When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
Part 3 out of 6
darkness fell together. At the sound of his fall Graham
rose up and ran for his life until a step down to
the gangway tripped him. He scrambled to his feet,
turned up the gangway and ran on.
When the sixth star glared he was already close to
the yawning throat of a passage. He ran on the
swifter for the light, entered the passage and turned a
corner into absolute night again. He was knocked
sideways, rolled over, and recovered his feet. He
found himself one of a crowd of invisible fugitives
pressing in one direction. His one thought now was
their thought also; to escape out of this fighting. He
thrust and struck, staggered, ran, was wedged tightly,
lost ground and then was clear again.
For some minutes he was running through the darkness
along a winding passage, and then he crossed
some wide and open space, passed down a long incline,
and came at last down a flight of steps to a level place.
Many people were shouting, "They are coming! The
guards are coming. They are firing. Get out of the
fighting. The guards are firing. It will be safe in
Seventh Way. Along here to Seventh Way!" There
were women and children in the crowd as well as men.
Men called names to him. The crowd converged on
an archway, passed through a short throat and
emerged on a wider space again, lit dimly. The black
figures about him spread out and ran up what seemed
in the twilight to be a gigantic series of steps. He
followed. The people dispersed to the right and left.
. . . He perceived that he was no longer in a
crowd. He stopped near the highest step. Before
him, on that level, were groups of seats and a little
kiosk. He went up to this and, stopping in the shadow
of its eaves, looked about him panting.
Everything was vague and gray, but he recognised
that these great steps were a series of platforms of the
"ways," now motionless again. The platform slanted
up on either side, and the tall buildings rose beyond,
vast dim ghosts, their inscriptions and advertisements
indistinctly seen, and up through the girders and
cables was a faint interrupted ribbon of pallid sky. A
number of people hurried by. From their shouts and
voices, it seemed they were hurrying to join the
fighting. Other less noisy figures flitted timidly among the
From very far away down the street he could hear
the sound of a struggle. But it was evident to him
that this was not the street into which the theatre
opened. That former fight, it seemed, had suddenly
dropped out of sound and hearing. And -- grotesque
thought! -- they were fighting for him!
For a space he was like a man who pauses in the
reading of a vivid book, and suddenly doubts what he
has been taking unquestioningly. At that time he had
little mind for details; the whole effect was a huge
astonishment. Oddly enough, while the flight from
the Council prison, the great crowd in the hall, and
the attack of the red police upon the swarming people
were clearly present in his mind, it cost him an effort
to piece in his awakening and to revive the meditative
interval of the Silent Rooms. At first his memory
leapt these things and took him back to the cascade
at Pentargen quivering in the wind, and all the sombre
splendours of the sunlit Cornish coast. The contrast
touched everything with unreality. And then the gap
filled, and he began to comprehend his position.
It was no longer absolutely a riddle, as it had been
in the Silent Rooms. At least he had the strange,
bare outline now. He was in some way the owner of
half the world, and great political parties were fighting
to possess him. On the one hand was the White Council,
with its red police, set resolutely, it seemed, on the
usurpation of his property and perhaps his murder; on
the other, the revolution that had liberated him, with
this unseen "Ostrog" as its leader. And the whole
of this gigantic city was convulsed by their struggle.
Frantic development of his world! "I do not understand,"
he cried. "I do not understand!"
He had slipped out between the contending parties
into this liberty of the twilight. What would happen
next? What was happening? He figured the redclad
men as busily hunting him, driving the blackbadged
revolutionists before them.
At any rate chance had given him a breathing space.
He could lurk unchallenged by the passers-by, and
watch the course of things. His eye followed up the
intricate dim immensity of the twilight buildings, and
it came to him as a thing infinitely wonderful, that
above there the sun was rising, and the world was lit
and glowing with the old familiar light of day. In a
little while he had recovered his breath. His clothing
had already dried upon him from the snow.
He wandered for miles along these twilight ways,
speaking to no one, accosted by no one -- a dark
figure among dark figures -- the coveted man out of
the past, the inestimable unintentional owner of half
the world. Wherever there were lights or dense
crowds, or exceptional excitement he was afraid of
recognition, and watched and turned back or went up
and down by the middle stairways, into some transverse
system of ways at a lower or higher level. And
though he came on no more fighting, the whole city
stirred with battle. Once he had to run to avoid a
marching multitude of men that swept the street.
Everyone abroad seemed involved. For the most part
they were men, and they carried what he judged were
weapons. It seemed as though the struggle was
concentrated mainly in the quarter of the city from which
he came. Ever and again a distant roaring, the remote
suggestion of that conflict, reached his ears. Then his
caution and his curiosity struggled together. But his
caution prevailed, and he continued wandering away
from the fighting -- so far as he could judge. He
went unmolested, unsuspected through the dark.
After a time he ceased to hear even a remote echo of
the battle, fewer and fewer people passed him, until at
last the Titanic streets became deserted. The
frontages of the buildings grew plain and harsh; he seemed
to have come to a district of vacant warehouses.
Solitude crept upon him -- his pace slackened.
He became aware of a growing fatigue. At times
he would turn aside and seat himself on one of the
numerous seats of the upper ways. But a feverish
restlessness, the knowledge of his vital implication in
his struggle, would not let him rest in any place for
long. Was the struggle on his behalf alone?
And then in a desolate place came the shock of an
earthquake -- a roaring and thundering -- a mighty
wind of cold air pouring through the city, the smash
of glass, the slip and thud of falling masonry -- a
series of gigantic concussions. A mass of glass and
ironwork fell from the remote roofs into the middle
gallery, not a hundred yards away from him, and in
the distance were shouts and running. He, too, was
startled to an aimless activity, and ran first one way
and then as aimlessly back.
A man came running towards him. His self-control
returned. "What have they blown up?" asked the
man breathlessly. "That was an explosion," and before
Graham could speak he had hurried on.
The great buildings rose dimly, veiled by a perplexing
twilight, albeit the rivulet of sky above was now
bright with day. He noted many strange features,
understanding none at the time; he even spelt out
many of the inscriptions in Phonetic lettering. But
what profits it to decipher a confusion of odd-looking
letters resolving itself, after painful strain of eye and
mind, into "Here is Eadhamite," or, "Labour Bureau --
Little Side?" Grotesque thought, that in all
probability some or all of these cliff-like houses were
The perversity of his experience came to him vividly.
In actual fact he had made such a leap in time
as romancers have imagined again and again. And
that fact realised, he had been prepared, his mind had,
as it were, seated itself for a spectacle. And no
spectacle, but a great vague danger, unsympathetic
shadows and veils of darkness. Somewhere through
the labyrinthine obscurity his death sought him.
Would he, after all, be killed before he saw? It might
be that even at the next shadowy corner his destruction
ambushed. A great desire to see, a great longing
to know, arose in him.
He became fearful of corners. It seemed to him
that there was safety in concealment. Where could
he hide to be inconspicuous when the lights returned?
At last he sat down upon a seat in a recess on one
of the higher ways, conceiving he was alone there.
He squeezed his knuckles into his weary eyes.
Suppose when he looked again he found the dark through
of parallel ways and that intolerable altitude of edifice,
gone? Suppose he were to discover the whole story
of these last few days, the awakening, the shouting
multitudes, the darkness and the fighting, a
phantasmagoria, a new and more vivid sort of dream. It
must be a dream; it was so inconsecutive, so
reasonless. Why were the people fighting for him? Why
should this saner world regard him as Owner and
So he thought, sitting blinded, and then he looked
again, half hoping in spite of his ears to see some
familiar aspect of the life of the nineteenth century, to
see, perhaps, the little harbour of Boscastle about him,
the cliffs of Pentargen, or the bedroom of his home.
But fact takes no heed of human hopes. A squad
of men with a black banner tramped athwart the
nearer shadows, intent on conflict, and beyond rose
that giddy wall of frontage, vast and dark, with the dim
incomprehensible lettering showing faintly on its face.
"It is no dream," he said, "no dream." And he
bowed his face upon his hands.
THE OLD MAN WHO KNEW EVERYTHING
He was startled by a cough close at hand.
He turned sharply, and peering, saw a small,
hunched-up figure sitting a couple of yards off in the
shadow of the enclosure.
"Have ye any news?" asked the high-pitched
wheezy voice of a very old man.
Graham hesitated." None," he said.
"I stay here till the lights come again," said the old
man." These blue scoundrels are everywhere --
Graham's answer was inarticulate assent. He tried
to see the old man but the darkness hid his face. He
wanted very much to respond, to talk, but he did not
know how to begin.
"Dark and damnable," said the old man suddenly.
"Dark and damnable. Turned out of my room among
all these dangers."
"That's hard," ventured Graham. "That's hard on
"Darkness. An old man lost in the darkness. And
all the world gone mad. War and fighting. The
police beaten and rogues abroad. Why don't they
bring some negroes to protect us? . . . No more
dark passages for me. I fell over a dead man."
"You're safer with company," said the old man, "if
it's company of the right sort," and peered frankly.
He rose suddenly and came towards Graham.
Apparently the scrutiny was satisfactory. The old
man sat down as if relieved to be no longer alone.
"Eh!" he said, "but this is a terrible time! War and
fighting, and the dead lying there -- men, strong men,
dying in the dark. Sons! I have three sons. God
knows where they are tonight."
The voice ceased. Then repeated quavering: "God
knows where they are tonight."
Graham stood revolving a question that should not
betray his ignorance. Again the old man's voice
ended the pause.
"This Ostrog will win," he said. "He will win. And
what the world will be like under him no one can
tell. My sons are under the wind-vanes, all three.
One of my daughters-in-law was his mistress for a
while. His mistress! Were not common people.
Though they've sent me to wander tonight and take
my chance. . . . I knew what was going on. Before
most people. But this darkness! And to fall
over a dead body suddenly in the dark!"
His wheezy breathing could be heard.
"Ostrog!" said Graham.
"The greatest Boss the world has ever seen," said
Graham ransacked his mind. "The Council has few
friends among the people," he hazarded.
"Few friends. And poor ones at that. They've
had their time. Eh! They should have kept to the
clever ones. But twice they held election. And
Ostrog. And now it has burst out and nothing can
stay it, nothing can stay it. Twice they rejected
Ostrog -- Ostrog the Boss. I heard of his rages at
the time -- he was terrible. Heaven save them! For
nothing on earth can now, he has raised the Labour
Companies upon them. No one else would have
dared. All the blue canvas armed and marching! He
will go through with it. He will go through."
He was silent for a little while. "This Sleeper," he
said, and stopped.
"Yes," said Graham. "Well?"
The senile voice sank to a confidential whisper, the
dim, pale face came close. "The real Sleeper --"
"Yes," said Graham.
"Died years ago."
"What?" said Graham, sharply.
"Years ago. Died. Years ago."
"You don't say so!" said Graham.
"I do. I do say so. He died. This Sleeper who's
woke up -- they changed in the night. A poor,
drugged insensible creature. But I mustn't tell all I
know. I mustn't tell all I know."
For a little while he muttered inaudibly. His secret
was too much for him. "I don't know the ones that
put him to sleep -- that was before my time -- but I
know the man who injected the stimulants and woke
him again. It was ten to one -- wake or kill. Wake
or kill. Ostrog's way."
Graham was so astonished at these things that he
had to interrupt, to make the old man repeat his
words, to re-question vaguely, before he was sure of
the meaning and folly of what he heard. And his
awakening had not been natural! Was that an old
man's senile superstition, too, or had it any truth in it?
Feeling in the dark corners of his memory, he presently
came on something that might conceivably be
an impression of some such stimulating effect. It
dawned upon him that he had happened upon a lucky
encounter, that at last he might learn something of
the new age. The old man wheezed a while and spat,
and then the piping, reminiscent voice resumed:
"The first time they rejected him. I've followed
"Rejected whom?" said Graham. "The Sleeper?"
"Sleeper? No. Ostrog. He was terrible -- terrible!
And he was promised then, promised certainly
the next time. Fools they were -- not to be more
afraid of him. Now all the city's his millstone, and
such as we dust ground upon it. Dust ground upon
it. Until he set to work -- the workers cut each other's
throats, and murdered a Chinaman or a Labour policeman
at times, and left the rest of us in peace. Dead
bodies! Robbing! Darkness! Such a thing hasn't
been this gross of years. Eh! -- but 'tis ill on small
folks when the great fall out! It's ill."
"Did you say -- there had not been what? -- for
a gross of years?"
"Eh?" said the old man.
The old man said something about clipping his
words, and made him repeat this a third time. "Fighting
and slaying, and weapons in hand, and fools bawling
freedom and the like," said the old man. "Not in
all my life has there been that. These are like the old
days -- for sure -- when the Paris people broke out --
three gross of years ago. That's what I mean hasn't
been. But it's the world's way. It had to come back.
I know. I know. This five years Ostrog has been
working, and there has been trouble and trouble, and
hunger and threats and high talk and arms. Blue canvas
and murmurs. No one safe. Everything sliding
and slipping. And now here we are! Revolt and
fighting, and the Council come to its end."
"You are rather well-informed on these things,"
"I know what I hear. It isn't all Babble Machine
"No," said Graham, wondering what Babble
Machine might be. "And you are certain this Ostrog
-- you are certain Ostrog organised this rebellion and
arranged for the waking of the Sleeper? Just to assert
himself -- because he was not elected to the Council?
"Everyone knows that, I should think," said the old
man. "Except -- just fools. He meant to be master
somehow. In the Council or not. Everyone who
knows anything knows that. And here we are with
dead bodies lying in the dark! Why, where have you
been if you haven't heard all about the trouble
between Ostrog and the Verneys? And what do you
think the troubles are about? The Sleeper? Eh?
You think the Sleeper's real and woke of his own
accord -- eh?"
"I'm a dull man, older than I look, and forgetful,"
said Graham." Lots of things that have happened --
especially of late years -- . If I was the Sleeper, to tell
you the truth, I couldn't know less about them."
"Eh!" said the voice." Old, are you? You don't
sound so very old! But its not everyone keeps his
memory to my time of life -- truly. But these
notorious things! But you're not so old as me -- not
nearly so old as me. Well! I ought not to judge
other men by myself, perhaps. I'm young -- for so
old a man. Maybe you're old for so young."
"That's it," said Graham. "And I've a queer history.
I know very little. And history! Practically I
know no history. The Sleeper and Julius Caesar are
all the same to me. It's interesting to hear you talk
of these things."
"I know a few things," said the old man. "I know
a thing or two. But -- . Hark!"
The two men became silent, listening. There was
heavy thud, a concussion that made their seat shiver.
The passers-by stopped, shouted to one another. The
old man was full of questions; he shouted to a man
who passed near. Graham, emboldened by his example,
got up and accosted others. None knew what had
He returned to the seat and found the old man
muttering vague interrogations in an undertone. For
a while they said nothing to one another.
The sense of this gigantic struggle, so near and yet
so remote oppressed Graham's imagination. Was
this old man right, was the report of the people right,
and were the revolutionaries winning? Or were they
all in error, and were the red guards driving all before
them? At any time the flood of warfare might pour
into this silent quarter of the city and seize upon him
again. It behooved him to learn all he could while
there was time. He turned suddenly to the old man
with a question and left it unsaid. But his motion
moved the old man to speech again.
"Eh! but how things work together!" said the old
man." This Sleeper that all the fools put their trust
in! I've the whole history of it -- I was always a good
one for histories. When I was a boy - I'm that old --
I used to read printed books. You'd hardly think it.
Likely you've seen none -- they rot and dust so -- and
the Sanitary Company burns them to make ashlarite.
But they were convenient in their dirty way. Oh I
learnt a lot. These new-fangled Babble Machines --
they don't seem new-fangled to you, eh? -- they're
easy to hear, easy to forget. But I've traced all the
Sleeper business from the first."
"You will scarcely believe it," said Graham slowly,
"I'm so ignorant -- I've been so preoccupied in my
own little affairs, my circumstances have been so odd
-- I know nothing of this Sleeper's history. Who
"Eh!" said the old man. "I know. I know. He
was a poor nobody, and set on a playful woman, poor
soul! And he fell into a trance. There's the old
things they had, those brown things -- silver
photographs -- still showing him as he lay, a gross and a
half years ago -- a gross and a half of years."
"Set on a playful woman, poor soul," said Graham
softly to himself, and then aloud, "Yes -- well! go on."
"You must know he had a cousin named Warming
a solitary man without children, who made a big fortune
speculating in roads -- the first Eadhamite roads.
But surely you've heard? No? Why? He bought
all the patent rights and made a big company. In
those days there were grosses of grosses of separate
businesses and business companies. Grosses of
grosses! His roads killed the railroads -- the old
things -- in two dozen years; he bought up and Eadhamited'
the tracks. And because he didn't want to
break up his great property or let in shareholders, he
left it all to the Sleeper, and put it under a Board of
Trustees that he had picked and trained. He knew
then the Sleeper wouldn't wake, that he would go on
sleeping, sleeping till he died. He knew that quite
well! And plump! a man in the United States, who
had lost two sons in a boat accident, followed that up
with another great bequest. His trustees found themselves
with a dozen myriads of lions'-worth or more
of property at the very beginning."
"What was his name?"
"No, I mean -- that American's."
"Isbister!" cried Graham. "Why, I don't even
know the name."
"Of course not," said the old man. "Of course not.
People don't learn much in the schools nowadays.
But I know all about him. He was a rich American
who went from England, and he left the Sleeper even
more than Warming. How he made it? That I don't
know. Something about pictures by machinery. But
he made it and left it, and so the Council had its start.
It was just a council of trustees at first."
"And how did it grow?"
"Eh! -- but you're not up to things. Money
attracts money -- and twelve brains are better than
one. They played it cleverly. They worked politics
with money, and kept on adding to the money by
working currency and tariffs. They grew -- they
grew. And for years the twelve trustees hid the
growing of the Sleeper's estate, under double names and
company titles and all that. The Council spread by
title deed, mortgage, share, every political party,
every newspaper, they bought. If you listen to the old
stories you will see the Council growing and growing
Billions and billions of lions at last -- the Sleeper's
estate. And all growing out of a whim -- out of this
Warming's will, and an accident to Isbister's sons.
"Men are strange," said the old man. "The strange,
thing to me is how the Council worked together so
long. As many as twelve. But they worked in cliques
from the first. And they've slipped back. In my
young days speaking of the Council was like an ignorant
man speaking of God. We didn't think they could
do wrong. We didn't know of their women and all
that! Or else I've got wiser.
"Men are strange," said the old man. "Here are
you, young and ignorant, and me -- sevendy years old,
and I might reasonably be forgetting -- explaining it
all to you short and clear.
"Sevendy," he said, "sevendy, and I hear and see --
hear better than I see. And reason clearly, and keep
myself up to all the happenings of things. Sevendy!
"Life is strange. I was twaindy before Ostrog was
a baby. I remember him long before he'd pushed his
way to the head of the Wind Vanes Control. I've
seen many changes. Eh! I've worn the blue. And at
last I've come to see this crush and darkness and
tumult and dead men carried by in heaps on the ways.
And all his doing! All his doing!"
His voice died away in scarcely articulate praises of
Graham thought. "Let me see," he said, "if I have
He extended a hand and ticked off points upon his
fingers. "The Sleeper has been asleep --"
"Changed," said the old man.
"Perhaps. And meanwhile the Sleeper's property
grew in the hands of Twelve Trustees, until it
swallowed up nearly all the great ownership of the
world. The Twelve Trustees -- by virtue of this property
have become virtually masters of the world.
Because they are the paying power -- just as the old
English Parliament used to be --"
"Eh!" said the old man. "That's so -- that's a
good comparison. You're not so --"
"And now this Ostrog -- has suddenly revolutionised
the world by waking the Sleeper -- whom no one
but the superstitious, common people had ever dreamt
would wake again -- raising the Sleeper to claim his
property from the Council, after all these years."
The old man endorsed this statement with a cough.
"It's strange," he said, "to meet a man who learns
these things for the first time tonight."
"Aye," said Graham, "it's strange."
"Have you been in a Pleasure City?" said the old
man. "All my life I've longed --" He laughed.
"Even now," he said, "I could enjoy a little fun.
Enjoy seeing things, anyhow. "He mumbled a
sentence Graham did not understand.
"The Sleeper -- when did he awake?" said Graham
"Three days ago."
"Where is he?"
"Ostrog has him. He escaped from the Council not
four hours ago. My dear sir, where were you at the
time? He was in the hall of the markets -- where the
fighting has been. All the city was screaming about
it. All the Babble Machines! Everywhere it was
shouted. Even the fools who speak for the Council
were admitting it. Everyone was rushing off to see
him -- everyone was getting arms. Were you drunk
or asleep? And even then! But you're joking!
Surely you're pretending. It was to stop the shouting
of the Babble Machines and prevent the people gathering
that they turned off the electricity -- and put this
damned darkness upon us. Do you mean to say -- ?"
"I had heard the Sleeper was rescued," said Graham.
"But -- to come back a minute. Are you sure
Ostrog has him?"
"He won't let him go," said the old man.
"And the Sleeper. Are you sure he is not genuine?
I have never heard --"
"So all the fools think. So they think. As if there
wasn't a thousand things that were never heard. I
know Ostrog too well for that. Did I tell you? In
a way I'm a sort of relation of Ostrog's. A sort of
relation. Through my daughter-in-law."
"I suppose --"
"I suppose there's no chance of this Sleeper asserting
himself. I suppose he's certain to be a puppet --
in Ostrog's hands or the Council's, as soon as the
struggle is over."
"In Ostrog's hands -- certainly. Why shouldn't he
be a puppet? Look at his position. Everything done
for him, every pleasure possible. Why should he want
to assert himself?"
"What are these Pleasure Cities?" said Graham,
The old man made him repeat the question. When
at last he was assured of Graham's words, he nudged
him violently. "That's too much," said he. "You're
poking fun at an old man. I've been suspecting you
know more than you pretend."
"Perhaps I do," said Graham. "But no! why
should I go on acting? No, I do not know what a
Pleasure City is."
The old man laughed in an intimate way.
"What is more, I do not know how to read your letters,
I do not know what money you use, I do not
know what foreign countries there are. I do not know
where I am. I cannot count. I do not know
where to get food, nor drink, nor shelter."
"Come, come," said the old man, "if you had a
glass of drink, now, would you put it in your ear or
"I want you to tell me all these things."
"He, he! Well, gentlemen who dress in silk must
have their fun." A withered hand caressed Graham's
arm for a moment." Silk. Well, well! But, all the
same, I wish I was the man who was put up as the
Sleeper. He'll have a fine time of it. All the pomp
and pleasure. He's a queer looking face. When they
used to let anyone go to see him, I've got tickets and
been. The image of the real one, as the photographs
show him, this substitute used to be. Yellow. But
he'll get fed up. It's a queer world. Think of the luck
of it. The luck of it. I expect he'll be sent to Capri.
It's the best fun for a greener."
His cough overtook him again. Then he began
mumbling enviously of pleasures and strange delights.
"The luck of it, the luck of it! All my life I've been in
London, hoping to get my chance."
"But you don't know that the Sleeper died," said
The old man made him repeat his words.
"Men don't live beyond ten dozen. It's not in the
order of things," said the old man. "I'm not a fool.
Fools may believe it, but not me."
Graham became angry with the old man's assurance.
"Whether you are a fool or not," he said, "it happens
you are wrong about the Sleeper."
"You are wrong about the Sleeper. I haven't told
you before, but I will tell you now. You are wrong
about the Sleeper."
"How do you know? I thought you didn't know
anything -- not even about Pleasure Cities."
"You don't know," said the old man. "How are
you to know? It's very few men --"
"I _am_ the Sleeper."
He had to repeat it.
There was a brief pause. "There's a silly thing to
say, sir, if you'll excuse me. It might get you into
trouble in a time like this," said the old man.
Graham, slightly dashed, repeated his assertion.
"I was saying I was the Sleeper. That years and
years ago I did, indeed, fall asleep, in a little
stonebuilt village, in the days when there were hedgerows,
and villages, and inns, and all the countryside cut up
into little pieces, little fields. Have you never heard
of those days? And it is I -- I who speak to you --
who awakened again these four days since."
"Four days since! -- the Sleeper! But they've got
the Sleeper. They have him and they won't let him
go. Nonsense! You've been talking sensibly enough
up to now. I can see it as though I was there. There
will be Lincoln like a keeper just behind him; they
won't let him go about alone. Trust them. You're a
queer fellow. One of these fun pokers. I see now why
you have been clipping your words so oddly, but --"
He stopped abruptly, and Graham could see his
"As if Ostrog would let the Sleeper run about
alone! No, you're telling that to the wrong man
altogether. Eh! as if I should believe. What's your
game? And besides, we've been talking of the
Graham stood up." Listen," he said. "I am the
"You're an odd man," said the old man, "to sit
here in the dark, talking clipped, and telling a lie of
that sort. But --"
Graham's exasperation fell to laughter. "It is
preposterous," he cried. "Preposterous. The dream
must end. It gets wilder and wilder. Here am I -- in
this damned twilight -- I never knew a dream in twilight
before -- an anachronism by two hundred years
and trying to persuade an old fool that I am myself,
and meanwhile -- Ugh!"
He moved in gusty irritation and went striding. In
a moment the old man was pursuing him. "Eh! but
don't go!" cried the old man. "I'm an old fool, I
know. Don't go. Don't leave me in all this darkness."
Graham hesitated, stopped. Suddenly the folly of
telling his secret flashed into his mind.
"I didn't mean to offend you -- disbelieving you,"
said the old man coming near. "It's no manner of
harm. Call yourself the Sleeper if it pleases you.
'Tis a foolish trick"
Graham hesitated, turned abruptly and went on his
For a time he heard the old man's hobbling pursuit
and his wheezy cries receding. But at last the darkness
swallowed him, and Graham saw him no more.
Graham could now take a clearer view of his position.
For a long time yet he wandered, but after the
talk of the old man his discovery of this Ostrog was
clear in his mind as the final inevitable decision. One
thing was evident, those who were at the headquarters
of the revolt had succeeded very admirably in
suppressing the fact of his disappearance. But every
moment he expected to hear the report of his death
or of his recapture by the Council.
Presently a man stopped before him. "Have you
heard?" he said.
"No!" said Graham starting.
"Near a dozand," said the man, "a dozand men!"
and hurried on.
A number of men and a girl passed in the darkness,
gesticulating and shouting: "Capitulated! Given
up!" A dozand of men." "Two dozand of men."
"Ostrog, Hurrah! Ostrog, Hurrah!" These cries
receded, became indistinct.
Other shouting men followed. For a time his attention
was absorbed in the fragments of speech he heard.
He had a doubt whether all were speaking English.
Scraps floated to him, scraps like Pigeon English, like
'nigger' dialect, blurred and mangled distortions. He
dared accost no one with questions. The
impression the people gave him jarred altogether with his
preconceptions of the struggle and confirmed the old
man's faith in Ostrog. It was only slowly he could
bring himself to believe that all these people were
rejoicing at the defeat of the Council, that the Council
which had pursued him with such power and vigour
was after all the weaker of the two sides in conflict.
And if that was so, how did it affect him? Several
times he hesitated on the verge of fundamental questions.
Once he turned and walked for a long way
after a little man of rotund inviting outline, but he
was unable to master confidence to address him.
It was only slowly that it came to him that he might
ask for the "wind-vane offices," whatever the
"wind-vane offices" might be. His first enquiry simply
resulted in a direction to go on towards Westminster.
His second led to the discovery of a short cut in which
he was speedily lost. He was told to leave the ways
to which he had hitherto confined himself knowing
no other means of transit -- and to plunge down one
of the middle staircases into the blackness of a
crossway. Thereupon came some trivial adventures; chief
of these an ambiguous encounter with a gruff-voiced
invisible creature speaking in a strange dialect that
seemed at first a strange tongue, a thick flow of speech
with the drifting corpses of English words therein,
the dialect of the latter-day vile. Then another voice
drew near, a girl's voice singing, "tralala tralala."
She spoke to Graham, her English touched with something
of the same quality. She professed to have lost
her sister, she blundered needlessly into him he
thought, caught hold of him and laughed. But a
word of vague remonstrance sent her into the unseen
The sounds about him increased. Stumbling people
passed him, speaking excitedly. "They have surrendered!"
"The Council! Surely not the Council!"
"They are saying so in the Ways." The passage
seemed wider. Suddenly the wall fell away. He was
in a great space and people were stirring remotely.
He inquired his way of an indistinct figure. "Strike
straight across," said a woman's voice. He left his
guiding wall, and in a moment had stumbled against
a little table on which were utensils of glass. Graham's
eyes, now attuned to darkness, made out a
long vista with pallid tables on either side. He went
down this. At one or two of the tables he heard a
clang of glass and a sound of eating. There were people
then cool enough to dine, or daring enough to
steal a meal in spite of social convulsion and darkness.
Far off and high up he presently saw a pallid
light of a semi-circular shape. As he approached this,
a black edge came up and hid it. He stumbled at
steps and found himself in a gallery. He heard a
sobbing, and found two scared little girls crouched
by a railing. These children became silent at the
near sound of feet. He tried to console them, but
they were very still until he left them. Then as he
receded he could hear them sobbing again.
Presently he found himself at the foot of a staircase
and near a wide opening. He saw a dim twilight
above this and ascended out of the blackness into a
street of moving Ways again. Along this a disorderly
swarm of people marched shouting. They were singing
snatches of the song of the revolt, most of them
out of tune. Here and there torches flared creating
brief hysterical shadows. He asked his way and was
twice puzzled by that same thick dialect. His third
attempt won an answer he could understand. He was
two miles from the wind-vane offices in Westminster,
but the way was easy to follow.
When at last he did approach the district of the
wind-vane offices it seemed to him, from the cheering
processions that came marching along the Ways, from
the tumult of rejoicing, and finally from the restoration
of the lighting of the city, that the overthrow of the
Council must already be accomplished. And still no
news of his absence came to his ears.
The re-illumination of the city came with startling
abruptness. Suddenly he stood blinking, all about
him men halted dazzled, and the world was incandescent.
The light found him already upon the outskirts
of the excited crowds that choked the Ways near
the wind-vane offices, and the sense of visibility and
exposure that came with it turned his colourless
intention of joining Ostrog to a keen anxiety.
For a time he was jostled, obstructed, and endangered
by men hoarse and weary with cheering his
name, some of them bandaged and bloody in his
cause. The frontage of the wind-vane offices was
illuminated by some moving picture, but what it was he
could not see, because in spite of his strenuous attempts
the density of the crowd prevented his approaching it.
From the fragments of speech he caught, he judged
it conveyed news of the fighting about the Council
House. Ignorance and indecision made him slow and
ineffective in his movements. For a time he could
not conceive how he was to get within the unbroken
facade of this place. He made his way slowly into
the midst of this mass of people, until he realised that
the descending staircase of the central Way led to the
interior of the buildings. This gave him a goal, but
the crowding in the central path was so dense that it
was long before he could reach it. And even then
he encountered intricate obstruction, and had an hour
of vivid argument first in this guard room and then
in that before he could get a note taken to the one
man of all men who was most eager to see him. His
story was laughed to scorn at one place, and wiser for
that, when at last he reached a second stairway he professed
simply to have news of extraordinary importance
for Ostrog. What it was he would not say.
They sent his note reluctantly. For a long time he
waited in a little room at the foot of the lift shaft, and
thither at last came Lincoln, eager, apologetic,
astonished. He stopped in the doorway scrutinising
Graham, then rushed forward effusively.
"Yes," he cried. "It is you. And you are not
Graham made a brief explanation.
"My brother is waiting," explained Lincoln. "He
is alone in the wind-vane offices. We feared you had
been killed in the theatre. He doubted -- and things
are very urgent still in spite of what we are telling
them _there_ -- or he would have come to you."
They ascended a lift, passed along a narrow passage,
crossed a great hall, empty save for two hurrying
messengers, and entered a comparatively little room, whose
only furniture was a long settee and a large oval disc
of cloudy, shifting grey, hung by cables from the wall.
There Lincoln left Graham for a space, and he
remained alone without understanding the shifting
smoky shapes that drove slowly across this disc.
His attention was arrested by a sound that began
abruptly. It was cheering, the frantic cheering of a
vast but very remote crowd, a roaring exultation.
This ended as sharply as it had begun, like a sound
heard between the opening and shutting of a door.
In the outer room was a noise of hurrying steps and
a melodious clinking as if a loose chain was running
over the teeth of a wheel.
Then he heard the voice of a woman, the rustle of
unseen garments. "It is Ostrog!" he heard her say.
A little bell rang fitfully, and then everything was still
Presently came voices, footsteps and movement
without. The footsteps of some one person detached
itself from the other sounds and drew near, firm,
evenly measured steps. The curtain lifted slowly. A
tall, white-haired man, clad in garments of cream
coloured silk, appeared, regarding Graham from under
his raised arm.
For a moment the white form remained holding the
curtain, then dropped it and stood before it. Graham's
first impression was of a very broad forehead, very
pale blue eyes deep sunken under white brows, an
aquiline nose, and a heavily-lined resolute mouth. The
folds of flesh over the eyes, the drooping of the
corners of the mouth contradicted the upright bearing,
and said the man was old. Graham rose to his feet
instinctively, and for a moment the two men stood
in silence, regarding each other.
"You are Ostrog?" said Graham.
"I am Ostrog."
"So I am called."
Graham felt the inconvenience of the silence. "I
have to thank you chiefly, I understand, for my safety,"
he said presently.
"We were afraid you were killed," said Ostrog.
"Or sent to sleep again -- for ever. We have been
doing everything to keep our secret -- the secret of
your disappearance. Where have you been? How
did you get here?"
Graham told him briefly.
Ostrog listened in silence.
He smiled faintly. "Do you know what I was
doing when they came to tell me you had come?"
"How can I guess?"
"Preparing your double."
"A man as like you as we could find. We were
going to hypnotise him, to save him the difficulty of
acting. It was imperative. The whole of this revolt
depends on the idea that you are awake, alive, and with
us. Even now a great multitude of people has gathered
in the theatre clamouring to see you. They do
not trust . . . You know, of course -- something
of your position?"
"Very little," said Graham.
"It is like this." Ostrog walked a pace or two
into the room and turned. "You are absolute owner,"
he said, "of more than half the world. As a result
of that you are practically King. Your powers are
limited in many intricate ways, but you are the figure
head, the popular symbol of government. This White
Council, the Council of Trustees as it is called"
"I have heard the vague outline of these things."
"I came upon a garrulous old man."
"I see . . . Our masses -- the word comes
from your days -- you know of course, that we still
have masses -- regard you as our actual ruler. Just
as a great number of people in your days regarded the
Crown as the ruler. They are discontented -- the
masses all over the earth -- with the rule of your
Trustees. For the most part it is the old discontent,
the old quarrel of the common man with his
commonness -- the misery of work and discipline and unfitness.
But your Trustees have ruled ill. In certain
matters, in the administration of the Labour Companies,
for example, they have been unwise. They
have given endless opportunities. Already we of the
popular party were agitating for reforms -- when your
waking came. Came! If it had been contrived it
could not have come more opportunity." He smiled.
"The public mind, making no allowance for your
years of quiescence, had already hit on the thought
of waking you and appealing to you, and -- Flash!"
He indicated the outbreak by a gesture, and Graham
moved his head to show that he understood.
"The Council muddled -- quarreled. They always
do. They could not decide what to do with you.
You know how they imprisoned you?"
"I see. I see. And now -- we win?"
"We win. Indeed we win. Tonight, in five swift
hours. Suddenly we struck everywhere. The windvane
people, the Labour Company and its millions,
burst the bonds. We got the pull of the aeropiles."
He paused. "Yes," said Graham, guessing that
aeropile meant flying machine.
"That was, of course, essential. Or they could
have got away. All the city rose, every third man
almost was in it! All the blue, all the public services,
save only just a few aeronauts and about half the red
police. You were rescued, and their own police of
the Ways -- not half of them could be massed at the
Council House -- have been broken up, disarmed or
killed. All London is ours -- now. Only the Council
"Half of those who remain to them of the red
police were lost in that foolish attempt to recapture
you. They lost their heads when they lost you. They
flung all they had at the theatre. We cut them off
from the Council House there. Truly tonight has
been a night of victory. Everywhere your star has
blazed. A day ago -- the White Council ruled as it
has ruled for a gross of years, for a century and a half
of years, and then, with only a little whispering, a
covert arming here and there, suddenly -- So!"
"I am very ignorant," said Graham. "I suppose -- .
I do not clearly understand the conditions
of this fighting. If you could explain. Where is the
Council? Where is the fight?"
Ostrog stepped across the room, something clicked,
and suddenly, save for an oval glow, they were in
darkness. For a moment Graham was puzzled.
Then he saw that the cloudy grey disc had taken
depth and colour, had assumed the appearance of an
oval window looking out upon a strange unfamiliar
At the first glance he was unable to guess what this
scene might be. It was a daylight scene, the daylight
of a wintry day, grey and clear. Across the picture
and halfway as it seemed between him and the remoter
view, a stout cable of twisted white wire stretched
vertically. Then he perceived that the rows of great
windwheels he saw, the wide intervals, the occasional
gulfs of darkness, were akin to those through which
he had fled from the Council House. He distinguished
an orderly file of red figures marching across an open
space between files of men in black, and realised before
Ostrog spoke that he was looking down on the upper
surface of latter-day London. The overnight snows
had gone. He judged that this mirror was some modern
replacement of the camera obscura, but that
matter was not explained to him. He saw that though
the file of red figures was trotting from left to right,
yet they were passing out of the picture to the left.
He wondered momentarily, and then saw that the
picture was passing slowly, panorama fashion, across
"In a moment you will see the fighting," said
Ostrog at his elbow. "Those fellows in red you
notice are prisoners. This is the roof space of
London -- all the houses are practically continuous now.
The streets and public squares are covered in. The
gaps and chasms of your time have disappeared."
Something out of focus obliterated half the picture.
Its form suggested a man. There was a gleam of
metal, a flash, something that swept across the oval,
as the eyelid of a bird sweeps across its eye, and the
picture was clear again. And now Graham beheld
men running down among the wind-wheels, pointing
weapons from which jetted out little smoky flashes.
They swarmed thicker and thicker to the right,
gesticulating -- it might be they were shouting, but of
that the picture told nothing. They and the
windwheels passed slowly and steadily across the field of
"Now," said Ostrog, "comes the Council House,"
and slowly a black edge crept into view and gathered
Graham's attention. Soon it was no longer an edge
but a cavity, a huge blackened space amidst the
clustering edifices, and from it thin spires of smoke rose
into the pallid winter sky. Gaunt ruinous masses of
the building, mighty truncated piers and girders, rose
dismally out of this cavernous darkness. And over
these vestiges of some splendid place, countless
minute men were clambering, leaping, swarming.
"This is the Council House," said Ostrog. "Their
last stronghold. And the fools wasted enough
ammunition to hold out for a month in blowing up the
buildings all about them -- to stop our attack. You
heard the smash? It shattered half the brittle glass
in the city."
And while he spoke, Graham saw that beyond this
sea of ruins, overhanging it and rising to a great
height, was a ragged mass of white building. This
mass had been isolated by the ruthless destruction of
its surroundings. Black gaps marked the passages
the disaster had torn apart; big halls had been slashed
open and the decoration of their interiors showed
dismally in the wintry dawn, and down the jagged wall
hung festoons of divided cables and twisted ends of
lines and metallic rods. And amidst all the vast
details moved little red specks, the red-clothed
defenders of the Council. Every now and then faint flashes
illuminated the bleak shadows. At the first sight it
seemed to Graham that an attack upon this isolated
white building was in progress, but then he perceived
that the party of the revolt was not advancing, but
sheltered amidst the colossal wreckage that encircled
this last ragged stronghold of the red-garbed men, was
keeping up a fitful firing.
And not ten hours ago he had stood beneath the
ventilating fans in a little chamber within that remote
building wondering what was happening in the world!
Looking more attentively as this warlike episode
moved silently across the centre of the mirror, Graham
saw that the white building was surrounded on
every side by ruins, and Ostrog proceeded to describe
in concise phrases how its defenders had sought by
such destruction to isolate themselves from a storm.
He spoke of the loss of men that huge downfall had
entailed in an indifferent tone. He indicated an
improvised mortuary among the wreckage showed
ambulances swarming like cheese-mites along a
ruinous groove that had once been a street of moving ways.
He was more interested in pointing out the parts of
the Council House, the distribution of the besiegers.
In a little while the civil contest that had convulsed
London was no longer a mystery to Graham. It was
no tumultuous revolt had occurred that night, no
equal warfare, but a splendidly organised _coup d'etat_.
Ostrog's grasp of details was astonishing; he seemed
to know the business of even the smallest knot of
black and red specks that crawled amidst these places.
He stretched a huge black arm across the luminous
picture, and showed the room whence Graham had
escaped, and across the chasm of ruins the course of
his flight. Graham recognised the gulf across which
the gutter ran, and the wind-wheels where he had
crouched from the flying machine. The rest of his
path had succumbed to the explosion. He looked
again at the Council House, and it was already half
hidden, and on the right a hillside with a cluster of
domes and pinnacles, hazy, dim and distant, was
gliding into view.
"And the Council is really overthrown?" he said.
"Overthrown," said Ostrog.
"And I -- . Is it indeed true that I?"
"You are Master of the World."
"But that white flag --"
"That is the flag of the Council -- the flag of the
Rule of the World. It will fall. The fight is over.
Their attack on the theatre was their last frantic
struggle. They have only a thousand men or so, and some
of these men will be disloyal. They have little
ammunition. And we are reviving the ancient arts. We are
"But -- help. Is this city the world?"
"Practically this is all they have left to them of
their empire. Abroad the cities have either revolted
with us or wait the issue. Your awakening has
perplexed them, paralysed them."
"But haven't the Council flying machines? Why
is there no fighting with them?"
"They had. But the greater part of the aeronauts
were in the revolt with us. They wouldn't take the
risk of fighting on our side, but they would not stir
against us. We had to get a pull with the aeronauts.
Quite half were with us, and the others knew it.
Directly they knew you had got away, those looking
for you dropped. We killed the man who shot at
you -- an hour ago. And we occupied the flying
stages at the outset in every city we could, and so
stopped and captured the airplanes, and as for the
little flying machines that turned out -- for some did --
we kept up too straight and steady a fire for them to
get near the Council House. If they dropped they
couldn't rise again, because there's no clear space
about there for them to get up. Several we have
smashed, several others have dropped and surrendered,
the rest have gone off to the Continent to find a
friendly city if they can before their fuel runs out.
Most of these men were only too glad to be taken
prisoner and kept out of harm's way. Upsetting in a
flying machine isn't a very attractive prospect. There's
no chance for the Council that way. Its days are
He laughed and turned to the oval reflection again
to show Graham what he meant by flying stages.
Even the four nearer ones were remote and obscured
by a thin morning haze. But Graham could perceive
they were very vast structures, judged even by the
standard of the things about them.
And then as these dim shapes passed to the left
there came again the sight of the expanse across which
the disarmed men in red had been marching. And
then the black ruins, and then again the beleaguered
white fastness of the Council. It appeared no longer
a ghostly pile, but glowing amber in the sunlight, for
a cloud shadow had passed. About it the pigmy
struggle still hung in suspense, but now the red
defenders were no longer firing.
So, in a dusky stillness, the man from the nineteenth
century saw the closing scene of the great
revolt, the forcible establishment of his rule. With a
quality of startling discovery it came to him that this
was his world, and not that other he had left behind;
that this was no spectacle to culminate and cease; that
in this world lay whatever life was still before him, lay
all his duties and dangers and responsibilities. He
turned with fresh questions. Ostrog began to answer
them, and then broke off abruptly. "But these things
I must explain more fully later. At present there are
-- duties. The people are coming by the moving
ways towards this ward from every part of the city --
the markets and theatres are densely crowded. You
are just in time for them. They are clamouring to
see you. And abroad they want to see you. Paris,
New York, Chicago, Denver, Capri -- thousands of
cities are up and in a tumult, undecided, and
clamouring to see you. They have clamoured that you should
be awakened for years, and now it is done they will
scarcely believe --"
But surely -- I can't go . . ."
Ostrog answered from the other side of the room, 1.
and the picture on the oval disc paled and vanished '
as the light jerked back again." There are
kinetotele-photographs," he said. "As you bow to the
people here -- all over the world myriads of myriads of
people, packed and still in darkened halls, will see you
also. In black and white, of course -- not like this.
And you will hear their shouts reinforcing the shouting
in the hall.
"And there is an optical contrivance we shall use,"
said Ostrog, "used by some of the posturers and
women dancers. It may be novel to you. You stand
in a very bright light, and they see not you but a
magnified image of you thrown on a screen -- so that
even the furtherest man in the remotest gallery can,
if he chooses, count your eyelashes."
Graham clutched desperately at one of the questions
in his mind. "What is the population of London?"
"Eight and twaindy myriads."
"Eight and what?"
"More than thirty-three millions."
These figures went beyond Graham's imagination
"You will be expected to say something," said
Ostrog. "Not what you used to call a Speech, but
what our people call a Word -- just one sentence, six
or seven words. Something formal. If I might
suggest -- ' I have awakened and my heart is with you.'
That is the sort of thing they want."
"What was that?" asked Graham.
"'I am awakened and my heart is with you.' And
bow -- bow royally. But first we must get you black
robes -- for black is your colour. Do you mind?
And then they will disperse to their homes."
Graham hesitated. "I am in your hands," he said.
Ostrog was clearly of that opinion. He thought
for a moment, turned to the curtain and called brief
directions to some unseen attendants. Almost immediately
a black robe, the very fellow of the black robe
Graham had worn in the theatre, was brought. And
as he threw it about his shoulders there came from
the room without the shrilling of a high-pitched bell.
Ostrog turned in interrogation to the attendant, then
suddenly seemed to change his mind, pulled the
curtain aside and disappeared.
For a moment Graham stood with the deferential
attendant listening to Ostrog's retreating steps.
There was a sound of quick question and answer and
of men running. The curtain was snatched back and
Ostrog reappeared, his massive face glowing with
excitement. He crossed the room in a stride, clicked
the room into darkness, gripped Grahams arm and
pointed to the mirror.
"Even as we turned away," he said.
Graham saw his index finger, black and colossal,
above the mirrored Council House. For a moment
he did not understand. And then he perceived that
the flagstaff that had carried the white banner was
"Do you mean -- ?" he began.
"The Council has surrendered. Its rule is at an
end for evermore."
"Look!" and Ostrog pointed to a coil of black that
crept in little jerks up the vacant flagstaff, unfolding
as it rose.
The oval picture paled as Lincoln pulled the curtain
aside and entered.
"They are clamourous," he said.
Ostrog kept his grip of Graham's arm.
"We have raised the people," he said. "We have
given them arms. For today at least their wishes
must be law."
Lincoln held the Curtain open for Graham and
Ostrog to pass through.
On his way to the markets Graham had a transitory
glance of a long narrow white-walled room in which
men in the universal blue canvas were carrying
covered things like biers, and about which men in medical
purple hurried to and fro. From this room came
groans and wailing. He had an impression of an
empty blood-stained couch, of men on other couches,
bandaged and blood-stained. It was just a glimpse
from a railed footway and then a buttress hid the place
and they were going on towards the markets.
The roar of the multitude was near now: it leapt to
thunder. And, arresting his attention, a fluttering of
black banners, the waving of blue canvas and brown
rags, and the swarming vastness of the theatre near
the public markets came into view down a long
passage. The picture opened out. He perceived they
were entering the great theatre of his first appearance,
the great theatre he had last seen as a chequer-work
of glare and blackness in his flight from the red police.
This time he entered it along a gallery at a level high
above the stage. The place was now brilliantly
lit again. He sought the gangway up which he had
fled, but he could not tell it from among its dozens of
fellows; nor could he see anything of the smashed
seats, deflated cushions, and such like traces of
the fight because of the density of the people. Except
the stage the whole place was closely packed. Looking
down the effect was a vast area of stippled pink,
each dot a still upturned face regarding him. At his
appearance with Ostrog the cheering died away, the
singing died away, a common interest stilled and
unified the disorder. It seemed as though every
individual of those myriads was watching him.
THE END OF THE OLD ORDER
So far as Graham was able to judge, it was near
midday when the white banner of the Council fell.
But some hours had to elapse before it was possible
to effect the formal capitulation, and so after he had
spoken his "Word" he retired to his new apartments
in the wind-vane offices. The continuous excitement
of the last twelve hours had left him inordinately
fatigued, even his curiosity was exhausted; for a space
he sat inert and passive with open eyes, and for a space
he slept. He was roused by two medical attendants,
come prepared with stimulants to sustain him through
the next occasion. After he had taken their drugs
and bathed by their advice in cold water, he felt a
rapid return of interest and energy, and was presently
able and willing to accompany Ostrog through several
miles (as it seemed) of passages, lifts, and slides to the
closing scene of the White Council's rule.
The way ran deviously through a maze of buildings.
They came at last to a passage that curved about, and
showed broadening before him an oblong opening,
clouds hot with sunset, and the ragged skyline of the
ruinous Council House. A tumult of shouts came
drifting up to him. In another moment they had come
out high up on the brow of the cliff of torn buildings
that overhung the wreckage. The vast area opened
to Graham's eyes, none the less strange and wonderful
for the remote view he had had of it in the oval mirror.
This rudely amphitheatral space seemed now the
better part of a mile to its outer edge. It was gold
lit on the left hand, catching the sunlight, and below
and to the right clear and cold in the shadow. Above
the shadowy grey Council House that stood in the
midst of it, the great black banner of the surrender
still hung in sluggish folds against the blazing sunset.
Severed rooms, halls and passages gaped strangely,
broken masses of metal projected dismally from the
complex wreckage, vast masses of twisted cable
dropped like tangled seaweed, and from its base came
a tumult of innumerable voices, violent concussions,
and the sound of trumpets. All about this great white
pile was a ring of desolation; the smashed and
blackened masses, the gaunt foundations and ruinous lumber
of the fabric that had been destroyed by the
Council's orders, skeletons of girders, Titanic masses of wall,
forests of stout pillars. Amongst the sombre wreckage
beneath, running water flashed and glistened, and
far away across the space, out of the midst of a vague
vast mass of buildings, there thrust the twisted end of
a water-main, two hundred feet in the air,
thunderously spouting a shining cascade. And everywhere
great multitudes of people.
Wherever there was space and foothold, people
swarmed, little people, small and minutely clear, except
where the sunset touched them to indistinguishable
gold. They clambered up the tottering walls, they
clung in wreaths and groups about the high-standing
pillars. They swarmed along the edges of the circle
of ruins. The air was full of their shouting, and
were pressing and swaying towards the central space.
The upper storeys of the Council House seemed
deserted, not a human being was visible. Only the
drooping banner of the surrender hung heavily against
the light. The dead were within the Council House,
or hidden by the swarming people, or carried away.
Graham could see only a few neglected bodies in gaps
and corners of the ruins, and amidst the flowing water.
"Will you let them see you, Sire?" said Ostrog.
"They are very anxious to see you."
Graham hesitated, and then walked forward to
where the broken verge of wall dropped sheer. He I
stood looking down, a lonely, tall, black figure against
Very slowly the swarming ruins became aware of
him. And as they did so little bands of black-uniformed
men appeared remotely, thrusting through the
crowds towards the Council House. He saw little
black heads become pink, looking at him, saw by that
means a wave of recognition sweep across the space.
It occurred to him that he should accord them some
recognition. He held up his arm, then pointed to the
Council House and dropped his hand. The voices
below became unanimous, gathered volume, came up
to him as multitudinous wavelets of cheering.
The western sky was a pallid bluish green, and
Jupiter shone high in the south, before the capitulation
was accomplished. Above was a slow insensible
change, the advance of night serene and beautiful;
below was hurry, excitement, conflicting orders,
pauses, spasmodic developments of organisation, a
vast ascending clamour and confusion. Before the
Council came out, toiling perspiring men, directed by
a conflict of shouts, carried forth hundreds of those
who had perished in the hand-to-hand conflict within
those long passages and chambers.
Guards in black lined the way that the Council
would come, and as far as the eye could reach into the
hazy blue twilight of the ruins, and swarming now at
every possible point in the captured Council House
and along the shattered cliff of its circumadjacent
buildings, were innumerable people, and their voices
even when they were not cheering, were as the soughing
of the sea upon a pebble beach. Ostrog had
chosen a huge commanding pile of crushed and overthrown
masonry, and on this a stage of timbers and
metal girders was being hastily constructed. Its
essential parts were complete, but humming and
clangorous machinery still glared fitfully in the
shadows beneath this temporary edifice.
The stage had a small higher portion on which
Graham stood with Ostrog and Lincoln close beside him,
a little in advance of a group of minor officers. A
broader lower stage surrounded this quarter deck, and
on this were the black-uniformed guards of the revolt
armed with the little green weapons whose very names
Graham still did not know. Those standing about
him perceived that his eyes wandered perpetually from
the swarming people in the twilight ruins about him
to the darkling mass of the White Council House,
whence the Trustees would presently come, and to
the gaunt cliffs of ruin that encircled him, and so back
to the people. The voices of the crowd swelled to a
He saw the Councillors first afar off in the glare of
one of the temporary lights that marked their path,
a little group of white figures blinking in a black
archway. In the Council House they had been in darkness.
He watched them approaching, drawing nearer
past first this blazing electric star and then that; the
minatory roar of the crowd over whom their power
had lasted for a hundred and fifty years marched along
beside them. As they drew still nearer their faces
came out weary, white and anxious. He saw
them blinking up through the glare about him and
Ostrog. He contrasted their strange cold looks in the
Hall of Atlas.. .. Presently he could recognise
several of them; the man who had rapped the table at
Howard, a burly man with a red beard, and one
delicate-featured, short, dark man with a peculiarly long
skull. He noted that two were whispering together
and looking behind him at Ostrog. Next there came
a tall, dark and handsome man, walking downcast.
Abruptly he glanced up, his eyes touched Graham for
a moment, and passed beyond him to Ostrog. The
way that had been made for them was so contrived that
they had to march past and curve about before they
came to the sloping path of planks that ascended to
the stage where their surrender was to be made.
"The Master, the Master! God and the Master,"
shouted the people." To hell with the Council!"
Graham looked at their multitudes, receding beyond
counting into a shouting haze, and then at Ostrog
beside him, white and steadfast and still. His eye
went again to the little group of White Councillors.
And then he looked up at the familiar quiet stars
overhead. The marvellous element in his fate was
suddenly vivid. Could that be his indeed, that little life
in his memory two hundred years gone by -- and this
FROM THE CROW'S NEST
And so after strange delays and through an avenue
of doubt and battle, this man from the nineteenth
century came at last to his position at the head of that
At first when he rose from the long deep sleep that
followed his rescue and the surrender of the Council,
he did not recognise his surroundings. By an effort
he gained a clue in his mind, and all that had
happened came back to him, at first with a quality of
insincerity like a story heard, like something read out
of a book. And even before his memories were clear,
the exultation of his escape, the wonder of his
prominence were back in his mind. He was owner of half
the world; Master of the Earth. This new great age
was in the completest sense his. He no longer hoped
to discover his experiences a dream; he became
anxious now to convince himself that they were real.
An obsequious valet assisted him to dress under the
direction of a dignified chief attendant, a little man
whose face proclaimed him Japanese, albeit he spoke
English like an Englishman. From the latter he
learnt something of the state of affairs. Already the
revolution was an accepted fact; already business was
being resumed throughout the city. Abroad the
downfall of the Council had been received for the most
part with delight. Nowhere was the Council popular,
and the thousand cities of Western America, after two
hundred years still jealous of New York, London, and
the East, had risen almost unanimously two days
before at the news of Graham's imprisonment. Paris
was fighting within itself. The rest of the world hung
While he was breaking his fast, the sound of a
telephone bell jetted from a corner, and his chief
attendant called his attention to the voice of Ostrog making
polite enquiries. Graham interrupted his refreshment
to reply. Very shortly Lincoln arrived, and Graham
at once expressed a strong desire to talk to people and
to be shown more of the new life that was opening
before him. Lincoln informed him that in three hours'
time a representative gathering of officials and their
wives would be held in the state apartments of the
wind-vane Chief. Graham's desire to traverse the
ways of the city was, however, at present impossible,
because of the enormous excitement of the people.
It was, however, quite possible for him to take a bird's
eye view of the city from the crow's nest of the
windvane keeper. To this accordingly Graham was
conducted by his attendant. Lincoln, with a graceful
compliment to the attendant, apologised for not
accompanying them, on account of the present
pressure of administrative work.
Higher even than the most gigantic wind-wheels
hung this crow's nest, a clear thousand feet above the
roofs, a little disc-shaped speck on a spear of metallic
filigree, cable stayed. To its summit Graham was
drawn in a little wire-hung cradle. Halfway down
the frail-seeming stem was a light gallery about which
hung a cluster of tubes -- minute they looked from
above -- rotating slowly on the ring of its outer rail.
These were the specula, _en rapport_ with the wind-vane
keeper's mirrors, in one of which Ostrog had shown
him the coming of his rule. His Japanese attendant
ascended before him and they spent nearly an hour
asking and answering questions.
It was a day full of the promise and quality of
spring. The touch of the wind warmed. The sky
was an intense blue and the vast expanse of London
shone dazzling under the morning sun. The air was
clear of smoke and haze, sweet as the air of a mountain
Save for the irregular oval of ruins about the House
of the Council and the black flag of the surrender that
fluttered there, the mighty city seen from above
showed few signs of the swift revolution that had, to
his imagination, in one night and one day, changed
the destinies of the world. A multitude of people still
swarmed over these ruins, and the huge openwork
stagings in the distance from which started in times of
peace the service of aeroplanes to the various great
cities of Europe and America, were also black with
the victors. Across a narrow way of planking raised
on trestles that crossed the ruins a crowd of workmen
were busy restoring the connection between the cables
and wires of the Council House and the rest of the
city, preparatory to the transfer thither of Ostrog's
headquarters from the Wind-Vane buildings.
For the rest the luminous expanse was undisturbed.
So vast was its serenity in comparison with the areas
of disturbance, that presently Graham, looking beyond
them, could almost forget the thousands of men lying
out of sight in the artificial glare within the
quasi-subterranean labyrinth, dead or dying of the overnight
wounds, forget the improvised wards with the hosts of
surgeons, nurses, and bearers feverishly busy, forget,
indeed,' all the wonder, consternation and novelty
under the electric lights. Down there in the hidden
ways of the anthill he knew that the revolution
triumphed, that black everywhere carried the day, black
favours, black banners, black festoons across the
streets. And out here, under the fresh sunlight,
beyond the crater of the fight, as if nothing had
happened to the earth, the forest of Wind Vanes that had
grown from one or two while the Council had ruled,
roared peacefully upon their incessant duty.
Far away, spiked, jagged and indented by the wind
vanes, the Surrey Hills rose blue and faint; to the
north and nearer, the sharp contours of Highgate and
Muswell Hill were similarly jagged. And all over the
countryside, he knew, on every crest and hill, where
once the hedges had interlaced, and cottages, churches,
inns, and farmhouses had nestled among their trees,
wind wheels similar to those he saw and bearing like
vast advertisements, gaunt and distinctive
symbols of the new age, cast their whirling shadows and
stored incessantly the energy that flowed away
incessantly through all the arteries of the city. And
underneath these wandered the countless flocks and herds
of the British Food Trust with their lonely guards and
Not a familiar outline anywhere broke the cluster
of gigantic shapes below. St. Paul's he knew
survived, and many of the old buildings in Westminster,
embedded out of sight, arched over and covered in
among the giant growths of this great age. The
Themes, too, made no fall and gleam of silver
to break the wilderness of the city; the thirsty
water mains drank up every drop of its waters
before they reached the walls. Its bed and estuary
scoured and sunken, was now a canal of sea water
and a race of grimy bargemen brought the heavy
materials of trade from the Pool thereby beneath the
very feet of the workers. Faint and dim in the
eastward between earth and sky hung the clustering masts
of the colossal shipping in the Pool. For all the
heavy traffic, for which there was no need of haste,
came in gigantic sailing ships from the ends of the
earth, and the heavy goods for which there was
urgency in mechanical ships of a smaller swifter sort.
And to the south over the hills, came vast aqueducts
with sea water for the sewers and in three separate
directions, ran pallid lines -- the roads, stippled with
moving grey specks. On the first occasion that offered
he was determined to go out and see these roads.
That would come after the flying ship he was presently
to try. His attendant officer described them as a pair
of gently curving surfaces a hundred yards wide, each
one for the traffic going in one direction, and made of
a substance called Eadhamite -- an artificial substance,
so far as he could gather, resembling toughened glass.
Along this shot a strange traffic of narrow rubber-shod
vehicles, great single wheels, two and four wheeled
vehicles, sweeping along at velocities of from one to
six miles a minute. Railroads had vanished; a few
embankments remained as rust-crowned trenches here
and there. Some few formed the cores of Eadhamite
Among the first things to strike his attention had
been the great fleets of advertisement balloons and
kites that receded in irregular vistas northward and
southward along the lines of the aeroplane journeys.
No aeroplanes were to be seen. Their passages had
ceased, and only one little-seeming aeropile circled
high in the blue distance above the Surrey Hills, an
unimpressive soaring speck.
A thing Graham had already learnt, and which he
found very hard to imagine, was that nearly all the
towns in the country, and almost all the villages, had
disappeared. Here and there only, he understood,
some gigantic hotel-like edifice stood amid square
miles of some single cultivation and preserved the
name of a town -- as Bournemouth, Wareham, or
Swanage. Yet the officer had speedily convinced him
how inevitable such a change had been. The old
order had dotted the country with farmhouses, and
every two or three miles was the ruling landlord's
estate, and the place of the inn and cobbler, the
grocer's shop and church -- the village. Every eight
miles or so was the country town, where lawyer, corn
merchant, wool-stapler, saddler, veterinary surgeon,
doctor, draper, milliner and so forth lived. Every
eight miles -- simply because that eight mile marketing
journey, four there and back, was as much as was
comfortable for the farmer. But directly the railways
came into play, and after them the light railways, and
all the swift new motor cars that had replaced waggons
and horses, and so soon as the high roads began to
be made of wood, and rubber, and Eadhamite, and
all sorts of elastic durable substances -- the necessity
of having such frequent market towns disappeared.
And the big towns grew. They drew the worker with
the gravitational force of seemingly endless work, the
employer with their suggestions of an infinite ocean of
And as the standard of comfort rose, as the complexity
of the mechanism of living increased life in
the country had become more and more costly, or
narrow and impossible. The disappearance of vicar
and squire, the extinction of the general practitioner
by the city specialist, had robbed the village of its last
touch of culture. After telephone, kinematograph
and phonograph had replaced newspaper, book,
schoolmaster, and letter, to live outside the range of
the electric cables was to live an isolated savage. In
the country were neither means of being clothed nor
fed (according to the refined conceptions of the time),
no efficient doctors for an emergency, no company
and no pursuits.
Moreover, mechanical appliances in agriculture
made one engineer the equivalent of thirty labourers.
So, inverting the condition of the city clerk in the
days when London was scarce inhabitable because of
the coaly foulness of its air, the labourers now came
hurrying by road or air to the city and its life and
delights at night to leave it again in the morning.
The city had swallowed up humanity; man had entered
upon a new stage in his development. First had come
the nomad, the hunter, then had followed the agriculturist
of the agricultural state, whose towns and cities
and ports were but the headquarters and markets of
the countryside. And now, logical consequence of
an epoch of invention, was this huge new aggregation
of men. Save London, there were only four other
cities in Britain -- Edinburgh, Portsmouth,
Manchester and Shrewsbury. Such things as these, simple
statements of fact though they were to contemporary
men, strained Graham's imagination to picture. And
when he glanced "over beyond there" at the strange
things that existed on the Continent, it failed him
He had a vision of city beyond city, cities on great
plains, cities beside great rivers, vast cities along the
sea margin, cities girdled by snowy mountains. Over
a great part of the earth the English tongue was
spoken; taken together with its Spanish American and
Hindoo and Negro and "Pidgin" dialects, it was the
everyday language of two-thirds of the people of the
earth. On the Continent, save as remote and curious
survivals, three other languages alone held sway --
German, which reached to Antioch and Genoa and
jostled Spanish-English at Gdiz, a Gallicised Russian
which met the Indian English in Persia and Kurdistan
and the "Pidgin" English in Pekin, and French still
clear and brilliant, the language of lucidity, which
shared the Mediterranean with the Indian English and
German and reached through a negro dialect to the
And everywhere now, through the city-set earth,
save in the administered "black belt" territories of
the tropics, the same cosmopolitan social organisation
prevailed, and everywhere from Pole to Equator his
property and his responsibilities extended. The whole
world was civilised; the whole world dwelt in cities;
the whole world was property. Over the British
Empire and throughout America his ownership was
scarcely disguised, Congress and Parliament were
usually regarded as antique, curious gatherings. And
even in the two Empires of Russia and Germany, the
influence of his wealth was conceivably of enormous
weight. There, of course, came problems -- possibilities,
but, uplifted as he was, even Russia and Germany
seemed sufficiently remote. And of the quality of the
black belt administration, and of what that might mean
for him he thought, after the fashion of his former
days, not at all. That it should hang like a threat over
the spacious vision before him could not enter his
nineteenth century mind. But his mind turned at once
from the scenery to the thought of a vanished dread.
"What of the yellow peril?" he asked and Asano made
him explain. The Chinese spectre had vanished.
Chinaman and European were at peace. The twentieth
century had discovered with reluctant certainty that
the average Chinaman was as civilised, more moral,
and far more intelligent than the average European
serf, and had repeated on a gigantic scale the
fraternisation of Scot and Englishman that happened in the
seventeenth century. As Asano put it; "They thought
it over. They found we were white men after all."
Graham turned again to the view and his thoughts
took a new direction.
Out of the dim south-west, glittering and strange,
voluptuous, and in some way terrible, shone those
Pleasure Cities, of which the kinematograph-phonograph
and the old man in the street had spoken.
Strange places reminiscent of the legendary Sybaris,
cities of art and beauty, mercenary art and mercenary
beauty, sterile wonderful cities of motion and music,
whither repaired all who profited by the fierce,
inglorious, economic struggle that went on in the glaring
Fierce he knew it was. How fierce he could judge
from the fact that these latter-day people referred back
to the England of the nineteenth century as the figure
of an idyllic easy-going life. He turned his eyes to
the scene immediately before him again, trying to
conceive the big factories of that intricate maze.
Northward he knew were the potters, makers not
only of earthenware and china, but of the kindred
pastes and compounds a subtler mineralogical
chemistry had devised; there were the makers of statuettes
and wall ornaments and much intricate furniture;
there too were the factories where feverishly
competitive authors devised their phonograph discourses and
advertisements and arranged the groupings and
developments for their perpetually startling and novel
kinematographic dramatic works. Thence, too, flashed
the world-wide messages, the world-wide falsehoods of
the news-tellers, the chargers of the telephonic
machines that had replaced the newspapers of the past.
To the westward beyond the smashed Council
House were the voluminous offices of municipal control
and government; and to the eastward, towards
the port, the trading quarters, the huge public markets,
the theatres, houses of resort, betting palaces, miles of
billiard saloons, baseball and football circuses, wild
beast rings and the innumerable temples of the
Christian and quasi-Christian sects, the Mahomedans,
Buddhists, Gnostics, Spook Worshippers, the Incubus
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