The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth
Part 4 out of 5
Regulations;" or he comes flying down as Perseus and rescues a chained
and beautiful Andromeda (labelled distinctly about her belt as
"Civilisation") from a wallowing waste of sea monster bearing upon its
various necks and claws "Irreligion," "Trampling Egotism," "Mechanism,"
"Monstrosity," and the like. But it was as "Jack the Giant-killer" that
the popular imagination considered Caterham most correctly cast, and it
was in the vein of a Jack the Giant-killer poster that the man from
prison, enlarged that distant miniature.
The "Wawawawa" came abruptly to an end.
He's done. He's sitting down. Yes! No! Yes! It's Caterham! "Caterham!"
"Caterham!" And then came the cheers.
It takes a multitude to make such a stillness as followed that disorder
of cheering. A man alone in a wilderness;--it's stillness of a sort no
doubt, but he hears himself breathe, he hears himself move, he hears all
sorts of things. Here the voice of Caterham was the one single thing
heard, a thing very bright and clear, like a little light burning in a
black velvet recess. Hear indeed! One heard him as though he spoke at
It was stupendously effective to the man from prison, that gesticulating
little figure in a halo of light, in a halo of rich and swaying sounds;
behind it, partially effaced as it were, sat its supporters on the
platform, and in the foreground was a wide perspective of innumerable
backs and profiles, a vast multitudinous attention. That little figure
seemed to have absorbed the substance from them all.
Caterham spoke of our ancient institutions. "Earearear," roared the
crowd. "Ear! ear!" said the man from prison. He spoke of our ancient
spirit of order and justice. "Earearear!" roared the crowd. "Ear! Ear!"
cried the man from prison, deeply moved. He spoke of the wisdom of our
forefathers, of the slow growth of venerable institutions, of moral and
social traditions, that fitted our English national characteristics as
the skin fits the hand. "Ear! Ear!" groaned the man from prison, with
tears of excitement on his cheeks. And now all these things were to go
into the melting pot. Yes, into the melting pot! Because three men in
London twenty years ago had seen fit to mix something indescribable in a
bottle, all the order and sanctity of things--Cries of "No! No!"--Well,
if it was not to be so, they must exert themselves, they must say
good-bye to hesitation--Here there came a gust of cheering. They must
say good-bye to hesitation and half measures.
"We have heard, gentlemen," cried Caterham, "of nettles that become
giant nettles. At first they are no more than other nettles--little
plants that a firm hand may grasp and wrench away; but if you leave
them--if you leave them, they grow with such a power of poisonous
expansion that at last you must needs have axe and rope, you must needs
have danger to life and limb, you must needs have toil and distress--men
may be killed in their felling, men may be killed in their felling---"
There came a stir and interruption, and then the man from prison heard
Caterham's voice again, ringing clear and strong: "Learn about Boomfood
from Boomfood itself and--" He paused--"_Grasp your nettle before it is
He stopped and stood wiping his lips. "A crystal," cried some one, "a
crystal," and then came that same strange swift growth to thunderous
tumult, until the whole world seemed cheering....
The man from prison came out of the hall at last, marvellously stirred,
and with that in his face that marks those who have seen a vision. He
knew, every one knew; his ideas were no longer vague. He had come back
to a world in crisis, to the immediate decision of a stupendous issue.
He must play his part in the great conflict like a man--like a free,
responsible man. The antagonism presented itself as a picture. On the
one hand those easy gigantic mail-clad figures of the morning--one saw
them now in a different light--on the other this little black-clad
gesticulating creature under the limelight, that pigmy thing with its
ordered flow of melodious persuasion, its little, marvellously
penetrating voice, John Caterham--"Jack the Giant-killer." They must all
unite to "grasp the nettle" before it was "too late."
The tallest and strongest and most regarded of all the children of the
Food were the three sons of Cossar. The mile or so of land near
Sevenoaks in which their boyhood passed became so trenched, so dug out
and twisted about, so covered with sheds and huge working models and all
the play of their developing powers, it was like no other place on
earth. And long since it had become too little for the things they
sought to do. The eldest son was a mighty schemer of wheeled engines; he
had made himself a sort of giant bicycle that no road in the world had
room for, no bridge could bear. There it stood, a great thing of wheels
and engines, capable of two hundred and fifty miles an hour, useless
save that now and then he would mount it and fling himself backwards
and forwards across that cumbered work-yard. He had meant to go around
the little world with it; he had made it with that intention, while he
was still no more than a dreaming boy. Now its spokes were rusted deep
red like wounds, wherever the enamel had been chipped away.
"You must make a road for it first, Sonnie," Cossar had said, "before
you can do that."
So one morning about dawn the young giant and his brothers had set to
work to make a road about the world. They seem to have had an inkling of
opposition impending, and they had worked with remarkable vigour. The
world had discovered them soon enough, driving that road as straight as
a flight of a bullet towards the English Channel, already some miles of
it levelled and made and stamped hard. They had been stopped before
midday by a vast crowd of excited people, owners of land, land agents,
local authorities, lawyers, policemen, soldiers even.
"We're making a road," the biggest boy had explained.
"Make a road by all means," said the leading lawyer on the ground, "but
please respect the rights of other people. You have already infringed
the private rights of twenty-seven private proprietors; let alone the
special privileges and property of an urban district board, nine parish
councils, a county council, two gasworks, and a railway company...."
"Goodney!" said the elder boy Cossar.
"You will have to stop it."
"But don't you want a nice straight road in the place of all these
rotten rutty little lanes?" "I won't say it wouldn't be advantageous,
"It isn't to be done," said the eldest Cossar boy, picking up his tools.
"Not in this way," said the lawyer, "certainly."
"How is it to be done?"
The leading lawyer's answer had been complicated and vague.
Cossar had come down to see the mischief his children had done, and
reproved them severely and laughed enormously and seemed to be extremely
happy over the affair. "You boys must wait a bit," he shouted up to
them, "before you can do things like that."
"The lawyer told us we must begin by preparing a scheme, and getting
special powers and all sorts of rot. Said it would take us years."
"_We'll_ have a scheme before long, little boy," cried Cossar, hands to
his mouth as he shouted, "never fear. For a bit you'd better play about
and make models of the things you want to do."
They did as he told them like obedient sons.
But for all that the Cossar lads brooded a little.
"It's all very well," said the second to the first, "but I don't always
want just to play about and plan, I want to do something _real_, you
know. We didn't come into this world so strong as we are, just to play
about in this messy little bit of ground, you know, and take little
walks and keep out of the towns"--for by that time they were forbidden
all boroughs and urban districts, "Doing nothing's just wicked. Can't we
find out something the little people _want_ done and do it for
them--just for the fun of doing it?
"Lots of them haven't houses fit to live in," said the second boy,
"Let's go and build 'em a house close up to London, that will hold
heaps and heaps of them and be ever so comfortable and nice, and let's
make 'em a nice little road to where they all go and do business--nice
straight little road, and make it all as nice as nice. We'll make it all
so clean and pretty that they won't any of them be able to live grubby
and beastly like most of them do now. Water enough for them to wash
with, we'll have--you know they're so dirty now that nine out of ten of
their houses haven't even baths in them, the filthy little skunks! You
know, the ones that have baths spit insults at the ones that haven't,
instead of helping them to get them--and call 'em the Great
Unwashed--_-You_ know. We'll alter all that. And we'll make electricity
light and cook and clean up for them, and all. Fancy! They make their
women--women who are going to be mothers--crawl about and scrub floors!
"We could make it all beautifully. We could bank up a valley in that
range of hills over there and make a nice reservoir, and we could make a
big place here to generate our electricity and have it all simply
lovely. Couldn't we, brother? And then perhaps they'd let us do some
"Yes," said the elder brother, "we could do it _very_ nice for them."
"Then _let's,"_ said the second brother.
"_I_ don't mind," said the elder brother, and looked about for a handy
And that led to another dreadful bother.
Agitated multitudes were at them in no time, telling them for a thousand
reasons to stop, telling them to stop for no reason at all--babbling,
confused, and varied multitudes. The place they were building was too
high--it couldn't possibly be safe. It was ugly; it interfered with the
letting of proper-sized houses in the neighbourhood; it ruined the tone
of the neighbourhood; it was unneighbourly; it was contrary to the Local
Building Regulations; it infringed the right of the local authority to
muddle about with a minute expensive electric supply of its own; it
interfered with the concerns of the local water company.
Local Government Board clerks roused themselves to judicial obstruction.
The little lawyer turned up again to represent about a dozen threatened
interests; local landowners appeared in opposition; people with
mysterious claims claimed to be bought off at exorbitant rates; the
Trades Unions of all the building trades lifted up collective voices;
and a ring of dealers in all sorts of building material became a bar.
Extraordinary associations of people with prophetic visions of aesthetic
horrors rallied to protect the scenery of the place where they would
build the great house, of the valley where they would bank up the water.
These last people were absolutely the worst asses of the lot, the Cossar
boys considered. That beautiful house of the Cossar boys was just like a
walking-stick thrust into a wasps' nest, in no time.
"I never did!" said the elder boy.
"We can't go on," said the second brother.
"Rotten little beasts they are," said the third of the brothers; "we
can't do _anything!_"
"Even when it's for their own comfort. Such a _nice_ place we'd have
made for them too."
"They seem to spend their silly little lives getting in each other's
way," said the eldest boy, "Rights and laws and regulations and
rascalities; it's like a game of spellicans.... Well, anyhow, they'll
have to live in their grubby, dirty, silly little houses for a bit
longer. It's very evident _we_ can't go on with this."
And the Cossar children left that great house unfinished, a mere hole of
foundations and the beginning of a wall, and sulked back to their big
enclosure. After a time the hole was filled with water and with
stagnation and weeds, and vermin, and the Food, either dropped there by
the sons of Cossar or blowing thither as dust, set growth going in its
usual fashion. Water voles came out over the country and did infinite
havoc, and one day a farmer caught his pigs drinking there, and
instantly and with great presence of mind--for he knew: of the great hog
of Oakham--slew them all. And from that deep pool it was the mosquitoes
came, quite terrible mosquitoes, whose only virtue was that the sons of
Cossar, after being bitten for a little, could stand the thing no
longer, but chose a moonlight night when law and order were abed and
drained the water clean away into the river by Brook.
But they left the big weeds and the big water voles and all sorts of big
undesirable things still living and breeding on the site they had
chosen--the site on which the fair great house of the little people
might have towered to heaven ...
That had been in the boyhood of the Sons, but now they were nearly men,
And the chains had been tightening upon them and tightening with every
year of growth. Each year they grew, and the Food spread and great
things multiplied, each year the stress and tension rose. The Food had
been at first for the great mass of mankind a distant marvel, and now
It was coming home to every threshold, and threatening, pressing against
and distorting the whole order of life. It blocked this, it overturned
that; it changed natural products, and by changing natural products it
stopped employments and threw men out of work by the hundred thousands;
it swept over boundaries and turned the world of trade into a world of
cataclysms: no wonder mankind hated it.
And since it is easier to hate animate than inanimate things, animals
more than plants, and one's fellow-men more completely than any animals,
the fear and trouble engendered by giant nettles and six-foot grass
blades, awful insects and tiger-like vermin, grew all into one great
power of detestation that aimed itself with a simple directness at that
scattered band of great human beings, the Children of the Food. That
hatred had become the central force in political affairs. The old party
lines had been traversed and effaced altogether under the insistence of
these newer issues, and the conflict lay now with the party of the
temporisers, who were for putting little political men to control and
regulate the Food, and the party of reaction for whom Caterharn spoke,
speaking always with a more sinister ambiguity, crystallising his
intention first in one threatening phrase and then another, now that men
must "prune the bramble growths," now that they must find a "cure for
elephantiasis," and at last upon the eve of the election that they must
"Grasp the nettle."
One day the three sons of Cossar, who were now no longer boys but men,
sat among the masses of their futile work and talked together after
their fashion of all these things. They had been working all day at one
of a series of great and complicated trenches their father had bid them
make, and now it was sunset, and they sat in the little garden space
before the great house and looked at the world and rested, until the
little servants within should say their food was ready.
You must figure these mighty forms, forty feet high the least of them
was, reclining on a patch of turf that would have seemed a stubble of
reeds to a common man. One sat up and chipped earth from his huge boots
with an iron girder he grasped in his hand; the second rested on his
elbow; the third whittled a pine tree into shape and made a smell of
resin in the air. They were clothed not in cloth but in under-garments
of woven, rope and outer clothes of felted aluminium wire; they were
shod with timber and iron, and the links and buttons and belts of their
clothing were all of plated steel. The great single-storeyed house they
lived in, Egyptian in its massiveness, half built of monstrous blocks of
chalk and half excavated from the living rock of the hill, had a front a
full hundred feet in height, and beyond, the chimneys and wheels, the
cranes and covers of their work sheds rose marvellously against the sky.
Through a circular window in the house there was visible a spout from
which some white-hot metal dripped and dripped in measured drops into a
receptacle out of sight. The place was enclosed and rudely fortified by
monstrous banks of earth, backed with steel both over the crests of the
Downs above and across the dip of the valley. It needed something of
common size to mark the nature of the scale. The train that came
rattling from Sevenoaks athwart their vision, and presently plunged into
the tunnel out of their sight, looked by contrast with them like some
small-sized automatic toy.
"They have made all the woods this side of Ightham out of bounds," said
one, "and moved the board that was out by Knockholt two miles and more
"It is the least they could do," said the youngest, after a pause. "They
are trying to take the wind out of Caterham's sails."
"It's not enough for that, and--it is almost too much for us," said the
"They are cutting us off from Brother Redwood. Last time I went to him
the red notices had crept a mile in, either way. The road to him along
the Downs is no more than a narrow lane."
The speaker thought. "What has come to our brother Redwood?"
"Why?" said the eldest brother.
The speaker backed a bough from his pine. "He was like--as though he
wasn't awake. He didn't seem to listen to what I had to say. And he said
The youngest tapped his girder on the edge of his iron sole and laughed.
"Brother Redwood," he said, "has dreams."
Neither spoke for a space. Then the eldest brother said, "This cooping
up and cooping up grows more than I can bear. At last, I believe, they
will draw a line round our boots and tell us to live on that."
The middle brother swept aside a heap of pine boughs with one hand and
shifted his attitude. "What they do now is nothing to what they will do
when Caterham has power."
"If he gets power," said the youngest brother, smiting the ground with
"As he will," said the eldest, staring at his feet.
The middle brother ceased his lopping, and his eye went to the great
banks that sheltered them about. "Then, brothers," he said, "our youth
will be over, and, as Father Redwood said to us long ago, we must quit
ourselves like men."
"Yes," said the eldest brother; "but what exactly does that mean? Just
what does it mean--when that day of trouble comes?"
He too glanced at those rude vast suggestions of entrenchment about
them, looking not so much at them as through them and over the hills to
the innumerable multitudes beyond. Something of the same sort came into
all their minds--a vision of little people coming out to war, in a
flood, the little people, inexhaustible, incessant, malignant....
"They are little," said the youngest brother; "but they have numbers
beyond counting, like the sands of the sea."
"They have arms--they have weapons even, that our brothers in Sunderland
"Besides, Brothers, except for vermin, except for little accidents with
evil things, what have we seen of killing?"
"I know," said the eldest brother. "For all that--we are what we are.
When the day of trouble comes we must do the thing we have to do."
He closed his knife with a snap--the blade was the length of a man--and
used his new pine staff to help himself rise. He stood up and turned
towards the squat grey immensity of the house. The crimson of the
sunset caught him as he rose, caught the mail and clasps about his neck
and the woven metal of his arms, and to the eyes of his brother it
seemed as though he was suddenly suffused with blood ...
As the young giant rose a little black figure became visible to him
against that western incandescence on the top of the embankment that
towered above the summit of the down. The black limbs waved in ungainly
gestures. Something in the fling of the limbs suggested haste to the
young giant's mind. He waved his pine mast in reply, filled the whole
valley with his vast Hullo! threw a "Something's up" to his brothers,
and set off in twenty-foot strides to meet and help his father.
It chanced too that a young man who was not a giant was delivering his
soul about these sons of Cossar just at that same time. He had come over
the hills beyond Sevenoaks, he and his friend, and he it was did the
talking. In the hedge as they came along they had heard a pitiful
squealing, and had intervened to rescue three nestling tits from the
attack of a couple of giant ants. That adventure it was had set him
"Reactionary!" he was saying, as they came within sight of the Cossar
encampment. "Who wouldn't be reactionary? Look at that square of ground,
that space of God's earth that was once sweet and fair, torn,
desecrated, disembowelled! Those sheds! That great wind-wheel! That
monstrous wheeled machine! Those dykes! Look at those three monsters
squatting there, plotting some ugly devilment or other! Look--look at
all the land!"
His friend glanced at his face. "You have been listening to Caterham,"
"Using my eyes. Looking a little into the peace and order of the past we
leave behind. This foul Food is the last shape of the Devil, still set
as ever upon the ruin of our world. Think what the world must have been
before our days, what it was still when our mothers bore us, and see it
now! Think how these slopes once smiled under the golden harvest, how
the hedges, full of sweet little flowers, parted the modest portion of
this man from that, how the ruddy farmhouses dotted the land, and the
voice of the church bells from yonder tower stilled the whole world each
Sabbath into Sabbath prayer. And now, every year, still more and more of
monstrous weeds, of monstrous vermin, and these giants growing all about
us, straddling over us, blundering against all that is subtle and sacred
in our world. Why here--Look!"
He pointed, and his friend's eyes followed the line of his white finger.
"One of their footmarks. See! It has smashed itself three feet deep and
more, a pitfall for horse and rider, a trap to the unwary. There is a
briar rose smashed to death; there is grass uprooted and a teazle
crushed aside, a farmer's drain pipe snapped and the edge of the pathway
broken down. Destruction! So they are doing all over the world, all over
the order and decency the world of men has made. Trampling on all
things. Reaction! What else?"
"But--reaction. What do you hope to do?"
"Stop it!" cried the young man from Oxford. "Before it is too late."
"It's _not_ impossible," cried the young man from Oxford, with a jump
in his voice. "We want the firm hand; we want the subtle plan, the
resolute mind. We have been mealy-mouthed and weak-handed; we have
trifled and temporised and the Food has grown and grown. Yet even now--"
He stopped for a moment. "This is the echo of Caterham," said his
"Even now. Even now there is hope--abundant hope, if only we make sure
of what we want and what we mean to destroy. The mass of people are with
us, much more with us than they were a few years ago; the law is with
us, the constitution and order of society, the spirit of the established
religions, the customs and habits of mankind are with us--and against
the Food. Why should we temporise? Why should we lie? We hate it, we
don't want it; why then should we have it? Do you mean to just grizzle
and obstruct passively and do nothing--till the sands are out?"
He stopped short and turned about. "Look at that grove of nettles there.
In the midst of them are homes--deserted--where once clean families of
simple men played out their honest lives!
"And there!" he swung round to where the young Cossars muttered to one
another of their wrongs.
"Look at them! And I know their father, a brute, a sort of brute beast
with an intolerant loud voice, a creature who has ran amuck in our all
too merciful world for the last thirty years and more. An engineer! To
him all that we hold dear and sacred is nothing. Nothing! The splendid
traditions of our race and land, the noble institutions, the venerable
order, the broad slow march from precedent to precedent that has made
our English people great and this sunny island free--it is all an idle
tale, told and done with. Some claptrap about the Future is worth all
these sacred things.... The sort of man who would run a tramway over his
mother's grave if he thought that was the cheapest line the tramway
could take.... And you think to temporise, to make some scheme of
compromise, that will enable you to live in your way while that--that
machinery--lives in its. I tell you it is hopeless--hopeless. As well
make treaties with a tiger! They want things monstrous--we want them
sane and sweet. It is one thing or the other."
"But what can you do?"
"Much! All! Stop the Food! They are still scattered, these giants; still
immature and disunited. Chain them, gag them, muzzle them. At any cost
stop them. It is their world or ours! Stop the Food. Shut up these men
who make it. Do anything to stop Cossar! You don't seem to remember--one
generation--only one generation needs holding down, and then--Then we
could level those mounds there, fill up their footsteps, take the ugly
sirens from our church towers, smash all our elephant guns, and turn our
faces again to the old order, the ripe old civilisation for which the
soul of man is fitted."
"It's a mighty effort."
"For a mighty end. And if we don't? Don't you see the prospect before us
clear as day? Everywhere the giants will increase and multiply;
everywhere they will make and scatter the Food. The grass will grow
gigantic in our fields, the weeds in our hedges, the vermin in the
thickets, the rats in the drains. More and more and more. This is only a
beginning. The insect world will rise on us, the plant world, the very
fishes in the sea, will swamp and drown our ships. Tremendous growths
will obscure and hide our houses, smother our churches, smash and
destroy all the order of our cities, and we shall become no more than a
feeble vermin under the heels of the new race. Mankind will be swamped
and drowned in things of its own begetting! And all for nothing! Size!
Mere size! Enlargement and _da capo_. Already we go picking our way
among the first beginnings of the coming time. And all we do is to say
'How inconvenient!' To grumble and do nothing. _No_!"
He raised his hand.
"Let them do the thing they have to do! So also will I. I am for
Reaction--unstinted and fearless Reaction. Unless you mean to take this
Food also, what else is there to do in all the world? We have trifled in
the middle ways too long. You! Trifling in the middle ways is your
habit, your circle of existence, your space and time. So, not I! I am
against the Food, with all my strength and purpose against the Food."
He turned on his companion's grunt of dissent. "Where are you?"
"It's a complicated business---"
"Oh!--Driftwood!" said the young man from Oxford, very bitterly, with a
fling of all his limbs. "The middle way is nothingness. It is one thing
or the other. Eat or destroy. Eat or destroy! What else is there to
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
THE GIANT LOVERS.
Now it chanced in the days when Caterham was campaigning against the
Boom-children before the General Election that was--amidst the most
tragic and terrible circumstances--to bring him into power, that the
giant Princess, that Serene Highness whose early nutrition had played so
great a part in the brilliant career of Doctor Winkles, had come from
the kingdom of her father to England, on an occasion that was deemed
important. She was affianced for reasons of state to a certain
Prince--and the wedding was to be made an event of international
significance. There had arisen mysterious delays. Rumour and Imagination
collaborated in the story and many things were said. There were
suggestions of a recalcitrant Prince who declared he would not be made
to look like a fool--at least to this extent. People sympathised with
him. That is the most significant aspect of the affair.
Now it may seem a strange thing, but it is a fact that the giant
Princess, when she came to England, knew of no other giants whatever.
She had lived in a world where tact is almost a passion and reservations
the air of one's life. They had kept the thing from her; they had
hedged her about from sight or suspicion of any gigantic form, until her
appointed coming to England was due. Until she met young Redwood she had
no inkling that there was such a thing as another giant in the world.
In the kingdom of the father of the Princess there were wild wastes of
upland and mountains where she had been accustomed to roam freely. She
loved the sunrise and the sunset and all the great drama of the open
heavens more than anything else in the world, but among a people at once
so democratic and so vehemently loyal as the English her freedom was
much restricted. People came in brakes, in excursion trains, in
organised multitudes to see her; they would cycle long distances to
stare at her, and it was necessary to rise betimes if she would walk in
peace. It was still near the dawn that morning when young Redwood came
The Great Park near the Palace where she lodged stretched, for a score
of miles and more, west and south of the western palace gates. The
chestnut trees of its avenues reached high above her head. Each one as
she passed it seemed to proffer a more abundant wealth of blossom. For a
time she was content with sight and scent, but at last she was won over
by these offers, and set herself so busily to choose and pick that she
did not perceive young Redwood until he was close upon her.
She moved among the chestnut trees, with the destined lover drawing near
to her, unanticipated, unsuspected. She thrust her hands in among the
branches, breaking them and gathering them. She was alone in the world.
She looked up, and in that moment she was mated.
We must needs put our imaginations to his stature to see the beauty he
saw. That unapproachable greatness that prevents our immediate sympathy
with her did not exist for him. There she stood, a gracious girl, the
first created being that had ever seemed a mate for him, light and
slender, lightly clad, the fresh breeze of the dawn moulding the subtly
folding robe upon her against the soft strong lines of her form, and
with a great mass of blossoming chestnut branches in her hands. The
collar of her robe opened to show the whiteness of her neck and a soft
shadowed roundness that passed out of sight towards her shoulders. The
breeze had stolen a strand or so of her hair too, and strained its
red-tipped brown across her cheek. Her eyes were open blue, and her lips
rested always in the promise of a smile as she reached among the
She turned upon him with a start, saw him, and for a space they regarded
one another. For her, the sight of him was so amazing, so incredible, as
to be, for some moments at least, terrible. He came to her with the
shock of a supernatural apparition; he broke all the established law of
her world. He was a youth of one-and-twenty then, slenderly built, with
his father's darkness and his father's gravity. He was clad in a sober
soft brown leather, close-fitting easy garments, and in brown hose, that
shaped him bravely. His head went uncovered in all weathers. They stood
regarding one another--she incredulously amazed, and he with his heart
beating fast. It was a moment without a prelude, the cardinal meeting of
For him there was less surprise. He had been seeking her, and yet his
heart beat fast. He came towards her, slowly, with his eyes upon her
"You are the Princess," he said. "My father has told me. You are the
Princess who was given the Food of the Gods."
"I am the Princess--yes," she said, with eyes of wonder. "But--what are
"I am the son of the man who made the Food of the Gods."
"The Food of the Gods!"
"Yes, the Food of the Gods."
Her face expressed infinite perplexity.
"What? I don't understand. The Food of the Gods?"
"You have not heard?"
"The Food of the Gods! _No_!"
She found herself trembling violently. The colour left her face. "I did
not know," she said. "Do you mean--?"
He waited for her.
"Do you mean there are other--giants?"
He repeated, "Did you not know?"
And she answered, with the growing amazement of realisation, "_No!_"
The whole world and all the meaning of the world was changing for her. A
branch of chestnut slipped from her hand. "Do you mean to say," she
repeated stupidly, "that there are other giants in the world? That some
He caught her amazement.
"You know nothing?" he cried. "You have never heard of us? You, whom the
Food has made akin to us!"
There was terror still in the eyes that stared at him. Her hand rose
towards her throat and fell again. She whispered, "_No_."
It seemed to her that she must weep or faint. Then in a moment she had
rule over herself and she was speaking and thinking clearly. "All this
has been kept from me," she said. "It is like a dream. I have
dreamt--have dreamt such things. But waking--No. Tell me! Tell me! What
are you? What is this Food of the Gods? Tell me slowly--and clearly. Why
have they kept it from me, that I am not alone?"
"Tell me," she said, and young Redwood, tremulous and excited, set
himself to tell her--it was poor and broken telling for a time--of the
Food of the Gods and the giant children who were scattered over the
You must figure them both, flushed and startled in their bearing;
getting at one another's meaning through endless half-heard, half-spoken
phrases, repeating, making perplexing breaks and new departures--a
wonderful talk, in which she awakened from the ignorance of all her
life. And very slowly it became clear to her that she was no exception
to the order of mankind, but one of a scattered brotherhood, who had all
eaten the Food and grown for ever out of the little limits of the folk
beneath their feet. Young Redwood spoke of his father, of Cossar, of the
Brothers scattered throughout the country, of the great dawn of wider
meaning that had come at last into the history of the world. "We are in
the beginning of a beginning," he said; "this world of theirs is only
the prelude to the world the Food will make.
"My father believes--and I also believe--that a time will come when
littleness will have passed altogether out of the world of man,--when
giants shall go freely about this earth--their earth--doing continually
greater and more splendid things. But that--that is to come. We are not
even the first generation of that--we are the first experiments."
"And of these things," she said, "I knew nothing!"
"There are times when it seems to me almost as if we had come too soon.
Some one, I suppose, had to come first. But the world was all unprepared
for our coming and for the coming of all the lesser great things that
drew their greatness from the Food. There have been blunders; there have
been conflicts. The little people hate our kind....
"They are hard towards us because they are so little.... And because our
feet are heavy on the things that make their lives. But at any rate they
hate us now; they will have none of us--only if we could shrink back to
the common size of them would they begin to forgive....
"They are happy in houses that are prison cells to us; their cities are
too small for us; we go in misery along their narrow ways; we cannot
worship in their churches....
"We see over their walls and over their protections; we look
inadvertently into their upper windows; we look over their customs;
their laws are no more than a net about our feet....
"Every time we stumble we hear them shouting; every time we blunder
against their limits or stretch out to any spacious act....
"Our easy paces are wild flights to them, and all they deem great and
wonderful no more than dolls' pyramids to us. Their pettiness of method
and appliance and imagination hampers and defeats our powers. There are
no machines to the power of our hands, no helps to fit our needs. They
hold our greatness in servitude by a thousand invisible bands. We are
stronger, man for man, a hundred times, but we are disarmed; our very
greatness makes us debtors; they claim the land we stand upon; they tax
our ampler need of food and shelter, and for all these things we must
toil with the tools these dwarfs can make us--and to satisfy their
dwarfish fancies ...
"They pen us in, in every way. Even to live one must cross their
boundaries. Even to meet you here to-day I have passed a limit. All that
is reasonable and desirable in life they make out of bounds for us. We
may not go into the towns; we may not cross the bridges; we may not step
on their ploughed fields or into the harbours of the game they kill. I
am cut off now from all our Brethren except the three sons of Cossar,
and even that way the passage narrows day by day. One could think they
sought occasion against us to do some more evil thing ..."
"But we are strong," she said.
"We should be strong--yes. We feel, all of us--you too I know must
feel--that we have power, power to do great things, power insurgent in
us. But before we can do anything--"
He flung out a hand that seemed to sweep away a world.
"Though I thought I was alone in the world," she said, after a pause, "I
have thought of these things. They have taught me always that strength
was almost a sin, that it was better to be little than great, that all
true religion was to shelter the weak and little, encourage the weak
and little, help them to multiply and multiply until at last they
crawled over one another, to sacrifice all our strength in their cause.
But ... always I have doubted the thing they taught."
"This life," he said, "these bodies of ours, are not for dying."
"Nor to live in futility. But if we would not do that, it is already
plain to all our Brethren a conflict must come. I know not what
bitterness of conflict must presently come, before the little folks will
suffer us to live as we need to live. All the Brethren have thought of
that. Cossar, of whom I told you: he too has thought of that."
"They are very little and weak."
"In their way. But you know all the means of death are in their hands,
and made for their hands. For hundreds of thousands of years these
little people, whose world we invade, have been learning how to kill one
another. They are very able at that. They are able in many ways. And
besides, they can deceive and change suddenly.... I do not know....
There comes a conflict. You--you perhaps are different from us. For us,
assuredly, the conflict comes.... The thing they call War. We know it.
In a way we prepare for it. But you know--those little people!--we do
not know how to kill, at least we do not want to kill--"
"Look," she interrupted, and he heard a yelping horn.
He turned at the direction of her eyes, and found a bright yellow motor
car, with dark goggled driver and fur-clad passengers, whooping,
throbbing, and buzzing resentfully at his heel. He moved his foot, and
the mechanism, with three angry snorts, resumed its fussy way towards
the town. "Filling up the roadway!" floated up to him.
Then some one said, "Look! Did you see? There is the monster Princess
over beyond the trees!" and all their goggled faces came round to stare.
"I say," said another. "_That_ won't do ..."
"All this," she said, "is more amazing than I can tell."
"That they should not have told you," he said, and left his sentence
"Until you came upon me, I had lived in a world where I was
great--alone. I had made myself a life--for that. I had thought I was
the victim of some strange freak of nature. And now my world has
crumbled down, in half an hour, and I see another world, other
conditions, wider possibilities--fellowship--"
"Fellowship," he answered.
"I want you to tell me more yet, and much more," she said. "You know
this passes through my mind like a tale that is told. You even ... In a
day perhaps, or after several days, I shall believe in you. Now--Now I
am dreaming.... Listen!"
The first stroke of a clock above the palace offices far away had
penetrated to them. Each counted mechanically "Seven."
"This," she said, "should be the hour of my return. They will be taking
the bowl of my coffee into the hall where I sleep. The little officials
and servants--you cannot dream how grave they are--will be stirring
about their little duties."
"They will wonder ... But I want to talk to you."
She thought. "But I want to think too. I want now to think alone, and
think out this change in things, think away the old solitude, and think
you and those others into my world.... I shall go. I shall go back
to-day to my place in the castle, and to-morrow, as the dawn comes, I
shall come again--here."
"I shall be here waiting for you."
"All day I shall dream and dream of this new world you have given me.
Even now, I can scarcely believe--"
She took a step back and surveyed him from the feet to the face. Their
eyes met and locked for a moment.
"Yes," she said, with a little laugh that was half a sob. "You are real.
But it is very wonderful! Do you think--indeed--? Suppose to-morrow I
come and find you--a pigmy like the others... Yes, I must think. And so
for to-day--as the little people do--"
She held out her hand, and for the first time they touched one another.
Their hands clasped firmly and their eyes met again.
"Good-bye," she said, "for to-day. Good-bye! Good-bye, Brother Giant!"
He hesitated with some unspoken thing, and at last he answered her
For a space they held each other's hands, studying each the other's
face. And many times after they had parted, she looked back half
doubtfully at him, standing still in the place where they had met....
She walked into her apartments across the great yard of the Palace like
one who walks in a dream, with a vast branch of chestnut trailing from
These two met altogether fourteen times before the beginning of the end.
They met in the Great Park or on the heights and among the gorges of
the rusty-roaded, heathery moorland, set with dusky pine-woods, that
stretched to the south-west. Twice they met in the great avenue of
chestnuts, and five times near the broad ornamental water the king, her
great-grandfather, had made. There was a place where a great trim lawn,
set with tall conifers, sloped graciously to the water's edge, and there
she would sit, and he would lie at her knees and look up in her face and
talk, telling of all the things that had been, and of the work his
father had set before him, and of the great and spacious dream of what
the giant people should one day be. Commonly they met in the early dawn,
but once they met there in the afternoon, and found presently a
multitude of peering eavesdroppers about them, cyclists, pedestrians,
peeping from the bushes, rustling (as sparrows will rustle about one in
the London parks) amidst the dead leaves in the woods behind, gliding
down the lake in boats towards a point of view, trying to get nearer to
them and hear.
It was the first hint that offered of the enormous interest the
countryside was taking in their meetings. And once--it was the seventh
time, and it precipitated the scandal--they met out upon the breezy
moorland under a clear moonlight, and talked in whispers there, for the
night was warm and still.
Very soon they had passed from the realisation that in them and through
them a new world of giantry shaped itself in the earth, from the
contemplation of the great struggle between big and little, in which
they were clearly destined to participate, to interests at once more
personal and more spacious. Each time they met and talked and looked on
one another, it crept a little more out of their subconscious being
towards recognition, that something more dear and wonderful than
friendship was between them, and walked between them and drew their
hands together. And in a little while they came to the word itself and
found themselves lovers, the Adam and Eve of a new race in the world.
They set foot side by side into the wonderful valley of love, with its
deep and quiet places. The world changed about them with their changing
mood, until presently it had become, as it were, a tabernacular beauty
about their meetings, and the stars were no more than flowers of light
beneath the feet of their love, and the dawn and sunset the coloured
hangings by the way. They ceased to be beings of flesh and blood to one
another and themselves; they passed into a bodily texture of tenderness
and desire. They gave it first whispers and then silence, and drew close
and looked into one another's moonlit and shadowy faces under the
infinite arch of the sky. And the still black pine-trees stood about
them like sentinels.
The beating steps of time were hushed into silence, and it seemed to
them the universe hung still. Only their hearts were audible, beating.
They seemed to be living together in a world where there is no death,
and indeed so it was with them then. It seemed to them that they
sounded, and indeed they sounded, such hidden splendours in the very
heart of things as none have ever reached before. Even for mean and
little souls, love is the revelation of splendours. And these were giant
lovers who had eaten the Food of the Gods ...
* * * * *
You may imagine the spreading consternation in this ordered world when
it became known that the Princess who was affianced to the Prince, the
Princess, Her Serene Highness! with royal blood in her veins!
met,--frequently met,--the hypertrophied offspring of a common professor
of chemistry, a creature of no rank, no position, no wealth, and talked
to him as though there were no Kings and Princes, no order, no
reverence--nothing but Giants and Pigmies in the world, talked to him
and, it was only too certain, held him as her lover.
"If those newspaper fellows get hold of it!" gasped Sir Arthur Poodle
"I am told--" whispered the old Bishop of Frumps.
"New story upstairs," said the first footman, as he nibbled among the
dessert things. "So far as I can make out this here giant Princess--"
"They say--" said the lady who kept the stationer's shop by the main
entrance to the Palace, where the little Americans get their tickets for
the State Apartments ...
"We are authorised to deny--" said "Picaroon" in _Gossip_.
And so the whole trouble came out.
"They say that we must part," the Princess said to her lover.
"But why?" he cried. "What new folly have these people got into their
"Do you know," she asked, "that to love me--is high treason?"
"My dear," he cried; "but does it matter? What is their right--right
without a shadow of reason--and their treason and their loyalty to us?"
"You shall hear," she said, and told him of the things that had been
told to her.
"It was the queerest little man who came to me with a soft, beautifully
modulated voice, a softly moving little gentleman who sidled into the
room like a cat and put his pretty white hand up so, whenever he had
anything significant to say. He is bald, but not of course nakedly bald,
and his nose and face are chubby rosy little things, and his beard is
trimmed to a point in quite the loveliest way. He pretended to have
emotions several times and made his eyes shine. You know he is quite a
friend of the real royal family here, and he called me his dear young
lady and was perfectly sympathetic even from the beginning. 'My dear
young lady,' he said, 'you know--_you mustn't,'_ several times, and
then, 'You owe a duty.'"
"Where do they make such men?"
"He likes it," she said.
"But I don't see--"
"He told me serious things."
"You don't think," he said, turning on her abruptly, "that there's
anything in the sort of thing he said?"
"There's something in it quite certainly," said she.
"I mean that without knowing it we have been trampling on the most
sacred conceptions of the little folks. We who are royal are a class
apart. We are worshipped prisoners, processional toys. We pay for
worship by losing--our elementary freedom. And I was to have married
that Prince--You know nothing of him though. Well, a pigmy Prince. He
doesn't matter.... It seems it would have strengthened the bonds between
my country and another. And this country also was to profit. Imagine
it!--strengthening the bonds!"
"They want me to go on with it--as though there was nothing between us
"Yes. But that isn't all. He said--"
"Your specialist in Tact?"
"Yes. He said it would be better for you, better for all the giants, if
we two--abstained from conversation. That was how he put it."
"But what can they do if we don't?"
"He said you might have your freedom."
"He said, with a stress, 'My dear young lady, it would be better, it
would be more dignified, if you parted, willingly.' That was all he
said. With a stress on willingly."
"But--! What business is it of these little wretches, where we love, how
we love? What have they and their world to do with us?"
"They do not think that."
"Of course," he said, "you disregard all this."
"It seems utterly foolish to me."
"That their laws should fetter us! That we, at the first spring of life,
should be tripped by their old engagements, their aimless institutions I
Oh--! We disregard it."
"I am yours. So far--yes."
"So far? Isn't that all?"
"But they--If they want to part us--"
"What can they do?"
"I don't know. What _can_ they do?" "Who cares what they can do, or
what they will do? I am yours and you are mine. What is there more than
that? I am yours and you are mine--for ever. Do you think I will stop
for their little rules, for their little prohibitions, their scarlet
boards indeed!--and keep from _you_?"
"Yes. But still, what can they do?"
"You mean," he said, "what are we to do?"
"We? We can go on."
"But if they seek to prevent us?"
He clenched his hands. He looked round as if the little people were
already coming to prevent them. Then turned away from her and looked
about the world. "Yes," he said. "Your question was the right one. What
can they do?"
"Here la this little land," she said, and stopped.
He seemed to survey it all. "They are everywhere."
"But we might--"
"We could go. We could swim the seas together. Beyond the seas--"
"I have never been beyond the seas."
"There are great and desolate mountains amidst which we should seem no
more than little people, there are remote and deserted valleys, there
are hidden lakes and snow-girdled uplands untrodden by the feet of men.
"But to get there we must fight our way day after day through millions
and millions of mankind."
"It is our only hope. In this crowded land there is no fastness, no
shelter. What place is there for us among these multitudes? They who are
little can hide from one another, but where are we to hide? There is no
place where we could eat, no place where we could sleep. If we
fled--night and day they would pursue our footsteps."
A thought came to him.
"There is one place," he said, "even in this island."
"The place our Brothers have made over beyond there. They have made
great banks about their house, north and south and east and west; they
have made deep pits and hidden places, and even now--one came over to me
quite recently. He said--I did not altogether heed what he said then.
But he spoke of arms. It may be--there--we should find shelter....
"For many days," he said, after a pause, "I have not seen our
Brothers... Dear! I have been dreaming, I have been forgetting! The days
have passed, and I have done nothing but look to see you again ... I
must go to them and talk to them, and tell them of you and of all the
things that hang over us. If they will help us, they can help us. Then
indeed we might hope. I do not know how strong their place is, but
certainly Cossar will have made it strong. Before all this--before you
came to me, I remember now--there was trouble brewing. There was an
election--when all the little people settle things, by counting heads.
It must be over now. There were threats against all our race--against
all our race, that is, but you. I must see our Brothers. I must tell
them all that has happened between us, and all that threatens now."
He did not come to their next meeting until she had waited some time.
They were to meet that day about midday in a great space of park that
fitted into a bend of the river, and as she waited, looking ever
southward under her hand, it came to her that the world was very still,
that indeed it was broodingly still. And then she perceived that, spite
of the lateness of the hour, her customary retinue of voluntary spies
had failed her. Left and right, when she came to look, there was no one
in sight, and there was never a boat upon the silver curve of the
Thames. She tried to find a reason for this strange stillness in the
Then, a grateful sight for her, she saw young Redwood far away over a
gap in the tree masses that bounded her view.
Immediately the trees hid him, and presently he was thrusting through
them and in sight again. She could see there was something different,
and then she saw that he was hurrying unusually and then that he limped.
He gestured to her, and she walked towards him. His face became clearer,
and she saw with infinite concern that he winced at every stride.
She ran towards him, her mind full of questions and vague fear. He drew
near to her and spoke without a greeting.
"Are we to part?" he panted.
"No," she answered. "Why? What is the matter?"
"But if we do not part--! It is _now_."
"What is the matter?"
"I do not want to part," he said. "Only--" He broke off abruptly to
ask, "You will not part from me?"
She met his eyes with a steadfast look. "What has happened?" she
"Not for a time?"
"You have thought?" he insisted.
"I will not part." She took his hand. "If this meant death, _now_, I
would not let you go."
"If it meant death," he said, and she felt his grip upon her fingers.
He looked about him as if he feared to see the little people coming as
he spoke. And then: "It may mean death."
"Now tell me," she said.
"They tried to stop my coming."
"And as I came out of my workshop where I make the Food of the Gods for
the Cossars to store in their camp, I found a little officer of
police--a man in blue with white clean gloves--who beckoned me to stop.
'This way is closed!' said he. I thought little of that; I went round my
workshop to where another road runs west, and there was another officer.
'This road is closed!' he said, and added: 'All the roads are closed!'"
"I argued with him a little. 'They are public roads!' I said.
"'That's it,' said he. 'You spoil them for the public.'
"'Very well,' said I, 'I'll take the fields,' and then, up leapt others
from behind a hedge and said, 'These fields are private.'
"'Curse your public and private,' I said, 'I'm going to my Princess,'
and I stooped down and picked him up very gently--kicking and
shouting--and put him out of my way. In a minute all the fields about me
seemed alive with running men. I saw one on horseback galloping beside
me and reading something as he rode--shouting it. He finished and turned
and galloped away from me--head down. I couldn't make it out. And then
behind me I heard the crack of guns."
"Guns--just as they shoot at the rats. The bullets came through the air
with a sound like things tearing: one stung me in the leg."
"Came on to you here and left them shouting and running and shooting
behind me. And now--"
"It is only the beginning. They mean that we shall part. Even now they
are coming after me."
"We will not."
"No. But if we will not part--then you must come with me to our
"Which way?" she said.
"To the east. Yonder is the way my pursuers will be coming. This then is
the way we must go. Along this avenue of trees. Let me go first, so that
if they are waiting--"
He made a stride, but she had seized his arm.
"No," cried she. "I come close to you, holding you. Perhaps I am royal,
perhaps I am sacred. If I hold you--Would God we could fly with my arms
about you!--it may be, they will not shoot at you--"
She clasped his shoulder and seized his hand as she spoke; she pressed
herself nearer to him. "It may be they will not shoot you," she
repeated, and with a sudden passion of tenderness he took her into his
arms and kissed her cheek. For a space he held her.
"Even if it is death," she whispered.
She put her hands about his neck and lifted her face to his.
"Dearest, kiss me once more."
He drew her to him. Silently they kissed one another on the lips, and
for another moment clung to one another. Then hand in hand, and she
striving always to keep her body near to his, they set forward if haply
they might reach the camp of refuge the sons of Cossar had made, before
the pursuit of the little people overtook them.
And as they crossed the great spaces of the park behind the castle there
came horsemen galloping out from among the trees and vainly seeking to
keep pace with their giant strides. And presently ahead of them were
houses, and men with guns running out of the houses. At the sight of
that, though he sought to go on and was even disposed to fight and push
through, she made him turn aside towards the south.
As they fled a bullet whipped by them overhead.
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
YOUNG CADDIES IN LONDON.
All unaware of the trend of events, unaware of the laws that were
closing in upon all the Brethren, unaware indeed that there lived a
Brother for him on the earth, young Caddies chose this time to come out
of his chalk pit and see the world. His brooding came at last to that.
There was no answer to all his questions in Cheasing Eyebright; the new
Vicar was less luminous even than the old, and the riddle of his
pointless labour grew at last to the dimensions of exasperation. "Why
should I work in this pit day after day?" he asked. "Why should I walk
within bounds and be refused all the wonders of the world beyond there?
What have I done, to be condemned to this?"
And one day he stood up, straightened his back, and said in a loud
"I won't," he said, and then with great vigour cursed the pit.
Then, having few words, he sought to express his thought in acts. He
took a track half filled with chalk, lifted it, and flung it, smash,
against another. Then he grasped a whole row of empty trucks and spun
them down a bank. He sent a huge boulder of chalk bursting among them,
and then ripped up a dozen yards of rail with a mighty plunge of his
foot. So he commenced the conscientious wrecking of the pit.
"Work all my days," he said, "at this!"
It was an astonishing five minutes for the little geologist he had, in
his preoccupation, overlooked. This poor little creature having dodged
two boulders by a hairbreadth, got out by the westward corner and fled
athwart the hill, with flapping rucksack and twinkling knicker-bockered
legs, leaving a trail of Cretaceous echinoderms behind him; while young
Caddies, satisfied with the destruction he had achieved, came striding
out to fulfil his purpose in the world.
"Work in that old pit, until I die and rot and stink I ... What worm did
they think was living in my giant body? Dig chalk for God knows what
foolish purpose I Not _I!_"
The trend of road and railway perhaps, or mere chance it was, turned his
face to London, and thither he came striding; over the Downs and athwart
the meadows through the hot afternoon, to the infinite amazement of the
world. It signified nothing to him that torn posters in red and white
bearing various names flapped from every wall and barn; he knew nothing
of the electoral revolution that had flung Caterham, "Jack the
Giant-killer," into power. It signified nothing to him that every police
station along his route had what was known as Caterham's ukase upon its
notice board that afternoon, proclaiming that no giant, no person
whatever over eight feet in height, should go more than five miles from
his "place of location" without a special permission. It signified
nothing to him that on his wake belated police officers, not a little
relieved to find themselves belated, shook warning handbills at his
retreating back. He was going to see what the world had to show him,
poor incredulous blockhead, and he did not mean that occasional spirited
persons shouting "Hi!" at him should stay his course. He came on down by
Rochester and Greenwich towards an ever-thickening aggregation of
houses, walking rather slowly now, staring about him and swinging his
People in London had heard something of him before, how that he was
idiotic but gentle, and wonderfully managed by Lady Wondershoot's agent
and the Vicar; how in his dull way he revered these authorities and was
grateful to them for their care of him, and so forth. So that when they
learnt from the newspaper placards that afternoon that he also was "on
strike," the thing appeared to many of them as a deliberate, concerted
"They mean to try our strength," said the men in the trains going home
"Lucky we have Caterham."
"It's in answer to his proclamation."
The men in the clubs were better informed. They clustered round the tape
or talked in groups in their smoking-rooms.
"He has no weapons. He would have gone to Sevenoaks if he had been put
up to it."
"Caterham will handle him...."
The shopmen told their customers. The waiters in restaurants snatched a
moment for an evening paper between the courses. The cabmen read it
immediately after the betting news....
The placards of the chief government evening paper were conspicuous with
"Grasping the Nettle." Others relied for effect on: "Giant Redwood
continues to meet the Princess." The _Echo_ struck a line of its own
with: "Rumoured Revolt of Giants in the North of England. The Sunderland
Giants start for Scotland." The, _Westminster Gazette_ sounded its usual
warning note. "Giants Beware," said the _Westminster Gazette_, and tried
to make a point out of it that might perhaps serve towards uniting the
Liberal party--at that time greatly torn between seven intensely
egotistical leaders. The later newspapers dropped into uniformity. "The
Giant in the New Kent Road," they proclaimed.
"What I want to know," said the pale young man in the tea shop, "is why
we aren't getting any news of the young Cossars. You'd think they'd be
in it most of all ..."
"They tell me there's another of them young giants got loose," said the
barmaid, wiping out a glass. "I've always said they was dangerous things
to 'ave about. Right away from the beginning ... It ought to be put a
stop to. Any'ow, I 'ope 'e won't come along 'ere."
"I'd like to 'ave a look at 'im," said the young man at the bar
recklessly, and added, "I _seen_ the Princess."
"D'you think they'll 'urt 'im?" said the barmaid.
"May 'ave to," said the young man at the bar, finishing his glass.
Amidst a hum of ten million such sayings young Caddies came to London...
I think of young Caddies always as he was seen in the New Kent Road, the
sunset warm upon his perplexed and staring face. The Road was thick with
its varied traffic, omnibuses, trams, vans, carts, trolleys, cyclists,
motors, and a marvelling crowd--loafers, women, nurse-maids, shopping
women, children, venturesome hobble-dehoys--gathered behind his
gingerly moving feet. The hoardings were untidy everywhere with the
tattered election paper. A babblement of voices surged about him. One
sees the customers and shopmen crowding in the doorways of the shops,
the faces that came and went at the windows, the little street boys
running and shouting, the policemen taking it all quite stiffly and
calmly, the workmen knocking off upon scaffoldings, the seething
miscellany of the little folks. They shouted to him, vague
encouragement, vague insults, the imbecile catchwords of the day, and he
stared down at them, at such a multitude of living creatures as he had
never before imagined in the world.
Now that he had fairly entered London he had had to slacken his pace
more and more, the little folks crowded so mightily upon him. The crowd
grew denser at every step, and at last, at a corner where two great ways
converged, he came to a stop, and the multitude flowed about him and
closed him in.
There he stood, with his feet a little apart, his back to a big corner
gin palace that towered twice his height and ended In a sky sign,
staring down at the pigmies and wondering--trying, I doubt not, to
collate it all with the other things of his life, with the valley among
the downlands, the nocturnal lovers, the singing in the church, the
chalk he hammered daily, and with instinct and death and the sky, trying
to see it all together coherent and significant. His brows were knit. He
put up his huge paw to scratch his coarse hair, and groaned aloud.
"I don't see It," he said.
His accent was unfamiliar. A great babblement went across the open
space--a babblement amidst which the gongs of the trams, ploughing their
obstinate way through the mass, rose like red poppies amidst corn. "What
did he say?" "Said he didn't see." "Said, where is the sea?" "Said,
where is a seat?" "He wants a seat." "Can't the brasted fool sit on a
'ouse or somethin'?"
"What are ye for, ye swarming little people? What are ye all doing, what
are ye all for?
"What are ye doing up here, ye swarming little people, while I'm
a-cuttin' chalk for ye, down in the chalk pits there?"
His queer voice, the voice that had been so bad for school discipline at
Cheasing Eyebright, smote the multitude to silence while it sounded and
splashed them all to tumult at the end. Some wit was audible screaming
"Speech, speech!" "What's he saying?" was the burthen of the public
mind, and an opinion was abroad that he was drunk. "Hi, hi, hi," bawled
the omnibus-drivers, threading a dangerous way. A drunken American
sailor wandered about tearfully inquiring, "What's he want anyhow?" A
leathery-faced rag-dealer upon a little pony-drawn cart soared up over
the tumult by virtue of his voice. "Garn 'ome, you Brasted Giant!" he
brawled, "Garn 'Ome! You Brasted Great Dangerous Thing! Can't you see
you're a-frightening the 'orses? Go _'ome_ with you! 'Asn't any one 'ad
the sense to tell you the law?" And over all this uproar young Caddies
stared, perplexed, expectant, saying no more.
Down a side road came a little string of solemn policemen, and threaded
itself ingeniously into the traffic. "Stand back," said the little
voices; "keep moving, please."
Young Caddles became aware of a little dark blue figure thumping at his
shin. He looked down, and perceived two white hands gesticulating.
"_What_?" he said, bending forward.
"Can't stand about here," shouted the inspector.
"No! You can't stand about here," he repeated.
"But where am I to go?"
"Back to your village. Place of location. Anyhow, now--you've got to
move on. You're obstructing the traffic."
"Along the road."
"But where is it going? Where does it come from? What does it mean?
They're all round me. What do they want? What are they doin'? I want to
understand. I'm tired of cuttin' chalk and bein' all alone. What are
they doin' for me while I'm a-cuttin' chalk? I may just as well
understand here and now as anywhere."
"Sorry. But we aren't here to explain things of that sort. I must arst
you to move on."
"Don't you know?"
"I must arst you to move on--_if_ you please ... I'd strongly advise you
to get off 'ome. We've 'ad no special instructions yet--but it's against
the law ... Clear away there. Clear away."
The pavement to his left became invitingly bare, and young Caddles went
slowly on his way. But now his tongue was loosened.
"I don't understand," he muttered. "I don't understand." He would appeal
brokenly to the changing crowd that ever trailed beside him and behind.
"I didn't know there were such places as this. What are all you people
doing with yourselves? What's it Jail for? What is it all for, and where
do I come in?"
He had already begotten a new catchword. Young men of wit and spirit
addressed each other in this manner, "Ullo 'Arry O'Cock. Wot's it all
_for_? Eh? Wot's it all bloomin' well _for_?"
To which there sprang up a competing variety of repartees, for the most
part impolite. The most popular and best adapted for general use appears
to have been "_Shut_ it," or, in a voice of scornful detachment--"_Gam
There were others almost equally popular.
What was he seeking? He wanted something the pigmy world did not give,
some end which the pigmy world prevented his attaining, prevented even
his seeing clearly, which he was never to see clearly. It was the whole
gigantic social side of this lonely dumb monster crying out for his
race, for the things akin to him, for something he might love and
something he might serve, for a purpose he might comprehend and a
command he could obey. And, you know, all this was _dumb_, raged dumbly
within him, could not even, had he met a fellow giant, have found outlet
and expression in speech. All the life he knew was the dull round of the
village, all the speech he knew was the talk of the cottage, that failed
and collapsed at the bare outline of his least gigantic need. He knew
nothing of money, this monstrous simpleton, nothing of trade, nothing of
the complex pretences upon which the social fabric of the little folks
was built. He needed, he needed--Whatever he needed, he never found his
A11 through the day and the summer night he wandered, growing hungry but
as yet untired, marking the varied traffic of the different streets, the
inexplicable businesses of all these infinitesimal beings. In the
aggregate it had no other colour than confusion for him....
He is said to have plucked a lady from her carriage in Kensington, a
lady in evening dress of the smartest sort, to have scrutinised her
closely, train and shoulder blades, and to have replaced her--a little
carelessly--with the profoundest sigh. For that I cannot vouch. For an
hour or so he watched people fighting for places in the omnibuses at the
end of Piccadilly. He was seen looming over Kennington Oval for some
moments in the afternoon, but when he saw these dense thousands were
engaged with the mystery of cricket and quite regardless of him he went
his way with a groan.
He came back to Piccadilly Circus between eleven and twelve at nights
and found a new sort of multitude. Clearly they were very intent: full
of things they, for inconceivable reasons, might do, and of others they
might not do. They stared at him and jeered at him and went their way.
The cabmen, vulture-eyed, followed one another continually along the
edge of the swarming pavement. People emerged from the restaurants or
entered them, grave, intent, dignified, or gently and agreeably excited
or keen and vigilant--beyond the cheating of the sharpest waiter born.
The great giant, standing at his corner, peered at them all. "What is it
all for?" he murmured in a mournful vast undertone, "What is it all
for? They are all so earnest. What is it I do not understand?"
And none of them seemed to see, as he could do, the drink-sodden
wretchedness of the painted women at the corner, the ragged misery that
sneaked along the gutters, the infinite futility of all this employment.
The infinite futility! None of them seemed to feel the shadow of that
giant's need, that shadow of the future, that lay athwart their paths...
Across the road high up mysterious letters flamed and went, that might,
could he have read them, have measured for him the dimensions of human
interest, have told him of the fundamental needs and features of life as
the little folks conceived it. First would come a flaming
Then U would follow,
Until at last there stood complete, across the sky, this cheerful
message to all who felt the burthen of life's earnestness:
TUPPER'S TONIC WINE FOR VIGOUR.
Snap! and it had vanished into night, to be followed in the same slow
development by a second universal solicitude:
Not, you remark, mere cleansing chemicals, but something, as they say,
"ideal;" and then, completing the tripod of the little life:
TANKER'S YELLOW PILLS.
After that there was nothing for it but Tupper again, in naming crimson
letters, snap, snap, across the void.
T U P P....
Early in the small hours it would seem that young Caddies came to the
shadowy quiet of Regent's Park, stepped over the railings and lay down
on a grassy slope near where the people skate in winter time, and there
he slept an hour or so. And about six o'clock in the morning, he was
talking to a draggled woman he had found sleeping in a ditch near
Hampstead Heath, asking her very earnestly what she thought she was
The wandering of Caddies about London came to a head on the second day
in the morning. For then his hunger overcame him. He hesitated where the
hot-smelling loaves were being tossed into a cart, and then very
quietly knelt down and commenced robbery. He emptied the cart while the
baker's man fled for the police, and then his great hand came into the
shop and cleared counter and cases. Then with an armful, still eating,
he went his way looking for another shop to go on with his meal. It
happened to be one of those seasons when work is scarce and food dear,
and the crowd in that quarter was sympathetic even with a giant who took
the food they all desired. They applauded the second phase of his meal,
and laughed at his stupid grimace at the policeman.
"I woff hungry," he said, with his mouth full.
"Brayvo!" cried the crowd. "Brayvo!"
Then when he was beginning his third baker's shop, he was stopped by
half a dozen policemen hammering with truncheons at his shins. "Look
here, my fine giant, you come along o' me," said the officer in charge.
"You ain't allowed away from home like this. You come off home with me."
They did their best to arrest him. There was a trolley, I am told,
chasing up and down streets at that time, bearing rolls of chain and
ship's cable to play the part of handcuffs in that great arrest. There
was no intention then of killing him. "He is no party to the plot,"
Caterham had said. "I will not have innocent blood upon my hands." And
added: "--until everything else has been tried."
At first Caddies did not understand the import of these attentions. When
he did, he told the policemen not to be fools, and set off in great
strides that left them all behind. The bakers' shops had been in the
Harrow Road, and he went through canal London to St. John's Wood, and
sat down in a private garden there to pick his teeth and be speedily
assailed by another posse of constables.
"You lea' me alone," he growled, and slouched through the
gardens--spoiling several lawns and kicking down a fence or so, while
the energetic little policemen followed him up, some through the
gardens, some along the road in front of the houses. Here there were one
or two with guns, but they made no use of them. When he came out into
the Edgware Road there was a new note and a new movement in the crowd,
and a mounted policeman rode over his foot and got upset for his pains.
"You lea' me alone," said Caddies, facing the breathless crowd. "I ain't
done anything to you." At that time he was unarmed, for he had left his
chalk chopper in Regent's Park. But now, poor wretch, he seems to have
felt the need of some weapon. He turned back towards the goods yard of
the Great Western Railway, wrenched up the standard of a tall arc light,
a formidable mace for him, and flung it over his shoulder. And finding
the police still turning up to pester him, he went back along the
Edgware Road, towards Cricklewood, and struck off sullenly to the north.
He wandered as far as Waltham, and then turned back westward and then
again towards London, and came by the cemeteries and over the crest of
Highgate about midday into view of the greatness of the city again. He
turned aside and sat down in a garden, with his back to a house that
overlooked all London. He was breathless, and his face was lowering, and
now the people no longer crowded upon him as they had done when first he
came to London, but lurked in the adjacent garden, and peeped from
cautious securities. They knew by now the thing was grimmer than they
had thought. "Why can't they lea' me alone?" growled young Caddies. "I
_mus'_ eat. Why can't they lea' me alone?"
He sat with a darkling face, gnawing at his knuckles and looking down
over London. All the fatigue, worry, perplexity, and impotent wath of
his wanderings was coming to a head in him. "They mean nothing," he
whispered. "They mean nothing. And they _won't_ let me alone, and they
_will_ get in my way." And again, over and over to himself, "Meanin'
"Ugh! the little people!"
He bit harder at his knuckles and his scowl deepened. "Cuttin' chalk
for 'em," he whispered. "And all the world is theirs! _I_ don't come
Presently with a spasm of sick anger he saw the now familiar form of a
policeman astride the garden wall.
"Lea' me alone," grunted the giant. "Lea' me alone."
"I got to do my duty," said the little policeman, with a face that was
white and resolute.
"You lea' me alone. I got to live as well as you. I got to think. I got
to eat. You lea' me alone."
"It's the Law," said the little policeman, coming no further. "We never
made the Law."
"Nor me," said young Caddies. "You little people made all that before I
was born. You and your Law! What I must and what I mustn't! No food for
me to eat unless I work a slave, no rest, no shelter, nothin', and you
"I ain't got no business with that," said the policeman. "I'm not one to
argue. All I got to do is to carry out the Law." And he brought his
second leg over the wall and seemed disposed to get down. Other
policemen appeared behind him.
"I got no quarrel with _you_--mind," said young Caddies, with his grip
tight upon his huge mace of iron, his face pale, and a lank explanatory
great finger to the policeman. "I got no quarrel with you. But--_You
lea' me alone."_
The policeman tried to be calm and commonplace, with a monstrous tragedy
clear before his eyes. "Give me the proclamation," he said to some
unseen follower, and a little white paper was handed to him.
"Lea' me alone," said Caddies, scowling, tense, and drawn together.
"This means," said the policeman before he read, "go 'ome. Go 'ome to
your chalk pit. If not, you'll be hurt."
Caddies gave an inarticulate growl.
Then when the proclamation had been read, the officer made a sign. Four
men with rifles came into view and took up positions of affected ease
along the wall. They wore the uniform of the rat police. At the sight of
the guns, young Caddies blazed into anger. He remembered the sting of
the Wreckstone farmers' shot guns. "You going to shoot off those at me?"
he said, pointing, and it seemed to the officer he must be afraid.
"If you don't march back to your pit--"
Then in an instant the officer had slung himself back over the wall, and
sixty feet above him the great electric standard whirled down to his
death. Bang, bang, bang, went the heavy guns, and smash! the shattered
wall, the soil and subsoil of the garden flew. Something flew with it,
that left red drops on one of the shooter's hands. The riflemen dodged
this way and that and turned valiantly to fire again. But young Caddies,
already shot twice through the body, had spun about to find who it was
had hit him so heavily in the back. Bang! Bang! He had a vision of
houses and greenhouses and gardens, of people dodging at windows, the
whole swaying fearfully and mysteriously. He seems to have made three
stumbling strides, to have raised and dropped his huge mace, and to have
clutched his chest. He was stung and wrenched by pain.
What was this, warm and wet, on his hand?
One man peering from a bedroom window saw his face, saw him staring,
with a grimace of weeping dismay, at the blood upon his hand, and then
his knees bent under him, and he came crashing to the earth, the first
of the giant nettles to fall to Caterham's resolute clutch, the very
last that he had reckoned would come into his hand.
CHAPTER THE FOURTH.
REDWOOD'S TWO DAYS.
So soon as Caterham knew the moment for grasping his nettle had come, he
took the law into his own hands and sent to arrest Cossar and Redwood.
Redwood was there for the taking. He had been undergoing an operation in
the side, and the doctors had kept all disturbing things from him until
his convalescence was assured. Now they had released him. He was just
out of bed, sitting in a fire-warmed room, with a heap of newspapers
about him, reading for the first time of the agitation that had swept
the country into the hands of Caterham, and of the trouble that was
darkening over the Princess and his son. It was in the morning of the
day when young Caddies died, and when the policeman tried to stop young
Redwood on his way to the Princess. The latest newspapers Redwood had
did but vaguely prefigure these imminent things. He was re-reading these
first adumbrations of disaster with a sinking heart, reading the shadow
of death more and more perceptibly into them, reading to occupy his mind
until further news should come. When the officers followed the servant
into his room, he looked up eagerly.
"I thought it was an early evening paper," he said. Then standing up,
and with a swift change of manner: "What's this?"
After that Redwood had no news of anything for two days.
They had come with a vehicle to take him away, but when it became
evident that he was ill, it was decided to leave him for a day or so
until he could be safely removed, and his house was taken over by the
police and converted into a temporary prison. It was the same house in
winch Giant Redwood had been born and in which Herakleophorbia had for
the first time been given to a human being, and Redwood had now been a
widower and had lived alone in it eight years.
He had become an iron-grey man, with a little pointed grey beard and
still active brown eyes. He was slender and soft-voiced, as he had ever
been, but his features had now that indefinable quality that comes of
brooding over mighty things. To the arresting officer his appearance was
in impressive contrast to the enormity of his offences. "Here's this
feller," said the officer in command, to his next subordinate, "has done
his level best to bust up everything, and 'e's got a face like a quiet
country gentleman; and here's Judge Hangbrow keepin' everything nice and
in order for every one, and 'e's got a 'ead like a 'og. Then their
manners! One all consideration and the other snort and grunt. Which just
shows you, doesn't it, that appearances aren't to be gone upon, whatever
else you do."
But his praise of Redwood's consideration was presently dashed. The
officers found him troublesome at first until they had made it clear
that it was useless for him to ask questions or beg for papers. They
made a sort of inspection of his study indeed, and cleared away even
the papers he had. Redwood's voice was high and expostulatory. "But
don't you see," he said over and over again, it's my Son, my only Son,
that is in this trouble. It isn't the Food I care for, but my Son."
"I wish indeed I could tell you, Sir," said the officer. "But our orders
"Who gave the orders?" cried Redwood.
"Ah! _that_, Sir---" said the officer, and moved towards the door....
"'E's going up and down 'is room," said the second officer, when his
superior came down. "That's all right. He'll walk it off a bit."
"I hope 'e will," said the chief officer. "The fact is I didn't see it
in that light before, but this here Giant what's been going on with the
Princess, you know, is this man's son."
The two regarded one another and the third policeman for a space.
"Then it is a bit rough on him," the third policeman said.
It became evident that Redwood had still imperfectly apprehended the
fact that an iron curtain had dropped between him and the outer world.
They heard him go to the door, try the handle and rattle the lock, and
then the voice of the officer who was stationed on the landing telling
him it was no good to do that. Then afterwards they heard him at the
windows and saw the men outside looking up. "It's no good that way,"
said the second officer. Then Redwood began upon the bell. The senior
officer went up and explained very patiently that it could do no good to
ring the bell like that, and if it was rung for nothing now it might
have to be disregarded presently when he had need of something. "Any
reasonable attendance, Sir," the officer said. "But if you ring it just
by way of protest we shall be obliged, Sir, to disconnect."
The last word the officer heard was Redwood's high-pitched, "But at
least you might tell me if my Son--"
After that Redwood spent, most of his time at the windows.
But the windows offered him little of the march of events outside. It
was a quiet street at all times, and that day it was unusually quiet:
scarcely a cab, scarcely a tradesman's cart passed all that morning. Now
and then men went by--without any distinctive air of events--now and
then a little group of children, a nursemaid and a woman going shopping,
and so forth. They came on to the stage right or left, up or down the
street, with an exasperating suggestion of indifference to any concerns
more spacious than their own; they would discover the police-guarded
house with amazement and exit in the opposite direction, where the great
trusses of a giant hydrangea hung across the pavement, staring back or
pointing. Now and then a man would come and ask one of the policemen a
question and get a curt reply ...
Opposite the houses seemed dead. A housemaid appeared once at a bedroom
window and stared for a space, and it occurred to Redwood to signal to
her. For a time she watched his gestures as if with interest and made a
vague response to them, then looked over her shoulder suddenly and
turned and went away. An old man hobbled out of Number 37 and came down
the steps and went off to the right, altogether without looking up. For
ten minutes the only occupant of the road was a cat....
With such events that interminable momentous morning lengthened out.
About twelve there came a bawling of newsvendors from the adjacent road;
but it passed. Contrary to their wont they left Redwood's street alone,
and a suspicion dawned upon him that the police were guarding the end of
the street. He tried to open the window, but this brought a policeman
into the room forthwith....
The clock of the parish church struck twelve, and after an abyss of
They mocked him with lunch.
He ate a mouthful and tumbled the food about a little in order to get it
taken away, drank freely of whisky, and then took a chair and went back
to the window. The minutes expanded into grey immensities, and for a
time perhaps he slept....
He woke with a vague impression of remote concussions. He perceived a
rattling of the windows like the quiver of an earthquake, that lasted
for a minute or so and died away. Then after a silence it returned....
Then it died away again. He fancied it might be merely the passage of
some heavy vehicle along the main road. What else could it be?
After a time he began to doubt whether he had heard this sound.
He began to reason interminably with himself. Why, after all, was he
seized? Caterham had been in office two days--just long enough--to grasp
his Nettle! Grasp his Nettle! Grasp his Giant Nettle! The refrain once
started, sang through his mind, and would not be dismissed.
What, after all, could Caterham do? He was a religious man. He was
bound in a sort of way by that not to do violence without a cause.
Grasp his Nettle I Perhaps, for example, the Princess was to be seized
and sent abroad. There might be trouble with his son. In which case--!
But why had he been arrested? Why was it necessary to keep him in
ignorance of a thing like that? The thing suggested--something more
Perhaps, for example--they meant to lay all the giants by the heels I
They were all to be arrested together. There had been hints of that In
the election speeches. And then?
No doubt they had got Cossar also?
Caterham was a religious man. Redwood clung to that. The back of his
mind was a black curtain, and on that curtain there came and went a
word--a word written in letters of fixe. He struggled perpetually
against that word. It was always as it were beginning to get written on
the curtain and never getting completed.
He faced it at last. "Massacre!" There was the word in its full
No! No! No! It was impossible! Caterham was a religious man, a civilised
man. And besides after all these years, after all these hopes!
Redwood sprang up; he paced the room. He spoke to himself; he shouted.
Mankind was surely not so mad as that--surely not! It was impossible, it
was incredible, it could not be. What good would it do to kill the giant
human when the gigantic in all the lower things had now inevitably come?
They could not be so mad as that! "I must dismiss such an idea," he
said aloud; "dismiss such an idea! Absolutely!"
He pulled up short. What was that?
Certainly the windows had rattled. He went to look out into the street.
Opposite he saw the instant confirmation of his ears. At a bedroom at
Number 35 was a woman, towel in hand, and at the dining-room of Number
37 a man was visible behind a great vase of hypertrophied maidenhair
fern, both staring out and up, both disquieted and curious. He could see
now too, quite clearly, that the policeman on the pavement had heard it
also. The thing was not his imagination.
He turned to the darkling room.
"Guns," he said.
They brought him in strong tea, such as he was accustomed to have. It
was evident his housekeeper had been taken into consultation. After
drinking it, he was too restless to sit any longer at the window, and he
paced the room. His mind became more capable of consecutive thought.
The room had been his study for four-and-twenty years. It had been
furnished at his marriage, and all the essential equipment dated from
then, the large complex writing-desk, the rotating chair, the easy chair
at the fire, the rotating bookcase, the fixture of indexed pigeon-holes
that filled the further recess. The vivid Turkey carpet, the later
Victorian rugs and curtains had mellowed now to a rich dignity of
effect, and copper and brass shone warm about the open fire. Electric
lights had replaced the lamp of former days; that was the chief
alteration in the original equipment. But among these things his
connection with the Food had left abundant traces. Along one wall, above
the dado, ran a crowded array of black-framed photographs and
photogravures, showing his son and Cossar's sons and others of the
Boom-children at various ages and amidst various surroundings. Even
young Caddles' vacant visage had its place in that collection. In the
corner stood a sheaf of the tassels of gigantic meadow grass from
Cheasing Eyebright, and on the desk there lay three empty poppy heads as
big as hats. The curtain rods were grass stems. And the tremendous skull
of the great hog of Oakham hung, a portentous ivory overmantel, with a
Chinese jar in either eye socket, snout down above the fire....
It was to the photographs that Redwood went, and in particular to the
photographs of his son.
They brought back countless memories of things that had passed out of
his mind, of the early days of the Food, of Bensington's timid presence,
of his cousin Jane, of Cossar and the night work at the Experimental
Farm. These things came to him now very little and bright and distinct,
like things seen through a telescope on a sunny day. And then there was
the giant nursery, the giant childhood, the young giant's first efforts
to speak, his first clear signs of affection.
It flowed in on him, irresistibly, overwhelmingly, that outside there,
outside this accursed silence and mystery, his son and Cossar's sons,
and all these glorious first-fruits of a greater age were even
now--fighting. Fighting for life! Even now his son might be in some
dismal quandary, cornered, wounded, overcome....
He swung away from the pictures and went up and down the room
gesticulating. "It cannot be," he cried, "it cannot be. It cannot end
"What was that?"
He stopped, stricken rigid.
The trembling of the windows had begun again, and then had come a
thud--a vast concussion that shook the house. The concussion seemed to
last for an age. It must have been very near. For a moment it seemed
that something had struck the house above him--an enormous impact that
broke into a tinkle of falling glass, and then a stillness that ended at
last with a minute clear sound of running feet in the street below.
Those feet released him from his rigor. He turned towards the window,
and saw it starred and broken.
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