For what seems an eternity, Barry falls through the dark. And then he lands with a thump next to his car somewhere in North Rompshire. The fog has thinned, and the first rays of the sun turn the dewy bracken from dull green to gold.
His feet are muddy, and the dampness is soaking into his cold body. He puts the key in the ignition. The car won’t start. Fortunately, the Alvis is facing slightly downhill. He gets out again and pushes the car down the hill. He runs alongside for an instant and then leaps into the driver’s seat as the car gathers speed, lets out the clutch, and the engine comes to life.
Barry turns on the heater. It works! It hasn’t occurred to him to think about where he’s going until now. And then it hits him: Ms. Pettigrew’s. He was supposed to be there for dinner. He has no idea what day it is. He must call her. But he has no phone. That’s not unusual in Rompshire, where most people think nothing is so urgent that it can’t wait a day or two.
Barry turns on the radio and rotates the dial. Static, bangs, pops, hisses, scraps of music, unintelligible voices, and then:
“And there will be a lot more rain in Great Sodden tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Ted Rix at the weather center. This is Radio North Rompshire.”
The weather center is a room in Ted Rix’s house. From an upstairs window, Ted looks out at the hills some 15 miles to the west. If he can see the hills, he can say with high probability that it will rain. If he can’t see the hills, it’s raining.
“And now: The new vicar at Sodden Church of the Slow Way has agreed to come into the studio to answer questions. Why did you accept the job, Your Slowness?“
“Well, to tell the truth, it’s the hours, really. How many people get to work a one-day week?”
“I see… When you accepted the position did you know about the recent spate of hastiness?”
“Well, only slightly. I have yet to look into it, but you can’t always get a lot done working the one day.”
“Thank you, Your Slowness. Now, Gladys Babbitt wants to know what the new vicar thinks of the church.”
“Superb seating! Very comfortable for lying down. Thought and care went into creating a comfortable place of stillness.“
“How wonderfully positive…”
Barry turns the radio off and concentrates on his driving. The road twists and turns. At last, he finds his way to the North Rompshire School of Manners. He parks and goes in.