are wise you will discourage him from taking up physics -
or any science, then there will be nothing to feed their  suspicion.  He
is  beginning  to  learn  how  to look at things, and to have an idea of
drawing. As an artist he would be safe...'
    `Remember, he knows nothing of what I have been telling you through
    `Now is the time for me to say goodbye.'
    `You are going back to your own world?' I asked.
    `No.  I  have to do my work here. But this failure has made it much
more difficult. It will take longer. I shall have  to  be  subtle.  They
will be watching for me now.'
    `You think you can do it in spite of that?'
    `Off course. I must do it. It is my duty as one intelligent form to
another. But now it will have to be done differently.  A  hint  here,  a
hint  there,  an  idea for one man, a moment of inspiration for another,
more and more little pieces, until  one  day  they  will  suddenly  come
together.  The  puzzle will be solved - the secret out... It will take a
long time. Probably it will not happen in your  lifetime.  But  it  will
come... it will come...'
    `Before you go,' I put in, `what are you, Chocky? I think  I  might
understand better if I could imagine you as more than a blank. Suppose I
gave Matthew a pencil and paper, would you have him draw  a  picture  of
    There was a pause, but then it was followed  by  a  `No'  that  was
quite decisive.
    'No,' repeated the Matthew-Chocky voice. `Even with my: training  I
sometimes  find  it hard to believe that forms like yours can house real
minds at all, I think you would find it still  harder  to  believe  that
mine  could if you could see me. No, it is better not.' The voice paused
again, then:
    'Goodbye,' it said.
    I got up, feeling stiff and somewhat chilled. There was a dim early
light  coming  through  the curtains, enough of it to show Matthew still
lying in his bed, still gazing blankly into nothingness. I moved towards
him. His lips parted.
    'No,' they said, `let him be. I must say goodbye to him too.'
    I hesitated a moment, then:
    'All right,' I said. `Goodbye, Chocky.'


    We let Matthew sleep the whole morning. He came down at lunch-time,
tired and depressed, but, I was thankful to see,  not  too  much.  After
lunch he got out his bicycle and went off by himself. We did not see him
again until he came in weary, but hungry  for  his  supper.  Immediately
after he had finished it he went upstairs to bed.
    The. next day, Sunday, he was almost his usual self  again.  Mary's
concern  diminished  as  she  watched  him  eat  a huge breakfast. After
breakfast Matthew and I took a quiet stroll along the river bank.
    'She told me she had to go,' I said.
    'Yes,' agreed Matthew. He  sighed.  `She  explained  properly  this
time. It was pretty horrid the way she did it beFore.'
    I did not inquire into the explanation she had given him. He sighed
    'It's going to be a bit dull,' he said. `She sort of made me notice
things more.'
    'Can't you go on noticing things? The world's quite an  interesting
place. There's lots to notice.'
    'Oh, I do. @ore than I did, I mean. Only it's kind of lonely,  just
noticing by yourself ...'
    'Ii you could get what you see down on paper you'd be able to share
your noticing with other people ...' I suggested.
    'Yes,' Matthew admitted. `It wouldn't be the same  -  but  it'd  be
something ...'
    I stopped, and my hand in my pocket.
    'Matthew, I've got this I want to give you.'
    I took out a small red leather-covered case, and  held  it  out  to
    Matthew's eyes clouded. His hands did not move.
    'No. Take it,' I insisted.
    He took it reluctantly, and gazed at it dim-eyed. 'Open it,' I told
    He hesitated. Slowly, and even  more  reluctantly  he  pressed  the
catch, and lifted the lid.
    The medal glittered in the sunlight.
    Matthew  looked  at  it  with  an  indifference  that  was  near to
distaste. Suddenly he stiffened, and bent his head forward to examine it
more  closely.  For  some  seconds  he  did  not move. Then he looked up
smiling, though his eyes were overbright.
    'Thank  you,  Daddy  ... Oh, thank you ... !' he si and dropped his
head to study it again.
    They  had made a nice job of it. It looked just as if it had always
been inscribed:

                             AWARDED TO


                         FOR A VALOROUS DEED

                            LIst of names

Names of Persons

    1. Christian Names

    Alan           Kenneth
    Albert         Laurence
    Chocky         Matthew
    Colin          Patience
    Dennis         Paul
    Emma           Phyl
    Janet          Simon

    2. Surnames

    Aycott         Newton
    Blayde         Pcrcell
    Bollot         Pinkser
    Caffer         Prost
    Clutterbuck    Slatson
    Einstein       Soames
    Evans          Thorbe
    Froome         Toach
    Gore           Trimble
    Landis         Weston

Geographical Names



to page 109
    for labours to come - for coming work
    do make a day - _do_ is often used to emphasize a  statement  or  a
command as in "Do shut up!" (p.115) Russ. ‡ вЄ­Ёбм ¦Ґ вл!
    he appeared to be cut short - it  appeared  (seemed)  that  he  was

to page 110
    the consistency of the assumption that a second party was  involved
-  Matthew behaved as though he really believed that he was talking with
another person

to page 111
    he  would often be stopped by a cry of anguish from Polly - _would_
is used here to denote a repeated action in the  past  (=used  to).  See
also the following few sentences.

to page 112
    A Piff can provide ... on other, and smaller, boys. - A small child
can  be  satisfied by an imagined creature like Piff, whom she may treat
as her junior, but an eleven-year-old boy can use smaller  children  for
these  bossing  purposes  without inventing anyone (to boss - to execise
authority over a person).
    I'm sure I hope you are right - I do hope you are right

to page 113
    I didn't mean to make heavy weather on it. It just  strikes  me  as
odd.  -  I was't going to be too serious about it. It just seems strange
to me.
    on the spur of the moment = hastily, without preparation

to page 115
    She won't leave me alone. (Russ. Ћ­  ­Ё §  зв®  ­Ґ  е®зҐв  ®бв ўЁвм
¬Ґ­п ў Ї®Є®Ґ.) Modal _would_ here shows persistance.
    Then she rose to the occasion =  Then  she  managed  to  grasp  the
    Here is to ... - a usual toasting formula (Russ. ‚лЇмҐ¬ §  ...)

to page 116
    Now  that Chocky's existence was out of the bag = Now that Chocky's
existence was no longer a xecret
    Wordsworth's  cuckoo  - an allusion to a poem by William Wordsworth

                        ...O Cuckoo! Shall I call you a bird
                        Or but a wandering voice?
                        (To the Cuckoo: O Blithe New-comer)

to page 117
    You're  steering close to dangerous waters. - You are touching upon
dangerous subject.
    sort   of...,  kind  of...  -  (in  Matthew's  speech)  practically
meaningless expression, correspond to Russian ўа®¤Ґ Є Є
to page 118
    Chocky's  balance  did on the whole lean more to the F than the M =
Chocky was more like a woman than a man (F  stands  for  female,  M  for

to page 119
    before Freud was invented - before Freud  became  popular.  Sigmund
Freud  (1856-1939)  -  Austrian  physician  and psychiatrist, founder of
    you  turn  loose  a whole new boxfil of troubles = tou may expect a
lot of new troubles

to page 121
    I take your Matthew for maths. = I teach your Matthew mathematics.

to page 122
    I'd rather didn't. = I don't think you should do it.

to page 123
    what had got out of gear = what was wrong

to page 124
    the binary code - in mathematics: a system of  numeration  using  2
figures (not 10) as the base

to page 125
    Joan of  Arc  (1412-1431;  Fr.  Jeanne  d'Arc)  -  French  national
heroine; defeated the English at Orleans (1429); burned at the stake for

to page 126
    station-wagon  -  an automobile with a back end that opens for easy
loading of luggage, etc.

to page 127
    it  was  generally  voted that the Gore family was entitled to filt
its chins a degree or two higher = the general opinion was that now  the
Gores would have the right to feel a little more proud of themselves
    There now, old man. Take it easy. = Don't worry about it, old  man.
_There now_ - an exclamation expressing sympathy.
    take your time = don't be in a hurry

to page 128
    a  here-we-go-again  feeling  =  (here)  a  feeling  that  we  were
returning to the Chocky problem again. In colloquial English a quotation
group can be used as an attribute.
    all but overwhelmed him = nearly overwhelmed him

to page 129
    However,  rather than risk a wrong step now, I keep up the front. =
However, not wishing to risk a wrong step now, I continued to pretend  I
believed him.

to page 130
    safety-value - (here) something that serves as an  outlet  for  the
release of strong emotion
    the old boy was an adequate enough pill-pusher =  (derogatory)  the
old man was a good enough physician
    the Matthew problem was not in his line = the problem with  Matthew
was not hos speciality
    to have a line on smth. = to have information about smth.

to page 131
    we had things under way = (here) we were making progress

to page 132
    of his own accord = on his own, voluntarily
    school report - written report of a pupil's marks, behaviour, etc.,
sent to his parents at regular intervals

to page 133
    as becomes a with-it medical man = as a fashionable medical man
    Jaguar - an expensive make of a stylish sports car

to page 134
    frowned me away = sent me away with a frown
    to get smth. off one's chest = to unburden oneself of some  trouble
by talking about it

to page 138
    It wouldn't turn  into  proper  words.  -  Chocky  could  not  find
suitable words to express her idea.
    to let smb. down = to disappoint smb.

to page 139
    Let's get straight. = Let's make this thing clean.
    to get out of hand = to get out of control

to page 140
    out of usual key - unusual for him

to page 142
    I've nothing against Aycott as a cut-stitcher and  measles-spotter,
but  I  don't  feel  this kind of thing is up his street. = I've nothing
against Aycott as an ordinary physician, but I don't feel this  kind  of
things is in his line.

to page 143
    the  look  she  keeps  for  hair-splitting  =   a   hair-splitting,
frightening look
    and soon to be nipped = which soon disappeared

to page 144
    art-teacher  =  one  who  teaches  drawings  at  school.  Note  the
difference between Art (=fine arts, i.e. painting, music,  architecture,
etc.)  and  Arts  (Јг¬ ­Ёв а­лҐ  ­ гЄЁ  such  as  literature, languages,
history, etc., as opposed to Sciences, в®з­лҐ ­ гЄЁ).  Note  also:  Arts
faculty (дЁ«®«®ЈЁзҐбЄЁ© д Єг«мвҐв) but the Academy of Fine Arts (or Art)
    on the niggly side = with too much attention to details

to page 145
    They  grew  on  one, once the first strangeness had worn off. = You
started liking them when you had got used to them.

to page 148
    time you were off to bed now = now it's time for you to go to bed

to page 149
    Lewis Mumford's _living in Cities_ - Lewis Mumford (born in 1895) -
American  author,  critic  and  educationalist; several of his books are
devoted to the problems of big cities
    much of an age with our own = almost of the same age as our own

to page 150
    off the map = beyond the area covered by local maps
    near thing = narrow escape, escape at the last moment
    Cheers - a usual exclamation before drinking a glass of wine, beer,
    The tide was a bit past the turn = The tide was getting lower

to page 151
    But  for  his  repeated assurances = If he had't assured me several
    he's  going  to  make  sure  Matthew  gets  one = he is going to do
everything necessary so that Matthew would get a medal

to page 153
    It  was  a memorable overstatement - exaggeration. The author means
that in fact Matthew's words were not at all clear to him.

to page 155
    Boy-hero  tells  of `guardian angel' rescue. - Note the omission of
the article and the peculiar sty;e characteristic of newspaper headings.

to page 156
    England  could  do  with  more  boys like him. - England needs such

to page 157
    `Today' - a BBC daily morning program of current affairs
    Jack de Manio - a popular BBC announcer and compere
    hang it! - an exclamation of anger or exasperation

to page 160
    Thursday made up for it - (here) on Thursday there was a lot  about
Matthew in the newspapers
    vis-a-vis (Fr., opposite) - a person  who  is  face  to  face  with
another (as in a railway carriage)
    the Waterloo Station - a big railway station in London
    Bloomsbury  Square  -  a  square  in the centre of London, near the
British Museum

to page 162
    you'll have gathered = you must have understood
    you ... could do with ... - cf. Russ. ’ҐЎҐ ­Ґ Ї®ўаҐ¤Ё«® Ўл...

to page 165
    big  groups  - (here) big companies or firms (see below: big boys =
big business men)

to page 167
    the  Downs  -  the  treeless,  hilly  uplands of Kent and Sussex in
southwestern England

to page 169
    feeling  much the better for our week-end = feeling much the better
after our week-end rest
    the Sundays - (here) Sunday newspapers

to page 171
    the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) -  outstanding  British  general
and ststesman; defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815

to page 175
    Sir William Something - _Something_ stands for  the  surname  which
Mary  doesn't  remember.  See  also Sir William Thing (p.177). Cf. Russ.
ќв®в Є Є ҐЈ® в ¬.
    She had a point = (here) she was right

to page 177
    unless it were to become persistent = unless it became persistent

to page 178
    Thorbe  had  been  right  off the beam = Thorbe had been absolutely
    take it at face value = (here) believe it
    all I had got was a brush-off and a let-down  =  I  had  only  been
brushed off (got rid of) and let down (disappointed)

to page 180
    to cut school = to stay away from school

to page 181
    He's  kept  everything  so  bottled up. = He hasn't been willing to
discuss his problems with anybody.

to page 182
    The  Monday papers took it up. = On Monday all the newspapers wrote
about it.

to page 184
    a high tea - a meal somewhat more substantial and served later than
the usual five o'clock tea

to page 186
    with  the  address  at  the  top  - in Great Britain and some other
countries the return address is usually  written  on  the  flap  of  the
envelope, that is, at the top of the back side
    Aptford House, Wonersh, near Guildford - Guildford, a town about 20
miles South-West of London; Wonersh, a former village, now a district of
Guilford. No street or number is given  because  in  small  places  like
Wonersh  houses  are  usually  known by names their owners give them, as
Aptford House.

to page 189
    his hair was all end - cf. Russ. ў®«®бл г ­ҐЈ® бв®п«Ё ¤лЎ®¬

to page 190
    I was feeling at sea = I was uncertain, bewildered
    seance  (Fr.)  - a meeting at which a group of spiritualists try to
communicate with the spirits of the dead through a medium, a person  who
is believed to be able to speak with such spirits

to page 191
    a sack-race - a race in which each participant lies his legs  in  a
sack and moves by jumping

to page 192
    parsec - a unit of measure of astronomical distance, equal to  3.26
light years, or 19,200,000,000,000 miles

to page 197
    a man who has struck gold = a man who has found a treasure

to page 198
    They wrung him dry. = They made him tell them everything he knew.
    you had the whole thing on a plate = you could easily  do  whatever
you intended to

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