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On the Beach

Nevil Shute

Chapter Eight

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight, page 2

page 1 of 2

The radiation reaches Sydney and Adelaide, but Mary is not troubled by the news; she is more concerned with the narcissus flowers blooming in her garden. She worries about Jennifer, who is teething and has been feverish for hours. Peter drives over to the Navy Department to check in and get some gasoline. Dwight and Peter go to see John and his Ferrari. John has asked the racing officials to change the date of the Grand Prix from August 10th to August 17th—he is worried that everyone will be too sick from the radiation to drive on the 17th.

Peter and John then go to the Pastoral Club. They meet Douglas Froude, who is still spending all his days at the club drinking. John mentions that rabbits are more resistant to radiation and will therefore live about a year longer than humans. Douglas is shocked to find that, after all the effort Australians have put into controlling the pest rabbit population, the rabbits will win in the end.

Dwight and Moira meet for lunch. Dwight has been in contact with another American submarine, which is currently in South America. The submarine is unable to reach Australia, so Dwight orders the crew to sink the submarine in international waters. Dwight believes that the U.S. Navy would want to destroy the classified equipment, even if no one is left to find it. Dwight's submarine, the Scorpion, is now the only ship left in the U.S. Navy.

Moira asks Dwight to go fishing with her in the mountains. Dwight reminds Moira that he has a wife in Connecticut, to whom he will be going home to see soon. Moira replies that she would not want to start "a smutty love affair" with only a few days left; she has moral standards she does not want to violate. She might not have had these standards before, but now she does. Dwight invites Moira to come visit him in America one day and meet his wife, Sharon.

Dwight and Moira begin to plan their trip. He refuses to break the rules and drive the Navy car that has been provided to him for official business. He has been trained to obey rules, and he will not change his ways now. Moira says that she would like to go to America one day to meet Sharon. Dwight responds that Sharon would feel very grateful to Moira for being such a good companion to Dwight.

After their meeting, Moira goes to take a shorthand test. Dwight has no appointment in the afternoon. Even though he does not want to admit it, he knows that his working life is coming to an end, as is his own life. He looks forward to going to Moira's family farm, where he would help her father build a fence. Dwight walks around the city of Melbourne, which is becoming increasingly dirty and smelly as workers abandon their duties. Dwight visits the garage where John is fixing his Ferrari, and he feels cheered by the busy activity inside. Meanwhile, Peter and Mary talk about buying a lawn mower. They drive into Melbourne to buy it, and Mary is depressed by the dirtiness and horrid smell of the city. She decides she does not want to visit the city again, and she is very happy to return home.

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