had happened at last. The expected message had come. All his life,
it seemed to him, he had been waiting for this to happen.
He was walking down the long corridor at the Ministry and he was
almost at the spot where Julia had slipped the note into his hand
when he became aware that someone larger than himself was walking
just behind him. The person, whoever it was, gave a small cough,
evidently as a prelude to speaking. Winston stopped abruptly and
turned. It was O'Brien.
At last they were face to face, and it seemed that his only impulse
was to run away. His heart bounded violently. He would have been
incapable of speaking. O'Brien, however, had continued forward
in the same movement, laying a friendly hand for a moment on Winston's
arm, so that the two of them were walking side by side. He began
speaking with the peculiar grave courtesy that differentiated
him from the majority of Inner Party members.
'I had been hoping for an opportunity of talking to you,' he said.
'I was reading one of your Newspeak articles in the Times
the other day. You take a scholarly interest in Newspeak, I believe?'
Winston had recovered part of his self-possession. 'Hardly scholarly,'
he said. 'I'm only an amateur. It's not my subject. I have never
had anything to do with the actual construction of the language.'
'But you write it very elegantly,' said O'Brien. 'That is not
only my own opinion. I was talking recently to a friend of yours
who is certainly an expert. His name has slipped my memory for
Again Winston's heart stirred painfully. It was inconceivable
that this was anything other than a reference to Syme. But Syme
was not only dead, he was abolished, an unperson. Any identifiable
reference to him would have been mortally dangerous. O'Brien's
remark must obviously have been intended as a signal, a codeword.
By sharing a small act of thoughtcrime he had turned the two of
them into accomplices. They had continued to stroll slowly down
the corridor, but now O'Brien halted. With the curious, disarming
friendliness that he always managed to put in to the gesture he
resettled his spectacles on his nose. Then he went on:
'What I had really intended to say was that in your article I
noticed you had used two words which have become obsolete. But
they have only become so very recently. Have you seen the tenth
edition of the Newspeak Dictionary?'
'No,' said Winston. 'I didn't think it had been issued yet. We
are still using the ninth in the Records Department.'
'The tenth edition is not due to appear for some months, I believe.
But a few advance copies have been circulated. I have one myself.
It might interest you to look at it, perhaps?'
'Very much so,' said Winston, immediately seeing where this tended.
'Some of the new developments are most ingenious. The reduction
in the number of verbs -- that is the point that will appeal to
you, I think. Let me see, shall I send a messenger to you with
the dictionary? But I am afraid I invariably forget anything of
that kind. Perhaps you could pick it up at my flat at some time
that suited you? Wait. Let me give you my address.'
They were standing in front of a telescreen. Somewhat absentmindedly
O'Brien felt two of his pockets and then produced a small leather-covered
notebook and a gold ink-pencil. Immediately beneath the telescreen,
in such a position that anyone who was watching at the other end
of the instrument could read what he was writing, he scribbled
an address, tore out the page and handed it to Winston.
'I am usually at home in the evenings,' he said. 'If not, my servant
will give you the dictionary.'
He was gone, leaving Winston holding the scrap of paper, which
this time there was no need to conceal. Nevertheless he carefully
memorized what was written on it, and some hours later dropped
it into the memory hole along with a mass of other papers.
They had been talking to one another for a couple of minutes at
the most. There was only one meaning that the episode could possibly
have. It had been contrived as a way of letting Winston know O'Brien's
address. This was necessary, because except by direct enquiry
it was never possible to discover where anyone lived. There were
no directories of any kind. 'If you ever want to see me, this
is where I can be found,' was what O'Brien had been saying to
him. Perhaps there would even be a message concealed somewhere
in the dictionary. But at any rate, one thing was certain. The
conspiracy that he had dreamed of did exist, and he had reached
the outer edges of it.
He knew that sooner or later he would obey O'Brien's summons.
Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps after a long delay -- he was not certain.
What was happening was only the working-out of a process that
had started years ago. The first step had been a secret, involuntary
thought, the second had been the opening of the diary. He had
moved from thoughts to words, and now from words to actions. The
last step was something that would happen in the Ministry of Love.
He had accepted it. The end was contained in the beginning. But
it was frightening: or, more exactly, it was like a foretaste
of death, like being a little less alive. Even while he was speaking
to O'Brien, when the meaning of the words had sunk in, a chilly
shuddering feeling had taken possession of his body. He had the
sensation of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was
not much better because he had always known that the grave was
there and waiting for him.
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