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Round the Bend: Pages 89 through 90

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  • Round the Bend: Pages 89 through 90

    ROUND the BEND
    Nevil Shute, 1951

    ```(annotated and with added blue highlights by al-Brunardot)


    0 spiritual pilgrim rise: the night has grown her single horn:
    The voices of the souls unborn are half a-dream with Paradise.
    WE GOT the loading finished next morning and got the fuel drums lashed down in the cabin. I had no intention of flying the Carrier by night till I was more used to her, and so we made the first day's stage to Bangkok only. We had to stop there anyway, to load the cargo that I had left there back into the Airtruck.

    On Connie's advice I engaged Chai Tai Foong to come with us to join the staff at Bahrein; he was a good lad who spoke a little English, and he knew the Carrier. The other one, U Myin, I had no place for, but I offered him a passage in the Carrier to Rangoon where we should land after Bangkok. I didn't quite know how Gujar would get on in foreign countries and I meant to stay with him as far as Calcutta where he would be on his own ground. After that I would leave him and go ahead, because the Carrier was much faster than the Airtruck and had a much greater range.

    We had a meal at midday, and got off for Bangkok after lunch. It was affecting in a way, because the people of the village were so deeply grieved to see Connie go. He had his service at the Buddha in the morning before starting work and most of the village turned up for it, women as well as men; there must


    have been over two hundred people there on the strip. It only lasted about ten minutes. The people hung about the strip all day. They paid no attention to the rest of us, but their eyes followed Connie everywhere. A curious thing was that three monks turned up in yellow robes, with shaven heads and bare feet. They made the same obeisance to him that the villagers made, touching their fingers to the forehead and bowing low. This seemed odd to me
    , but I was sorting out the maps with Gujar at the time and didn't take much notice of what they were doing. The trouble was that we had only one set of maps for the two aircraft, which made things a bit tricky. We couldn't fly in company, because the Airtruck cruised at a hundred miles an hour and the Carrier at a hundred and fifty. At the cruising speed of the Airtruck the Carrier would have been just about falling out of the air.

    There was quite a good assortment of spares for the Carrier in Dwight Schafter's house, and several valuable bits of ground equipment—towing bars, hydraulic jacks, and all that sort of thing. In all there was over a ton of stuff. We put this in the Airtruck for the flight to Bangkok as the Carrier was loaded to the limit, meaning to transfer it at Don Muang when the Carrier had used up some of her fuel load. In this way we managed to take with us everything of importance that Dwight Schafter had at Damrey Phong except about four tons of petrol; that we had to leave in the store for the benefit of whoever came along.

    We taxied down to the end of the strip together and took off in turn, Gujar Singh first in the Airtruck with the two engineers; I followed in the Carrier with Connie by my side. I turned after taking off and followed Gujar round upon a left-hand circuit before getting upon course, and having raised the flaps and throttled back the boost and set the revs I glanced out of the window at the strip on my left side. The whole village seemed to be standing by the Buddha looking up at us; they were not waving. They were just standing there motionless and sad, watching us as we flew away.

    We flew past Gujar Singh and waved at him, and went on on a compass course that would bring us to the Menam River between Bangkok and the sea. I had given our one map to Gujar