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Accomplishment Note 5


March 29, 1997

Human non-receptivity is proverbial. Partial successes were there. Total failures were there. Govts. have been, like God, offering several opportunities in vain. ICPF has spoken of uncommon opportunities unavailed of by the population. There are conditions when man rushes to avail of an opportunity and it becomes a fashion. There are other conditions where man is forced to avail of it or saved against his will. All these can be summed up as:

   The condition under which MAN becomes receptive, though, in a few occasions, it worked for me, a general formula by which the majority will unfailingly respond in conditions of social freedom, is still not in evidence. I quote one example below. In a story "Second Stains" Holmes illustrates it. The wife of a British cabinet minister steals an important Govt. document and gives it away to a spy in exchange for a love letter she wrote before marriage. As a result a European war might be unleashed. The Prime Minister approaches Holmes. He discovers that this document was stolen by Hilda -- the wife -- and was given to the spy. It was retrieved by her on his death from the hiding place and was in her possession. Hilda comes to Holmes after the visit of her husband- the PM, for help.

   Holmes meets Hilda after he knows all that she had done. She heard from him all that he knew of her. You must read the two pages of their conversation (enclosed below). She flatly refuses any knowledge. Holmes was trying to save her. She was defiant and abusive. By threatening to expose her, he brings her down on her knees and saves her and Europe. This passage explains my own innumerable experiences. Here, the effort is to avert an international tragedy and total ruin for Hilda. The endeavour of God, the social development effort, all try to persuade MAN to avail of an opportunity, taking as great a psychological effort as is needed to avert a catastrophe. The former seems to be far simpler.

   -- Hilda knew Holmes knew all about her doings. She herself has asked for help. She knew that the PM had called on Holmes. Still, because she thought she had no risk, should would not listen to sense.

-- Man today will be moved to respond only under physical threat.

-- A programme to make people respond to knowledge is possible.

-- Education does give man an impetus for self-improvement.

-- Suppose it is carved out as a knowledge (what in education gives that urge) we will be able to give man that knowledge which will give a similar urge. -- Keeping up the explanations so as not to lose that interest gets across the ideas.

-- That will be enlightening, inspiring, invigorating but will not lead to action.

-- If there are any, start from there.

Extract from "The Adventure of the Second Stain" pg. 119 of the Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1

"When we arrived at the residence of the European Secretary it was for Lady Hilda Hope that Holmes inquired. We were shown into the morning room.  "Mr Holmes!" said the lady, and her face was pink with her indignation. "This is surely most unfair and ungenerous upon your part. I desired, as I have explained, to keep my visit to you a secret, lest my husband should think that I am intruding into his affairs. And yet you compromise me by coming here and so showing that there are business relations between us."

   "Unfortunately, madam, I had no possible alternative. I have been commissioned to recover this immensely important paper. I must therefore ask you, madam, to be kind enough to place it in my hands."

   The lady sprang to her feet, with the colour all dashed in an instant from her beautiful face. Her eyes glazed--she tottered-- I thought that she would faint. Then with a grand effort she rallied from the shock, and a supreme astonishment and indignation chased every other expression from her features.

" You--you insult me, Mr. Holmes."

  "Come, come, madam, it is useless. Give up the letter."

  She darted to the bell.

  "The butler will show you out."

  "Do not ring, Lady Hilda. If you do, then all my efforts to avoid a scandal will be frustrated.  Give up the letter and all will be set right. If you will work with me I can arrange everything. If you work against me, I must expose you."

   She stood grandly defiant, a queenly figure, her eyes fixed on his as if she would read his very soul.  Her hand was on the bell, but she had forborne to ring it.

  'You are trying to frighten me. It is not a very manly thing, Mr. Holmes, to come here and browbeat a woman. You say that you know something. What is it that you know?"

   "Pray sit down, Madam. You will hurt yourself there if you fall. I will not speak until you sit down. Thank you."

   "I give you five minutes, Mr. Holmes."

  "One is enough, Lady Hilda. I know of your visit to Eduardo Lucas, of your giving him this document, of your ingenious return to the room last night, and of the manner in which you took the letter from the hiding place under the carpet."

  She stared at him with an ashen face and gulped twice before she could speak.

  "You are mad, Mr. Holmes -- you are mad?" she cried, at last.

   He drew a small piece of cardboard from his pocket. It was the face of a woman cut out of a portrait.

  "I have carried this because I thought it might be useful," said he. "The policeman has recognised it."

   She gave a gasp and her head dropped back in the chair.

   "Come, Lady Hilda. You have the letter. The matter may still be adjusted. I have no desire to bring trouble to you. My duty ends when I have returned the lost letter to your husband. Take my advice and be frank with me. It is your only chance."

   Her courage was admirable. Even now she would not own defeat.

   "I tell you again Mr. Holmes, that you are under some absurd illusion."

  Holmes rose from his chair.

  "I am sorry for you, Lady Hilda. I have done my best for you. I can see that it is all in vain."

   He rang the bell. The butler entered.

   "Is Mr. Trelawney Hope at home?"

   "He will be home, sir, at a quarter to one."

   Holmes glanced at his watch.

   "Still a quarter of an hour," said he. "Very good, I shall wait."

   The butler had hardly closed the door behind him when Lady Hilda was down onher knees at Holmes's feet, her hands outstretched, her beautiful face upturned and wet with her tears.

   "Oh, spare me, Mr. Holmes! Spare me! she pleaded, in a frenzy of supplication. "For heaven's sake, don't tell him! I love him so! I would not bring one shadow on his life, and this I know would break his noble heart."

Holmes raised the lady. "I am thankful, madam, that you have come to your senses even at this last moment. There is not an instant to lose. Where is the letter?"

story | by Dr. Radut