Saturday, November 10, 2007


When the Sleeper Wakes by H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

When the Sleeper Wakes
by H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
One afternoon, at low water, Mr. Isbister, a young
artist lodging at Boscastle, walked from that place to
the picturesque cove of Pentargen, desiring to examine
the caves there. Halfway down the precipitous path
to the Pentargen beach he came suddenly upon a man
sitting in an attitude of profound distress beneath
a projecting mass of rock. The hands of this man
hung limply over his knees, his eyes were red and
staring before him, and his face was wet with tears.
He glanced round at Isbister's footfall. Both men
were disconcerted, Isbister the more so, and, to
override the awkwardness of his involuntary pause, he
remarked, with an air of mature conviction, that the
weather was hot for the time of year.
"Very," answered the stranger shortly, hesitated a
second, and added in a colourless tone, "I can't sleep."
Isbister stopped abruptly. "No?" was all he said,
but his bearing conveyed his helpful impulse.
"It may sound incredible," said the stranger, turning
weary eyes to Isbister's face and emphasizing his
words with a languid hand, "but I have had no sleep
--- no sleep at all for six nights."
"Had advice?"
"Yes. Bad advice for the most part. Drugs. My
nervous system... . They are all very well for
the run of people. It's hard to explain. I dare not
take . . . sufficiently powerful drugs."
"That makes it difficult," said Isbister.
He stood helplessly in the narrow path, perplexed
what to do. Clearly the man wanted to talk. An idea
natural enough under the circumstances, prompted
him to keep the conversation going. "I've never suffered
from sleeplessness myself," he said in a tone of
commonplace gossip, "but in those cases I have
known, people have usually found something--"
"I dare make no experiments."
He spoke wearily. He gave a gesture of rejection,
and for a space both men were silent.
"Exercise?" suggested Isbister diffidently, with a
glance from his interlocutor's face of wretchedness to
the touring costume he wore.
"That is what I have tried. Unwisely perhaps. I
have followed the coast, day after day--from New
Quay. It has only added muscular fatigue to the mental.
The cause of this unrest was overwork-- trouble.
There was something--"
He stopped as if from sheer fatigue. He rubbed his
forehead with a lean hand. He resumed speech like
one who talks to himself.
"I am a lone wolf, a solitary man, wandering
through a world in which I have no part. I am wifeless--
childless--who is it speaks of the childless as
the dead twigs on the tree of life? I am wifeless,
I childless--I could find no duty to do. No desire
even in my heart. One thing at last I set myself to do.
"I said, I will do this, and to do it, to overcome
the inertia of this dull body, I resorted to drugs. Great
God, I've had enough of drugs! I don't know if __you__
feel the heavy inconvenience of the body, its
exasperating demand of time from the mind--time--
life! Live! We only live in patches. We have
to eat, and then comes the dull digestive complacencies--
or irritations. We have to take the air or else
our thoughts grow sluggish, stupid, run into gulfs
and blind alleys. A thousand distractions arise from
within and without, and then comes drowsiness and
sleep. Men seem to live for sleep. How little of a
man's day is his own--even at the best! And then
come those false friends, those Thug helpers, the
alkaloids that stifle natural fatigue and kill rest--
black coffee, cocaine--"
"I see," said Isbister.
"I did my work," said the sleepless man with a
querulous intonation.
"And this is the price? "
For a little while the two remained without speaking.
"You cannot imagine the craving for rest that I
feel--a hunger and thirst. For six long days, since
my work was done, my mind has been a whirlpool,
swift, unprogressive and incessant, a torrent of
thoughts leading nowhere, spinning round swift and
He paused. "Towards the gulf."
"You must sleep," said Isbister decisively, and
with an air of a remedy discovered. "Certainly you
must sleep."
"My mind is perfectly lucid. It was never clearer.
But I know I am drawing towards the vortex.
"You have seen things go down an eddy? Out of
the light of the day, out of this sweet world of sanity--
"But," expostulated Isbister.
The man threw out a hand towards him, and his
eyes were wild, and his voice suddenly high. "I shall
kill myself. If in no other way--at the foot of yonder
dark precipice there, where the waves are green,
and the white surge lifts and falls, and that little
thread of water trembles down. There at any rate is
. . . sleep."
" That's unreasonable," said Isbister, startled at the
man's hysterical gust of emotion. "Drugs are better
than that."
" There at any rate is sleep," repeated the stranger,
not heeding him.
Isbister looked at him and wondered transitorily if
some complex Providence had indeed brought them
together that afternoon. "It's not a cert, you know,"
he remarked. " There's a cliff like that at Lulworth
Cove--as high, anyhow--and a little girl fell from
top to bottom. And lives to-day--sound and well."
"But those rocks there? "
"One might lie on them rather dismally through a
cold night, broken bones grating as one shivered, chill
water splashing over you. Eh? "
Their eyes met. "Sorry to upset your ideals," said
Isbister with a sense of devil-may-careish brilliance.
"But a suicide over that cliff (or any cliff for the matter
of that), really, as an artist--" He laughed.
"It's so damned amateurish."
"But the other thing," said the sleepless man irritably,
"the other thing. No man can keep sane if
night after night--"
"Have you been walking along this coast alone? "
"Silly sort of thing to do. If you'll excuse my
saying so. Alone! As you say; body fag is no cure
for brain fag. Who told you to? No wonder;
walking! And the sun on your head, heat, fag, solitude,
all the day long, and then, I suppose, you go to
bed and try very hard--eh?"
Isbister stopped short and looked at the sufferer
"Look at these rocks!" cried the seated man with
a sudden force of gesture. "Look at that sea that
has shone and quivered there for ever! See the white
spume rush into darkness under that great cliff. And
this blue vault, with the blinding sun pouring from
the dome of it. It is your world. You accept it, you
rejoice in it. It warms and supports and delights you.
And for me--"
He turned his head and showed a ghastly face,
bloodshot pallid eyes and bloodless lips. He spoke
almost in a whisper. "It is the garment of my misery.
The whole world . . . is the garment of
my misery."
Isbister looked at all the wild beauty of the sunlit
cliffs about them and back to that face of despair
For a moment he was silent.
He started, and made a gesture of impatient rejection.
"You get a night's sleep," he said, "and you
won't see much misery out here. Take my word
for it."
He was quite sure now that this was a providential
encounter. Only half an hour ago he had been feeling
horribly bored. Here was employment the bare
thought of which was righteous self-applause. He
took possession forthwith. It seemed to him that the
first need of this exhausted being was companionship
He flung himself down on the steeply sloping turf
beside the motionless seated figure, and deployed
forthwith into a skirmishing line of gossip.
His hearer seemed to have lapsed into apathy;
he stared dismally seaward, and spoke only in answer
to Isbister's direct questions--and not to all of those
But he made no sign of objection to this benevolent
intrusion upon his despair.
In a helpless way he seemed even grateful, and
when presently Isbister, feeling that his unsupported
talk was losing vigour, suggested that they should
reascend the steep and return towards Boscastle,
alleging the view into Blackapit, he submitted quietly.
Halfway up he began talking to himself, and abruptly
turned a ghastly face on his helper. "What can be
happening?" he asked with a gaunt illustrative hand.
"What can be happening? Spin, spin, spin, spin. It
goes round and round, round and round for evermore."
He stood with his hand circling
"It's all right, old chap," said Isbister with the air
of an old friend. "Don't worry yourself. Trust to
The man dropped his hand and turned again. They
went over the brow in single file and to the headland
beyond Penally, with the sleepless man gesticulating
ever and again, and speaking fragmentary things
concerning his whirling brain. At the headland they
stood for a space by the seat that looks into the dark
mysteries of Blackapit, and then he sat down. Isbister
had resumed his talk whenever the path had widened
sufficiently for them to walk abreast. He was enlarging
upon the complex difficulty of making Boscastle
Harbour in bad weather, when suddenly and quite
irrelevantly his companion interrupted him again.
"My head is not like what it was," he said, gesticulating
for want of expressive phrases. "It's not like
what it was. There is a sort of oppression, a weight.
No--not drowsiness, would God it were! It is like
a shadow, a deep shadow falling suddenly and swiftly
across something busy. Spin, spin into the darkness
The tumult of thought, the confusion, the eddy and
eddy. I can't express it. I can hardly keep my mind
on it--steadily enough to tell you."
He stopped feebly.
" Don't trouble, old chap," said Isbister. "I think
I can understand. At any rate, it don't matter very
much just at present about telling me, you know."
The sleepless man thrust his knuckles into his eyes
and rubbed them. Isbister talked for awhile while
this rubbing continued, and then he had a fresh idea.
"Come down to my room," he said, "and try a pipe.
I can show you some sketches of this Blackapit. If
you'd care? "
The other rose obediently and followed him down
the steep.
Several times Isbister heard him stumble as they
came down, and his movements were slow and hesitating.
"Come in with me," said Isbister, "and try
some cigarettes and the blessed gift of alcohol. If
you take alcohol?"
The stranger hesitated at the garden gate. He
seemed no longer clearly aware of his actions. "I
don't drink," he said slowly, coming up the garden
path, and after a moment's interval repeated absently,
"No--I don't drink. It goes round. Spin, it goes
He stumbled at the doorstep and entered the room
with the bearing of one who sees nothing.
Then he sat down abruptly and heavily in the easy
chair, seemed almost to fall into it. He leant forward
with his brows on his hands and became motionless.
Presently he made a faint sound in his throat.
Isbister moved about the room with the nervousness
of an inexperienced host, making little remarks that
scarcely required answering. He crossed the room
to his portfolio, placed it on the table and noticed
the mantel clock.
"I don't know if you'd care to have supper with
me," he said with an unlighted cigarette in his hand--
his mind troubled with a design of the furtive administration
of chloral. "Only cold mutton, you know,
but passing sweet. Welsh. And a tart, I believe."
He repeated this after momentary silence.
The seated man made no answer. Isbister stopped,
match in hand, regarding him.
The stillness lengthened. The match went out, the
cigarette was put down unlit. The man was certainly
very still. Isbister took up the portfolio, opened it,
put it down, hesitated, seemed about to speak.
"Perhaps," he whispered doubtfully. Presently he
glanced at the door and back to the figure. Then he
stole on tiptoe out of the room, glancing at his
companion after each elaborate pace.
He closed the door noiselessly. The house door
was standing open, and he went out beyond the porch,
and stood where the monkshood rose at the corner
of the garden bed. From this point he could see the
stranger through the open window, still and dim,
sitting head on hand. He had not moved.
A number of children going along the road stopped
and regarded the artist curiously. A boatman exchanged
civilities with him. He felt that possibly his
circumspect attitude and position seemed peculiar and
unaccountable. Smoking, perhaps, might seem more
natural. He drew pipe and pouch from his pocket,
filled the pipe slowly.
"I wonder," . . . he said, with a scarcely perceptible
loss of complacency. " At any rate we must
give him a chance." He struck a match in the virile
way, and proceeded to light his pipe.
Presently he heard his landlady behind him, coming
with his lamp lit from the kitchen. He turned,
gesticulating with his pipe, and stopped her at the door
of his sitting-room. He had some difficulty in
explaining the situation in whispers, for she did not
know he had a visitor. She retreated again with the
lamp, still a little mystified to judge from her manner,
and he resumed his hovering at the corner of the
porch, flushed and less at his ease.
Long after he had smoked out his pipe, and when
the bats were abroad, his curiosity dominated his
complex hesitations, and he stole back into his
darkling sitting-room. He paused in the doorway. The
stranger was still in the same attitude, dark against
the window. Save for the singing of some sailors
aboard one of the little slate-carrying ships in the
harbour, the evening was very still. Outside, the spikes
of monkshood and delphinium stood erect and motionless
against the shadow of the hillside. Something
flashed into Isbister's mind; he started, and leaning
over the table, listened. An unpleasant suspicion
grew stronger; became conviction. Astonishment
seized him and became--dread!
No sound of breathing came from the seated figure!
He crept slowly and noiselessly round the table,
pausing twice to listen. At last he could lay his hand
on the back of the armchair. He bent down until the
two heads were ear to ear.
Then he bent still lower to look up at his visitor's
face. He started violently and uttered an exclamation.
The eyes were void spaces of white.
He looked again and saw that they were open and
with the pupils rolled under the lids. He was
suddenly afraid. Overcome by the strangeness of the
man's condition, he took him by the shoulder and
shook him. "Are you asleep?" he said, with his voice
jumping into alto, and again, "Are you asleep?"
A conviction took possession of his mind that this
man was dead. He suddenly became active and
noisy, strode across the room, blundering against the
table as he did so, and rang the bell.
"Please bring a light at once," he said in the passage.
"There is something wrong with my friend."
Then he returned to the motionless seated figure,
grasped the shoulder, shook it, and shouted. The
room was flooded with yellow glare as his astonished
landlady entered with the light. His face was white
as he turned blinking towards her. "I must fetch
a doctor at once," he said. "It is either death or a
fit. Is there a doctor in the village? Where is a
doctor to be found? "
The state of cataleptic rigour into which this man
had fallen, lasted for an unprecedented length of time,
and then he passed slowly to the flaccid state, to a lax
attitude suggestive of profound repose. Then it was
his eyes could be closed.
He was removed from the hotel to the Boscastle
surgery, and from the surgery, after some weeks, to
London. But he still resisted every attempt at
reanimation. After a time, for reasons that will appear
later, these attempts were discontinued. For a great
space he lay in that strange condition, inert and still
neither dead nor living but, as it were, suspended,
hanging midway between nothingness and existence.
His was a darkness unbroken by a ray of thought or
sensation, a dreamless inanition, a vast space of peace.
The tumult of his mind had swelled and risen to an
abrupt climax of silence. Where was the man?
Where is any man when insensibility takes hold of
"It seems only yesterday," said Isbister. "I
remember it all as though it happened yesterday--
clearer perhaps, than if it had happened yesterday."
It was the Isbister of the last chapter, but he was
no longer a young man. The hair that had been
brown and a trifle in excess of the fashionable length,
was iron grey and clipped close, and the face that had
been pink and white was buff and ruddy. He had a
pointed beard shot with grey. He talked to an elderly
man who wore a summer suit of drill (the summer of
that year was unusually hot). This was Warming, a
London solicitor and next of kin to Graham, the man
who had fallen into the trance. And the two men
stood side by side in a room in a house in London
regarding his recumbent figure.
It was a yellow figure Iying lax upon a water-bed
and clad in a flowing shirt, a figure with a shrunken
face and a stubby beard, lean limbs and lank nails, and
about it was a case of thin glass. This glass seemed
to mark off the sleeper from the reality of life about
him, he was a thing apart, a strange, isolated abnormality.
The two men stood close to the glass,
peering in.
"The thing gave me a shock," said Isbister "I
feel a queer sort of surprise even now when I think of
his white eyes. They were white, you know, rolled
up. Coming here again brings it all back to me.
"Have you never seen him since that time? " asked
"Often wanted to come," said Isbister; "but business
nowadays is too serious a thing for much holiday
keeping. I've been in America most of the time."
"If I remember rightly," said Warming, "you were
an artist?"
"Was. And then I became a married man. I saw
it was all up with black and white, very soon--at
least for a mediocre man, and I jumped on to process.
Those posters on the Cliffs at Dover are by my
"Good posters," admitted the solicitor, "though I |
was sorry to see them there." I
"Last as long as the cliffs, if necessary," exclaimed
Isbister with satisfaction. " The world changes.
When he fell asleep, twenty years ago, I was down
at Boscastle with a box of water-colours and a noble,
old-fashioned ambition. I didn't expect that some
day my pigments would glorify the whole blessed coast
of England, from Land's End round again to the Lizard.
Luck comes to a man very often when he's not
Warming seemed to doubt the quality of the luck.
" I just missed seeing you, if I recollect aright."
"You came back by the trap that took me to Camelford
railway station. It was close on the Jubilee,
Victoria's Jubilee, because I remember the seats and flags
in Westminster, and the row with the cabman at
"The Diamond Jubilee, it was," said Warming;
"the second one."
"Ah, yes ! At the proper Jubilee--the Fifty Year
affair--I was down at Wookey--a boy. I missed
all that. . . . What a fuss we had with him! My
landlady wouldn't take him in, wouldn't let him stay--
he looked so queer when he was rigid. We had to
carry him in a chair up to the hotel. And the
Boscastle doctor--it wasn't the present chap, but the
G.P. before him--was at him until nearly two, with,
me and the landlord holding lights and so forth."
"It was a cataleptic rigour at first, wasn't it?"
"Stiff!--wherever you bent him he stuck. You
might have stood him on his head and he'd have
stopped. I never saw such stiffness. Of course this"
--he indicated the prostrate figure by a movement of
his head--" is quite different. And, of course, the
little doctor--what was his name?"
"Smithers? "
"Smithers it was--was quite wrong in trying to
fetch him round too soon, according to all accounts.
The things he did. Even now it makes me feel all--
ugh! Mustard, snuff, pricking. And one of those
beastly little things, not dynamos--"
"Induction coils."
"Yes. You could see his muscles throb and jump,
and he twisted about. There was just two flaring
yellow candles, and all the shadows were shivering,
and the little doctor nervous and putting on side, and
him--stark and squirming in the most unnatural
ways. Well, it made me dream."
"It's a strange state," said Warming.
" It's a sort of complete absence," said Isbister.
"Here's the body, empty. Not dead a bit, and yet
not alive. It's like a seat vacant and marked 'engaged.'
No feeling, no digestion, no beating of the
heart--not a flutter. __That__ doesn't make me feel as
if there was a man present. In a sense it's more dead
than death, for these doctors tell me that even the hair
has stopped growing. Now with the proper dead, the
hair will go on growing--"
"I know," said Warming, with a flash of pain in
his expression.
They peered through the glass again. Graham was
indeed in a strange state, in the flaccid phase of a
trance, but a trance unprecedented in medical history.
Trances had lasted for as much as a year before
--but at the end of that time it had ever been
waking or a death; sometimes first one and then the
other. Isbister noted the marks the physicians had
made in injecting nourishment, for that device had
been resorted to to postpone collapse; he pointed them
out to Warming, who had been trying not to see them.
"And while he has been Iying here," said Isbister,
with the zest of a life freely spent, " I have changed my
plans in life; married, raised a family, my eldest lad--
I hadn't begun to think of sons then--is an American
citizen, and looking forward to leaving Harvard.
There's a touch of grey in my hair. And this man,
not a day older nor wiser (practically) than I was in
my downy days. It's curious to think of."
Warming turned. "And I have grown old too. I
played cricket with him when I was still only a lad.
And he looks a young man still. Yellow perhaps.
But that is a young man nevertheless."
"And there's been the War," said Isbister.
"From beginning to end."
"And these Martians."
"I've understood," said Isbister after a pause, "that
he had some moderate property of his own?"
"That is so," said Warming. He coughed primly.
"As it happens-- have charge of it."
" Ah!" Isbister thought, hesitated and spoke:
"No doubt--his keep here is not expensive--no
doubt it will have improved--accumulated?"
"It has. He will wake up very much better off--
if he wakes--than when he slept."
"As a business man," said Isbister, "that thought
has naturally been in my mind. I have, indeed,
sometimes thought that, speaking commercially, of course,
this sleep may be a very good thing for him. That
he knows what he is about, so to speak, in being
insensible so long. If he had lived straight on--"
"I doubt if he would have premeditated as much,"
said Warming. "He was not a far-sighted man. In
"We differed on that point. I stood to him somewhat
in the relation of a guardian. You have probably
seen enough of affairs to recognise that
occasionally a certain friction--. But even if that was the
case, there is a doubt whether he will ever wake. This
sleep exhausts slowly, but it exhausts. Apparently
he is sliding slowly, very slowly and tediously, down
a long slope, if you can understand me? "
"It will be a pity to lose his surprise. There's been
a lot of change these twenty years. It's Rip Van
Winkle come real."
"It's Bellamy," said Warming. " There has been
a lot of change certainly. And, among other changes,
I have changed. I am an old man."
Isbister hesitated, and then feigned a belated surprise.
"I shouldn't have thought it."
"I was forty-three when his bankers--you remember
you wired to his bankers--sent on to me."
"I got their address from the cheque book in his
pocket," said Isbister.
"Well, the addition is not difficult," said Warming.
There was another pause, and then Isbister gave
way to an unavoidable curiosity. "He may go on
for years yet," he said, and had a moment of hesitation.
"We have to consider that. His affairs, you
know, may fall some day into the hands of--someone
else, you know."
"That, if you will believe me, Mr. Isbister, is one
of the problems most constantly before my mind. We
happen to be--as a matter of fact, there are no very
trustworthy connections of ours. It is a grotesque
and unprecedented position."
"It is," said Isbister. "As a matter of fact, it's a
case for a public trustee, if only we had such a
"It seems to me it's a case for some public body,
some practically undying guardian. If he really is
going on living--as the doctors, some of them, think.
As a matter of fact, I have gone to one or two public
men about it. But, so far, nothing has been done."
"It wouldn't be a bad idea to hand him over to
some public body--the British Museum Trustees, or
the Royal College of Physicians. Sounds a bit odd,
of course, but the whole situation is odd."
"The difficulty is to induce them to take him."
"Red tape, I suppose? "
Pause. " It's a curious business, certainly," said
Isbister. "And compound interest has a way of
mounting up."
"It has," said Warming. "And now the gold supplies
are running short there is a tendency towards
. . . appreciation."
"I've felt that," said Isbister with a grimace. "But
it makes it better for him."
"If he wakes."
"If he wakes," echoed Isbister. "Do you notice
the pinched-ill look of his nose, and the way in which
his eyelids sink?"
Warming looked and thought for a space. "I doubt
if he will wake," he said at last.
"I never properly understood," said Isbister, "what
it was brought this on. He told me something about
overstudy. I've often been curious."
"He was a man of considerable gifts, but spasmodic,
emotional. He had grave domestic troubles,
divorced his wife, in fact, and it was as a relief from
that, I think, that he took up politics of the rabid sort.
He was a fanatical Radical--a Socialist--or typical
Liberal, as they used to call themselves,-of the advanced
school. Energetic--flighty--undisciplined. Overwork
upon a controversy did this for him. I remember
the pamphlet he wrote--a curious production. Wild,
whirling stuff. There were one or two prophecies.
Some of them are already exploded, some of them are
established facts. But for the most part to read such
a thesis is to realise how full the world is of
unanticipated things. He will have much to learn, much to
unlearn, when he wakes. If ever a waking comes."
"I'd give anything to be there," said Isbister, "just
to hear what he would say to it all."
"So would I," said Warming. "Aye! so would
I," with an old man's sudden turn to self pity. "But
I shall never see him wake."
He stood looking thoughtfully at the waxen figure.
"He will never wake," he said at last. He sighed
"He will never wake again."
But Warming was wrong in that. An awakening
What a wonderfully complex thing! this simple
seeming unity--the self! Who can trace its
reintegration as morning after morning we awaken, the
flux and confluence of its countless factors intenveaving,
rebuilding, the dim first stirrings of the soul, the
growth and synthesis of the unconscious to the
subconscious, the sub-conscious to dawning consciousness,
until at last we recognise ourselves again. And
as it happens to most of us after the night's sleep, so
it was with Graham at the end of his vast slumber.
A dim cloud of sensation taking shape, a cloudy
dreariness, and he found himself vaguely somewhere,
recumbent, faint, but alive.
The pilgrimage towards a personal being seemed to
traverse vast gulfs, to occupy epochs. Gigantic
dreams that were terrible realities at the time, left
vague perplexing memories, strange creatures, strange
scenery, as if from another planet. There was a distinct
impression, too, of a momentous conversation, of
a name--he could not tell what name--that was
subsequently to recur, of some queer long-forgotten
sensation of vein and muscle, of a feeling of vast
hopeless effort, the effort of a man near drowning in
darkness. Then came a panorama of dazzling unstable
confluent scenes.
Graham became aware his eyes were open and regarding
some unfamiliar thing.
It was something white, the edge of something, a
frame of wood. He moved his head slightly, following
the contour of this shape. It went up beyond the
top of his eyes. He tried to think where he might be.
Did it matter, seeing he was so wretched? The colour
of his thoughts was a dark depression. He felt the
featureless misery of one who wakes towards the hour
of dawn. He had an uncertain sense of whispers and
footsteps hastily receding.
The movement of his head involved a perception of
extreme physical weakness. He supposed he was in
bed in the hotel at the place in the valley--but he
could not recall that white edge. He must have slept.
He remembered now that he had wanted to sleep. He
recalled the cliff and waterfall again, and then
recollected something about talking to a passer-by.
How long had he slept? What was that sound of
pattering feet? And that rise and fall, like the
murmur of breakers on pebbles? He put out a languid
hand to reach his watch from the chair whereon it
was his habit to place it, and touched some smooth
hard surface like glass. This was so unexpected that
it startled him extremely. Quite suddenly he rolled
over, stared for a moment, and struggled into a sitting
position. The effort was unexpectedly difficult, and
it left him giddy and weak--and amazed.
He rubbed his eyes. The riddle of his surroundings
was confusing but his mind was quite clear--evidently
his sleep had benefited him. He was not in a
bed at all as he understood the word, but Iying naked
on a very soft and yielding mattress, in a trough of
dark glass. The mattress was partly transparent, a
fact he observed with a strange sense of insecurity, and
below it was a mirror reflecting him greyly. About
his arm--and he saw with a shock that his skin was
strangIy dry and yellow--was bound a curious apparatus
of rubber, bound so cunningly that it seemed
to pass into his skin above and below. And this
strange bed was placed in a case of greenish coloured
glass (as it seemed to him), a bar in the white framework
of which had first arrested his attention. In
the corner of the case was a stand of glittering and
delicately made apparatus, for the most part quite
strange appliances, though a maximum and minimum
thermometer was recognisable.
The slightly greenish tint of the glass-like substance
which surrounded him on every hand obscured what
lay behind, but he perceived it was a vast apartment
of splendid appearance, and with a very large and
simple white archway facing him. Close to the walls
of the cage were articles of furniture, a table covered
with a silvery cloth, silvery like the side of a fish, a
couple of graceful chairs, and on the table a number
of dishes with substances piled on them, a bottle and
two glasses. He realised that he was intensely hungry.
He could see no human being, and after a period
of hesitation scrambled off the translucent mattress
and tried to stand on the clean white floor of his little
apartment. He had miscalculated his strength, however,
and staggered and put his hand against the glasslike
pane before him to steady himself. For a moment
it resisted his hand, bending outward like a distended
bladder, then it broke with a slight report and vanished--a
pricked bubble. He reeled out into the
general space of the hall, greatly astonished. He
caught at the table to save himself, knocking one of
the glasses to the floor--it rang but did not break--
and sat down in one of the armchairs.
When he had a little recovered he filled the remaining
glass from the bottle and drank--a colourless
liquid it was, but not water, with a pleasing faint
aroma and taste and a quality of immediate support
and stimulus. He put down the vessel and looked
about him.
The apartment lost none of its size and magnificence
now that the greenish transparency that had intervened
was removed. The archway he saw led to a
flight of steps, going downward without the
intermediation of a door, to a spacious transverse passage.
This passage ran between polished pillars of some
white-veined substance of deep ultramarine, and along
it came the sound of human movements and voices
and a deep undeviating droning note. He sat, now
fully awake, listening alertly, forgetting the viands in
his attention.
Then with a shock he remembered that he was
naked, and casting about him for covering, saw a long
black robe thrown on one of the chairs beside him.
This he wrapped about him and sat down again,
His mind was still a surging perplexity. Clearly
he had slept. and had been removed in his sleep. But
here? And who were those people, the distant
crowd beyond the deep blue pillars? Boscastle? He
poured out and partially drank another glass of the
colourless fluid.
What was this place?--this place that to his senses
seemed subtly quivering like a thing alive? He looked
about him at the clean and beautiful form of the apartment,
unstained by ornament, and saw that the roof
was broken in one place by a circular shaft full of
light, and, as he looked, a steady, sweeping shadow
blotted it out and passed, and came again and passed.
"Beat, beat," that sweeping shadow had a note of its
own in the subdued tumult that filled the air.
He would have called out, but only a little sound
came into his throat. Then he stood up, and, with
the uncertain steps of a drunkard, made his way
towards the archway. He staggered down the steps,
tripped on the corner of the black cloak he had
wrapped about himself, and saved himself by catching
at one of the blue pillars.
The passage ran down a cool vista of blue and purple,
and ended remotely in a railed space like a balcony,
brightly lit and projecting into a space of haze,
a space like the interior of some gigantic building.
Beyond and remote were vast and vague architectural
forms. The tumult of voices rose now loud and clear,
and on the balcony and with their backs to him,
gesticulating and apparently in animated conversation,
were three figures, richly dressed in loose and easy
garments of bright soft colourings. The noise of a
great multitude of people poured up over the balcony,
and once it seemed the top of a banner passed, and
once some brightly coloured object, a pale blue cap
or garment thrown up into the air perhaps, flashed
athwart the space and fell. The shouts sounded like
English, there was a reiteration of "Wake!" He
heard some indistinct shrill cry, and abruptly the
three men began laughing.
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed one--a red-haired man in
a short purple robe. "When the Sleeper wakes--
He turned his eyes full of merriment along the passage.
His face changed, the whole man changed,
became rigid. The other two turned swiftly at his
exclamation and stood motionless. Their faces
assumed an expression of consternation, an expression
that deepened into awe.
Suddenly Graham's knees bent beneath him, his arm
against the pillar collapsed limply, he staggered
forward and fell upon his face.
Graham's last impression before he fainted was of
a clamorous ringing of bells. He learnt afterwards that
he was insensible, hanging between life and death, for
the better part of an hour. When he recovered his
senses, he was back on his translucent couch, and
there was a stirring warmth at heart and throat. The
dark apparatus, he perceived, had been removed from
his arm, which was bandaged. The white framework
was still about him, but the greenish transparent
substance that had filled it was altogether gone. A man
in a deep violet robe, one of those who had been on
the balcony, was looking keenly into his face.
Remote but insistent was a clamour of bells and
confused sounds, that suggested to his mind the
picture of a great number of people shouting together.
Something seemed to fall across this tumult, a
door suddenly closed.
Graham moved his head. "What does this all
mean?" he said slowly. "Where am I?"
He saw the red-haired man who had been first to
discover him. A voice seemed to be asking what he
had said, and was abruptly stilled.
The man in violet answered in a soft voice, speaking
English with a slightly foreign accent, or so at least
it seemed to the Sleeper's ears, "You are quite safe.
You were brought hither from where you fell asleep.
It is quite safe. You have been here some time--
sleeping. In a trance."
He said something further that Graham could not
hear, and a little phial was handed across to him.
Graham felt a cooling spray, a fragrant mist played
over his forehead for a moment, and his sense of
refreshment increased. He closed his eyes in satisfaction.
" Better?" asked the man in violet, as Graham's
eyes reopened. He was a pleasant-faced man of
thirty, perhaps, with a pointed flaxen beard, and a
clasp of gold at the neck of his violet robe.
"Yes," said Graham.
"You have been asleep some time. In a cataleptic
trance. You have heard? Catalepsy? It may seem
strange to you at first, but I can assure you everything
is well."
Graham did not answer, but these words served
their reassuring purpose. His eyes went from face
to face of the three people about him. They were
regarding him strangely. He knew he ought to be
somewhere in Cornwall, but he could not square these
things with that impression.
A matter that had been in his mind during his last
waking moments at Boscastle recurred, a thing resolved
upon and somehow neglected. He cleared his
"Have you wired my cousin?" he asked. "E.
Warming, 27, Chancery Lane? "
They were all assiduous to hear. But he had to
repeat it. "What an odd __blurr__ in his accent!"
whispered the red-haired man. "Wire, sir?" said the
young man with the flaxen beard, evidently puzzled.
"He means send an electric telegram," volunteered
the third, a pleasant-faced youth of nineteen or twenty.
The flaxen-bearded man gave a cry of comprehension.
"How stupid of me! You may be sure everything
shall be done, sir," he said to Graham. "I am afraid
it would be difficult to--wire to your cousin. He is
not in London now. But don't trouble about arrangements
yet; you have been asleep a very long time and
the important thing is to get over that, sir." (Graham
concluded the word was sir, but this man pronounced
it "Sire.")
"Oh!" said Graham, and became quiet.
It was all very puzzling, but apparently these people
in unfamiliar dress knew what they were about. Yet
they were odd and the room was odd. It seemed he
was in some newly established place. He had a sudden
flash of suspicion. Surely this wasn't some hall
of public exhibition! If it was he would give Warming
a piece of his mind. But it scarcely had that
character. And in a place of public exhibition he
would not have discovered himself naked.
Then suddenly, quite abruptly, he realised what had
happened. There was no perceptible interval of suspicion,
no dawn to his knowledge. Abruptly he
knew that his trance had lasted for a vast interval; as
if by some processes of thought reading he interpreted
the awe in the faces that peered into his. He looked
at them strangely, full of intense emotion. It seemed
they read his eyes. He framed his lips to speak and
could not. A queer impulse to hide his knowledge
came into his mind almost at the moment of his discovery.
He looked at his bare feet, regarding then
silently. His impulse to speak passed. He was
trembling exceedingly.
They gave him some pink fluid with a greenish
fluorescence and a meaty taste, and the assurance of
returning strength grew.
"That--that makes me feel better," he said
hoarsely, and there were murmurs of respectful
approval. He knew now quite clearly. He made to
speak again, and again he could not.
He pressed his throat and tried a third time.
"How long? " he asked in a level voice. "How long
have I been asleep? "
"Some considerable time," said the flaxen-bearded
man, glancing quickly at the others.
"How long? "
"A very long time."
"Yes--yes," said Graham, suddenly testy. "But
I want-- Is it--it is--some years? Many years?
There was something--I forget what. I feel--
confused. But you--" He sobbed. "You need
not fence with me. How long--?"
He stopped, breathing irregularly. He squeezed
his eyes with his knuckles and sat waiting for an
They spoke in undertones.
"Five or six?" he asked faintly. "More?"
"Very much more than that."
"Morel "
He looked at them and it seemed as though imps
were twitching the muscles of his face. He looked
his question.
"Many years," said the man with the red beard.
Graham struggled into a sitting position. He
wiped a rheumy tear from his face with a lean hand.
"Many years!" he repeated. He shut his eyes tight,
opened them, and sat looking about him, from one
unfamiliar thing to another.
"How many years?" he asked.
"You must be prepared to be surprised."
"Well? "
"More than a gross of years."
He was irritated at the strange word." More than
a __what__?"
Two of them spoke together. Some quick remarks
that were made about "decimal" he did not catch.
"How long did you say? " asked Graham. "How
long? Don't look like that. Tell me."
Among the remarks in an undertone, his ear caught
six words: "More than a couple of centuries."
__"Whats?"__ he cried, turning on the youth who he
thought had spoken. "Who says--? What was
that? A couple of centuries!"
"Yes," said the man with the red beard. "Two
hundred years."
Graham repeated the words. He had been prepared
to hear of a vast repose, and yet these concrete
centuries defeated him.
"Two hundred years," he said again, with the figure
of a great gulf opening very slowly in his mind; and
then, "Oh, but--!"
They said nothing.
"You--did you say--? "
"Two hundred years. Two centuries of years,"
said the man with the red beard.
There was a pause. Graham looked at their faces
and saw that what he had heard was indeed true.
"But it can't be," he said querulously. "I am
dreaming. Trances. Trances don't last. That is not
right--this is a joke you have played upon me! Tell
me--some days ago, perhaps, I was walking along
the coast of Cornwall--? "
His voice failed him.
The man with the flaxen beard hesitated. "I'm
not very strong in history, sir," he said weakly, and
glanced at the others.
"That was it, sir," said the youngster. "Boscastle,
in the old Duchy of Cornwall--it's in the southwest
country beyond the dairy meadows. There is a house
there still. I have been there."
"Boscastle!" Graham turned his eyes to the
youngster. "That was it--Boscastle. Little Boscastle.
I fell asleep--somewhere there. I don't
exactly remember. I don't exactly remember."
He pressed his brows and whispered," More than
two hundred years!" I
He began to speak quickly with a twitching face,
but his heart was cold within him. "But if it is two
hundred years, every soul I know, every human being
that ever I saw or spoke to before I went to sleep,
must be dead."
They did not answer him.
"The Queen and the Royal Family, her Ministers,
of Church and State. High and low, rich and poor, one
with another--"
"Is there England still?"
"That's a comfort! Is there London?"
E "This __is__ London, eh? And you are my assistant--
custodian; assistant-custodian. And these--? Eh?
Assistant-custodians to?"
He sat with a gaunt stare on his face. "But why
am I here? No! Don't talk. Be quiet. Let me--"
He sat silent, rubbed his eyes, and, uncovering them,
found another little glass of pinkish fluid held towards
him. He took the dose. It was almost immediately
sustaining. Directly he had taken it he began to weep
naturally and refreshingly.
Presently he looked at their faces, suddenly laughed
through his tears, a little foolishly. "But--two--
hun--dred--years ! " he said. He grimaced hysterically
and covered up his face again.
After a space he grew calm. He sat up, his hands
hanging over his knees in almost precisely the same
attitude in which Isbister had found him on the cliff
at Pentargen. His attention was attracted by a thick
domineering voice, the footsteps of an advancing personage.
"What are you doing? Why was I not
warned? Surely you could tell? Someone will suffer
for this. The man must be kept quiet. Are the
doorways closed? All the doorways? He must be kept
perfectly quiet. He must not be told. Has he been
told anything?"
The man with the fair beard made some inaudible
remark, and Graham looking over his shoulder saw
approaching a very short, fat, and thickset beardless
man, with aquiline nose and heavy neck and chin.
Very thick black and slightly sloping eyebrows that
almost met over his nose and overhung deep grey
eyes, gave his face an oddly formidable expression.
He scowled momentarily at Graham and then his
regard returned to the man with the flaxen beard.
"These others," he said in a voice of extreme
irritation. "You had better go."
"Go? " said the red-bearded man.
"Certainly--go now. But see the doorways are
closed as you go."
The two men addressed turned obediently, after one
reluctant glance at Graham, and instead of going
through the archway as he expected, walked straight
to the dead wall of the apartment opposite the archway.
And then came a strange thing; a long strip
of this apparently solid wall rolled up with a snap,
hung over the two retreating men and fell again, and
immediately Graham was alone with the new comer
and the purple-robed man with the flaxen beard.
For a space the thickset man took not the slightest
notice of Graham, but proceeded to interrogate the
other--obviously his subordinate--upon the treatment
of their charge. He spoke clearly, but in
phrases only partially intelligible to Graham. The
awakening seemed not only a matter of surprise but
of consternation and annoyance to him. He was evidently
profoundly excited.
"You must not confuse his mind by telling him
things," he repeated again and again. "You must not
confuse his mind."
His questions answered, he turned quickly and eyed
the awakened sleeper with an ambiguous expression.
"Feel queer? " he asked.
"The world, what you see of it, seems strange to
you? "
"I suppose I have to live in it, strange as it seems."
"I suppose so, now."
"In the first place, hadn't I better have some
clothes? "
"They--" said the thickset man and stopped, and
the flaxen-bearded man met his eye and went away.
"You will very speedily have clothes," said the thickset
"Is it true indeed, that I have been asleep two
hundred--?" asked Graham.
"They have told you that, have they? Two hundred
and three, as a matter of fact."
Graham accepted the indisputable now with raised
eyebrows and depressed mouth. He sat silent for a
moment, and then asked a question, "Is there a mill
or dynamo near here?" He did not wait for an
answer. "Things have changed tremendously, I
suppose?" he said.
"What is that shouting? " he asked abruptly.
"Nothing," said the thickset man impatiently.
"It's people. You'll understand better later--perhaps.
As you say, things have changed." He spoke
shortly, his brows were knit, and he glanced about
him like a man trying to decide in an emergency.
"We must get you clothes and so forth, at any rate.
Better wait here until some can come. No one will
come near you. You want shaving."
Graham rubbed his chin.
The man with the flaxen beard came back towards
them, turned suddenly, listened for a moment, lifted
his eyebrows at the older man, and hurried off through
the archway towards the balcony. The tumult of
shouting grew louder, and the thickset man turned and
listened also. He cursed suddenly under his breath,
and turned his eyes upon Graham with an unfriendly
expression. It was a surge of many voices, rising and
falling, shouting and screaming, and once came a
sound like blows and sharp cries, and then a snapping
like the crackling of dry sticks. Graham
strained his ears to draw some single thread of sound
from the woven tumult.
Then he perceived, repeated again and again, a
certain formula. For a time he doubted his ears. But
surely these were the words: " how us the Sleeper!
Show us the Sleeper!"
The thickset man rushed suddenly to the archway.
"Wild! " he cried, "How do they know? Do they
know? Or is it guessing? "
There was perhaps an answer.
"I can't come," said the thickset man; "I have __him__
to see to. But shout from the balcony."
There was an inaudible reply.
"Say he is not awake. Anything! I leave it to
He came hurrying back to Graham. "You must
have clothes at once," he said. "You cannot stop
here--and it will be impossible to--"
He rushed away, Graham shouting unanswered
questions after him. In a moment he was back.
"I can't tell you what is happening. It is too complex
to explain. In a moment you shall have your
clothes made. Yes--in a moment. And then I can
take you away from here. You will find out our
troubles soon enough."
"But those voices. They were shouting--?"
"Something about the Sleeper--that's you. They
have some twisted idea. I don't know what it is. I
know nothing."
A shrill bell jetted acutely across the indistinct mingling
of remote noises, and this brusque person sprang
to a little group of appliances in the corner of the
room. He listened for a moment, regarding a ball of
crystal, nodded, and said a few indistinct words; then
he walked to the wall through which the two men had
vanished. It rolled up again like a curtain, and he
stood waiting.
Graham lifted his arm and was astonished to find
what strength the restoratives had given him. He
thrust one leg over the side of the couch and then the
other. His head no longer swam. He could scarcely
credit his rapid recovery. He sat feeling his limbs.
The man with the flaxen beard re-entered from the
archway, and as he did so the cage of a lift came
sliding down in front of the thickset man, and a lean,
grey-bearded man, carrying a roll, and wearing a
tightly-fitting costume of dark green, appeared therein.
"This is the tailor," said the thickset man with an
introductory gesture." It will never do for you to
wear that black. I cannot understand how it got here.
But I shall. I shall. You will be as rapid as possible? "
he said to the tailor.
The man in green bowed, and, advancing, seated
himself by Graham on the bed. His manner was
calm, but his eyes were full of curiosity. "You will
find the fashions altered, Sire," he said. He glanced
from under his brows at the thickset man. ,
He opened the roller with a quick movement, and a
confusion of brilliant fabrics poured out over his knees.
"You lived, Sire, in a period essentially cylindrical--
the Victorian. With a tendency to the hemisphere in
hats. Circular curves always. Now--" He flicked
out a little appliance the size and appearance of a
keyless watch, whirled the knob, and behold--a little
figure in white appeared kinetoscope fashion on the
dial, walking and turning. The tailor caught up a
pattern of bluish white satin. "That is my conception
of your immediate treatment," he said.
The thickset man came and stood by the shoulder
of Graham.
"We have very little time," he said.
"Trust me," said the tailor. "My machine follows.
What do you think of this? "
"What is that?" asked the man from the nineteenth
"In your days they showed you a fashion-plate,"
said the tailor," but this is our modern development
See here." The little figure repeated its evolutions,
but in a different costume. "Or this," and with a
click another small figure in a more voluminous type
of robe marched on to the dial. The tailor was very
quick in his movements, and glanced twice towards
the lift as he did these things.
It rumbled again, and a crop-haired anaemic lad
with features of the Chinese type, clad in coarse
pale blue canvas, appeared together with a complicated
machine, which he pushed noiselessly on
little castors into the room. Incontinently the little
kinetoscope was dropped, Graham was invited to
stand in front of the machine and the tailor
muttered some instructions to the crop-haired lad,
who answered in guttural tones and with words
Graham did not recognise. The boy then went
to conduct an incomprehensible monologue in the
corner, and the tailor pulled out a number of slotted
arms terminating in little discs, pulling them out until
the discs were flat against the body of Graham, one
at each shoulder blade, one at the elbows, one at the
neck and so forth, so that at last there were, perhaps,
two score of them upon his body and limbs. At the
same time, some other person entered the room by the
lift, behind Graham. The tailor set moving a mechanism
that initiated a faint-sounding rhythmic movement
of parts in the machine, and in another moment he was
knocking up the levers and Graham was released. The
tailor replaced his cloak of black, and the man with
the flaxen beard proffered him a little glass of some
refreshing fluid. Graham saw over the rim of the
glass a pale-faced young man regarding him with a
singular fixity.
The thickset man had been pacing the room fretfully,
and now turned and went through the archway
towards the balcony, from which the noise of a distant
crowd still came in gusts and cadences. The cropheaded
lad handed the tailor a roll of the bluish satin
and the two began fixing this in the mechanism in a
manner reminiscent of a roll of paper in a nineteenth
century printing machine. Then they ran the entire
thing on its easy, noiseless bearings across the room
to a remote corner where a twisted cable looped rather
gracefully from the wall. They made some connexion
and the machine became energetic and swift.
"What is that doing?" asked Graham, pointing
with the empty glass to the busy figures and trying
to ignore the scrutiny of the new comer. " Is that--
some sort of force--laid on? "
"Yes," said the man with the flaxen beard.
"Who is that?" He indicated the archway behind
The man in purple stroked his little beard, hesitated,
and answered in an undertone, "He is Howard, your
chief guardian. You see, Sire,--it's a little difficult
to explain. The Council appoints a guardian and
assistants. This hall has under certain restrictions
been public. In order that people might satisfy themselves.
We have barred the doorways for the first
time. But I think--if you don't mind, I will leave
him to explain."
"Odd" said Graham. " Guardian? Council?"
Then turning his back on the new comer, he asked
in an undertone, "Why is this man glaring at me?
Is he a mesmerist? "
"Mesmerist! He is a capillotomist."
"Yes--one of the chief. His yearly fee is sixdoz
It sounded sheer nonsense. Graham snatched at
the last phrase with an unsteady mind. "Sixdoz
lions?" he said.
"Didn't you have lions? I suppose not. You had
the old pounds? They are our monetary units."
"But what was that you said--sixdoz? "
"Yes. Six dozen, Sire. Of course things, even
these little things, have altered. You lived in the days
of the decimal system, the Arab system--tens, and
little hundreds and thousands. We have eleven
numerals now. We have single figures for both ten
and eleven, two figures for a dozen, and a dozen dozen
makes a gross, a great hundred, you know, a dozen
gross a dozand, and a dozand dozand a myriad. Very
"I suppose so," said Graham. "But about this
cap--what was it? "
The man with the flaxen beard glanced over his
"Here are your clothes!" he said. Graham turned
round sharply and saw the tailor standing at his elbow
smiling, and holding some palpably new garments over
his arm. The crop-headed boy, by means of one
finger, was impelling the complicated machine towards
the lift by which he had arrived. Graham stared at
the completed suit. "You don't mean to say--!"
"Just made," said the tailor. He dropped the garments
at the feet of Graham, walked to the bed on
which Graham had so recently been Iying, flung out
the translucent mattress, and turned up the looking
glass. As he did so a furious bell summoned the
thickset man to the corner. The man with the flaxen
beard rushed across to him and then hurried out by
the archway.
The tailor was assisting Graham into a dark purple
combination garment, stockings, vest, and pants in
one, as the thickset man came back from the corner
to meet the man with the flaxen beard returning from
the balcony. They began speaking quickly in an
undertone, their bearing had an unmistakable quality
of anxiety. Over the purple under-garment came a I
complex but graceful garment of bluish white, and I
Graham was clothed in the fashion once more and saw
himself, sallow-faced, unshaven and shaggy still, but
at least naked no longer, and in some indefinable
unprecedented way graceful.
"I must shave," he said regarding himself in the
"In a moment," said Howard.
The persistent stare ceased. The young man closed
his eyes, reopened them, and with a lean hand
extended, advanced on Graham. Then he stopped,
with his hand slowly gesticulating, and looked about
"A seat," said Howard impatiently, and in a moment
the flaxen-bearded man had a chair behind Graham.
"Sit down, please," said Howard.
Graham hesitated, and in the other hand of the wildeyed
man he saw the glint of steel.
"Don't you understand, Sire?" cried the flaxen-bearded
man with hurried politeness. "He is going
to cut your hair."
"Oh!" cried Graham enlightened. "But you
called him--
"A capillotomist--precisely ! He is one of the
finest artists in the world."
Graham sat down abruptly. The flaxen-bearded
man disappeared. The capillotomist came forward
with graceful gestures, examined Graham's ears and
surveyed him, felt the back of his head, and would
have sat down again to regard him but for Howard's
audible impatience. Forthwith with rapid movements
and a succession of deftly handled implements he
shaved Graham's chin, clipped his moustache, and cut
and arranged his hair. All this he did without a word,
with something of the rapt air of a poet inspired. And
as soon as he had finished Graham was handed a pair
of shoes.
Suddenly a loud voice shouted--it seemed from a
piece of machinery in the corner--"At once--at
once. The people know all over the city. Work is
being stopped. Work is being stopped. Wait for
nothing, but come."
This shout appeared to perturb Howard exceedingly.
By his gestures it seemed to Graham that he
hesitated between two directions. Abruptly he went
towards the corner where the apparatus stood about
the little crystal ball. As he did so the undertone of
tumultuous shouting from the archway that had continued
during all these occurrences rose to a mighty
sound, roared as if it were sweeping past, and fell
again as if receding swiftly. It drew Graham after it
with an irresistible attraction. He glanced at the
thickset man, and then obeyed his impulse. In two
strides he was down the steps and in the passage, and,
in a score he was out upon the balcony upon which |
the three men had been standing.
He went to the railings of the balcony and stared
upward. An exclamation of surprise at his appearance,
and the movements of a number of people came
from the spacious area below.
His first impression was of overwhelming architecture.
The place into which he looked was an aisle of
Titanic buildings, curving spaciously in either direction.
Overhead mighty cantilevers sprang together
across the huge width of the place, and a tracery of
translucent material shut out the sky. Gigantic
globes of cool white light shamed the pale sunbeams
that filtered down through the girders and wires.
Here and there a gossamer suspension bridge dotted
with foot passengers flung across the chasm and the
air was webbed with slender cables. A cliff of edifice
hung above him, he perceived as he glanced upward,
and the opposite facade was grey and dim and broken
by great archings, circular perforations, balconies,
buttresses, turret projections, myriads of vast windows,
and an intricate scheme of architectural relief.
Athwart these ran inscriptions horizontally and
obliquely in an unfamiliar lettering. Here and there
close to the roof cables of a peculiar stoutness were
fastened, and drooped in a steep curve to circular
openings on the opposite side of the space, and even
as Graham noted these a remote and tiny figure of a
man clad in pale blue arrested his attention. This little
figure was far overhead across the space beside the
higher fastening of one of these festoons, hanging
forward from a little ledge of masonry and handling some
well-nigh invisible strings dependent from the line.
Then suddenly, with a swoop that sent Graham's heart
into his mouth, this man had rushed down the curve
and vanished through a round opening on the hither
side of the way. Graham had been looking up as he
came out upon the balcony, and the things he saw
above and opposed to him had at first seized his
attention to the exclusion of anything else. Then suddenly
he discovered the roadway! It was not a roadway at
all, as Graham understood such things, for in the
nineteenth century the only roads and streets were
beaten tracks of motionless earth, jostling rivulets of
vehicles between narrow footways. But this roadway
was three hundred feet across, and it moved; it moved,
all save the middle, the lowest part. For a moment,
the motion dazzled his mind. Then he understood.
Under the balcony this extraordinary roadway ran
swiftly to Graham's right, an endless flow rushing
along as fast as a nineteenth century express train, an
endless platform of narrow transverse overlapping
slats with little interspaces that permitted it to follow
the curvatures of the street. Upon it were seats, and
here and there little kiosks, but they swept by too
swiftly for him to see what might be therein. From
this nearest and swiftest platform a series of others
descended to the centre of the space. Each moved to
the right, each perceptibly slower than the one above
it, but the difference in pace was small enough to permit
anyone to step from any platform to the one adjacent,
and so walk uninterruptedly from the swiftest to
the motionless middle way. Beyond this middle way
was another series of endless platforms rushing with
varying pace to Graham's left. And seated in crowds
upon the two widest and swiftest platforms, or stepping
from one to another down the steps, or swarming
over the central space, was an innumerable and
wonderfully diversified multitude of people.
"You must not stop here," shouted Howard suddenly
at his side. "You must come away at once."
Graham made no answer. He heard without hearing.
The platforms ran with a roar and the people
were shouting. He perceived women and girls with
flowing hair, beautifully robed, with bands crossing
between the breasts. These first came out of the
confusion. Then he perceived that the dominant note
in that kaleidoscope of costume was the pale blue that
the tailor's boy had worn. He became aware of cries
of "The Sleeper. What has happened to the Sleeper?"
and it seemed as though the rushing platforms before
him were suddenly spattered with the pale buff of
human faces, and then still more thickly. He saw
pointing fingers. He perceived that the motionless
central area of this huge arcade just opposite to the
balcony was densely crowded with blue-clad people.
Some sort of struggle had sprung into life. People
seemed to be pushed up the running platforms on either
side, and carried away against their will. They would
spring off so soon as they were beyond the thick of
the confusion, and run back towards the conflict.
"It is the Sleeper. Verily it is the Sleeper," shouted
voices. "That is never the Sleeper," shouted
others. More and more faces were turned to him. At
the intervals along this central area Graham noted
openings, pits, apparently the heads of staircases going
down with people ascending out of them and
descending into them. The struggle it seemed centred
about the one of these nearest to him. People were
running down the moving platforms to this, leaping
dexterously from platform to platform. The clustering
people on the higher platforms seemed to divide
their interest between this point and the balcony. A
number of sturdy little figures clad in a uniform of
bright red, and working methodically together, were
employed it seemed in preventing access to this
descending staircase. About them a crowd was rapidly
accumulating. Their brilliant colour contrasted vividly
with the whitish-blue of their antagonists, for the
struggle was indisputable.
He saw these things with Howard shouting in his
ear and shaking his arm. And then suddenly Howard
was gone and he stood alone.
He perceived that the cries of "The Sleeper" grew
in volume, and that the people on the nearer platform
were standing up. The nearer swifter platform he
perceived was empty to the right of him, and far
across the space the platform running in the opposite
direction was coming crowded and passing away bare.
With incredible swiftness a vast crowd had gathered
in the central space before his eyes; a dense swaying
mass of people, and the shouts grew from a fitful crying
to a voluminous incessant clamour: "The Sleeper!"
The Sleeper!" and yells and cheers, a waving of garments
and cries of "Stop the ways!" They were also
crying another name strange to Graham. It sounded
like "Ostrog." The slower platforms were soon thick
with active people, running against the movement so
as to keep themselves opposite to him.
"Stop the ways," they cried. Agile figures ran up
swiftly from the centre to the swift road nearest to him,
were borne rapidly past him, shouting strange,
unintelligible things, and ran back obliquely to the central
way. One thing he distinguished: "It is indeed the
Sleeper. It is indeed the Sleeper," they testified.
For a space Graham stood without a movement.
Then he became vividly aware that all this concerned
him. He was pleased at his wonderful popularity, he
bowed, and, seeking a gesture of longer range, waved
his arm. He was astonished at the violence of uproar
that this provoked. The tumult about the descending
stairway rose to furious violence. He became aware
of crowded balconies, of men sliding along ropes, of
men in trapeze-like seats hurling athwart the space.
He heard voices behind him, a number of people
descending the steps through the archway; he suddenly
perceived that his guardian Howard was back
again and gripping his arm painfully, and shouting
inaudibly in his ear.
He turned, and Howard's face was white. "Come
back," he heard. "They will stop the ways. The
whole city will be in confusion."
He perceived a number of men hurrying along the
passage of blue pillars behind Howard, the red-haired
man, the man with the flaxen beard, a tall man in vivid
vermilion, a crowd of others in red carrying staves, and
all these people had anxious eager faces.
"Get him away," cried Howard.
"But why?" said Graham. "I don't see--"
"You must come away!" said the man in red in a
resolute voice. His face and eyes were resolute, too.
Graham's glances went from face to face, and he was
suddenly aware of that most disagreeable flavour in
life, compulsion. Some one gripped his arm....
He was being dragged away. It seemed as though the
tumult suddenly became two, as if half the shouts that
had come in from this wonderful roadway had sprung
into the passages of the great building behind him.
Marvelling and confused, feeling an impotent desire
to resist, Graham was half led, half thrust, along the
passage of blue pillars, and suddenly he found himself
alone with Howard in a lift and moving swiftly
From the moment when the tailor had bowed his
farewell to the moment when Graham found himself
in the lift, was altogether barely five minutes. And
as yet the haze of his vast interval of sleep hung about
him, as yet the initial strangeness of his being alive
at all in this remote age touched everything with wonder,
with a sense of the irrational, with something of
the quality of a realistic dream. He was still detached,
an astonished spectator, still but half involved in life.
What he had seen, and especially the last crowded
tumult, framed in the setting of the balcony, had a
spectacular turn, like a thing witnessed from the box
of a theatre. "I don't understand," he said. "What
was the trouble? My mind is in a whirl. Why were
they shouting? What is the danger?"
"We have our troubles," said Howard. His eyes
avoided Graham's enquiry. "This is a time of unrest.
And, in fact, your appearance, your waking just now,
has a sort of connexion--"
He spoke jerkily, like a man not quite sure of his
breathing. He stopped abruptly.
"I don't understand," said Graham.
"It will be clearer later," said Howard.
He glanced uneasily upward, as though he found the
progress of the lift slow.
"I shall understand better, no doubt, when I have
seen my way about a little," said Graham puzzled. "It.
will be--it is bound to be perplexing. At present it is
all so strange. Anything seems possible. Anything
In the details even. Your counting, I understand, is
The lift stopped, and they stepped out into a narrow
but very long passage between high walls, along
which ran an extraordinary number of tubes and big
"What a huge place this is!" said Graham. "Is it
all one building? What place is it?"
"This is one of the city ways for various public
services. Light and so forth."
"Was it a social trouble--that--in the great
roadway place? How are you governed? Have you
still a police?"
"Several," said Howard.
"Several? "
"About fourteen."
"I don't understand."
"Very probably not. Our social order will probably
seem very complex to you. To tell you the truth, I
don't understand it myself very clearly. Nobody does.
You will, perhaps--bye and bye. We have to go to
the Council."
Graham's attention was divided between the urgent
necessity of his inquiries and the people in the
passages and halls they were traversing. For a moment
his mind would be concentrated upon Howard and
the halting answers he made, and then he would lose
the thread in response to some vivid unexpected
impression. Along the passages, in the halls, half the
people seemed to be men in the red uniform. The pale
blue canvas that had been so abundant in the aisle of
moving ways did not appear. Invariably these men
looked at him, and saluted him and Howard as they
He had a clear vision of entering a long corridor,
and there were a number of girls sitting on low seats
and as though in a class. He saw no teacher, but only
a novel apparatus from which he fancied a voice proceeded.
The girls regarded him and his conductor, he
thought, with curiosity and astonishment. But he was
hurried on before he could form a clear idea of the
gathering. He judged they knew Howard and not
himself, and that they wondered who he was. This
Howard, it seemed, was a person of importance. But
then he was also merely Graham's guardian. That
was odd.
There came a passage in twilight, and into this passage
a footway hung so that he could see the feet and
ankles of people going to and fro thereon, but no
more of them. Then vague impressions of galleries
and of casual astonished passers-by turning round to
stare after the two of them with their red-clad guard.
The stimulus of the restoratives he had taken was
only temporary. He was speedily fatigued by this
excessive haste. He asked Howard to slacken his
speed. Presently he was in a lift that had a window
upon the great street space, but this was glazed and
did not open, and they were too high for him to see
the moving platforms below. But he saw people going
to and fro along cables and along strange, frail-looking
And thence they passed across the street and at a vast
height above it. They crossed by means of a narrow
bridge closed in with glass, so clear that it made him
giddy even to remember it. The floor of it also was
of glass. From his memory of the cliffs between New
Quay and Boscastle, so remote in time, and so recent
in his experience, it seemed to him that they must be
near four hundred feet above the moving ways. He
stopped, looked down between his legs upon the
swarming blue and red multitudes, minute and foreshortened,
struggling and gesticulating still towards
the little balcony far below, a little toy balcony, it
seemed, where he had so recently been standing. A
thin haze and the glare of the mighty globes of light
obscured everything. A man seated in a little openwork
cradle shot by from some point still higher than
the little narrow bridge, rushing down a cable as
swiftly almost as if he were falling. Graham stopped
involuntarily to watch this strange passenger vanish
in a great circular opening below, and then his eyes
went back to the tumultuous struggle.
Along one of the swifter ways rushed a thick crowd
of red spots. This broke up into individuals as it
approached the balcony, and went pouring down the
slower ways towards the dense struggling crowd on
the central area. These men in red appeared to be
armed with sticks or truncheons; they seemed to be
striking and thrusting. A great shouting, cries of
wrath, screaming, burst out and came up to Graham,
faint and thin. "Go on," cried Howard, laying hands
on him.
Another man rushed down a cable. Graham suddenly
glanced up to see whence he came, and beheld
through the glassy roof and the network of cables and
girders, dim rhythmically passing forms like the vans
of windmills, and between them glimpses of a remote
and pallid sky. Then Howard had thrust him forward
across the bridge, and he was in a little narrow passage
decorated with geometrical patterns.
"I want to see more of that," cried Graham,
"No, no," cried Howard, still gripping his arm.
"This way. You must go this way." And the men in
red following them seemed ready to enforce his orders.
Some negroes in a curious wasp-like uniform of black
and yellow appeared down the passage, and one hastened
to throw up a sliding shutter that had seemed
a door to Graham, and led the way through it.
Graham found himself in a gallery overhanging the
end of a great chamber. The attendant in black and
yellow crossed this, thrust up a second shutter and
stood waiting.
This place had the appearance of an ante-room. He
saw a number of people in the central space, and at
the opposite end a large and imposing doorway at the
top of a flight of steps, heavily curtained but giving a
glimpse of some still larger hall beyond. He perceived
white men in red and other negroes in black and yellow
standing stiffly about those portals.
As they crossed the gallery he heard a whisper from
below, "The Sleeper," and was aware of a turning of
heads, a hum of observation. They entered another
little passage in the wall of this ante-chamber, and
then he found himself on an iron-railed gallery of
metal that passed round the side of the great hall he
had already seen through the curtains. He entered
the place at the corner, so that he received the fullest
impression of its huge proportions. The black in the
wasp uniform stood aside like a well-trained servant,
and closed the valve behind him.
Compared with any of the places Graham had see
thus far, this second hall appeared to be decorate
with extreme richness. On a pedestal at the remote
end, and more brilliantly lit than any other object, was
a gigantic white figure of Atlas, strong and strenuous,
the globe upon his bowed shoulders. It was the first
thing to strike his attention, it was so vast, so patiently
and painfully real, so white and simple. Save for this
figure and for a dais in the centre, the wide floor of the
place was a shining vacancy. The dais was remote
in the greatness of the area; it would have looked a
mere slab of metal had it not been for the group of
seven men who stood about a table on it, and gave an
inkling of its proportions. They were all dressed in
white robes, they seemed to have arisen that moment
from their seats, and they were regarding Graham
steadfastly. At the end of the table he perceived the
glitter of some mechanical appliances.
Howard led him along the end gallery until they
were opposite this mighty labouring figure. Then he
stopped. The two men in red who had followed them
into the gallery came and stood on either hand of
"You must remain here," murmured Howard, "for
a few moments," and, without waiting for a reply,
hurried away along the gallery.
"But, __why?"__ began Graham.
He moved as if to follow Howard, and found his
path obstructed by one of the men in red. "You have
to wait here, Sire," said the man in red.
"Orders, Sire."
"Whose orders? "
"Our orders, Sire."
Graham looked his exasperation.
"What place is this?" he said presently. "Who
are those men? "
"They are the lords of the Council, Sire."
"What Council? "
"__The__ Council."
"Oh!" said Graham, and after an equally ineffectual
attempt at the other man, went to the railing and
stared at the distant men in white, who stood watching
him and whispering together.
The Council? He perceived there were now eight,
though how the newcomer had arrived he had not
observed. They made no gestures of greeting; they
stood regarding him as in the nineteenth century a
group of men might have stood in the street regarding
a distant balloon that had suddenly floated into view.
What council could it be that gathered there, that little
body of men beneath the significant white Atlas,
secluded from every eavesdropper in this impressive
spaciousness? And why should he be brought to
them, and be looked at strangely and spoken of
inaudibly? Howard appeared beneath, walking
quickly across the polished floor towards them. As he
drew near he bowed and performed certain peculiar
movements, apparently of a ceremonious nature.
Then he ascended the steps of the dais, and stood by
the apparatus at the end of the table.
Graham watched that visible inaudible conversation.
Occasionally, one of the white-robed men would
glance towards him. He strained his ears in vain.
The gesticulation of two of the speakers became
animated. He glanced from them to the passive faces of
his attendants. . . . When he looked again Howard
was extending his hands and moving his head like a
man who protests. He was interrupted, it seemed, by
one of the white-robed men rapping the table.
The conversation lasted an interminable time to
Graham's sense. His eyes rose to the still giant at
whose feet the Council sat. Thence they wandered
at last to the walls of the hall. It was decorated in
long painted panels of a quasi-Japanese type, many
of them very beautiful. These panels were grouped
in a great and elaborate framing of dark metal, which
passed into the metallic caryatidae of the galleries, and
the great structural lines of the interior. The facile
grace of these panels enhanced the mighty white effort
that laboured in the centre of the scheme. Graham's
eyes came back to the Council, and Howard was
descending the steps. As he drew nearer his features
could be distinguished, and Graham saw that he was
flushed and blowing out his cheeks. His countenance
was still disturbed when presently he reappeared along
the gallery.
"This way," he said concisely, and they went on in
silence to a little door that opened at their approach.
The two men in red stopped on either side of this door.
Howard and Graham passed in, and Graham, glancing
back, saw the white-robed Council still standing in a
close group and looking at him. Then the door closed
behind him with a heavy thud, and for the first time
since his awakening he was in silence. The floor, even,
was noiseless to his feet.
Howard opened another door, and they were in the
first of two contiguous chambers furnished in white
and green. "What Council was that? " began Graham.
"What were they discussing? What have
they to do with me?" Howard closed the door carefully,
heaved a huge sigh, and said something in an
undertone. He walked slanting ways across the room
and turned, blowing out his cheeks again. "Ugh!"
he grunted, a man relieved.
Graham stood regarding him.
"You must understand," began Howard abruptly,
avoiding Graham's eyes, "that our social order is
very complex. A half explanation, a bare unqualified
statement would give you false impressions. As a
matter of fact--it is a case of compound interest
partly--your small fortune, and the fortune of your
cousin Warming which was left to you--and certain
other beginnings--have become very considerable.
And in other ways that will be hard for you to understand,
you have become a person of significance--of
very considerable significance--involved in the
world's affairs."
He stopped.
"Yes?" said Graham.
"We have grave social troubles."
"Yes? "
"Things have come to such a pass that, in fact,
is advisable to seclude you here."
"Keep me prisoner! " exclaimed Graham.
"Well--to ask you to keep in seclusion."
Graham turned on him. "This is strange!" he
"No harm will be done you."
"No harm ! "
"But you must be kept here--"
"While I learn my position, I presume."
"Very well then. Begin. Why __harm?__"
" Not now."
"Why not? "
"It is too long a story, Sire."
"All the more reason I should begin at once. You
say I am a person of importance. What was that
shouting I heard? Why is a great multitude shouting
and excited because my trance is over, and who are
the men in white in that huge council chamber? "
"All in good time, Sire," said Howard. "But not
crudely, not crudely. This is one of those flimsy times
when no man has a settled mind. Your awakening.
No one expected your awakening. The Council is
"What council? "
"The Council you saw."
Graham made a petulant movement. " This is not
right," he said. " I should be told what is happening.
"You must wait. Really you must wait."
Graham sat down abruptly. "I suppose since I
have waited so long to resume life," he said, "that I
must wait a little longer."
"That is better," said Howard. "Yes, that is much
better. And I must leave you alone. For a space.
While I attend the discussion in the Council.
I am sorry."
He went towards the noiseless door, hesitated and
Graham walked to the door, tried it, found it securely
fastened in some way he never came to understand,
turned about, paced the room restlessly, made
the circuit of the room, and sat down. He remained
sitting for some time with folded arms and knitted
brow, biting his finger nails and trying to piece
together the kaleidoscopic impressions of this first
hour of awakened life; the vast mechanical spaces, the
endless series of chambers and passages, the great
struggle that roared and splashed through these
strange ways, the little group of remote unsympathetic
men beneath the colossal Atlas, Howard's mysterious
behaviour. There was an inkling of some vast inheritance
already in his mind--a vast inheritance perhaps
misapplied--of some unprecedented importance
and opportunity. What had he to do? And this
room's secluded silence was eloquent of imprisonment!
It came into Graham's mind with irresistible conviction
that this series of magnificent impressions was
a dream. He tried to shut his eyes and succeeded,
but that time-honoured device led to no awakening.
Presently he began to touch and examine all the
unfamiliar appointments of the two small rooms in
which he found himself.
In a long oval panel of mirror he saw himself and
stopped astonished. He was clad in a graceful costume
of purple and bluish white, with a little greyshot
beard trimmed to a point, and his hair, its blackness
streaked now with bands of grey, arranged over his
forehead in an unfamiliar but graceful manner. He
seemed a man of five-and-forty perhaps. For a
moment he did not perceive this was himself.
A flash of laughter came with the recognition. "To
call on old Warming like this!" he exclaimed, "and
make him take me out to lunch! "
Then he thought of meeting first one and then
another of the few familiar acquaintances of his early
manhood, and in the midst of his amusement realised
that every soul with whom he might jest had died
many score of years ago. The thought smote him
abruptly and keenly; he stopped short, the expression
of his face changed to a white consternation.
The tumultuous memory of the moving platforms
and the huge facade of that wonderful street reasserted
itself. The shouting multitudes came back clear and
vivid, and those remote, inaudible, unfriendly councilors
in white. He felt himself a little figure, very
small and ineffectual, pitifully conspicuous. And all
about him, the world was--strange.
Presently Graham resumed his examination of his
apartments. Curiosity kept him moving in spite of
his fatigue. The inner room, he perceived, was high,
and its ceiling dome shaped', with an oblong aperture
in the centre, opening into a funnel in which a wheel
of broad vans seemed to be rotating, apparently driving
the air up the shaft. The faint humming note of
its easy motion was the only clear sound in that quiet
place. As these vans sprang up one after the other,
Graham could get transient glimpses of the sky. He
was surprised to see a star.
This drew his attention to the fact that the bright
lighting of these rooms was due to a multitude of very
faint glow lamps set about the cornices. There were
no windows. And he began to recall that along all
the vast chambers and passages he had traversed with
Howard he had observed no windows at all. Had
there been windows? There were windows on the
street indeed, but were they for light? Or was the
whole city lit day and night for evermore, so that
there was no night there?
And another thing dawned upon him. There was
no fireplace in either room. Was the season summer,
and were these merely summer apartments, or was
the whole City uniformly heated or cooled? He became
interested in these questions, began examining
the smooth texture of the walls, the simply constructed
bed, the ingenious arrangements by which the labour
of bedroom service was practically abolished. And
over everything was a curious absence of deliberate
ornament, a bare grace of form and colour, that he
found very pleasing to the eye. There were several
very comfortable chairs, a light table on silent runners
carrying several bottles of fluids and glasses, and two
plates bearing a clear substance like jelly. Then he
noticed there were no books, no newspapers, no
writing materials. "The world has changed indeed," he
He observed one entire side of the outer room was
set with rows of peculiar double cylinders inscribed
with green lettering on white that harmonized With
the decorative scheme of the room, and in the centre
of this side projected a little apparatus about a yard
square and having a white smooth face to the room. A
chair faced this. He had a transitory idea that these
cylinders might be books, or a modern substitute for
books, but at first it did not seem so.
The lettering on the cylinders puzzled him. At first
sight it seemed like Russian. Then he noticed a
suggestion of mutilated English about certain of the
"oi Man huwdbi Kin"
forced itself on him as "The Man who would be
King." "Phonetic spelling," he said. He remembered
reading a story with that title, then he recalled
the story vividly, one of the best stories in the world.
But this thing before him was not a book as he
understood it. He puzzled out the titles of two adjacent
cylinders. 'The Heart of Darkness,' he had
never heard of before nor 'The Madonna of the
Future'--no doubt if they were indeed stories, they
were by post Victorian authors.
He puzzled over this peculiar cylinder for some time
and replaced it. Then he turned to the square apparatus
and examined that. He opened a sort of lid
and found one of the double cylinders within, and
on the upper edge a little stud like the stud of an
electric bell. He pressed this and a rapid clicking
began and ceased. He became aware of voices and
music, and noticed a play of colour on the smooth
front face. He suddenly realised what this might be,
and stepped back to regard it.
On the flat surface was now a little picture, very
vividly coloured, and in this picture were figures that
moved. Not only did they move, but they were conversing
in clear small voices. It was exactly like
reality viewed through an inverted opera glass and
heard through a long tube. His interest was seized
at once by the situation, which presented a man pacing
up and down and vociferating angry things to a pretty
but petulant woman. Both were in the picturesque
costume that seemed so strange to Graham. "I have
worked," said the man, "but what have you been
"Ah!" said Graham. He forgot everything else,
and sat down in the chair. Within five minutes he
heard himself named, heard "when the Sleeper wakes,"
used jestingly as a proverb for remote postponement,
and passed himself by, a thing remote and incredible.
But in a little while he knew those two people like l .
intimate friends.
At last the miniature drama came to an end, and
the square face of the apparatus was blank again.
It was a strange world into which he had been permitted
to see, unscrupulous, pleasure seeking, energetic,
subtle, a world too of dire economic struggle;
there were allusions he did not understand, incidents
that conveyed strange suggestions of altered moral
ideals, flashes of dubious enlightenment. The blue
canvas that bulked so largely in his first impression
of the city ways appeared again and again as the
costume of the common people. He had no doubt the
story was contemporary, and its intense realism was
undeniable. And the end had been a tragedy that
oppressed him. He sat staring at the blankness.
He started and rubbed his eyes. He had been so
absorbed in the latter-day substitute for a novel, that
he awoke to the little green and white room with more
than a touch of the surprise of his first awakening.
He stood up, and abruptly he was back in his own
wonderland. The clearness of the kinetoscope drama
passed, and the struggle in the vast place of streets,
the ambiguous Council, the swift phases of his waking
hour, came back. These people had spoken of the
Council with suggestions of a vague universality of
power. And they had spoken of the Sleeper; it had
not really struck him vividly at the time that he was
the Sleeper. He had to recall precisely what they had
He walked into the bedroom and peered up through
the quick intervals of the revolving fan. As the fan
swept round, a dim turmoil like the noise of machinery
came in rhythmic eddies. All else was silence.
Though the perpetual day still irradiated his apartments,
he perceived the little intermittent strip of sky
was now deep blue--black almost, with a dust of
little stars.
He resumed his examination of the rooms. He
could find no way of opening the padded door, no bell
nor other means of calling for attendance. His feeling
of wonder was in abeyance; but he was curious,
anxious for information. He wanted to know exactly
how he stood to these new things. He tried to compose
himself to wait until someone came to him.
Presently he became restless and eager for information,
for distraction, for fresh sensations.
He went back to the apparatus in the other room,
and had soon puzzled out the method of replacing the
cylinders by others. As he did so, it came into his
mind that it must be these little appliances had fixed
the language so that it was still clear and understandable
after two hundred years. The haphazard cylinders
he substituted displayed a musical fantasia. At
first it was beautiful, and then it was sensuous. He
presently recognized what appeared to him to be an
altered version of the story of Tannhauser. The music
was unfamiliar. But the rendering was realistic, and
with a contemporary unfamiliarity. Tannhauser did
not go to a Venusberg, but to a Pleasure City. What
was a Pleasure City? A dream, surely, the fancy of
a fantastic, voluptuous writer.
He became interested, curious. The story developed
with a flavour of strangely twisted sentimentality.
Suddenly he did not like it. He liked it less as it
He had a revulsion of feeling. These were no pictures,
no idealisations, but photographed realities. He
wanted no more of the twenty-second century Venusberg.
He forgot the part played by the model in
nineteenth century art, and gave way to an archaic
indignation. He rose, angry and half ashamed at himself
for witnessing this thing even in solitude. He
pulled forward the apparatus, and with some violence
sought for a means of stopping its action. Something
snapped. A violet spark stung and convulsed his
arm and the thing was still. When he attempted next
day to replace these Tannhauser cylinders by another
pair, he found the apparatus broken....
He struck out a path oblique to the room and paced
to and fro, struggling with intolerable vast impressions.
The things he had derived from the cylinders
and the things he had seen, conflicted, confused him.
It seemed to him the most amazing thing of all that
in his thirty years of life he had never tried to shape
a picture of these coming times. "We were making
the future," he said, "and hardly any of us troubled
to think what future we were making. And here it is!"
"What have they got to, what has been done? How
do I come into the midst of it all?" The vastness of
street and house he was prepared for, the multitudes of
people. But conflicts in the city ways! And the systematised
sensuality of a class of rich men!
He thought of Bellamy, the hero of whose Socialistic
Utopia had so oddly anticipated this actual experience.
But here was no Utopia, no Socialistic state.
He had already seen enough to realise that the ancient
antithesis of luxury, waste and sensuality on the one
hand and abject poverty on the other, still prevailed.
He knew enough of the essential factors of life to
understand that correlation. And not only were the
buildings of the city gigantic and the crowds in the
street gigantic, but the voices he had heard in the
ways, the uneasiness of Howard, the very atmosphere
spoke of gigantic discontent. What country was he
in? Still England it seemed, and yet strangely
"un-English." His mind glanced at the rest of the
world, and saw only an enigmatical veil.
He prowled about his apartment, examining everything
as a caged animal might do. He felt very tired,
felt that feverish exhaustion that does not admit of rest.
He listened for long spaces under the ventilator to
catch some distant echo of the tumults he felt must be
proceeding in the city.
He began to talk to himself. "Two hundred and
three years! " he said to himself over and over again,
laughing stupidly. "Then I am two hundred and
thirty-three years old! The oldest inhabitant. Surely
they haven't reversed the tendency of our time and
gone back to the rule of the oldest. My claims are
indisputable. Mumble, mumble. I remember the Bulgarian
atrocities as though it was yesterday. 'Tis a
great age! Ha ha!" He was surprised at first to
hear himself laughing, and then laughed again deliberately
and louder. Then he realised that he was
behaving foolishly. "Steady," he said. "Steady!"
His pacing became more regular. "This new
world," he said. "I don't understand it. __Why?__ . . .
But it is all __why!__"
"I suppose they can fly and do all sorts of things
Let me try and remember just how it began."
He was surprised at first to find how vague the
memories of his first thirty years had become. He
remembered fragments, for the most part trivial
moments, things of no great importance that he had
observed. His boyhood seemed the most accessible
at first, he recalled school books and certain lessons
in mensuration. Then he revived the more salient
features of his life, memories of the wife long since
dead, her magic influence now gone beyond corruption,
of his rivals and friends and betrayers, of the
swift decision of this issue and that, and then of his ,
last years of misery, of fluctuating resolves, and at last
of his strenuous studies. In a little while he perceived
he had it all again; dim perhaps, like metal long laid
aside, but in no way defective or injured, capable of
re-polishing. And the hue of it was a deepening misery.
Was it worth re-polishing? By a miracle he had
been lifted out of a life that had become intolerable.
He reverted to his present condition. He wrestled
with the facts in vain. It became an inextricable tangle.
He saw the sky through the ventilator pink with
dawn. An old persuasion came out of the dark recesses
of his memory. "I must sleep," he said. It
appeared as a delightful relief from this mental distress
and from the growing pain and heaviness of his
limbs. He went to the strange little bed, lay down and
was presently asleep.
He was destined to become very familiar indeed
with these apartments before he left them, for he
remained imprisoned for three days. During that time
no one, except Howard, entered his prison. The marvel
of his fate mingled with and in some way minimised
the marvel of his survival. He had awakened
to mankind it seemed only to be snatched away into
this unaccountable solitude. Howard came regularly
with subtly sustaining and nutritive fluids, and light
and pleasant foods, quite strange to Graham. He
always closed the door carefully as he entered. On
matters of detail he was increasingly obliging, but the
bearing of Graham on the great issues that were evidently
being contested so closely beyond the soundproof
walls that enclosed him, he would not elucidate.
He evaded, as politely as possible, every question on
the position of affairs in the outer world.
And in those three days Graham's incessant
thoughts went far and wide. All that he had seen,
all this elaborate contrivance to prevent him seeing,
worked together in his mind. Almost every possible
interpretation of his position he debated--even as it
chanced, the right interpretation. Things that presently
happened to him, came to him at last credible,
by virtue of this seclusion. When at length the
moment of his release arrived, it found him prepared.
Howard's bearing went far to deepen Graham's
impression of his own strange importance; the door
between its opening and closing seemed to admit with
him a breath of momentous happening. His enquiries
became more definite and searching. Howard
retreated through protests and difficulties. The awakening
was unforeseen, he repeated; it happened to
have fallen in with the trend of a social convulsion.
"To explain it I must tell you the history of a gross
and a half of years," protested Howard.
"The thing is this," said Graham. "You are
afraid of something I shall do. In some way I am
arbitrator--I might be arbitrator."
" It is not that. But you have--I may tell you
this much--the automatic increase of your property
puts great possibilities of interference in your hands.
And in certain other ways you have influence, with
your eighteenth century notions."
"Nineteenth century," corrected Graham.
"With your old world notions, anyhow, ignorant
as you are of every feature of our State."
"Am I a fool? "
"Certainly not."
"Do I seem to be the sort of man who would act
"You were never expected to act at all. No one
counted on your awakening. No one dreamt you
would ever awake. The Council had surrounded you
with antiseptic conditions. As a matter of fact, we
thought that you were dead--a mere arrest of decay.
And--but it is too complex. We dare not suddenly
--while you are still half awake."
"It won't do," said Graham. "Suppose it is as
you say--why am I not being crammed night and
day with facts and warnings and all the wisdom of the
time to fit me for my responsibilities? Am I any
wiser now than two days ago, if it is two days, when I
Howard pulled his lip.
"I am beginning to feel--every hour I feel more
clearly--a sense of complex concealment of which
you are the salient point. Is this Council, or committee,
or whatever they are, cooking the accounts of
my estate? Is that it? "
"That note of suspicion--" said Howard.
" Ugh!" said Graham. "Now, mark my words, it
will be ill for those who have put me here. It will be
ill. I am alive. Make no doubt of it, I am alive.
Every day my pulse is stronger and my mind clearer
and more vigorous. No more quiescence. I am a
man come back to life. And I want to __live---__"
Howard's face lit with an idea. He came towards
Graham and spoke in an easy confidential tone.
"The Council secludes you here for your good.
You are restless. Naturally--an energetic man!
You find it dull here. But we are anxious that everything
you may desire--every desire--every sort of
desire . . . There may be something. Is there
any sort of company? "
He paused meaningly.
" Yes," said Graham thoughtfully. " There is."
"Ah! __Now!__ We have treated you neglectfully."
"The crowds in yonder streets of yours."
"That," said Howard, "I am afraid--. But--"
Graham began pacing the room. Howard stood
near the door watching him. The implication of Howard's
suggestion was only half evident to Graham
Company? Suppose he were to accept the proposal,
demand some sort of __company__? Would there be any
possibilities of gathering from the conversation o£ this
additional person some vague inkling of the struggle
that had broken out so vividly at his waking moment?
He meditated again, and the suggestion took colour.
He turned on Howard abruptly.
"What do you mean by company? "
Howard raised his eyes and shrugged his shoulders.
"Human beings," he said, with a curious smile on his
heavy face.
"Our social ideas," he said, "have a certain increased
liberality, perhaps, in comparison with your
times. If a man wishes to relieve such a tedium as
this--by feminine society, for instance. We think it
no scandal. We have cleared our minds of formulae.
There is in our city a class, a necessary class, no longer
Graham stopped dead.
"It would pass the time," said Howard. "It is a
thing I should perhaps have thought of before, but,
as a matter of fact, so much is happening--"
He indicated the exterior world.
Graham hesitated. For a moment the figure of a
possible woman that his imagination suddenly created
dominated his mind with an intense attraction. Then
he flashed into anger.
"No I" he shouted.
He began striding rapidly up and down the room.
"Everything you say, everything you do, convinces
me--of some great issue in which I am concerned.
I do not want to pass the time, as you call it. Yes, I
know. Desire and indulgence are life in a sense--
and Death! Extinction! In my life before I slept
I had worked out that pitiful question. I will not
begin again. There is a city, a multitude--. And
meanwhile I am here like a rabbit in a bag."
His rage surged high. He choked for a moment
and began to wave his clenched fists. He gave way
to an anger fit, he swore archaic curses. His gestures
had the quality of physical threats.
"I do not know who your party may be. I am in
the dark, and you keep me in the dark. But I know
this, that I am secluded here for no good purpose.
For no good purpose. I warn you, I warn you of the
consequences. Once I come at my power--"
He realised that to threaten thus might be a danger
to himself. He stopped. Howard stood regarding
him with a curious expression.
"I take it this is a message to the Council," said
Graham had a momentary impulse to leap upon the
man, fell or stun him. It must have shown upon his
face; at any rate Howard's movement was quick. In
a second the noiseless door had closed again, and the
man from the nineteenth century was alone.
For a moment he stood rigid, with clenched hands
half raised. Then he flung them down. "What a fool
I have been!" he said, and gave way to his anger again,
stamping about the room and shouting curses.
For a long time he kept himself in a sort of frenzy,
raging at his position, at his own folly, at the knaves
who had imprisoned him. He did this because he
did not want to look calmly at his position. He clung
to his anger--because he was afraid of Fear.
Presently he found himself reasoning with himself
This imprisonment was unaccountable, but no doubt
the legal forms--new legal forms--of the time permitted
it. It must, of course, be legal. These people
were two hundred years further on in the march of
civilisation than the Victorian generation. It was not
likely they would be less--humane. Yet they had
cleared their minds of formulae! Was humanity a
formula as well as chastity?
His imagination set to work to suggest things that
might be done to him. The attempts of his reason to
dispose of these suggestions, though for the most part
logically valid, were quite unavailing. "Why should
anything be done to me? "
"If the worst comes to the worst," he found himself
saying at last, "I can give up what they want.
But what do they want? And why don't they ask me
for it instead of cooping me up? "
He returned to his former preoccupation with the
Council's possible intentions. He began to reconsider
the details of Howard's behaviour, sinister glances,
inexplicable hesitations. Then, for a time, his mind
circled about the idea of escaping from these rooms;
but whither could he escape into this vast, crowded
world? He would be worse off than a Saxon yeoman
suddenly dropped into nineteenth century London.
And besides, how could anyone escape from these
"How can it benefit anyone if harm should happen
to me? "
He thought of the tumult, the great social trouble
of which he was so unaccountably the axis. A text,
irrelevant enough and yet curiously insistent, came
floating up out of the darkness of his memory. This
also a Council had said:
"It is expedient for us that one man should die for
the people."
As the fans in the circular aperture of the inner room
rotated and permitted glimpses of the night, dim
sounds drifted in thereby. And Graham, standing
underneath, wrestling darkly with the unknown powers
that imprisoned him, and which he had now deliberately
challenged, was startled by the sound of a
He peered up and saw in the intervals of the rotation,
dark and dim, the face and shoulders of a man
regarding him. When a dark hand was extended, the
swift van struck it, swung round and beat on with a
little brownish patch on the edge of its thin blade, and
something began to fall therefrom upon the floor,
dripping silently.
Graham looked down, and there were spots of blood
at his feet. He looked up again in a strange excitement.
The figure had gone.
He remained motionless--his every sense intent
upon the flickering patch of darkness, for outside it
was high night. He became aware of some faint, remote,
dark specks floating lightly through the outer
air. They came down towards him, fitfully, eddyingly,
and passed aside out of the uprush from the
fan. A gleam of light flickered, the specks flashed
white, and then the darkness came again. Warmed
and lit as he was, he perceived that it was snowing
within a few feet of him.
Graham walked across the room and came back
to the ventilator again. He saw the head of a man
pass near. There was a sound of whispering. Then
a smart blow on some metallic substance, effort,
voices, and the vans stopped. A gust of snowflakes
whirled into the room, and vanished before they
touched the floor. "Don't be afraid," said a voice.
Graham stood under the van. "Who are you?"
he whispered.
For a moment there was nothing but a swaying of the
fan, and then the head of a man was thrust cautiously
into the opening. His face appeared nearly inverted
to Graham; his dark hair was wet with dissolving
flakes of snow upon it. His arm went up into the
darkness holding something unseen. He had a youthful
face and bright eyes, and the veins of his forehead
were swollen. He seemed to be exerting himself to
maintain his position.
For several seconds neither he nor Graham spoke.
"You were the Sleeper?" said the stranger at last.
"Yes," said Graham. "What do you want with
"I come from Ostrog, Sire."
The man in the ventilator twisted his head round
so that his profile was towards Graham. He appeared
to be listening. Suddenly there was a hasty exclamation,
and the intruder sprang back just in time to
escape the sweep of the released fan. And when
Graham peered up there was nothing visible but the
slowly falling snow.
It was perhaps a quarter of an hour before anything
returned to the ventilator. But at last came the same
metallic interference again; the fans stopped and the
face reappeared. Graham had remained all this time
in the same place, alert and tremulously excited.
"Who are you? What do you want?" he said.
"We want to speak to you, Sire," said the intruder.
"We want--I can't hold the thing. We have been
trying to find a way to you these three days."
"Is it rescue? " whispered Graham. " Escape?"
"Yes, Sire. If you will."
"You are my party--the party of the Sleeper?"
"Yes, Sire."
"What am I to do?" said Graham.
There was a struggle. The stranger's arm appeared,
and his hand was bleeding. His knees came into view
over the edge of the funnel. "Stand away from me,"
he said, and he dropped rather heavily on his hands
and one shoulder at Graham's feet. The released
ventilator whirled noisily. The stranger rolled over,
sprang up nimbly and stood panting, hand to a bruised
shoulder, and with his bright eyes on Graham.
"You are indeed the Sleeper," he said. "I saw
you asleep. When it was the law that anyone might
see you."
"I am the man who was in the trance," said Graham.
"They have imprisoned me here. I have been
here since I awoke--at least three days."
The intruder seemed about to speak, heard something,
glanced swiftly at the door, and suddenly left
Graham and ran towards it, shouting quick incoherent
words. A bright wedge of steel flashed in his hand,
and he began tap, tap, a quick succession of blows
upon the hinges. "Mind!" cried a voice. "Oh!"
The voice came from above.
Graham glanced up, saw the soles of two feet,
ducked, was struck on the shoulder by one of them,
and a heavy weight bore him to the earth. He fell on
his knees and forward, and the weight went over his
head. He knelt up and saw a second man from above
seated before him.
"I did not see you, Sire," panted the man. He rose
and assisted Graham to arise. "Are you hurt, Sire?"
he panted. A succession of heavy blows on the ventilator
began, something fell close to Graham's face,
and a shivering edge of white metal danced, fell over,
and lay flat upon the floor.
"What is this?" cried Graham, confused and looking
at the ventilator. "Who are you? What are you
going to do? Remember, I understand nothing."
"Stand back," said the stranger, and drew him
from under the ventilator as another fragment of metal
fell heavily.
" We want you to come, Sire," panted the newcomer,
and Graham glancing at his face again, saw
a new cut had changed from white to red on his forehead,
and a couple of little trickles of blood starting
therefrom. "Your people call for you."
"Come where? My people? "
"To the hall about the markets. Your life is in
danger here. We have spies. We learned but just
in time. The Council has decided--this very day--
either to drug or kill you. And everything is ready.
The people are drilled, the wind-vane police, the engineers,
and half the way-gearers are with us. We have
the halls crowded--shouting. The whole city shouts
against the Council. We have arms." He wiped the
blood with his hand. "Your life here is not worth--"
"But why arms? "
"The people have risen to protect you, Sire.
What? "
He turned quickly as the man who had first come
down made a hissing with his teeth. Graham saw
the latter start back, gesticulate to them to conceal
themselves, and move as if to hide behind the opening
As he did so Howard appeared, a little tray in one
hand and his heavy face downcast. He started, looked
up, the door slammed behind him, the tray tilted sideways,
and the steel wedge struck him behind the ear.
He went down like a felled tree, and lay as he fell
athwart the floor of the outer room. The man who
had struck him bent hastily, studied his face for a
moment, rose, and returned to his work at the door.
"Your poison!" said a voice in Graham's ear.
Then abruptly they were in darkness. The innumerable
cornice lights had been extinguished. Graham saw
the aperture of the ventilator with ghostly
snow whirling above it and dark figures moving hastily.
Three knelt on the van. Some dim thing--a
ladder was being lowered through the opening, and
a hand appeared holding a fitful yellow light.
He had a moment of hesitation. But the manner
of these men, their swift alacrity, their words, marched
so completely with his own fears of the Council, with
his idea and hope of a rescue, that it lasted not a
moment. And his people awaited him!
"I do not understand," he said, "I trust. Tell me
what to do."
The man with the cut brow gripped Graham's arm.
"Clamber up the ladder," he whispered. "Quick.
They will have heard--"
Graham felt for the ladder with extended hands, put
his foot on the lower rung, and, turning his head, saw
over the shoulder of the nearest man, in the yellow
flicker of the light, the first-comer astride over Howard
and still working at the door. Graham turned to
the ladder again, and was thrust by his conductor and
helped up by those above, and then he was standing
on something hard and cold and slippery outside the
ventilating funnel.
He shivered. He was aware of a great difference
in the temperature. Half a dozen men stood about
him, and light flakes of snow touched hands and face
and melted. For a moment it was dark, then for a
flash a ghastly violet white, and then everything was
dark again.
He saw he had come out upon the roof of the vast
city structure which had replaced the miscellaneous
houses, streets and open spaces of Victorian London.
The place upon which he stood was level, with huge
serpentine cables Iying athwart it in every direction.
The circular wheels of a number of windmills loomed
indistinct and gigantic through the darkness and snowfall,
and roared with a varying loudness as the fitful
white light smote up from below, touched the snow
eddies with a transient glitter, and made an evanescent
spectre in the night; and here and there, low down!
some vaguely outlined wind-driven mechanism flickered
with livid sparks.
All this he appreciated in a fragmentary manner as
his rescuers stood about him. Someone threw a thick
soft cloak of fur-like texture about him, and fastened
it by buckled straps at waist and shoulders. Things
were said briefly, decisively. Someone thrust him
Before his mind was yet clear a dark shape gripped
his arm. "This way," said this shape, urging him
along, and pointed Graham across the flat roof in the
direction of a dim semicircular haze of light. Graham
"Mind!" said a voice, as Graham stumbled against
a cable. "Between them and not across them," said
the voice. And, "We must hurry."
"Where are the people? " said Graham. "The
people you said awaited me? "
The stranger did not answer. He left Graham's
arm as the path grew narrower, and led the way with
rapid strides. Graham followed blindly. In a minute
he found himself running. "Are the others coming?"
he panted, but received no reply. His companion
glanced back and ran on. They came to a sort
of pathway of open metal-work, transverse to the direction
they had come, and they turned aside to follow
this. Graham looked back, but the snowstorm had
hidden the others.
"Come on!" said his guide. Running now, they
drew near a little windmill spinning high in the air.
"Stoop," said Graham's guide, and they avoided an
endless band running roaring up to the shaft of the
vane. "This way!" and they were ankle deep in a
gutter full of drifted thawing snow, between two low
walls of metal that presently rose waist high. "I will
go first," said the guide. Graham drew his cloak
about him and followed. Then suddenly came a narrow
abyss across which the gutter leapt to the snowy
darkness of the further side. Graham peeped over the
side once and the gulf was black. For a moment he
regretted his flight. He dared not look again, and his
brain spun as he waded through the half liquid snow.
Then out of the gutter they clambered and hurried
across a wide flat space damp with thawing snow,
and for half its extent dimly translucent to lights that
went to and fro underneath. He hesitated at this
unstable looking substance, but his guide ran on
unheeding, and so they came to and clambered up
slippery steps to the rim of a great dome of glass.
Round this they went. Far below a number of people
seemed to be dancing, and music filtered through the
dome. . . . Graham fancied he heard a shouting
through the snowstorm, and his guide hurried him on
with a new spurt of haste. They clambered panting to
a space of huge windmills, one so vast that only the
lower edge of its vans came rushing into sight and
rushed up again and was lost in the night and the
snow. They hurried for a time through the colossal
metallic tracery of its supports, and came at last above
a place of moving platforms like the place into which
Graham had looked from the balcony. They crawled
across the sloping transparency that covered this street
of platforms, crawling on hands and knees because of
the slipperiness of the snowfall.
For the most part the glass was bedewed, and Graham
saw only hazy suggestions of the forms below,
but near the pitch of the transparent roof the glass was
clear, and he found himself looking sheerly down upon
it all. For awhile, in spite of the urgency of his
guide, he gave way to vertigo and lay spread-eagled
on the glass, sick and paralysed. Far below, mere
stirring specks and dots, went the people of the unsleeping
city in their perpetual daylight, and the moving
platforms ran on their incessant journey. Messengers
and men on unknown businesses shot along
the drooping cables and the frail bridges were crowded
with men. It was like peering into a gigantic glass
hive, and it lay vertically below him with only a tough
glass of unknown thickness to save him from a fall.
The street showed warm and lit, and Graham was wet
now to the skin with thawing snow, and his feet were
numbed with cold. For a space he could not move.
"Come on!" cried his guide, with terror in his voice.
"Come on!"
Graham reached the pitch of the roof by an effort.
Over the ridge, following his guide's example, he
turned about and slid backward down the opposite
slope very swiftly, amid a little avalanche of snow
While he was sliding he thought of what would happen
if some broken gap should come in his way. At the
edge he stumbled to his feet ankle deep in slush
thanking heaven for an opaque footing again. His
guide was already clambering up a metal screen to a
level expanse.
Through the spare snowflakes above this loomed
another line of vast windmills, and then suddenly the
amorphous tumult of the rotating wheels was pierced
with a deafening sound. It was a mechanical shrilling
of extraordinary intensity that seemed to come simultaneously
from every point of the compass.
"They have missed us already!" cried Graham's
guide in an accent of terror, and suddenly, with a
blinding flash, the night became day.
Above the driving snow, from the summits of the
wind-wheels, appeared vast masts carrying globes of
livid light. They receded in illimitable vistas in every
direction. As far as his eye could penetrate the snowfall
they glared.
"Get on this," cried Graham's conductor, and
thrust him forward to a long grating of snowless
metal that ran like a band between two slightly
sloping expanses of snow. It felt warm to Graham's
benurrled feet, and a faint eddy of steam rose from it.
"Come on!" shouted his guide ten yards off, and,
without waiting, ran swiftly through the incandescent
glare towards the iron supports of the next range of
wind-wheels. Graham, recovering from his astonishment,
followed as fast, convinced of his imminent
In a score of seconds they were within a tracery of
glare and black shadows shot with moving bars
beneath the monstrous wheels. Graham's conductor
ran on for some time, and suddenly darted sideways
and vanished into a black shadow in the corner of the
foot of a huge support. In another moment Graham
was beside him.
They cowered panting and stared out.
The scene upon which Graham looked was very
wild and strange. The snow had now almost ceased;
only a belated flake passed now and again across the
picture. But the broad stretch of level before them
was a ghastly white, broken only by gigantic masses
and moving shapes and lengthy strips of impenetrable
darkness, vast ungainly Titans of shadow. All about
them, huge metallic structures, iron girders, inhumanly
vast as it seemed to him, interlaced, and the
edges of wind-wheels, scarcely moving in the lull, I
passed in great shining curves steeper and steeper up
into a luminous haze. Wherever the snow-spangled
light struck down, beams and girders, and incessant
bands running with a halting, indomitable resolution
passed upward and downward into the black. And
with all that mighty activity, with an omnipresent
sense of motive and design, this snow-clad desolation
of mechanism seemed void of all human presence save
themselves, seemed as trackless and deserted and
unfrequented by men as some inaccessible Alpine
"They will be chasing us," cried the leader. "We
are scarcely halfway there yet. Cold as it is we must
hide here for a space--at least until it snows more
thickly again."
His teeth chattered in his head.
"Where are the markets? " asked Graham staring
out. "Where are all the people? "
The other made no answer.
"Look!" whispered Graham, crouched close, and
became very still.
The snow had suddenly become thick again, and
sliding with the whirling eddies out of the black pit
of the sky came something, vague and large and very
swift. It came down in a steep curve and swept round,
wide wings extended and a trail of white condensing
steam behind it, rose with an easy swiftness and went
gliding up the air, swept horizontally forward in a
wide curve, and vanished again in the steaming specks
of snow. And, through the ribs of its body, Graham
saw two little men, very minute and active, searching
the snowy areas about him, as it seemed to him, with
field glasses. For a second they were clear, then hazy
through a thick whirl of snow, then small and distant,
and in a minute they were gone.
"Now!" cried his companion. "Come!"
He pulled Graham's sleeve, and incontinently the
two were running headlong down the arcade of ironwork
beneath the wind-wheels. Graham, running
blindly, collided with his leader, who had turned back
on him suddenly. He found himself within a dozen
yards of a black chasm. It extended as far as he
could see right and left. It seemed to cut off their
progress in either direction.
"Do as I do," whispered his guide. He lay down
and crawled to the edge, thrust his head over and
twisted until one leg hung. He seemed to feel for
something with his foot, found it, and went sliding
over the edge into the gulf. His head reappeared.
"It is a ledge," he whispered. "In the dark all the
way along. Do as I did."
Graham hesitated, went down upon all fours,
crawled to the edge, and peered into a velvety blackness.
For a sickly moment he had courage neither
to go on nor retreat, then he sat and hung his leg
down, felt his guide's hands pulling at him, had a
horrible sensation of sliding over the edge into the
unfathomable, splashed, and felt himself in a slushy
gutter, impenetrably dark.
"This way," whispered the voice, and he began
crawling along the gutter through the trickling thaw,
pressing himself against the wall. They continued
along it for some minutes. He seemed to pass through
a hundred stages of misery, to pass minute after minute
through a hundred degrees of cold, damp, and exhaustion.
In a little while he ceased to feel his hands and
The gutter sloped downwards. He observed that
they were now many feet below the edge of the buildings.
Rows of spectral white shapes like the ghosts
of blind-drawn windows rose above them. They came
to the end of a cable fastened above one of these white
windows, dimly visible and dropping into impenetrable
shadows. Suddenly his hand came against his guide's.
"Still!" whispered the latter very softly.
He looked up with a start and saw the huge wings
of the flying machine gliding slowly and noiselessly
overhead athwart the broad band of snow-flecked grey-blue
sky. In a moment it was hidden again.
"Keep still; they were just turning."
For awhile both were motionless, then Graham's
companion stood up, and reaching towards the fastenings
of the cable fumbled with some indistinct tackle.
"What is that? " asked Graham.
The only answer was a faint cry. The man crouched
motionless. Graham peered and saw his face dimly.
He was staring down the long ribbon of sky, and
Graham, following his eyes, saw the flying machine
small and faint and remote. Then he saw that the
wings spread on either side, that it headed towards
them, that every moment it grew larger. It was following
the edge of the chasm towards them.
The man's movements became convulsive. He
thrust two cross bars into Graham's hand. Graham
could not see them, he ascertained their form by feeling.
They were slung by thin cords to the cable. On
the cord were hand grips of some soft elastic substance.
"Put the cross between your legs," whispered
the guide hysterically, "and grip the holdfasts.
Grip tightly, grip!"
Graham did as he was told.
"Jump," said the voice. "In heaven's name,
For one momentous second Graham could not
speak. He was glad afterwards that darkness hid his
face. He said nothing. He began to tremble violently.
He looked sideways at the swift shadow that
swallowed up the sky as it rushed upon him.
"Jump! Jump--in God's name! Or they will have
us," cried Graham's guide, and in the violence of his
passion thrust him forward.
Graham tottered convulsively, gave a sobbing cry,
a cry in spite of himself, and then, as the flying
machine swept over them, fell forward into the pit of
that darkness, seated on the cross wood and holding
the ropes with the clutch of death. Something
cracked, something rapped smartly against a wall.
He heard the pulley of the cradle hum on its rope.
He heard the aeronauts shout. He felt a pair of knees
digging into his back.... He was sweeping
headlong through the air, falling through the air. All
his strength was in his hands. He would have
screamed but he had no breath.
He shot into a blinding light that made him grip
the tighter. He recognised the great passage with
the running ways, the hanging lights and interlacing
girders. They rushed upward and by him. He had
a momentary impression of a great circular aperture
yawning to swallow him up.
He was in the dark again, falling, falling, gripping
with aching hands, and behold! a clap of sound, a
burst of light, and he was in a brightly lit hall with a
roaring multitude of people beneath his feet. The
people! His people! A proscenium, a stage rushed
up towards him, and his cable swept down to a circular
aperture to the right of this. He felt he was travelling
slower, and suddenly very much slower. He
distinguished shouts of "Saved! The Master. He is
safe!" The stage rushed up towards him with rapidly
diminishing swiftness. Then--.
He heard the man clinging behind him shout as if
suddenly terrified, and this shout was echoed by a
shout from below. He felt that he was no longer
gliding along the cable but falling with it. There was
a tumult of yells, screams and cries. He felt something
soft against his extended hand, and the impact
of a broken fall quivering through his arm. . .
He wanted to be still and the people were lifting
him. He believed afterwards he was carried to the
platform and given some drink, but he was never sure.
He did not notice what became of his guide. When
his mind was clear again he was on his feet; eager
hands were assisting him to stand. He was in a
big alcove, occupying the position that in his previous
experience had been devoted to the lower boxes. If
this was indeed a theatre.
A mighty tumult was in his ears, a thunderous roar,
the shouting of a countless multitude." It is the
Sleeper! The Sleeper is with us!"
"The Sleeper is with us! The Master--the
Owner! The Master is with us. He is safe."
Graham had a surging vision of a great hall crowded
with people. He saw no individuals, he was conscious
of a froth of pink faces, of waving arms and garments,
he felt the occult influence of a vast crowd pouring
over him, buoying him up. There were balconies,
galleries, great archways giving remoter perspectives,
and everywhere people, a vast arena of people, densely
packed and cheering. Across the nearer space lay
the collapsed cable like a huge snake. It had been
cut by the men of the flying machine at its upper end,
and had crumpled down into the hall. Men seemed
to be hauling this out of the way. But the whole
effect was vague, the very buildings throbbed and
leapt with the roar of the voices.
He stood unsteadily and looked at those about him.
Someone supported him by one arm. "Let me go
into a little room," he said, weeping; "a little room,"
and could say no more. A man in black stepped forward,
took his disengaged arm. He was aware of
officious men opening a door before him. Someone
guided him to a seat. He staggered. He sat down
heavily and covered his face with his hands; he was
trembling violently, his nervous control was at an end.
He was relieved of his cloak, he could not remember
how; his purple hose he saw were black with wet.
People were running about him, things were happening,
but for some time he gave no heed to them.
He had escaped. A myriad of cries told him that.
He was safe. These were the people who were on his
side. For a space he sobbed for breath, and then he
sat still with his face covered. The air was full of
the shouting of innumerable men.
He became aware of someone urging a glass of clear
fluid upon his attention, looked up and discovered this
was a dark young man in a yellow garment. He took
the dose forthwith, and in a moment he was glowing.
A tall man in a black robe stood by his shoulder, and
pointed to the half open door into the hall. This man
was shouting close to his ear and yet what was said
was indistinct because of the tremendous uproar from
the great theatre. Behind the man was a girl in a
silvery grey robe, whom Graham, even in this confusion,
perceived to be beautiful. Her dark eyes, full
of wonder and curiosity,-were fixed on him, her lips
trembled apart. A partially opened door gave a
glimpse of the crowded hall, and admitted a vast
uneven tumult, a hammering, clapping and shouting
that died away and began again, and rose to a thunderous
pitch, and so continued intermittently all the time
that Graham remained in the little room. He watched
the lips of the man in black and gathered that he was
making some clumsy explanation.
He stared stupidly for some moments at these things
and then stood up abruptly; he grasped the arm of this
shouting person.
"Tell me !" he cried. " Who am I? Who am I?"
The others came nearer to hear his words. "Who
am I?" His eyes searched their faces.
"They have told him nothing!" cried the girl.
"Tell me, tell me !" cried Graham.
"You are the Master of the Earth. You are owner
of half the world."
He did not believe he heard aright. He resisted
the persuasion. He pretended not to understand, not
to hear. He lifted his voice again. "I have been
awake three days--a prisoner three days. I judge
there is some struggle between a number of people in
this city--it is London?"
"Yes," said the younger man.
"And those who meet in the great hall with the
white Atlas? How does it concern me? In some
way it has to do with me. Why, I don't know.
Drugs? It seems to me that while I have slept the
world has gone mad. I have gone mad."
"Who are those Councillors under the Atlas? Why
should they try to drug me?"
"To keep you insensible," said the man in yellow.
"To prevent your interference."
" But _why?__"
"Because __you__ are the Atlas, Sire," said the man in
yellow. "The world is on your shoulders. They
rule it in your name."
The sounds from the hall had died into a silence
threaded by one monotonous voice. Now suddenly,
trampling on these last words, came a deafening
tumult, a roaring and thundering, cheer crowded on
cheer, voices hoarse and shrill, beating, overlapping,
and while it lasted the people in the little room could
not hear each other shout.
Graham stood, his intelligence clinging helplessly
to the thing he had just heard. "The Council," he
repeated blankly, and then snatched at a name that
had struck him. "But who is Ostrog?" he said.
"He is the organiser--the organiser of the revolt.
Our Leader--in your name."
"In my name?-- And you? Why is he not
"He--has deputed us. I am his brother--his
half-brother, Lincoln. He wants you to show yourself
to these people and then come on to him. That is
why he has sent. He is at the wind-vane offices
directing. The people are marching."
"In your name," shouted the younger man. "They
have ruled, crushed, tyrannised. At last even--"
"In my name! My name! Master?"
The younger man suddenly became audible in a
pause of the outer thunder, indignant and vociferous,
a high penetrating voice under his red aquiline nose
and bushy moustache. "No one expected you to
wake. No one expected you to wake. They were
cunning. Damned tyrants! But they were taken by
surprise. They did not know whether to drug you,
hypnotise you, kill you."
Again the hall dominated everything.
"Ostrog is at the wind-vane offices ready--. Even
now there is a rumour of fighting beginning."
The man who had called himself Lincoln came close
to him. "Ostrog has it planned. Trust him. We
have our organisations ready. We shall seize the
flying stages--. Even now he may be doing that.
"This public theatre," bawled the man in yellow,
"is only a contingent. We have five myriads of
drilled men--"
"We have arms," cried Lincoln. "We have plans.
A leader. Their police have gone from the streets
and are massed in the--" (inaudible)." It is now or
never. The Council is rocking-- They cannot trust
even their drilled men--"
"Hear the people calling to you!"
Graham's mind was like a night of moon and swift
clouds, now dark and hopeless, now clear and ghastly.
He was Master of the Earth, he was a man sodden
with thawing snow. Of all his fluctuating impressions
the dominant ones presented an antagonism; on the
one hand was the White Council, powerful, disciplined,
few, the White Council from which he had just
escaped; and on the other, monstrous crowds, packed
masses of indistinguishable people clamouring his
name, hailing him Master. The other side had
imprisoned him, debated his death. These shouting
thousands beyond the little doorway had rescued him.
But why these things should be so he could not
The door opened, Lincoln's voice was swept away
and drowned, and a rush of people followed on the
heels of the tumult. These intruders came towards
him and Lincoln gesticulating. The voices without
explained their soundless lips. "Show us the Sleeper,
show us the Sleeper!" was the burden of the uproar
Men were bawling for "Order! Silence!"
Graham glanced towards the open doorway, and
saw a tall, oblong picture of the hall beyond, a
waving, incessant confusion of crowded, shouting faces,
men and women together, waving pale blue garments,
extended hands. Many were standing, one man in
rags of dark brown, a gaunt figure, stood on the seat
and waved a black cloth. He met the wonder and
expectation of the girl's eyes. What did these people
expect from him. He was dimly aware that the
tumult outside had changed its character, was in some
way beating, marching. His own mind, too, changed.
for a space he did not recognise the influence that
was transforming him. But a moment that was near
to panic passed. He tried to make audible inquiries
of what was required of him.
Lincoln was shouting in his ear, but Graham was
deafened to that. All the others save the woman
gesticulated towards the hall. He perceived what had
happened to the uproar. The whole mass of people
was chanting together. It was not simply a song, the
voices were gathered together and upborne by a torrent
of instrumental music, music like the music of
an organ, a woven texture of sounds, full of trumpets,
full of flaunting banners, full of the march and
pageantry of opening war. And the feet of the people
were beating time--tramp, tramp.
He was urged towards the door. He obeyed
mechanically. The strength of that chant took hold
of him, stirred him, emboldened him. The hall opened
to him, a vast welter of fluttering colour swaying to
the music.
"Wave your arm to them," said Lincoln. "Wave
your arm to them."
"This," said a voice on the other side," he must
have this. "Arms were about his neck detaining him
in the doorway, and a black subtly-folding mantle
hung from his shoulders. He threw his arm free of this
and followed Lincoln. He perceived the girl in grey
close to him, her face lit, her gesture onward. For
the instant she became to him, flushed and eager as
she was, an embodiment of the song. He emerged
in the alcove again. Incontinently the mounting waves
of the song broke upon his appearing, and flashed up
into a foam of shouting. Guided by Lincoln's hand
he marched obliquely across the centre of the stage
facing the people.
The hall was a vast and intricate space--galleries,
balconies, broad spaces of amphitheatral steps, and
great archways. Far away, high up, seemed the
mouth of a huge passage full of struggling humanity.
The whole multitude was swaying in congested masses.
Individual figures sprang out of the tumult, impressed
him momentarily, and lost definition again. Close to
the platform swayed a beautiful fair woman, carried
by three men, her hair across her face and brandishing
a green staff. Next this group an old careworn man
in blue canvas maintained his place in the crush with
difficulty, and behind shouted a hairless face, a great
cavity of toothless mouth. A voice called that
enigmatical word "Ostrog." All his impressions were
vague save the massive emotion of that trampling
song. The multitude were beating time with their
feet--marking time, tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp.
The green weapons waved, flashed and slanted. Then
he saw those nearest to him on a level space before
the stage were marching in front of him, passing
towards a great archway, shouting " To the Council! "
Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp. He raised his arm, and
the roaring was redoubled. He remembered he had
to shout " March! " His mouth shaped inaudible
heroic words. He waved his arm again and pointed
to the archway, shouting " Onward! " They were no
longer marking time, they were marching; tramp,
tramp, tramp, tramp. In that host were bearded men,
old men, youths, fluttering robed bare-armed women,
girls. Men and women of the new age! Rich robes,
grey rags fluttered together in the whirl of their
movement amidst the dominant blue. A monstrous black
banner jerked its way to the right. He perceived a
blue-clad negro, a shrivelled woman in yellow, then a
group of tall fair-haired, white-faced, blue-clad men
pushed theatrically past him. He noted two Chinamen.
A tall, sallow, dark-haired, shining-eyed youth,
white clad from top to toe, clambered up towards the
platform shouting loyally, and sprang down again and
receded, looking backward. Heads, shoulders, hands
clutching weapons, all were swinging with those
marching cadences.
Faces came out of the confusion to him as he stood
there, eyes met his and passed and vanished. Men
gesticulated to him, shouted inaudible personal things.
Most of the faces were flushed, but many were ghastly
white. And disease was there, and many a hand that
waved to him was gaunt and lean. Men and women
of the new age! Strange and incredible meeting! As
the broad stream passed before him to the right,
tributary gangways from the remote uplands of the hall
thrust downward in an incessant replacement of people;
tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp. The unison of the
song was enriched and complicated by the massive
echoes of arches and passages. Men and women
mingled in the ranks; tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp.
The whole world seemed marching. Tramp, tramp,
tramp, tramp; his brain was tramping. The garments
waved onward, the faces poured by more abundantly.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp; at Lincoln's pressure
he turned towards the archway, walking unconsciously
in that rhythm, scarcely noticing his movement for the
melody and stir of it. The multitude, the gesture and
song, all moved in that direction, the flow of people
smote downward until the upturned faces were below
the level of his feet. He was aware of a path before
him, of a suite about him, of guards and dignities, and
;Lincoln on his right hand. Attendants intervened,
and ever and again blotted out the sight of the
multitude to the left. Before him went the backs of the
guards in black--three and three and three. He was
marched along a little railed way, and crossed above
the archway, with the torrent dipping to flow beneath,
and shouting up to him. He did not know whither
he went; he did not want to know. He glanced back
across a flaming spaciousness of hall. Tramp, tramp,
tramp, tramp.
He was no longer in the hall. He was marching
along a gallery overhanging one of the great streets
of the moving platforms that traversed the city.
Before him and behind him tramped his guards. The
whole concave of the moving ways below was a
congested mass of people marching, tramping to the left,
shouting, waving hands and arms, pouring along a
huge vista, shouting as they came into view, shouting
as they passed, shouting as they receded, until the
globes of electric light receding in perspective dropped
down it seemed and hid the swarming bare heads.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp.
The song roared up to Graham now, no longer
upborne by music, but coarse and noisy, and the
beating of the marching feet, tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp,
interwove with a thunderous irregularity of footsteps
from the undisciplined rabble that poured along the
higher ways.
Abruptly he noted a contrast. The buildings on
the opposite side of the way seemed deserted, the
cables and bridges that laced across the aisle were
empty and shadowy. It came into Graham's mind
that these also should have swarmed with people.
He felt a curious emotion--throbbing--very fast!
He stopped again. The guards before him marched
on; those about him stopped as he did. He saw the
direction of their faces. The throbbing had something
to do with the lights. He too looked up.
At first it seemed to him a thing that affected the
lights simply, an isolated phenomenon, having no
bearing on the things below. Each huge globe of
blinding whiteness was as it were clutched, compressed
in a systole that was followed by a transitory diastole,
and again a systole like a tightening grip, darkness,
light, darkness, in rapid alternation.
Graham became aware that this strange behaviour
of the lights had to do with the people below. The
appearance of the houses and ways, the appearance
of the packed masses changed, became a confusion of
vivid lights and leaping shadows. He saw a multitude
of shadows had sprung into aggressive existence,
seemed rushing up, broadening, widening, growing
with steady swiftness--to leap suddenly back and
return reinforced. The song and the tramping had
ceased. The unanimous march, he discovered, was
arrested, there were eddies, a flow sideways, shouts of
"The lights!" Voices were crying together one
thing. "The lights!" cried these voices. "The
lights!" He looked down. In this dancing death
of the lights the area of the street had suddenly
become a monstrous struggle. The huge white globes
became purple-white, purple with a reddish glow,
flickered, flickered faster and faster, fluttered between light
and extinction, ceased to flicker and became mere
fading specks of glowing red in a vast obscurity. In ten
seconds the extinction was accomplished, and there
was only this roaring darkness, a black monstrosity
that had suddenly swallowed up those glittering
myriads of men.
He felt invisible forms about him; his arms were
gripped. Something rapped sharply against his shin.
A voice bawled in his ear, " It is all right--all right."
Graham shook off the paralysis of his first astonishment.
He struck his forehead against Lincoln's and
bawled, "What is this darkness?"
"The Council has cut the currents that light the
city. We must wait--stop. The people will go on.
They will--"
His voice was drowned. Voices were shouting,
"Save the Sleeper. Take care of the Sleeper." A
guard stumbled against Graham and hurt his hand by
an inadvertent blow of his weapon. A wild tumult
tossed and whirled about him, growing, as it seemed,
louder, denser, more furious each moment. Fragments
of recognisable sounds drove towards him, were
whirled away from him as his mind reached out to
grasp them. Voices seemed to be shouting conflicting
orders, other voices answered. There were suddenly
a succession of piercing screams close beneath them.
A voice bawled in his ear, "The red police," and
receded forthwith beyond his questions.
A crackling sound grew to distinctness, and there
with a leaping of faint flashes along the edge of the
further ways. By their light Graham saw the heads
and bodies of a number of men, armed with weapons
like those of his guards, leap into an instant's dim
visibility. The whole area began to crackle, to flash with
little instantaneous streaks of light, and abruptly the
darkness rolled back like a curtain.
A glare of light dazzled his eyes, a vast seething
expanse of struggling men confused his mind. A
shout, a burst of cheering, came across the ways. He
looked up to see the source of the light. A man hung
far overhead from the upper part of a cable, holding by
a rope the blinding star that had driven the darkness
back. He wore a red uniform.
Graham's eyes fell to the ways again. A wedge of
red a little way along the vista caught his eye. He
saw it was a dense mass of red-clad men jammed
the higher further way, their backs against the pitiless
cliff of building, and surrounded by a dense crowd of
antagonists. They were fighting. Weapons flashed
and rose and fell, heads vanished at the edge of the
contest, and other heads replaced them, the little
flashes from the green weapons became little jets of
smoky grey while the light lasted.
Abruptly the flare was extinguished and the ways
were an inky darkness once more, a tumultuous
He felt something thrusting against him. He was
being pushed along the gallery. Someone was
shouting--it might be at him. He was too confused to
hear. He was thrust against the wall, and a number of
people blundered past him. It seemed to him that his
guards were struggling with one another.
Suddenly the cable-hung star-holder appeared again,
and the whole scene was white and dazzling. The
band of red-coats seemed broader and nearer; its apex
was half-way down the ways towards the central aisle.
And raising his eyes Graham saw that a number of
these men had also appeared now in the darkened
lower galleries of the opposite building, and were firing
over the heads of their fellows below at the boiling
confusion of people on the lower ways. The meaning
of these things dawned upon him. The march of the
people had come upon an ambush at the very outset.
Thrown into confusion by the extinction of the lights
they were now being attacked by the red police. Then
he became aware that he was standing alone, that his
guards and Lincoln were along the gallery in the
direction along which he had come before the darkness
fell. He saw they were gesticulating to him wildly,
running back towards him. A great shouting came
from across the ways. Then it seemed as though the
whole face of the darkened building opposite was lined
and speckled with red-clad men. And they were pointing
over to him and shouting. "The Sleeper! Save
the Sleeper!" shouted a multitude of throats.
Something struck the wall above his head. He
looked up at the impact and saw a star-shaped splash
of silvery metal. He saw Lincoln near him. Felt his
arm gripped. Then, pat, pat; he had been missed
For a moment he did not understand this. The
street was hidden, everything was hidden, as he looked.
The second flare had burned out.
Lincoln had gripped Graham by the arm, was
lugging him along the gallery. "Before the next
light!" he cried. His haste was contagious.
Graham's instinct of self-preservation overcame the
paralysis of his incredulous astonishment. He became for
a time the blind creature of the fear of death. He ran,
stumbling because of the uncertainty of the darkness,
blundered into his guards as they turned to run with
him. Haste was his one desire, to escape this perilous
gallery upon which he was exposed. A third glare
came close on its predecessors. With it came a great
shouting across the ways, an answering tumult from
the ways. The red-coats below, he saw, had now
almost gained the central passage. Their countless
faces turned towards him, and they shouted. The
white facade opposite was densely stippled with red.
All these wonderful things concerned him, turned upon
him as a pivot. These were the guards of the Council
attempting to recapture him.
Lucky it was for him that these shots were the first
fired in anger for a hundred and fifty years. He heard
bullets whacking over his head, felt a splash of molten
metal sting his ear, and perceived without looking that
the whole opposite facade, an unmasked ambuscade of
red police, was crowded and bawling and firing at him.
Down went one of his guards before him, and Graham,
unable to stop, leapt the writhing body.
In another second he had plunged, unhurt, into a
black passage, and incontinently someone, coming, it
may be, in a transverse direction, blundered violently
into him. He was hurling down a staircase in absolute
darkness. He reeled, and was struck again, and
came against a wall with his hands. He was crushed
by a weight of struggling bodies, whirled round, and
thrust to the right. A vast pressure pinned him. He
could not breathe, his ribs seemed cracking. He felt
a momentary relaxation, and then the whole mass of
people moving together, bore him back towards the
great theatre from which he had so recently come.
There were moments when his feet did not touch the
ground. Then he was staggering and shoving. He
heard shouts of "They are coming!" and a muffled
cry close to him. His foot blundered against
something soft, he heard a hoarse scream under foot. He
heard shouts of "The Sleeper!" but he was too
confused to speak. He heard the green weapons
crackling. For a space he lost his individual will,
became an atom in a panic, blind, unthinking, mechanical.
He thrust and pressed back and writhed in the
pressure, kicked presently against a step, and found
himself ascending a slope. And abruptly the faces all
about him leapt out of the black, visible, ghastly-white
and astonished, terrified, perspiring, in a livid glare.
One face, a young man's, was very near to him, not
twenty inches away. At the time it was but a passing
incident of no emotional value, but afterwards it came
back to him in his dreams. For this young man,
wedged upright in the crowd for a time, had been shot
and was already dead.
A fourth white star must have been lit by the man
on the cable. Its light came glaring in through vast
windows and arches and showed Graham that he was
now one of a dense mass of flying black figures pressed
back across the lower area of the great theatre. This
time the picture was livid and fragmentary slashed
and barred with black shadows. He saw that quite
near to him the red guards were fighting their way
through the people. He could not tell whether they
saw him. He looked for Lincoln and his guards. He
saw Lincoln near the stage of the theatre surrounded
in a crowd of black-badged revolutionaries, lifted up
and staring to and fro as if seeking him. Graham
perceived that he himself was near the opposite edge of
the crowd, that behind him, separated by a barrier,
sloped the now vacant seats of the theatre. A sudden
idea came to him, and he began fighting his way
towards the barrier. As he reached it the glare came
to an end.
In a moment he had thrown off the great cloak that
not only impeded his movements but made him
conspicuous, and had slipped it from his shoulders. He
heard someone trip in its folds. In another he was
scaling the barrier and had dropped into the blackness
on the further side. Then feeling his way he came to
the lower end of an ascending gangway. In the darkness
the sound of firing ceased and the roar of feet and
voices lulled. Then suddenly he came to an unexpected
step and tripped and fell. As he did so pools
and islands amidst the darkness about him leapt to
vivid light again, the uproar surged louder and the
glare of the fifth white star shone through the vast
fenestrations of the theatre walls.
He rolled over among some seats, heard a shouting
and the whirring rattle of weapons, struggled up and
was knocked back again, perceived that a number of
black-badged men were all about him firing at the rebels
below, leaping from seat to seat, crouching among the
seats to reload. Instinctively he crouched amidst the
seats, as stray shots ripped the pneumatic cushions and
cut bright slashes on their soft metal frames.
Instinctively he marked the direction of the gangways, the
most plausible way of escape for him so soon as the
veil of darkness fell again.
A young man in faded blue garments came vaulting
over the seats. "Hullo!" he said, with his flying feet
within six inches of the crouching Sleeper's face.
He stared without any sign of recognition, turned
to fire, fired, and, shouting, "To hell with the Council!"
was about to fire again. Then it seemed to Graham
that the half of this man's neck had vanished. A
drop of moisture fell on Graham's cheek. The green
weapon stopped half raised. For a moment the man
stood still with his face suddenly expressionless, then
he began to slant forward. His knees bent. Man and
darkness fell together. At the sound of his fall Graham
rose up and ran for his life until a step down to
the gangway tripped him. He scrambled to his feet,
turned up the gangway and ran on.
When the sixth star glared he was already close to
the yawning throat of a passage. He ran on the
swifter for the light, entered the passage and turned a
corner into absolute night again. He was knocked
sideways, rolled over, and recovered his feet. He
found himself one of a crowd of invisible fugitives
pressing in one direction. His one thought now was
their thought also; to escape out of this fighting. He
thrust and struck, staggered, ran, was wedged tightly,
lost ground and then was clear again.
For some minutes he was running through the darkness
along a winding passage, and then he crossed
some wide and open space, passed down a long incline,
and came at last down a flight of steps to a level place.
Many people were shouting, "They are coming! The
guards are coming. They are firing. Get out of the
fighting. The guards are firing. It will be safe in
Seventh Way. Along here to Seventh Way!" There
were women and children in the crowd as well as men.
Men called names to him. The crowd converged on
an archway, passed through a short throat and
emerged on a wider space again, lit dimly. The black
figures about him spread out and ran up what seemed
in the twilight to be a gigantic series of steps. He
followed. The people dispersed to the right and left.
. . . He perceived that he was no longer in a
crowd. He stopped near the highest step. Before
him, on that level, were groups of seats and a little
kiosk. He went up to this and, stopping in the shadow
of its eaves, looked about him panting.
Everything was vague and gray, but he recognised
that these great steps were a series of platforms of the
"ways," now motionless again. The platform slanted
up on either side, and the tall buildings rose beyond,
vast dim ghosts, their inscriptions and advertisements
indistinctly seen, and up through the girders and
cables was a faint interrupted ribbon of pallid sky. A
number of people hurried by. From their shouts and
voices, it seemed they were hurrying to join the
fighting. Other less noisy figures flitted timidly among the
From very far away down the street he could hear
the sound of a struggle. But it was evident to him
that this was not the street into which the theatre
opened. That former fight, it seemed, had suddenly
dropped out of sound and hearing. And--grotesque
thought!--they were fighting for him!
For a space he was like a man who pauses in the
reading of a vivid book, and suddenly doubts what he
has been taking unquestioningly. At that time he had
little mind for details; the whole effect was a huge
astonishment. Oddly enough, while the flight from
the Council prison, the great crowd in the hall, and
the attack of the red police upon the swarming people
were clearly present in his mind, it cost him an effort
to piece in his awakening and to revive the meditative
interval of the Silent Rooms. At first his memory
leapt these things and took him back to the cascade
at Pentargen quivering in the wind, and all the sombre
splendours of the sunlit Cornish coast. The contrast
touched everything with unreality. And then the gap
filled, and he began to comprehend his position.
It was no longer absolutely a riddle, as it had been
in the Silent Rooms. At least he had the strange,
bare outline now. He was in some way the owner of
half the world, and great political parties were fighting
to possess him. On the one hand was the White Council,
with its red police, set resolutely, it seemed, on the
usurpation of his property and perhaps his murder; on
the other, the revolution that had liberated him, with
this unseen "Ostrog" as its leader. And the whole
of this gigantic city was convulsed by their struggle.
Frantic development of his world! "I do not understand,"
he cried. "I do not understand!"
He had slipped out between the contending parties
into this liberty of the twilight. What would happen
next? What was happening? He figured the redclad
men as busily hunting him, driving the blackbadged
revolutionists before them.
At any rate chance had given him a breathing space.
He could lurk unchallenged by the passers-by, and
watch the course of things. His eye followed up the
intricate dim immensity of the twilight buildings, and
it came to him as a thing infinitely wonderful, that
above there the sun was rising, and the world was lit
and glowing with the old familiar light of day. In a
little while he had recovered his breath. His clothing
had already dried upon him from the snow.
He wandered for miles along these twilight ways,
speaking to no one, accosted by no one--a dark
figure among dark figures--the coveted man out of
the past, the inestimable unintentional owner of half
the world. Wherever there were lights or dense
crowds, or exceptional excitement he was afraid of
recognition, and watched and turned back or went up
and down by the middle stairways, into some transverse
system of ways at a lower or higher level. And
though he came on no more fighting, the whole city
stirred with battle. Once he had to run to avoid a
marching multitude of men that swept the street.
Everyone abroad seemed involved. For the most part
they were men, and they carried what he judged were
weapons. It seemed as though the struggle was
concentrated mainly in the quarter of the city from which
he came. Ever and again a distant roaring, the remote
suggestion of that conflict, reached his ears. Then his
caution and his curiosity struggled together. But his
caution prevailed, and he continued wandering away
from the fighting--so far as he could judge. He
went unmolested, unsuspected through the dark.
After a time he ceased to hear even a remote echo of
the battle, fewer and fewer people passed him, until at
last the Titanic streets became deserted. The
frontges of the buildings grew plain and harsh; he seemed
to have come to a district of vacant warehouses.
Solitude crept upon him--his pace slackened.
He became aware of a growing fatigue. At times
he would turn aside and seat himself on one of the
numerous seats of the upper ways. But a feverish
restlessness, the knowledge of his vital implication in
his struggle, would not let him rest in any place for
long. Was the struggle on his behalf alone?
And then in a desolate place came the shock of an
earthquake--a roaring and thundering--a mighty
wind of cold air pouring through the city, the smash
of glass, the slip and thud of falling masonry--a
sieries of gigantic concussions. A mass of glass and
ironwork fell from the remote roofs into the middle
gallery, not a hundred yards away from him, and in
the distance were shouts and running. He, too, was
startled to an aimless activity, and ran first one way
and then as aimlessly back.
A man came running towards him. His self-control
returned. "What have they blown up?" asked the
man breathlessly. "That was an explosion," and before
Graham could speak he had hurried on.
The great buildings rose dimly, veiled by a perplexing
twilight, albeit the rivulet of sky above was now
bright with day. He noted many strange features,
understanding none at the time; he even spelt out
many of the inscriptions in Phonetic lettering. But
what profits it to decipher a confusion of odd-looking
letters resolving itself, after painful strain of eye and
mind, into "Here is Eadhamite," or, "Labour Bureau--
Little Side?" Grotesque thought, that in all
probability some or all of these cliff-like houses were
The perversity of his experience came to him vividly.
In actual fact he had made such a leap in time
as romancers have imagined again and again. And
that fact realised, he had been prepared, his mind had,
as it were, seated itself for a spectacle. And no
spectacle, but a great vague danger, unsympathetic
shadows and veils of darkness. Somewhere through
the labyrinthine obscurity his death sought him.
Would he, after all, be killed before he saw? It might
be that even at the next shadowy corner his destruction
ambushed. A great desire to see, a great longing
to know, arose in him.
He became fearful of corners. It seemed to him
that there was safety in concealment. Where could
he hide to be inconspicuous when the lights returned?
At last he sat down upon a seat in a recess on one
of the higher ways, conceiving he was alone there.
He squeezed his knuckles into his weary eyes.
Suppose when he looked again he found the dark through
of parallel ways and that intolerable altitude of edifice,
gone? Suppose he were to discover the whole story
of these last few days, the awakening, the shouting
multitudes, the darkness and the fighting, a
phantasmagoria, a new and more vivid sort of dream. It
must be a dream; it was so inconsecutive, so
reasonless. Why were the people fighting for him? Why
should this saner world regard him as Owner and
So he thought, sitting blinded, and then he looked
again, half hoping in spite of his ears to see some
familiar aspect of the life of the nineteenth century, to
see, perhaps, the little harbour of Boscastle about him,
the cliffs of Pentargen, or the bedroom of his home.
But fact takes no heed of human hopes. A squad
of men with a black banner tramped athwart the
nearer shadows, intent on conflict, and beyond rose
that giddy wall of frontage, vast and dark, with the dim
incomprehensible lettering showing faintly on its face.
"It is no dream," he said, "no dream." And he
bowed his face upon his hands.
He was startled by a cough close at hand.
He turned sharply, and peering, saw a small,
hunched-up figure sitting a couple of yards off in the
shadow of the enclosure.
"Have ye any news? " asked the high-pitched
wheezy voice of a very old man.
Graham hesitated." None," he said.
"I stay here till the lights come again," said the old
man." These blue scoundrels are everywhere--
Graham's answer was inarticulate assent. He tried
to see the old man but the darkness hid his face. He
wanted very much to respond, to talk, but he did not
know how to begin.
"Dark and damnable," said the old man suddenly.
"Dark and damnable. Turned out of my room among
all these dangers."
"That's hard," ventured Graham. "That's hard on
"Darkness. An old man lost in the darkness. And
all the world gone mad. War and fighting. The
police beaten and rogues abroad. Why don't they
bring some negroes to protect us? . . . No more
dark passages for me. I fell over a dead man."
"You're safer with company," said the old man, "if
it's company of the right sort," and peered frankly.
He rose suddenly and came towards Graham.
Apparently the scrutiny was satisfactoy. The old
man sat down as if relieved to be no longer alone.
"Eh!" he said, "but this is a terrible time! War and
fighting, and the dead Iying there--men, strong men,
dying in the dark. Sons! I have three sons. God
knows where they are tonight."
The voice ceased. Then repeated quavering: "God
knows where they are tonight."
Graham stood revolving a question that should not
betray his ignorance. Again the old man's voice
ended the pause.
"This Ostrog will win," he said. "He will win. And
what the world will be like under him no one can
tell. My sons are under the wind-vanes, all three.
One of my daughters-in-law was his mistress for a
while. His mistress! Were not common people.
Though they've sent me to wander tonight and take
my chance. . . . I knew what was going on. Before
most people. But this darkness! And to fall
over a dead body suddenly in the dark!"
His wheezy breathing could be heard.
"Ostrog!" said Graham.
"The greatest Boss the world has ever seen," said
the voice.
Graham ransacked his mind. "The Council has few
friends among the people," he hazarded.
"Few friends. And poor ones at that. They've
had their time. Eh! They should have kept to the
clever ones. But twice they held election. And
Ostrog. And now it has burst out and nothing can
stay it, nothing can stay it. Twice they rejected
Ostrog--Ostrog the Boss. I heard of his rages at
the time--he was terrible. Heaven save them! For
nothing on earth can now, he has raised the Labour
Companies upon them. No one else would have
dared. All the blue canvas armed and marching! He
will go through with it. He will go through."
He was silent for a little while. "This Sleeper," he
said, and stopped.
"Yes," said Graham. "Well?"
The senile voice sank to a confidential whisper, the
dim, pale face came close. "The real Sleeper--"
"Yes," said Graham.
"Died years ago."
"What? " said Graham, sharply.
"Years ago. Died. Years ago."
"You don't say so!" said Graham.
"I do. I do say so. He died. This Sleeper who's
woke up--they changed in the night. A poor,
drugged insensible creature. But I mustn't tell all I
know. I mustn't tell all I know."
For a little while he muttered inaudibly. His secret
was too much for him. "I don't know the ones that
put him to sleep--that was before my time--but I
know the man who injected the stimulants and woke
him again. It was ten to one--wake or kill. Wake
or kill. Ostrog's way."
Graham was so astonished at these things that he
had to interrupt, to make the old man repeat his
words, to re-question vaguely, before he was sure of
the meaning and folly of what he heard. And his
awakening had not been natural! Was that an old
man's senile superstition, too, or had it any truth in it?
Feeling in the dark corners of his memory, he presently
came on something that might conceivably be
an impression of some such stimulating effect. It
dawned upon him that he had happened upon a lucky
encounter, that at last he might learn something of
the new age. The old man wheezed a while and spat,
and then the piping, reminiscent voice resumed:
"The first time they rejected him. I've followed
it all."
"Rejected whom?" said Graham. "The Sleeper?"
"Sleeper? No. Ostrog. He was terrible--terrible!
And he was promised then, promised certainly
the next time. Fools they were--not to be more
afraid of him. Now all the city's his millstone, and
such as we dust ground upon it. Dust ground upon
it. Until he set to work--the workers cut each other's
throats, and murdered a Chinaman or a Labour policeman
at times, and left the rest of us in peace. Dead
bodies! Robbing! Darkness! Such a thing hasn't
been this gross of years. Eh!--but 'tis ill on small
folks when the great fall out! It's ill."
"Did you say--there had not been what?--for
a gross of years? "
"Eh?" said the old man.
The old man said something about clipping his
words, and made him repeat this a third time. "Fighting
and slaying, and weapons in hand, and fools bawling
freedom and the like," said the old man. "Not in
all my life has there been that. These are like the old
days--for sure--when the Paris people broke out--
three gross of years ago. That's what I mean hasn't
been. But it's the world's way. It had to come back.
I know. I know. This five years Ostrog has been
working, and there has been trouble and trouble, and
hunger and threats and high talk and arms. Blue canvas
and murmurs. No one safe. Everything sliding
and slipping. And now here we are! Revolt and
fighting, and the Council come to its end."
"You are rather well-informed on these things,"
said Graham.
"I know what I hear. It isn't all Babble Machine
with me."
"No," said Graham, wondering what Babble
Machine might be. "And you are certain this Ostrog
--you are certain Ostrog organised this rebellion and
arranged for the waking of the Sleeper? Just to assert
himself--because he was not elected to the Council?
"Everyone knows that, I should think," said the old
man. "Except--just fools. He meant to be master
somehow. In the Council or not. Everyone who
knows anything knows that. And here we are with
dead bodies Iying in the dark! Why, where have you
been if you haven't heard all about the trouble
between Ostrog and the Verneys? And what do you
think the troubles are about? The Sleeper? Eh?
You think the Sleeper's real and woke of his own
accord--eh? "
"I'm a dull man, older than I look, and forgetful,"
said Graham." Lots of things that have happened--
especially of late years--. If I was the Sleeper, to tell
you the truth, I couldn't know less about them."
"Eh!" said the voice." Old, are you? You don't
sound so very old! But its not everyone keeps his
memory to my time of life--truly. But these
notorious things! But you're not so old as me--not
nearly so old as me. Well! I ought not to judge
other men by myself, perhaps. I'm young--for so
old a man. Maybe you're old for so young."
"That's it," said Graham. "And I've a queer history.
I know very little. And history! Practically I
know no history. The Sleeper and Julius Caesar are
all the same to me. It's interesting to hear you talk
of these things."
"I know a few things," said the old man. "I know
a thing or two. But--. Hark!"
The two men became silent, listening. There was
heavy thud, a concussion that made their seat shiver.
The passers-by stopped, shouted to one another. The
old man was full of questions; he shouted to a man
who passed near. Graham, emboldened by his example,
got up and accosted others. None knew what had
He returned to the seat and found the old man
muttering vague interrogations in an undertone. For
a while they said nothing to one another.
The sense of this gigantic struggle, so near and yet
so remote oppressed Graham's imagination. Was
this old man right, was the report of the people right,
and were the revolutionaries winning? Or were they
all in error, and were the red guards driving all before
them? At any time the flood of warfare might pour
into this silent quarter of the city and seize upon him
again. It behooved him to learn all he could while
there was time. He turned suddenly to the old man
with a question and left it unsaid. But his motion
moved the old man to speech again.
"Eh! but how things work together!" said the old
man." This Sleeper that all the fools put their trust
in! I've the whole history of it--I was always a good
one for histories. When I was a boy - I'm that old--
I used to read printed books. You'd hardly think it.
Likely you've seen none--they rot and dust so--and
the Sanitary Company burns them to make ashlarite.
But they were convenient in their dirty way. Oh I
learnt a lot. These new-fangled Babble Machines--
they don't seem new-fangled to you, eh?--they're
easy to hear, easy to forget. But I've traced all the
Sleeper business from the first."
"You will scarcely believe it," said Graham slowly,
"I'm so ignorant--I've been so preoccupied in my
own little affairs, my circumstances have been so odd
--I know nothing of this Sleeper's history. Who
was he?"
"Eh!" said the old man. "I know. I know. He
was a poor nobody, and set on a playful woman, poor
soul! And he fell into a trance. There's the old
things they had, those brown things--silver photographs--
still showing him as he lay, a gross and a
half years ago--a gross and a half of years."
"Set on a playful woman, poor soul," said Graham
softly to himself, and then aloud, "Yes--well! go on."
"You must know he had a cousin named Warming
a solitary man without children, who made a big fortune
speculating in roads--the first Eadhamite roads.
But surely you've heard? No? Why? He bought
all the patent rights and made a big company. In
those days there were grosses of grosses of separate
businesses and business companies. Grosses of
grosses! His roads killed the railroads--the old
things--in two dozen years; he bought up and Eadhaillited'
the tracks. And because he didn't want to
break up his great property or let in shareholders, he
left it all to the Sleeper, and put it under a Board of
Trustees that he had picked and trained. He knew
then the Sleeper wouldn't wake, that he would go on
sleeping, sleeping till he died. He knew that quite
well! And plump! a man in the United States, who
had lost two sons in a boat accident, followed that up
with another great bequest. His trustees found themselves
with a dozen myriads of lions'-worth or more
of property at the very beginning."
"What was his name?"
"No, I mean--that American's."
"Isbister!" cried Graham. "Why, I don't even
know the name."
"Of course not," said the old man. "Of course not.
People don't learn much in the schools nowadays.
But I know all about him. He was a rich American
who went from England, and he left the Sleeper even
more than Warming. How he made it? That I don't
know. Something about pictures by machinery. But
he made it and left it, and so the Council had its start.
It was just a council of trustees at first."
"And how did it grow?"
"Eh!--but you're not up to things. Money
attracts money--and twelve brains are better than
one. They played it cleverly. They worked politics
with money, and kept on adding to the money by
working currency and tariffs. They grew--they
grew. And for years the twelve trustees hid the
growing of the Sleeper's estate, under double names and
company titles and all that. The Council spread by
title deed, mortgage, share, every political party,
every newspaper, they bought. If you listen to the old
stories you will see the Council growing and growing
Billions and billions of lions at last--the Sleeper's
estate. And all growing out of a whim--out of this
Warming's will, and an accident to Isbister's sons.
"Men are strange," said the old man. "The strange,
thing to me is how the Council worked together so
long. As many as twelve. But they worked in cliques
from the first. And they've slipped back. In my
young days speaking of the Council was like an ignorant
man speaking of God. We didn't think they could
do wrong. We didn't know of their women and all
that! Or else I've got wiser.
"Men are strange," said the old man. "Here are
you, young and ignorant, and me--sevendy years old,
and I might reasonably be forgetting--explaining it
all to you short and clear.
"Sevendy," he said, "sevendy, and I hear and see--
hear better than I see. And reason clearly, and keep
myself up to all the happenings of things. Sevendy!
"Life is strange. I was twaindy before Ostrog was
a baby. I remember him long before he'd pushed his
way to the head of the Wind Vanes Control. I've
seen many changes. Eh! I've worn the blue. And at
last I've come to see this crush and darkness and
tumult and dead men carried by in heaps on the ways.
And all his doing! All his doing! "
His voice died away in scarcely articulate praises of
Graham thought. "Let me see," he said, "if I have
it right."
He extended a hand and ticked off points upon his
fingers. "The Sleeper has been asleep--"
"Changed," said the old man.
"Perhaps. And meanwhile the Sleeper's property
grew in the hands of Twelve Trustees, until it
swallowed up nearly all the great ownership of the
world. The Twelve Trustees--by virtue of this property
have become virtually masters of the world.
Because they are the paying power--just as the old
English Parliament used to be--"
"Eh!" said the old man. "That's so--that's a
good comparison. You're not so--"
"And now this Ostrog--has suddenly revolutionised
the world by waking the Sleeper--whom no one
but the superstitious, common people had ever dreamt
would wake again--raising the Sleeper to claim his
property from the Council, after all these years."
The old man endorsed this statement with a cough.
"It's strange," he said, "to meet a man who learns
these things for the first time tonight."
"Aye," said Graham, "it's strange."
"Have you been in a Pleasure City?" said the old
man. "All my life I've longed--" He laughed.
"Even now," he said, "I could enjoy a little fun.
Enjoy seeing things, anyhow. "He mumbled a
sentence Graham did not understand.
"The Sleeper--when did he awake?" said Graham
"Three days ago."
"Where is he? "
"Ostrog has him. He escaped from the Council not
four hours ago. My dear sir, where were you at the
time? He was in the hall of the markets--where the
fighting has been. All the city was screaming about
it. All the Babble Machines! Everywhere it was
shouted. Even the fools who speak for the Council
were admitting it. Everyone was rushing off to see
him--everyone was getting arms. Were you drunk
or asleep? And even then! But you're joking!
Surely you're pretending. It was to stop the shouting
of the Babble Machines and prevent the people gathering
that they turned off the electricity--and put this
damned darkness upon us. Do you mean to say--? "
"I had heard the Sleeper was rescued," said Graham.
"But--to come back a minute. Are you sure
Ostrog has him?"
"He won't let him go," said the old man.
"And the Sleeper. Are you sure he is not genuine?
I have never heard--"
"So all the fools think. So they think. As if there
wasn't a thousand things that were never heard. I
know Ostrog too well for that. Did I tell you? In
a way I'm a sort of relation of Ostrog's. A sort of
relation. Through my daughter-in-law."
"I suppose--"
"Well? "
"I suppose there's no chance of this Sleeper asserting
himself. I suppose he's certain to be a puppet--
in Ostrog's hands or the Council's, as soon as the
struggle is over."
"In Ostrog's hands--certainly. Why shouldn't he
be a puppet? Look at his position. Everything done
for him, every pleasure possible. Why should he want
to assert himself? "
"What are these Pleasure Cities?" said Graham,
The old man made him repeat the question. When
at last he was assured of Graham's words, he nudged
him violently. "That's too much," said he. "You're
poking fun at an old man. I've been suspecting you
know more than you pretend."
"Perhaps I do," said Graham. "But no! why
should I go on acting? No, I do not know what a
Pleasure City is."
The old man laughed in an intimate way.
"What is more, I do not know how to read your letters,
I do not know what money you use, I do not
know what foreign countries there are. I do not know
where I am. I cannot count. I do not know
where to get food, nor drink, nor shelter."
"Come, come," said the old man, "if you had a
glass of drink, now, would you put it in your ear or
your eye?"
"I want you to tell me all these things."
"He, he! Well, gentlemen who dress in silk must
have their fun." A withered hand caressed Graham's
arm for a moment." Silk. Well, well! But, all the
same, I wish I was the man who was put up as the
Sleeper. He'll have a fine time of it. All the pomp
and pleasure. He's a queer looking face. When they
used to let anyone go to see him, I've got tickets and
been. The image of the real one, as the photographs
show him, this substitute used to be. Yellow. But
he'll get fed up. It's a queer world. Think of the luck
of it. The luck of it. I expect he'll be sent to Capri.
It's the best fun for a greener."
His cough overtook him again. Then he began
mumbling enviously of pleasures and strange delights.
"The luck of it, the luck of it! All my life I've been in
London, hoping to get my chance."
"But you don't know that the Sleeper died," said
Graham, suddenly. J
The old man made him repeat his words.
"Men don't live beyond ten dozen. It's not in the
order of things," said the old man. "I'm not a fool.
Fools may believe it, but not me."
Graham became angry with the old man's assurance.
"Whether you are a fool or not," he said, "it happens
you are wrong about the Sleeper."
"Eh? "
"You are wrong about the Sleeper. I haven't told
you before, but I will tell you now. You are wrong
about the Sleeper."
"How do you know? I thought you didn't know
anything--not even about Pleasure Cities."
Graham paused.
"You don't know," said the old man. "How are
you to know? It's very few men--"
"I __am__ the Sleeper."
He had to repeat it.
There was a brief pause. "There's a silly thing to
say, sir, if you'll excuse me. It might get you into
trouble in a time like this," said the old man.
Graham, slightly dashed, repeated his assertion.
"I was saying I was the Sleeper. That years and
years ago I did, indeed, fall asleep, in a little
stonebuilt village, in the days when there were hedgerows,
and villages, and inns, and all the countryside cut up
into little pieces, little fields. Have you never heard
of those days? And it is I--I who speak to you--
who awakened again these four days since."
"Four days since!--the Sleeper! But they've got
the Sleeper. They have him and they won't let him
go. Nonsense! You've been talking sensibly enough
up to now. I can see it as though I was there. There
will be Lincoln like a keeper just behind him; they
won't let him go about alone. Trust them. You're a
queer fellow. One of these fun pokers. I see now why
you have been clipping your words so oddly, but--"
He stopped abruptly, and Graham could see his
"As if Ostrog would let the Sleeper run about
alone! No, you're telling that to the wrong man
altogether. Eh! as if I should believe. What's your
game? And besides, we've been talking of the
Graham stood up." Listen," he said. "I am the
"You're an odd man," said the old man, "to sit
here in the dark, talking clipped, and telling a lie of
that sort. But--"
Graham's exasperation fell to laughter. "It is
preposterous," he cried. "Preposterous. The dream
must end. It gets wilder and wilder. Here am I--in
this damned twilight--I never knew a dream in twilight
before--an anachronism by two hundred years
and trying to persuade an old fool that I am myself,
and meanwhile-- Ugh! "
He moved in gusty irritation and went striding. In
a moment the old man was pursuing him. "Eh! but
don't go!" cried the old man. "I'm an old fool, I
know. Don't go. Don't leave me in all this darkness."
Graham hesitated, stopped. Suddenly the folly of
telling his secret flashed into his mind.
"I didn't mean to offend you--disbelieving you,"
said the old man coming near. "It's no manner of
harm. Call yourself the Sleeper if it pleases you.
'Tis a foolish trick "
Graham hesitated, turned abruptly and went on his
For a time he heard the old man's hobbling pursuit
and his wheezy cries receding. But at last the darkness
swallowed him, and Graham saw him no more.
Graham could now take a clearer view of his position.
For a long time yet he wandered, but after the
talk of the old man his discovery of this Ostrog was
clear in his mind as the final inevitable decision. One
thing was evident, those who were at the headquarters
of the revolt had succeeded very admirably in
suppressing the fact of his disappearance. But every
moment he expected to hear the report of his death
or of his recapture by the Council.
Presently a man stopped before him. "Have you
heard? " he said.
"No!" said Graham starting.
" Near a dozand," said the man, "a dozand men!"
and hurried on.
A number of men and a girl passed in the darkness,
gesticulating and shouting: "Capitulated! Given
up!" A dozand of men." "Two dozand of men."
"Ostrog, Hurrah! Ostrog, Hurrah!" These cries
receded, became indistinct.
Other shouting men followed. For a time his attention
was absorbed in the fragments of speech he heard.
He had a doubt whether all were speaking English.
Scraps floated to him, scraps like Pigeon English, like
'nigger' dialect, blurred and mangled distortions. He
dared accost no one with questions. The
impression the people gave him jarred altogether with his
preconceptions of the struggle and confirmed the old
man's faith in Ostrog. It was only slowly he could
bring himself to believe that all these people were
rejoicing at the defeat of the Council, that the Council
which had pursued him with such power and vigour
was after all the weaker of the two sides in conflict.
And if that was so, how did it affect him? Several
times he hesitated on the verge of fundamental questions.
Once he turned and walked for a long way
after a little man of rotund inviting outline, but he
was unable to master confidence to address him.
It was only slowly that it came to him that he might
ask for the "wind-vane offices," whatever the "windvane
offices" might be. His first enquiry simply
resulted in a direction to go on towards Westminster.
His second led to the discovery of a short cut in which
he was speedily lost. He was told to leave the ways
to which he had hitherto confined himself knowing
no other means of transit--and to plunge down one
of the middle staircases into the blackness of a
crossway. Thereupon came some trivial adventures; chief
of these an ambiguous encounter with a gruff-voiced
invisible creature speaking in a strange dialect that
seemed at first a strange tongue, a thick flow of speech
with the drifting corpses of English words therein,
the dialect of the latter-day vile. Then another voice
drew near, a girl's voice singing, "tralala tralala."
She spoke to Graham, her English touched with something
of the same quality. She professed to have lost
her sister, she blundered needlessly into him he
thought, caught hold of him and laughed. But a
word of vague remonstrance sent her into the unseen
The sounds about him increased. Stumbling people
passed him, speaking excitedly. "They have surrendered!"
"The Council! Surely not the Council!"
"They are saying so in the Ways." The passage
seemed wider. Suddenly the wall fell away. He was
in a great space and people were stirring remotely.
He inquired his way of an indistinct figure. "Strike
straight across," said a woman's voice. He left his
guiding wall, and in a moment had stumbled against
a little table on which were utensils of glass. Graham's
eyes, now attuned to darkness, made out a
long vista with pallid tables on either side. He went
down this. At one or two of the tables he heard a
clang of glass and a sound of eating. There were people
then cool enough to dine, or daring enough to
steal a meal in spite of social convulsion and darkness.
Far off and high up he presently saw a pallid
light of a semi-circular shape. As he approached this,
a black edge came up and hid it. He stumbled at
steps and found himself in a gallery. He heard a
sobbing, and found two scared little girls crouched
by a railing. These children became silent at the
near sound of feet. He tried to console them, but
they were very still until he left them. Then as he
receded he could hear them sobbing again.
Presently he found himself at the foot of a staircase
and near a wide opening. He saw a dim twilight
above this and ascended out of the blackness into a
street of moving Ways again. Along this a disorderly
swarm of people marched shouting. They were singing
snatches of the song of the revolt, most of them
out of tune. Here and there torches flared creating
brief hysterical shadows. He asked his way and was
twice puzzled by that same thick dialect. His third
attempt won an answer he could understand. He was
two miles from the wind-vane offices in Westminster,
but the way was easy to follow.
When at last he did approach the district of the
wind-vane offices it seemed to him, from the cheering
processions that came marching along the Ways, from
the tumult of rejoicing, and finally from the restoration
of the lighting of the city, that the overthrow of the
Council must already be accomplished. And still no
news of his absence came to his ears.
The re-illumination of the city came with startling
abruptness. Suddenly he stood blinking, all about
him men halted dazzled, and the world was incandescent.
The light found him already upon the outskirts
of the excited crowds that choked the Ways near
the wind-vane offices, and the sense of visibility and
exposure that came with it turned his colourless
intention of joining Ostrog to a keen anxiety.
For a time he was jostled, obstructed, and endangered
by men hoarse and weary with cheering his
name, some of them bandaged and bloody in his
cause. The frontage of the wind-vane offices was
illuminated by some moving picture, but what it was he
could not see, because in spite of his strenuous attempts
the density of the crowd prevented his approaching it.
From the fragments of speech he caught, he judged
it conveyed news of the fighting about the Council
House. Ignorance and indecision made him slow and
ineffective in his movements. For a time he could
not conceive how he was to get within the unbroken
facade of this place. He made his way slowly into
the midst of this mass of people, until he realised that
the descending staircase of the central Way led to the
interior of the buildings. This gave him a goal, but
the crowding in the central path was so dense that it
was long before he could reach it. And even then
he encountered intricate obstruction, and had an hour
of vivid argument first in this guard room and then
in that before he could get a note taken to the one
man of all men who was most eager to see him. His
story was laughed to scorn at one place, and wiser for
that, when at last he reached a second stairway he professed
simply to have news of extraordinary importance
for Ostrog. What it was he would not say.
They sent his note reluctantly. For a long time he
waited in a little room at the foot of the lift shaft, and
thither at last came Lincoln, eager, apologetic,
astonished. He stopped in the doorway scrutinising
Graham, then rushed forward effusively.
"Yes," he cried. "It is you. And you are not
Graham made a brief explanation.
"My brother is waiting," explained Lincoln. "He
is alone in the wind-vane offices. We feared you had
been killed in the theatre. He doubted--and things
are very urgent still in spite of what we are telling
them __there__--or he would have come to you."
They ascended a lift, passed along a narrow passage,
crossed a great hall, empty save for two hurrying
messengers, and entered a comparatively little room, whose
only furniture was a long settee and a large oval disc
of cloudy, shifting grey, hung by cables from the wall.
There Lincoln left Graham for a space, and he
remained alone without understanding the shifting
smoky shapes that drove slowly across this disc.
His attention was arrested by a sound that began
abruptly. It was cheering, the frantic cheering of a
vast but very remote crowd, a roaring exultation.
This ended as sharply as it had begun, like a sound
heard between the opening and shutting of a door.
In the outer room was a noise of hurrying steps and
a melodious clinking as if a loose chain was running
over the teeth of a wheel.
Then he heard the voice of a woman, the rustle of
unseen garments. "It is Ostrog!" he heard her say.
A little bell rang fitfully, and then everything was still
Presently came voices, footsteps and movement
without. The footsteps of some one person detached
itself from the other sounds and drew near, firm,
evenly measured steps. The curtain lifted slowly. A
tall, white-haired man, clad in garments of cream
coloured silk, appeared, regarding Graham from under
his raised arm.
For a moment the white form remained holding the
curtain, then dropped it and stood before it. Graham's
first impression was of a very broad forehead, very
pale blue eyes deep sunken under white brows, an
aquiline nose, and a heavily-lined resolute mouth. The
folds of flesh over the eyes, the drooping of the
corners of the mouth contradicted the upright bearing,
and said the man was old. Graham rose to his feet
instinctively, and for a moment the two men stood
in silence, regarding each other.
"You are Ostrog?" said Graham.
"I am Ostrog."
"The Boss?"
"So I am called."
Graham felt the inconvenience of the silence. "I
have to thank you chiefly, I understand, for my safety,"
he said presently.
"We were afraid you were killed," said Ostrog.
"Or sent to sleep again--for ever. We have been
doing everything to keep our secret--the secret of
your disappearance. Where have you been? How
did you get here? "
Graham told him briefly.
Ostrog listened in silence.
He smiled faintly. "Do you know what I was
doing when they came to tell me you had come? "
"How can I guess?"
"Preparing your double."
"My double?"
"A man as like you as we could find. We were
going to hypnotise him, to save him the difficulty of
acting. It was imperative. The whole of this revolt
depends on the idea that you are awake, alive, and with
us. Even now a great multitude of people has gathered
in the theatre clamouring to see you. They do
not trust . . . You know, of course--something
of your position? "
"Very little," said Graham.
"It is like this." Ostrog walked a pace or two
into the room and turned. "You are absolute owner,"
he said, "of more than half the world. As a result
of that you are practically King. Your powers are
limited in many intricate ways, but you are the figure
head, the popular symbol of government. This White
Council, the Council of Trustees as it is called "
"I have heard the vague outline of these things."
"I wondered."
"I came upon a garrulous old man."
"I see . . . Our masses--the word comes
from your days--you know of course, that we still
have masses--regard you as our actual ruler. Just
as a great number of people in your days regarded the
Crown as the ruler. They are discontented--the
masses all over the earth--with the rule of your
Trustees. For the most part it is the old discontent,
the old quarrel of the common man with his
commonness--the misery of work and discipline and unfitness.
But your Trustees have ruled ill. In certain
matters, in the administration of the Labour Companies,
for example, they have been unwise. They
have given endless opportunities. Already we of the
popular party were agitating for reforms--when your
waking came. Came! If it had been contrived it
could not have come more opportunity." He smiled.
"The public mind, making no allowance for your
years of quiescence, had already hit on the thought
of waking you and appealing to you, and--Flash!"
He indicated the outbreak by a gesture, and Graham
moved his head to show that he understood.
"The Council muddled--quarreled. They always
do. They could not decide what to do with you.
You know how they imprisoned you?"
"I see. I see. And now--we win?"
"We win. Indeed we win. Tonight, in five swift
hours. Suddenly we struck everywhere. The windvane
people, the Labour Company and its millions,
burst the bonds. We got the pull of the aeropiles."
He paused. "Yes," said Graham, guessing that
aeropile meant flying machine.
"That was, of course, essential. Or they could
have got away. All the city rose, every third man
almost was in it! All the blue, all the public services,
save only just a few aeronauts and about half the red
police. You were rescued, and their own police of
the Ways--not half of them could be massed at the
Council House--have been broken up, disarmed or
killed. All London is ours--now. Only the Council
House remains.
"Half of those who remain to them of the red
police were lost in that foolish attempt to recapture
you. They lost their heads when they lost you. They
flung all they had at the theatre. We cut them off
from the Council House there. Truly tonight has
been a night of victory. Everywhere your star has
blazed. A day ago--the White Council ruled as it
has ruled for a gross of years, for a century and a half
of years, and then, with only a little whispering, a
covert arming here and there, suddenly--So!"
"I am very ignorant," said Graham. "I suppose--.
I do not clearly understand the conditions
of this fighting. If you could explain. Where is the
Council? Where is the fight? "
Ostrog stepped across the room, something clicked,
and suddenly, save for an oval glow, they were in
darkness. For a moment Graham was puzzled.
Then he saw that the cloudy grey disc had taken
depth and colour, had assumed the appearance of an
oval window looking out upon a strange unfamiliar
At the first glance he was unable to guess what this
scene might be. It was a daylight scene, the daylight
of a wintry day, grey and clear. Across the picture
and halfway as it seemed between him and the remoter
view, a stout cable of twisted white wire stretched
vertically. Then he perceived that the rows of great
windwheels he saw, the wide intervals, the occasional
gulfs of darkness, were akin to those through which
he had fled from the Council House. He distinguished
an orderly file of red figures marching across an open
space between files of men in black, and realised before
Ostrog spoke that he was looking down on the upper
surface of latter-day London. The overnight snows
had gone. He judged that this mirror was some modern
replacement of the camera obscura, but that
matter was not explained to him. He saw that though
the file of red figures was trotting from left to right,
yet they were passing out of the picture to the left.
He wondered momentarily, and then saw that the
picture was passing slowly, panorama fashion, across
the oval.
"In a moment you will see the fighting," said
Ostrog at his elbow. "Those fellows in red you
notice are prisoners. This is the roof space of
London--all the houses are practically continuous now.
The streets and public squares are covered in. The
gaps and chasms of your time have disappeared."
Something out of focus obliterated half the picture.
Its form suggested a man. There was a gleam of
metal, a flash, something that swept across the oval,
as the eyelid of a bird sweeps across its eye, and the
picture was clear again. And now Graham beheld
men running down among the wind-wheels, pointing
weapons from which jetted out little smoky flashes.
They swarmed thicker and thicker to the right,
gesticulating--it might be they were shouting, but of
that the picture told nothing. They and the
windwheels passed slowly and steadily across the field of
the mirror.
"Now," said Ostrog, "comes the Council House,"
and slowly a black edge crept into view and gathered
Graham's attention. Soon it was no longer an edge
but a cavity, a huge blackened space amidst the
clustering edifices, and from it thin spires of smoke rose
into the pallid winter sky. Gaunt ruinous masses of
the building, mighty truncated piers and girders, rose
dismally out of this cavernous darkness. And over
these vestiges of some splendid place, countless
minute men were clambering, leaping, swarming.
"This is the Council House," said Ostrog. "Their
last stronghold. And the fools wasted enough
ammunition to hold out for a month in blowing up the
buildings all about them--to stop our attack. You
heard the smash? It shattered half the brittle glass
in the city."
And while he spoke, Graham saw that beyond this
sea of ruins, overhanging it and rising to a great
height, was a ragged mass of white building. This
mass had been isolated by the ruthless destruction of
its surroundings. Black gaps marked the passages
the disaster had torn apart; big halls had been slashed
open and the decoration of their interiors showed
dismally in the wintry dawn, and down the jagged wall
hung festoons of divided cables and twisted ends of
lines and metallic rods. And amidst all the vast
details moved little red specks, the red-clothed
defenders of the Council. Every now and then faint flashes
illuminated the bleak shadows. At the first sight it
seemed to Graham that an attack upon this isolated
white building was in progress, but then he perceived
that the party of the revolt was not advancing, but
sheltered amidst the colossal wreckage that encircled
this last ragged stronghold of the red-garbed men, was
keeping up a fitful firing.
And not ten hours ago he had stood beneath the
ventilating fans in a little chamber within that remote
building wondering what was happening in the world!
Looking more attentively as this warlike episode
moved silently across the centre of the mirror, Graham
saw that the white building was surrounded on
every side by ruins, and Ostrog proceeded to describe
in concise phrases how its defenders had sought by
such destruction to isolate themselves from a storm.
He spoke of the loss of men that huge downfall had
entailed in an indifferent tone. He indicated an
improvised mortuary among the wreckage showed
ambulances swarming like cheese-mites along a
ruinous groove that had once been a street of moving ways.
He was more interested in pointing out the parts of
the Council House, the distribution of the besiegers.
In a little while the civil contest that had convulsed
London was no longer a mystery to Graham. It was
no tumultuous revolt had occurred that night, no
equal warfare, but a splendidly organised __coup d'etat__.
Ostrog's grasp of details was astonishing; he seemed
to know the business of even the smallest knot of
black and red specks that crawled amidst these places.
He stretched a huge black arm across the luminous
picture, and showed the room whence Graham had
escaped, and across the chasm of ruins the course of
his flight. Graham recognised the gulf across which
the gutter ran, and the wind-wheels where he had
crouched from the flying machine. The rest of his
path had succumbed to the explosion. He looked
again at the Council House, and it was already half
hidden, and on the right a hillside with a cluster of
domes and pinnacles, hazy, dim and distant, was
gliding into view.
"And the Council is really overthrown?" he said.
"Overthrown," said Ostrog.
"And I--. Is it indeed true that I?"
"You are Master of the World."
"But that white flag--"
"That is the flag of the Council--the flag of the
Rule of the World. It will fall. The fight is over.
Their attack on the theatre was their last frantic
struggle. They have only a thousand men or so, and some
of these men will be disloyal. They have little
ammunition. And we are reviving the ancient arts. We are
casting guns."
"But--help. Is this city the world?"
" Practically this is all they have left to them of
their empire. Abroad the cities have either revolted
with us or wait the issue. Your awakening has
perplexed them, paralysed them."
"But haven't the Council flying machines? Why
is there no fighting with them? "
"They had. But the greater part of the aeronauts
were in the revolt with us. They wouldn't take the
risk of fighting on our side, but they would not stir
against us. We had to get a pull with the aeronauts.
Quite half were with us, and the others knew it.
Directly they knew you had got away, those looking
for you dropped. We killed the man who shot at
you--an hour ago. And we occupied the flying
stages at the outset in every city we could, and so
stopped and captured the airplanes, and as for the
little flying machines that turned out--for some did--
we kept up too straight and steady a fire for them to
get near the Council House. If they dropped they
couldn't rise again, because there's no clear space
about there for them to get up. Several we have
smashed, several others have dropped and surrendered,
the rest have gone off to the Continent to find a
friendly city if they can before their fuel runs out.
Most of these men were only too glad to be taken
prisoner and kept out of harm's way. Upsetting in a
flying machine isn't a very attractive prospect. There's
no chance for the Council that way. Its days are
He laughed and turned to the oval reflection again
to show Graham what he meant by flying stages.
Even the four nearer ones were remote and obscured
by a thin morning haze. But Graham could perceive
they were very vast structures, judged even by the
standard of the things about them.
And then as these dim shapes passed to the left
there came again the sight of the expanse across which
the disarmed men in red had been marching. And
then the black ruins, and then again the beleaguered
white fastness of the Council. It appeared no longer
a ghostly pile, but glowing amber in the sunlight, for
a cloud shadow had passed. About it the pigmy
struggle still hung in suspense, but now the red
defenders were no longer firing.
So, in a dusky stillness, the man from the nineteenth
century saw the closing scene of the great
revolt, the forcible establishment of his rule. With a
quality of startling discovery it came to him that this
was his world, and not that other he had left behind;
that this was no spectacle to culminate and cease; that
in this world lay whatever life was still before him, lay
all his duties and dangers and responsibilities. He
turned with fresh questions. Ostrog began to answer
them, and then broke off abruptly. "But these things
I must explain more fully later. At present there are
--duties. The people are coming by the moving
ways towards this ward from every part of the city--
the markets and theatres are densely crowded. You
are just in time for them. They are clamouring to
see you. And abroad they want to see you. Paris,
New York, Chicago, Denver, Capri--thousands of
cities are up and in a tumult, undecided, and
clamouring to see you. They have clamoured that you should
be awakened for years, and now it is done they will
scarcely believe--"
But surely--I can't go . . ."
Ostrog answered from the other side of the room, 1.
and the picture on the oval disc paled and vanished '
as the light jerked back again." There are
kinetotele-photographs," he said. "As you bow to the
people here--all over the world myriads of myriads of
people, packed and still in darkened halls, will see you
also. In black and white, of course--not like this.
And you will hear their shouts reinforcing the shouting
in the hall.
"And there is an optical contrivance we shall use,"
said Ostrog, "used by some of the posturers and
women dancers. It may be novel to you. You stand
in a very bright light, and they see not you but a
magnified image of you thrown on a screen--so that
even the furtherest man in the remotest gallery can,
if he chooses, count your eyelashes."
Graham clutched desperately at one of the questions
in his mind. "What is the population of London?"
"Eight and twaindy myriads."
"Eight and what? "
"More than thirty-three millions."
These figures went beyond Graham's imagination
"You will be expected to say something," said
Ostrog. "Not what you used to call a Speech, but
what our people call a Word--just one sentence, six
or seven words. Something formal. If I might
suggest--' I have awakened and my heart is with you.'
That is the sort of thing they want."
" What was that? " asked Graham.
"'I am awakened and my heart is with you.' And
bow--bow royally. But first we must get you black
robes--for black is your colour. Do you mind?
And then they will disperse to their homes."
Graham hesitated. "I am in your hands," he said.
Ostrog was clearly of that opinion. He thought
for a moment, turned to the curtain and called brief
directions to some unseen attendants. Almost immediately
a black robe, the very fellow of the black robe
Graham had worn in the theatre, was brought. And
as he threw it about his shoulders there came from
the room without the shrilling of a high-pitched bell.
Ostrog turned in interrogation to the attendant, then
suddenly seemed to change his mind, pulled the
curtain aside and disappeared.
For a moment Graham stood with the deferential
attendant listening to Ostrog's retreating steps.
There was a sound of quick question and answer and
of men running. The curtain was snatched back and
Ostrog reappeared, his massive face glowing with
excitement. He crossed the room in a stride, clicked
the room into darkness, gripped Grahams arm and
pointed to the mirror.
"Even as we turned away," he said.
Graham saw his index finger, black and colossal,
above the mirrored Council House. For a moment
he did not understand. And then he perceived that
the flagstaff that had carried the white banner was
"Do you mean--?" he began.
"The Council has surrendered. Its rule is at an
end for evermore."
"Look!" and Ostrog pointed to a coil of black that
crept in little jerks up the vacant flagstaff, unfolding
as it rose.
The oval picture paled as Lincoln pulled the curtain
aside and entered.
"They are clamourous," he said.
Ostrog kept his grip of Graham's arm.
"We have raised the people," he said. "We have
given them arms. For today at least their wishes
must be law."
Lincoln held the Curtain open for Graham and
Ostrog to pass through.
On his way to the markets Graham had a transitory
glance of a long narrow white-walled room in which
men in the universal blue canvas were carrying
covered things like biers, and about which men in medical
purple hurried to and fro. From this room came
groans and wailing. He had an impression of an
empty blood-stained couch, of men on other couches,
bandaged and blood-stained. It was just a glimpse
from a railed footway and then a buttress hid the place
and they were going on towards the markets.
The roar of the multitude was near now: it leapt to
thunder. And, arresting his attention, a fluttering of
black banners, the waving of blue canvas and brown
rags, and the swarming vastness of the theatre near
the public markets came into view down a long
passage. The picture opened out. He perceived they
were entering the great theatre of his first appearance,
the Freat theatre he had last seen as a chequer-work
of glare and blackness in his flight from the red police.
This time he entered it along a gallery at a level high
above the stage. The place was now brilliantly
lit again. He sought the gangway up which he had
fled, but he could not tell it from among its dozens of
fellows; nor could he see anything of the smashed
seats, deflated cushions, and such like traces of
the fight because of the density of the people. Except
the stage the whole place was closely packed. Looking
down the effect was a vast area of stippled pink,
each dot a still upturned face regarding him. At his
appearance with Ostrog the cheering died away, the
singing died away, a common interest stilled and
unified the disorder. It seemed as though every
individual of those myriads was watching him.
So far as Graham was able to judge, it was near
midday when the white banner of the Council fell.
But some hours had to elapse before it was possible
to effect the formal capitulation, and so after he had
spoken his "Word" he retired to his new apartments
in the wind-vane offices. The continuous excitement
of the last twelve hours had left him inordinately
fatigued, even his curiosity was exhausted; for a space
he sat inert and passive with open eyes, and for a space
he slept. He was roused by two medical attendants,
come prepared with stimulants to sustain him through
the next occasion. After he had taken their drugs
and bathed by their advice in cold water, he felt a
rapid return of interest and energy, and was presently
able and willing to accompany Ostrog through several
miles (as it seemed) of passages, lifts, and slides to the
closing scene of the White Council's rule.
The way ran deviously through a maze of buildings.
They came at last to a passage that curved about, and
showed broadening before him an oblong opening,
clouds hot with sunset, and the ragged skyline of the
ruinous Council House. A tumult of shouts came
drifting up to him. In another moment they had come
out high up on the brow of the cliff of torn buildings
that overhung the wreckage. The vast area opened
to Graham's eyes, none the less strange and wonderful
for the remote view he had had of it in the oval mirror.
This rudely amphitheatral space seemed now the
better part of a mile to its outer edge. It was gold
lit on the left hand, catching the sunlight, and below
and to the right clear and cold in the shadow. Above
the shadowy grey Council House that stood in the
midst of it, the great black banner of the surrender
still hung in sluggish folds against the blazing sunset.
Severed rooms, halls and passages gaped strangely,
broken masses of metal projected dismally from the
complex wreckage, vast masses of twisted cable
dropped like tangled seaweed, and from its base came
a tumult of innumerable voices, violent concussions,
and the sound of trumpets. All about this great white
pile was a ring of desolation; the smashed and
blackened masses, the gaunt foundations and ruinous lumber
of the fabric that had been destroyed by the
Council's orders, skeletons of girders, Titanic masses of wall,
forests of stout pillars. Amongst the sombre wreckage
beneath, running water flashed and glistened, and
far away across the space, out of the midst of a vague
vast mass of buildings, there thrust the twisted end of
a water-main, two hundred feet in the air,
thunderously spouting a shining cascade. And everywhere
great multitudes of people.
Wherever there was space and foothold, people
swarmed, little people, small and minutely clear, except
where the sunset touched them to indistinguishable
gold. They clambered up the tottering walls, they
clung in wreaths and groups about the high-standing
pillars. They swarmed along the edges of the circle
of ruins. The air was full of their shouting, and
were pressing and swaying towards the central space.
The upper storeys of the Council House seemed
deserted, not a human being was visible. Only the
drooping banner of the surrender hung heavily against
the light. The dead were within the Council House,
or hidden by the swarming people, or carried away.
Graham could see only a few neglected bodies in gaps
and corners of the ruins, and amidst the flowing water.
"Will you let them see you, Sire?" said Ostrog.
"They are very anxious to see you."
Graham hesitated, and then walked forward to
where the broken verge of wall dropped sheer. He I
stood looking down, a lonely, tall, black figure against
the sky.
Very slowly the swarming ruins became aware of
him. And as they did so little bands of blackuniformed
men appeared remotely, thrusting through the
crowds towards the Council House. He saw little
black heads become pink, looking at him, saw by that
means a wave of recognition sweep across the space.
It occurred to him that he should accord them some
recognition. He held up his arm, then pointed to the
Council House and dropped his hand. The voices
below became unanimous, gathered volume, came up
to him as multitudinous wavelets of cheering.
The western sky was a pallid bluish green, and
Jupiter shone high in the south, before the capitulation
was accomplished. Above was a slow insensible
change, the advance of night serene and beautiful;
below was hurry, excitement, conflicting orders,
pauses, spasmodic developments of organisation, a
vast ascending clamour and confusion. Before the
Council came out, toiling perspiring men, directed by
a conflict of shouts, carried forth hundreds of those
who had perished in the hand-to-hand conflict within
those long passages and chambers.
Guards in black lined the way that the Council
would come, and as far as the eye could reach into the
hazy blue twilight of the ruins, and swarming now at
every possible point in the captured Council House
and along the shattered cliff of its circumadjacent
buildings, were innumerable people, and their voices
even when they were not cheering, were as the soughing
of the sea upon a pebble beach. Ostrog had
chosen a huge commanding pile of crushed and overthrown
masonry, and on this a stage of timbers and
metal girders was being hastily constructed. Its
essential parts were complete, but humming and
clangorous machinery still glared fitfully in the
shadows beneath this temporary edifice.
The stage had a small higher portion on which
Graham stood with Ostrog and Lincoln close beside him,
a little in advance of a group of minor officers. A
broader lower stage surrounded this quarter deck, and
on this were the black-uniformed guards of the revolt
armed with the little green weapons whose very names
Graham still did not know. Those standing about
him perceived that his eyes wandered perpetually from
the swarming people in the twilight ruins about him
to the darkling mass of the White Council House,
whence the Trustees would presently come, and to
the gaunt cliffs of ruin that encircled him, and so back
to the people. The voices of the crowd swelled to a
deafening tumult.
He saw the Councillors first afar off in the glare of
one of the temporary lights that marked their path,
a little group of white figures blinking in a black
archway. In the Council House they had been in darkness.
He watched them approaching, drawing nearer
past first this blazing electric star and then that; the
minatory roar of the crowd over whom their power
had lasted for a hundred and fifty years marched along
beside them. As they drew still nearer their faces
came out weary, white and anxious. He saw
them blinking up through the glare about him and
Ostrog. He contrasted their strange cold looks in the
Hall of Atlas.. .. Presently he could recognise
several of them; the man who had rapped the table at
Howard, a burly man with a red beard, and one
delicate-featured, short, dark man with a peculiarly long
skull. He noted that two were whispering together
and looking behind him at Ostrog. Next there came
a tall, dark and handsome man, walking downcast.
Abruptly he glanced up, his eyes touched Graham for
a moment, and passed beyond him to Ostrog. The
way that had been made for them was so contrived that
they had to march past and curve about before they
came to the sloping path of planks that ascended to
the stage where their surrender was to be made.
"The Master, the Master! God and the Master,"
shouted the people." To hell with the Council!"
Graham looked at their multitudes, receding beyond
counting into a shouting haze, and then at Ostrog
beside him, white and steadfast and still. His eye
went again to the little group of White Councillors.
And then he looked up at the familiar quiet stars
overhead. The marvellous element in his fate was
suddenly vivid. Could that be his indeed, that little life
in his memory two hundred years gone by--and this
as well?
And so after strange delays and through an avenue
of doubt and battle, this man from the nineteenth
century came at last to his position at the head of that
complex world.
At first when he rose from the long deep sleep that
followed his rescue and the surrender of the Council,
he did not recognise his surroundings. By an effort
he gained a clue in his mind, and all that had
happened came back to him, at first with a quality of
insincerity like a story heard, like something read out
of a book. And even before his memories were clear,
the exultation of his escape, the wonder of his
prominence were back in his mind. He was owner of half
the world; Master of the Earth. This new great age
was in the completest sense his. He no longer hoped
to discover his experiences a dream; he became
anxious now to convince himself that they were real.
An obsequious valet assisted him to dress under the
direction of a dignified chief attendant, a little man
whose face proclaimed him Japanese, albeit he spoke
English like an Englishman. From the latter he
learnt something of the state of affairs. Already the
revolution was an accepted fact; already business was
being resumed throughout the city. Abroad the
downfall of the Council had been received for the most
part with delight. Nowhere was the Council popular,
and the thousand cities of Western America, after two
hundred years still jealous of New York, London, and
the East, had risen almost unanimously two days
before at the news of Graham's imprisonment. Paris
was fighting within itself. The rest of the world hung
in suspense.
While he was breaking his fast, the sound of a
telephone bell jetted from a corner, and his chief
attendant called his attention to the voice of Ostrog making
polite enquiries. Graham interrupted his refreshment
to reply. Very shortly Lincoln arrived, and Graham
at once expressed a strong desire to talk to people and
to be shown more of the new life that was opening
before him. Lincoln informed him that in three hours'
time a representative gathering of officials and their
wives would be held in the state apartments of the
wind-vane Chief. Graham's desire to traverse the
ways of the city was, however, at present impossible,
because of the enormous excitement of the people.
It was, however, quite possible for him to take a bird's
eye view of the city from the crow's nest of the
windvane keeper. To this accordingly Graham was
conducted by his attendant. Lincoln, with a graceful
compliment to the attendant, apologised for not
accompanying them, on account of the present
pressure of administrative work.
Higher even than the most gigantic wind-wheels
hung this crow's nest, a clear thousand feet above the
roofs, a little disc-shaped speck on a spear of metallic
filigree, cable stayed. To its summit Graham was
drawn in a little wire-hung cradle. Halfway down
the frail-seeming stem was a light gallery about which
hung a cluster of tubes--minute they looked from
above--rotating slowly on the ring of its outer rail.
These were the specula, __en rapport__ with the wind-vane
keeper's mirrors, in one of which Ostrog had shown
him the coming of his rule. His Japanese attendant
ascended before him and they spent nearly an hour
asking and answering questions.
It was a day full of the promise and quality of
spring. The touch of the wind warmed. The sky
was an intense blue and the vast expanse of London
shone dazzling under the morning sun. The air was
clear of smoke and haze, sweet as the air of a mountain
Save for the irregular oval of ruins about the House
of the Council and the black flag of the surrender that
fluttered there, the mighty city seen from above
showed few signs of the swift revolution that had, to
his imagination, in one night and one day, changed
the destinies of the world. A multitude of people still
swarmed over these ruins, and the huge openwork
stagings in the distance from which started in times of
peace the service of aeroplanes to the various great
cities of Europe and America, were also black with
the victors. Across a narrow way of planking raised
on trestles that crossed the ruins a crowd of workmen
were busy restoring the connection between the cables
and wires of the Council House and the rest of the
city, preparatory to the transfer thither of Ostrog's
headquarters from the Wind-Vane buildings.
For the rest the luminous expanse was undisturbed.
So vast was its serenity in comparison with the areas
of disturbance, that presently Graham, looking beyond
them, could almost forget the thousands of men Iying
out of sight in the artificial glare within the
quasi-subterranean labyrinth, dead or dying of the overnight
wounds, forget the improvised wards with the hosts of
surgeons, nurses, and bearers feverishly busy, forget,
indeed,' all the wonder, consternation and novelty
under the electric lights. Down there in the hidden
ways of the anthill he knew that the revolution
triumphed, that black everywhere carried the day, black
favours, black banners, black festoons across the
streets. And out here, under the fresh sunlight,
beyond the crater of the fight, as if nothing had
happened to the earth, the forest of Wind Vanes that had
grown from one or two while the Council had ruled,
roared peacefully upon their incessant duty.
Far away, spiked, jagged and indented by the wind
vanes, the Surrey Hills rose blue and faint; to the
north and nearer, the sharp contours of Highgate and
Muswell Hill were similarly jagged. And all over the
countryside, he knew, on every crest and hill, where
once the hedges had interlaced, and cottages, churches,
inns, and farmhouses had nestled among their trees,
wind wheels similar to those he saw and bearing like
vast advertisements, gaunt and distinctive
symbols of the new age, cast their whirling shadows and
stored incessantly the energy that flowed away
incessantly through all the arteries of the city. And
underneath these wandered the countless flocks and herds
of the British Food Trust with their lonely guards and
Not a familiar outline anywhere broke the cluster
of gigantic shapes below. St. Paul's he knew
survived, and many of the old buildings in Westminster,
embedded out of sight, arched over and covered in
among the giant growths of this great age. The
Themes, too, made no fall and gleam of silver
to break the wilderness of the city; the thirsty
water mains drank up every drop of its waters
before they reached the walls. Its bed and estuary
scoured and sunken, was now a canal of sea water
and a race of grimy bargemen brought the heavy
materials of trade from the Pool thereby beneath the
very feet of the workers. Faint and dim in the
eastward between earth and sky hung the clustering masts
of the colossal shipping in the Pool. For all the
heavy traffic, for which there was no need of haste,
came in gigantic sailing ships from the ends of the
earth, and the heavy goods for which there was
urgency in mechanical ships of a smaller swifter sort.
And to the south over the hills, came vast aqueducts
with sea water for the sewers and in three separate
directions, ran pallid lines--the roads, stippled with
moving grey specks. On the first occasion that offered
he was determined to go out and see these roads.
That would come after the flying ship he was presently
to try. His attendant officer described them as a pair
of gently curving surfaces a hundred yards wide, each
one for the traffic going in one direction, and made of
a substance called Eadhamite--an artificial substance,.
so far as he could gather, resembling toughened glass.
Along this shot a strange traffic of narrow rubber-shod
vehicles, great single wheels, two and four wheeled
vehicles, sweeping along at velocities of from one to
six miles a minute. Railroads had vanished; a few
embankments remained as rust-crowned trenches here
and there. Some few formed the cores of Eadhamite
Among the first things to strike his attention had
been the great fleets of advertisement balloons and
kites that receded in irregular vistas northward and
southward along the lines of the aeroplane journeys.
No aeroplanes were to be seen. Their passages had
ceased, and only one little-seeming aeropile circled
high in the blue distance above the Surrey Hills, an
unimpressive soaring speck.
A thing Graham had already learnt, and which he
found very hard to imagine, was that nearly all the
towns in the country, and almost all the villages, had
disappeared. Here and there only, he understood,
some gigantic hotel-like edifice stood amid square
miles of some single cultivation and preserved the
name of a town--as Bournemouth, Wareham, or
Swanage. Yet the officer had speedily convinced him
how inevitable such a change had been. The old
order had dotted the country with farmhouses, and
every two or three miles was the ruling landlord's
estate, and the place of the inn and cobbler, the
grocer's shop and church--the village. Every eight
miles or so was the country town, where lawyer, corn
merchant, wool-stapler, saddler, veterinary surgeon,
doctor, draper, milliner and so forth lived. Every
eight miles--simply because that eight mile marketing
journey, four there and back, was as much as was
comfortable for the farmer. But directly the railways
came into play, and after them the light railways, and
all the swift new motor cars that had replaced waggons
and horses, and so soon as the high roads began to
be made of wood, and rubber, and Eadhamite, and
all sorts of elastic durable substances--the necessity
of having such frequent market towns disappeared.
And the big towns grew. They drew the worker with
the gravitational force of seemingly endless work, the
employer with their suggestions of an infinite ocean of
And as the standard of comfort rose, as the complexity
of the mechanism of living increased life in
the country had become more and more costly, or
narrow and impossible. The disappearance of vicar
and squire, the extinction of the general practitioner
by the city specialist, had robbed the village of its last
touch of culture. After telephone, kinematograph
and phonograph had replaced newspaper, book,
schoolmaster, and letter, to live outside the range of
the electric cables was to live an isolated savage. In
the country were neither means of being clothed nor
fed (according to the refined conceptions of the time),
no efficient doctors for an emergency, no company
and no pursuits.
Moreover, mechanical appliances in agriculture
made one engineer the equivalent of thirty labourers.
So, inverting the condition of the city clerk in the
days when London was scarce inhabitable because of
the coaly foulness of its air, the labourers now came
hurrying by road or air to the city and its life and
delights at night to leave it again in the morning.
The city had swallowed up humanity; man had entered
upon a new stage in his development. First had come
the nomad, the hunter, then had followed the agriculturist
of the agricultural state, whose towns and cities
and ports were but the headquarters and markets of
the countryside. And now, logical consequence of
an epoch of invention, was this huge new aggregation
of men. Save London, there were only four other
cities in Britain -- Edinburgh, Portsmouth,
Manchester and Shrewsbury. Such things as these, simple
statements of fact though they were to contemporary
men, strained Graham's imagination to picture. And
when he glanced "over beyond there" at the strange
things that existed on the Continent, it failed him
He had a vision of city beyond city, cities on great
plains, cities beside great rivers, vast cities along the
sea margin, cities girdled by snowy mountains. Over
a great part of the earth the English tongue was
spoken; taken together with its Spanish American and
Hindoo and Negro and "Pidgin" dialects, it was the
everyday language of two-thirds of the people of the
earth. On the Continent, save as remote and curious
survivals, three other languages alone held sway--
German, which reached to Antioch and Genoa and
jostled Spanish-English at Gdiz, a Gallicised Russian
which met the Indian English in Persia and Kurdistan
and the "Pidgin" English in Pekin, and French still
clear and brilliant, the language of lucidity, which
shared the Mediterranean with the Indian English and
German and reached through a negro dialect to the
And everywhere now, through the city-set earth,
save in the administered "black belt" territories of
the tropics, the same cosmopolitan social organisatior
prevailed, and everywhere from Pole to Equator his
property and his responsibilities extended. The whole
world was civilised; the whole world dwelt in cities;
the whole world was property. Over the British
Empire and throughout America his ownership was
scarcely disguised, Congress and Parliament were
usually regarded as antique, curious gatherings. And
even in the two Empires of Russia and Germany, the
influence of his wealth was conceivably of enormous
weight. There, of course, came problems--possibilities,
but, uplifted as he was, even Russia and Germany
seemed sufficiently remote. And of the quality of the
black belt administration, and of what that might mean
for him he thought, after the fashion of his former
days, not at all. That it should hang like a threat over
the spacious vision before him could not enter his
nineteenth century mind. But his mind turned at once
from the scenery to the thought of a vanished dread.
"What of the yellow peril?" he asked and Asano made
him explain. The Chinese spectre had vanished.
Chinaman and European were at peace. The twentieth
century had discovered with reluctant certainty that
the average Chinaman was as civilised, more moral,
and far more intelligent than the average European
serf, and had repeated on a gigantic scale the
fraternisation of Scot and Englishman that happened in the
seventeenth century. As Asano put it; "They thought
it over. They found we were white men after all."
Graham turned again to the view and his thoughts
took a new direction.
Out of the dim south-west, glittering and strange,
voluptuous, and in some way terrible, shone those
Pleasure Cities, of which the kinematograph-phonograph
and the old man in the street had spoken.
Strange places reminiscent of the legendary Sybaris,
cities of art and beauty, mercenary art and mercenary
beauty, sterile wonderful cities of motion and music,
whither repaired all who profited by the fierce,
inglorious, economic struggle that went on in the glaring
labyrinth below.
Fierce he knew it was. How fierce he could judge
from the fact that these latter-day people referred back
to the England of the nineteenth century as the figure
of an idyllic easy-going life. He turned his eyes to
the scene immediately before him again, trying to
conceive the big factories of that intricate maze.
Northward he knew were the potters, makers not
only of earthenware and china, but of the kindred
pastes and compounds a subtler mineralogical
chemistry had devised; there were the makers of statuettes
and wall ornaments and much intricate furniture;
there too were the factories where feverishly
competitive authors devised their phonograph discourses and
advertisements and arranged the groupings and
developments for their perpetually startling and novel
kinematographic dramatic works. Thence, too, flashed
the world-wide messages, the world-wide falsehoods of
the news-tellers, the chargers of the telephonic
machines that had replaced the newspapers of the past.
To the westward beyond the smashed Council
House were the voluminous offices of municipal control
and government; and to the eastward, towards
the port, the trading quarters, the huge public markets,
the theatres, houses of resort, betting palaces, miles of
billiard saloons, baseball and football circuses, wild
beast rings and the innumerable temples of the
Christian and quasi-Christian sects, the Mahomedans,
Buddhists, Gnostics, Spook Worshippers, the Incubus
Worshippers, the Furniture Worshippers, and so
forth; and to the south again a vast manufacture of
textiles, pickles, wines and condiments. And from
point to point tore the countless multitudes along the
roaring mechanical ways. A gigantic hive, of which
the winds were tireless servants, and the ceaseless
wind-vanes an appropriate crown and symbol.
He thought of the unprecedented population that
had been sucked up by this sponge of halls and
galleries--the thirty-three million lives that were
playing out each its own brief ineffectual drama below
him, and the complacency that the brightness of the
day and the space and splendour of the view, and above
all the sense of his own importance had begotten,
dwindled and perished. Looking down from this
height over the city it became at last possible to
conceive this overwhelming multitude of thirty-three
millions, the reality of the responsibility he would take
upon himself, the vastness of the human Maelstron
over which his slender kingship hung.
He tried to figure the individual life. It astonished
him to realise how little the common man had changed
in spite of the visible change in his conditions. Life
and property, indeed, were secure from violence almost
all over the world, zymotic diseases, bacterial diseases
of all sorts had practically vanished, everyone had a
sufficiency of food and clothing, was warmed in the
city ways and sheltered from the weather--so much
the almost mechanical progress of science and the
physical organisation of society had accomplished.
But the crowd, he was already beginning to discover,
was a crowd still, helpless in the hands of demagogue
and organiser, individually cowardly, individually
swayed by appetite, collectively incalculable. The
memory of countless figures in pale blue canvas came
before his mind. Millions of such men and women
below him, he knew, had never been out of the city,
had never seen beyond the little round of unintelligent
grudging participation in the world's business, and
unintelligent dissatisfied sharing in its tawdrier
pleasures. He thought of the hopes of his vanished
contemporaries, and for a moment the dream of London
in Morris's quaint old __News from Nowhere__, and the
perfect land of Hudson's beautiful __Crystal Age_- appeared
before him in an atmosphere of infinite loss.
He thought of his own hopes.
For in the latter days of that passionate life that lay
now so far behind him, the conception of a free and
equal manhood had become a very real thing to him.
He had hoped, as indeed his age had hoped, rashly
taking it for granted, that the sacrifice of the many
to the few would some day cease, that a day was near
when every child born of woman should have a fair
and assured chance of happiness. And here, after two
hundred years, the same hope, still unfulfilled, cried
passionately through the city. After two hundred
years, he knew, greater than ever, grown with the city
to gigantic proportions, were poverty and helpless
labour and all the sorrows of his time.
Already he knew something of the history of the
intervening years. He had heard now of the moral
decay that had followed the collapse of supernatural
religion in the minds of ignoble man, the decline of
public honour, the ascendency of wealth. For men
who had lost their belief in God had still kept their
faith in property, and wealth ruled a venial world.
His Japanese attendant, Asano, in expounding the
political history of the intervening two centuries, drew
an apt image from a seed eaten by insect parasites.
First there is the original seed, ripening vigorously
enough. And then comes some insect and lays an egg
under the skin, and behold! in a little while the seed
is a hollow shape with an active grub inside that has
eaten out its substance. And then comes some secondary
parasite, some ichneumon fly, and lays an egg
within this grub, and behold! that, too, is a hollow
shape, and the new living thing is inside its predecessor's
skin which itself is snug within the seed coat.
And the seed coat still keeps its shape, most people
think it a seed still, and for all one knows it may still
think itself a seed, vigorous and alive. "Your
Victorian kingdom," said Asano, "was like that--kingship
with the heart eaten out. "The landowners--
the barons and gentry--began ages ago with King
John; there were lapses, but they beheaded King
Charles, and ended practically with King George
mere husk of a king . . . the real power in the
hands of their parliament. But the Parliament--the
organ of the land-holding tenant-ruling gentry--did
not keep its power long. The change had already
come in the nineteenth century. The franchises had
been broadened until it included masses of ignorant
men, "urban myriads," who went in their featureless
thousands to vote together. And the natural
consequence of a swarming constituency is the rule of the
party organisation. Power was passing even in the
Victorian time to the party machinery, secret,
complex, and corrupt. Very speedily power was in the
hands of great men of business who financed the
machines. A time came when the real power and
interest of the Empire rested visibly between the two
party councils, ruling by newspapers and electoral
organisations--two small groups of rich and able
men, working at first in opposition, then presently
There was a reaction of a genteel ineffectual sort.
There were numberless books in existence, Asano said,
to prove that--the publication of some of them was
as early as Graham's sleep--a whole literature of
reaction in fact. The party of the reaction seems to
have locked itself into its study and rebelled with
unflinching determination--on paper. The urgent
necessity of either capturing or depriving the party
councils of power is a common suggestion underlying
all the thoughtful work of the early twentieth century,
both in America and England. In most of these
things America was a little earlier than England,
though both countries drove the same way.
That counter-revolution never came. It could
never organise and keep pure. There was not enough
of the old sentimentality, the old faith in righteousness,
left among men. Any organisation that became
big enough to influence the polls became complex
enough to be undermined, broken up, or bought outright
by capable rich men. Socialistic and Popular,
Reactionary and Purity Parties were all at last mere
Stock Exchange counters, selling their principles to
pay for their electioneering. And the great concern
of the rich was naturally to keep property intact, the
board clear for the game of trade. Just as the feudal
concern had been to keep the board clear for hunting
and war. The whole world was exploited, a battle
field of businesses; and financial convulsions, the
scourge of currency manipulation, tariff wars, made
more human misery during the twentieth century--
because the wretchedness was dreary life instead of
speedy death--than had war, pestilence and famine, in
the darkest hours of earlier history.
His own part in the development of this time he
now knew clearly enough. Through the successive
phases in the development of this mechanical
civilisation, aiding and presently directing its development,
there had grown a new power, the Council, the board
of his trustees. At first it had been a mere chance
union of the millions of Isbister and Warming, a
mere property holding company, the creation of two
childless testators' whims, but the collective talent of
its first constitution had speedily guided it to a vast
influence, until by title deed, loan and share, under a
hundred disguises and pseudonyms it had ramified
through the fabric of the American and English
Wielding an enormous influence and patronage, the
Council had early assumed a political aspect; and in
its development it had continually used its wealth to
tip the beam of political decisions and its political
advantages to grasp yet more and more wealth. At
last the party organisations of two hemispheres were
in its hands; it became an inner council of political
control. Its last struggle was with the tacit alliance
of the great Jewish families. But these families were
linked only by a feeble sentiment, at any time
inheritance might fling a huge fragment of their resources to
a minor, a woman or a fool, marriages and legacies
alienated hundreds of thousands at one blow. The
Council had no such breach in its continuity.
Steadily, steadfastly it grew.
The original Council was not simply twelve men of
exceptional ability; they fused, it was a council of
genius. It struck boldly for riches, for political
influence, and the two subserved each other. With
amazing foresight it spent great sums of money on the
art of flying, holding that invention back against an
hour foreseen. It used the patent laws, and a thousand
half-legal expedients, to hamper all investigators
who refused to work with it. In the old days it never
missed a capable man. It paid his price. Its policy
in those days was vigorous--unerring, and against it
as it grew steadily and incessantly was only the chaotic
selfish rule of the casually rich. In a hundred years
Graham had become almost exclusive owner of
Africa, of South America, of France, of London, of
England and all its influence--for all practical
purposes, that is--a power in North America--then the
dominant power in America. The Council bought
and organised China, drilled Asia, crippled the Old
World empires, undermined them financially, fought
and defeated them.
And this spreading usurpation of the world was so
dexterously performed--a proteus--hundreds of
banks, companies, syndicates, masked the Council's
operations--that it was already far advanced before
common men suspected the tyranny that had come.
The Council never hesitated, never faltered. Means of
communication, land, buildings, governments, municipalities,
the territorial companies of the tropics, every
human enterprise, it gathered greedily. And it drilled
and marshalled its men, its railway police, its roadway
police, its house guards, and drain and cable guards,
its hosts of land-workers. Their unions it did not
fight, but it undermined and betrayed and bought
them. It bought the world at last. And, finally, its
culminating stroke was the introduction of flying.
When the Council, in conflict with the workers in
some of its huge monopolies, did something flagrantly
illegal and that without even the ordinary civility of
bribery, the old Law, alarmed for the profits of its
complaisance, looked about it for weapons. But there
were no more armies, no fighting navies; the age of
Peace had' come. The only possible war ships were
the great steam vessels of the Council's Navigation
Trust. The police forces they controlled; the police of
the railways, of the ships, of their agricultural estates,
their time-keepers and order-keepers, outnumbered
the neglected little forces of the old country and
municipal organisations ten to one. And they produced
flying machines. There were men alive still who could
remember the last great debate in the London House
of Commons--the legal party, the party against the
Council was in a minority, but it made a desperate
fight--and how the members came crowding out upon
the terrace to see these great unfamiliar winged
shapes circling quietly overhead. The Council had
soared to its power. The last sham of a democracy
that had permitted unlimited irresponsible property
was at an end.
Within one hundred and fifty years of Graham's
falling asleep, his Council had thrown off its disguises and
ruled openly, supreme in his name. Elections had
become a cheerful formality, a septennial folly, an
ancient unmeaning custom; a social Parliament as
inefectual as the convocation of the Established
Church in Victorian times assembled now and then;
and a legitimate King of England, disinherited,
drunken and witless, played foolishly in a second-rate
music-hall. So the magnificent dream of the nineteenth
century, the noble project of universal individual
liberty and universal happiness, touched by a
disease of honour, crippled by a superstition of
absolute property, crippled by the religious feuds that had
robbed the common citizens of education, robbed men
of standards of conduct, and brought the sanctions
of morality to utter contempt, had worked itself
out in the face of invention and ignoble enterprise,
first to a warring plutocracy, and finally to the
rule of a supreme plutocrat. His Council at last had
ceased even to trouble to have its decrees endorsed by
the constitutional authorities, and he a motionless,
sunken, yellow-skinned figure had lain, neither dead
nor living, recognisably and immediately Master of the
Earth. And awoke at last to find himself--Master of
that inheritance! Awoke to stand under the cloudless
empty sky and gaze down upon the greatness of his
To what end had he awakened? Was this city, this
hive of hopeless toilers, the final refutation of his
ancient hopes? Or was the fire of liberty, the fire that
had blazed and waned in the years of his past life, still
smouldering below there? He thought of the stir and
impulse of the song of the revolution. Was that song
merely the trick of a demagogue, to be forgotten when
its purpose was served? Was the hope that still stirred
within him only the memory of abandoned things, the
vestige of a creed outworn? Or had it a wider meaning,
an import interwoven with the destiny of man?
To what end had he awakened, what was there for him
to do? Humanity was spread below him like a map.
He thought of the millions and millions of humanity
following each other unceasingly for ever out of the
darkness of non-existence into the darkness of death.
To what end? Aim there must be, but it transcended
his power of thought. He saw for the first time clearly
his own infinite littleness, saw stark and terrible the
tragic contrast of human strength and the craving of
the human heart. For that little while he knew himself
for the petty accident he was, and knew therewith the
greatness of his desire. And suddenly his littleness
was intolerable, his aspiration was intolerable, and
there came to him an irresistible impulse to pray. And
he prayed. He prayed vague, incoherent, contradictory
things, his soul strained up through time and
space and all the fleeting multitudinous confusion of
being, towards something--he scarcely knew what--
towards something that could comprehend his striving
and endure.
A man and a woman were far below on a roof space
to the southward enjoying the freshness of the morning
air. The man had brought out a perspective glass
to spy upon the Council House and he was showing
her how to use it. Presently their curiosity was satisfied,
they could see no traces of bloodshed from their
position, and after a survey of the empty sky she came
round to the crow's nest. And there she saw two little
black figures, so small it was hard to believe they were
men, one who watched and one who gesticulated with
hands outstretched to the silent emptiness of Heaven.
She handed the glass to the man. He looked and
"I believe it is the Master. Yes. I am sure. It is
the Master!"
He lowered the glass and looked at her. "Waving
his hands about almost as if he was praying. I wonder
what he is up to. Worshipping the sun? There
weren't Parses in this country in his time, were
He looked again. "He's stopped it now. It was a
chance attitude, I suppose." He put down the glass
and became meditative. "He won't have anything to
do but enjoy himself--just enjoy himself. Ostrog will
boss the show of course. Ostrog will have to, because
of leeping all these Labourer fools in bounds. Them
and their song! And got it all by sleeping, dear eyes
--just sleeping. It's a wonderful world."
The state apartments of the Wind Vane Keeper
would have seemed astonishingly intricate to Graham
had he entered them fresh from his nineteenth century
life, but already he was growing accustomed to the scale
of the new time. They can scarcely be described as
halls and rooms, seeing that a complicated system of
arches, bridges, passages and galleries divided and
united every part of the great space. He came out
through one of the now familiar sliding panels upon a.
plateau of landing at the head of a flight of very broad
and gentle steps, with men and women far more
brilliantly dressed than any he had hitherto seen
ascending and descending. From this position he
looked down a vista of intricate ornament in lustreless
white and mauve and purple, spanned by bridges that
seemed wrought of porcelain and filigree, and terminating
far off in a cloudy mystery of perforated screens.
Glancing upward, he saw tier above tier of ascending
galleries with faces looking down upon him. The
air was full of the babble of innumerable voices and of
a music that descended from above, a gay and exhilarating
music whose source he never discovered.
The central aisle was thick with people, but by no
means uncomfortably crowded; altogether that assembly
must have numbered many thousands. They were
brilliantly, even fantastically dressed, the men as
fancifully as the women, for the sobering influence of the
Puritan conception of dignity upon masculine dress
had long since passed away. The hair of the men, too,
though it was rarely worn long, was commonly curled
in a manner that suggested the barber, and baldness
had vanished from the earth. Frizzy straight-cut
masses that would have charmed Rossetti abounded,
and one gentleman, who was pointed out to Graham
under the mysterious title of an "amorist", wore his
hair in two becoming plaits a la Marguerite. The
pigtail was in evidence; it would seem that citizens of
Chinese extraction were no longer ashamed of their
race. There was little uniformity of fashion apparent
in the forms of clothing worn. The more shapely
men displayed their symmetry in trunk hose, and
here were puffs and slashes, and there a cloak
and there a robe. The fashions of the days of
Leo the Tenth were perhaps the prevailing influence,
but the aesthetic conceptions of the far east
were also patent. Masculine embonpoint, which,
in Victorian times, would have been subjected to the
tightly buttoned perils, the ruthless exaggeration of
tight-legged tight-armed evening dress, now formed
but the basis of a wealth of dignity and drooping folds.
Graceful slenderness abounded' also. To Graham, a
typically stiff man from a typically stiff period, not only
did these men seem altogether too graceful in person,
but altogether too expressive in their vividly
expressive faces. They gesticulated, they expressed surprise,
interest, amusement, above all, they expressed the
emotions excited in their minds by the ladies about
them with astonishing frankness. Even at the first
glance it was evident that women were in a great
The ladies in the company of these gentlemen displayed
in dress, bearing and manner alike, less
emphasis and more intricacy. Some affected a classical
simplicity of robing and subtlety of fold, after the
fashion of the First French Empire, and flashed
conquering arms and shoulders as Graham passed.
Others had closely-fitting dresses without seam or belt
at the waist, sometimes with long folds falling from the
shoulders. The delightful confidences of evening
dress had not been diminished by the passage of two
Everyone's movements seemed graceful. Graham
remarked to Lincoln that he saw men as Raphael's
cartoons walking, and Lincoln told him that the
attainment of an appropriate set of gestures was part of
every rich person's education. The Master's entry was
greeted with a sort of tittering applause, but these
people showed their distinguished manners by not
crowding upon him nor annoying him by any persistent
scrutiny, as he descended the steps towards the floor of
the aisle.
He had already learnt from Lincoln that these were
the leaders of existing London society; almost every
person there that night was either a powerful official
or the immediate connexion of a powerful official.
Many had returned from the European Pleasure Cities
expressly to welcome him. The aeronautic authorities,
whose defection had played a part in the overthrow
of the Council only second to Graham's were
very prominent, and so, too, was the Wind Vane Control.
Amongst others there were several of the more
prominent officers of the Food Trust; the controller of
the European Piggeries had a particularly melancholy
and interesting countenance and a daintily cynical
manner. A bishop in full canonicals passed athwart
Graham's vision, conversing with a gentleman dressed
exactly like the traditional Chaucer, including even the
laurel wreath.
"Who is that?" he asked almost involuntarily
"The Bishop of London," said Lincoln.
"No--the other, I mean."
"Poet Laureate."
"You still?"
"He doesn't make poetry, of course. He's a cousin
of Wotton--one of the Councillors. But he's one of
the Red Rose Royalists--a delightful club--and they
keep up the tradition of these things."
"Asano told me there was a King."
"The King doesn't belong. They had to expel him.
It's the Stuart blood, I suppose; but really--"
"Too much?"
"Far too much."
Graham did not quite follow all this, but it seemed
part of the general inversion of the new age. He
bowed condescendingly to his first introduction. It
was evident that subtle distinctions of class prevailed
even in this assembly, that only to a small proportion
of the guests, to an inner group, did Lincoln consider
it appropriate to introduce him. This first introduction
was the Master Aeronaut, a man whose suntanned
face contrasted oddly with the delicate complexions
about him. Just at present his critical defection
from the Council made him a very important person indeed.
His manner contrasted very favourably, according
to Graham's ideas, with the general bearing. He
made a few commonplace remarks, assurances of
loyalty and frank inquiries about the Master's health.
His manner was breezy, his accent lacked the easy
staccato of latter-day English. He made it admirably
clear to Graham that he was a bluff "aerial dog"---he
used that phrase--that there was no nonsense about
him, that he was a thoroughly manly fellow and
old-fashioned at that, that he didn't profess to know much,
and that what he did not know was not worth knowing
He made a manly bow, ostentatiously free from obsequiousness
and passed.
"I am glad to see that type endures," said Graham
"Phonographs and kinematographs," said Lincoln,
a little spitefully. "He has studied from the life."
Graham glanced at the burly form again. It was oddly
"As a matter of fact we bought him," said Lincoln.
"Partly. And partly he was afraid of Ostrog
Everything rested with him."
He turned sharply to introduce the
Surveyor-General of the Public School Trust. This person
was a willowy figure in a blue-grey academic gown, he
beamed down upon Graham through __pince-nez__ of a
Victorian pattern, and illustrated his remarks by
gestures of a beautifully manicured hand. Graham was
immediately interested in this gentleman's functions,
and asked him a number of singularly direct questions.
The Surveyor-General seemed quietly amused at the
Master's fundamental bluntness. He was a little
vague as to the monopoly of education his Company
possessed; it was done by contract with the syndicate
that ran the numerous London Municipalities, but he
waxed enthusiastic over educational progress since the
Victorian times. "We have conquered Cram," he
said, "completely conquered Cram--there is not an
examination left in the world. Aren't you glad?"
"How do you get the work done?" asked Graham.
"We make it attractive--as attractive as possible.
And if it does not attract then--we let it go. We cover
an immense field."
He proceeded to details, and they had a lengthy
conversation. The Surveyor-General mentioned the
names of Pestalozzi and Froebel with profound
respect, although he displayed no intimacy with their
epoch-making works. Graham learnt that University
Extension still existed in a modified form. "There is
a certain type of girl, for example," said the Surveyor-
General, dilating with a sense of his usefulness, "with
a perfect passion for severe studies--when they are not
too difficult you know. We cater for them by the
thousand. At this moment," he said with a
Napoleonic touch, "nearly five hundred phonographs
are lecturing in different parts of London on the
influence exercised by Plato and Swift on the love affairs
of Shelley, Hazlitt, and Burns. And afterwards they
write essays on the lectures, and the names in order of
merit are put in conspicuous places. You see how
your little germ has grown? The illiterate middle-class
of your days has quite passed away."
"About the public elementary schools," said
Graham. "Do you control them?"
The Surveyor-General did, "entirely." Now,
Graham, in his later democratic days, had taken a keen
interest in these and his questioning quickened. Certain
casual phrases that had fallen from the old man
with whom he had talked in the darkness recurred to
him. The Surveyor-General, in effect, endorsed the
old man's words. "We have abolished Cram," he
said, a phrase Graham was beginning to interpret as
the abolition of all sustained work. The Surveyor-
General became sentimental. "We try and make the
elementary schools very pleasant for the little
children. They will have to work so soon. Just a few
simple principles--obedience--industry."
"You teach them very little?"
"Why should we? It only leads to trouble and discontent.
We amuse them. Even as it is--there are
troubles--agitations. Where the labourers get the
ideas, one cannot tell. They tell one another. There
are socialistic dreams--anarchy even! Agitators will
get to work among them. I take it--I have always
taken it--that my foremost duty is to fight against
popular discontent. Why should people be made
"I wonder," said Graham thoughtfully. "But there
are a great many things I want to know."
Lincoln, who had stood watching Graham's face
throughout the conversation, intervened. "There are
others," he said in an undertone.
The Surveyor-General of schools gesticulated himself
away. "Perhaps," said Lincoln, intercepting a
casual glance, " you would like to know some of these
The daughter of the Manager of the Piggeries of
the European Food Trust was a particularly charming
little person with red hair and animated blue eyes.
Lincoln left him awhile to converse with her, and she
displayed herself as quite an enthusiast for the "dear
old times," as she called them, that had seen the
beginning of his trance. As she talked she smiled, and her
eyes smiled in a manner that demanded reciprocity.
"I have tried," she said, "countless times--to
imagine those old romantic days. And to you they
are memories. How strange and crowded the world
must seem to you! I have seen photographs and pictures
of the old times, the little isolated houses built of
bricks made out of burnt mud and all black with soot
from your fires, the railway bridges, the simple
advertisements, the solemn savage Puritanical men in
strange black coats and those tall hats of theirs, iron
railway trains on iron bridges overhead, horses and
cattle, and even dogs running half wild about the
streets. And suddenly, you have come into this!"
"Into this," said Graham.
"Out of your life--out of all that was familiar."
"The old life was not a happy one," said Graham.
"I do not regret that."
She looked at him quickly. There was a brief pause.
She sighed encouragingly. "No? "
"No," said Graham. "It was a little life--and
unmeaning. But this--. We thought the world
complex and crowded and civilised enough. Yet I see
--although in this world I am barely four days old--
looking back on my own time, that it was a queer,
barbaric time--the mere beginning of this new order.
The mere beginning of this new order. You will find
it hard to understand how little I know."
" You may ask me what you like," she said, smiling
at him.
"Then tell me who these people are. I'm still very
much in the dark about them. It's puzzling. Are
there any Generals? "
"Men in hats and feathers?"
"Of course not. No. I suppose they are the men
who control the great public businesses. Who is that
distinguished looking man?"
"That? He's a most important officer. That is
Morden. He is managing director of the Antibilious
Pill Company. I have heard that his workers sometimes
turn out a myriad myriad pills a day in the
twenty-four hours. Fancy a myriad myriad!"
"A myriad myriad. No wonder he looks proud,"
said Graham. "Pills! What a wonderful time it is!
That man in purple?"
"He is not quite one of the inner circle, you know.
But we like him. He is really clever and very amusing.
He is one of the heads of the Medical Faculty of
our London University. All medical men, you know,
are shareholders in the Medical Faculty Company,
and wear that purple. You have to be--to be qualified.
But of course, people who are paid' by fees for
doing something--" She smiled away the social
pretensions of all such people.
"Are any of your great artists or authors here?"
"No authors. They are mostly such queer people--
and so preoccupied about themselves. And they
quarrel so dreadfully! They will fight, some of them, for
precedence on staircases! Dreadful isn't it? But I
think Wraysbury, the fashionable capillotomist, is
here. From Capri."
"Capillotomist," said Graham. "Ah! I remember.
An artist! Why not?"
"We have to cultivate him," she said apologetically.
"Our heads are in his hands." She smiled.
Graham hesitated at the invited compliment, but his
glance was expressive. "Have the arts grown with
the rest of civilised things?" he said. "Who are your
great painters?"
She looked at him doubtfully. Then laughed.
"For a moment," she said, "I thought you meant--"
She laughed again. "You mean, of course, those
good men you used to think so much of because they
could cover great spaces of canvas with oil-colours?
Great oblongs. And people used to put the things in
gilt frames and hang them up in rows in their square
rooms. We haven't any. People grew tired of that
sort of thing."
"But what did you think I meant?"
She put a finger significantly on a cheek whose glow
was above suspicion, and smiled and looked very arch
and pretty and inviting. "And here," and she
indicated her eyelid.
Graham had an adventurous moment. Then a
grotesque memory of a picture he had somewhere
seen of Uncle Toby and the Widow flashed across his
mind. An archaic shame came upon him. He
became acutely aware that he was visible to a great
number of interested people. "I see," he remarked
inadequately. He turned awkwardly away from her,
fascinating facility. He looked about him to meet a
number of eyes that immediately occupied themselves
with other things. Possibly he coloured a little.
"Who is that talking with the lady in saffron?" he
asked, avoiding her eyes.
The person in question he learnt was one of the
great organisers of the American theatres just fresh
from a gigantic production at Mexico. His face
reminded Graham of a bust of Caligula. Another
striking looking man was the Black Labour Master.
The phrase at the time made no deep impression, but
afterwards it recurred;--the Black Labour Master?
The little lady, in no degree embarrassed, pointed out
to him a charming little woman as one of the
subsidiary wives of the Anglican Bishop of London. She
added encomiums on the episcopal courage--hitherto
there had been a rule of clerical monogamy--" neither
a natural nor an expedient condition of things. Why
should the natural development of the affections be
dwarfed and restricted because a man is a priest?"
"And, bye the bye," she added, "are you an
Anglican?" Graham was on the verge of hesitating
inquiries about the status of a "subsidiary wife,"
apparently an euphemistic phrase, when Lincoln's return
broke off this very suggestive and interesting conversation.
They crossed the aisle to where a tall man in
crimson, and two charming persons in Burmese costume
(as it seemed to him) awaited him diffidently.
From their civilities he passed to other presentations.
In a little while his multitudinous impressions
began to organise themselves into a general effect. At
first the glitter of the gathering had raised all the
democrat in Graham; he had felt hostile and satirical. But
it is not in human nature to resist an atmosphere of
courteous regard. Soon the music, the light, the play
of colours, the shining arms and shoulders about him,
the touch of hands, the transient interest of smiling
faces, the frothing sound of skillfully modulated voices,
the atmosphere of compliment, interest and respect,
had woven together into a fabric of indisputable pleasure.
Graham for a time forgot his spacious resolutions.
He gave way insensibly to the intoxication of
me position that was conceded him, his manner
became less conscious, more convincingly regal, his
feet walked assuredly, the black robe fell with a bolder
fold and pride ennobled his voice. After all this was
a brilliant interesting world.
His glance went approvingly over the shifting
colours of the people, it rested here and there in kindly
criticism upon a face. Presently it occurred to him
that he owed some apology to the charming little person
with the red hair and blue eyes. He felt guilty of
a clumsy snub. It was not princely to ignore her
advances, even if his policy necessitated their rejection.
He wondered if he should see her again. And
suddenly a little thing touched all the glamour of this
brilliant gathering and changed its quality.
He looked up and saw passing across a bridge of
porcelain and looking down upon him, a face that was
almost immediately hidden, the face of the girl he had
seen overnight in the little room beyond the theatre
after his escape from the Council. And she was looking
with much the same expression of curious expectation,
of uncertain intentness, upon his proceedings.
For the moment he did not remember when he had
seen her, and then with recognition came a vague
memory of the stirring emotions of their first
encounter. But the dancing web of melody about him kept
the air of that great marching song from his memory.
The lady to whom he was talking repeated her
remark, and Graham recalled himself to the
quasiregal flirtation upon which he was engaged.
But from that moment a vague restlessness, a feeling
that grew to dissatisfaction, came into his mind.
He was troubled as if by some half forgotten duty, by
the sense of things important slipping from him amidst
this light and brilliance. The attraction that these
bright ladies who crowded about him were beginning
to exercise ceased. He no longer made vague and
clumsy responses to the subtly amorous advances that
he was now assured were being made to him, and his
eyes wandered for another sight of that face that had
appealed so strongly to his sense of beauty. But he
did not see her again until he was awaiting Lincoln's
return to leave this assembly. In answer to his request
Lincoln had promised that an attempt should be made
to fly that afternoon, if the weather permitted. He had
gone to make certain necessary arrangements.
Graham was in one of the upper galleries in
conversation with a bright-eyed lady on the subject of
Eadhamite--the subject was his choice and not hers.
He had interrupted her warm assurances of personal
devotion with a matter-of-fact inquiry. He found her,
as he had already found several other latter-day
women that night, less well informed than charming.
Suddenly, struggling against the eddying drift of
nearer melody, the song of the Revolt, the great song
he had heard in the Hall, hoarse and massive, came
beating down to him.
He glanced up startled, and perceived above him an
__oeil de boeuf__ through which this song had come, and
beyond, the upper courses of cable, the blue haze, and
the pendant fabric of the lights of the public ways. He
heard the song break into a tumult of voices and cease.
But now he perceived quite clearly the drone and
tumult of the moving platforms and a murmur of
many people. He had a vague persuasion that he
could not account for, a sort of instinctive feeling that
outside in the ways a huge crowd' must be watching
this place in which their Master amused himself. He
wondered what they might be thinking.
Though the song had stopped so abruptly, though
the special music of this gathering reasserted itself, the
motif of the marching song, once it had begun,
lingered in his mind.
The bright-eyed lady was still struggling with the
mysteries of Eadhamite when he perceived the girl he
had seen in the theatre again. She was coming now
along the gallery towards him; he saw her first before
she saw him. She was dressed in a faintly luminous
grey, her dark hair about her brows was like a cloud,
and as he saw her the cold light from the circular
opening into the ways fell upon her downcast face.
The lady in trouble about the Eadhamite saw the
change in his expression, and grasped her opportunity
to escape. Would you care to know that girl, Sire?"
she asked boldly. "She is Helen Wotton--a niece of
Ostrog's. She knows a great many serious things.
She is one of the most serious persons alive. I am
sure you will like her."
In another moment Graham was talking to the girl,
and the bright-eyed lady had fluttered away.
"I remember you quite well," said Graham. "You
were in that little room. When all the people were
singing and beating time with their feet. Before I
walked across the Hall."
Her momentary embarrassment passed. She
looked up at him, and her face was steady. "It was
wonderful," she said, hesitated, and spoke with a
sudden effort. "All those people would have died for you,
Sire. Countless people did die for you that night."
Her face glowed. She glanced swiftly aside to see
that no other heard her words.
Lincoln appeared some way off along the gallery,
making his way through the press towards them. She
saw him and turned to Graham strangely eager, with
a swift change to confidence and intimacy. "Sire,"
she said quickly, "I cannot tell you now and here. But
the common people are very unhappy; they are
oppressed--they are misgoverned. Do not forget the
people, who faced death--death that you might live."
"I know nothing--" began Graham.
"I cannot tell you now."
Lincoln's face appeared close to them. He bowed
an apology to the girl.
"You find the new world pleasant, Sire?" asked
Lincoln, with smiling deference, and indicating the space
and splendour of the gathering by one comprehensive
gesture." At any rate, you find it changed."
"Yes," said Graham, "changed. And yet, after all,
not so greatly changed."
"Wait till you are in the air," said Lincoln. "The
wind has fallen; even now an aeropile awaits you."
The girl's attitude awaited dismissal.
Graham glanced at her face, was on the verge of a
question, found a warning in her expression, bowed to
her and turned to accompany Lincoln.
For a while, as Graham went through the passages
of the Wind-Vane offices with Lincoln, he was
preoccupied. But, by an effort, he attended to the things
which Lincoln was saying. Soon his preoccupation
vanished. Lincoln was talking of flying. Graham had
a strong desire to know more of this new human
attainment. He began to ply Lincoln with questions.
He had followed the crude beginnings of aerial
navigation very keenly in his previous life; he was
delighted to find the familiar names of Maxim and
Pilcher, Langley and Chanute, and, above all, of the aerial
proto-martyr Lillienthal, still honoured by men.
Even during his previous life two lines of investigation
had pointed clearly to two distinct types of
contrivance as possible, and both of these had been
realised. On the one hand was the great engine-driven
aeroplane, a double row of horizontal floats
with a big aerial screw behind, and on the other the
nimbler aeropile. The aeroplanes flew safely only in a
calm or moderate wind, and sudden storms, occurrences
that were now accurately predictable, rendered
them for all practical purposes useless. They were
built of enormous size--the usual stretch of wing
being six hundred feet or more, and the length of the
fabric a thousand feet. They were for passenger
traffic alone. The lightly swung car they carried was
from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet in length.
It Was hung in a peculiar manner in order to minimise
the complex vibration that even a moderate wind produced,
and for the same reason the little seats within
the car--each passenger remained seated during the
voyage--were slung with great freedom of movement.
The starting of the mechanism was only possible
from a gigantic car on the rail of a specially
constructed stage. Graham had seen these vast stages,
the flying stages, from the crow's nest very well. Six
huge blank areas they were, with a giant "carrier"
stage on each.
The choice of descent was equally circumscribed, an
accurately plane surface being needed for safe grounding.
Apart from the destruction that would have been
caused by the descent of this great expanse of sail and
metal, and the impossibility of its rising again, the
concussion of an irregular surface, a tree-set hillside, for
instance, or an embankment, would be sufficient to
pierce or damage the framework, to smash the ribs of
the body, and perhaps kill those aboard.
At first Graham felt disappointed with these cumbersome
contrivances, but he speedily grasped the fact
that smaller machines would have been unremunerative,
for the simple reason that their carrying power
would be disproportionately diminished with deminished
size. Moreover, the huge size of these things
enabled them--and it was a consideration of primary
importance--to traverse the air at enormous speeds,
and so run no risks of unanticipated weather. The
briefest journey performed, that from London to
Paris, took about three-quarters of an hour, but the
velocity attained was not high; the leap to New York
occupied about two hours, and by timing oneself carefully
at the intermediate stations it was possible in
quiet weather to go around the world in a day.
The little aeropiles (as for no particular reason they
were distinctively called) were of an altogether
different type. Several of these were going to and fro in
the air. They were designed to carry only one or two
persons, and their manufacture and maintenance was
so costly as to render them the monopoly of the richer
sort of people. Their sails, which were brilliantly
coloured, consisted only of two pairs of lateral air
floats in the same plane, and of a screw behind. Their
small size rendered a descent in any open space neither
difficult nor disagreeable, and it was possible to attach
pneumatic wheels or even the ordinary motors for terrestrial
tragic to them, and so carry them to a convenient
starting place. They required a special sort of
swift car to throw them into the air, but such a car
was efficient in any open place clear of high buildings
or trees. Human aeronautics, Graham perceived,
were evidently still a long way behind the instinctive
gift of the albatross or the fly-catcher. One great
influence that might have brought the aeropile to a
more rapid perfection had been withheld; these
inventions had never been used in warfare. The last great
international struggle had occurred before the
usurpation of the Council.
The Flying Stages of London were collected
together in an irregular crescent on the southern side
of the river. They formed three groups of two each
and retained the names of ancient suburban hills or
villages. They were named in order, Roehampton,
Wimhledon Park, Streatham, Norwood, Blackheath,
and Shooter's Hill. They were uniform structures
rising high above the general roof surfaces. Each was
about four thousand yards long and a thousand broad,
and constructed of the compound of aluminium and
iron that had replaced iron in architecture. Their
higher tiers formed an openwork of girders through
which lifts and staircases ascended. The upper
surface was a uniform expanse, with portions--the
starting carriers--that could be raised and were then able
to run on very slightly inclined rails to the end of the
fabric. Save for any aeropiles or aeroplanes that were
in port these open surfaces were kept clear for arrivals.
During the adjustment of the aeroplanes it was the
custom for passengers to wait in the system of
theatres, restaurants, news-rooms, and places of pleasure
and indulgence of various sorts that interwove with the
prosperous shops below. This portion of London was
in consequence commonly the gayest of all its
districts, with something of the meretricious gaiety of a
seaport or city of hotels. And for those who took a
more serious view of aeronautics, the religious
quarters had flung out an attractive colony of devotional
chapels, while a host of brilliant medical establishments
competed to supply physical preparatives for the
journey. At various levels through the mass of chambers
and passages beneath these, ran, in addition to the
main moving ways of the city which laced and
gathered here, a complex system of special passages
and lifts and slides, for the convenient interchange of
people and luggage between stage and stage. And a
distinctive feature of the architecture of this section
was the ostentatious massiveness of the metal piers
and girders that everywhere broke the vistas and
spanned the halls and passages, crowding and twining
up to meet the weight of the stages and the weighty
impact of the aeroplanes overhead.
Graham went to the flying stages by the public ways.
He was accompanied by Asano, his Japanese attendant.
Lincoln was called away by Ostrog, who was
busy with his administrative concerns. A strong
guard of the Wind-Vane police awaited the Master
outside the Wind-Vane offices, and they cleared a
space for him on the upper moving platform. His
passage to the flying stages was unexpected,
nevertheless a considerable crowd gathered and followed
him to his destination. As he went along, he could
hear the people shouting his name, and saw numberless
men and women and children in blue come swarming
up the staircases in the central path, gesticulating
and shouting. He could not hear what they shouted.
He was struck again by the evident existence of a
vulgar dialect among the poor of the city. When at last
he descended, his guards were immediately surrounded
by a dense excited crowd. Afterwards it
occurred to him that some had attempted to reach him
with petitions. His guards cleared a passage for him
with difficulty.
He found an aeropile in charge of an aeronaut
awaiting him on the westward stage. Seen close this
mechanism was no longer small. As it lay on its
launching carrier upon the wide expanse of the flying
stage, its aluminium body skeleton was as big as the
hull of a twenty-ton yacht. Its lateral supporting sails
braced and stayed with metal nerves almost like the
nerves of a bee's wing, and made of some sort of
glassy artificial membrane, cast their shadow over
many hundreds of square yards. The chairs for the
engineer and his passenger hung free to swing by a
complex tackle, within the protecting ribs of the
frame and well abaft the middle. The passenger's
chair was protected by a wind-guard and guarded
about with metallic rods carrying air cushions. It
could, if desired, be completely closed in, but Graham
was anxious for novel experiences, and desired that it
should be left open. The aeronaut sat behind a glass
that sheltered his face. The passenger could secure
himself firmly in his seat, and this was almost
unavoidable on landing, or he could move along by means of
a little rail and rod to a locker at the stem of the
machine, where his personal luggage, his wraps and
restoratives were placed, and which also with the seats,
served as a makeweight to the parts of the central
engine that projected to the propeller at the stern.
The engine was very simple in appearance. Asano,
pointing out the parts of this apparatus to him, told
him that, like the gas-engine of Victorian days, it was
of the explosive type, burning a small drop of a substance
called "fomile" at each stroke. It consisted
simply of reservoir and piston about the long fluted
crank of the propeller shaft. So much Graham saw of
the machine.
The flying stage about him was empty save for
Asano and their suite of attendants. Directed by the
aeronaut he placed himself in his seat. He then drank
a mixture containing ergot--a dose, he learnt, invariably
administered to those about to fly, and designed
to counteract the possible effect of diminished air
pressure upon the system. Having done so, he declared
himself ready for the journey. Asano took the empty
glass from him, stepped through the bars of the hull,
and stood below on the stage waving his hand.
Suddenly he seemed to slide along the stage to the right
and vanish.
The engine was beating, the propeller spinning, and
for a second the stage and the buildings beyond were
gliding swiftly and horizontally past Graham's eye;
then these things seemed to tilt up abruptly. He
gripped the little rods on either side of him
instinctively. He felt himself moving upward, heard the air
whistle over the top of the wind screen. The
propeller screw moved round with powerful rhythmic
impulses--one, two, three, pause; one, two, three--
which the engineer controlled very delicately. The
machine began a quivering vibration that continued
throughout the flight, and the roof areas seemed
running away to starboard very quickly and growing
rapidly smaller. He looked from the face of the engineer
through the ribs of the machine. Looking sideways,
there was nothing very startling in what he saw
--a rapid funicular railway might have given the same
sensations. He recognised the Council House and the
Highgate Ridge. And then he looked straight down
between his feet.
For a moment physical terror possessed him, a
passionate sense of insecurity. He held tight. For a
second or so he could not lift his eyes. Some hundred
feet or more sheer below him was one of the big
windvanes of south-west London, and beyond it the
southernmost flying stage crowded with little black dots.
These things seemed to be falling away from him.
For a second he had an impulse to pursue the earth.
He set his teeth, he lifted his eyes by a muscular effort,
and the moment of panic passed.
He remained for a space with his teeth set hard, his
eyes staring into the sky. Throb, throb, throb--beat,
went the engine; throb, throb, throb,--beat.
He gripped his bars tightly, glanced at the aeronaut,
and saw a smile upon his sun-tanned face. He smiled
in return--perhaps a little artificially. "A little
strange at first," he shouted before he recalled his
dignity. But he dared not look down again for some
time. He stared over the aeronaut's head to where a
rim of vague blue horizon crept up the sky. For a
little while he could' not banish the thought of possible
accidents from his mind. Throb, throb, throb--beat;
suppose some trivial screw went wrong in that
supporting engine! Suppose--! He made a grim
effort to dismiss all such suppositions. After a while
they did at least abandon the foreground of his
thoughts. And up he went steadily, higher and higher
into the clear air.
Once the mental shock of moving unsupported
through the air was over, his sensations ceased to be
unpleasant, became very speedily pleasurable. He had
been warned of air sickness. But he found the
pulsating movement of the aeropile as it drove up the faint
south-west breeze was very little in excess of the
pitching of a boat head on to broad rollers in a moderate
gale, and he was constitutionally a good sailor. And
the keenness of the more rarefied air into which they
ascended produced a sense of lightness and exhilaration.
He looked up and saw the blue sky above
fretted with cirrus clouds. His eye came cautiously
down through the ribs and bars to a shining flight of
white birds that hung in the lower sky. For a space
he watched these. Then going lower and less apprehensively,
he saw the slender figure of the Wind-Vane
keeper's crow's nest shining golden in the sunlight and
growing smaller every moment. As his eye fell with
more confidence now, there came a blue line of hills,
and then London, already to leeward, an intricate
space of roofing. Its near edge came sharp and clear,
and banished his last apprehensions in a shock of surprise.
For the boundary of London was like a wall,
like a cliff, a steep fall of three or four hundred feet, a
frontage broken only by terraces here and there, a
complex decorative facade.
That gradual passage of town into country through
an extensive sponge of suburbs, which was so
characteristic a feature of the great cities of the nineteenth
century, existed no longer. Nothing remained of it
but a waste of ruins here, variegated and dense with
thickets of the heterogeneous growths that had once
adorned the gardens of the belt, interspersed among
levelled brown patches of sown ground, and verdant
stretches of winter greens. The latter even spread
among the vestiges of houses. But for the most part
the reefs and skerries of ruins, the wreckage of
suburban villas, stood among their streets and roads, queer
islands amidst the levelled expanses of green and
brown, abandoned indeed by the inhabitants years
since, but too substantial, it seemed', to be cleared out
of the way of the wholesale horticultural mechanisms
of the time.
The vegetation of this waste undulated and frothed
amidst the countless cells of crumbling house walls,
and broke along the foot of the city wall in a surf of
bramble and holly and ivy and teazle and tall grasses.
Here and there gaudy pleasure palaces towered amidst
the puny remains of Victorian times, and cable ways
slanted to them from the city. That winter day they
seemed deserted. Deserted, too, were the artificial
gardens among the ruins. The city limits were indeed
as sharply defined as in the ancient days when the
gates were shut at nightfall and the robber foreman
prowled to the very walls. A huge semi-circular throat
poured out a vigorous traffic upon the Eadhamite
Bath Road. So the first prospect of the world beyond
the city flashed on Graham, and dwindled. And when
at last he could look vertically downward again, he
saw below him the vegetable fields of the Thames
valley -- innumerable minute oblongs of ruddy brown,
intersected by shining threads, the sewage ditches.
His exhilaration increased rapidly, became a sort of
intoxication. He found himself drawing deep breaths
of air, laughing aloud, desiring to shout. After a time
that desire became too strong for him, and he shouted.
The machine had now risen as high as was customary
with aeropiles, and they began to curve about
towards the south. Steering, Graham perceived, was
effected by the opening or closing of one or two thin
strips of membrane in one or other of the otherwise
rigid wings, and by the movement of the whole engine
backward or forward along its supports. The
aeronaut set the engine gliding slowly forward along its
rail and opened the valve of the leeward wing until the
stem of the aeropile was horizontal and pointing
southward. And in that direction they drove with a slight
list to leeward, and with a slow alternation of
movement, first a short, sharp ascent and' then a long
downward glide that was very swift and pleasing.
During these downward glides the propellor was
inactive altogether. These ascents gave Graham a
glorious sense of successful effort; the descents
through the rarefied air were beyond all experience.
He wanted never to leave the upper air again.
For a time he was intent upon the minute details of
the landscape that ran swiftly northward beneath him.
Its minute, clear detail pleased him exceedingly. He
was impressed by the ruin of the houses that had once
dotted the country, by the vast treeless expanse of
country from which all farms and villages had gone,
save for crumbling ruins. He had known the thing
was so, but seeing it so was an altogether different
matter. He tried to make out places he had known
within the hollow basin of the world below, but at first
he could distinguish no data now that the Thames valley
was left behind. Soon, however, they were driving over
a sharp chalk hill that he recognised as the Guildford
Hog's Back, because of the familiar outline of the
gorge at its eastward end, and because of the ruins of
the town that rose steeply on either lip of this gorge.
And from that he made out other points, Leith Hill,
the sandy wastes of Aldershot, and so forth. The
Downs escarpment was set with gigantic slow-moving
wind-wheels. Save where the broad Eadhamite
Portsmouth Road, thickly dotted with rushing shapes,
followed the course of the old railway, the gorge of the
Wey was choked with thickets.
The whole expanse of the Downs escarpment, so far
as the grey haze permitted him to see, was set with
wind-wheels to which the largest of the city was but a
younger brother. They stirred with a stately motion
before the south-west wind. And here and there were
patches dotted with the sheep of the British Food
Trust, and here and there a mounted shepherd made a
spot of black. Then rushing under the stern of the
aeropile came the Wealden Heights, the line of
Hindhead, Pitch Hill, and Leith Hill, with a second row of
wind-wheels that seemed striving to rob the downland
whirlers of their share of breeze. The purple heather
was speckled with yellow gorse, and on the further
side a drove of black oxen stampeded before a
couple of mounted men. Swiftly these swept behind,
and dwindled and lost colour, and became scarce
moving specks that were swallowed up in haze.
And when these had vanished in the distance
Graham heard a peewit wailing close at hand. He
perceived he was now above the South Downs,
and staring over his shoulder saw the battlements
of Portsmouth Landing Stage towering over the
ridge of Portsdown Hill. In another moment there
came into sight a spread of shipping like floating
cities, the little white cliffs of the Needles dwarfed and
sunlit, and the grey and glittering waters of the narrow
sea. They seemed to leap the Solent in a moment,
and in a few seconds the Isle of Wight was running
past, and then beneath him spread a wider and wide
extent of sea, here purple with the shadow of a cloud,
here grey, here a burnished mirror, and here a spread
of cloudy greenish blue. The Isle of Wight grew
smaller and smaller. In a few more minutes a strip of
grey haze detached itself from other strips that were
clouds, descended out of the sky and became a coastline--
sunlit and pleasant--the coast of northern
France. It rose, it took colour, became definite and
detailed, and the counterpart of the Downland of
England was speeding by below.
In a little time, as it seemed, Paris came above the
horizon, and hung there for a space, and sank out of
sight again as the aeropile circled about to the north
again. But he perceived the Eiffel Tower still
standing, and beside it a huge dome surmounted by a
pinpoint Colossus. And he perceived, too, though he did
not understand it at the time, a slanting drift of smoke.
The aeronaut said something about "trouble in the
underways," that Graham did not heed at the time.
But he marked the minarets and towers and slender
masses that streamed skyward above the city
windvanes, and knew that in the matter of grace at least
Paris still kept in front of her larger rival. And even
as he looked a pale blue shape ascended very swiftly
from the city like a dead leaf driving up before a gale.
It curved round and soared towards them growing
rapidly larger and larger. The aeronaut was saying
something. "What?" said Graham, loath to take his
eyes from this. "Aeroplane, Sire," bawled the
aeronaut pointing.
They rose and curved about northward as it drew
nearer. Nearer it came and nearer, larger and larger.
The throb, throb, throb--beat, of the aeropile's
flight, that had seemed so potent and so swift,
suddenly appeared slow by comparison with this
tremendous rush. How great the monster seemed, how
swift and steady! It passed quite closely beneath
them, driving along silently, a vast spread of
wirenetted translucent wings, a thing alive. Graham had a
momentary glimpse of the rows and rows of wrapped-up
passengers, slung in their little cradles behind
wind-screens, of a white-clothed engineer crawling
against the gale along a ladder way, of spouting
engines beating together, of the whirling wind screw,
and of a wide waste of wing. He exulted in the sight.
And in an instant the thing had passed.
It rose slightly and their own little wings swayed
in the rush of its flight. It fell and grew smaller.
Scarcely had they moved, as it seemed, before it was
again only a flat blue thing that dwindled in the sky.
This was the aeroplane that went to and fro between
London and Paris. In fair weather and in peaceful
times it came and went four times a day.
They beat across the Channel, slowly as it seemed
now, to Graham's enlarged ideas, and Beachy Head
rose greyly to the left of them.
"Land," called the aeronaut, his voice small against
the whistling of the air over the wind-screen.
"Not yet," bawled Graham, laughing. "Not land
yet. I want to learn more of this machine."
"I meant--" said the aeronaut.
"I want to learn more of this machine," repeated
"I'm coming to you," he said, and had flung himself
free of his chair and taken a step along the guarded
rail between them. He stopped for a moment, and
his colour changed and his hands tightened. Another
step and he was clinging close to the aeronaut. He
felt a weight on his shoulder, the pressure of the air.
His hat was a whirling speck behind. The wind came
in gusts over his wind-screen and blew his hair in
streamers past his cheek. The aeronaut made some
hasty adjustments for the shifting of the centres of
gravity and pressure.
"I want to have these things explained," said
Graham." What do you do when you move that engine
The aeronaut hesitated. Then he answered, "They
are complex, Sire."
"I don't mind," shouted Graham. "I don't mind."
There was a moment's pause." Aeronautics is the
secret--the privilege--"
"I know. But I'm the Master, and I mean to
know." He laughed, full of this novel realisation of
power that was his gift from the upper air.
The aeropile curved about, and the keen fresh wind
cut across Graham's face and his garment lugged at
his body as the stem pointed round to the west. The
two men looked into each other's eyes.
"Sire, there are rules--"
"Not where I am concerned," said Graham. "You
seem to forget."
The aeronaut scrutinised his face. "No," he said.
"I do not forget, Sire. But in all the earth--no man
who is not a sworn aeronaut--has ever a chance.
They come as passengers--"
"I have heard something of the sort. But I'm not
going to argue these points. Do you know why I
have slept two hundred years? To fly!"
"Sire," said the aeronaut, "the rules--if I break
the rules--"
Graham waved the penalties aside.
"Then if you will watch me--"
"No," said Graham, swaying and gripping tight as
the machine lifted its nose again for an ascent.
"That's not my game. I want to do it myself. Do
it myself if I smash for it! No! I will. See. I am
going to clamber by this to come and share your
seat. Steady! I mean to fly of my own accord if
I smash at the end of it. I will have something to pay
for my sleep. Of all other things--. In my past it
was my dream to fly. Now--keep your balance."
" A dozen spies are watching me, Sire!"
Graham's temper was at end. Perhaps he chose it
should be. He swore. He swung himself round the
intervening mass of levers and the aeropile swayed.
"Am I Master of the earth?" he said. "Or is your
Society? Now. Take your hands off those levers,
and hold my wrists. Yes--so. And now, how do
we turn her nose down to the glide? "
"Sire," said the aeronaut.
"What is it? "
"You will protect me? "
"Lord! Yes! If I have to burn London. Now!"
And with that promise Graham bought his first lesson
in aerial navigation. "It's clearly to your advantage,
this journey," he said with a loud laugh--for the air
was like strong wine-- "to teach me quickly and well.
Do I pull this? Ah! So! Hullo!"
"Back, Sire! Back! "
"Back--right. One--two--three--good
God! Ah! Up she goes! But this is living!"
And now the machine began to dance the strangest
figures in the air. Now it would sweep round a spiral
of scarcely a hundred yards diameter, now it would
rush up into the air and swoop down again, steeply,
swiftly, falling like a hawk, to recover in a rushing loop
that swept it high again. In one of these descents
it seemed driving straight at the drifting park of
balloons in the southeast, and only curved about and
cleared them by a sudden recovery of dexterity. The
extraordinary swiftness and smoothness of the motion,
the extraordinary effect of the rarefied air upon his
constitution, threw Graham into a careless fury.
But at last a queer incident came to sober him, to
send him flying down once more to the crowded life
below with all its dark insoluble riddles. As he
swooped, came a tap and something flying past, and
a drop like a drop of rain. Then as he went on down
he saw something like a white rag whirling down in
his wake. "What was that?" he asked. "I did not
The aeronaut glanced, and then clutched at the
lever to recover, for they were sweeping down. When
the aeropile was rising again he drew a deep breath
and replied. "That," and he indicated the white
thing still fluttering down, "was a swan."
"I never saw it," said Graham.
The aeronaut made no answer, and Graham saw
little drops upon his forehead.
They drove horizontally while Graham clambered
back to the passenger's place out of the lash of the
wind. And then came a swift rush down, with the
wind-screw whirling to check their fall, and the flying
stage growing broad and dark before them. The sun,
sinking over the chalk hills in the west, fell with them,
and left the sky a blaze of gold.
Soon men could be seen as little specks. He heard
a noise coming up to meet him, a noise like the sound
of waves upon a pebbly beach, and saw that the roofs
about the flying stage were dark with his people
rejoicing over his safe return. A dark mass was
crushed together under the stage, a darkness stippled
with innumerable faces, and quivering with the minute
oscillation of waved white handkerchiefs and waving
Lincoln awaited Graham in an apartment beneath
the flying stages. He seemed curious to learn all that
had happened, pleased to hear of the extraordinary
delight and interest which Graham took in flying
Graham was in a mood of enthusiasm. "I must learn
to fly," he cried. "I must master that. I pity all poor
souls who have died without this opportunity. The
sweet swift air! It is the most wonderful experience
in the world."
"You will find our new times full of wonderful
experiences," said Lincoln. "I do not know what you
will care to do now. We have music that may seem
"For the present," said Graham, "flying holds me.
Let me learn more of that. Your aeronaut was saying
there is some trades union objection to one's learning."
"There is, I believe," said Lincoln. "But for
you--! If you would' like to occupy yourself with
that, we can make you a sworn aeronaut tomorrow."
Graham expressed his wishes vividly and talked of
his sensations for a while. "And as for affairs," he
asked abruptly. "How are things going on? "
Lincoln waved affairs aside. "Ostrog will tell you
that tomorrow," he said. "Everything is settling
down. The Revolution accomplishes itself all over
the world. Friction is inevitable here and there, of
course; but your rule is assured. You may rest secure
with things in Ostrog's hands."
"Would it be possible for me to be made a sworn
aeronaut, as you call it, forthwith--before I sleep?"
said Graham, pacing. "Then I could be at it the very
first thing tomorrow again.
"It would be possible," said Lincoln thoughtfully.
"Quite possible. Indeed, it shall be done." He
laughed." I came prepared to suggest amusements,
but you have found one for yourself. I will telephone
to the aeronautical offices from here and we will return
to your apartments in the Wind-Vane Control. By
the time you have dined the aeronauts will be able to
come. You don't think that after you have dined, you
might prefer--?" He paused.
"Yes," said Graham.
"We had prepared a show of dancers -- they have
been brought from the Capri theatre."
"I hate ballets," said Graham, shortly. "Always
did. That other--. That's not what I want to see.
We had dancers in the old days. For the matter of
that, they had them in ancient Egypt. But flying--"
" True," said Lincoln. "Though our dancers--"
"They can afford to wait," said Graham; "they can
afford to wait. I know. I'm not a Latin. There's
questions I want to ask some expert--about your
machinery. I'm keen. I want no distractions."
"You have the world to choose from," said Lincoln;
" whatever you want is yours."
Asano appeared, and under the escort of a strong
guard they returned through the city streets to
Graham's apartments. Far larger crowds had assembled to
witness his return than his departure had gathered, and
the shouts and cheering of these masses of people
sometimes drowned Lincoln's answers to the endless
questions Graham's aerial journey had suggested. At
first Graham had acknowledged the cheering and cries
of the crowd by bows and gestures, but Lincoln
warned him that such a recognition would be
considered incorrect behaviour. Graham, already a little
wearied by rhythmic civilities, ignored his subjects for
the remainder of his public progress.
Directly they arrived at his apartments Asano departed
in search of kinematographic renderings of
machinery in motion, and Lincoln despatched Graham's
commands for models of machines and small
machines to illustrate the various mechanical advances
of the last two centuries. The little group of
appliances for telegraphic communication attracted the
Master so strongly that his delightfully prepared
dinner, served by a number of charmingly dexterous
girls, waited for a space. The habit of smoking had
almost ceased from the face of the earth, but when he
expressed a wish for that indulgence, inquiries were
made and some excellent cigars were discovered in
Florida, and sent to him by pneumatic dispatch while
the dinner was still in progress. Afterwards came the
aeronauts, and a feast of ingenious wonders in the
hands of a latter-day engineer. For the time, at any
rate, the neat dexterity of counting and numbering
machines, building machines, spinning engines, patent
doorways, explosive motors, grain and water elevators,
slaughter-house machines and harvesting appliances,
was more fascinating to Graham than any
bayadere. "We were savages," was his refrain, "we
were savages. We were in the stone age--compared
with this. . . . And what else have you? "
There came also practical psychologists with some
very interesting developments in the art of hypnotism.
The names of Milne Bramwell, Fechner, Liebault,
William James, Myers and Gurney, he found, bore a
value now that would have astonished their
contemporaries. Several practical applications of
psychology were now in general use; it had largely
supersceeded drugs, antiseptics and anaesthetics in
medicine; was employed by almost all who had any need of
mental concentration. A real enlargement of human
faculty seemed to have been effected in this direction.
The feats of "calculating boys," the wonders, as Graham
had been wont to regard them, of mesmerisers,
were now within the range of anyone who could afford
the services of a skilled hypnotist. Long ago the old
examination methods in education had been destroyed
by these expedients. Instead of years of study, candidates
had substituted a few weeks of trances, and
during the trances expert coaches had simply to repeat
all the points necessary for adequate answering, adding
a suggestion of the post hypnotic recollection of
these points. In process mathematics particularly, this
aid had been of singular service, and it was now
invariably invoked by such players of chess and games
of manual dexterity as were still to be found. In fact,
all operations conducted under finite rules, of a
quasi-mechanical sort that is, were now systematically
relieved from the wanderings of imagination and emotion,
and brought to an unexampled pitch of accuracy.
Little children of the labouring classes, so soon as they
were of sufficient age to be hypnotised, were thus
converted into beautifully punctual and trustworthy
machine minders, and released forthwith from the
long, long thoughts of youth. Aeronautical pupils,
who gave way to giddiness, could be relieved from
their imaginary terrors. In every street were
hypnotists ready to print permanent memories upon the
mind. If anyone desired to remember a name, a series
of numbers, a song or a speech, it could be done by
this method, and conversely memories could be
effaced, habits removed, and desires eradicated--a
sort of psychic surgery was, in fact, in general use.
Indignities, humbling experiences, were thus forgotten,
amorous widows would obliterate their previous
husbands, angry lovers release themselves from their
slavery. To graft desires, however, was still impossible,
and the facts of thought transference were yet
unsystematised. The psychologists illustrated their
expositions with some astounding experiments in mnemonics
made through the agency of a troupe of pale-faced
children in blue.
Graham, like most of the people of his former time,
distrusted the hypnotist, or he might then and there
have eased his mind of many painful preoccupations.
But in spite of Lincoln's assurances he held to the old
theory that to be hypnotised was in some way the
surrender of his personality, the abdication of his will. At
the banquet of wonderful experiences that was beginning,
he wanted very keenly to remain absolutely
The next day, and another day, and yet another day
passed in such interests as these. Each day Graham
spent many hours in the glorious entertainment of
flying. On the third day he soared across middle
France, and within sight of the snow-clad Alps. These
vigorous exercises gave him restful sleep, and each day
saw a great stride in his health from the spiritless
anaemia of his first awakening. And whenever he was
not in the air, and awake, Lincoln was assiduous in the
cause of his amusement; all that was novel and curious
in contemporary invention was brought to him, until
at last his appetite for novelty was well-nigh glutted.
One might fill a dozen inconsecutive volumes with the
strange things they exhibited. Each afternoon he held
his court for an hour or so. He speedily found his
interest in his contemporaries becoming personal and
intimate. At first he had been alert chiefly for
unfamiliarity and peculiarity; any foppishness in their
dress, any discordance with his preconceptions of
nobility in their status and manners had jarred upon
him, and it was remarkable to him how soon that
strangeness and the faint hostility that arose from it,
disappeared; how soon he came to appreciate the true
perspective of his position, and see the old Victorian
days remote and quaint. He found himself particularly
amused by the red-haired daughter of the Manager
of the European Piggeries. On the second day
after dinner he made the acquaintance of a latter-day
dancing girl, and found her an astonishing artist. And
after that, more hypnotic wonders. On the third day
Lincoln was moved to suggest that the Master should
repair to a Pleasure City, but this Graham declined,
nor would he accept the services of the hypnotists in
his aeronautical experiments. The link of locality held
him to London; he found a perpetual wonder in
topographical identifications that he would have missed
abroad. "Here--or a hundred feet below here," he
could say, "I used to eat my midday cutlets during
my London University days. Underneath here was
Waterloo and the perpetual hunt for confusing trains.
Often have I stood waiting down there, bag in hand,
and stared up into the sky above the forest of signals,
little thinking I should walk some day a hundred yards
in the air. And now in that very sky that was once a
grey smoke canopy, I circle in an aeropile."
During those three days Graham was so occupied
with such distractions that the vast political
movements in progress outside his quarters had but a small
share of his attention. Those about him told him
little. Daily came Ostrog, the Boss, his Grand Vizier,
his mayor of the palace, to report in vague terms the
steady establishment of his rule; "a little trouble"
soon to be settled in this city, "a slight disturbance"
in that. The song of the social revolt came to him no
more; he never learned that it had been forbidden in
the municipal limits; and all the great emotions of the
crow's nest slumbered in his mind.
But on the second and third of the three days
he found himself, in spite of his interest in the
daughter of the Pig Manager, or it may be by,
reason of the thoughts her conversation suggested,
remembering the girl Helen Wotton, who had
spoken to him so oddly at the Wind-Vane
Keeper's gathering. The impression she had made was a
deep one, albeit the incessant surprise of novel
circumstances had kept him from brooding upon it for a
space. But now her memory was coming to its own.
He wondered what she had meant by those broken
half-forgotten sentences; the picture of her eyes and
the earnest passion of her face became more vivid as
his mechanical interests faded. Her beauty came
compellingly between him and certain immediate
temptations of ignoble passion. But he did not see her again
until three full days were past.
She came upon him at last in a little gallery that
ran from the Wind Vane Offices toward his state
apartments. The gallery was long and narrow, with a
series of recesses, each with an arched fenestration that
looked upon a court of palms. He came upon her
suddenly in one of these recesses. She was seated.
She turned her head at the sound of his footsteps and
started at the sight of him. Every touch of colour
vanished from her face. She rose instantly, made a
step toward him as if to address him, and hesitated.
He stopped and stood still, expectant. Then he perceived
that a nervous tumult silenced her, perceived
too, that she must have sought speech with him to be
waiting for him in this place.
He felt a regal impulse to assist her. "I have wanted
to see you," he said. "A few days ago you wanted
to tell me something--you wanted to tell me of the
people. What was it you had to tell me?"
She looked at him with troubled eyes.
"You said the people were unhappy?"
For a moment she was silent still.
"It must have seemed strange to you," she said
"It did. And yet--"
"It was an impulse."
"That is all."
She looked at him with a face of hesitation. She
spoke with an effort. "You forget," she said, drawing
a deep breath.
"The people--"
"Do you mean--?"
"You forget the people."
He looked interrogative.
"Yes. I know you are surprised. For you do not
understand what you are. You do not know the things
that are happening."
"Well? "
"You do not understand."
"Not clearly, perhaps. But--tell me."
She turned to him with sudden resolution." It is
so hard to explain. I have meant to, I have wanted to.
And now--I cannot. I am not ready with words.
But about you--there is something. It is Wonder.
Your sleep--your awakening. These things are
miracles. To me at least--and to all the common
people. You who lived and suffered and died, you
who were a common citizen, wake again, live again, to
find yourself Master almost of the earth."
"Master of the earth," he said. "So they tell me.
But try and imagine how little I know of it."
"Cities--Trusts--the Labour Company--"
"Principalities, powers, dominions--the power and
the glory. Yes, I have heard them shout. I know.
I am Master. King, if you wish. With Ostrog, the
He paused.
She turned upon him and surveyed his face with a
curious scrutiny. "Well?"
He smiled. "To take the responsibility."
"That is what we have begun to fear." For a moment
she said no more. "No," she said slowly. "You will
take the responsibility. You will take the
responsibility. The people look to you."
She spoke softly." Listen! For at least half the
years of your sleep--in every generation--multitudes
of people, in every generation greater multitudes
of people, have prayed that you might awake--
Graham moved to speak and did not.
She hesitated, and a faint colour crept back to her
cheek. "Do you know that you have been to myriads
--King Arthur, Barbarossa--the King who would
come in his own good time and put the world right for
"I suppose the imagination of the people--"
"Have you not heard our proverb, 'When the
Sleeper wakes?' While you lay insensible and motionless
there--thousands came. Thousands. Every
first of the month you lay in state with a white robe
upon you and the people filed by you. When I was a
little girl I saw you like that, with your face white and
She turned her face from him and looked steadfastly
at the painted wall before her. Her voice fell. "When
I was a little girl I used to look at your face. . . .it
seemed to me fixed and waiting, like the patience of
"That is what we thought of you," she said. "That
is how you seemed to us."
She turned shining eyes to him, her voice was clear
and strong." In the city, in the earth, a myriad
myriad men and women are waiting to see what you
will do, full of strange incredible expectations."
"Yes? "
"Ostrog--no one--can take that responsibility."
Graham looked at her in surprise, at her face lit
with emotion. She seemed at first to have spoken with
an effort, and to have fired herself by speaking.
"Do you think," she said, "that you who have lived
that little life so far away in the past, you who have
fallen into and risen out of this miracle of sleep -- do
you think that the wonder and reverence and hope of
half the world has gathered about you only that you
may live another little life? . . . That you may
shift the responsibility to any other man?"
"I know how great this kingship of mine is," he
said haltingly. "I know how great it seems. But is it
real? It is incredible--dreamlike. Is it real, or is
it only a great delusion?"
"It is real," she said; "if you dare."
"After all, like all kingship, my kingship is Belief.
It is an illusion in the minds of men."
"If you dare!" she said.
"Countless men," she said, "and while it is in their
minds--they will obey."
"But I know nothing. That is what I had in mind.
I know nothing. And these others--the Councillors,
Ostrog. They are wiser, cooler, they know so much,
every detail. And, indeed, what are these miseries of
which you speak? What am I to know? Do you
He stopped blankly.
"I am still hardly more than a girl," she said. "But
to me the world seems full of wretchedness. The world
has altered since your day, altered very strangely. I
have prayed that I might see you and tell you these
things. The world has changed. As if a canker had
seized it--and robbed life of--everything worth
She turned a flushed face upon him, moving suddenly.
"Your days were the days of freedom. Yes--
I have thought. I have been made to think, for my
life--has not been happy. Men are no longer free--
no greater, no better than the men of your time. That
is not all. This city--is a prison. Every city now is
a prison. Mammon grips the key in his hand.
Myriads, countless myriads, toil from the cradle to
the grave. Is that right? Is that to be--for ever?
Yes, far worse than in your time. All about us, beneath
us, sorrow and pain. All the shallow delight of
such life as you find about you, is separated by just a
little from a life of wretchedness beyond any telling
Yes, the poor know it--they know they suffer. These
countless multitudes who faced death for you two
nights since--! You owe your life to them."
"Yes," said Graham, slowly. "Yes. I owe my
life to them."
"You come," she said, "from the days when this
new tyranny of the cities was scarcely beginning.
It is a tyranny--a tyranny. In your days the
feudal war lords had gone, and the new lordship of
wealth had still to come. Half the men in the world
still lived out upon the free countryside. The cities
had still to devour them. I have heard the stories
out of the old books--there was nobility! Common
men led lives of love and faithfulness then--they
did a thousand things. And you--you come from
that time."
"It was not--. But never mind. How is it
now--? "
"Gain and the Pleasure Cities! Or slavery--unthanked,
unhonoured, slavery."
"Slavery!" he said.
"You don't mean to say that human beings are
"Worse. That is what I want you to know, what
I want you to see. I know you do not know. They
will keep things from you, they will take you presently
to a Pleasure City. But you have noticed men and
women and children in pale blue canvas, with thin
yellow faces and dull eyes? "
"Speaking a horrible dialect, coarse and weak."
"I have heard it."
"They are the slaves--your slaves. They are the
slaves of the Labour Company you own."
"The Labour Company! In some way--that is
familiar. Ah! now I remember. I saw it when I was
wandering about the city, after the lights returned,
great fronts of buildings coloured pale blue. Do you
really mean--?"
"Yes. How can I explain it to you? Of course
the blue uniform struck you. Nearly a third of our
people wear it--more assume it now every day. This
Labour Company has grown imperceptibly."
"What is this Labour Company?" asked Graham.
"In the old times, how did you manage with staning
"There was the workhouse--which the parishes
"Workhouse! Yes--there was something. In
our history lessons. I remember now. The Labour
Company ousted the workhouse. It grew--partly--
out of something--you, perhaps, may remember it--
an emotional religious organisation called the
Salvation Army--that became a business company. In the
first place it was almost a charity. To save people
from workhouse rigours. Now I come to think of it,
it was one of the earliest properties your Trustees
acquired. They bought the Salvation Army and reconstructed
it as this. The idea in the first place was to
give work to starving homeless people."
"Nowadays there are no workhouses, no refuges
and charities, nothing but that Company. Its offices
are everywhere. That blue is its colour. And any
man, woman or child who comes to be hungry and
weary and with neither home nor friend nor resort,
must go to the Company in the end--or seek some
way of death. The Euthanasy is beyond their means
--for the poor there is no easy death. And at any
hour in the day or night there is food, shelter and a
blue uniform for all comers--that is the first
condition of the Company s incorporation--and in return
for a day's shelter the Company extracts a day's work,
and then returns the visitor's proper clothing and
sends him or her out again."
"Perhaps that does not seem so terrible to you. In
your days men starved in your streets. That was bad.
But they died--men. These people in blue--. The
proverb runs: 'Blue canvas once and ever.' The
Company trades in their labour, and it has taken care
to assure itself of the supply. People come to
it starving and helpless--they eat and sleep for
a night and day, they -work for a day, and at the
end of the day they go out again. If they have worked
well they have a penny or so--enough for a
theatre or a cheap dancing place, or a kinematograph
story, or a dinner or a bet. They wander about after
that is spent. Begging is prevented by the police of
the ways. Besides, no one gives. They come back
again the next day or the day after--brought back
by the same incapacity that brought them first. At
last their proper clothing wears out, or their rags get
so shabby that they are ashamed. Then they must
work for months to get fresh. If they want fresh. A
great number of children are born under the
Company's care. The mother owes them a month
thereafter--the children they cherish and educate until
they are fourteen, and they pay two years' service.
You may be sure these children are educated for the
blue canvas. And so it is the Company works."
"And none are destitute in the city? "
"None. They are either in blue canvas or in
"If they will not work? "
" Most people will work at that pitch, and the
Company has powers. There are stages of unpleasantness
in the work--stoppage of food--and a man or
woman who has refused to work once is known by a
thumb-marking system in the Company's offices all
over the world. Besides, who can leave the city
poor? To go to Paris costs two Lions. And for
insubordination there are the prisons--dark and
miserable--out of sight below. There are prisons now for
many things."
"And a third of the people wear this blue canvas? "
"More than a third. Toilers, living without pride or
delight or hope, with the stories of Pleasure Cities
ringing in their ears, mocking their shameful lives, their
privations and hardships. Too poor even for the
Euthanasy, the rich man's refuge from life. Dumb,
crippled millions, countless millions, all the world
about, ignorant of anything but limitations and
unsatisfied desires. They are born, they are thwarted and
they die. That is the state to which we have come."
For a space Graham sat downcast.
"But there has been a revolution," he said. "All
these things will be changed." Ostrog--"
"That is our hope. That is the hope of the world.
But Ostrog will not do it. He is a politician. To him
it seems things must be like this. He does not mind.
He takes it for granted. All the rich, all the influential,
all who are happy, come at last to take these miseries
for granted. They use the people in their politics,
they live in ease by their degradation. But you
--you who come from a happier age--it is to you the
people look. To you."
He looked at her face. Her eyes were bright with
unshed tears. He felt a rush of emotion. For a moment
he forgot this city, he forgot the race, and all
those vague remote voices, in the immediate humanity
of her beauty.
"But what am I to do? " he said with his eyes upon
"Rule," she answered, bending towards him and
speaking in a low tone. "Rule the world as it has
never been ruled, for the good and happiness of men.
For you might rule it--you could rule it.
"The people are stirring. All over the world the
people are stirring. It wants but a word--but a
word from you--to bring them all together. Even
the middle sort of people are restless unhappy.
"They are not telling you the things that are
happening. The people will not go back to their
drudgery--they refuse to be disarmed. Ostrog has
awakened something greater than he dreamt of--he
has awakened hopes."
His heart was beating fast. He tried to seem judicial,
to weigh considerations.
"They only want their leader," she said.
"And then? "
"You could do what you would;--the world is
He sat, no longer regarding her. Presently he
spoke." The old dreams, and the thing I have
dreamt, liberty, happiness. Are they dreams?
Could one man--one man--? " His voice sank and ceased.
"Not one man, but all men--give them only a
leader to speak the desire of their hearts."
He shook his head, and for a time there was silence.
He looked up suddenly, and their eyes met. "I
have not your faith," he said." I have not your youth.
I am here with power that mocks me. No--let me
speak. I want to do--not right--I have not the
strength for that--but something rather right than
wrong. It will bring no millenium, but I am resolved
now that I will rule. What you have said has
awakened me. . . . You are right. Ostrog must
know his place. And I will learn--. . . . One
thing I promise you. This Labour slavery shall end."
"And you will rule?"
"Yes. Provided--. There is one thing."
Yes? "
That you will help me."
"I!--a girl!"
"Yes. Does it not occur to you I am absolutely
alone? "
She started and for an instant her eyes had pity.
"Need you ask whether I will help you?" she said.
She stood before him, beautiful, worshipful, and her
enthusiasm and the greatness of their theme was like
a great gulf fixed between them. To touch her, to
clasp her hand, was a thing beyond hope. "Then
I will rule indeed," he said slowly. "I will rule-"
He paused. "With you."
There came a tense silence, and then the beating
a clock striking the hour. She made him no answer.
Graham rose.
Even now," he said, "Ostrog will be waiting. "He
hesitated, facing her. "When I have asked him certain
questions--. There is much I do not know. It may
be, that I will go to see with my own eyes the things
of which you have spoken. And when I return--?"
"I shall know of your going and coming. I will
wait for you here again."
He stood for a moment regarding her.
"I knew," she said, and stopped.
He waited, but she said no more. They regarded
one another steadfastly, questioningly, and then he
turned from her towards the Wind Vane office.
Graham found Ostrog waiting to give a formal account
of his day's stewardship. On previous occasions he
had passed over this ceremony as speedily as possible,
in order to resume his aerial experiences, but now he
began to ask quick short questions. He was very
anxious to take up his empire forthwith. Ostrog
brought flattering reports of the development of
affairs abroad. In Paris and Berlin, Graham
perceived that he was saying, there had been
trouble, not organised resistance indeed, but
insubordinate proceedings. "After all these years,"
said Ostrog, when Graham pressed enquiries;
"the Commune has lifted its head again. That
is the real nature of the struggle, to be explicit."
But order had been restored in these cities. Graham,
the more deliberately judicial for the stirring emotions
he felt, asked if there had been any fighting. "A
little," said Ostrog. "In one quarter only. But the
Senegalese division of our African agricultural police--
the Consolidated African Companies have a very well
drilled police--was ready, and so were the aeroplanes.
We expected a little trouble in the continental cities,
and in America. But things are very quiet in America.
They are satisfied with the overthrow of the Council
For the time."
" Why should you expect trouble?" asked Graham
"There is a lot of discontent--social discontent."
"The Labour Company?"
"You are learning," said Ostrog with a touch of
surprise. "Yes. It is chiefly the discontent with the
Labour Company. It was that discontent supplied
the motive force of this overthrow--that and your
"Yes? "
Ostrog smiled. He became explicit. "We had to
stir up their discontent, we had to revive the old ideals
of universal happiness--all men equal--all men
happy--no luxury that everyone may not share--
ideas that have slumbered for two hundred years. You
know that? We had to revive these ideals, impossible
as they are--in order to overthrow the Council. And
"Well? "
"Our revolution is accomplished, and the Council
is overthrown, and people whom we have stirred up
remain surging. There was scarcely enough
fighting . . . We made promises, of course. It is
extraordinary how violently and rapidly this vague
out-of-date humanitarianism has revived and spread.
We who sowed the seed even, have been astonished.
In Paris, as I say--we have had to call in a little
external help."
"And here? "
"There is trouble. Multitudes will not go back
to work. There is a general strike. Half the
factories are empty and the people are swarming in the
Ways. They are talking of a Commune. Men in silk
and satin have been insulted in the streets. The blue
canvas is expecting all sorts of things from you....
Of course there is no need for you to trouble. We
are setting the Babble Machines to work with counter
suggestions in the cause of law and order. We must
keep the grip tight; that is all."
Graham thought. He perceived a way of asserting
himself. But he spoke with restraint.
"Even to the pitch of bringing a negro police," he
"They are useful," said Ostrog. "They are fine
loyal brutes, with no wash of ideas in their heads--
such as our rabble has. The Council should have had
them as police of the Ways, and things might have been
different. Of course, there is nothing to fear except
rioting and wreckage. You can manage your own
wings now, and you can soar away to Capri if there
is any smoke or fuss. We have the pull of all the
great things; the aeronauts are privileged and rich, the
closest trades union in the world, and so are the
engineers of the wind vanes. We have the air, and the
mastery of the air is the mastery of the earth. No one of
any ability is organising against us. They have no
leaders--only the sectional leaders of the secret
society we organised before your very opportune
awakening. Mere busy bodies and sentimentalists they
are and bitterly jealous of each other. None of them is
man enough for a central figure. The only trouble will
be a disorganised upheaval. To be frank--that may
happen. But it won't interrupt your aeronautics.
The days when the People could make revolutions are
"I suppose they are," said Graham. "I suppose
they are." He mused. "This world of yours has
been full of surprises to me. In the old days we
dreamt of a wonderful democratic life, of a time when
all men would be equal and happy."
Ostrog looked at him steadfastly. "The day of
democracy is past," he said. "Past for ever. That
day began with the bowmen of Crecy, it ended when
marching infantry, when common men in masses
ceased to win the battles of the world, when costly
cannon, great ironclads, and strategic railways became
the means of power. To-day is the day of wealth.
Wealth now is power as it never was power before--
it commands earth and sea and sky. All power is for
those who can handle wealth.... You must
accept facts, and these are facts. The world for the
Crowd! The Crowd as Ruler! Even in your days
that creed had been tried and condemned. To-day it
has only one believer--a multiplex, silly one--the
mall in the Crowd."
Graham did not answer immediately. He stood lost
in sombre preoccupations.
"No," said Ostrog." The day of the common man
is past. On the open countryside one man is as good
as another, or nearly as good. The earlier aristocracy
had a precarious tenure of strength and audacity.
They were tempered--tempered. There were
insurrections, duels, riots. The first real aristocracy,
the first permanent aristocracy, came in with castles
and armour, and vanished before the musket and bow.
But this is the second aristocracy. The real one.
Those days of gunpowder and democracy were only
an eddy in the stream. The common man now is a
helpless unit. In these days we have this great
machine of the city, and an organisation complex
beyond his understanding."
"Yet," said Graham, "there is something resists,
something you are holding down--something that
stirs and presses."
"You will see," said Ostrog, with a forced smile that
would brush these difficult questions aside. "I have
not roused the force to destroy myself--trust me."
"I wonder," said Graham.
Ostrog stared.
"Must the world go this way?" said Graham, with
his emotions at the speaking point. "Must it indeed
go in this way? Have all our hopes been vain? "
"What do you mean? " said Ostrog. " Hopes?"
"I came from a democratic age. And I find an
aristocratic tyranny!"
"Well,--but you are the chief tyrant."
Graham shook his head.
"Well," said Ostrog, "take the general question.
It is the way that change has always travelled.
Aristocracy, the prevalence of the best--the suffering and
extinction of the unfit, and so to better things."
"But aristocracy! those people I met--"
"Oh! not those!" said Ostrog. "But for the most
part they go to their death. Vice and pleasure! They
have no children. That sort of stuff will die out. If
the world keeps to one road, that is, if there is no
turning back. An easy road to excess, convenient
Euthanasia for the pleasure seekers singed in the
flame, that is the way to improve the race!"
"Pleasant extinction," said Graham. "Yet--."
He thought for an instant." There is that other thing
--the Crowd, the great mass of poor men. Will that
die out? That will not die out. And it suffers, its
suffering is a force that even you--"
Ostrog moved impatiently, and when he spoke, he
spoke rather less evenly than before.
"Don't you trouble about these things," he said.
Everything will be settled in a few days now. The
Crowd is a huge foolish beast. What if it does not
die out? Even if it does not die, it can still be tamed
and driven. I have no sympathy with servile men.
You heard those people shouting and singing two
nights ago. They were taught that song. If you
had taken any man there in cold blood and asked
why he shouted, he could not have told you. They
think they are shouting for you, that they are loyal
and devoted to you. Just then they were ready to
slaughter the Council. To-day--they are already
murmuring against those who have overthrown the
"No, no," said Graham. "They shouted because
their lives were dreary, without joy or pride, and
because in me--in me--they hoped."
"And what was their hope? What is their hope?
What right have they to hope? They work ill and
they want the reward of those who work well. The
hope of mankind--what is it? That some day the
Over-man may come, that some day the inferior, the
weak and the bestial may be subdued or eliminated.
Subdued if not eliminated. The world is no place for
the bad, the stupid, the enervated. Their duty--it's
a fine duty too!--is to die. The death of the failure!
That is the path by which the beast rose to manhood,
by which man goes on to higher things."
Ostrog took a pace, seemed to think, and turned on
Graham. "I can imagine how this great world state
of ours seems to a Victorian Englishman. You regret
all the old forms of representative government--their
spectres still haunt the world, the voting councils and
parliaments and all that eighteenth century tomfoolery
You feel moved against our Pleasure Cities. I might
have thought of that,--had I not been busy. But you
will learn better. The people are mad with envy--they
would be in sympathy with you. Even in the streets
now, they clamour to destroy the Pleasure Cities.
But the Pleasure Cities are the excretory organs
of the State, attractive places that year after year draw
together all that is weak and vicious, all that is
lascivious and lazy, all the easy roguery of the world, to a
graceful destruction. They go there, they have their
time, they die childless, all the pretty silly lascivious
women die childless, and mankind is the better. If
the people were sane they would not envy the rich
their way of death. And you would emancipate the
silly brainless workers that we have enslaved, and try
to make their lives easy and pleasant again. Just
as they have sunk to what they are fit for. "He
smiled a smile that irritated Graham oddly. "You
will learn better. I know those ideas; in my boyhood
I read your Shelley and dreamt of Liberty. There is
no liberty, save wisdom and self control. Liberty is
within--not without. It is each man's own affair.
Suppose--which is impossible--that these swarming
yelping fools in blue get the upper hand of us, what
then? They will only fall to other masters. So long
as there are sheep Nature will insist on beasts of prey.
It would mean but a few hundred years' delay. The
coming of the aristocrat is fatal and assured. The end
will be the Over-man--for all the mad protests of
humanity. Let them revolt, let them win and kill me
and my like. Others will arise--other masters. The
end will be the same."
"I wonder," said Graham doggedly.
For a moment he stood downcast.
"But I must see these things for myself," he said,
suddenly assuming a tone of confident mastery.
"Only by seeing can I understand. I must learn.
That is what I want to tell you, Ostrog. I do not
want to be King in a Pleasure City; that is not my,
pleasure. I have spent enough time with aeronautics
--and those other things. I must learn how people
live now, how the common life has developed. Then I
shall understand these things better. I must learn
how common people live--the labour people more
especially--how they work, marry, bear children,
"You get that from our realistic novelists,"
suggested Ostrog, suddenly preoccupied.
"I want reality," said Graham, "not realism."
"There are difficulties," said Ostrog, and thought.
"On the whole perhaps--
"I did not expect--.
"I had thought--. And yet, perhaps--. You say
you want to go through the Ways of the city and see
the common people."
Suddenly he came to some conclusion. "You
would need to go disguised," he said. "The city is
intensely excited, and the discovery of your presence
among them might create a fearful tumult. Still this
wish of yours to go into this city--this idea of
yours--. Yes, now I think the thing over it seems to
me not altogether--. It can be contrived. If you
would really find an interest in that! You are, of
course, Master. You can go soon if you like. A
disguise for this excursion Asano will be able to manage.
He would go with you. After all it is not a bad idea
of yours."
"You will not want to consult me in any matter?"
asked Graham suddenly, struck by an odd suspicion.
"Oh, dear no! No! I think you may trust affairs
to me for a time, at any rate," said Ostrog, smiling.
"Even if we differ--"
Graham glanced; at him sharply.
"There is no fighting likely to happen soon?" he
asked abruptly.
"Certainly not."
"I have been thinking about these negroes. I don't
believe the people intend any hostility to me, and, after
all, I am the Master. I do not want any negroes
brought to London. It is an archaic prejudice perhaps,
but I have peculiar feelings about Europeans and
the subject races. Even about Paris---"
Ostrog stood watching him from under his drooping
brows." I am not bringing negroes to London,"
he said slowly." But if--"
"You are not to bring armed negroes to London,
whatever happens," said Graham. "In that matter I
am quite decided."
Ostrog, after a pause, decided not to speak, and
bowed deferentially.
And that night, unknown and unsuspected, Graham,
dressed in the costume of an inferior wind-vane
official keeping holiday, and accompanied by Asano in
Labour Company canvas, surveyed the city through
which he had wandered when it was veiled in darkness.
But now he saw it lit and waking, a whirlpool of life.
In spite of the surging and swaying of the forces of
revolution, in spite of the unusual discontent,
the mutterings of the greater struggle of which the first revolt
was but the prelude, the myriad streams of commerce
still flowed wide and strong. He knew now something
of the dimensions and quality of the new age, but
he was not prepared for the infinite surprise of the
detailed view, for the torrent of colour and vivid
impressions that poured past him.
This was his first real contact with the people of
these latter days. He realised that all that had gone
before, saving his glimpses of the public theatres and
markets, had had its element of seclusion, had been a
movement within the comparatively narrow political
quarter, that all his previous experiences had revolved
immediately about the question of his own position.
But here was the city at the busiest hours of night, the
people to a large extent returned to their own immediate
interests, the resumption of the real informal life,
he common habits of the new time.
They emerged at first into a street whose opposite
ways were crowded with the blue canvas liveries. This
swarm Graham saw was a portion of a procession--
it was odd to see a procession parading the city seated
They carried banners of coarse red stuff with red
letters. "No disarmament," said the banners, for the
most part in crudely daubed letters and with variant
spelling, and "Why should we disarm?" "No disarming."
"No disarming." Banner after banner
went by, a stream of banners flowing past, and at last
at the end, the song of the revolt and a noisy band of
strange instruments." They all ought to be at work,"
said Asano. "They have had no food these two days,
or they have stolen it."
Presently Asano made a detour to avoid the congested
crowd that gaped upon the occasional passage
of dead bodies from hospital to a mortuary, the
gleanings after death's harvest of the first revolt.
That night few people were sleeping, everyone was
abroad. A vast excitement, perpetual crowds perpetually
changing, surrounded Graham; his mind was confused
and darkened by an incessant tumult, by the
cries and enigmatical fragments of the social struggle
that was as yet only beginning. Everywhere festoons
and banners of black and strange decorations,
intensified the quality of his popularity.
Everywhere he caught snatches of that crude thick
dialect that served the illiterate class, the class, that is,
beyond the reach of phonograph culture, in their
common-place intercourse. Everywhere this trouble of
disarmament was in the air, with a quality of
immediate stress of which he had no inkling during his
seclusion in the Wind-Vane quarter. He perceived
that as soon as he returned he must discuss this with
Ostrog, this and the greater issues of which it was the
expression, in a far more conclusive way than he had
so far done. Perpetually that night, even in the earlier
hours of their wanderings about the city, the spirit
of unrest and revolt swamped his attention, to the
exclusion of countless strange things he might
otherwise have observed.
This preoccupation made his impressions fragmeary.
Yet amidst so much that was strange and vivid,
no subject, however personal and insistent, could exert
undivided sway. There were spaces when the revolutionary
movement passed clean out of his mind, was
drawn aside like a curtain from before some startling
new aspect of the time. Helen had swayed his mind
to this intense earnestness of enquiry, but there came
times when she, even, receded beyond his conscious
thoughts. At one moment, for example, he found
they were traversing the religious quarter, for the easy
transit about the city afforded by the moving ways
rendered sporadic churches and chapels no longer
necessary--and his attention was vividly arrested by
the facade of one of the Christian sects.
They were travelling seated on one of the swift upper
ways, the place leapt upon them at a bend and advanced
rapidly towards them. It was covered with inscriptions
from top to base, in vivid white and blue, save where a
vast and glaring kinematograph transparency presented
a realistic New Testament scene, and where a
vast festoon of black to show that the popular religion
followed the popular politics, hung across the lettering
Graham had already become familiar with the phonotype
writing and these inscriptions arrested him, being
to his sense for the most part almost incredible
blasphemy. Among the less offensive were "Salvation on
the First Floor and turn to the Right." "Put your
Money on your Maker." "The Sharpest Conversion
in London, Expert Operators! Look Slippy!"
"What Christ would say to the Sleeper;--Join the
Up-to-date Saints!" "Be a Christian--without
hindrance to your present Occupation." "All the
Brightest Bishops on the Bench to-night and Prices as Usual."
"Brisk Blessings for Busy Business Men."
"But this is appalling!" said Graham, as that deafening
scream of mercantile piety towered above them.
"What is appalling?" asked his little officer,
apparently seeking vainly for anything unusual in this
shrieking enamel.
"__This!__ Surely the essence of religion is reverence."
"Oh __that!__" Asano looked at Graham. "Does it
shock you?" he said in the tone of one who makes a
discovery. "I suppose it would, of course. I had
forgotten. Nowadays the competition for attention is so
keen. and people simply haven't the leisure to attend to
their souls, you know, as they used to do." He smiled.
"In the old days you had quiet Sabbaths and the
countryside. Though somewhere I've read of Sunday
afternoons that--"
"But, __that__," said Graham, glancing back at the
receding blue and white. "That is surely not the
"There are hundreds of different ways. But, of
course, if a sect doesn't tell it doesn't pay. Worship
has moved with the times. There are high class sects
with quieter ways--costly incense and personal
attentions and all that. These people are extremely
popular and prosperous. They pay several dozen lions for
those apartments to the Council--to you, I should
Graham still felt a difficulty with the coinage, and
this mention of a dozen lions brought him abruptly
to that matter. In a moment the screaming temples
and their swarming touts were forgotten in this new
interest. A turn of a phrase suggested, and an answer
confirmed the idea that gold and silver were both
demonetised, that stamped gold which had begun its
reign amidst the merchants of Phoenicia was at last
dethroned. The change had been graduated but swift,
brought about by an extension of the system of
cheques that had even in his previous life already
practically superseded gold in all the larger business
transactions. The common traffic of the city, the common
currency indeed of all the world, was conducted by
means of the little brown, green and pink council
cheques for small amounts, printed with a blank payee.
Asano had several with him, and at the first
opportunity he supplied the gaps in his set. They were
printed not on tearable paper, but on a semi-transparent
fabric of silken, flexibility, interwoven with silk.
Across them all sprawled a facsimile of Graham's
signature, his first encounter with the curves and turns of
that familiar autograph for two hundred and three
Some intermediary experiences made no impression
sufficiently vivid to prevent the matter of the
disarmament claiming his thoughts again; a blurred picture
of a Theosophist temple that promised MIRACLES
in enormous letters of unsteady fire was least
submerged perhaps, but then came the view of the dining
hall in Northumberland Avenue. That interested him
very greatly.
By the energy and thought of Asano he was able to
view this place from a little screened gallery reserved
for the attendants of the tables. The building was
pervaded by a distant muffled hooting, piping and
bawling, of which he did not at first understand the
import, but which recalled a certain mysterious
leathery voice he had heard after the resumption of the
lights on the night of his solitary wandering.
He had grown accustomed now to vastness and
great numbers of people, nevertheless this spectacle
held him for a long time. It was as he watched the
table service more immediately beneath, and
interspersed with many questions and answers concerning
details, that the realisation of the full significance of
the feast of several thousand people came to him.
It was his constant surprise to find that points that
one might have expected to strike vividly at the very
outset never occurred to him until some trivial detail
suddenly shaped as a riddle and pointed to the obvious
thing he had overlooked. In this matter, for instance,
it had not occurred to him that this continuity of the
city, this exclusion of weather, these vast halls and
ways, involved the disappearance of the household;
that the typical Victorian "home," the little brick cell
containing kitchen and scullery, living rooms and
bedrooms, had, save for the ruins that diversified the
countryside, vanished as surely as the wattle hut. But
now he saw what had indeed been manifest from the
first, that London, regarded as a living place, was no
longer an aggregation of houses but a prodigious hotel,
an hotel with a thousand classes of accommodation,
thousands of dining halls, chapels, theatres, markets
and places of assembly, a synthesis of enterprises, of
which he chiefly was the owner. People had their
sleeping rooms, with, it might be, antechambers,
rooms that were always sanitary at least whatever the
degree of comfort and privacy, and for the rest they
lived much as many people had lived in the new-made
giant hotels of the Victorian days, eating, reading,
thinking, playing, conversing, all in places of public
resort, going to their work in the industrial quarters
of the city or doing business in their offices in the
trading section.
He perceived at once how necessarily this state of
affairs had developed from the Victorian city. The
fundamental reason for the modern city had ever been
the economy of co-operation. The chief thing to prevent
the merging of the separate households in his
own generation was simply the still imperfect civilisation
of the people, the strong barbaric pride, passions,
and prejudices, the jealousies, rivalries, and violence
of the middle and lower classes, which had necessitated
the entire separation of contiguous households. But
the change, the taming of the people, had been in
rapid progress even then. In his brief thirty years of
previous life he had seen an enormous extension of
the habit of consuming meals from home, the casually
patronised horse-box coffee-house had given place to
the open and crowded Aerated Bread Shop for
instance, women's clubs had had their beginning, and
an immense development of reading rooms, lounges
and libraries had witnessed to the growth of social
confidence. These promises had by this time attained
to their complete fulfillment. The locked and barred
household had passed away.
These people below him belonged, he learnt, to the
lower middle class, the class just above the blue
labourers, a class so accustomed in the Victorian
period to feed with every precaution of privacy that
its members, when occasion confronted them with a
public meal, would usually hide their embarrassment
under horseplay or a markedly militant demeanour.
But these gaily, if lightly dressed people below, albeit
vivacious, hurried and uncommunicative, were
dexterously mannered and certainly quite at their ease
with regard to one another.
He noted a slight significant thing; the table, as
far as he could see, was and remained delightfully neat,
there was nothing to parallel the confusion, the
broadcast crumbs, the splashes of viand and condiment, the
overturned drink and displaced ornaments, which would
have marked the stormy progress of the Victorian meal.
The table furniture was very different. There were
no ornaments, no flowers, and the table was without a
cloth, being made, he learnt, of a solid substance
having the texture and appearance of damask. He
discerned that this damask substance was patterned with
gracefully designed trade advertisements.
In a sort of recess before each diner was a complete
apparatus of porcelain and metal. There was one
plate of white porcelain, and by means of taps for hot
and cold volatile fluids the diner washed this himself
between the courses; he also washed his elegant white
metal knife and fork and spoon as occasion required.
Soup and the chemical wine that was the common
drink were delivered by similar taps, and the remaining
covers travelled automatically in tastefully arranged
dishes down the table along silver rails. The diner
stopped these and helped himself at his discretion.
They appeared at a little door at one end of the table,
and vanished at the other. That turn of democratic
sentiment in decay, that ugly pride of menial souls,
which renders equals loth to wait on one another, was
very strong he found among these people. He was so
preoccupied with these details that it was only just as
he was leaving the place that he remarked the huge
advertisement dioramas that marched majestically
along the upper walls and proclaimed the most
remarkable commodities.
Beyond this place they came into a crowded hall,
and he discovered the cause of the noise that had
perplexed him. They paused at a turnstile at which a
payment was made.
Graham's attention was immediately arrested by a
violent, loud hoot, followed by a vast leathery voice.
"The Master is sleeping peacefully," it vociferately.
"He is in excellent health. He is going to devote the
rest of his life to aeronautics. He says women are
more beautiful than ever. Galloop! Wow! Our
wonderful civilisation astonishes him beyond measure.
Beyond all measure. Galloop. He puts great trust
in Boss Ostrog, absolute confidence in Boss Ostrog.
Ostrog is to be his chief minister; is authorised to
remove or reinstate public officers--all patronage will
be in his hands. All patronage in the hands of Boss
Ostrog! The Councillors have been sent back to their
own prison above the Council House."
Graham stopped at the first sentence, and, looking
up, beheld a foolish trumpet face from which this was
brayed. This was the General Intelligence Machine.
For a space it seemed to be gathering breath, and a
regular throbbing from its cylindrical body was
audible. Then it trumpeted "Galloop, Galloop," and
broke out again.
"Paris is now pacified. All resistance is over.
Galloop! The black police hold every position of
importance in the city. They fought with great bravery,
singing songs written in praise of their ancestors
by the poet Kipling. Once or twice they got out of
hand, and tortured and mutilated wounded and captured
insurgents, men and women. Moral--don't go
rebelling. Haha! Galloop, Galloop! They are
lively fellows. Lively brave fellows. Let this be a lesson
to the disorderly banderlog of this city. Yah!
Banderlog! Filth of the earth! Galloop, Galloop!"
The voice ceased. There was a confused murmur
of disapproval among the crowd. "Damned niggers."
A man began to harangne near them. "Is
this the Master's doing, brothers? Is this the
Master's doing?"
"Black police!" said Graham." What is that?
You don't mean--"
Asano touched his arm and gave him a warning
look, and forthwith another of these mechanisms I
screamed deafeningly and gave tongue in a shrill voice.
"Yahaha, Yahah, Yap! Hear a live paper yelp!
Live paper. Yaha! Shocking outrage in Paris.
Yahahah! The Parisians exasperated by the black
police to the pitch of assassination. Dreadful
reprisals. Savage times come again. Blood! Blood!
Yaha!" The nearer Babble Machine hooted stupendously,
"Galloop, Galloop," drowned the end of the
sentence, and proceeded in a rather flatter note than
before with novel comments on the horrors of disorder.
"Law and order must be maintained," said the nearer
Babble Machine.
"But," began Graham.
"Don't ask questions here," said Asano, "or you
will be involved in an argument."
"Then let us go on," said Graham, "for I want to
know more of this."
As he and his companion pushed their way through
the excited crowd that swarmed beneath these voices,
towards the exit, Graham conceived more clearly the
proportion and features of this room. Altogether,
great and small, there must have been nearly a thousand
of these erections, piping, hooting, bawling and
gabbling in that great space, each with its crowd of
excited listeners, the majority of them men dressed
in blue canvas. There were all sizes of machines,
from the little gossipping mechanisms that chuckled
out mechanical sarcasm in odd corners, through a
number of grades to such fifty-foot giants as that which
had first hooted over Graham.
This place was unusually crowded, because of the
intense public interest in the course of affairs in Paris.
Evidently the struggle had been much more savage
than Ostrog had represented it. All the mechanisms
were discoursing upon that topic, and the repetition
of the people made the huge hive buzz with such
phrases as "Lynched policemen," "Women burnt
alive," "Fuzzy Wuzzy." "But does the Master allow
such things? " asked a man near him. "Is this the
beginning of the Master's rule?"
Is __this__ the beginning of the Master's rule? For a
long time after he had left the place, the hooting,
whistling and braying of the machines pursued him;
"Galloop, Galloop," "Yahahah, Yaha, Yap! Yaha!"
Is this the beginning of the Master's rule?
Directly they were out upon the ways he began to
question Asano closely on the nature of the Parisian
struggle. "This disarmament! What was their
trouble? What does it all mean?" Asano seemed
chiefly anxious to reassure him that it was "all right."
"But these outrages!" "You cannot have an omelette,"
said Asano, "without breaking eggs. It is only
the rough people. Only in one part of the city. All
the rest is all right. The Parisian labourers are the
wildest in the world, except ours."
"What! the Londoners? "
"No, the Japanese. They have to be kept in order."
" But burning women alive! "
"A Commune!" said Asano. "They would rob
you of your property. They would do away with
property and give the world over to mob rule. You
are Master, the world is yours. But there will be no
Commune here. There is no need for black police
"And every consideration has been shown. It is
their own negroes--French speaking negroes. Senegal
regiments, and Niger and Timbuctoo."
"Regiments?" said Graham, "I thought there was
only one--."
"No," said Asano, and glanced at him. "There is
more than one."
Graham felt unpleasantly helpless.
"I did not think," he began and stopped abruptly
He went off at a tangent to ask for information
about these Babble Machines. For the most
part, the crowd present had been shabbily or even
raggedly dressed, and Graham learnt that so far as
the more prosperous classes were concerned, in all
the more comfortable private apartments of the city
were fixed Babble Machines that would speak directly
a lever was pulled. The tenant of the apartment
could connect this with the cables of any of the great
News Syndicates that he preferred. When he learnt
this presently, he demanded the reason of their
absence from his own suite of apartments. Asano
stared. "I never thought," he said. "Ostrog must
have had them removed."
Graham stared. "How was I to know?" he exclaimed.
"Perhaps he thought they would annoy you," said
"They must be replaced directly I return," said
Graham after an interval.
He found a difficulty in understanding that this
news room and the dining hall were not great central
places, that such establishments were repeated almost
beyond counting all over the city. But ever and
again during the night's expedition his ears, in some
new quarter would pick out from the tumult of the
ways the peculiar hooting of the organ of Boss
Ostrog, "Galloop, Galloop!" or the shrill "Yahaha,
Yaha, Yap!--Hear a live paper yelp!" of its chief
Repeated, too, everywhere, were such __creches__ as the
one he now entered. It was reached by a lift, and
by a glass bridge that flung across the dining hall
and traversed the ways at a slight upward angle. To
enter the first section of the place necessitated the
use of his solvent signature under Asano's direction.
They were immediately attended to by a man in a
violet robe and gold clasp, the insignia of practising
medical men. He perceived from this man's manner
that his identity was known, and proceeded to ask
questions on the strange arrangements of the place
without reserve.
On either side of the passage, which was silent
and padded, as if to deaden the footfall, were narrow
little doors, their size and arrangement suggestive of
the cells of a Victorian prison. But the upper portion
of each door was of the same greenish transparent
stuff that had enclosed him at his awakening,
and within, dimly seen, lay, in every case, a very
young baby in a little nest of wadding. Elaborate
apparatus watched the atmosphere and rang a bell far
away in the central office at the slightest departure
from the optimum of temperature and moisture. A
system of such __creches__ had almost entirely replaced
the hazardous adventures of the old-world nursing.
The attendant presently called Graham's attention to
the wet nurses, a vista of mechanical figures, with
arms, shoulders and breasts of astonishingly realistic
modelling, articulation, and texture, but mere brass
tripods below, and having in the place of features a
flat disc bearing advertisements likely to be of interest
to mothers.
Of all the strange things that Graham came upon
that night, none jarred more upon his habits of
thought than this place. The spectacle of the little
pink creatures, their feeble limbs swaying uncertainly
in vague first movements, left alone, without embrace
or endearment, was wholly repugnant to him. The
attendant doctor was of a different opinion. His
statistical evidence showed beyond dispute that in the
Victorian times the most dangerous passage of life
was the arms of the mother, that there human mortality
had ever been most terrible. On the other
hand this __creche__ company, the International Creche
Syndicate, lost not one-half per cent of the million
babies or so that formed its peculiar care. But Graham's
prejudice was too strong even for those figures.
Along one of the many passages of the place they
presently came upon a young couple in the usual blue
canvas peering through the transparency and laughing
hysterically at the bald head of their first-born.
Graham's face must have showed his estimate of them,
for their merriment ceased and they looked abashed.
But this little incident accentuated his sudden
realisation of the gulf between his habits of thought and the
ways of the new age. He passed on to the crawling
rooms and the Kindergarten, perplexed and distressed.
He found the endless long playrooms were
empty! the latter-day children at least still spent their
nights in sleep. As they went through these, the little
officer pointed out the nature of the toys, developments
of those devised by that inspired sentimentalist
Froebel. There were nurses here, but much was
done by machines that sang and danced and dandled.
Graham was still not clear upon many points.
"But so many orphans," he said perplexed, reverting
to a first misconception, and learnt again that they
were not orphans.
So soon as they had left the __creche__ he began to
speak of the horror the babies in their incubating
cases had caused him. "Is motherhood gone?" he
said. "Was it a cant? Surely it was an instinct.
This seems so unnatural--abominable almost."
"Along here we shall come to the dancing place,"
said Asano by way of reply. "It is sure to be
crowded. In spite of all the political unrest it will be
crowded. The women take no great interest in
politics--except a few here and there. You will see the
mothers--most young women in London are mothers.
In that class it is considered a creditable thing
to have one child--a proof of animation. Few
middle class people have more than one. With the
Labour Company it is different. As for motherhood
They still take an immense pride in the children.
They come here to look at them quite often."
"Then do you mean that the population of the
"Is falling? Yes. Except among the people under
the Labour Company. They are reckless--."
The air was suddenly dancing with music, and down
a way they approached obliquely, set with gorgeous
pillars as it seemed of clear amethyst, flowed a
concourse of gay people and a tumult of merry cries and
laughter. He saw curled heads, wreathed brows, and
a happy intricate flutter of gamboge pass triumphant
across the picture.
"You will see," said Asano with a faint smile
"The world has changed. In a moment you will see
the mothers of the new age. Come this way. We
shall see those yonder again very soon."
They ascended a certain height in a swift lift, and
changed to a slower one. As they went on the music
grew upon them, until it was near and full and
splendid, and, moving with its glorious intricacies they
could distinguish the beat of innumerable dancing
feet. They made a payment at a turnstile, and
emerged upon the wide gallery that overlooked the
dancing place, and upon the full enchantment of
sound and sight.
"Here," said Asano, "are the fathers and mothers
of the little ones you saw."
The hall was not so richly decorated as that of the
Atlas, but saving that, it was, for its size, the most
splendid Graham had seen. The beautiful whitelimbed
figures that supported the galleries reminded
him once more of the restored magnificence of sculpture;
they seemed to writhe in engaging attitudes,
their faces laughed. The source of the music that
filled the place was hidden, and the whole vast shining
floor was thick with dancing couples. "Look at
them," said the little officer, "see how much they
show of motherhood."
The gallery they stood upon ran along the upper
edge of a huge screen that cut the dancing hall on one
side from a sort of outer hall that showed through
broad arches the incessant onward rush of the city
ways. In this outer hall was a great crowd of less
brilliantly dressed people, as numerous almost as
those who danced within, the great majority wearing
the blue uniform of the Labour Company that was
now so familiar to Graham. Too poor to pass the
turnstiles to the festival, they were yet unable to keep
away from the sound of its seductions. Some of them
even had cleared spaces, and were dancing also,
fluttering their rags in the air. Some shouted as they
danced, jests and odd allusions Graham did not understand.
Once someone began whistling the refrain of
the revolutionary song, but it seemed as though that
beginning was promptly suppressed. The corner was
dark and Graham could not see. He turned to the
hall again. Above the caryatidae were marble busts
of men whom that age esteemed great moral emancipators
and pioneers; for the most part their names
were strange to Graham, though he recognised Grant
Allen, Le Gallienne, Nietzsche, Shelley and Goodwin.
Great black festoons and eloquent sentiments reinforced
the huge inscription that partially defaced the
upper end of the dancing place, and asserted that "The
Festival of the Awakening" was in progress.
"Myriads are taking holiday or staying from work
because of that, quite apart from the labourers who
refuse to go back," said Asano. "These people are
always ready for holidays."
Graham walked to the parapet and stood leaning
over, looking down at the dancers. Save for two or
three remote whispering couples, who had stolen
apart, he and his guide had the gallery to themselves.
A warm breath of scent and vitality came up to him.
Both men and women below were lightly clad, barearmed,
open-necked, as the universal warmth of the
city permitted. The hair of the men was often a mass
of effeminate curls, their chins were always shaven,
and many of them had flushed or coloured cheeks.
Many of the women were very pretty, and all were
dressed with elaborate coquetry. As they swept by
beneath, he saw ecstatic faces with eyes half closed in
"What sort of people are these? " he asked
"Workers--prosperous workers. What you
would have called the middle class. Independent
tradesmen with little separate businesses have vanished
long ago, but there are store servers, managers,
engineers of a hundred sorts. Tonight is a holiday
of course, and every dancing place in the city
will be crowded, and every place of worship."
"But--the women? "
"The same. There's a thousand forms of work for
women now. But you had the beginning of the
independent working-woman in your days. Most women
are independent now. Most of these are married
more or less--there are a number of methods of
contract--and that gives them more money, and enables
them to enjoy themselves."
"I see," said Graham looking at the flushed faces,
the flash and swirl of movement, and still thinking of
that nightmare of pink helpless limbs." And these
"Most of them."
"The more I see of these things the more complex
I find your problems. This, for instance, is a surprise.
That news from Paris was a surprise."
In a little while he spoke again:
"These are mothers. Presently, I suppose, I shall
get into the modern way of seeing things. I have old
habits of mind clinging about me--habits based, I
suppose, on needs that are over and done with. Of
course, in our time, a woman was supposed not only
to bear children, but to cherish them, to devote herself
to them, to educate them--all the essentials of moral
and mental education a child owed its mother.
Or went without. Quite a number, I admit, went
without. Nowadays, clearly, there is no more need
for such care than if they were butterflies. I see that!
Only there was an ideal--that figure of a grave,
patient woman, silently and serenely mistress of a
home, mother and maker of men--to love her was a
sort of worship--"
He stopped and repeated, "A sort of worship."
"Ideals change," said the little man, "as needs
Graham awoke from an instant reverie and Asano
repeated his words. Graham's mind returned to the
thing at hand.
"Of course I see the perfect reasonableness of this
Restraint, soberness, the matured thought, the unselfish a
act, they are necessities of the barbarous state, the
life of dangers. Dourness is man's tribute to
unconquered nature. But man has conquered nature now
for all practical purposes--his political affairs are
managed by Bosses with a black police--and life is
He looked at the dancers again. "Joyous," he
"There are weary moments," said the little officer,
"They all look young. Down there I should be
visibly the oldest man. And in my own time I should
have passed as middle-aged."
"They are young. There are few old people in this
class in the work cities."
"How is that? "
"Old people's lives are not so pleasant as they used
to be, unless they are rich to hire lovers and helpers.
And we have an institution called Euthanasy."
"Ah! that Euthanasy!" said Graham. "The easy
death? "
"The easy death. It is the last pleasure. The
Euthanasy Company does it well. People will pay the
sum--it is a costly thing--long beforehand, go off to
some pleasure city and return impoverished and
weary, very weary."
"There is a lot left for me to understand," said
Graham after a pause. "Yet I see the logic of it all.
Our array of angry virtues and sour restraints was the
consequence of danger and insecurity. The Stoic, the
Puritan, even in my time, were vanishing types. In
the old days man was armed against Pain, now he is
eager for Pleasure. There lies the difference.
Civilisation has driven pain and danger so far off--for
well-to-do people. And only well-to-do people matter
now. I have been asleep two hundred years."
For a minute they leant on the balustrading, following
the intricate evolution of the dance. Indeed the
scene was very beautiful.
"Before God," said Graham, suddenly, "I would
rather be a wounded sentinel freezing in the snow than
one of these painted fools! "
"In the snow," said Asano, "one might think
" I am uncivilised," said Graham, not heeding him.
"That is the trouble. I am primitive--Palaeolithic.
Their fountain of rage and fear and anger is sealed
and closed, the habits of a lifetime make them cheerful
and easy and delightful. You must bear with my
nineteenth century shocks and disgusts. These
people, you say, are skilled workers and so forth. And
while these dance, men are fighting--men are dying
in Paris to keep the world--that they may dance."
Asano smiled faintly. "For that matter, men are
dying in London," he said.
There was a moment's silence.
"Where do these sleep?" asked Graham.
"Above and below--an intricate warren."
"And where do they work? This is--the domestic
"You will see little work to-night. Half the workers
are out or under arms. Half these people are keeping
holiday. But we will go to the work places if you
wish it."
For a time Graham watched the dancers, then
suddenly turned away. "I want to see the workers.
I have seen enough of these," he said.
Asano led the way along the gallery across the
dancing hall. Presently they came to a transverse
passage that brought a breath of fresher, colder air.
Asano glanced at this passage as they went past,
stopped, went back to it, and turned to Graham with
a smile. "Here, Sire," he said, "is something--will
be familiar to you at least--and yet--. But I will
not tell you. Come! "
He led the way along a closed passage that presently
became cold. The reverberation of their feet told
that this passage was a bridge. They came into a
circular gallery that was glazed in from the outer
weather, and so reached a circular chamber which
seemed familiar, though Graham could not recall
distinctly when he had entered it before. In this was a
ladder--the first ladder he had seen since his
awakening--up which they went, and came into a
high, dark, cold place in which was another almost
vertical ladder. This they ascended, Graham still
But at the top he understood, and recognized the
metallic bars to which he clung. He was in the cage
under the ball of St. Paul's. The dome rose but a
little way above the general contour of the city,
into the still twilight, and sloped away, shining
greasily under a few distant lights, into a circumambient
ditch of darkness.
Out between the bars he looked upon the wind-clear
northern sky and saw the starry constellations
all unchanged. Capella hung in the west, Vega was
rising, and the seven glittering points of the Great
Bear swept overhead in their stately circle about the
He saw these stars in a clear gap of sky. To the
east and south the great circular shapes of
complaining wind-wheels blotted out the heavens, so that the
glare about the Council House was hidden. To the
south-west hung Orion, showing like a pallid ghost
through a tracery of iron-work and interlacing shapes
above a dazzling coruscation of lights. A bellowing
and siren screaming that came from the flying
stages warned the world that one of the aeroplanes
was ready to start. He remained for a space gazing
towards the glaring stage. Then his eyes went back
to the northward constellations.
For a long time he was silent. "This," he said at
last, smiling in the shadow, "seems the strangest thing
of all. To stand in the dome of Saint Paul's and look
once more upon these familiar, silent stars!"
Thence Graham was taken by Asano along devious
ways to the great gambling and business quarters
where the bulk of the fortunes in the city were lost
and made. It impressed him as a well-nigh interminable
series of very high halls, surrounded by tiers upon
tiers of galleries into which opened thousands of
offices, and traversed by a complicated multitude of
bridges, footways, aerial motor rails, and trapeze and
cable leaps. And here more than anywhere the note
of vehement vitality, of uncontrollable, hasty activity.
rose high. Everywhere was violent advertisement,
until his brain swam at the tumult of light and colour.
And Babble Machines of a peculiarly rancid tone were
abundant and filled the air with strenuous squealing
and an idiotic slang. "Skin your eyes and slide,"
"Gewhoop, Bonanza," "Gollipers come and hark!"
The place seemed to him to be dense with people
either profoundly agitated or swelling with obscure
cunning, yet he learnt that the place was comparatively
empty, that the great political convulsion of the
last few days had reduced transactions to an
unprecedented minimum. In one huge place were long
avenues of roulette tables, each with an excited,
undignified crowd about it; in another a
yelping Babel of white-faced women and rednecked
leathery-lunged men bought and sold the
shares of an absolutely fictitious business
undertaking which, every five minutes, paid a dividend of
ten per cent and cancelled a certain proportion of its
shares by means of a lottery wheel.
These business activities were prosecuted with an
energy that readily passed into violence, and Graham
approaching a dense crowd found at its centre a couple
of prominent merchants in violent controversy with
teeth and nails on some delicate point of business
etiquette. Something still remained in life to be fought
for. Further he had a shock at a vehement
announcement in phonetic letters of scarlet flame, each twice
the height of a man, that " WE ASSURE THE
"Who's the proprietor?" he asked.
" But what do they assure me?" he asked. "What
do they assure me?"
"Didn't you have assurance?"
Graham thought. "Insurance? "
"Yes--Insurance. I remember that was the older
word. They are insuring your life. Dozands of
people are taking out policies, myriads of lions are
being put on you. And further on other people are
buying annuities. They do that on everybody who is
at all prominent. Look there!"
A crowd of people surged and roared, and Graham
saw a vast black screen suddenly illuminated in still
larger letters of burning purple. "Anuetes on the
Propraiet'r---x 5 pr. G." The people began to boo
and shout at this, a number of hard breathing,
wildeyed men came running past, clawing with hooked
fingers at the air. There was a furious crush about a
little doorway.
Asano did a brief calculation. "Seventeen per cent
per annum is their annuity on you. They would not
pay so much per cent if they could see you now, Sire.
But they do not know. Your own annuities used to
be a very safe investment, but now you are sheer
gambling, of course. This is probably a desperate
bid. I doubt if people will get their money."
The crowd of would-be annuitants grew so thick
about them that for some time they could move neither
forward no backward. Graham noticed what appeared
to him to be a high proportion of women among the
speculators, and was reminded again of the economical
independence of their sex. They seemed remarkably
well able to take care of themselves in the crowd,
using their elbows with particular skill, as he learnt to
his cost. One curly-headed person caught in the
pressure for a space, looked steadfastly at him several
times, almost as if she recognized him, and then,
edging deliberately towards him, touched his hand
with her arm in a scarcely accidental manner, and
made it plain by a look as ancient as Chaldea that he
had found favour in her eyes. And then a lank, greybearded
man, perspiring copiously in a noble passion
of self-help, blind to all earthly things save that glaring,
bait, thrust between them in a cataclysmal rush towards
that alluring " x 5 pr. G."
"I want to get out of this," said Graham to Asano.
"This is not what I came to see. Show me the
workers. I want to see the people in blue. These
parasitic lunatics--"
He found himself wedged in a struggling mass c
people, and this hopeful sentence went unfinished.
From the Business Quarter they presently passed
by the running ways into a remote quarter of the city,
where the bulk of the manufactures was done. On
their way the platforms crossed the Thames twice, and
passed in a broad viaduct across one of the great roads
that entered the city from the North. In both cases
his impression was swift and in both very vivid. The
river was a broad wrinkled glitter of black sea water,
overarched by buildings, and vanishing either way into
a blackness starred with receding lights. A string of
black barges passed seaward, manned by blue-clad
men. The road was a long and very broad and high
tunnel, along which big-wheeled machines drove
noiselessly and swiftly. Here, too, the distinctive blue
of the Labour Company was in abundance. The
smoothness of the double tracks, the largeness and the
lightness of the big pneumatic wheels in proportion to
the vehicular body, struck Graham most vividly. One
lank and very high carriage with longitudinal metallic
rods hung with the dripping carcasses of many
hundred sheep arrested his attention unduly. Abruptly
the edge of the archway cut and blotted out the
Presently they left the way and descended by a lift
and traversed a passage that sloped downward, and
so came to a descending lift again. The appearance
of things changed. Even the pretence of architectural
ornament disappeared, the lights diminished in
number and size, the architecture became more and
more massive in proportion to the spaces as the
factory quarters were reached. And in the dusty biscuitmaking
place of the potters, among the felspar mills
in the furnace rooms of the metal workers, among the
incandescent lakes of crude Eadhamite, the blue
canvas clothing was on man, woman and child.
Many of these great and dusty galleries were silent
avenues of machinery, endless raked out ashen furnaces
testified to the revolutionary dislocation, but
wherever there was work it was being done by slowmoving
workers in blue canvas. The only people not
in blue canvas were the overlookers of the work-places
and the orange-clad Labour Police. And fresh from
the flushed faces of the dancing halls, the voluntary
vigours of the business quarter, Graham could note
the pinched faces, the feeble muscles, and weary eyes
of many of the latter-day workers. Such as he saw at
work were noticeably inferior in physique to the few
gaily dressed managers and forewomen who were
directing their labours. The burly labourers of the
Victorian times had followed the dray horse and all
such living force producers, to extinction; the place of
his costly muscles was taken by some dexterous
machine. The latter-day labourer, male as well as
female, was essentially a machine-minder and feeder,
a servant and attendant, or an artist under direction.
The women, in comparison with those Graham
remembered, were as a class distinctly plain and flatchested.
Two hundred years of emancipation from
the moral restraints of Puritanical religion, two
hundred years of city life, had done their work in
eliminating the strain of feminine beauty and vigour from
the blue canvas myriads. To be brilliant physically
or mentally, to be in any way attractive or exceptional,
had been and was still a certain way of emancipation
to the drudge, a line of escape to the Pleasure City
and its splendours and delights, and at last to the
Euthanasy and peace. To be steadfast against such
inducements was scarcely to be expected of meanly
nourished souls. In the young cities of Graham's
former life, the newly aggregated labouring mass had
been a diverse multitude, still stirred by the tradition
of personal honour and a high morality; now it was
differentiating into a distinct class, with a moral and
physical difference of its own--even with a dialect of
its own.
They penetrated downward, ever downward, towards
the working places. Presently they passed underneath
one of the streets of the moving ways, and saw its
platforms running on their rails far overhead, and chinks
of white lights between the transverse slits. The
factories that were not working were sparsely lighted;
to Graham they and their shrouded aisles of giant
machines seemed plunged in gloom, and even where
work was going on the illumination was far less
brilliant than upon the public ways.
Beyond the blazing lakes of Eadhamite he came to
the warren of the jewellers, and, with some difficulty
and by using his signature, obtained admission to
these galleries. They were high and dark, and rather
cold. In the first a few men were making ornaments
of gold filigree, each man at a little bench by himself,
and with a little shaded light. The long vista of light
patches, with the nimble fingers brightly lit and
moving among the gleaming yellow coils, and the
intent face like the face of a ghost, in each shadow
had the oddest effect.
The work was beautifully executed, but without any
strength of modelling or drawing, for the most part
intricate grotesques or the ringing of the changes on
a geometrical motif. These workers wore a peculiar
white uniform without pockets or sleeves. They
assumed this on coming to work, but at night they
were stripped and examined before they left the
premises of the Company. In spite of every precaution,
the Labour policeman told them in a depressed
tone, the Company was not infrequently robbed.
Beyond was a gallery of women busied in cutting
and setting slabs of artificial ruby, and next these were
men and women busied together upon the slabs of
copper net that formed the basis of cloisonne tiles.
Many of these workers had lips and nostrils a livid
white, due to a disease caused by a peculiar purple
enamel that chanced to be much in fashion. Asano
apologised to Graham for the offence of their faces, but
excused himself on the score of the convenience of this
route. "This is what I wanted to see," said Graham;
"this is what I wanted to see," trying to avoid a start
at a particularly striking disfigurement that suddenly
stared him in the face.
"She might have done better with herself than
that," said Asano.
Graham made some indignant comments.
"But, Sire, we simply could not stand that stuff
without the purple," said Asano. "In your days
people could stand such crudities, they were nearer the
barbaric by two hundred years."
They continued along one of the lower galleries of
this cloisonne factory, and came to a little bridge that
spanned a vault. Looking over the parapet, Graham
saw that beneath was a wharf under yet more tremendous
archings than any he had seen. Three
barges, smothered in floury dust, were being unloaded
of their cargoes of powdered felspar by a multitude
of coughing men, each guiding a little truck; the dust
filled the place with a choking mist, and turned the
electric glare yellow. The vague shadows of these
workers gesticulated about their feet, and rushed to
and fro against a long stretch of white-washed wall.
Every now and then one would stop to cough.
A shadowy, huge mass of masonry rising out of the
inky water, brought to Graham's mind the thought of
the multitude of ways and galleries and lifts, that rose
floor above floor overhead between him and the sky.
The men worked in silence under the supervision of
two of the Labour Police; their feet made a hollow
thunder on the planks along which they went to and
fro. And as he looked at this scene, some hidden
voice in the darkness began to sing.
"Stop that!" shouted one of the policemen, but the
order was disobeyed, and first one and then all the
white-stained men who were working there had taken
up the beating refrain, singing it defiantly, the Song
of the Revolt. The feet upon the planks thundered
now to the rhythm of the song, tramp, tramp, tramp.
The policeman who had shouted glanced at his fellow,
and Graham saw him shrug his shoulders. He made
no further effort to stop the singing.
And so they went through these factories and places
of toil, seeing many painful and grim things. But
why should the gentle reader be depressed? Surely
to a refined nature our present world is distressing
enough without bothering ourselves about these
miseries to come. We shall not suffer anyhow. Our
children may, but what is that to us? That walk left on
Graham's mind a maze of memories, fluctuating pictures
of swathed halls, and crowded vaults seen through
clouds of dust, of intricate machines, the racing threads
of looms, the heavy beat of stamping machinery, the
roar and rattle of belt and armature, of ill-lit
subterranean aisles of sleeping places, illimitable vistas of
pin-point lights. And here the smell of tanning, and
here the reek of a brewery and here, unprecedented
reeks. And everywhere were pillars and cross archings
of such a massiveness as Graham had never before
seen, thick Titans of greasy, shining brickwork crushed
beneath the vast weight of that complex city world,
even as these anemic millions were crushed by its
complexity. And everywhere were pale features, lean
limbs, disfigurement and degradation.
Once and again, and again a third time, Graham
heard the song of the revolt during his long,
unpleasant research in these places, and once he saw
a confused struggle down a passage, and learnt that
a number of these serfs had seized their bread before
their work was done. Graham was ascending towards
the ways again when he saw a number of blue-clad
children running down a transverse passage, and
presently perceived the reason of their panic in a
company of the Labour Police armed with clubs,
trotting towards some unknown disturbance. And
then came a remote disorder. But for the most part
this remnant that worked, worked hopelessly. All the
spirit that was left in fallen humanity was above in the
streets that night, calling for the Master, and valiantly
and noisily keeping its arms.
They emerged from these wanderings and stood
blinking in the bright light of the middle passage of
the platforms again. They became aware of the
remote hooting and yelping of the machines of one of
the General Intelligence Offices, and suddenly came
men running, and along the platforms and about the
ways everywhere was a shouting and crying. Then
a woman with a face of mute white terror, and another
who gasped and shrieked as she ran.
"What has happened now?" said Graham, puzzled,
for he could not understand their thick speech. Then
he heard it in English and perceived that the thing
that everyone was shouting, that men yelled to one
another, that women took up screaming, that was
passing like the first breeze of a thunderstorm, chill
and sudden through the city, was this: "Ostrog has
ordered the Black Police to London. The Black
Police are coming from South Africa. . . . The
Black Police. The Black Police."
Asano's face was white and astonished; he hesitated,
looked at Graham's face, and told him the thing
he already knew. "But how can they know?" asked
Graham heard someone shouting. "Stop all work.
Stop all work," and a swarthy hunchback, ridiculously
gay in green and gold, came leaping down the platforms
toward him, bawling again and again in good
English, "This is Ostrog's doing, Ostrog, the Knave!
The Master is betrayed." His voice was hoarse and a
thin foam dropped from his ugly shouting mouth. He
yelled an unspeakable horror that the Black Police
had done in Paris, and so passed shrieking, "Ostrog
the Knave!"
For a moment Graham stood still, for it had come
upon him again that these things were a dream. He
looked up at the great cliff of buildings on either side,
vanishing into blue haze at last above the lights, and
down to the roaring tiers of platforms, and the
shouting, running people who were gesticulating past.
"The Master is betrayed!" they cried. "The Master
is betrayed!"
Suddenly the situation shaped itself in his mind real
and urgent. His heart began to beat fast and strong.
"It has come," he said." I might have known. The
hour has come."
He thought swiftly. "What am I to do? "
"Go back to the Council House," said Asano.
"Why should I not appeal--? The people are
"You will lose time. They will doubt if it is you.
But they will mass about the Council House. There
you will find' their leaders. Your strength is there
with them."
"Suppose this is only a rumour?"
"It sounds true," said Asano.
"Let us have the facts," said Graham.
Asano shrugged his shoulders. "We had better
get towards the Council House," he cried. "That is
where they will swarm. Even now the ruins may be
Graham regarded him doubtfully and followed him.
They went up the stepped platforms to the swiftest
one, and there Asano accosted a labourer. The
answers to his questions were in the thick, vulgar
"What did he say? " asked Graham.
"He knows little, but he told me that the Black
Police would have arrived here before the people
knew--had not someone in the Wind-Vane Offices
Learnt. He said a girl."
"A girl? Not?"
" He said a girl--he did not know who she was.
Who came out from the Council House crying aloud,
and told the men at work among the ruins."
And then another thing was shouted, something
that turned an aimless tumult into determinate movements,
it came like a wind along the street. "To your
Wards, to your Wards. Every man get arms. Every
man to his Ward!"
As Asano and Graham hurried along to the ruins
about the Council House, they saw everywhere the
excitement of the people rising. "To your Wards
To your Wards!" Everywhere men and women in
blue were hurrying from unknown subterranean
employments, up the staircases of the middle path- at
one place Graham saw an arsenal of the revolutionary
committee besieged by a crowd of shouting men, at
another a couple of men in the hated yellow uniform
of the Labour Police, pursued by a gathering crowd,
fled precipitately along the swift way that went in the
opposite direction.
The cries of "To your Wards!" became at last a
continuous shouting as they drew near the
Government quarter. Many of the shouts were
unintelligible. "Ostrog has betrayed us," one man bawled in
a hoarse voice, again and again, dinning that refrain
into Graham's ear until it haunted him. This person
stayed close beside Graham and Asano on the swift
way, shouting to the people who swarmed on the lower
platforms as he rushed past them. His cry about
Ostrog alternated with some incomprehensible orders
Presently he went leaping down and disappeared.
Graham's mind was filled with the din. His plans
were vague and unformed. He had one picture of
some commanding position from which he could
address the multitudes, another of meeting Ostrog face
to face. He was full of rage, of tense muscular
excitement, his hands gripped, his lips were pressed together.
The way to the Council House across the ruins was
impassable, but Asano met that difficulty and took
Graham into the premises of the central post-office.
The post-office was nominally at work, but the blueclothed
porters moved sluggishly or had stopped to
stare through the arches of their galleries at the
shouting men who were going by outside. "Every
man to his Ward! Every man to his Ward!" Here,
by Asano's advice, Graham revealed his identity.
They crossed to the Council House by a cable
cradle. Already in the brief interval since the
capitulation of the Councillors a great change had been
wrought in the appearance of the ruins. The spurting
cascades of the ruptured sea water-mains had been
captured and tamed, and huge temporary pipes ran
overhead along a flimsy looking fabric of girders. The
sky was laced with restored cables and wires that
served the Council House, and a mass of new fabric
with cranes and other building machines going to and
fro upon it, projected to the left of the white pile.
The moving ways that ran across this area had
been restored, albeit for once running under the open
sky. These were the ways that Graham had seen from
the little balcony in the hour of his awakening, not
nine days since, and the hall of his Trance had been on
the further side, where now shapeless piles of smashed
and shattered masonry were heaped together.
It was already high day and the sun was shining
brightly. Out of their tall caverns of blue electric
light came the swift ways crowded with multitudes of
people, who poured off them and gathered ever denser
over the wreckage and confusion of the ruins. The
air was full of their shouting, and they were pressing
and swaying towards the central building. For the
most part that shouting mass consisted of shapeless
swarms, but here and there Graham could see that a
rude discipline struggled to establish itself. And every
voice clamoured for order in the chaos. "To your
Wards! Every man to his Ward!"
The cable carried them into a hall which Graham
recognised as the ante-chamber to the Hall of the
Atlas, about the gallery of which he had walked days
ago with Howard to show himself to the vanished
Council, an hour from his awakening. Now the place
was empty except for two cable attendants. These
men seemed hugely astonished to recognise the
Sleeper in the man who swung down from the cross
"Where is Helen Wotton?" he demanded. "Where
is Helen Wotton?"
They did not know.
" Then where is Ostrog? I must see Ostrog
forthwith. He has disobeyed me. I have come back to
take things out of his hands." Without waiting for
Asano, he went straight across the place, ascended the
steps at the further end, and, pulling the curtain aside,
found himself facing the perpetually labouring Titan.
The hall was empty. Its appearance had changed
very greatly since his first sight of it. It had suffered
serious injury in the violent struggle of the first
outbreak. On the right hand side of the great figure the
upper half of the wall had been torn away for nearly
two hundred feet of its length, and a sheet of the same
glassy film that had enclosed Graham at his awakening
had been drawn across the gap. This deadened, but
did not altogether exclude the roar of the people outside.
"Wards! Wards! Wards!" they seemed to
be saying. Through it there were visible the beams
and supports of metal scaffoldings that rose and fell
according to the requirements of a great crowd of
workmen. An idle building machine, with lank arms
of red painted metal that caught the still plastic blocks
of mineral paste and swung them neatly into position,
stretched gauntly across this green tinted picture. On
it were still a number of workmen staring at the crowd
below. For a moment he stood regarding these
things, and Asano overtook him.
"Ostrog," said Asano, "will be in the small offices
beyond there." The little man looked livid now and
his eyes searched Graham's face.
They had scarcely advanced ten paces from the
curtain before a little panel to the left of the Atlas
rolled up, and Ostrog, accompanied by Lincoln and
followed by two black and yellow clad negroes,
appeared crossing the remote corner of the hall,
towards a second panel that was raised and open.
"Ostrog," shouted Graham, and at the sound of his
voice the little party turned astonished.
Ostrog said something to Lincoln and advanced
Graham was the first to speak. His voice was loud
and dictatorial. "What is this I hear?" he asked.
"Are you bringing negroes here--to keep the people
"It is none too soon," said Ostrog. "They have
been getting out of hand more and more, since the
revolt. I under-estimated--"
"Do you mean that these infernal negroes are on
the way?"
"On the way. As it is, you have seen the people--
outside? "
"No wonder! But--after what was said. You
have taken too much on yourself, Ostrog."
Ostrog said nothing, but drew nearer.
"These negroes must not come to London," said
Graham. "I am Master and they shall not come."
Ostrog glanced at Lincoln, who at once came
towards them with his two attendants close behind
him. "Why not?" asked Ostrog.
"White men must be mastered by white men.
"The negroes are only an instrument."
"But that is not the question. I am the Master. I
mean to be the Master. And I tell you these negroes
shall not come."
"The people--"
"I believe in the people."
"Because you are an anachronism. You are a man
out of the Past--an accident. You are Owner
perhaps of half the property in the world. But you are
not Master. You do not know enough to be Master."
He glanced at Lincoln again. "I know now what
you think--I can guess something of what you mean
to do. Even now it is not too late to warn you. You
dream of human equality--of a socialistic order--
you have all those worn-out dreams of the nineteenth
century fresh and vivid in your mind, and you would
rule this age that you do not understand."
"Listen! " said Graham. "You can hear it--a
sound like the sea. Not voices--but a voice. Do
you altogether understand?"
"We taught them that," said Ostrog.
" Perhaps. Can you teach them to forget it? But
enough of this! These negroes must not come."
There was a pause and Ostrog looked him in the
"They will," he said.
"I forbid it," said Graham.
"They have started."
"I will not have it."
"No," said Ostrog. "Sorry as I am to follow the
method of the Council--. For your own good--
you must not side with disorder. And now that
you are here--. It was kind of you to come here."
Lincoln laid his hand on Graham's shoulder.
Abruptly Graham realized the enormity of his blunder
in coming to the Council House. He turned towards
the curtains that separated the hall from the antechamber.
The clutching hand of Asano intervened.
In another moment Lincoln had grasped Graham's
He turned and struck at Lincoln's face, and incontinently
a negro had him by collar and arm. He
wrenched himself away, his sleeve tore noisily, and he
stumbled back, to be tripped by the other attendant.
Then he struck the ground heavily and he was staring
at the distant ceiling of the hall.
He shouted, rolled over, struggling fiercely, clutched
an attendant's leg and threw him headlong, and
struggled to his feet.
Lincoln appeared before him, went down heavily
again with a blow under the point of the jaw and lay
still. Graham made two strides, stumbled. And then
Ostrog's arm was round his neck, he was pulled over
backward, fell heavily, and his arms were pinned to the
ground. After a few violent efforts he ceased to
struggle and lay staring at Ostrog's heaving throat.
"You--are--a prisoner," panted Ostrog, exulting.
"You--were rather a fool--to come back."
Graham turned his head about and perceived
through the irregular green window in the walls of
the hall the men who had been working the building
cranes gesticulating excitedly to the people below them.
They had seen!
Ostrog followed his eyes and started. He shouted
something to Lincoln, but Lincoln did not move. A
bullet smashed among the mouldings above the Atlas
The two sheets of transparent matter that had been
stretched across this gap were rent, the edges of the
torn aperture darkened, curved, ran rapidly towards
the framework, and in a moment the Council chamber
stood open to the air. A chilly gust blew in by the
gap, bringing with it a war of voices from the ruinous
spaces without, an elvish babblement, "Save the
Master!" "What are they doing to the Master?"
"The Master is betrayed! "
And then he realised that Ostrog's attention was
distracted, that Ostrog's grip had relaxed, and,
wrenching his arms free, he struggled to his knees.
In another moment he had thrust Ostrog back, and
he was on one foot, his hand gripping Ostrog's throat,
and Ostrog's hands clutching the silk about his neck.
But now men were coming towards them from the
dais--men whose intentions he misunderstood. He
had a glimpse of someone running in the distance
towards the curtains of the antechamber, and then
Ostrog had slipped from him and these newcomers
were upon him. To his infinite astonishment, they
seized him. They obeyed the shouts of Ostrog.
He was lugged a dozen yards before he realised that
they were not friends--that they were dragging him
towards the open panel. When he saw this he pulled
back, he tried to fling himself down, he shouted for
help with all his strength. And this time there were
answering cries.
The grip upon his neck relaxed, and behold! in the
lower corner of the rent upon the wall, first one and
then a number of little black figures appeared shouting
and waving arms. They came leaping down from
the gap into the light gallery that had led to the Silent
Rooms. They ran along it, so near were they that
Graham could see the weapons in their hands, Then
Ostrog was shouting in his ear to the men who held
him, and once more he was struggling with all his
strength against their endeavours to thrust him towards
the opening that yawned to receive him. "They can't
come down," panted Ostrog. "They daren't fire.
It's all right." "We'll save him from them yet."
For long minutes as it seemed to Graham that
inglorious struggle continued. His clothes were rent
in a dozen places, he was covered in dust, one hand
had been trodden upon. He could hear the shouts of
his supporters, and once he heard shots. He could
feel his strength giving way, feel his efforts wild and
aimless. But no help came, and surely, irresistibly,
that black, yawning opening came nearer.
The pressure upon him relaxed and he struggled
up. He saw Ostrog's grey head receding and
perceived that he was no longer held. He turned about
and came full into a man in black. One of the green
weapons cracked close to him, a drift of pungent
smoke came into his face, and a steel blade flashed.
The huge chamber span about him.
He saw a man in pale blue stabbing one of the black
and yellow attendants not three yards from his face.
Then hands were upon him again.
He was being pulled in two, directions now. It
seemed as though people were shouting to him. He
wanted to understand and could not. Someone was
clutching about his thighs, he was being hoisted in
spite of his vigorous efforts. He understood suddenly,
he ceased to struggle. He was lifted up on men's
shoulders and carried away from that devouring panel.
Ten thousand throats were cheering.
He saw men in blue and black hurrying after the
retreating Ostrogites and firing. Lifted up, he saw
now across the whole expanse of the hall beneath the
Atlas image, saw that he was being carried towards
the raised platform in the centre of the place. The far
end of the hall was already full of people running
towards him. They were looking at him and cheering.
He became aware that a sort of body-guard
surrounded him. Active men about him shouted vague
orders. He saw close at hand the black moustached
man in yellow who had been among those who had
greeted him in the public theatre, shouting directions.
The hall was already densely packed with swaying
people, the little metal gallery sagged with a shouting
load, the curtains at the end had been torn away, and
the ante-chamber was revealed densely crowded. He
could scarcely make the man near him hear for the
tumult about them. "Where has Ostrog gone?" he
The man he questioned pointed over the heads
towards the lower panels about the hall on the side
opposite the gap. They stood open and armed men,
blue clad with black sashes, were running through them
and vanishing into the chambers and passages beyond.
It seemed to Graham that a sound of firing drifted
through the riot. He was carried in a staggering
curve across the great hall towards an opening beneath
the gap.
He perceived men working with a sort of rude
discipline to keep the crowd off him, to make a space clear
about him. He passed out of the hall, and saw a
crude, new wall rising blankly before him topped by
blue sky. He was swung down to his feet; someone
gripped his arm and guided him. He found the man
in yellow close at hand. They were taking him up a
narrow stairway of brick, and close at hand rose the
great red painted masses, the cranes and levers and
the still engines of the big building machine.
He was at the top of the steps. He was hurried
across a narrow railed footway, and suddenly with a
vast shouting the amphitheatre of ruins opened again
before him. "The Master is with us! The Master!
The Master!" The shout swept athwart the lake of
faces like a wave, broke against the distant cliff of
ruins, and came back in a welter of cries. "The
Master is on our side! "
Graham perceived that he was no longer encompassed
by people, that he was standing upon a little
temporary platform of white metal, part of a flimsy
seeming scaffolding that laced about the great mass
of the Council House. Over all the huge expanse
of the ruins, swayed and eddied the shouting people;
and here and there the black banners of the revolutionary
societies ducked and swayed and formed rare
nuclei of organisation in the chaos. Up the steep
stairs of wall and scaffolding by which his rescuers
had reached the opening in the Atlas Chamber, clung
a solid crowd, and little energetic black figures
clinging to pillars and projections were strenuous to induce
these congested masses to stir. Behind him, at a
higher point on the scaffolding, a number of men
struggled upwards with the flapping folds of a huge
black standard. Through the yawning gap in the
walls below him he could look down upon the packed
attentive multitudes in the Hall of the Atlas. The
distant flying stages to the south came out bright and
vivid, brought nearer as it seemed by an unusual
translucency of the air. A solitary aeropile beat up
from the central stage as if to meet the coming
"What had become of Ostrog?" asked Graham, and
even as he spoke he saw that all eyes were turned
from him towards the crest of the Council House
building. He looked also in this direction of universal
attention. For a moment he saw nothing but the
jagged corner of a wall, hard and clear against the
sky. Then in the shadow he perceived the interior of
a room and recognised with a start the green and
white decorations of his former prison. And coming
quickly across this opened room and up to the very
verge of the cliff of the ruins came a little white clad
figure followed by two other smaller seeming figures
in black and yellow. He heard the man beside him
exclaim "Ostrog," and turned to ask a question. But
he never did, because of the startled exclamation of
another of those who were with him and a lank finger
suddenly pointing. He looked, and behold the
aeropile that had been rising from the flying stage
when last he had looked in that direction, was driving
towards them. The swift steady flight was still novel
enough to hold his attention.
Nearer it came, growing rapidly larger and larger,
until it had swept over the further edge of the ruins
and into view of the dense multitudes below. It
drooped across the space and rose and passed
overhead, rising to clear the mass of the Council House,
a filmy translucent shape with the solitary aeronaut
peering down through its ribs. It vanished beyond
the skyline of the ruins.
Graham transferred his attention to Ostrog. He
was signalling with his hands, and his attendants busy
breaking down the wall beside him. In another
moment the aeropile came into view again, a little
thing far away, coming round in a wide curve and
going slower.
Then suddenly the man in yellow shouted: "What
are they doing? What are the people doing? Why
is Ostrog left there? Why is he not captured? They
will lift him--the aeropile will lift him! Ah!"
The exclamation was echoed by a shout from the
ruins. The rattling sound of the green weapons
drifted across the intervening gulf to Graham, and,
looking down, he saw a number of black and yellow
uniforms running along one of the galleries that lay
open to the air below the promontory upon which
Ostrog stood. They fired as they ran at men unseen,
and then emerged a number of pale blue figures in
pursuit. These minute fighting figures had the oddest
effect; they seemed as they ran like little model
soldiers in a toy. This queer appearance of a
house cut open gave that struggle amidst furniture
and passages a quality of unreality. It was perhaps
two hundred yards away from him, and very nearly
fifty above the heads in the ruins below. The black
and yellow men ran into an open archway, and turned
and fired a volley. One of the blue pursuers striding
forward close to the edge, flung up his arms,
staggered sideways, seemed to Graham's sense to hang
over the edge for several seconds, and fell headlong
down. Graham saw him strike a projecting corner, fly
out, head over heels, head over heels, and vanish
behind the red arm of the building machine.
And then a shadow came between Graham and the
sun. He looked up and the sky was clear, but he
knew the aeropile had passed. Ostrog had vanished.
The man in yellow thrust before him, zealous and
perspiring, pointing and blatent.
"They are grounding!" cried the man in yellow.
"They are grounding. Tell the people to fire at him.
Tell them to fire at him!"
Graham could not understand. He heard loud
voices repeating these enigmatical orders.
Suddenly over the edge of the ruins he saw the prow
of the aeropile come gliding and stop with a jerk. In
a moment Graham understood that the thing had
grounded in order that Ostrog might escape by it.
He saw a blue haze climbing out of the gulf, perceived
that the people below him were now firing up at the
projecting stem.
A man beside him cheered hoarsely, and he saw
that the blue rebels had gained the archway that had
been contested by the men in black and yellow a
moment before, and were running in a continual
stream along the open passage.
And suddenly the aeropile slipped over the edge of
the Council House and fell. It dropped, tilting at an
angle of forty-five degrees, and dropping so steeply
that it seemed to Graham, it seemed perhaps to most
of these below, that it could not possibly rise again.
It fell so closely past him that he could see Ostrog
clutching the guides of the seat, with his grey hair
streaming; see the white-faced aeronaut wrenching
over the lever that drove the engine along its guides.
He heard the apprehensive vague cry of innumerable
men below.
Graham clutched the railing before him and gasped.
The second seemed an age. The lower van of the
aeropile passed within an ace of touching the people,
who yelled and screamed and trampled one another
And then it rose.
For a moment it looked as if it could not possibly
clear the opposite cliff, and then that it could not
possibly clear the wind-wheel that rotated beyond.
And behold! it was clear and soaring, still heeling
sideways, upward, upward into the wind-swept sky.
The suspense of the moment gave place to a fury of
exasperation as the swarming people realised that
Ostrog had escaped them. With belated activity they
renewed their fire, until the rattling wove into a roar,
until the whole area became dim and blue and the air
pungent with the thin smoke of their weapons.
Too late! The aeropile dwindled smaller and
smaller, and curved about and swept gracefully
downward to the flying stage from which it had so lately
risen. Ostrog had escaped.
For a while a confused babblement arose from the
ruins, and then the universal attention came back to
Graham, perched high among the scaffolding. He
saw the faces of the people turned towards him, heard
their shouts at his rescue. From the throat of the
ways came the song of the revolt spreading like a
breeze across that swaying sea of men.
The little group of men about him shouted
congratulations on his escape. The man in yellow was
close to him, with a set face and shining eyes. And
the song was rising, louder and louder; tramp, tramp,
tramp, tramp.
Slowly the realisation came of the full meaning of
these things to him, the perception of the swift change
in his position. Ostrog, who had stood beside him
whenever he had faced that shouting multitude before,
was beyond there--the antagonist. There was no
one to rule for him any longer. Even the people
about him, the leaders and organisers of the multitude,
looked to see what he would do, looked to him to act,
awaited his orders. He was King indeed. His
puppet reign was at an end.
He was very intent to do the thing that was
expected of him. His nerves and muscles were quivering,
his mind was perhaps a little confused, but he
felt neither fear nor anger. His hand that had been
trodden upon throbbed and was hot. He was a little
nervous about his bearing. He knew he was not
afraid, but he was anxious not to seem afraid. In his
former life he had often been more excited in playing
games of skill. He was desirous of immediate action,
he knew he must not think too much in detail of the
huge complexity of the struggle about him lest he
should be paralysed by the sense of its intricacy.
Over there those square blue shapes, the flying stages,
meant Ostrog; against Ostrog he was fighting for the
For a time the Master of the Earth was not even
master of his own mind. Even his will seemed a will
not his own, his own acts surprised him and were but
a part of the confusion of strange experiences that
poured across his being. These things were definite,
the aeroplanes were coming, Helen Wotton had
warned the people of their coming, and he was Master
of the Earth. Each of these facts seemed struggling
for complete possession of his thoughts. They
protruded from a background of swarming halls, elevated
passages, rooms jammed with ward leaders in council
kinematograph and telephone rooms, and windows
looking out on a seething sea of marching men. The
man in yellow, and men whom he fancied were called
Ward Leaders, were either propelling him forward
or following him obediently; it was hard to tell.
Perhaps they were doing a little of both. Perhaps some
power unseen and unsuspected, propelled them all.
He was aware that he was going to make a proclamation
to the People of the Earth, aware of certain
grandiose phrases floating in his mind as the thing
he meant to say. Many little things happened, and
then he found himself with the man in yellow entering
a little room where this proclamation of his was to be
This room was grotesquely latter-day in its appointments.
In the centre was a bright oval lit by shaded
electric lights from above. The rest was in shadow,
and the double finely fitting doors through which he
came from the swarming Hall of the Atlas made the
place very still. The dead thud of these as they closed
behind him, the sudden cessation of the tumult in
which he had been living for hours, the quivering circle
of light, the whispers and quick noiseless movements
of vaguely visible attendants in the shadows, had
a strange effect upon Graham. The huge ears of a
phonographic mechanism gaped in a battery for his words,
the black eyes of great photographic cameras awaited
his beginning, beyond metal rods and coils glittered
dimly, and something whirled about with a droning
hum. He walked into the centre of the light, and his
shadow drew together black and sharp to a little blot
at his feet.
The vague shape of the thing he meant to say was
already in his mind. But this silence, this isolation,
the sudden withdrawal from that contagious crowd,
this silent audience of gaping, glaring machines had
not been in his anticipation. All his supports seemed
withdrawn together; he seemed to have dropped into
this suddenly, suddenly to have discovered himself. In
a moment he was changed. He found that he now
feared to be inadequate, he feared to be theatrical, he
feared the quality of his voice, the quality of his wit,
astonished, he turned to the man in yellow with a
propitiatory gesture. "For a moment," he said, "I must
wait. I did not think it would be like this. I must
think of the thing I have to say.
While he was still hesitating there came an agitated
messenger with news that the foremost aeroplanes were
passing over Arawan.
"Arawan?" he said." Where is that? But anyhow,
they are coming. They will be here. When?"
"By twilight."
"Great God! In only a few hours. What news of
the flying stages?" he asked.
"The people of the south-west wards are ready."
"Ready! "
He turned impatiently to the blank circles of the
lenses again.
"I suppose it must be a sort of speech. Would to
God I knew certainly the thing that should be said!
Aeroplanes at Arawan! They must have started
before the main fleet. And the people only ready!
Surely . . ."
"Oh! what does it matter whether I speak well or
ill?" he said, and felt the light grow brighter.
He had framed some vague sentence of democratic
sentiment when suddenly doubts overwhelmed him.
His belief in his heroic quality and calling he found had
altogether lost its assured conviction. The picture of
a little strutting futility in a windy waste of
incomprehensible destinies replaced it. Abruptly it was
perfectly clear to him that this revolt against Ostrog was
premature, foredoomed to failure, the impulse of
passionate inadequacy against inevitable things. He
thought of that swift flight of aeroplanes like the swoop
of Fate towards him. He was astonished that he could
have seen things in any other light. In that final
emergency he debated, thrust debate resolutely aside,
determined at all costs to go through with the thing
he had undertaken. And he could find no word to
begin. Even as he stood, awkward, hesitating, with
an indiscrete apology for his inability trembling on his
lips, came the noise of many people crying out, the
running to and fro of feet. "Wait," cried someone,
and a door opened. "She is coming," said the voices.
Graham turned, and the watching lights waned.
Through the open doorway he saw a slight grey
figure advancing across a spacious hall. His heart
leapt. It was Helen Wotton. Behind and about her
marched a riot of applause. The man in yellow came
out of the nearer shadows into the circle of light.
"This is the girl who told us what Ostrog had
dune," he said.
Her face was aflame, and the heavy coils of her
black hair fell about her shoulders. The folds of the
soft silk robe she wore streamed from her and floated
in the rhythm of her advance. She drew nearer and
nearer, and his heart was beating fast. All his doubts
were gone. The shadow of the doorway fell athwart
her face and she was near him. "You have not
betrayed us? " she cried. "You are with us? "
"Where have you been? " said Graham.
"At the office of the south-west wards. Until ten
minutes since I did not know you had returned. I
went to the office of the south-west wards to find the
Ward Leaders in order that they might tell the people."
"I came back so soon as I heard--."
"I knew," she cried, " knew you would be with us.
And it was I--it was I that told them. They have
risen. All the world is rising. The people have
awakened. Thank God that I did not act in vain!
You are Master still."
"You told them " he said slowly, and he saw that in
spite of her steady eyes her lips trembled and her
throat rose and fell.
"I told them. I knew of the order. I was here.
I heard that the negroes were to come to London to
guard you and to keep the people down--to keep
you a prisoner. And I stopped it. I came out and
told the people. And you are Master still."
Graham glanced at the black lenses of the cameras,
the vast listening ears, and back to her face. "I am
Master still," he said slowly, and the swift rush of a
fleet of aeroplanes passed across his thoughts.
"And you did this? You, who are the niece of
"For you," she cried. "For you! That you for
whom the world has waited should not be cheated of
your power."
Graham stood for a space, wordless, regarding her.
His doubts and questionings had fled before her
presence. He remembered the things that he had meant
to say. He faced the cameras again and the light
about him grew brighter. He turned again towards
"You have saved me," he said; "you have saved
my power. And the battle is beginning. God knows.
what this night will see--but not dishonour."
He paused. He addressed himself to the unseen
multitudes who stared upon him through those
grotesque black eyes. At first he spoke slowly.
"Men and women of the new age," he said; "You
have arisen to do battle for the race. . . There
is no easy victory before us."
He stopped to gather words. The thoughts that
had been in his mind before she came returned, but
transfigured, no longer touched with the shadow of a
possible irrelevance. "This night is a beginning," he
cried. "This battle that is coming, this battle that
rushes upon us to-night, is only a beginning. All your
lives, it may be, you must fight. Take no thought
though I am beaten, though I am utterly overthrown."
He found the thing in his mind too vague for words.
He paused momentarily, and broke into vague
exhortations, and then a rush of speech came upon him.
Much that he said was but the humanitarian commonplace
of a vanished age, but the conviction of his voice
touched it to vitality. He stated the case of the old
days to the people of the new age, to the woman at
his side. "I come out of the past to you," he said,
"with the memory of an age that hoped. My age was
an age of dreams--of beginnings, an age of noble
hopes; throughout the world we had made an end of
slavery; throughout the world we had spread the desire
and anticipation that wars might cease, that all men
and women might live nobly, in freedom and peace.
. . . So we hoped in the days that are past. And
what of those hopes? How is it with man after two
hundred years?
"Great cities, vast powers, a collective greatness
beyond our dreams. For that we did not work, and
that has come. But how is it with the little lives that
make up this greater life? How is it with the common
lives? As it has ever been--sorrow and labour, lives
cramped and unfulfilled, lives tempted by power,
tempted by wealth, and gone to waste and folly. The
old faiths have faded and changed, the new faith--.
Is there a new faith? "
Things that he had long wished to believe, he found
that he believed. He plunged at belief and seized it,
and clung for a time at her level. He spoke gustily,
in broken incomplete sentences, but with all his heart
and strength, of this new faith within him. He spoke
of the greatness of self-abnegation, of his belief in an
immortal life of Humanity in which we live and move
and have our being. His voice rose and fell, and the
recording appliances hummed their hurried applause,
dim attendants watched him out of the shadow.
Through all those doubtful places his sense of that
silent spectator beside him sustained his sincerity.
For a few glorious moments he was carried away; he
felt no doubt of his heroic quality, no doubt of his
heroic words, he had it all straight and plain. His
eloquence limped no longer. And at last he made an
end to speaking. "Here and now," he cried, "I make
my will. All that is mine in the world I give to the
people of the world. All that is mine in the world I
give to the people of the world. I give it to you, and
myself I give to you. And as God wills, I will live for
you, or I will die."
He ended with a florid gesture and turned about.
He found the light of his present exaltation reflected
in the face of the girl. Their eyes met; her eyes were
swimming with tears of enthusiasm. They seemed to
be urged towards each other. They clasped hands
and stood gripped, facing one another, in an eloquent
silence. She whispered. "I knew," she whispered.
"I knew." He could not speak, he crushed her hand
in his. His mind was the theatre of gigantic passions.
The man in yellow was beside them. Neither had
noted his coming. He was saying that the south-west
wards were marching. "I never expected it so soon,"
he cried. "They have done wonders. You must send
them a word to help them on their way."
Graham dropped Helen's hand and stared at him
absent-mindedly. Then with a start he returned to
his previous preoccupation about the flying stages.
"Yes," he said. "That is good, that is good." He
weighed a message. "Tell them;--well done South
He turned his eyes to Helen Wotton again. His
face expressed his struggle between conflicting ideas.
"We must capture the flying stages," he explained.
"Unless we can do that they will land negroes. At all
costs we must prevent that."
He felt even as he spoke that this was not what had
been in his mind before the interruption. He saw a
touch of surprise in her eyes. She seemed about to
speak and a shrill bell drowned her voice.
It occurred to Graham that she expected him to lead
these marching people, that that was the thing he had
to do. He made the offer abruptly. He addressed
the man in yellow, but he spoke to her. He saw her
face respond. "Here I am doing nothing," he said.
"It is impossible," protested the man in yellow.
"It is a fight in a warren. Your place is here."
He explained elaborately. He motioned towards
the room where Graham must wait, he insisted no other
course was possible. "We must know where you
are," he said. "At any moment a crisis may arise
needing your presence and decision. "The room was
a luxurious little apartment with news machines and
a broken mirror that had once been en __rapport__ with the
crow's nest specula. It seemed a matter of course to
Graham that Helen should stop with him.
A picture had drifted through his mind of such a
vast dramatic struggle as the masses in the ruins had
suggested. But here was no spectacular battle-field
such as he imagined. Instead was seclusion--and suspense.
It was only as the afternoon wore on that
he pieced together a truer picture of the fight that
was raging, inaudibly and invisibly, within four
miles of him, beneath the Roehampton stage. A
strange and unprecedented contest it was, a battle
that was a hundred thousand little battles, a battle
in a sponge of ways and channels, fought out
of sight of sky or sun under the electric glare,
fought out in a vast confusion by multitudes untrained
in arms, led chiefly by acclamation, multitudes
dulled by mindless labour and enervated by the
tradition of two hundred years of servile security
against multitudes demolised by lives of venial privilege
and sensual indulgence. They had no artillery,
no differentiation into this force or that; the only
weapon on either side was the little green metal
carbine, whose secret manufacture and sudden
distribution in enormous quantities had been one of Ostrog's
culminating moves against the Council. Few had had
any experience with this weapon, many had never
discharged one, many who carried it came unprovided
with ammunition; never was wilder firing in the
history of warfare. It was a battle of amateurs, a
hideous experimental warfare, armed rioters fighting
armed rioters, armed rioters swept forward by the
words and fury of a song, by the tramping sympathy
of their numbers, pouring in countless myriads
towards the smaller ways, the disabled lifts, the
galleries slippery with blood, the halls and passages
choked with smoke, beneath the flying stages, to learn
there when retreat was hopeless the ancient mysteries
of warfare. And overhead save for a few sharpshooters
upon the roof spaces and for a few bands and
threads of vapour that multiplied and darkened towards
the evening, the day was a clear serenity. Ostrog it
seems had no bombs at command and in all the earlier
phases of the battle the aeropiles played no part. Not
the smallest cloud was there to break the empty
brilliance of the sky. It seemed as though it held itself
vacant until the aeroplanes should come.
Ever and again there was news of these, drawing
nearer, from this Mediterranean port and then that,
and presently from the south of France. But of the
new guns that Ostrog had made and which were known
to be in the city came no news in spite of Graham's
urgency, nor any report of successes from the dense
felt of fighting strands about the flying stages.
Section after section of the Labour Societies reported itself
assembled, reported itself marching, and vanished from
knowledge into the labyrinth of that warfare What
was happening there? Even the busy ward leaders did
not know. In spite of the opening and closing of
doors, the hasty messengers, the ringing of bells and
the perpetual clitter-clack of recording implements,
Graham felt isolated, strangely inactive, inoperative.
Their isolation seemed at times the strangest, the
most unexpected of all the things that had happened
since his awakening. It had something of the quality
of that inactivity that comes in dreams. A tumult, the
stupendous realisation of a world struggle between
Ostrog and himself, and then this confined quiet little
room with its mouthpieces and bells and broken
Now the door would be closed and they were alone
together; they seemed sharply marked off then from all
the unprecedented world storm that rushed together
without, vividly aware of one another, only concerned
with one another. Then the door would open again,
messengers would enter, or a sharp bell would stab
their quiet privacy, and it was like a window in a well
built brightly lit house flung open suddenly to a hurricane.
The dark hurry and tumult, the stress and
vehemence of the battle rushed in and overwhelmed
them. They were no longer persons but mere spectators,
mere impressions of a tremendous convulsion.
They became unreal even to themselves, miniatures of
personality, indescribably small, and the two antagonistic
realities, the only realities in being were first the
city, that throbbed and roared yonder in a belated
frenzy of defence and secondly the aeroplanes hurling
inexorably towards them over the round shoulder of
the world.
At first their mood had been one of exalted confidence,
a great pride had possessed them, a pride in
one another for the greatness of the issues they had
challenged. At first he had walked the room eloquent
with a transitory persuasion of his tremendous destiny.
But slowly uneasy intimations of their coming
defeat touched his spirit. There came a long period in
which they were alone. He changed his theme,
became egotistical, spoke of the wonder of his sleep, of
the little life of his memories, remote yet minute and
clear, like something seen through an inverted operaglass,
and all the brief play of desires and errors that
had made his former life. She said little, but the emotion
in her face followed the tones in his voice, and it
seemed to him he had at last a perfect understanding.
He reverted from pure reminiscence to that sense of
greatness she imposed upon him. "And through it
all, this destiny was before me," he said; "this vast
inheritance of which I did not dream."
Insensibly their heroic preoccupation with the
revlutionary struggle passed to the question of their
relationship. He began to question her. She told him of
the days before his awakening, spoke with a brief
vividness of the girlish dreams that had given a bias
to her life, of the incredulous emotions his awakening
had aroused. She told him too of a tragic circumstance
of her girlhood that had darkened her life,
quickened her sense of injustice and opened her heart
prematurely to the wider sorrows of the world. For a
little time, so far as he was concerned, the great war
about them was but the vast ennobling background
to these personal things.
In an instant these personal relations were submerged.
There came messengers to tell that a great
fleet of aeroplanes was rushing between the sky and
Avignon. He went to the crystal dial in the corner
and assured himself that the thing was so. He went
to the chart room and consulted a map to measure the
distances of Avignon, New Arawan, and London. He
made swift calculations. He went to the room of the
Ward Leaders to ask for news of the fight for the
stages--and there was no one there. After a time he
came back to her.
His face had changed. It had dawned upon him
that the struggle was perhaps more than half over,
that Ostrog was holding his own, that the arrival of
the aeroplanes would mean a panic that might leave
him helpless. A chance phrase in the message had
given him a glimpse of the reality that came. Each of
these soaring giants bore its thousand half savage
negroes to the death grapple of the city. Suddenly
his humanitarian enthusiasm showed flimsy. Only
two of the Ward Leaders were in their room, when
presently he repaired thither, the Hall of the Atlas
seemed empty. He fancied a change in the bearing
of the attendants in the outer rooms. A sombre
disillusionment darkened his mind. She looked at him
anxiously when he returned to her.
"No news," he said with an assumed carelessness
in answer to her eyes.
Then he was moved to frankness. "Or rather--
bad news. We are losing. We are gaining no ground
and the aeroplanes draw nearer and nearer."
He walked the length of the room and turned.
"Unless we can capture those flying stages in the
next hour--there will be horrible things. We shall
be beaten.
"No!" she said. "We have justice--we have the
people. We have God on our side."
"Ostrog has discipline--he has plans. Do you
know, out there just now I felt--. When I heard that
these aeroplanes were a stage nearer. I felt as if I
were fighting the machinery of fate."
She made no answer for a while. "We have done
right," she said at last.
He looked at her doubtfully. "We have done what
we could. But does this depend upon us? Is it not
an older sin, a wider sin?"
"What do you mean? " she asked.
"These blacks are savages, ruled by force, used as
force. And they have been under the rule of the
whites two hundred years. Is it not a race quarrel?
The race sinned--the race pays."
"But these labourers, these poor people of
London--! "
"Vicarious atonement. To stand wrong is to share
the guilt."
She looked keenly at him, astonished at the new
aspect he presented.
Without came the shrill ringing of a bell, the sound
of feet and the gabble of a phonographic message.
The man in yellow appeared. "Yes?" said Graham.
"They are at Vichy."
"Where are the attendants who were in the great
Hall of the Atlas? " asked Graham abruptly.
Presently the Babble Machine rang again. "We
may win yet," said the man in yellow, going out to it.
"If only we can find where Ostrog has hidden his
guns. Everything hangs on that now. Perhaps
Graham followed him. But the only news was of
the aeroplanes. They had reached Orleans.
Graham returned to Helen. "No news," he said
"No news."
"And we can do nothing?"
" Nothing."
He paced impatiently. Suddenly the swift anger
that was his nature swept upon him. "Curse this
complex world!" he cried, "and all the inventions of
men! That a man must die like a rat in a snare and
never see his foe! Oh, for one blow! . . ."
He turned with an abrupt change in his manner.
"That's nonsense," he said. "I am a savage."
He paced and stopped. "After all London and
Paris are only two cities. All the temperate zone has
risen. What if London is doomed and Paris
destroyed? These are but accidents. "Again came
the mockery of news to call him to fresh enquiries. He
returned with a graver face and sat down beside her.
"The end must be near," he said. "The people it
seems have fought and died in tens of thousands, the
ways about Roehampton must be like a smoked beehive.
And they have died in vain. They are still only
at the sub stage. The aeroplanes are near Paris.
Even were a gleam of success to come now, there
would be nothing to do, there would be no time to do
anything before they were upon us. The guns that
might have saved us are mislaid. Mislaid! Think of
the disorder of things! Think of this foolish tumult,
that cannot even find its weapons! Oh, for one
aeropile--just one! For the want of that I am beaten.
Humanity is beaten and our cause is lost! My
kingship, my headlong foolish kingship will not last a
night. And I have egged on the people to fight--."
"They would have fought anyhow."
"I doubt it. I have come among them--"
"No," she cried," not that. If defeat comes--if
you die--. But even that cannot be, it cannot be,
after all these years."
"Ah! We have meant well. But--do you indeed
"If they defeat you," she cried, "you have spoken.
Your word has gone like a great wind through the
world, fanning liberty into a flame. What if the flame
sputters a little! Nothing can change the spoken
word. Your message will have gone forth. .. ."
"To what end? It may be. It may be. You
know I said, when you told me of these things dear
God! but that was scarcely a score of hours ago!--I
said that I had not your faith. Well--at any rate
there is nothing to do now. . . ."
"You have not my faith! Do you mean--? You
are sorry?"
"No," he said hurriedly, "no! Before God--no!"
His voice changed. "But--. I think--I have been
indiscreet. I knew little--I grasped too hastily.. .."
He paused. He was ashamed of this avowal.
"There is one thing that makes up for all. I have
known you. Across this gulf of time I have come to
you. The rest is done. It is done. With you, too,
it has been something more--or something less--"
He paused with his face searching hers, and without
clamoured the unheeded message that the aeroplanes
were rising into the sky of Amiens.
She put her hand to her throat, and her lips were .
white. She stared before her as if she saw some
horrible possibility. Suddenly her features changed.
"Oh, but I have been honest!" she cried, and then,
"Have I been honest? I loved the world and freedom,
I hated cruelty and oppression. Surely it was
"Yes," he said, "yes. And we have done what it
lay in us to do. We have given our message, our
message! We have started Armageddon! But
now--. Now that we have, it may be our last hour,
together, now that all these greater things are
done. . . ."
He stopped. She sat in silence. Her face was a
white riddle.
For a moment they heeded nothing of a sudden stir
outside, a running to and fro, and cries. Then
Helen started to an attitude of tense attention. "It
is--," she cried and stood up, speechless, incredulous,
triumphant. And Graham, too, heard. Metallic voices
were shouting "Victory!" Yes it was "Victory!"
He stood up also with the light of a desperate hope
in his eyes.
Bursting through the curtains appeared the man in
yellow, startled and dishevelled with excitement.
"Victory," he cried, "victory! The people are winning.
Ostrog's people have collapsed."
She rose." Victory? " And her voice was hoarse
and faint.
"What do you mean? " asked Graham. "Tell me!
"We have driven them out of the under galleries at
Norwood, Streatham is afire and burning wildly, and
Roehampton is ours. Ours!--and we have taken the
aeropile that lay thereon."
For an instant Graham and Helen stood in silence,
their hearts were beating fast, they looked at one
another. For one last moment there gleamed in
Graham his dream of empire, of kingship, with Helen by
his side. It gleamed, and passed.
A shrill bell rang. An agitated grey-headed man
appeared from the room of the Ward Leaders." It is
all over," he cried.
"What matters it now that we have Roehampton?
The aeroplanes have been sighted at Boulogne!"
"The Channel! " said the man in yellow. He calculated
swiftly." Half an hour."
"They still have three of the flying stages," said the
old man.
"Those guns?" cried Graham.
" We cannot mount them--in half an hour."
" Do you mean they are found?"
"Too late," said the old man.
"If we could stop them another hour! " cried the
man in yellow.
"Nothing can stop them now," said the old man.
they have near a hundred aeroplanes in the first
"Another hour? " asked Graham.
"To be so near!" said the Ward Leader. "Now
that we have found those guns. To be so near--.
If once we could get them out upon the roof spaces."
"How long would that take? " asked Graham
" An hour--certainly."
"Too late," cried the Ward Leader, " too late."
"Is it too late?" said Graham. "Even now--.
An hour! "
He had suddenly perceived a possibility. He tried
to speak calmly, but his face was white. "There is
one chance. You said there was an aeropile--? "
"On the Roehampton stage, Sire."
"Smashed? "
"No. It is Iying crossways to the carrier. It might
be got upon the guides--easily. But there is no
Graham glanced at the two men and then at Helen.
He spoke after a long pause. "We have no
aeronauts? "
"The aeroplanes are clumsy," he said thoughtfully,
"compared with the aeropiles."
He turned suddenly to Helen. His decision was
made. "I must do it."
"Do what? "
"Go to this flying stage--to this aeropile."
"What do you mean?"
"I am an aeronaut. After all--. Those days for
which you reproached me were
He turned to the old man in yellow.
put the aeropile upon the guides."
The man in yellow hesitated.
"What do you mean to do?" cried Helen.
"This aeropile--it is a chance--."
"You don't mean--?"
"To fight--yes. To fight in the air. I have
thought before--. An aeroplane is a clumsy thing.
A resolute man--!"
"But--never since flying began--" cried the man
in yellow.
"There has been no need. But now the time has
come. Tell them now--send them my message--to
put it upon the guides."
The old man dumbly interrogated the man in yellow,
nodded, and hurried out.
Helen made a step towards Graham. Her face was
white." But--How can one fight? You will be
"Perhaps. Yet, not to do it--or to let someone
else attempt it--."
He stopped, he could speak no more, he swept the
alternative aside by a gesture, and they stood looking
at one another.
"You are right," she said at last in a low tone.
"You are right. If it can be done. . .
must go."
Those days for
not altogether
He moved a step towards her, and she stepped back,
her white face struggled against him and resisted him.
"No," she gasped. "I cannot bear--. Go now."
He extended his hands stupidly. She clenched her
fists. "Go now," she cried. "Go now."
He hesitated and understood. He threw his hands
up in a queer half-theatrical gesture. He had no word
to say. He turned from her.
The man in yellow moved towards the door with
clumsy belated tact. But Graham stepped past him.
He went striding through the room where the Ward
Leader bawled at a telephone directing that the aeropile
should be put upon the guides.
The man in yellow glanced at Helen's still figure,
hesitated and hurried after him. Graham did not once
look back, he did not speak until the curtain of the
ante-chamber of the great hall fell behind him. Then
he turned his head with curt swift directions upon his
bloodless lips.
Two men in pale blue were Iying in the irregular
line that stretched along the edge of the captured
Roehampton stage from end to end, grasping their
carbines and peering into the shadows of the stage called
Wimbledon Park. Now and then they spoke to one
another. They spoke the mutilated English of their
class and period. The fire of the Ostrogites had
dwindled and ceased, and few of the enemy had been
seen for some time. But the echoes of the fight that
was going on now far below in the lower galleries of
that stage, came every now and then between the
staccato of shots from the popular side. One of these
men was describing to the other how he had seen a
man down below there dodge behind a girder, and had
aimed at a guess and hit him cleanly as he dodged too
far "He's down there still," said the marksman.
"See that little patch. Yes. Between those bars."
A few yards behind them lay a dead stranger, face
upward to the sky, with the blue canvas of his jacket
smoldering in a circle about the neat bullet hole on
his chest. Close beside him a wounded man, with a
leg swathed about, sat with an expressionless face and
watched the progress of that burning. Gigantic behind
them, athwart the carrier lay the captured aeropile.
"I can't see him now," said the second man in a ton
of provocation.
The marksman became foul-mouthed and highvoiced
in his earnest endeavour to make things plain
And suddenly, interrupting him, came a noisy
shouting from the substage.
"What's going on now," he said, and raised himself
on one arm to stare at the stairheads in the central
groove of the stage. A number of blue figures were
coming up these, and swarming across the stage to the
"We don't want all these fools," said his friend.
"They only crowd up and spoil shots. What are they
after? "
"Ssh!--they're shouting something."
The two men listened. The swarming new-comers
had crowded densely about the aeropile. Three Ward
Leaders, conspicuous by their black mantles and
badges, clambered into the body and appeared above
it. The rank and file flung themselves upon the vans,
gripping hold of the edges, until the entire outline of
the thing was manned, in some places three deep. One
of the marksmen knelt up. "They're putting it on the
carrier--that's what they're after."
He rose to his feet, his friend rose also. "What's
the good? " said his friend. "We've got no aeronauts."
"That's what they're doing anyhow." He looked at
his rifle, looked at the struggling crowd, and suddenly
turning to the wounded man. "Mind these, mate," he
said, handing his carbine and cartridge belt; and in a
moment he was running towards the aeropile. For a
quarter of an hour he was a perspiring Titan, lugging,
thrusting, shouting and heeding shouts, and then the
thing was done, and he stood with a multitude of
others cheering their own achievement. By this time
he knew, what indeed everyone in the city knew, that
the Master, raw learner though he was, intended to fly
this machine himself, was coming even now to take
control of it, would let no other man attempt it. "He
who takes the greatest danger, he who bears the
heaviest burden, that man is King," so the Master
was reported to have spoken. And even as this
man cheered, and while the beads of sweat still
chased one another from the disorder of his hair, he
heard the thunder of a greater tumult, and in fitful
snatches the beat and impulse of the revolutionary
song. He saw through a gap in the people that a thick
stream of heads still poured up the stairway. "The
Master is coming," shouted voices, "the Master is
coming," and the crowd about him grew denser and
denser. He began to thrust himself towards the
central groove. "The Master is coming!" "The Sleeper,
the Master!" "God and the Master!" roared the
And suddenly quite close to him were the black uniforms o
f the revolutionary guard, and for the first and
last time in his life he saw Graham, saw him quite
nearly. A tall, dark man in a flowing black robe, with
a white, resolute face and eyes fixed steadfastly before
him; a man who for all the little things about him
held neither ears nor eyes nor thoughts. . . . For
all his days that man remembered the passing of
Graham's bloodless face. In a moment it had gone and
he was fighting in the swaying crowd. A lad weeping
with terror thrust against him, pressing towards
the stairways, yelling "Clear for the aeropile!" The
bell that clears the flying stage became a loud
unmelodious clanging.
With that clanging in his ears Graham drew near
the aeropile, marched into the shadow of its tilting
wing. He became aware that a number of people
about him were offering to accompany him, and waved
their offers aside. He wanted to think how one
started the engine. The bell clanged faster and faster,
and the feet of the retreating people roared faster and
louder. The man in yellow was assisting him to mount
through the ribs of the body. He clambered into the
aeronaut's place, fixing himself very carefully and
deliberately. What was it? The man in yellow was
pointing to two aeropiles driving upward in the
southern sky. No doubt they were looking for the coming
aeroplanes. That--presently--the thing to do now
was to start. Things were being shouted at him,
questions, warnings. They bothered him. He wanted to
think about the aeropile, to recall every item of his
previous experience. He waved the people from him,
saw the man in yellow dropping off through the ribs,
saw the crowd cleft down the line of the girders by his
For a moment he was motionless, staring at the
levers, the wheel by which the engine shifted, and all
the delicate appliances of which he knew so little. His
eye caught a spirit level with the bubble towards him,
and he remembered something, spent a dozen seconds
in swinging the engine forward until the bubble floated
in the centre of the tube. He noted that the people
were not shouting, knew they watched his deliberation.
A bullet smashed on the bar above his head. Who
fired? Was the line clear of people? He stood up to
see and sat down again.
In another second the propeller was spinning, and
he was rushing down the guides. He gripped the
wheel and swung the engine back to lift the stem.
Then it was the people shouted. In a moment he was
throbbing with the quiver of the engine, and the shouts
dwindled swiftly behind, rushed down to silence.
The wind whistled over the edges of the screen, and
the world sank away from him very swiftly.
Throb, throb, throb--throb, throb, throb; up he
drove. He fancied himself free of all excitement, felt
cool and deliberate. He lifted the stem still more,
opened one valve on his left wing and swept round and
up. He looked down with a steady head, and up. One
of the Ostrogite aeropiles was driving across his course,
so that he drove obliquely towards it and would pass
below it at a steep angle. Its little aeronauts were
peering down at him. What did they mean to do?
His mind became active. One, he saw held a weapon
pointing, seemed prepared to fire. What did they
think he meant to do? In a moment he understood
their tactics, and his resolution was taken. His
momentary lethargy was past. He opened two more
valves to his left, swung round, end on to this hostile
machine, closed his valves, and shot straight at it, stem
and wind-screen shielding him from the shot. They
tilted a little as if to clear him. He flung up his stem.
Throb, throb, throb--pause--throb, throb--
he set his teeth, his face into an involuntary grimace,
and crash! He struck it! He struck upward beneath
the nearer wing.
Very slowly the wing of his antagonist seemed to
broaden as the impetus of his blow turned it up. He
saw the full breadth of it and then it slid downward out
of his sight.
He felt his stem going down, his hands tightened on
the levers, whirled and rammed the engine back. He
felt the jerk of a clearance, the nose of the machine
jerked upward steeply, and for a moment he seemed
to be Iying on his back. The machine was reeling and
staggering, it seemed to be dancing on its screw. He
made a huge effort, hung for a moment on the levers,
and slowly the engine came forward again. He
was driving upward but no longer so steeply. He
gasped for a moment and flung himself at the
levers again. The wind whistled about him. One
further effort and he was almost level. He could
breathe. He turned his head for the first time to see
what had become of his antagonists. Turned back to
the levers for a moment and looked again. For a
moment he could have believed they were annihilated.
And then he saw between the two stages to the east
was a chasm, and down this something, a slender edge,
fell swiftly and vanished, as a sixpence falls down a
At first he did not understand, and then a wild joy
possessed him. He shouted at the top of his voice, an
inarticulate shout, and drove higher and higher up the
sky. Throb, throb, throb, pause, throb, throb, throb.
"Where was the other aeropile?" he thought. "They
too--." As he looked round the empty heavens he
had a momentary fear that this machine had risen
above him, and then he saw it alighting on the
Norwood stage. They had meant shooting. To risk being
rammed headlong two thousand feet in the air was
beyond their latter-day courage. The combat was
For a little while he circled, then swooped in a steep
descent towards the westward stage. Throb throb
throb, throb throb throb. The twilight was creeping
on apace, the smoke from the Streatham stage that had
been so dense and dark, was now a pillar of fire, and
all the laced curves of the moving ways and the
translucent roofs and domes and the chasms between the
buildings were glowing softly now, lit by the tempered
radiance of the electric light that the glare of the
way overpowered. The three efficient stages that the
Ostrogites held--for Wimbledon Park was useless
because of the fire from Roehampton, and Streatham
was a furnace--were glowing with guide lights for
the coming aeroplanes. As he swept over the Roehampton
stage he saw the dark masses of the people
thereon. He heard a clap of frantic cheering, heard a
bullet from the Wimbledon Park stage tweet through
the air, and went beating up above the Surrey wastes.
He felt a breath of wind from the south-west, and
lifted his westward wing as he had learnt to do, and
so drove upward heeling into the rare swift upper air.
Throb throb throb--throb throb throb.
Up he drove and up, to that pulsating rhythm, until
the country beneath was blue and indistinct, and London
spread like a little map traced in light, like the
mere model of a city near the brim of the horizon.
The south-west was a sky of sapphire over the
shadowy rim of the world, and ever as he drove upward the
multitude of stars increased.
And behold! In the southward, low down and
glittering swiftly nearer, were two little patches of
nebulous light. And then two more, and then a nebulous
glow of swiftly driving shapes. Presently he
could count them. There were four and twenty. The
first fleet of aeroplanes had come! Beyond appeared
a yet greater glow.
He swept round in a half circle, staring at this advancing
fleet. It flew in a wedge-like shape, a triangular flight
of gigantic phosphorescent shapes sweeping
nearer through the lower air. He made a swift calculation
of their pace, and spun the little wheel
that brought the engine forward. He touched
a lever and the throbbing effort of the engine
ceased. He began to fall, fell swifter and swifter. He
aimed at the apex of the wedge. He dropped like a
stone through the whistling air. It seemed scarce a
second from that soaring moment before he struck the
foremost aeroplane.
No man of all that black multitude saw the coming
of his fate, no man among them dreamt of the hawk
that struck downward upon him out of the sky. Those
who were not limp in the agonies of air-sickness, were
craning their black necks and staring to see the filmy
city that was rising out of the haze, the rich and
splendid city to which "Massa Boss" had brought
their obedient muscles. Bright teeth gleamed and the
glossy faces shone. They had heard of Paris. They
knew they were to have lordly times among the "poor
white" trash. And suddenly Graham struck them.
He had aimed at the body of the aeroplane, but at
the very last instant a better idea had flashed into his
mind. He twisted about and struck near the edge of
the starboard wing with all his accumulated weight.
He was jerked back as he struck. His prow went
gliding across its smooth expanse towards the rim.
He felt the forward rush of the huge fabric sweeping
him and his aeropile along with it, and for a moment
that seemed an age he could not tell what was happening.
He heard a thousand throats yelling, and
perceived that his machine was balanced on the edge
of the gigantic float, and driving down, down; glanced
over his shoulder and saw the backbone of the
aeroplane and the opposite float swaying up. He had
a vision through the ribs of sliding chairs, staring
faces, and hands clutching at the tilting guide bars.
The fenestrations in the further float flashed open as
the aeronaut tried to right her. Beyond, he saw a
second aeroplane leaping steeply to escape the whirl
of its heeling fellow. The broad area of swaying
wings seemed to jerk upward. He felt his aeropile
had dropped clear, that the monstrous fabric, clean
overturned, hung like a sloping wall above him.
He did not clearly understand that he had struck
the side float of the aeroplane and slipped off, but he
perceived that he was flying free on the down glide
and rapidly nearing earth. What had he done? His
heart throbbed like a noisy engine in his throat and
for a perilous instant he could not move his levers
because of the paralysis of his hands. He wrenched
the levers to throw his engine back, fought for two
seconds against the weight of it, felt himself righting
driving horizontally, set the engine beating again.
He looked upward and saw two aeroplanes glide
shouting far overhead, looked back, and saw the main
body of the fleet opening out and rushing upward and . .
outward; saw the one he had struck fall edgewise on
and strike like a gigantic knife-blade along the windwheels
below it.
He put down his stern and looked again. He drove
up heedless of his direction as he watched. He saw
the wind-vanes give, saw the huge fabric strike the
earth, saw its downward vans crumple with the weight
of its descent, and then the whole mass turned over
and smashed, upside down, upon the sloping wheels.
Throb, throb, throb, pause. Suddenly from the heaving
wreckage a thin tongue of white fire licked up
towards the zenith. And then he was aware of a
huge mass flying through the air towards him, and
turned upwards just in time to escape the charge--if
it was a charge--of a second aeroplane. It whirled
by below, sucked him down a fathom, and nearly
turned him over in the gust of its close passage.
He became aware of three others rushing towards
him, aware of the urgent necessity of beating above
them. Aeroplanes were all about him, circling wildly
to avoid him, as it seemed. They drove past him,
above, below, eastward and westward. Far away to
the westward was the sound of a collision, and two
falling flares. Far away to the southward a second
squadron was coming. Steadily he beat upward.
Presently all the aeroplanes were below him, but for a
moment he doubted the height he had of them, and did
not swoop again. And then he came down upon a
second victim and all its load of soldiers saw him coming.
The big machine heeled and swayed as the fear maddened
men scrambled to the stern for their
weapons. A score of bullets sung through the air, and
there flashed a star in the thick glass wind-screen
that protected him. The aeroplane slowed and
dropped to foil his stroke, and dropped too low. Just
in time he saw the wind-wheels of Bromley hill rushing
up towards him, and spun about and up as the
aeroplane he had chased crashed among them. All its
voices wove into a felt of yelling. The great fabric
seemed to be standing on end for a second among the
heeling and splintering vans, and then it flew to pieces.
Huge splinters came flying through the air, its engines
burst like shells. A hot rush of flame shot overhead
into the darkling sky.
"__Two!__" he cried, with a bomb from overhead bursting
as it fell, and forthwith he was beating up again.
A glorious exhilaration possessed him now, a giant
activity. His troubles about humanity, about his
inadaquacy, were gone for ever. He was a man in battle
rejoicing in his power. Aeroplanes seemed radiating
from him in every direction, intent only upon avoiding
him, the yelling of their packed passengers came in
short gusts as they swept by. He chose his third
quarry, struck hastily and did but turn it on edge. It
escaped him, to smash against the tall cliff of London
wall. FIying from that impact he skimmed the darkling
ground so nearly he could see a frightened rabbit
bolting up a slope. He jerked up steeply, and found
himself driving over south London with the air about
him vacant. To the right of him a wild riot of signal
rockets from the Ostrogites banged tumultuously in
the sky. To the south the wreckage of half a dozen
air ships flamed, and east and west and north the air
ships fled before him. They drove away to the east
and north, and went about in the south, for they could
not pause in the air. In their present confusion any
attempt at evolution would have meant disastrous
collisions. He could scarcely realize the thing he had
done. In every quarter aeroplanes were receding.
They were receding. They dwindled smaller and
smaller. They were in flight!
He passed two hundred feet or so above the Roehampton
stage. It was black with people and noisy
with their frantic shouting. But why was the Wimbledon
Park stage black and cheering, too? The
smoke and flame of Streatham now hid the three further
stages. He curved about and rose to see them
and the northern quarters. First came the square
masses of Shooter's Hill into sight from behind the
smoke, lit and orderly with the aeroplane that had
landed and its disembarking negroes. Then came
Blackheath, and then under the corner of the reek the
Norwood stage. On Blackheath no aeroplane had
landed but an aeropile lay upon the guides. Norwood
was covered by a swarm of little figures running
to and fro in a passionate confusion. Why? Abruptly
he understood. The stubborn defence of the flying
stages was over, the people were pouring into the
under-ways of these last strongholds of Ostrog's
usurpation. And then, from far away on the northern
border of the city, full of glorious import to him, came
a sound, a signal, a note of triumph, the leaden thud
of a gun. His lips fell apart, his face was disturbed
with emotion.
He drew an immense breath. "They win," he
shouted to the empty air; "the people win!" The
sound of a second gun came like an answer. And
then he saw the aeropile on Blackheath was running
down its guides to launch. It lifted clean and rose.
It shot up into the air, driving straight southward and
away from him.
In an instant it came to him what this meant. It
must needs be Ostrog in flight. He shouted and
dropped towards it. He had the momentum of his
elevation and fell slanting down the air and very
swiftly. It rose steeply at his approach. He allowed
for its velocity and drove straight upon it.
It suddenly became a mere flat edge, and behold! he
was past it, and driving headlong down with all the
force of his futile blow.
He was furiously angry. He reeled the engine back
along its shaft and went circling up. He saw Ostrog's
machine beating up a spiral before him. He rose
straight towards it, won above it by virtue of the
impetus of his swoop and by the advantage and
weight of a man. He dropped headlong--dropped
and missed again! As he rushed past he saw the face
of Ostrog's aeronaut confident and cool and in
Ostrog's attitude a wincing resolution. Ostrog was
looking steadfastly away from him--to the south.
He realized with a gleam of wrath how bungling his
flight must be. Below he saw the Croyden hills. He
jerked upward and once more he gained on his enemy.
He glanced over his shoulder and his attention was
arrested by a strange thing. The eastward stage, the
one on Shooter's Hill, appeared to lift; a flash
changing to a tall grey shape, a cowled figure of smoke and
duct, jerked into the air. For a moment this cowled
figure stood motionless, dropping huge masses of
metal from its shoulders, and then it began to uncoil a
dense head of smoke. The people had blown it up,
aeroplane and all! As suddenly a second flash and
grey shape sprang up from the Norwood stage. And
even as he stared at this came a dead report, and the
air wave of the first explosion struck him. He was
flung up and sideways.
For a moment the aeropile fell nearly edgewise with
her nose down, and seemed to hesitate whether to
overset altogether. He stood on his wind-shield
wrenching the wheel that swayed up over his head.
And then the shock of the second explosion took his
machine sideways.
He found himself clinging to one of the ribs of his
machine, and the air was blowing past him and
upward. He seemed to be hanging quite still in the
air, with the wind blowing up past him. It occurred
to him that he was falling. Then he was sure that he
was falling. He could not look down.
He found himself recapitulating with incredible
swiftness all that had happened since his awakening,
the days of doubt the days of Empire, and at last the
tumultuous discovery of Ostrog's calculated treachery.
he was beaten but London was saved. London was
The thought had a quality of utter unreality. Who
was he? Why was he holding so tightly with his
hands? Why could he not leave go? In such a fall as
this countless dreams have ended. But in a moment
he would wake....
His thoughts ran swifter and swifter. He wondered
if he should see Helen again. It seemed so unreasonable
that he should not see her again. It __must__ be a
dream! Yet surely he would meet her. She at least
was real. She was real. He would wake and meet
Although he could not look at it, he was suddenly
aware that the earth was very near.

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