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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 6||
She came upon him at last in a little gallery that ran from the Wind Vane Offices toward his state apartments. The gallery was long and narrow, with a series of recesses, each with an arched fenestration that looked upon a court of palms. He came upon her suddenly in one of these recesses. She was seated. She turned her head at the sound of his footsteps and started at the sight of him. Every touch of colour vanished from her face. She rose instantly, made a step toward him as if to address him, and hesitated. He stopped and stood still, expectant. Then he perceived that a nervous tumult silenced her, perceived too, that she must have sought speech with him to be waiting for him in this place.
He felt a regal impulse to assist her. "I have wanted to see you," he said. "A few days ago you wanted to tell me something--you wanted to tell me of the people. What was it you had to tell me?"
She looked at him with troubled eyes.
"You said the people were unhappy?"
For a moment she was silent still.
"It must have seemed strange to you," she said abruptly.
"It did. And yet--"
"It was an impulse."
"That is all."
She looked at him with a face of hesitation. She spoke with an effort. "You forget," she said, drawing a deep breath.
"Do you mean--?"
"You forget the people."
He looked interrogative.
"Yes. I know you are surprised. For you do not understand what you are. You do not know the things that are happening."
"You do not understand."
"Not clearly, perhaps. But--tell me."
She turned to him with sudden resolution." It is so hard to explain. I have meant to, I have wanted to. And now--I cannot. I am not ready with words. But about you--there is something. It is Wonder. Your sleep--your awakening. These things are miracles. To me at least--and to all the common people. You who lived and suffered and died, you who were a common citizen, wake again, live again, to find yourself Master almost of the earth."
"Master of the earth," he said. "So they tell me. But try and imagine how little I know of it."
"Cities--Trusts--the Labour Company--"
"Principalities, powers, dominions--the power and the glory. Yes, I have heard them shout. I know. I am Master. King, if you wish. With Ostrog, the Boss--"
She turned upon him and surveyed his face with a curious scrutiny. "Well?"
He smiled. "To take the responsibility."
"That is what we have begun to fear." For a moment she said no more. "No," she said slowly. "You will take the responsibility. You will take the responsibility. The people look to you."
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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