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 If there is hope, he had written in the diary,  it lies in the proles. The words kept coming back to him,
statement of a mystical truth and a palpable absurdity. He was somewhere in the vague, brown-coloured
slums to the north and east of what had once been Saint Pancras Station. He was walking up a cobbled
street of little two-storey houses with battered doorways which gave straight on the pavement and which
were somehow curiously suggestive of ratholes. There were puddles of filthy water here and there among
the cobbles. In and out of the dark doorways, and down narrow alley-ways that branched off on either side,
people swarmed in astonishing numbers girls in full bloom, with crudely lipsticked mouths, and youths
who chased the girls, and swollen waddling women who showed you what the girls would be like in ten
years time, and old bent creatures shuffling along on splayed feet, and ragged barefooted children who
played in the puddles and then scattered at angry yells from their mothers. Perhaps a quarter of the windows
in the street were broken and boarded up. Most of the people paid no attention to Winston; a few eyed him
with a sort of guarded curiosity. Two monstrous women with brick-red forearms folded across their aprons
were talking outside a doorway. Winston caught scraps of conversation as he approached.
  Yes, I says to  er,  that s all very well, I says.
 But if you d of been in my place you d of done the same as what I done. It s easy to criticize, I says,
 but you ain t got the same problems as what I got. 
 Ah, said the other,  that s jest it. That s jest where it is.
The strident voices stopped abruptly. The women studied him in hostile silence as he went past. But it
was not hostility, exactly; merely a kind of wariness, a momentary stiffening, as at the passing of some
unfamiliar animal. The blue overalls of the Party could not be a common sight in a street like this. Indeed,
it was unwise to be seen in such places, unless you had definite business there. The patrols might stop you if
you happened to run into them.  May I see your papers, comrade? What are you doing here? What time
did you leave work? Is this your usual way home?  and so on and so forth. Not that there was any rule
against walking home by an unusual route: but it was enough to draw attention to you if the Thought Police
heard about it.
Suddenly the whole street was in commotion. There were yells of warning from all sides. People were
shooting into the doorways like rabbits. A young woman leapt out of a doorway a little ahead of Winston,
grabbed up a tiny child playing in a puddle, whipped her apron round it, and leapt back again, all in one
movement. At the same instant a man in a concertina-like black suit, who had emerged from a side alley,
ran towards Winston, pointing excitedly to the sky.
 Steamer! he yelled.  Look out, guv nor! Bang over ead!
Lay down quick!
 Steamer was a nickname which, for some reason, the proles applied to rocket bombs. Winston
promptly flung himself on his face. The proles were nearly always right when they gave you a warning of
this kind. They seemed to possess some kind of instinct which told them several seconds in advance when a
rocket was coming, although the rockets supposedly travelled faster than sound. Winston clasped his
forearms above his head. There was a roar that seemed to make the pavement heave; a shower of light
objects pattered on to his back. When he stood up he found that he was covered with fragments of glass
from the nearest window.
He walked on. The bomb had demolished a group of houses 200 metres up the street. A black plume of
smoke hung in the sky, and below it a cloud of plaster dust in which a crowd was already forming around
the ruins. There was a little pile of plaster lying on the pavement ahead of him, and in the middle of it he
could see a bright red streak. When he got up to it he saw that it was a human hand severed at the wrist.
Apart from the bloody stump, the hand was so completely whitened as to resemble a plaster cast.
He kicked the thing into the gutter, and then, to avoid the crowd, turned down a side-street to the right. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]