Part 3 out of 6
and prominent, projecting at the corners; the nose was quite high and
aquiline; the hair had the look of being dyed; a long, thick black
mustache covered his upper lip, but it could not quite conceal the
hard, cynical and sneering expression of his mouth; great bags of
flesh hung beneath the small, furtive eyes. Altogether the face
reminded me of the portraits of Napoleon the Third, who was thought
by many to have had little of Napoleon in him except the name.
There was about Prince Cabano that air of confidence and command
which usually accompanies great wealth or success of any kind.
Extraordinary power produces always the same type of countenance. You
see it in the high-nosed mummied kings of ancient Egypt. There is
about them an aristocratic _hauteur_ which even the shrinking of the
dry skin for four thousand years has not been able to quite subdue.
We feel like taking off our hats even to their parched hides. You see
it in the cross-legged monuments of the old crusaders, in the
venerable churches of Europe; a splendid breed of ferocious
barbarians they were, who struck ten blows for conquest and plunder
where they struck one for Christ. And you can see the same type of
countenance in the present rulers of the world--the great bankers,
the railroad presidents, the gigantic speculators, the uncrowned
monarchs of commerce, whose golden chariots drive recklessly over the
prostrate bodies of the people.
And then there is another class who are everywhere the aides and
ministers of these oppressors. You can tell them at a glance--large,
coarse, corpulent men; red-faced, brutal; decorated with vulgar
taste; loud-voiced, selfish, self-assertive; cringing sycophants to
all above them, slave-drivers of all below them. They are determined
to live on the best the world can afford, and they care nothing if
the miserable perish in clusters around their feet. The howls of
starvation will not lessen one iota their appetite or their
self-satisfaction. These constitute the great man's world. He
mistakes their cringings, posturings and compliments for the approval
of mankind. He does not perceive how shallow and temporary and worse
than useless is the life he leads; and he cannot see, beyond these
well-fed, corpulent scamps, the great hungry, unhappy millions who
are suffering from his misdeeds or his indifference.
While I was indulging in these reflections the members of the
government were arriving. They were accompanied by servants, black
and white, who, with many bows and flexures, relieved them of their
wraps and withdrew. The door was closed and locked. Rudolph stood
without on guard.
I could now rise to my feet with safety, for the council-chamber was
in a blaze of electric light, while the conservatory was but
The men were mostly middle-aged, or advanced in years. They were
generally large men, with finely developed brows--natural selection
had brought the great heads to the top of affairs. Some were cleancut
in feature, looking merely like successful business men; others, like
the Prince, showed signs of sensuality and dissipation, in the baggy,
haggard features. They were unquestionably an able assembly. There
were no orators among them; they possessed none of the arts of the
rostrum or the platform. They spoke sitting, in an awkward,
hesitating manner; but what they said was shrewd and always to the
point. They had no secretaries or reporters. They could trust no one
with their secrets. Their conclusions were conveyed by the
president--Prince Cabano--to one man, who at once communicated what
was needful to their greater agents, and these in turn to the lesser
agents; and so the streams of authority flowed, with lightninglike
speed, to the remotest parts of the so-called Republic; and many a
man was struck down, ruined, crushed, destroyed, who had little
suspicion that the soundless bolt which slew him came from that
The Prince welcomed each newcomer pleasantly, and assigned him to his
place. When all were seated he spoke:
"I have called you together, gentlemen," he said "because we have
very important business to transact. The evidences multiply that we
are probably on the eve of another outbreak of the restless
_canaille_; it may be upon a larger scale than any we have yet
encountered. The filthy wretches seem to grow more desperate every
year; otherwise they would not rush upon certain death, as they seem
disposed to do.
"I have two men in this house whom I thought it better that you
should see and hear face to face. The first is General Jacob Quincy,
commander of the forces which man our ten thousand air-ships, or
_Demons_, as they are popularly called. I think it is understood by
all of us that, in these men, and the deadly bombs of poisonous gas
with which their vessels are equipped, we must find our chief
dependence for safety and continued power. We must not forget that we
are outnumbered a thousand to one, and the world grows very restive
under our domination. If it were not for the _Demons_ and the
poison-bombs, I should fear the results of the coming contest--with
these, victory is certain.
"Quincy, on behalf of his men, demands another increase of pay. We
have already several times yielded to similar applications. We are
somewhat in the condition of ancient Rome, when the prętorians
murdered the emperor Pertinax, and sold the imperial crown to Didius
Julianus. These men hold the control of the continent in their hands.
Fortunately for us, they are not yet fully aware of their own power,
and are content to merely demand an increase of pay. We cannot
quarrel with them at this time, with a great insurrection pending. A
refusal might drive them over to the enemy. I mention these facts so
that, whatever demands General Quincy may make, however extravagant
they may be, you will express no dissatisfaction. When he is gone we
can talk over our plans for the future, and decide what course we
will take as to these troublesome men when the outbreak is over. I
shall have something to propose after he leaves us."
There was a general expression of approval around the table.
"There is another party here to-night," continued the Prince. "He is
a very shrewd and cunning spy; a member of our secret police service.
He goes by the name of Stephen Andrews in his intercourse with me.
What his real name may be I know not.
"You are aware we have had great trouble to ascertain anything
definitely about this new organization, and have succeeded but
indifferently. Their plans seem to be so well taken, and their
cunning so great, that all our attempts have come to naught. Many of
our spies have disappeared; the police cannot learn what becomes of
them; they are certainly dead, but none of their bodies are ever
found. It is supposed that they have been murdered, loaded with
weights and sunk in the river. This man Andrews has so far escaped.
He works as a mechanic--in fact, he really is such--in one of the
shops; and he is apparently the most violent and bitter of our
enemies. He will hold intercourse with no one but me, for he suspects
all the city police, and he comes here but seldom--not more than once
in two or three months--when I pay him liberally and assign him to
new work. The last task I gave him was to discover who are the
leaders of the miserable creatures in this new conspiracy. He has
found it very difficult to obtain any positive information upon this
point. The organization is very cunningly contrived. The Brotherhood
is made up in groups of ten. No one of the rank and file knows more
than nine other members associated with him. The leaders of these
groups of ten are selected by a higher power. These leaders are again
organized in groups of ten, under a leader again selected by a higher
power; but in this second group of ten no man knows his fellow's name
or face; they meet always masked. And so the scale rises. The highest
body of all is a group of one hundred, selected out of the whole
force by an executive committee. Andrews has at length, after years
of patient waiting and working, been selected as one of this upper
hundred. He is to be initiated to-morrow night. He came to me for
more money; for he feels he is placing himself in great danger in
going into the den of the chief conspirators. I told him that I
thought you would like to question him, and so he has returned again
to-night, disguised in the dress of a woman, and he is now in the
library awaiting your pleasure. I think we had better see him before
we hear what Quincy has to say. Shall I send for him?"
General assent being given, lie stepped to the door and told Rudolph
to bring up the woman he would find in the library. In a few moments
the door opened and a tall personage, dressed like a woman, with a
heavy veil over her face, entered. The Prince said:
"Lock the door and come forward."
The figure did so, advanced to the table and removed the bonnet and
veil, disclosing the dark, bronzed face of a workman--a keen, shrewd,
observant, watchful, strong face.
THE SPY'S STORY
"Andrews," said the Prince, "tell these gentlemen what you have found
out about the extent of this organization and the personality of its
"My lord," replied the man, "I can speak only by hearsay--from
whispers which I have heard in a thousand places, and by piecing
together scraps of information which I have gathered in a great many
ways. I do not yet speak positively. After to-morrow night I hope to
be able to tell you everything."
"I understand the difficulties you have to contend with," replied the
Prince; "and these gentlemen will not hold you to a strict
accountability for the correctness of what you have gathered in that
"You can have no idea," said Andrews, "of the difficulty of obtaining
information. It is a terrible organization. I do not think that
anything like it has every existed before on the earth. One year ago
there were fifteen of us engaged in this work; I am the only one left
His face grew paler as he spoke, and there was a visible start and
sensation about the council board.
"This organization," he continued, "is called '_The Brotherhood of
Destruction_.' It extends all over Europe and America, and numbers, I
am told, _one hundred million members_."
"Can that be possible?" asked one gentleman, in astonishment.
"I believe it to be true," said Andrews, solemnly. "Nearly every
workman of good character and sober habits in New York belongs to it;
and so it is in all our great cities; while the blacks of the South
are members of it to a man. Their former masters have kept them in a
state of savagery, instead of civilizing and elevating them; and the
result is they are as barbarous and bloodthirsty as their ancestors
were when brought from Africa, and fit subjects for such a terrible
"What has caused such a vast movement?" asked another gentleman.
"The universal misery and wretchedness of the working classes, in the
cities, on the farms--everywhere," replied Andrews.
"Are they armed?" asked another of the Council.
"It is claimed," said Andrews, "that every one of the hundred
millions possesses a magazine rifle of the most improved pattern,
with abundance of fixed ammunition."
"I fear, my good man," said another member of the Council, with a
sneer, "that you have been frightened by some old woman's tales.
Where could these men buy such weapons? What would they buy them
with? Where would they hide them? Our armories and manufacturers are
forbidden by law to sell firearms, unless under special permit,
signed by one of our trusty officers. The value of those guns would
in itself be a vast sum, far beyond the means of those miserable
wretches. And our police are constantly scouring the cities and the
country for weapons, and they report that the people possess none,
except a few old-fashioned, worthless fowling-pieces, that have come
down from father to son."
"As I said before," replied Andrews, "I tell you only what I have
gleaned among the workmen in those secret whispers which pass from
one man's mouth to another man's ear. I may be misinformed; but I am
told that these rifles are manufactured by the men themselves (for,
of course, all the skilled work of all kinds is done by workingmen)
in some remote and desolate parts of Europe or America; they are
furnished at a very low price, at actual cost, and paid for in small
installments, during many years. They are delivered to the captains
of tens and by them buried in rubber bags in the earth."
"Then that accounts," said one man, who had not yet spoken, "for a
curious incident which occurred the other day near the town of
Zhitomir, in the province of Volhynia, Russia, not very far from the
borders of Austria. A peasant made an offer to the police to deliver
up, for 200 rubles, and a promise of pardon for himself, nine of his
fellow conspirators and their rifles. His terms were accepted and he
was paid the money. He led the officers to a place in his barnyard,
where, under a manure-heap, they dug up ten splendid rifles of
American make, with fixed ammunition, of the most improved kind, the
whole inclosed in a rubber bag to keep out the damp. Nine other
peasants were arrested; they were all subjected to the knout; but
neither they nor their captain could tell anything more than he had
at first revealed. The Russian newspapers have been full of
speculations as to how the rifles came there, but could arrive at no
"What became of the men?" asked Andrews, curiously.
"Nine of them were sent to Siberia for life; the tenth man, who had
revealed the hiding-place of the guns, was murdered that night with
his wife and all his family, and his house burned up. Even two of his
brothers, who lived near him, but had taken no part in the matter,
were also slain."
"I expected as much," said Andrews quietly.
This unlooked-for corroboration of the spy's story produced a marked
sensation, and there was profound silence for some minutes.
At last the Prince spoke up:
"Andrews," said he, "what did you learn about the leaders of this
"There are three of them, I am told," replied the spy; they
constitute what is known as 'the Executive Committee.' The
commander-in-chief, it is whispered, is called, or was called--for no
one can tell what his name is now--Cęsar Lomellini; a man of Italian
descent, but a native of South Carolina. He is, it is said, of
immense size, considerable ability, and the most undaunted courage.
His history is singular. He is now about forty-five years of age. In
his youth, so the story goes, he migrated to the then newly settled
State of Jefferson, on the upper waters of the Saskatchewan. He had
married early, like all his race, and had a family. He settled down
on land and went to farming. He was a quiet, peaceable, industrious
man. One year, just as he was about to harvest his crops, a discharge
of lightning killed his horses; they were the only ones he had. He
was without the means to purchase another team, and without horses he
could not gather his harvest. He was therefore forced to mortgage his
land for enough to buy another pair of horses. The money-lender
demanded large interest on the loan and an exorbitant bonus besides;
and as the 'bankers,' as they called themselves, had an organization,
he could not get the money at a lower rate anywhere in that vicinity.
It was the old story. The crops failed sometimes, and when they did
not fail the combinations and trusts of one sort or another swept
away Cęsar's profits; then he had to renew the loan, again and again,
at higher rates of interest, and with still greater bonuses; then the
farm came to be regarded as not sufficient security for the debt; and
the horses, cattle, machinery, everything he had was covered with
mortgages. Cęsar worked like a slave, and his family toiled along
with him. At last the crash came; he was driven out of his home; the
farm and all had been lost for the price of a pair of horses. Right
on the heels of this calamity, Cęsar learned that his eldest
daughter--a beautiful, dark-eyed girl--had been seduced by a
lawyer--the agent of the money-lender--and would in a few months
become a mother. Then all the devil that lay hid in the depths of the
man's nature broke forth. That night the lawyer was attacked in his
bed and literally hewed to pieces: the same fate overtook the
money-lender. Before morning Cęsar and his family had fled to the
inhospitable mountain regions north of the settlement. There he
gathered around him a band of men as desperate as himself, and waged
bloody and incessant war on society. He seemed, however, to have a
method in his crimes, for, while he spared the poor, no man who
preyed upon his fellow-men was safe for an hour. At length the
government massed a number of troops in the vicinity; the place got
too hot for him; Cęsar and his men fled to the Pacific coast; and
nothing more was heard of him for three or four years. Then the
terrible negro insurrection broke out in the lower Mississippi
Valley, which you all remember, and a white man, of gigantic stature,
appeared as their leader, a man of great daring and enterprise. When
that rebellion had been suppressed, after many battles, the white man
disappeared; and it is now claimed that he is in this city at the
head of this terrible Brotherhood of Destruction; and that he is the
same Cęsar Lomellini who was once a peaceful farmer in the State of
The spy paused. The Prince said:
"Well, who are the others?"
"It is reported that the second in command, but really 'the brains of
the organization,' as he is called by the men, is a Russian Jew. His
name I could not learn; very few have seen him or know anything about
him. He is said to be a cripple, and to have a crooked neck. It is
reported he was driven out of his synagogue in Russia, years ago, for
some crimes he had committed. He is believed to be the man who
organized the Brotherhood in Europe, and he has come here to make the
two great branches act together. If what is told of him be true, he
must be a man of great ability, power and cunning."
"Who is the third?" asked the Prince.
"There seems to be more obscurity about him than either of the
others," replied the spy. "I heard once that he was an American, a
young man of great wealth and ability, and that he had furnished much
of the money needed to carry on the Brotherhood. But this again is
denied by others. Jenkins, who was one of our party, and who was
killed some months since, told me, in our last interview, that he had
penetrated far enough to find out who the third man was; and he told
me this curious story, which may or may not be true. He said that
several years ago there lived in this city a man of large fortune, a
lawyer by education, but not engaged in the practice of his
profession, by the name of Arthur Phillips. He was a benevolent man,
of scholarly tastes, and something of a dreamer. He had made a study
of the works of all the great socialist writers, and had become a
convert to their theories, and very much interested in the cause of
the working people. He established a monthly journal for the
dissemination of his views. He spoke at the meetings of the workmen,
and was very much beloved and respected by them. Of course, so
Jenkins said, all this was very distasteful to the ruling class (I am
only repeating the story as it was told to me, your lordships will
please remember), and they began to persecute him. First he was
ostracised from his caste. But this did not trouble him much. He had
no family but his wife and one son who was away at the university. He
redoubled his exertions to benefit the working classes. At this time
he had a lawsuit about some property with a wealthy and influential
man, a member of the government. In the course of the trial Phillips
produced a writing, which purported to be signed by two men, and
witnessed by two others; and Phillips swore he saw all of them sign
it. Whereupon not only the men themselves, but the two witnesses to
the paper, came up and swore, point-blank, that their alleged
signatures were forgeries. There were four oaths against one.
Phillips lost his case. But this was not the worst of it. The next
day he was indicted for forgery and perjury; and, despite his wealth
and the efforts of the ablest counsel he could employ, he was
convicted and sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude in the state
prison. His friends said he was innocent; that he had been sacrificed
by the ruling class, who feared him and desired to destroy him; that
all the witnesses had been suborned by large sums of money to swear
as they did; that the jury was packed, the judge one of their tools,
and even his own lawyers corrupted. After several years his son--who
bore the same name as himself--Arthur Phillips--returned from the
university; and Jenkins told me that he had learned, in some
mysterious way, that this was really the man who, out of revenge for
the wrongs inflicted on his father, was now the third member of the
Executive Committee of the Brotherhood, and had furnished them with
large sums of money."
As this story progressed, listened to most attentively by all, I
noticed that one large man, flashily dressed, flushed somewhat, and
that the rest turned and looked at him. When Andrews stopped, the
Prince said, quietly:
"Count, that is your man."
"Yes," replied the man spoken to, very coolly. "There is, however, no
truth," he added, "in the latter part of the story; for I have had
detectives shadow young Phillips ever since he returned to the city,
and they report to me that he is a shallow, dissipated, drunken,
worthless fellow, who spends his time about saloons and running after
actresses and singers; and that it will not be long until he will
have neither health nor fortune left."
I need not say that I was an intent listener to everything, and
especially to the latter part of the spy's story. I pieced it out
with what Maximilian had told me, and felt certain that Maximilian
Petion and Arthur Phillips were one and the same person. I could now
understand why it was that a gentleman so intelligent, frank and
kindly by nature could have engaged in so desperate and bloody a
conspiracy. Nor could I, with that awful narrative ringing in my
cars, blame him much. What struck me most forcibly was that there was
no attempt, on the part of the Count, to deny the sinister part of
Jenkins' story; and the rest of the Council evidently had no doubt of
its truth; nor did it seem to lessen him a particle in their esteem.
In fact, one man said, and the rest assented to the sentiment:
"Well, it is a lucky thing the villain is locked up, anyhow."
There were some among these men whose faces were not bad. Under
favorable circumstances they might have been good and just men. But
they were the victims of a pernicious system, as fully as were the
poor, shambling, ragged wretches of the streets and slums, who had
been ground down by their acts into drunkenness and crime.
"When will the outbreak come?" asked one of the Council.
"That I cannot tell," said Andrews. "They seem to be waiting for
something, or there is a hitch in their plans. The men are eager to
break forth, and are only held back by the leaders. By their talk
they are confident of success when the insurrection does come."
"What are their plans?" asked the Prince.
"They have none," replied Andrews, "except to burn, rob, destroy and
murder. They have long lists of the condemned, I am told, including
all those here present, and hundreds of thousands besides. They will
kill all the men, women and children of the aristocracy, except the
young girls, and these will be reserved for a worse fate--at least
that is what the men about the beer-houses mutter between their cups."
The members of the government looked uneasy; some even were a trifle
"Can you come here Wednesday night next and tell us what you learn
during your visit to their 'Council of One Hundred'?" asked the
"Yes," replied Andrews--"if I am alive. But it is dangerous for me to
"Wait in the library," said the Prince, "until I am at liberty, and I
will give you an order for the thousand dollars I promised you; and
also a key that will admit you to this house at any hour of the day
or night. Gentlemen," he said, turning to his associates, "have you
any further questions to ask this man?"
They had none, and Andrews withdrew.
"I think," said the Prince, "we had better reassemble here on
Wednesday night. Matters are growing critical."
This was agreed to. The Prince stepped to the door and whispered a
few words to Rudolph.
THE MASTER OF "THE DEMONS"
The door, in a few minutes, opened, and closed behind a tall,
handsome, military-looking man, in a bright uniform, with the
insignia of a brigadier-general of the United States army on his
The Prince greeted him respectfully and invited him to a seat.
"General Quincy," said the Prince, "I need not introduce you to these
gentlemen; you have met them all before. I have told them that you
desired to speak to them about matters relating to your command; and
they are ready to hear you."
"Gentlemen," said the General, rising to his feet, "I regret to have
to approach you once more in reference to the pay of the officers and
men of my command. I fear you will think them importunate, if not
unreasonable. I am not here of my own volition, but as the mouthpiece
of others. Neither have I incited them to make these demands for
increased pay. The officers and men seem to have a high sense of
their great importance in the present condition of public affairs.
They openly declare that those they maintain in power are enjoying
royal affluence, which they could not possess for a single day
without their aid; and therefore they claim that they should be well
The General paused, and the Prince said, in his smoothest tones:
"That is not an unreasonable view to take of the matter. What do they
"I have here," replied the General, drawing a paper from his pocket,
"a schedule of their demands, adopted at their last meeting." He
handed it to the Prince.
"You will see," he continued, "that it ranges from $5,000 per year,
for the common soldiers, up through the different grades, to $25,000
per year for the commanding officer."
Not a man at the Council table winced at this extraordinary demand.
The Prince said:
"The salaries asked for are high; but they will come out of the
public taxes and not from our pockets; and if you can assure me that
your command, in view of this increase of compensation, will work
with increased zeal, faithfulness and courage on behalf of law, order
and society, I, for one, should be disposed to accede to the demand
you make. What say you, gentlemen?"
There was a general expression of assent around the table.
The commander of the Demons thanked them, and assured them that the
officers and men would be glad to hear that their request was
granted, and that the Council might depend upon their valor and
devotion in any extremity of affairs.
"Have you an abundant supply of the death-bombs on hand?" asked the
"Yes, many tons of them," was the reply.
"Are they well guarded?"
"Yes, with the utmost care. A thousand men of my command watch over
"Your air-vessels are in perfect order?"
"Yes; we drill and exercise with them every day."
"You anticipate an outbreak?"
"Yes; we look for it any hour."
"Have you any further questions to ask General Quincy?" inquired the
He was bowed out and the door locked behind him. The Prince returned
to his seat.
"Gentlemen," he said, "that matter is settled, and we are safe for
the present. But you can see the ticklish ground we stand on. These
men will not rest satisfied with the immense concessions we have made
them; they will demand more and more as the consciousness of their
power increases. They know we are afraid of them. In time they will
assume the absolute control of the government, and our power will be
at an end. If we resist them, they will have but to drop a few of
their death-bombs through the roofs of our palaces, and it is all
over with us."
"What can we do?" asked two or three.
"We must have recourse to history," he replied, "and profit by the
experience of others similarly situated. In the thirteenth century
the sultan of Egypt, Malek-ed-Adell the Second, organized a body of
soldiery made up of slaves, bought from the Mongols, who had taken
them in battle. They were called the _Bahri Mamelukes_. They formed
the Sultan's bodyguard. They were mounted on the finest horses in the
world, and clad in the most magnificent dresses. They were of our own
white race--Circassians. But Malek had unwittingly created, out of
the slaves, a dangerous power. They, not many years afterward,
deposed and murdered his son, and placed their general on the throne.
For several generations they ruled Egypt. To circumscribe their power
a new army of Mamelukes was formed, called the _Borgis_. But the cure
was as bad as the disease. In 1382 the _Borgi Mamelukes_ rose up,
overthrew their predecessors, and made their leader, Barkok, supreme
ruler. This dynasty held power until 1517, when the Ottoman Turks
conquered Egypt. The Turks perceived that they must either give up
Egypt or destroy the Mamelukes. They massacred them in great numbers;
and, at last, Mehemet Ah beguiled four hundred and seventy of their
leaders into the citadel of Cairo, and closed the gates, and ordered
his mercenaries to fire upon them. But one man escaped. He leaped his
horse from the ramparts and escaped unhurt, although the horse was
killed by the prodigious fall.
"Now, let us apply this teaching of history. I propose that after
this outbreak is over we shall order the construction of ten thousand
more of these air-vessels, and this will furnish us an excuse for
sending a large force of apprentices to the present command to learn
the management of the ships. We will select from the circle of our
relatives some young, able, reliable man to command these new troops.
We will then seize upon the magazine of bombs and arrest the officers
and men. We will charge them with treason. The officers we will
execute, and the men we will send to prison for life; for it would
not be safe, with their dangerous knowledge, to liberate them. After
that we will keep the magazine of bombs and the secret of the poison
in the custody of men of our own caste, so that the troops commanding
the air-ships will never again feel that sense of power which now
These plans met with general approval.
"But what are we to do with the coming outbreak?" asked one of the
"I have thought of that, too," replied the Prince. "It is our
interest to make it the occasion of a tremendous massacre, such as
the world has never before witnessed. There are too many people on
the earth, anyhow. In this way we will strike such terror into the
hearts of the _canaille_ that they will remain submissive to our
will, and the domination of our children, for centuries to come."
"But how will you accomplish that?" asked one.
"Easily enough," replied the Prince. "You know that the first step
such insurgents usually take is to tear up the streets of the city
and erect barricades of stones and earth and everything else they can
lay their hands on. Heretofore we have tried to stop them. My advice
is that we let them alone--let them build their barricades as high
and as strong as they please, and if they leave any outlets
unobstructed, let our soldiers close them up in the same way. We have
then got them in a rat-trap, surrounded by barricades, and every
street and alley outside occupied by our troops. If there are a
million in the trap, so much the better. Then let our flock of Demons
sail up over them and begin to drop their fatal bombs. The whole
streets within the barricades will soon be a sea of invisible poison.
If the insurgents try to fly they will find in their own barricades
the walls of their prison-house; and if they attempt to scale them
they will be met, face to face, with our massed troops, who will be
instructed to take no prisoners. If they break into the adjacent
houses to escape, our men will follow from the back streets and
gardens and bayonet them at their leisure, or fling them back into
the poison. If ten millions are slain all over the world, so much the
better. There will be more room for what are left, and the world will
sleep in peace for centuries.
"These plans will be sent out, with your approval, to all cities, and
to Europe. When the rebellion is crushed in the cities, it will not
take long to subdue it among the wretched peasants of the country,
and our children will rule this world for ages to come."
While the applause that followed this diabolical scheme rang loud and
long around the council-chamber, I stood there paralyzed. My eyes
dilated and my heartbeat furiously. I was overwhelmed with the
dreadful, the awful prospect, so coolly presented by that impassive,
terrible man. My imagination was always vivid, and I saw the whole
horrid reality unrolled before me like a panorama. The swarming
streets filled with the oppressed people; the dark shadows of the
Demons floating over them; the first bomb; the terror; the confusion;
the gasping of the dying; the shrieks, the groans--another and
another bomb falling here, there, everywhere; the surging masses
rushing from death to death; the wild flight; the barricades a line
of fire and bayonets; the awful and continuous rattle of the guns,
sounding like the grinding of some dreadful machinery that crunches
the bones of the living; the recoil from the bullets to the poison;
the wounded stumbling over the dead, now covering the streets in
strata several feet thick; and still the bombs crash and the poison
spreads. Death! death! nothing but death! _Ten million dead!_ Oh, my
I clasped my head--it felt as if it would burst. I must save the
world from such a calamity. These men are human. They cannot be
insensible to an appeal for mercy--for justice!
Carried away by these thoughts, I stooped down and unclasped the
hooks; I pushed aside the box; I crawled out; the next moment I stood
before them in the full glare of the electric lamps.
"For God's sake," I cried, "save the world from such an awful
calamity! Have pity on mankind; even as you hope that the Mind and
Heart of the Universe will have pity on you. I have heard all. Do not
plunge the earth into horrors that will shock the very stars in their
courses. The world can be saved! It can be saved! You have power. Be
pitiful. Let me speak for you. Let me go to the leaders of this
insurrection and bring you together."
"He is mad," said one.
"No, no," I replied, "I am not mad. It is you that are mad. It is the
wretched people who are mad--mad with suffering and misery, as you
with pride and hardness of heart. You are all _men_. Hear their
demands. Yield a little of your superfluous blessings; and touch
their hearts--with kindness, and love will spring up like flowers in
the track of the harrow. For the sake of Christ Jesus, who died on
the cross for all men, I appeal to you. Be just, be generous, be
merciful. Are they not your brethren? Have they not souls like
yourselves? Speak, speak, and I will toil as long as I can breathe. I
will wear the flesh from off my bones, if I can reconcile the castes
of this wretched society, and save civilization."
The Prince had recoiled with terror at my first entrance. He had now
rallied his faculties.
"How did you come here?" he asked.
Fortunately the repulsive coldness with which the Council had met my
earnest appeals, which I had fairly shrieked at them, had restored to
some extent the balance of my reason. The thought flashed over me
that I must not betray Rudolph.
"Through yonder open window," I replied.
"How did you reach it?" asked the Prince.
"I climbed up the ivy vine to it."
"What did you come here for?" he asked.
"To appeal to you, in the name of God, to prevent the coming of this
"The man is a religious fanatic," said one of the Council to another;
"probably one of the street preachers."
The Prince drew two or three of the leaders together, and they
whispered for a few minutes. Then he went to the door and spoke to
Rudolph. I caught a few words: "Not leave--alive--send for
Rudolph advanced and took me by the arm. The revulsion had come. I
was dazed--overwhelmed. There swept over me, like the rush of a
flood, the dreadful thought: "What will become of Estella?" I went
with him like a child. I was armed, but an infant might have slain me.
When we were in the hall, Rudolph said to me, in a hoarse whisper:
"I heard everything. You meant nobly; but you were foolish--wild. You
might have ruined us all. But there is a chance of escape yet. It
will be an hour before the assassin will arrive. I can secure that
much delay. In the meantime, be prudent and silent, and follow my
I promised, very humbly, to do so.
THE FLIGHT AND PURSUIT
He opened the door of a room and pushed me into it. "Wait," he
whispered, "for my orders." I looked around me. It was Rudolph's
room--the one I had been in before. I was not alone. There was a
young gentleman standing at a window, looking out into the garden. He
turned around and advanced toward me, with his hand extended and a
smile on his face. It was Estella! looking more charming than ever in
her masculine dress. I took her hand. Then my heart smote me; and I
fell upon my knees before her.
"O Estella," I cried, "pardon me. I would have sacrificed you for
mankind--you that are dearer to me than the whole human race. Like a
fool I broke from my hiding-place, and appealed to those hearts of
stone--those wild beasts--those incarnate fiends--to spare the world
the most dreadful calamity it has ever known. They proposed to murder
_ten million human beings_! I forgot my task--my duty--you--my own
safety--everything, to save the world."
Her eyes dilated as I spoke, and then, without a trace of mock
modesty, without a blush, she laid her hand upon my head and said
"If you had done less, I should have loved you less. What am I in the
presence of such a catastrophe? But if you are to die we can at least
perish together. In that we have the mastery of our enemies. Our
liberty is beyond their power."
"But you shall not die," I said, wildly, springing to my feet. "The
assassin comes! Give me the poisoned knife. When he opens the door I
shall slay him. I shall bear you with me. Who will dare to arrest our
departure with that dreadful weapon--that instantaneous
death--shining in my hand. Besides, I carry a hundred lives at my
girdle. Once in the streets, we can escape."
She took from the pocket of her coat the sheathed dagger and handed
it to me.
"We must, however, be guided by the counsels of Rudolph," she quietly
said; "he is a faithful friend."
"True," I replied.
We sat near each other. I presumed nothing upon the great admission
she had so gravely made. This was a woman to be worshiped rather than
wooed. I told her all the story of my life. I described my home in
that strange, wild, ancient, lofty land; my mother, my brothers; the
wide, old, roomy house; the trees, the flowers, the clustering,
A half hour passed. The door opened. A burst of laughter and the
clinking of glasses resounded through it. Rudolph entered.
"The Prince and his friends," he said, "make merry over their assured
victory. If you will tell Maximilian all you have heard to-night, the
result may be different from what they anticipate. Come with me."
He led the way through a suite of two or three rooms which
communicated with his apartment.
"We must throw the hounds off the scent of the fox," he said; and, to
our astonishment, he proceeded to tear down the heavy curtains from
two windows, having first locked the door and closed the outer
shutters. He then tore the curtains into long strips, knotting them
together; we pulled upon them to test their strength. He then opened
one of the windows and dropped the end of the long rope thus formed
out of it, fastening the other to a heavy piece of furniture, within
"That will account for your escape," he said. "I have already thrown
the rope ladder from the window of the room Estella occupied. These
precautions are necessary for my own safety."
Then, locking the communicating doors, we returned to his room.
"Put this cloak over your shoulders," he said; "it will help disguise
you. Walk boldly down these stairs," opening another door--not the
one we had entered by; "turn to the right--to the right,
remember--and on your left hand you will soon find a door--the first
you will come to. Open it. Say to the man on guard: 'Show me to the
carriage of Lord Southworth.' There is no such person; but that is
the signal agreed upon. He will lead you to the carriage. Maximilian
is the footman. Farewell, and may God bless you."
We shook hands. I followed his directions; we met no one; I opened
the door; the guard, as soon as I uttered the password, led me,
through a mass of carriages, to where one stood back under some
overhanging trees. The footman hurried to open the door. I gave my
hand to Estella; she sprang in; I followed her. But this little
movement of instinctive courtesy on my part toward a woman had been
noticed by one of the many spies hanging around. He thought it
strange that one man should offer his hand to assist another into a
carriage. He whispered his suspicions to a comrade. We had hardly
gone two blocks from the palace when Maximilian leaned down and said:
"I fear we are followed."
Our carriage turned into another street, and then into another. I
looked out and could see--for the streets were very bright with the
magnetic light--that, some distance behind us, came two carriages
close together, while at a greater distance, behind them, I caught
sight of a third vehicle. Maximilian leaned down again and said:
"We are certainly pursued by two carriages. The third one I recognize
as our own--the man with the bombs. We will drive to the first of the
houses we have secured. Be ready to spring out the moment we stop,
and follow me quickly into the house, for all depends on the rapidity
of our movements."
In a little while the carriage suddenly stopped. I took Estella's
hand. She needed no help. Maximilian was ascending the steps of a
house, key in hand. We followed. I looked back. One of our pursuers
was a block away; the other a little behind him. The carriage with
the bombs I could not see--it might be obscured by the trees, or it
might have lost us in the fierce speed with which we had traveled.
"Quick," said Maximilian, pulling us in and locking the door.
We followed him, running through a long, lighted hall, out into a
garden; a gate flew open; we rushed across the street and sprang into
another carriage; Maximilian leaped to his place; crack went the
whip, and away we flew; but on the instant the quick eyes of my
friend saw, rapidly whirling around the next corner, one of the
carriages that had been pursuing us.
"They suspected our trick," said he. "Where, in heaven's name, is the
man with the bombs?" he added, anxiously.
Our horses were swift, but still that shadow clung to us; the streets
were still and deserted, for it was after midnight; but they were as
bright as if the full moon shone in an unclouded sky.
"Ah! there he comes, at last," said Maximilian, with a sigh of
relief. "I feared we might meet another carriage of the police, and
this fellow behind us would call it to his help, and our case would
be desperate, as they would know our trick. We should have to fight
for it. Now observe what takes place."
Estella, kneeling on the cushions, looked out through the glass
window in the back of the carriage; I leaned far out at the side.
"See, Estella," I cried, "how that hindmost team flies! They move
like race-horses on the course."
Nearer and nearer they come to our pursuers; they are close behind
them; the driver of the front carriage seems to know that there is
danger; he lashes his horses furiously; it is in vain. Now they are
side by side--side by side for a time; but now our friends forge
slowly ahead. The driver of the beaten team suddenly pulls his horses
back on their haunches. It is too late. A man stands up on the seat
of the front carriage-it is an open barouche. I could see his arm
describe an arc through the air; the next instant the whole street
was ablaze with a flash of brilliant red light, and the report of a
tremendous explosion rang in my ears. Through the smoke and dust I
could dimly see the horses of our pursuers piled in a heap upon the
street, kicking, plunging, dying.
"It is all right now," said Maximilian quietly; and then he spoke to
the driver: "Turn the next corner to the left."
After having made several changes of direction--with intent to throw
any other possible pursuers off the track--and it being evident that
we were not followed, except by the carriage of our friends, we drove
slowly to Maximilian's house and alighted.
The sweet-faced old lady took the handsome, seeming boy, Estella, in
her arms, and with hearty cordiality welcomed her to her new home. We
left them together, mingling tears of joy.
Max and I adjourned to the library, and there, at his request, I told
him all that had happened in the council-chamber. He smoked his cigar
and listened attentively. His face darkened as I repeated the spy's
story, but he neither admitted nor denied the truth of the part which
I thought related to himself. When I told him about the commander of
the air-ships, his interest was so great that his cigar went out; and
when I narrated the conversation which occurred after General Quincy
had left the room his face lighted up with a glow of joy. He listened
intently to the account of the Prince's plan of battle, and smiled
grimly. But when I told how I came from my hiding-place and appealed
to the oligarchy to spare mankind, he rose from his chair and walked
the room, profoundly agitated; and when I had finished, by narrating
how Rudolph led me to his room, to the presence of Estella, he threw
his arms around my neck, and said, "You dear old fool! It was just
like you;" but I could see that his eyes were wet with emotion.
Then he sat for some time in deep thought. At last he said:
"Gabriel, would you be willing to do something more to serve me?"
"Certainly," I replied; "anything."
"Would you go with me to-morrow night and tell this tale to the
council of our Brotherhood? My own life and the lives of my friends,
and _the liberty of one dear to me_, may depend upon your doing so."
"I shall go with you most willingly," I said. "To tell you the
truth," I added, "While I cannot approve of your terrible
Brotherhood, nevertheless what I have seen and heard tonight
satisfies me that the Plutocrats should no longer cumber the earth
with their presence. Men who can coolly plot, amid laughter, the
death of ten million human beings, for the purpose of preserving
their ill-gotten wealth and their ill-used power, should be
exterminated from the face of the planet as enemies of mankind--as
He grasped my hand and thanked me.
It was pleasant to think, that night, that Estella loved me; that I
had saved her; that we were under the same roof; and I wove visions
in my brain brighter than the dreams of fairyland; and Estella moved
everywhere amid them, a radiant angel.
"Now, Gabriel," said Max, "I will have to blindfold you--not that I
mistrust you, but that I have to satisfy the laws of our society and
the scruples of others."
This was said just before we opened the door. He folded a silk
handkerchief over my face, and led me down the steps and seated me in
a carriage. He gave some whispered directions to the driver, and away
we rolled. It was a long drive. At last I observed that peculiar
salty and limy smell in the air, which told me we were approaching
the river. The place was very still and solitary. There were no
sounds of vehicles or foot-passengers. The carriage slowed up, and we
"This way," said Max, opening the door of the carriage, and leading
me by the hand. We walked a few steps; we paused; there were low
whisperings. Then we descended a long flight of steps; the air had a
heavy and subterranean smell; we hurried forward through a large
chamber. I imagined it to be the cellar of some abandoned warehouse;
the light came faintly through the bandage over my face, and I
inferred that a guide was carrying a lantern before us. Again we
stopped. There was more whispering and the rattle of paper, as if the
guards were examining some document. The whispering was renewed; then
we entered and descended again a flight of steps, and again went
forward for a short distance. The air was very damp and the smell
earthy. Again I heard the whispering and the rattling of paper. There
was delay. Some one within was sent for and came out. Then the door
was flung open, and we entered a room in which the air appeared to be
drier than in those we had passed through, and it seemed to be
lighted up. There were little movements and stirrings of the
atmosphere which indicated that there were a number of persons in the
room. I stood still.
Then a stern, loud voice said:
"Gabriel Weltstein, hold up your right hand."
I did so. The voice continued:
"You do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that the
statements you are about to make are just and true; that you are
incited to make them neither by corruption, nor hate, nor any other
unworthy motive; and that you will tell the truth and all the truth;
and to this you call all the terrors of the unknown world to witness;
and you willingly accept death if you utter anything that is false."
I bowed my head.
"What brother vouches for this stranger?" asked the same stern voice.
Then I heard Maximilian. He spoke as if he was standing near my side.
"I do. If I had not been willing to vouch for him with my life, I
should not have asked to bring him--not a member of our
Brotherhood--into this presence. He saved my life; he is a noble,
just and honorable man--one who loves his kind, and would bless and
help them if he could. He has a story to tell which concerns us all."
"Enough," said the voice. "Were you present in the council-chamber of
the Prince of Cabano last night? If so, tell us what you saw and
Just then there was a slight noise, as if some one was moving quietly
toward the door behind me, by which I had just entered. Then came
another voice, which I had not before heard--a thin, shrill,
strident, imperious voice--a voice that it seemed to me I should
recognize again among a million. It cried out:
"Back to your seat! Richard, tell the guards to permit no one to
leave this chamber until the end of our meeting."
There was a shuffling of feet, and whispering, and then again
"Proceed," said the stern voice that had first spoken.
Concealing all reference to Estella, and omitting to name Rudolph,
whom I referred to simply as one of their Brotherhood known to
Maximilian, I told, in the midst of a grave-like silence, how I had
been hidden in the room next to the council-chamber; and then I went
on to give a concise history of what I had witnessed and heard.
"Uncover his eyes!" exclaimed the stern voice.
Maximilian untied the handkerchief. For a moment or two I was blinded
by the sudden glare of light. Then, as my eyes recovered their
function, I could see that I stood, as I had supposed, in the middle
of a large vault or cellar. Around the room, on rude benches, sat
perhaps one hundred men. At the end, on a sort of dais, or raised
platform, was a man of gigantic stature, masked and shrouded. Below
him, upon a smaller elevation, sat another, whose head, I noticed
even then, was crooked to one side. Still below him, on a level with
the floor, at a table, were two men who seemed to be secretaries.
Every man present wore a black mask and a long cloak of dark
material. Near me stood one similarly shrouded, who, I thought, from
the size and figure, must be Maximilian.
It was a solemn, silent, gloomy assemblage, and the sight of it
thrilled through my very flesh and bones. I was not frightened, but
appalled, as I saw all those eyes, out of those expressionless dark
faces, fixed upon me. I felt as if they were phantoms, or dead men,
in whom only the eyes lived.
The large man stood up. He was indeed a giant. He seemed to uncoil
himself from his throne as he rose.
"Unmask," he said.
There was a rustle, and the next moment the masks were gone and the
cloaks had fallen down.
It was an extraordinary assemblage that greeted my eyes; a long array
of stern faces, dark and toil-hardened, with great, broad brows and
solemn or sinister eyes.
Last night I had beheld the council of the Plutocracy. Here was the
council of the Proletariat. The large heads at one end of the line
were matched by the large heads at the other. A great injustice, or
series of wrongs, working through many generations, had wrought out
results that in some sense duplicated each other. Brutality above had
produced brutality below; cunning there was answered by cunning here;
cruelty in the aristocrat was mirrored by cruelty in the workman.
High and low were alike victims--unconscious victims--of a system.
The crime was not theirs; it lay at the door of the shallow,
indifferent, silly generations of the past.
My eyes sought the officers. I noticed that Maximilian was
disguised--out of an excess of caution, as I supposed--with
eye-glasses and a large dark mustache. His face, I knew, was really
I turned to the president. Such a man I had never seen before. He
was, I should think, not less than six feet six inches high, and
broad in proportion. His great arms hung down until the monstrous
hands almost touched the knees. His skin was quite dark, almost
negroid; and a thick, close mat of curly black hair covered his huge
head like a thatch. His face was muscular, ligamentous; with great
bars, ridges and whelks of flesh, especially about the jaws and on
the forehead. But the eyes fascinated me. They were the eyes of a
wild beast, deep-set, sullen and glaring; they seemed to shine like
those of the cat-tribe, with a luminosity of their own. This, then--I
said to myself--must be Cęsar, the commander of the dreaded
A movement attracted me to the man who sat below him; he had spoken
to the president.
He was in singular contrast with his superior. He was old and
withered. One hand seemed to be shrunken, and his head was
permanently crooked to one side. The face was mean and sinister; two
fangs alone remained in his mouth; his nose was hooked; the eyes were
small, sharp, penetrating and restless; but the expanse of brow above
them was grand and noble. It was one of those heads that look as if
they had been packed full, and not an inch of space wasted. His
person was unclean, however, and the hands and the long finger-nails
were black with dirt. I should have picked him out anywhere as a very
able and a very dangerous man. He was evidently the vice-president of
whom the spy had spoken--the nameless Russian Jew who was accounted
"the brains of the Brotherhood."
"Gabriel Weltstein," said the giant, in the same stern, loud voice,
"each person in this room will now pass before you,--the officers
last; and,--under the solemn oath you have taken,--I call upon you to
say whether the spy you saw last night in the council-chamber of the
Prince of Cabano is among them. But first, let me ask, did you see
him clearly, and do you think you will be able to identify him?"
"Yes," I replied; "he faced me for nearly thirty minutes, and I
should certainly know him if I saw him again."
"Brothers," said the president, "you will now------"
But here there was a rush behind me. I turned toward the door. Two
men were scuffling with a third, who seemed to be trying to break
out. There were the sounds of a struggle; then muttered curses; then
the quick, sharp report of a pistol. There was an exclamation of pain
and more oaths; knives flashed in the air; others rushed pell-mell
into the melee; and then the force of numbers seemed to triumph, and
the crowd came, dragging a man forward to where I stood. His face was
pale as death; the blood, streamed from a flesh wound on his
forehead; an expression of dreadful terror glared out of his eyes; he
gasped and looked from right to left. The giant had descended from
his dais. He strode forward. The wretch was laid at my feet.
"Speak," said Cęsar, "is that the man?"
"It is," I replied.
The giant took another step, and he towered over the prostrate wretch.
"Brothers," he asked, "what is your judgment upon the spy?"
"Death!" rang the cry from a hundred throats.
The giant put his hand in his bosom; there was a light in his
terrible face as if he had long waited for such an hour.
"Lift him up," he said.
Two strong men held the spy by his arms; they lifted him to his feet;
he writhed and struggled and shrieked, but the hands that held him
were of iron.
"Stop!" said the thin, strident voice I had heard before, and the
cripple advanced into the circle. He addressed the prisoner:
"Were you followed to this place?"
"Yes, yes," eagerly cried the spy. "Spare me, spare me, and I will
tell you everything. Three members of the police force were appointed
to follow, in a carriage, the vehicle that brought me here. They were
to wait about until the meeting broke up and then shadow the tallest
man and a crook-necked man to their lodgings and identify them. They
are now waiting in the dark shadows of the warehouse."
"Did you have any signal agreed upon with them?" asked the cripple.
"Yes," the wretch replied, conscious that he was giving up his
associates to certain death, but willing to sacrifice the whole world
if he might save his own life. "Spare me, spare me, and I win tell
"Proceed," said the cripple.
"I would not trust myself to be known by them. I agreed with Prince
Cabano upon a signal between us. I am to come to them, if I need
their help, and say: 'Good evening, what time is it?' The reply is,
'It is thieves' time.' Then I am to say, 'The more the better;' and
they are to follow me."
"Richard," said the cripple, "did you hear that?"
"Take six men with you; leave them in the brew-house cellar; lead the
police thither; throw the bodies in the river."
The man called Richard withdrew, with his men, to his work of murder.
The prisoner rolled his eyes appealingly around that dreadful circle.
"Spare me!" he cried. "I know the secrets of the banks. I can lead
you into the Prince of Cabano's house. Do not kill me.
"Is that all?" asked the giant.
"Yes," replied the cripple.
In an instant the huge man, like some beast that had been long held
back from its prey, gave a leap forward, his face revealing terrible
ferocity; it was a tiger that glares, plunges and devours. I saw
something shining, brilliant and instantaneous as an electric flash;
then there was the sound of a heavy blow. The spy sprang clean out of
the hands that were holding him, high up in the air; and fell, close
to me, stone dead. He had been dead, indeed, when he made that
fearful leap. His heart was split in twain. His spring was not the
act of the man; it was the protest of the body against the rush of
the departing spirit; it was the clay striving to hold on to the soul.
The giant stooped and wiped his bloody knife upon the clothes of the
dead man. The cripple laughed a crackling, hideous laugh. I hope God
will never permit me to hear such a laugh again. Others took it
up--it echoed all around the room. I could think of nothing but the
cachinnations of the fiends as the black gates burst open and new
hordes of souls are flung, startled and shrieking, into hell.
"Thus die all the enemies of the Brotherhood!" cried the thin voice
of the cripple.
And long and loud they shouted.
"Remove the body through the back door," said the giant, "and throw
it into the river."
"Search his clothes first," said the cripple.
They did so, and found the money which the Prince had ordered to be
given him--it was the price of his life--and also a bundle of papers.
The former was handed over to the treasurer of the Brotherhood; the
latter were taken possession of by the vice-president.
Then, resuming his seat, the giant said:
"Gabriel Weltstein, the Brotherhood thank you for the great service
you have rendered them. We regret that your scruples will not permit
you to become one of us; but we regard you as a friend and we honor
you as a man; and if at any time the Brotherhood can serve you, be
assured its full powers shall be put forth in your behalf."
I was too much shocked by the awful scene I had just witnessed to do
more than bow my head.
"There is one thing more," he continued, "we shall ask of you; and
that is that you will repeat your story once again to another man,
who will soon be brought here. We knew from Maximilian what you were
about to tell, and we made our arrangements accordingly. Do not
start," he said, "or look alarmed--there will be no more executions."
Turning to the men, he said: "Resume your masks." He covered his own
face, and all the rest did likewise.
THE MAMELUKES OF THE AIR
The vice-president of the Brotherhood leaned forward and whispered to
one of the secretaries, who, taking two men with him, left the room.
A seat was given me. There was a pause of perhaps ten minutes. Not a
whisper broke the silence. Then there came a rap at the door. The
other secretary went to it. There was whispering and consultation;
then the door opened and the secretary and his two companions
entered, leading a large man, blindfolded. He wore a military
uniform. They stopped in the middle of the room.
"General Jacob Quincy," said the stern voice of the president,
"before we remove the bandage from your eyes I ask you to repeat, in
this presence, the pledge you made to the representative of the
Brotherhood, who called upon you today."
The man said:
"I was informed by your messenger that you had a communication to
make to me which involved the welfare, and perhaps the lives, of the
officers and men commanding and manning the air-vessels, or
war-ships, called by the people 'The Demons.' You invited me here
under a pledge of safe conduct; you left your messenger with my men,
as hostage for my return; and I promised never to reveal to mortal
ear anything that I might see or hear, except so far as it might be
necessary, with your consent, to do so to warn my command of those
dangers which you assure me threaten them. This promise I here renew,
and swear by the Almighty God to keep it forever inviolate."
"Remove his bandage," said the president.
They did so, and there stood before me the handsome and intelligent
officer whom I had seen last night in the Prince of Cabano's
The president nodded to the cripple, as if by some pre-arrangement,
and said, "Proceed."
"General Jacob Quincy," said the thin, penetrating voice of the
vice-president of the Order, "you visited a certain house last night,
on a matter of business, connected with your command. How many men
knew of your visit?"
"Three," said the general, with a surprised look. "I am to
communicate the results to a meeting of my command tomorrow night;
but I thought it better to keep the matter pretty much to myself
until that time."
"May I ask who were the men to whom you spoke of the matter?"
"I might object to your question," he said, "but that I suppose
something important lies behind it. The men were my brother, Col.
Quincy; my adjutant-general, Captain Underwood, and my friend Major
"Do you think any of these men would tell your story to any one else?"
"Certainly not. I would venture my life upon their prudence and
secrecy, inasmuch as I asked them to keep the matter to themselves.
But why do you ask such questions?"
"Because," said the wily cripple, "I have a witness here who is about
to reveal to you everything you said and did in that council-chamber
last night, even to the minutest detail. If you had told your story
to many, or to untrustworthy persons, there might be a possibility
that this witness had gleaned the facts from others; and that he had
not been present, as he claims; and therefore that you could not
depend upon what he says as to other matters of importance. Do you
recognize the justice of my reasoning?"
"Certainly," said the general. "If you produce here a man who can
tell me just where I was last night, what I said, and what was said
to me, I shall believe that he was certainly present; for I well know
he did not get it from me or my friends; and I know, equally well,
that none of those with whom I had communication would tell what took
place to you or any friend of yours."
"Be kind enough to stand up," said the cripple to me. I did so.
"Did you ever see that man before?" he asked the general.
The general looked at me intently.
"Never," he replied.
"Have you ever seen this man before?" he asked me.
"Yes," I replied.
"When and where?"
"Last night; at the palace of Prince Cabano--in his council-chamber."
"Proceed, and tell the whole story."
I did so. The general listened closely, never relaxing his scrutiny
of my face. When I had finished my account of the interview, the
cripple asked the general whether it was a faithful narration of what
had taken place. He said it was--wonderfully accurate in every
"You believe him, then, to be a truthful witness," asked the cripple,
"and that he was present at your interview, with the Council of the
'I do," said General Quincy.
"Now proceed," he said to me, "to tell what took place after this
gentleman left the room."
I did so. The face of the general darkened into a scowl as I
proceeded, and he flushed with rage when I had concluded my story.
"Do you desire to ask the witness any questions?" said the cripple.
"None at all," he replied.
He stood for several minutes lost in deep thought. I felt that the
destiny of the world hung tremblingly in the balance. At last he
spoke, in a low voice.
"Who represents your organization?" he asked.
"The Executive Committee," replied the president.
"Who are they?" he inquired.
"Myself,--the vice-president"--pointing to the cripple--"and yonder
gentleman"--designating the cowled and masked figure of Maximilian,
who stood near me.
"Could I have a private conference with you?" he asked.
"Yes," replied the president, somewhat eagerly; "come this way."
All four moved to a side door, which seemed to lead into another
subterranean chamber;--the cripple carried a torch.
"Wait here for me," said Maximilian, as he passed me.
I sat down. The cowled figures remained seated around the walls. Not
a sound broke the profound silence. I could see that all eyes were
fixed upon the door by which the Executive Committee had left us, and
my own were riveted there also.
We all felt the gravity of the occasion. Five minutes--ten
minutes--fifteen minutes--twenty minutes passed. The door opened. We
thought the conference was over. No; it was only the cripple; his
face was uncovered and flushed with excitement. He walked quickly to
the secretary's table; took up pen, ink and paper, and returned to
the other cellar, closing the door after him. There was a movement
among the cowled figures--whispers--excitement; they augured that
things were going well--the agreement was to be reduced to writing!
Five minutes more passed--then ten--then fifteen. The door opened,
and they came out:--the gigantic Cęsar ahead. All the faces were
uncovered, and I thought there was a look of suppressed triumph upon
the countenances of the Executive Committee. The commander of the
Demons looked sedate and thoughtful, like a man who had taken a very
grave and serious step.
The president resumed the chair. He spoke to the secretary.
"You will cover the eyes of General Quincy," he said. "Take two men
with you; accompany him to his carriage, then go with him to his
residence, and bring back our hostage.--General," he said, "good
night," and then added meaningly, "_Au revoir!_"
"_Au revoir_," said the general, as the handkerchief was adjusted
over his face.
The commander of the Demons and his escort withdrew. The president
sat consulting his watch, and when he was sure that they were beyond
hearing, he sprang to his feet, his eyes glowing and his whole frame
dilated with excitement.
"Brothers," he cried out, "we have got the world in our hands at
last. The day is near we have so long toiled and waited for! The
Demons are with us!"
The wildest demonstrations of joy followed--cheer after cheer broke
forth; the men embraced each other.
"The world's slavery is at an end," cried one.
"Death to the tyrants!" shouted another.
"Down with the Oligarchy!" roared a third.
"Come," said Maximilian, taking me by the arm, "it is time to go."
He replaced the bandage over my eyes and led me out. For some time
after I left the room, and while in the next cellar, I could hear the
hoarse shouts of the triumphant conspirators. Victory was now
assured. My heart sank within me. The monstrous chorus was chanting
the requiem of a world.
In the carriage Maximilian was trembling with excitement. One thought
seemed to be uppermost in his mind. "He will be free! He will be
free!" he continually cried. When at last he grew more calm, he
embraced me, and called me the preserver of himself; and all his
family; and all his friends; and all his work,--the savior of his
father! Then he became incoherent again. He cursed the baseness of
mankind. "It was noble," he said, "to crush a rotten world for
revenge, or for justice' sake; but to sell out a trust, for fifty
millions of the first plunder, was execrable--it was damnable. It was
a shame to have to use such instruments. But the whole world was
corrupt to the very core; there was not enough consistency in it to
make it hang together. Yet there was one consolation--the end was
coming! Glory be to God! The end was coming!"
And he clapped his hands and shouted, like a madman.
When he grew quieter I asked him what day the blow was to be struck.
Not for some time, he said. In the morning the vice-president would
take an air-ship to Europe, with a cipher letter from General Quincy
to the commandant of the Demons in England--to be delivered in case
it was thought safe to do so. The cripple was subtle and cunning
beyond all men. He was to arrange for the purchase of the officers
commanding the Demons all over Europe; and he was to hold a council
of the leaders of the Brotherhood, and arrange for a simultaneous
outbreak on both sides of the Atlantic, so that one continent should
not come to the help of the other. If, however, this could not be
effected, he was to return home, and the Brotherhood would
precipitate the revolution all over America at the same hour, and
take the chances of holding their own against the banker-government
That night I lay awake a long time, cogitating; and the subject of my
It had been my intention to return to Africa before the great
outbreak took place. I could not remain and witness the ruin of
mankind. But neither could I leave Estella behind me. Maximilian
might be killed. I knew his bold and desperate nature; he seemed to
me to have been driven almost, if not quite, to insanity, by the
wrongs of his father. Revenge had become a mania with him. If he
perished in the battle what would become of Estella, in a world torn
to pieces? She had neither father, nor mother, nor home. But she
loved me and I must protect her!
On the other hand, she was powerless and dependent on the kindness of
strangers. Her speech in that moment of terror might have expressed
more than she felt. Should I presume upon it? Should I take advantage
of her distress to impose my love upon her? But, if the Brotherhood
failed, might not the Prince recover her, and bear her back to his
hateful palace and his loathsome embraces? Dangers environed her in
every direction. I loved her; and if she would not accompany me to my
home as my wife, she must go as my sister. She could not stay where
she was. I must again save her.
I fell asleep and dreamed that Estella and I were flying into space
on the back of a dragon, that looked very much like Prince Cabano.
THE WORKINGMEN'S MEETING
I have told you, my dear Heinrich, that I have latterly attended, and
even spoken at, a number of meetings of the workingmen of this city.
I have just returned from one of the largest I have seen. It was held
in a great underground chamber, or series of cellars, connected with
each other, under an ancient warehouse. Before I retire to my couch I
will give you some description of the meeting, not only because it
will enable you to form some idea of the state of feeling among the
mechanics and workmen, but because this one, unfortunately, had a
There were guards stationed at the door to give warning of the coming
of the police. There were several thousand persons present. It was
Saturday night. When we arrived the hall was black with people--a
gloomy, silent assemblage. There were no women present; no bright
colors--all dark and sad-hued. The men were nearly all workingmen,
many of them marked by the grime of their toil. Maximilian whispered
to me that the attendance was larger than usual, and he thought it
indicated that, by a kind of instinct, the men knew the great day of
deliverance was near at hand.
The president of a labor organization had taken the chair before we
came in. As I walked up the hall I was greeted with cheers, and
invited to the platform. Maximilian accompanied me.
A man in a blouse was speaking. He was discussing the doctrines of
Karl Marx and the German socialists of the last century. He was
attentively listened to, but his remarks aroused no enthusiasm; they
all seemed familiar with the subjects of his discourse.
He was followed by another workman, who spoke upon the advantages of
co-operation between the employers and the employed. His remarks were
moderate and sensible. He was, however, answered by another workman,
who read statistics to show that, after a hundred years of trial, the
co-operative system had not extended beyond a narrow circle. "There
were too many greedy employers and too many helpless workmen.
Competition narrowed the margin of profit and hardened the heart of
the master, while it increased the number of the wretchedly poor, who
must work at any price that would maintain life." [Applause.] "The
cure must be more radical than that." [Great applause.]
He was followed by a school teacher, who thought that the true remedy
for the evils of society was universal education. "If all men were
educated they could better defend their rights. Education meant
intelligence, and intelligence meant prosperity. It was the ignorant
hordes from Europe who were crowding out the American workingmen and
reducing them to pauperism." [Applause. I
Here a rough-looking man, who, I inferred, was an English miner, said
he begged leave to differ from the gentleman who had last spoken. (I
noticed that these workingmen, unless very angry, used in their
discussions the courteous forms of speech common in all parliamentary
"A man who knew how to read and write," he continued, "did not
command any better wages for the work of his hands than the man who
could not." [Applause.] "His increased knowledge tended to make him
more miserable." [Applause.] "Education was so universal that the
educated man, without a trade, had to take the most inadequate
pittance of compensation, and was not so well off, many times, as the
mechanic." [Applause.] "The prisons and alms-houses were full of
educated men; and three-fourths of the criminal class could read and
write. Neither was the gentleman right when he spoke of the European
immigrants as 'ignorant hordes.' The truth was, the proportion of the
illiterate was much less in some European despotisms than it was in
the American Republic." [Applause from the foreigners present.]
"Neither did it follow that because a man was educated he was
intelligent. There was a vast population of the middle class, who had
received good educations, but who did not have any opinion upon any
subject, except as they derived it from their daily newspapers."
[Applause.] "The rich men owned the newspapers and the newspapers
owned their readers; so that, practically, the rich men cast all
those hundreds of thousands of votes. If these men had not been able
to read and write they would have talked with one another upon public
affairs, and have formed some correct ideas; their education simply
facilitated their mental subjugation; they were chained to the
chariots of the Oligarchy; and they would never know the truth until
they woke up some bright morning and found it was the Day of
Judgment." [Sensation and great applause.]
Here I interposed:
"Universal education is right; it is necessary," I said; "but it is
not all-sufficient. Education will not stop corruption or
misgovernment. No man is fit to be free unless he possesses a
reasonable share of education; but every man who possesses that
reasonable share of education is riot fit to be free. A man may be
able to read and write and yet be a fool or a knave." [Laughter and
applause.] "What is needed is a society which shall bring to Labor
the aid of the same keenness, penetration, foresight, and even
cunning, by which wealth has won its triumphs. Intellect should have
its rewards, but it should not have everything. But this defense of
labor could only spring from the inspiration of God, for the natural
instinct of man, in these latter days, seems to be to prey on his
fellow. We are sharks that devour the wounded of our own kind."
I paused, and in the midst of the hall a thin gentleman, dressed in
black, with his coat buttoned to his throat, and all the appearance
of a clergyman, arose and asked whether a stranger would be permitted
to say a few words. He was received in sullen silence, for the clergy
are not popular with the proletariat. His manner, however, was quiet
and unassuming, and he appeared like an honest man.
The chairman said he had no doubt the audience would be glad to hear
his views, and invited him to the platform.
He said, in a weak, thin voice:
"I have listened, brethren, with a great deal of interest and
pleasure to the remarks that have been made by the different
speakers. There is no doubt the world has fallen into evil
conditions; and it is very right that you should thus assemble and
consider the causes and the remedy. And, with your kind permission, I
will give you my views on the subject.
"Brethren, your calamities are due, in my opinion, to the loss of
religion in the world and the lack of virtue among individuals. What
is needed for the reformation of mankind is a new interest in the
church--a revival of faith. If every man will purify his own heart,
all hearts will then be pure; and when the hearts of all are pure,
and filled with the divine sentiment of justice and brotherhood, no
man will be disposed to treat his neighbor unjustly. But, while this
is true, you must remember that, after all, this world is only a
place of temporary trial, to prepare us for another and a better
world. This existence consists of a few troubled and painful years,
at best, but there you will enjoy eternal happiness in the company of
the angels of God. We have the assurance of the Holy Scriptures that
riches and prosperity here are impediments to happiness hereafter.
The beggar Lazarus is shown to us in the midst of everlasting bliss,
while the rich man Dives, who had supported him for years, by the
crumbs from his table, and was clothed in purple and fine linen, is
burning in an eternal hell. Remember that it is 'less difficult for a
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the kingdom of heaven;' and so, my friends, you may justly
rejoice in your poverty and your afflictions, for 'those whom the
Lord loveth he chasteneth;' and the more wretched your careers may
be, here on earth, the more assured you are of the delights of an
everlasting heaven. And do not listen, my brethren, to the men who
tell you that you must hate government and law. 'The powers that be
are ordained of God,' saith the Scripture; and by patient resignation
to the evils of this world you will lay up treasures for yourselves
in heaven, where the moth and rust cannot consume, and where thieves
do not break in and steal. They tell you that you should improve your
condition. But suppose you possessed all the pleasures which this
transitory world could give you, of what avail would it be if your
earthly happiness made you lose the eternal joys of heaven? 'What
will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own
soul?' Nothing, my brethren, nothing. Be patient, therefore----"
As the reverend gentleman had proceeded the murmurs and objections of
the audience kept increasing, until at last it broke forth in a storm
of howls and execrations which completely drowned his voice. The
whole audience--I could see their faces from where I sat on the
platform--were infuriated. Arms were waving in the air, and the scene
was like Bedlam. I requested the clergyman to sit down, and, as soon
as he did so, the storm began to subside. A man rose in the midst of
the audience and mounted a bench. Loud cries and applause greeted
him. I could distinguish the name on a hundred lips, "Kelker!
Kelker!" As I ascertained afterwards, he was a professor, of German
descent, a man of wide learning, who had lost his position in the
university, and in society as well, by his defense of the rights of
the people. He now earned a meager living at shoemaking. He was a
tall, spare man, with gold eyeglasses (sole relic of his past
station), poorly clad; and he had the wild look of a man who had been
hunted all his life. He spoke with great vehemence, and in a
penetrating voice, that could be heard all over that vast assemblage,
which, as soon as he opened his mouth, became as still as death.
"Friends and brothers," he said; "friends by the ties of common
wrongs, brothers in misery, I regret that you did not permit the
reverend gentleman to proceed. Ours is a liberality that hears all
sides; and, for one, I should have been glad to hear what this
advocate of the ancient creeds had to say for them. But since he has
taken his seat I shall reply to him.
"He tells us that his religion is the one only thing which will save
us; and that it is better for us to be miserable here that we may be
happy hereafter. If that is so, heaven must be crowded now-a-days,
for the misery of the earth is unlimited and unspeakable; and it is
rapidly increasing." [Laughter and applause.] "But religion has had
control of the world for nearly two thousand years, and this is what
it has brought us to. It has been, in all ages, the moral
police-force of tyrants." [Great applause.] "It has chloroformed
poverty with promises of heaven, while the robbers have plundered the
world." (Continued applause.] "It has kept the people in submission,
and has sent uncountable millions through wretched lives to shameful
graves. [Great applause.] "With a lot of myths and superstitions,
derived from a dark and barbarous past, it has prevented civilization
from protecting mankind; and, Nero-like, has fiddled away upon its
ridiculous dogmas while the world was burning." [Great cheers.]
"When have your churches helped man to improve his condition? They
are gorgeous palaces, where once a week the women assemble to display
their millinery and the men to maintain their business prestige."
[Laughter and applause.] "What great reform have they not opposed?
What new discoveries in science have they not resisted?" [Applause.]
"Man has only become great when he has escaped out of their
clutches." [Cheers.] "They have preached heaven and helped turn earth
into a hell." [Great cheers.] "They stood by, without a murmur, and
beheld mankind brought down to this awful condition; and now, in the
midst of our unbearable calamities, they tell us it is well for us to
starve; that starvation is the especial gate of heaven; and that
Dives deserved hell because he had plenty to eat while on earth."
[Great cheering.] "And why do they do this? Because, if they can get
possession of our consciences and persuade us to starve to death
patiently, and not resist, they will make it so much the easier for
the oppressors to govern us; and the rich, in return, will maintain
the churches." [Sensation.] "They are throttling us in the name of
God!" [Tremendous applause.] "Our sons march in endless procession to
the prison and the scaffold; our daughters take their places in the
long line of the bedizened cortege of the brothel; and every fiber of
our poor frames and brains shrieks out its protest against
insufficient nourishment; and this man comes to us and talks about
his Old-World, worn-out creeds, which began in the brains of
half-naked barbarians, and are a jumble of the myths of a
Here the speaker grew wild and hoarse with passion, and the audience,
who had been growing more and more excited and turbulent as he
proceeded, burst into a tremendous uproar that drowned every other
sound. A crowd of the more desperate--dark-faced, savage-looking
workingmen--made a rush for the platform to seize the clergyman; and
they would soon have had possession of him. But in this extremity I
sprang to the front of the platform, between him and the oncoming
mob, and by my mere presence, and the respect they have for me as
their friend, I stilled the tempest and restored order.
"My dear friends!" I said, "be patient! Are you the men who boast of
your toleration? You meet to discuss your sufferings and their
remedy; and when one tells you how he would cure you, you rise up to
slay him. Be just. This poor man may be mistaken--the body of which
he is a member may be mistaken--as to the best way to serve and save
mankind; but that his purpose is good, and that he loves you, who can
doubt? Look at him! Observe his poor garments; his emaciated figure.
What joys of life does he possess? He has given up everything to help
you. Into your darkest alleys--into your underground dens--where
pestilence and starvation contend for their victims, he goes at high
noon and in the depth of the blackest night, and he brings to the
parting soul consolation and hope. And why not? Who can doubt that
there is another life? Who that knows the immortality of matter, its
absolute indestructibility, can believe that mind, intelligence,
soul,--which must be, at the lowest estimate--if they are not
something higher--a form of matter,--are to perish into nothingness?
If it be true, as we know it is, that the substance of the poor flesh
that robes your spirits--nay, of the very garments you wear--shall
exist, undiminished by the friction of eternity, ęons after our
planet is blotted out of space and our sun forgotten, can you believe
that this intelligence, whereby I command your souls into thought,
and communicate with the unsounded depths of your natures, can be
clipped off into annihilation? Nay, out of the very bounty and
largess of God I speak unto you; and that in me which speaks, and
that in you which listens, are alike part and parcel of the eternal
Maker of all things, without whom is nothing made." [Applause.]
"And so, my friends, every good man who loves you, and would improve
your condition, in time or in eternity, is your friend, and to be
venerated by you." [Applause.] "And while we may regret the errors of
religion, in the past, or in the present, let us not forget its
virtues. Human in its mechanism, it has been human in its
infirmities. In the doctrine of the brotherhood of man and the
fatherhood of God, which are the essential principles of
Christianity, lies the redemption of mankind. But some of the
churchmen have misconceived Christ, or perverted him to their own
base purposes. He who drove the money-changers out of the temple, and
denounced the aristocrats of his country as whited sepulchres, and
preached a communism of goods, would not view to-day with patience or
equanimity the dreadful sufferings of mankind. We have inherited
Christianity without Christ; we have the painted shell of a religion,
and that which rattles around within it is not the burning soul of
the Great Iconoclast, but a cold and shriveled and meaningless
tradition. Oh! for the quick-pulsing, warm-beating, mighty human
heart of the man of Galilee! Oh! for his uplifted hand, armed with a
whip of scorpions, to depopulate the temples of the world, and lash
his recreant preachers into devotion to the cause of his poor
afflicted children!" [Great applause.]
"There is no Power in the world too great or too sacred to be used by
Goodness for the suppression of Evil. Religion--true religion--not
forms or ceremonies, but _inspired purpose_--should take possession
of the _governments_ of the world and enforce _justice!_ The purified
individual soul we may not underestimate. These are the swept and
garnished habitations in which the angels dwell, and look with
unpolluted eyes upon the world. But this is not all. To make a few
virtuous where the many are vicious is to place goodness at a
disadvantage. To teach the people patience and innocence in the midst
of craft and cruelty, is to furnish the red-mouthed wolves with
woolly, bleating lambs. Hence the grip of the churches on humanity
has been steadily lessening during the past two hundred years. Men
permanently love only those things that are beneficial to them. The
churches must come to the rescue of the people or retire from the
field. A babe in the claws of a tiger is not more helpless than a
small virtuous minority in the midst of a cruel and bloody world.
Virtue we want, but virtue growing out of the bosom of universal
justice. While you labor to save one soul, poverty crushes a million
into sin. You are plucking brands from a constantly increasing
conflagration. The flames continue to advance and devour what you
have saved. The religion of the world must be built on universal
prosperity, and this is only possible on a foundation of universal
justice. If the web of the cloth is knotted in one place it is
because the threads have, in an unmeaning tangle, been withdrawn from
another part. Human misery is the correlative and equivalent of
injustice somewhere else in society.
"What the world needs is a new organization--a great world-wide
Brotherhood of Justice. It should be composed of all men who desire
to lift up the oppressed and save civilization and society. It should
work through governmental instrumentalities. Its altars should be the
schools and the ballot-boxes. It should combine the good, who are not
yet, I hope, in a minority, against the wicked. It should take one
wrong after another, concentrate the battle of the world upon them,
and wipe them out of existence. It should be sworn to a perpetual
crusade against every evil. It is not enough to heal the wounds
caused by the talons of the wild beasts of injustice; it should
pursue them to their bone-huddled dens and slay them." [Great
applause.] "It should labor not alone to relieve starvation, but to
make starvation impossible;--_to kill it in its causes_.
"With the widest toleration toward those who address themselves to
the future life, even to the neglect of this, the sole dogma of our
society should be justice. If there is an elysium in the next world,
and not a continuation of the troubled existence through which we are
now passing, we will be all the better fitted to enjoy it if we have
helped to make this world a heaven. And he who has labored to make
earth a hell should enjoy his workmanship in another and more
dreadful world, forever and forever.
"And oh, ye churches! Will ye not come up to the help of the people
against the mighty? Will ye not help us break the jaws of the spoiler
and drag the prey from between his teeth? Think what you could do if
all your congregation were massed together to crush the horrid wrongs
that abound in society! To save the world _you must fight corruption
and take possession of government_. Turn your thoughts away from
Moses and his ragged cohorts, and all the petty beliefs and blunders
of the ancient world. Here is a world greater than Moses ever dreamed
of. Here is a population infinitely vaster in numbers, more
enlightened, more capable of exquisite enjoyment, and exquisite
suffering, than all the children of Israel and all the subjects of
imperial Rome combined. Come out of the past into the present. God is
as much God to-day as he was in the time of the Pharaohs. If God
loved man then he loves him now. Surely the cultured denizen of this
enlightened century, in the midst of all the splendors of his
transcendent civilization, is as worthy of the tender regard of his
Creator as the half-fed and ignorant savage of the Arabian desert
five thousand years ago. God lives yet, and he lives for us."
Here I paused. Although the vast audience had listened patiently to
my address, and had, occasionally, even applauded some of its
utterances, yet it was evident that what I said did not touch their
hearts. In fact, a stout man, with a dark, stubbly beard, dressed
like a workingman, rose on one of the side benches and said:
"Fellow-toilers, we have listened with great respect to what our
friend Gabriel Weltstein has said to us, for we know he would help us
if he could--that his heart is with us. And much that he has said is
true. But the time has gone by to start such a society as be speaks
of. Why, if we formed it, the distresses of the people are so great
that our very members would sell us out on election day." [Applause.]
"The community is rotten to the core; and so rotten that it is not
conscious that it is rotten." [Applause.] "There is no sound place to
build on. There is no remedy but the utter destruction of the
existing order of things." [Great applause.] "It cannot be worse for
us than it is; it may be better." [Cheers.]
"But," I cried out, "do you want to destroy civilization??"
"Civilization," he replied solemnly; "what interest have we in the
preservation of civilization? Look around and behold its fruits! Here
are probably ten thousand industrious, sober, intelligent workingmen;
I doubt if there is one in all this multitude that can honestly say
he has had, during the past week, enough to eat." [Cries of "That's
so."] "I doubt if there is one here who believes that the present
condition of things can give him, or his children, anything better
for the future." [Applause.] "Our masters have educated us to
understand that we have no interest in civilization or society. We
are its victims, not its members. They depend on repression, on force
alone; on cruelty, starvation, to hold us down until we work our
lives away. Our lives are all we have;--it may be all we will ever
have! They are as dear to us as existence is to the millionaire.
"What is civilization worth which means happiness for a few thousand
men and inexpressible misery for hundreds of millions? No, down with
it!" [Immense cheering. Men rising and waving their hats.] "If they
have set love and justice adrift and depend only on force, why should
we not have recourse to force also?" [Cheers and applause, mingled
with cries of "Take care!" "Look out!" "Spies!" etc.] "Yes,"
continued the speaker, "I mean, of course, the force of argument and
reason." [Great laughter and applause.] "Of course none of us would
advocate a violation of the law--that blessed law which it has cost
our masters so much hard-earned money to purchase;" [renewed laughter
and applause,] "and which restrains us and not them; for under it no
injustice is forbidden to them, and no justice is permitted to us,
Our labor creates everything; we possess nothing. Yes, we have the
scant supply of food necessary to enable us to create more."
[Applause.] "We have ceased to be men--we are machines. Did God die
for a machine? Certainly not.
"We are crushed under the world which we maintain, and our groans are
drowned in the sounds of music and laughter." [Great applause.] "We
have a hell that is more desperate and devilish than any dreamed of
by the parsons--for we have to suffer to maintain the pleasures of
heaven, while we have no share in what we ourselves create."
[Laughter and applause.] "Do you suppose that if heaven were blown to
pieces hell would be any worse off? At least, the work would stop."
[Great applause, long-continued, with cries of "That's so!"]
Here a great uproar broke out near the end of the hall. A man had
been caught secretly taking notes of the speaker's remarks. He was
evidently a detective. On the instant a hundred men sprang upon him,
and he was beaten and trampled under foot, until not only life, but
all semblance of humanity, had been crushed out of him; and the
wretched remains were dragged out and thrown upon the pavement. It is
impossible to describe the uproar and confusion which ensued. In the
midst of it a large platoon of police, several hundred strong, with
their belts strung with magazine pistols, and great clubs in their
hands, broke into the room, and began to deal blows and make arrests
right and left, while the crowd fled through all the doors.
Maximilian seized me and the poor clergyman, who had been sitting in
a dazed and distraught state for some time, and dragged us both up a
back stairway and through a rear exit into the street. There we took
a carriage, and, after we had left the bewildered clergyman at his
residence, Maximilian said to me as we rode home:
"You see, my dear Gabriel, I was right and you were wrong. That
workman told the truth. You have arrived on the scene too late. A
hundred years ago you might have formed your Brotherhood of Justice
and saved society. Now there is but one cure--the Brotherhood of
"Oh, my dear friend," I replied, "do not say so. _Destruction!_ What
is it? The wiping out of the slow accumulations made by man's
intelligence during thousands of years. A world cataclysm. A day of
judgment. A day of fire and ashes. A world burned and swept bare of
life. All the flowers of art; the beautiful, gossamer-like works of
glorious literature; the sweet and lovely creations of the souls of
men long since perished, and now the inestimable heritage of
humanity; all, all crushed, torn, leveled in the dust. And all that
is savage, brutal, cruel, demoniac in man's nature let loose to
ravage the face of the world. Oh! horrible--most horrible! The mere
thought works in me like a convulsion; what must the inexpressible
reality be? To these poor, suffering, hopeless, degraded toilers;
these children of oppression and the dust; these chained slaves,
anything that would break open the gates of their prison-house would
be welcome, even though it were an earthquake that destroyed the
planet. But you and I, my dear friend, are educated to higher
thoughts. We know the value of the precious boon of civilization. We
know how bare and barren, and wretched and torpid, and utterly
debased is soulless barbarism. I see enough to convince me that the
ramifications of your society are like a net-work of wires, all over
the earth, penetrating everywhere, and at every point touching the
most deadly explosives of human passions and hates; and that it needs
but the pressure of your finger upon the pedal to blow up the world.
The folly of centuries has culminated in the most terrible
organization that ever grew out of the wretchedness of mankind. But
oh, my friend--you have a broad mind and a benevolent soul--tell me,
is there no remedy? Cannot the day of wrath be averted?"
The tears flowed down my face as I spoke, and Maximilian placed his
hand gently upon my arm, and said in the kindliest manner:
"My dear Gabriel, I have thought such thoughts as these many times;
not with the fervor and vehemence of your more imaginative nature,
but because I shrank, at first, from what you call 'a
world-cataclysm.' But facts are stronger than the opinions of man.
There is in every conflagration a time when a few pails of water
would extinguish it; then there comes a time when the whole
fire-department, with tons of water, can alone save what is left of
the property; but sometimes a point is reached where even the boldest
firemen are forced to recoil and give up the building to the
devouring element. Two hundred years ago a little wise statesmanship
might have averted the evils from which the world now suffers. One
hundred years ago a gigantic effort, of all the good men of the
world, might have saved society. Now the fire pours through every
door, and window and crevice; the roof crackles; the walls totter;
the heat of hell rages within the edifice; it is doomed; there is no
power on earth that can save it; it must go down into ashes. What can
you or I do? What will it avail the world if we rush into the flames
and perish? No; we witness the working-out of great causes which we
did not create. When man permits the establishment of self-generating
evil he must submit to the effect. Our ancestors were blind,
indifferent, heartless. We live in the culmination of their misdeeds.
They have crawled into their graves and drawn the earth over them,
and the flowers bloom on their last resting-places, and we are the
inheritors of the hurricane which they invoked. Moreover," he
continued, "how can reformation come? You have seen that audience
to-night. Do you think they are capable of the delicate task of
readjusting the disarranged conditions of the world? That workman was
right. In the aggregate they are honest--most honest and honorable;
but is there one of them whose cramped mind and starved stomach could
resist the temptation of a ten-dollar bill? Think what a ten-dollar
bill is to them! It represents all they crave: food, clothes,
comfort, joy. It opens the gate of heaven to them; it is paradise,
for a few hours at least. Why, they would mortgage their souls, they
would trade their Maker, for a hundred dollars! The crime is not
theirs, but the shallow creatures who once ruled the world, and