Continued from Part III.
“Yes, cancer,” the Magistrate repeated. “Something twists in the mind of someone not properly engaged with society. They begin thinking along the wrong tangents, having misguided ideas, which then spread throughout society, like tumours, affecting healthy function. The Liberites imagine they know a better way, but how could they know? They don’t have all the information. They don’t know everything we know. How can you make a successful prognosis if something has been missed out?” He jumped to his feet suddenly, and began striding around the room, emphasising with his heels. “You want to denounce, Mrs. Hobson? Go ahead! Do you have all the facts? Do you know all the circumstances? Pick some poor figure and lay waste to their efforts, their work, their reputation. Tear them to shreds. But explain to me how that benefits society. How that keeps the elements under control, how that benefits the body as a whole. Explain. In the words of your father, how does that heal us all?”
Red was rising into her cheeks, the cool demeanour ebbing away to be replaced with anger and indignation. She sat up straighter, eyes glaring.
“My father never healed himself,” she shouted. “For all his platitudes and grandstanding he got still sick, terribly so, and died painfully. He had the best care money could buy, they scanned and tested and plied him with drugs. He still died, after a long, miserable year. That’s medicine. Cures can be as bad as the disease,” she hissed. “Medicine can prolong life but also prolong suffering. Knowledge isn’t enough. You, Magistrate, are not enough. We need humanity. We need compassion. We need wisdom.”
Silence fell. The Magistrate stood, unmoving, reeling from the impact of her ferocity. She looked scared now, for the first time. Not scared of him, he realised. Scared of herself, perhaps. She had discovered something in the heat of the moment.
“Is that enough?” he called through the door. “Are you satisfied?”
The door opened and Arthur Hobson walked through. He embraced his wife, who trembled at the unexpected sight. The actor playing the Magistrate backed away, undoing the jacket of his fake uniform, eager to escape its unwelcome symbolism.
“I’m sorry to have put you through that,” said Arthur to his wife. “I had to be sure about you. Welcome to the Liberites.”