I had never been faced with such a hopeless deadlock. The knowledge that everything was hopeless slowly suppressed my indignation and I reached that illusive quietness in which one can even consider suicide coolly.
And yet there might be a third solution that could change everything for the best: if I could escape from this accursed island and get back to my own country. Not even a prisoner would have clung to the thin ray filtering in to him through the bars with such desire as I embraced the hope of returning home.
As soon as the throbbing of my heart calmed down I tried to consider matters rationally and came to the decision that I should at all costs attempt to escape and only failing this should I do away with myself.
An enormous task lay ahead of me — that much was certain. The Hins have no knowledge of navigation. The land was everything to them, it formed and shaped their livelihood, their whole outlook was bound to it. It was perhaps because of this that they could not soar spiritually either. The trading of the Phoenicians, the fever of expansion of the Romans, the thirst for adventures of the Spanish and the buccaneering of the Normans — I would have looked for all of them in vain, not to mention my own country's sense of vocation in the field of spreading humanity and Christian civilization. They knew that the earth was round and a hundred thousand times bigger than their island but they did not even try to get into touch with other peoples. No desire, or even curiosity, for conquest or for riches, had driven them beyond their boundaries. They were simply not interested in anything beyond their prime necessities. They cultivated only those sciences that were of use to them.
The science of navigation was represented by some light boats in which they did some rowing on the river or by the shore, but one could never have ventured out onto the high seas in them even in the calmest weather.
Thus if I wanted to get away from here I would first have to build my own craft.
After prolonged hesitation I brought myself to putting my ill-feeling aside and decided to talk further with Zatamon and ask his help.
The next day towards evening I called upon him again.
I sincerely confided in him that I could not bear life on their island and if he did not want me to commit suicide he should procure the Hins' help. I told him that I knew something about boat-building and, if I got a few men to help me, in two weeks we could patch up something seaworthy and they could get rid of me for good which was the only solution for both of us.
Zatamon replied that he did not understand why anybody wanted imperfection but it was a fact that Behins did indeed have such fixed ideas from which they could not be dissuaded.
However, the Hins could not be persuaded to perform anything which would entail harm for me.
"How do you imagine," he asked, "that a kazo being could deviate from the kazo? You can't force fish onto land and you can't feed a dog on hay — if you attempted it they would not live."
This epitome of narrow-mindedness amazed me so much that for a few minutes I had no idea what to say. To begin with I thought that it was his grievance from the previous day that made him speak like that, but that he wanted to conceal his resentment because of my behaviour. And now he grasped the first opportunity to harm me, meanwhile hiding his spiteful intentions behind such a polite pretext.
The knowledge came back to me only slowly that they had no idea of politeness and of the basic rules of gentlemanly conduct. But if lie really was not lying, then any further discussion would be a waste of breath.
Without a word I turned on my heels and left him for good.
I resolved that I would escape from them come what may. As a last attempt I would try to assemble the boat alone -and would do away with myself only if this failed.
The next day I simply left the hospital. Nobody looked for me.
I went into town. I took a car and some tools from a garage, drove out a good distance from the town and, near a deep rivulet with a good flow of water surrounded by dense bush, I dismantled the engine. The next day by another car I took other tools, some iron rods, sheets and different machine parts. I put up a tent made from some raincoats, and with great difficulty I hammered out a primitive screw and a rudder from the ironplates.
Then I took out boards, and eventually knocked together a small barge, managed to haul it into the water with rope pulleys and set about installing the engine.
When carrying the things out, I naturally had no difficulties, as the goods were not guarded by anyone. But the work still had to be done furtively as if they had seen it they would obviously have taken me for a Behin.
I do not want to bore the Reader with details, suffice it to say that I worked in the forest for three months. At night I slept over in the town, but at last I had a job which did not bore me. Patriotism and homesickness spurred me on.
After three months I visited almost every warehouse with a huge truck. From one I took three barrels of petrol, from another oil, then all kinds of food, bread, zwieback and tins in sufficient quantity for about three months. Although my voyage was unlikely to take more than a couple of weeks, I thought that there was no reason not to stow away more if there was the wherewithal. These things were not guarded in any way.
I also wondered what would happen if one day some rogue were to loot their warehouses. On the other hand, it was true that their stocks were extraordinarily large, and it would not have been felt too keenly if they were looted by a hundred or even a thousand rogues. Besides there were no such people on the island. Viewing their enormous warehouses, I preferred to think that as soon as I had reached home I would organize an expedition to return and set up the British flag representing Christian civilization, before some greedy colonizing country subjugated the honest people of the island.
So, step by step, I was filled with the awareness of my elevating calling; my arriving in Kazohinia had actually been the special grace of Providence granting me this glorious and patriotic mission.
This awareness afforded me new strength. I thanked the Lord of infinite mercy in Heaven in a fervent prayer, and then continued my lofty work with redoubled efforts.
Everything was ready but the supply of fresh water for which unfortunately I had no suitable container. I certainly could not pour drinking water into a petrol drum!
It occurred to me that in the textile factory there was a lavatory where I had seen a hot-water container on the wall. So I drove away to the factory and there I asked the first Hin I came across to help me take down the container. He, of course, immediately lent his assistance unquestioningly. It is certain that in this respect I already understood them. He even helped to load it, and I could hardly restrain my laughter at the thought that the next day they would turn the tap in vain. They would definitely believe that I had met with a fatal accident and that that was why I did not take the container back, from the "repair shop". On the way I looked in on the geophysical institute from whose laboratory I collected a very fine compass, a sextant, a telescope and other essential instruments. This, of course, I had to do cautiously, waiting until the physicists were occupied elsewhere. All this I then transported onto my vessel.
As I had already accomplished my patriotic work, only the departure remained.
I set sail deliberately by day and into the bargain late in the afternoon when most of the Hins were strolling on the seashore. Let them burst with rage seeing my vessel vanish from sight!
Accordingly I embarked before twilight, inspected everything thoroughly once more, and asking the Almighty's guidance for my voyage I started the engine and put to sea.
At a distance of about two hundred paces from the shore I altered course and progressed along the coastline of Kazohinia.
After the bushy parts the beach soon appeared. Hundreds of Hins were there lying, walking, sitting or bathing. My boat attracted the attention of many of them and, intoxicated with the sweet joy of freedom, I stood out on deck, waved my cap and kept on shouting "Hullo there," at the top of my voice. All of a sudden all my pent up human joy found an outlet after having had to contain itself among them.
The Hins certainly took note and with every face gaping vacantly they turned their attention towards me.
The knowledge that I was beyond their power and here and now I could do whatever I wished gave another impetus to my high spirits which burst forth irresistibly. Throwing my cap into the air and myself to the floor, I kicked about, shouted good-bye to them and laughed incessantly.
They were astonished for a while and marvelled at me. They could not understand the situation. Many of them shouted out asking what had happened. In reply I yelled "Good-bye" to them. They seemed to have interpreted this as a request for help and thinking that the water had cast me adrift, several Hins flung themselves into the sea. At this moment even the siren began to blow to indicate that someone was drowning and more than one rowing-boat started towards me with life-belts.
This comic turn of events made me laugh so that my abdominal muscles began to ache. I let them come close, then opened, up the throttle and shot away from them. Again I stepped on deck, jumping and dancing, and then I stuck out my tongue.
For a while they splashed about, then in bewilderment swam back to the shore.
As soon as I had left the crowded beach behind me, my heart suddenly jumped to my throat and for a moment I became serious. The lonely rock emerged in front of me on which I had once sat with Zolema believing in a fit of passion that I had found something worthwhile.
High up, on the peak of the rock there stood a Hin. Was it perhaps Zolema? I was already fairly far from the shore, and could not make out. Possibly it was not even a woman. They were so uniform: One of the many.
With an instinctive gesture I reached for my telescope but I scanned the face in vain, I could make out no features as the head was in eclipse with the setting sun and because of the strong light radiating around the face I was unable to distinguish any features.
My high spirits suddenly vanished, the grief of memories twisted my heart, and snatching at the rudder, I directed my craft at full throttle towards the open sea.
But I could not take my eyes off the figure. It simply stood, like a statue, motionless, as if at one with the rock beneath. As the distance between us grew greater and the rock receded farther and farther from my eyes, the whole figure gradually merged with the blinding flood of light from the sun. As I moved further out to sea the sun was setting, as if it had followed the figure slowly sinking into the horizon, slowly diminishing and fusing with the light.
After a while I could no longer distinguish the rock itself. The whole island was now in the halo of the setting sun, as it sank lower and lower until it disappeared with a last flare in the limitless water, snatching Kazohinia away for ever.
And from my heart an enormous stone fell away, at last I could leave far behind me that terrible island where heart, love and beauty were unknown concepts and where the bleak gaol of cheerless life had caused me so much suffering.
And as I advanced the hope of the other coast unfolded before my exulting mind's eye — that of the soul's land.
My pleasure was marred only by the fact. that my eyes ached for a considerable while. I severely rebuked myself for having tried to look into the sun; being a doctor I should have known that human eyes were not created for looking into too intense a light.