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When the Sleeper Wakes H. G. [Herbert George] Wells


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He laughed and turned to the oval reflection again to show Graham what he meant by flying stages. Even the four nearer ones were remote and obscured by a thin morning haze. But Graham could perceive they were very vast structures, judged even by the standard of the things about them.

And then as these dim shapes passed to the left there came again the sight of the expanse across which the disarmed men in red had been marching. And then the black ruins, and then again the beleaguered white fastness of the Council. It appeared no longer a ghostly pile, but glowing amber in the sunlight, for a cloud shadow had passed. About it the pigmy struggle still hung in suspense, but now the red defenders were no longer firing.

So, in a dusky stillness, the man from the nineteenth century saw the closing scene of the great revolt, the forcible establishment of his rule. With a quality of startling discovery it came to him that this was his world, and not that other he had left behind; that this was no spectacle to culminate and cease; that in this world lay whatever life was still before him, lay all his duties and dangers and responsibilities. He turned with fresh questions. Ostrog began to answer them, and then broke off abruptly. "But these things I must explain more fully later. At present there are--duties. The people are coming by the moving ways towards this ward from every part of the city-- the markets and theatres are densely crowded. You are just in time for them. They are clamouring to see you. And abroad they want to see you. Paris, New York, Chicago, Denver, Capri--thousands of cities are up and in a tumult, undecided, and clamouring to see you. They have clamoured that you should be awakened for years, and now it is done they will scarcely believe--"

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But surely--I can't go . . ."

Ostrog answered from the other side of the room, 1. and the picture on the oval disc paled and vanished ' as the light jerked back again." There are kinetotele-photographs," he said. "As you bow to the people here--all over the world myriads of myriads of people, packed and still in darkened halls, will see you also. In black and white, of course--not like this. And you will hear their shouts reinforcing the shouting in the hall.

"And there is an optical contrivance we shall use," said Ostrog, "used by some of the posturers and women dancers. It may be novel to you. You stand in a very bright light, and they see not you but a magnified image of you thrown on a screen--so that even the furtherest man in the remotest gallery can, if he chooses, count your eyelashes."

Graham clutched desperately at one of the questions in his mind. "What is the population of London?"

"Eight and twaindy myriads."

"Eight and what? "

"More than thirty-three millions."

These figures went beyond Graham's imagination "You will be expected to say something," said Ostrog. "Not what you used to call a Speech, but what our people call a Word--just one sentence, six or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest--' I have awakened and my heart is with you.' That is the sort of thing they want."

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When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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