فصل 16

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فصل 16

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

My new job

A month later I came out of the special hospital where a team of thirty doctors and nurses had looked after me. Penny had even more doctors than I had because her condition was worse than mine, but Ogilvie and Lumsden had brought the best doctors from the United States and from Europe, and they had succeeded in saving Penny’s life.

Dr Starkie was the man in charge. ‘If Dr Ashton had been on Cladach Duillich for one more day without proper medical attention, she would be dead now,’ he said. ‘You were both very lucky.’

Slowly Penny began to get better. I couldn’t kiss her, or even touch her in her protective glass cage, but we began to talk about getting married. She said she thought a double wedding would be nice - Michaelis had asked Gillian to marry him. I was not too surprised at that piece ot news.

Ogilvie had come to visit me in hospital.

‘I’ve listened to the cassette of your conversation with Cregar,’ he said. ‘I don’t think even Cregar can escape from this problem.’

‘Have the computer experts had any success with Ashton’s computer programs?’ I asked.

‘Yes, and my God, they’re fantastic! Everyone said the man was a genius and he’s proved it.’

‘How is that? What’s he done?’

‘Well, I don’t really understand it,’ said Ogilvie, ‘but it seems that Ashton has done for genetics what Einstein did for physics. He studied genctics from a mathematical point of view, and has shown that genetics has a mathematical basis. He’s been able to show what genetic arrangements are possible or not possible, without depending on laboratory experiments for each arrangement. It’s quite fantastic.’

‘That should make Professor Lumsden happy,’ I said.

‘He doesn’t know,’ said Ogilvie. The information is still secret.’

‘Why?’

‘The Minister thinks that there are good reasons for keeping it secret, at least for a while. We have to study how useful the information could be.’

I felt disgusted. The Minister was another Cregar. He had found a piece of important information and that gave him power as long as it was secret. He was going to hold on to it. I began to realize why Ashton had hidden his ideas; it was to keep them away from men like Cregar and the Minister.

Ogilvie went on. ‘When you’ve fully recovered and get back to work, I’ve got a new job for you. I want to prepare you for Kerr’s job. He’s going to retire in two years, and you’re the right man for the job.’

Kerr was number two to Ogilvie in the Department.

‘When I retire in seven years’ time,’ Ogilvie continued, ‘you could be head of the Department.’

‘Get lost!’ I said bluntly, ‘I don’t want the job.’

Ogilvie was shocked. ‘What did you say? What’s got into you, Malcolm?’

‘You weren’t interested in what was right or wrong. You were going to do a deal with Cregar. He told me he had come to an agreement with you. I was shocked. Cregar called me an honest man - but to Cregar that isn’t a good thing. It just meant he didn’t know how to buy me. He could buy everyone else so that they would do what he said - even you! That’s why I don’t want your job. I might become like you. How could an honest man do what we did to George Ashton?’

‘Malcolm, I don’t think that you’re being sensible about this,’ he replied angrily.

‘I’m a human being. I try to be honest, and I want to stay that way. Your job would destroy that part of me.’

Ogilvie went away very unhappy.

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