Dr. Seeley Quotes in The Little Stranger
It was more than mere anger. It was as though the war itself had changed him, made an utter stranger of him. He seemed to hate himself, and everyone around him. Oh, when I think of all the boys like him, and all the frightful things we asked them to do in the name of making peace—!
To think that all this time people had been watching us, speculating—rubbing their hands—! It made me feel fooled, somehow; it made me feel exposed. A part of my upset, I’m sorry to say, was simple embarrassment, a basic masculine reluctance to have my name romantically linked with that of a notoriously plain girl. Part of it was shame, at discovering I felt this. A contradictory part, too, was pride: for why the hell shouldn’t I—I asked myself—bring Caroline Ayres along to a party, if I chose to? Why the hell shouldn’t I dance with the squire’s daughter, if the squire’s daughter wanted to dance with me?
I shook my head. ‘This is a weirder thing even than hysteria. It’s as if—well, as if something’s slowly sucking the life out of the whole family.’
‘Something is,’ he said, with another bark of laughter. ‘It’s called a Labour Government. The Ayreses’ problem—don’t you think?—is that they can’t, or won’t, adapt. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve a lot of sympathy for them. But what’s left for an old family like that in England nowadays? Class-wise, they’ve had their chips. Nerve-wise, perhaps they’ve run their course.’
‘The subliminal mind has many dark, unhappy corners, after all. Imagine something loosening itself from one of those corners. Let’s call it a – a germ. And let’s say conditions prove right for that germ to develop – to grow, like a child in the womb. What would this little stranger grow into? A sort of shadow-self, perhaps a Caliban, a Mr. Hyde. A creature motivated by all the nasty impulses and hungers the conscious mind had hoped to keep hidden away: things like envy, and malice, and frustration . . .’
But I barely heard it. He’d started me thinking, and the beat of my thoughts, like the ticking arm of a metronome, would not be stilled. It was all nonsense; I knew it was nonsense. Every ordinary thing around me worked against it. The fire was crackling in the grate. The children still thundered on the staircase. The whisky was fragrant in the glass . . . But the night was dark at the window, too, and a few miles away through the wintry darkness stood Hundreds Hall, where things were different. Could what he had suggested have any truth to it? Could there be something loose in that house, some sort of ravenous frustrated energy, with Caroline at its heart?
I’ve never attempted to remind Seeley of his other, odder theory: that Hundreds was consumed by some dark germ, some ravenous shadow-creature, some ‘little stranger’, spawned from the troubled unconscious of someone connected with the house itself. But on my solitary visits, I find myself growing watchful. Every so often I’ll sense a presence, or catch a movement at the corner of my eye, and my heart will give a jolt of fear and expectation: I’ll imagine that the secret is about to be revealed to me at last; that I will see what Caroline saw, and recognise it, as she did.