The Awakening (Owen Oliver)

The Awakening  (1911) 
by Owen Oliver

Extracted from Adventure magazine, June 1911, pp. 335–342. Title Illustration omitted.


THE AWAKENING

BY OWEN OLIVER

IWOKE suddenly in a strange place—a long room with light oak carving. I was lying on soft cushions on the floor. A rug had been thrown. over me, but I was dressed. There were two long rows of sleepers—men, women, and children—and a number was put at the head of each. Mine was “214,713, London.” One or two numbers had a name underneath, but mine was not there. It was Elsie Anderson, if I remembered myself rightly; but my memories did not come readily.

My left-hand neighbor was holding my wrist. He was “184, Government,-George Raynor.” I remembered the name, and when I raised myself on one elbow, to take a good look at his face I remembered him. I had met him once at an at-home. He was at nice fellow and I liked him. He had said that he hoped we should meet again.

Next I noticed a manuscript in my right hand. I pulled it out and read the title: “The History of the Years of Sleep: 1916–1920. By George Raynor.”

I gave a sharp cry. If it was 1920, I had slept for four years! I made an effort to remember what happened to me. I was going to town for a singing-lesson, and there were swarms of little green flies at Dulwich Station. They stung people, and the people whom they stung fainted. I screamed and tried to beat off the flies with my handkerchief, but they flew upon me—and that was the last thing I remembered. I must have fainted; and the faint had lasted for four years! Perhaps longer, for more years might have passed since Mr. Raynor wrote the history.

How had I come to this place? Where was it? Who were the other sleepers? Why did he gut the book under my pillow? Why did he hold my hand? I guessed that it was a big hospital or building where they had put the sleepers for their security; and I thought that Mr. Raynor had brought me there because he knew me, and that he held my hand because he expected me to be frightened when I woke alone. I was frightened—so frightened that I dared not move or call, For I did not know what might have happened in all these years, and something dreadful must have come again to send Mr. Raynor to sleep.

I lay still for a long time, shivering and listening. I heard no sound but the faint breathing of the sleepers. I thought that everyone but myself must be asleep. Then I heard a howling somewhere outside, the howling of wild beasts. It came nearer and nearer, till at last it was outside the window. The window seemed to be a good way above the ground, but I wasn't sure. I clung to Mr. Raynor's arm and begged him to wake, but he did not stir. He and the rest were evidently in it deep faint or stupor. I gave a scream, and then I fainted, too. The noise had gone when I recovered.

As soon as I was able to rise I got up and staggered to the door, but dared not open it. I staggered toward the windows, but dared not look out. I feared to find the world in the possession of the howling beasts, or of some unknown monsters. I went and shook Mr. Raynor again and called in his ear, entreating him to wake, but without the slightest effect.

I sat down again on my cushions—I seemed to have been made more comfortable than any one else, and I was sure that I had to thank Mr. Raynor for that—and took up the “history”; but I was afraid to read it and learn what horrible things had come to pass—perhaps to find that I was all alone. I prayed a prayer that some one might be still waking in the world and come to me. And then I heard voices in the passage.

At first I thought they came in answer to my prayer, but, after listening for a few moments, some instinct checked the call on my lips. I went cold with fear, and lay down hastily and covered myself and the book with the rug, and pretended to sleep. “They are enemies,” I told myself. “Enemies! If they should come in——!”

They came in, and I peeped at them under my eyelashes. They were a red-faced, elderly man and a gray-haired lady, with a pale, handsome face and cold, cruel eyes. It was she whom I feared. I think I should have spoken to the man, if he had been alone, though I did not like him.


SINCE you will see him,” he said, speaking as if she had annoyed him, “there he is!” He jerked his head toward Mr. Raynor, and she knelt beside the unconscious sleeper.

“He is due to wake in three days?”

“Yes,” he answered; “and the girl the day after, according to the books; but the reinoculations do not always last their full time, you know. She might happen to rouse a day sooner; two or three days even.”

“Oh, she!” said the woman scornfully. “She doesn't matter. She goes to-night, with the rest of them.”

“You can't dispose of them all,” the man protested. “We must have some to fight the cursed wolves. It's no use shaking your head. We must, I tell you! We needn't rouse them all, but I can't get along without a few thousand men. The beasts are getting too much for me. You know what it was like coming here.”

“Yes, yes,” she said. “You can have your men; but we don't want women; at any rate, not her. She dies to-night!”

“Very well,” he said rather sulkily. “The women can go—those of this batch. You'll have to save some of the later sections, or you'll have a mutiny. But it doesn't matter about her in particular. She's just an ordinary, stupid, pretty girl, so far as I can see. The only point is that he has an infatuation about her. The important question is, what are you going to do about him? I rather like the chap, but——

“I don't know,” she said, rocking herself to and fro. “He has disobeyed three times. I gave my word that the third time he should die— He is so like my son!”

“I suppose,” the red-faced man commented, “your son was like you. If he is, and he wakes and finds that you have made away with this '214,713, London' of his, he'll kill you! If you must wake him, why not wake the girl and let him have her? He'll be all right then. If you kill her and spare him, he'll be our worst enemy. I warn you.”

“He'd be my enemy anyhow,” the woman said bitterly. “He would not serve me as I need service, for his own life, or even for hers. They must go to-night with the rest of their batch. Keep 6,000 men—no women and children; 2,000 of them in London. The rest in the usual proportions. Telegraph at once. Yes. He must die. But he's like my son!”

She bent and kissed him, laughing a strange laugh. It reminded me of the howling of the beasts. Then she rose.

“My last weakness,” she said. “It's over. I shall go on to the end now, do not fear.”

“I've never feared anything all my life, except you,” the red-faced man said. “Sometimes I think you're the salvation of the world. Sometimes I think you're the Devil! I don't know.”

“I don't know myself,” said the gray-haired woman.

Then they went, and I fainted again.


WHEN I came to, I judged from the light that it was the after noon. I felt weak and ill and very thirsty, and so terrified that I could not think properly. I believe I should have simply lain still and waited to be killed, if Mr. Raynor had not been before my eyes and if I had not felt sure that I owed my life, so far, to him.

“They shall not kill you!” I declared, and sat up and clenched my teeth and hands, and made myself consider what I could do to save him. I decided that the first step was to read the history, which would probably enable me to understand the situation better.

It was a long story—far too long to set down here; but the main points were these.

The fly—but some people said it was a poison-dust, not an insect—appeared everywhere, all over the world, August 24, 1916, and stung people into a dense stupor. Nearly all the inhabitants of the earth went into the sleep, the account said. Those who remained awake were almost all clever, cruel people. They formed new governments, and called the head people “Powers.” The Chief Power in England was the gray-haired woman. Her name was Ashbury. She did not wish the sleepers to wake, because she wanted to go on ruling. So she proposed to kill them. The Power of the World, an American Jew named Abrahams, who had been a hotel-keeper and considered a bad and unscrupulous man, but who was really a good one, would not agree to this. But, when the sleepers seemed likely to wake, he had to inoculate them, to make them sleep longer, because there wasn't food for them.

He tried to grow food, but the harvests were bad, and the dogs, who had become like wolves from hunger, overran the country. There were pestilences and storms, and those who “woke” were in great trouble; but at last there was a good harvest, and, after most of it had been sown for the next year, he thought it would produce enough to keep everybody. So he persuaded most of the “wakers” to go to sleep too, until it would be ready, so as to economize supplies. That was how Mr. Raynor came to go to sleep. He did not know if he would wake, for the Chief Power was plotting to depose the Power of the World, and if she did, she was sure to kill most of the sleepers.

He had rescued me, and the “disobediences” for which she wished to kill him were all on my account. There was a Chief Physician, and he was a good man and had helped him, and liked me. He was one of those left awake. He said that he meant to dance at my wedding with Mr. Raynor. (The history made it quite plain that Mr. Raynor was in love with me.) He called me “pretty little 214,713, London.” The sleepers had all been numbered, and I suppose the “wakers” had been numbered first, because Mr. Raynor was 184.


II

I DECIDED at once that I would try to find the Chief Physician. The history said that he lived in the building where we slept. (It was the War Office.)

I opened the door and looked into a very long corridor, paneled with brown wood. It was quite empty. I lifted Mr. Raynor in my arms and staggered out with him, and went up-stairs. On the walls there were printed plans of the floor. There were only numbers on them, but one or two had been written across in red ink, “Captain of Guard,” and so on. On the top floor I found “Chief Physician” marked on one.

I opened the door, and staggered in. Mr. Raynor was big and heavy, and I am only small. I was so exhausted that I fell; and then I heard a voice—a kind voice that did not frighten me. “2-1-4-7-1-3, London! Good girl!”

“Water!” I begged. “Water!”

“I can't move, my dear,” the voice said.

I wiped my eyes and looked up, and saw a gentleman rather like my father, bound to a chair; and I got up somehow and tried to untie him.

“You'll never do it with those little fingers,” he said. “There's a penknife in my waistcoat pocket; left hand; my left; the lower one. That's right!”

I cut the knots and he got up and staggered about, stamping and shaking himself to get rid of his stiffness. He asked if I had read the history, and I said yes; and he told me what had happened afterward.

Mrs. Ashbury had gone to America, with a shipful of armed men, to try to kill the Power of the World; but he had been prepared, and had taken them by surprise as they were landing, and defeated them.

So she and those who were left had come back in another ship. She had broken away from the other Governments, and those in England who did not agree with her had fled abroad, or had been killed, unless it was a party in Lancashire, led by a “Suffragette lady,” who had been one of the Powers under Mrs. Ashbury, but would never agree to harming the sleepers. He did not know her fate. Mrs. Ashbury and her followers meant to wake only enough of the sleepers to fight the wolves—and perhaps a few women and children later—and to kill the rest. He had refused to help in the slaughter, and they had to get another doctor to help them. So they threatened to kill him with the first batch that very night.

“I'm afraid they will, little one,” he said; “and you, too. We might possibly get away by ourselves; but not with—our burden.” He shook his head at Mr. Raynor, whom I had lifted on a couch. “I don't suggest your going alone,” he added, “because——

“Because, if I would, I'm not worth saving,” I said. “No. Of course I wouldn't leave him; and you wouldn't, because—he trusted you; and I do. But can't you wake him?”

“No; not till the three days are up. We must try to save him till then.”

He considered for a long while with his chin on his hand.

“I can think of only one way,” he told me at last, “and I fear it requires courage beyond your power, my brave little lady.”

“If there is only one way,” I said, “of course I must try. What is it?”

He did not answer my question at once, but thought again, staring at me as if he did not see me.


I WANT you to understand the situation,” he said. “It is fairer; and, besides, you may see some better plan. It would be possible to get out of this building. There are guards at the doors, but we could get through a window on the ground floor. There are thousands of empty houses where we could hide, if we once got away and if we escaped the wolves—and the human wolves, the followers of the Chief Power. If you and I were alone, there would be a chance; a poor one, but I think our best. With our friend here to carry, there would be no chance at all of escaping so.” A howling rose in the distance, and he took me to the window looking down Whitehall to Big Ben. “Look!” he said; and I looked, and clung to him.

A large party of armed men—about two hundred—were coming from Parliament Street in our direction. Innumerable wolves—dogs of all kinds and sizes, and yet changed from dogs—were following. Sometimes they approached so near that the men faced round with fixed bayonets, or axes. Sometimes a few ran by the side of the party and snapped at men till they were stabbed; and then the other wolves rushed upon them and devoured them.

“They go in flocks,” he told me, “but they rush down all the streets in turn; and with our friend to carry we could never get away from them, or from the patrols. No, we can't escape that way.”

“What is your plan?” I asked.

“We might hide in chimneys, or under the floors; but they would be sure to trace us. It's a poor plan.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “What is your plan?”

He looked at me again for a long while. Then he told me.

“That you should go back to your places,” he said, “and let them think that they kill you. They propose to do it by injecting poison. If they have not changed its prescription—you must risk that—I can inoculate you with an antidote. It will take away all power to move, and a good deal of your sensibility; not all. You will suffer—suffer in body and in mind, my poor child, but you will live. In a day or so you and he will wake. You are both young and active, and he is bold and resourceful. They will probably give up watching the dead. You may escape then—escape, I hope, to a long and happy life together.”

“And you? ”I asked. “You,dear friend?”

“Oh, well,” he said, “I had to die anyhow.”

“I will take no chance of safety that you do not share!” I declared. “He would not, if he were alive—awake, I mean. I answer for his honor. And he shall not wake to find that I deserted you!”

“I shall go out and chance escaping the wolves,” he stated. “You see, it would be no use inoculating myself. When they found me unbound and yet unconscious, they might suspect my plan, and—and make sure of me! Probably of you and of him, too.”

“They shall not find you unbound,” I said. “I will bind you as I found you, and inoculate you. Then I will inoculate him; and then myself. And when I wake—if I wake—I will come to you.”

“Ah, my dear!” he said. “You are brave! But are you brave enough?”

“I have to be!” I said.

We ate and drank. Then we carried Mr. Raynor back to his place, and the Chief Physician inoculated him, showing me how to do it. He marked the place on his own flesh and mine when we went to his room. He kissed my forehead. “The good God strengthen you!” he prayed. Then he sat in his chair, and I bound him. “If we live, I will be a daughter to you,” I promised, “and he will be a son.” Then I inoculated him. He went quickly into a stupor.

“Hide—the syringe—before you—go—too—numb,” he gasped faintly. Then he said no more. Even his eyes did not move, but they were open, and I believed that he could still see and hear.

“I shall be brave,” I told him. “Do not doubt me.”

I kissed his forehead, and went out into the deathly stillness of the empty corridors, and back to my place. I must have screamed if I had not bitten my lips.

The good God must have given me strength, as the Chief Physician said, for I never faltered in my resolution. I wrote on the history what had happened, so that Mr. Raynor might go and rescue the Chief Physician if he woke and I did not. After that I sat by him for a few moments, with my arm round his neck, and my face against his.

“I hardly know you,” I said, “but you love me. And I love you. God help us, dear!”

Then I lay down, covered myself with the rug, dug the syringe into my flesh and pumped in the antidote. I only just succeeded in removing it, the numbness came on so quickly. Then I lay waiting; motionless, unable to stir an eyelid or make a sound, and yet dimly conscious of everything round me—more than dimly conscious of fear. The light grew dimmer and dimmer. I heard the wolves howl four times before I became unable to distinguish Mr. Raynor's face; once more, and then it was quite dark. I heard them howl three times more; and then the death-dealers came, talking to one another unconcernedly, as if they went about some routine task.

There were eight of them. Two women and a man carried lanterns. Three men had large syringes. A lad carried a pail of fluid from which they replenished them. The red-faced man watched. They went along the room in pairs, one holding the lantern while the other knelt by the sleeper and made the injection—two strokes of the piston with a pause between. One pair came to Mr. Raynor and another to me at the same time. I was too numb to feel pain when the great syringe dug deeply into my flesh, but it was well for me that I could not scream. As it was, I made a faint sound.

“Must have been near waking,” the injector said, putting the rug over my shoulders again. “Well, she's safe for another four months.” Evidently he had not been told that he was administering anything but the usual sleeping-injection. To the credit of my countrymen and countrywomen I would record that it is now clear that Mrs. Ashbury deceived them about her intentions, and that very few of them realized that she intended to kill the sleeping world.

“Make him quite safe,” the red-haired man commanded, nodding toward Mr. Raynor. “He's a dangerous man.”

“He's had the usual dose,” the operator answered. “The Chief Physician always said that more was dangerous.”

The red-faced man made no comment, and they passed on, finished their work, and went out. The wolves howled right under the window just then. Soon afterward I went to sleep. I felt as if a weight were crushing me; and I thought that perhaps the antidote had failed. I did not seem to care about myself—it would be good to be at rest, I thought—only about Mr. Raynor and the Chief Physician.


III

IN the early light I woke in great pain. I remembered that the Chief Physician had said that I should suffer. I was glad that Mr. Raynor was unconscious. I thought that if I woke fully I should wake mad. Presently some men came in, and I feared that I should go mad in my stupor.

They did not look at Mr. Raynor or me. Some one called out “214,717” and “214,725,” and they carried off two sleepers, both big men. I suppose they were selected to wake and fight the wolves.

“You can leave the doors open,” the voice called. “The wolves won't matter now.”

Then I think I did go mad for a time. I seemed to be struggling with a tempest of pain and fright, till I became unconscious once more.

I woke, still racked by sharp pains, to find the gray-haired woman kneeling beside Mr. Raynor. She was crying. I tried to call to beg her to keep out the wolves, but no sound would come. When she went, however, she closed the door. I forgot my pains in my thankfulness that we were safe from the wolves, and slipped back into sleep. Sometimes I roused a little at a pang of pain, or rather, after it. For I knew that I had been hurt, rather than felt it. Sometimes I dreamed of green fields, and brooks, and music. Sometimes I dreamed that stones were being heaped and heaped on me.

The dawn of another day was beginning when I became fully conscious again. The pains-were not so violent, and presently they left me almost entirely. I could not hear Mr. Raynor breathe, but I thought that he did. The others were still—quite still. I could not speak, but I could move my eyelids. I blinked and blinked. Presently I could move a little finger; then all my fingers. Gradually the use of my limbs returned, and I sat up, aching all over—not violently, but with a kind of cramp, and feeling as if I had just come to from “gas” at the dentist's.

Mr. Raynor was still “sleeping,” and the Chief Physician had said that he would not wake until some time after us. So I was not worried on his account, after I had ascertained that he really breathed—which was the first thing I did. I was too weak to lift him, and I thought that probably the guards below were gone, and the wolves. So I decided to go up-stairs alone and untie our kind friend, if he still lived. In case I should never return I wrote on the cover of the history and put it beside Mr. Raynor:

I have gone for the Chief Physician. If I do not return, I shall have died. If we live, I will do what you wish. God bless you. 214,713, London.

Elsie Anderson.

The corridors were empty, but I felt sure that I heard wolves upon the floors below, so I ran as fast as my shaking legs would carry me. I found the Chief Physician alive and evidently coming to, but not able to speak. I unbound him and rubbed his hands and bathed his face. In about half an hour he could just stand. Then I heard a sound in the corridor. Pit-pat, pit-pat! I shut the door, and the wolf came and scratched at it and whined and barked. It went away and came again. At last the Chief Physician stumbled to a cupboard and got two axes and two revolvers.

“Take some for him,” I proposed; for, of course, I knew that we should go down to Mr. Raynor at all risks.

“He won't wake yet,” our friend assured me. “It's no use burdening ourselves. We shall have to fight our way, I expect.” He seemed quite cheerful at the prospect of the struggle. “Use the ax when, you can, and take the revolver in your left hand. We'll settle this one first. I'll jam his head in the door. Get ready!”

He opened the door a little. The wolf—it had been a big bull terrier—forced its head through the opening, and I brought the ax down.

“That's one!” said the Chief Physician. “Come on!” And we went out. Strange to say, I had no fear; I felt like a machine.

There were no other wolves on the two upper floors, but some were coming up the stairs from the second floor, where Mr. Raynor was. They retreated before us, growling and snarling. About twenty waited at the foot of the stairs. We had to reach a door some twenty yards along the corridor. We shot three of the beasts, and the others fell upon them; then we made a rush and reached the room. One wolf tore my dress, but the Chief Physician killed him. Another got half through the door after us and caught the Chief Physician's boot, but I blew out its brains.

Mr. Raynor was breathing very faintly. The Chief Physician listened to his heart and felt his pulse. He shook his head several times, and I gasped for breath.

“I do not know the exact effect of the poison and the antidote on a sleeper,” he said at last. “I hope he will wake, but—I do not know. I have done my best, Elsie.”

“You have done your best,” I said, “your very best, dear friend. But if he does not live I do not want to. Is there nothing you can do? Nothing?”

“If I could get a stimulant from my room,” he said, “it might help him. There is nothing really wrong. It is a question whether his heart is strong enough to outlast the struggle between the poison and the antidote. The heart beats more feebly in the sleep, you see. Are you brave enough to be left?”

“I am brave enough not to let you go alone,” I answered.

We went to the door, and peeped out. The wolves had gone. So we decided to take Mr. Raynor up-stairs again, carrying him between us.

We were half-way up the first stairs when we heard a terrific howling overhead, and the shouts of men, and a few women. The wolves had evidently gone up above; and the “wakers” had gone by another way and were pursuing them in force. The fight for which the Chief Power had awakened some of the slumberers was beginning. Shots were fired, and we heard the blows of axes; the wolves seemed to be running along the corridor to the stairs.

“Back to the room!” the Chief Physician cried. But as we reached the corridor the voice of the Chief Power rose above the others, and with one accord we fled down the next staircase. For we thought that she might come in the room to look again at Mr. Raynor. We feared her more than all the wolves.

We reached the main hall, breathless and staggering with our burden; and then the wolves overtook us. They were too terrified to do any harm, but swept on like a sea, knocking us down on the slippery tiled floor and running over us. The pursuers followed in the rear, smiting with their axes, till the wolves were killed or had got through the doorway, running over one an other, three, four, five high. Then we sat up, and the guards formed between us and the doorway, waiting for orders from the gray-haired woman.

She stood at the foot of the white marble stairs, with little streams of red blood running down them, and faced us. She was motionless, like the statue of some evil deity. Mr. Raynor opened his eyes and moved his lips. The Chief Physician and I knelt, holding him between us. He smiled faintly at me, and I smiled at him, putting my arm round him and drawing him against me.

“We live for a moment together,” I whispered; “and perhaps—afterward.” For I saw in her eyes that she would kill us.

There was a long silence, and all waited with their eyes on her.

She moved her lips silently before she spoke. She addressed the Chief Physician.

“Traitor!” she said in a clear, stern voice. “Traitor to us all!” She turned to the rest. “He cabled to Abrahams!” she told them, and there was a fierce murmur.

“Yes,” the Chief Physician told her. “I cabled to the Power of the World—your master and mine. It is you who are the traitor—traitor and murderess!”

“Your Power of the World has not come,” she taunted him. “He does not govern England, and you are a traitor to your country.”

“You are a traitor to mankind!” he answered. “He will come, and then he will kill you!”

“And now,” she said very quietly, “I will kill you.”

“I expected nothing else,” he said. “But, if there is a spark of womanhood or humanity in you——” He was going to ask her to spare us, but she cut him short.

“There is none,” she said, “for traitors! Kill them!”

The crowd advanced upon us, but she made a quick motion with her hand. “Take them outside,” she commanded, passing her hands over her eyes. She sank on the marble steps with her dress dabbling in the blood, and the men seized us and dragged us through the doors. Our arms were round one another, and they did not separate us.

“All in vain,” the Chief Physician muttered; “your courage; and yours!”

“And yours,” said Mr. Raynor, “old friend!”

“No,” I said. “Not in vain, not in vain, my dears! There will be an awakening!” And I kissed my lover and my friend, and they kissed me.


IV

AND then we passed through the doorway, and the wolves rushed upon us like a stormy sea. There were thousands of them—tens and tens of thousands, wolves that had once been dogs, all kinds, all sizes. They covered the wide road and more, for they ran on top of one an other. They came from both directions, and from each way a great army of men and women pursued them in serried ranks, axes in hand—axes dripping red.

The guards dropped us and ran within the doors. The wolves knocked us down, as before, and swarmed over, us; swarmed in heaps that crushed us and almost stifled us; rose like a great wave to the top of the doorway and fell in, one wave after another.

I caught a glimpse of the marble stairway, and wolves were pouring down that, springing at the throats of those who tried to pass up it. I saw the gray-haired woman fall with a dozen holding her. Shrieks and shrieks and shrieks came from inside.

Outside, the men and women, coming both from Charing Cross and from West minster, slew and slew. Every now and then a rush of the wolves—those that were not driven into the building or killed—swept them off their legs. The men and women closed up again and still slaughtered. I can see one little fair-haired woman now, smiting and smiting and smiting. She was a mistress from my old school, and she had always been such a gentle little thing; but the wolves had killed her child.

They killed the heap on top of us, throwing them aside as they slew them and smiting the next. We rose red with the slaughter, and a man, also red, held out his hand to the Chief Physician—a stout, panting, disheveled old Jew man, who seemed to be directing everybody.

“You are the Chief Physician,” he said, “aren't you? They showed me your photo. I am Abrahams; I came at your call.”

They stood there, forgetting every one but themselves, and talked, while the others went into the War Office to finish the last of the wolves. They would have slain the human wolves, too, I think, if any had been left; but there were none. They knew the Chief Power only by her dress.

The Power of the World told how he had come with a handful of men, at the Chief Physician's summons. If England did not rise to support him he must die, he knew. “We run that risk every day,” he said, “and I believed in England.” His belief had been justified. The people had gone over to him everywhere, as soon as they knew what Mrs. Ashbury intended; and though hundreds of thousands of sleepers had been poisoned under her orders—her tools mostly believing that they were merely using the sleeping injection—he had been in time to stop most of the slaughter.

About thirty thousand of the first batch of sleepers had already roused and joined him. He was clearing away the wolves and seeking Mrs. Ashbury and the remains of her Government—who, it seemed, had not heard of his arrival—“to clear them away, too.” But their fellow-wolves had done it for him.

“We are saved,” he declared, “if we can get through the next few days. We have to draft the people to their homes without losing trace of them, and to get the food sup plies distributed to them. We must work, work, work! Nothing like work!” said the stout, disheveled, big old Jew man, who looked like a butcher. I had expected a noble patriarch, and I felt disappointed in him—then. Now I know that he is greater than all the rest.

Mr. Raynor and I had said little all the time, only held hands tightly and looked into each other's eyes.

“You are mine,” he said. “Dear—I do not know your name, but you are mine.”

“It is Elsie,” I told him. “Yes. I am yours.”

And then the Chief Physician touched the arm of the Power of the World.

“Here are two of our best,” he said. “They will work.”

The Power of the World held out his hands to us, and smiled; and then he seemed no longer an old Jew, and something more than a man.

“You are doing the best work in the world,” he told us; “just loving! Never leave off, my dears!”

That was his text and the battle-cry that led us through the struggle of the next fort night. “For the love of those who sleep!” he urged, when some grumbled at our privations. “For the love of those who suffered to save you!” he told those who woke, when their weakened bodies halted at their labors—for we worked till we dropped in those days. “For the love of your old leader!” he pleaded, when even we who were round him thought his counsels too hard.

His last words as Power of the World—in the speech by which he restored the old rulers and resigned all power and place—were the same.

“The best work in the world,” he said, “is the work that all can do—just to love one another. I have done only that. But if you think you owe anything to me, who owe everything to my faithful followers; if you think that the waking of the world is due in any part to my efforts, make it a world of love and good-fellowship—a world that was worth making!

And so, because all the world loved him. every country all over the earth passed one great law of peace and fellowship and good will; and, to mark the fact that the days of war and strife were over, the calendar of the years was started afresh; and I, Elsie Raynor, formerly Anderson, wife of George Raynor, Secretary of the Traffic Reorganization Board, write this account in Year One of the Awakening.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.


The author died in 1933, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 88 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.