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On the Beach

Nevil Shute

Chapter Nine

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Peter goes into Melbourne for a meeting with Dwight. Mary insists that Peter take throat lozenges so he does not get sick from the radiation that has reached the city. He does not have the heart to tell her that the radiation is already all around them in their home.

At the meeting, Dwight takes the Scorpion out of Australian control, and he announces his plan to take the boat into international waters to sink it. Peter asks Dwight if he will need a tugboat to take the crew back, but Dwight says that it is not necessary. When the two men say goodbye, Dwight tells Peter that he is going home to America.

John visits his elderly mother, who is already sick and dying from the radiation. She is worried that her dog will keep on living after she is gone, with nobody to take care of it. John leaves her to go to his office and read the daily radiation report. He tries to find milk for his mother, but every store is out. When John returns to his mother's home, he finds that she has written a loving note to him and taken a cyanide pill while he is gone. He is surprised to find that she had obtained the pills without his knowledge. Then, John goes to the nearest pharmacy and takes some pills and a syringe from the counter. He returns to his mother's house and uses the syringe to put her dog to sleep.

At the Holmes house, baby Jennifer cries all night and then vomits in the morning. Both Peter and Mary begin to get sick also, but they try to hide their sickness from each other. Peter is surprised to find Mary singing, and she admits she feels lucky that they all have gotten the sickness at the same time, rather than any of them outliving each other.

The next day, Peter goes to Melbourne to meet John at the Pastoral Club. Peter tells John he is feeling better, but John says that the recovery will only last for a few days before a relapse. John leaves the club, picks up some cyanide pills, and then goes to the garage where he keeps his Ferrari. He tunes up the Ferrari, puts on his crash helmet and goggles, gets in the driver's seat, and takes the pills.

Meanwhile, Peter picks up a garden seat from a hardware store in Melbourne and then drives home. He is still feeling much better, but he does not tell Mary, who is very sick. He shows her the garden seat and then makes the house cozy with a fire. Mary and Peter talk about the war. Peter says that Australia gave Britain moral support, so, in a way, their country was at least indirectly involved in the war.

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