The Sleeper Awakes
Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Paul Murray, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed
THE SLEEPER AWAKES
A Revised Edition of "When the Sleeper Wakes"
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
_When the Sleeper Wakes_, whose title I have now altered to _The Sleeper
Awakes_, was first published as a book in 1899 after a serial appearance
in the _Graphic_ and one or two American and colonial periodicals. It is
one of the most ambitious and least satisfactory of my books, and I have
taken the opportunity afforded by this reprinting to make a number of
excisions and alterations. Like most of my earlier work, it was written
under considerable pressure; there are marks of haste not only in the
writing of the latter part, but in the very construction of the story.
Except for certain streaks of a slovenliness which seems to be an almost
unavoidable defect in me, there is little to be ashamed of in the writing
of the opening portion; but it will be fairly manifest to the critic that
instead of being put aside and thought over through a leisurely
interlude, the ill-conceived latter part was pushed to its end. I was at
that time overworked, and badly in need of a holiday. In addition to
various necessary journalistic tasks, I had in hand another book, _Love
and Mr. Lewisham_, which had taken a very much stronger hold upon my
affections than this present story. My circumstances demanded that one or
other should be finished before I took any rest, and so I wound up the
Sleeper sufficiently to make it a marketable work, hoping to be able to
revise it before the book printers at any rate got hold of it. But
fortune was against me. I came back to England from Italy only to fall
dangerously ill, and I still remember the impotent rage and strain of my
attempt to put some sort of finish to my story of Mr. Lewisham, with my
temperature at a hundred and two. I couldn't endure the thought of
leaving that book a fragment. I did afterwards contrive to save it from
the consequences of that febrile spurt--_Love and Mr. Lewisham_ is indeed
one of my most carefully balanced books--but the Sleeper escaped me.
It is twelve years now since the Sleeper was written, and that young man
of thirty-one is already too remote for me to attempt any very drastic
reconstruction of his work. I have played now merely the part of an
editorial elder brother: cut out relentlessly a number of long tiresome
passages that showed all too plainly the fagged, toiling brain, the heavy
sluggish _driven_ pen, and straightened out certain indecisions at the
end. Except for that, I have done no more than hack here and there at
clumsy phrases and repetitions. The worst thing in the earlier version,
and the thing that rankled most in my mind, was the treatment of the
relations of Helen Wotton and Graham. Haste in art is almost always
vulgarisation, and I slipped into the obvious vulgarity of making what
the newspaper syndicates call a "love interest" out of Helen. There was
even a clumsy intimation that instead of going up in the flying-machine
to fight, Graham might have given in to Ostrog, and married Helen. I have
now removed the suggestion of these uncanny connubialities. Not the
slightest intimation of any sexual interest could in truth have arisen
between these two. They loved and kissed one another, but as a girl and
her heroic grandfather might love, and in a crisis kiss. I have found it
possible, without any very serious disarrangement, to clear all that
objectionable stuff out of the story, and so a little ease my conscience
on the score of this ungainly lapse. I have also, with a few strokes of
the pen, eliminated certain dishonest and regrettable suggestions that
the People beat Ostrog. My Graham dies, as all his kind must die, with no
certainty of either victory or defeat.
Who will win--Ostrog or the People? A thousand years hence that will
still be just the open question we leave to-day.
II. THE TRANCE
III. THE AWAKENING
IV. THE SOUND OF A TUMULT
V. THE MOVING WAYS
VI. THE HALL OF THE ATLAS
VII. IN THE SILENT ROOMS
VIII. THE ROOF SPACES
IX. THE PEOPLE MARCH
X. THE BATTLE OF THE DARKNESS
XI. THE OLD MAN WHO KNEW EVERYTHING
XIII. THE END OF THE OLD ORDER
XIV. FROM THE CROW'S NEST
XV. PROMINENT PEOPLE
XVI. THE MONOPLANE
XVII. THREE DAYS
XVIII. GRAHAM REMEMBERS
XIX. OSTROG'S POINT OF VIEW
XX. IN THE CITY WAYS
XXI. THE UNDER-SIDE
XXII. THE STRUGGLE IN THE COUNCIL HOUSE
XXIII. GRAHAM SPEAKS HIS WORD
XXIV. WHILE THE AEROPLANES WERE COMING
XXV. THE COMING OF THE AEROPLANES
THE SLEEPER AWAKES
One afternoon, at low water, Mr. Isbister, a young artist lodging at
Boscastle, walked from that place to the picturesque cove of Pentargen,
desiring to examine the caves there. Halfway down the precipitous path to
the Pentargen beach he came suddenly upon a man sitting in an attitude of
profound distress beneath a projecting mass of rock. The hands of this
man hung limply over his knees, his eyes were red and staring before him,
and his face was wet with tears.
He glanced round at Isbister's footfall. Both men were disconcerted,
Isbister the more so, and, to override the awkwardness of his involuntary
pause, he remarked, with an air of mature conviction, that the weather
was hot for the time of year.
"Very," answered the stranger shortly, hesitated a second, and added in a
colourless tone, "I can't sleep."
Isbister stopped abruptly. "No?" was all he said, but his bearing
conveyed his helpful impulse.
"It may sound incredible," said the stranger, turning weary eyes to
Isbister's face and emphasizing his words with a languid hand, "but I
have had no sleep--no sleep at all for six nights."
"Yes. Bad advice for the most part. Drugs. My nervous system.... They are
all very well for the run of people. It's hard to explain. I dare not
take ... sufficiently powerful drugs."
"That makes it difficult," said Isbister.
He stood helplessly in the narrow path, perplexed what to do. Clearly the
man wanted to talk. An idea natural enough under the circumstances,
prompted him to keep the conversation going. "I've never suffered from
sleeplessness myself," he said in a tone of commonplace gossip, "but in
those cases I have known, people have usually found something--"
"I dare make no experiments."
He spoke wearily. He gave a gesture of rejection, and for a space both
men were silent.
"Exercise?" suggested Isbister diffidently, with a glance from his
interlocutor's face of wretchedness to the touring costume he wore.
"That is what I have tried. Unwisely perhaps. I have followed the coast,
day after day--from New Quay. It has only added muscular fatigue to the
mental. The cause of this unrest was overwork--trouble. There was
He stopped as if from sheer fatigue. He rubbed his forehead with a lean
hand. He resumed speech like one who talks to himself.
"I am a lone wolf, a solitary man, wandering through a world in which I
have no part. I am wifeless--childless--who is it speaks of the childless
as the dead twigs on the tree of life? I am wifeless, childless--I could
find no duty to do. No desire even in my heart. One thing at last I set
myself to do.
"I said, I _will_ do this, and to do it, to overcome the inertia of this
dull body, I resorted to drugs. Great God, I've had enough of drugs! I
don't know if _you_ feel the heavy inconvenience of the body, its
exasperating demand of time from the mind--time--life! Live! We only live
in patches. We have to eat, and then comes the dull digestive
complacencies--or irritations. We have to take the air or else our
thoughts grow sluggish, stupid, run into gulfs and blind alleys. A
thousand distractions arise from within and without, and then comes
drowsiness and sleep. Men seem to live for sleep. How little of a man's
day is his own--even at the best! And then come those false friends,
those Thug helpers, the alkaloids that stifle natural fatigue and kill
rest--black coffee, cocaine--"
"I see," said Isbister.
"I did my work," said the sleepless man with a querulous intonation.
"And this is the price?"
For a little while the two remained without speaking.
"You cannot imagine the craving for rest that I feel--a hunger and
thirst. For six long days, since my work was done, my mind has been a
whirlpool, swift, unprogressive and incessant, a torrent of thoughts
leading nowhere, spinning round swift and steady--" He paused. "Towards
"You must sleep," said Isbister decisively, and with an air of a remedy
discovered. "Certainly you must sleep."
"My mind is perfectly lucid. It was never clearer. But I know I am
drawing towards the vortex. Presently--"
"You have seen things go down an eddy? Out of the light of the day, out
of this sweet world of sanity--down--"
"But," expostulated Isbister.
The man threw out a hand towards him, and his eyes were wild, and his
voice suddenly high. "I shall kill myself. If in no other way--at the
foot of yonder dark precipice there, where the waves are green, and the
white surge lifts and falls, and that little thread of water trembles
down. There at any rate is ... sleep."
"That's unreasonable," said Isbister, startled at the man's hysterical
gust of emotion. "Drugs are better than that."
"There at any rate is sleep," repeated the stranger, not heeding him.
Isbister looked at him. "It's not a cert, you know," he remarked.
"There's a cliff like that at Lulworth Cove--as high, anyhow--and a
little girl fell from top to bottom. And lives to-day--sound and well."
"But those rocks there?"
"One might lie on them rather dismally through a cold night, broken bones
grating as one shivered, chill water splashing over you. Eh?"
Their eyes met. "Sorry to upset your ideals," said Isbister with a sense
of devil-may-careish brilliance. "But a suicide over that cliff (or any
cliff for the matter of that), really, as an artist--" He laughed. "It's
so damned amateurish."
"But the other thing," said the sleepless man irritably, "the other
thing. No man can keep sane if night after night--"
"Have you been walking along this coast alone?"
"Silly sort of thing to do. If you'll excuse my saying so. Alone! As you
say; body fag is no cure for brain fag. Who told you to? No wonder;
walking! And the sun on your head, heat, fag, solitude, all the day long,
and then, I suppose, you go to bed and try very hard--eh?"
Isbister stopped short and looked at the sufferer doubtfully.
"Look at these rocks!" cried the seated man with a sudden force of
gesture. "Look at that sea that has shone and quivered there for ever!
See the white spume rush into darkness under that great cliff. And this
blue vault, with the blinding sun pouring from the dome of it. It is your
world. You accept it, you rejoice in it. It warms and supports and
delights you. And for me--"
He turned his head and showed a ghastly face, bloodshot pallid eyes and
bloodless lips. He spoke almost in a whisper. "It is the garment of my
misery. The whole world ... is the garment of my misery."
Isbister looked at all the wild beauty of the sunlit cliffs about them
and back to that face of despair. For a moment he was silent.
He started, and made a gesture of impatient rejection. "You get a
night's sleep," he said, "and you won't see much misery out here. Take
my word for it."
He was quite sure now that this was a providential encounter. Only half
an hour ago he had been feeling horribly bored. Here was employment the
bare thought of which, was righteous self-applause. He took possession
forthwith. The first need of this exhausted being was companionship. He
flung himself down on the steeply sloping turf beside the motionless
seated figure, and threw out a skirmishing line of gossip.
His hearer lapsed into apathy; he stared dismally seaward, and spoke only
in answer to Isbister's direct questions--and not to all of those. But he
made no objection to this benevolent intrusion upon his despair.
He seemed even grateful, and when presently Isbister, feeling that his
unsupported talk was losing vigour, suggested that they should reascend
the steep and return towards Boscastle, alleging the view into Blackapit,
he submitted quietly. Halfway up he began talking to himself, and
abruptly turned a ghastly face on his helper. "What can be happening?" he
asked with a gaunt illustrative hand. "What can be happening? Spin, spin,
spin, spin. It goes round and round, round and round for evermore."
He stood with his hand circling.
"It's all right, old chap," said Isbister with the air of an old friend.
"Don't worry yourself. Trust to me,"
The man dropped his hand and turned again. They went over the brow and to
the headland beyond Penally, with the sleepless man gesticulating ever
and again, and speaking fragmentary things concerning his whirling brain.
At the headland they stood by the seat that looks into the dark mysteries
of Blackapit, and then he sat down. Isbister had resumed his talk
whenever the path had widened sufficiently for them to walk abreast. He
was enlarging upon the complex difficulty of making Boscastle Harbour in
bad weather, when suddenly and quite irrelevantly his companion
interrupted him again.
"My head is not like what it was," he said, gesticulating for want of
expressive phrases. "It's not like what it was. There is a sort of
oppression, a weight. No--not drowsiness, would God it were! It is like
a shadow, a deep shadow falling suddenly and swiftly across something
busy. Spin, spin into the darkness. The tumult of thought, the confusion,
the eddy and eddy. I can't express it. I can hardly keep my mind on
it--steadily enough to tell you."
He stopped feebly.
"Don't trouble, old chap," said Isbister. "I think I can understand. At
any rate, it don't matter very much just at present about telling me,
The sleepless man thrust his knuckles into his eyes and rubbed them.
Isbister talked for awhile while this rubbing continued, and then he had
a fresh idea. "Come down to my room," he said, "and try a pipe. I can
show you some sketches of this Blackapit. If you'd care?"
The other rose obediently and followed him down the steep.
Several times Isbister heard him stumble as they came down, and his
movements were slow and hesitating. "Come in with me," said
Isbister, "and try some cigarettes and the blessed gift of alcohol.
If you take alcohol?"
The stranger hesitated at the garden gate. He seemed no longer aware of
his actions. "I don't drink," he said slowly, coming up the garden path,
and after a moment's interval repeated absently, "No--I don't drink. It
goes round. Spin, it goes--spin--"
He stumbled at the doorstep and entered the room with the bearing of one
who sees nothing.
Then he sat down heavily in the easy chair, seemed almost to fall into
it. He leant forward with his brows on his hands and became motionless.
Presently he made a faint sound in his throat.
Isbister moved about the room with the nervousness of an inexperienced
host, making little remarks that scarcely required answering. He
crossed the room to his portfolio, placed it on the table and noticed
the mantel clock.
"I don't know if you'd care to have supper with me," he said with an
unlighted cigarette in his hand--his mind troubled with ideas of a
furtive administration of chloral. "Only cold mutton, you know, but
passing sweet. Welsh. And a tart, I believe." He repeated this after
The seated man made no answer. Isbister stopped, match in hand,
The stillness lengthened. The match went out, the cigarette was put down
unlit. The man was certainly very still. Isbister took up the portfolio,
opened it, put it down, hesitated, seemed about to speak. "Perhaps," he
whispered doubtfully. Presently he glanced at the door and back to the
figure. Then he stole on tiptoe out of the room, glancing at his
companion after each elaborate pace.
He closed the door noiselessly. The house door was standing open, and
he went out beyond the porch, and stood where the monkshood rose at the
corner of the garden bed. From this point he could see the stranger
through the open window, still and dim, sitting head on hand. He had
A number of children going along the road stopped and regarded the artist
curiously. A boatman exchanged civilities with him. He felt that possibly
his circumspect attitude and position looked peculiar and unaccountable.
Smoking, perhaps, might seem more natural. He drew pipe and pouch from
his pocket, filled the pipe slowly.
"I wonder," ... he said, with a scarcely perceptible loss of
complacency. "At any rate one must give him a chance." He struck a match
in the virile way, and proceeded to light his pipe.
He heard his landlady behind him, coming with his lamp lit from the
kitchen. He turned, gesticulating with his pipe, and stopped her at the
door of his sitting-room. He had some difficulty in explaining the
situation in whispers, for she did not know he had a visitor. She
retreated again with the lamp, still a little mystified to judge from her
manner, and he resumed his hovering at the corner of the porch, flushed
and less at his ease.
Long after he had smoked out his pipe, and when the bats were abroad,
curiosity dominated his complex hesitations, and he stole back into his
darkling sitting-room. He paused in the doorway. The stranger was still
in the same attitude, dark against the window. Save for the singing of
some sailors aboard one of the little slate-carrying ships in the harbour
the evening was very still. Outside, the spikes of monkshood and
delphinium stood erect and motionless against the shadow of the hillside.
Something flashed into Isbister's mind; he started, and leaning over the
table, listened. An unpleasant suspicion grew stronger; became
conviction. Astonishment seized him and became--dread!
No sound of breathing came from the seated figure!
He crept slowly and noiselessly round the table, pausing twice to listen.
At last he could lay his hand on the back of the armchair. He bent down
until the two heads were ear to ear.
Then he bent still lower to look up at his visitor's face. He started
violently and uttered an exclamation. The eyes were void spaces of white.
He looked again and saw that they were open and with the pupils rolled
under the lids. He was afraid. He took the man by the shoulder and shook
him. "Are you asleep?" he said, with his voice jumping, and again, "Are
A conviction took possession of his mind that this man was dead. He
became active and noisy, strode across the room, blundering against the
table as he did so, and rang the bell.
"Please bring a light at once," he said in the passage. "There is
something wrong with my friend."
He returned to the motionless seated figure, grasped the shoulder, shook
it, shouted. The room was flooded with yellow glare as his landlady
entered with the light. His face was white as he turned blinking towards
her. "I must fetch a doctor," he said. "It is either death or a fit. Is
there a doctor in the village? Where is a doctor to be found?"
The state of cataleptic rigour into which this man had fallen, lasted for
an unprecedented length of time, and then he passed slowly to the flaccid
state, to a lax attitude suggestive of profound repose. Then it was his
eyes could be closed.
He was removed from the hotel to the Boscastle surgery, and from the
surgery, after some weeks, to London. But he still resisted every attempt
at reanimation. After a time, for reasons that will appear later, these
attempts were discontinued. For a great space he lay in that strange
condition, inert and still--neither dead nor living but, as it were,
suspended, hanging midway between nothingness and existence. His was a
darkness unbroken by a ray of thought or sensation, a dreamless
inanition, a vast space of peace. The tumult of his mind had swelled and
risen to an abrupt climax of silence. Where was the man? Where is any man
when insensibility takes hold of him?
"It seems only yesterday," said Isbister. "I remember it all as though it
happened yesterday--clearer, perhaps, than if it had happened yesterday."
It was the Isbister of the last chapter, but he was no longer a young
man. The hair that had been brown and a trifle in excess of the
fashionable length, was iron grey and clipped close, and the face that
had been pink and white was buff and ruddy. He had a pointed beard shot
with grey. He talked to an elderly man who wore a summer suit of drill
(the summer of that year was unusually hot). This was Warming, a London
solicitor and next of kin to Graham, the man who had fallen into the
trance. And the two men stood side by side in a room in a house in London
regarding his recumbent figure.
It was a yellow figure lying lax upon a water-bed and clad in a flowing
shirt, a figure with a shrunken face and a stubby beard, lean limbs and
lank nails, and about it was a case of thin glass. This glass seemed to
mark off the sleeper from the reality of life about him, he was a thing
apart, a strange, isolated abnormality. The two men stood close to the
glass, peering in.
"The thing gave me a shock," said Isbister. "I feel a queer sort of
surprise even now when I think of his white eyes. They were white, you
know, rolled up. Coming here again brings it all back to me."
"Have you never seen him since that time?" asked Warming.
"Often wanted to come," said Isbister; "but business nowadays is too
serious a thing for much holiday keeping. I've been in America most of
"If I remember rightly," said Warming, "you were an artist?"
"Was. And then I became a married man. I saw it was all up with black and
white, very soon--at least for a mediocrity, and I jumped on to process.
Those posters on the Cliffs at Dover are by my people."
"Good posters," admitted the solicitor, "though I was sorry to see
"Last as long as the cliffs, if necessary," exclaimed Isbister with
satisfaction. "The world changes. When he fell asleep, twenty years ago,
I was down at Boscastle with a box of water-colours and a noble,
old-fashioned ambition. I didn't expect that some day my pigments would
glorify the whole blessed coast of England, from Land's End round again
to the Lizard. Luck comes to a man very often when he's not looking."
Warming seemed to doubt the quality of the luck. "I just missed seeing
you, if I recollect aright."
"You came back by the trap that took me to Camelford railway station. It
was close on the Jubilee, Victoria's Jubilee, because I remember the
seats and flags in Westminster, and the row with the cabman at Chelsea."
"The Diamond Jubilee, it was," said Warming; "the second one."
"Ah, yes! At the proper Jubilee--the Fifty Year affair--I was down at
Wookey--a boy. I missed all that.... What a fuss we had with him! My
landlady wouldn't take him in, wouldn't let him stay--he looked so queer
when he was rigid. We had to carry him in a chair up to the hotel. And
the Boscastle doctor--it wasn't the present chap, but the G.P. before
him--was at him until nearly two, with me and the landlord holding lights
and so forth."
"Do you mean--he was stiff and hard?"
"Stiff!--wherever you bent him he stuck. You might have stood him on his
head and he'd have stopped. I never saw such stiffness. Of course
this"--he indicated the prostrate figure by a movement of his head--"is
quite different. And the little doctor--what was his name?"
"Smithers it was--was quite wrong in trying to fetch him round too soon,
according to all accounts. The things he did! Even now it makes me feel
all--ugh! Mustard, snuff, pricking. And one of those beastly little
things, not dynamos--"
"Yes. You could see his muscles throb and jump, and he twisted about.
There were just two flaring yellow candles, and all the shadows were
shivering, and the little doctor nervous and putting on side, and
_him_--stark and squirming in the most unnatural ways. Well, it made
"It's a strange state," said Warming.
"It's a sort of complete absence," said Isbister. "Here's the body,
empty. Not dead a bit, and yet not alive. It's like a seat vacant and
marked 'engaged.' No feeling, no digestion, no beating of the heart--not
a flutter. _That_ doesn't make me feel as if there was a man present. In
a sense it's more dead than death, for these doctors tell me that even
the hair has stopped growing. Now with the proper dead, the hair will go
"I know," said Warming, with a flash of pain in his expression.
They peered through the glass again. Graham was indeed in a strange
state, in the flaccid phase of a trance, but a trance unprecedented in
medical history. Trances had lasted for as much as a year before--but at
the end of that time it had ever been a waking or a death; sometimes
first one and then the other. Isbister noted the marks the physicians
had made in injecting nourishment, for that had been resorted to to
postpone collapse; he pointed them out to Warming, who had been trying
not to see them.
"And while he has been lying here," said Isbister, with the zest of a
life freely spent, "I have changed my plans in life; married, raised a
family, my eldest lad--I hadn't begun to think of sons then--is an
American citizen, and looking forward to leaving Harvard. There's a touch
of grey in my hair. And this man, not a day older nor wiser (practically)
than I was in my downy days. It's curious to think of."
Warming turned. "And I have grown old too. I played cricket with him when
I was still only a boy. And he looks a young man still. Yellow perhaps.
But that _is_ a young man nevertheless."
"And there's been the War," said Isbister.
"From beginning to end."
"And these Martians."
"I've understood," said Isbister after a pause, "that he had some
moderate property of his own?"
"That is so," said Warming. He coughed primly. "As it happens--I have
charge of it."
"Ah!" Isbister thought, hesitated and spoke: "No doubt--his keep here is
not expensive--no doubt it will have improved--accumulated?"
"It has. He will wake up very much better off--if he wakes--than when
"As a business man," said Isbister, "that thought has naturally been in
my mind. I have, indeed, sometimes thought that, speaking commercially,
of course, this sleep may be a very good thing for him. That he knows
what he is about, so to speak, in being insensible so long. If he had
lived straight on--"
"I doubt if he would have premeditated as much," said Warming. "He was
not a far-sighted man. In fact--"
"We differed on that point. I stood to him somewhat in the relation of a
guardian. You have probably seen enough of affairs to recognise that
occasionally a certain friction--. But even if that was the case, there
is a doubt whether he will ever wake. This sleep exhausts slowly, but it
exhausts. Apparently he is sliding slowly, very slowly and tediously,
down a long slope, if you can understand me?"
"It will be a pity to lose his surprise. There's been a lot of change
these twenty years. It's Rip Van Winkle come real."
"There has been a lot of change certainly," said Warming. "And, among
other changes, I have changed. I am an old man."
Isbister hesitated, and then feigned a belated surprise. "I shouldn't
have thought it."
"I was forty-three when his bankers--you remember you wired to his
bankers--sent on to me."
"I got their address from the cheque book in his pocket," said Isbister.
"Well, the addition is not difficult," said Warming.
There was another pause, and then Isbister gave way to an unavoidable
curiosity. "He may go on for years yet," he said, and had a moment of
hesitation. "We have to consider that. His affairs, you know, may fall
some day into the hands of--someone else, you know."
"That, if you will believe me, Mr. Isbister, is one of the problems most
constantly before my mind. We happen to be--as a matter of fact, there
are no very trustworthy connexions of ours. It is a grotesque and
"Rather," said Isbister.
"It seems to me it's a case of some public body, some practically
undying guardian. If he really is going on living--as the doctors, some
of them, think. As a matter of fact, I have gone to one or two public men
about it. But, so far, nothing has been done."
"It wouldn't be a bad idea to hand him over to some public body--the
British Museum Trustees, or the Royal College of Physicians. Sounds a bit
odd, of course, but the whole situation is odd."
"The difficulty is to induce them to take him."
"Red tape, I suppose?"
Pause. "It's a curious business, certainly," said Isbister. "And compound
interest has a way of mounting up."
"It has," said Warming. "And now the gold supplies are running short
there is a tendency towards ... appreciation."
"I've felt that," said Isbister with a grimace. "But it makes it better
"_If_ he wakes."
"If he wakes," echoed Isbister. "Do you notice the pinched-in look of his
nose, and the way in which his eyelids sink?"
Warming looked and thought for a space. "I doubt if he will wake," he
said at last.
"I never properly understood," said Isbister, "what it was brought this
on. He told me something about overstudy. I've often been curious."
"He was a man of considerable gifts, but spasmodic, emotional. He
had grave domestic troubles, divorced his wife, in fact, and it was
as a relief from that, I think, that he took up politics of the
rabid sort. He was a fanatical Radical--a Socialist--or typical
Liberal, as they used to call themselves, of the advanced school.
Energetic--flighty--undisciplined. Overwork upon a controversy did this
for him. I remember the pamphlet he wrote--a curious production. Wild,
whirling stuff. There were one or two prophecies. Some of them are
already exploded, some of them are established facts. But for the most
part to read such a thesis is to realise how full the world is of
unanticipated things. He will have much to learn, much to unlearn, when
he wakes. If ever a waking comes."
"I'd give anything to be there," said Isbister, "just to hear what he
would say to it all."
"So would I," said Warming. "Aye! so would I," with an old man's sudden
turn to self pity. "But I shall never see him wake."
He stood looking thoughtfully at the waxen figure. "He will never awake,"
he said at last. He sighed. "He will never awake again."
But Warming was wrong in that. An awakening came.
What a wonderfully complex thing! this simple seeming unity--the self!
Who can trace its reintegration as morning after morning we awaken, the
flux and confluence of its countless factors interweaving, rebuilding,
the dim first stirrings of the soul, the growth and synthesis of the
unconscious to the subconscious, the subconscious to dawning
consciousness, until at last we recognise ourselves again. And as it
happens to most of us after the night's sleep, so it was with Graham at
the end of his vast slumber. A dim cloud of sensation taking shape, a
cloudy dreariness, and he found himself vaguely somewhere, recumbent,
faint, but alive.
The pilgrimage towards a personal being seemed to traverse vast gulfs, to
occupy epochs. Gigantic dreams that were terrible realities at the time,
left vague perplexing memories, strange creatures, strange scenery, as if
from another planet. There was a distinct impression, too, of a momentous
conversation, of a name--he could not tell what name--that was
subsequently to recur, of some queer long-forgotten sensation of vein and
muscle, of a feeling of vast hopeless effort, the effort of a man near
drowning in darkness. Then came a panorama of dazzling unstable confluent
Graham became aware that his eyes were open and regarding some
It was something white, the edge of something, a frame of wood. He moved
his head slightly, following the contour of this shape. It went up
beyond the top of his eyes. He tried to think where he might be. Did it
matter, seeing he was so wretched? The colour of his thoughts was a dark
depression. He felt the featureless misery of one who wakes towards the
hour of dawn. He had an uncertain sense of whispers and footsteps
The movement of his head involved a perception of extreme physical
weakness. He supposed he was in bed in the hotel at the place in the
valley--but he could not recall that white edge. He must have slept. He
remembered now that he had wanted to sleep. He recalled the cliff and
Waterfall again, and then recollected something about talking to a
How long had he slept? What was that sound of pattering feet? And that
rise and fall, like the murmur of breakers on pebbles? He put out a
languid hand to reach his watch from the chair whereon it was his habit
to place it, and touched some smooth hard surface like glass. This was so
unexpected that it startled him extremely. Quite suddenly he rolled over,
stared for a moment, and struggled into a sitting position. The effort
was unexpectedly difficult, and it left him giddy and weak--and amazed.
He rubbed his eyes. The riddle of his surroundings was confusing but his
mind was quite clear--evidently his sleep had benefited him. He was not
in a bed at all as he understood the word, but lying naked on a very soft
and yielding mattress, in a trough of dark glass. The mattress was
partly transparent, a fact he observed with a sense of insecurity, and
below it was a mirror reflecting him greyly. About his arm--and he saw
with a shock that his skin was strangely dry and yellow--was bound a
curious apparatus of rubber, bound so cunningly that it seemed to pass
into his skin above and below. And this bed was placed in a case of
greenish coloured glass (as it seemed to him), a bar in the white
framework of which had first arrested his attention. In the corner of the
case was a stand of glittering and delicately made apparatus, for the
most part quite strange appliances, though a maximum and minimum
thermometer was recognisable.
The slightly greenish tint of the glass-like substance which surrounded
him on every hand obscured what lay behind, but he perceived it was a
vast apartment of splendid appearance, and with a very large and simple
white archway facing him. Close to the walls of the cage were articles of
furniture, a table covered with a silvery cloth, silvery like the side of
a fish, a couple of graceful chairs, and on the table a number of dishes
with substances piled on them, a bottle and two glasses. He realised that
he was intensely hungry.
He could see no one, and after a period of hesitation scrambled off the
translucent mattress and tried to stand on the clean white floor of his
little apartment. He had miscalculated his strength, however, and
staggered and put his hand against the glass like pane before him to
steady himself. For a moment it resisted his hand, bending outward like a
distended bladder, then it broke with a slight report and vanished--a
pricked bubble. He reeled out into the general space of the hall, greatly
astonished. He caught at the table to save himself, knocking one of the
glasses to the floor--it rang but did not break--and sat down in one of
When he had a little recovered he filled the remaining glass from the
bottle and drank--a colourless liquid it was, but not water, with a
pleasing faint aroma and taste and a quality of immediate support and
stimulus. He put down the vessel and looked about him.
The apartment lost none of its size and magnificence now that the
greenish transparency that had intervened was removed. The archway he saw
led to a flight of steps, going downward without the intermediation of a
door, to a spacious transverse passage. This passage ran between polished
pillars of some white-veined substance of deep ultramarine, and along it
came the sound of human movements, and voices and a deep undeviating
droning note. He sat, now fully awake, listening alertly, forgetting the
viands in his attention.
Then with a shock he remembered that he was naked, and casting about him
for covering, saw a long black robe thrown on one of the chairs beside
him. This he wrapped about him and sat down again, trembling.
His mind was still a surging perplexity. Clearly he had slept, and had
been removed in his sleep. But where? And who were those people, the
distant crowd beyond the deep blue pillars? Boscastle? He poured out and
partially drank another glass of the colourless fluid.
What was this place?--this place that to his senses seemed subtly
quivering like a thing alive? He looked about him at the clean and
beautiful form of the apartment, unstained by ornament, and saw that the
roof was broken in one place by a circular shaft full of light, and, as
he looked, a steady, sweeping shadow blotted it out and passed, and came
again and passed. "Beat, beat," that sweeping shadow had a note of its
own in the subdued tumult that filled the air.
He would have called out, but only a little sound came into his throat.
Then he stood up, and, with the uncertain steps of a drunkard, made his
way towards the archway. He staggered down the steps, tripped on the
corner of the black cloak he had wrapped about himself, and saved himself
by catching at one of the blue pillars.
The passage ran down a cool vista of blue and purple and ended remotely
in a railed space like a balcony brightly lit and projecting into a space
of haze, a space like the interior of some gigantic building. Beyond and
remote were vast and vague architectural forms. The tumult of voices rose
now loud and clear, and on the balcony and with their backs to him,
gesticulating and apparently in animated conversation, were three
figures, richly dressed in loose and easy garments of bright soft
colourings. The noise of a great multitude of people poured up over the
balcony, and once it seemed the top of a banner passed, and once some
brightly coloured object, a pale blue cap or garment thrown up into the
air perhaps, flashed athwart the space and fell. The shouts sounded like
English, there was a reiteration of "Wake!" He heard some indistinct
shrill cry, and abruptly these three men began laughing.
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed one--a red-haired man in a short purple robe. "When
the Sleeper wakes--_When_!"
He turned his eyes full of merriment along the passage. His face changed,
the whole man changed, became rigid. The other two turned swiftly at his
exclamation and stood motionless. Their faces assumed an expression of
consternation, an expression that deepened into awe.
Suddenly Graham's knees bent beneath him, his arm against the pillar
collapsed limply, he staggered forward and fell upon his face.
THE SOUND OF A TUMULT
Graham's last impression before he fainted was of the ringing of bells.
He learnt afterwards that he was insensible, hanging between life and
death, for the better part of an hour. When he recovered his senses, he
was back on his translucent couch, and there was a stirring warmth at
heart and throat. The dark apparatus, he perceived, had been removed from
his arm, which was bandaged. The white framework was still about him, but
the greenish transparent substance that had filled it was altogether
gone. A man in a deep violet robe, one of those who had been on the
balcony, was looking keenly into his face.
Remote but insistent was a clamour of bells and confused sounds, that
suggested to his mind the picture of a great number of people
shouting together. Something seemed to fall across this tumult, a
door suddenly closed.
Graham moved his head. "What does this all mean?" he said slowly.
"Where am I?"
He saw the red-haired man who had been first to discover him. A voice
seemed to be asking what he had said, and was abruptly stilled.
The man in violet answered in a soft voice, speaking English with a
slightly foreign accent, or so at least it seemed to the Sleeper's ears.
"You are quite safe. You were brought hither from where you fell asleep.
It is quite safe. You have been here some time--sleeping. In a trance."
He said, something further that Graham could not hear, and a little phial
was handed across to him. Graham felt a cooling spray, a fragrant mist
played over his forehead for a moment, and his sense of refreshment
increased. He closed his eyes in satisfaction.
"Better?" asked the man in violet, as Graham's eyes reopened. He was a
pleasant-faced man of thirty, perhaps, with a pointed flaxen beard, and a
clasp of gold at the neck of his violet robe.
"Yes," said Graham.
"You have been asleep some time. In a cataleptic trance. You have heard?
Catalepsy? It may seem strange to you at first, but I can assure you
everything is well."
Graham did not answer, but these words served their reassuring purpose.
His eyes went from face to face of the three people about him. They were
regarding him strangely. He knew he ought to be somewhere in Cornwall,
but he could not square these things with that impression.
A matter that had been in his mind during his last waking moments at
Boscastle recurred, a thing resolved upon and somehow neglected. He
cleared his throat.
"Have you wired my cousin?" he asked. "E. Warming, 27, Chancery Lane?"
They were all assiduous to hear. But he had to repeat it. "What an odd
_blurr_ in his accent!" whispered the red-haired man. "Wire, sir?" said
the young man with the flaxen beard, evidently puzzled.
"He means send an electric telegram," volunteered the third, a
pleasant-faced youth of nineteen or twenty. The flaxen-bearded man gave a
cry of comprehension. "How stupid of me! You may be sure everything shall
be done, sir," he said to Graham. "I am afraid it would be difficult
to--_wire_ to your cousin. He is not in London now. But don't trouble
about arrangements yet; you have been asleep a very long time and the
important thing is to get over that, sir." (Graham concluded the word was
sir, but this man pronounced it "_Sire_.")
"Oh!" said Graham, and became quiet.
It was all very puzzling, but apparently these people in unfamiliar dress
knew what they were about. Yet they were odd and the room was odd. It
seemed he was in some newly established place. He had a sudden flash of
suspicion! Surely this wasn't some hall of public exhibition! If it was
he would give Warming a piece of his mind. But it scarcely had that
character. And in a place of public exhibition he would not have
discovered himself naked.
Then suddenly, quite abruptly, he realised what had happened. There was
no perceptible interval of suspicion, no dawn to his knowledge. Abruptly
he knew that his trance had lasted for a vast interval; as if by some
processes of thought-reading he interpreted the awe in the faces that
peered into his. He looked at them strangely, full of intense emotion. It
seemed they read his eyes. He framed his lips to speak and could not. A
queer impulse to hide his knowledge came into his mind almost at the
moment of his discovery. He looked at his bare feet, regarding them
silently. His impulse to speak passed. He was trembling exceedingly.
They gave him some pink fluid with a greenish fluorescence and a meaty
taste, and the assurance of returning strength grew.
"That--that makes me feel better," he said hoarsely, and there were
murmurs of respectful approval. He knew now quite clearly. He made to
speak again, and again he could not.
He pressed his throat and tried a third time. "How long?" he asked in a
level voice. "How long have I been asleep?"
"Some considerable time," said the flaxen-bearded man, glancing quickly
at the others.
"A very long time."
"Yes--yes," said Graham, suddenly testy. "But I want--Is it--it is--some
years? Many years? There was something--I forget what. I feel--confused.
But you--" He sobbed. "You need not fence with me. How long--?"
He stopped, breathing irregularly. He squeezed his eyes with his knuckles
and sat waiting for an answer.
They spoke in undertones.
"Five or six?" he asked faintly. "More?"
"Very much more than that."
He looked at them and it seemed as though imps were twitching the muscles
of his face. He looked his question.
"Many years," said the man with the red beard.
Graham struggled into a sitting position. He wiped a rheumy tear from
his face with a lean hand. "Many years!" he repeated. He shut his eyes
tight, opened them, and sat looking about him from one unfamiliar thing
"How many years?" he asked.
"You must be prepared to be surprised."
"More than a gross of years."
He was irritated at the strange word. "More than a _what_?"
Two of them spoke together. Some quick remarks that were made about
"decimal" he did not catch.
"How long did you say?" asked Graham. "How long? Don't look like
that. Tell me."
Among the remarks in an undertone, his ear caught six words: "More than a
couple of centuries."
"_What_?" he cried, turning on the youth who he thought had spoken. "Who
says--? What was that? A couple of _centuries_!"
"Yes," said the man with the red beard. "Two hundred years."
Graham repeated the words. He had been prepared to hear of a vast repose,
and yet these concrete centuries defeated him.
"Two hundred years," he said again, with the figure of a great gulf
opening very slowly in his mind; and then, "Oh, but--!"
They said nothing.
"You--did you say--?"
"Two hundred years. Two centuries of years," said the man with the
There was a pause. Graham looked at their faces and saw that what he had
heard was indeed true.
"But it can't be," he said querulously. "I am dreaming. Trances--trances
don't last. That is not right--this is a joke you have played upon me!
Tell me--some days ago, perhaps, I was walking along the coast of
His voice failed him.
The man with the flaxen beard hesitated. "I'm not very strong in history,
sir," he said weakly, and glanced at the others.
"That was it, sir," said the youngster. "Boscastle, in the old Duchy of
Cornwall--it's in the south-west country beyond the dairy meadows. There
is a house there still. I have been there."
"Boscastle!" Graham turned his eyes to the youngster. "That was
it--Boscastle. Little Boscastle. I fell asleep--somewhere there. I don't
exactly remember. I don't exactly remember."
He pressed his brows and whispered, "More than _two hundred years_!"
He began to speak quickly with a twitching face, but his heart was
cold within him. "But if it _is_ two hundred years, every soul I know,
every human being that ever I saw or spoke to before I went to sleep,
must be dead."
They did not answer him.
"The Queen and the Royal Family, her Ministers, Church and State. High
and low, rich and poor, one with another ... Is there England still?"
"That's a comfort! Is there London?"
"This _is_ London, eh? And you are my assistant-custodian;
assistant-custodian. And these--? Eh? Assistant-custodians too!"
He sat with a gaunt stare on his face. "But why am I here? No! Don't
talk. Be quiet. Let me--"
He sat silent, rubbed his eyes, and, uncovering them, found another
little glass of pinkish fluid held towards him. He took the dose.
Directly he had taken it he began to weep naturally and refreshingly.
Presently he looked at their faces, suddenly laughed through his tears, a
little foolishly. "But--two--hun--dred--years!" he said. He grimaced
hysterically and covered his face again.
After a space he grew calm. He sat up, his hands hanging over his knees
in almost precisely the same attitude in which Isbister had found him on
the cliff at Pentargen. His attention was attracted by a thick
domineering voice, the footsteps of an advancing personage. "What are you
doing? Why was I not warned? Surely you could tell? Someone will suffer
for this. The man must be kept quiet. Are the doorways closed? All the
doorways? He must be kept perfectly quiet. He must not be told. Has he
been told anything?"
The man with the fair beard made some inaudible remark, and Graham
looking over his shoulder saw approaching a short, fat, and thickset
beardless man, with aquiline nose and heavy neck and chin. Very thick
black and slightly sloping eyebrows that almost met over his nose and
overhung deep grey eyes, gave his face an oddly formidable expression. He
scowled momentarily at Graham and then his regard returned to the man
with the flaxen beard. "These others," he said in a voice of extreme
irritation. "You had better go."
"Go?" said the red-bearded man.
"Certainly--go now. But see the doorways are closed as you go."
The two men addressed turned obediently, after one reluctant glance at
Graham, and instead of going through the archway as he expected, walked
straight to the dead wall of the apartment opposite the archway. A long
strip of this apparently solid wall rolled up with a snap, hung over the
two retreating men and fell again, and immediately Graham was alone with
the newcomer and the purple-robed man with the flaxen beard.
For a space the thickset man took not the slightest notice of Graham, but
proceeded to interrogate the other--obviously his subordinate---upon the
treatment of their charge. He spoke clearly, but in phrases only
partially intelligible to Graham. The awakening seemed not only a matter
of surprise but of consternation and annoyance to him. He was evidently
"You must not confuse his mind by telling him things," he repeated again
and again. "You must not confuse his mind."
His questions answered, he turned quickly and eyed the awakened sleeper
with an ambiguous expression.
"Feel queer?" he asked.
"The world, what you see of it, seems strange to you?"
"I suppose I have to live in it, strange as it seems."
"I suppose so, now."
"In the first place, hadn't I better have some clothes?"
"They--" said the thickset man and stopped, and the flaxen-bearded man
met his eye and went away. "You will very speedily have clothes," said
the thickset man.
"Is it true indeed, that I have been asleep two hundred--?" asked Graham.
"They have told you that, have they? Two hundred and three, as a
matter of fact."
Graham accepted the indisputable now with raised eyebrows and depressed
mouth. He sat silent for a moment, and then asked a question, "Is there a
mill or dynamo near here?" He did not wait for an answer. "Things have
changed tremendously, I suppose?" he said.
"What is that shouting?" he asked abruptly.
"Nothing," said the thickset man impatiently. "It's people. You'll
understand better later--perhaps. As you say, things have changed." He
spoke shortly, his brows were knit, and he glanced about him like a man
trying to decide in an emergency. "We must get you clothes and so forth,
at any rate. Better wait here until they can be procured. No one will
come near you. You want shaving."
Graham rubbed his chin.
The man with the flaxen beard came back towards them, turned suddenly,
listened for a moment, lifted his eyebrows at the older man, and hurried
off through the archway towards the balcony. The tumult of shouting grew
louder, and the thickset man turned and listened also. He cursed suddenly
under his breath, and turned his eyes upon Graham with an unfriendly
expression. It was a surge of many voices, rising and falling, shouting
and screaming, and once came a sound like blows and sharp cries, and then
a snapping like the crackling of dry sticks. Graham strained his ears to
draw some single thread of sound from the woven tumult.
Then he perceived, repeated again and again, a certain formula. For a
time he doubted his ears. But surely these were the words: "Show us the
Sleeper! Show us the Sleeper!"
The thickset man rushed suddenly to the archway.
"Wild!" he cried. "How do they know? Do they know? Or is it guessing?"
There was perhaps an answer.
"I can't come," said the thickset man; "I have _him_ to see to. But shout
from the balcony."
There was an inaudible reply.
"Say he is not awake. Anything! I leave it to you."
He came hurrying back to Graham. "You must have clothes at once," he
said. "You cannot stop here--and it will be impossible to--"
He rushed away, Graham shouting unanswered questions after him. In a
moment he was back.
"I can't tell you what is happening. It is too complex to explain. In a
moment you shall have your clothes made. Yes--in a moment. And then I can
take you away from here. You will find out our troubles soon enough."
"But those voices. They were shouting--?"
"Something about the Sleeper--that's you. They have some twisted idea. I
don't know what it is. I know nothing."
A shrill bell jetted acutely across the indistinct mingling of remote
noises, and this brusque person sprang to a little group of appliances in
the corner of the room. He listened for a moment, regarding a ball of
crystal, nodded, and said a few indistinct words; then he walked to the
wall through which the two men had vanished. It rolled up again like a
curtain, and he stood waiting.
Graham lifted his arm and was astonished to find what strength the
restoratives had given him. He thrust one leg over the side of the couch
and then the other. His head no longer swam. He could scarcely credit his
rapid recovery. He sat feeling his limbs.
The man with the flaxen beard re-entered from the archway, and as he did
so the cage of a lift came sliding down in front of the thickset man, and
a lean, grey-bearded man, carrying a roll, and wearing a tightly-fitting
costume of dark green, appeared therein.
"This is the tailor," said the thickset man with an introductory gesture.
"It will never do for you to wear that black. I cannot understand how it
got here. But I shall. I shall. You will be as rapid as possible?" he
said to the tailor.
The man in green bowed, and, advancing, seated himself by Graham on the
bed. His manner was calm, but his eyes were full of curiosity. "You will
find the fashions altered, Sire," he said. He glanced from under his
brows at the thickset man.
He opened the roller with a quick movement, and a confusion of brilliant
fabrics poured out over his knees. "You lived, Sire, in a period
essentially cylindrical--the Victorian. With a tendency to the hemisphere
in hats. Circular curves always. Now--" He flicked out a little appliance
the size and appearance of a keyless watch, whirled the knob, and
behold--a little figure in white appeared kinetoscope fashion on the
dial, walking and turning. The tailor caught up a pattern of bluish white
satin. "That is my conception of your immediate treatment," he said.
The thickset man came and stood by the shoulder of Graham.
"We have very little time," he said.
"Trust me," said the tailor. "My machine follows. What do you
think of this?"
"What is that?" asked the man from the nineteenth century.
"In your days they showed you a fashion-plate," said the tailor, "but
this is our modern development. See here." The little figure repeated its
evolutions, but in a different costume. "Or this," and with a click
another small figure in a more voluminous type of robe marched on to the
dial. The tailor was very quick in his movements, and glanced twice
towards the lift as he did these things.
It rumbled again, and a crop-haired anemic lad with features of the
Chinese type, clad in coarse pale blue canvas, appeared together with a
complicated machine, which he pushed noiselessly on little castors into
the room. Incontinently the little kinetoscope was dropped, Graham was
invited to stand in front of the machine and the tailor muttered some
instructions to the crop-haired lad, who answered in guttural tones and
with words Graham did not recognise. The boy then went to conduct an
incomprehensible monologue in the corner, and the tailor pulled out a
number of slotted arms terminating in little discs, pulling them out
until the discs were flat against the body of Graham, one at each
shoulder blade, one at the elbows, one at the neck and so forth, so that
at last there were, perhaps, two score of them upon his body and limbs.
At the same time, some other person entered the room by the lift, behind
Graham. The tailor set moving a mechanism that initiated a faint-sounding
rhythmic movement of parts in the machine, and in another moment he was
knocking up the levers and Graham was released. The tailor replaced his
cloak of black, and the man with the flaxen beard proffered him a little
glass of some refreshing fluid. Graham saw over the rim of the glass a
pale-faced young man regarding him with a singular fixity.
The thickset man had been pacing the room fretfully, and now turned and
went through the archway towards the balcony, from which the noise of a
distant crowd still came in gusts and cadences. The crop-headed lad
handed the tailor a roll of the bluish satin and the two began fixing
this in the mechanism in a manner reminiscent of a roll of paper in a
nineteenth century printing machine. Then they ran the entire thing on
its easy, noiseless bearings across the room to a remote corner where a
twisted cable looped rather gracefully from the wall. They made some
connexion and the machine became energetic and swift.
"What is that doing?" asked Graham, pointing with the empty glass to the
busy figures and trying to ignore the scrutiny of the new comer. "Is
that--some sort of force--laid on?"
"Yes," said the man with the flaxen beard.
"Who is _that_?" He indicated the archway behind him.
The man in purple stroked his little beard, hesitated, and answered in
an undertone, "He is Howard, your chief guardian. You see, Sire--it's
a little difficult to explain. The Council appoints a guardian and
assistants. This hall has under certain restrictions been public. In
order that people might satisfy themselves. We have barred the
doorways for the first time. But I think--if you don't mind, I will
leave him to explain."
"Odd!" said Graham. "Guardian? Council?" Then turning his back on the
new comer, he asked in an undertone, "Why is this man _glaring_ at me? Is
he a mesmerist?"
"Mesmerist! He is a capillotomist."
"Yes--one of the chief. His yearly fee is sixdoz lions."
It sounded sheer nonsense. Graham snatched at the last phrase with an
unsteady mind. "Sixdoz lions?" he said.
"Didn't you have lions? I suppose not. You had the old pounds? They are
our monetary units."
"But what was that you said--sixdoz?"
"Yes. Six dozen, Sire. Of course things, even these little things, have
altered. You lived in the days of the decimal system, the Arab
system--tens, and little hundreds and thousands. We have eleven numerals
now. We have single figures for both ten and eleven, two figures for a
dozen, and a dozen dozen makes a gross, a great hundred, you know, a
dozen gross a dozand, and a dozand dozand a myriad. Very simple?"
"I suppose so," said Graham. "But about this cap--what was it?"
The man with the flaxen beard glanced over his shoulder.
"Here are your clothes!" he said. Graham turned round sharply and saw the
tailor standing at his elbow smiling, and holding some palpably new
garments over his arm. The crop-headed boy, by means of one ringer, was
impelling the complicated machine towards the lift by which he had
arrived. Graham stared at the completed suit. "You don't mean to say--!"
"Just made," said the tailor. He dropped the garments at the feet of
Graham, walked to the bed, on which Graham had so recently been lying,
flung out the translucent mattress, and turned up the looking-glass. As
he did so a furious bell summoned the thickset man to the corner. The
man with the flaxen beard rushed across to him and then hurried out by
The tailor was assisting Graham into a dark purple combination garment,
stockings, vest, and pants in one, as the thickset man came back from
the corner to meet the man with the flaxen beard returning from the
balcony. They began speaking quickly in an undertone, their bearing had
an unmistakable quality of anxiety. Over the purple under-garment came
a complex garment of bluish white, and Graham, was clothed in the
fashion once more and saw himself, sallow-faced, unshaven and shaggy
still, but at least naked no longer, and in some indefinable
unprecedented way graceful.
"I must shave," he said regarding himself in the glass.
"In a moment," said Howard.
The persistent stare ceased. The young man closed his eyes, reopened
them, and with a lean hand extended, advanced on Graham. Then he stopped,
with his hand slowly gesticulating, and looked about him.
"A seat," said Howard impatiently, and in a moment the flaxen-bearded man
had a chair behind Graham. "Sit down, please," said Howard.
Graham hesitated, and in the other hand of the wild-eyed man he saw the
glint of steel.
"Don't you understand, Sire?" cried the flaxen-bearded man with hurried
politeness. "He is going to cut your hair."
"Oh!" cried Graham enlightened. "But you called him--"
"A capillotomist--precisely! He is one of the finest artists in
Graham sat down abruptly. The flaxen-bearded man disappeared. The
capillotomist came forward, examined Graham's ears and surveyed him, felt
the back of his head, and would have sat down again to regard him but for
Howard's audible impatience. Forthwith with rapid movements and a
succession of deftly handled implements he shaved Graham's chin, clipped
his moustache, and cut and arranged his hair. All this he did without a
word, with something of the rapt air of a poet inspired. And as soon as
he had finished Graham was handed a pair of shoes.
Suddenly a loud voice shouted--it seemed from a piece of machinery in the
corner--"At once--at once. The people know all over the city. Work is
being stopped. Work is being stopped. Wait for nothing, but come."
This shout appeared to perturb Howard exceedingly. By his gestures it
seemed to Graham that he hesitated between two directions. Abruptly he
went towards the corner where the apparatus stood about the little
crystal ball. As he did so the undertone of tumultuous shouting from the
archway that had continued during all these occurrences rose to a mighty
sound, roared as if it were sweeping past, and fell again as if receding
swiftly. It drew Graham after it with an irresistible attraction. He
glanced at the thickset man, and then obeyed his impulse. In two strides
he was down the steps and in the passage, and in a score he was out upon
the balcony upon which the three men had been standing.
THE MOVING WAYS
He went to the railings of the balcony and stared upward. An exclamation
of surprise at his appearance, and the movements of a number of people
came from the great area below.
His first impression was of overwhelming architecture. The place into
which he looked was an aisle of Titanic buildings, curving spaciously in
either direction. Overhead mighty cantilevers sprang together across the
huge width of the place, and a tracery of translucent material shut out
the sky. Gigantic globes of cool white light shamed the pale sunbeams
that filtered down through the girders and wires. Here and there a
gossamer suspension bridge dotted with foot passengers flung across the
chasm and the air was webbed with slender cables. A cliff of edifice
hung above him, he perceived as he glanced upward, and the opposite
facade was grey and dim and broken by great archings, circular
perforations, balconies, buttresses, turret projections, myriads of vast
windows, and an intricate scheme of architectural relief. Athwart these
ran inscriptions horizontally and obliquely in an unfamiliar lettering.
Here and there close to the roof cables of a peculiar stoutness were
fastened, and drooped in a steep curve to circular openings on the
opposite side of the space, and even as Graham noted these a remote and
tiny figure of a man clad in pale blue arrested his attention. This
little figure was far overhead across the space beside the higher
fastening of one of these festoons, hanging forward from a little ledge
of masonry and handling some well-nigh invisible strings dependent from
the line. Then suddenly, with a swoop that sent Graham's heart into his
mouth, this man had rushed down the curve and vanished through a round
opening on the hither side of the way. Graham had been looking up as he
came out upon the balcony, and the things he saw above and opposed to
him had at first seized his attention to the exclusion of anything else.
Then suddenly he discovered the roadway! It was not a roadway at all, as
Graham understood such things, for in the nineteenth century the only
roads and streets were beaten tracks of motionless earth, jostling
rivulets of vehicles between narrow footways. But this roadway was three
hundred feet across, and it moved; it moved, all save the middle, the
lowest part. For a moment, the motion dazzled his mind. Then he
understood. Under the balcony this extraordinary roadway ran swiftly to
Graham's right, an endless flow rushing along as fast as a nineteenth
century express train, an endless platform of narrow transverse
overlapping slats with little interspaces that permitted it to follow
the curvatures of the street. Upon it were seats, and here and there
little kiosks, but they swept by too swiftly for him to see what might
be therein. From this nearest and swiftest platform a series of others
descended to the centre of the space. Each moved to the right, each
perceptibly slower than the one above it, but the difference in pace was
small enough to permit anyone to step from any platform to the one
adjacent, and so walk uninterruptedly from the swiftest to the
motionless middle way. Beyond this middle way was another series of
endless platforms rushing with varying pace to Graham's left. And seated
in crowds upon the two widest and swiftest platforms, or stepping from
one to another down the steps, or swarming over the central space, was
an innumerable and wonderfully diversified multitude of people.
"You must not stop here," shouted Howard suddenly at his side. "You must
come away at once."
Graham made no answer. He heard without hearing. The platforms ran with a
roar and the people were shouting. He perceived women and girls with
flowing hair, beautifully robed, with bands crossing between the breasts.
These first came out of the confusion. Then he perceived that the
dominant note in that kaleidoscope of costume was the pale blue that the
tailor's boy had worn. He became aware of cries of "The Sleeper. What has
happened to the Sleeper?" and it seemed as though the rushing platforms
before him were suddenly spattered with the pale buff of human faces, and
then still more thickly. He saw pointing fingers. He perceived that the
motionless central area of this huge arcade just opposite to the balcony
was densely crowded with blue-clad people. Some sort of struggle had
sprung into life. People seemed to be pushed up the running platforms on
either side, and carried away against their will. They would spring off
so soon as they were beyond the thick of the confusion, and run back
towards the conflict.
"It is the Sleeper. Verily it is the Sleeper," shouted voices. "That is
never the Sleeper," shouted others. More and more faces were turned to
him. At the intervals along this central area Graham noted openings,
pits, apparently the heads of staircases going down with people
ascending out of them and descending into them. The struggle it seemed
centred about the one of these nearest to him. People were running down
the moving platforms to this, leaping dexterously from platform to
platform. The clustering people on the higher platforms seemed to divide
their interest between this point and the balcony. A number of sturdy
little figures clad in a uniform of bright red, and working methodically
together, were employed it seemed in preventing access to this descending
staircase. About them a crowd was rapidly accumulating. Their brilliant
colour contrasted vividly with the whitish-blue of their antagonists, for
the struggle was indisputable.
He saw these things with Howard shouting in his ear and shaking his arm.
And then suddenly Howard was gone and he stood alone.
He perceived that the cries of "The Sleeper!" grew in volume, and that
the people on the nearer platform were standing up. The nearer platform
he perceived was empty to the right of him, and far across the space the
platform running in the opposite direction was coming crowded and passing
away bare. With incredible swiftness a vast crowd had gathered in the
central space before his eyes; a dense swaying mass of people, and the
shouts grew from a fitful crying to a voluminous incessant clamour: "The
Sleeper! The Sleeper!" and yells and cheers, a waving of garments and
cries of "Stop the Ways!" They were also crying another name strange to
Graham. It sounded like "Ostrog." The slower platforms were soon thick
with active people, running against the movement so as to keep themselves
opposite to him.
"Stop the Ways," they cried. Agile figures ran up from the centre to the
swift road nearest to him, were borne rapidly past him, shouting strange,
unintelligible things, and ran back obliquely to the central way. One
thing he distinguished: "It is indeed the Sleeper. It is indeed the
Sleeper," they testified.
For a space Graham stood motionless. Then he became vividly aware that
all this concerned him. He was pleased at his wonderful popularity, he
bowed, and, seeking a gesture of longer range, waved his arm. He was
astonished at the violence of uproar that this provoked. The tumult about
the descending stairway rose to furious violence. He became aware of
crowded balconies, of men sliding along ropes, of men in trapeze-like
seats hurling athwart the space. He heard voices behind him, a number of
people descending the steps through the archway; he suddenly perceived
that his guardian Howard was back again and gripping his arm painfully,
and shouting inaudibly in his ear.
He turned, and Howard's face was white. "Come back," he heard. "They will
stop the ways. The whole city will be in confusion."
He perceived a number of men hurrying along the passage of blue pillars
behind Howard, the red-haired man, the man with the flaxen beard, a tall
man in vivid vermilion, a crowd of others in red carrying staves, and all
these people had anxious eager faces.
"Get him away," cried Howard.
"But why?" said Graham. "I don't see--"
"You must come away!" said the man in red in a resolute voice. His face
and eyes were resolute, too. Graham's glances went from face to face, and
he was suddenly aware of that most disagreeable flavour in life,
compulsion. Someone gripped his arm....
He was being dragged away. It seemed as though the tumult suddenly
became two, as if half the shouts that had come in from this wonderful
roadway had sprung into the passages of the great building behind him.
Marvelling and confused, feeling an impotent desire to resist, Graham was
half led, half thrust, along the passage of blue pillars, and suddenly he
found himself alone with Howard in a lift and moving swiftly upward.
THE HALL OF THE ATLAS
From the moment when the tailor had bowed his farewell to the moment when
Graham found himself in the lift, was altogether barely five minutes. As
yet the haze of his vast interval of sleep hung about him, as yet the
initial strangeness of his being alive at all in this remote age touched
everything with wonder, with a sense of the irrational, with something of
the quality of a realistic dream. He was still detached, an astonished
spectator, still but half involved in life. What he had seen, and
especially the last crowded tumult, framed in the setting of the balcony,
had a spectacular turn, like a thing witnessed from the box of a theatre.
"I don't understand," he said. "What was the trouble? My mind is in a
whirl. Why were they shouting? What is the danger?"
"We have our troubles," said Howard. His eyes avoided Graham's enquiry.
"This is a time of unrest. And, in fact, your appearance, your waking
just now, has a sort of connexion--"
He spoke jerkily, like a man not quite sure of his breathing. He
"I don't understand," said Graham.
"It will be clearer later," said Howard.
He glanced uneasily upward, as though he found the progress of the
"I shall understand better, no doubt, when I have seen my way about a
little," said Graham puzzled. "It will be--it is bound to be perplexing.
At present it is all so strange. Anything seems possible. Anything. In
the details even. Your counting, I understand, is different."
The lift stopped, and they stepped out into a narrow but very long
passage between high walls, along which ran an extraordinary number of
tubes and big cables.
"What a huge place this is!" said Graham. "Is it all one building? What
place is it?"
"This is one of the city ways for various public services. Light and
"Was it a social trouble--that--in the great roadway place? How are you
governed? Have you still a police?"
"Several," said Howard.
"I don't understand."
"Very probably not. Our social order will probably seem very complex
to you. To tell you the truth, I don't understand it myself very
clearly. Nobody does. You will, perhaps--bye and bye. We have to go to
Graham's attention was divided between the urgent necessity of his
inquiries and the people in the passages and halls they were traversing.
For a moment his mind would be concentrated upon Howard and the halting
answers he made, and then he would lose the thread in response to some
vivid unexpected impression. Along the passages, in the halls, half the
people seemed to be men in the red uniform. The pale blue canvas that had
been so abundant in the aisle of moving ways did not appear. Invariably
these men looked at him, and saluted him and Howard as they passed.
He had a clear vision of entering a long corridor, and there were a
number of girls sitting on low seats, as though in a class. He saw no
teacher, but only a novel apparatus from which he fancied a voice
proceeded. The girls regarded him and his conductor, he thought, with
curiosity and astonishment. But he was hurried on before he could form
a clear idea of the gathering. He judged they knew Howard and not
himself, and that they wondered who he was. This Howard, it seemed, was
a person of importance. But then he was also merely Graham's guardian.
That was odd.
There came a passage in twilight, and into this passage a footway hung so
that he could see the feet and ankles of people going to and fro thereon,
but no more of them. Then vague impressions of galleries and of casual
astonished passers-by turning round to stare after the two of them with
their red-clad guard.
The stimulus of the restoratives he had taken was only temporary. He was
speedily fatigued by this excessive haste. He asked Howard to slacken his
speed. Presently he was in a lift that had a window upon the great street
space, but this was glazed and did not open, and they were too high for
him to see the moving platforms below. But he saw people going to and fro
along cables and along strange, frail-looking bridges.
Thence they passed across the street and at a vast height above it. They
crossed by means of a narrow bridge closed in with glass, so clear that
it made him giddy even to remember it. The floor of it also was of glass.
From his memory of the cliffs between New Quay and Boscastle, so remote
in time, and so recent in his experience, it seemed to him that they
must be near four hundred feet above the moving ways. He stopped, looked
down between his legs upon the swarming blue and red multitudes, minute
and foreshortened, struggling and gesticulating still towards the little
balcony far below, a little toy balcony, it seemed, where he had so
recently been standing. A thin haze and the glare of the mighty globes of
light obscured everything. A man seated in a little openwork cradle shot
by from some point still higher than the little narrow bridge, rushing
down a cable as swiftly almost as if he were falling. Graham stopped
involuntarily to watch this strange passenger vanish below, and then his
eyes went back to the tumultuous struggle.
Along one of the faster ways rushed a thick crowd of red spots. This
broke up into individuals as it approached the balcony, and went pouring
down the slower ways towards the dense struggling crowd on the central
area. These men in red appeared to be armed with sticks or truncheons;
they seemed to be striking and thrusting. A great shouting, cries of
wrath, screaming, burst out and came up to Graham, faint and thin. "Go
on," cried Howard, laying hands on him.
Another man rushed down a cable. Graham suddenly glanced up to see whence
he came, and beheld through the glassy roof and the network of cables and
girders, dim rhythmically passing forms like the vanes of windmills, and
between them glimpses of a remote and pallid sky. Then Howard had thrust
him forward across the bridge, and he was in a little narrow passage
decorated with geometrical patterns.
"I want to see more of that," cried Graham, resisting.
"No, no," cried Howard, still gripping his arm. "This way. You must go
this way." And the men in red following them seemed ready to enforce
Some negroes in a curious wasp-like uniform of black and yellow appeared
down the passage, and one hastened to throw up a sliding shutter that
had seemed a door to Graham, and led the way through it. Graham found
himself in a gallery overhanging the end of a great chamber. The
attendant in black and yellow crossed this, thrust up a second shutter
and stood waiting.
This place had the appearance of an ante-room. He saw a number of
people in the central space, and at the opposite end a large and
imposing doorway at the top of a flight of steps, heavily curtained but
giving a glimpse of some still larger hall beyond. He perceived white
men in red and other negroes in black and yellow standing stiffly about
As they crossed the gallery he heard a whisper from below, "The Sleeper,"
and was aware of a turning of heads, a hum of observation. They entered
another little passage in the wall of this ante-chamber, and then he
found himself on an iron-railed gallery of metal that passed round the
side of the great hall he had already seen through the curtains. He
entered the place at the corner, so that he received the fullest
impression of its huge proportions. The black in the wasp uniform stood
aside like a well-trained servant, and closed the valve behind him.
Compared with any of the places Graham had seen thus far, this second
hall appeared to be decorated with extreme richness. On a pedestal at the
remoter end, and more brilliantly lit than any other object, was a
gigantic white figure of Atlas, strong and strenuous, the globe upon his
bowed shoulders. It was the first thing to strike his attention, it was
so vast, so patiently and painfully real, so white and simple. Save for
this figure and for a dais in the centre, the wide floor of the place was
a shining vacancy. The dais was remote in the greatness of the area; it
would have looked a mere slab of metal had it not been for the group of
seven men who stood about a table on it, and gave an inkling of its
proportions. They were all dressed in white robes, they seemed to have
arisen that moment from their seats, and they were regarding Graham
steadfastly. At the end of the table he perceived the glitter of some
Howard led him along the end gallery until they were opposite this mighty
labouring figure. Then he stopped. The two men in red who had followed
them into the gallery came and stood on either hand of Graham.
"You must remain here," murmured Howard, "for a few moments," and,
without waiting for a reply, hurried away along the gallery.
"But, _why_--?" began Graham.
He moved as if to follow Howard, and found his path obstructed by one of
the men in red. "You have to wait here, Sire," said the man in red.
"Our orders, Sire."
Graham looked his exasperation.
"What place is this?" he said presently. "Who are those men?"
"They are the lords of the Council, Sire."
"Oh!" said Graham, and after an equally ineffectual attempt at the other
man, went to the railing and stared at the distant men in white, who
stood watching him and whispering together.
The Council? He perceived there were now eight, though how the newcomer
had arrived he had not observed. They made no gestures of greeting; they
stood regarding him as in the nineteenth century a group of men might
have stood in the street regarding a distant balloon that had suddenly
floated into view. What council could it be that gathered there, that
little body of men beneath the significant white Atlas, secluded from
every eavesdropper in this impressive spaciousness? And why should he be
brought to them, and be looked at strangely and spoken of inaudibly?
Howard appeared beneath, walking quickly across the polished floor
towards them. As he drew near he bowed and performed certain peculiar
movements, apparently of a ceremonious nature. Then he ascended the steps
of the dais, and stood by the apparatus at the end of the table.
Graham watched that visible inaudible conversation. Occasionally, one of
the white-robed men would glance towards him. He strained his ears in
vain. The gesticulation of two of the speakers became animated. He
glanced from them to the passive faces of his attendants.... When he
looked again Howard was extending his hands and moving his head like a
man who protests. He was interrupted, it seemed, by one of the
white-robed men rapping the table.
The conversation lasted an interminable time to Graham's sense. His eyes
rose to the still giant at whose feet the Council sat. Thence they
wandered to the walls of the hall. It was decorated in long painted
panels of a quasi-Japanese type, many of them very beautiful. These
panels were grouped in a great and elaborate framing of dark metal,
which passed into the metallic caryatidae of the galleries, and the
great structural lines of the interior. The facile grace of these panels
enhanced the mighty white effort that laboured in the centre of the
scheme. Graham's eyes came back to the Council, and Howard was
descending the steps. As he drew nearer his features could be
distinguished, and Graham saw that he was flushed and blowing out his
cheeks. His countenance was still disturbed when presently he reappeared
along the gallery.
"This way," he said concisely, and they went on in silence to a little
door that opened at their approach. The two men in red stopped on either
side of this door. Howard and Graham passed in, and Graham, glancing
back, saw the white-robed Council still standing in a close group and
looking at him. Then the door closed behind him with a heavy thud, and
for the first time since his awakening he was in silence. The floor,
even, was noiseless to his feet.
Howard opened another door, and they were in the first of two contiguous
chambers furnished in white and green. "What Council was that?" began
Graham. "What were they discussing? What have they to do with me?" Howard
closed the door carefully, heaved a huge sigh, and said something in an
undertone. He walked slantingways across the room and turned, blowing out
his cheeks again. "Ugh!" he grunted, a man relieved.
Graham stood regarding him.
"You must understand," began Howard abruptly, avoiding Graham's eyes,
"that our social order is very complex. A half explanation, a bare
unqualified statement would give you false impressions. As a matter of
fact--it is a case of compound interest partly--your small fortune, and
the fortune of your cousin Warming which was left to you--and certain
other beginnings--have become very considerable. And in other ways that
will be hard for you to understand, you have become a person of
significance--of very considerable significance--involved in the
"Yes?" said Graham.
"We have grave social troubles."
"Things have come to such a pass that, in fact, it is advisable to
seclude you here."
"Keep me prisoner!" exclaimed Graham.
"Well--to ask you to keep in seclusion."
Graham turned on him. "This is strange!" he said.
"No harm will be done you."
"But you must be kept here--"
"While I learn my position, I presume."
"Very well then. Begin. Why _harm_?"
"It is too long a story, Sire."
"All the more reason I should begin at once. You say I am a person of
importance. What was that shouting I heard? Why is a great multitude
shouting and excited because my trance is over, and who are the men in
white in that huge council chamber?"
"All in good time, Sire," said Howard. "But not crudely, not crudely.
This is one of those flimsy times when no man has a settled mind. Your
awakening--no one expected your awakening. The Council is consulting."
"The Council you saw."
Graham made a petulant movement. "This is not right," he said. "I should
be told what is happening."
"You must wait. Really you must wait."
Graham sat down abruptly. "I suppose since I have waited so long to
resume life," he said, "that I must wait a little longer."
"That is better," said Howard. "Yes, that is much better. And I must
leave you alone. For a space. While I attend the discussion in the
Council.... I am sorry."
He went towards the noiseless door, hesitated and vanished.
Graham walked to the door, tried it, found it securely fastened in some
way he never came to understand, turned about, paced the room restlessly,
made the circuit of the room, and sat down. He remained sitting for some
time with folded arms and knitted brow, biting his finger nails and
trying to piece together the kaleidoscopic impressions of this first hour
of awakened life; the vast mechanical spaces, the endless series of
chambers and passages, the great struggle that roared and splashed
through these strange ways, the little group of remote unsympathetic men
beneath the colossal Atlas, Howard's mysterious behaviour. There was an
inkling of some vast inheritance already in his mind--a vast inheritance
perhaps misapplied--of some unprecedented importance and opportunity.
What had he to do? And this room's secluded silence was eloquent of
It came into Graham's mind with irresistible conviction that this series
of magnificent impressions was a dream. He tried to shut his eyes and
succeeded, but that time-honoured device led to no awakening.
Presently he began to touch and examine all the unfamiliar appointments
of the two small rooms in which he found himself.
In a long oval panel of mirror he saw himself and stopped astonished. He
was clad in a graceful costume of purple and bluish white, with a little
greyshot beard trimmed to a point, and his hair, its blackness streaked
now with bands of grey, arranged over his forehead in an unfamiliar but
pleasing manner. He seemed a man of five-and-forty perhaps. For a moment
he did not perceive this was himself.
A flash of laughter came with the recognition. "To call on old Warming
like this!" he exclaimed, "and make him take me out to lunch!"
Then he thought of meeting first one and then another of the few familiar
acquaintances of his early manhood, and in the midst of his amusement
realised that every soul with whom he might jest had died many score of
years ago. The thought smote him abruptly and keenly; he stopped short,
the expression of his face changed to a white consternation.
The tumultuous memory of the moving platforms and the huge facade of that
wonderful street reasserted itself. The shouting multitudes came back
clear and vivid, and those remote, inaudible, unfriendly councillors in
white. He felt himself a little figure, very small and ineffectual,
pitifully conspicuous. And all about him, the world was--_strange_.
IN THE SILENT ROOMS
Presently Graham resumed his examination of his apartments. Curiosity
kept him moving in spite of his fatigue. The inner room, he perceived,
was high, and its ceiling dome shaped, with an oblong aperture in the
centre, opening into a funnel in which a wheel of broad vanes seemed to
be rotating, apparently driving the air up the shaft. The faint humming
note of its easy motion was the only clear sound in that quiet place. As
these vanes sprang up one after the other, Graham could get transient
glimpses of the sky. He was surprised to see a star.
This drew his attention to the fact that the bright lighting of these
rooms was due to a multitude of very faint glow lamps set about the
cornices. There were no windows. And he began to recall that along all
the vast chambers and passages he had traversed with Howard he had
observed no windows at all. Had there been windows? There were windows on
the street indeed, but were they for light? Or was the whole city lit day
and night for evermore, so that there was no night there?
And another thing dawned upon him. There was no fireplace in either room.
Was the season summer, and were these merely summer apartments, or was
the whole city uniformly heated or cooled? He became interested in these
questions, began examining the smooth texture of the walls, the simply
constructed bed, the ingenious arrangements by which the labour of
bedroom service was practically abolished. And over everything was a
curious absence of deliberate ornament, a bare grace of form and colour,
that he found very pleasing to the eye. There were several very
comfortable chairs, a light table on silent runners carrying several
bottles of fluids and glasses, and two plates bearing a clear substance
like jelly. Then he noticed there were no books, no newspapers, no
writing materials. "The world has changed indeed," he said.
He observed one entire side of the outer room was set with rows of
peculiar double cylinders inscribed with green lettering on white that
harmonized with the decorative scheme of the room, and in the centre of
this side projected a little apparatus about a yard square and having a
white smooth face to the room. A chair faced this. He had a transitory
idea that these cylinders might be books, or a modern substitute for
books, but at first it did not seem so.
The lettering on the cylinders puzzled him. At first sight it seemed like
Russian. Then he noticed a suggestion of mutilated English about certain
of the words.
"Thi Man huwdbi Kin" forced itself on him as "The Man who would be King."
"Phonetic spelling," he said. He remembered reading a story with that
title, then he recalled the story vividly, one of the best stories in the
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