“There, you’ve said an interesting thing,” laughed Faber, “without having read it!”

“Are things like that in books. But it came off the top of my mind!”

“All the better. You didn’t fancy it up for me or anyone, even yourself.”

Montag leaned forward. “This afternoon I thought that if it turned out that books were worth while, we might get a press and print some extra copies–”

” We?”

“You and I”

“Oh, no ! ” Faber sat up.

“But let me tell you my plan—”

“If you insist on telling me, I must ask you to leave.”

“But aren’t you interested?”

“Not if you start talking the sort of talk that might get me burnt for my trouble. The only way I could possibly listen to you would be if somehow the fireman structure itself could be burnt. Now if you suggest that we print extra books and arrange to have them hidden in firemen’s houses all over the country, so that seeds of suspicion would be sown among these arsonists, bravo, I’d say!”

“Plant the books, turn in an alarm, and see the firemen’s houses bum, is that what you mean?”

Faber raised his brows and looked at Montag as if he were seeing a new man. “I was joking.”

“If you thought it would be a plan worth trying, I’d have to take your word it would help.”

“You can’t guarantee things like that! After all, when we had all the books we needed, we still insisted on finding the highest cliff to jump off. But we do need a breather. We do need knowledge. And perhaps in a thousand years we might pick smaller cliffs to jump off. The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, `Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’ Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”

Faber got up and began to pace the room.

“Well?” asked Montag.

“You’re absolutely serious?”


“It’s an insidious plan, if I do say so myself.” Faber glanced nervously at his bedroom door. “To see the firehouses burn across the land, destroyed as hotbeds of treason.

The salamander devours his tail! Ho, God! ”

“I’ve a list of firemen’s residences everywhere. With some sort of underground ”

“Can’t trust people, that’s the dirty part. You and I and who else will set the fires?”

“Aren’t there professors like yourself, former writers, historians, linguists . . .?”

“Dead or ancient.”

“The older the better; they’ll go unnoticed. You know dozens, admit it ! ”

“Oh, there are many actors alone who haven’t acted Pirandello or Shaw or Shakespeare for years because their plays are too aware of the world. We could use their anger. And we could use the honest rage of those historians who haven’t written a line for forty years. True, we might form classes in thinking and reading.”

“Yes! ”

“But that would just nibble the edges. The whole culture’s shot through. The skeleton needs melting and re-shaping. Good God, it isn’t as simple as just picking up a book you laid down half a century ago. Remember, the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord. You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze, but it’s a small sideshow indeed, and hardly necessary to keep things in line. So few want to be rebels any more. And out of those few, most, like myself, scare easily. Can you dance faster than the White Clown, shout louder than `Mr. Gimmick’ and the parlour

`families’? If you can, you’ll win your way, Montag. In any event, you’re a fool. People are having fun”

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray