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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 5 of 6||
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 her.
"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.
"And then? "
"You could do what you would;--the world is yours."
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 millenium, 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."
" Yes? "
" That you will help me."
"Yes. Does it not occur to you I am absolutely alone? "
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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