Part 3 out of 5
convulsion and darkness. Far off and high up he presently saw a pallid
light of a semi-circular shape. As he approached this, a black edge came
up and hid it. He stumbled at steps and found himself in a gallery. He
heard a sobbing, and found two scared little girls crouched by a railing.
These children became silent at the near sound of feet. He tried to
console them, but they were very still until he left them. Then as he
receded he could hear them sobbing again.
Presently he found himself at the foot of a staircase and near a wide
opening. He saw a dim twilight above this and ascended out of the
blackness into a street of moving ways again. Along this a disorderly
swarm of people marched shouting. They were singing snatches of the song
of the revolt, most of them out of tune. Here and there torches flared
creating brief hysterical shadows. He asked his way and was twice puzzled
by that same thick dialect. His third attempt won an answer he could
understand. He was two miles from the wind-vane offices in Westminster,
but the way was easy to follow.
When at last he did approach the district of the wind-vane offices it
seemed to him, from the cheering processions that came marching along the
Ways, from the tumult of rejoicing, and finally from the restoration of
the lighting of the city, that the overthrow of the Council must already
be accomplished. And still no news of his absence came to his ears.
The re-illumination of the city came with startling abruptness. Suddenly
he stood blinking, all about him men halted dazzled, and the world was
incandescent. The light found him already upon the outskirts of the
excited crowds that choked the ways near the wind-vane offices, and the
sense of visibility and exposure that came with it turned his colourless
intention of joining Ostrog to a keen anxiety.
For a time he was jostled, obstructed, and endangered by men hoarse and
weary with cheering his name, some of them bandaged and bloody in his
cause. The frontage of the wind-vane offices was illuminated by some
moving picture, but what it was he could not see, because in spite of his
strenuous attempts the density of the crowd prevented his approaching it.
From the fragments of speech he caught, he judged it conveyed news of the
fighting about the Council House. Ignorance and indecision made him slow
and ineffective in his movements. For a time he could not conceive how he
was to get within the unbroken facade of this place. He made his way
slowly into the midst of this mass of people, until he realised that the
descending staircase of the central way led to the interior of the
buildings. This gave him a goal, but the crowding in the central path
was so dense that it was long before he could reach it. And even then he
encountered intricate obstruction, and had an hour of vivid argument
first in this guard room and then in that before he could get a note
taken to the one man of all men who was most eager to see him. His story
was laughed to scorn at one place, and wiser for that, when at last he
reached a second stairway he professed simply to have news of
extraordinary importance for Ostrog. What it was he would not say. They
sent his note reluctantly. For a long time he waited in a little room at
the foot of the lift shaft, and thither at last came Lincoln, eager,
apologetic, astonished. He stopped in the doorway scrutinising Graham,
then rushed forward effusively.
"Yes," he cried. "It is you. And you are not dead!"
Graham made a brief explanation.
"My brother is waiting," explained Lincoln. "He is alone in the wind-vane
offices. We feared you had been killed in the theatre. He doubted--and
things are very urgent still in spite of what we are telling them
_there_--or he would have come to you."
They ascended a lift, passed along a narrow passage, crossed a great
hall, empty save for two hurrying messengers, and entered a comparatively
little room, whose only furniture was a long settee and a large oval disc
of cloudy, shifting grey, hung by cables from the wall. There Lincoln
left Graham for a space, and he remained alone without understanding the
smoky shapes that drove slowly across this disc.
His attention was arrested by a sound that began abruptly. It was
cheering, the frantic cheering of a vast but very remote crowd, a roaring
exultation. This ended as sharply as it had begun, like a sound heard
between the opening and shutting of a door. In the outer room was a noise
of hurrying steps and a melodious clinking as if a loose chain was
running over the teeth of a wheel.
Then he heard the voice of a woman, the rustle of unseen garments. "It is
Ostrog!" he heard her say. A little bell rang fitfully, and then
everything was still again.
Presently came voices, footsteps and movement without. The footsteps of
some one person detached itself from the other sounds, and drew near,
firm, evenly measured steps. The curtain lifted slowly. A tall,
white-haired man, clad in garments of cream-coloured silk, appeared,
regarding Graham from under his raised arm.
For a moment the white form remained holding the curtain, then dropped it
and stood before it. Graham's first impression was of a very broad
forehead, very pale blue eyes deep sunken under white brows, an aquiline
nose, and a heavily-lined resolute mouth. The folds of flesh over the
eyes, the drooping of the corners of the mouth contradicted the upright
bearing, and said the man was old. Graham rose to his feet instinctively,
and for a moment the two men stood in silence, regarding each other.
"You are Ostrog?" said Graham.
"I am Ostrog."
"So I am called."
Graham felt the inconvenience of the silence. "I have to thank you
chiefly, I understand, for my safety," he said presently.
"We were afraid you were killed," said Ostrog. "Or sent to sleep
again--for ever. We have been doing everything to keep our secret--the
secret of your disappearance. Where have you been? How did you get here?"
Graham told him briefly.
Ostrog listened in silence.
He smiled faintly. "Do you know what I was doing when they came to tell
me you had come?"
"How can I guess?"
"Preparing your double."
"A man as like you as we could find. We were going to hypnotise him, to
save him the difficulty of acting. It was imperative. The whole of this
revolt depends on the idea that you are awake, alive, and with us. Even
now a great multitude of people has gathered in the theatre clamouring to
see you. They do not trust.... You know, of course--something of your
"Very little," said Graham.
"It is like this." Ostrog walked a pace or two into the room and turned.
"You are absolute owner," he said, "of the world. You are King of the
Earth. Your powers are limited in many intricate ways, but you are the
figure-head, the popular symbol of government. This White Council, the
Council of Trustees as it is called--"
"I have heard the vague outline of these things."
"I came upon a garrulous old man."
"I see.... Our masses--the word comes from your days--you know, of
course, that we still have masses--regard you as our actual ruler. Just
as a great number of people in your days regarded the Crown as the
ruler. They are discontented--the masses all over the earth--with the
rule of your Trustees. For the most part it is the old discontent, the
old quarrel of the common man with his commonness--the misery of work and
discipline and unfitness. But your Trustees have ruled ill. In certain
matters, in the administration of the Labour Companies, for example, they
have been unwise. They have given endless opportunities. Already we of
the popular party were agitating for reforms--when your waking came.
Came! If it had been contrived it could not have come more
opportunely." He smiled. "The public mind, making no allowance for
your years of quiescence, had already hit on the thought of waking you
and appealing to you, and--Flash!"
He indicated the outbreak by a gesture, and Graham moved his head to show
that he understood.
"The Council muddled--quarrelled. They always do. They could not decide
what to do with you. You know how they imprisoned you?"
"I see. I see. And now--we win?"
"We win. Indeed we win. To-night, in five swift hours. Suddenly we struck
everywhere. The wind-vane people, the Labour Company and its millions,
burst the bonds. We got the pull of the aeroplanes."
"Yes," said Graham.
"That was, of course, essential. Or they could have got away. All the
city rose, every third man almost was in it! All the blue, all the public
services, save only just a few aeronauts and about half the red police.
You were rescued, and their own police of the ways--not half of them
could be massed at the Council House--have been broken up, disarmed or
killed. All London is ours--now. Only the Council House remains.
"Half of those who remain to them of the red police were lost in that
foolish attempt to recapture you. They lost their heads when they lost
you. They flung all they had at the theatre. We cut them off from the
Council House there. Truly to-night has been a night of victory.
Everywhere your star has blazed. A day ago--the White Council ruled as it
has ruled for a gross of years, for a century and a half of years, and
then, with only a little whispering, a covert arming here and there,
"I am very ignorant," said Graham. "I suppose--I do not clearly
understand the conditions of this fighting. If you could explain. Where
is the Council? Where is the fight?"
Ostrog stepped across the room, something clicked, and suddenly, save for
an oval glow, they were in darkness. For a moment Graham was puzzled.
Then he saw that the cloudy grey disc had taken depth and colour, had
assumed the appearance of an oval window looking out upon a strange
At the first glance he was unable to guess what this scene might be. It
was a daylight scene, the daylight of a wintry day, grey and clear.
Across the picture, and halfway as it seemed between him and the remoter
view, a stout cable of twisted white wire stretched vertically. Then he
perceived that the rows of great wind-wheels he saw, the wide intervals,
the occasional gulfs of darkness, were akin to those through which he had
fled from the Council House. He distinguished an orderly file of red
figures marching across an open space between files of men in black, and
realised before Ostrog spoke that he was looking down on the upper
surface of latter-day London. The overnight snows had gone. He judged
that this mirror was some modern replacement of the camera obscura, but
that matter was not explained to him. He saw that though the file of red
figures was trotting from left to right, yet they were passing out of the
picture to the left. He wondered momentarily, and then saw that the
picture was passing slowly, panorama fashion, across the oval.
"In a moment you will see the fighting," said Ostrog at his elbow. "Those
fellows in red you notice are prisoners. This is the roof space of
London--all the houses are practically continuous now. The streets and
public squares are covered in. The gaps and chasms of your time have
Something out of focus obliterated half the picture. Its form suggested a
man. There was a gleam of metal, a flash, something that swept across the
oval, as the eyelid of a bird sweeps across its eye, and the picture was
clear again. And now Graham beheld men running down among the
wind-wheels, pointing weapons from which jetted out little smoky flashes.
They swarmed thicker and thicker to the right, gesticulating--it might be
they were shouting, but of that the picture told nothing. They and the
wind-wheels passed slowly and steadily across the field of the mirror.
"Now," said Ostrog, "comes the Council House," and slowly a black edge
crept into view and gathered Graham's attention. Soon it was no longer an
edge but a cavity, a huge blackened space amidst the clustering edifices,
and from it thin spires of smoke rose into the pallid winter sky. Gaunt
ruinous masses of the building, mighty truncated piers and girders, rose
dismally out of this cavernous darkness. And over these vestiges of some
splendid place, countless minute men were clambering, leaping, swarming.
"This is the Council House," said Ostrog. "Their last stronghold. And the
fools wasted enough ammunition to hold out for a month in blowing up the
buildings all about them--to stop our attack. You heard the smash? It
shattered half the brittle glass in the city."
And while he spoke, Graham saw that beyond this area of ruins,
overhanging it and rising to a great height, was a ragged mass of white
building. This mass had been isolated by the ruthless destruction of its
surroundings. Black gaps marked the passages the disaster had torn apart;
big halls had been slashed open and the decoration of their interiors
showed dismally in the wintry dawn, and down the jagged walls hung
festoons of divided cables and twisted ends of lines and metallic rods.
And amidst all the vast details moved little red specks, the red-clothed
defenders of the Council. Every now and then faint flashes illuminated
the bleak shadows. At the first sight it seemed to Graham that an attack
upon this isolated white building was in progress, but then he perceived
that the party of the revolt was not advancing, but sheltered amidst the
colossal wreckage that encircled this last ragged stronghold of the
red-garbed men, was keeping up a fitful firing.
And not ten hours ago he had stood beneath the ventilating fans in a
little chamber within that remote building wondering what was happening
in the world!
Looking more attentively as this warlike episode moved silently across
the centre of the mirror, Graham saw that the white building was
surrounded on every side by ruins, and Ostrog proceeded to describe in
concise phrases how its defenders had sought by such destruction to
isolate themselves from a storm. He spoke of the loss of men that huge
downfall had entailed in an indifferent tone. He indicated an improvised
mortuary among the wreckage, showed ambulances swarming like cheese-mites
along a ruinous groove that had once been a street of moving ways. He was
more interested in pointing out the parts of the Council House, the
distribution of the besiegers. In a little while the civil contest that
had convulsed London was no longer a mystery to Graham. It was no
tumultuous revolt had occurred that night, no equal warfare, but a
splendidly organised _coup d'etat_. Ostrog's grasp of details was
astonishing; he seemed to know the business of even the smallest knot of
black and red specks that crawled amidst these places.
He stretched a huge black arm across the luminous picture, and showed the
room whence Graham had escaped, and across the chasm of ruins the course
of his flight. Graham recognised the gulf across which the gutter ran,
and the wind-wheels where he had crouched from the flying machine. The
rest of his path had succumbed to the explosion. He looked again at the
Council House, and it was already half hidden, and on the right a
hillside with a cluster of domes and pinnacles, hazy, dim and distant,
was gliding into view.
"And the Council is really overthrown?" he said.
"Overthrown," said Ostrog.
"And I--. Is it indeed true that I--?"
"You are Master of the World."
"But that white flag--"
"That is the flag of the Council--the flag of the Rule of the World. It
will fall. The fight is over. Their attack on the theatre was their last
frantic struggle. They have only a thousand men or so, and some of these
men will be disloyal. They have little ammunition. And we are reviving
the ancient arts. We are casting guns."
"But--help. Is this city the world?"
"Practically this is all they have left to them of their empire. Abroad
the cities have either revolted with us or wait the issue. Your awakening
has perplexed them, paralysed them."
"But haven't the Council flying machines? Why is there no fighting
"They had. But the greater part of the aeronauts were in the revolt with
us. They wouldn't take the risk of fighting on our side, but they would
not stir against us. We _had_ to get a pull with the aeronauts. Quite
half were with us, and the others knew it. Directly they knew you had got
away, those looking for you dropped. We killed the man who shot at
you--an hour ago. And we occupied the flying stages at the outset in
every city we could, and so stopped and captured the greater aeroplanes,
and as for the little flying machines that turned out--for some did--we
kept up too straight and steady a fire for them to get near the Council
House. If they dropped they couldn't rise again, because there's no clear
space about there for them to get up. Several we have smashed, several
others have dropped and surrendered, the rest have gone off to the
Continent to find a friendly city if they can before their fuel runs out.
Most of these men were only too glad to be taken prisoner and kept out of
harm's way. Upsetting in a flying machine isn't a very attractive
prospect. There's no chance for the Council that way. Its days are done."
He laughed and turned to the oval reflection again to show Graham what he
meant by flying stages. Even the four nearer ones were remote and
obscured by a thin morning haze. But Graham could perceive they were very
vast structures, judged even by the standard of the things about them.
And then as these dim shapes passed to the left there came again the
sight of the expanse across which the disarmed men in red had been
marching. And then the black ruins, and then again the beleaguered white
fastness of the Council. It appeared no longer a ghostly pile, but
glowing amber in the sunlight, for a cloud shadow had passed. About it
the pigmy struggle still hung in suspense, but now the red defenders were
no longer firing.
So, in a dusky stillness, the man from the nineteenth century saw the
closing scene of the great revolt, the forcible establishment of his
rule. With a quality of startling discovery it came to him that this was
his world, and not that other he had left behind; that this was no
spectacle to culminate and cease; that in this world lay whatever life
was still before him, lay all his duties and dangers and
responsibilities. He turned with fresh questions. Ostrog began to answer
them, and then broke off abruptly. "But these things I must explain more
fully later. At present there are--duties. The people are coming by the
moving ways towards this ward from every part of the city--the markets
and theatres are densely crowded. You are just in time for them. They are
clamouring to see you. And abroad they want to see you. Paris, New York,
Chicago, Denver, Capri--thousands of cities are up and in a tumult,
undecided, and clamouring to see you. They have clamoured that you should
be awakened for years, and now it is done they will scarcely believe--"
"But surely--I can't go ..."
Ostrog answered from the other side of the room, and the picture on the
oval disc paled and vanished as the light jerked back again. "There are
kineto-telephoto-graphs," he said. "As you bow to the people here--all
over the world myriads of myriads of people, packed and still in darkened
halls, will see you also. In black and white, of course--not like this.
And you will hear their shouts reinforcing the shouting in the hall.
"And there is an optical contrivance we shall use," said Ostrog, "used by
some of the posturers and women dancers. It may be novel to you. You
stand in a very bright light, and they see not you but a magnified image
of you thrown on a screen--so that even the furtherest man in the
remotest gallery can, if he chooses, count your eyelashes."
Graham clutched desperately at one of the questions in his mind. "What is
the population of London?" he said.
"Eight and twaindy myriads."
"Eight and what?"
"More than thirty-three millions."
These figures went beyond Graham's imagination.
"You will be expected to say something," said Ostrog. "Not what you used
to call a Speech, but what our people call a word--just one sentence, six
or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest--'I have awakened
and my heart is with you.' That is the sort of thing they want."
"What was that?" asked Graham.
"'I am awakened and my heart is with you.' And bow--bow royally. But
first we must get you black robes--for black is your colour. Do you mind?
And then they will disperse to their homes."
Graham hesitated. "I am in your hands," he said.
Ostrog was clearly of that opinion. He thought for a moment, turned to
the curtain and called brief directions to some unseen attendants. Almost
immediately a black robe, the very fellow of the black robe Graham had
worn in the theatre, was brought. And as he threw it about his shoulders
there came from the room without the shrilling of a high-pitched bell.
Ostrog turned in interrogation to the attendant, then suddenly seemed to
change his mind, pulled the curtain aside and disappeared.
For a moment Graham stood with the deferential attendant listening to
Ostrog's retreating steps. There was a sound of quick question and answer
and of men running. The curtain was snatched back and Ostrog reappeared,
his massive face glowing with excitement. He crossed the room in a
stride, clicked the room into darkness, gripped Graham's arm and pointed
to the mirror.
"Even as we turned away," he said.
Graham saw his index finger, black and colossal, above the mirrored
Council House. For a moment he did not understand. And then he perceived
that the flagstaff that had carried the white banner was bare.
"Do you mean--?" he began.
"The Council has surrendered. Its rule is at an end for evermore."
"Look!" and Ostrog pointed to a coil of black that crept in little jerks
up the vacant flagstaff, unfolding as it rose.
The oval picture paled as Lincoln pulled the curtain aside and entered.
"They are clamorous," he said.
Ostrog kept his grip of Graham's arm.
"We have raised the people," he said. "We have given them arms. For
to-day at least their wishes must be law."
Lincoln held the curtain open for Graham and Ostrog to pass through....
On his way to the markets Graham had a transitory glance of a long narrow
white-walled room in which men in the universal blue canvas were carrying
covered things like biers, and about which men in medical purple hurried
to and fro. From this room came groans and wailing. He had an impression
of an empty blood-stained couch, of men on other couches, bandaged and
blood-stained. It was just a glimpse from a railed footway and then a
buttress hid the place and they were going on towards the markets....
The roar of the multitude was near now: it leapt to thunder. And,
arresting his attention, a fluttering of black banners, the waving of
blue canvas and brown rags, and the swarming vastness of the theatre near
the public markets came into view down a long passage. The picture opened
out. He perceived they were entering the great theatre of his first
appearance, the great theatre he had last seen as a chequer-work of glare
and blackness in his flight from the red police. This time he entered it
along a gallery at a level high above the stage. The place was now
brilliantly lit again. His eyes sought the gangway up which he had fled,
but he could not tell it from among its dozens of fellows; nor could he
see anything of the smashed seats, deflated cushions, and such like
traces of the fight because of the density of the people. Except the
stage the whole place was closely packed. Looking down the effect was a
vast area of stippled pink, each dot a still upturned face regarding him.
At his appearance with Ostrog the cheering died away, the singing died
away, a common interest stilled and unified the disorder. It seemed as
though every individual of those myriads was watching him.
THE END OF THE OLD ORDER
So far as Graham was able to judge, it was near midday when the white
banner of the Council fell. But some hours had to elapse before it was
possible to effect the formal capitulation, and so after he had spoken
his "Word" he retired to his new apartments in the wind-vane offices. The
continuous excitement of the last twelve hours had left him inordinately
fatigued, even his curiosity was exhausted; for a space he sat inert and
passive with open eyes, and for a space he slept. He was roused by two
medical attendants, come prepared with stimulants to sustain him through
the next occasion. After he had taken their drugs and bathed by their
advice in cold water, he felt a rapid return of interest and energy, and
was presently able and willing to accompany Ostrog through several miles
(as it seemed) of passages, lifts, and slides to the closing scene of the
White Council's rule.
The way ran deviously through a maze of buildings. They came at last to a
passage that curved about, and showed broadening before him an oblong
opening, clouds hot with sunset, and the ragged skyline of the ruinous
Council House. A tumult of shouts came drifting up to him. In another
moment they had come out high up on the brow of the cliff of torn
buildings that overhung the wreckage. The vast area opened to Graham's
eyes, none the less strange and wonderful for the remote view he had had
of it in the oval mirror.
This rudely amphitheatral space seemed now the better part of a mile to
its outer edge. It was gold lit on the left hand, catching the sunlight,
and below and to the right clear and cold in the shadow. Above the
shadowy grey Council House that stood in the midst of it, the great black
banner of the surrender still hung in sluggish folds against the blazing
sunset. Severed rooms, halls and passages gaped strangely, broken masses
of metal projected dismally from the complex wreckage, vast masses of
twisted cable dropped like tangled seaweed, and from its base came a
tumult of innumerable voices, violent concussions, and the sound of
trumpets. All about this great white pile was a ring of desolation; the
smashed and blackened masses, the gaunt foundations and ruinous lumber of
the fabric that had been destroyed by the Council's orders, skeletons of
girders, Titanic masses of wall, forests of stout pillars. Amongst the
sombre wreckage beneath, running water flashed and glistened, and far
away across the space, out of the midst of a vague vast mass of
buildings, there thrust the twisted end of a water-main, two hundred feet
in the air, thunderously spouting a shining cascade. And everywhere great
multitudes of people.
Wherever there was space and foothold, people swarmed, little people,
small and minutely clear, except where the sunset touched them to
indistinguishable gold. They clambered up the tottering walls, they clung
in wreaths and groups about the high-standing pillars. They swarmed along
the edges of the circle of ruins. The air was full of their shouting, and
they were pressing and swaying towards the central space.
The upper storeys of the Council House seemed deserted, not a human
being was visible. Only the drooping banner of the surrender hung
heavily against the light. The dead were within the Council House, or
hidden by the swarming people, or carried away. Graham could see only a
few neglected bodies in gaps and corners of the ruins, and amidst the
"Will you let them see you, Sire?" said Ostrog. "They are very anxious
to see you."
Graham hesitated, and then walked forward to where the broken verge of
wall dropped sheer. He stood looking down, a lonely, tall, black figure
against the sky.
Very slowly the swarming ruins became aware of him. And as they did so
little bands of black-uniformed men appeared remotely, thrusting through
the crowds towards the Council House. He saw little black heads become
pink, looking at him, saw by that means a wave of recognition sweep
across the space. It occurred to him that he should accord them some
recognition. He held up his arm, then pointed to the Council House and
dropped his hand. The voices below became unanimous, gathered volume,
came up to him as multitudinous wavelets of cheering.
The western sky was a pallid bluish green, and Jupiter shone high in the
south, before the capitulation was accomplished. Above was a slow
insensible change, the advance of night serene and beautiful; below was
hurry, excitement, conflicting orders, pauses, spasmodic developments of
organisation, a vast ascending clamour and confusion. Before the Council
came out, toiling perspiring men, directed by a conflict of shouts,
carried forth hundreds of those who had perished in the hand-to-hand
conflict within those long passages and chambers....
Guards in black lined the way that the Council would come, and as far as
the eye could reach into the hazy blue twilight of the ruins, and
swarming now at every possible point in the captured Council House and
along the shattered cliff of its circumadjacent buildings, were
innumerable people, and their voices, even when they were not cheering,
were as the soughing of the sea upon a pebble beach. Ostrog had chosen a
huge commanding pile of crushed and overthrown masonry, and on this a
stage of timbers and metal girders was being hastily constructed. Its
essential parts were complete, but humming and clangorous machinery still
glared fitfully in the shadows beneath this temporary edifice.
The stage had a small higher portion on which Graham stood with Ostrog
and Lincoln close beside him, a little in advance of a group of minor
officers. A broader lower stage surrounded this quarter-deck, and on this
were the black-uniformed guards of the revolt armed with the little green
weapons whose very names Graham still did not know. Those standing about
him perceived that his eyes wandered perpetually from the swarming people
in the twilight ruins about him to the darkling mass of the White Council
House, whence the Trustees would presently come, and to the gaunt cliffs
of ruin that encircled him, and so back to the people. The voices of the
crowd swelled to a deafening tumult.
He saw the Councillors first afar off in the glare of one of the
temporary lights that marked their path, a little group of white figures
in a black archway. In the Council House they had been in darkness. He
watched them approaching, drawing nearer past first this blazing
electric star and then that; the minatory roar of the crowd over whom
their power had lasted for a hundred and fifty years marched along beside
them. As they drew still nearer their faces came out weary, white, and
anxious. He saw them blinking up through the glare about him and Ostrog.
He contrasted their strange cold looks in the Hall of Atlas.... Presently
he could recognise several of them; the man who had rapped the table at
Howard, a burly man with a red beard, and one delicate-featured, short,
dark man with a peculiarly long skull. He noted that two were whispering
together and looking behind him at Ostrog. Next there came a tall, dark
and handsome man, walking downcast. Abruptly he glanced up, his eyes
touched Graham for a moment, and passed beyond him to Ostrog. The way
that had been made for them was so contrived that they had to march past
and curve about before they came to the sloping path of planks that
ascended to the stage where their surrender was to be made.
"The Master, the Master! God and the Master," shouted the people. "To
hell with the Council!" Graham looked at their multitudes, receding
beyond counting into a shouting haze, and then at Ostrog beside him,
white and steadfast and still. His eye went again to the little group of
White Councillors. And then he looked up at the familiar quiet stars
overhead. The marvellous element in his fate was suddenly vivid. Could
that be his indeed, that little life in his memory two hundred years gone
by--and this as well?
FROM THE CROW'S NEST
And so after strange delays and through an avenue of doubt and battle,
this man from the nineteenth century came at last to his position at the
head of that complex world.
At first when he rose from the long deep sleep that followed his rescue
and the surrender of the Council, he did not recognise his surroundings.
By an effort he gained a clue in his mind, and all that had happened came
back to him, at first with a quality of insincerity like a story heard,
like something read out of a book. And even before his memories were
clear, the exultation of his escape, the wonder of his prominence were
back in his mind. He was owner of the world; Master of the Earth. This
new great age was in the completest sense his. He no longer hoped to
discover his experiences a dream; he became anxious now to convince
himself that they were real.
An obsequious valet assisted him to dress under the direction of a
dignified chief attendant, a little man whose face proclaimed him
Japanese, albeit he spoke English like an Englishman. From the latter he
learnt something of the state of affairs. Already the revolution was an
accepted fact; already business was being resumed throughout the city.
Abroad the downfall of the Council had been received for the most part
with delight. Nowhere was the Council popular, and the thousand cities
of Western America, after two hundred years still jealous of New York,
London, and the East, had risen almost unanimously two days before at the
news of Graham's imprisonment. Paris was fighting within itself. The rest
of the world hung in suspense.
While he was breaking his fast, the sound of a telephone bell jetted from
a corner, and his chief attendant called his attention to the voice of
Ostrog making polite enquiries. Graham interrupted his refreshment to
reply. Very shortly Lincoln arrived, and Graham at once expressed a
strong desire to talk to people and to be shown more of the new life that
was opening before him. Lincoln informed him that in three hours' time a
representative gathering of officials and their wives would be held in
the state apartments of the wind-vane Chief. Graham's desire to traverse
the ways of the city was, however, at present impossible, because of the
enormous excitement of the people. It was, however, quite possible for
him to take a bird's-eye view of the city from the crow's nest of the
wind-vane keeper. To this accordingly Graham was conducted by his
attendant. Lincoln; with a graceful compliment to the attendant,
apologised for not accompanying them, on account of the present pressure
of administrative work.
Higher even than the most gigantic, wind-wheels hung this crow's nest, a
clear thousand feet above the roofs, a little disc-shaped speck on a
spear of metallic filigree, cable stayed. To its summit Graham was drawn
in a little wire-hung cradle. Halfway down the frail-seeming stem was a
light gallery about which hung a cluster of tubes--minute they looked
from above--rotating slowly on the ring of its outer rail. These were the
specula, _en rapport_ with the wind-vane keeper's mirrors, in one of
which Ostrog had shown him the coming of his rule. His Japanese attendant
ascended before him and they spent nearly an hour asking and answering
It was a day full of the promise and quality of spring. The touch of the
wind warmed. The sky was an intense blue and the vast expanse of London
shone dazzling under the morning sun. The air was clear of smoke and
haze, sweet as the air of a mountain glen.
Save for the irregular oval of ruins about the House of the Council and
the black flag of the surrender that fluttered there, the mighty city
seen from above showed few signs of the swift revolution that had, to his
imagination, in one night and one day, changed the destinies of the
world. A multitude of people still swarmed over these ruins, and the huge
openwork stagings in the distance from which started in times of peace
the service of aeroplanes to the various great cities of Europe and
America, were also black with the victors. Across a narrow way of
planking raised on trestles that crossed the ruins a crowd of workmen
were busy restoring the connection between the cables and wires of the
Council House and the rest of the city, preparatory to the transfer
thither of Ostrog's headquarters from the Wind-Vane buildings.
For the rest the luminous expanse was undisturbed. So vast was its
serenity in comparison with the areas of disturbance, that presently
Graham, looking beyond them, could almost forget the thousands of men
lying out of sight in the artificial glare within the quasi-subterranean
labyrinth, dead or dying of the overnight wounds, forget the improvised
wards with the hosts of surgeons, nurses, and bearers feverishly busy,
forget, indeed, all the wonder, consternation and novelty under the
electric lights. Down there in the hidden ways of the anthill he knew
that the revolution triumphed, that black everywhere carried the day,
black favours, black banners, black festoons across the streets. And out
here, under the fresh sunlight, beyond the crater of the fight, as if
nothing had happened to the earth, the forest of wind vanes that had
grown from one or two while the Council had ruled, roared peacefully upon
their incessant duty.
Far away, spiked, jagged and indented by the wind vanes, the Surrey Hills
rose blue and faint; to the north and nearer, the sharp contours of
Highgate and Muswell Hill were similarly jagged. And all over the
countryside, he knew, on every crest and hill, where once the hedges had
interlaced, and cottages, churches, inns, and farm houses had nestled
among their trees, wind-wheels similar to those he saw and bearing like
them vast advertisements, gaunt and distinctive symbols of the new age,
cast their whirling shadows and stored incessantly the energy that flowed
away incessantly through all the arteries of the city. And underneath
these wandered the countless flocks and herds of the British Food Trust,
his property, with their lonely guards and keepers.
Not a familiar outline anywhere broke the cluster of gigantic shapes
below. St. Paul's he knew survived, and many of the old buildings in
Westminster, embedded out of sight, arched over and covered in among the
giant growths of this great age. The Thames, too, made no fall and gleam
of silver to break the wilderness of the city; the thirsty water mains
drank up every drop of its waters before they reached the walls. Its bed
and estuary, scoured and sunken, was now a canal of sea water, and a race
of grimy bargemen brought the heavy materials of trade from the Pool
thereby beneath the very feet of the workers. Faint and dim in the
eastward between earth and sky hung the clustering masts of the colossal
shipping in the Pool. For all the heavy traffic, for which there was no
need of haste, came in gigantic sailing ships from the ends of the earth,
and the heavy goods for which there was urgency in mechanical ships of a
smaller swifter sort.
And to the south over the hills came vast aqueducts with sea water for
the sewers, and in three separate directions ran pallid lines--the roads,
stippled with moving grey specks. On the first occasion that offered he
was determined to go out and see these roads. That would come after the
flying ship he was presently to try. His attendant officer described them
as a pair of gently curving surfaces a hundred yards wide, each one for
the traffic going in one direction, and made of a substance called
Eadhamite--an artificial substance, so far as he could gather, resembling
toughened glass. Along this shot a strange traffic of narrow rubber-shod
vehicles, great single wheels, two and four wheeled vehicles, sweeping
along at velocities of from one to six miles a minute. Railroads had
vanished; a few embankments remained as rust-crowned trenches here and
there. Some few formed the cores of Eadhamite ways.
Among the first things to strike his attention had been the great fleets
of advertisement balloons and kites that receded in irregular vistas
northward and southward along the lines of the aeroplane journeys. No
great aeroplanes were to be seen. Their passages had ceased, and only one
little-seeming monoplane circled high in the blue distance above the
Surrey Hills, an unimpressive soaring speck.
A thing Graham had already learnt, and which he found very hard to
imagine, was that nearly all the towns in the country, and almost all the
villages, had disappeared. Here and there only, he understood, some
gigantic hotel-like edifice stood amid square miles of some single
cultivation and preserved the name of a town--as Bournemouth, Wareham, or
Swanage. Yet the officer had speedily convinced him how inevitable such a
change had been. The old order had dotted the country with farmhouses,
and every two or three miles was the ruling landlord's estate, and the
place of the inn and cobbler, the grocer's shop and church--the village.
Every eight miles or so was the country town, where lawyer, corn
merchant, wool-stapler, saddler, veterinary surgeon, doctor, draper,
milliner and so forth lived. Every eight miles--simply because that eight
mile marketing journey, four there and back, was as much as was
comfortable for the farmer. But directly the railways came into play, and
after them the light railways, and all the swift new motor cars that had
replaced waggons and horses, and so soon as the high roads began to be
made of wood, and rubber, and Eadhamite, and all sorts of elastic durable
substances--the necessity of having such frequent market towns
disappeared. And the big towns grew. They drew the worker with the
gravitational force of seemingly endless work, the employer with their
suggestion of an infinite ocean of labour.
And as the standard of comfort rose, as the complexity of the mechanism
of living increased, life in the country had become more and more costly,
or narrow and impossible. The disappearance of vicar and squire, the
extinction of the general practitioner by the city specialist; had robbed
the village of its last touch of culture. After telephone, kinematograph
and phonograph had replaced newspaper, book, schoolmaster, and letter, to
live outside the range of the electric cables was to live an isolated
savage. In the country were neither means of being clothed nor fed
(according to the refined conceptions of the time), no efficient doctors
for an emergency, no company and no pursuits.
Moreover, mechanical appliances in agriculture made one engineer the
equivalent of thirty labourers. So, inverting the condition of the city
clerk in the days when London was scarce inhabitable because of the coaly
foulness of its air, the labourers now came to the city and its life and
delights at night to leave it again in the morning. The city had
swallowed up humanity; man had entered upon a new stage in his
development. First had come the nomad, the hunter, then had followed the
agriculturist of the agricultural state, whose towns and cities and ports
were but the headquarters and markets of the countryside. And now,
logical consequence of an epoch of invention, was this huge new
aggregation of men.
Such things as these, simple statements of fact though they were to
contemporary men, strained Graham's imagination to picture. And when he
glanced "over beyond there" at the strange things that existed on the
Continent, it failed him altogether.
He had a vision of city beyond city; cities on great plains, cities
beside great rivers, vast cities along the sea margin, cities girdled by
snowy mountains. Over a great part of the earth the English tongue was
spoken; taken together with its Spanish American and Hindoo and Negro and
"Pidgin" dialects, it was the everyday-language of two-thirds of
humanity. On the Continent, save as remote and curious survivals, three
other languages alone held sway--German, which reached to Antioch and
Genoa and jostled Spanish-English at Cadiz; a Gallicised Russian which
met the Indian English in Persia and Kurdistan and the "Pidgin" English
in Pekin; and French still clear and brilliant, the language of lucidity,
which shared the Mediterranean with the Indian English and German and
reached through a negro dialect to the Congo.
And everywhere now through the city-set earth, save in the administered
"black belt" territories of the tropics, the same cosmopolitan social
organisation prevailed, and everywhere from Pole to Equator his property
and his responsibilities extended. The whole world was civilised; the
whole world dwelt in cities; the whole world was his property....
Out of the dim south-west, glittering and strange, voluptuous, and in
some way terrible, shone those Pleasure Cities of which the
kinematograph-phonograph and the old man in the street had spoken.
Strange places reminiscent of the legendary Sybaris, cities of art
and beauty, mercenary art and mercenary beauty, sterile wonderful
cities of motion and music, whither repaired all who profited by the
fierce, inglorious, economic struggle that went on in the glaring
Fierce he knew it was. How fierce he could judge from the fact that these
latter-day people referred back to the England of the nineteenth century
as the figure of an idyllic easy-going life. He turned his eyes to the
scene immediately before him again, trying to conceive the big factories
of that intricate maze....
The state apartments of the Wind Vane Keeper would have astonished Graham
had he entered them fresh from his nineteenth century life, but already
he was growing accustomed to the scale of the new time. He came out
through one of the now familiar sliding panels upon a plateau of landing
at the head of a flight of very broad and gentle steps, with men and
women far more brilliantly dressed than any he had hitherto seen,
ascending and descending. From this position he looked down a vista of
subtle and varied ornament in lustreless white and mauve and purple,
spanned by bridges that seemed wrought of porcelain and filigree, and
terminating far off in a cloudy mystery of perforated screens.
Glancing upward, he saw tier above tier of ascending galleries with faces
looking down upon him. The air was full of the babble of innumerable
voices and of a music that descended from above, a gay and exhilarating
music whose source he did not discover.
The central aisle was thick with people, but by no means uncomfortably
crowded; altogether that assembly must have numbered many thousands. They
were brilliantly, even fantastically dressed, the men as fancifully as
the women, for the sobering influence of the Puritan conception of
dignity upon masculine dress had long since passed away. The hair of the
men, too, though it was rarely worn long, was commonly curled in a
manner that suggested the barber, and baldness had vanished from the
earth. Frizzy straight-cut masses that would have charmed Rossetti
abounded, and one gentleman, who was pointed out to Graham under the
mysterious title of an "amorist," wore his hair in two becoming plaits _a
la_ Marguerite. The pigtail was in evidence; it would seem that citizens
of Chinese extraction were no longer ashamed of their race. There was
little uniformity of fashion apparent in the forms of clothing worn. The
more shapely men displayed their symmetry in trunk hose, and here were
puffs and slashes, and there a cloak and there a robe. The fashions of
the days of Leo the Tenth were perhaps the prevailing influence, but the
aesthetic conceptions of the far east were also patent. Masculine
embonpoint, which, in Victorian times, would have been subjected to the
buttoned perils, the ruthless exaggeration of tight-legged tight-armed
evening dress, now formed but the basis of a wealth of dignity and
drooping folds. Graceful slenderness abounded also. To Graham, a
typically stiff man from a typically stiff period, not only did these men
seem altogether too graceful in person, but altogether too expressive in
their vividly expressive faces. They gesticulated, they expressed
surprise, interest, amusement, above all, they expressed the emotions
excited in their minds by the ladies about them with astonishing
frankness. Even at the first glance it was evident that women were in a
The ladies in the company of these gentlemen displayed in dress, bearing
and manner alike, less emphasis and more intricacy. Some affected a
classical simplicity of robing and subtlety of fold, after the fashion of
the First French Empire, and flashed conquering arms and shoulders as
Graham passed. Others had closely-fitting dresses without seam or belt at
the waist, sometimes with long folds falling from the shoulders. The
delightful confidences of evening dress had not been diminished by the
passage of two centuries.
Everyone's movements seemed graceful. Graham remarked to Lincoln that he
saw men as Raphael's cartoons walking, and Lincoln told him that the
attainment of an appropriate set of gestures was part of every rich
person's education. The Master's entry was greeted with a sort of
tittering applause, but these people showed their distinguished manners
by not crowding upon him nor annoying him by any persistent scrutiny, as
he descended the steps towards the floor of the aisle.
He had already learnt from Lincoln that these were the leaders of
existing London society; almost every person there that night was either
a powerful official or the immediate connexion of a powerful official.
Many had returned from the European Pleasure Cities expressly to welcome
him. The aeronautic authorities, whose defection had played a part in the
overthrow of the Council only second to Graham's, were very prominent,
and so, too, was the Wind Vane Control. Amongst others there were several
of the more prominent officers of the Food Department; the controller of
the European Piggeries had a particularly melancholy and interesting
countenance and a daintily cynical manner. A bishop in full canonicals
passed athwart Graham's vision, conversing with a gentleman dressed
exactly like the traditional Chaucer, including even the laurel wreath.
"Who is that?" he asked almost involuntarily.
"The Bishop of London," said Lincoln.
"No--the other, I mean."
"He doesn't make poetry, of course. He's a cousin of Wotton--one of the
Councillors. But he's one of the Red Rose Royalists--a delightful
club--and they keep up the tradition of these things."
"Asano told me there was a King."
"The King doesn't belong. They had to expel him. It's the Stuart blood, I
suppose; but really--"
"Far too much."
Graham did not quite follow all this, but it seemed part of the general
inversion of the new age. He bowed condescendingly to his first
introduction. It was evident that subtle distinctions of class prevailed
even in this assembly, that only to a small proportion of the guests, to
an inner group, did Lincoln consider it appropriate to introduce him.
This first introduction was the Master Aeronaut, a man whose sun-tanned
face contrasted oddly with the delicate complexions about him. Just at
present his critical defection from the Council made him a very important
His manner contrasted very favourably, according to Graham's ideas, with
the general bearing. He offered a few commonplace remarks, assurances of
loyalty and frank inquiries about the Master's health. His manner was
breezy, his accent lacked the easy staccato of latter-day English. He
made it admirably clear to Graham that he was a bluff "aerial dog"--he
used that phrase--that there was no nonsense about him, that he was a
thoroughly manly fellow and old-fashioned at that, that he didn't profess
to know much, and that what he did not know was not worth knowing. He
made a curt bow, ostentatiously free from obsequiousness, and passed.
"I am glad to see that type endures," said Graham.
"Phonographs and kinematographs," said Lincoln, a little spitefully. "He
has studied from the life." Graham glanced at the burly form again. It
was oddly reminiscent.
"As a matter of fact we bought him," said Lincoln. "Partly. And partly he
was afraid of Ostrog. Everything rested with him."
He turned sharply to introduce the Surveyor-General of the Public
Schools. This person was a willowy figure in a blue-grey academic gown,
he beamed down upon Graham through _pince-nez_ of a Victorian pattern,
and illustrated his remarks by gestures of a beautifully manicured hand.
Graham was immediately interested in this gentleman's functions, and
asked him a number of singularly direct questions. The Surveyor-General
seemed quietly amused at the Master's fundamental bluntness. He was a
little vague as to the monopoly of education his Company possessed; it
was done by contract with the syndicate that ran the numerous London
Municipalities, but he waxed enthusiastic over educational progress
since the Victorian times. "We have conquered Cram," he said,
"completely conquered Cram--there is not an examination left in the
world. Aren't you glad?"
"How do you get the work done?" asked Graham.
"We make it attractive--as attractive as possible. And if it does not
attract then--we let it go. We cover an immense field."
He proceeded to details, and they had a lengthy conversation. Graham
learnt that University Extension still existed in a modified form. "There
is a certain type of girl, for example," said the Surveyor-General,
dilating with a sense of his usefulness, "with a perfect passion for
severe studies--when they are not too difficult you know. We cater for
them by the thousand. At this moment," he said with a Napoleonic touch,
"nearly five hundred phonographs are lecturing in different parts of
London on the influence exercised by Plato and Swift on the love affairs
of Shelley, Hazlitt, and Burns. And afterwards they write essays on the
lectures, and the names in order of merit are put in conspicuous places.
You see how your little germ has grown? The illiterate middle-class of
your days has quite passed away."
"About the public elementary schools," said Graham. "Do you
The Surveyor-General did, "entirely." Now, Graham, in his later
democratic days, had taken a keen interest in these and his questioning
quickened. Certain casual phrases that had fallen from the old man with
whom he had talked in the darkness recurred to him. The Surveyor-General,
in effect, endorsed the old man's words. "We try and make the elementary
schools very pleasant for the little children. They will have to work so
soon. Just a few simple principles--obedience--industry."
"You teach them very little?"
"Why should we? It only leads to trouble and discontent. We amuse them.
Even as it is--there are troubles--agitations. Where the labourers get
the ideas, one cannot tell. They tell one another. There are socialistic
dreams--anarchy even! Agitators _will_ get to work among them. I take
it--I have always taken it--that my foremost duty is to fight against
popular discontent. Why should people be made unhappy?"
"I wonder," said Graham thoughtfully. "But there are a great many things
I want to know."
Lincoln, who had stood watching Graham's face throughout the
conversation, intervened. "There are others," he said in an undertone.
The Surveyor-General of schools gesticulated himself away. "Perhaps,"
said Lincoln, intercepting a casual glance, "you would like to know some
of these ladies?"
The daughter of the Manager of the Piggeries was a particularly charming
little person with red hair and animated blue eyes. Lincoln left him
awhile to converse with her, and she displayed herself as quite an
enthusiast for the "dear old days," as she called them, that had seen the
beginning of his trance. As she talked she smiled, and her eyes smiled in
a manner that demanded reciprocity.
"I have tried," she said, "countless times--to imagine those old romantic
days. And to you--they are memories. How strange and crowded the world
must seem to you! I have seen photographs and pictures of the past, the
little isolated houses built of bricks made out of burnt mud and all
black with soot from your fires, the railway bridges, the simple
advertisements, the solemn savage Puritanical men in strange black coats
and those tall hats of theirs, iron railway trains on iron bridges
overhead, horses and cattle, and even dogs running half wild about the
streets. And suddenly, you have come into this!"
"Into this," said Graham.
"Out of your life--out of all that was familiar."
"The old life was not a happy one," said Graham. "I do not regret that."
She looked at him quickly. There was a brief pause. She sighed
"No," said Graham. "It was a little life--and unmeaning. But this--We
thought the world complex and crowded and civilised enough. Yet I
see--although in this world I am barely four days old--looking back on my
own time, that it was a queer, barbaric time--the mere beginning of this
new order. The mere beginning of this new order. You will find it hard to
understand how little I know."
"You may ask me what you like," she said, smiling at him.
"Then tell me who these people are. I'm still very much in the dark about
them. It's puzzling. Are there any Generals?"
"Men in hats and feathers?"
"Of course not. No. I suppose they are the men who control the great
public businesses. Who is that distinguished looking man?"
"That? He's a most important officer. That is Morden. He is managing
director of the Antibilious Pill Department. I have heard that his
workers sometimes turn out a myriad myriad pills a day in the twenty-four
hours. Fancy a myriad myriad!"
"A myriad myriad. No wonder he looks proud," said Graham. "Pills! What a
wonderful time it is! That man in purple?"
"He is not quite one of the inner circle, you know. But we like him. He
is really clever and very amusing. He is one of the heads of the Medical
Faculty of our London University. All medical men, you know, wear that
purple. But, of course, people who are paid by fees for _doing_
something--" She smiled away the social pretensions of all such people.
"Are any of your great artists or authors here?"
"No authors. They are mostly such queer people--and so preoccupied about
themselves. And they quarrel so dreadfully! They will fight, some of
them, for precedence on staircases! Dreadful, isn't it? But I think
Wraysbury, the fashionable capillotomist, is here. From Capri."
"Capillotomist," said Graham. "Ah! I remember. An artist! Why not?"
"We have to cultivate him," she said apologetically. "Our heads are in
his hands." She smiled.
Graham hesitated at the invited compliment, but his glance was
expressive. "Have the arts grown with the rest of civilised things?" he
said. "Who are your great painters?"
She looked at him doubtfully. Then laughed. "For a moment," she said, "I
thought you meant--" She laughed again. "You mean, of course, those good
men you used to think so much of because they could cover great spaces of
canvas with oil-colours? Great oblongs. And people used to put the things
in gilt frames and hang them up in rows in their square rooms. We haven't
any. People grew tired of that sort of thing."
"But what did you think I meant?"
She put a finger significantly on a cheek whose glow was above suspicion,
and smiled and looked very arch and pretty and inviting. "And here," and
she indicated her eyelid.
Graham had an adventurous moment. Then a grotesque memory of a picture he
had somewhere seen of Uncle Toby and the widow flashed across his mind.
An archaic shame came upon him. He became acutely aware that he was
visible to a great number of interested people. "I see," he remarked
inadequately. He turned awkwardly away from her fascinating facility. He
looked about him to meet a number of eyes that immediately occupied
themselves with other things. Possibly he coloured a little. "Who is that
talking with the lady in saffron?" he asked, avoiding her eyes.
The person in question he learnt was one of the great organisers of the
American theatres just fresh from a gigantic production at Mexico. His
face reminded Graham of a bust of Caligula. Another striking looking man
was the Black Labour Master. The phrase at the time made no deep
impression, but afterwards it recurred;--the Black Labour Master? The
little lady in no degree embarrassed, pointed out to him a charming
little woman as one of the subsidiary wives of the Anglican Bishop of
London. She added encomiums on the episcopal courage--hitherto there had
been a rule of clerical monogamy--"neither a natural nor an expedient
condition of things. Why should the natural development of the affections
be dwarfed and restricted because a man is a priest?"
"And, bye the bye," she added, "are you an Anglican?" Graham was on the
verge of hesitating inquiries about the status of a "subsidiary wife,"
apparently an euphemistic phrase, when Lincoln's return broke off this
very suggestive and interesting conversation. They crossed the aisle to
where a tall man in crimson, and two charming persons in Burmese costume
(as it seemed to him) awaited him diffidently. From their civilities he
passed to other presentations.
In a little while his multitudinous impressions began to organise
themselves into a general effect. At first the glitter of the gathering
had raised all the democrat in Graham; he had felt hostile and satirical.
But it is not in human nature to resist an atmosphere of courteous
regard. Soon the music, the light, the play of colours, the shining arms
and shoulders about him, the touch of hands, the transient interest of
smiling faces, the frothing sound of skilfully modulated voices, the
atmosphere of compliment, interest and respect, had woven together into a
fabric of indisputable pleasure. Graham for a time forgot his spacious
resolutions. He gave way insensibly to the intoxication of the position
that was conceded him, his manner became more convincingly regal, his
feet walked assuredly, the black robe fell with a bolder fold and pride
ennobled his voice. After all, this was a brilliant interesting world.
He looked up and saw passing across a bridge of porcelain and looking
down upon him, a face that was almost immediately hidden, the face of the
girl he had seen overnight in the little room beyond the theatre after
his escape from the Council. And she was watching him.
For the moment he did not remember when he had seen her, and then came a
vague memory of the stirring emotions of their first encounter. But the
dancing web of melody about him kept the air of that great marching song
from his memory.
The lady to whom he talked repeated her remark, and Graham recalled
himself to the quasi-regal flirtation upon which he was engaged.
Yet, unaccountably, a vague restlessness, a feeling that grew to
dissatisfaction, came into his mind. He was troubled as if by some half
forgotten duty, by the sense of things important slipping from him amidst
this light and brilliance. The attraction that these ladies who crowded
about him were beginning to exercise ceased. He no longer gave vague and
clumsy responses to the subtly amorous advances that he was now assured
were being made to him, and his eyes wandered for another sight of the
girl of the first revolt.
Where, precisely, had he seen her?...
Graham was in one of the upper galleries in conversation with a
bright-eyed lady on the subject of Eadhamite--the subject was his choice
and not hers. He had interrupted her warm assurances of personal devotion
with a matter-of-fact inquiry. He found her, as he had already found
several other latter-day women that night, less well informed than
charming. Suddenly, struggling against the eddying drift of nearer
melody, the song of the Revolt, the great song he had heard in the Hall,
hoarse and massive, came beating down to him.
Ah! Now he remembered!
He glanced up startled, and perceived above him an _oeil de boeuf_
through which this song had come, and beyond, the upper courses of cable,
the blue haze, and the pendant fabric of the lights of the public ways.
He heard the song break into a tumult of voices and cease. He perceived
quite clearly the drone and tumult of the moving platforms and a murmur
of many people. He had a vague persuasion that he could not account for,
a sort of instinctive feeling that outside in the ways a huge crowd must
be watching this place in which their Master amused himself.
Though the song had stopped so abruptly, though the special music of
this gathering reasserted itself, the _motif_ of the marching song, once
it had begun, lingered in his mind.
The bright-eyed lady was still struggling with the mysteries of Eadhamite
when he perceived the girl he had seen in the theatre again. She was
coming now along the gallery towards him; he saw her first before she saw
him. She was dressed in a faintly luminous grey, her dark hair about her
brows was like a cloud, and as he saw her the cold light from the
circular opening into the ways fell upon her downcast face.
The lady in trouble about the Eadhamite saw the change in his expression,
and grasped her opportunity to escape. "Would you care to know that girl,
Sire?" she asked boldly. "She is Helen Wotton--a niece of Ostrog's. She
knows a great many serious things. She is one of the most serious persons
alive. I am sure you will like her."
In another moment Graham was talking to the girl, and the bright-eyed
lady had fluttered away.
"I remember you quite well," said Graham. "You were in that little room.
When all the people were singing and beating time with their feet. Before
I walked across the Hall."
Her momentary embarrassment passed. She looked up at him, and her face
was steady. "It was wonderful," she said, hesitated, and spoke with a
sudden effort. "All those people would have died for you, Sire. Countless
people did die for you that night."
Her face glowed. She glanced swiftly aside to see that no other heard
Lincoln appeared some way off along the gallery, making his way through
the press towards them. She saw him and turned to Graham strangely
eager, with a swift change to confidence and intimacy. "Sire," she said
quickly, "I cannot tell you now and here. But the common people are very
unhappy; they are oppressed--they are misgoverned. Do not forget the
people, who faced death--death that you might live."
"I know nothing--" began Graham.
"I cannot tell you now."
Lincoln's face appeared close to them. He bowed an apology to the girl.
"You find the new world amusing, Sire?" asked Lincoln, with smiling
deference, and indicating the space and splendour of the gathering by one
comprehensive gesture. "At any rate, you find it changed."
"Yes," said Graham, "changed. And yet, after all, not so greatly
"Wait till you are in the air," said Lincoln. "The wind has fallen; even
now an aeroplane awaits you."
The girl's attitude awaited dismissal.
Graham glanced at her face, was on the verge of a question, found a
warning in her expression, bowed to her and turned to accompany Lincoln.
The Flying Stages of London were collected together in an irregular
crescent on the southern side of the river. They formed three groups of
two each and retained the names of ancient suburban hills or villages.
They were named in order, Roehampton, Wimbledon Park, Streatham, Norwood,
Blackheath, and Shooter's Hill. They were uniform structures rising high
above the general roof surfaces. Each was about four thousand yards long
and a thousand broad, and constructed of the compound of aluminum and
iron that had replaced iron in architecture. Their higher tiers formed an
openwork of girders through which lifts and staircases ascended. The
upper surface was a uniform expanse, with portions--the starting
carriers--that could be raised and were then able to run on very slightly
inclined rails to the end of the fabric.
Graham went to the flying stages by the public ways. He was accompanied
by Asano, his Japanese attendant. Lincoln was called away by Ostrog, who
was busy with his administrative concerns. A strong guard of the
Wind-Vane police awaited the Master outside the Wind-Vane offices, and
they cleared a space for him on the upper moving platform. His passage to
the flying stages was unexpected, nevertheless a considerable crowd
gathered and followed him to his destination. As he went along, he could
hear the people shouting his name, and saw numberless men and women and
children in blue come swarming up the staircases in the central path,
gesticulating and shouting. He could not hear what they shouted. He was
struck again by the evident existence of a vulgar dialect among the poor
of the city. When at last he descended, his guards were immediately
surrounded by a dense excited crowd. Afterwards it occurred to him that
some had attempted to reach him with petitions. His guards cleared a
passage for him with difficulty.
He found a monoplane in charge of an aeronaut awaiting him on the
westward stage. Seen close this mechanism was no longer small. As it lay
on its launching carrier upon the wide expanse of the flying stage, its
aluminum body skeleton was as big as the hull of a twenty-ton yacht. Its
lateral supporting sails braced and stayed with metal nerves almost like
the nerves of a bee's wing, and made of some sort of glassy artificial
membrane, cast their shadow over many hundreds of square yards. The
chairs for the engineer and his passenger hung free to swing by a complex
tackle, within the protecting ribs of the frame and well abaft the
middle. The passenger's chair was protected by a wind-guard and guarded
about with metallic rods carrying air cushions. It could, if desired, be
completely closed in, but Graham was anxious for novel experiences, and
desired that it should be left open. The aeronaut sat behind a glass that
sheltered his face. The passenger could secure himself firmly in his
seat, and this was almost unavoidable on landing, or he could move along
by means of a little rail and rod to a locker at the stem of the machine,
where his personal luggage, his wraps and restoratives were placed, and
which also with the seats, served as a makeweight to the parts of the
central engine that projected to the propeller at the stern.
The flying stage about him was empty save for Asano and their suite of
attendants. Directed by the aeronaut he placed himself in his seat. Asano
stepped through the bars of the hull, and stood below on the stage waving
his hand. He seemed to slide along the stage to the right and vanish.
The engine was humming loudly, the propeller spinning, and for a second
the stage and the buildings beyond were gliding swiftly and horizontally
past Graham's eye; then these things seemed to tilt up abruptly. He
gripped the little rods on either side of him instinctively. He felt
himself moving upward, heard the air whistle over the top of the wind
screen. The propeller screw moved round with powerful rhythmic
impulses--one, two, three, pause; one, two, three--which the engineer
controlled very delicately. The machine began a quivering vibration that
continued throughout the flight, and the roof areas seemed running away
to starboard very quickly and growing rapidly smaller. He looked from
the face of the engineer through the ribs of the machine. Looking
sideways, there was nothing very startling in what he saw--a rapid
funicular railway might have given the same sensations. He recognised
the Council House and the Highgate Ridge. And then he looked straight
down between his feet.
For a moment physical terror possessed him, a passionate sense of
insecurity. He held tight. For a second or so he could not lift his eyes.
Some hundred feet or more sheer below him was one of the big wind-vanes
of south-west London, and beyond it the southernmost flying stage crowded
with little black dots. These things seemed to be falling away from him.
For a second he had an impulse to pursue the earth. He set his teeth, he
lifted his eyes by a muscular effort, and the moment of panic passed.
He remained for a space with his teeth set hard, his eyes staring into
the sky. Throb, throb, throb--beat, went the engine; throb, throb,
throb--beat. He gripped his bars tightly, glanced at the aeronaut, and
saw a smile upon his sun-tanned face. He smiled in return--perhaps a
little artificially. "A little strange at first," he shouted before he
recalled his dignity. But he dared not look down again for some time. He
stared over the aeronaut's head to where a rim of vague blue horizon
crept up the sky. For a little while he could not banish the thought of
possible accidents from his mind. Throb, throb, throb--beat; suppose some
trivial screw went wrong in that supporting engine! Suppose--! He made a
grim effort to dismiss all such suppositions. After a while they did at
least abandon the foreground of his thoughts. And up he went steadily,
higher and higher into the clear air.
Once the mental shock of moving unsupported through the air was over,
his sensations ceased to be unpleasant, became very speedily
pleasurable. He had been warned of air sickness. But he found the
pulsating movement of the monoplane as it drove up the faint south-west
breeze was very little in excess of the pitching of a boat head on to
broad rollers in a moderate gale, and he was constitutionally a good
sailor. And the keenness of the more rarefied air into which they
ascended produced a sense of lightness and exhilaration. He looked up
and saw the blue sky above fretted with cirrus clouds. His eye came
cautiously down through the ribs and bars to a shining flight of white
birds that hung in the lower sky. For a space he watched these. Then
going lower and less apprehensively, he saw the slender figure of the
Wind-Vane keeper's crow's nest shining golden in the sunlight and
growing smaller every moment. As his eye fell with more confidence now,
there came a blue line of hills, and then London, already to leeward, an
intricate space of roofing. Its near edge came sharp and clear, and
banished his last apprehensions in a shock of surprise. For the boundary
of London was like a wall, like a cliff, a steep fall of three or four
hundred feet, a frontage broken only by terraces here and there, a
complex decorative facade.
That gradual passage of town into country through an extensive sponge of
suburbs, which was so characteristic a feature of the great cities of the
nineteenth century, existed no longer. Nothing remained of it here but a
waste of ruins, variegated and dense with thickets of the heterogeneous
growths that had once adorned the gardens of the belt, interspersed among
levelled brown patches of sown ground, and verdant stretches of winter
greens. The latter even spread among the vestiges of houses. But for the
most part the reefs and skerries of ruins, the wreckage of suburban
villas, stood among their streets and roads, queer islands amidst the
levelled expanses of green and brown, abandoned indeed by the inhabitants
years since, but too substantial, it seemed, to be cleared out of the way
of the wholesale horticultural mechanisms of the time.
The vegetation of this waste undulated and frothed amidst the countless
cells of crumbling house walls, and broke along the foot of the city wall
in a surf of bramble and holly and ivy and teazle and tall grasses. Here
and there gaudy pleasure palaces towered amidst the puny remains of
Victorian times, and cable ways slanted to them from the city. That
winter day they seemed deserted. Deserted, too, were the artificial
gardens among the ruins. The city limits were indeed as sharply defined
as in the ancient days when the gates were shut at nightfall and the
robber foeman prowled to the very walls. A huge semi-circular throat
poured out a vigorous traffic upon the Eadhamite Bath Road. So the first
prospect of the world beyond the city flashed on Graham, and dwindled.
And when at last he could look vertically downward again, he saw below
him the vegetable fields of the Thames valley--innumerable minute oblongs
of ruddy brown, intersected by shining threads, the sewage ditches.
His exhilaration increased rapidly, became a sort of intoxication. He
found himself drawing deep breaths of air, laughing aloud, desiring to
shout. After a time that desire became too strong for him, and he
shouted. They curved about towards the south. They drove with a slight
list to leeward, and with a slow alternation of movement, first a short,
sharp ascent and then a long downward glide that was very swift and
pleasing. During these downward glides the propeller was inactive
altogether. These ascents gave Graham a glorious sense of successful
effort; the descents through the rarefied air were beyond all experience.
He wanted never to leave the upper air again.
For a time he was intent upon the landscape that ran swiftly northward
beneath him. Its minute, clear detail pleased him exceedingly. He was
impressed by the ruin of the houses that had once dotted the country, by
the vast treeless expanse of country from which all farms and villages
had gone, save for crumbling ruins. He had known the thing was so, but
seeing it so was an altogether different matter. He tried to make out
familiar places within the hollow basin of the world below, but at first
he could distinguish no data now that the Thames valley was left behind.
Soon, however, they were driving over a sharp chalk hill that he
recognised as the Guildford Hog's Back, because of the familiar outline
of the gorge at its eastward end, and because of the ruins of the town
that rose steeply on either lip of this gorge. And from that he made out
other points, Leith Hill, the sandy wastes of Aldershot, and so forth.
Save where the broad Eadhamite Portsmouth Road, thickly dotted with
rushing shapes, followed the course of the old railway, the gorge of the
wey was choked with thickets.
The whole expanse of the Downs escarpment, so far as the grey haze
permitted him to see, was set with wind-wheels to which the largest of
the city was but a younger brother. They stirred with a stately motion
before the south-west wind. And here and there were patches dotted with
the sheep of the British Food Trust, and here and there a mounted
shepherd made a spot of black. Then rushing under the stern of the
monoplane came the Wealden Heights, the line of Hindhead, Pitch Hill, and
Leith Hill, with a second row of wind-wheels that seemed striving to rob
the downland whirlers of their share of breeze. The purple heather was
speckled with yellow gorse, and on the further side a drove of black oxen
stampeded before a couple of mounted men. Swiftly these swept behind, and
dwindled and lost colour, and became scarce moving specks that were
swallowed up in haze.
And when these had vanished in the distance Graham heard a peewit
wailing close at hand. He perceived he was now above the South Downs, and
staring over his shoulder saw the battlements of Portsmouth Landing Stage
towering over the ridge of Portsdown Hill. In another moment there came
into sight a spread of shipping like floating cities, the little white
cliffs of the Needles dwarfed and sunlit, and the grey and glittering
waters of the narrow sea. They seemed to leap the Solent in a moment, and
in a few seconds the Isle of Wight was running past, and then beneath him
spread a wider and wider extent of sea, here purple with the shadow of a
cloud, here grey, here a burnished mirror, and here a spread of cloudy
greenish blue. The Isle of Wight grew smaller and smaller. In a few more
minutes a strip of grey haze detached itself from other strips that were
clouds, descended out of the sky and became a coast-line--sunlit and
pleasant--the coast of northern France. It rose, it took colour, became
definite and detailed, and the counterpart of the Downland of England was
speeding by below.
In a little time, as it seemed, Paris came above the horizon, and hung
there for a space, and sank out of sight again as the monoplane circled
about to the north. But he perceived the Eiffel Tower still standing, and
beside it a huge dome surmounted by a pin-point Colossus. And he
perceived, too, though he did not understand it at the time, a slanting
drift of smoke. The aeronaut said something about "trouble in the
under-ways," that Graham did not heed. But he marked the minarets and
towers and slender masses that streamed skyward above the city
wind-vanes, and knew that in the matter of grace at least Paris still
kept in front of her larger rival. And even as he looked a pale blue
shape ascended very swiftly from the city like a dead leaf driving up
before a gale. It curved round and soared towards them, growing rapidly
larger and larger. The aeronaut was saying something. "What?" said
Graham, loth to take his eyes from this. "London aeroplane, Sire," bawled
the aeronaut, pointing.
They rose and curved about northward as it drew nearer. Nearer it came
and nearer, larger and larger. The throb, throb, throb--beat, of the
monoplane's flight, that had seemed so potent, and so swift, suddenly
appeared slow by comparison with this tremendous rush. How great the
monster seemed, how swift and steady! It passed quite closely beneath
them, driving along silently, a vast spread of wire-netted translucent
wings, a thing alive. Graham had a momentary glimpse of the rows and rows
of wrapped-up passengers, slung in their little cradles behind
wind-screens, of a white-clothed engineer crawling against the gale along
a ladder way, of spouting engines beating together, of the whirling wind
screw, and of a wide waste of wing. He exulted in the sight. And in an
instant the thing had passed.
It rose slightly and their own little wings swayed in the rush of its
flight. It fell and grew smaller. Scarcely had they moved, as it seemed,
before it was again only a flat blue thing that dwindled in the sky. This
was the aeroplane that went to and fro between London and Paris. In fair
weather and in peaceful times it came and went four times a day.
They beat across the Channel, slowly as it seemed now to Graham's
enlarged ideas, and Beachy Head rose greyly to the left of them.
"Land," called the aeronaut, his voice small against the whistling of
the air over the wind-screen.
"Not yet," bawled Graham, laughing. "Not land yet. I want to learn more
of this machine."
"I meant--" said the aeronaut.
"I want to learn more of this machine," repeated Graham.
"I'm coming to you," he said, and had flung himself free of his chair and
taken a step along the guarded rail between them. He stopped for a
moment, and his colour changed and his hands tightened. Another step and
he was clinging close to the aeronaut. He felt a weight on his shoulder,
the pressure of the air. His hat was a whirling speck behind. The wind
came in gusts over his wind-screen and blew his hair in streamers past
his cheek. The aeronaut made some hasty adjustments for the shifting of
the centres of gravity and pressure.
"I want to have these things explained," said Graham. "What do you do
when you move that engine forward?"
The aeronaut hesitated. Then he answered, "They are complex, Sire."
"I don't mind," shouted Graham. "I don't mind."
There was a moment's pause. "Aeronautics is the secret--the privilege--"
"I know. But I'm the Master, and I mean to know." He laughed, full of
this novel realisation of power that was his gift from the upper air.
The monoplane curved about, and the keen fresh wind cut across Graham's
face and his garment lugged at his body as the stem pointed round to the
west. The two men looked into each other's eyes.
"Sire, there are rules--"
"Not where I am concerned," said Graham, "You seem to forget."
The aeronaut scrutinised his face "No," he said. "I do not forget, Sire.
But in all the earth--no man who is not a sworn aeronaut--has ever a
chance. They come as passengers--"
"I have heard something of the sort. But I'm not going to argue these
points. Do you know why I have slept two hundred years? To fly!"
"Sire," said the aeronaut, "the rules--if I break the rules--"
Graham waved the penalties aside.
"Then if you will watch me--"
"No," said Graham, swaying and gripping tight as the machine lifted its
nose again for an ascent. "That's not my game. I want to do it myself.
Do it myself if I smash for it! No! I will. See I am going to clamber by
this--to come and share your seat. Steady! I mean to fly of my own
accord if I smash at the end of it. I will have something to pay for my
sleep. Of all other things--. In my past it was my dream to fly.
Now--keep your balance."
"A dozen spies are watching me, Sire!"
Graham's temper was at end. Perhaps he chose it should be. He swore.
He swung himself round the intervening mass of levers and the
"Am I Master of the earth?" he said. "Or is your Society? Now. Take your
hands off those levers, and hold my wrists. Yes--so. And now, how do we
turn her nose down to the glide?"
"Sire," said the aeronaut.
"What is it?"
"You will protect me?"
"Lord! Yes! If I have to burn London. Now!"
And with that promise Graham bought his first lesson in aerial
navigation. "It's clearly to your advantage, this journey," he said with
a loud laugh--for the air was like strong wine--"to teach me quickly and
well. Do I pull this? Ah! So! Hullo!"
"Back, Sire! Back!"
"Back--right. One--two--three--good God! Ah! Up she goes! But this
And now the machine began to dance the strangest figures in the air. Now
it would sweep round a spiral of scarcely a hundred yards diameter, now
rush up into the air and swoop down again, steeply, swiftly, falling like
a hawk, to recover in a rushing loop that swept it high again. In one of
these descents it seemed driving straight at the drifting park of
balloons in the southeast, and only curved about and cleared them by a
sudden recovery of dexterity. The extraordinary swiftness and smoothness
of the motion, the extraordinary effect of the rarefied air upon his
constitution, threw Graham into a careless fury.
But at last a queer incident came to sober him, to send him flying down
once more to the crowded life below with all its dark insoluble riddles.
As he swooped, came a tap and something flying past, and a drop like a
drop of rain. Then as he went on down he saw something like a white rag
whirling down in his wake. "What was that?" he asked. "I did not see."
The aeronaut glanced, and then clutched at the lever to recover, for they
were sweeping down. When the monoplane was rising again he drew a deep
breath and replied, "That," and he indicated the white thing still
fluttering down, "was a swan."
"I never saw it," said Graham.
The aeronaut made no answer, and Graham saw little drops upon his
They drove horizontally while Graham clambered back to the passenger's
place out of the lash of the wind. And then came a swift rush down, with
the wind-screw whirling to check their fall, and the flying stage growing
broad and dark before them. The sun, sinking over the chalk hills in the
west, fell with them, and left the sky a blaze of gold.
Soon men could be seen as little specks. He heard a noise coming up to
meet him, a noise like the sound of waves upon a pebbly beach, and saw
that the roofs about the flying stage were dense with his people
rejoicing over his safe return. A black mass was crushed together under
the stage, a darkness stippled with innumerable faces, and quivering with
the minute oscillation of waved white handkerchiefs and waving hands.
Lincoln awaited Graham in an apartment beneath the flying stages. He
seemed curious to learn all that had happened, pleased to hear of the
extraordinary delight and interest which Graham took in flying. Graham
was in a mood of enthusiasm. "I must learn to fly," he cried. "I must
master that. I pity all poor souls who have died without this
opportunity. The sweet swift air! It is the most wonderful experience in
"You will find our new times full of wonderful experiences," said
Lincoln. "I do not know what you will care to do now. We have music that
may seem novel."
"For the present," said Graham, "flying holds me. Let me learn more of
that. Your aeronaut was saying there is some trades union objection to
"There is, I believe," said Lincoln. "But for you--! If you would like to
occupy yourself with that, we can make you a sworn aeronaut to-morrow."
Graham expressed his wishes vividly and talked of his sensations for
a while. "And as for affairs," he asked abruptly. "How are things
Lincoln waved affairs aside. "Ostrog will tell you that to-morrow,"
he said. "Everything is settling down. The Revolution accomplishes
itself all over the world. Friction is inevitable here and there, of
course; but your rule is assured. You may rest secure with things in
"Would it be possible for me to be made a sworn aeronaut, as you call it,
forthwith--before I sleep?" said Graham, pacing. "Then I could be at it
the very first thing to-morrow again...."
"It would be possible," said Lincoln thoughtfully. "Quite possible.
Indeed, it shall be done." He laughed. "I came prepared to suggest
amusements, but you have found one for yourself. I will telephone to the
aeronautical offices from here and we will return to your apartments in
the Wind-Vane Control. By the time you have dined the aeronauts will be
able to come. You don't think that after you have dined you might
prefer--?" He paused.
"Yes," said Graham.
"We had prepared a show of dancers--they have been brought from the
"I hate ballets," said Graham, shortly. "Always did. That other--. That's
not what I want to see. We had dancers in the old days. For the matter of
that, they had them in ancient Egypt. But flying--"
"True," said Lincoln. "Though our dancers--"
"They can afford to wait," said Graham; "they can afford to wait. I know.
I'm not a Latin. There's questions I want to ask some expert--about your
machinery. I'm keen. I want no distractions."
"You have the world to choose from," said Lincoln; "whatever you want
Asano appeared, and under the escort of a strong guard they returned
through the city streets to Graham's apartments. Far larger crowds had
assembled to witness his return than his departure had gathered, and
the shouts and cheering of these masses of people sometimes drowned
Lincoln's answers to the endless questions Graham's aerial journey had
suggested. At first Graham had acknowledged the cheering and cries of
the crowd by bows and gestures, but Lincoln warned him that such a
recognition would be considered incorrect behaviour. Graham, already a
little wearied by rhythmic civilities, ignored his subjects for the
remainder of his public progress.
Directly they arrived at his apartments Asano departed in search of
kinematographic renderings of machinery in motion, and Lincoln despatched
Graham's commands for models of machines and small machines to illustrate
the various mechanical advances of the last two centuries. The little
group of appliances for telegraphic communication attracted the Master so
strongly that his delightfully prepared dinner, served by a number of
charmingly dexterous girls, waited for a space. The habit of smoking had
almost ceased from the face of the earth, but when he expressed a wish
for that indulgence, enquiries were made and some excellent cigars were
discovered in Florida, and sent to him by pneumatic despatch while the
dinner was still in progress. Afterwards came the aeronauts, and a feast
of ingenious wonders in the hands of a latter-day engineer. For the time,
at any rate, the neat dexterity of counting and numbering machines,
building machines, spinning engines, patent doorways, explosive motors,
grain and water elevators, slaughter-house machines and harvesting
appliances, was more fascinating to Graham than any bayadere. "We were
savages," was his refrain, "we were savages. We were in the stone
age--compared with this.... And what else have you?"
There came also practical psychologists with some very interesting
developments in the art of hypnotism. The names of Milne Bramwell,
Fechner, Liebault, William James, Myers and Gurney, he found, bore a
value now that would have astonished their contemporaries. Several
practical applications of psychology were now in general use; it had
largely superseded drugs, antiseptics and anesthetics in medicine; was
employed by almost all who had any need of mental concentration. A real
enlargement of human faculty seemed to have been effected in this
direction. The feats of "calculating boys," the wonders, as Graham had
been wont to regard them, of mesmerisers, were now within the range of
anyone who could afford the services of a skilled hypnotist. Long ago
the old examination methods in education had been destroyed by these
expedients. Instead of years of study, candidates had substituted a few
weeks of trances, and during the trances expert coaches had simply to
repeat all the points necessary for adequate answering, adding a
suggestion of the post-hypnotic recollection of these points. In process
mathematics particularly, this aid had been of singular service, and it
was now invariably invoked by such players of chess and games of manual
dexterity as were still to be found. In fact, all operations conducted
under finite rules, of a quasi-mechanical sort that is, were now
systematically relieved from the wanderings of imagination and emotion,
and brought to an unexampled pitch of accuracy. Little children of the
labouring classes, so soon as they were of sufficient age to be
hypnotised, were thus converted into beautifully punctual and
trustworthy machine minders, and released forthwith from the long, long
thoughts of youth. Aeronautical pupils, who gave way to giddiness,
could be relieved from their imaginary terrors. In every street were
hypnotists ready to print permanent memories upon the mind. If anyone
desired to remember a name, a series of numbers, a song or a speech, it
could be done by this method, and conversely memories could be effaced,
habits removed, and desires eradicated--a sort of psychic surgery was,
in fact, in general use. Indignities, humbling experiences, were thus
forgotten, widows would obliterate their previous husbands, angry lovers
release themselves from their slavery. To graft desires, however, was
still impossible, and the facts of thought transference were yet
unsystematised. The psychologists illustrated their expositions with
some astounding experiments in mnemonics made through the agency of a
troupe of pale-faced children in blue.
Graham, like most of the people of his former time, distrusted the
hypnotist, or he might then and there have eased his mind of many painful
preoccupations. But in spite of Lincoln's assurances he held to the old
theory that to be hypnotised was in some way the surrender of his
personality, the abdication of his will. At the banquet of wonderful
experiences that was beginning, he wanted very keenly to remain
The next day, and another day, and yet another day passed in such
interests as these. Each day Graham spent many hours in the glorious
entertainment of flying. On the third, he soared across middle France,
and within sight of the snow-clad Alps. These vigorous exercises gave him
restful sleep; he recovered almost wholly from the spiritless anemia of
his first awakening. And whenever he was not in the air, and awake,
Lincoln was assiduous in the cause of his amusement; all that was novel
and curious in contemporary invention was brought to him, until at last
his appetite for novelty was well-nigh glutted. One might fill a dozen
inconsecutive volumes with the strange things they exhibited. Each
afternoon he held his court for an hour or so. He found his interest in
his contemporaries becoming personal and intimate. At first he had been
alert chiefly for unfamiliarity and peculiarity; any foppishness in their
dress, any discordance with his preconceptions of nobility in their
status and manners had jarred upon him, and it was remarkable to him how
soon that strangeness and the faint hostility that arose from it,
disappeared; how soon he came to appreciate the true perspective of his
position, and see the old Victorian days remote and quaint. He found
himself particularly amused by the red-haired daughter of the Manager of
the European Piggeries. On the second day after dinner he made the
acquaintance of a latter-day dancing girl, and found her an astonishing
artist. And after that, more hypnotic wonders. On the third day Lincoln
was moved to suggest that the Master should repair to a Pleasure City,
but this Graham declined, nor would he accept the services of the
hypnotists in his aeronautical experiments. The link of locality held him
to London; he found a delight in topographical identifications that he
would have missed abroad. "Here--or a hundred feet below here," he could
say, "I used to eat my midday cutlets during my London University days.
Underneath here was Waterloo and the tiresome hunt for confusing trains.
Often have I stood waiting down there, bag in hand, and stared up into
the sky above the forest of signals, little thinking I should walk some
day a hundred yards in the air. And now in that very sky that was once a
grey smoke canopy, I circle in a monoplane."
During those three days Graham was so occupied with these distractions
that the vast political movements in progress outside his quarters had
but a small share of his attention. Those about him told him little.
Daily came Ostrog, the Boss, his Grand Vizier, his mayor of the palace,
to report in vague terms the steady establishment of his rule; "a little
trouble" soon to be settled in this city, "a slight disturbance" in that.
The song of the social revolt came to him no more; he never learned that
it had been forbidden in the municipal limits; and all the great emotions
of the crow's nest slumbered in his mind.
But on the second and third of the three days he found himself, in spite
of his interest in the daughter of the Pig Manager, or it may be by
reason of the thoughts her conversation suggested, remembering the girl
Helen Wotton, who had spoken to him so oddly at the Wind-Vane Keeper's
gathering. The impression, she had made was a deep one, albeit the
incessant surprise of novel circumstances had kept him from brooding upon
it for a space. But now her memory was coming to its own. He wondered
what she had meant by those broken half-forgotten sentences; the picture
of her eyes and the earnest passion of her face became more vivid as his
mechanical interests faded. Her slender beauty came compellingly between
him and certain immediate temptations of ignoble passion. But he did not
see her again until three full days were past.
She came upon him at last in a little gallery that ran from the Wind-Vane
Offices toward his state apartments. The gallery was long and narrow,
with a series of recesses, each with an arched fenestration that looked
upon a court of palms. He came upon her suddenly in one of these
recesses. She was seated. She turned her head at the sound of his
footsteps and started at the sight of him. Every touch of colour vanished
from her face. She rose instantly, made a step toward him as if to
address him, and hesitated. He stopped and stood still, expectant. Then
he perceived that a nervous tumult silenced her, perceived, too, that she
must have sought speech with him to be waiting for him in this place.
He felt a regal impulse to assist her. "I have wanted to see you," he
said. "A few days ago you wanted to tell me something--you wanted to tell
me of the people. What was it you had to tell me?"
She looked at him with troubled eyes.
"You said the people were unhappy?"
For a moment she was silent still.
"It must have seemed strange to you," she said abruptly.
"It did. And yet--"
"It was an impulse."
"That is all."
She looked at him with a face of hesitation. She spoke with an effort.
"You forget," she said, drawing a deep breath.
"Do you mean--?"
"You forget the people."
He looked interrogative.
"Yes. I know you are surprised. For you do not understand what you are.
You do not know the things that are happening."
"You do not understand."
"Not clearly, perhaps. But--tell me."
She turned to him with sudden resolution. "It is so hard to explain. I
have meant to, I have wanted to. And now--I cannot. I am not ready with
words. But about you--there is something. It is wonder. Your sleep--your
awakening. These things are miracles. To me at least--and to all the
common people. You who lived and suffered and died, you who were a
common citizen, wake again, live again, to find yourself Master almost
of the earth."
"Master of the earth," he said. "So they tell me. But try and imagine how
little I know of it."
"Cities--Trusts--the Labour Department--"
"Principalities, powers, dominions--the power and the glory. Yes, I have
heard them shout. I know. I am Master. King, if you wish. With Ostrog,
She turned upon him and surveyed his face with a curious scrutiny.
He smiled. "To take the responsibility."
"That is what we have begun to fear." For a moment she said no more.
"No," she said slowly. "_You_ will take the responsibility. You will take
the responsibility. The people look to you."
She spoke softly. "Listen! For at least half the years of your sleep--in
every generation--multitudes of people, in every generation greater
multitudes of people, have prayed that you might awake--_prayed_."
Graham moved to speak and did not.
She hesitated, and a faint colour crept back to her cheek. "Do you know
that you have been to myriads--King Arthur, Barbarossa--the King who
would come in his own good time and put the world right for them?"
"I suppose the imagination of the people--"
"Have you not heard our proverb, 'When the Sleeper wakes'? While you lay
insensible and motionless there--thousands came. Thousands. Every first
of the month you lay in state with a white robe upon you and the people
filed by you. When I was a little girl I saw you like that, with your
face white and calm."
She turned her face from him and looked steadfastly at the painted
wall before her. Her voice fell. "When I was a little girl I used to
look at your face.... It seemed to me fixed and waiting, like the
patience of God."
"That is what we thought of you," she said. "That is how you
seemed to us."
She turned shining eyes to him, her voice was clear and strong. "In the
city, in the earth, a myriad myriad men and women are waiting to see what
you will do, full of strange incredible expectations."
"Ostrog--no one--can take that responsibility."
Graham looked at her in surprise, at her face lit with emotion. She
seemed at first to have spoken with an effort, and to have fired herself
"Do you think," she said, "that you who have lived that little life so
far away in the past, you who have fallen into and risen out of this
miracle of sleep--do you think that the wonder and reverence and hope of
half the world has gathered about you only that you may live another
little life?... That you may shift the responsibility to any other man?"
"I know how great this kingship of mine is," he said haltingly. "I know
how great it seems. But is it real? It is incredible--dreamlike. Is it
real, or is it only a great delusion?"
"It is real," she said; "if you dare."
"After all, like all kingship, my kingship is Belief. It is an illusion
in the minds of men."
"If you dare!" she said.
"Countless men," she said, "and while it is in their minds--they
"But I know nothing. That is what I had in mind. I know nothing. And
these others--the Councillors, Ostrog. They are wiser, cooler, they know
so much, every detail. And, indeed, what are these miseries of which you
speak? What am I to know? Do you mean--"
He stopped blankly.
"I am still hardly more than a girl," she said. "But to me the world
seems full of wretchedness. The world has altered since your day, altered
very strangely. I have prayed that I might see you and tell you these
things. The world has changed. As if a canker had seized it--and robbed
life of--everything worth having."
She turned a flushed face upon him, moving suddenly. "Your days were the
days of freedom. Yes--I have thought. I have been made to think, for my
life--has not been happy. Men are no longer free--no greater, no better
than the men of your time. That is not all. This city--is a prison. Every