City of Endless Night
Part 3 out of 5
"But while William III curtailed general education he increased the
specialized education and established the Information Staff to supervise
the dissemination of all knowledge."
"It is an atrocious system," broke in Zimmern, "but if we had not
abolished the family, curtailed knowledge and bred soldiers and
workers from special non-intellectual strains this sunless world of
ours could not have endured."
"Quite so," said Hellar, "whether we approve of it or not certainly
there was no other way to accomplish the end sought. By no other plan
could German isolation have been maintained."
"But why was isolation deemed desirable?" I enquired.
"Because," said Zimmern, "it was that or extermination. Even now we who
wish to put an end to this isolation, we few who want to see the world
as our ancestors saw it, know that the price may be annihilation."
"So," repeated Hellar, "so annihilation for Germany, but better so--and
yet I go on as Director of Information; Dr. Zimmern goes on as Chief
Eugenist; and you go on seeking to increase the food supply, and so we
all go on as part of the diabolic system, because as individuals we
cannot destroy it, but must go on or be destroyed by it. We have riches
here and privileges. We keep the labourers subdued below us, Royalty
enthroned above us, and the World State at bay about us, all by this
science and system which only we few intellectuals understand and which
we keep going because we can not stop it without being destroyed by
"But we shall stop it," declared Zimmern, "we must stop it--with
Armstadt's help we can stop it. You and I, Hellar, are mere cogs; if we
break others can take our places, but Armstadt has power. What he knows
no one else knows. He has power. We have only weakness because others
can take our place. And because he has power let us help him find
"It seems to me," I said, "that the way must be by education. More men
must think as we do."
"But they can not think," replied Hellar, "they have nothing to
"But the books," I said, "there is power in knowledge."
"But," said Hellar, "the labourer can not read the forbidden book and
the intellectual will not, for if he did he would be afraid to talk
about it, and what a man can not talk about he rarely cares to read. The
love or hatred of knowledge is a matter of training. It was only last
week that I was visiting a boy's school in order to study the effect of
a new reader of which complaint had been made that it failed
sufficiently to exalt the virtue of obedience. I was talking with the
teacher while the boys assembled in the morning. We heard a great
commotion and a mob of boys came in dragging one of their companions who
had a bruised face and torn clothing. "Master, he had a forbidden book,"
they shouted, and the foremost held out the tattered volume as if it
were loathsome poison. It proved to be a text on cellulose spinning.
Where the culprit had found it we could not discover but he was sent to
the school prison and the other boys were given favours for
"But how is it," I asked, "that books are not written by free-minded
authors and secretly printed and circulated?"
At this question my companions smiled. "You chemists forget," said
Hellar, "that it takes printing presses to make books. There is no press
in all Berlin except in the shops of the Information Staff. Every paper,
every book, and every picture originates and is printed there. Every
news and book distributor must get his stock from us and knows that he
must have only in his possession that which bears the imprint for his
level. That is why we have no public libraries and no trade in
"In early life I favoured this system, but in time the foolishness of
the thing came to perplex, then to annoy, and finally to disgust me. But
I wanted the money and honour that promotion brought and so I have won
to my position and power; with my right hand I uphold the system and
with my left hand I seek to pull out the props on which it rests. For
twenty years now I have nursed the secret traffic in books and risked my
life many times thereby, yet my successes have been few and scattered.
Every time the auditors check my stock and accounts I tremble in fear,
for embezzling books is more dangerous than embezzling credit at
"But who," I asked, "write the books?"
"For the technical books it is not hard to find authors," explained
Hellar, "for any man well schooled in his work can write of it. But the
task of getting the more general books written is not so easy. For then
it is not so much a question of the author knowing the things of which
he writes but of knowing what the various groups are to be permitted
"That writing is done exclusively by especially trained workers of the
Information Service. I myself began as such a writer and studied long
under the older masters. The school of scientific lying, I called it,
but strange to say I used to enjoy such work and did it remarkably well.
As recognition of my ability I was commissioned to write the book 'God's
Anointed.' Through His Majesty's approval of my work I now owe my
position on the Staff.
"His Majesty," continued Hellar, "was only twenty-six years of age when
he came to the throne, but he decided at once that a new religious book
should be written in which he would be proclaimed as 'God's Anointed
ruler of the World.'
"I had never before spoken with the high members of the Royal House, and
I was trembling with eagerness and fear as I was ushered into His
Majesty's presence. The Emperor sat at his great black table; before him
was an old book. He turned to me and said, 'Have you ever heard of the
"My Chief had informed me that the new book was to be based on the old
Bible that the Christians had received from the Hebrews. So I said,
'Yes, Your Majesty, I am familiar with many of its words.'
"He looked at me with a gloating suspicion. 'Ah, ha,' he said, 'then
there is something amiss in the Information Service--you are in the
third rank of your service and the Bible is permitted only to the
"I saw that my statement unless modified would result in an embarrassing
investigation. 'I have never read the Christian Bible,' I said, 'but my
mother must have read it for when as a child I visited her she quoted to
me long passages from the Bible.'
"His Majesty smiled in a pleased fashion. 'That is it,' he said, 'women
are essentially religious by nature, because they are trusting and
obedient. It was a mistake to attempt to stamp out religion. It is the
doctrine of obedience. Therefore I shall revive religion, but it shall
be a religion of obedience to the House of Hohenzollern. The God of the
Hebrews declared them to be his chosen people. But they proved a servile
and mercenary race. They traded their swords for shekels and became a
byword and a hissing among the nations--and they were scattered to the
four corners of the earth. I shall revive that God. And this time he
shall chose more wisely, for the Germans shall be his people. The idea
is not mine. William the Great had that idea, but the revolution swept
it away. It shall be revived. We shall have a new Bible, based upon the
old one, a third dispensation, to replace the work of Moses and Jesus.
And I too shall be a lawgiver--I shall speak the word of God.'"
Hellar paused; a smile crept over his face. Then he laughed softly and
to himself--but Dr. Zimmern only shook his head sadly.
"Yes, I wrote the book," continued Hellar. "It required four years, for
His Majesty was very critical, and did much revising. I had a long
argument with him over the question of retaining Hell. I was bitterly
opposed to it and represented to His Majesty that no religion had ever
thrived on fear of punishment without a corresponding hope of reward.
'If you are to have no Heaven,' I insisted, 'then you must have
"'But we do not need Heaven,' argued His Majesty, 'Heaven is
superfluous. It is an insult to my reign. Is it not enough that a man is
a German, and may serve the House of Hohenzollern?'
"'Then why,' I asked, 'do you need a Hell?' I should have been shot for
that but His Majesty did not see the implication. He replied coolly:
"'We must have a Hell because there is one way that my subjects can
escape me. It is a sin of our race that the Eugenics Office should have
bred out--but they have failed. It is an inborn sin for it is chiefly
committed by our children before they come to comprehend the glory of
being German. How else, if you do not have a Hell in your religion, can
you check suicide?'
"Of course there was logic in his contention and so I gave in and made
the Children's Hell. It is a gruesome doctrine, that a child who kills
himself does not really die. It is the one thing in the whole book that
makes me feel most intellectually unclean for writing it. But I wrote it
and when the book was finished and His Majesty had signed the
manuscript, for the first time in over a century we printed a bible on a
German press. The press where the first run was made we named 'Old
"Gutenberg invented the printing press," explained Zimmern, fearing I
might not comprehend.
"Yes," said Hellar with a curling lip, "and Gutenberg was a German, and
so am I. He printed a Bible which he believed, and I wrote one which I
do not believe."
"But I am glad," concluded Hellar as he arose, "that I do not believe
Gutenberg's Bible either, for I should very much dislike to think of
meeting him in Paradise."
After taking leave of my companions I walked on alone, oblivious to the
gay throng, for I had many things on which to ponder. In these two men I
felt that I had found heroic figures. Their fund of knowledge, which
they prized so highly, seemed to me pitifully circumscribed and limited,
their revolutionary plans hopelessly vague and futile. But the
intellectual stature of a man is measured in terms of the average of his
race, and, thus viewed, Zimmern and Hellar were intellectual giants of
As I walked through a street of shops. I paused before the display
window of a bookstore of the level. Most of these books I had previously
discovered were lurid-titled tales of licentious love. But among them I
now saw a volume bearing the title "God's Anointed," and recalled that I
had seen it before and assumed it to be but another like its fellows.
Entering the store I secured a copy and, impatient to inspect my
purchase, I bent my steps to my favourite retreat in the nearby Hall of
Flowers. In a secluded niche near the misty fountain I began a hasty
perusal of this imperially inspired word of God who had anointed the
Hohenzollerns masters of the earth. Hellar's description had prepared me
for a preposterous and absurd work, but I had not anticipated anything
quite so audacious could be presented to a race of civilized men, much
less that they could have accepted it in good faith as the Germans
"God's Anointed," as Hellar had scoffingly inferred, not only proclaimed
the Germans as the chosen race, but also proclaimed an actual divinity
of the blood of the House of Hohenzollern. That William II did have some
such notions in his egomania I believe is recorded in authentic history.
But the way Eitel I had adapted that faith to the rather depressing
facts of the failure of world conquest would have been extremely comical
to me, had I not seen ample evidence of the colossal effect of such a
faith working in the credulous child-mind of a people so utterly devoid
of any saving sense of humour.
Not unfamiliar with the history of the temporal reign of the Popes of
the middle ages, I could readily comprehend the practical efficiency of
such a mixture of religious faith with the affairs of earth. For the God
of the German theology exacted no spiritual worship of his people, but
only a very temporal service to the deity's earthly incarnation in the
form of the House of Hohenzollern.
The greatest virtue, according to this mundane theology, was obedience,
and this doctrine was closely interwoven with the caste system of German
society. The virtue of obedience required the German to renounce
discontent with his station, and to accept not only the material status
into which he was born, with science aforethought, but the intellectual
limits and horizons of that status. The old Christian doctrine of heresy
was broadened to encompass the entire mental life. To think forbidden
thoughts, to search after forbidden knowledge, that was at once treason
against the Royal House and rebellion against the divine plan.
German theology, confounding divine and human laws, permitted no dual
overlapping spheres of mundane and celestial rule as had all previous
religious and, social orders since Christ had commanded his disciples to
"Render unto Caesar--" There could be no conscientious objection to
German law on religious grounds; no problem of church and state, for the
church was the state.
In this book that masqueraded as the word of God, I looked in vain for
some revelation of future life. But it was essentially a one-world
theology; the most immortal thing was the Royal House for which the
worker was asked to slave, the soldier to die that Germany might be
ruled by the Hohenzollerns and that the Hohenzollerns might sometime
rule the world.
As the freedom of conscience and the institution of marriage had been
discarded so this German faith had scrapped the immortality of the soul,
save for the single incongruous doctrine that a child taking his own
life does not die but lives on in ceaseless torment in a ghoulish
As I closed the cursed volume my mind called up a picture of Teutonic
hordes pouring from the forests of the North and blotting out what
Greece and Rome had builded. From thence my roving fancy tripped over
the centuries and lived again with men who cannot die. I stood with
Luther at the Diet of Worms. With Kant I sounded the deeps of
philosophy. I sailed with Humboldt athwart uncharted seas. I fought with
Goethe for the redemption of a soul sold to the Devil. And with Schubert
and Heine I sang:
_Du bist wie eine Blume,
So hold und schoen und rein,_
* * * * *
_Betend dass Gott dich erhalte,
So rein und schoen und hold._
But what a cankerous end was here. This people which the world had once
loved and honoured was now bred a beast of burden, a domesticated race,
saddled and trained to bear upon its back the House of Hohenzollern as
the ass bore Balaam. But the German ass wore the blinders that science
had made--and saw no angel.
As I sat musing thus and gazing into the spray of the fountain I
glimpsed a grey clad figure, standing in the shadows of a viney bower.
Although I could not distinguish her face through the leafy tracery I
knew that it was Bertha, and my heart thrilled to think that she had
returned to the site of our meeting. Thoroughly ashamed of the faithless
doubts that I had so recently entertained of her innocence and
sincerity, I arose and hastened toward her. But in making the detour
about the pool I lost sight of the grey figure, for she was standing
well back in the arbour. As I approached the place where I had seen her
I came upon two lovers standing with arms entwined in the path at the
pool's edge. Not wishing to disturb them, I turned back through one of
the arbours and approached by another path. As I slipped noiselessly
along in my felt-soled shoes I heard Bertha's voice, and quite near,
through the leafy tracery, I glimpsed the grey of her gown.
"Why with your beauty," came the answering voice of a man, "did you not
find a lover from the Royal Level?"
"Because," Bertha's voice replied, "I would not accept them. I could not
love them. I could not give myself without love."
"But surely," insisted the man, "you have found a lover here?"
"But I have not," protested the innocent voice, "because I have sought
"Now long have you been here?" bluntly asked the man.
"Thirty days," replied the girl.
"Then you must have found a lover, your début fund would all be gone."
"But," cried Bertha, in a tearful voice, "I only eat one meal a day--do
you not see how thin I am?"
"Now that's clever," rejoined the man, "come, I'll accept it for what it
is worth, and look you up afterwards," and he laughingly led her away,
leaving me undiscovered in the neighbouring arbour to pass judgment on
my own simplicity.
As I walked toward the elevator, I was painfully conscious of two ideas.
One was that Marguerite had been quite correct with her information
about the free women who found it profitable to play the rôle of
maidenly innocence. The other was that Dr. Zimmern's precious geography
was in the hands of the artful, child-eyed hypocrite who had so cleverly
beguiled me with her rôle of heroic virtue. Clearly, I was trapped, and
to judge better with what I had to deal I decided to go at once to the
Place of Records, of which I had twice heard.
The Place of Records proved to be a public directory of the financial
status of the free women. Since the physical plagues that are propagated
by promiscuous love had been completely exterminated, and since there
were no moral standards to preserve, there was no need of other
restrictions on the lives of the women than an economic one.
The rules of the level were prominently posted. As all consequential
money exchanges were made through bank checks, the keeping of the
records was an easy matter. These rules I found forbade any woman to
cash checks in excess of one thousand marks a month, or in excess of two
hundred marks from any one man. That was simple enough, and I smiled as
I recalled that I had gone the legal limit in my first adventure.
Following the example of other men, I stepped to the window and gave the
name: "Bertha 34 R 6." A clerk brought me a book opened to the page of
her record. At the top of the page was entered this statement, "Bred for
an actress but rejected for both professional work and maternity because
found devoid of sympathetic emotions." I laughed as I read this, but
when on the next line I saw from the date of her entrance to the level
that Bertha's thirty days was in reality nearly three years, my mirth
turned to anger. I looked down the list of entries and found that for
some time she had been cashing each month the maximum figure of a
thousand marks. Evidently her little scheme of pensive posing in the
Hall of Flowers was working nicely. In the current month, hardly half
gone, she already had to her credit seven hundred marks; and last on the
list was my own contribution, freshly entered.
"She has three hundred marks yet," commented the clerk.
"Yes, I see,"--and I turned to go. But I paused and stepped again to the
window. "There is another girl I would like to look up," I said, "but I
have only her name and no number."
"Do you know the date of her arrival?" asked the clerk.
"Yes, she has been here four years and six days. The name is
The clerk walked over to a card file and after some searching brought
back a slip with half a dozen numbers. "Try these," he said, and he
brought me the volumes. The second record I inspected read: "Marguerite,
78 K 4, Love-child." On the page below was a single entry for each
month of two hundred marks and every entry from the first was in the
name of Ludwig Zimmern.
I kept my appointment with Bertha, but found it difficult to hide my
anger as she greeted me. Wishing to get the interview over, I asked
abruptly, "Have you read the book I left?"
"Not all of it," she replied, "I found it rather dull."
"Then perhaps I had better take it with me."
"But I think I shall keep it awhile," she demurred.
"No," I insisted, as I looked about and failed to see the geography, "I
wish you would get it for me. I want to take it back, in fact it was a
"Most likely," she smiled archly, "but since you are not a staff
officer, and had no right to have that book, you might as well know that
you will get it when I please to give it to you."
Seeing that she was thoroughly aware of my predicament, I grew
frightened and my anger slipped from its moorings. "See here," I cried,
"your little story of innocence and virtue is very clever, but I've
looked you up and--"
"And what--," she asked, while through her child-like mask the subtle
trickery of her nature mocked me with a look of triumph--"and what do
you propose to do about it?"
I realized the futility of my rage. "I shall do nothing. I ask only that
you return the book."
"But books are so valuable," taunted Bertha.
Dejectedly I sank to the couch. She came over and sat on a cushion at my
feet. "Really Karl," she purred, "you should not be angry. If I insist
on keeping your book it is merely to be sure that you will not forget
me. I rather like you; you are so queer and talk such odd things. Did
you learn your strange ways of making love from the book about the
inferior races in the world outside the walls? I really tried to read
some of it, but I could not understand half the words."
I rose and strode about the room. "Will you get me the book?" I
"And lose you?"
"Well, what of it? You can get plenty more fools like me."
"Yes, but I would have to stand and stare into that fountain for hours
at a time. It is very tiresome."
"Just what do you want?" I asked, trying to speak calmly.
"Why you," she said, placing her slender white hands upon my arm, and
holding up an inviting face.
But anger at my own gullibility had killed her power to draw me, and I
shook her off. "I want that book," I said coldly, "what are your terms?"
And I drew my check book from my pocket.
"How many blanks have you there?" she asked with a greedy light in her
eyes--"but never mind to count them. Make them all out to me at two
hundred marks, and date each one a month ahead."
Realizing that any further exhibition of fear or anger would put me more
within her power, I sat down and began to write the checks. The fund I
was making over to her was quite useless to me but when I had made out
twenty checks I stopped. "Now," I said, "this is enough. You take these
or nothing." Tearing out the written checks I held them toward her.
As she reached out her hand I drew them back--"Go get the book," I
"But you are unfair," said Bertha, "you are the stronger. You can take
the book from me. I cannot take the checks from you."
"That is so," I admitted, and handed the checks to her. She looked at
them carefully and slipped them into her bosom, and then, reaching under
the pile of silken pillows, she pulled forth the geography.
I seized it and turned toward the door, but she caught my arm. "Don't,"
she pleaded, "don't go. Don't be angry with me. Why should you dislike
me? I've only played my part as you men make it for us--but I do not
want your money for nothing. You liked me when you thought me innocent.
Why hate me when you find that I am clever?"
Again those slender arms stole around my neck, and the entrancing face
was raised to mine. But the vision of a finer, nobler face rose before
me, and I pushed away the clinging arms. "I'm sorry," I said, "I am
going now--going back to my work and forget you. It is not your fault.
You are only what Germany has made you--but," I added with a smile, "if
you must go to the Hall of Flowers, please do not wear that grey gown."
She stood very still as I edged toward the door, and the look of baffled
child-like innocence crept back into her eyes, a real innocence this
time of things she did not know, and could not understand.
THE SUN SHINES UPON A KING AND A GIRL READS OF THE FALL OF BABYLON
Embittered by this unhappy ending of my romance, I turned to my work
with savage zeal, determined not again to be diverted by a personal
effort to save the Germans from their sins. But this application to my
test-tubes was presently interrupted by a German holiday which was known
as The Day of the Sun.
From the conversation of my assistants I gathered that this was an
annual occasion of particular importance. It was, in fact, His Majesty's
birthday, and was celebrated by permitting the favoured classes to see
the ruler himself at the Place in the Sun. For this Royal exhibition I
received a blue ticket of which my assistants were curiously envious.
They inspected the number of it and the hour of my admittance to the
Royal Level. "It is the first appearance of the day," they said. "His
Majesty will be fresh to speak; you will be near; you will be able to
see His Face without the aid of a glass; you will be able to hear His
Voice, and not merely the reproducing horns."
In the morning our news bulletin was wholly devoted to announcements and
patriotic exuberances. Across the sheet was flamed a headline stating
that the meteorologist of the Roof Observatory reported that the sun
would shine in full brilliancy upon the throne. This seemed very
puzzling to me. For the Place in the Sun was clearly located on the
Royal Level and some hundred metres beneath the roof of the city.
I went, at the hour announced on my ticket, to the indicated elevator;
and, with an eager crowd of fellow scientists, stepped forth into a vast
open space where the vaulted ceiling was supported by massive fluted
columns that rose to twice the height of the ordinary spacing of the
levels of the city.
An enormous crowd of men of the higher ranks was gathering. Closely
packed and standing, the multitude extended to the sides and the rear of
my position for many hundred metres until it seemed quite lost under the
glowing lights in the distance. Before us a huge curtain hung.
Emblazoned on its dull crimson background of subdued socialism was a
gigantic black eagle, the leering emblem of autocracy. Above and
extending back over us, appeared in the ceiling a deep and
As the crowd seemed complete the men about me consulted their watches
and then suddenly grew quiet in expectancy. The lights blinked twice and
went out, and we were bathed in a hush of darkness. The heavy curtain
rustled like the mantle of Jove while from somewhere above I heard the
shutters of the windows of heaven move heavily on their rollers. A
flashing brilliant beam of light shot through the blackness and fell in
wondrous splendour upon a dazzling metallic dais, whereon rested the
gilded throne of the House of Hohenzollern.
Seated upon the throne was a man--a very little man he seemed amidst
such vast and vivid surroundings. He was robed in a cape of dazzling
white, and on his head he wore a helmet of burnished platinum. Before
the throne and slightly to one side stood the round form of a
His Majesty rose, stepped a few paces forward; and, as he with solemn
deliberation raised his hand into the shaft of burning light, from the
throng there came a frenzied shouting, which soon changed into a sort of
chanting and then into a throaty song.
His Majesty lowered his hand; the song ceased; a great stillness hung
over the multitude. Eitel I, Emperor of the Germans, now raised his face
and stared for a moment unblinkingly into the beam of sunlight, then he
lowered his gaze toward the sea of upturned faces.
"My people," he said, in a voice which for all his pompous effort, fell
rather flat in the immensity, "you are assembled here in the Place of
the Sun to do honour to God's anointed ruler of the world."
From ten thousand throats came forth another raucous shout.
"Two and a half centuries ago," now spoke His Majesty, "God appointed
the German race, under William the Great, of the House of Hohenzollern,
to be the rulers of the world.
"For nineteen hundred years, God in his infinite patience, had awaited
the outcome of the test of the Nazarene's doctrine of servile humility
and effeminate peace. But the Christian nations of the earth were
weighed in the balance of Divine wrath and found wanting. Wallowing in
hypocrisy and ignorance, wanting in courage and valour; behind a
pretence of altruism they cloaked their selfish greed for gold.
"Of all the people of the earth our race alone possessed the two keys to
power, the mastery of science and the mastery of the sword. So the
Germans were called of God to instil fear and reverence into the hearts
of the inferior races. That was the purpose of the First World War under
my noble ancestor, William II.
"But the envious nations, desperate in their greed, banded together to
defy our old German God, and destroy His chosen people. But this was
only a divine trial of our worth, for the plans of God are for eternity.
His days to us are centuries. And we did well to patiently abide the
complete unfoldment of the Divine plan.
"Before two generations had passed our German ancestors cast off the
yoke of enslavement and routed the oppressors in the Second World War.
Lest His chosen race be contaminated by the swinish herds of the mongrel
nations God called upon His people to relinquish for a time the fruits
of conquest, that they might be further purged by science and become a
pure-bred race of super-men.
"That purification has been accomplished for every German is bred and
trained by science as ordained by God. There are no longer any mongrels
among the men of Germany, for every one of you is created for his
special purpose and every German is fitted for his particular place as a
member of the super-race.
"The time now draws near when the final purpose of our good old German
God is to be fulfilled. The day of this fulfilment is known unto me. The
sun which shines upon this throne is but a symbol of that which has been
denied you while all these things were being made ready. But now the day
draws near when you shall, under my leadership, rule over the world and
the mongrel peoples. And to each of you shall be given a place in
The voice had ceased. A great stillness hung over the multitude. Eitel
I, Emperor of the Germans, threw back his cape and drew his sword. With
a sweeping flourish he slashed the paper globe in twain.
From the myriad throated throng came a reverberating shout that rolled
and echoed through the vaulted catacomb. The crimson curtain dropped.
The shutters were thrown athwart the reflected beam of sunlight. The
lights of man again glowed pale amidst the maze of columns.
Singing and marching, the men filed toward the elevators. The guards
urged haste to clear the way, for the God of the Germans could not stay
the march of the sun across the roof of Berlin, and a score of paper
globes must yet be slashed for other shouting multitudes before the
sun's last gleam be twisted down to shine upon a king.
Although the working hours of the day were scarcely one-fourth gone, it
was impossible for me to return to my laboratory for the lighting
current was shut off for the day. I therefore decided to utilize the
occasion by returning the geography which I had rescued from Bertha.
Dr. Zimmern's invitation to make use of his library had been cordial
enough, but its location in Marguerite's apartment had made me a little
reticent about going there except in the Doctor's company. Yet I did not
wish to admit to Zimmern my sensitiveness in the matter--and the
geography had been kept overlong.
This occasion being a holiday, I found the resorts on the Level of Free
Women crowded with merrymakers. But I sought the quieter side streets
and made my way towards Marguerite's apartment.
"I thought you would be celebrating today," she said as I entered.
"I feel that I can utilize the time better by reading," I replied.
"There is so much I want to learn, and, thanks to Dr. Zimmern, I now
have the opportunity."
"But surely you are to see the Emperor in the Place in the Sun," said
Marguerite when she had returned the geography to the secret shelf.
"I have already seen him," I replied, "my ticket was for the first
"It must be a magnificent sight," she sighed. "I should so love to see
the sunlight. The pictures show us His Majesty's likeness, but what is a
picture of sunlight?"
"But you speak only of a reflected beam; how would you like to see real
"Oh, on the roof of Berlin? But that is only for Royalty and the roof
guards. I've tried to imagine that, but I know that I fail as a blind
man must fail to imagine colour."
"Close your eyes," I said playfully, "and try very hard."
Solemnly Marguerite closed her eyes.
For a moment I smiled, and then the smile relaxed, for I felt as one who
scoffs at prayer.
"And did you see the sunlight?" I asked, as she opened her eyes and
gazed at me with dilated pupils.
"No," she answered hoarsely, "I only saw man-light as far as the walls
of Berlin, and beyond that it was all empty blackness--and it
"The fear of darkness," I said, "is the fear of ignorance."
"You try," and she reached over with a soft touch of her finger tips on
my closing eyelids. "Now keep them closed and tell me what you see. Tell
me it is not all black."
"I see light," I said, "white light, on a billowy sea of clouds, as from
a flying plane.... And now I see the sun--it is sinking behind a rugged
line of snowy peaks and the light is dimming.... It is gone now, but it
is not dark, for moonlight, pale and silvery, is shimmering on a choppy
sea.... Now it is the darkest hour, but it is never black, only a dark,
dark grey, for the roof of the world is pricked with a million points of
light.... The grey of the east is shot with the rose of dawn.... The
rose brightens to scarlet and the curve of the sun appears--red like the
blood of war.... And now the sky is crystal blue and the grey sands of
the desert have turned to glittering gold."
I had ceased my poetic visioning and was looking into Marguerite's face.
The light of worship I saw in her eyes filled me with a strange
trembling and holy awe.
"And I saw only blackness," she faltered. "Is it that I am born blind
and you with vision?"
"Perhaps what you call vision is only memory," I said--but, as I
realized where my words were leading, I hastened to add--"Memory, from
another life. Have you ever heard of such a thing as the reincarnation
of the soul?"
"That means," she said hesitatingly, "that there is something in us that
does not die--immortality, is it not?"
"Well, it is something like that," I answered huskily, as I wondered
what she might know or dream of that which lay beyond the ken of the
gross materialism of her race. "Immortality is a very beautiful idea," I
went on, "and science has destroyed much that is beautiful. But it is a
pity that Col. Hellar had to eliminate the idea of immortality from the
German Bible. Surely such a book makes no pretence of being scientific."
"So Col. Hellar has told you that he wrote 'God's Anointed'?" exclaimed
Marguerite with eager interest.
"Yes, he told me of that and I re-read the book with an entirely
different viewpoint since I came to understand the spirit in which it
"Ah--I see." Marguerite rose and stepped toward the library. "We have a
book here," she called, "that you have not read, and one that you cannot
buy. It will show you the source of Col. Hellar's inspiration."
She brought out a battered volume. "This book," she stated, "has given
the inspectors more trouble than any other book in existence. Though
they have searched for thirty years, they say there are more copies of
it still at large than of all other forbidden books combined."
I gazed at the volume she handed me--I was holding a copy of the
Christian Bible translated six centuries previous by Martin Luther. It
was indeed the very text from which as a boy I had acquired much of my
reading knowledge of the language. But I decided that I had best not
reveal to Marguerite my familiarity with it, and so I sat down and
turned the pages with assumed perplexity.
"It is a very odd book," I remarked presently. "Have you read it?"
"Oh, yes," exclaimed Marguerite. "I often read it; I think it is more
interesting than all these modern books, but perhaps that is because I
cannot understand it; I love mysterious things."
"There is too much of it for a man as busy as I am to hope to read," I
remarked, after turning a few more pages, "and so I had better not
begin. Will you not choose something and read it aloud to me?"
Marguerite declined at first; but, when I insisted, she took the
tattered Bible and turned slowly through its pages.
And when she read, it was the story of a king who revelled with his
lords, and of a hand that wrote upon a wall.
Her voice was low, and possessed a rhythm and cadence that transmuted
the guttural German tongue into musical poetry.
Again she read, of a man who, though shorn of his strength by the wiles
of a woman and blinded by his enemies, yet pushed asunder the pillars
of a city.
At random she read other tales, of rulers and of slaves, of harlots and
of queens--the wisdom of prophets--the songs of kings.
Together we pondered the meanings of these strange things, and exulted
in the beauty of that which was meaningless. And so the hours passed;
the day drew near its close and Marguerite read from the last pages of
the book, of a voice that cried mightily--"Babylon the great is fallen,
is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every
FINDING THEREIN ONE RIGHTEOUS MAN I HAVE COMPASSION ON BERLIN
My first call upon Marguerite had been followed by other visits when we
had talked of books and read together. On these occasions I had
carefully suppressed my desire to speak of more personal things. But,
constantly reminded by my own troubled conscience, I grew fearful lest
the old doctor should discover that the books were the lesser part of
the attraction that drew me to Marguerite's apartment, and my fear was
increased as I realized that my calls on Zimmern had abruptly ceased.
Thinking to make amends I went one evening to the doctor's apartment.
"I was going out shortly," said Zimmern, as he greeted me. "I have a
dinner engagement with Hellar on the Free Level. But I still have a little
time; if it pleases you we might walk along to our library."
I promptly accepted the invitation, hoping that it would enable me
better to establish my relation to Marguerite and Zimmern in a safe
triangle of mutual friendship. As we walked, Zimmern, as if he read my
thoughts, turned the conversation to the very subject that was uppermost
in my mind.
"I am glad, Armstadt," he said with a gracious smile, "that you and
Marguerite seem to enjoy each other's friendship. I had often wished
there were younger men in our group, since her duties as caretaker of
our books quite forbids her cultivating the acquaintance of any men
outside our chosen few. Marguerite is very patient with the dull talk of
us old men, but life is not all books, and there is much that youth
For these words of Zimmern's I was quite unprepared. He seemed to be
inviting me to make love to Marguerite, and I wondered to what extent
the prevailing social ethics might have destroyed the finer
sensibilities that forbid the sharing of a woman's love.
When we reached the apartment Marguerite greeted us with a perfect
democracy of manner. But my reassurance of the moment was presently
disturbed when she turned to Zimmern and said: "Now that you are here, I
am going for a bit of a walk; I have not been out for two whole days."
"Very well," the doctor replied. "I cannot remain long as I have an
engagement with Hellar, but perhaps Armstadt will remain until
"Then I shall have him all to myself," declared Marguerite with quiet
Though I glanced from the old doctor to the young woman in questioning
amazement, neither seemed in the least embarrassed or aware that
anything had been said out of keeping with the customary propriety
Marguerite, throwing the blue velvet cape about her bare white
shoulders, paused to give the old doctor an affectionate kiss, and with
a smile for me was gone.
For a few moments the doctor sat musing; but when he turned to me it was
to say: "I hope that you are making good use of our precious
accumulation of knowledge."
In reply I assured him of my hearty appreciation of the library.
"You can see now," continued Zimmern, "how utterly the mind of the race
has been enslaved, how all the vast store of knowledge, that as a whole
makes life possible, is parcelled out for each. Not one of us is
supposed to know of those vital things outside our own narrow field.
That knowledge is forbidden us lest we should understand the workings of
our social system and question the wisdom of it all. And so, while each
is wiser in his own little cell than were the men of the old order, yet
on all things else we are little children, accepting what we are taught,
doing what we are told, with no mind, no souls of our own. Scientists
have ceased to be men, and have become thinking machines, specialized
for their particular tasks."
"That is true," I said, "but what are we to do about it? You have by
these forbidden books acquired a realization of the enslavement of the
race--but the others, all these millions of professional men, are they
not hopelessly rendered impotent by the systematic Suppression of
"The millions, yes," replied Zimmern, "but there are the chosen few; we
who have seen the light must find a way for the liberation of all."
"Do you mean," I asked eagerly, "that you are planning some secret
rebellion--that you hope for some possible rising of the people to
overthrow the system?"
Zimmern looked at me in astonishment. "The people," he said, "cannot
rise. In the old order such a thing was possible--revolutions they
called them--the people led by heroes conceived passions for liberty.
But such powers of mental reaction no longer exist in German minds. We
have bred and trained it out of them. One might as well have expected
the four-footed beasts of burden in the old agricultural days to rebel
against their masters."
"But," I protested, "if the people could be enlightened?"
"How," exclaimed Zimmern impatiently, "can you enlighten them? You are
young, Armstadt, very young to talk of such things--even if a rebellion
was a possibility what would be the gain? Rebellion means disorder--once
the ventilating machinery of the city and the food processes were
disturbed we should all perish in this trap--we should all die of
suffocation and starvation."
"Then why," I asked, "do you talk of this thing? If rebellion is
impossible and would, if possible, destroy us all, then is there
Zimmern paced the floor for a time in silence and then, facing me
squarely, he said, "I have confessed to you my dissatisfaction with the
existing state. In doing this I placed myself in great danger, but I
risked that and now I shall risk more. I ask you now, Are you with us
to the end?"
"Yes," I replied very gravely, "I am with you although I cannot fully
understand on what you base your hope."
"Our hope," replied Zimmern, "is out there in the world from whence come
those flying men who rain bombs on the roof of Berlin and for ever keep
us patching it. We must get word to them. We must throw ourselves upon
the humanity of our enemies and ask them to save us."
"But," I questioned, in my excitement, "what can Germany expect of the
enemy? She has made war against the world for centuries--will that world
permit Germany to live could they find a way to destroy her?"
"As a nation, no, but as men, yes. Men do not kill men as individuals,
they only make war against a nation of men. As long as Germany is
capable of making war against the world so long will the world attempt
to destroy her. You, Colonel Armstadt, hold in your protium secret the
power of Germany to continue the war against the world. Because you were
about to gain that power I risked my own life to aid you in getting a
wider knowledge. Because you now hold that power I risk it again by
asking you to use it to destroy Germany and save the Germans. The men
who are with me in this cause, and for whom I speak, are but a few. The
millions materially alive, are spiritually dead. The world alone can
give them life again as men. Even though a few million more be destroyed
in the giving have not millions already been destroyed? What if you do
save Germany now--what does it mean merely that we breed millions more
like we now have, soulless creatures born to die like worms in the
ground, brains working automatically, stamping out one sort of idea,
like machines that stamp out buttons--or mere mouths shouting like
phonographs before this gaudy show of royalty?"
"But," I said, "you speak for the few emancipated minds; what of all
these men who accept the system--you call them slaves, yet are they not
content with their slavery, do they want to be men of the world or
continue here in their bondage and die fighting to keep up their own
system of enslavement?"
"It makes no difference what they want," replied Zimmern, in a voice
that trembled with emotion; "we bred them as slaves to the _kultur_ of
Germany, the thing to do is to stop the breeding."
"But how," I asked, "can men who have been beaten into the mould of the
ox ever be restored to their humanity?"
"The old ones cannot," sighed Zimmern; "it was always so; when a people
has once fallen into evil ways the old generation can never be wholly
redeemed, but youth can always be saved--youth is plastic."
"But the German race," I said, "has not only been mis-educated, it has
been mis-bred. Can you undo inheritance? Can this race with its vast
horde of workers bred for a maximum of muscle and a minimum of brains
ever escape from that stupidity that has been bred into the blood?"
"You have been trained as a chemist," said Zimmern, "you despair of the
future because you do not understand the laws of inheritance. A
specialized type of man or animal is produced from the selection of the
extreme individuals. That you know. But what you do not know is that the
type once established does not persist of its own accord. It can only be
maintained by the rigid continuance of the selection. The average
stature of man did not change a centimetre in a thousand years, till we
came in with our meddlesome eugenics. Leave off our scientific meddling
and the race will quickly revert to the normal type.
"That applies to the physical changes; in the mental powers the
restoration will be even more rapid, because we have made less change in
the psychic elements of the germ plasm. The inborn capacity of the human
brain is hard to alter. Men are created more nearly equal than even the
writers of democratic constitutions have ever known. If the World State
will once help us to free ourselves from these shackles of rigid caste
and cultured ignorance, this folly of scientific meddling with the blood
and brains of man, there is yet hope for this race, for we have changed
far less than we pretend, in the marrow we are human still."
The old man sank back in his chair. The fire in his soul had burned out.
His hand fumbled for his watch. "I must leave you now," he said;
"Marguerite should be back shortly. From her you need conceal nothing.
She is the soul of our hopes and our dreams. She keeps our books safe
and our hearts fine. Without her I fear we should all have given up
With a trembling handclasp he left me alone in Marguerite's apartment.
And alone too with my conflicting and troubled emotions. He was a
lovable soul, ripe with the wisdom of age, yet youthful in his hopes to
redeem his people from the curse of this unholy blend of socialism and
autocracy that had prostituted science and made a black Utopian
nightmare of man's millennial dream.
Vaguely I wondered how many of the three hundred millions of German
souls--for I could not accept the soulless theory of Zimmern--were yet
capable of a realization of their humanity. To this query there could be
no answer, but of one conclusion I was certain, it was not my place to
ask what these people wanted, for their power to decide was destroyed by
the infernal process of their making--but here at least, my democratic
training easily gave the answer that Dr. Zimmern had achieved by sheer
genius, and my answer was that for men whose desire for liberty has been
destroyed, liberty must be thrust upon them.
But it remained for me to work out a plan for so difficult a salvation.
Of this I was now assured that I need no longer work alone, for as I had
long suspected, Dr. Zimmern and his little group of rebellious souls
were with me. But what could so few do amidst all the millions? My
answer, like Zimmern's, was that the salvation of Germany lay in the
enemies' hands--and I alone was of that enemy. Yet never again could I
pray for the destruction of the city at the hands of the outraged
god--Humanity. And I thought of Sodom and Gomorrah which the God of
Abraham had agreed to spare if there be found ten righteous men therein.
From these far-reaching thoughts my mind was drawn sharply back to the
fact of my presence in Marguerite's apartment and the realization that
she would shortly return to find me there alone. I resented the fact
that the old doctor and the young woman could conspire to place me in
such a situation. I resented the fact that a girl like Marguerite could
be bound to a man three times her age, and yet seem to accept it with
perfect grace. But I resented most of all the fact that both she and
Zimmern appeared to invite me to share in a triangle of love, open and
My bitter brooding was disturbed by the sound of a key turning in the
lock, and Marguerite, fresh and charming from the exhilaration of her
walk, came into the room.
"I am so glad you remained," she said. "I hope no one else comes and we
can have the evening to ourselves."
"It seems," I answered with a touch of bitterness, "that Dr. Zimmern
considers me quite a safe playmate for you."
At my words Marguerite blushed prettily. "I know you do not quite
understand," she said, "but you see I am rather peculiarly situated. I
cannot go out much, and I can have no girl friends here, and no men
either except those who are in this little group who know of our books.
And they, you see, are all rather old, mostly staff officers like the
doctor himself, and Col. Hellar. You rank quite as well as some of the
others, but you are ever so much younger. That is why the doctor thinks
you are so wonderful--I mean because you have risen so high at so early
an age--but perhaps I think you are rather wonderful just because you
are young. Is it not natural for young people to want friends of
their own age?"
"It is," I replied with ill-concealed sarcasm.
"Why do you speak like that?" asked Marguerite in pained surprise.
"Because a burnt child dreads the fire."
"I do not understand," she said, a puzzled look in her eyes. "How could
a child be burned by a fire since it could never approach one. They only
have fires in the smelting furnaces, and children could never go
Despite my bitter mood I smiled as I said: "It is just a figure of
speech that I got out of an old book. It means that when one is hurt by
something he does not want to be hurt in the same way again. You
remember what you said to me in the café about looking up the girl who
played the innocent rôle? I did look her up, and you were right about
it. She has been, here three years and has a score of lovers."
"And you dropped her?"
"Of course I dropped her."
"And you have not found another?"
"No, and I do not want another, and I had not made love to this girl
either, as you think I had; perhaps I would have done so, but thanks to
you I was warned in time. I may be even younger than you think I am,
young at least in experience with the free women of Berlin. This is the
second apartment I have ever been in on this level."
"Why do you tell me this?" questioned Marguerite.
"Because," I said doggedly, "because I suppose that I want you to know
that I have spent most of my time in a laboratory. I also want you to
know that I do not like the artful deceit that you all seem to
"And do you think I am trying to deceive you?" cried Marguerite
"Your words may be true," I said, "but the situation you place me in is
a false one. Dr. Zimmern brings me here that I may read your books. He
leaves me alone here with you and urges me to come as often as I choose.
All that is hard enough, but to make it harder for me, you tell me that
you particularly want my company because you have no other young
friends. In fact you practically ask me to make love to you and yet you
know why I cannot."
In the excitement of my warring emotions I had risen and was pacing the
floor, and now as I reached the climax of my bitter speech, Marguerite,
with a choking sob, fled from the room.
Angered at the situation and humiliated by what I had said, I was on the
point of leaving at once. But a moment of reflection caused me to turn
back. I had forced a quarrel upon Marguerite and the cause for my anger
she perhaps did not comprehend. If I left now it would be impossible to
return, and if I did not come back, there would be explanations to make
to Zimmern and perhaps an ending of my association with him and his
group, which was not only the sole source of my intellectual life
outside my work, but which I had begun to hope might lead to some
enterprise of moment and possibly to my escape from Berlin.
So calming my anger, I turned to the library and doggedly pulled down a
book and began scanning its contents. I had been so occupied for some
time, when there was a ring at the bell. I peered out into the
reception-room in time to see Marguerite come from another door. Her
eyes revealed the fact that she had been crying. Quickly she closed the
door of the little library, shutting me in with the books. A moment
later she came in with a grey-haired man, a staff officer of the
electrical works. She introduced us coolly and then helped the old man
find a book he wanted to take out, and which she entered on her records.
After the visitor had gone Marguerite again slipped out of the room and
for a time I despaired of a chance to speak to her before I felt I must
depart. Another hour passed and then she stole into the library and
seated herself very quietly on a little dressing chair and watched me as
I proceeded with my reading.
I asked her some questions about one of the volumes and she replied with
a meek and forgiving voice that made me despise myself heartily. Other
questions and answers followed and soon we were talking again of books
as if we had no overwhelming sense of the personal presence of
The hours passed; by all my sense of propriety I should have been long
departed, but still we talked of books without once referring to my
heated words of the earlier evening.
She had stood enticingly near me as we pulled down the volumes. My heart
beat wildly as she sat by my side, while I mechanically turned the
pages. The brush of her garments against my sleeve quite maddened me. I
had not dared to look into her eyes, as I talked meaningless,
Summoning all my self-control, I now faced her. "Marguerite," I said
hoarsely, "look at me."
She lifted her eyes and met my gaze unflinchingly, the moisture of fresh
tears gleaming beneath her lashes.
"Forgive me," I entreated.
"For what?" she asked simply, smiling a little through her tears.
"For being a fool," I declared fiercely, "for believing your cordiality
toward me as Dr. Zimmern's friend to mean more than--than it
"But I do not understand," she said. "Should I not have told you that I
liked you because you were young? Of course if you don't want me
to--to--" She paused abruptly, her face suffused with a
I stepped toward her and reached out my arms. But she drew back and
slipped quickly around the table. "No," she cried, "no, you have said
that you did not want me."
"But I do," I cried. "I do want you."
"Then why did you say those things to me?" she asked haughtily.
I gazed at her across the narrow table. Was it possible that such a
woman had no understanding of ideals of honour in love? Could it be that
she had no appreciation of the fight I had waged, and so nearly lost, to
respect the trust and confidence that the old doctor had placed in me.
With these thoughts the ardour of my passion cooled and a feeling of
pity swept over me, as I sensed the tragedy of so fine a woman ethically
impoverished by false training and environment. Had she known honour,
and yet discarded it, I too should have been unable to resist the
impulse of youth to deny to age its less imperious claims.
But either she chose artfully to ignore my struggle or she was truly
unaware of it. In either case she would not share the responsibility for
the breach of faith. I was puzzled and confounded.
It was Marguerite who broke the bewildering silence. "I wish you would
go now," she said coolly; "I am afraid I misunderstood."
"And shall I come again?" I asked awkwardly.
She looked up at me and smiled bravely. "Yes," she said, "if--you are
sure you wish to."
A resurge of passionate longing to take her in my arms swept over me,
but she held out her hand with such rare and dignified grace that I
could only take the slender fingers and press them hungrily to my
fevered lips and so bid her a wordless adieu.
But despite wild longing to see her again, I did not return to
Marguerite's apartment for many weeks. A crisis in my work at the
laboratory denied me even a single hour of leisure outside brief
snatches of food and sleep.
I had previously reported to the Chemical Staff that I had found means
to increase materially the extraction percentage of the precious element
protium from the crude imported ore. I had now received word that I
should prepare to make a trial demonstration before the Staff.
Already I had revealed certain results of my progress to Herr von Uhl,
as this had been necessary in order to get further grants of the rare
material and of expensive equipment needed for the research, but in
these smaller demonstrations, I had not been called upon to disclose my
method. Now the Staff, hopeful that I had made the great discovery,
insisted that I prepare at once to make a large scale demonstration and
reveal the method that it might immediately be adopted for the wholesale
extraction in the industrial works.
If I now gave away the full secret of my process, I would receive
compensation that would indeed seem lavish for a man whose mental
horizon was bounded by these enclosing walls; yet to me for whom these
walls would always be a prison, credit at the banks of Berlin and the
baubles of decoration and rank and social honour would be sounding
brass. But I wanted power; and, with the secret of protium extraction in
my possession, I would have control of life or death over three hundred
million men. Why should I sacrifice such power for useless credit and
empty honour? If Eitel I of the House of Hohenzollern would lengthen the
days of his rule, let him deal with me and meet whatever terms I chose
to name, for in my chemical retorts I had brewed a secret before which
vaunted efficiency and hypocritical divinity could be made to bend a
hungry belly and beg for food!
It was a laudable and rather thrilling ambition, and yet I was not clear
as to just what terms I would dictate, nor how I could enforce the
dictation. To ask for an audience with the Emperor now, and to take any
such preposterous stand would merely be to get myself locked up for a
lunatic. But I reasoned that if I could make the demonstration so that
it would be accepted as genuine and yet not give away my secret, the
situation would be in my hands. Yet I was expected to reveal the process
step by step as the demonstration proceeded. There was but one way out
and that was to make a genuine demonstration, but with falsely
To plan and prepare such a demonstration required more genuine invention
than had the discovery of the process, but I set about the task with
feverish enthusiasm. I kept my assistants busy with the preparation of
the apparatus and the more simple work which there was no need to
disguise, while night after night I worked alone, altering and
disguising the secret steps on which my great discovery hinged. As these
preparations were nearing completion I sent for Dr. Zimmern and Col.
Hellar to meet me at my apartment.
"Comrades," I said, "you have endangered your own lives by confiding in
me your secret desires to overthrow the rule of the House of
Hohenzollern as it was overthrown once before. You have done this
because you believed that I would have power that others do not have."
The two old men nodded in grave assent.
"And you have been quite fortunate in your choice," I concluded, "for
not only have I pledged myself to your ends, but I shall soon possess
the coveted power. In a few days I shall demonstrate my process on a
large scale before the Chemical Staff. But I shall do this thing without
revealing the method. The formulas I shall give them will be
meaningless. As long as I am in charge in my own laboratory the process
will be a success; when it is tried elsewhere it will fail, until I
choose to make further revelations.
"So you see, for a time, unless I be killed or tortured into confession,
I shall have great power. How then may I use that power to help you in
the cause to which we are pledged?"
The older men seemed greatly impressed with my declaration and danced
about me and cried with joy. When they had regained their composure
Zimmern said: "There is but one thing you can do for us and that is to
find some way to get word of the protium mines to the authorities of the
World State. Berlin will then be at their mercy, but whatever happens
can be no worse than the continuance of things as they are."
"But how," I said, "can a message be sent from Berlin to the outer
"There is only one way," replied Hellar, "and that is by the submarines
that go out for this ore. The Submarine Staff are members of the Royal
House. So, indeed, are the captains. We have tried for years to gain the
confidence of some of these men, but without avail. Perhaps through your
work on the protium ore you can succeed where we have failed."
"And how," I asked eagerly, "do the ore-bringing vessels get from Berlin
to the sea?"
My visitors glanced at each other significantly. "Do you not know that?"
exclaimed Zimmern. "We had supposed you would have been told when you
were assigned to the protium research."
By way of answer I explained that I knew the source of the ore but not
the route of its coming.
"All such knowledge is suppressed in books," commented Hellar; "we older
men know of this by word of mouth from the days when the submarine
tunnel was completed to the sea, but you are younger. Unless this was
told you at the time you were assigned the work it is not to be expected
that you would know."
I questioned Hellar and Zimmern closely but found that all they knew was
that a submarine tunnel did exist leading from Berlin somewhere into the
open sea; but its exact location they did not know. Again I pressed my
question as to what I could do with the power of my secret and they
could only repeat that they staked their hopes on getting word to the
outer world by way of submarines.
Much as I might admire the strength of character that would lead men to
rebel against the only life they knew because they sensed that it was
hopeless, I now found myself a little exasperated at the vagueness of
their plans. Yet I had none better. To defy the Emperor would merely be
to risk my life and the possible loss of my knowledge to the world.
Perhaps after all the older heads were wiser than my own rebellious
spirit; and so, without making any more definite plans, I ended the
interview with a promise to let them know of the outcome of the
Returning once more to my work I finished my preparations and sent word
to the Chemical Staff that all was ready. They came with solemn faces.
The laboratory was locked and guards were posted. The place was examined
thoroughly, the apparatus was studied in detail. All my ingredients were
tested for the presence of extracted protium, lest I be trying to "salt
the mine." But happily for me they accepted my statement as to their
chemical nature in other respects. Then when all had been approved the
test lot of ore was run. It took us thirty hours to run the extraction
and sample and weigh and test the product. But everything went through
exactly as I had planned.
With solemn faces the Chemical Staff unanimously declared that the
problem had been solved and marvelled that the solution should come from
the brain of so young a man. And so I received their adulation and
worship, for I could not give credit to the chemists of the world
outside to whom I was really indebted for my seeming miraculous genius.
Telling me to take my rest and prepare myself for an audience with His
Majesty three days later, the Chemical Staff departed, carrying, with
guarded secrecy, my false formulas.
Exultant and happy I left the laboratory. I had not slept for forty
hours and scarcely half my regular allotment for many weeks. And yet I was
not sleepy now but awake and excited. I had won a great victory, and I
wanted to rejoice and share my conquest with sympathetic ears. I could
go to Zimmern, but instead I turned my steps toward the elevator and,
alighting on the Level of the Free Women, I went straightway to
Despite my feeling of exhilaration, my face must have revealed something
of my real state of exhaustion, for Marguerite cried in alarm at the
sight of me.
"A little tired," I replied, in answer to her solicitous questions; "I
have just finished my demonstration before the Chemical Staff."
"And you won?" cried Marguerite in a burst of joy. "You deceived them
just as the doctor said you would. And they know you have solved the
protium problem and they do not know how you did it?"
"That is correct," I said, sinking back into the cushions of the divan.
"I have done all that. I came here first to tell you. You see I could
not come before, all these weeks, I have had no time for sleep or
anything. I would have telephoned or written but I feared it would not
be safe. Did you think I was not coming again?"
"I missed you at first,--I mean at first I thought you were staying away
because you did not want to see me, and then Dr. Zimmern told me what
you were doing, and I understood--and waited, for I somehow knew you
would come as soon as you could."
"Yes, of course you knew. Of course, I had to come--Marguerite--" But
Marguerite faded before my vision. I reached out my hand for her--and it
seemed to wave in empty space....
When I awoke, I was lying on a couch and a screen bedecked with cupids
was standing before me. At first I thought I was alone and then I
realized that I was in Marguerite's apartment and that Marguerite
herself was seated on a low stool beside the couch and gazing at me out
of dreamy eyes.
"How did I get here?" I asked.
"You fell asleep while you were talking, and then some one came for
books, and when the bell rang I hid you with the screen."
"How long have I slept?"
"For many hours," she answered.
"I ought not to have come," I said, but despite my remark I made no
haste to go, but reached out and ran my fingers through her massy hair.
And then I slowly drew her toward me until her luxuriant locks were
tumbled about my neck and face and her head was pillowed on my breast.
"I am so happy," she whispered. "I am so glad you came first to me."
For a moment my reason was drugged by the opiate of her touch; and then,
as the realization of the circumstances re-formed in my brain, the
feeling of guilt arose and routed the dreamy bliss. Yet I could only
blame myself, for there was no guile in her act or word, nor could I
believe there was guile in her heart. Gently I pushed her away and
arose, stating that I must leave at once.
It was plainly evident that Marguerite did not share my sense of
embarrassment, that she was aware of no breach of ethics. But her ease
only served to impress upon me the greater burden of my responsibility
and emphasize the breach of honour of which I was guilty in permitting
this expression of my love to a woman whom circumstances had bound
Pleading need for rest and for time to plan my interview with His
Majesty, I hastened away, feeling that I dare not trust myself alone
with her again.
I returned to my own apartment, and when another day had passed, food
and sleep had fully restored me to a normal state. I then recalled my
promise to inform Hellar and Zimmern of the outcome of my demonstration.
I called at Zimmern's quarters but he was not at home. Hence I went to
call on Hellar, to ask of Zimmern's whereabouts.
"I have an appointment to meet him tonight," said Hellar, "on the Level
of Free Women. Will you not come along?"
I could not well do otherwise than accept, and Hellar led me again to
the apartment from which I had fled twenty-four hours before. There we
found Zimmern, who received me with his usual graciousness.
"I have already heard from Marguerite," said Zimmern, "of your success."
I glanced apprehensively at the girl but she was in no wise disturbed,
and proceeded to relate for Hellar's information the story of my coming
to her exhausted from my work and of my falling asleep in her apartment.
All of them seemed to think it amusing, but there was no evidence that
any one considered it the least improper. Their matter-of-fact attitude
puzzled and annoyed me; they seemed to treat the incident as if it had
been the experience of a couple of children.
This angered me, for it seemed proof that they considered Marguerite's
love as the common property of any and all.
"Could it be," I asked myself, "that jealousy has been bred and trained
out of this race? Is it possible they have killed the instinct that
demands private and individual property in love?" Even as I pondered the
problem it seemed answered, for as I sat and talked with Zimmern and
Hellar of my chemical demonstration and the coming interview with His
Majesty, Marguerite came and seated herself on the arm of my chair and
pillowed her head on my shoulder.
Troubled and embarrassed, yet not having the courage to repulse her
caresses, I stared at Zimmern, who smiled on us with indulgence. In fact
it seemed that he actually enjoyed the scene. My anger flamed up against
him, but for Marguerite I had only pity, for her action seemed so
natural and unaffected that I could not believe that she was making
sport of me, and could only conclude that she had been so bred in the
spirit of the place that she knew nothing else.
My talk with the men ended as had the last one, without arriving at any
particular plan of action, and when Hellar arose first to go, I took the
opportunity to escape from what to me was an intolerable situation.
I separated from Hellar and for an hour or more I wandered on the level.
Then resolving to end the strain of my enigmatical position I turned
again toward Marguerite's apartment. She answered my ring. I entered and
found her alone.
"Marguerite," I began, "I cannot stand this intolerable situation. I
cannot share the love of a woman with another man--I cannot steal a
woman's love from a man who is my friend--"
At this outburst Marguerite only stared at me in puzzled amazement.
"Then you do not want me to love you," she stammered.
"God knows," I cried, "how I do want you to love me, but it must not be
while Dr. Zimmern is alive and you--"
"So," said a voice--and glancing up I saw Zimmern himself framed in the
doorway of the book room. The old doctor looked from me to Marguerite,
while a smile beamed on his courtly countenance.
"Sit down and calm yourself, Armstadt," said Zimmern. "It is time I
spoke to you of Marguerite and of the relation I bear to her. As you
know, I brought her to this level from the school for girls of forbidden
birth. But what you do not know is that she was born on the Royal Level.
"I knew Marguerite's mother. She was Princess Fedora, a third cousin of
the Empress. I was her physician, for I have not always been in the
Eugenic Service. But Marguerite was born out of wedlock, and the mother
declined to name the father of her child. Because of that the child was
consigned to the school for forbidden love-children, which meant that
she would be fated for the life of a free woman and become the property
of such men as had the price to pay.
"When her child was taken away from her, the mother killed herself; and
because I declined to testify as to what I knew of the case I lost my
commission as a physician of Royalty. But still having the freedom of
the school levels, I was permitted to keep track of Marguerite. As soon
as she reached the age of her freedom I brought her here, and by the aid
of her splendid birth and the companionship of thinking men she has
become the woman you now find her."
In my jealousy I had listened to the first words of the old doctor with
but little comprehension. But as he talked on so calmly and kindly an
eager hope leaped up within me. Was it possible that it had been I who
had misunderstood--and that Zimmern's love for Marguerite was of another
sort than mine?
Tensely I awaited his further words, but I did not dare to look at
Marguerite, who had taken her place beside him.
"I brought her here," Zimmern continued, "for there was no other place
where she could go except into the keeping of some man. I have given her
the work of guarding our books, and for that I could have well afforded
to pay for her living.
"You find in Marguerite a woman of intelligence, and there are few
enough like her. And she finds in you a man of rare gifts, and you are
both young, so it is not strange that you two should love each other.
All this I considered before I brought you here to meet her. I was happy
when Marguerite told me that it was so. But your happiness is marred,
because you, Armstadt, think that I am in the way; you have believed
that I bear the relation to Marguerite that the fact of my paying for
her presence on this level would imply.
"It speaks well of your honour," the doctor went on, "that you have felt
as you did. I should have explained sooner, but I did not wish to speak
of this until it was necessary to Marguerite's happiness. But now that I
have spoken there is nothing to stand in the way of your happiness, for
Marguerite is as worthy of your love as if she had but made her début on
the Royal Level to which she was born. As for what is to be between you,
I can only leave it to the best that is in yourselves, and whatever that
may be has my blessing."
As I listened to the doctor's words entranced with rapture, the vision
of Marguerite floated hazily before my eyes as if she were an ethereal
essence that might, at any moment, be snatched away. But as the doctor's
words ceased my eyes met Marguerite's and all else seemed to fade but
the love light that shone from out their liquid depths.
Forgetting utterly the presence of the man whose words had set us free,
our hearts reached out with hungry arms to claim their own.
For us, time lost her reckoning amidst our tears and kisses, and when my
brain at last made known to me the existence of other souls than ours, I
looked up and found that we were alone. A saucy little clock ticked
rhythmically on a mantel. I felt an absurd desire to smash it, for the
impudent thing had been running all the while.
IN WHICH I SALUTE THE STATUE OF GOD AND A PSYCHIC
EXPERT EXPLORES MY BRAIN AND FINDS NOTHING
The Chemical Staff called for me at my laboratory to conduct me to the
presence of the Emperor. At the elevator we were met by an electric
vehicle manned fore and aft by pompous guards. Through the wide, high
streets we rolled noiselessly past the decorated facades of the spacious
apartments that housed the seventeen thousand members of the House of
At times the ample streets broadened into still more roomy avenues where
potted trees alternated with the frescoed columns, and beyond which were
luxurious gardens and vast statuary halls. On the Level of Free Women
the life was one of crowded revelry, of the bauble and delights of
carnival, but on the Royal Level there was an atmosphere of luxurious
leisure, with vast spaces given over to the privacy of aristocratic
An occasional vehicle rolled swiftly past us on the glassy smoothness of
the pavement; more rarely lonely couples strolled among the potted trees
or sat in dreamy indolence beside the fountains. There was no crowding,
no mass of humanity, no narrow halls, no congested apartments. All
structure here was on a scale of magnificent size and distances, while
by comparison the men and women appeared dwarfed, but withal distinctive
in their costumes and regal in their leisurely idleness.
After some kilometres of travel we came to His Majesty's palace, which
stood detached from all other enclosed structures and was surrounded on
all sides by ever-necessary columns that seemed like a forest of tree
trunks spaced and distanced in geometrical design.
As we approached the massive doorway of the palace, our party paused,
and stood stiffly erect. Before us were two colossal statues of
glistening white crystal. My fellow scientists faced one of the figures,
which I recognized as that of William II, and I, a little tardily,
saluted with them. And now we turned sharply on our heels and saluted
the second figure of these twin German heroes. For German it was
unmistakably in every feature, save for the one oddity that the Teutonic
face wore a flowing beard not unlike that of Michael Angelo's Moses. As
we moved forward my eye swept in the lettering on the pedestal, _"Unser
Alte Deutche Gott,"_ and I was aware that I had acknowledged my
allegience to the supreme war lord--I had saluted the Statue of God.
Entering the palace we were conducted through a long hall-way hung with
floral tapestries. We passed through several great metal doors guarded
by stalwart leaden-faced men and came at last into the imperial audience
room, where His Majesty, Eitel I, satellited by his ministers, sat stiff
and upright at the head of the council table.
Though he had seemed a small man when I had seen him in the dazzling
beam of the reflected sunlight, I now perceived that he was of more than
average stature. He wore no crown and no helmet, but only a crop of
stiff iron grey hair brushed boldly upright. His face was stern, his
nose beak-like, and his small eyes grey and piercing. Over the high back
of his chair was thrown his cape, and he was clad in a jacket of white
cellulose velvet buttoned to the throat with large platinum buttons.
Formally presented by one of the secretaries we made our stiff bows and
were seated at the table facing His Majesty across the unlittered
surface of black glass.
The Emperor nodded to the Chief of the Chemical Staff who arose and read
the report of my solution of the protium problem. He ended by advising
that the process should immediately replace the one then in use in the
extraction of the ore in the industrial works and that I was recommended
for promotion to the place to be vacated by the retiring member of the
Chemical Staff and should be given full charge of the protium industry.
Emperor Eitel listened with solemn nods of approval. When the reading
was finished he arose and proclaimed the retirement with honour, and
because of his advanced age, of Herr von Uhl. The old chemist now
stepped forward and the Emperor removed from von Uhl's breast the
insignia of active Staff service and replaced it with the insignia of
In my turn I also stood before His Majesty, who when he had pinned upon
my breast the Staff insignia said: "I hereby commission you as Member of
the Chemical Staff and Director of the Protium Works. Against the
fortune, to be accredited to you and your descendants, you are
authorized to draw from the Imperial Bank a million marks a year. That
you shall more graciously befit this fortune I confer upon you the title
of 'von' and the social privilege of the Royal Level."
When the formal ceremonies were ended I again arose and addressed the
Emperor. "Your Majesty," I said, as I looked unflinchingly at his iron
visage, "I beg leave to make a personal petition."
"State it," commanded the Emperor.
"I wish to ask that you restore to the Royal Level a girl who is now in
the Level of the Free Women, and known there as Marguerite 78 K 4, but
who was born on the Royal Level as a daughter of Princess Fedora of
the House of Hohenzollern."
A hush of consternation fell upon those about the table.
"Your petition," said the Emperor, "cannot be granted."
"Then," I said, speaking with studied emphasis, "I cannot proceed with
the work of extracting protium."
An angry cloud gathered on the face of Eitel I. "Herr von Armstadt," he
said, "the title and awards which have just been conferred upon you are
irrevocable. But if you decline to perform the duties of your office
those duties can be performed by others."
"But others cannot perform them," I replied. "The demonstration I
conducted was genuine, but the formulas I have given were not genuine.
The true formulas for my method of extracting protium are locked within
my brain and I will reveal them only when the petition I ask has
At these words the Emperor pounded on the table with a heavy fist. "What
does this mean?" he demanded of the Chemical Staff.
"It is a lie," shouted the Chief of the Staff. "We have the formulas and
they are correct, for we saw the demonstration conducted with the
ingredients stated in the formulas which Armstadt gave us."
"Very well," I cried; "go try your formulas; go repeat the
demonstration, if you can."
The Emperor, glaring his rage, punched savagely at a signal button on
the arm of his chair.
Two palace guards answered the summons. "Arrest this man," shouted His
Majesty, "and keep him in close confinement; permit him to see no one."
Without further ado I was led off by the guards, while the Emperor
shouted imprecations at the Chemical Staff.
The place to which I was conducted was a suite of rooms in a remote
corner of the Royal Palace. There was a large bedroom and bath, and a
luxurious study or lounging room. Here I found a case of books, which
proved to be novels bearing the imprint of the Royal Level.
Despite the comfortable surroundings, it was evident that I was securely
imprisoned, for the door was of metal, the ventilating gratings were
long narrow slits, and the walls were of heavy concrete--and there being
no windows, no bars were needed. Any living apartment in the city would
have served equally well the jailor's purpose; for it were only
necessary to turn a key from without to make of it a cell in this
gigantic prison of Berlin.
The regular appearance of my meals by mechanical carrier was the only
way I had to reckon the passing of time, for it had chanced that I had
forgotten my watch when dressing for the audience with His Majesty. I
wrestled with unmeasured time by perusing the novels which gave me
fragmentary pictures of the social life on the Royal Level.
As I turned over the situation in my mind I reassured myself that the
secrecy of my formulas was impregnable. The discovery of the process had
been rendered possible by knowledge I had brought with me from the outer
world. The reagents that I had used were synthetic substances, the very
existence of which was unknown to the Germans. I had previously prepared
these compounds and had used and completely destroyed them in making the
demonstration, while I had taken pains to remove all traces of their
preparation. Hence I had little to fear of the Chemical Staff
duplicating my work, though doubtless they were making desperate efforts
to do so, and my imprisonment was very evidently for the purpose of
permitting them to make that effort.
On that score I felt that I had played my cards well, but there were
other thoughts that troubled me, chief of which was a fear that some
investigation might be set on foot in regard to Marguerite and that her
guardianship of the library of forbidden books might be discovered. With
this worry to torment me, the hours dragged slowly enough.
I had been some five days in this solitary confinement when the door
opened and a man entered. He wore the uniform of a physician and
introduced himself as Dr. Boehm, explaining that he had been sent by His
Majesty to look after my health. The idea rather amused me; at least, I
thought, the Emperor had decided that the secrets of my brain were well
worth preservation, and I reasoned that this was evidence that the
Chemical Staff had made an effort to duplicate my work and had reported
their failure to do so.
The doctor made what seemed to me a rather perfunctory physical
examination, which included a very minute inspection of my eyes. Then he
put me through a series of psychological test queries. When he had
finished he sighed deeply and said: "I am sorry to find that you are
suffering from a disturbed balance of the altruistic and the egotistic
cortical impulses; it is doubtless due to the intensive demands made upon
the creative potential before you were completely recovered from the
sub-normal psychosis due to the gas attack in the potash mines."
This diagnosis impressed me as a palpable fraud, but I became genuinely
alarmed at the mention of the affair at the potash mines. I was somewhat
reassured at the thought that this reference was probably a part of the
record of Karl Armstadt, which was doubtless on file at the medical
headquarters, and had been looked up by Dr. Boehm who was in need of
making out a plausible case for some purpose--perhaps that of confining
me permanently on the grounds of insanity. Whatever might be the move on
foot it was clearly essential for me to keep myself cool and well
The doctor, after eyeing me calmly for a few moments, said: "It will be
necessary for me to go out for a time and secure apparatus for a more
searching examination. Meanwhile be assured you will not be further
neglected. In fact, I shall arrange for the time to share your apartment
with you, as loneliness will aggravate your derangement."
In a few hours the doctor returned. He brought with him a
complicated-looking apparatus and was followed by two attendants
carrying a bed.
The doctor pushed the apparatus into the corner, and, after seeing his
bed installed in my sleeping chamber, dismissed the attendants and sat
down and began to entertain me with accounts of various cases of mental
derangement that had come under his care. So far as I could determine
his object, if he had any other than killing time, it was to impress me
with the importance of submitting graciously to his care.
Tiring of these stories of the doctor's professional successes with meek
and trusting patients, I took the management of the conversation into my
"Since you are a psychic expert, Dr. Boehm, perhaps you can explain to
me the mental processes that cause a man to prize a large bank credit
when there is positively no legal way in which he can expend
The doctor looked at me quizzically. "How do you mean," he asked, "that
there is no legal way in which he can expend the credit?"
"Well, take my own case. The Emperor has bestowed upon me a credit of a
million marks a year. But I risked losing it by demanding that a young
woman of the Free Level be restored to the Royal Level where she
"Of this I am aware," replied the psychic physician. "That is why His
Majesty became alarmed lest your mental equilibrium be disturbed. It
seems to indicate an atavistic reversion to a condition of romantic
altruism, but as your pedigree is normal, I deem it merely a temporary
loss of balance."
"But why," I asked, "do you consider it abnormal at all? Is there
evidence of any great degree of unselfishness in a man desiring the
bestowal of happiness upon a particular woman in preference to bank
credit which he cannot expend? What should I do with a million marks a
year when I have been unable to expend the ten thousand a year I
"Ah," exclaimed the doctor, the light of a brilliant discovery breaking
over his countenance. "Perhaps this in a measure explains your case. You
have evidently been so absorbed in your work that you have not
sufficiently developed your appetite for personal enjoyment."
"Perhaps I have not. But just how should I expend more funds; food,
clothing, living quarters are all provided me, there is nothing but a few
tawdry amusements that one can buy, nor is there any one to give the money
to--even if a man had children they cannot inherit his wealth. Just what
is money for, anyway?"
The doctor nodded his head and smiled in satisfaction. "You ask
interesting questions," he said. "I shall try to answer them. Money or
bank credit is merely a symbol of wealth. In ancient times wealth was
represented by the private ownership of physical property, which was the
basis of capitalistic or competitive society. Racial progress was then
achieved by the mating of the men of superior brain with the most
beautiful women. Women do not appreciate the mental power of man in its
direct expression, or even its social use; they can only comprehend that
power when it is translated into wealth. After the destruction of
private property women refused to accept as mates the men of
intellectual power, but preferred instead men of physical strength and
"At first this was considered to be a proof of the superiority of the
proletariat. For, with all men economically equal, the beautiful women
turned from the anemic intellectual and the sons of aristocracy, to the
strong arms of labour. Believing themselves to be the source of all
wealth, and by that right vested with sole political power, and now
finding themselves preferred by the beautiful women, the labourer would
soon have eliminated all other classes from human society. Had unbridled
socialism with its free mating continued, we should have become merely a
horde of handsome savages.
"Such would have been the destiny of our race had not William III
foreseen the outcome and restored war, the blessings of which had been
all but lost to the world. The progress of peace depended upon the
competition of capitalism, but in peace progress is incidental. In war
it is essential. Because war requires invention, it saved the
intellectual classes, and because war requires authority it made
possible the restoration of our Royal House. Labour, the tyrant of
peace, became again the slave of war, and under the plea of patriotic
necessity eugenics was established, which again restored the beautiful
women to the superior men. And thus by Imperial Socialism the race was
preserved from deterioriation."
"But surely," I said, "eugenics has more than remedied this defect of
socialism, for the selection of men of superior mentality is much more
rigid than it could have been under the capricious matings of
capitalistic society. Why then this need of wealth?"
"Eugenics," replied Boehm, "breeds superior children, but eugenic mating
is a cold scientific thing which fails to fan the flame of man's
ambition to do creative work. That is why we have the Level of Free
Women and have not bred the virility out of the intellectual group. That
is also the reason we have retained the Free Level on a competitive
commercial basis, and have given the intellectual man the bank credit, a
symbol of wealth, that he may use it, as men have always used wealth,
for the purpose of increasing his importance in the eyes of woman. This
function of wealth is psychically necessary to the creative impulse, for
the power of sexual conquest and the stimulus to creative thought are
but different expressions of the same instinct. Wealth, or its symbol,
is a medium of translating the one into the other. For example, take
your discovery; it is important to you and to the state. Your fellow
scientists appreciate it, His Majesty appreciates it, but women cannot
appreciate it. But give it a money value and women appreciate it
immediately. They know that the unlimited bank credit will give you the
power to keep as many women on your list as you choose, and this means
that you can select freely those you wish. So the most attractive women
will compete for your preferment. We bow before the Emperor, we salute
the Statue of God, but we make out our checks to buy baubles for women,
and it is that which keeps the wheels of progress turning."
"So," I said, "this is your philosophy of wealth. I see, and yet I do
not see. The legal limit a man may contribute to a woman is but
twenty-four hundred marks a year, what then does he want with
"But there is no legal limit," replied the Doctor, "to the number of
women a man may have on his list. His relation to them may be the most
casual, but the pursuit is stimulating to the creative imagination. But
you forget, Herr von Armstadt, that with the compensation that was to be
yours goes also the social privilege of the Royal Level. Evidently you
have been so absorbed in your research that you had no time to think of
the magnificent rewards for which you were working."
"Then perhaps you will explain them to me."
"With pleasure," said Dr. Boehm; "your social privilege on the Royal
Level includes the right to marry and that means that you should have
children for whom inheritance is permitted. How else did you suppose the
ever-increasing numbers of the House of Hohenzollern should have
maintained their wealth?"
"The question has never occurred to me," I answered, "but if it had, I
should have supposed that their expenses were provided by appropriations
from the state treasury."
Dr. Boehm chuckled. "Then they should all be dependents on the state
like cripples and imbeciles. It would be a rather poor way to derive the
pride of aristocracy. That can only come from inherited wealth: the
principle is old, very old. The nobleman must never needs work to live.
Then, if he wishes to give service to the state, he may give it without
pay, and thus feel his nobility. You cannot aspire to full social
equality with the Royal House both because you lack divinity of blood
and because you receive your wealth for that which you have yourself
given to the state. But because of your wealth you will find a wife of
the Royal House, and she will bear you children who, receiving the
divine blood of the Hohenzollerns from the mother and inherited wealth
from the father, will thus be twice ennobled. To have such children is a
rare privilege; not even Herr von Uhl with his thousands of descendants
can feel such a pride of paternity.
"It is well, Herr von Armstadt, that you talked to me of these matters.
Should you be restored to your full mental powers and be permitted to
assume the rights of your new station, it would be most unfortunate if
you should seem unappreciative of these ennobling privileges."
"Then, if I may, I shall ask you some further questions. It seems that
the inherited incomes of the Royal Level are from time to time
reinforced by marriage from without. Does that not dilute the
"That question," replied Dr. Boehm, "more properly should be addressed
to a eugenist, but I shall try to give you the answer. The blood of the
House of Hohenzollern is of a very high order for it is the blood of
divinity in human veins. Yet since there is no eugenic control, no
selection, the quality of that blood would deteriorate from inbreeding,
were there no fresh infusion. Then where better could such blood come
than from the men of genius? No man is given the full social privilege
of the Royal Level except he who has made some great contribution to the
state. This at once marks him as a genius and gives his wealth a
"But how is it," I asked, "that this addition of men from without does
not disturb the balance of the sexes?"
"It does disturb it somewhat," replied the doctor, "but not seriously,
for genius is rare. There are only a few hundred men in each generation
who are received into Royal Society. Of course that means some of the
young men of the Royal Level cannot marry. But some men decline marriage
of their own free will; if they are not possessed of much wealth they
prefer to go unmarried rather than to accept an unattractive woman as a
wife when they may have their choice of mistresses from the most
beautiful virgins intended for the Free Level. There is always an
abundance of marriageable women on the Royal Level and with your wealth
you will have your choice. Your credit, in fact, will be the largest
that has been granted for over a decade."
"All that is very splendid," I answered. "I was not well informed on
these matters. But why should His Majesty have been so incensed at my
simple request for the restoration of the rights of the daughter of the
"Your request was unusual; pardon if I may say, impudent; it seems to
imply a lack of appreciation on your part of the honours freely
conferred upon you--but I daresay His Majesty did not realize your
ignorance of these things. You are very young and you have risen to your
high station very quickly from an obscure position."
"And do you think," I asked, "that if you made these facts clear to him,
he would relent and grant my request?"
Dr. Boehm looked at me with a penetrating gaze. "It is not my function,"
he said, "to intercede for you. I have only been commissioned to examine
carefully the state of your mentality."
I smiled complacently at the psychic expert. "Now, doctor," I said, "you
do not mean to tell me that you really think there is anything wrong
with my mentality?"
A look of craftiness flashed from Boehm's eyes. "I have given you my
diagnosis," he said, "but it may not be final. I have already
communicated my first report to His Majesty and he has ordered me to
remain with you for some days. If I should alter that opinion too
quickly it would discredit me and gain you nothing. You had best be
patient, and submit gracefully to further examination and treatment."
"And do you know," I asked, "what the chemical staff is doing about my
"That is none of my affair," declared Boehm, emphatically.
There was a vigour in his declaration and a haste with which he began to
talk of other matters that gave me a hint that the doctor knew more of
the doings of the chemical staff than he cared to admit, but I thought
it wise not to press the point.
The second day of Boehm's stay with me, he unmantled his apparatus and
asked me to submit to a further examination. I had not the least
conception of the purpose of this apparatus and with some misgivings I
lay down on a couch while the psychic expert placed above my eyes a
glass plate, on which, when he had turned on the current, there
proceeded a slow rhythmic series of pale lights and shadows. At the
doctor's command I fixed my gaze upon the lights, while he, in a
monotonous voice, urged me to relax my mind and dismiss all
How long I stood for this infernal proceeding I do not know. But I
recall a realization that I had lost grip on my thoughts and seemed to
be floating off into a misty nowhere of unconsciousness. I struggled
frantically to regain control of myself; and, for what seemed an
eternity, I fought with a horrible nightmare unable to move a muscle or
even close my eyelids to shut out that sickening sequence of creeping
shadows. Then I saw the doctor's hand reaching slowly toward my face. It
seemed to sway in its stealthy movement like the head of a serpent
charming a bird, but in my helpless horror I could not ward it off.
At last the snaky fingers touched my eyelids as if to close them, and
that touch, light though it was, served to snap the taut film of my
helpless brain and I gave a blood-curdling yell and jumped up, knocking
over the devilish apparatus and nearly upsetting the doctor.
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