The Door in the Wall and Other Stories HTML version

The Lord Of The Dynamos
The chief attendant of the three dynamos that buzzed and rattled at Camberwell, and kept
the electric railway going, came out of Yorkshire, and his name was James Holroyd. He
was a practical electrician, but fond of whisky, a heavy red-haired brute with irregular
teeth. He doubted the existence of the deity, but accepted Carnot's cycle, and he had read
Shakespeare and found him weak in chemistry. His helper came out of the mysterious
East, and his name was Azuma-zi. But Holroyd called him Pooh-bah. Holroyd liked a
nigger because he would stand kicking--a habit with Holroyd--and did not pry into the
machinery and try to learn the ways of it. Certain odd possibilities of the negro mind
brought into abrupt contact with the crown of our civilisation Holroyd never fully
realised, though just at the end he got some inkling of them.
To define Azuma-zi was beyond ethnology. He was, perhaps, more negroid than anything
else, though his hair was curly rather than frizzy, and his nose had a bridge. Moreover,
his skin was brown rather than black, and the whites of his eyes were yellow. His broad
cheekbones and narrow chin gave his face something of the viperine V. His head, too,
was broad behind, and low and narrow at the forehead, as if his brain had been twisted
round in the reverse way to a European's. He was short of stature and still shorter of
English. In conversation he made numerous odd noises of no known marketable value,
and his infrequent words were carved and wrought into heraldic grotesqueness. Holroyd
tried to elucidate his religious beliefs, and--especially after whisky--lectured to him
against superstition and missionaries. Azuma-zi, however, shirked the discussion of his
gods, even though he was kicked for it.
Azuma-zi had come, clad in white but insufficient raiment, out of the stokehole of the
Lord Clive, from the Straits Settlements, and beyond, into London. He had heard even in
his youth of the greatness and riches of London, where all the women are white and fair,
and even the beggars in the streets are white, and he arrived, with newly earned gold
coins in his pocket, to worship at the shrine of civilisation. The day of his landing was a
dismal one; the sky was dun, and a wind-worried drizzle filtered down to the greasy
streets, but he plunged boldly into the delights of Shadwell, and was presently cast up,
shattered in health, civilised in costume, penniless and, except in matters of the direst
necessity, practically a dumb animal, to toil for James Holroyd and to be bullied by him
in the dynamo shed at Camberwell. And to James Holroyd bullying was a labour of love.
There were three dynamos with their engines at Camberwell. The two that had been there
since the beginning were small machines; the larger one was new. The smaller machines
made a reasonable noise; their straps hummed over the drums, every now and then the
brushes buzzed and fizzled, and the air churned steadily, whoo! whoo! whoo! between
their poles. One was loose in its foundations and kept the shed vibrating. But the big
dynamo drowned these little noises altogether with the sustained drone of its iron core,
which somehow set part of the ironwork humming. The place made the visitor's head reel
with the throb, throb, throb of the engines, the rotation of the big wheels, the spinning
ball-valves, the occasional spittings of the steam, and over all the deep, unceasing,