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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 3 of 4||
Warming turned. "And I have grown old too. I played cricket with him when I was still only a lad. And he looks a young man still. Yellow perhaps. But that is a young man nevertheless."
"And there's been the War," said Isbister.
"From beginning to end."
"And these Martians."
"I've understood," said Isbister after a pause, "that he had some moderate property of his own?"
"That is so," said Warming. He coughed primly. "As it happens--have charge of it."
"Ah!" Isbister thought, hesitated and spoke: "No doubt--his keep here is not expensive--no doubt it will have improved--accumulated?"
"It has. He will wake up very much better off--if he wakes--than when he slept."
"As a business man," said Isbister, "that thought has naturally been in my mind. I have, indeed, sometimes thought that, speaking commercially, of course, this sleep may be a very good thing for him. That he knows what he is about, so to speak, in being insensible so long. If he had lived straight on--"
"I doubt if he would have premeditated as much," said Warming. "He was not a far-sighted man. In fact--"
"We differed on that point. I stood to him somewhat in the relation of a guardian. You have probably seen enough of affairs to recognise that occasionally a certain friction--. But even if that was the case, there is a doubt whether he will ever wake. This sleep exhausts slowly, but it exhausts. Apparently he is sliding slowly, very slowly and tediously, down a long slope, if you can understand me? "
"It will be a pity to lose his surprise. There's been a lot of change these twenty years. It's Rip Van Winkle come real."
"It's Bellamy," said Warming." There has been a lot of change certainly. And, among other changes, I have changed. I am an old man."
Isbister hesitated, and then feigned a belated surprise. "I shouldn't have thought it."
"I was forty-three when his bankers--you remember you wired to his bankers--sent on to me."
"I got their address from the cheque book in his pocket," said Isbister.
"Well, the addition is not difficult," said Warming.
There was another pause, and then Isbister gave way to an unavoidable curiosity. "He may go on for years yet," he said, and had a moment of hesitation. "We have to consider that. His affairs, you know, may fall some day into the hands of--someone else, you know."
"That, if you will believe me, Mr. Isbister, is one of the problems most constantly before my mind. We happen to be--as a matter of fact, there are no very trustworthy connections of ours. It is a grotesque and unprecedented position."
"It is," said Isbister. "As a matter of fact, it's a case for a public trustee, if only we had such a functionary."
"It seems to me it's a case for some public body, some practically undying guardian. If he really is going on living--as the doctors, some of them, think. As a matter of fact, I have gone to one or two public men about it. But, so far, nothing has been done."
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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