3. In the third exercise, we saw that John and Maty had decided to go to Worthing.
" What station do we leave from?" asked John.
"Waterloo," answered Mary promptly. "If we hurry, we should get a train at about two thirty. If we should be late for that, we could get one about half an hour later."
" If you would decide beforehand what we are going to do over the week-end, and avoid this last-minute rush." said John, " we might have some chance of getting somewhere sometime."
Arrived at Waterloo Station, Mary made her way to the inquiry-office. "Could you tell me what platform the trains leave for Worthing from? " she asked.
" I might, if this were Victoria Station," answered the clerk with a grin. "You might try going there."
" Well now! I must have been mistaken," cried Mary gaily, turning to John. " What do you think of that?"
" If I were to say what I thought," growled John, " this building would go up in flames."
" Oh, well," said Maty cheerfully, " anybody might make a mistake. You might have made sure yourself before we started, instead of leaving it all to me."
" But what shall we do? " persisted John. " If we went to Victoria at once, we might get a train to arrive in Worthing somewhere before four. But the afternoon would be half over. Couldn't we get a train for some place from this station? We might try Salisbury, where you were born. I wish we had some kind of hiker's guide-book."
" Ask at that bookstall over there," suggested Mary. " And if they have one, buy it."
" Would you mind showing me some kind of hiker's guide ? " said John; at the bookstall.
" Certainly, sir," said the assistant. " Might I suggest this one ? "
" Could I have a look at it first ? " said John, and examined it.
" I wish you would consult me before paying for things," said Mary, on looking John's purchase over. " If you did, you might buy the wrong thing less often. This one has nothing about camping-grounds."
" Might I suggest," remarked John, " that Saturday afternoon is hardly the best time to buy books of the kind anyway ? Even if we should find one, it would be too late to make any use of it."
Mary stood stock-still in the middle of the station. "I want a proper guide-book!" she wailed. "You would get the wrong one You might try and please me just for once. If you were really a loving husband, you would. You have been behaving like a bear all afternoon. If you don't stop, I'll scream "
And she looked as if she would, too. John cast an uneasy glance around at the passers-by, who were eyeing "the pair curiously. " Come on," he said urgently. " If you go on like that, we will never get anywhere. Let's go to Victoria, by all means, and see if there is a train. Though we should have been in Worthing by now, if you had not made the silly mistake of bringing us here first."
" If you were as clever as you think you are, you wouldn't have let me make it." retorted Mary.
" Look here, if we go into all that again, we shall be here all night," answered John impatiently. " Let's go."
They got into a train at a quarter past three, and had to take seats separately, at opposite ends of the coach, the train was so crowded. John reflected that it might have been worse, for he required time to cool down. He found himself sitting with a married couple and their child, and got into conversation with them.
" Might I ask you," he said to the man, " if your wife likes hiking ? "
" If she does," replied the man, " she's kept the secret pretty well. You might ask her, though."
" If I did," replied the lady, with a placid smile, " it wouldn't make much difference, anyway. It would take a good deal to move my husband out of his garden over a week-end."
" Lucky husband ! " said John.
4. If you should happen to meet a seer who could look into the future as well as into the past, you might let me know. If / had ever met such a person, / should have asked him to drop in and have a chat, long ago. For there are so many interesting questions that / could have asked him. For it seems to me that many of the events which have so influenced modern life might not have taken place, and that many of the advantages we now enjoy could never have been ours, had not certain men lived 'in certain countries at certain dates. For instance, unless there are financial or personal reasons to slop me, / can go to America if I want to. Do I owe this to Columbus and Isabella of Castile, or should I have been able to go even if these people had never seen the light? Again, it would be interesting to know what would have happened to Asia Minor and North Africa if Mahomed had never been born ; and whether the Greek Empire might have recovered from the decline that had set in or whether some other power would have hurried it on to its ruin and destruction.
If Luther had been a Dominican instead of an Augustinian, what a difference it might have made. The flower of the Renaissance need not have withered so soon in northern Europe ; Kant's philosophy might have taken a different direction ; Henry the Eighth might not have repudiated his first wife; and English thought might perhaps have been a little more logical. But in that case, we should not have had the charming destructiveness of Bernard Shaw, or the wild and beautiful expression of Shelly's spiritual hunger.
If we had not taken Western ideas to Japan, need we have been worrying to-day about her expansion in the Far East ? Dared she have undertaken the Chinese adventure, if England and the U.S.A. had put, their foot down firmly in the beginning ?
Would I have had a vote to-day, if Rousseau had not written his " Social Contract," and if Voltaire hadnot blazed up in a white flame of anger at the injustices of his epoch ?
As for the Great War, could the Allies have been .successful, if Gettysburg had been lost instead of gained by the forces of the North ?
Who knows . . .? There are so many "ifs" in life!
B. THE USE OF THE CONDITIONAL SENTENCES
38. In a simple statement of cause and effect (par. 66), the verb which expresses the condition is either of the same tense as the verb that expresses the result, or one of the verbs is in the present tense, and the other is in the present perfect.
E.g.: If you mix glycerine with potassium permanganate, you get spontaneous combustion. If you live in London, you have learnt what fog is. If you have lived in Madrid, you know the Puerto del Sol. If one lived in London during the war, one had to do without many luxuries. If you have been in Rome, you have probably seen St. Peter's.
39. Where the possibility of fulfilling the condition is entertained, we express the residt by means of "shall" or " will", or by means of the imperative, or by means of any other suitable anomalous finite in the present tense. The condition can be expressed by means of any ordinary verb in the present tense.
E.g.: If I drink wine with my lunch to-day, / shall feel uncomfortable all afternoon. If you break your