Dr, Sloane said, with casual suddenness, ‘Would you like to take a walk with me, Richard?’

The boy’s eyes widened and he stopped wriggling. He looked directly at Dr. Sloane. ‘A walk, sir?’

‘I mean, outside.’

‘Do you go – outside?’

‘Sometimes. When I feel like it.’

Richard was on his feet, holding down a squirming eagerness. ‘I didn’t think anyone did.’

‘I do. And I like company.’

The boy sat down, uncertainly. ‘Mom?–’

Mrs. Hanshaw had stiffened in her seat, her compressed lips radiating horror, but she managed to say, ‘Why certainly Dickie. But watch yourself.’

And she managed a quick and baleful glare at Dr. Sloane.

In one respect, Dr. Sloane had lied. He did not go outside ‘sometimes’. He hadn’t been in the open since early college days. […]

So there was a crawling sensation about his skin when he felt wind touch it, and he put down his flexied shoes on bare grass with a gingerly movement.

Look at these flowers. They are the kind that smell.

‘Won’t he ever be normal again?’

Dr. Sloane rose to his feet. ‘Mrs. Hanshaw, he’s as normal as need be right now. Right now, he’s tasting the joys of the forbidden. If you co-operate with him, show that you don’t disapprove, it will lose some of its attraction right there. Then, as he grows older, he will become more aware of the expectations and demands of society. He will learn to conform. After all, there is a little of the rebel in all of us, but it generally dies down as we grow old and tired. Unless, that is, it is unreasonably suppressed and allowed to build up pressure. Don’t do that. Richard will be all right.

He walked to the Door.

Mrs Hanshaw said, ‘And you don’t think a probe will be necessary, doctor?’

He turned and said vehemently, ‘No, definitely not! There is nothing about the boy that requires it. Understand? Nothing.’

His fingers hesitated an inch from the combination board and the expression on his face grew lowering.

‘What’s the matter, Dr. Sloane?’ asked Mrs. Hanshaw.

But he didn’t hear her because he was thinking of the Door and the psychic probe and all the rising, choking tide of machinery. There is a little of the rebel in all of us, he thought.

So he said in a soft voice, as his hand fell away from the board and his feet turned away from the Door, ‘You know, it’s such a beautiful day that I think I’ll walk.;