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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
The People March
|Page 1 of 4||
He became aware of someone urging a glass of clear fluid upon his attention, looked up and discovered this was a dark young man in a yellow garment. He took the dose forthwith, and in a moment he was glowing. A tall man in a black robe stood by his shoulder, and pointed to the half open door into the hall. This man was shouting close to his ear and yet what was said was indistinct because of the tremendous uproar from the great theatre. Behind the man was a girl in a silvery grey robe, whom Graham, even in this confusion, perceived to be beautiful. Her dark eyes, full of wonder and curiosity,-were fixed on him, her lips trembled apart. A partially opened door gave a glimpse of the crowded hall, and admitted a vast uneven tumult, a hammering, clapping and shouting that died away and began again, and rose to a thunderous pitch, and so continued intermittently all the time that Graham remained in the little room. He watched the lips of the man in black and gathered that he was making some clumsy explanation.
He stared stupidly for some moments at these things and then stood up abruptly; he grasped the arm of this shouting person.
"Tell me !" he cried. " Who am I? Who am I?"
The others came nearer to hear his words. "Who am I?" His eyes searched their faces.
"They have told him nothing!" cried the girl.
"Tell me, tell me !" cried Graham.
"You are the Master of the Earth. You are owner of half the world."
He did not believe he heard aright. He resisted the persuasion. He pretended not to understand, not to hear. He lifted his voice again. "I have been awake three days--a prisoner three days. I judge there is some struggle between a number of people in this city--it is London?"
"Yes," said the younger man.
"And those who meet in the great hall with the white Atlas? How does it concern me? In some way it has to do with me. Why, I don't know. Drugs? It seems to me that while I have slept the world has gone mad. I have gone mad."
"Who are those Councillors under the Atlas? Why should they try to drug me?"
"To keep you insensible," said the man in yellow.
"To prevent your interference."
" But why?_"
"Because _you_ are the Atlas, Sire," said the man in yellow. "The world is on your shoulders. They rule it in your name."
The sounds from the hall had died into a silence threaded by one monotonous voice. Now suddenly, trampling on these last words, came a deafening tumult, a roaring and thundering, cheer crowded on cheer, voices hoarse and shrill, beating, overlapping, and while it lasted the people in the little room could not hear each other shout.
Graham stood, his intelligence clinging helplessly to the thing he had just heard. "The Council," he repeated blankly, and then snatched at a name that had struck him. "But who is Ostrog?" he said.
"He is the organiser--the organiser of the revolt. Our Leader--in your name."
"In my name?--And you? Why is he not here?"
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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