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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
The Sound Of A Tumult
|Page 7 of 8||
"Odd" said Graham. " Guardian? Council?" Then turning his back on the new comer, he asked in an undertone, "Why is this man glaring at me? Is he a mesmerist? "
"Mesmerist! He is a capillotomist."
"Yes--one of the chief. His yearly fee is sixdoz lions."
It sounded sheer nonsense. Graham snatched at the last phrase with an unsteady mind. "Sixdoz lions?" he said.
"Didn't you have lions? I suppose not. You had the old pounds? They are our monetary units."
"But what was that you said--sixdoz? "
"Yes. Six dozen, Sire. Of course things, even these little things, have altered. You lived in the days of the decimal system, the Arab system--tens, and little hundreds and thousands. We have eleven numerals now. We have single figures for both ten and eleven, two figures for a dozen, and a dozen dozen makes a gross, a great hundred, you know, a dozen gross a dozand, and a dozand dozand a myriad. Very simple?"
"I suppose so," said Graham. "But about this cap--what was it? "
The man with the flaxen beard glanced over his shoulder.
"Here are your clothes!" he said. Graham turned round sharply and saw the tailor standing at his elbow smiling, and holding some palpably new garments over his arm. The crop-headed boy, by means of one finger, was impelling the complicated machine towards the lift by which he had arrived. Graham stared at the completed suit. "You don't mean to say--!"
"Just made," said the tailor. He dropped the garments at the feet of Graham, walked to the bed on which Graham had so recently been lying, flung out the translucent mattress, and turned up the looking glass. As he did so a furious bell summoned the thickset man to the corner. The man with the flaxen beard rushed across to him and then hurried out by the archway.
The tailor was assisting Graham into a dark purple combination garment, stockings, vest, and pants in one, as the thickset man came back from the corner to meet the man with the flaxen beard returning from the balcony. They began speaking quickly in an undertone, their bearing had an unmistakable quality of anxiety. Over the purple under-garment came a I complex but graceful garment of bluish white, and I Graham was clothed in the fashion once more and saw himself, sallow-faced, unshaven and shaggy still, but at least naked no longer, and in some indefinable unprecedented way graceful.
"I must shave," he said regarding himself in the glass.
"In a moment," said Howard.
The persistent stare ceased. The young man closed his eyes, reopened them, and with a lean hand extended, advanced on Graham. Then he stopped, with his hand slowly gesticulating, and looked about him.
"A seat," said Howard impatiently, and in a moment the flaxen-bearded man had a chair behind Graham. "Sit down, please," said Howard.
Graham hesitated, and in the other hand of the wildeyed man he saw the glint of steel.
"Don't you understand, Sire?" cried the flaxen-bearded man with hurried politeness. "He is going to cut your hair."
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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