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On the Beach

Nevil Shute

Chapter Seven

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Peter meets with an officer at the Navy Department. He agrees to continue on assignment, but says he cannot take another seagoing appointment in light of the fact that the radiation sickness will hit Melbourne soon. Moira phones Dwight and finds out he is tired and ill from the long submarine journey. She suggests letting Peter put the submarine in dry dock, but Dwight refuses, saying that Uncle Sam would not like an Australian taking care of an American submarine.

Moira invites Dwight to recover at her parents' farm. He accepts, and the Davidsons make sure he is comfortable and pampered. A doctor comes to see Dwight and tells him to rest. The doctor hurries out, saying he needs to go back to the hospital to perform an operation on a woman to "give her a few more years of useful life." Dwight thinks that the doctor is crazy for operating on a woman when they all will die within a few weeks or months, but Moira remarks that the doctor is simply being conscientious, as he as always been. Mr. Davidson also demonstrates that he has not accepted the inevitable, as he talks about building a dam next summer. Moira gives Dwight a pogo stick with his daughter's name painted on it. While he was gone at sea, she found the company that makes pogo sticks and convinced them to make this special one. Dwight is very touched by the present; he now feels he has everything he needs.

Peter and John meet the next day. John mentions how the aircraft carrier has thousands of gallons of the ether-alcohol mixture he needs for his racecar. At first, Peter is shocked that John would use the military's fuel, but he then realizes that such concerns are useless at this point, and he asks if his own car will run on that fuel. The two men talk about the car and the possibility of John dying in a racing accident.

John predicts that the radiation will reach Melbourne by the end of August. John wants Dwight to look over the submarine's report, so he drives his Ferrari over to the farm. John suggests that Dwight take leave to go skiing or fishing. John proposes going trout fishing before the fishing season officially starts, but Dwight wants to stick by the rules.

At the Pastoral Club, Allan Sykes, director of the State Fisheries and Game Department is upset that the Prime Minister wants him to open the trout fishing season earlier than usual. Moira has apparently sent a letter to the Prime Minister making this request. After some debate with people in the club, Sykes decides to change the opening date of the season. The news about the early opening is broadcast on the radio. When Dwight hears the news, he makes plans to try out the fishing rod he had bought for his son.

Melbourne gradually becomes dirtier and more depressing, as people work less and spend more time doing the things they like to do. People also start using cars again, but nobody can say where the gasoline came from—presumably each family has a few gallons secretly stored away.

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