When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
Part 5 out of 6
"It was not -- . But never mind. How is it
now -- ?"
"Gain and the Pleasure Cities! Or slavery -- unthanked,
"Slavery!" he said.
"You don't mean to say that human beings are
"Worse. That is what I want you to know, what
I want you to see. I know you do not know. They
will keep things from you, they will take you presently
to a Pleasure City. But you have noticed men and
women and children in pale blue canvas, with thin
yellow faces and dull eyes?"
"Speaking a horrible dialect, coarse and weak."
"I have heard it."
"They are the slaves -- your slaves. They are the
slaves of the Labour Company you own."
"The Labour Company! In some way -- that is
familiar. Ah! now I remember. I saw it when I was
wandering about the city, after the lights returned,
great fronts of buildings coloured pale blue. Do you
really mean -- ?"
"Yes. How can I explain it to you? Of course
the blue uniform struck you. Nearly a third of our
people wear it -- more assume it now every day. This
Labour Company has grown imperceptibly."
"What is this Labour Company?" asked Graham.
"In the old times, how did you manage with starving
"There was the workhouse -- which the parishes
"Workhouse! Yes -- there was something. In
our history lessons. I remember now. The Labour
Company ousted the workhouse. It grew -- partly --
out of something -- you, perhaps, may remember it --
an emotional religious organisation called the
Salvation Army -- that became a business company. In the
first place it was almost a charity. To save people
from workhouse rigours. Now I come to think of it,
it was one of the earliest properties your Trustees
acquired. They bought the Salvation Army and reconstructed
it as this. The idea in the first place was to
give work to starving homeless people."
"Nowadays there are no workhouses, no refuges
and charities, nothing but that Company. Its offices
are everywhere. That blue is its colour. And any
man, woman or child who comes to be hungry and
weary and with neither home nor friend nor resort,
must go to the Company in the end -- or seek some
way of death. The Euthanasy is beyond their means
-- for the poor there is no easy death. And at any
hour in the day or night there is food, shelter and a
blue uniform for all comers -- that is the first
condition of the Company s incorporation -- and in return
for a day's shelter the Company extracts a day's work,
and then returns the visitor's proper clothing and
sends him or her out again."
"Perhaps that does not seem so terrible to you. In
your days men starved in your streets. That was bad.
But they died -- men. These people in blue -- . The
proverb runs: 'Blue canvas once and ever.' The
Company trades in their labour, and it has taken care
to assure itself of the supply. People come to
it starving and helpless -- they eat and sleep for
a night and day, they -work for a day, and at the
end of the day they go out again. If they have worked
well they have a penny or so -- enough for a
theatre or a cheap dancing place, or a kinematograph
story, or a dinner or a bet. They wander about after
that is spent. Begging is prevented by the police of
the ways. Besides, no one gives. They come back
again the next day or the day after -- brought back
by the same incapacity that brought them first. At
last their proper clothing wears out, or their rags get
so shabby that they are ashamed. Then they must
work for months to get fresh. If they want fresh. A
great number of children are born under the
Company's care. The mother owes them a month
thereafter -- the children they cherish and educate until
they are fourteen, and they pay two years' service.
You may be sure these children are educated for the
blue canvas. And so it is the Company works."
"And none are destitute in the city?"
"None. They are either in blue canvas or in
"If they will not work?"
"Most people will work at that pitch, and the
Company has powers. There are stages of unpleasantness
in the work -- stoppage of food -- and a man or
woman who has refused to work once is known by a
thumb-marking system in the Company's offices all
over the world. Besides, who can leave the city
poor? To go to Paris costs two Lions. And for
insubordination there are the prisons -- dark and
miserable -- out of sight below. There are prisons now for
"And a third of the people wear this blue canvas?"
"More than a third. Toilers, living without pride or
delight or hope, with the stories of Pleasure Cities
ringing in their ears, mocking their shameful lives, their
privations and hardships. Too poor even for the
Euthanasy, the rich man's refuge from life. Dumb,
crippled millions, countless millions, all the world
about, ignorant of anything but limitations and
unsatisfied desires. They are born, they are thwarted and
they die. That is the state to which we have come."
For a space Graham sat downcast.
"But there has been a revolution," he said. "All
these things will be changed." Ostrog --"
"That is our hope. That is the hope of the world.
But Ostrog will not do it. He is a politician. To him
it seems things must be like this. He does not mind.
He takes it for granted. All the rich, all the influential,
all who are happy, come at last to take these miseries
for granted. They use the people in their politics,
they live in ease by their degradation. But you
-- you who come from a happier age -- it is to you the
people look. To you."
He looked at her face. Her eyes were bright with
unshed tears. He felt a rush of emotion. For a moment
he forgot this city, he forgot the race, and all
those vague remote voices, in the immediate humanity
of her beauty.
"But what am I to do?" he said with his eyes upon
"Rule," she answered, bending towards him and
speaking in a low tone. "Rule the world as it has
never been ruled, for the good and happiness of men.
For you might rule it -- you could rule it.
"The people are stirring. All over the world the
people are stirring. It wants but a word -- but a
word from you -- to bring them all together. Even
the middle sort of people are restless unhappy.
"They are not telling you the things that are
happening. The people will not go back to their
drudgery -- they refuse to be disarmed. Ostrog has
awakened something greater than he dreamt of -- he
has awakened hopes."
His heart was beating fast. He tried to seem judicial,
to weigh considerations.
"They only want their leader," she said.
"You could do what you would; -- the world is
He sat, no longer regarding her. Presently he
spoke." The old dreams, and the thing I have
dreamt, liberty, happiness. Are they dreams?
Could one man -- one man -- ?" His voice sank and ceased.
"Not one man, but all men -- give them only a
leader to speak the desire of their hearts."
He shook his head, and for a time there was silence.
He looked up suddenly, and their eyes met. "I
have not your faith," he said." I have not your youth.
I am here with power that mocks me. No -- let me
speak. I want to do -- not right -- I have not the
strength for that -- but something rather right than
wrong. It will bring no millennium, but I am resolved
now that I will rule. What you have said has
awakened me. . . . You are right. Ostrog must
know his place. And I will learn -- . . . . One
thing I promise you. This Labour slavery shall end."
"And you will rule?"
"Yes. Provided -- . There is one thing."
"That you will help me."
"I! -- a girl!"
"Yes. Does it not occur to you I am absolutely
She started and for an instant her eyes had pity.
"Need you ask whether I will help you?" she said.
She stood before him, beautiful, worshipful, and her
enthusiasm and the greatness of their theme was like
a great gulf fixed between them. To touch her, to
clasp her hand, was a thing beyond hope. "Then
I will rule indeed," he said slowly. "I will rule-"
He paused. "With you."
There came a tense silence, and then the beating
a clock striking the hour. She made him no answer.
"Even now," he said, "Ostrog will be waiting." He
hesitated, facing her. "When I have asked him certain
questions -- . There is much I do not know. It may
be, that I will go to see with my own eyes the things
of which you have spoken. And when I return -- ?"
"I shall know of your going and coming. I will
wait for you here again."
He stood for a moment regarding her.
"I knew," she said, and stopped.
He waited, but she said no more. They regarded
one another steadfastly, questioningly, and then he
turned from her towards the Wind Vane office.
OSTROG'S POINT OF VIEW
Graham found Ostrog waiting to give a formal account
of his day's stewardship. On previous occasions he
had passed over this ceremony as speedily as possible,
in order to resume his aerial experiences, but now he
began to ask quick short questions. He was very
anxious to take up his empire forthwith. Ostrog
brought flattering reports of the development of
affairs abroad. In Paris and Berlin, Graham
perceived that he was saying, there had been
trouble, not organised resistance indeed, but
insubordinate proceedings. "After all these years,"
said Ostrog, when Graham pressed enquiries,
"the Commune has lifted its head again. That
is the real nature of the struggle, to be explicit."
But order had been restored in these cities. Graham,
the more deliberately judicial for the stirring emotions
he felt, asked if there had been any fighting. "A
little," said Ostrog. "In one quarter only. But the
Senegalese division of our African agricultural police --
the Consolidated African Companies have a very well
drilled police -- was ready, and so were the aeroplanes.
We expected a little trouble in the continental cities,
and in America. But things are very quiet in America.
They are satisfied with the overthrow of the Council
For the time."
"Why should you expect trouble?" asked Graham
"There is a lot of discontent -- social discontent."
"The Labour Company?"
"You are learning," said Ostrog with a touch of
surprise. "Yes. It is chiefly the discontent with the
Labour Company. It was that discontent supplied
the motive force of this overthrow -- that and your
Ostrog smiled. He became explicit. "We had to
stir up their discontent, we had to revive the old ideals
of universal happiness -- all men equal -- all men
happy -- no luxury that everyone may not share --
ideas that have slumbered for two hundred years. You
know that? We had to revive these ideals, impossible
as they are -- in order to overthrow the Council. And
"Our revolution is accomplished, and the Council
is overthrown, and people whom we have stirred up
remain surging. There was scarcely enough
fighting . . . We made promises, of course. It is
extraordinary how violently and rapidly this vague
out-of-date humanitarianism has revived and spread.
We who sowed the seed even, have been astonished.
In Paris, as I say -- we have had to call in a little
"There is trouble. Multitudes will not go back
to work. There is a general strike. Half the
factories are empty and the people are swarming in the
Ways. They are talking of a Commune. Men in silk
and satin have been insulted in the streets. The blue
canvas is expecting all sorts of things from you....
Of course there is no need for you to trouble. We
are setting the Babble Machines to work with counter
suggestions in the cause of law and order. We must
keep the grip tight; that is all."
Graham thought. He perceived a way of asserting
himself. But he spoke with restraint.
"Even to the pitch of bringing a negro police," he
"They are useful," said Ostrog. "They are fine
loyal brutes, with no wash of ideas in their heads --
such as our rabble has. The Council should have had
them as police of the Ways, and things might have been
different. Of course, there is nothing to fear except
rioting and wreckage. You can manage your own
wings now, and you can soar away to Capri if there
is any smoke or fuss. We have the pull of all the
great things; the aeronauts are privileged and rich, the
closest trades union in the world, and so are the
engineers of the wind vanes. We have the air, and the
mastery of the air is the mastery of the earth. No one of
any ability is organising against us. They have no
leaders -- only the sectional leaders of the secret
society we organised before your very opportune
awakening. Mere busy bodies and sentimentalists they
are and bitterly jealous of each other. None of them is
man enough for a central figure. The only trouble will
be a disorganised upheaval. To be frank -- that may
happen. But it won't interrupt your aeronautics.
The days when the People could make revolutions are
"I suppose they are," said Graham. "I suppose
they are." He mused. "This world of yours has
been full of surprises to me. In the old days we
dreamt of a wonderful democratic life, of a time when
all men would be equal and happy."
Ostrog looked at him steadfastly. "The day of
democracy is past," he said. "Past for ever. That
day began with the bowmen of Crecy, it ended when
marching infantry, when common men in masses
ceased to win the battles of the world, when costly
cannon, great ironclads, and strategic railways became
the means of power. To-day is the day of wealth.
Wealth now is power as it never was power before --
it commands earth and sea and sky. All power is for
those who can handle wealth.... You must
accept facts, and these are facts. The world for the
Crowd! The Crowd as Ruler! Even in your days
that creed had been tried and condemned. To-day it
has only one believer -- a multiplex, silly one -- the
mall in the Crowd."
Graham did not answer immediately. He stood lost
in sombre preoccupations.
"No," said Ostrog." The day of the common man
is past. On the open countryside one man is as good
as another, or nearly as good. The earlier aristocracy
had a precarious tenure of strength and audacity.
They were tempered -- tempered. There were
insurrections, duels, riots. The first real aristocracy,
the first permanent aristocracy, came in with castles
and armour, and vanished before the musket and bow.
But this is the second aristocracy. The real one.
Those days of gunpowder and democracy were only
an eddy in the stream. The common man now is a
helpless unit. In these days we have this great
machine of the city, and an organisation complex
beyond his understanding."
"Yet," said Graham, "there is something resists,
something you are holding down -- something that
stirs and presses."
"You will see," said Ostrog, with a forced smile that
would brush these difficult questions aside. "I have
not roused the force to destroy myself -- trust me."
"I wonder," said Graham.
"Must the world go this way?" said Graham, with
his emotions at the speaking point. "Must it indeed
go in this way? Have all our hopes been vain?"
"What do you mean?" said Ostrog. "Hopes?"
"I came from a democratic age. And I find an
"Well, -- but you are the chief tyrant."
Graham shook his head.
"Well," said Ostrog, "take the general question.
It is the way that change has always travelled.
Aristocracy, the prevalence of the best -- the suffering and
extinction of the unfit, and so to better things."
"But aristocracy! those people I met --"
"Oh! not those!" said Ostrog. "But for the most
part they go to their death. Vice and pleasure! They
have no children. That sort of stuff will die out. If
the world keeps to one road, that is, if there is no
turning back. An easy road to excess, convenient
Euthanasia for the pleasure seekers singed in the
flame, that is the way to improve the race!"
"Pleasant extinction," said Graham. "Yet -- ."
He thought for an instant." There is that other thing
-- the Crowd, the great mass of poor men. Will that
die out? That will not die out. And it suffers, its
suffering is a force that even you --"
Ostrog moved impatiently, and when he spoke, he
spoke rather less evenly than before.
"Don't you trouble about these things," he said.
Everything will be settled in a few days now. The
Crowd is a huge foolish beast. What if it does not
die out? Even if it does not die, it can still be tamed
and driven. I have no sympathy with servile men.
You heard those people shouting and singing two
nights ago. They were taught that song. If you
had taken any man there in cold blood and asked
why he shouted, he could not have told you. They
think they are shouting for you, that they are loyal
and devoted to you. Just then they were ready to
slaughter the Council. To-day -- they are already
murmuring against those who have overthrown the
"No, no," said Graham. "They shouted because
their lives were dreary, without joy or pride, and
because in me -- in me -- they hoped."
"And what was their hope? What is their hope?
What right have they to hope? They work ill and
they want the reward of those who work well. The
hope of mankind -- what is it? That some day the
Over-man may come, that some day the inferior, the
weak and the bestial may be subdued or eliminated.
Subdued if not eliminated. The world is no place for
the bad, the stupid, the enervated. Their duty -- it's
a fine duty too! -- is to die. The death of the failure!
That is the path by which the beast rose to manhood,
by which man goes on to higher things."
Ostrog took a pace, seemed to think, and turned on
Graham. "I can imagine how this great world state
of ours seems to a Victorian Englishman. You regret
all the old forms of representative government -- their
spectres still haunt the world, the voting councils and
parliaments and all that eighteenth century tomfoolery
You feel moved against our Pleasure Cities. I might
have thought of that, -- had I not been busy. But you
will learn better. The people are mad with envy -- they
would be in sympathy with you. Even in the streets
now, they clamour to destroy the Pleasure Cities.
But the Pleasure Cities are the excretory organs
of the State, attractive places that year after year draw
together all that is weak and vicious, all that is
lascivious and lazy, all the easy roguery of the world, to a
graceful destruction. They go there, they have their
time, they die childless, all the pretty silly lascivious
women die childless, and mankind is the better. If
the people were sane they would not envy the rich
their way of death. And you would emancipate the
silly brainless workers that we have enslaved, and try
to make their lives easy and pleasant again. Just
as they have sunk to what they are fit for. "He
smiled a smile that irritated Graham oddly. "You
will learn better. I know those ideas; in my boyhood
I read your Shelley and dreamt of Liberty. There is
no liberty, save wisdom and self control. Liberty is
within -- not without. It is each man's own affair.
Suppose -- which is impossible -- that these swarming
yelping fools in blue get the upper hand of us, what
then? They will only fall to other masters. So long
as there are sheep Nature will insist on beasts of prey.
It would mean but a few hundred years' delay. The
coming of the aristocrat is fatal and assured. The end
will be the Over-man -- for all the mad protests of
humanity. Let them revolt, let them win and kill me
and my like. Others will arise -- other masters. The
end will be the same."
"I wonder," said Graham doggedly.
For a moment he stood downcast.
"But I must see these things for myself," he said,
suddenly assuming a tone of confident mastery.
"Only by seeing can I understand. I must learn.
That is what I want to tell you, Ostrog. I do not
want to be King in a Pleasure City; that is not my,
pleasure. I have spent enough time with aeronautics
-- and those other things. I must learn how people
live now, how the common life has developed. Then I
shall understand these things better. I must learn
how common people live -- the labour people more
especially -- how they work, marry, bear children,
"You get that from our realistic novelists,"
suggested Ostrog, suddenly preoccupied.
"I want reality," said Graham, "not realism."
"There are difficulties," said Ostrog, and thought.
"On the whole perhaps --
"I did not expect -- .
"I had thought -- . And yet, perhaps -- . You say
you want to go through the Ways of the city and see
the common people."
Suddenly he came to some conclusion. "You
would need to go disguised," he said. "The city is
intensely excited, and the discovery of your presence
among them might create a fearful tumult. Still this
wish of yours to go into this city -- this idea of
yours -- . Yes, now I think the thing over it seems to
me not altogether -- . It can be contrived. If you
would really find an interest in that! You are, of
course, Master. You can go soon if you like. A
disguise for this excursion Asano will be able to manage.
He would go with you. After all it is not a bad idea
"You will not want to consult me in any matter?"
asked Graham suddenly, struck by an odd suspicion.
"Oh, dear no! No! I think you may trust affairs
to me for a time, at any rate," said Ostrog, smiling.
"Even if we differ --"
Graham glanced; at him sharply.
"There is no fighting likely to happen soon?" he
"I have been thinking about these negroes. I don't
believe the people intend any hostility to me, and, after
all, I am the Master. I do not want any negroes
brought to London. It is an archaic prejudice perhaps,
but I have peculiar feelings about Europeans and
the subject races. Even about Paris --"
Ostrog stood watching him from under his drooping
brows." I am not bringing negroes to London,"
he said slowly." But if --"
"You are not to bring armed negroes to London,
whatever happens," said Graham. "In that matter I
am quite decided."
Ostrog, after a pause, decided not to speak, and
IN THE CITY WAYS
And that night, unknown and unsuspected, Graham,
dressed in the costume of an inferior wind-vane
official keeping holiday, and accompanied by Asano in
Labour Company canvas, surveyed the city through
which he had wandered when it was veiled in darkness.
But now he saw it lit and waking, a whirlpool of life.
In spite of the surging and swaying of the forces of
revolution, in spite of the unusual discontent,
the mutterings of the greater struggle of which the first revolt
was but the prelude, the myriad streams of commerce
still flowed wide and strong. He knew now something
of the dimensions and quality of the new age, but
he was not prepared for the infinite surprise of the
detailed view, for the torrent of colour and vivid
impressions that poured past him.
This was his first real contact with the people of
these latter days. He realised that all that had gone
before, saving his glimpses of the public theatres and
markets, had had its element of seclusion, had been a
movement within the comparatively narrow political
quarter, that all his previous experiences had revolved
immediately about the question of his own position.
But here was the city at the busiest hours of night, the
people to a large extent returned to their own immediate
interests, the resumption of the real informal life,
he common habits of the new time.
They emerged at first into a street whose opposite
ways were crowded with the blue canvas liveries. This
swarm Graham saw was a portion of a procession --
it was odd to see a procession parading the city seated
They carried banners of coarse red stuff with red
letters. "No disarmament," said the banners, for the
most part in crudely daubed letters and with variant
spelling, and "Why should we disarm?" "No disarming."
"No disarming." Banner after banner
went by, a stream of banners flowing past, and at last
at the end, the song of the revolt and a noisy band of
strange instruments." They all ought to be at work,"
said Asano. "They have had no food these two days,
or they have stolen it."
Presently Asano made a detour to avoid the congested
crowd that gaped upon the occasional passage
of dead bodies from hospital to a mortuary, the
gleanings after death's harvest of the first revolt.
That night few people were sleeping, everyone was
abroad. A vast excitement, perpetual crowds perpetually
changing, surrounded Graham; his mind was confused
and darkened by an incessant tumult, by the
cries and enigmatical fragments of the social struggle
that was as yet only beginning. Everywhere festoons
and banners of black and strange decorations,
intensified the quality of his popularity.
Everywhere he caught snatches of that crude thick
dialect that served the illiterate class, the class, that is,
beyond the reach of phonograph culture, in their
common-place intercourse. Everywhere this trouble of
disarmament was in the air, with a quality of
immediate stress of which he had no inkling during his
seclusion in the Wind-Vane quarter. He perceived
that as soon as he returned he must discuss this with
Ostrog, this and the greater issues of which it was the
expression, in a far more conclusive way than he had
so far done. Perpetually that night, even in the earlier
hours of their wanderings about the city, the spirit
of unrest and revolt swamped his attention, to the
exclusion of countless strange things he might
otherwise have observed.
This preoccupation made his impressions fragmentary.
Yet amidst so much that was strange and vivid,
no subject, however personal and insistent, could exert
undivided sway. There were spaces when the revolutionary
movement passed clean out of his mind, was
drawn aside like a curtain from before some startling
new aspect of the time. Helen had swayed his mind
to this intense earnestness of enquiry, but there came
times when she, even, receded beyond his conscious
thoughts. At one moment, for example, he found
they were traversing the religious quarter, for the easy
transit about the city afforded by the moving ways
rendered sporadic churches and chapels no longer
necessary -- and his attention was vividly arrested by
the facade of one of the Christian sects.
They were travelling seated on one of the swift upper
ways, the place leapt upon them at a bend and advanced
rapidly towards them. It was covered with inscriptions
from top to base, in vivid white and blue, save where a
vast and glaring kinematograph transparency presented
a realistic New Testament scene, and where a
vast festoon of black to show that the popular religion
followed the popular politics, hung across the lettering
Graham had already become familiar with the phonotype
writing and these inscriptions arrested him, being
to his sense for the most part almost incredible
blasphemy. Among the less offensive were "Salvation on
the First Floor and turn to the Right." "Put your
Money on your Maker." "The Sharpest Conversion
in London, Expert Operators! Look Slippy!"
"What Christ would say to the Sleeper; -- Join the
Up-to-date Saints!" "Be a Christian -- without
hindrance to your present Occupation." "All the
Brightest Bishops on the Bench to-night and Prices as Usual."
"Brisk Blessings for Busy Business Men."
"But this is appalling!" said Graham, as that deafening
scream of mercantile piety towered above them.
"What is appalling?" asked his little officer,
apparently seeking vainly for anything unusual in this
"_This!_ Surely the essence of religion is reverence."
"Oh _that!_" Asano looked at Graham. "Does it
shock you?" he said in the tone of one who makes a
discovery. "I suppose it would, of course. I had
forgotten. Nowadays the competition for attention is so
keen. and people simply haven't the leisure to attend to
their souls, you know, as they used to do." He smiled.
"In the old days you had quiet Sabbaths and the
countryside. Though somewhere I've read of Sunday
afternoons that --"
"But, _that_," said Graham, glancing back at the
receding blue and white. "That is surely not the
"There are hundreds of different ways. But, of
course, if a sect doesn't tell it doesn't pay. Worship
has moved with the times. There are high class sects
with quieter ways -- costly incense and personal
attentions and all that. These people are extremely
popular and prosperous. They pay several dozen lions for
those apartments to the Council -- to you, I should
Graham still felt a difficulty with the coinage, and
this mention of a dozen lions brought him abruptly
to that matter. In a moment the screaming temples
and their swarming touts were forgotten in this new
interest. A turn of a phrase suggested, and an answer
confirmed the idea that gold and silver were both
demonetised, that stamped gold which had begun its
reign amidst the merchants of Phoenicia was at last
dethroned. The change had been graduated but swift,
brought about by an extension of the system of
cheques that had even in his previous life already
practically superseded gold in all the larger business
transactions. The common traffic of the city, the common
currency indeed of all the world, was conducted by
means of the little brown, green and pink council
cheques for small amounts, printed with a blank payee.
Asano had several with him, and at the first
opportunity he supplied the gaps in his set. They were
printed not on tearable paper, but on a semi-transparent
fabric of silken, flexibility, interwoven with silk.
Across them all sprawled a facsimile of Graham's
signature, his first encounter with the curves and turns of
that familiar autograph for two hundred and three
Some intermediary experiences made no impression
sufficiently vivid to prevent the matter of the
disarmament claiming his thoughts again; a blurred picture
of a Theosophist temple that promised MIRACLES
in enormous letters of unsteady fire was least
submerged perhaps, but then came the view of the dining
hall in Northumberland Avenue. That interested him
By the energy and thought of Asano he was able to
view this place from a little screened gallery reserved
for the attendants of the tables. The building was
pervaded by a distant muffled hooting, piping and
bawling, of which he did not at first understand the
import, but which recalled a certain mysterious
leathery voice he had heard after the resumption of the
lights on the night of his solitary wandering.
He had grown accustomed now to vastness and
great numbers of people, nevertheless this spectacle
held him for a long time. It was as he watched the
table service more immediately beneath, and
interspersed with many questions and answers concerning
details, that the realisation of the full significance of
the feast of several thousand people came to him.
It was his constant surprise to find that points that
one might have expected to strike vividly at the very
outset never occurred to him until some trivial detail
suddenly shaped as a riddle and pointed to the obvious
thing he had overlooked. In this matter, for instance,
it had not occurred to him that this continuity of the
city, this exclusion of weather, these vast halls and
ways, involved the disappearance of the household;
that the typical Victorian "home," the little brick cell
containing kitchen and scullery, living rooms and
bedrooms, had, save for the ruins that diversified the
countryside, vanished as surely as the wattle hut. But
now he saw what had indeed been manifest from the
first, that London, regarded as a living place, was no
longer an aggregation of houses but a prodigious hotel,
an hotel with a thousand classes of accommodation,
thousands of dining halls, chapels, theatres, markets
and places of assembly, a synthesis of enterprises, of
which he chiefly was the owner. People had their
sleeping rooms, with, it might be, antechambers,
rooms that were always sanitary at least whatever the
degree of comfort and privacy, and for the rest they
lived much as many people had lived in the new-made
giant hotels of the Victorian days, eating, reading,
thinking, playing, conversing, all in places of public
resort, going to their work in the industrial quarters
of the city or doing business in their offices in the
He perceived at once how necessarily this state of
affairs had developed from the Victorian city. The
fundamental reason for the modern city had ever been
the economy of co-operation. The chief thing to prevent
the merging of the separate households in his
own generation was simply the still imperfect civilisation
of the people, the strong barbaric pride, passions,
and prejudices, the jealousies, rivalries, and violence
of the middle and lower classes, which had necessitated
the entire separation of contiguous households. But
the change, the taming of the people, had been in
rapid progress even then. In his brief thirty years of
previous life he had seen an enormous extension of
the habit of consuming meals from home, the casually
patronised horse-box coffee-house had given place to
the open and crowded Aerated Bread Shop for
instance, women's clubs had had their beginning, and
an immense development of reading rooms, lounges
and libraries had witnessed to the growth of social
confidence. These promises had by this time attained
to their complete fulfillment. The locked and barred
household had passed away.
These people below him belonged, he learnt, to the
lower middle class, the class just above the blue
labourers, a class so accustomed in the Victorian
period to feed with every precaution of privacy that
its members, when occasion confronted them with a
public meal, would usually hide their embarrassment
under horseplay or a markedly militant demeanour.
But these gaily, if lightly dressed people below, albeit
vivacious, hurried and uncommunicative, were
dexterously mannered and certainly quite at their ease
with regard to one another.
He noted a slight significant thing; the table, as
far as he could see, was and remained delightfully neat,
there was nothing to parallel the confusion, the
broadcast crumbs, the splashes of viand and condiment, the
overturned drink and displaced ornaments, which would
have marked the stormy progress of the Victorian meal.
The table furniture was very different. There were
no ornaments, no flowers, and the table was without a
cloth, being made, he learnt, of a solid substance
having the texture and appearance of damask. He
discerned that this damask substance was patterned with
gracefully designed trade advertisements.
In a sort of recess before each diner was a complete
apparatus of porcelain and metal. There was one
plate of white porcelain, and by means of taps for hot
and cold volatile fluids the diner washed this himself
between the courses; he also washed his elegant white
metal knife and fork and spoon as occasion required.
Soup and the chemical wine that was the common
drink were delivered by similar taps, and the remaining
covers travelled automatically in tastefully arranged
dishes down the table along silver rails. The diner
stopped these and helped himself at his discretion.
They appeared at a little door at one end of the table,
and vanished at the other. That turn of democratic
sentiment in decay, that ugly pride of menial souls,
which renders equals loth to wait on one another, was
very strong he found among these people. He was so
preoccupied with these details that it was only just as
he was leaving the place that he remarked the huge
advertisement dioramas that marched majestically
along the upper walls and proclaimed the most
Beyond this place they came into a crowded hall,
and he discovered the cause of the noise that had
perplexed him. They paused at a turnstile at which a
payment was made.
Graham's attention was immediately arrested by a
violent, loud hoot, followed by a vast leathery voice.
"The Master is sleeping peacefully," it said vociferately.
"He is in excellent health. He is going to devote the
rest of his life to aeronautics. He says women are
more beautiful than ever. Galloop! Wow! Our
wonderful civilisation astonishes him beyond measure.
Beyond all measure. Galloop. He puts great trust
in Boss Ostrog, absolute confidence in Boss Ostrog.
Ostrog is to be his chief minister; is authorised to
remove or reinstate public officers -- all patronage will
be in his hands. All patronage in the hands of Boss
Ostrog! The Councillors have been sent back to their
own prison above the Council House."
Graham stopped at the first sentence, and, looking
up, beheld a foolish trumpet face from which this was
brayed. This was the General Intelligence Machine.
For a space it seemed to be gathering breath, and a
regular throbbing from its cylindrical body was
audible. Then it trumpeted "Galloop, Galloop," and
broke out again.
"Paris is now pacified. All resistance is over.
Galloop! The black police hold every position of
importance in the city. They fought with great bravery,
singing songs written in praise of their ancestors
by the poet Kipling. Once or twice they got out of
hand, and tortured and mutilated wounded and captured
insurgents, men and women. Moral -- don't go
rebelling. Haha! Galloop, Galloop! They are
lively fellows. Lively brave fellows. Let this be a lesson
to the disorderly banderlog of this city. Yah!
Banderlog! Filth of the earth! Galloop, Galloop!"
The voice ceased. There was a confused murmur
of disapproval among the crowd. "Damned niggers."
A man began to harangue near them. "Is
this the Master's doing, brothers? Is this the
"Black police!" said Graham." What is that?
You don't mean --"
Asano touched his arm and gave him a warning
look, and forthwith another of these mechanisms I
screamed deafeningly and gave tongue in a shrill voice.
"Yahaha, Yahah, Yap! Hear a live paper yelp!
Live paper. Yaha! Shocking outrage in Paris.
Yahahah! The Parisians exasperated by the black
police to the pitch of assassination. Dreadful
reprisals. Savage times come again. Blood! Blood!
Yaha!" The nearer Babble Machine hooted stupendously,
"Galloop, Galloop," drowned the end of the
sentence, and proceeded in a rather flatter note than
before with novel comments on the horrors of disorder.
"Law and order must be maintained," said the nearer
"But," began Graham.
"Don't ask questions here," said Asano, "or you
will be involved in an argument."
"Then let us go on," said Graham, "for I want to
know more of this."
As he and his companion pushed their way through
the excited crowd that swarmed beneath these voices,
towards the exit, Graham conceived more clearly the
proportion and features of this room. Altogether,
great and small, there must have been nearly a thousand
of these erections, piping, hooting, bawling and
gabbling in that great space, each with its crowd of
excited listeners, the majority of them men dressed
in blue canvas. There were all sizes of machines,
from the little gossipping mechanisms that chuckled
out mechanical sarcasm in odd corners, through a
number of grades to such fifty-foot giants as that which
had first hooted over Graham.
This place was unusually crowded, because of the
intense public interest in the course of affairs in Paris.
Evidently the struggle had been much more savage
than Ostrog had represented it. All the mechanisms
were discoursing upon that topic, and the repetition
of the people made the huge hive buzz with such
phrases as "Lynched policemen," "Women burnt
alive," "Fuzzy Wuzzy." "But does the Master allow
such things?" asked a man near him. "Is this the
beginning of the Master's rule?"
Is _this_ the beginning of the Master's rule? For a
long time after he had left the place, the hooting,
whistling and braying of the machines pursued him;
"Galloop, Galloop," "Yahahah, Yaha, Yap! Yaha!"
Is this the beginning of the Master's rule?
Directly they were out upon the ways he began to
question Asano closely on the nature of the Parisian
struggle. "This disarmament! What was their
trouble? What does it all mean?" Asano seemed
chiefly anxious to reassure him that it was "all right."
"But these outrages!" "You cannot have an omelette,"
said Asano, "without breaking eggs. It is only
the rough people. Only in one part of the city. All
the rest is all right. The Parisian labourers are the
wildest in the world, except ours."
"What! the Londoners?"
"No, the Japanese. They have to be kept in order."
"But burning women alive!"
"A Commune!" said Asano. "They would rob
you of your property. They would do away with
property and give the world over to mob rule. You
are Master, the world is yours. But there will be no
Commune here. There is no need for black police
"And every consideration has been shown. It is
their own negroes -- French speaking negroes. Senegal
regiments, and Niger and Timbuctoo."
"Regiments?" said Graham, "I thought there was
only one -- ."
"No," said Asano, and glanced at him. "There is
more than one."
Graham felt unpleasantly helpless.
"I did not think," he began and stopped abruptly
He went off at a tangent to ask for information
about these Babble Machines. For the most
part, the crowd present had been shabbily or even
raggedly dressed, and Graham learnt that so far as
the more prosperous classes were concerned, in all
the more comfortable private apartments of the city
were fixed Babble Machines that would speak directly
a lever was pulled. The tenant of the apartment
could connect this with the cables of any of the great
News Syndicates that he preferred. When he learnt
this presently, he demanded the reason of their
absence from his own suite of apartments. Asano
stared. "I never thought," he said. "Ostrog must
have had them removed."
Graham stared. "How was I to know?" he exclaimed.
"Perhaps he thought they would annoy you," said
"They must be replaced directly I return," said
Graham after an interval.
He found a difficulty in understanding that this
news room and the dining hall were not great central
places, that such establishments were repeated almost
beyond counting all over the city. But ever and
again during the night's expedition his ears, in some
new quarter would pick out from the tumult of the
ways the peculiar hooting of the organ of Boss
Ostrog, "Galloop, Galloop!" or the shrill "Yahaha,
Yaha, Yap! -- Hear a live paper yelp!" of its chief
Repeated, too, everywhere, were such _creches_ as the
one he now entered. It was reached by a lift, and
by a glass bridge that flung across the dining hall
and traversed the ways at a slight upward angle. To
enter the first section of the place necessitated the
use of his solvent signature under Asano's direction.
They were immediately attended to by a man in a
violet robe and gold clasp, the insignia of practising
medical men. He perceived from this man's manner
that his identity was known, and proceeded to ask
questions on the strange arrangements of the place
On either side of the passage, which was silent
and padded, as if to deaden the footfall, were narrow
little doors, their size and arrangement suggestive of
the cells of a Victorian prison. But the upper portion
of each door was of the same greenish transparent
stuff that had enclosed him at his awakening,
and within, dimly seen, lay, in every case, a very
young baby in a little nest of wadding. Elaborate
apparatus watched the atmosphere and rang a bell far
away in the central office at the slightest departure
from the optimum of temperature and moisture. A
system of such _creches_ had almost entirely replaced
the hazardous adventures of the old-world nursing.
The attendant presently called Graham's attention to
the wet nurses, a vista of mechanical figures, with
arms, shoulders and breasts of astonishingly realistic
modelling, articulation, and texture, but mere brass
tripods below, and having in the place of features a
flat disc bearing advertisements likely to be of interest
Of all the strange things that Graham came upon
that night, none jarred more upon his habits of
thought than this place. The spectacle of the little
pink creatures, their feeble limbs swaying uncertainly
in vague first movements, left alone, without embrace
or endearment, was wholly repugnant to him. The
attendant doctor was of a different opinion. His
statistical evidence showed beyond dispute that in the
Victorian times the most dangerous passage of life
was the arms of the mother, that there human mortality
had ever been most terrible. On the other
hand this _creche_ company, the International Creche
Syndicate, lost not one-half per cent of the million
babies or so that formed its peculiar care. But Graham's
prejudice was too strong even for those figures.
Along one of the many passages of the place they
presently came upon a young couple in the usual blue
canvas peering through the transparency and laughing
hysterically at the bald head of their first-born.
Graham's face must have showed his estimate of them,
for their merriment ceased and they looked abashed.
But this little incident accentuated his sudden
realisation of the gulf between his habits of thought and the
ways of the new age. He passed on to the crawling
rooms and the Kindergarten, perplexed and distressed.
He found the endless long playrooms were
empty! the latter-day children at least still spent their
nights in sleep. As they went through these, the little
officer pointed out the nature of the toys, developments
of those devised by that inspired sentimentalist
There were nurses here, but much was
done by machines that sang and danced and dandled.
Graham was still not clear upon many points.
"But so many orphans," he said perplexed, reverting
to a first misconception, and learnt again that they
were not orphans.
So soon as they had left the _creche_ he began to
speak of the horror the babies in their incubating
cases had caused him. "Is motherhood gone?" he
said. "Was it a cant? Surely it was an instinct.
This seems so unnatural -- abominable almost."
"Along here we shall come to the dancing place,"
said Asano by way of reply. "It is sure to be
crowded. In spite of all the political unrest it will be
crowded. The women take no great interest in
politics -- except a few here and there. You will see the
mothers -- most young women in London are mothers.
In that class it is considered a creditable thing
to have one child -- a proof of animation. Few
middle class people have more than one. With the
Labour Company it is different. As for motherhood
They still take an immense pride in the children.
They come here to look at them quite often."
"Then do you mean that the population of the
world -- ?"
"Is falling? Yes. Except among the people under
the Labour Company. They are reckless -- ."
The air was suddenly dancing with music, and down
a way they approached obliquely, set with gorgeous
pillars as it seemed of clear amethyst, flowed a
concourse of gay people and a tumult of merry cries and
laughter. He saw curled heads, wreathed brows, and
a happy intricate flutter of gamboge pass triumphant
across the picture.
"You will see," said Asano with a faint smile
"The world has changed. In a moment you will see
the mothers of the new age. Come this way. We
shall see those yonder again very soon."
They ascended a certain height in a swift lift, and
changed to a slower one. As they went on the music
grew upon them, until it was near and full and
splendid, and, moving with its glorious intricacies they
could distinguish the beat of innumerable dancing
feet. They made a payment at a turnstile, and
emerged upon the wide gallery that overlooked the
dancing place, and upon the full enchantment of
sound and sight.
"Here," said Asano, "are the fathers and mothers
of the little ones you saw."
The hall was not so richly decorated as that of the
Atlas, but saving that, it was, for its size, the most
splendid Graham had seen. The beautiful white limbed
figures that supported the galleries reminded
him once more of the restored magnificence of sculpture;
they seemed to writhe in engaging attitudes,
their faces laughed. The source of the music that
filled the place was hidden, and the whole vast shining
floor was thick with dancing couples. "Look at
them," said the little officer, "see how much they
show of motherhood."
The gallery they stood upon ran along the upper
edge of a huge screen that cut the dancing hall on one
side from a sort of outer hall that showed through
broad arches the incessant onward rush of the city
ways. In this outer hall was a great crowd of less
brilliantly dressed people, as numerous almost as
those who danced within, the great majority wearing
the blue uniform of the Labour Company that was
now so familiar to Graham. Too poor to pass the
turnstiles to the festival, they were yet unable to keep
away from the sound of its seductions. Some of them
even had cleared spaces, and were dancing also,
fluttering their rags in the air. Some shouted as they
danced, jests and odd allusions Graham did not understand.
Once someone began whistling the refrain of
the revolutionary song, but it seemed as though that
beginning was promptly suppressed. The corner was
dark and Graham could not see. He turned to the
hall again. Above the caryatidae were marble busts
of men whom that age esteemed great moral emancipators
and pioneers; for the most part their names
were strange to Graham, though he recognised Grant
Allen, Le Gallienne, Nietzsche, Shelley and Goodwin.
Great black festoons and eloquent sentiments reinforced
the huge inscription that partially defaced the
upper end of the dancing place, and asserted that "The
Festival of the Awakening" was in progress.
"Myriads are taking holiday or staying from work
because of that, quite apart from the labourers who
refuse to go back," said Asano. "These people are
always ready for holidays."
Graham walked to the parapet and stood leaning
over, looking down at the dancers. Save for two or
three remote whispering couples, who had stolen
apart, he and his guide had the gallery to themselves.
A warm breath of scent and vitality came up to him.
Both men and women below were lightly clad, bare-armed,
open-necked, as the universal warmth of the
city permitted. The hair of the men was often a mass
of effeminate curls, their chins were always shaven,
and many of them had flushed or coloured cheeks.
Many of the women were very pretty, and all were
dressed with elaborate coquetry. As they swept by
beneath, he saw ecstatic faces with eyes half closed in
"What sort of people are these?" he asked
"Workers -- prosperous workers. What you
would have called the middle class. Independent
tradesmen with little separate businesses have vanished
long ago, but there are store servers, managers,
engineers of a hundred sorts. Tonight is a holiday
of course, and every dancing place in the city
will be crowded, and every place of worship."
"But -- the women?"
"The same. There's a thousand forms of work for
women now. But you had the beginning of the
independent working-woman in your days. Most women
are independent now. Most of these are married
more or less -- there are a number of methods of
contract -- and that gives them more money, and enables
them to enjoy themselves."
"I see," said Graham looking at the flushed faces,
the flash and swirl of movement, and still thinking of
that nightmare of pink helpless limbs." And these
are -- mothers."
"Most of them."
"The more I see of these things the more complex
I find your problems. This, for instance, is a surprise.
That news from Paris was a surprise."
In a little while he spoke again:
"These are mothers. Presently, I suppose, I shall
get into the modern way of seeing things. I have old
habits of mind clinging about me -- habits based, I
suppose, on needs that are over and done with. Of
course, in our time, a woman was supposed not only
to bear children, but to cherish them, to devote herself
to them, to educate them -- all the essentials of moral
and mental education a child owed its mother.
Or went without. Quite a number, I admit, went
without. Nowadays, clearly, there is no more need
for such care than if they were butterflies. I see that!
Only there was an ideal -- that figure of a grave,
patient woman, silently and serenely mistress of a
home, mother and maker of men -- to love her was a
sort of worship --"
He stopped and repeated, "A sort of worship."
"Ideals change," said the little man, "as needs
Graham awoke from an instant reverie and Asano
repeated his words. Graham's mind returned to the
thing at hand.
"Of course I see the perfect reasonableness of this
Restraint, soberness, the matured thought, the unselfish a
act, they are necessities of the barbarous state, the
life of dangers. Dourness is man's tribute to
unconquered nature. But man has conquered nature now
for all practical purposes -- his political affairs are
managed by Bosses with a black police -- and life is
He looked at the dancers again. "Joyous," he
"There are weary moments," said the little officer,
"They all look young. Down there I should be
visibly the oldest man. And in my own time I should
have passed as middle-aged."
"They are young. There are few old people in this
class in the work cities."
"How is that?"
"Old people's lives are not so pleasant as they used
to be, unless they are rich to hire lovers and helpers.
And we have an institution called Euthanasy."
"Ah! that Euthanasy!" said Graham. "The easy
"The easy death. It is the last pleasure. The
Euthanasy Company does it well. People will pay the
sum -- it is a costly thing -- long beforehand, go off to
some pleasure city and return impoverished and
weary, very weary."
"There is a lot left for me to understand," said
Graham after a pause. "Yet I see the logic of it all.
Our array of angry virtues and sour restraints was the
consequence of danger and insecurity. The Stoic, the
Puritan, even in my time, were vanishing types. In
the old days man was armed against Pain, now he is
eager for Pleasure. There lies the difference.
Civilisation has driven pain and danger so far off -- for
well-to-do people. And only well-to-do people matter
now. I have been asleep two hundred years."
For a minute they leant on the balustrading, following
the intricate evolution of the dance. Indeed the
scene was very beautiful.
"Before God," said Graham, suddenly, "I would
rather be a wounded sentinel freezing in the snow than
one of these painted fools!"
"In the snow," said Asano, "one might think
"I am uncivilised," said Graham, not heeding him.
"That is the trouble. I am primitive -- Palaeolithic.
Their fountain of rage and fear and anger is sealed
and closed, the habits of a lifetime make them cheerful
and easy and delightful. You must bear with my
nineteenth century shocks and disgusts. These
people, you say, are skilled workers and so forth. And
while these dance, men are fighting -- men are dying
in Paris to keep the world -- that they may dance."
Asano smiled faintly. "For that matter, men are
dying in London," he said.
There was a moment's silence.
"Where do these sleep?" asked Graham.
"Above and below -- an intricate warren."
"And where do they work? This is -- the domestic
"You will see little work to-night. Half the workers
are out or under arms. Half these people are keeping
holiday. But we will go to the work places if you
For a time Graham watched the dancers, then
suddenly turned away. "I want to see the workers.
I have seen enough of these," he said.
Asano led the way along the gallery across the
dancing hall. Presently they came to a transverse
passage that brought a breath of fresher, colder air.
Asano glanced at this passage as they went past,
stopped, went back to it, and turned to Graham with
a smile. "Here, Sire," he said, "is something -- will
be familiar to you at least -- and yet -- . But I will
not tell you. Come!"
He led the way along a closed passage that presently
became cold. The reverberation of their feet told
that this passage was a bridge. They came into a
circular gallery that was glazed in from the outer
weather, and so reached a circular chamber which
seemed familiar, though Graham could not recall
distinctly when he had entered it before. In this was a
ladder -- the first ladder he had seen since his
awakening -- up which they went, and came into a
high, dark, cold place in which was another almost
vertical ladder. This they ascended, Graham still
But at the top he understood, and recognized the
metallic bars to which he clung. He was in the cage
under the ball of St. Paul's. The dome rose but a
little way above the general contour of the city,
into the still twilight, and sloped away, shining
greasily under a few distant lights, into a circumambient
ditch of darkness.
Out between the bars he looked upon the wind-clear
northern sky and saw the starry constellations
all unchanged. Capella hung in the west, Vega was
rising, and the seven glittering points of the Great
Bear swept overhead in their stately circle about the
He saw these stars in a clear gap of sky. To the
east and south the great circular shapes of
complaining wind-wheels blotted out the heavens, so that the
glare about the Council House was hidden. To the
south-west hung Orion, showing like a pallid ghost
through a tracery of iron-work and interlacing shapes
above a dazzling coruscation of lights. A bellowing
and siren screaming that came from the flying
stages warned the world that one of the aeroplanes
was ready to start. He remained for a space gazing
towards the glaring stage. Then his eyes went back
to the northward constellations.
For a long time he was silent. "This," he said at
last, smiling in the shadow, "seems the strangest thing
of all. To stand in the dome of Saint Paul's and look
once more upon these familiar, silent stars!"
Thence Graham was taken by Asano along devious
ways to the great gambling and business quarters
where the bulk of the fortunes in the city were lost
and made. It impressed him as a well-nigh interminable
series of very high halls, surrounded by tiers upon
tiers of galleries into which opened thousands of
offices, and traversed by a complicated multitude of
bridges, footways, aerial motor rails, and trapeze and
cable leaps. And here more than anywhere the note
of vehement vitality, of uncontrollable, hasty activity.
rose high. Everywhere was violent advertisement,
until his brain swam at the tumult of light and colour.
And Babble Machines of a peculiarly rancid tone were
abundant and filled the air with strenuous squealing
and an idiotic slang. "Skin your eyes and slide,"
"Gewhoop, Bonanza," "Gollipers come and hark!"
The place seemed to him to be dense with people
either profoundly agitated or swelling with obscure
cunning, yet he learnt that the place was comparatively
empty, that the great political convulsion of the
last few days had reduced transactions to an
unprecedented minimum. In one huge place were long
avenues of roulette tables, each with an excited,
undignified crowd about it; in another a
yelping Babel of white-faced women and red-necked
leathery-lunged men bought and sold the
shares of an absolutely fictitious business
undertaking which, every five minutes, paid a dividend of
ten per cent and cancelled a certain proportion of its
shares by means of a lottery wheel.
These business activities were prosecuted with an
energy that readily passed into violence, and Graham
approaching a dense crowd found at its centre a couple
of prominent merchants in violent controversy with
teeth and nails on some delicate point of business
etiquette. Something still remained in life to be fought
for. Further he had a shock at a vehement
announcement in phonetic letters of scarlet flame, each twice
the height of a man, that "WE ASSURE THE PROPRAIET'R.
WE ASSURE THE PROPRAIET'R."
"Who's the proprietor?" he asked.
"But what do they assure me?" he asked. "What
do they assure me?"
"Didn't you have assurance?"
Graham thought. "Insurance?"
"Yes -- Insurance. I remember that was the older
word. They are insuring your life. Dozands of
people are taking out policies, myriads of lions are
being put on you. And further on other people are
buying annuities. They do that on everybody who is
at all prominent. Look there!"
A crowd of people surged and roared, and Graham
saw a vast black screen suddenly illuminated in still
larger letters of burning purple. "Anuetes on the
Propraiet'r -- x 5 pr. G." The people began to boo
and shout at this, a number of hard breathing,
wildeyed men came running past, clawing with hooked
fingers at the air. There was a furious crush about a
Asano did a brief calculation. "Seventeen per cent
per annum is their annuity on you. They would not
pay so much per cent if they could see you now, Sire.
But they do not know. Your own annuities used to
be a very safe investment, but now you are sheer
gambling, of course. This is probably a desperate
bid. I doubt if people will get their money."
The crowd of would-be annuitants grew so thick
about them that for some time they could move neither
forward no backward. Graham noticed what appeared
to him to be a high proportion of women among the
speculators, and was reminded again of the economical
independence of their sex. They seemed remarkably
well able to take care of themselves in the crowd,
using their elbows with particular skill, as he learnt to
his cost. One curly-headed person caught in the
pressure for a space, looked steadfastly at him several
times, almost as if she recognized him, and then,
edging deliberately towards him, touched his hand
with her arm in a scarcely accidental manner, and
made it plain by a look as ancient as Chaldea that he
had found favour in her eyes. And then a lank,
grey-bearded man, perspiring copiously in a noble passion
of self-help, blind to all earthly things save that glaring,
bait, thrust between them in a cataclysmal rush towards
that alluring "x 5 pr. G."
"I want to get out of this," said Graham to Asano.
"This is not what I came to see. Show me the
workers. I want to see the people in blue. These
parasitic lunatics --"
He found himself wedged in a struggling mass c
people, and this hopeful sentence went unfinished.
THE UNDER SIDE
From the Business Quarter they presently passed
by the running ways into a remote quarter of the city,
where the bulk of the manufactures was done. On
their way the platforms crossed the Thames twice, and
passed in a broad viaduct across one of the great roads
that entered the city from the North. In both cases
his impression was swift and in both very vivid. The
river was a broad wrinkled glitter of black sea water,
overarched by buildings, and vanishing either way into
a blackness starred with receding lights. A string of
black barges passed seaward, manned by blue-clad
men. The road was a long and very broad and high
tunnel, along which big-wheeled machines drove
noiselessly and swiftly. Here, too, the distinctive blue
of the Labour Company was in abundance. The
smoothness of the double tracks, the largeness and the
lightness of the big pneumatic wheels in proportion to
the vehicular body, struck Graham most vividly. One
lank and very high carriage with longitudinal metallic
rods hung with the dripping carcasses of many
hundred sheep arrested his attention unduly. Abruptly
the edge of the archway cut and blotted out the
Presently they left the way and descended by a lift
and traversed a passage that sloped downward, and
so came to a descending lift again. The appearance
of things changed. Even the pretence of architectural
ornament disappeared, the lights diminished in
number and size, the architecture became more and
more massive in proportion to the spaces as the
factory quarters were reached. And in the dusty
biscuit-making place of the potters, among the felspar mills
in the furnace rooms of the metal workers, among the
incandescent lakes of crude Eadhamite, the blue
canvas clothing was on man, woman and child.
Many of these great and dusty galleries were silent
avenues of machinery, endless raked out ashen furnaces
testified to the revolutionary dislocation, but
wherever there was work it was being done by slow-moving
workers in blue canvas. The only people not
in blue canvas were the overlookers of the work-places
and the orange-clad Labour Police. And fresh from
the flushed faces of the dancing halls, the voluntary
vigours of the business quarter, Graham could note
the pinched faces, the feeble muscles, and weary eyes
of many of the latter-day workers. Such as he saw at
work were noticeably inferior in physique to the few
gaily dressed managers and forewomen who were
directing their labours. The burly labourers of the
Victorian times had followed the dray horse and all
such living force producers, to extinction; the place of
his costly muscles was taken by some dexterous
machine. The latter-day labourer, male as well as
female, was essentially a machine-minder and feeder,
a servant and attendant, or an artist under direction.
The women, in comparison with those Graham
remembered, were as a class distinctly plain and flat-chested.
Two hundred years of emancipation from
the moral restraints of Puritanical religion, two
hundred years of city life, had done their work in
eliminating the strain of feminine beauty and vigour from
the blue canvas myriads. To be brilliant physically
or mentally, to be in any way attractive or exceptional,
had been and was still a certain way of emancipation
to the drudge, a line of escape to the Pleasure City
and its splendours and delights, and at last to the
Euthanasy and peace. To be steadfast against such
inducements was scarcely to be expected of meanly
nourished souls. In the young cities of Graham's
former life, the newly aggregated labouring mass had
been a diverse multitude, still stirred by the tradition
of personal honour and a high morality; now it was
differentiating into a distinct class, with a moral and
physical difference of its own -- even with a dialect of
They penetrated downward, ever downward, towards
the working places. Presently they passed underneath
one of the streets of the moving ways, and saw its
platforms running on their rails far overhead, and chinks
of white lights between the transverse slits. The
factories that were not working were sparsely lighted;
to Graham they and their shrouded aisles of giant
machines seemed plunged in gloom, and even where
work was going on the illumination was far less
brilliant than upon the public ways.
Beyond the blazing lakes of Eadhamite he came to
the warren of the jewellers, and, with some difficulty
and by using his signature, obtained admission to
these galleries. They were high and dark, and rather
cold. In the first a few men were making ornaments
of gold filigree, each man at a little bench by himself,
and with a little shaded light. The long vista of light
patches, with the nimble fingers brightly lit and
moving among the gleaming yellow coils, and the
intent face like the face of a ghost, in each shadow
had the oddest effect.
The work was beautifully executed, but without any
strength of modelling or drawing, for the most part
intricate grotesques or the ringing of the changes on
a geometrical motif. These workers wore a peculiar
white uniform without pockets or sleeves. They
assumed this on coming to work, but at night they
were stripped and examined before they left the
premises of the Company. In spite of every precaution,
the Labour policeman told them in a depressed
tone, the Company was not infrequently robbed.
Beyond was a gallery of women busied in cutting
and setting slabs of artificial ruby, and next these were
men and women busied together upon the slabs of
copper net that formed the basis of cloisonne tiles.
Many of these workers had lips and nostrils a livid
white, due to a disease caused by a peculiar purple
enamel that chanced to be much in fashion. Asano
apologised to Graham for the offence of their faces, but
excused himself on the score of the convenience of this
route. "This is what I wanted to see," said Graham;
"this is what I wanted to see," trying to avoid a start
at a particularly striking disfigurement that suddenly
stared him in the face.
"She might have done better with herself than
that," said Asano.
Graham made some indignant comments.
"But, Sire, we simply could not stand that stuff
without the purple," said Asano. "In your days
people could stand such crudities, they were nearer the
barbaric by two hundred years."
They continued along one of the lower galleries of
this cloisonne factory, and came to a little bridge that
spanned a vault. Looking over the parapet, Graham
saw that beneath was a wharf under yet more tremendous
archings than any he had seen. Three
barges, smothered in floury dust, were being unloaded
of their cargoes of powdered felspar by a multitude
of coughing men, each guiding a little truck; the dust
filled the place with a choking mist, and turned the
electric glare yellow. The vague shadows of these
workers gesticulated about their feet, and rushed to
and fro against a long stretch of white-washed wall.
Every now and then one would stop to cough.
A shadowy, huge mass of masonry rising out of the
inky water, brought to Graham's mind the thought of
the multitude of ways and galleries and lifts, that rose
floor above floor overhead between him and the sky.
The men worked in silence under the supervision of
two of the Labour Police; their feet made a hollow
thunder on the planks along which they went to and
fro. And as he looked at this scene, some hidden
voice in the darkness began to sing.
"Stop that!" shouted one of the policemen, but the
order was disobeyed, and first one and then all the
white-stained men who were working there had taken
up the beating refrain, singing it defiantly, the Song
of the Revolt. The feet upon the planks thundered
now to the rhythm of the song, tramp, tramp, tramp.
The policeman who had shouted glanced at his fellow,
and Graham saw him shrug his shoulders. He made
no further effort to stop the singing.
And so they went through these factories and places
of toil, seeing many painful and grim things. But
why should the gentle reader be depressed? Surely
to a refined nature our present world is distressing
enough without bothering ourselves about these
miseries to come. We shall not suffer anyhow. Our
children may, but what is that to us? That walk left on
Graham's mind a maze of memories, fluctuating pictures
of swathed halls, and crowded vaults seen through
clouds of dust, of intricate machines, the racing threads
of looms, the heavy beat of stamping machinery, the
roar and rattle of belt and armature, of ill-lit
subterranean aisles of sleeping places, illimitable vistas of
pin-point lights. And here the smell of tanning, and
here the reek of a brewery and here, unprecedented
reeks. And everywhere were pillars and cross archings
of such a massiveness as Graham had never before
seen, thick Titans of greasy, shining brickwork crushed
beneath the vast weight of that complex city world,
even as these anemic millions were crushed by its
complexity. And everywhere were pale features, lean
limbs, disfigurement and degradation.
Once and again, and again a third time, Graham
heard the song of the revolt during his long,
unpleasant research in these places, and once he saw
a confused struggle down a passage, and learnt that
a number of these serfs had seized their bread before
their work was done. Graham was ascending towards
the ways again when he saw a number of blue-clad
children running down a transverse passage, and
presently perceived the reason of their panic in a
company of the Labour Police armed with clubs,
trotting towards some unknown disturbance. And
then came a remote disorder. But for the most part
this remnant that worked, worked hopelessly. All the
spirit that was left in fallen humanity was above in the
streets that night, calling for the Master, and valiantly
and noisily keeping its arms.
They emerged from these wanderings and stood
blinking in the bright light of the middle passage of
the platforms again. They became aware of the
remote hooting and yelping of the machines of one of
the General Intelligence Offices, and suddenly came
men running, and along the platforms and about the
ways everywhere was a shouting and crying. Then
a woman with a face of mute white terror, and another
who gasped and shrieked as she ran.
"What has happened now?" said Graham, puzzled,
for he could not understand their thick speech. Then
he heard it in English and perceived that the thing
that everyone was shouting, that men yelled to one
another, that women took up screaming, that was
passing like the first breeze of a thunderstorm, chill
and sudden through the city, was this: "Ostrog has
ordered the Black Police to London. The Black
Police are coming from South Africa. . . . The
Black Police. The Black Police."
Asano's face was white and astonished; he hesitated,
looked at Graham's face, and told him the thing
he already knew. "But how can they know?" asked
Graham heard someone shouting. "Stop all work.
Stop all work," and a swarthy hunchback, ridiculously
gay in green and gold, came leaping down the platforms
toward him, bawling again and again in good
English, "This is Ostrog's doing, Ostrog, the Knave!
The Master is betrayed." His voice was hoarse and a
thin foam dropped from his ugly shouting mouth. He
yelled an unspeakable horror that the Black Police
had done in Paris, and so passed shrieking, "Ostrog
For a moment Graham stood still, for it had come
upon him again that these things were a dream. He
looked up at the great cliff of buildings on either side,
vanishing into blue haze at last above the lights, and
down to the roaring tiers of platforms, and the
shouting, running people who were gesticulating past.
"The Master is betrayed!" they cried. "The Master
Suddenly the situation shaped itself in his mind real
and urgent. His heart began to beat fast and strong.
"It has come," he said." I might have known. The
hour has come."
He thought swiftly. "What am I to do?"
"Go back to the Council House," said Asano.
"Why should I not appeal -- ? The people are
"You will lose time. They will doubt if it is you.
But they will mass about the Council House. There
you will find' their leaders. Your strength is there
"Suppose this is only a rumour?"
"It sounds true," said Asano.
"Let us have the facts," said Graham.
Asano shrugged his shoulders. "We had better
get towards the Council House," he cried. "That is
where they will swarm. Even now the ruins may be
Graham regarded him doubtfully and followed him.
They went up the stepped platforms to the swiftest
one, and there Asano accosted a labourer. The
answers to his questions were in the thick, vulgar
"What did he say?" asked Graham.
"He knows little, but he told me that the Black
Police would have arrived here before the people
knew -- had not someone in the Wind-Vane Offices
Learnt. He said a girl."
"A girl? Not?"
"He said a girl -- he did not know who she was.
Who came out from the Council House crying aloud,
and told the men at work among the ruins."
And then another thing was shouted, something
that turned an aimless tumult into determinate movements,
it came like a wind along the street. "To your
Wards, to your Wards. Every man get arms. Every
man to his Ward!"
THE STRUGGLE IN THE COUNCIL HOUSE
As Asano and Graham hurried along to the ruins
about the Council House, they saw everywhere the
excitement of the people rising. "To your Wards
To your Wards!" Everywhere men and women in
blue were hurrying from unknown subterranean
employments, up the staircases of the middle path -- at
one place Graham saw an arsenal of the revolutionary
committee besieged by a crowd of shouting men, at
another a couple of men in the hated yellow uniform
of the Labour Police, pursued by a gathering crowd,
fled precipitately along the swift way that went in the
The cries of "To your Wards!" became at last a
continuous shouting as they drew near the
Government quarter. Many of the shouts were
unintelligible. "Ostrog has betrayed us," one man bawled in
a hoarse voice, again and again, dinning that refrain
into Graham's ear until it haunted him. This person
stayed close beside Graham and Asano on the swift
way, shouting to the people who swarmed on the lower
platforms as he rushed past them. His cry about
Ostrog alternated with some incomprehensible orders
Presently he went leaping down and disappeared.
Graham's mind was filled with the din. His plans
were vague and unformed. He had one picture of
some commanding position from which he could
address the multitudes, another of meeting Ostrog face
to face. He was full of rage, of tense muscular
excitement, his hands gripped, his lips were pressed together.
The way to the Council House across the ruins was
impassable, but Asano met that difficulty and took
Graham into the premises of the central post-office.
The post-office was nominally at work, but the
blue-clothed porters moved sluggishly or had stopped to
stare through the arches of their galleries at the
shouting men who were going by outside. "Every
man to his Ward! Every man to his Ward!" Here,
by Asano's advice, Graham revealed his identity.
They crossed to the Council House by a cable
cradle. Already in the brief interval since the
capitulation of the Councillors a great change had been
wrought in the appearance of the ruins. The spurting
cascades of the ruptured sea water-mains had been
captured and tamed, and huge temporary pipes ran
overhead along a flimsy looking fabric of girders. The
sky was laced with restored cables and wires that
served the Council House, and a mass of new fabric
with cranes and other building machines going to and
fro upon it, projected to the left of the white pile.
The moving ways that ran across this area had
been restored, albeit for once running under the open
sky. These were the ways that Graham had seen from
the little balcony in the hour of his awakening, not
nine days since, and the hall of his Trance had been on
the further side, where now shapeless piles of smashed
and shattered masonry were heaped together.
It was already high day and the sun was shining
brightly. Out of their tall caverns of blue electric
light came the swift ways crowded with multitudes of
people, who poured off them and gathered ever denser
over the wreckage and confusion of the ruins. The
air was full of their shouting, and they were pressing
and swaying towards the central building. For the
most part that shouting mass consisted of shapeless
swarms, but here and there Graham could see that a
rude discipline struggled to establish itself. And every
voice clamoured for order in the chaos. "To your
Wards! Every man to his Ward!"
The cable carried them into a hall which Graham
recognised as the ante-chamber to the Hall of the
Atlas, about the gallery of which he had walked days
ago with Howard to show himself to the vanished
Council, an hour from his awakening. Now the place
was empty except for two cable attendants. These
men seemed hugely astonished to recognise the
Sleeper in the man who swung down from the cross
"Where is Helen Wotton?" he demanded. "Where
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