When I awoke, I was lying on a couch and a screen bedecked with cupids was standing before me. At first I thought I was alone and then I realized that I was in Marguerite's apartment and that Marguerite herself was seated on a low stool beside the couch and gazing at me out of dreamy eyes.
"How did I get here?" I asked.
"You fell asleep while you were talking, and then some one came for books, and when the bell rang I hid you with the screen."
"How long have I slept?"
"For many hours," she answered.
"I ought not to have come," I said, but despite my remark I made no haste to go, but reached out and ran my fingers through her massy hair. And then I slowly drew her toward me until her luxuriant locks were tumbled about my neck and face and her head was pillowed on my breast.
"I am so happy," she whispered. "I am so glad you came first to me."
For a moment my reason was drugged by the opiate of her touch; and then, as the realization of the circumstances re-formed in my brain, the feeling of guilt arose and routed the dreamy bliss. Yet I could only blame myself, for there was no guile in her act or word, nor could I believe there was guile in her heart. Gently I pushed her away and arose, stating that I must leave at once.
It was plainly evident that Marguerite did not share my sense of embarrassment, that she was aware of no breach of ethics. But her ease only served to impress upon me the greater burden of my responsibility and emphasize the breach of honour of which I was guilty in permitting this expression of my love to a woman whom circumstances had bound to Zimmern.
Pleading need for rest and for time to plan my interview with His Majesty, I hastened away, feeling that I dare not trust myself alone with her again.
I returned to my own apartment, and when another day had passed, food and sleep had fully restored me to a normal state. I then recalled my promise to inform Hellar and Zimmern of the outcome of my demonstration. I called at Zimmern's quarters but he was not at home. Hence I went to call on Hellar, to ask of Zimmern's whereabouts.
"I have an appointment to meet him tonight," said Hellar, "on the Level of Free Women. Will you not come along?"
I could not well do otherwise than accept, and Hellar led me again to the apartment from which I had fled twenty-four hours before. There we found Zimmern, who received me with his usual graciousness.
"I have already heard from Marguerite," said Zimmern, "of your success."
I glanced apprehensively at the girl but she was in no wise disturbed, and proceeded to relate for Hellar's information the story of my coming to her exhausted from my work and of my falling asleep in her apartment. All of them seemed to think it amusing, but there was no evidence that any one considered it the least improper. Their matter-of-fact attitude puzzled and annoyed me; they seemed to treat the incident as if it had been the experience of a couple of children.
This angered me, for it seemed proof that they considered Marguerite's love as the common property of any and all.
"Could it be," I asked myself, "that jealousy has been bred and trained out of this race? Is it possible they have killed the instinct that demands private and individual property in love?" Even as I pondered the problem it seemed answered, for as I sat and talked with Zimmern and Hellar of my chemical demonstration and the coming interview with His Majesty, Marguerite came and seated herself on the arm of my chair and pillowed her head on my shoulder.
Troubled and embarrassed, yet not having the courage to repulse her caresses, I stared at Zimmern, who smiled on us with indulgence. In fact it seemed that he actually enjoyed the scene. My anger flamed up against him, but for Marguerite I had only pity, for her action seemed so natural and unaffected that I could not believe that she was making sport of me, and could only conclude that she had been so bred in the spirit of the place that she knew nothing else.
My talk with the men ended as had the last one, without arriving at any particular plan of action, and when Hellar arose first to go, I took the opportunity to escape from what to me was an intolerable situation.
I separated from Hellar and for an hour or more I wandered on the level. Then resolving to end the strain of my enigmatical position I turned again toward Marguerite's apartment. She answered my ring. I entered and found her alone.
"Marguerite," I began, "I cannot stand this intolerable situation. I cannot share the love of a woman with another man—I cannot steal a woman's love from a man who is my friend—"
At this outburst Marguerite only stared at me in puzzled amazement. "Then you do not want me to love you," she stammered.
"God knows," I cried, "how I do want you to love me, but it must not be while Dr. Zimmern is alive and you—"
"So," said a voice—and glancing up I saw Zimmern himself framed in the doorway of the book room. The old doctor looked from me to Marguerite, while a smile beamed on his courtly countenance.
"Sit down and calm yourself, Armstadt," said Zimmern. "It is time I spoke to you of Marguerite and of the relation I bear to her. As you know, I brought her to this level from the school for girls of forbidden birth. But what you do not know is that she was born on the Royal Level.
"I knew Marguerite's mother. She was Princess Fedora, a third cousin of the Empress. I was her physician, for I have not always been in the Eugenic Service. But Marguerite was born out of wedlock, and the mother declined to name the father of her child. Because of that the child was consigned to the school for forbidden love-children, which meant that she would be fated for the life of a free woman and become the property of such men as had the price to pay.
"When her child was taken away from her, the mother killed herself; and because I declined to testify as to what I knew of the case I lost my commission as a physician of Royalty. But still having the freedom of the school levels, I was permitted to keep track of Marguerite. As soon as she reached the age of her freedom I brought her here, and by the aid of her splendid birth and the companionship of thinking men she has become the woman you now find her."
In my jealousy I had listened to the first words of the old doctor with but little comprehension. But as he talked on so calmly and kindly an eager hope leaped up within me. Was it possible that it had been I who had misunderstood—and that Zimmern's love for Marguerite was of another sort than mine?
Tensely I awaited his further words, but I did not dare to look at Marguerite, who had taken her place beside him.
"I brought her here," Zimmern continued, "for there was no other place where she could go except into the keeping of some man. I have given her the work of guarding our books, and for that I could have well afforded to pay for her living.
"You find in Marguerite a woman of intelligence, and there are few enough like her. And she finds in you a man of rare gifts, and you are both young, so it is not strange that you two should love each other. All this I considered before I brought you here to meet her. I was happy when Marguerite told me that it was so. But your happiness is marred, because you, Armstadt, think that I am in the way; you have believed that I bear the relation to Marguerite that the fact of my paying for her presence on this level would imply.
"It speaks well of your honour," the doctor went on, "that you have felt as you did. I should have explained sooner, but I did not wish to speak of this until it was necessary to Marguerite's happiness. But now that I have spoken there is nothing to stand in the way of your happiness, for Marguerite is as worthy of your love as if she had but made her debut on the Royal Level to which she was born. As for what is to be between you, I can only leave it to the best that is in yourselves, and whatever that may be has my blessing."
As I listened to the doctor's words entranced with rapture, the vision of Marguerite floated hazily before my eyes as if she were an ethereal essence that might, at any moment, be snatched away. But as the doctor's words ceased my eyes met Marguerite's and all else seemed to fade but the love light that shone from out their liquid depths.
Forgetting utterly the presence of the man whose words had set us free, our hearts reached out with hungry arms to claim their own.
For us, time lost her reckoning amidst our tears and kisses, and when my brain at last made known to me the existence of other souls than ours, I looked up and found that we were alone. A saucy little clock ticked rhythmically on a mantel. I felt an absurd desire to smash it, for the impudent thing had been running all the while.
IN WHICH I SALUTE THE STATUE OF GOD AND A PSYCHIC EXPERT EXPLORES MY BRAIN AND FINDS NOTHING
The Chemical Staff called for me at my laboratory to conduct me to the presence of the Emperor. At the elevator we were met by an electric vehicle manned fore and aft by pompous guards. Through the wide, high streets we rolled noiselessly past the decorated facades of the spacious apartments that housed the seventeen thousand members of the House of Hohenzollern.
At times the ample streets broadened into still more roomy avenues where potted trees alternated with the frescoed columns, and beyond which were luxurious gardens and vast statuary halls. On the Level of Free Women the life was one of crowded revelry, of the bauble and delights of carnival, but on the Royal Level there was an atmosphere of luxurious leisure, with vast spaces given over to the privacy of aristocratic idleness.
An occasional vehicle rolled swiftly past us on the glassy smoothness of the pavement; more rarely lonely couples strolled among the potted trees or sat in dreamy indolence beside the fountains. There was no crowding, no mass of humanity, no narrow halls, no congested apartments. All structure here was on a scale of magnificent size and distances, while by comparison the men and women appeared dwarfed, but withal distinctive in their costumes and regal in their leisurely idleness.
After some kilometres of travel we came to His Majesty's palace, which stood detached from all other enclosed structures and was surrounded on all sides by ever-necessary columns that seemed like a forest of tree trunks spaced and distanced in geometrical design.
As we approached the massive doorway of the palace, our party paused, and stood stiffly erect. Before us were two colossal statues of glistening white crystal. My fellow scientists faced one of the figures, which I recognized as that of William II, and I, a little tardily, saluted with them. And now we turned sharply on our heels and saluted the second figure of these twin German heroes. For German it was unmistakably in every feature, save for the one oddity that the Teutonic face wore a flowing beard not unlike that of Michael Angelo's Moses. As we moved forward my eye swept in the lettering on the pedestal, "Unser Alte Deutche Gott," and I was aware that I had acknowledged my allegience to the supreme war lord—I had saluted the Statue of God.
Entering the palace we were conducted through a long hall-way hung with floral tapestries. We passed through several great metal doors guarded by stalwart leaden-faced men and came at last into the imperial audience room, where His Majesty, Eitel I, satellited by his ministers, sat stiff and upright at the head of the council table.
Though he had seemed a small man when I had seen him in the dazzling beam of the reflected sunlight, I now perceived that he was of more than average stature. He wore no crown and no helmet, but only a crop of stiff iron grey hair brushed boldly upright. His face was stern, his nose beak-like, and his small eyes grey and piercing. Over the high back of his chair was thrown his cape, and he was clad in a jacket of white cellulose velvet buttoned to the throat with large platinum buttons.
Formally presented by one of the secretaries we made our stiff bows and were seated at the table facing His Majesty across the unlittered surface of black glass.
The Emperor nodded to the Chief of the Chemical Staff who arose and read the report of my solution of the protium problem. He ended by advising that the process should immediately replace the one then in use in the extraction of the ore in the industrial works and that I was recommended for promotion to the place to be vacated by the retiring member of the Chemical Staff and should be given full charge of the protium industry.
Emperor Eitel listened with solemn nods of approval. When the reading was finished he arose and proclaimed the retirement with honour, and because of his advanced age, of Herr von Uhl. The old chemist now stepped forward and the Emperor removed from von Uhl's breast the insignia of active Staff service and replaced it with the insignia of honourable retirement.
In my turn I also stood before His Majesty, who when he had pinned upon my breast the Staff insignia said: "I hereby commission you as Member of the Chemical Staff and Director of the Protium Works. Against the fortune, to be accredited to you and your descendants, you are authorized to draw from the Imperial Bank a million marks a year. That you shall more graciously befit this fortune I confer upon you the title of 'von' and the social privilege of the Royal Level."
When the formal ceremonies were ended I again arose and addressed the Emperor. "Your Majesty," I said, as I looked unflinchingly at his iron visage, "I beg leave to make a personal petition."
"State it," commanded the Emperor.
"I wish to ask that you restore to the Royal Level a girl who is now in the Level of the Free Women, and known there as Marguerite 78 K 4, but who was born on the Royal Level as a daughter of Princess Fedora of the House of Hohenzollern."
A hush of consternation fell upon those about the table.
"Your petition," said the Emperor, "cannot be granted."
"Then," I said, speaking with studied emphasis, "I cannot proceed with the work of extracting protium."
An angry cloud gathered on the face of Eitel I. "Herr von Armstadt," he said, "the title and awards which have just been conferred upon you are irrevocable. But if you decline to perform the duties of your office those duties can be performed by others."
"But others cannot perform them," I replied. "The demonstration I conducted was genuine, but the formulas I have given were not genuine. The true formulas for my method of extracting protium are locked within my brain and I will reveal them only when the petition I ask has been granted."
At these words the Emperor pounded on the table with a heavy fist. "What does this mean?" he demanded of the Chemical Staff.
"It is a lie," shouted the Chief of the Staff. "We have the formulas and they are correct, for we saw the demonstration conducted with the ingredients stated in the formulas which Armstadt gave us."
"Very well," I cried; "go try your formulas; go repeat the demonstration, if you can."
The Emperor, glaring his rage, punched savagely at a signal button on the arm of his chair.
Two palace guards answered the summons. "Arrest this man," shouted His Majesty, "and keep him in close confinement; permit him to see no one."
Without further ado I was led off by the guards, while the Emperor shouted imprecations at the Chemical Staff.
The place to which I was conducted was a suite of rooms in a remote corner of the Royal Palace. There was a large bedroom and bath, and a luxurious study or lounging room. Here I found a case of books, which proved to be novels bearing the imprint of the Royal Level.
Despite the comfortable surroundings, it was evident that I was securely imprisoned, for the door was of metal, the ventilating gratings were long narrow slits, and the walls were of heavy concrete—and there being no windows, no bars were needed. Any living apartment in the city would have served equally well the jailor's purpose; for it were only necessary to turn a key from without to make of it a cell in this gigantic prison of Berlin.
The regular appearance of my meals by mechanical carrier was the only way I had to reckon the passing of time, for it had chanced that I had forgotten my watch when dressing for the audience with His Majesty. I wrestled with unmeasured time by perusing the novels which gave me fragmentary pictures of the social life on the Royal Level.
As I turned over the situation in my mind I reassured myself that the secrecy of my formulas was impregnable. The discovery of the process had been rendered possible by knowledge I had brought with me from the outer world. The reagents that I had used were synthetic substances, the very existence of which was unknown to the Germans. I had previously prepared these compounds and had used and completely destroyed them in making the demonstration, while I had taken pains to remove all traces of their preparation. Hence I had little to fear of the Chemical Staff duplicating my work, though doubtless they were making desperate efforts to do so, and my imprisonment was very evidently for the purpose of permitting them to make that effort.
On that score I felt that I had played my cards well, but there were other thoughts that troubled me, chief of which was a fear that some investigation might be set on foot in regard to Marguerite and that her guardianship of the library of forbidden books might be discovered. With this worry to torment me, the hours dragged slowly enough.
I had been some five days in this solitary confinement when the door opened and a man entered. He wore the uniform of a physician and introduced himself as Dr. Boehm, explaining that he had been sent by His Majesty to look after my health. The idea rather amused me; at least, I thought, the Emperor had decided that the secrets of my brain were well worth preservation, and I reasoned that this was evidence that the Chemical Staff had made an effort to duplicate my work and had reported their failure to do so.
The doctor made what seemed to me a rather perfunctory physical examination, which included a very minute inspection of my eyes. Then he put me through a series of psychological test queries. When he had finished he sighed deeply and said: "I am sorry to find that you are suffering from a disturbed balance of the altruistic and the egotistic cortical impulses; it is doubtless due to the intensive demands made upon the creative potential before you were completely recovered from the sub-normal psychosis due to the gas attack in the potash mines."
This diagnosis impressed me as a palpable fraud, but I became genuinely alarmed at the mention of the affair at the potash mines. I was somewhat reassured at the thought that this reference was probably a part of the record of Karl Armstadt, which was doubtless on file at the medical headquarters, and had been looked up by Dr. Boehm who was in need of making out a plausible case for some purpose—perhaps that of confining me permanently on the grounds of insanity. Whatever might be the move on foot it was clearly essential for me to keep myself cool and well in hand.
The doctor, after eyeing me calmly for a few moments, said: "It will be necessary for me to go out for a time and secure apparatus for a more searching examination. Meanwhile be assured you will not be further neglected. In fact, I shall arrange for the time to share your apartment with you, as loneliness will aggravate your derangement."
In a few hours the doctor returned. He brought with him a complicated-looking apparatus and was followed by two attendants carrying a bed.
The doctor pushed the apparatus into the corner, and, after seeing his bed installed in my sleeping chamber, dismissed the attendants and sat down and began to entertain me with accounts of various cases of mental derangement that had come under his care. So far as I could determine his object, if he had any other than killing time, it was to impress me with the importance of submitting graciously to his care.
Tiring of these stories of the doctor's professional successes with meek and trusting patients, I took the management of the conversation into my own hands.
"Since you are a psychic expert, Dr. Boehm, perhaps you can explain to me the mental processes that cause a man to prize a large bank credit when there is positively no legal way in which he can expend the credit."
The doctor looked at me quizzically. "How do you mean," he asked, "that there is no legal way in which he can expend the credit?"
"Well, take my own case. The Emperor has bestowed upon me a credit of a million marks a year. But I risked losing it by demanding that a young woman of the Free Level be restored to the Royal Level where she was born."
"Of this I am aware," replied the psychic physician. "That is why His Majesty became alarmed lest your mental equilibrium be disturbed. It seems to indicate an atavistic reversion to a condition of romantic altruism, but as your pedigree is normal, I deem it merely a temporary loss of balance."
"But why," I asked, "do you consider it abnormal at all? Is there evidence of any great degree of unselfishness in a man desiring the bestowal of happiness upon a particular woman in preference to bank credit which he cannot expend? What should I do with a million marks a year when I have been unable to expend the ten thousand a year I have had?"
"Ah," exclaimed the doctor, the light of a brilliant discovery breaking over his countenance. "Perhaps this in a measure explains your case. You have evidently been so absorbed in your work that you have not sufficiently developed your appetite for personal enjoyment."
"Perhaps I have not. But just how should I expend more funds; food, clothing, living quarters are all provided me, there is nothing but a few tawdry amusements that one can buy, nor is there any one to give the money to—even if a man had children they cannot inherit his wealth. Just what is money for, anyway?"
The doctor nodded his head and smiled in satisfaction. "You ask interesting questions," he said. "I shall try to answer them. Money or bank credit is merely a symbol of wealth. In ancient times wealth was represented by the private ownership of physical property, which was the basis of capitalistic or competitive society. Racial progress was then achieved by the mating of the men of superior brain with the most beautiful women. Women do not appreciate the mental power of man in its direct expression, or even its social use; they can only comprehend that power when it is translated into wealth. After the destruction of private property women refused to accept as mates the men of intellectual power, but preferred instead men of physical strength and personal beauty.
"At first this was considered to be a proof of the superiority of the proletariat. For, with all men economically equal, the beautiful women turned from the anemic intellectual and the sons of aristocracy, to the strong arms of labour. Believing themselves to be the source of all wealth, and by that right vested with sole political power, and now finding themselves preferred by the beautiful women, the labourer would soon have eliminated all other classes from human society. Had unbridled socialism with its free mating continued, we should have become merely a horde of handsome savages.
"Such would have been the destiny of our race had not William III foreseen the outcome and restored war, the blessings of which had been all but lost to the world. The progress of peace depended upon the competition of capitalism, but in peace progress is incidental. In war it is essential. Because war requires invention, it saved the intellectual classes, and because war requires authority it made possible the restoration of our Royal House. Labour, the tyrant of peace, became again the slave of war, and under the plea of patriotic necessity eugenics was established, which again restored the beautiful women to the superior men. And thus by Imperial Socialism the race was preserved from deterioriation."
"But surely," I said, "eugenics has more than remedied this defect of socialism, for the selection of men of superior mentality is much more rigid than it could have been under the capricious matings of capitalistic society. Why then this need of wealth?"
"Eugenics," replied Boehm, "breeds superior children, but eugenic mating is a cold scientific thing which fails to fan the flame of man's ambition to do creative work. That is why we have the Level of Free Women and have not bred the virility out of the intellectual group. That is also the reason we have retained the Free Level on a competitive commercial basis, and have given the intellectual man the bank credit, a symbol of wealth, that he may use it, as men have always used wealth, for the purpose of increasing his importance in the eyes of woman. This function of wealth is psychically necessary to the creative impulse, for the power of sexual conquest and the stimulus to creative thought are but different expressions of the same instinct. Wealth, or its symbol, is a medium of translating the one into the other. For example, take your discovery; it is important to you and to the state. Your fellow scientists appreciate it, His Majesty appreciates it, but women cannot appreciate it. But give it a money value and women appreciate it immediately. They know that the unlimited bank credit will give you the power to keep as many women on your list as you choose, and this means that you can select freely those you wish. So the most attractive women will compete for your preferment. We bow before the Emperor, we salute the Statue of God, but we make out our checks to buy baubles for women, and it is that which keeps the wheels of progress turning."
"So," I said, "this is your philosophy of wealth. I see, and yet I do not see. The legal limit a man may contribute to a woman is but twenty-four hundred marks a year, what then does he want with a million?"
"But there is no legal limit," replied the Doctor, "to the number of women a man may have on his list. His relation to them may be the most casual, but the pursuit is stimulating to the creative imagination. But you forget, Herr von Armstadt, that with the compensation that was to be yours goes also the social privilege of the Royal Level. Evidently you have been so absorbed in your research that you had no time to think of the magnificent rewards for which you were working."
"Then perhaps you will explain them to me."
"With pleasure," said Dr. Boehm; "your social privilege on the Royal Level includes the right to marry and that means that you should have children for whom inheritance is permitted. How else did you suppose the ever-increasing numbers of the House of Hohenzollern should have maintained their wealth?"
"The question has never occurred to me," I answered, "but if it had, I should have supposed that their expenses were provided by appropriations from the state treasury."
Dr. Boehm chuckled. "Then they should all be dependents on the state like cripples and imbeciles. It would be a rather poor way to derive the pride of aristocracy. That can only come from inherited wealth: the principle is old, very old. The nobleman must never needs work to live. Then, if he wishes to give service to the state, he may give it without pay, and thus feel his nobility. You cannot aspire to full social equality with the Royal House both because you lack divinity of blood and because you receive your wealth for that which you have yourself given to the state. But because of your wealth you will find a wife of the Royal House, and she will bear you children who, receiving the divine blood of the Hohenzollerns from the mother and inherited wealth from the father, will thus be twice ennobled. To have such children is a rare privilege; not even Herr von Uhl with his thousands of descendants can feel such a pride of paternity.
"It is well, Herr von Armstadt, that you talked to me of these matters. Should you be restored to your full mental powers and be permitted to assume the rights of your new station, it would be most unfortunate if you should seem unappreciative of these ennobling privileges."
"Then, if I may, I shall ask you some further questions. It seems that the inherited incomes of the Royal Level are from time to time reinforced by marriage from without. Does that not dilute the Royal blood?"
"That question," replied Dr. Boehm, "more properly should be addressed to a eugenist, but I shall try to give you the answer. The blood of the House of Hohenzollern is of a very high order for it is the blood of divinity in human veins. Yet since there is no eugenic control, no selection, the quality of that blood would deteriorate from inbreeding, were there no fresh infusion. Then where better could such blood come than from the men of genius? No man is given the full social privilege of the Royal Level except he who has made some great contribution to the state. This at once marks him as a genius and gives his wealth a noble origin."
"But how is it," I asked, "that this addition of men from without does not disturb the balance of the sexes?"
"It does disturb it somewhat," replied the doctor, "but not seriously, for genius is rare. There are only a few hundred men in each generation who are received into Royal Society. Of course that means some of the young men of the Royal Level cannot marry. But some men decline marriage of their own free will; if they are not possessed of much wealth they prefer to go unmarried rather than to accept an unattractive woman as a wife when they may have their choice of mistresses from the most beautiful virgins intended for the Free Level. There is always an abundance of marriageable women on the Royal Level and with your wealth you will have your choice. Your credit, in fact, will be the largest that has been granted for over a decade."
"All that is very splendid," I answered. "I was not well informed on these matters. But why should His Majesty have been so incensed at my simple request for the restoration of the rights of the daughter of the Princess Fedora?"
"Your request was unusual; pardon if I may say, impudent; it seems to imply a lack of appreciation on your part of the honours freely conferred upon you—but I daresay His Majesty did not realize your ignorance of these things. You are very young and you have risen to your high station very quickly from an obscure position."
"And do you think," I asked, "that if you made these facts clear to him, he would relent and grant my request?"
Dr. Boehm looked at me with a penetrating gaze. "It is not my function," he said, "to intercede for you. I have only been commissioned to examine carefully the state of your mentality."
I smiled complacently at the psychic expert. "Now, doctor," I said, "you do not mean to tell me that you really think there is anything wrong with my mentality?"
A look of craftiness flashed from Boehm's eyes. "I have given you my diagnosis," he said, "but it may not be final. I have already communicated my first report to His Majesty and he has ordered me to remain with you for some days. If I should alter that opinion too quickly it would discredit me and gain you nothing. You had best be patient, and submit gracefully to further examination and treatment."
"And do you know," I asked, "what the chemical staff is doing about my formulas?"
"That is none of my affair," declared Boehm, emphatically.
There was a vigour in his declaration and a haste with which he began to talk of other matters that gave me a hint that the doctor knew more of the doings of the chemical staff than he cared to admit, but I thought it wise not to press the point.
The second day of Boehm's stay with me, he unmantled his apparatus and asked me to submit to a further examination. I had not the least conception of the purpose of this apparatus and with some misgivings I lay down on a couch while the psychic expert placed above my eyes a glass plate, on which, when he had turned on the current, there proceeded a slow rhythmic series of pale lights and shadows. At the doctor's command I fixed my gaze upon the lights, while he, in a monotonous voice, urged me to relax my mind and dismiss all active thought.
How long I stood for this infernal proceeding I do not know. But I recall a realization that I had lost grip on my thoughts and seemed to be floating off into a misty nowhere of unconsciousness. I struggled frantically to regain control of myself; and, for what seemed an eternity, I fought with a horrible nightmare unable to move a muscle or even close my eyelids to shut out that sickening sequence of creeping shadows. Then I saw the doctor's hand reaching slowly toward my face. It seemed to sway in its stealthy movement like the head of a serpent charming a bird, but in my helpless horror I could not ward it off.
At last the snaky fingers touched my eyelids as if to close them, and that touch, light though it was, served to snap the taut film of my helpless brain and I gave a blood-curdling yell and jumped up, knocking over the devilish apparatus and nearly upsetting the doctor.
"Calm yourself," said Boehm, as he attempted to push me again toward the couch. "There is nothing wrong, and you must surrender to the psychic equilibrator so that I can proceed with the examination."
"Examination be damned," I shouted fiercely; "you were trying to hypnotize me with that infernal machine."
Boehm did not reply but calmly proceeded to pick up the apparatus and restore it to its place in the corner, while I paced angrily about the room. He then seated himself and addressed me as I stood against the wall glaring at him. "You are labouring under hallucinations," he said. "I fear your case is even worse than I thought. But calm yourself. I shall attempt no further examination today."
I resumed a seat but refused to look at him. He did not talk further of my supposed mental state, but proceeded to entertain me with gossip of the Royal Level, and later discussed the novels in the bookcase.
It was difficult to keep up an open war with so charming a conversationalist, but I was thoroughly on my guard. I could now readily see through the whole fraud of my imputed mental derangement. I knew my mind was sound as a schoolboy's, and that this pretence of examination and treatment was only a blind. Evidently the Chemical Staff had failed to work the formulas I had given them and this psychic manipulator had been sent in here to filch the true formulas from my brain with his devilish art. I knew nothing of what progress the Germans might have made with hypnotism, but unless they had gone further than had the outer world, now that I was on my guard, I believed myself to be safe.
But there was yet one danger. I might be trapped in my sleep by an induced somnambulistic conversation. Happily I was fairly well posted on such things and believed that I could guard against that also. But the fear of the thing made me so nervous that I did not sleep all of the following night.
The doctor, evidently a keen observer, must have detected that fact from the sound of my breathing, for the lights were turned out and we slept in the pitchy blackness that only a windowless room can create.
"You did not sleep well," he remarked, as we breakfasted.
But I made light of his solicitous concern, and we passed another day in casual conversation.
As the sleeping period drew again near, the doctor said, "I will leave you tonight, for I fear my presence disturbs you because you misinterpret my purpose in observing you."
As the doctor departed, I noted that the mechanism of the hinges and the lock of the door were so perfect that they gave forth no sound. I was very drowsy and soon retired, but before I went to sleep I practised snapping off and on the light from the switch at the side of my bed. Then I repeated over and over to myself—"I will awake at the first sound of a voice."
This thought ingrained in my subconscious mind proved my salvation. I must have been sleeping some hours. I was dreaming of Marguerite. I saw her standing in an open meadow flooded with sunlight; and heard her voice as if from afar. I walked towards her and as the words grew more distinct I knew the voice was not Marguerite's. Then I awoke.
I did not stir but lay listening. The voice was speaking monotonously and the words I heard were the words of the protium formulas, the false ones I had given the Chemical Staff.
"But these formulas are not correct," purred the voice, "of course, they are not correct. I gave them to the Staff, but they will never know the real ones—Yes, the real ones—What are the real ones? Have I forgotten—? No, I shall never forget. I can repeat them now." Then the voice began again on one of the fake formulas. But when it reached the point where the true formula was different, it paused; evidently the Chemical Staff had found out where the difficulty lay. And so the voice had paused, hoping my sleeping mind would catch up the thread and supply the missing words. But instead my arm shot quickly to the switch. The solicitous Doctor Boehm, flooded with a blaze of light, glared blinkingly as I leaped from the bed.
"Oh, I was asleep all right," I said, "but I awoke the instant I heard you speak, just as I had assured myself that I would do before I fell asleep. Now what else have you in your bag of tricks?"
"I only came—" began the doctor.
"Yes, you only came," I shouted, "and you knew nothing about the work of the Chemical Staff on my formulas. Now see here, doctor, you had your try and you have failed. Your diagnosis of my mental condition is just as much a fraud as the formulas on which the Chemical Staff have been wasting their time—only it is not so clever. I fooled them and you have not fooled me. Waste no more time, but go back and report to His Majesty that your little tricks have failed."
"I shall do that," said Boehm. "I feared you from the start; your mind is really an extraordinary one. But where," he said, "did you learn how to guard yourself so well against my methods? They are very secret. My art is not known even to physicians."
"It is known to me," I said, "so run along and get your report ready." The doctor shook my hand with an air of profound respect and took his leave. This time I balanced a chair overhanging the edge of a table so that the opening of the door would push it off, and I lay down and slept soundly.
I was left alone in my prison until late the next day. Then came a guard who conducted me before His Majesty. None of the Chemical Staff was present. In fact there was no one with the Emperor but a single secretary.
His Majesty smiled cordially. "It was fitting, Herr von Armstadt, for me to order your confinement for your demand was audacious; not that what you asked was a matter of importance, but you should have made the request in writing and privately and not before the Chemical Staff. For that breach of etiquette I had to humiliate you that Royal dignity might be preserved. As for the fact that you kept the formulas secret, none need know that but the Chemical Staff and they will have nothing further to say since you made fools of them." His Majesty laughed.
"As for the request you made, I have decided to grant it. Nor do I blame you for making it. The Princess Marguerite is a very beautiful girl. She is waiting now nearby. I should have sent for her sooner, but it was necessary to make an investigation regarding her birth. The unfortunate Princess Fedora never confessed the father. But I have arranged that, as you shall see."
The Emperor now pressed his signal button and a door opened and Marguerite was ushered into the room. I started in fear as I saw that she was accompanied by Dr. Zimmern. What calamity of discovery and punishment, I wondered, had my daring move brought to the secret rebel against the rule of the Hohenzollern?
Marguerite stepped swiftly toward me and gave me her hand. The look in her eyes I interpreted as a warning that I was not to recognize Zimmern. So I appeared the stranger while the secretary introduced us.
"Dr. Zimmern," said His Majesty, "was physician to Princess Fedora at the time of the birth of the Princess Marguerite. She confessed to him the father of her child. It was the Count Rudolph who died unmarried some years ago. There will be no questions raised. Our society will welcome his daughter, for both the Count Rudolph and the Princess Fedora were very popular."
During this speech, Dr. Zimmern sat rigid and stared into space. Then the secretary produced a document and read a confession to be signed by Zimmern, testifying to these statements of Marguerite's birth.
Zimmern, his features still unmoved, signed the paper and handed it again to the secretary.
His Majesty arose and held out his hand to Marguerite. "I welcome you," he said, "to the House of Hohenzollern. We shall do our best to atone for what you have suffered. And to you, Herr von Armstadt, I extend my thanks for bringing us so beautiful a woman. It is my hope that you will win her as a wife, for she will grace well the fortune that your great genius brings to us. But because you have loved her under unfortunate circumstances I must forbid your marriage for a period of two years. During that time you will both be free to make acquaintances in Royal Society. Nothing less than this would be fair to either of you, or to other women that may seek your fortune or to other men who may seek the beauty of your princess."
A GODDESS WHO IS SUFFERING FROM OBESITY AND A BRAVE MAN WHO IS AFRAID OF THE LAW OF AVERAGES
It was not till we had reached Marguerite's apartment that Zimmern spoke. Then he and Marguerite both embraced me and cried with joy.
"Ah, Armstadt," said the old doctor, "you have done a wonderful thing, a wonderful thing, but why did you not warn us?"
"Yes," I stammered, "I know. You mean the books. It worried me, but, you see, I did not plan this thing. I did not know what I should do. It came to me like a flash as the Emperor was conferring the honours upon me. I had hoped to use my power to make him do my bidding, and yet we had contrived no way to use that power in furtherance of our great plans to free a race; but I could at least use it to free a woman. Let us hope that it augurs progress to the ultimate goal."
"It was very noble, but it was dangerous," replied Zimmern. "It was only through a coincidence that we were saved. Herr von Uhl told me that same day what you had demanded. I saw Hellar immediately and he declared a raid on Marguerite's apartment. But he came himself with only one assistant who is in his confidence, and they boxed the books and carted them off. They will be turned in as contraband volumes, but the report will be falsified; no one will ever know from whence they came."
"Then the books are lost to you," I said; "of that I am sorry, and I worried greatly while I was imprisoned."
"Yes," said Zimmern, "we have lost the books, but you have saved Marguerite. That will more than compensate. For that I can never thank you enough."
"And you were called into the matter, not," I said, "as Marguerite's friend, but as the physician to her mother?"
"They must have looked up the record," replied Zimmern, "but nothing was said to me. I received only a communication from His Majesty commanding me as the physician to Marguerite's mother at the time of Marguerite's birth, to make statement as to her fatherhood."
"But why," I asked, "did you not make this confession before, since it enabled Marguerite to be restored to her rights?"
The old doctor looked pained at the question. "But you forget," he said, "that it is the power of your secret and not my confession that has restored Marguerite. The confession is only a matter of form, to satisfy the wagging tongues of Royal Society."
"Do you mean," I asked, "that she will not be well received there because she was born out of wedlock?"
"Not at all," replied Zimmern; "it was the failure to confess the father, not the fact of her unwedded motherhood, that brought the punishment. There are many love-children born on the Royal Level and they suffer only a failure of inheritance of wealth from the father. But if they be girls of charm and beauty, and if, as Marguerite now stands credited, they be of rich Royal blood, they are very popular and much sought after. But without the record of the father they cannot be admitted into Royal Society, for the record of the blood lines would be lost, and that, you see, is essential. Social precedent, the value in the matrimonial market, all rest upon it. Marguerite is indeed fortunate; with His Majesty's signature attesting my confession, she has nothing more to fear. But I daresay they shall try their best to win her from you for some shallow-minded prince."
"But when," I asked, "is she to go? His Majesty seemed very gracious, but do you realize that I still possess my secret of the protium formulas?"
"And do you still hesitate to give them up?" asked Marguerite.
"For your freedom, dear, I shall reveal them gladly."
"But," cried Marguerite, "you must not give them up just for me,—if there is any way you can use them for our great plan."
"Nothing," spoke up Zimmern, "could be gained now by further secrecy but trouble for us all; and by acceding, both you and Marguerite win your places on the Royal Level, where you can better serve our cause. That is, if you are still with us. It may be harder for you, now that you have won the richest privileges that Germany has to offer, to remember those who struggle in the darkness."
"But I shall remember," I said, giving him my hand.
"I believe you will," said Zimmern feelingly, "and I know I can count on Marguerite. You will both have opportunities to see much of the officers of the Submarine Service. The German race may yet be freed from this sunless prison, if you can find one among them who can be won to our cause."
I reported the next morning to the Chemical Staff, by whom I was treated with deferential respect. I was immediately installed in my new office, as Director of the Protium Works. While I set about supervising the manufacture of apparatus for the new process, other members of the staff, now furnished with the correct formulas repeated the demonstration without my assistance.
When the report of this had been made to His Majesty, I received my insignia of the social privilege of the Royal Level and a copy of the Royal Society Bulletin announcing Marguerite's restoration to her place in the House of Hohenzollern, with the title of Princess Marguerite, Daughter of Princess Fedora and Count Rudolf. The next day a social secretary from the Royal Level came for Marguerite and conducted her to the Apartments of the Countess Luise, under whose chaperonage she was to make her debut into Royal Society.
I, also, was furnished with a social secretary, an obsequious but very wise little man, who took charge of all my affairs outside my chemical work. Under his guidance I was removed to more commodious quarters and my wardrobe was supplied with numerous changes all in the uniform of the Chemical Staff. There was little time to spare from my duties in the Protium Works, but my secretary, ever alert, snatched upon the odd moments to coach me in matters of social etiquette and so prepared me to make my first appearance in Royal Society at the grand ball given by the Countess Luise in honour of Marguerite's debut.
Despite the assiduous coaching of my secretary, my ignorance must have been delightfully amusing to the royal idlers who had little other thought or purpose in life than this very round of complicated nothingness. But if I was a blundering amateur in all this, they were not so much discourteous as envious. They knew that I had won my position by my achievements as a chemist and in a vague way they understood that I had saved the empire from impending ruin, and for this achievement I was lionized.
The women rustled about me in their gorgeous gowns and plied me with foolish questions which I had better sense than to try to answer with the slightest degree of truth. But their power of sustained interest in such weighty matters was not great and soon the conversation would drift away, especially if Marguerite was about, when the talk would turn to the romance of her restoration.
One group of vivacious ladies discussed quite frankly with Marguerite the relative advantages of a husband of intellectual genius as compared with one of a high degree of royal blood. Some contended that the added prospect of superior intelligence in the children would offset the lowering of their degree of Hohenzollern blood. The others argued quite as persistently that the "blood" was the better investment.
Through such conversation I learned of the two clans within the Royal House. The one prided themselves wholly in the high degree of their Hohenzollern blood; the other, styling themselves "Royal Intellectuals" because of a greater proportion of outside blood lines, were quite as proud of the fact that, while possessed of sufficient royal blood to be in "the divinity," they inherited supposedly greater intelligence from their mundane ancestors. This latter group, to make good their claims, made a great show of intellectuality, and cultivated most persistently a dilletante dabbling into all sorts of scientific and artistic matters.
Because of Marguerite's high credit in Royal blood she was courted by "purists" by whom I was only tolerated on her account. On the other hand, the "intellectuals" considered me as a great asset for their cause and glorified particularly in the prospects of marriage of an outside scientist to an eighty-degree Hohenzollern princess. This rivalry of the clans of Royal Society made us much sought after and I was flooded with invitations.
It did not take me long to discover, however, that the reason for my popularity was not altogether a matter of respect for my intellectual genius. I had at first been inclined to accept all invitations, innocently supposing that I was being feted as an honorary guest. But my social secretary advised against this; and, when he began bringing me checks to sign, I realized that the social privileges of Royal Society included the honour of paying the bills for one's own entertainment.
I had already arranged with my banker that a fourth of my income be turned over to Marguerite until her marriage, for she was without income of her own, and it was upon my petition that she had been restored to the Royal Level. At my banker's suggestion I had also made over ten thousand marks a month to the Countess, under whose motherly wing Marguerite was being sheltered. I therefore soon discovered that my income of a million marks a year would be absorbed quite easily by Royal Society. The entire system appeared to me rather sordid, but such matters were arranged by bankers and secretaries and the principals were supposed to be quite innocent of any knowledge of, or concern for, the details.
The Countess Luise, who was permitted to entertain so lavishly at my expense, was playing for the favour of both of the opposing social clans. Possessing a high degree of Hohenzollern blood she stood well with the purists. But her income was not all that could be desired, so she had adroitly discovered in her only son a touch of intellectual genius, and the young man quite dutifully had become a maker of picture plots, hoping by this distinction to win as a wife one of the daughters of some wealthy intellectual interloper. At first I had feared the Countess had designs upon Marguerite as a wife for her son, but as Marguerite had no income of her own I saw that in this I was mistaken, and I developed a feeling of genuine friendliness for the plump and cordial Countess.
"Do you know what I was reading last night?" I remarked one evening, as I chatted with Marguerite and her chaperone.
"Some work on obesity, I hope," sparkled the Countess. Like many of the House of Hohenzollern, among whom there was no weight control, she carried a surplus of adipose tissue not altogether consistent with beauty.
"No, indeed," I said gravely. "Nothing about your material being, but a treatise upon your spiritual nature. I was reading an old school book that I found among my forgotten relics—a book about the Divinity of the House of Hohenzollern."
"Oh, how jolly!" chuckled the Countess. "How very funny that I never thought before that you, Herr von Armstadt, were once taught all those delightful fables."
"And once believed them too," I lied.
"Oh, dear me," replied the Countess, with a ponderous sigh, "so I suppose you did. And what a shock I must have been to you with an eighty centimetre waist."
"You are not quite Junoesque," I admitted.
"The more reason you should use your science, Herr Chemist, to aid me to recover my goddess form."
"What are you folks talking about?" interrupted Marguerite.
"About our divinity, my dear," replied Luise archly.
"But do you feel that it is really necessary," I asked, "that such fables should be put into the helpless minds of children?"
"It surely must be. Suppose your own heredity had proven tricky—it does sometimes, you know—and you had been found incapable of scientific thought. You would have been deranked and perhaps made a record clerk—no personal reflections, but such things do happen—and if you now were filing cards all day you would surely be much happier if you could believe in our divinity. Why else would you submit to a loveless life and the dull routine of toil? Did not all the ancients, and do not all the inferior races now, have objects of religious worship?"
"But the other races," I said, "do not worship living people but spiritual divinities and the sainted dead.
"Quite so," replied the over-plump goddess, "but that is why their kulturs are so inefficient. Surely the worship was useless to the spirits and the dead, whereas we find it quite profitable to be worshipped. But for this wonderful doctrine of the divinity of the blood of William the Great we should be put to all sorts of inconveniences."
"You might even have to work," I ventured.
The Countess bestowed on me one of her most bewitching smiles. "My dear Herr Chemist," she said in sugary tones, "you with your intellectual genius can twit us on our psychic lacks and we must fall back on the divine blood of our Great Ancestor—but would you really wish the slaves of dull toil to think it as human as their own?"
"But to me it seems a little gross," I said.
"Not at all; on the contrary, it is a master stroke of science and efficiency—inferior creatures must worship; they always have and always will—then why waste the worship?"
My position as director of the protium works soon brought me into conference with Admiral von Kufner who was Chief of the Submarine Staff. Von Kufner was in his forties and his manner indicated greater talent for pomp and ceremony than for administrative work. His grandfather had been the engineer to whose genius Berlin owed her salvation through the construction of the submarine tunnel. By this service the engineer had won the coveted "von," a princely fortune and a wife of the Royal Level. The Admiral therefore carried Hohenzollern blood in his veins, which, together with his ample fortune and a distinguished position, made him a man of both social and official consequence.
It did not take me long to decide that von Kufner was hopeless as a prospective convert to revolutionary doctrines. Nor did he possess any great knowledge of the protium mines, for he had never visited them. Inheriting his position as an honour to his grandfather's genius, he commanded the undersea vessels from the security of an office on the Royal Level, for journeys in ice-filled waters were entirely too dangerous to appeal to one who loved so well the pleasures and vanities of life.
I had explained to von Kufner the distinctions I had discovered in the various samples of the ore brought from the mines and the necessity of having new surveys of the deposits made on the basis of these discoveries. After he had had time to digest this information, I suggested that I should myself go to make this survey. But this idea the Admiral at once opposed, insisting that the trip through the Arctic ice fields was entirely too dangerous.
"Very well," I replied. "I feel that I could best serve Germany by going to the Arctic mines in person, but if you think that is unwise, will you not arrange for me to consult at once with men who have been in the mines and are familiar with conditions there?"
To this very reasonable request, which was in line with my obvious duties, no objection could be made and a conference was at once called of submarine captains and furloughed engineers who had been in the Arctic ore fields.
I was impressed by the youthfulness of these men, which was readily explained by the fact that one vessel out of every five sent out was lost beneath the Arctic ice floes. With an almost mathematical certainty the men in the undersea service could reckon the years of their lives on the fingers of one hand.
Although the official business of the conference related to ore deposits and not to the dangers of the traffic, the men were so obsessed with the latter fact, that it crept out in their talk in spite of the Admiral's obvious displeasure at such confession of fear. I particularly marked the outspoken frankness of one, Captain Grauble, whose vessel was the next one scheduled to depart to the mines.
I therefore asked Grauble to call in person at my office for the instructions concerning the ore investigations which were to be forwarded to the Director of the Mines. Free from the restraining influence of the Admiral, I was able to lead the Captain to talk freely of the dangers of his work, and was overjoyed to find him frankly rebellious.
That I might still further cultivate his acquaintance I withheld some of the necessary documents; and, using this as a pretext, I later sought him out at his quarters, which were in a remote and somewhat obscure part of the Royal Level.
The official nature of my call disposed of, I led the conversation into social matters, and found no difficulty in persuading the Captain to talk of his own life. He was a man well under thirty and like most of his fellows in the service was one of the sons of a branch of the Hohenzollern family whose declining fortune denied him all hope of marriage or social life. In the heroic years of his youth he had volunteered for the submarine service. But now he confessed that he regretted the act, for he realized that his death could not be long postponed. He had made his three trips as commander of an ore-bringing vessel.
"I have two more trips," declared Captain Grauble. "Such is the prophecy of statistical facts: five trips is the allotted life of a Captain; it is the law of averages. It is possible that I may extend that number a little, but if so it will be an exception. Trusting to exceptions is a poor philosophy. I do not like it. Sometimes I think I shall refuse to go. Disgrace, of course,—banishment to the mines. Report my treasonable utterances if you like. I am prepared for that; suicide is easy and certain."
"But is it not rather cowardly, Captain?" I asked, looking him steadily in the eye.
Grauble flung out his hand with a gesture of disdain. "That is an easy word for you to pronounce," he sneered. "You have hope to live by, you are on the upward climb, you aspire to marry into the Royal House and sire children to inherit your wealth. But I was born of the Royal House, my father squandered his wealth. My sisters were beautiful and they have married well. My brother was servile; he has attached himself to the retinue of a wealthy Baroness. But I was made of better stuff than that. I would play the hero. I would face danger and gladly die to give Berlin more life and uphold the House of Hohenzollern in its fat and idle existence; and for me they have taken hope away!
"Oh, yes, I was proclaimed a hero. The young ladies of this house of idleness dance with me, but they dare not take me seriously; what one of them would court the certainty of widowhood without a fortune? So why should I not tire of their shallow trifling? I find among the girls of the Free Level more honest love, for they, as I, have no hope. They love but for the passing hour, and pass on as I pass on, I to death, they to decaying beauty and an old age of servile slavery."
Surely, I exulted, here is the rebellious and daring soul that Zimmern and Hellar have sought in vain. Even as they had hoped, I seemed to have discovered a man of the submarine service who was amenable to revolutionary ideas. Could I not get him to consider the myriad life of Berlin in all its barren futility, to grasp at the hope of succour from a free and merciful world, and then, with his aid, find a way out of Berlin, a way to carry the message of Germany's need of help to the Great God of Humanity that dwelt without in the warmth and joy of the sun?
The tide of hope surged high within me. I was tempted to divulge at once my long cherished plan of escape from Berlin. "Why," I asked, thinking to further sound his sincerity, "if you feel like this, have you never considered running your craft to the surface during the sea passage and beaching her on a foreign shore? There at least is life and hope and experience."
"By the Statue of God!" cried Grauble, his body shaking and his voice quavering, "why do you, in all your hope and comfort here, speak of that to me? Do you think I have never been tempted to do that very thing? And yet you call me a coward. Have I not breathed foul air for days, fearful to poke up our air tube in deserted waters lest by the millionth chance it might lead to a capture? And yet you speak of deliberate surrender! Even though I destroyed my charts, the capture of a German submarine in those seas would set the forces of the outer world searching for the passage. If they found and blocked the passage I should be guilty of the destruction of three hundred million lives—Great God! God of Hohenzollern! God of the World! could this thing be?"
"Captain," I said, placing my hand on the shoulder of the palsied man, "you and I have great secrets and the burden of great sorrows in common. It is well that we have found each other. It is well that we have spoken of these things that shake our souls. You have confessed much to me and I have much that I shall confess to you. I must see you again before you leave."
Grauble gave me his hand. "You are a strange man," he said. "I have met none before like you. I do not know at what aims you are driving. If you plotted my disgrace by leading me into these confessions, you have found me easy prey. But do not credit yourself too much. I have often vowed I would go to Admiral von Kufner, and say these things to him. But the formal exterior of that petty pompous man I cannot penetrate. If I have confessed to you, it is merely because you are a man without that protecting shield of bristling authority and cold formality. You seemed merely a man of flesh and blood, despite your decorations, and so I have talked. What is to be made of it by you or by me I do not know, but I am not afraid of you."
"I shall leave you now," I said, "for I have pressing duties, but I shall see you soon again. So calm yourself and get hold of your reason. I shall want you to think clearly when I talk with you again. Perhaps I can yet show you a gleam of hope beyond this mathematical law of averages that rattles the dice of death."
IN WHICH THE TALKING DELEGATE IS ANSWERED BY THE ROYAL VOICE AND I LEARN THAT LABOUR KNOWS NOT GOD
I had delayed in speaking to Grauble of our revolutionary plans, because I wished first to arrange a meeting with Zimmern and Hellar and secure the weight of their calmer minds in initiating Grauble into our plans of sending a message to the World State authorities. I was prevented from doing this immediately by difficulties in the Protium Works. Meanwhile unbeknown to me the sailing date of Grauble's vessel was advanced, and he departed to the Arctic.
Although my position as Director of the Protium Works had been more of an honour than an assignment of active duties, I made it my business to assume the maximum rather than the minimum of the functions of the office as I wished to learn more of the labour situation in Berlin, of which as yet I had no comprehensive understanding.
In a general way I understood that German labour differed not only in being eugenically created as a distinct breed, but that the labour group was also a very distinct caste economically and politically. The labourer, being denied access to the Level of Free Women, had no need for money or bank credit in any form. This seemed to me to reduce him to a condition of pure slavery—since he received no pay for his services other than the bare maintenance supplied by the state.
Because of this evidence of economic inferiority, I had at first supposed that labour was in every way an inferior caste. But in this I had been gravely mistaken, nor had I been able fully to comprehend my error until this brewing labour trouble revealed in concrete form the political superiority of labour. In my failure to comprehend the true state of affairs I had been a little stupid, for the political basis of German society is revealed to the seeing eye in the Hohenzollern eagle emblazoned on the red flag, the emblem of the rule of labour.
Historically I believe this belies the origin of the red flag for it was first used as the emblem of democratic socialism, a Nineteenth Century theory of a social order in which all social and economic classes were to be blended into a true democracy differing somewhat in its economic organization, but essentially the same politically as the true democracy which we have achieved in the World State. But with the Bolshevist regime in Russia after the First World War, the red flag was appropriated as the emblem of the political supremacy and rule of the proletariat or labour class.
I make these references to bygone history because they throw light on the peculiar status of the German Labour Caste, which is possessed of political superiority combined with social and economic inferiority. It was the Bolshevist brand of socialism that finally overran Germany in the era of loose and ineffective rule of the world by the League of Nations. Though I make no pretence of being an accurate authority on history, the League of Nations, if I remember rightly, was humanity's first timid conception of the World State. Rather weakly born, it was promptly emasculated by the rise in America of a political party founded on the ideas of a great national hero who had just died. The obstructionist policy of this party was inherent in its origin, for it was inspired and held together by the ideas of a dead man, whose followers could only repeat as their test of faith a phrase that has come down to us as an idiom—"What would He do?"
"He" being dead could do nothing, neither could he change his mind, but having left an indelible record of his ideas by the strenuous verbiage of his virile and inspiring rhetoric, there was no room for doubt. As in all political and religious faiths founded on the ideas of dead heroes, this made for solidarity and power and quite prevented any adaptation of the form of government to the needs of the world that had arisen since his demise.
I have digressed here from my theme of the political status of the German labour caste, but it is fascinating to trace things to their origin to find the links of the chain of cause and effect. So, if I have read my history aright, the emasculation of the League of Nations by the American obstructionists caused, or at least permitted the rise, and dominance of the Bolshevists in Twentieth-Century Germany. Had the Germans been democrats at heart the pendulum would have swung back as it did with other peoples, and been stayed at the point of equilibrium which we recognized as the stable mean of democracy.
But in the old days before the modern intermingling of the races it seems that there were certain tastes that had become instinctive in racial groups. Thus, just as the German stomach craved the rich flavour of sausage, so the German mind craved the dazzling show of Royal flummery. Had it not been for this the First World War could have never been, for the socialists of that time were bitterly opposed to war and Germany was the world's greatest stronghold of socialism, yet when their beloved imperial poser, William the Great, called for war the German socialists, with the exception of a few whom they afterwards murdered, went forth to war almost without protest.
When I first began to hear of the political rights of Labour, I went to my friend Hellar and asked for an explanation.
"Is not the chain of authority absolute," I asked, "up through the industrial organization direct to the Emperor and so to God himself?"
"But," said Hellar, "the workers do not believe in God!"
"What," I stammered, "workers not believe in God! It is impossible. Have not the workers simple trusting minds?"
"Certainly," said Hellar, "it is the natural mind of man! Scepticism, which is the basis of scientific reasoning, is an artificial thing, first created in the world under the competitive economic order when it became essential to self-preservation in a world of trade based on deceit. In our new order we have had difficulty in maintaining enough of it for scientific purposes even in the intellectual classes. There is no scepticism among the labourers now, I assure you. They believe as easily as they breathe."
"Then how," I demanded in amazement, "does it come that they do not believe in God?"
"Because," said Hellar, "they have never heard of God.
"The labourer does not know of God because we have restored God since the perfection of our caste system, and hence it was easy to promulgate the idea among the intellectuals and not among the workers. It was necessary to restore God for the intellectuals in order to give them greater respect for the power of the Royal House, but the labourers need no God because they believe themselves to be the source from which the Royal House derives its right to rule. They believe the Emperor to be their own servant ruling by their permission."
"The Emperor a servant to labour!" I exclaimed; "this is absurd."
"Certainly," said Hellar; "why should it be otherwise? We are an absurd people, because we have always laughed at the wrong things. Still this principle is very old and has not always been confined to the Germans. After the revolutions in the Twentieth Century the American plutocrats employed poverty-stricken European nobility for servants and exalted them to high stations and obeyed them explicitly in all social matters with which their service was concerned.
"The labourers restored William III because they wished to have an exalted servant. He led them to war and became a hero. He reorganized the state and became their political servant, also their emperor and their tyrant. It is not an impossible relation, for it is not unlike the relation between the mother and the child or between a man and his mistress. And yet it is different, more formal, with functions better defined.
"The Emperor is the administrative head of the government and we intellectuals are merely his hirelings. We are merely the feathers of the Royal eagle, our colour is black, we have no part in the red blood of human brotherhood, we are outcasts from the socialistic labour world—for we receive money compensation to which labourers would not stoop. But labour owns the state. This roof of Berlin over our heads and all that is therein contained, is the property of the workers who produced it."
I shook my head in mute admission of my lack of comprehension.
"And who," asked Hellar, "did you think owned Berlin?"
I confessed that I had never thought of that.
"Few of our intellectual class have ever thought of that," replied Hellar, "unless they are well read in political history. But at the time of the Hohenzollern restoration labour owned all property in true communal ownership. They did not release it to the Royal House, but merely turned over the administration of the property to the Emperor as an agent."
These belated explanations of the fundamental ideas of German society quite confused and confounded me, though Hellar seemed in no wise surprised at my ignorance, since as a chemist I had originally been supposed to know only of atoms and valences and such like matters. Seeking a way out of these contradictions I asked: "How is it then that labour is so powerless, since you say that it owns the state, and even the Emperor rules by its permission?"
"Napoleon—have you ever heard of him?"
"Yes," I admitted—and then recalling my role as a German chemist I hastened to add—"Napoleon was a directing chemist who achieved a plan for increasing the food supply in his day by establishing the sugar beet industry."
"Is that so?" exclaimed Hellar. "I didn't know that. I thought he was only an Emperor—anyway, Napoleon said that if you tell men they are equal you can do as you please with them. So when William III was elected to the throne by labour, he insisted that they retain the power and re-elect him every five years. He was very popular because he invented the armoured city—our new Berlin—some day I will tell you of that—and so of course he was re-elected, and his son after him. Though most of the intellectuals do not know that it exists the ceremony of election is a great occasion on the labour levels. The Emperor speaks all day through the horns and on the picture screens. The workers think he is actually speaking, though of course it is a collection of old films and records of the Royal Voice. When they have seen and heard the speeches, the labourers vote, and then go back to their work and are very happy."
"But suppose they should sometime fail to re-elect him?"
"No danger," said Hellar; "there is only one name on the ballot and the ballots are dumped into the paper mill without inspection."
"Most extraordinary," I exclaimed.
"Most ordinary," contradicted Hellar; "it is not even an exclusively German institution; we have merely perfected it. Voting everywhere is a very useful device in organized government. In the cruder form used in democracies there were two or more candidates. It usually made little difference which was elected; but the system was imperfect because the voters who voted for the candidate which lost were not pleased. Then there was the trouble of counting the ballots. We avoid all this."
"It is all very interesting," I said, "but who is the real authority?"
"Ah," said Hellar, "this matter of authority is one of our most subtle conceptions. The weakness of ancient governments was in the fact that the line of authority was broken. It came somewhere to an end. But now authority flows up from labour to the Emperor and then descends again to labour through the administrative line of which we are one link. It is an unbroken circuit."
But I was still unsatisfied, for it annoyed me not to be able to understand the system of German politics, as I had always prided myself that, for a scientist, I understood politics remarkably well.
I had gone to Hellar for enlightenment because I was gravely alarmed over the rumours of a strike among the labourers in the Protium Works. I had read in the outside world of the murder and destruction of these former civil wars of industry. With a working population so cruelly held to the treadmill of industrial bondage the idea of a strike conjured up in my fancy the beginning of a bloody revolution. With so vast a population so utterly dependent upon the orderly processes of industry the possible terrors of an industrial revolution were horrible beyond imagining; and for the moment all thoughts of escape, or of my own plans for negotiating the surrender of Berlin to the World State, were swept aside by the stern responsibilities that devolved upon me as the Director of Works wherein a terrible strike seemed brewing.
The first rumour of the strike of the labourers in the Protium Works had come to me from the Listening-in-Service. Since Berlin was too complicated and congested a spot for wireless communication to be practical, the electrical conduct of sound was by antiquated means of metal wires. The workers' Free Speech Halls were all provided with receiving horns by which they made their appeals to His Majesty, of which I shall speak presently. These instruments were provided with cut-offs in the halls. They had been so designed by the electrical engineers, who were of the intellectual caste, that not even the workers who installed and repaired them knew that the cut-offs were a blind and that the Listening-in-Service heard every word that was said at their secret meetings, when all but workers were, by law and custom, excluded from the halls.
And so the report came to me that the workers were threatening strike. Their grievance came about in this fashion. My new process had reduced the number of men needed in the works. This would require that some of the men be transferred to other industries. But the transfer was a slow process, as all the workers would have to be examined anatomically and their psychic reflexes tested by the labour assignment experts and those selected re-trained for other labour. That work was proceeding slowly, for there was a shortage of experts because some similar need of transfers existed in one of the metal industries. Moreover, my labour psychologist considered it dangerous to transfer too many men, as they were creatures of habit, and he advised that we ought merely to cease to take on new workers, but wait for old age and death to reduce the number of our men, meanwhile retaining the use of the old extraction process in part of the works.
"Impossible," I replied, "unless you would have your rations cut and the city put on a starvation diet. Do you not know that the reserve store of protium that was once enough to last eight years is now reduced to less than as many months' supply?"
"That is none of my affair," said the labour psychologist; "these chemical matters I do not comprehend. But I advise against these transfers, for our workers are already in a furor about the change of operations in the work."
"But," I protested, "the new operations are easier than the old; besides we can cut down the speed of operations, which ought to help you take care of these surplus men."
"Pardon, Herr Chief," returned the elderly labour psychologist, "you are a great chemist, a very great chemist, for your invention has upset the labour operation more than has anything that ever happened in my long experience, but I fear you do not realize how necessary it is to go slow in these matters. You ask men who have always opened a faucet from left to right to now open one that moves in a vertical plane. Here, I will show you; move your arm so; do you not see that it takes different muscles?"
"Yes, of course, but what of it? The solution flows faster and the operation is easier."
"It is easy for you to say that; for you or me it would make no difference since our muscles have all been developed indiscriminately."
"But what are your labour gymnasiums for, if not to develop all muscles?"
"Now do not misunderstand me. I serve as an interpreter between the minds of the workers and your mind as Director of the Works. As for the muscles developed in the gymnasium, those were developed for sport and not for labour. But that is not the worst of it; you have designed the new benches so low that the mixers must stoop at their work. It is very painful."
"Good God," I cried, "what became of the stools? The mixers are to sit down—I ordered two thousand stools."
"That I know, Herr Chief, but the equipment expert consulted me about the matter and I countermanded the order. It would never do. I did not consult you, it is true, but that was merely a kindness. I did not wish to expose your lack of knowledge, if I may call it such."
"Call it what you please," I snapped, for at the time I thought my labour psychologist was a fool, "but get those stools, immediately."
"But it would never do."
"Because these men have always stood at their work."
"But why can they not sit down now?"
"Because they never have sat down."
"Do they not sit down to eat?"
"Yes, but not to work. It is very different. You do not understand the psychic immobility of labour. Habits grow stronger as the mentality is simplified. I have heard that there are animals in the zoological garden that still perform useless operations that their remote ancestors required in their jungle life."
"Then do you infer that these men who must stand at their work inherited the idea from their ancestors?"
"That is a matter of eugenics. I do not know, but I do know that we are preparing for trouble with these changes. Still I hope to work it out without serious difficulty, if you do not insist on these transfers. When workmen have already been forced to change their habitual method of work and then see their fellows being removed to other and still stranger work it breeds dangerous unrest."
"One thing is certain," I replied; "we cannot delay the installation of the new method; as fast as the equipment is ready the new operation must replace the old."
"But the effect of that policy will be that there will not be enough work, and besides the work is, as you say, lighter and that will result in the cutting down of the food rations."
"But I have already arranged that," I said triumphantly; "the Rationing Bureau have adjusted the calorie standards so that the men will get as much food as they have been used to."
"What! you have done that?" exclaimed the labour psychologist; "then there will be trouble. That will destroy the balance of the food supply and the expenditure of muscular energy and the men will get fat. Then the other men will accuse them of stealing food and we shall have bloodshed."
"A moment ago," I smiled, "you told me I did not know your business. Now I will tell you that you do not know mine. We ordered special food bulked up in volume; the scheme is working nicely; you need not worry about that. As for the other matter, this surplus of men, it seems to me that the only thing is to cut down the working hours temporarily until the transfers can be made."
The psychologist shook his head. "It is dangerous," he said, "and very unusual. I advise instead that you have the operation engineers go over the processes and involve the operations, both to make them more nearly resemble the old ones, and to add to the time and energy consumption of the tasks."
"No," I said emphatically, "I invented a more economical process for this industry and I do not propose to see my invention prostituted in this fashion. I appreciate your advice, but if we cannot transfer the workers any faster, then the labour hours must be cut. I will issue the order tomorrow. This is my final decision."
I was in authority and that settled the matter. The psychologist was very decent about it and helped me fix up a speech and that next night the workers were ordered to assemble in their halls and I made my speech into a transmitting horn. I told them that they had been especially honoured by their Emperor, who, appreciating their valuable service, had granted them a part-time vacation and that until further notice their six-hour shifts were to be cut to four. I further told them that their rations would not be reduced and advised them to take enough extra exercise in the gymnasium to offset their shorter hours so they would not get fat and be the envy of their fellows.
For a time the workers seemed greatly pleased with their shorter hours. And then, from the Listening-in-Service, came the rumour of the strike. The first report of the strike gave me no clue to the grievance and I asked for fuller reports. When these came the next day I was shocked beyond belief. If I had anticipated anything in that interval of terror it was that my workers were to strike because their communications had been shut off or that they were to strike in sympathy for their fellows and demand that all hours be shortened like their own. But the grievance was not that. My men were to go on strike for the simple reason that their hours had been shortened!
The catastrophe once started came with a rush, for when I reached the office the next day the psychologist was awaiting me and told me that the strike was on. I rushed out immediately and went down to the works. The psychologist followed me. As I entered the great industrial laboratories I saw all the men at their usual places and going through their usual operations. I turned to my companion who was just coming up, and said: "What do you mean; I thought you told me the strike was on, that the men had already walked out?"
"What do you mean by 'walked out'?" he returned, as puzzled as I.
"Walked out of the works," I explained; "away from their duties, quit work. Struck!"
"But they have struck. Perhaps you have never seen a strike before, but do you not see the strike badges?"
And then I looked and saw that every workman wore a tiny red flag, and the flag bore no imperial eagle.
"It means," I gasped, "that they have renounced the rule of the Royal House. This is not a strike, this is rebellion, treason!"
"It is the custom," said the labour psychologist, "and as for rebellion and treason that you speak of I hardly think you ought to call it that for rebellion and treason are forbidden."
"Then just what does it mean?"
"It means that this particular group of workers have temporarily withdrawn their allegiance to the Royal House, and they have, in their own minds, restored the old socialist regime, until they can make petition to the Emperor and he passes on their grievance. They will do that in their halls tonight. We, of course, will be connected up and listen in."
"Then they are not really on strike?"
"Certainly they are on strike. All strikes are conducted so."
"Then why do they not quit work?"
"But why should they quit work? They are striking because their hours are already too short—pardon, Herr Chief, but I warned you!
"I think I know what you mean," he added after a pause; "you have probably read some fiction of old times when the workers went on strike by quitting work."
"Yes, exactly. I suppose that is where I did get my ideas; and that is now forbidden—by the Emperor?"
"Not by the Emperor, for you see these men wear the flags without the eagle. They at present do not acknowledge his authority."
"Then all this strike is a matter of red badges without eagles and everything else will go on as usual?"
"By no means. These men are striking against the descending authority from the Royal House. They not only refuse to wear the eagle until their grievance is adjusted but they will refuse to accept further education, for that is a thing that descends from above. If you will go now to the picture halls, where the other shift should be, you will find the halls all empty. The men refuse to go to the moving pictures."
That night we "listened in." A bull-throated fellow, whom I learned was the Talking Delegate, addressed the Emperor, and much to my surprise I thought I heard the Emperor's own voice in reply, stating that he was ready to hear their grievance.
Then the bull voice of the Talking Delegate gave the reason for the strike: "The Director of the Works, speaking for your Majesty, has granted us a part time vacation, and shortened our hours from six to four. We thank you for this honour but we have decided we do not like it. We do not know what to do during those extra two hours. We had our games and amusements but we had our regular hours for them. If we play longer we become tired of play. If we sleep longer we cannot sleep as well. Moreover we are losing our appetite and some of us are afraid to eat all our portions for fear we will become fat. So we have decided that we do not like a four-hour day and we have therefore taken the eagles off our flags and will refuse to replace them or to go to the educational pictures until our hours are restored to the six-hour day that we have always had."
And now the Emperor's voice replied that he would take the matter under consideration and report his decision in three days and, that meanwhile he knew he could trust them to conduct themselves as good socialists who were on strike, and hence needed no king.
The next day the psychologist brought a representative of the Information Staff to my office and together we wrote the reply that the Emperor was to make. It would be necessary to concede them the full six hours and introduce the system of complicating the labour operations to make more work. Much chagrined, I gave in, and called in the motion study engineers and set them to the task. Meanwhile the Royal Voice was sent for and coached in the Emperor's reply to the striking workmen, and a picture film of the Emperor, timed to fit the length of the speech, was ordered from stock.
The Royal Voice was an actor by birth who had been trained to imitate His Majesty's speech. This man, who specialized in the Emperor's speeches to the workers, prided himself that he was the best Royal Voice in Berlin and I complimented him by telling him that I had been deceived by him the evening before. But considering that the workers, never having heard the Emperor's real voice, would have no standard of comparison, I have never been able to see the necessity of the accuracy of his imitation, unless it was on the ground of art for art's sake.
THE DIVINE DESCENDANTS OF WILLIAM THE GREAT GIVE A BENEFIT FOR THE CANINE GARDENS AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THE PIGGERIES
The strike that I had feared would be the beginning of a bloody revolution had ended with an actor shouting into a horn and the shadow of an Emperor waving his arms. But meanwhile Capt. Grauble, on whom I staked my hopes of escape from Berlin, had departed to the Arctic and would not return for many months. That he would return I firmly believed; statistically the chances were in his favour as this was his fourth trip, and hope was backing the favourable odds of the law of chance.
So I set myself to prepare for that event. My faith was strong that Grauble could be won over to the cause of saving the Germans by betraying Germany. I did not even consider searching for another man, for Grauble was that one rare man in thousands who is rebellious and fearless by nature, a type of which the world makes heroes when their cause wins and traitors when it fails—a type that Germany had all but eliminated from the breed of men.
But, if I were to escape to the outer world through Grauble's connivance, there was still the problem of getting permission to board the submarine, ostensibly to go to the Arctic mines. Even in my exalted position as head of the protium works I could not learn where the submarine docks or the passage to them was located. But I did learn enough to know that the way was impenetrable without authoritative permission, and that thoughts of escape as a stowaway were not worth considering. I also learned that Admiral von Kufner had sole authority to grant permission to make the Arctic trip.
The Admiral had promptly turned down my first proposal to go to the Arctic ore fields, and had by his pompous manner rebuffed the attempts I made to cultivate his friendship through official interviews. I therefore decided to call on Marguerite and the Countess Luise to see what chance there was to get a closer approach to the man through social avenues. The Countess was very obliging in the matter, but she warned me with lifted finger that the Admiral was a gay bachelor and a worshipper of feminine charms, and that I might rue the day I suggested his being invited into the admiring circle that revolved about Marguerite. But I laughingly disclaimed any fears on that score and von Kufner was bidden to the next ball given by the Countess.
Marguerite was particularly gracious to the Admiral and speedily led him into the inner circle that gathered informally in the salon of the Countess Luise. I made it a point to absent myself on some of these occasions, for I did not want the Admiral to guess the purpose that lay behind this ensnaring of him into our group.
And yet I saw much of Marguerite, for I spent most of my leisure in the society of the Royal Level, where thought, if shallow, was comparatively free. I took particular pleasure in watching the growth of Marguerite's mind, as the purely intellectual conceptions she had acquired from Dr. Zimmern and his collection of books adjusted itself to the absurd realities of the celestial society of the descendants of William the Great.
It may be that charity is instinctive in the heart of a good woman, or perhaps it was because she had read the Christian Bible; but whatever the origin of the impulse, Marguerite was charitably inclined and wished to make personal sacrifice for the benefit of other beings less well situated than herself. While she was still a resident of the Free Level she had talked to me of this feeling and of her desire to help others. But the giving of money or valuables by one woman to another was strictly forbidden, and Marguerite had not at the time possessed more than she needed for her own subsistence. But now that she was relatively well off, this charitable feeling struggled to find expression. Hence when she had learned of the Royal Charity Society she had straightway begged the Countess to present her name for membership, without stopping to examine into the detail of the Society's activities.
The Society was at that time preparing to hold a bazaar and sent out calls for contributions of cast off clothing and ornaments. Marguerite as yet possessed no clothes or jewelry of Royal quality except the minimum which the demands of her position made necessary; and so she timidly asked the Countess if her clothing which she had worn on the Free Level would suffice as gifts of charity. The Countess had assured her that it would do nicely as the destination of all the clothing contributed was for the women of the Free Level. Thinking that an opportunity had at last arisen for her to express her compassion for the ill-favoured girls of her own former level, Marguerite hastened to bundle up such presentable gowns as she had and sent them to the bazaar by her maid.
Later she had attended the meeting of the society when the net results of the collections were announced. To her dismay she found that the clothing contributed had been sold for the best price it would bring to the women of the Free Level and that the purpose of the sacrifices, of that which was useless to the possessors but valuable to others, was the defraying of the expense of extending the romping grounds for the dogs of the charitably maintained canine garden.
Marguerite was vigorously debating the philosophy of charity with the young Count Rudolph that evening when I called. She was maintaining that human beings and not animals should be the recipients of charity and the young Count was expounding to her the doctrine of the evil effects of charity upon the recipient.
"Moreover," explained Count Rudolph, "there are no humans in Berlin that need charity, since every class of our efficiently organized State receives exactly what it should receive and hence is in need of nothing. Charity is permissible only when poverty exists."
"But there is poverty on the Free Level," maintained Marguerite; "many of the ill-favoured girls suffer from hunger and want better clothes than they can buy."
"That may be," said the Count, "but to permit them gifts of charity would be destructive of their pride; moreover, there are few women on the Royal Level who would give for such a purpose."
"But surely," said Marguerite, "there must be somewhere in the city, other women or children or even men to whom the proceeds of these gifts would mean more than it does to dogs."
"If any group needed anything the state would provide it," repeated the Count.
"Then why," protested Marguerite, "cannot the state provide also for the dogs, or if food and space be lacking why are these dogs allowed to breed and multiply?"
"Because it would be cruel to suppress their instincts."
Marguerite was puzzled by this answer, but with my more rational mind I saw a flaw in the logic of this statement. "But that is absurd," I said, "for if their number were not checked in some fashion, in a few decades the dogs would overswarm the city."
It was now the Count's turn to look puzzled. "You have inferred an embarrassing question," he stated, "one, in fact, that ought not to be answered in the presence of a lady, but since the Princess Marguerite does not seem to be a lover of dogs, I will risk the explanation. The Medical Level requires dogs for purposes of scientific research. Since the women are rarely good mathematicians, it is easily possible in this manner to keep down the population of the Canine Garden."
"But the dogs required for research," I suggested, "could easily be bred in kennels maintained for that purpose."
"So they could," said the Count, "but the present plan serves a double purpose. It provides the doctors with scalpel practise and it also amuses the women of the Royal House who are very much in need of amusement since we men are all so dull."
"Woman's love," continued Rudolph, waxing eloquent, "should have full freedom for unfoldment. If it be forcibly confined to her husband and children it might burst its bounds and express too great an interest in other humans. The dogs act as a sort of safety valve for this instinct of charity."
The facetious young Count saw from Marguerite's horror-stricken face that he was making a marked impression and he recklessly continued: "The keepers at the Canine Gardens understand this perfectly. When funds begin to run low they put the dogs in the outside pens on short rations, and the brutes do their own begging; then we have another bazaar and everybody is happy. It is a good system and I would advise you not to criticize it since the institution is classic. Other schemes have been tried; at one time women were permitted to knit socks for soldiers—we always put that in historical pictures—but the socks had to be melted up again as felted fibre is much more durable; and then, after the women were forbidden to see the soldiers, they lost interest. But the dog charity is a proven institution and we should never try to change anything that women do not want changed since they are the conservative bulwark of society and our best protection against the danger of the untried."