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Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly

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and will readily pass in the dark for a man. I will secure for you a
permit for a carriage to enter the grounds. You will bring a close
carriage and wait with the rest of the equipages, near at hand. But I
must have some one who will accompany Miss Estella from this room to
the carriage, for I must not show myself."

I stepped forward and said, "I will be here."

"But there is some danger in the task," said Rudolph, looking at me
critically. "If detected, your life would pay the forfeit."

"I would the danger were ten times as great," I replied. Estella
blushed and gave me a glance of gratitude.

"There is one difficulty I perceive," said Maximilian.

"What is that?" asked Rudolph.

"I hesitate about leaving Miss Washington exposed to the danger of
remaining four days longer in this horrible house."

"I will look after that," replied Rudolph. "She had better pretend
ill health, and keep her room during that time. It is on an upper
floor, and if she remains there the danger will be very slight that
the Prince will see her."

"Miss Washington," I said, handing her the dagger which Max had given
me, "take this weapon. It is poisoned with the most deadly virus
known to the art of man. A scratch from it is certain death. Use it
to defend yourself if assailed."

"I know how I shall use it in the last extremity," she said,

"Better," I replied, "purity in death than degradation in life."

She thanked me with her eyes, and took the dagger and hid it in her

"There is one other matter," said Rudolph to Max; "the meeting next
Monday night is to be a very important one, I think, from certain
indications. It is called to prepare for an expected outbreak of the
people. It would be well that some reliable person should be present,
as heretofore, who can report to you all that occurs. If you can send
me a discreet man I can hide him where I have before hidden our

"Why could I not serve the purpose?" I said. "I will be here anyhow;
and as I would have to remain until the gathering broke up, I might
just as well witness the proceedings."

"He is not one of us," said Rudolph, doubtfully.

"No," replied Max; "but I will vouch for his fidelity with my life."

"Then be it so," said Rudolph. "Let Miss Washington withdraw by the
farther door; and after a reasonable delay we will pass through into
a communicating series of rooms, and I will then show your friend
where he is to be concealed."



I had seen something of the magnificence of this age, and of the
splendor of its lordly habitations; but I was not prepared for the
grandeur of the rooms through which Rudolph led me. It would be
impossible to adequately describe them. We moved noiselessly over
carpets soft and deep as a rich sward, but tinted with colors and
designs, from the great looms of the world, beside which the
comparison of nature's carpets seemed insignificant. We passed up
great winding stairs, over which, it seemed to me, three carriages
might have been driven abreast; we were surrounded at every step by
exquisite statuary and royal paintings; our course led through great
libraries where the softened light fell on the endless arrays of
richly-bound books. But they were as dead intelligence under the
spell of a magician. No pale students sat at the tables here,
availing themselves of the treasures which it had taken generations
to assemble, and some of which could scarcely be found elsewhere. Men
and women passed and repassed us; for the house was so full of
servants that it seemed like a town in itself. Here and there were
quiet-looking watchmen, who served the place of police in a great
city, and whose duty it was to keep watch and ward over the
innumerable articles which everywhere met the eye--costly books,
works of art, bronzes, jeweled boxes, musical instruments, small
groups of exquisite statuary, engravings, curios, etc., from all
quarters of the earth. It represented, in short, the very profligacy
and abandon of unbounded wealth. Each room seemed to contain a king's
ransom. I could not help but contrast this useless and extravagant
luxury, which served no purpose but display and vanity, with the
dreadful homes and working-places of the poor I had visited the day
before. And it seemed to me as if a voice pierced my heart, crying
out through all its recesses, in strident tones, "How long, O Lord,
how long?" And then I thought how thin a crust of earth separated all
this splendor from that burning hell of misery beneath it. And if the
molten mass of horror should break its limitations and overflow the
earth! Already it seemed to me the planet trembled; I could hear the
volcanic explosions; I could see the sordid flood of wrath and hunger
pouring through these halls; cataracts of misery bursting through
every door and window, and sweeping away all this splendor into
never-ending blackness and ruin. I stood still, lost in these
engrossing reflections, when Rudolph touched me on the arm, and led
the way through a great hall, covered with ancestral portraits, into
a magnificent chamber. In the center stood a large table, and around
it about two score chairs, all made of dark tropical wood. It was
like the council chamber of some great government, with the throne of
the king at one end.

"This," said Rudolph, in a solemn whisper, "this is where they meet.
This is the real center of government of the American continent; all
the rest is sham and form. The men who meet here determine the
condition of all the hundreds of millions who dwell on the great land
revealed to the world by Columbus. Here political parties, courts,
juries, governors, legislatures, congresses, presidents are made and
unmade; and from this spot they are controlled and directed in the
discharge of their multiform functions. The decrees formulated here
are echoed by a hundred thousand newspapers, and many thousands of
orators; and they are enforced by an uncountable army of soldiers,
servants, tools, spies, and even assassins. He who stands in the way
of the men who assemble here perishes. He who would oppose them takes
his life in his hands. You are, young man, as if I had led you to the
center of the earth, and I had placed your hand upon the very pivot,
the well-oiled axle, upon which, noiselessly, the whole great globe
revolves, and from which the awful forces extend which hold it all

I felt myself overawed. It was as if mighty spirits even then
inhabited that dusky and silent chamber; hostile and evil spirits of
whom mankind were at once the subjects and the victims. I followed
Rudolph on tiptoe as he advanced to the end of the room.

"Here," he said, entering through a wide arch "is a conservatory
which is constantly kept supplied and renewed, from the hot-houses of
the palace, with the most magnificent flowers. The only humanizing
trait the Prince seems to possess is an affection for flowers. And he
especially loves those strange Mexican and South American plants, the
_cactaceĉ_, which unite the most exquisite flowers to the most
grotesque and repulsive forms, covered with great spear-like spines,
and which thrive only in barren lands, and on the poorest soil. I
have taken advantage of the presence of these plants to construct the
hiding-place about which I spoke to you. Here are some which are
fifteen feet high. They touch the ceiling of the room. Around them I
have arranged a perfect hedge or breast-work of smaller plants of the
same family, growing in large boxes. Nothing could penetrate through
this prickly wall; and I have united the boxes by hooks and staples
on the inside. There is, however, one which a strong man can move
aside; and through the opening thus formed he can crawl to the center
of the barricade, and, having replaced the hooks, it would be almost
impossible to reach him; while he could not be seen unless one were
immediately over him and looked down upon him. Then between him and
the council room I have arranged a screen of flowers, which will hide
you when you stand up, while between the blossoms you can see
everything with little risk of being seen. But in case you should be
detected you will observe behind you a window, which, as the weather
is warm, I shall leave open. On the outside is a great ivy vine that
will bear your weight. You will have to dare the spines of the cacti
behind you; make a great leap to the window and take your chances of
escaping the fusillade of pistol shots, by flying in the darkness,
into the garden. I will show you the grounds so that you will not be
lost in them, if you get that far. If caught, you will have to
pretend to be a burglar who entered at the window for purposes of
plunder. It would do you no good to inculpate me, for it would doom
us both to instant death as spies; while a supposed burglar would be
simply turned over to the law and punished by a term of imprisonment.
I give you these instructions although I hope there will be no
necessity for them. This hiding-place has been several times used,
and the deepest secrets of the aristocracy revealed to our
Brotherhood, without detection; and if you are prudent and careful
there will be little to fear. The council will meet at eight o'clock;
at half past seven it will be my duty to see that the rooms are in
order, and to make sure that there are no spies or intruders on the
premises, and to so report in person to the Prince, and deliver him
the key of the outer door. I shall cover your dress with the garments
of one of the household servants, and take you with me to help make
that last examination; and, watching an opportunity, you will slip
into the hiding-place; having first taken off the disguise I have
lent you, which we will hide among the plants. You must be armed and
prepared for every emergency. I will meet you in the garden at half
past six; before we part I will furnish you with a key to an outer
gate, by which you can enter. As soon as the council has broken up, I
will return to the room and again disguise you in the servant's
dress. The Prince always entertains his guests with a lunch and
champagne before they separate.

"In the meantime I will bring Estella to my room; you can then pass
out together and boldly advance to your carriage. You will first have
to agree with Maximilian where it will stand; and the guard at the
door will show you to it. When once in it, drive like the wind. You
must arrange with Maximilian as to what is to be done in case you
find you are followed, for in that event it will not do to drive
directly to his house. You must enter the house of some one of the
Brotherhood and pass rapidly through it, with Miss Washington, to a
carriage that will be in waiting in a rear street. And you must be
prepared with one or more such subterfuges, for you are dealing with
men of terrible power and cunning, whose arms reach everywhere; and
on the night of their councils--and in fact upon all other
nights--the place abounds with spies. Come with me and I will show
you the garden and how to enter it."

I was struck with the intelligence, sagacity and executive capacity
of the man; and I said to him:

"How comes it that you, holding such a position of trust and power,
where your compensation must be all you can ask, are, at the same
time, a member of a society which, if I understand aright, threatens
to overturn the existing order of things. You are not driven to
rebellion by want or oppression."

"No," he said; "I was educated at Heidelberg; I come of a wealthy
family; but in my youth, while an enthusiastic lover of liberty and
humanity, I became a member of a German branch of this now universal
Brotherhood. I had my dreams, as many have, of reforming the world.
But my membership, by a strange accident, became known, and I was
forced to fly in disgrace, discarded by my relatives, to America.
Here I lived in great poverty for a time, until the Brotherhood came
to my assistance and secured me a servant's place in this house. I
have gradually risen to my present position. While I am not so
enthusiastic as I once was, nor so sanguine of the good results of
the promised revolution of the _proletariat_, I have nevertheless
seen enough within these walls to show me the justice of our cause
and the necessity for Some kind of reformation. I could not draw back
now, if I desired to; and I do not know that I would if I could. We
are all moving together on the face of the torrent, and whither it
will eventually sweep us no one can tell. But come," he added, "to
the garden, or our long conversation may be noticed, and arouse



I cannot give you, my dear brother, a detailed account of every day's
occurrences, although I know that your love for me would make every
incident of interest to you. I shall, however, jot down my
reflections on sheets, and send them to you as occasion serves.

The more I have seen, and the more I have conversed with Maximilian,
the more clearly I perceive that the civilized world is in a
desperate extremity. This Brotherhood of Destruction, with its
terrible purposes and its vast numbers, is a reality. If the ruling
class had to deal only with a brutalized peasantry, they might, as
they did in other ages, trample them into animal-like inability to
organize and defend themselves. But the public school system, which,
with the other forms of the Republic, is still kept up, has made, if
not all, at least a very large percentage of the unhappy laboring
classes intelligent. In fact, they are wonderfully intelligent; their
organizations have been to them clubs, debating societies and
legislatures. And you know that all the greatest minds of the earth
have come out of the masses, if not directly, at least after one or
two removes. The higher aristocracy have contributed but very few to
the honored catalogue of men of pre-eminent genius. And therefore you
will not be surprised to hear that in these great organizations there
have arisen, from among the very laborers, splendid orators, capable
organizers, profound students of politics and political economy,
statesmen and masterly politicians. Nature, which knows no limit to
her capacity for the creation of new varieties, and, dealing with
hundreds of millions, has in numerable elements to mingle in her
combinations, has turned out some marvelous leaders among these poor
men. Their hard fortunes have driven out of their minds all
illusions, all imagination, all poetry; and in solemn fashion they
have bent themselves to the grim and silent struggle with their
environment. Without imagination, I say, for this seems to me to be a
world without a song.

And it is to the credit of these great masses that they are keen
enough to recognize the men of ability that rise up. among them, and
even out of their poor, hard-earned resources to relieve them of the
necessity for daily toil, that they may devote themselves to the
improvement of their minds, and the execution of the great tasks
assigned them. There is no doubt that if the ruling classes had been
willing to recognize these natural leaders as men of the same race,
blood, tongue and capacity as themselves, and had reached down to
them a helping and kindly hand, there might have been long since a
coming together of the two great divisions of society; and such a
readjustment of the values of labor as would, while it insured
happiness to those below, have not materially lessened the enjoyments
of those above. But the events which preceded the great war against
the aristocracy in 1640, in England; the great revolution of 1789, in
France; and the greater civil war of 1861, in America, all show how
impossible it is, by any process of reasoning, to induce a privileged
class to peacefully yield up a single tittle of its advantages. There
is no bigotry so blind or intense as that of caste; and long
established wrongs are only to be rooted out by fire and sword. And
hence the future looks so black to me. The upper classes might reform
the world, but they will not; the lower classes would, but they
cannot; and for a generation or more these latter have settled down
into a sullen and unanimous conviction that the only remedy is
world-wide destruction. We can say, as one said at the opening of the
Cromwellian struggle, "God help the land where ruin must reform!" But
the proletariat are desperate. They are ready, like the blind Samson,
to pull down the pillars of the temple, even though they themselves
fall, crushed to death amid the ruins; for

"The grave is brighter than their hearths and homes."

I learn from Maximilian that their organization is most perfect.
Every one of their hundred millions is now armed with one of the
newest improved magazine rifles. The use of the white powder reduces
very much the size of the cartridges; the bullets are also much
smaller than they were formerly, but they are each charged with a
most deadly and powerful explosive, which tears the body of the
victim it strikes to pieces. These small cartridges are stored in the
steel stock and barrel of the rifles, which will hold about one
hundred of them; and every soldier therefore carries in his hand a
weapon almost equal to the old-time Gatling or Armstrong gun.

The mode in which these guns were procured shows the marvelous nature
of the organization and its resources. Finding that the cost of the
guns was greatly increased by the profits of the manufacturer and the
middleman, and that it was, in fact, very doubtful whether the
government would permit them to purchase them in any large
quantities, they resolved to make them for themselves. In the depths
of abandoned coal mines, in the wildest and most mountainous part of
Tennessee, they established, years ago, their armories and foundries.
Here, under pretense of coal-mining and iron-working, they brought
members of their Brotherhood, workmen from the national gun-works;
and these, teaching hundreds of others the craft, and working day and
night, in double gangs, have toiled until every able-bodied man in
the whole vast Brotherhood, in America and Europe, has been supplied
with his weapon and a full accompaniment of ammunition. The cost of
all this was reduced to a minimum, and has been paid by each member
of the Brotherhood setting aside each week a small percentage of his
earnings. But, lest they should break out permaturely,{sic} before
the leaders gave the word, these guns have not been delivered
directly to their owners, but to the "commanders of tens," as they
are called; for the Brotherhood is divided into groups of ten each;
and it is the duty of these commanders to bury the weapons and
ammunition in the earth in rubber sacks, furnished for the purpose,
and only to deliver them when the signal comes to strike. In the
meantime the men are trained. with sticks in all the evolutions of
soldiers. You can see how cunning is all this system. A traitor
cannot betray more than nine of his fellows, and his own death is
certain to follow. If the commander of a squad goes over to the
enemy, he can but deliver up nine men and ten guns, and perhaps
reveal the supposed name of the one man who, in a disguise, has
communicated with him from the parent society. But when the signal is
given a hundred million trained soldiers will stand side by side,
armed with the most efficient weapons the cunning of man is able to
produce, and directed by a central authority of extraordinary
ability. Above all this dreadful preparation the merry world goes on,
singing and dancing, marrying and giving in marriage, as thoughtless
of the impending catastrophe as were the people of Pompeii in those
pleasant August days in 79, just before the city was buried in
ashes;--and yet the terrible volcano had stood there, in the
immediate presence of themselves and their ancestors, for
generations, and more than once the rocking earth had given signal
tokens of its awful Possibilities.

If I believed that this wonderful Brotherhood was capable of anything
beyond destruction, I should not look with such terror as I do upon
the prospect. But after destruction there must come construction--the
erection of law and civilization upon the ruins of the present order
of things. Who can believe that these poor brutalized men will be
capable, armed to the teeth with deadly weapons, and full of
passions, hates and revenges, to recreate the slaughtered society? In
civilized life the many must work; and who among these liberated
slaves will be ready to lay down their weapons and take up their
tasks? When the negroes of San Domingo broke out, in that
world-famous and bloody insurrection, they found themselves, when
they had triumphed, in a tropical land, where the plentiful bounties
of nature hung abundant supplies of food upon every tree and shrub.
But in the temperate regions of America and Europe these vast
populations can only live by great toil, and if none will toil all
must starve; but before they starve they will slay each other, and
that means universal conflict, savagery, barbarism, chaos.

I tremble, my brother, I tremble with horror when I think of what is
crawling toward us, with noiseless steps; couchant, silent,
treacherous, pardlike; scarce rustling the dry leaves as it moves,
and yet with bloodshot, glaring eyes and tense-drawn limbs of steel,
ready for the fatal spring. When comes it? To-night? To-morrow? A
week hence? Who can say?

And the thought forever presses on me, Can I do nothing to avert this
catastrophe? Is there no hope? For mankind is in itself so noble, so
beautiful, so full of all graces and capacities; with aspirations
fitted to sing among the angels; with comprehension fitted to embrace
the universe! Consider the exquisite, lithe-limbed figures of the
first man and woman, as they stood forth against the red light of
their first sunset--fresh from the hand of the Mighty One--His
graceful, perfected, magnificent thoughts! What love shines out of
their great eyes; what goodness, like dawn-awakened flowers, is
blooming in their singing hearts! And all to come to this. To this! A
hell of injustice, ending in a holocaust of slaughter.

God is not at fault. Nature is not to blame. Civilization, signifying
increased human power, is not responsible. But human greed,--blind,
insatiable human greed,--shallow cunning; the basest, stuff-grabbing,
nut-gathering, selfish instincts, these have done this work! The rats
know too much to gnaw through the sides of the ship that carries
them; but these so-called wise men of the world have eaten away the
walls of society in a thousand places, to the thinness of
tissue-paper, and the great ocean is about to pour in at every
aperture. And still they hoot and laugh their insolent laugh of
safety and triumph above the roar of the greedy and boundless waters,
just ready to overwhelm them forever.

Full of these thoughts, which will not permit me to sleep at night,
and which haunt my waking hours, I have gone about, for some days,
accompanied by Maximilian, and have attended meetings of the
workingmen in all parts of the city. The ruling class long since
denied them the privilege of free speech, under the pretense that the
safety of society required it. In doing so they have screwed down the
safety-valve, while the steam continues to generate. Hence the men
meet to discuss their wrongs and their remedies in underground
cellars, under old ruined breweries and warehouses; and there, in
large, low-roofed apartments, lighted by tallow candles, flaring
against the dark, damp, smoky walls, the swarming masses assemble, to
inflame each other mutually against their oppressors, and to look
forward, with many a secret hint and innuendo, to that great day of
wrath and revenge which they know to be near at hand--

"And with pale lips men say,
To-morrow, perchance to-day,
Enceladus may arise!"

But as any member is permitted to bring in a friend--for these are
not meetings of the Brotherhood itself, but simply voluntary
gatherings of workmen,--and as any man may prove a traitor, their
utterances are guarded and enigmatical.

More than once I have spoken to them in these dim halls; and while
full of sympathy for their sufferings, and indignant as they
themselves can be against their oppressors, I have pleaded with them
to stay their hands, to seek not to destroy, but to reform. I preach
to them of the glories of civilization; I trace its history backward
through a dozen eras and many nations; I show them how slowly it
grew, and by what small and gradual accretions; I tell them how
radiantly it has burst forth in these latter centuries, with such
magnificent effulgence, until today man has all nature at his feet,
shackled and gyved, his patient logman. I tell them that a ruffian,
with one blow of his club, can destroy the life of a man; and that
all the doctors and scientists and philosophers of the world, working
together for ages, could not restore that which he has so rudely
extinguished. And so, I say to them, the civilization which it has
taken ten thousand years to create may be swept away in an hour; and
there shall be no power in the wit or wisdom of man to reestablish it.

Most of them have listened respectfully; a few have tried to answer
me; some have mocked me. But it is as if one came where grouped
convicts stood, long imprisoned, who heard--with knives in their
hands--the thunderous blows of their friends as they battered down
the doors of their prison-house, and he should beg them not to go
forth, lest they should do harm to society! They will out, though the
heavens and the earth came together! One might as well whisper to
Niagara to cease falling, or counsel the resistless cyclone, in its
gyrating and terrible advance, to have a care of the rose-bushes.



When we returned home, on Sunday evening, Max found the receptacle in
the wall which communicated with the pneumatic-tube system standing
open. In it he found a long communication in cipher. He read a few
lines with a startled look and then said:

"Here is important news, Gabriel. It is written in one of the ciphers
of the Brotherhood, which I will translate to you. The number is that
of Rudolph--the number it is addressed to is my own. We know each
other in the Brotherhood, not by our names, but by the numbers given
us when we became members. Listen:

"From number 28,263 M 2, to No. 160,053 P 4. Dated this 7:9, from the
house of the condemned, No. 826 B."

"That," said Maximilian, "means the Prince Cabano." He continued to

"Startling events have occurred since I saw you. The former favorite
mistress of 826 B, who was displaced by Frederika, is a French girl,
Celestine d'Aublay. She resented her downfall bitterly, and she hates
Frederika with the characteristic vehemence of her race. She learned
from the talk of the servants that a new victim--Estella--had been
brought into the house, a girl of great beauty; and that Frederika
was trying to prevent 826 B from seeing her. A sudden thought took
possession of her mind; she would overthrow Frederika just as she
herself had been overthrown. Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, she
watched for 826 B in the hallways and chambers. The snuffling old
wretch has a fashion of prying around in all parts of the house,
under the fear that he is being robbed by the servants; and it was
not long until Celestine encountered him. She threw herself in his

"'Well, little one,' he said, chucking her under the chin, 'how have
you been? I have not seen your pretty face for a long time.'

"'Indeed,' said she, 'you care very little now for my pretty face, or
that of any one else, since you have your new toy, Estella.'

"'Estella!' he repeated, 'who is Estella?'

"'Come, come,' she said laughing; 'that will not do! Master Rudolph
brings into the house a young girl of ravishing beauty, and weeks
afterwards you ask me who she is! I am not to be deceived that way. I
know you too well.'

"'But really,' he replied, 'I have not seen her. This is the first I
have ever heard of her. Who is she?'

"'Her name is Estella Washington,' replied Celestine; 'she is about
eighteen years old.'

"'Estella Washington,' he said respectfully; 'that is a great name.
What is she like?'

"'I have told you already,' was the reply, 'that she is of
magnificent beauty, tall, fair, stately, graceful and innocent.,

"'Indeed, I must see her.'

"He hurried to his library and rang my bell.

"'Rudolph,' he said, when I appeared, 'who is this Estella Washington
that you brought into the house some weeks since? Celestine has been
telling me about her. How comes it I have never seen her?'

"My heart came into my mouth with a great leap; but I controlled my
excitement and replied:

"'My lord, I reported to you the fact of the purchase some time
since, and the payment of $5,000 to an aunt of Estella.'

"'True,' he said, 'I remember it now; but I was much occupied at the
time. How comes it, however, that she has been in the house and I
have never seen her?'

"I determined not to betray Frederika, and so I replied:

"'It must have been by accident, your lordship; and, moreover,
Estella is of a very quiet, retiring disposition, and has kept her
room a great part of the time since she came here.'

"'Go to her and bring her here,' he said.

"There was no help for it; so I proceeded to Estella's room.

"'Miss Washington,' I said, 'I have bad news for you. The Prince
desires to see you!'

"She rose up, very pale.

'''My God,' she said, 'what shall I do?'

"And then she began to fumble in the folds of her dress for the knife
your friend gave her.

"'Be calm and patient,' I said; 'do nothing desperate. On the night
after next your friend will come for you. We must delay matters all
we can. Keep your room, and I will tell the Prince that you are too
sick to leave your bed, but hope to be well enough to pay your
respects to him to-morrow afternoon. We will thus gain twenty-four
hours' delay, and we may be able to use the same device again

"But she was very much excited, and paced the room with hurried
steps, wringing her hands. To calm her I said:

"'You are in no danger. You can lock your door. And see, come here,'
I said, and, advancing to one of the window sills, I lifted it up and
disclosed, neatly coiled within it, a ladder of cords, with stout
bamboo rounds. 'As a last resort,' I continued, 'you can drop this
out of the window and fly. All the rooms in this older part of the
palace are furnished with similar fire-escapes. You see that yellow
path below us; and there beyond the trees you may perceive a part of
the wall of the gardens; that path terminates at a little gate, and
here is a key that will unlock it. Study the ground well from your
windows. Your escape would, however, have to be made by night; but as
you would run some risk in crossing the grounds, and, when you passed
the gate, would find yourself in the midst of a strange world,
without a friend, you must only think of flight as your last resource
in the most desperate extremity. We must resort to cunning, until
your friends come for you, on Monday night. But be patient and
courageous. Remember, I am your friend, and my life is pledged to
your service.'

"She turned upon me, and her penetrating eyes seemed to read my very

"'How,' she said, 'can I trust you? You are a stranger to me. Worse
than that, you are the hired instrument of that monster--that dealer
in flesh and blood. You bought me and brought me here; and who are
your friends? They too are strangers to me. Why should I believe in
strangers when the one whom I loved, and in whom I placed
unquestioning trust, has betrayed me, and sold me to the most
dreadful fate?'

"I hung my head.

"'It chances,' I replied, humbly, 'that the instruments of vice may
sometimes loathe the work they do. The fearful executioner may,
behind his mask, hide the traces of grief and pity. I do not blame
you for your suspicions. I once had aspirations, perhaps as high, and
purity of soul nearly as great as your own. But what are we? The
creatures of fate; the victims of circumstances. We look upon the
Medusa-head of destiny, with its serpent curls, and our wills, if not
our souls, are turned into stone. God alone, who knows all, can judge
the heart of man. But I am pledged, by ties the most awful, to a
society which, however terrible its methods may be, is, in its grand
conceptions, charitable and just. My life would not be worth a day's
purchase if I did not defend you. One of your friends stands high in
that society.'

"'Which one is that?' she asked eagerly.

"'The smaller and darker one,' I replied.

"'Can you tell me anything about the other?' she asked, and a slight
blush seemed to mantle her face, as if she were ashamed of the

"'Very little,' I replied; 'he is not a member of our Brotherhood;
but he is a brave man, and the friend of Mr. Maximilian can not be a
bad man.'

"'No,' she said, thoughtfully; 'he is of a good and noble nature, and
it is in him I trust.'

"'But,' said I, 'I must leave you, or the Prince will wonder at my
long absence.'

"As I took my departure I heard her locking the door behind me. I
reported to the Prince that Miss Washington was quite ill, and
confined to her bed, but that she hoped to do herself the honor of
calling upon him the next day. He looked glum, but assented. Upon
leaving him, I called upon Frederika and requested her to come to my
room. In a few moments she appeared. After seating her I said:

"'Miss Frederika, will you pardon me if I ask you a few questions
upon matters of importance to both of us?'

"'Certainly,' she replied.

"'In the first place,' I said, 'you regard me as your friend, do you
not? Have I not always shown a disposition to serve you?'

"She replied with some pleasant smiles and assurances of friendship.

"'Now let me ask you another question,' I continued. 'Do you
entertain friendly sentiments to Miss Estella?"

"'Indeed I do,' she replied; 'she is a sweet-tempered, innocent and
gentle girl.'

"'I am glad to hear it,' I said; 'did you know that the Prince has
discovered her, and has just sent me for her?'

"Her large black eyes fairly blazed.

"'Who has told him of her?' she asked, fiercely, and her voice rose
high and shrill.

"'Your enemy, Miss Celestine,' I replied. 'I suspected as much,' she

"''I need not tell you,' I said, 'that Celestine's motive was to
supplant and humble you.'

"'I understand that,' she replied, and her hands twitched nervously,
as if she would like to encounter her foe.

"'Now let me ask you another question,' I continued. 'Would you not
be glad to see Estella safely out of this house?'

"'Indeed I would,' she replied, eagerly.

"'If I place my life in your hands, will you be true to me?' I asked.

"She took me earnestly by the hand, and replied:

"'Neither in life nor in death will I betray you.,

"'Then,' said I, 'I will tell you that Estella has friends who are as
anxious to get her away from this place as you are. They have
arranged to come for her on Monday night next. You must help me to
protect her from the Prince in the meantime, and to facilitate her
escape when the time comes.'

"'I will do so,' she said; 'tell me what I can do now?'

"'Make yourself very entertaining to the Prince,' I replied, 'and
keep his thoughts away from the stranger. Estella pleads sickness and
keeps her room; and we may be able to protect her in that way until
the fateful night arrives. And remember,' I said, touching her upon
the breast and looking earnestly into her eyes, for I have little
faith in such natures, 'that I am a member of a great secret society,
and if any mishap were to happen to me, through your agency, your own
life would pay the immediate forfeit.'

"She shrank back affrighted, and assured me again of her good faith.
And as she desires to be quit of Estella, I think she will not betray

"SUNDAY EVENING, seven o'clock.

"I resume my narrative. I have gone through dreadful scenes since I
laid down my pen.

"This afternoon about five o'clock the Prince rang for me.

"'Bring Estella,' he said.

"I went at once to her room. I found her looking paler than usual.
She had the appearance of one that had not slept.

"'Estella,' I said, 'the Prince has again sent for you. I shall
return and make the same excuse. Do not worry--all will be well. We
are one day nearer your deliverance.'

"I returned and told the Prince that Estella was even worse than the
day before; that she had a high fever; and that she apologized for
not obeying his summons; but that she hoped by to-morrow to be well
enough to pay her respects to him.

"He was in one of his sullen fits. I think Frederika had been
overdoing her blandishments, and he had become suspicious; for he is
one of the most cunning of men.

"'Frederika is behind this business,' he said.

"'Behind what business, my lord?' I asked.

"'This sickness of Estella. Bring her to me, ill or well,' he
replied; 'I want to see her.'

"He was in no humor to be trifled with; and so I returned to my room
to think it over. I saw that Estella would have to barricade herself
in her room. How could she support life in the meantime? The first
requisite was, therefore, food. I went at once to Michael, the cook's
assistant, who is a trusty friend of mine, and secured from him,
secretly and under a pledge of silence, food enough to last until the
next night. I hurried to Estella, told her of her danger, and gave
her the basket of provisions. I instructed her to lock her door.

"'If they break it in,' I said, 'use your knife on the first man that
touches you. If they send you food or drink, do not use them. If they
attempt to chloroform you, stop up the pipe with soap. If the worst
comes to the worst, use the rope-ladder. If you manage to get outside
the garden gate, call a hack and drive to that address.' Here I gave
her your direction on a small piece of tissue paper. 'If you are
about to be seized, chew up the paper and swallow it. Do not in any
event destroy yourself,' I added, 'until the last desperate extremity
is reached; for you have a powerful organization behind you, and even
if recaptured you will be rescued. Good-by.'

"She thanked me warmly, and as I left the room I heard her again lock
the door.

"I returned to the Prince, and told him that Estella had said she was
too ill to leave her room, and that she refused to obey his summons.
Unaccustomed to contradiction, especially in his own house, he grew

"'Call the servants,' he shouted; 'we will see who is master here!'

"A few of the men came running; Frederika entered with them; some of
the women followed. We proceeded up stairs to Estella's door. The
Prince shook it violently.

"'Open the door,' he cried, 'or I will break it down.'

"I began to hope that he would rush to the doom he has so long

"The calm, steady voice of Estella was now heard from within the
room; speaking in a high and ringing tone:

"'I appeal to my country. I demand the right to leave this house. I
am an American citizen. The Constitution of the United States forbids
human slavery. My fathers helped to found this government. No one has
the right to sell me into the most hideous bondage. I come of a great
and noble race. I demand my release.'

"'Come, come, open the door,' cried the Prince, flinging himself
against it until it quivered.

"The voice of Estella was heard again, in solemn tones:

"'The man who enters here dies!'

"The cowardly brute recoiled at once, with terror on every feature of
his face.

"'Who will break down that door,' he asked, 'and bring out that woman?

"There was a dead silence for a moment; then Joachim, a
broad-shouldered, superserviceable knave, who had always tried to
ingratiate himself with the Prince by spying upon the rest of the
servants and tattling, stepped forward, with an air of bravado, and
said, 'I will bring her out.'

"'Go ahead,' said the Prince, sullenly.

"Joachim made a rush at the door; it trembled and creaked, but did
not yield; he moved farther back, drew his breath hard, and,--strong
as a bull,--went at it with a furious rush; the lock gave way, the
door flew open and Joachim sprawled upon the floor. I could see
Estella standing back near the window, her right arm was raised, and
I caught the glitter of something in her hand. In an instant Joachim
was on his feet and approached her; I saw him grasp her; there was a
slight scuffle, and the next moment Joachim rushed out of the room,
pale as death, with his hand to his breast, crying out:

"'Oh! my God! she has stabbed me.'

"He tore open his shirt bosom, and there upon his hairy breast was a
bloody spot; but the knife had struck the breastbone and inflicted
only a shallow flesh-wound. Joachim laughed, replaced his shirt, and

"'Ah! I might have known a girl's hand could not strike a deadly
blow. I will bring her out, my lord. Get me a rope.'

"He turned toward me, as he spoke; but on the instant I saw a sharp
spasm contract his features; he clapped his hand to his heart; a look
of surprise and then of terror came over his face.

"'Oh, my God!' he cried, 'I am poisoned.'

"The most awful shrieks I ever heard broke from him; and the next
moment his limbs seemed to lose their strength, and he fell in a heap
on the floor; then he rolled over and over; mighty convulsions swept
through him; he groaned, cried, shrieked, foamed at the mouth; there
was a sudden snorting sound, and he stiffened out and was dead.

"We fell back appalled. Then in the doorway appeared the figure of
Estella, her blue eyes bright as stars, her long golden hair falling
like a cloak to her waist, the red-tipped knife in her hand; she
looked like a Gothic priestess--a Vala of Odin--with the reeking
human sacrifice already at her feet. The blood of a long line of
heroic ancestors thrilled in her veins. Stepping over the dead body,
already beginning to swell and grow spotted with many colors, like a
snake, she advanced toward the Prince, who stood in his
dressing-gown, trembling, and nearly as bloated, pale and hideous as
the wretched Joachim.

"'Is it you,' she said--'you, the dealer in human flesh and blood,
that has bought me? Come to me, and take possession of your

"With a cry of terror the Prince turned his back and fled as fast as
his legs would carry him, while all the rest of us followed
pell-mell. At the end of the hall is a large iron door, used for
protection in case of fire.

"'Quick,' shrieked the Prince, 'lock the door! lock the door!'

"This was done, and he stopped to pant and blow in safety. When he
had recovered his breath, he cried out:

"'Send for the police! We will have her chloroformed.'

"I touched Frederika on the arm;--she followed me into an open room.

"'Tell him,' I whispered to her, quickly, 'tell him that if he calls
in the police there will have to be an inquest over the dead body of
Joachim; there may be questions asked that will be hard to answer.
The girl will have to be taken off to be tried for murder, and he
will lose her. If he attempts to use chloroform she will stab herself
with the poisoned knife. Tell him you will drug her food with
narcotics; that hunger will eventually compel her to eat; and that
when she sleeps she may be made a prisoner, and the knife taken away
from her.'

"The quick-witted girl saw the force of these suggestions, and ran
after her paramour. She succeeded in her mission. He fears the coming
outbreak, whispers of which are now heard everywhere. He has recalled
the order for the police. He stipulates, however--for he is
suspicious of Frederika, and fears treachery--that he is to drug the
food himself and see it placed in the room; and he has stationed two
trusty guards at the door of Estella's chamber, who are to be changed
every eight hours, and who are instructed that, whenever they think
she is asleep, one of them is to notify him; and carpenters will then
quietly cut the door from its hinges, and they will enter, disarm her
and make her a prisoner. Estella, I find, has barricaded her door
with her bedstead and the rest of the furniture. If she sleeps she
will wake with any attempt to enter the room; but she is not likely,
in her present state of high-wrought excitement, to sleep at all; and
she will not touch the drugged food sent in to her. I have arranged
with Frederika, who has great authority in the house, that on Monday
night the two watchmen shall be furnished with some refreshment
containing morphine; and when they are sound asleep, and the Prince
busy with his guests, she or I will go to the room, carrying
Estella's masculine disguise, and then bring her to my room, where
she will join your friend.

"I do not think she is in any present danger. The poisoned knife is
her safeguard. The whole household, after witnessing its terrible
potency, fear it as they would the fangs of a rattlesnake. It was a
lucky thought that left it with her.

"If your friend does not fail us, all will be well.


28,263 M 2."

I need not tell you, my dear Heinrich, that we both followed this
narrative with the most rapt attention and the most intense feeling.

"Brave girl!" I cried, when Maximilian stopped reading, "she is worth
dying for." "Or living for," said he, "which is better still. How she
rose to the occasion!"

"Yes," I said, "that was blood."

"There is as good stuff in the ranks," he replied, "as ever came out
of them. The law of heredity is almost as unreliable as the law of
variation. Everything rises out of the mud, and everything goes back
into it."

"Do you think," I asked, after a pause, "that she will be safe until
to-morrow night? Should I not go to her at once? Could I not see
Rudolph and have her descend the rope-ladder, and I meet her and
bring her here?"

"No," he replied, it is now too late for that; it is midnight. You
can place full faith in Rudolph; his penetration and foresight are
extraordinary. He will not sleep until Estella is out of that house;
and his busy brain will be full of schemes in the meantime. The best
thing we can do now is to go to bed and prepare, by a good long
sleep, for the excitements and dangers of to-morrow night. Do not
fear for Estella. She has ceased to be a child. In an hour she has
risen to the full majesty of her womanhood."



The next morning I found Maximilian in conference with a stranger; a
heavily-built, large-jawed, uncommunicative man. As I was about to
withdraw my friend insisted that I should sit down.

"We have been making the necessary arrangements for next Monday
night," he said. "The probabilities are great that we may be followed
when we leave the house, and traced. It will not do to go, as Rudolph
suggested, to the residence of any friend, and pass through it to
another carriage. The Oligarchy would visit a terrible vengeance on
the head of the man who so helped us to escape. I have instructed
this gentleman to secure us, through an agent, three empty houses in
different parts of the city, and he has done so; they stand in the
center of blocks, and have rear exits, opening upon other streets or
alleys, at right angles with the streets on which the houses stand.
Then in these back streets he is to have covered carriages with the
fleetest horses he can obtain. Our pursuers, thinking we are safely
housed, may return to report our whereabouts to their masters.
Estella being missed the next day, the police will visit the house,
but they will find no one there to punish; nothing but curtains over
the windows."

"But," said I, "will they not follow the carriage that brought us
there, and thus identify its owner and driver, and force them to tell
who employed them?"

"Of course; I have thought of that, and provided for it. There are
members of the Brotherhood who have been brought from other cities in
disguise, and three of these will have another carriage, which,
leaving the Prince's grounds soon after we do, will pursue our
pursuers. They will be well armed and equipped with hand-grenades of
dynamite. If they perceive that the spies cannot be shaken off, or
that they propose to follow any of our carriages to their stables, it
will be their duty to swiftly overtake the pursuers, and, as they
pass them, fling the explosives under the horses' feet, disabling or
killing them. It will take the police some time to obtain other
horses, and before they can do so, all traces of us will be lost. If
necessary, our friends will not hesitate to blow up the spies as well
as the horses."

"But," I suggested, "will they not identify the man who rented the

Maximilian laughed.

"Why," said he, "my dear Gabriel, you would make a conspirator
yourself. We will have to get you into the Brotherhood. We are too
old to be caught that way. The man who rented the houses has been
brought here from a city hundreds of miles distant; he was thoroughly
disguised. As soon as he engaged the buildings, and paid one month's
rent in advance for each, he left the city; and before to-morrow
night he will be home again, and without his disguise; and he could
never be suspected or identified as the same man. And," he added, "I
do not propose that you shall go into that lion's den unsupported. We
will have twenty of the Brotherhood, under Rudolph's management,
scattered through the household, as servants; and three hundred more
will be armed to the teeth and near at hand in the neighborhood; and
if it becomes necessary they will storm the house and burn it over
the villians' heads, rather than that you or Estella shall come to

I pressed his hand warmly, and thanked him for his care of me, and of
one so dear to me.

He laughed. "That is all right," he said; "good and unselfish men are
so scarce in this world that one cannot do too much for them. We must
be careful lest, like the dodo and the great auk, the breed becomes

"But," said I, "may not the Oligarchy find you out, even here?"

"No," he replied, "my identity is lost. Here I live, in my real
appearance, under a false name. But I have a house elsewhere, in
which I dwell disguised, but under my real name, and with an unreal
character. Here I am a serious, plotting conspirator; there I am a
dissipated, reckless, foolish spendthrift, of whom no man need be
afraid. It chanced that after certain events had occurred, of which I
may tell you some day, I did not return home for several years; and
then I came for revenge, with ample preparations for my own safety. I
resumed my old place in society with a new appearance and a new
character. That personage is constantly watched by spies; but he
spends his time in drunkenness and deeds of folly; and his enemies
laugh and say, 'He will never trouble us; he will be dead soon.' And
so, with the real name and the unreal appearance and character in one
place, and a false name, but the real appearance and character, in
another, I lead a dual life and thwart the cunning of my enemies, and
prepare for the day of my vengeance."

His eyes glowed with a baleful light as he spoke, and I could see
that some great injustice, "like eager droppings into milk," had
soured an otherwise loving and affectionate nature. I put my hand on
his and said:

"My dear Max, your enemies are my enemies and your cause my cause,
from henceforth forever."

His face beamed with delight, as he replied:

"I may some day, my dear Gabriel, hold you to that pledge."

"Agreed," I responded; "at all times I am ready."

He gave his agent a roll of money, and with mutual courtesies they



We were uneasy, restless, longing for the night to come. To while
away the time we conversed upon subjects that were near our hearts.

I said to Maximilian while he paced the room:

"How did this dreadful state of affairs, in which the world now finds
itself, arise? Were there no warnings uttered by any intelligent men?
Did the world drift blindly and unconsciously into this condition?"

"No," said Maximilian, going to his library; "no; even a hundred
years ago the air was full of prophecies. Here," he said, laying his
hand upon a book, is _The Century Magazine_, of February, 1889; and
on page 622 we read:

For my own part, I must confess my fears that, unless some
important change is made in the constitution of our voting
population, _the breaking strain upon our political system
will come within half a century_. Is it not evident that
our present tendencies are in the wrong direction? The
rapidly increasing use of money in elections, for the
undisguised purchase of votes, and the growing disposition
to tamper with the ballot and the tally-sheet, are some of
the symptoms. . . . Do you think that you will convince the
average election officer that it is a great crime to cheat
in the return of votes, when he knows that a good share of
those votes have been purchased with money? No; the
machinery of the election will not be kept free from fraud
while the atmosphere about the polls reeks with bribery.
_The system will all go down together_. In a constituency
which can be bribed all the forms of law tend swiftly to

"And here," he said, picking up another volume, "is a reprint of the
choicest gems of _The North American Review_. In the number for
March, 1889, Gen. L. S. Bryce, a member of Congress, said:

We live in a commercial age--not in a military age; and the
shadow that is stealing over the American landscape
partakes of a commercial character. In short, _the shadow
is of an unbridled plutocracy_, caused, created and
cemented in no slight degree by legislative, aldermanic and
congressional action; _a plutocracy that is far more
wealthy than any aristocracy that has ever crossed the
horizon of the world's history, and one that has been
produced in a shorter consecutive period_; the names of
whose members are emblazoned, not on the pages of their
nation's glory, but of its peculations; who represent no
struggle for their country's liberties, but for its boodle;
no contests for Magna Charta,{sic} but railroad charters;
and whose octopus-grip is extending over every branch of
industry; a plutocracy which controls the price of the
bread that we eat, the price of the sugar that sweetens our
cup, the price of the oil that lights us on our way, the
price of the very coffins in which we are finally buried; a
plutocracy which encourages no kindly relation between
landlord and tenant, which has so little sense of its
political duties as even to abstain from voting, and which,
in short, by its effrontery, is already causing the
unthinking masses to seek relief in communism, in
single-taxism, and in every other ism, which, if ever
enforced, would infallibly make their second state worse
than the first.

"And here are hundreds of warnings of the same kind. Even the
President of the United States, in that same year, 1889, uttered this
significant language:

Those who use unlawful methods, if moved by no higher
motive than the selfishness that prompted them, may well
stop and inquire, What is to be the end of this?

"Bishop Potter, of New York, in the national ceremonies, held April
30, 1889, which marked the centennial anniversary of the first
inauguration of George Washington, spoke of the plutocracy, which had
already reached alarming proportions, and expressed his doubts
whether the Republic would ever celebrate another centennial.
Afterwards, in explaining his remarks, he said:

When I speak of this as the era of the plutocrats, nobody
can misunderstand me. Everybody has recognized the rise of
the money power. Its growth not merely stifles the
independence of the people, but the blind believers in this
omnipotent power of money assert that its liberal use
condones every offense. The pulpit does not speak out as it
should. These plutocrats are the enemies of religion, as
they are of the state. And, not to mince matters, I will
say that, while I had the politicians in mind prominently,
there "are others." I tell you I have heard the corrupt use
of money in elections and the sale of the sacred right of
the ballot openly defended by ministers of the gospel. I
may find it necessary to put such men of the sacred office
in the public pillory.

"And Bishop Spalding, of Peoria, Illinois, about the same time, said:

Mark my words, the saloon in America has become a public
nuisance. The liquor trade, by meddling with politics and
corrupting politics, has become a menace and a danger.
Those who think and those who love America and those who
love liberty are going to bring this moral question into
politics more and more; also this question of bribery, this
question of lobbying, this question of getting measures
through state and national legislatures by corrupt means.
They are going to be taken hold of. Our press, which has
done so much to enlighten our people, which represents so
much that is good in our civilization, must also be
reformed. It must cease to pander to such an extent to the
low and sensual

appetites of man. My God, man is animal enough! You don't
want to pander to his pruriency! You don't want to pander
to the beast that is in him. . . . Our rich men--and they
are numerous, and their wealth is great--their number and
their wealth will increase--but our rich men _must do their
duty or perish_. I tell you, in America, we will not
tolerate vast wealth in the hands of men who do nothing for
the people.

"And here is a still more remarkable article, by Dr. William Barry,
in _The Forum_ for April, 1889. He speaks of--

The concrete system of capitalism; which in its present
shape is not much more than a century old, and goes back to
Arkwright's introduction of the spinning-jenny in
1776--that notable year--as to its hegira or divine epoch
of creation.

"And again he says:

This it is that justifies Von Hartmann's description of the
nineteenth century as "the most irreligious that has ever
been seen;" this and not the assault upon dogma or the
decline of the churches. There is a depth below atheism,
below anti-religion, and into that the age has fallen. It
is the callous indifference to everything which does not
make for wealth. . . . What is eloquently described as "the
progress of civilization," as "material prosperity," and
"unexampled wealth," or, more modestly, as "the rise of the
industrial middle class," becomes, when we look into it
with eyes purged from economic delusions, the creation of a
"lower and lowest" class, without land of their own,
without homes, tools or property beyond the strength of
their hands; whose lot is more helplessly wretched than any
poet of the Inferno has yet imagined. Sunk in the mire of
ignorance, want and immorality, they seem to have for their
only gospel the emphatic words attributed to Mr. Ruskin:
"If there is a next world they _will_ be damned; and if
there is none, they are damned already." .--- Have all
these things come to pass that the keeper of a whisky-shop
in California may grow rich on the spoils of drunken miners,

and great financiers dictate peace and war to venerable
European monarchies? The most degraded superstition that
ever called itself religion has not preached such a dogma
as this. It falls below fetichism. The worship of the
almighty dollar, incarnate in the self-made capitalist, is
a deification at which Vespasian himself, with his "_Ut
puto, deus fio_," would stare and gasp.

"And this remarkable article concludes with these words of prophecy:

The agrarian difficulties of Russia, France, Italy,
Ireland, and of wealthy England, show us that ere long the
urban and the rural populations will be standing in the
same camp. They will be demanding the abolition of that
great and scandalous paradox whereby, though production has
increased three or four times as much as the mouths it
should fill, those mouths are empty. The backs it should
clothe are naked; the heads it should shelter, homeless;
the brains it should feed, dull or criminal, and the souls
it should help to save, brutish. Surely it is time that
science, morality and religion should speak out. A great
change is coming. It is even now at our doors. Ought not
men of good will to consider how they shall receive it, so
that its coming may be peaceable?

"And here," Max added, "is the great work of Prof. Scheligan, in
which he quotes from _The Forum_, of December, 1889, p. 464, a
terrible story of the robberies practiced on the farmers by railroad
companies and money-lenders. The railroads in 1882 took, he tells us,
one-half of the entire wheat crop of Kansas to carry the other half
to market! In the thirty-eight years following 1850 the railroad
interest of the United States increased 1580 per cent.; the banking
interest 918 per cent., and the farming interest only 252 per cent. A
man named Thomas G. Shearman showed, in 1889, that 100,000 persons in
the United States would, in thirty years, at the rate at which wealth
was being concentrated in the hands of the few, own _three-fifths of
all the property of the entire country_. The _American Economist_
asserted, in 1889, that in twenty-five years the number of people in
the United States who owned their own homes had fallen from
five-eighths to three-eighths. A paper called _The Progress_, of
Boston, in 1889, gave the following significant and prophetic figures:

The eloquent Patrick Henry said: "We can only judge the
future by the past."

Look at the past:

When Egypt went down 2 per cent. of her population owned 97
per cent. of her wealth. The people were starved to death.

When Babylon went down 2 per cent. of her population owned
all the wealth. The people were starved to death.

When Persia went down 1 per cent. of her population owned
the land.

When Rome went down 1,800 men owned all the known world.

There are about 40,000,000 people in England, Ireland and
Wales, and 100,000 people own all the land in the United

For the past twenty years the United States has rapidly
followed in the steps of these old nations. Here are the

In 1850 capitalists owned 37½ per cent. of the nation's

In 1870 they owned 63 percent.

"In 1889, out of 1,500,000 people living in New York City, 1,100,000
dwelt in tenement-houses.

"At the same time farm-lands, east and west, had fallen, in
twenty-five years, to one-third or one-half their cost. State
Assessor Wood, of New York, declared, in 1889, that, in his opinion,
'in a few decades _there will be none but tenant farmers in this

"In 1889 the farm mortgages in the Western States amounted to three
billion four hundred and twenty-two million dollars."

"Did these wonderful utterances and most significant statistics," I
asked, "produce no effect on that age?"

"None at all," he replied. "'Wisdom cries in the streets, and no man
regards her.' The small voice of Philosophy was unheard amid the
blare of the trumpets that heralded successful knavery; the rabble
ran headlong to the devil after gauds and tinsel."

"Have there been," I asked, "no later notes of warning of the coming

"Oh, yes," he replied; "ten thousand. All through the past century
the best and noblest of each generation, wherever and whenever they
could find newspapers or magazines that dared to publish their
utterances, poured forth, in the same earnest tones, similar
prophecies and appeals. But in vain. Each generation found the
condition of things more desperate and hopeless: every year
multiplied the calamities of the world. The fools could not see that
a great cause must continue to operate until checked by some higher
power. And here there was no higher power that desired to check it.
As the domination and arrogance of the ruling class increased, the
capacity of the lower classes to resist, within the limits of law and
constitution, decreased. Every avenue, in fact, was blocked by
corruption. juries, courts, legislatures, congresses, they were as if
they were not. The people were walled in by impassable barriers.
Nothing was left them but the primal, brute instincts of the animal
man, and upon these they fell back, and the Brotherhood of
Destruction arose. But no words can tell the sufferings that have
been endured by the good men, here and there, who, during the past
century, tried to save mankind. Some were simply ostracised from
social intercourse with their caste; others were deprived of their
means of living and forced down into the ranks of the wretched; and
still others"--and here, I observed, his face grew ashy pale, and the
muscles about his mouth twitched nervously--"still others had their
liberty sworn away by purchased perjury, and were consigned to
prisons, where they still languish, dressed in the hideous garb of
ignominy, and performing the vile tasks of felons." After a pause,
for I saw he was strangely disturbed, I said to him:

"How comes it that the people have so long submitted to these great
wrongs? Did they not resist?"

"They did," he replied; "but the fruit of the tree of evil was not
yet ripe. At the close of the nineteenth century, in all the great
cities of America, there was a terrible outbreak of the workingmen;
they destroyed much property and many lives, and held possession of
the cities for several days. But the national government called for
volunteers, and hundreds of thousands of warlike young men, sons of
farmers, sprang to arms: and, after several terrible battles, they
suppressed the revolution, with the slaughter of tens of thousands of
those who took part in it; while afterwards the revengeful Oligarchy
sent thousands of others to the gallows. And since then, in Europe
and America, there have been other outbreaks, but all of them
terminated in the same way. The condition of the world has, however,
steadily grown worse and worse; the laboring classes have become more
and more desperate. The farmers' sons could, for generations, be
counted upon to fight the workmen; but the fruit has been steadily
ripening. Now the yeomanry have lost possession of their lands; their
farms have been sold under their feet; cunning laws transferred the
fruit of their industry into the pockets of great combinations, who
loaned it back to them again, secured by mortgages; and, as the
pressure of the same robbery still continued, they at last lost their
homes by means of the very wealth they had themselves produced. Now a
single nabob owns a whole county; and a state is divided between a
few great loan associations; and the men who once tilled the fields,
as their owners, are driven to the cities to swell the cohorts of the
miserable, or remain on the land a wretched peasantry, to contend for
the means of life with vile hordes of Mongolian coolies. And all this
in sight of the ruins of the handsome homes their ancestors once
occupied! Hence the materials for armies have disappeared. Human
greed has eaten away the very foundations on which it stood. And of
the farmers who still remain nearly all are now members of our
Brotherhood. When the Great Day comes, and the nation sends forth its
call for volunteers, as in the past, that cry will echo in desolate
places; or it will ring through the triumphant hearts of savage and
desperate men who are hastening to the banquet of blood and
destruction. And the wretched, yellow, under-fed coolies, with
women's garments over their effeminate limbs, will not have the
courage or the desire or the capacity to make soldiers and defend
their oppressors."

"But have not the Oligarchy standing armies?" I asked.

"Yes. In Europe, however, they have been constrained, by inability to
wring more taxes from the impoverished people, to gradually diminish
their numbers. There, you know, the real government is now a coterie
of bankers, mostly Israelites; and the kings and queens, and
so-called presidents, are mere toys and puppets in their hands. All
idea of national glory, all chivalry, all pride, all battles for
territory or supremacy have long since ceased. Europe is a banking
association conducted exclusively for the benefit of the bankers.
Bonds take the place of national aspirations. To squeeze the wretched
is the great end of government; to toil and submit, the destiny of
the peoples.

"The task which Hannibal attempted, so disastrously, to subject the
Latin and mixed-Gothic races of Europe to the domination of the
Semitic blood, as represented in the merchant-city of Carthage, has
been successfully accomplished in these latter days by the cousins of
the Phœnicians, the Israelites. The nomadic children of Abraham
have fought and schemed their way, through infinite depths of
persecution, from their tents on the plains of Palestine, to a power
higher than the thrones of Europe. The world is to-day Semitized. The
children of Japhet lie prostrate slaves at the feet of the children
of Shem; and the sons of Ham bow humbly before their august dominion.

"The standing armies of Europe are now simply armed police; for, as
all the nations are owned by one power--the money power--there is no
longer any danger of their assaulting each other. But in the greed of
the sordid commercial spirit which dominates the continent they have
reduced, not only the numbers, but the pay of the soldiers, until it
is little better than the compensation earned by the wretched
peasantry and the mechanics; while years of peace and plunder have
made the rulers careless and secure. Hence our powerful association
has spread among these people like wild-fire: the very armies are
honeycombed with our ideas, and many of the soldiers belong to the

"Here, in America, they have been wise enough to pay the soldiers of
their standing army better salaries; and hence they do not so readily
sympathize with our purposes. But we outnumber them ten to one, and
do not fear them. There is, however, one great obstacle which we have
not yet seen the way to overcome. More than a century ago, you know,
dirigible air-ships were invented. The Oligarchy have a large force
of several thousands of these, sheathed with that light but strong
metal, aluminium; in popular speech they are known as _The Demons_.
Sailing over a hostile force, they drop into its midst great bombs,
loaded with the most deadly explosives, mixed with bullets; and,
where one of these strikes the ground, it looks like the crater of an
extinct volcano; while leveled rows of dead are strewed in every
direction around it. But this is not all. Some years since a French
chemist discovered a dreadful preparation, a subtle poison, which,
falling upon the ground, being heavier than the air and yet
expansive, rolls, 'like a slow blot that spreads,' steadily over the
earth in all directions, bringing sudden death to those that breathe
it. The Frenchman sold the secret of its preparation to the Oligarchy
for a large sum; but he did not long enjoy his ill-gotten wealth. He
was found dead in his bed the next day, poisoned by the air from a
few drops of his own invention; killed, it is supposed, by the
governments, so that they would possess forever the exclusive
monopoly of this terrible instrument of slaughter. It is upon this
that they principally rely for defense from the uprisings of the
oppressed people. These air-ships, 'the Demons,' are furnished with
bombs, loaded with this powerful poison; and, when an outbreak
occurs, they sail, like great, foul birds, dark-winged and terrible,
over the insurgents; they let fall a single bomb, which inspires such
terror in the multitude that those not instantaneously killed by the
poison fly with the utmost speed; and the contest is at an end. We
have long labored to bring the men who arm these air-ships, and who
manufacture this poison, into our organization, but so far without
success. The Oligarchy knows their value, and pays them well. We
have, however, bribed one or two of their men, not themselves in the
secret, but who have inspired the others to make demand after demand
upon the government for increased pay, knowing that they held
everything in their power. The Oligarchy has been constrained to
yield to these demands, which have only led, under our inspiration,
to still greater claims; and it is our hope that before long the
rulers will refuse to go farther in that direction; and then, in the
discontent that will inevitably follow, the men will yield to our
approaches. It will be the old story over again--the army that was
called in to defend effete Rome at last took possession of the empire
and elected the emperors. This is the fate that cruelty and injustice
ultimately bring upon their own heads--they are devoured by their
instruments. As Manfred says:

"'The spirits I have raised abandon me;
The spells that I had recked of torture me.'"

"You are right," I replied; "there is nothing that will insure
permanent peace but universal justice: that is the only soil that
grows no poisons. Universal justice means equal opportunities for all
men and a repression by law of those gigantic abnormal selfishnesses
which ruin millions for the benefit of thousands. In the old days
selfishness took the form of conquest, and the people were reduced to
serfs. Then, in a later age, it assumed the shape of individual
robbery and murder. Laws were made against these crimes. Then it
broke forth in the shape of subtle combinations, 'rings,' or
'trusts,' as they called them, corporations, and all the other
cunning devices of the day, some of which scarcely manifested
themselves on the surface, but which transferred the substance of one
man into the pockets of another, and reduced the people to slavery as
completely and inevitably as ever the robber barons of old did the
original owners of the soil of Europe."



"But what would you do, my good Gabriel," said Maximilian, smiling,
"if the reformation of the world were placed in your hands? Every man
has an Utopia in his head. Give me some idea of yours."

"First," I said, "I should do away with all interest on money.
Interest on money is the root and ground of the world's troubles. It
puts one man in a position of safety, while another is in a condition
of insecurity, and thereby it at once creates a radical distinction
in human society."

"How do you make that out?" he asked.

"The lender takes a mortgage on the borrower's land or house, or
goods, for, we will say, one-half or one-third their value; the
borrower then assumes all the chances of life in his efforts to repay
the loan. If he is a farmer, he has to run the risk of the fickle
elements. Rains may drown, droughts may burn up his crops. If a
merchant, he encounters all the hazards of trade; the bankruptcy of
other tradesmen; the hostility of the elements sweeping away
agriculture, and so affecting commerce; the tempests that smite his
ships, etc. If a mechanic, he is still more dependent upon the
success of all above him, and the mutations of commercial prosperity.
He may lose employment; he may sicken; he may die. But behind all
these risks stands the money-lender, in perfect security. The failure
of his customer only enriches him; for he takes for his loan property
worth twice or thrice the sum he has advanced upon it. Given a
million of men and a hundred years of time, and the slightest
advantage possessed by any one class among the million must result,
in the long run, in the most startling discrepancies of condition. A
little evil grows like a ferment--it never ceases to operate; it is
always at work. Suppose I bring before you a handsome, rosy-cheeked
young man, full of life and hope and health. I touch his lip with a
single _bacillus of phthisis pulmonalis_--consumption. It is
invisible to the eye; it is too small to be weighed. judged by all
the tests of the senses, it is too insignificant to be thought of;
but it has the capacity to multiply itself indefinitely. The youth
goes off singing. Months, perhaps years, pass before the deadly
disorder begins to manifest itself; but in time the step loses its
elasticity; the eyes become dull; the roses fade from the cheeks; the
strength departs, and eventually the joyous youth is but a shell--a
cadaverous, shrunken form, inclosing a shocking mass of putridity;
and death ends the dreadful scene. Give one set of men in a community
a financial advantage over the rest, however slight--it may be almost
invisible--and at the end of centuries that class so favored will own
everything and wreck the country. A penny, they say, put out at
interest the day Columbus sailed from Spain, and compounded ever
since, would amount now to more than all the assessed value of all
the property, real, personal and mixed, on the two continents of
North and South America."

"But," said Maximilian, "how would the men get along who wanted to

"The necessity to borrow is one of the results of borrowing. The
disease produces the symptoms. The men who are enriched by borrowing
are infinitely less in number than those who are ruined by it; and
every disaster to the middle class swells the number and decreases
the opportunities of the helplessly poor. Money in itself is
valueless. It becomes valuable only by use--by exchange for things
needful for life or comfort. If money could not be loaned, it would
have to be put out by the owner of it in business enterprises, which
would employ labor; and as the enterprise would not then have to
support a double burden--to wit, the man engaged in it and the usurer
who sits securely upon his back--but would have to maintain only the
former usurer--that is, the present employer--its success would be
more certain; the general prosperity of the community would be
increased thereby, and there would be therefore more enterprises,
more demand for labor, and consequently higher wages. Usury kills off
the enterprising members of a community by bankrupting them, and
leaves only the very rich and the very poor; for every dollar the
employers of labor pay to the lenders of money has to come eventually
out of the pockets of the laborers. Usury is therefore the cause of
the first aristocracy, and out of this grow all the other
aristocracies. Inquire where the money came from that now oppresses
mankind, in the shape of great corporations, combinations, etc., and
in nine cases out of ten you will trace it back to the fountain of
interest on money loaned. The coral island is built out of the bodies
of dead coral insects; large fortunes are usually the accumulations
of wreckage, and every dollar represents disaster."

"Well," said Maximilian, "having abolished usury, in your Utopia,
what would you do next?"

"I would set to work to make a list of all the laws, or parts of
laws, or customs, or conditions which, either by commission or
omission, gave any man an advantage over any other man; or which
tended to concentrate the wealth of the community in the hands of a
few. And having found out just what these wrongs or advantages were,
I would abolish them _instanter_."

"Well, let us suppose," said Maximilian, "that you were not
immediately murdered by the men whose privileges you had
destroyed--even as the Gracchi were of old--what would you do next?
Men differ in every detail. Some have more industry, or more
strength, or more cunning, or more foresight, or more acquisitiveness
than others. How are you to prevent these men from becoming richer
than the rest?"

"I should not try to," I said. "These differences in men are
fundamental, and not to be abolished by legislation; neither are the
instincts you speak of in themselves injurious. Civilization, in
fact, rests upon them. It is only in their excess that they become
destructive. It is right and wise and proper for men to accumulate
sufficient wealth to maintain their age in peace, dignity and plenty,
and to be able to start their children into the arena of life
sufficiently equipped. A thousand men in a community worth $10,000 or
$50,000, or even $100,000 each, may be a benefit, perhaps a blessing;
but one man worth fifty or one hundred millions, or, as we have them
now-a-days, one thousand millions, is a threat against the safety and
happiness of every man in the world. I should establish a maximum
beyond which no man could own property. I should not stop his
accumulations when he had reached that point, for with many men
accumulation is an instinct; but I should require him to invest the
surplus, under the direction of a governmental board of management,
in great works for the benefit of the laboring classes. He should
establish schools, colleges, orphan asylums, hospitals, model
residences, gardens, parks, libraries, baths, places of amusement,
music-halls, sea-side excursions in hot weather, fuel societies in
cold weather, etc., etc. I should permit him to secure immortality by
affixing his name to his benevolent works; and I should honor him
still further by placing his statue in a great national gallery set
apart to perpetuate forever the memory of the benefactors of the

"But," said Maximilian, with a smile, "it would not take long for
your rich men, with their surplus wealth, to establish all those
works you speak of. What would you do with the accumulations of the

"Well," said I, "we should find plenty to do. We would put their
money, for instance, into a great fund and build national railroads,
that would bring the productions of the farmers to the workmen, and
those of the workmen to the farmers, at the least cost of
transportation, and free from the exactions of speculators and
middlemen. Thus both farmers and workmen would live better, at less
expense and with less toil."

"All very pretty," said he; "but your middlemen would starve.

"Not at all," I replied; "the cunning never starve. There would be
such a splendid era of universal prosperity that they would simply
turn their skill and shrewdness into some new channels, in which,
however, they would have to give something of benefit, as an
equivalent for the benefits they received. Now they take the cream,
and butter, and beef, while some one else has to raise, feed and milk
the cow."

"But," said he, "all this would not help our farmers in their present
condition--they are blotted off the land."

"True," I replied; "but just as I limited a man's possible wealth, so
should I limit the amount of land he could own. I would fix a maximum
of, say, 100 or 500 acres, or whatever amount might be deemed just
and reasonable. I should abolish all corporations, or turn them back
into individual partnerships. Abraham Lincoln, in the great civil war
of the last century, gave the Southern insurgents so many days in
which to lay down their arms or lose their slaves. In the same way I
should grant one or two years' time, in which the great owners of
land should sell their estates, in small tracts, to actual occupants,
to be paid for in installments, on long time, without interest. And
if they did not do so, then, at the end of the period prescribed, I
should confiscate the lands and sell them, as the government in the
old time sold the public lands, for so much per acre, to actual
settlers, and turn the proceeds over to the former owners."

"But, as you had abolished interest on money, there could be no
mortgages, and the poor men would starve to death before they could
raise a crop."

"Then," I replied, "I should invoke the power of the nation, as was
done in that great civil war of 1861, and issue paper money,
receivable for all taxes, and secured by the guarantee of the faith
and power of five hundred million people; and make advances to carry
these ruined peasants beyond the first years of distress--that money
to be a loan to them, without interest, and to be repaid as a tax on
their land. Government is only a machine to insure justice and help
the people, and we have not yet developed half its powers. And we are
under no more necessity to limit ourselves to the governmental
precedents of our ancestors than we are to confine ourselves to the
narrow boundaries of their knowledge, or their inventive skill, or
their theological beliefs. The trouble is that so many seem to regard
government as a divine something which has fallen down upon us out of
heaven, and therefore not to be improved upon or even criticised;
while the truth is, it is simply a human device to secure human
happiness, and in itself has no more sacredness than a wheelbarrow or
a cooking-pot. The end of everything earthly is the good of man; and
there is nothing sacred on earth but man, because he alone shares the
Divine conscience."

"But," said he, "would not your paper money have to be redeemed in
gold or silver?"

"Not necessarily," I replied. "The adoration of gold and silver is a
superstition of which the bankers are the high priests and mankind
the victims. Those metals are of themselves of little value. What
should make them so?"

"Are they not the rarest and most valuable productions of the world?"
said Maximilian.

"By no means," I replied; "there are many metals that exceed them in
rarity and value. While a kilogram of gold is worth about $730 and
one of silver about $43.50, the same weight of iridium (the heaviest
body known) costs $2,400; one of palladium, $3,075; one of calcium
nearly $10,000; one of stibidium, $20,000; while vanadium, the true
'king of metals,' is worth $25,000 per kilogram, as against $730 for
gold or $43.50 for silver."

"Why, then, are they used as money?" he asked.

"Who can tell? The practice dates back to prehistoric ages. Man
always accepts as right anything that is in existence when he is

"But are they not more beautiful than other metals? And are they not
used as money because acids will not corrode them?"

"No," I replied; "some of the other metals exceed them in beauty. The
diamond far surpasses them in both beauty and value, and glass
resists the action of acids better than either of them."

"What do you propose?" he asked.

"Gold and silver," I said, "are the bases of the world's currency. If
they are abundant, all forms of paper money are abundant. If they are
scarce, the paper money must shrink in proportion to the shrinkage of
its foundation; if not, there come panics and convulsions, in the
effort to make one dollar of gold pay three, six or ten of paper. For
one hundred and fifty years _the production of gold and silver has
been steadily shrinking, while the population and business of the
world have been rapidly increasing_.

"Take a child a few years old; let a blacksmith weld around his waist
an iron band. At first it causes him little inconvenience. He plays.
As he grows older it becomes tighter; it causes him pain; he scarcely
knows what ails him. He still grows. All his internal organs are
cramped and displaced. He grows still larger; he has the head,
shoulders and limbs of a man and the waist of a child. He is a
monstrosity. He dies. This is a picture of the world of to-day, bound
in the silly superstition of some prehistoric nation. But this is not
all. Every decrease in the quantity, actual or relative, of gold and
silver increases the purchasing power of the dollars made out of
them; and the dollar becomes the equivalent for a larger amount of
the labor of man and his productions. This makes the rich man richer
and the poor man poorer. The iron band is displacing the organs of
life. As the dollar rises in value, man sinks. Hence the decrease in
wages; the increase in the power of wealth; the luxury of the few;
the misery of the many."

"How would you help it?" he asked.

"I would call the civilized nations together in council, and devise
an international paper money, to be issued by the different nations,
but to be receivable as legal tender for all debts in all countries.
It should hold a fixed ratio to population, never to be exceeded; and
it should be secured on all the property of the civilized world, and
acceptable in payment of all taxes, national, state and municipal,
everywhere. I should declare gold and silver legal tenders only for
debts of five dollars or less. An international greenback that was
good in New York, London, Berlin, Melbourne, Paris and Amsterdam,
would be good anywhere. The world, released from its iron band, would
leap forward to marvelous prosperity; there would be no financial
panics, for there could be no contraction; there would be no more
torpid 'middle ages,' dead for lack of currency, for the money of a
nation would expand, _pari passu_, side by side with the growth of
its population. There would be no limit to the development of
mankind, save the capacities of the planet; and even these, through
the skill of man, could be increased a thousand-fold beyond what our
ancestors dreamed of. The very seas and lakes, judiciously farmed,
would support more people than the earth now maintains. A million
fish ova now go to waste where one grows to maturity.

"The time may come when the slow processes of agriculture will be
largely discarded, and the food of man be created out of the chemical
elements of which it is composed, transfused by electricity and
magnetism. We have already done something in that direction in the
way of synthetic chemistry. Our mountain ranges may, in after ages,
be leveled down and turned into bread for the support of the most
enlightened, cultured, and, in its highest sense, religious people
that ever dwelt on the globe. All this is possible if civilization is
preserved from the destructive power of the ignorant and brutal
plutocracy, who now threaten the safety of mankind. They are like the
slave-owners of 1860; they blindly and imperiously insist on their
own destruction; they strike at the very hands that would save them."

"But," said Maximilian, "is it not right and necessary that the
intellect of the world should rule the world?"

"Certainly," I replied; "but what is intellect? It is breadth of
comprehension; and this implies gentleness and love. The man whose
scope of thought takes in the created world, and apprehends man's
place in nature, cannot be cruel to his fellows. Intellect, if it is
selfish, is wisely selfish. It perceives clearly that such a shocking
abomination as our present condition cannot endure. It knows that a
few men cannot safely batten down the hatches over the starving crew
and passengers, and then riot in drunken debauchery on the deck. When
the imprisoned wretches in the hold become desperate enough--and it
is simply a question of time--they will fire the ship or scuttle it,
and the fools and their victims will all perish together. True
intellect is broad, fore-sighted, wide-ranging, merciful, just. Some
one said of old that 'the gods showed what they thought of riches by
the kind of people they gave them to.' It is not the poets, the
philosophers, the philanthropists, the historians, the sages, the
scholars, the really intellectual of any generation who own the great
fortunes. No; but there is a subsection of the brain called cunning;
it has nothing to do with elevation of mind, or purity of soul, or
knowledge, or breadth of view; it is the lowest, basest part of the
intellect. It is the trait of foxes, monkeys, crows, rats and other
vermin. It delights in holes and subterranean shelters; it will not
disdain filth; it is capable of lying, stealing, trickery, knavery.
Let me give you an example:

"It is recorded that when the great war broke out in this country
against slavery, in 1861, there was a rich merchant in this city,
named A. T. Stewart. Hundreds of thousands of men saw in the war only
the great questions of the Union and the abolition of human
bondage--the freeing of four millions of human beings, and the
preservation of the honor of the flag; and they rushed forward eager
for the fray. They were ready to die that the Nation and Liberty
might live. But while their souls were thus inflamed with great and
splendid emotions, and they forgot home, family, wealth, life,
everything, Stewart, the rich merchant, saw simply the fact that the
war would cut off communication between the North and the
cotton-producing States, and that this would result in a rise in the
price of cotton goods; and so, amid the wild agitations of
patriotism, the beating of drums and the blaring of trumpets, he sent
out his agents and bought up all the cotton goods he could lay his
hands on. He made a million dollars, it is said, by this little piece
of cunning. But if all men had thought and acted as Stewart did, we
should have had no Union, no country, and there would be left to-day
neither honor nor manhood in all the world. The nation was saved by
those poor fellows who did not consider the price of cotton goods in
the hour of America's crucial agony. Their dust now billows the earth
of a hundred battlefields; but their memory will be kept sweet in the
hearts of men forever! On the other hand, the fortune of the great
merchant, as it did no good during his life, so, after his death, it
descended upon an alien to his blood; while even his wretched carcass
was denied, by the irony of fate, rest under his splendid mausoleum,
and may have found its final sepulchre in the stomachs of dogs!

"This little incident illustrates the whole matter. It is not
Intellect that rules the world of wealth, it is _Cunning_. _Muscle_
once dominated mankind--the muscle of the baron's right arm; and
Intellect had to fly to the priesthood, the monastery, the friar's
gown, for safety. Now _Muscle_ is the world's slave, and _Cunning_ is
the baron--the world's master.

"Let me give you another illustration: Ten thousand men are working
at a trade. One of them conceives the scheme of an invention, whereby
their productive power is increased tenfold. Each of them, we will
say, had been producing, by his toil, property worth four dollars and
a half per day, and his wages were, we will say, one dollar and a
half per day. Now, he is able with the new invention to produce
property worth forty-five dollars per day. Are his wages increased in
due proportion, to fifteen dollars per day, or even to five dollars
per day? Not at all. _Cunning_ has stepped in and examined the poor
workman's invention; it has bought it from him for a pittance; it
secures a patent--a monopoly under the shelter of unwise laws. The
workmen still get their $1.50 per day, and _Cunning_ pockets the
remainder. But this is not all: If one man can now do the work of
ten, then there are nine men thrown out of employment. But the nine
men must live; they want the one man's place; they are hungry; they
will work for less; and down go wages, until they reach the lowest
limit at which the workmen can possibly live. Society has produced
one millionaire and thousands of paupers. The millionaire cannot eat
any more or wear any more than one prosperous yeoman, and therefore
is of no more value to trade and commerce; but the thousands of
paupers have to be supported by the tax-payers, and they have no
money to spend, and they cannot buy the goods of the merchants, or
the manufacturers, and all business languishes. In short, the most
utterly useless, destructive and damnable crop a country can grow
is--millionaires. If a community were to send. to India and import a
lot of man-eating tigers, and turn them loose on the streets, to prey
on men, women and children, they would not inflict a tithe of the
misery that is caused by a like number of millionaires. And there
would be this further disadvantage: the inhabitants of the city could
turn out and kill the tigers, but the human destroyers are protected
by the benevolent laws of the very people they are immolating on the
altars of wretchedness and vice."

"But what is your remedy?" asked Max.

"Government," I replied; "government--national, state and
municipal--is the key to the future of the human race.

"There was a time when the town simply represented cowering peasants,
clustered under the shadow of the baron's castle for protection. It
advanced slowly and reluctantly along the road of civic development,
scourged forward by the whip of necessity. We have but to expand the
powers of government to solve the enigma of the world. Man separated
is man savage; man gregarious is man civilized. A higher development
in society requires that this instrumentality of co-operation shall
be heightened in its powers. There was a time when every man
provided, at great cost, for the carriage of his own letters. Now the
government, for an infinitely small charge, takes the business off
his hands. There was a time when each house had to provide itself
with water. Now the municipality furnishes water to all. The same is
true of light. At one time each family had to educate its own
children; now the state educates them. Once every man went armed to
protect himself. Now the city protects him by its armed police. These
hints must be followed out. The city of the future must furnish
doctors for all; lawyers for all; entertainments for all; business
guidance for all. It will see to it that no man is plundered, and no
man starved, who is willing to work."

"But," said Max, "if you do away with interest on money and thus
scatter coagulated capital into innumerable small enterprises, how
are you going to get along without the keen-brained masters of
business, who labor gigantically for gigantic personal profits; but
who, by their toll and their capital, bring the great body of
producers into relation with the great body of consumers? Are these
men not necessary to society? Do they not create occasion and
opportunity for labor? Are not their active and powerful brains at
the back of all progress? There may be a thousand men idling, and
poorly fed and clothed, in a neighborhood: along comes one of these
shrewd adventurers; he sees an opportunity to utilize the bark of the
trees and the ox-hides of the farmers' cattle, and he starts a
tannery. He may accumulate more money than the thousand men he sets
to work; but has he not done more? Is not his intellect immeasurably
more valuable than all those unthinking muscles?"

"There is much force in your argument," I replied, "and I do not
think that society should discourage such adventurers. But the
muscles of the many are as necessary to the man you describe as his
intellect is to the muscles; and as they are all men together there
should be some equity in the distribution of the profits. And
remember, we have gotten into a way of thinking as if numbers and
wealth were everything. It is better for a nation to contain thirty
million people, prosperous, happy and patriotic, than one hundred
millions, ignorant, wretched and longing for an opportunity to
overthrow all government. The over-population of the globe will come
soon enough. We have no interest in hurrying it. The silly ancestors
of the Americans called it 'national development' when they imported
millions of foreigners to take up the public lands, and left nothing
for their own children.

"And here is another point: Men work at first for a competence--for
enough to lift them above the reach of want in those days which they
know to be rapidly approaching, when they can no longer toil. But,
having reached that point, they go on laboring for vanity--one of the
shallowest of the human passions. The man who is worth $ 100,000 says
to himself, 'There is Jones; he is worth $500,000; he lives with a
display and extravagance I cannot equal. I must increase my fortune
to half a million.' Jones, on the other hand, is measuring himself
against Brown, who has a million. He knows that men cringe lower to
Brown than they do to him. He must have a million--half a million is
nothing. And Brown feels that he is overshadowed by Smith, with his
ten millions; and so the childish emulation continues. Men are
valued, not for themselves, but for their bank account. In the
meantime these vast concentrations of capital are made at the expense
of mankind. If, in a community of a thousand persons, there are one
hundred millions of wealth, and it is equally divided between them,
all are comfortable and happy. If, now, ten men, by cunning devices,
grasp three-fourths of all this wealth, and put it in their pockets,
there is but one-fourth left to divide among the nine hundred and
ninety, and they are therefore poor and miserable. Within certain
limits accumulation in one place represents denudation elsewhere.

"And thus, under the stimulus of shallow vanity," I continued, "a
rivalry of barouches and bonnets--an emulation of waste and
extravagance--all the powers of the minds of men are turned--not to
lift up the world, but to degrade it. A crowd of little
creatures--men and women--are displayed upon a high platform, in the
face of mankind, parading and strutting about, with their noses in
the air, as tickled as a monkey with a string of beads, and covered
with a glory which is not their own, but which they have been able to
purchase; crying aloud: 'Behold what I _have got!_' not, 'Behold what
I _am!_'

"And then the inexpressible servility of those below them! The fools
would not recognize Socrates if they fell over him in the street; but
they can perceive Crœsus a mile off; they can smell him a block
away; and they will dislocate their vertebrĉ abasing themselves
before him. It reminds one of the time of Louis XIV. in France, when
millions of people were in the extremest misery--even unto
starvation; while great grandees thought it the acme of earthly bliss
and honor to help put the king to bed, or take off his dirty socks.
And if a common man, by any chance, caught a glimpse of royalty
changing its shirt, he felt as if he had looked into heaven and
beheld Divinity creating worlds. Oh, it is enough to make a man
loathe his species."

"Come, come," said Maximilian, "you grow bitter. Let us go to dinner
before you abolish all the evils of the world, or I shall be disposed
to quit New York and buy a corner lot in Utopia."



Precisely as Rudolph had forecast, things came to pass. I arrived at
the palace of the Prince at half past six; at half past seven, my
ordinary suit was covered with a braided livery, and I accompanied
Rudolph to the council-chamber. We placed the table, chairs, pens,
ink, paper, etc., in order. Watching our opportunity, we drew aside a
heavy box in which grew a noble specimen of the _cactus grandiflorus_
in full bloom, the gorgeous flowers just opening with the sunset, and
filling the chamber with their delicious perfume. I crawled through
the opening; took off my liveried suit; handed it back to Rudolph; he
pushed the box into its place again; I inserted the hooks in their
staples, and the barricade was complete. With many whispered
injunctions and directions he left me. I heard him go out and lock
the door--not the door by which we had entered--and all was silence.

There was room, by doubling up my limbs, Turk-fashion, to sit down in
the inclosure. I waited. I thought of Estella. Rudolph had assured me
that she had not been disturbed. They were waiting for hunger to
compel her to eat the drugged food. Then I wondered whether we would
escape in safety. Then my thoughts dwelt on the words she had spoken
of me, and I remembered the pleased look upon her face when we met in
Rudolph's room, and my visions became very pleasant. Even the dead
silence and oppressive solitude of the two great rooms could not
still the rapid beatings of my heart. I forgot my mission and thought
only of Estella and the future.

I was recalled to earth and its duties by the unlocking of the
farther door. I heard Rudolph say, as if in answer to a question:

"Yes, my lord, I have personally examined the rooms and made sure
that there are no spies concealed anywhere."

"Let me see," said the Prince; "lift up the tapestry."

I could hear them moving about the council-chamber, apparently going
around the walls. Then I heard them advancing into the conservatory.
I shrank down still lower; they moved here and there among the
flowers, and even paused for a few moments before the mass of
flowering cacti.

"That _flagelliformis_," said the Prince, "looks sickly. The soil is
perhaps too rich. Tell the gardener to change the earth about it."

"I shall do so, my lord," said Rudolph; and to my great relief they
moved off. In a few minutes I heard them in the council-chamber. With
great caution I rose slowly. A screen of flowers had been cunningly
placed by Rudolph between the cacti and that apartment. At last,
half-stooping, I found an aperture in the rich mass of blossoms. The
Prince was talking to Rudolph. I had a good view of his person. He
was dressed in an evening suit. He was a large man, somewhat
corpulent; or, as Rudolph had said, bloated. He had a Hebraic cast of
countenance; his face seemed to be all angles. The brow was square

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