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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
In The Silent Rooms
|Page 5 of 7||
And in those three days Graham's incessant thoughts went far and wide. All that he had seen, all this elaborate contrivance to prevent him seeing, worked together in his mind. Almost every possible interpretation of his position he debated--even as it chanced, the right interpretation. Things that presently happened to him, came to him at last credible, by virtue of this seclusion. When at length the moment of his release arrived, it found him prepared.
Howard's bearing went far to deepen Graham's impression of his own strange importance; the door between its opening and closing seemed to admit with him a breath of momentous happening. His enquiries became more definite and searching. Howard retreated through protests and difficulties. The awakening was unforeseen, he repeated; it happened to have fallen in with the trend of a social convulsion.
"To explain it I must tell you the history of a gross and a half of years," protested Howard.
"The thing is this," said Graham. "You are afraid of something I shall do. In some way I am arbitrator--I might be arbitrator."
" It is not that. But you have--I may tell you this much--the automatic increase of your property puts great possibilities of interference in your hands. And in certain other ways you have influence, with your eighteenth century notions."
"Nineteenth century," corrected Graham.
"With your old world notions, anyhow, ignorant as you are of every feature of our State."
"Am I a fool? "
"Do I seem to be the sort of man who would act rashly?"
"You were never expected to act at all. No one counted on your awakening. No one dreamt you would ever awake. The Council had surrounded you with antiseptic conditions. As a matter of fact, we thought that you were dead--a mere arrest of decay. And--but it is too complex. We dare not suddenly--while you are still half awake."
"It won't do," said Graham. "Suppose it is as you say--why am I not being crammed night and day with facts and warnings and all the wisdom of the time to fit me for my responsibilities? Am I any wiser now than two days ago, if it is two days, when I awoke?"
Howard pulled his lip.
"I am beginning to feel--every hour I feel more clearly--a sense of complex concealment of which you are the salient point. Is this Council, or committee, or whatever they are, cooking the accounts of my estate? Is that it? "
"That note of suspicion--" said Howard.
" Ugh!" said Graham. "Now, mark my words, it will be ill for those who have put me here. It will be ill. I am alive. Make no doubt of it, I am alive. Every day my pulse is stronger and my mind clearer and more vigorous. No more quiescence. I am a man come back to life. And I want to _live---_"
Howard's face lit with an idea. He came towards Graham and spoke in an easy confidential tone.
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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