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Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887 Edward Bellamy

Chapter 28

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It's a little after the time you told me to wake you, sir. You did not come out of it as quick as common, sir."

The voice was the voice of my man Sawyer. I started bolt upright in bed and stared around. I was in my underground chamber. The mellow light of the lamp which always burned in the room when I occupied it illumined the familiar walls and furnishings. By my bedside, with the glass of sherry in his hand which Dr. Pillsbury prescribed on first rousing from a mesmeric sleep, by way of awakening the torpid physical functions, stood Sawyer.

"Better take this right off, sir," he said, as I stared blankly at him. "You look kind of flushed like, sir, and you need it."

I tossed off the liquor and began to realize what had happened to me. It was, of course, very plain. All that about the twentieth century had been a dream. I had but dreamed of that enlightened and care-free race of men and their ingeniously simple institutions, of the glorious new Boston with its domes and pinnacles, its gardens and fountains, and its universal reign of comfort. The amiable family which I had learned to know so well, my genial host and Mentor, Dr. Leete, his wife, and their daughter, the second and more beauteous Edith, my betrothed --these, too, had been but figments of a vision.

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For a considerable time I remained in the attitude in which this conviction had come over me, sitting up in bed gazing at vacancy, absorbed in recalling the scenes and incidents of my fantastic experience. Sawyer, alarmed at my looks, was meanwhile anxiously inquiring what was the matter with me. Roused at length by his importunities to a recognition of my surroundings, I pulled myself together with an effort and assured the faithful fellow that I was all right. "I have had an extraordinary dream, that's all, Sawyer," I said, "a most-ex-traor-dinary-dream." I dressed in a mechanical way, feeling light-headed and oddly uncertain of myself, and sat down to the coffee and rolls which Sawyer was in the habit of providing for my refreshment before I left the house. The morning newspaper lay by the plate. I took it up, and my eye fell on the date, May 31, 1887. I had known, of course, from the moment I opened my eyes that my long and detailed experience in another century had been a dream, and yet it was startling to have it so conclusively demonstrated that the world was but a few hours older than when I had lain down to sleep.

Glancing at the table of contents at the head of the paper, which reviewed the news of the morning, I read the following summary:

FOREIGN AFFAIRS.--The impending war between France and Germany. The French Chambers asked for new military credits to meet Germany's increase of her army. Probability that all Europe will be involved in case of war.--Great suffering among the unemployed in London. They demand work. Monster demonstration to be made. The authorities uneasy.--Great strikes in Belgium. The government preparing to repress outbreaks. Shocking facts in regard to the employment of girls in Belgium coal mines.--Wholesale evictions in Ireland.

"HOME AFFAIRS.--The epidemic of fraud unchecked. Embezzlement of half a million in New York.--Misappropriation of a trust fund by executors. Orphans left penniless.--Clever system of thefts by a bank teller; $50,000 gone.--The coal barons decide to advance the price of coal and reduce production.-- Speculators engineering a great wheat corner at Chicago.--A clique forcing up the price of coffee.--Enormous land-grabs of Western syndicates.--Revelations of shocking corruption among Chicago officials. Systematic bribery.--The trials of the Boodle aldermen to go on at New York.--Large failures of business houses. Fears of a business crisis.--A large grist of burglaries and larcenies.--A woman murdered in cold blood for her money at New Haven.--A householder shot by a burglar in this city last night.--A man shoots himself in Worcester because he could not get work. A large family left destitute.--An aged couple in New Jersey commit suicide rather than go to the poor-house.-- Pitiable destitution among the women wage-workers in the great cities.--Startling growth of illiteracy in Massachusetts.--More insane asylums wanted.--Decoration Day addresses. Professor Brown's oration on the moral grandeur of nineteenth century civilization."

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Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887
Edward Bellamy

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