|What follows is the original ending of the postscript in
'The Ka of Gifford Hillary'.
For whatever reason, Wheatley decided against including
it, perhaps on the grounds that it was a little too
|(continues after: Johnny and I walked out free men.)
I have taken great thought about my future and decided against going back to my old life. I still do not believe that socialism – far less communism – is the cure for our social ills. The one can only lead to a general reduction in the standard of living, through the dragging down of the gifted, thrifty and hard working to the level of the ignorant, shiftless and lazy; while the other would mean the end of all liberty in a Gestapo-ridden state. Yet never can I forget the Sunday morning that my Ka spent seeing the miserable conditions under which the submerged tenth live in such places as Walham Green.
In consequence, I have decided to give away the bulk of my fortune; but not to organized charity, or indiscriminately. I have made a better provision for Edith and placed a solid reserve behind Christobels venture. Longshot, with its contents I have given to Johnny and Sue jointly as a wedding present, and have made over to him one half of my shares in Hillary-Comptons, the income from which will be sufficient to keep it up.
They have implored me to live with them there; and I have said that if I become an old and failing man I will. I hope to visit them there for a few days from time to time; but apart from which I mean to start a new life on my own.
Perhaps it was Christobels project which gave me the idea; although I plan nothing so ambitious or demanding as running a mobile grocery store. Like John Bunyan I intend to become a journeyman tinker; or to be strictly accurate a roving knife-grinder.
I shall live very simply finding food and lodging for the night in village pubs or hikers hostels wherever I happen to be. I shall be doing a useful job, earning, I hope, just enough to pay for my modest requirements, and pushing a knife-grinders barrow should keep me in good health.
The half of my holding in Hillary-Comptons, which I am retaining, will still provide me with an income of several thousands a year. From it I expect to derive great happiness. My carefree pilgrimage will bring me into contact with all sorts and conditions of people. Believing me to be poor they will tell me their troubles freely and without ulterior motive. Wherever I find genuine hardship or distress, particularly among old people struggling along on very meagre incomes, I shall be able to relieve it a little. I can hardly wait for the thrill I shall get the first time that, having sharpened the knives of some poor housewife who is going through a bad time, I can push a few pound notes under a plate on her kitchen dresser without her finding out what I have done until after I have left.
So, after all my tribulations, I shall find contentment and a real freedom, sharing the joys and sorrows of my fellow men, as through sunshine and rain I tramp the roads of England.
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