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|The Ending Of War||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 2 of 6||
'I am going to chuck all that nonsense,' said the king, as Firmin prepared to speak. 'I am going to fling my royalty and empire on the table--and declare at once I don't mean to haggle. It's haggling--about rights--has been the devil in human affairs, for--always. I am going to stop this nonsense.'
Firmin halted abruptly. 'But, sir!' he cried.
The king stopped six yards ahead of him and looked back at his adviser's perspiring visage.
'Do you really think, Firmin, that I am here as--as an infernal politician to put my crown and my flag and my claims and so forth in the way of peace? That little Frenchman is right. You know he is right as well as I do. Those things are over. We--we kings and rulers and representatives have been at the very heart of the mischief. Of course we imply separation, and of course separation means the threat of war, and of course the threat of war means the accumulation of more and more atomic bombs. The old game's up. But, I say, we mustn't stand here, you know. The world waits. Don't you think the old game's up, Firmin?'
Firmin adjusted a strap, passed a hand over his wet forehead, and followed earnestly. 'I admit, sir,' he said to a receding back, 'that there has to be some sort of hegemony, some sort of Amphictyonic council----'
'There's got to be one simple government for all the world,' said the king over his shoulder.
'But as for a reckless, unqualified abandonment, sir----'
'BANG!' cried the king.
Firmin made no answer to this interruption. But a faint shadow of annoyance passed across his heated features.
'Yesterday,' said the king, by way of explanation, 'the Japanese very nearly got San Francisco.'
'I hadn't heard, sir.'
'The Americans ran the Japanese aeroplane down into the sea and there the bomb got busted.'
'Under the sea, sir?'
'Yes. Submarine volcano. The steam is in sight of the Californian coast. It was as near as that. And with things like this happening, you want me to go up this hill and haggle. Consider the effect of that upon my imperial cousin--and all the others!'
'HE will haggle, sir.'
'Not a bit of it,' said the king.
'Leblanc won't let him.'
Firmin halted abruptly and gave a vicious pull at the offending strap. 'Sir, he will listen to his advisers,' he said, in a tone that in some subtle way seemed to implicate his master with the trouble of the knapsack.
The king considered him.
'We will go just a little higher,' he said. 'I want to find this unoccupied village they spoke of, and then we will drink that beer. It can't be far. We will drink the beer and throw away the bottles. And then, Firmin, I shall ask you to look at things in a more generous light.... Because, you know, you must....'
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|The World Set Free
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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