When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
Part 4 out of 6
Worshippers, the Furniture Worshippers, and so
forth; and to the south again a vast manufacture of
textiles, pickles, wines and condiments. And from
point to point tore the countless multitudes along the
roaring mechanical ways. A gigantic hive, of which
the winds were tireless servants, and the ceaseless
wind-vanes an appropriate crown and symbol.
He thought of the unprecedented population that
had been sucked up by this sponge of halls and
galleries -- the thirty-three million lives that were
playing out each its own brief ineffectual drama below
him, and the complacency that the brightness of the
day and the space and splendour of the view, and above
all the sense of his own importance had begotten,
dwindled and perished. Looking down from this
height over the city it became at last possible to
conceive this overwhelming multitude of thirty-three
millions, the reality of the responsibility he would take
upon himself, the vastness of the human Maelstrom
over which his slender kingship hung.
He tried to figure the individual life. It astonished
him to realise how little the common man had changed
in spite of the visible change in his conditions. Life
and property, indeed, were secure from violence almost
all over the world, zymotic diseases, bacterial diseases
of all sorts had practically vanished, everyone had a
sufficiency of food and clothing, was warmed in the
city ways and sheltered from the weather -- so much
the almost mechanical progress of science and the
physical organisation of society had accomplished.
But the crowd, he was already beginning to discover,
was a crowd still, helpless in the hands of demagogue
and organiser, individually cowardly, individually
swayed by appetite, collectively incalculable. The
memory of countless figures in pale blue canvas came
before his mind. Millions of such men and women
below him, he knew, had never been out of the city,
had never seen beyond the little round of unintelligent
grudging participation in the world's business, and
unintelligent dissatisfied sharing in its tawdrier
pleasures. He thought of the hopes of his vanished
contemporaries, and for a moment the dream of London
in Morris's quaint old _News from Nowhere_, and the
perfect land of Hudson's beautiful _Crystal Age_- appeared
before him in an atmosphere of infinite loss.
He thought of his own hopes.
For in the latter days of that passionate life that lay
now so far behind him, the conception of a free and
equal manhood had become a very real thing to him.
He had hoped, as indeed his age had hoped, rashly
taking it for granted, that the sacrifice of the many
to the few would some day cease, that a day was near
when every child born of woman should have a fair
and assured chance of happiness. And here, after two
hundred years, the same hope, still unfulfilled, cried
passionately through the city. After two hundred
years, he knew, greater than ever, grown with the city
to gigantic proportions, were poverty and helpless
labour and all the sorrows of his time.
Already he knew something of the history of the
intervening years. He had heard now of the moral
decay that had followed the collapse of supernatural
religion in the minds of ignoble man, the decline of
public honour, the ascendency of wealth. For men
who had lost their belief in God had still kept their
faith in property, and wealth ruled a venial world.
His Japanese attendant, Asano, in expounding the
political history of the intervening two centuries, drew
an apt image from a seed eaten by insect parasites.
First there is the original seed, ripening vigorously
enough. And then comes some insect and lays an egg
under the skin, and behold! in a little while the seed
is a hollow shape with an active grub inside that has
eaten out its substance. And then comes some secondary
parasite, some ichneumon fly, and lays an egg
within this grub, and behold! that, too, is a hollow
shape, and the new living thing is inside its predecessor's
skin which itself is snug within the seed coat.
And the seed coat still keeps its shape, most people
think it a seed still, and for all one knows it may still
think itself a seed, vigorous and alive. "Your
Victorian kingdom," said Asano, "was like that --
kingship with the heart eaten out. "The landowners --
the barons and gentry -- began ages ago with King
John; there were lapses, but they beheaded King
Charles, and ended practically with King George
mere husk of a king . . . the real power in the
hands of their parliament. But the Parliament -- the
organ of the land-holding tenant-ruling gentry -- did
not keep its power long. The change had already
come in the nineteenth century. The franchises had
been broadened until it included masses of ignorant
men, "urban myriads," who went in their featureless
thousands to vote together. And the natural
consequence of a swarming constituency is the rule of the
party organisation. Power was passing even in the
Victorian time to the party machinery, secret,
complex, and corrupt. Very speedily power was in the
hands of great men of business who financed the
machines. A time came when the real power and
interest of the Empire rested visibly between the two
party councils, ruling by newspapers and electoral
organisations -- two small groups of rich and able
men, working at first in opposition, then presently
There was a reaction of a genteel ineffectual sort.
There were numberless books in existence, Asano said,
to prove that -- the publication of some of them was
as early as Graham's sleep -- a whole literature of
reaction in fact. The party of the reaction seems to
have locked itself into its study and rebelled with
unflinching determination -- on paper. The urgent
necessity of either capturing or depriving the party
councils of power is a common suggestion underlying
all the thoughtful work of the early twentieth century,
both in America and England. In most of these
things America was a little earlier than England,
though both countries drove the same way.
That counter-revolution never came. It could
never organise and keep pure. There was not enough
of the old sentimentality, the old faith in righteousness,
left among men. Any organisation that became
big enough to influence the polls became complex
enough to be undermined, broken up, or bought outright
by capable rich men. Socialistic and Popular,
Reactionary and Purity Parties were all at last mere
Stock Exchange counters, selling their principles to
pay for their electioneering. And the great concern
of the rich was naturally to keep property intact, the
board clear for the game of trade. Just as the feudal
concern had been to keep the board clear for hunting
and war. The whole world was exploited, a battle
field of businesses; and financial convulsions, the
scourge of currency manipulation, tariff wars, made
more human misery during the twentieth century --
because the wretchedness was dreary life instead of
speedy death -- than had war, pestilence and famine, in
the darkest hours of earlier history.
His own part in the development of this time he
now knew clearly enough. Through the successive
phases in the development of this mechanical
civilisation, aiding and presently directing its development,
there had grown a new power, the Council, the board
of his trustees. At first it had been a mere chance
union of the millions of Isbister and Warming, a
mere property holding company, the creation of two
childless testators' whims, but the collective talent of
its first constitution had speedily guided it to a vast
influence, until by title deed, loan and share, under a
hundred disguises and pseudonyms it had ramified
through the fabric of the American and English
Wielding an enormous influence and patronage, the
Council had early assumed a political aspect; and in
its development it had continually used its wealth to
tip the beam of political decisions and its political
advantages to grasp yet more and more wealth. At
last the party organisations of two hemispheres were
in its hands; it became an inner council of political
control. Its last struggle was with the tacit alliance
of the great Jewish families. But these families were
linked only by a feeble sentiment, at any time
inheritance might fling a huge fragment of their resources to
a minor, a woman or a fool, marriages and legacies
alienated hundreds of thousands at one blow. The
Council had no such breach in its continuity.
Steadily, steadfastly it grew.
The original Council was not simply twelve men of
exceptional ability; they fused, it was a council of
genius. It struck boldly for riches, for political
influence, and the two subserved each other. With
amazing foresight it spent great sums of money on the
art of flying, holding that invention back against an
hour foreseen. It used the patent laws, and a thousand
half-legal expedients, to hamper all investigators
who refused to work with it. In the old days it never
missed a capable man. It paid his price. Its policy
in those days was vigorous -- unerring, and against it
as it grew steadily and incessantly was only the chaotic
selfish rule of the casually rich. In a hundred years
Graham had become almost exclusive owner of
Africa, of South America, of France, of London, of
England and all its influence -- for all practical
purposes, that is -- a power in North America -- then the
dominant power in America. The Council bought
and organised China, drilled Asia, crippled the Old
World empires, undermined them financially, fought
and defeated them.
And this spreading usurpation of the world was so
dexterously performed -- a proteus -- hundreds of
banks, companies, syndicates, masked the Council's
operations -- that it was already far advanced before
common men suspected the tyranny that had come.
The Council never hesitated, never faltered. Means of
communication, land, buildings, governments, municipalities,
the territorial companies of the tropics, every
human enterprise, it gathered greedily. And it drilled
and marshalled its men, its railway police, its roadway
police, its house guards, and drain and cable guards,
its hosts of land-workers. Their unions it did not
fight, but it undermined and betrayed and bought
them. It bought the world at last. And, finally, its
culminating stroke was the introduction of flying.
When the Council, in conflict with the workers in
some of its huge monopolies, did something flagrantly
illegal and that without even the ordinary civility of
bribery, the old Law, alarmed for the profits of its
complaisance, looked about it for weapons. But there
were no more armies, no fighting navies; the age of
Peace had' come. The only possible war ships were
the great steam vessels of the Council's Navigation
Trust. The police forces they controlled; the police of
the railways, of the ships, of their agricultural estates,
their time-keepers and order-keepers, outnumbered
the neglected little forces of the old country and
municipal organisations ten to one. And they produced
flying machines. There were men alive still who could
remember the last great debate in the London House
of Commons -- the legal party, the party against the
Council was in a minority, but it made a desperate
fight -- and how the members came crowding out upon
the terrace to see these great unfamiliar winged
shapes circling quietly overhead. The Council had
soared to its power. The last sham of a democracy
that had permitted unlimited irresponsible property
was at an end.
Within one hundred and fifty years of Graham's
falling asleep, his Council had thrown off its disguises and
ruled openly, supreme in his name. Elections had
become a cheerful formality, a septennial folly, an
ancient unmeaning custom; a social Parliament as
ineffectual as the convocation of the Established
Church in Victorian times assembled now and then;
and a legitimate King of England, disinherited,
drunken and witless, played foolishly in a second-rate
music-hall. So the magnificent dream of the nineteenth
century, the noble project of universal individual
liberty and universal happiness, touched by a
disease of honour, crippled by a superstition of
absolute property, crippled by the religious feuds that had
robbed the common citizens of education, robbed men
of standards of conduct, and brought the sanctions
of morality to utter contempt, had worked itself
out in the face of invention and ignoble enterprise,
first to a warring plutocracy, and finally to the
rule of a supreme plutocrat. His Council at last had
ceased even to trouble to have its decrees endorsed by
the constitutional authorities, and he a motionless,
sunken, yellow-skinned figure had lain, neither dead
nor living, recognisably and immediately Master of the
Earth. And awoke at last to find himself -- Master of
that inheritance! Awoke to stand under the cloudless
empty sky and gaze down upon the greatness of his
To what end had he awakened? Was this city, this
hive of hopeless toilers, the final refutation of his
ancient hopes? Or was the fire of liberty, the fire that
had blazed and waned in the years of his past life, still
smouldering below there? He thought of the stir and
impulse of the song of the revolution. Was that song
merely the trick of a demagogue, to be forgotten when
its purpose was served? Was the hope that still stirred
within him only the memory of abandoned things, the
vestige of a creed outworn? Or had it a wider meaning,
an import interwoven with the destiny of man?
To what end had he awakened, what was there for him
to do? Humanity was spread below him like a map.
He thought of the millions and millions of humanity
following each other unceasingly for ever out of the
darkness of non-existence into the darkness of death.
To what end? Aim there must be, but it transcended
his power of thought. He saw for the first time clearly
his own infinite littleness, saw stark and terrible the
tragic contrast of human strength and the craving of
the human heart. For that little while he knew himself
for the petty accident he was, and knew therewith the
greatness of his desire. And suddenly his littleness
was intolerable, his aspiration was intolerable, and
there came to him an irresistible impulse to pray. And
he prayed. He prayed vague, incoherent, contradictory
things, his soul strained up through time and
space and all the fleeting multitudinous confusion of
being, towards something -- he scarcely knew what --
towards something that could comprehend his striving
A man and a woman were far below on a roof space
to the southward enjoying the freshness of the morning
air. The man had brought out a perspective glass
to spy upon the Council House and he was showing
her how to use it. Presently their curiosity was satisfied,
they could see no traces of bloodshed from their
position, and after a survey of the empty sky she came
round to the crow's nest. And there she saw two little
black figures, so small it was hard to believe they were
men, one who watched and one who gesticulated with
hands outstretched to the silent emptiness of Heaven.
She handed the glass to the man. He looked and
"I believe it is the Master. Yes. I am sure. It is
He lowered the glass and looked at her. "Waving
his hands about almost as if he was praying. I wonder
what he is up to. Worshipping the sun? There
weren't Parses in this country in his time, were
He looked again. "He's stopped it now. It was a
chance attitude, I suppose." He put down the glass
and became meditative. "He won't have anything to
do but enjoy himself -- just enjoy himself. Ostrog will
boss the show of course. Ostrog will have to, because
of keeping all these Labourer fools in bounds. Them
and their song! And got it all by sleeping, dear eyes
-- just sleeping. It's a wonderful world."
The state apartments of the Wind Vane Keeper
would have seemed astonishingly intricate to Graham
had he entered them fresh from his nineteenth century
life, but already he was growing accustomed to the scale
of the new time. They can scarcely be described as
halls and rooms, seeing that a complicated system of
arches, bridges, passages and galleries divided and
united every part of the great space. He came out
through one of the now familiar sliding panels upon a.
plateau of landing at the head of a flight of very broad
and gentle steps, with men and women far more
brilliantly dressed than any he had hitherto seen
ascending and descending. From this position he
looked down a vista of intricate ornament in lustreless
white and mauve and purple, spanned by bridges that
seemed wrought of porcelain and filigree, and terminating
far off in a cloudy mystery of perforated screens.
Glancing upward, he saw tier above tier of ascending
galleries with faces looking down upon him. The
air was full of the babble of innumerable voices and of
a music that descended from above, a gay and exhilarating
music whose source he never discovered.
The central aisle was thick with people, but by no
means uncomfortably crowded; altogether that assembly
must have numbered many thousands. They were
brilliantly, even fantastically dressed, the men as
fancifully as the women, for the sobering influence of the
Puritan conception of dignity upon masculine dress
had long since passed away. The hair of the men, too,
though it was rarely worn long, was commonly curled
in a manner that suggested the barber, and baldness
had vanished from the earth. Frizzy straight-cut
masses that would have charmed Rossetti abounded,
and one gentleman, who was pointed out to Graham
under the mysterious title of an "amorist", wore his
hair in two becoming plaits a la Marguerite. The
pigtail was in evidence; it would seem that citizens of
Chinese extraction were no longer ashamed of their
race. There was little uniformity of fashion apparent
in the forms of clothing worn. The more shapely
men displayed their symmetry in trunk hose, and
here were puffs and slashes, and there a cloak
and there a robe. The fashions of the days of
Leo the Tenth were perhaps the prevailing influence,
but the aesthetic conceptions of the far east
were also patent. Masculine embonpoint, which,
in Victorian times, would have been subjected to the
tightly buttoned perils, the ruthless exaggeration of
tight-legged tight-armed evening dress, now formed
but the basis of a wealth of dignity and drooping folds.
Graceful slenderness abounded' also. To Graham, a
typically stiff man from a typically stiff period, not only
did these men seem altogether too graceful in person,
but altogether too expressive in their vividly
expressive faces. They gesticulated, they expressed surprise,
interest, amusement, above all, they expressed the
emotions excited in their minds by the ladies about
them with astonishing frankness. Even at the first
glance it was evident that women were in a great
The ladies in the company of these gentlemen displayed
in dress, bearing and manner alike, less
emphasis and more intricacy. Some affected a classical
simplicity of robing and subtlety of fold, after the
fashion of the First French Empire, and flashed
conquering arms and shoulders as Graham passed.
Others had closely-fitting dresses without seam or belt
at the waist, sometimes with long folds falling from the
shoulders. The delightful confidences of evening
dress had not been diminished by the passage of two
Everyone's movements seemed graceful. Graham
remarked to Lincoln that he saw men as Raphael's
cartoons walking, and Lincoln told him that the
attainment of an appropriate set of gestures was part of
every rich person's education. The Master's entry was
greeted with a sort of tittering applause, but these
people showed their distinguished manners by not
crowding upon him nor annoying him by any persistent
scrutiny, as he descended the steps towards the floor of
He had already learnt from Lincoln that these were
the leaders of existing London society; almost every
person there that night was either a powerful official
or the immediate connexion of a powerful official.
Many had returned from the European Pleasure Cities
expressly to welcome him. The aeronautic authorities,
whose defection had played a part in the overthrow
of the Council only second to Graham's were
very prominent, and so, too, was the Wind Vane Control.
Amongst others there were several of the more
prominent officers of the Food Trust; the controller of
the European Piggeries had a particularly melancholy
and interesting countenance and a daintily cynical
manner. A bishop in full canonicals passed athwart
Graham's vision, conversing with a gentleman dressed
exactly like the traditional Chaucer, including even the
"Who is that?" he asked almost involuntarily
"The Bishop of London," said Lincoln.
"No -- the other, I mean."
"He doesn't make poetry, of course. He's a cousin
of Wotton -- one of the Councillors. But he's one of
the Red Rose Royalists -- a delightful club -- and they
keep up the tradition of these things."
"Asano told me there was a King."
"The King doesn't belong. They had to expel him.
It's the Stuart blood, I suppose; but really --"
"Far too much."
Graham did not quite follow all this, but it seemed
part of the general inversion of the new age. He
bowed condescendingly to his first introduction. It
was evident that subtle distinctions of class prevailed
even in this assembly, that only to a small proportion
of the guests, to an inner group, did Lincoln consider
it appropriate to introduce him. This first introduction
was the Master Aeronaut, a man whose suntanned
face contrasted oddly with the delicate complexions
about him. Just at present his critical defection
from the Council made him a very important person indeed.
His manner contrasted very favourably, according
to Graham's ideas, with the general bearing. He
made a few commonplace remarks, assurances of
loyalty and frank inquiries about the Master's health.
His manner was breezy, his accent lacked the easy
staccato of latter-day English. He made it admirably
clear to Graham that he was a bluff "aerial dog" -- he
used that phrase -- that there was no nonsense about
him, that he was a thoroughly manly fellow and
old-fashioned at that, that he didn't profess to know much,
and that what he did not know was not worth knowing
He made a manly bow, ostentatiously free from obsequiousness
"I am glad to see that type endures," said Graham
"Phonographs and kinematographs," said Lincoln,
a little spitefully. "He has studied from the life."
Graham glanced at the burly form again. It was oddly
"As a matter of fact we bought him," said Lincoln.
"Partly. And partly he was afraid of Ostrog
Everything rested with him."
He turned sharply to introduce the
Surveyor-General of the Public School Trust. This person
was a willowy figure in a blue-grey academic gown, he
beamed down upon Graham through _pince-nez_ of a
Victorian pattern, and illustrated his remarks by
gestures of a beautifully manicured hand. Graham was
immediately interested in this gentleman's functions,
and asked him a number of singularly direct questions.
The Surveyor-General seemed quietly amused at the
Master's fundamental bluntness. He was a little
vague as to the monopoly of education his Company
possessed; it was done by contract with the syndicate
that ran the numerous London Municipalities, but he
waxed enthusiastic over educational progress since the
Victorian times. "We have conquered Cram," he
said, "completely conquered Cram -- there is not an
examination left in the world. Aren't you glad?"
"How do you get the work done?" asked Graham.
"We make it attractive -- as attractive as possible.
And if it does not attract then -- we let it go. We cover
an immense field."
He proceeded to details, and they had a lengthy
conversation. The Surveyor-General mentioned the
names of Pestalozzi and Froebel with profound
respect, although he displayed no intimacy with their
epoch-making works. Graham learnt that University
Extension still existed in a modified form. "There is
a certain type of girl, for example," said the
Surveyor-General, dilating with a sense of his usefulness, "with
a perfect passion for severe studies -- when they are not
too difficult you know. We cater for them by the
thousand. At this moment," he said with a
Napoleonic touch, "nearly five hundred phonographs
are lecturing in different parts of London on the
influence exercised by Plato and Swift on the love affairs
of Shelley, Hazlitt, and Burns. And afterwards they
write essays on the lectures, and the names in order of
merit are put in conspicuous places. You see how
your little germ has grown? The illiterate middle-class
of your days has quite passed away."
"About the public elementary schools," said
Graham. "Do you control them?"
The Surveyor-General did, "entirely." Now,
Graham, in his later democratic days, had taken a keen
interest in these and his questioning quickened. Certain
casual phrases that had fallen from the old man
with whom he had talked in the darkness recurred to
him. The Surveyor-General, in effect, endorsed the
old man's words. "We have abolished Cram," he
said, a phrase Graham was beginning to interpret as
the abolition of all sustained work. The Surveyor-General
became sentimental. "We try and make the
elementary schools very pleasant for the little
children. They will have to work so soon. Just a few
simple principles -- obedience -- industry."
"You teach them very little?"
"Why should we? It only leads to trouble and discontent.
We amuse them. Even as it is -- there are
troubles -- agitations. Where the labourers get the
ideas, one cannot tell. They tell one another. There
are socialistic dreams -- anarchy even! Agitators will
get to work among them. I take it -- I have always
taken it -- that my foremost duty is to fight against
popular discontent. Why should people be made
"I wonder," said Graham thoughtfully. "But there
are a great many things I want to know."
Lincoln, who had stood watching Graham's face
throughout the conversation, intervened. "There are
others," he said in an undertone.
The Surveyor-General of schools gesticulated himself
away. "Perhaps," said Lincoln, intercepting a
casual glance, "you would like to know some of these
The daughter of the Manager of the Piggeries of
the European Food Trust was a particularly charming
little person with red hair and animated blue eyes.
Lincoln left him awhile to converse with her, and she
displayed herself as quite an enthusiast for the "dear
old times," as she called them, that had seen the
beginning of his trance. As she talked she smiled, and her
eyes smiled in a manner that demanded reciprocity.
"I have tried," she said, "countless times -- to
imagine those old romantic days. And to you they
are memories. How strange and crowded the world
must seem to you! I have seen photographs and pictures
of the old times, the little isolated houses built of
bricks made out of burnt mud and all black with soot
from your fires, the railway bridges, the simple
advertisements, the solemn savage Puritanical men in
strange black coats and those tall hats of theirs, iron
railway trains on iron bridges overhead, horses and
cattle, and even dogs running half wild about the
streets. And suddenly, you have come into this!"
"Into this," said Graham.
"Out of your life -- out of all that was familiar."
"The old life was not a happy one," said Graham.
"I do not regret that."
She looked at him quickly. There was a brief pause.
She sighed encouragingly. "No?"
"No," said Graham. "It was a little life -- and
unmeaning. But this -- . We thought the world
complex and crowded and civilised enough. Yet I see
-- although in this world I am barely four days old --
looking back on my own time, that it was a queer,
barbaric time -- the mere beginning of this new order.
The mere beginning of this new order. You will find
it hard to understand how little I know."
"You may ask me what you like," she said, smiling
"Then tell me who these people are. I'm still very
much in the dark about them. It's puzzling. Are
there any Generals?"
"Men in hats and feathers?"
"Of course not. No. I suppose they are the men
who control the great public businesses. Who is that
distinguished looking man?"
"That? He's a most important officer. That is
Morden. He is managing director of the Antibilious
Pill Company. I have heard that his workers sometimes
turn out a myriad myriad pills a day in the
twenty-four hours. Fancy a myriad myriad!"
"A myriad myriad. No wonder he looks proud,"
said Graham. "Pills! What a wonderful time it is!
That man in purple?"
"He is not quite one of the inner circle, you know.
But we like him. He is really clever and very amusing.
He is one of the heads of the Medical Faculty of
our London University. All medical men, you know,
are shareholders in the Medical Faculty Company,
and wear that purple. You have to be -- to be qualified.
But of course, people who are paid by fees for
doing something --" She smiled away the social
pretensions of all such people.
"Are any of your great artists or authors here?"
"No authors. They are mostly such queer people --
and so preoccupied about themselves. And they
quarrel so dreadfully! They will fight, some of them, for
precedence on staircases! Dreadful isn't it? But I
think Wraysbury, the fashionable capillotomist, is
here. From Capri."
"Capillotomist," said Graham. "Ah! I remember.
An artist! Why not?"
"We have to cultivate him," she said apologetically.
"Our heads are in his hands." She smiled.
Graham hesitated at the invited compliment, but his
glance was expressive. "Have the arts grown with
the rest of civilised things?" he said. "Who are your
She looked at him doubtfully. Then laughed.
"For a moment," she said, "I thought you meant --"
She laughed again. "You mean, of course, those
good men you used to think so much of because they
could cover great spaces of canvas with oil-colours?
Great oblongs. And people used to put the things in
gilt frames and hang them up in rows in their square
rooms. We haven't any. People grew tired of that
sort of thing."
"But what did you think I meant?"
She put a finger significantly on a cheek whose glow
was above suspicion, and smiled and looked very arch
and pretty and inviting. "And here," and she
indicated her eyelid.
Graham had an adventurous moment. Then a
grotesque memory of a picture he had somewhere
seen of Uncle Toby and the Widow flashed across his
mind. An archaic shame came upon him. He
became acutely aware that he was visible to a great
number of interested people. "I see," he remarked
inadequately. He turned awkwardly away from her,
fascinating facility. He looked about him to meet a
number of eyes that immediately occupied themselves
with other things. Possibly he coloured a little.
"Who is that talking with the lady in saffron?" he
asked, avoiding her eyes.
The person in question he learnt was one of the
great organisers of the American theatres just fresh
from a gigantic production at Mexico. His face
reminded Graham of a bust of Caligula. Another
striking looking man was the Black Labour Master.
The phrase at the time made no deep impression, but
afterwards it recurred; -- the Black Labour Master?
The little lady, in no degree embarrassed, pointed out
to him a charming little woman as one of the
subsidiary wives of the Anglican Bishop of London. She
added encomiums on the episcopal courage -- hitherto
there had been a rule of clerical monogamy -- "neither
a natural nor an expedient condition of things. Why
should the natural development of the affections be
dwarfed and restricted because a man is a priest?"
"And, bye the bye," she added, "are you an
Anglican?" Graham was on the verge of hesitating
inquiries about the status of a "subsidiary wife,"
apparently an euphemistic phrase, when Lincoln's return
broke off this very suggestive and interesting conversation.
They crossed the aisle to where a tall man in
crimson, and two charming persons in Burmese costume
(as it seemed to him) awaited him diffidently.
From their civilities he passed to other presentations.
In a little while his multitudinous impressions
began to organise themselves into a general effect. At
first the glitter of the gathering had raised all the
democrat in Graham; he had felt hostile and satirical. But
it is not in human nature to resist an atmosphere of
courteous regard. Soon the music, the light, the play
of colours, the shining arms and shoulders about him,
the touch of hands, the transient interest of smiling
faces, the frothing sound of skillfully modulated voices,
the atmosphere of compliment, interest and respect,
had woven together into a fabric of indisputable pleasure.
Graham for a time forgot his spacious resolutions.
He gave way insensibly to the intoxication of
me position that was conceded him, his manner
became less conscious, more convincingly regal, his
feet walked assuredly, the black robe fell with a bolder
fold and pride ennobled his voice. After all this was
a brilliant interesting world.
His glance went approvingly over the shifting
colours of the people, it rested here and there in kindly
criticism upon a face. Presently it occurred to him
that he owed some apology to the charming little person
with the red hair and blue eyes. He felt guilty of
a clumsy snub. It was not princely to ignore her
advances, even if his policy necessitated their rejection.
He wondered if he should see her again. And
suddenly a little thing touched all the glamour of this
brilliant gathering and changed its quality.
He looked up and saw passing across a bridge of
porcelain and looking down upon him, a face that was
almost immediately hidden, the face of the girl he had
seen overnight in the little room beyond the theatre
after his escape from the Council. And she was looking
with much the same expression of curious expectation,
of uncertain intentness, upon his proceedings.
For the moment he did not remember when he had
seen her, and then with recognition came a vague
memory of the stirring emotions of their first
encounter. But the dancing web of melody about him kept
the air of that great marching song from his memory.
The lady to whom he was talking repeated her
remark, and Graham recalled himself to the
quasiregal flirtation upon which he was engaged.
But from that moment a vague restlessness, a feeling
that grew to dissatisfaction, came into his mind.
He was troubled as if by some half forgotten duty, by
the sense of things important slipping from him amidst
this light and brilliance. The attraction that these
bright ladies who crowded about him were beginning
to exercise ceased. He no longer made vague and
clumsy responses to the subtly amorous advances that
he was now assured were being made to him, and his
eyes wandered for another sight of that face that had
appealed so strongly to his sense of beauty. But he
did not see her again until he was awaiting Lincoln's
return to leave this assembly. In answer to his request
Lincoln had promised that an attempt should be made
to fly that afternoon, if the weather permitted. He had
gone to make certain necessary arrangements.
Graham was in one of the upper galleries in
conversation with a bright-eyed lady on the subject of
Eadhamite -- the subject was his choice and not hers.
He had interrupted her warm assurances of personal
devotion with a matter-of-fact inquiry. He found her,
as he had already found several other latter-day
women that night, less well informed than charming.
Suddenly, struggling against the eddying drift of
nearer melody, the song of the Revolt, the great song
he had heard in the Hall, hoarse and massive, came
beating down to him.
He glanced up startled, and perceived above him an
_oeil de boeuf_ through which this song had come, and
beyond, the upper courses of cable, the blue haze, and
the pendant fabric of the lights of the public ways. He
heard the song break into a tumult of voices and cease.
But now he perceived quite clearly the drone and
tumult of the moving platforms and a murmur of
many people. He had a vague persuasion that he
could not account for, a sort of instinctive feeling that
outside in the ways a huge crowd' must be watching
this place in which their Master amused himself. He
wondered what they might be thinking.
Though the song had stopped so abruptly, though
the special music of this gathering reasserted itself, the
motif of the marching song, once it had begun,
lingered in his mind.
The bright-eyed lady was still struggling with the
mysteries of Eadhamite when he perceived the girl he
had seen in the theatre again. She was coming now
along the gallery towards him; he saw her first before
she saw him. She was dressed in a faintly luminous
grey, her dark hair about her brows was like a cloud,
and as he saw her the cold light from the circular
opening into the ways fell upon her downcast face.
The lady in trouble about the Eadhamite saw the
change in his expression, and grasped her opportunity
to escape. Would you care to know that girl, Sire?"
she asked boldly. "She is Helen Wotton -- a niece of
Ostrog's. She knows a great many serious things.
She is one of the most serious persons alive. I am
sure you will like her."
In another moment Graham was talking to the girl,
and the bright-eyed lady had fluttered away.
"I remember you quite well," said Graham. "You
were in that little room. When all the people were
singing and beating time with their feet. Before I
walked across the Hall."
Her momentary embarrassment passed. She
looked up at him, and her face was steady. "It was
wonderful," she said, hesitated, and spoke with a
sudden effort. "All those people would have died for you,
Sire. Countless people did die for you that night."
Her face glowed. She glanced swiftly aside to see
that no other heard her words.
Lincoln appeared some way off along the gallery,
making his way through the press towards them. She
saw him and turned to Graham strangely eager, with
a swift change to confidence and intimacy. "Sire,"
she said quickly, "I cannot tell you now and here. But
the common people are very unhappy; they are
oppressed -- they are misgoverned. Do not forget the
people, who faced death -- death that you might live."
"I know nothing --" began Graham.
"I cannot tell you now."
Lincoln's face appeared close to them. He bowed
an apology to the girl.
"You find the new world pleasant, Sire?" asked
Lincoln, with smiling deference, and indicating the space
and splendour of the gathering by one comprehensive
gesture." At any rate, you find it changed."
"Yes," said Graham, "changed. And yet, after all,
not so greatly changed."
"Wait till you are in the air," said Lincoln. "The
wind has fallen; even now an aeropile awaits you."
The girl's attitude awaited dismissal.
Graham glanced at her face, was on the verge of a
question, found a warning in her expression, bowed to
her and turned to accompany Lincoln.
For a while, as Graham went through the passages
of the Wind-Vane offices with Lincoln, he was
preoccupied. But, by an effort, he attended to the things
which Lincoln was saying. Soon his preoccupation
vanished. Lincoln was talking of flying. Graham had
a strong desire to know more of this new human
attainment. He began to ply Lincoln with questions.
He had followed the crude beginnings of aerial
navigation very keenly in his previous life; he was
delighted to find the familiar names of Maxim and
Pilcher, Langley and Chanute, and, above all, of the aerial
proto-martyr Lillienthal, still honoured by men.
Even during his previous life two lines of investigation
had pointed clearly to two distinct types of
contrivance as possible, and both of these had been
realised. On the one hand was the great engine-driven
aeroplane, a double row of horizontal floats
with a big aerial screw behind, and on the other the
nimbler aeropile. The aeroplanes flew safely only in a
calm or moderate wind, and sudden storms, occurrences
that were now accurately predictable, rendered
them for all practical purposes useless. They were
built of enormous size -- the usual stretch of wing
being six hundred feet or more, and the length of the
fabric a thousand feet. They were for passenger
traffic alone. The lightly swung car they carried was
from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet in length.
It Was hung in a peculiar manner in order to minimise
the complex vibration that even a moderate wind produced,
and for the same reason the little seats within
the car -- each passenger remained seated during the
voyage -- were slung with great freedom of movement.
The starting of the mechanism was only possible
from a gigantic car on the rail of a specially
constructed stage. Graham had seen these vast stages,
the flying stages, from the crow's nest very well. Six
huge blank areas they were, with a giant "carrier"
stage on each.
The choice of descent was equally circumscribed, an
accurately plane surface being needed for safe grounding.
Apart from the destruction that would have been
caused by the descent of this great expanse of sail and
metal, and the impossibility of its rising again, the
concussion of an irregular surface, a tree-set hillside, for
instance, or an embankment, would be sufficient to
pierce or damage the framework, to smash the ribs of
the body, and perhaps kill those aboard.
At first Graham felt disappointed with these cumbersome
contrivances, but he speedily grasped the fact
that smaller machines would have been unremunerative,
for the simple reason that their carrying power
would be disproportionately diminished with diminished
size. Moreover, the huge size of these things
enabled them -- and it was a consideration of primary
importance -- to traverse the air at enormous speeds,
and so run no risks of unanticipated weather. The
briefest journey performed, that from London to
Paris, took about three-quarters of an hour, but the
velocity attained was not high; the leap to New York
occupied about two hours, and by timing oneself carefully
at the intermediate stations it was possible in
quiet weather to go around the world in a day.
The little aeropiles (as for no particular reason they
were distinctively called) were of an altogether
different type. Several of these were going to and fro in
the air. They were designed to carry only one or two
persons, and their manufacture and maintenance was
so costly as to render them the monopoly of the richer
sort of people. Their sails, which were brilliantly
coloured, consisted only of two pairs of lateral air
floats in the same plane, and of a screw behind. Their
small size rendered a descent in any open space neither
difficult nor disagreeable, and it was possible to attach
pneumatic wheels or even the ordinary motors for terrestrial
tragic to them, and so carry them to a convenient
starting place. They required a special sort of
swift car to throw them into the air, but such a car
was efficient in any open place clear of high buildings
or trees. Human aeronautics, Graham perceived,
were evidently still a long way behind the instinctive
gift of the albatross or the fly-catcher. One great
influence that might have brought the aeropile to a
more rapid perfection had been withheld; these
inventions had never been used in warfare. The last great
international struggle had occurred before the
usurpation of the Council.
The Flying Stages of London were collected
together in an irregular crescent on the southern side
of the river. They formed three groups of two each
and retained the names of ancient suburban hills or
villages. They were named in order, Roehampton,
Wimbledon Park, Streatham, Norwood, Blackheath,
and Shooter's Hill. They were uniform structures
rising high above the general roof surfaces. Each was
about four thousand yards long and a thousand broad,
and constructed of the compound of aluminium and
iron that had replaced iron in architecture. Their
higher tiers formed an openwork of girders through
which lifts and staircases ascended. The upper
surface was a uniform expanse, with portions -- the
starting carriers -- that could be raised and were then able
to run on very slightly inclined rails to the end of the
fabric. Save for any aeropiles or aeroplanes that were
in port these open surfaces were kept clear for arrivals.
During the adjustment of the aeroplanes it was the
custom for passengers to wait in the system of
theatres, restaurants, news-rooms, and places of pleasure
and indulgence of various sorts that interwove with the
prosperous shops below. This portion of London was
in consequence commonly the gayest of all its
districts, with something of the meretricious gaiety of a
seaport or city of hotels. And for those who took a
more serious view of aeronautics, the religious
quarters had flung out an attractive colony of devotional
chapels, while a host of brilliant medical establishments
competed to supply physical preparatives for the
journey. At various levels through the mass of chambers
and passages beneath these, ran, in addition to the
main moving ways of the city which laced and
gathered here, a complex system of special passages
and lifts and slides, for the convenient interchange of
people and luggage between stage and stage. And a
distinctive feature of the architecture of this section
was the ostentatious massiveness of the metal piers
and girders that everywhere broke the vistas and
spanned the halls and passages, crowding and twining
up to meet the weight of the stages and the weighty
impact of the aeroplanes overhead.
Graham went to the flying stages by the public ways.
He was accompanied by Asano, his Japanese attendant.
Lincoln was called away by Ostrog, who was
busy with his administrative concerns. A strong
guard of the Wind-Vane police awaited the Master
outside the Wind-Vane offices, and they cleared a
space for him on the upper moving platform. His
passage to the flying stages was unexpected,
nevertheless a considerable crowd gathered and followed
him to his destination. As he went along, he could
hear the people shouting his name, and saw numberless
men and women and children in blue come swarming
up the staircases in the central path, gesticulating
and shouting. He could not hear what they shouted.
He was struck again by the evident existence of a
vulgar dialect among the poor of the city. When at last
he descended, his guards were immediately surrounded
by a dense excited crowd. Afterwards it
occurred to him that some had attempted to reach him
with petitions. His guards cleared a passage for him
He found an aeropile in charge of an aeronaut
awaiting him on the westward stage. Seen close this
mechanism was no longer small. As it lay on its
launching carrier upon the wide expanse of the flying
stage, its aluminium body skeleton was as big as the
hull of a twenty-ton yacht. Its lateral supporting sails
braced and stayed with metal nerves almost like the
nerves of a bee's wing, and made of some sort of
glassy artificial membrane, cast their shadow over
many hundreds of square yards. The chairs for the
engineer and his passenger hung free to swing by a
complex tackle, within the protecting ribs of the
frame and well abaft the middle. The passenger's
chair was protected by a wind-guard and guarded
about with metallic rods carrying air cushions. It
could, if desired, be completely closed in, but Graham
was anxious for novel experiences, and desired that it
should be left open. The aeronaut sat behind a glass
that sheltered his face. The passenger could secure
himself firmly in his seat, and this was almost
unavoidable on landing, or he could move along by means of
a little rail and rod to a locker at the stem of the
machine, where his personal luggage, his wraps and
restoratives were placed, and which also with the seats,
served as a makeweight to the parts of the central
engine that projected to the propeller at the stern.
The engine was very simple in appearance. Asano,
pointing out the parts of this apparatus to him, told
him that, like the gas-engine of Victorian days, it was
of the explosive type, burning a small drop of a substance
called "fomile" at each stroke. It consisted
simply of reservoir and piston about the long fluted
crank of the propeller shaft. So much Graham saw of
The flying stage about him was empty save for
Asano and their suite of attendants. Directed by the
aeronaut he placed himself in his seat. He then drank
a mixture containing ergot -- a dose, he learnt, invariably
administered to those about to fly, and designed
to counteract the possible effect of diminished air
pressure upon the system. Having done so, he declared
himself ready for the journey. Asano took the empty
glass from him, stepped through the bars of the hull,
and stood below on the stage waving his hand.
Suddenly he seemed to slide along the stage to the right
The engine was beating, the propeller spinning, and
for a second the stage and the buildings beyond were
gliding swiftly and horizontally past Graham's eye;
then these things seemed to tilt up abruptly. He
gripped the little rods on either side of him
instinctively. He felt himself moving upward, heard the air
whistle over the top of the wind screen. The
propeller screw moved round with powerful rhythmic
impulses -- one, two, three, pause; one, two, three --
which the engineer controlled very delicately. The
machine began a quivering vibration that continued
throughout the flight, and the roof areas seemed
running away to starboard very quickly and growing
rapidly smaller. He looked from the face of the engineer
through the ribs of the machine. Looking sideways,
there was nothing very startling in what he saw
-- a rapid funicular railway might have given the same
sensations. He recognised the Council House and the
Highgate Ridge. And then he looked straight down
between his feet.
For a moment physical terror possessed him, a
passionate sense of insecurity. He held tight. For a
second or so he could not lift his eyes. Some hundred
feet or more sheer below him was one of the big
windvanes of south-west London, and beyond it the
southernmost flying stage crowded with little black dots.
These things seemed to be falling away from him.
For a second he had an impulse to pursue the earth.
He set his teeth, he lifted his eyes by a muscular effort,
and the moment of panic passed.
He remained for a space with his teeth set hard, his
eyes staring into the sky. Throb, throb, throb -- beat,
went the engine; throb, throb, throb, -- beat.
He gripped his bars tightly, glanced at the aeronaut,
and saw a smile upon his sun-tanned face. He smiled
in return -- perhaps a little artificially. "A little
strange at first," he shouted before he recalled his
dignity. But he dared not look down again for some
time. He stared over the aeronaut's head to where a
rim of vague blue horizon crept up the sky. For a
little while he could' not banish the thought of possible
accidents from his mind. Throb, throb, throb -- beat;
suppose some trivial screw went wrong in that
supporting engine! Suppose -- ! He made a grim
effort to dismiss all such suppositions. After a while
they did at least abandon the foreground of his
thoughts. And up he went steadily, higher and higher
into the clear air.
Once the mental shock of moving unsupported
through the air was over, his sensations ceased to be
unpleasant, became very speedily pleasurable. He had
been warned of air sickness. But he found the
pulsating movement of the aeropile as it drove up the faint
south-west breeze was very little in excess of the
pitching of a boat head on to broad rollers in a moderate
gale, and he was constitutionally a good sailor. And
the keenness of the more rarefied air into which they
ascended produced a sense of lightness and exhilaration.
He looked up and saw the blue sky above
fretted with cirrus clouds. His eye came cautiously
down through the ribs and bars to a shining flight of
white birds that hung in the lower sky. For a space
he watched these. Then going lower and less apprehensively,
he saw the slender figure of the Wind-Vane
keeper's crow's nest shining golden in the sunlight and
growing smaller every moment. As his eye fell with
more confidence now, there came a blue line of hills,
and then London, already to leeward, an intricate
space of roofing. Its near edge came sharp and clear,
and banished his last apprehensions in a shock of surprise.
For the boundary of London was like a wall,
like a cliff, a steep fall of three or four hundred feet, a
frontage broken only by terraces here and there, a
complex decorative facade.
That gradual passage of town into country through
an extensive sponge of suburbs, which was so
characteristic a feature of the great cities of the nineteenth
century, existed no longer. Nothing remained of it
but a waste of ruins here, variegated and dense with
thickets of the heterogeneous growths that had once
adorned the gardens of the belt, interspersed among
levelled brown patches of sown ground, and verdant
stretches of winter greens. The latter even spread
among the vestiges of houses. But for the most part
the reefs and skerries of ruins, the wreckage of
suburban villas, stood among their streets and roads, queer
islands amidst the levelled expanses of green and
brown, abandoned indeed by the inhabitants years
since, but too substantial, it seemed', to be cleared out
of the way of the wholesale horticultural mechanisms
of the time.
The vegetation of this waste undulated and frothed
amidst the countless cells of crumbling house walls,
and broke along the foot of the city wall in a surf of
bramble and holly and ivy and teazle and tall grasses.
Here and there gaudy pleasure palaces towered amidst
the puny remains of Victorian times, and cable ways
slanted to them from the city. That winter day they
seemed deserted. Deserted, too, were the artificial
gardens among the ruins. The city limits were indeed
as sharply defined as in the ancient days when the
gates were shut at nightfall and the robber foreman
prowled to the very walls. A huge semi-circular throat
poured out a vigorous traffic upon the Eadhamite
Bath Road. So the first prospect of the world beyond
the city flashed on Graham, and dwindled. And when
at last he could look vertically downward again, he
saw below him the vegetable fields of the Thames
valley -- innumerable minute oblongs of ruddy brown,
intersected by shining threads, the sewage ditches.
His exhilaration increased rapidly, became a sort of
intoxication. He found himself drawing deep breaths
of air, laughing aloud, desiring to shout. After a time
that desire became too strong for him, and he shouted.
The machine had now risen as high as was customary
with aeropiles, and they began to curve about
towards the south. Steering, Graham perceived, was
effected by the opening or closing of one or two thin
strips of membrane in one or other of the otherwise
rigid wings, and by the movement of the whole engine
backward or forward along its supports. The
aeronaut set the engine gliding slowly forward along its
rail and opened the valve of the leeward wing until the
stem of the aeropile was horizontal and pointing
southward. And in that direction they drove with a slight
list to leeward, and with a slow alternation of
movement, first a short, sharp ascent and' then a long
downward glide that was very swift and pleasing.
During these downward glides the propellor was
inactive altogether. These ascents gave Graham a
glorious sense of successful effort; the descents
through the rarefied air were beyond all experience.
He wanted never to leave the upper air again.
For a time he was intent upon the minute details of
the landscape that ran swiftly northward beneath him.
Its minute, clear detail pleased him exceedingly. He
was impressed by the ruin of the houses that had once
dotted the country, by the vast treeless expanse of
country from which all farms and villages had gone,
save for crumbling ruins. He had known the thing
was so, but seeing it so was an altogether different
matter. He tried to make out places he had known
within the hollow basin of the world below, but at first
he could distinguish no data now that the Thames valley
was left behind. Soon, however, they were driving over
a sharp chalk hill that he recognised as the Guildford
Hog's Back, because of the familiar outline of the
gorge at its eastward end, and because of the ruins of
the town that rose steeply on either lip of this gorge.
And from that he made out other points, Leith Hill,
the sandy wastes of Aldershot, and so forth. The
Downs escarpment was set with gigantic slow-moving
wind-wheels. Save where the broad Eadhamite
Portsmouth Road, thickly dotted with rushing shapes,
followed the course of the old railway, the gorge of the
Wey was choked with thickets.
The whole expanse of the Downs escarpment, so far
as the grey haze permitted him to see, was set with
wind-wheels to which the largest of the city was but a
younger brother. They stirred with a stately motion
before the south-west wind. And here and there were
patches dotted with the sheep of the British Food
Trust, and here and there a mounted shepherd made a
spot of black. Then rushing under the stern of the
aeropile came the Wealden Heights, the line of
Hindhead, Pitch Hill, and Leith Hill, with a second row of
wind-wheels that seemed striving to rob the downland
whirlers of their share of breeze. The purple heather
was speckled with yellow gorse, and on the further
side a drove of black oxen stampeded before a
couple of mounted men. Swiftly these swept behind,
and dwindled and lost colour, and became scarce
moving specks that were swallowed up in haze.
And when these had vanished in the distance
Graham heard a peewit wailing close at hand. He
perceived he was now above the South Downs,
and staring over his shoulder saw the battlements
of Portsmouth Landing Stage towering over the
ridge of Portsdown Hill. In another moment there
came into sight a spread of shipping like floating
cities, the little white cliffs of the Needles dwarfed and
sunlit, and the grey and glittering waters of the narrow
sea. They seemed to leap the Solent in a moment,
and in a few seconds the Isle of Wight was running
past, and then beneath him spread a wider and wide
extent of sea, here purple with the shadow of a cloud,
here grey, here a burnished mirror, and here a spread
of cloudy greenish blue. The Isle of Wight grew
smaller and smaller. In a few more minutes a strip of
grey haze detached itself from other strips that were
clouds, descended out of the sky and became a coastline
-- sunlit and pleasant -- the coast of northern
France. It rose, it took colour, became definite and
detailed, and the counterpart of the Downland of
England was speeding by below.
In a little time, as it seemed, Paris came above the
horizon, and hung there for a space, and sank out of
sight again as the aeropile circled about to the north
again. But he perceived the Eiffel Tower still
standing, and beside it a huge dome surmounted by a
pinpoint Colossus. And he perceived, too, though he did
not understand it at the time, a slanting drift of smoke.
The aeronaut said something about "trouble in the
underways," that Graham did not heed at the time.
But he marked the minarets and towers and slender
masses that streamed skyward above the city
windvanes, and knew that in the matter of grace at least
Paris still kept in front of her larger rival. And even
as he looked a pale blue shape ascended very swiftly
from the city like a dead leaf driving up before a gale.
It curved round and soared towards them growing
rapidly larger and larger. The aeronaut was saying
something. "What?" said Graham, loath to take his
eyes from this. "Aeroplane, Sire," bawled the
They rose and curved about northward as it drew
nearer. Nearer it came and nearer, larger and larger.
The throb, throb, throb -- beat, of the aeropile's
flight, that had seemed so potent and so swift,
suddenly appeared slow by comparison with this
tremendous rush. How great the monster seemed, how
swift and steady! It passed quite closely beneath
them, driving along silently, a vast spread of
wirenetted translucent wings, a thing alive. Graham had a
momentary glimpse of the rows and rows of wrapped-up
passengers, slung in their little cradles behind
wind-screens, of a white-clothed engineer crawling
against the gale along a ladder way, of spouting
engines beating together, of the whirling wind screw,
and of a wide waste of wing. He exulted in the sight.
And in an instant the thing had passed.
It rose slightly and their own little wings swayed
in the rush of its flight. It fell and grew smaller.
Scarcely had they moved, as it seemed, before it was
again only a flat blue thing that dwindled in the sky.
This was the aeroplane that went to and fro between
London and Paris. In fair weather and in peaceful
times it came and went four times a day.
They beat across the Channel, slowly as it seemed
now, to Graham's enlarged ideas, and Beachy Head
rose greyly to the left of them.
"Land," called the aeronaut, his voice small against
the whistling of the air over the wind-screen.
"Not yet," bawled Graham, laughing. "Not land
yet. I want to learn more of this machine."
"I meant --" said the aeronaut.
"I want to learn more of this machine," repeated
"I'm coming to you," he said, and had flung himself
free of his chair and taken a step along the guarded
rail between them. He stopped for a moment, and
his colour changed and his hands tightened. Another
step and he was clinging close to the aeronaut. He
felt a weight on his shoulder, the pressure of the air.
His hat was a whirling speck behind. The wind came
in gusts over his wind-screen and blew his hair in
streamers past his cheek. The aeronaut made some
hasty adjustments for the shifting of the centres of
gravity and pressure.
"I want to have these things explained," said
Graham." What do you do when you move that engine
The aeronaut hesitated. Then he answered, "They
are complex, Sire."
"I don't mind," shouted Graham. "I don't mind."
There was a moment's pause." Aeronautics is the
secret -- the privilege --"
"I know. But I'm the Master, and I mean to
know." He laughed, full of this novel realisation of
power that was his gift from the upper air.
The aeropile curved about, and the keen fresh wind
cut across Graham's face and his garment lugged at
his body as the stem pointed round to the west. The
two men looked into each other's eyes.
"Sire, there are rules --"
"Not where I am concerned," said Graham. "You
seem to forget."
The aeronaut scrutinised his face. "No," he said.
"I do not forget, Sire. But in all the earth -- no man
who is not a sworn aeronaut -- has ever a chance.
They come as passengers --"
"I have heard something of the sort. But I'm not
going to argue these points. Do you know why I
have slept two hundred years? To fly!"
"Sire," said the aeronaut, "the rules -- if I break
the rules --"
Graham waved the penalties aside.
"Then if you will watch me --"
"No," said Graham, swaying and gripping tight as
the machine lifted its nose again for an ascent.
"That's not my game. I want to do it myself. Do
it myself if I smash for it! No! I will. See. I am
going to clamber by this to come and share your
seat. Steady! I mean to fly of my own accord if
I smash at the end of it. I will have something to pay
for my sleep. Of all other things -- . In my past it
was my dream to fly. Now -- keep your balance."
"A dozen spies are watching me, Sire!"
Graham's temper was at end. Perhaps he chose it
should be. He swore. He swung himself round the
intervening mass of levers and the aeropile swayed.
"Am I Master of the earth?" he said. "Or is your
Society? Now. Take your hands off those levers,
and hold my wrists. Yes -- so. And now, how do
we turn her nose down to the glide?"
"Sire," said the aeronaut.
"What is it?"
"You will protect me?"
"Lord! Yes! If I have to burn London. Now!"
And with that promise Graham bought his first lesson
in aerial navigation. "It's clearly to your advantage,
this journey," he said with a loud laugh -- for the air
was like strong wine -- "to teach me quickly and well.
Do I pull this? Ah! So! Hullo!"
"Back, Sire! Back!"
"Back -- right. One -- two -- three -- good
God! Ah! Up she goes! But this is living!"
And now the machine began to dance the strangest
figures in the air. Now it would sweep round a spiral
of scarcely a hundred yards diameter, now it would
rush up into the air and swoop down again, steeply,
swiftly, falling like a hawk, to recover in a rushing loop
that swept it high again. In one of these descents
it seemed driving straight at the drifting park of
balloons in the southeast, and only curved about and
cleared them by a sudden recovery of dexterity. The
extraordinary swiftness and smoothness of the motion,
the extraordinary effect of the rarefied air upon his
constitution, threw Graham into a careless fury.
But at last a queer incident came to sober him, to
send him flying down once more to the crowded life
below with all its dark insoluble riddles. As he
swooped, came a tap and something flying past, and
a drop like a drop of rain. Then as he went on down
he saw something like a white rag whirling down in
his wake. "What was that?" he asked. "I did not
The aeronaut glanced, and then clutched at the
lever to recover, for they were sweeping down. When
the aeropile was rising again he drew a deep breath
and replied. "That," and he indicated the white
thing still fluttering down, "was a swan."
"I never saw it," said Graham.
The aeronaut made no answer, and Graham saw
little drops upon his forehead.
They drove horizontally while Graham clambered
back to the passenger's place out of the lash of the
wind. And then came a swift rush down, with the
wind-screw whirling to check their fall, and the flying
stage growing broad and dark before them. The sun,
sinking over the chalk hills in the west, fell with them,
and left the sky a blaze of gold.
Soon men could be seen as little specks. He heard
a noise coming up to meet him, a noise like the sound
of waves upon a pebbly beach, and saw that the roofs
about the flying stage were dark with his people
rejoicing over his safe return. A dark mass was
crushed together under the stage, a darkness stippled
with innumerable faces, and quivering with the minute
oscillation of waved white handkerchiefs and waving
Lincoln awaited Graham in an apartment beneath
the flying stages. He seemed curious to learn all that
had happened, pleased to hear of the extraordinary
delight and interest which Graham took in flying
Graham was in a mood of enthusiasm. "I must learn
to fly," he cried. "I must master that. I pity all poor
souls who have died without this opportunity. The
sweet swift air! It is the most wonderful experience
in the world."
"You will find our new times full of wonderful
experiences," said Lincoln. "I do not know what you
will care to do now. We have music that may seem
"For the present," said Graham, "flying holds me.
Let me learn more of that. Your aeronaut was saying
there is some trades union objection to one's learning."
"There is, I believe," said Lincoln. "But for
you -- ! If you would' like to occupy yourself with
that, we can make you a sworn aeronaut tomorrow."
Graham expressed his wishes vividly and talked of
his sensations for a while. "And as for affairs," he
asked abruptly. "How are things going on?"
Lincoln waved affairs aside. "Ostrog will tell you
that tomorrow," he said. "Everything is settling
down. The Revolution accomplishes itself all over
the world. Friction is inevitable here and there, of
course; but your rule is assured. You may rest secure
with things in Ostrog's hands."
"Would it be possible for me to be made a sworn
aeronaut, as you call it, forthwith -- before I sleep?"
said Graham, pacing. "Then I could be at it the very
first thing tomorrow again.
"It would be possible," said Lincoln thoughtfully.
"Quite possible. Indeed, it shall be done." He
laughed." I came prepared to suggest amusements,
but you have found one for yourself. I will telephone
to the aeronautical offices from here and we will return
to your apartments in the Wind-Vane Control. By
the time you have dined the aeronauts will be able to
come. You don't think that after you have dined, you
might prefer -- ?" He paused.
"Yes," said Graham.
"We had prepared a show of dancers -- they have
been brought from the Capri theatre."
"I hate ballets," said Graham, shortly. "Always
did. That other -- . That's not what I want to see.
We had dancers in the old days. For the matter of
that, they had them in ancient Egypt. But flying --"
"True," said Lincoln. "Though our dancers --"
"They can afford to wait," said Graham; "they can
afford to wait. I know. I'm not a Latin. There's
questions I want to ask some expert -- about your
machinery. I'm keen. I want no distractions."
"You have the world to choose from," said Lincoln;
"whatever you want is yours."
Asano appeared, and under the escort of a strong
guard they returned through the city streets to
Graham's apartments. Far larger crowds had assembled to
witness his return than his departure had gathered, and
the shouts and cheering of these masses of people
sometimes drowned Lincoln's answers to the endless
questions Graham's aerial journey had suggested. At
first Graham had acknowledged the cheering and cries
of the crowd by bows and gestures, but Lincoln
warned him that such a recognition would be
considered incorrect behaviour. Graham, already a little
wearied by rhythmic civilities, ignored his subjects for
the remainder of his public progress.
Directly they arrived at his apartments Asano departed
in search of kinematographic renderings of
machinery in motion, and Lincoln despatched Graham's
commands for models of machines and small
machines to illustrate the various mechanical advances
of the last two centuries. The little group of
appliances for telegraphic communication attracted the
Master so strongly that his delightfully prepared
dinner, served by a number of charmingly dexterous
girls, waited for a space. The habit of smoking had
almost ceased from the face of the earth, but when he
expressed a wish for that indulgence, inquiries were
made and some excellent cigars were discovered in
Florida, and sent to him by pneumatic dispatch while
the dinner was still in progress. Afterwards came the
aeronauts, and a feast of ingenious wonders in the
hands of a latter-day engineer. For the time, at any
rate, the neat dexterity of counting and numbering
machines, building machines, spinning engines, patent
doorways, explosive motors, grain and water elevators,
slaughter-house machines and harvesting appliances,
was more fascinating to Graham than any
bayadere. "We were savages," was his refrain, "we
were savages. We were in the stone age -- compared
with this. . . . And what else have you?"
There came also practical psychologists with some
very interesting developments in the art of hypnotism.
The names of Milne Bramwell, Fechner, Liebault,
William James, Myers and Gurney, he found, bore a
value now that would have astonished their
contemporaries. Several practical applications of
psychology were now in general use; it had largely
superseded drugs, antiseptics and anaesthetics in
medicine; was employed by almost all who had any need of
mental concentration. A real enlargement of human
faculty seemed to have been effected in this direction.
The feats of "calculating boys," the wonders, as Graham
had been wont to regard them, of mesmerisers,
were now within the range of anyone who could afford
the services of a skilled hypnotist. Long ago the old
examination methods in education had been destroyed
by these expedients. Instead of years of study, candidates
had substituted a few weeks of trances, and
during the trances expert coaches had simply to repeat
all the points necessary for adequate answering, adding
a suggestion of the post hypnotic recollection of
these points. In process mathematics particularly, this
aid had been of singular service, and it was now
invariably invoked by such players of chess and games
of manual dexterity as were still to be found. In fact,
all operations conducted under finite rules, of a
quasi-mechanical sort that is, were now systematically
relieved from the wanderings of imagination and emotion,
and brought to an unexampled pitch of accuracy.
Little children of the labouring classes, so soon as they
were of sufficient age to be hypnotised, were thus
converted into beautifully punctual and trustworthy
machine minders, and released forthwith from the
long, long thoughts of youth. Aeronautical pupils,
who gave way to giddiness, could be relieved from
their imaginary terrors. In every street were
hypnotists ready to print permanent memories upon the
mind. If anyone desired to remember a name, a series
of numbers, a song or a speech, it could be done by
this method, and conversely memories could be
effaced, habits removed, and desires eradicated -- a
sort of psychic surgery was, in fact, in general use.
Indignities, humbling experiences, were thus forgotten,
amorous widows would obliterate their previous
husbands, angry lovers release themselves from their
slavery. To graft desires, however, was still impossible,
and the facts of thought transference were yet
unsystematised. The psychologists illustrated their
expositions with some astounding experiments in mnemonics
made through the agency of a troupe of pale-faced
children in blue.
Graham, like most of the people of his former time,
distrusted the hypnotist, or he might then and there
have eased his mind of many painful preoccupations.
But in spite of Lincoln's assurances he held to the old
theory that to be hypnotised was in some way the
surrender of his personality, the abdication of his will. At
the banquet of wonderful experiences that was beginning,
he wanted very keenly to remain absolutely
The next day, and another day, and yet another day
passed in such interests as these. Each day Graham
spent many hours in the glorious entertainment of
flying. On the third day he soared across middle
France, and within sight of the snow-clad Alps. These
vigorous exercises gave him restful sleep, and each day
saw a great stride in his health from the spiritless
anaemia of his first awakening. And whenever he was
not in the air, and awake, Lincoln was assiduous in the
cause of his amusement; all that was novel and curious
in contemporary invention was brought to him, until
at last his appetite for novelty was well-nigh glutted.
One might fill a dozen inconsecutive volumes with the
strange things they exhibited. Each afternoon he held
his court for an hour or so. He speedily found his
interest in his contemporaries becoming personal and
intimate. At first he had been alert chiefly for
unfamiliarity and peculiarity; any foppishness in their
dress, any discordance with his preconceptions of
nobility in their status and manners had jarred upon
him, and it was remarkable to him how soon that
strangeness and the faint hostility that arose from it,
disappeared; how soon he came to appreciate the true
perspective of his position, and see the old Victorian
days remote and quaint. He found himself particularly
amused by the red-haired daughter of the Manager
of the European Piggeries. On the second day
after dinner he made the acquaintance of a latter-day
dancing girl, and found her an astonishing artist. And
after that, more hypnotic wonders. On the third day
Lincoln was moved to suggest that the Master should
repair to a Pleasure City, but this Graham declined,
nor would he accept the services of the hypnotists in
his aeronautical experiments. The link of locality held
him to London; he found a perpetual wonder in
topographical identifications that he would have missed
abroad. "Here -- or a hundred feet below here," he
could say, "I used to eat my midday cutlets during
my London University days. Underneath here was
Waterloo and the perpetual hunt for confusing trains.
Often have I stood waiting down there, bag in hand,
and stared up into the sky above the forest of signals,
little thinking I should walk some day a hundred yards
in the air. And now in that very sky that was once a
grey smoke canopy, I circle in an aeropile."
During those three days Graham was so occupied
with such distractions that the vast political
movements in progress outside his quarters had but a small
share of his attention. Those about him told him
little. Daily came Ostrog, the Boss, his Grand Vizier,
his mayor of the palace, to report in vague terms the
steady establishment of his rule; "a little trouble"
soon to be settled in this city, "a slight disturbance"
in that. The song of the social revolt came to him no
more; he never learned that it had been forbidden in
the municipal limits; and all the great emotions of the
crow's nest slumbered in his mind.
But on the second and third of the three days
he found himself, in spite of his interest in the
daughter of the Pig Manager, or it may be by,
reason of the thoughts her conversation suggested,
remembering the girl Helen Wotton, who had
spoken to him so oddly at the Wind-Vane
Keeper's gathering. The impression she had made was a
deep one, albeit the incessant surprise of novel
circumstances had kept him from brooding upon it for a
space. But now her memory was coming to its own.
He wondered what she had meant by those broken
half-forgotten sentences; the picture of her eyes and
the earnest passion of her face became more vivid as
his mechanical interests faded. Her beauty came
compellingly between him and certain immediate
temptations of ignoble passion. But he did not see her again
until three full days were past.
She came upon him at last in a little gallery that
ran from the Wind Vane Offices toward his state
apartments. The gallery was long and narrow, with a
series of recesses, each with an arched fenestration that
looked upon a court of palms. He came upon her
suddenly in one of these recesses. She was seated.
She turned her head at the sound of his footsteps and
started at the sight of him. Every touch of colour
vanished from her face. She rose instantly, made a
step toward him as if to address him, and hesitated.
He stopped and stood still, expectant. Then he perceived
that a nervous tumult silenced her, perceived
too, that she must have sought speech with him to be
waiting for him in this place.
He felt a regal impulse to assist her. "I have wanted
to see you," he said. "A few days ago you wanted
to tell me something -- you wanted to tell me of the
people. What was it you had to tell me?"
She looked at him with troubled eyes.
"You said the people were unhappy?"
For a moment she was silent still.
"It must have seemed strange to you," she said
"It did. And yet --"
"It was an impulse."
"That is all."
She looked at him with a face of hesitation. She
spoke with an effort. "You forget," she said, drawing
a deep breath.
"The people --"
"Do you mean -- ?"
"You forget the people."
He looked interrogative.
"Yes. I know you are surprised. For you do not
understand what you are. You do not know the things
that are happening."
"You do not understand."
"Not clearly, perhaps. But -- tell me."
She turned to him with sudden resolution." It is
so hard to explain. I have meant to, I have wanted to.
And now -- I cannot. I am not ready with words.
But about you -- there is something. It is Wonder.
Your sleep -- your awakening. These things are
miracles. To me at least -- and to all the common
people. You who lived and suffered and died, you
who were a common citizen, wake again, live again, to
find yourself Master almost of the earth."
"Master of the earth," he said. "So they tell me.
But try and imagine how little I know of it."
"Cities -- Trusts -- the Labour Company --"
"Principalities, powers, dominions -- the power and
the glory. Yes, I have heard them shout. I know.
I am Master. King, if you wish. With Ostrog, the
She turned upon him and surveyed his face with a
curious scrutiny. "Well?"
He smiled. "To take the responsibility."
"That is what we have begun to fear." For a moment
she said no more. "No," she said slowly. "You will
take the responsibility. You will take the
responsibility. The people look to you."
She spoke softly." Listen! For at least half the
years of your sleep -- in every generation -- multitudes
of people, in every generation greater multitudes
of people, have prayed that you might awake --
Graham moved to speak and did not.
She hesitated, and a faint colour crept back to her
cheek. "Do you know that you have been to myriads
-- King Arthur, Barbarossa -- the King who would
come in his own good time and put the world right for
"I suppose the imagination of the people --"
"Have you not heard our proverb, 'When the
Sleeper wakes?' While you lay insensible and motionless
there -- thousands came. Thousands. Every
first of the month you lay in state with a white robe
upon you and the people filed by you. When I was a
little girl I saw you like that, with your face white and
She turned her face from him and looked steadfastly
at the painted wall before her. Her voice fell. "When
I was a little girl I used to look at your face. . . .it
seemed to me fixed and waiting, like the patience of
"That is what we thought of you," she said. "That
is how you seemed to us."
She turned shining eyes to him, her voice was clear
and strong." In the city, in the earth, a myriad
myriad men and women are waiting to see what you
will do, full of strange incredible expectations."
"Ostrog -- no one -- can take that responsibility."
Graham looked at her in surprise, at her face lit
with emotion. She seemed at first to have spoken with
an effort, and to have fired herself by speaking.
"Do you think," she said, "that you who have lived
that little life so far away in the past, you who have
fallen into and risen out of this miracle of sleep -- do
you think that the wonder and reverence and hope of
half the world has gathered about you only that you
may live another little life? . . . That you may
shift the responsibility to any other man?"
"I know how great this kingship of mine is," he
said haltingly. "I know how great it seems. But is it
real? It is incredible -- dreamlike. Is it real, or is
it only a great delusion?"
"It is real," she said; "if you dare."
"After all, like all kingship, my kingship is Belief.
It is an illusion in the minds of men."
"If you dare!" she said.
"Countless men," she said, "and while it is in their
minds -- they will obey."
"But I know nothing. That is what I had in mind.
I know nothing. And these others -- the Councillors,
Ostrog. They are wiser, cooler, they know so much,
every detail. And, indeed, what are these miseries of
which you speak? What am I to know? Do you
He stopped blankly.
"I am still hardly more than a girl," she said. "But
to me the world seems full of wretchedness. The world
has altered since your day, altered very strangely. I
have prayed that I might see you and tell you these
things. The world has changed. As if a canker had
seized it -- and robbed life of -- everything worth
She turned a flushed face upon him, moving suddenly.
"Your days were the days of freedom. Yes --
I have thought. I have been made to think, for my
life -- has not been happy. Men are no longer free --
no greater, no better than the men of your time. That
is not all. This city -- is a prison. Every city now is
a prison. Mammon grips the key in his hand.
Myriads, countless myriads, toil from the cradle to
the grave. Is that right? Is that to be -- for ever?
Yes, far worse than in your time. All about us, beneath
us, sorrow and pain. All the shallow delight of
such life as you find about you, is separated by just a
little from a life of wretchedness beyond any telling
Yes, the poor know it -- they know they suffer. These
countless multitudes who faced death for you two
nights since -- ! You owe your life to them."
"Yes," said Graham, slowly. "Yes. I owe my
life to them."
"You come," she said, "from the days when this
new tyranny of the cities was scarcely beginning.
It is a tyranny -- a tyranny. In your days the
feudal war lords had gone, and the new lordship of
wealth had still to come. Half the men in the world
still lived out upon the free countryside. The cities
had still to devour them. I have heard the stories
out of the old books -- there was nobility! Common
men led lives of love and faithfulness then -- they
did a thousand things. And you -- you come from
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